Friday Fast Ten

It’s a  busy Friday morning here, just enough time to get you the top articles you’ll need to get caught up on the Boston sports scene. No fluff, no cheap shots, no filler.

Color from Green alum – Chad Finn has Kevin McHale coming to town to cover the Celtics as a TNT analyst.

Zolak analyzes Patriots’ faults – Bill Doyle has 98.5 host Scott Zolak telling us where he thinks the Patriots biggest problems were this season.

Pees out as Patriots defensive coordinator – Shalise Manza Young was the first to break the news that Dean Pees would not be returning as the Patriots defensive coordinator next season. It was originally termed as a firing, though Pees has since stated that his contact is up and that he would not be looking to come back.

With Pepper Johnson, tricky dish gets served – Ron Borges says things could get sticky for the Patriots if Bill Belichick decides to promote Matt Patricia over Johnson.

Brave new world for Bill James and the Red Sox – Alex Speier examines how the game of statistics has changed for Bill James.

Farrell, Sox seek openness from Matsuzaka – Amalie Benjamin has the Red Sox still looking to improve their communication with Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Hermida welcomes spotlight as newest Sox – Daniel Barbarisi talks to one of the Red Sox new outfielders.

Bruins make a statement in San Jose – Joe Haggerty looks at the Bruins 2-1 win in San Jose last night.

Bulls 96, Celtics 83: Boston lacks luster in loss – Scott Souza has the Celtics looking tired last night at the Garden.

Schedule breaker – With the Celtics looking worn out last night, Steve Bulpett says that while the schedule is fair to all the teams, its not always fair to the fans who shell out the money to see their favorite team play.

One last note, the New Bedford Standard Times has gone behind the pay firewall, meaning you’ll have to pony up to read the columns of the fine staff of  Jonathan Comey, Jon Couture, Mick Colageo, Tim Weisberg, and yes, even Buddy Thomas. I went to read Comey’s column this morning titled Pats need to follow a five-step plan and was met with the “Pay Up” screen. I believe the blogs of the S-T will still be freely available, but dead-tree material is now all pay.

Update – got the following note from an S-T staffer: Blogs will remain free, and everyone is entitled to three stories/month for free. If you register with an e-mail address, you can get up to 10… Beyond that, it’s all pay, and there’s no model in place yet for people just to pay for individual stories.

Week Log: Eulogy For The Common Team

After watching victories by both the greasy Cowboys and greasier Jets the day before, I couldn’t wait for a Sunday morning shower. Somewhere between the soap and shampoo my wife broke in with good news: a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to sit in the third row on the 50-yard line for the Ravens game at Gillette.

Yeah, it was the third row alright, but of the third tier; and the 50 ended up being the goal line – the same one the Ravens would cross three times in the first 11 minutes of the game. That Musket Fire‘s three biggest plays all came in the first quarter tells you how early this one was over, but there’s nevertheless an extra boost of resilience that comes with being at the stadium, especially when your car is boxed into its $60 space for the afternoon. Like Boston Homer, everyone in Section 306 was dreaming up scenarios whereby the Pats could climb back in this one. Mine required getting the ball back for another score before halftime, but National Football Post says the Pats’ loss of power was never more evident than on the final Ravens final drive of the first half.

Even still, one fourth quarter TD at 33-14 might have made the finish compelling, but who knew this would be the day Belichick decided to stop going for it on fourth down? Blaug was still hopeful even as the FG unit came out but, alas, Stephen Gostkowski let him down. Really, Blaug? Would it have been less painful to lose by 16 points rather than 19? Patriots Daily drops more F-bombs on this effort than a Josh Beckett interview on a night the ace gets lit up.

As I’m just Sayin’ tells it, the problem on Sunday was Tom Brady.The Trenches says the pass rush on Brady was reminiscent of Super Bowl XLII. No Tom, the crowd wasn’t saying mooove!, points out The Boston Score; we really were saying boooo!.

As bad as he was on the field, Sportress of Blogitude has Number 12 worse in the postgame presser. Inside Track points their finger at Gisele for Sunday’s debacle, but Shutdown Corner thinks that’s ridiculous since it is obviously Brady’s do-it-yourself real estate flipping hobby at fault. Maybe TB should start listing properties with Brian Scalabrine to take a little load off his shoulders. Word is that Brady will invest in the Chesapeake region next; seems Baltimoreans have a proclivity for snapping up his every offering.

