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.

Sunday Items

Thoughts/Observations from throughout the day Sunday:

  • Michael Kay on the ESPN Sports Reporters “reminds” us this morning stated that the reason the Patriots always get to the Super Bowl is because they get to play home playoff games in the snow at Gillette Stadium.

    Yeah…guess those two AFC championship games IN Pittsburgh don’t count, huh?

  • Later on, Kay pushed A-Rod for MVP saying that David Ortiz ducked Randy Johnson a few weekends ago with a supposed back injury.
  • Tom Jackson on ESPN stated that if the Patriots lose today, their mystique and aura will be gone.
  • Michael Irvin then chimed in that if the Patriots lost today, losing could creep into their heads and be tough to shake. The season could be over.
  • John Tomase in the Eagle Tribune: “When all is said and done, Ramirez may well have authored the weakest 40-homer, 130-RBI season in big league history.”

    Based on…? A ludicrous statement. He goes on to talk again about how Manny is a devisive figure in the Red Sox clubhouse. Perhaps so, But is Manny more devisive than say, Curt Schilling? He’s had unnamed teammates sniping about him, just as Manny supposedly has. We know what Tomase’s horse in the race at this point is.

  • Tom Curran, laying the lumber on Ron Borges in his blog entry today.
  • Around 3:20, I was listening to the Yankee broadcast on WTSN-Dover (NH) in time to hear Mariano Rivera strike out Corey Koskie with two on and two out in the eighth with the score 4-3 Yankees. I switched over to the Red Sox radio broadcast and heard the dismay in Joe Castiglione’s voice as he reported the news and mused “How could he swing at that pitch?”
  • Yes, the implications are huge, but how many times did we need to see the Rodney Harrison injury re-played both during the game, but especially on the Fifth Quarter?
  • Always fun to hear the announcers sway back and forth from showering each team with praise as the momentum of the game swings in each direction.
  • Nice smackdown by Bill Belichick of Steve Burton during his press conference. Burton asked about the pass interference call. Belichick replies “Steve, you know where I’m standing. I mean, could I be any further away from the play?” Even better was Bob Lobel attempting to save Burton face by saying Belichick “rudely dismissed” Burton’s “legitimate question”.
  • Good start for Ted Johnson, but you could tell he felt a bit awkward…and who could blame him? He battled with these guys for years, and now has to be on the other side of the mic from them.
  • I lost count of how many times I heard the phrase “gut check win” on WBCN after 2,947.
  • …and yet, Gary Tanguay was STILL muckraking for controversy after the game…
  • Charlie Weis = Class Act
  • Michael Felger has nailed what would happen in each of the last two Patriots games. Bill Burt’s prediction in this morning’s paper: “New England 23, PITTSBURGH 20 Best game of the year”

Treading Water

The Red Sox managed to keep pace with the Yankees last night, coming back to beat the Orioles 6-3. Check out a collection of links from various papers and sites at the Red Sox Daily Links Page.

You can keep up with the Yankees, and coverage of Pedro Martinez “shutting it down” for the season on the New York Sports News page.

The Patriots continue their preparations for tomorrow afternoon’s AFC Championship game rematch with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Links can be found in the Patriots Daily Links page. The BSMW GameDay page also checks in with a preview from Scott A Benson. In other papers, Eric McHugh writes that the Patriots have shown a history of bouncing back after tough performances. Jeff Goldberg looks at Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and his rise to fame. McHugh also notes that preventing the Steelers from getting off to a fast start is another key to the game. Ron Hobson makes his NFL picks. Check out the out of town coverage with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bob Ryan chronicles what it is like to visit Clemson for a football game, as BC preps to take on the Tigers. Steve Conroy and John R Johnson also look ahead to the game.

Joe McDonald has a piece on Andrew Raycroft, who looked pretty good in his preseason debut against the Islanders last night. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks at his backup, Hannu Toivonen. Stephen Harris looks at the game ending in the first shootout of the preseason for the Bruins, with the hometown team coming up on the short end of the score. McDonald’s notebook looks at Brian Leetch making his hometown debut in front of his new fans. Burrell’s notebook and Harris’ notebook each have more on Leetch as well.

Mark Murphy reports on Chris Wallace, who just returned from a trip to Africa, where he did some clinics and scouting.

UPN38 has BC/Clemson at Noon. NESN has Red Sox/Orioles at 4:30. ABC has Notre Dame/Washington at 3:30. ESPN2 has Michigan/Wisconsin at 6:00. The Tennessee/LSU game which ESPN was to show at 7:45 has been moved to Monday.