Patriots Offensive Thus Far

Over on Patriots Daily, with the Patriots set to go up against Bills rookie Marshawn Lynch this week, Bill Barnwell examines how offensive players from the Big 10 compare with players from the Pac 10.

Mike Reiss says that Tom Brady has certainly gotten himself into an early season groove. Karen Guregian says that Brady has found himself in a fantasy world for the first two games of the season. David Heuschkel has more on Brady getting connected with his new receivers. Ian M. Clark has Brady staying grounded, though his offense is flying high. Rich Garven says that the Patriots have shown a balanced attack that is going to be hard to defend.

Joanna Weiss in the Globe looks at Brady’s duel roles as both star quarterback and style icon. Shalise Manza Young has Patriots rookie Kareem Brown talking about his friend and former teammate Kevin Everett and his spinal injury suffered in the season opener. Chris Kennedy says that the Patriots aren’t going to assume that the rest of the season will go like the first two games have. Michael Parente says that a strong start to the season hasn’t changed the team’s philosophy. Jeff Howe has a look at Donte’ Stallworth as a guy aware of life outside of football.

Mark Farinella has Mike Vrabel ready get after J.P. Losman this week. Robert Lee says that as usual, the Patriots will likely have their hands full with Buffalo’s Aaron Schobel. Douglas Flynn says that the Bills’ special teams could also be an area of concern for the Patriots.

Reiss reports that Rodney Harrison actually first purchased human growth hormone in 2003. Ron Chimelis says that the NFL should’ve addressed the spying incidents around the league much earlier on. Over in the Metro, that Bruce Allen guy is claiming that no one involved in this episode exactly covered themselves with glory.

The Globe’s notebook has Mike Vrabel enjoying his move back to outside linebacker. Guregian’s notebook has coach Belichick dismissing talk about the Patriots running the table this season. The Projo notebook has a more on the passing attack for the first two games. Garven’s notebook has Belichick getting fired up when the subject of a perfect season was brought up.

Red Sox

The Red Sox continued their slide out of the division lead, falling 6-1 to the Blue Jays and seeing their lead over the Yankees shrink to 1.5 games.

Rob Bradford closes his game story with Mike Timlin saying that the Sox need to build momentum heading into the playoffs. This isn’t how to do it. Gordon Edes chronicles another “mind-numbing Red Sox defeat.” Sean McAdam says that today’s only good news is that the Sox can’t lose ground today. Jeff Goldberg has the Sox limping to the finish line. Bill Ballou says that the Red Sox approach to the final weeks of the season is bordering on bizarre.

Tony Massarotti has a look at the performance of Clay Buchholz last night, which showed that the rookie still has quite a bit to learn. Amalie Benjamin has more on Buchholz, noting that his status for the postseason is still unknown. Art Martone says that the Red Sox are showing that they are more concerned with the long haul and big picture. Bradford has Eric Gagne trying to remain positive. Massarotti wonders if Manny Ramirez is just being Manny.

Bradford’s notebook has the Sox shutting down Hideki Okajima to rest his arm. Edes’s notebook has Francona determined not to give up Eric Gagne. McAdam’s notebook has more on Buchholz, who was tagged with the loss last night. Goldberg’s notebook says two costly mistakes haunted Buchholz last night. Ballou’s notebook has more on the Sox shutting down Okajima.

Other

Marc J. Spears has Gerald Green talking about his trade to the Timberwolves. Mark Murphy also has Green talking about his trade. Jessica Camerato has the Celtics newcomers adding some winning experience. Bob Ryan looks at the ugly sexual harassment trial of Isiah Thomas.

Stephen Harris has Manny Fernandez planning on getting some time in net tonight, with the goal to be ready to go for the season opener on October 5th. Bud Barth has more on Fernandez suiting up tonight. Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins living up to their goal of being hard to play against in their preseason opener.

Mark Blaudschun and Steve Conroy have Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan grabbing some of the national spotlight with his early season play.

SI Follies

I’m not sure if I’m supposed to blast Sports Illustrated or praise them this afternoon.

Last week, as part of the national media’s 24/7 bash-fest on Patriots coach Bill Belichick, SI’s Phil Taylor wrote a scatching piece that was typical of many written around the country. Taylor cited the events of last week as the latest in a “disturbingly long list of behavior that paints Belichick as paranoid, unsportsmanlike, classless and, if (Ted) Johnson’s claims are true, even abusive.”

Part of the article also talked about Belichick’s encounter with Peyton Manning following the Colts’ AFC Championship game win over the Patriots. Taylor blasted Belichick for what many have portrayed as having happened in that encounter. Last week, you might recall that in a piece I wrote tearing apart a Bob Cook article, I posted a picture of that Belichick/Manning handshake.

Today, if you look at Taylor’s article, there is a note at the bottom, which says:

Editor’s note: In a previous version of this story, Taylor asserted that Belichick treated Peyton Manning pretty much the same way he had treated Eric Mangini. Belichick did, in fact, shake Manning’s hand after the AFC championship game. SI.com regrets the error.

Then, today, Frank Deford decided it was his turn to take on Belichick for how he handled the meeting with Manning. Check out this runup:

I am always touched when, after all the savagery of a football game, the opposing players and coaches mingle pleasantly in the middle of the gridiron. Why, it's even reminiscent, on a reduced athletic scale, of the famous Christmas Eve armistice between the trenches in the First World War.

So it is that my lasting image of Bill Belichick came at the conclusion of the AFC championship game this past January after his Patriots had been beaten in a close game by Indianapolis.

The Colts' magnificent quarterback, Peyton Manning, spotted Belichick and sought him out in the crowd on the field. But Belichick ducked away, brushing by Manning, refusing to pay homage to the man who had been most responsible for his team's defeat. The look on Manning's face: some embarrassment, but mostly, it seemed, disappointment mixed with surprise.

That column was on the front page of SI’s NFL section, but has since been pulled. You can still access it in the SI archives page. I wonder what the retraction on this one is going to say, since Deford was so descriptive in what happened there to create the “lasting image.”

