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Sports

November 12, 2013

Patriots back from bye, ready for prime-time games

They beat E.J. Manuel and split with Geno Smith. They blew out Ben Roethlisberger in their last game.

Now the New England Patriots will try to stop Cam Newton and the Panthers, who bring a five-game winning streak into Monday night’s game in Carolina.

“He’s playing very efficiently. He does a good job,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call yesterday. “He’s obviously a threat with the ball in his hands to run. He can make all the throws. He can put the ball on the sideline. He’s got a lot of zip on the ball down the field and he’s a good outside thrower, good deep ball thrower. Whether it’s designed runs or scramble runs or loose-type plays, he’s been effective on all those.”

The Patriots (7-2) have faced mobile quarterbacks before this season, beating Manuel and the Bills in Week 1, and Smith’s Jets a week later. (The Jets beat New England in the rematch.) Before heading into a bye, New England earned a 55-31 victory over the Steelers and Roethlisberger, who is big and tough to bring down like Newton, but not as mobile.

“I think that a lot of the plays that Carolina runs we’ve seen from Buffalo and the Jets,” Belichick said. “The fact that we have seen some of those plays, we’ve worked on the basic blocking schemes and how to fit on them, where everybody needs to be. But it’s always a little bit different from week to week, depending on the personnel. There will be some little differences, but there are definitely some similarities between the players that you mentioned and their overall scheme.”

The Patriots have never faced Newton, having played the Panthers (6-3) just twice since beating them 32-29 in the 2004 Super Bowl. The teams split their regular-season meetings since then, with each team winning at home. But while New England remains under the same management, with Belichick as coach and Tom Brady at quarterback, the Panthers now have Ron Rivera as coach and Newton at quarterback.

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