Aqib Talib pushed Patriots for LeGarrette Blount trade


With apologies to Marshawn Lynch, no running back is hotter than LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots.

On top of averaging roughly 7.0 yards per carry since Week 16, Blount became the first player in NFL history with at least 150 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game in the divisional-round win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Tale of the Tape: Brady-Manning

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Tom Brady and Peyton Manning will meet for the fourth time in the NFL playoffs. Brady is 2-1.
QBs against one another
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
Comp. %
Pass YPG
Passer rating
QBs all time
Tom Brady
Peyton Manning
148 (3rd)
Career wins
167 (2nd)
49,149 (7th)
Career pass yards
64,964 (2nd)
359 (5th)
Career TDs
491 (2nd)
6,147 (1st)
Postseason pass yards
5,909 (2nd)
42 (3rd)
Postseason TDs
34 (4th)
» Photo essay: Manning vs. Brady

If not for an endorsement from former Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammate Aqib Talib, though, coach Bill Belichick would not have acquired Blount for Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft pick.

"One of the things that was very influential to me was Aqib's evaluation of LeGarrette as a person, as a teammate, as a competitive football player and his skill set," Belichick explained Tuesday. "When you have a guy who is with another player day after day, year after year, competing against him on the field and he gives you an honest evaluation and you trust that player and his evaluation, who knows better than him?"

Belichick provided a window into the decision-making process on players with checkered pasts. He's taken chances on Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth, Chad Johnson, Talib and Blount -- all of whom came with character concerns of one type or another.

The information and evaluation can come in "a lot of different forms ... a lot of different directions," Belichick explained. "But Aqib cleared that up for me in a very positive way."

The notion of a Patriot Way has been overblown. Belichick likes smart, talented, team-first players -- especially if he can get them at a bargain-basement price.

"There's no set formula except we just are trying to get it right," Belichick continued. "That's the bottom line. Sometimes you have seven people saying one thing and one saying another and maybe it's the one guy, not the seven that are right. But the idea is to try to get it right. That's in the end what it all comes down to."

The Patriots have gotten it right on Talib and Blount, both of whom will play major roles in the AFC Championship Game.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" featured discussion on Championship Sunday and an interview with Panthers star Greg Hardy.