Edit: SI has added this to Deford’s article:

(although Belichick did shake Manning’s hand for the cameras somewhat later)

I’m trying to get more detail on this claim, which obviously is hard to substantiate.

In another note, Peter King seems to turning away from the Belichick-bashing and moving onto targeting Mangini.

Serious Shrinkage in Boston

Someone might want to let the Red Sox know that they have not clinched a thing yet, and this maneuvering to set up their playoff rotation could come back to look pretty silly on them in the next couple of weeks. Boston held a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning last night, and manager Terry Francona entrusted the game to Eric Gagne, who got the first two outs of the inning, but then gave up three runs, allowing the Blue Jays to escape with a 4-3 win over the Red Sox, shrinking Boston’s lead in the AL East to 2.5 games.

Rob Bradford has Jason Varitek insisting after last night’s game that the Sox are going need Gagne. Hell, they needed him last night. Needing someone doesn’t mean they’re going to perform. Gordon Edes says that Francona needed to see if he could trust Gagne with a lead, and will have to see how much that will cost him down the stretch. Sean McAdam notes that the Red Sox patience with Gagne last night dealt them a serious blow their short term prospects. Jeff Goldberg notes that a strong outing by Jon Lester was long forgotten by the time Gagne was finished. Bill Ballou wonders if TV manufacturers have seen a spike in sales here in New England since Gagne was acquired.

Tony Massarotti says that fans who are sweating the division have a loser mentality, as he says the important thing is to make the postseason, and their magic number for that actually went down last night. Jon Couture attempts to figure out what the Red Sox postseason roster would look like at this point. Amalie Benjamin has Gagne at a loss for words following the game last night as he struggles to figure out how his command has deserted him. Jim Donaldson looks at how the Red Sox pitching, once the strength of the club, has been so dreadful as of late. Massarotti says that the right knee of David Ortiz is still causing the slugger a lot of pain, and that he might be sitting out a game soon to rest it. Joe Haggerty looks at the injury list piling up for the Red Sox. With fans frustrated about the absence of Manny Ramirez, Bradford says that you need to understand what is involved in an oblique injury. He talks to Mike Timlin, who missed five weeks with his oblique strain earlier this season.

Bradford’s notebook has Clay Buchholz ready for his start tonight, 18 days after his no-hitter. Edes’s notebook has quite a bit more on Manny’s injury, and looks at how the oblique is such a difficult injury to judge, and notes other players who have had to deal with the injury. McAdam’s notebook has Francona shuffling his rotation for the postseason. Goldberg’s notebook has an injury update on Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp, who sat out last night with a sore back. Ballou’s notebook looks at the postseason magic number shrinking to four.

Patriots
Dan Snapp on Patriots Daily says that “Spygate” should teach us that no one is to be trusted.

Mike Reiss notes that early on, the Patriots running back situation has turned into another job share situation. John Tomase says that the Patriots explosive offense now needs a catchy nickname. Dan Pires says that the Patriots have shined while staying the course. Lenny Megliola says that Bill Belichick is still beloved by Patriots fans

Dan Shaughnessy chimes in on Spygate with a column that is about a week late. If you missed Michael Felger‘s report card from yesterday, there it is. Eric McHugh also has his version of the report card. Mark Farinella has his alter ego Ask Fearless address the video controversy. Sarah Green says that the videogate deserves some awards for those who distinguished themselves in this affair.

Reiss’ notebook has the league trying to figure out how FOX got the Patriots video that they showed on Sunday. Tomase’s notebook reports that Rodney Harrison placed his first order for HGH the day before the Patriots played the Titans in the playoffs in 2004.

Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins will be counting on more from Andrew Alberts this season. Stephen Harris says that there were some positive signs in the Bruins opening game of the preseason last night. Shinzawa’s notebook says that Dennis Wideman has something to prove here in Boston. Harris looks at what Shawn Thornton can bring to the Bruins this season.

Rally Cry

Note: For some reason I was unable to access either the Boston Globe or Herald websites when doing the links this morning.

Christopher Price in his Inside Gillette column for Patriots Daily, notes that when it comes to crisis management, no one holds a candle to Belichick and the Patriots.

Albert Breer says farewell as the prepares to leave the MetroWest Daily News and step onto the Cowboys beat at the Dallas Morning News. Go get ‘em, Bert.

David Heuschkel says that two games into the season, the Patriots look like a juggernaut. Shalise Manza Young notes that it was rally-around-the-coach time in Foxboro as the Patriots stand by their man. David Brown has Tedy Bruschi defending his coach and striking back at critics. Ian M. Clark also looks at the Patriots rallying around their coach.

Rich Garven says that Tom Brady is finally showing what he can do with a top-flight receiver to throw to. Douglas Flynn says that the Patriots spoke loud and clear on Sunday night. Bill Reynolds looks at the “no respect” rallying cry coming front and center for the Patriots once again.

Young’s notebook has Belichick complying with the league’s request to turn over notes and video gathered on opposing teams since 2000. Brown’s notebook has LT saying that the Chargers were trapped at Gillette Sunday night.

John Molori says that Belichick’s punishment was an end and a beginning.

Red Sox
Frank Thomas hit three home runs last night, and Dustin McGowan pitched a complete game five-hitter as the Blue Jays beat the Red Sox 6-1 in Toronto last night. The loss dropped the AL East lead to 3.5 games, the lowest it has been since May 1st.

Bill Ballou says that the positive that can come out of the Red Sox recent play is that maybe it will come as a slap in the face. Sean McAdam looks at the weary and undermanned Sox falling in Toronto. Jeff Goldberg looks at the Sox sleepwalking through the Frank Thomas show.

Art Martone says that even though the lead is down to 3.5 games, the numbers and history are both still on the Red Sox side for winning the AL East. Joe Haggerty looks at Eric Hinske as a guy who plays the game the right way. McAdam reports that NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo will be used by TBS to announce postseason games, as the network secured the rights to the Division series for this season.

