Championship Effort

The Patriots went to Pittsburgh already banged up, and then proceeded to suffer a potentially disastrous injury to Rodney Harrison in the first half of yesterday’s game. For a while it appeared that yesterday would not be the Patriots day again. But in the second half, the offense started clicking, the defensive line showed why it is the strength of the club, and Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri came in and did what is by now expected of them in the fourth quarter. This resulted in a 23-20 win for the Patriots over the Steelers. Jerome Solomon points out that the most important analysis of yesterday’s game starts with the final score. An offensive funk, more penalties and more injuries come second to the result. Karen Guregian says that the Patriots never packed it in yesterday, though they had ample reason and opportunity. Tom E Curran says that this hand wringing win came with a potentially high price to pay. Alan Greenberg notes that these are the Patriots…nothing should really surprise us anymore. Michael Parente also points out that there were moments when the Patriots could’ve crumbled with all that was going wrong for them, but they showed why they are the champions.

Now that the game is over, we can focus a little more on the implications of the injuries to Rodney Harrison and Matt Light. Michael Felger says that if this team has shown anything over the last few years, it is an ability to overcome adversity…and injuries. Ron Borges writes that “No one is automatic, but you can see automatic from wherever Adam Vinatieri is standing.” Dan Shaughnessy gushes that this was another Larry Bird-Bobby Orr type performance from Tom Brady, who added another game to his highlight reel yesterday. Steve Buckley (Subscription only) also focuses on the magic of Brady, noting that it is just dumb to walk away from a chance to see Brady play, especially at the end of a tight ballgame. Ian M Clark notes that the Patriots got the requisite positive result required after last weeks loss to Carolina. Tom Curran provides his game analysis of the action from yesterday, while the Standard-Times trots out their Report Card and review of the keys to the game.

Fluto Shinzawa has a look at the Patriots defense, specifically the defensive line, which kept the Steelers off balance for much of the game. Guregian also has a look at the stout run defense of the Patriots. Chuck Finder looks at the Patriots getting the timing right all around, from managing the clock at the end of the game, to giving Brady just enough time to get the ball out to his receivers. Steve Buckley has a short report on Corey Dillon running for some tough yards and two TD’s. John MacKenna says that this was a big win, but that they injuries could prove to be bigger.

Nick Cafardo looks at Antwaan Randle El’s ill-advised lateral attempt, which ended up on the ground and in the Patriots possession. He uses the phrase “Was it Antwaan being Antwaan?” Could we just put any variation of the “Manny being Manny” slogan to rest please? It’s tired already. Just not clever. Finder has more on the Patriots defense, this time from the vantage of Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the Steelers consoling themselves that at least this loss came now and not in the AFC Championship game. The Tribune-Review notes that kicking away from Bethel Johnson on the final kickoff didn’t pay off quite as the Steelers had hoped, as rookie Ellis Hobbs returned the kick out to the 38.

Solomon’s notebook reports on the Patriots two major injuries yesterday. Guregian’s notebook observes that neither Matt Light nor Rodney Harrison appear like they will be playing anytime soon. Curran also reports on the two major injuries, while Greenberg’s notebook examines the turning point, and what went right and wrong for the Patriots. Parente’s notebook also looks at the loss of Harrison and Light.

We now enter the final week of the regular season for Major League baseball, and your Boston Red Sox find themselves tied atop the Eastern Division with their archrivals, the New York Yankees. The Red Sox kept pace with the Yankees, who won their final home game of the season yesterday, because Boston defeated the Orioles 9-3 in their final road game of the season. Jeff Horrigan says that the time has come for the final home run for the Red Sox. Chris Snow examines the Red Sox win, which brought them to the end of their long, grinding road schedule. Sean McAdam has the Red Sox hoping to pick up some energy from the home crowd back at Fenway. David Heuschkel reports that the easy win yesterday provided some relief to the Red Sox in their airtight race to the finish. David Borges examines the Red Sox sweep of the Orioles, and talks about “Kevin being Kevin.” Sigh.

Gordon Edes looks at the Red Sox coming home to battle it out in the final week of the season, with everything on the line. A nice piece by Edes, almost poignant at times looking at what “home” means for the Red Sox. Tony Massarotti examines Terry Francona, who feels the frustrations of losses more than most, and who, Massarotti says places a tremendous amount of pressure on himself. Yesterday, Heuschkel had an interesting feature: A week inside the Red Sox clubhouse. A few humorous and interesting items in there. Dom Amore did a similar piece with the Yankees Clubhouse. Kevin Gray looks at a number of former NH Fisher Cats players now up with the Blue Jays who might have a say in the AL East title this week.

Massarotti has David Wells grousing at the umpires some more, as he claims that the home plate umpires was not verbal enough in calling time while he was in the middle of his delivery, causing him to tweak his already balky knee. Horrigan looks at Miguel Tejada making a number of uncharacteristic miscues in the field, making the Red Sox lives a lot easier yesterday. There’s a trio of Red Sox articles in the Globe which do not appear in the sports section, at least the online edition when I was putting this together. Perhaps they’ll get moved there, or perhaps not. Former Globe Sportswriter Nathan Cobb, now retired, recounts how he was told he was the first to use the phrase “Red Sox Nation”. Dan Shaughnessy brought it to his attention, noting that while he (Shaughnessy) would claim credit for the phrase “Curse of the Bambino”, he couldn’t for “Red Sox Nation”. I thought I remember reading something where Shaughnessy didn’t come up with the “Curse” phrase either, but perhaps I’m mistaken. Stephen Smith reports that when the Red Sox are in a playoff race, hospital visits are surprisingly down. Dr. Eric Leskowitz wonders if “Weird Science” and home field advantage can save the Red Sox this week.

Snow’s notebook looks at Wells and his knee, putting forth the possibility that he may get another cortisone shot this week. If he does however, he says he’s not telling the media. Horrigan’s notebook looks at Manny Ramirez tying Cal Ripken Jr on the all-time home run list. McAdam’s notebook has more on Wells and his knee. Heuschkel’s notebook looks at Dale Sveum taking a chance that paid off this time.

Steve Conroy looks at Bruins defenseman Nick Boynton, who continues his holdout as the regular season opener is just 10 days away. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at the combo of Joe Thornton and Glen Murray looking smooth on Saturday night.

Allen Lessels examines the UNH Wildcats, who could be named the #1 team in NCAA Division 1-AA football when the rankings come out this afternoon. Michael Vega looks at Boston College getting back to work after their 16-13 win at Clemson on Saturday. Steve Conroy looks at the sophomores who played a big role in the victory for BC.

Yesterday’s NBA Notes from Shira Springer looked at the Celtics new relationship with the Florida Flame of the NBDL for developing young players. She also had updates on Tony Allen, and hurricane damage relief efforts by the Celtics.

John Molori’s Media Blitz has observations from around the NFL yesterday. Scroll down to the next entry on this page for observations from this corner on yesterday’s events. I especially liked the Tom Curran blog entry. Not often you see a sportswriter calling out another in such a fashion. The New York Sports News page finds a number of Red Sox stories among the Yankees, Jets and Giants coverage.

NESN has Red Sox/Blue Jays at 7:00. ABC has Chiefs/Broncos at 9:00.

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