In a game that was alternatively exasperating and entertaining, the Patriots out-muscled the NFC leading Chicago Bears yesterday at Gillette, forcing four turnovers, but overcoming five of their own in a character building 17-13 win.
Mike Reiss notes that the emotional roller coaster wasn’t limited to the fans, as the players went through the ups and downs of the afternoon as well, with “tremendous highs, then sudden lows, and plays that simply don’t take place in many football games.” Shalise Manza Young works in an LL Cool J reference in the first line of her game story, as the Patriots shook off their errors to pull out a victory which none of them wanted to label a “statement.” The BSMW view is over on the Game Day Rear View column from Scott Benson as he looks at the Patriots becoming the first team to roll up 300 yard on the Bears, but still needed to save themselves from their own turnovers. John Tomase is glad that the Patriots finally beat someone good. Alan Greenberg looks at the Patriots making a stand at home and re-establishing themselves as an elite team in the AFC. Ben Rohrbach reminds us that an ugly win is still a win. Rich Garven reports on the Patriots handing the Bears their first road loss of the season despite turning the ball over way too often. Michael Parente says Asante Samuel saved the sloppy Patriots from themselves. Dan Pires takes another view and notes that “Turnovers and a few questionable officiating calls aside, this is what football should be like every Sunday.” Mark Farinella asserts that this game tells us nothing about whether the Patriots are true contenders or mere pretenders.
Ron Borges says this was a football game, noting that: “The offenses weren’t sloppy. They were slapped silly.” Michael Felger says that the Patriots were lucky, tried their best to give this one away, and won’t be able to win this way down the line. Christopher Price trots out another fine edition of 10 Things We Learned Yesterday. Ian Clark notes that the better quarterback was the difference in this battle between two great defenses. Albert Breer has a look at the Patriots defense coming up big and making plays when they were most needed yesterday. Jeff Jacobs looks at Benjamin Watson being ready – and grateful – when Tom Brady came back to him after the tight end had made some mistakes earlier in the game. Farinella has more on the ugly win, which is still a win. Lenny Megliola looks at the Patriots surviving against the NFC’s best and still feeling their best football is ahead of them.
Jackie MacMullan focuses on the fourth quarter run by Tom Brady in which he faked out all-world linebacker Brian Urlacher – a play that MacMullan tells us will be remembered for the balance of the season. Listening to the post-game press conferences on “Fifth Quarter” you could tell that MacMullan and Jim Donaldson were prepping columns on Brady’s run. Donaldson asked questions of both Brady and Belichick about the run, trying to draw the coach into making a humorous statement about the play, but Belichick wasn’t going along with it. Donaldson got enough for his column anyway, as he apparently went around the Patriots locker room asking about it as well. Karen Guregian also writes about the play. Tom King notes the irony of the fact that Tom Brady’s lead feet actually set the pace for the Patriots yesterday.
Tony Massarotti looks at the huge game from Asante Samuel, who had three interceptions on the afternoon. Christopher L Gasper has more on the big day for the Patriots cornerback, who has now set a career high with six picks on the season. Greenberg has more on Samuel’s hat trick on the afternoon. Tim Weisberg looks at Samuel making a name for himself with his play. Joe McDonald has a look at Richard Seymour stepping up his game to the inspired level as the Patriots All Pro lineman made several huge plays in the win yesterday. Jennifer Toland has more on Seymour’s big afternoon. Amalie Benjamin acknowledges the individual performances from Seymour and Ty Warren, but notes that this game was about the defensive line as a unit for the Patriots. Steve Buckley asserts that Laurence Maroney holds the key to the Patriots success this season.
McDonald has more on Faulk becoming the Patriots all time leading receiver among running backs yesterday with his 261st career reception. Massarotti also looks at the mark for Faulk, noting that he and Troy Brown aren’t exactly the biggest guys in the Patriots locker room, but they’ve gotten the job done over the years. Breer has more on Benjamin Watson atoning for earlier mistakes by making the big catches when needed. David Brown and Steve Solloway each also look at Watson making the most of second chances later in the game. Toland has a closer look at Stephen Gostkowski’s 52 yard field goal just before the half, in which the rookie got two chances to make the kick. Bob Duffy notes that the Bears defense might’ve been too good yesterday…it meant their offense had to keep coming back out onto the field. Farinella says that Rex Grossman is no Tom Brady and that that fact could hurt the Bears down the line. Breer has Brian Urlacher hoping for another shot against the Patriots this season – which would mean both teams were in the Super Bowl.
Art Martone tabs Asante Samuel as the Player of the Game. Buckley appoints the best and worst from the game. McDonald’s Game Analysis looks at the keys on both sides of the ball. Greenberg’s Turning Point provides a similar breakdown. Martone says the Play of the Game was the Timeout called by the Bears that allowed Stephen Gostkowski to have a second attempt at a 52 yard field goal just prior to the end of the first half. Felger follows up on his Game Within A Game preview from yesterday, noting that the Patriots did indeed go down the middle of the field against the Bears linebackers. Pires serves up a quick report card on the afternoon’s play by the Patriots.
Tomase’s notebook says that Junior Seau’s season and career are likely over following a broken arm suffered in yesterday’s win. Young’s Talking Points notes that Seau will likely be a coach and mentor on the sidelines for the the foreseeable future for the Patriots. Reiss’ notebook, which is quite extensive, leads off with more on Seau. Garven’s notebook also reports on the injury to the future Hall of Famer. Weisberg’s notebook wonders if this is the end of the line for Seau. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots winning despite poor ball security for the second week in a row. Farinella’s notebook looks at how the new FieldTurf held up under game conditions.
With the Giants blowing a 21 point fourth quarter lead to the lowly Titans yesterday, the New York Sports Pages are a fun place to be this morning.
David Scott examines a difference of opinion between Bob Ryan and Bill Simmons when it comes to Doc Rivers and how much he should be blamed for the Celtics early season struggles.
Tim Weisberg examines a Peter Vecsey report in the NY Post yesterday which said that Danny “Ainge has been trying to pry power forward Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies.” Weisberg notes that should the Grizzlies be sold to the ownership group led by Brian Davis and Christian Laettner, the new owners would want to cut costs and acquire cheap young talent. The Celtics seem a natural fit.
Shira Springer has Paul Pierce and the Celtics hoping to sustain their stretches of good basketball, such as was on display in the second half Saturday night, while reducing the bad stretches as was in evidence the entire night on Friday. Steve Bulpett takes encouragement from Sebastian Telfair stepping up and leading the team to victory in the fourth quarter against the Bucks.
Stephen Harris looks at the Bruins as they come off perhaps their finest 60 minute performance of the season Saturday night in Toronto. Kevin Paul Dupont has the Bruins defense allowing Tim Thomas to get a better view of the puck, which allows him to more easily stop it. Mick Colageo ponders the extinction of the goon in the new NHL.
Tony Massarotti reports that the Red Sox and Scott Boras are an ocean apart in their early negotiations for getting Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka signed and delivered to Boston, and that this could affect their other moves until they can resolve the contract.
Mark Blaudschun looks at the job facing Bowl matchmakers this season, and tabs Boston College as taking on South Carolina in the Music City Bowl. Zach Rocha has a few college basketball thoughts in the early going. John Connolly has an early look at this coming weekend’s Division 1-AA playoff game between UMass and UNH. Allen Lessels has more on the rematch.
ESPN has Packers/Seahawks at 8:30. ESPN2 has Michigan/N.C. State at 7:30. Versus has Stars/Red Wings at 7:00 and Devils/Kings at 10:00.