McAdam’s notebook has Clay Buchholz getting the call to start tomorrow’s series finale with the Blue Jays. Goldberg’s notebook has more on Buchholz getting the call. Ballou’s notebook has more on the rookie making his first start since his no-hitter against the Orioles.

As Seen and Heard Yesterday

In case you missed any of it, here’s an extensive sampling of what the NFL analysts had to say during their various broadcasts yesterday about the Patriots video scandal.

FOX Sports NFL Insider Jay Glazer headlined FOX NFL Sunday with an exclusive copy of the actual tape that was confiscated during last Sunday’s Patriots-Jets game and sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Glazer: “Everyone wants to know what evidence the NFL has in order to drop the hammer on the Patriots. We’ve got it for you. Check this out. [Tape runs] Video assistant Matt Estrella is clearly picking up the Jets’ defensive coaching signals, and then he pans up to the scoreboard for down and distance. This goes on throughout the entire tape. What they do is take this film and then afterwards, synch it up with the actual coach’s game tape. One of the coaches will then study the signals, and the next time they play the New York Jets and see those same hand signals, they can relay the blitz and coverage info down to the coaches on the sideline. Obviously this evidence proved to be damning enough for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.”

Back in the studio, Jimmy Johnson led off the following discussion on this practice: “This is exactly how I was told to do it 18 years ago by a Kansas City Chiefs scout. I tried it, but I didn’t think it helped us.”

Howie Long: “If you’re going to tell me that this is the first time that a team has taped an opposing team’s sideline, you are naïve. The only thing that’s unique about this is that the Patriots tried to do this at the Meadowlands, a stone’s throw from NFL Headquarters, on a sideline that some would argue is policed better than our national borders, using a video guy who has a prior record after being caught doing the same thing last year, and against a coach who knows the who, what, when and where about everything. Now, the moral outrage that’s been expressed by some people within the NFL and some of the media that cover the NFL, to me, rings a little bit shallow. I think there have been people laying in the tall grass looking to kick Bill Belichick in the teeth.”

Terry Bradshaw: “I agree, but here is the fact. Bill Belichick, you are now known as a cheater. A cheater! That doesn’t sound too good. It’s embarrassing not only to yourself, but to your players. They didn’t need this. It’s uncalled for, and now people are wondering if you cheated during your Super Bowl wins. You’ve hurt your ownership and you’ve hurt the fans in your city all because of your arrogance.”
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Johnson: “Every team has got a file on the other team. I used to send an intern up to the opposing coach’s box after the game and go through the trash. Because after the game, what do they do? They take their game plan and their scouting reports and throw them away. My intern would get all of that stuff and put it right in the file.”

Bradshaw: “He did not need to do this. He’s too good of a coach.”

Long [to Terry]: “If you think the Patriots have the market cornered on this, you are naïve.”

Curt Menefee: “Bottom line, it wasn’t the cheating that got the Patriots in trouble, because everyone does it, but the arrogance with which they operate.”

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On this week’s ‘Grumpy Old Coaches‘ analysts Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson and moderator/referee Terry Bradshaw discussed the Patriots punishment for illegally videotaping the Jets sidelines and their own experience with going after a winning edge:

Johnson: “Bill Belichick was wrong because he videotaped signals after a memo was sent out to all of the teams saying not to do it. But what irritates me is hearing some reactions from players and coaches. These players don’t know what their coaches are doing. And some of the coaches have selective amnesia because I know for a fact there were various teams doing this. That’s why the memo was sent to everybody. That doesn’t make him [Belichick] right, but a lot of teams are doing this.”

Switzer: “It’s total arrogance. The Commissioner sent a memo out to every squad.”

Bradshaw: “Did you do it at Oklahoma?”

Switzer: “Yeah. It happened.”

Bradshaw: “Did you do it at Arkansas?”

Johnson: “Yeah.”

Bradshaw: “Did you do it in Miami?”

Johnson: “Yeah.”

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On CBS’ NFL TODAY “General Manager” Charley Casserly had plenty more accusations to make against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, and what else there might be in the future:

James Brown: The New England Patriots got caught red-handed with a spy camera on the sidelines. Is there anything else they might have been up to?

Charley Casserly: There are a couple of things: First of all, wireless frequencies. The Patriots asked for three wireless frequencies to be used on their Patriot television show. However what they did was change to other frequencies, other channels, which is against League policy. Also during the game, Jets had trouble with their coach-to-quarterback system. One of these (Patriots) channels was close to the Jets coach-to-quarterback system. You can’t deliberately interfere with another team’s coach-to-quarterback system. Now, many other teams have had trouble when they’ve played the Patriots with their coach-to-quarterback system. I asked the League, is there any specific knowledge that the Patriots deliberately interfered with the coach-to-quarterback system of the Jets. They told me no, but they said they reserve the right to make another case against the Patriots if other facts come forward.

Brown: Coincidence or not we just don’t know. Are there any other tactics that you are aware of that the Patriots use?

Casserly: An NFL coach told me he got this from an ex-Patriot coach. What the Patriots would do is send someone into the opponent’s locker room looking for information. In one specific game the opponent had left their opening plays on the board, this person brought them back to the Patriot coaches.

Brown: We know they got caught with a spy camera against Green Bay and Detroit last season. It’s one thing to do it against a division opponent, but why tape a team you won’t see again?

Casserly: I’ve been told by a number of people in the NFL that Bill Belichick keeps a library on each defensive coordinator to use against them in the future. The NFL has requested the Patriots and Bill Belichick to turn over all videotapes and notes with videotapes. One of the things they’re looking for is that library.

Brown: The League has penalized the Patriots, what else are they doing?

