Noonan: On Sunday, The Patriots Will ‘Ignore The Noise’ Against Seattle

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (left) and quarter Tom Brady (right) will look to capture their fourth Super Bowl on Sunday. (Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

By Matt Noonan 

It’s finally Sunday.

One more game remains on the 2014 NFL Schedule: Super Bowl XLIX.

New England versus Seattle, clam chowder and great seafood versus Starbucks and the artists. Bill Belichick against Pete ‘How ‘Bout Our Defense’ Carroll, Tom Brady versus Russell Wilson, and East Coast versus West Coast.

The list goes on and on, but this Super Bowl has a different meaning. Instead of two teams competing for the ultimate prize – the Vince Lombardi Trophy (Yes, I used Lombardi’s first name) – this game is about the Patriots against the World.

Everyone wants to see the Patriots crumble, especially against a defense – The Legion of Boom – that is prepared to burst through the line of scrimmage on each snap. Fans want to see New England – a team that has been under scrutiny for the past two weeks because of “Deflate Gate” – lose.

Enough, people!

This is the NFL, the most popular sport in the North America, and instead of getting excited about two great teams competing for a championship, we’ve been wrapped up in Deflate Gate, as well as pondering the question: Is Tom Brady a cheater?

Belichick’s mantra has always been to ignore the noise, and you can bet New England did that this week while preparing for their final test. Say what you want – go ahead, are they cheaters? – but the Patriots first faced adversity when they finished the month of September with an excruciating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were "done" after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports).
Tom Brady and the Patriots were “done” after ending September with a 41-14 setback. (Photo Credit: The Big Lead/USA Today Sports)

Against Kansas City, Brady completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Brandon LaFell hauled in six catches for 119 yards, including one touchdown reception, while the defense allowed 26 first downs 443 yards.

Yep, the Patriots were done after this game. At 2-2, the “experts” said it was time for Brady to take a seat and make way for Jimmy Garoppolo.

Yet, as I stated above, the Patriots ignored the noise, turned their attention to their week five opponent: Cincinnati Bengals. And in a span of six days, the Patriots went from non-contenders to contenders, blowing out their opponent by a score of 43-17.

Following their win, New England rattled off seven straight wins, including victories against Denver, Indianapolis and San Diego. They finished atop the AFC East again – surprise, surprise! – and claimed home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Still think the Patriots should have folded following their 2-2 start?

In the postseason, they earned impressive wins against Baltimore (35-31) and Indianapolis (45-7). Their win against the Ravens featured a formation that continues to baffle John Harbaugh – Baltimore’s head coach – but again, did that faze these Pats?

The answer: nope!

Say all you want about Belichick, who was punished for SpyGate in 2007, but the man knows the game of football. He knows how to coach a team, which is ready and prepared to compete against the Seahawks, who humiliated Peyton Manning and the Broncos literally one year ago.

So, while you may think that Deflate Gate or SpyGate or any sort-of-gate is going to bring down these Patriots, think again.

Tonight, we could see history play out in Arizona as Brady and Belichick look to capture their fourth Super Bowl crown since the 2001 season. Sure, it is the same playing field that saw these Patriots conclude their almost perfect season to the New York Giants, but this team is clearly different from the 18-1 squad.

My prediction: I like the Patriots against the Seahawks. It will be close, but New England will squeak past Seattle, claiming their fourth Lombardi trophy, setting up an interesting handshake between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell.

Again, say what you want – call them cheaters or benders-of-the-rules, but these Patriots will ignore the noise and figure out a way to conclude a controversial season with some hardware.

Mass. College Football: Harvard Picked Second In Ivy League Preseason Media Poll

By NoontimeSports.com

Courtesy of the Harvard University sports information department, here’s today’s release about the Crimson football team, which was selected to finish their upcoming season in second place, according to the preseason media poll:

PRINCETON, N.J. – In a vote of Ivy League football media members, Harvard was selected to finish second in the Ancient Eight this season. The media poll was released Tuesday as part of the league’s annual football media day.

Harvard received five of the 17 first-place votes and finished with 121 points, while Penn, who won last year’s conference crown, earned 11 first-place votes and amassed 129 points. Brown also picked up a first-place tally and was chosen third with 88 points.

Dartmouth was fourth with 76 points, followed by Cornell (57 points), Yale (46) and Columbia (22).

Harvard has registered at least seven wins in each of the last 12 seasons, making the Crimson the only team in the history of the Ivy League to post such a string of successful campaigns. In 2007, Harvard became the first Ivy team to put together seven straight seven-win seasons. The Crimson has also reeled off 13 straight wins at home since October 2010.

Entering his 20th season in Cambridge, Tim Murphy, the Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, will look to capture another conference crown in the program’s 140th season of football, despite being significantly younger at most positions than recent Harvard teams.

From last year’s squad, Harvard graduated Colton Chapple, the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year in 2012, as well as tight end Kyle Juszczyk, who was selected in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. The Crimson, which scored an Ivy record 394 points in 2012, will need to replace a good deal of experience on offense, but Harvard does return tight end Cameron Brate, who has garnered several preseason All-America accolades this year.

On defense, Harvard brings back captain and linebacker Joshua Boyd, as well as standouts Nnamdi Obukwelu, Zach Hodges and Jack Dittmer on the defensive line, and defensive backs D.J. Monroe, Norman Hayes and Chris Splinter, among others. The Crimson also returns senior kicker David Mothander, who holds Harvard’s career scoring lead for kickers with 197 points (21 field goals, 134 extra points). Mothander’s 197 points also ranks ninth in Ivy League history.

