The Handshake Seals The Contract

(This morning’s links are brought to you by guest blogger Bob Ekstrom.)

In addition to grounding Bruce from his return trip home, yesterday’s weather paired with an energized Jets secondary to foil Tom Brady’s own flight plans. No. 12 posted his worst stats this season, but the Patriots still became only the second team in NFL history to reach 14-0 with their 20-10 rain-swept victory yesterday at Gillette Stadium. Of greater importance to all of America was the handshake between coaches that followed, and Steve Buckley tells us not to deny it: we cared just as much! Lenny Megliola is bored and says it’s time to seal this case shut.

Anyway, there’s a lot of reaction to this one, so we better get started. And what better place than over on Patriots Daily where Scott Benson takes a Dylanesque rear view of yesterday’s twists, from a Jets team looking for respect to the enamel of Bill Belichick’s teeth looking for the light of day.

Christopher L. Gaspar says that, while the means were somewhat unexpected, the end was another ho-hum victory. Douglas Flynn notes that this victory came without its requisite pound of flesh. Over at the Herald, John Tomase offers all the slips and slides of an anemic offensive attack and wonders about the running game’s ability to pick it up should Mother Nature stay grumpy throughout the playoffs. His more-appreciative officemate Jeff Horrigan celebrates Lawrence Maroney’s effort in bad weather.

Armed with the best 12th man in football, Bob Ryan says the Jets really blew their opportunity. Dan Ventura has Jets players saying yesterday’s loss was no different than the rest of their miserable season.

Despite wrapping up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, Bill Reynolds says these Patriots won’t be letting up. Killjoy Tony Massarotti focuses on the cons of playing starters the next two games. Mike Reiss looks at his ups and downs yesterday, while Massarotti offers his best and worst. Not to spoil things, but seldom-mentioned punter Chris Hanson made both writers’ lists.

On the missing persons front, Robert Lee has the forgotten Kelley Washington coming up with his best game as a Patriot. Gaspar also applauds Washington’s contribution, which was good enough to earn him Ventura’s Play of the Game. Turning to defense, Michael Felger is glad to have Richard Seymour showing signs of his pre-contract extension hunger. Jennifer Toland welcomes Eugene Wilson back into the line-up in place of the injured James Sanders. Lee also has Wilson re-emerging with two big plays.

Shalise Manza Young has another NFL record tied when Wilson became the 21st Patriot to find the end zone this season. Rich Garvin leads off with Wilson’s feat in his weekly update on key milestones.

Celtics

Only in Boston does a 20-2 team have to settle for second billing, but that’s where the Celtics find themselves this morning after beating the Raptors, 90-77, in Toronto yesterday afternoon. Boston came out strong, grabbing a 10-point first quarter lead and never looking back. Steve Bulpett has Doc Rivers’ game plan executed to perfection with yesterday’s quick start. Marc J. Spears cites Boston’s top-ranked defense as the real key to victory.

While the C’s played their second game without the Big Three intact, Mike Fine talks about the other Allen filling in admirably. Bulpett’s Celtics Notebook updates us on Pollard’s rib, the Toronto nightlife, a leaky roof, and Ray Allen’s ankle. Spears’ Celtics Notebook has Allen projected to return to the line-up Wednesday night. Isn’t Boston big enough to find two original names for our beat writers’ features?

MLB / Red Sox

Anyone thinking that Andy Pettitte’s confession to George Mitchell’s charges would force Roger Clemens to cross over should probably think again, especially after reading Nick Cafardo’s caution that honor is not necessarily contagious, even among these joined-at-the-hip friends.

Another indictee taking the Clemens path over the weekend is old friend Brendan Donnelly. Rob Bradford has the former Sox pitcher denying steroids usage and that his non-tender by the Red Sox was linked to his inclusion in the Mitchell Report. At least Donnelly didn’t spend last winter preaching steroids abstinence to college kids.

Odds & Sods

It wasn’t all good on the football front this weekend. As the Pats climbed to 14-0, their draft position next April plummeted when Ocho Stinco dropped this game-tying touchdown on a fourth-down play with just over two minutes remaining Saturday night, preserving the now 4-10 San Francisco 49ers’ win. True to form, the three other 3-win teams proceeded to lose, along with all three 4-9 teams. Depending on tie-breakers, the Pats’ selection slot dropped faster than the pigskin through Ocho’s fingers.

Eric McHugh talks to a man caught in the crossfire of the modern-day Hatfields and McCoys feud between Foxborough and Hempstead.

Karen Guregian scolds us for throwing snowballs, conduct that led officials to the rare action of delaying yesterday’s game during the fourth quarter.

As always, I thank you for dropping in to start your week off on BSMW. Send thoughts, comments, insults – really, anything but snowballs – to me at [email protected] Have a great day.

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