Casserly: The League has prepared a memo to go out to all teams next week, not with new policies, but to re-emphasize certain points of policies. First of all, NFL security will be allowed to spot check sidelines and locker rooms presumably for videotaping. Also, NFL security will be allowed to confiscate materials, equipment, or any parts of uniforms in violation of NFL rules. I think this rule is being emphasized because last week when NFL security went to the Patriots and asked them to turn over the camera and videotape, they refused. And finally, wireless frequencies – you’re only going to be allowed to be on NFL frequencies, which is the rule now, but it will be strictly enforced and penalties could be enforced if you violate it.

(More on New England Patriots Bill Belichick and fines for video taping on sidelines)

Bill Cowher: From a coach’s perspective, trying to steal signals is part of the game. We understand that as a coach. You see walkie-talkies, tape recorders, but when you take the camera on the field, that’s just arrogance. I think the penalty was stiff by the Commissioner. I think it will be a good deterrent. The two AFC Championship games that we lost to the New England Patriots, I don’t believe this had any factor in it. I have too much respect for Tom Brady, for (Corey) Dillon, for (Deion) Branch and also for Coach Belichick. I think he’s still a good coach. I do agree with the fact that the deterrent has been set with the precedent when this Commissioner came down hard on him.

Dan Marino: To a quarterback, if you know the signals ahead of time, that’s a huge advantage. If you know where the blitz is going to come from, what coverage that they’re going to be in…It’s arrogant. It’s wrong. It’s cheating. When you look at it that way, you could make Boomer Esiason look like Joe Montana. I’m trying to keep it light.

Boomer Esiason: I agree with the punishment also. I think it does fit the crime…When it’s all said and done, it doesn’t tarnish in my eyes, in any way, shape or form, what the Patriots have accomplished under Bill Belichick.

Shannon Sharpe: I think the punishment should have been more severe. The precedent was set when the Commissioner suspended the quarterback coach for the Cowboys Wade Wilson five games for receiving human growth hormone. Even if you just suspended Bill Belichick for five games, fine him a third of his salary on principle alone. Maybe he can still talk to his coaches and get the plays in, but the precedent has been set. Now you’re talking about competitive balance. You’re talking about the integrity of the shield. This guy blatantly did it. Blatantly disregarded your direct orders Mr. Commissioner on September 6 when you sent out that memo, he did that. If it wasn’t a big deal, why would he go to these lengths to do what he did?

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Sun_NFL_Countdown_CLR_Pos.jpgFrom ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown:

Was the Punishment Harsh Enough for Patriots and Bill Belichick?

Tom Jackson: “I don’t think so. When you think about the players, whether it was Odell Thurman, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson the list is endless, those people were taking off the field because that’s what actually hurts players and coaches alike. $500,000 is an immense fine, but it is less immense if you are rich. When the commissioner said I’m going to take those who have charge over these younger players to a higher level of authority, to a higher standard, I think that that’s the message that he was trying to send here, but he should have sent this by taking his (coach Belichick’s) expertise off the field for a game.”

Keyshawn Johnson: “This is not anything that has to do with off-the-field issues. It is not criminal at all. These are two totally different things. Those football players got into trouble off the field doing things that the commissioner said, ‘hey you need to not do this, you need to pay attention, need to stay out of trouble.’ So it took them off the field. The fine that was paid was a $500,000 fine, $250,000 for the team, this is totally different. Advance scouting does not give the team an advantage during the game.”

Jackson: “It’s not criminal. Just answer me this: so I tell you don’t do it, you do it. You do it in the first game, against a team that you absolutely know you’re going to see one more time. And you do it against a guy who you know knows that you do it, what is that?”

Emmitt Smith: “That is arrogance. It is still arrogance because Belichick knew he was wrong. When you get a message from the commissioner and he tells you you should not be doing this and you do it anyway you just said to the whole entire league: ‘Forget your rules, I have my own set of rules. I’m going to run my rules the way that I want to do it’ and that is what he did on Sunday. Not only did he send a message to Mangini and his group, but he also sent a message back to Roger Goodell. ‘Roger you may be the commissioner but as I run this team, this is the way I’m going to run it.'”

Mike Ditka: “The one thing he said that is behind us, you’re wrong. This is not behind you. It will never be behind you. It is part of your legacy whether you like it nor not. I don’t make the rules. I’m just telling you you will always be remembered for this, more than the great things you’ve done on the sidelines. I’m just telling you that’s just the way it is.”

Smith: “The $500,000 fine to Belichick is good, but also the $250,000 fine to the Patriots is good. The first round draft pick if you get to the Super Bowl is good. But to take this man from his ball club and take him off the sidelines is even better, because it sends a stronger message. Roger (Goodell) is doing a heck of a job. It will affect Belichick and his thinking.”

Jackson: “I believe that when you’re talking about a guy who is as good a coach as coach Belichick is, his ability to make adjustments on the field, his ability to go into a locker room and make adjustments at halftime, I believe yes if you take that away, no Charlie Weis, no Romeo Crennel, I believe that if you take that away yes you certainly have affected that football team.”

Smith: “He’s messing with the integrity of the game, which as you know, when we were kids we grew up we were taught that integrity, sportsmanship, all those things are very much part of the game and when you start crossing that line you’re messing with a whole lot of things and I think he crossed the line.”

Ditka: “Character counts.”

Has the perception of Belichick and Patriots been tainted?

Johnson: “It doesn’t change my mind one bit about the New England Patriots…I think for the one part that you think about it changes the minds of the fans and these media types that sit up here. It changes your view of the New England Patriots but not mine.”

Smith: “It doesn’t change my mind either, in terms of their success but what you have to look at truly is whether or not the players are doing their part, and I believe that their players get on the football field and they get in the position to make plays…Belichick can not make a player catch a ball, he can not make a player make the right block and he can make Tom Brady make the right reads. What he can do is to put you in a position to make a play but it is up to the player at the end of the day to make the plays.”