The Crimson will open the season on the road at San Diego Sept. 21, before hosting Brown under the lights at Harvard Stadium on NBC Sports Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. EST. Harvard will play two other games on NBC Sports: vs. Penn at Harvard Stadium Nov. 16 and at Yale in the 130th playing of The Game Nov. 23.

Harvard finished the 2012 season with an 8-2 overall record and a 5-2 mark in Ivy League play.

2013 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll

Rank      School (First-Place Votes)           Points

1.              Penn (11)                                          129

2.              Harvard (5)                                       121

3.              Brown (1)                                          88

4.              Dartmouth                                       76

5.              Princeton                                          73

6.              Cornell                                                57

7.              Yale                                                      46

8.              Columbia                                           22

Mass. College Football: Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk Completes First NFL Mini Camp

By Matt Noonan 

Former Harvard University tight end/H-back Kyle Juszczyk recently completed his first NFL minicamp with the Baltimore Ravens and is projected to be the starting fullback for the defending Super Bowl champions, according to this afternoon’s release by the Crimson sports information department.

Juszczyk, who was selected in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft, has transitioned into a fullback due to the team releasing three-time Pro Bowler Vonte Leach.

The two-time All-American and three-time All Ivy League selection finished his career in Cambridge as the program’s all-time leader among tight ends in receptions (125), receiving yards (1,576) and touchdown receptions (22). He ranked third all-time in touchdowns, sixth all-time in receptions and seventh all-time in touchdown receptions.

Excluding Juszczyk, Harvard will have four alums competing for a job in training camp and they are the following:

Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05, QB (Tennessee Titans)

Desmond Bryant ’09, DT (Cleveland Browns)

Brent Osborne ’11, T (Seattle Seahawks)

Kevin Murphy ’12, T (Minnesota Vikings)

Below is a video the Ravens produced from their YouTube Channel featuring Juszczyk, who shares some fond memories of playing football, along with his favorite game-day tunes.

Mass. College Football: Baltimore Selects Harvard’s Juszczyk In NFL Draft

By NoontimeSports.com

Earlier this afternoon, the Baltimore Ravens selected Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and courtesy of the athletic department, below is the release about the Crimson fullback/tight end being drafted:

NEW YORK  – Harvard senior tight end Kyle Juszczyk has been selected in the fourth round of the 2013 National Football League Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Juszczyk was the 130th overall selection in this year’s draft.

During his four years in Cambridge, Juszczyk established new career records for tight end in receptions (125, sixth all-time), receiving yards (1,576, seventh all-time) and touchdown receptions (22, third all-time). He was a two-time All-American at tight end and H-Back for the Crimson and a three-time All-Ivy selection. Following his senior season, during which he led the Crimson in receptions (52), receiving yards (706) and receiving touchdowns (eight), he was invited to the Senior Bowl, where he carried the ball four times for nine yards, primarily being used as a H-back.

“Guys like Kyle Juszczyk do not grow on trees,” Tim Murphy, The Thomas Stephenson Family Head Coach for Harvard Football, said. “He will go down as one of the great players in Harvard and Ivy Football history. His rare combination of versatility, toughness, leadership and playmaking ability was one of the major catalysts for the highest scoring offense since the Ivy League was formed in 1956.”

The Medina, Ohio native showcased all of those traits on a single play that will live on in Harvard lore for years to come. After catching a ball over the middle against Bucknell this past, the senior bulldozed the first defender in his path. He then shed two arm tackles and stiff armed another defender before outrunning the rest of the Bison defense for a 59-yard touchdown in the Crimson’s 35-7 win. The play ended up on ESPN’s Sportscenter the following day as the No. 3 play in its top 10 segment.

Juszczyk becomes the fourth player drafted under Murphy. He joins Matt Birk ’98, who recently retired after winning the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens this past season, Isaiah Kacyvenski ’00 and Ryan Fitzpatrick ’05 as players who have heard their name called at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Overall, he is the 20th Harvard player to get drafted and first since Fitzpatrick was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 draft.

Harvard wrapped up its spring football season Saturday with its annual spring game and will now turn its head to the 2013 season opener at San Diego on Sept. 21.

Road To The 2013 NFL Draft: Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk

Harvard's Kyle Juszczyk hopes to continue his football career in the NFL! (Photo Credit: The Harvard Crimson)
Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk hopes to extend his football career beyond Cambridge! (Photo Credit: The Harvard Crimson)

By Matt Noonan

Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk has always wanted to play professional football, and this weekend his dream could come true as he, along with hundred of other college football players from across the country, will wait anxiously to hear their name announced at this year’s NFL Draft.

According to recent reports, the Harvard fullback/tight end has met with a slew of NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, who maybe interested in his services as Vonta Leach is entering his final year of his contract.

Excluding the Ravens, the Ivy League standout has met with the Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers.

The Baltimore Sun confirmed in a report last week that Juszczyk was “snubbed” from this year’s NFL scouting combine, but performed quite well at his campus Pro Day workout.

Juszczyk finished last season tied for first in the Ancient Eight with eight touchdown receptions and fifth in yards per game (70.6). His best effort occurred against Princeton as he finished the contest with three touchdown receptions and 15 catches for 192 yards.

The Ohio native, who played four seasons with the Crimson, ended his career with 125 receptions for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Harvard’s last player to be drafted was Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is currently a member of the Tennessee Titans.