Jackson: “I have a 12 year named Taylor who plays premiere soccer and I’m trying as best I can to teach her the edict of fair play and in the sports climate that exists right now I’m finding that’s it very difficult. I’m going to give you a parallel here only because he is the head coach of the defending world champions and I think that his ethics stand way up here so I can use him in this analogy. If this happened to Tony Dungy, would we call into question his championship won last year? Would we call into question all that voodoo that Peyton Manning does at the line of scrimmage figuring out what the defense does? Would “Quiet Strength,” his best selling book, be dissected for every single utterance for something about fair play. So when you talk about legacy, when you talk about what’s going to be remembered, I can say that it will be remembered. I don’t know to what extent, but it will be remembered.”

Ditka: “Key, from this media type, let me tell you something if somebody calls you a cheater and it doesn’t bother you then you are a cheater.”

Statement Game

Any questions?

The Patriots came out and made a collective statement in front of a national audience last night as they trounced the San Diego Chargers 38-14 at Gillette Stadium.

John Tomase says that the Chargers also made a statement last night and it went like this: “Mommy.” Scott Benson has the Patriots doing their talking on the field last night. Christopher L. Gasper says that the Patriots played like a team hell-bent on exacting revenge. Shalise Manza Young has Patriots players talking about how satisfying this win was for them. David Heuschkel has the Patriots dominating on offense and turning LaDainian Tomlinson into a non-factor. Douglas Flynn says that the Chargers might wish there weren’t any cameras around for last night. Chris Kennedy says that there is nothing scarier than watching a ticked off Tom Brady vent his frustration. Rich Garven says that this game lacked the drama of the playoff matchup, but certainly not the emotion. David Brown has the Patriots sending the rest of the league a signal with their performance. Mark Farinella says that this effort should be committed to film. Mike Lowe has the Patriots sending a message with their domination of the Chargers.

Christopher Price has his 10 Things We Learned Last Night. Michael Felger looks at the Patriots coming up with the ultimate comeback to their critics. Jackie MacMullan has the Patriots backing their coach last night, and making a statement to all. Albert Breer says that calling and making all the big plays is what separates these two teams. Mike Reiss looks at the Patriots going no-huddle to start the game and get an idea of how the Chargers would be able to handle the three receiver sets. Kevin McNamara has more on the air arsenal that the Patriots led off the game with. Jim Donaldson says that this Patriots team has more offensive weapons than any in franchise history.

Karen Guregian has more on Tom Brady and the offense embarrassing the Chargers last night. Frank Dell’Apa has Brady throwing three touchdowns and plenty of praise towards his coach. Dan Ventura also looks at Brady and company staying focused on the matters at hand. Donaldson has Brady making some strong statements on and off the field in support of his team and coach. Dan Pires has the Patriots defense smothering LT and company.

I’m really not sure what Tony Massarotti is trying to say. He’s talking about Belichick acknowledging the crowd last night and appearing human, and also suggests that Belichick has “absolutely no reservoir of goodwill on which to draw” from his professional colleagues. Kevin McNamara has Tedy Bruschi speaking out on what this game meant to him and the team. Donaldson says that for Belichick in this case, the adage that actions speak louder than words was true last night. Jeff Jacobs says that cheating makes cents for Belichick.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has a look at Wes Welker, as the newcomer continues to impress. Jennifer Toland has Rosevelt Colvin stepping up and bringing the heat on Philip Rivers. Rich Thompson looks at a pair of former Purdue Boilermakers in Colvin and Shaun Phillips making their mark in the NFL. Robert Lee also has Colvin having a monster game last night for New England. Bob Hohler has the Chargers failing to find their power source last night.

Ventura has the best and worst from yesterday. Murphy looks at Adalius Thomas’ interception and TD as the play of the game for last night. Heuschkel has his sidelines report of what went right and wrong for the Patriots last night.

Robert Lee has Thomas making a huge impression in his Gillette debut as a Patriot. Toland has a piece on Willie Andrews, who has carved a role for himself on special teams. Lee also has Laurence Maroney knowing that his time has come to take the lead role. Tim Weisberg has a look at Wareham’s Stephen Cooper relishing his role with the Chargers. Lee wraps up his player profiles with Donte Stallworth patiently awaiting his turn on offense, while he works on his timing with Tom Brady.

Tomase reports that Eric Mangini blew the whistle last season on the Patriots for taping as well. Guregian says that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might not be done with his investigation of the Patriots, and notes the charges that CBS analyst Charley Casserly made yesterday afternoon, which including his claims that the Patriots have broken into opposing locker rooms to steal game plans. Reiss and Gasper have more on the ongoing investigation into the matter. Heuschkel says that Belichick is not out of the woods just yet. Brown says that Goodell will be keeping an eye on the Patriots. Farinella says that as much as we want it to, “videogate” is not about to go away.

Guregian’s notebook examines the ESPN report that Belichick has signed a new contract with the Patriots through 2013. The Globe notebook also looks at the rumored new deal. Young’s notebook has more on the new deal and the ongoing investigation. Farinella’s notebook has Maroney revealing himself to be a film buff. Lowe’s notebook has Belichick getting the approval and support of the crowd last night.

Red Sox
Oh yeah, there was a little baseball game going on at the same time last night. Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling hooked up for a pitching duel, and even though Schilling might’ve last longer than Clemens, his last pitch of the evening proved fatal as Derek Jeter cranked a three-run homer which proved to be the game winner for the Yankees in a 4-3 Red Sox loss.

Michael Silverman has the Red Sox unable to come back from the Jeter blast. Gordon Edes has the Red Sox coming out on the short end of a great game at Fenway. Joe McDonald has the Red Sox staying positive after the loss. Jeff Goldberg has a classic pitchers duel being decided by a classic hitter. Art Davidson has Jeter jolting the Sox once more. Ron Chimelis says that Clemens made the most of what could’ve been his last game at Fenway. Kevin Thomas looks at Jeter breaking up the pitching duel.

Dan Shaughnessy notes that Schilling and Clemens have a lot in common, and it made for sensational theater last night. Steve Buckley looks at aging hurlers Schilling and Clemens being unwilling to ride off into the sunset just yet. Lenny Megliola says that the Rocket and Schill are two for the ages. Steven Krasner looks at Rivera vs. Ortiz last night. Dom Amore looks at the six strong innings from Clemens last night.

Nick Cafardo loves Derek Jeter. Alex Speier (writing for the Herald) looks at Jeter once again coming through in the clutch. Amalie Benjamin has Jason Varitek discussing his recent woes at the plate. Joe Haggerty has more on Varitek’s slump. McDonald says that Varitek truly fits the captain role for the Red Sox.

Jon Couture says that the Red Sox have managed to survive the absence of Manny Ramirez. Speier says that Clay Buchholz could be the Red Sox K-Rod in the postseason, as he wonders if the Sox are keeping him under wraps to limit his exposure. Benjamin has the young and the old of the Yankee bullpen getting the job done last night. Buckley says that the Red Sox are already working on setting their rotation for October, and changes could start this week.

Speier has Yankees rookie Shelley Duncan getting in a little hot water after scribbling “Red Sox Suck” in a kid’s autograph book. Cafardo has Jorge Posada answering the bell after getting run over on Saturday.

Silverman’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis unsure when he’ll be back in action after getting hit on the wrist Saturday. Edes’ notebook has Daisuke Matsuzaka getting bumped back a few days for rest and also for the postseason rotation. Krasner’s notebook has Manny Ramirez looking for some practice at-bats. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the Red Sox juggling Dice-K in the rotation. Davidson’s notebook has more on Youkilis. Chimelis’ notebook has more on the postseason staffing. Couture’s notebook also looks at Youkilis sitting out last night.

If you’re in the neighborhood, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders with be doing a book appearance, (for Pro Football Prospectus 2007 taking questions on all kinds of things that have nothing to do with videocameras, at the Kenmore BU Barnes and Noble at 7pm tonight.

Weekend Watch – Play Ball!

We’re coming to the end of a crazy week in New England, and I think we’re all ready to sit back and enjoy some actual games on the field this weekend.

Leading things off are the Red Sox and Yankees who get together for a three game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox lead the AL East by 5.5 games with 15 to play. The Yankees have won seven of the last nine games these teams have played coming into this series. Keep up with all the coverage on RedSoxLinks.com and the all new NYYankeesLinks.com.

The Patriots of course, are coming off a tumultuous week and likely look forward to getting out onto the field and hitting the opponent. Patriots Daily will have you covered all weekend, with a look at the college games, the Sunday papers and the Game Day Rear View. They’ve also got your food and beer covered with the Patriots Buffet Table.

NBCSports.com debuted a new weekly feature “Sunday Night Blogger” – and I’m pleased to be the first guest in the series. I talk with Cris Collinsworth about the Patriots controversy, as well as Patriots/Chargers.

Here are your TV Coverage Maps, CBS Early Game, CBS Late Game and Fox Single Game. Here also is your College Football TV Schedule.

Michael Silver says that the filming episode this week was the result of nothing more than a “petty, childish little feud” between Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick.

Bill Simmons weighs in on the punishment to the Patriots and makes his week two picks.

Sports Law Blog had a couple of good posts this week on the Patriots situation, one from Geoffrey Rapp and another from Michael McCann which looks at the opinion of Professor Alfred Yen of Boston College Law School.

Howard Bryant says that the stakes will be high this weekend at both Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.

Chad Finn says that this week was just an exercise in arrogance all around.

That’s all I got for now…enjoy the weekend.

Commish Finds Pats Guilty

The NFL Commissioner made his ruling last night and found the Patriots guilty of breaking league rules in the camera incident against the Jets on opening day. He fined the Patriots $250,000 and Bill Belichick personally $500,000 and took away a draft pick from the Patriots. If they make the playoffs, it will be a first round pick (though they still keep the 49ers first rounder) and if they miss the playoffs a second and third round pick will be taken away. No suspension was handed down (to the chagrin of many) and commissioner Roger Goodell also determined that the filming had no impact on the outcome of the game on Sunday. So the Patriots still kicked the Jets around without the extra help.

Mike Reiss and John Tomase lay out the sanctions imposed by the league, which were stiff, but still not as harsh as many were rooting for. We’ve heard media members suggest suspensions, forfeiting the Jets game, banning the Patriots from the postseason, and even doing something with the Patriots previous Super Bowl victories. Kerry J. Byrne of Cold Hard Football Facts likens this offense to pigskin jay-walking. Shaise Manza Young also looks at the punishment. David Heuschkel says that the punishment was a signal to both Belichick and the league. Albert Breer notes that while there was no suspension, the NFL isn’t going light on the Patriots.

Karen Guregian says that Belichick’s legacy will be tarnished by this episode, and Dan Shaughnessy, bless his heart, writes exactly what you would expect about this “sad chapter in the long history of New England sports.” Red Sox reference in second paragraph? Check. “The arrogant New England organization?” Check. “Amos Alonzo” Kraft? Check. Steroid comparison? Check. Watergate/Nixon? Check. The sad part is that Dan is perfectly within his rights to use all of them today. Art Martone says that a big risk was taken here for such a small gain.

Michael Levenson profiles cameraman Matthew Estrella, who finds himself at the center of this storm. Tom Mooney gets the nuns take on this scandal. Christopher L. Gasper says that this incident could push the league to adopt the practice of sending in the defensive signals the same way that the offensive signals are relayed, via a headset – which is exactly what the competition committee has wanted. Dan Pires has more on the Patriots paying the price.

There’s a new Friday Roundtable posted at Patriots Daily, and you have the opportunity to add your two cents as well.

Karen Guregian says that this controversy could fire up the New England players. Robert Lee has the Patriots players keeping their focus on the Chargers.Michael Felger expects the Chargers to play physical against Randy Moss on Sunday night. Eric McHugh has Stephen Gostkowski adjusting to the revolving door of holders. Jeff Howe has the Patriots new receivers getting up to speed with Tom Brady. Mark Farinella has Junior Seau and the Patriots focusing on the Chargers, not the scandal. Christopher Price also looks at the Chargers coming to town.

Bob Hohler says that the Chargers are still haunted by the loss last January to the Patriots and are looking to avenge themselves. Guregian has Rosevelt Colvin advising the Chargers to get over the playoff loss. Jennifer Toland has Shawne Merriman shutting down his “lights out” sack dance. Guregian also looks at whether the Patriots can do to LaDainian Tomlinson what the Bears did last week.

Guregian’s notebook has Richard Seymour laughing off reports about the severity of his knee injury. Lee’s notebook also looks at the scandal boosting the case for defensive headsets. Toland’s notebook also looks at the headset issue.

Jim Lazar and Jim McCabe have their weekend NFL picks. Double D and I.M. Bettor check the action.

Red Sox
The Yankees are in town for a crucial weekend series with the Red Sox, and you wouldn’t even know it based on what this week has been like.

Tony Massarotti says that Boston is the hub of the sports universe this weekend. Gordon Edes has the Red Sox still holding onto the lead despite the Yankees best ever second half record under Joe Torre. Joe McDonald has the Red Sox bringing some youngsters to the mix to add some freshness to the rivalry. Lenny Megliola previews the weekend series. Bill Ballou has the Sox hoping for a repeat of 1988. Jon Couture says that this might be the final series of the year between these clubs, but there is no sense of finality about it.

Rob Bradford looks at whether Daisuke Matsuzaka can right the ship in time for tonight’s start. Jeff Goldberg says that there is a lot at stake for Dice-K and the Sox tonight. Alex Speier wonders what will happen with Joba Chamberlain this weekend.

Bradford’s notebook says that Fenway is likely to be a hostile place for Joba Chamberlain. Edes’s notebook has Roger Clemens set to go on Sunday night.

Bill Doyle has Gerry Callahan glad to be back on the air. Susan Bickelhaupt has John Madden fired about how the cheating scandal is taking away from a great game on Sunday night.

Piling On

The tough times continue for Bill Belichick and the Patriots as every reporter in the free world lines up to take their shots at the head coach for his role in the effort to steal signs from the New York Jets.

The papers are full once again this morning with stories and we’ll try to get to as many as we can.

If you need to get talked down off the ledge a little bit, Bill Simmons and Aaron Schatz hash this thing out on ESPN.com, and make some valid points.

Mike Reiss looks at the probe continuing, even as reaction continues to flood in from around the league and nation. John Tomase says yesterday wasn’t a good day to be Belichick. Shalise Manza Young has a look at the apology from Belichick and the reaction within the locker room. Mark Farinella draws comparisons to Richard Nixon and Watergate. (Being one of the few on the beat who can actually remember that scandal, of course.) David Heuschkel has Belichick making his apology and attempting to get down to business.

Jackie MacMullan doesn’t understand why Belichick would need to resort to these tactics. Jim Donaldson wonders why Belichick bothered to apologize, since he clearly didn’t mean it. Chris Kennedy has the league set to punish the Patriots. Rich Garven says that Belichick never specified what he was sorry for. Bill Reynolds says that cheating has always been a part of most sports. Eric McHugh says that the Patriots have some explaining to do.

Albert Breer says that the Patriots players have been put into a tough spot in this situation. Karen Guregian and Christopher L. Gasper report on the Patriots players being focused on the Chargers, not on any scandal involving their head coach and organization. Farinella has the players just spouting the company line yesterday. Michael Parente has more on the players attempting to put all of this to the side as they prepare for the Chargers. Jeff Howe has more on the players take on things. Ian M. Clark says that the players are used to adversity.

Tomase talks to a crisis management professional, who believes he could’ve helped Belichick handle this a little better. Joan Vennochi says that Belichick is now a tarnished brand. Jay Fitzgerald says that this scandal will hurt Belichick’s image and reputation, while Scott Van Voorhis says that it could also damage the image of the Kraft family, who have a lot at stake in this matter. David Abel in the Globe reminds us that the real victims in this are the children. Jessica Heslam has the critics lining up to take their shots at Belichick, including this tidbit:

One smiling, beat reporter sat with his laptop open with a picture of Richard Nixon in the background facing toward the podium where Belichick was speaking, according to a locker room spy.

So was that beat reporter more interested in getting the story, or enjoying revenge on Belichick?

Tomase and Reiss list out some of the reaction from around the league on this matter, as everyone seems to have something to say. Bob Hohler has the Chargers speaking out on the issue as well.

Doesn’t anyone want to talk football?

Bill Barnwell on Patriots Daily has an in-depth look at Chargers back-up running back Michael Turner (who burned the Patriots a couple of years ago, you’ll recall) and whether he might be as good as LaDainian Tomlinson.

Guregian has Norv Turner talking about Randy Moss, who he coached for a season in Oakland. Robert Lee looks at the matchup of Adalius Thomas vs Antonio Gates. Heuschkel says that the Chargers are loaded and will be highly motivated for Sunday.

Guregian’s notebook has Rosevelt Colvin welcoming the venom of the Chargers. The Globe notebook has the dance issue from the January playoff game fading into the background now. Lee’s notebook has Randy Moss still gathering compliments for his performance on Sunday. Garven’s notebook looks at a huge game early in the season between these two teams.

Red Sox
If the fans of Boston ever needed a walk-off home run from David Ortiz, last night was the night. Big Papi delivered, with a two run shot in the bottom of the ninth, and was responsible for all five Red Sox runs last night in a 5-4 walkoff win over the Devil Rays.

Gordon Edes looks at a win badly needed on a night in which the Yankees won their seventh straight game as they prepare to invade Fenway Park Friday night. Rob Bradford has Ortiz once again putting the team on his back for the walk off win. Jeff Goldberg also looks at the clutch win. Joe McDonald has Big Papi bringing it home for the Sox lat night. Garry Brown looks at last inning magic returning to Fenway. Phil O’Neill wraps up the game stories on the walk off.

Steve Buckley says that the walkoff came at a perfect time for the Red Sox. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has Ortiz delivering another one of the moments that he is best known for. Lenny Megliola has Ortiz looking like his old self last night. Alex Speier writes that “Senor Clutch boldly pronounced that he is alive and well.”

Kevin McNamara has the bullpen playing a big role in the win last night. Joe Haggerty has Brandon Moss hoping to get a chance to make an impact this month. Bradford has the Japanese media wishing Daisuke Matsuzaka a happy birthday. Speier says that Clay Buchholz could be the Sox secret weapon down the stretch. I have a look at J.D. Drew‘s disappointing year in the Metro.

Goldberg’s notebook has Manny Ramirez taking batting practice yesterday with an eye towards a possilbe return on Friday night. Edes notebook gets a jump on next season by brining up Terry Francona’s contract status. Bradford’s notebook also looks ahead to next year with a peek at the 2008 schedule. Megliola’s notebook has Mike Lowell sitting out with an illness last night. The Projo notebook has his teammates bailing out Jon Lester last night. O’Neill’s notebook has Jacoby Ellsbury gearing up to face the Yankees.

Other
Marc J. Spears has Doc Rivers looking for help on how to best handle his new superstars. Mark Murphy has Kevin Garnett reaching out to the youngsters who remain on the Celtics roster. Murphy also has Rivers pumped up for his European voyage with his club early next month.

Check in on the Bruins at BruinsLinks.com.

Pats Looking Guilty

Although the NFL has denied that any decision has been made, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported last night that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has determined that the Patriots broke league rules on Sunday with the placement of the cameraman near the Jets sideline. The network’s John Clayton also has a piece on what this means for the team.

Over at Patriots Daily, Dan Snapp says that We’ve All Been Cheated. You are also encouraged weigh in with your comments on the situation over there.

John Tomase and Mike Reiss have the story locally. Tomase talks to an ex-cameraman, who says that the Browns cameramen had a reputation even when Belichick was in Cleveland coaching the Browns. Reiss examines what a football team can gain by stealing the opponents signals. Shalise Manza Young looks at the incident, stressing that the league is denying that any decision has been made about the situation. Albert Breer reports that the commissioner has come to a preliminary finding that the Patriots are guilty. Curt Brown focuses in on the cameraman, New Bedford native Matthew Estrella. Mark Farinella looks at the accusations coming in fast and furious from around the league. Jeff Jacobs says that cheating is cheating, though this situation is nothing new.

Tony Massarotti says that we really shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. Jim Donaldson says that this is just another recent black eye for the Patriots, who are seeing their image crumbled right before our eyes. David Brown says that Belichick is is guilty of letting “his team down with calculated stupidity” if these allegations are true. Lenny Megliola has the Patriots joining the tradition of cheaters in sports. David Heuschkel has the evidence piling up against the Patriots. Joseph R. LaPlante says that we live in a cheating culture. Farinella doesn’t seem to think that this whole thing is a huge deal, noting that coaches have always been willing to do anything to get an edge. Chad Finn has a First and 10 look back at Patriots/Jets.

Reiss’ notebook has Vince Wilfork saying that the Patriots players aren’t going to be distracted or effected by this incident. Tomase’s notebook has the Patriots releasing linebacker David Herron, who they had just claimed from the Vikings last week.

Red Sox
Down 8-1 to the Devil Rays in the fourth inning last night, the Red Sox offense finally woke up, outscoring Tampa 15-2 the rest of the way to a 16-10 win at Fenway Park.

Jeff Horrigan has the Sox remaining calm when facing the early deficit, and coming back with a vengeance. Amalie Benjamin reports on the Red Sox getting their power back at Fenway last night. Joe McDonald has the Red Sox launching an offensive explosion on the Rays last night. Jeff Goldberg has more on the super-sized comeback for the Sox. Phil O’Neill has the Sox hoping that this win is a momentum builder.

Sean McAdam says that the Red Sox are proving to be resilient down the stretch. Bill Burt has Jason Varitek asking the fans to support J.D. Drew rather than booing him. Megliola says that this game lasted longer than Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue.. Not bad for ol “Megs.” Sarah Green says that with the Yankees up this weekend, each of these games against the Rays becomes more important. Michael Silverman has Tim Wakefield stuck in a bad streak since returning from a sore back. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell reports on Kevin Cash chipping in with his bat last night.

Silverman reports on a new arrangement where the team with the best record in each league will be able to choose their own playoff schedule for the Division Series. They’ll be given the option of choosing a schedule “that lasts up to eight days featuring three off days or the one that lasts up to seven days and has two off days.” Alex Speier notes that Jon Lester has been very impressive in his last two outings, even if they did come against the Devil Rays. Chad Finn is concerned about the struggles of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Silverman says that spy warfare exists in baseball as well. Speier also notes that Eric Gagne could be more important than you think to the Red Sox postseason hopes. Horrigan has Jacoby Ellsbury learning to hit with power.

Horrigan’s notebook has Julio Lugo excited at the possibility that the Red Sox could open the 2008 season in Japan. Benjamin’s notebook has more on the struggles of Wakefield. The Projo notebook says that looking for an edge is just part of the game. Goldberg’s notebook has more on the new perk for the team with the best record. O’Neill’s notebook says that Lester’s shot at the postseason roster appears slim.

Bruins
Stephen Harris looks at five keys for the Bruins hopes as they head into training camp. Kevin Paul Dupont has Patrice Bergeron vowing to show improvement this season and hoping to stay healthier as a result of his offseason work. Harris has Peter Chiarelli hoping just to make the Bruins relevant again. Mike Loftus has the Bruins getting ready for their first camp under Claude Julien.

Douglas Flynn looks at the deal that the Bruins made for forward Petteri Nokelainen yesterday. Fluto Shinzawa has more on the deal with the Islanders. Harris says that the deal with Isles has potential

Michael Vega has Dale Earnhardt Jr expressing his disappointment at not making the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.