The Sporting Blog says New England can’t explain away its loss of momentum by the loss of Wes Welker. Sunday reminded Tedy Bruschi of the Week 2 Jets loss, where the absence of Welker resulted in receivers taking longer to get open and Brady holding the ball longer. Pats Fans says Welker’s absence cost the Pats one TD . . . at best.

Hey, is our old buddy Dan Shaughnessy selling us out to hold the national spotlight? Well, in Inside The NFL, he says we have a sense of arrogance and entitlement as he pronounces the Pats’ run (temporarily) over. Peter King, in Monday Morning QB, thinks there’s too much smarts in Foxborough for this to be the end of an era. Bleacher Report says the dynasty isn’t over because it never existed in the first place. Eric Ortiz believes the Pats are one good offseason away from once again becoming feared.

There’s a line of thought that losing this game was the best thing that could have happened to the Pats, since they’re not among the top eight teams who will be restricted in signing free agents in an uncapped 2010 season. Nonsense says ESPN Boston’s New England Patriots Blog, who would prefer the additional playoff experience for the younger players. Patriots Blog argues that 2009 was a rebuilding year and that, going into 2010, they are the top team not restricted by an ability to sign free agents. But the front office will have to do to better than last year, which Jeff Howe calls a total whiff.

In classic Casey Kasem style, It Is What It Is works through the entire 53-man roster to Number 1 and finds five of his top 18 may not be back next year. Patriots Gab renounces the anger of fans who would blow the team up, instead favoring a re-tooling.

So we’ll close with our first look to next year with First And Ten From Foxborough having an underperforming Ben Watson less than enthusiatic about returning. Pats Pulpit puts Stephen Neal and Logan Mankins in the ‘expendable’ category. The Rap Sheet considers the ton of options available if Neal retires. Junior Seau is already gone and Tom E. Curran has him ending a brilliant career with his explosive play on Sunday. On the other end of the LB spectrum, Touching All The Bases sees an unholy union between Adalius Thomas and the NY Jets next year.

Celtics

Good news! Last night’s routing of the Nets in New Jersey keeps alive Rasheed Wallace’s prophesy of a 72-win season. Green Street has the opening tap as the turning point in this one. The real fun began for Red’s Army once the C’s opened up a 36-point lead just before the half. And there’s a distinct inferiority complex woven through Celtics Green’s (formerly Loy’s Place) Comments From The Other Side.

Looks like another 10-14 days for Kevin Garnett. Funny, the pages of my calendar keep turning but KG’s hard-coded prognosis never seems to move. CelticsBlog downgrades his condition to Rusty for the upcoming Lakers showdown. ESPN Boston’s Boston Celtics Blog has the C’s taking pride in their ability to compete without all their horses. Evans Clinchy says the C’s, when healthy, may be a complete team on paper, but they’re not healthy. LOSCY thinks Brian Scalabrine’s expiring big-bucks contract is more of an asset than anything he can bring to the court.

Celtics Stuff Live takes NBA Commissioner David Stern to task for not cleaning up the referee problem that contributed to another C’s loss to the Hawks on Monday. Celtics Central says the only thing flagrantly foul about the call on Glen Davis was the officiating. Perk Is A Beast has die-hard Hawk fans – and, oh yeah, NBA refs – Bennett Salvatore and Marc Davis stepping in to help Atlanta’s cause.

Bruins

Last night’s 4-3 loss in Anaheim started a three-game make-or-break tour of California for the B’s. Big Bad Blog has Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller making the turnaround play in this one. Jessica Isner says the B’s can’t be giving up four goals – two in the third period no less – given the banged-up condition of their offense. Speaking of which, Ghosts Of The Garden has found good cause to give Michael Ryder and his mere ten goals this season a free pass. Rink Rap has last night another case of chemistry problems and goalie puck-handling woes.

New England Hockey Journal wonders whether the post-California season will be a 35-game recovery period or a swagger restored.

Like their Saved By The Bell predecessors, 4 Sport Boston says the B’s have spin-off problems that have thinned the cast even as the show must go on. Caveman Strong blames an inexperienced defensive corps for all three goals in last weekend’s loss to the Rangers.

View From 311 is giddy about the Maple Leafs’ chances of securing Boston the first pick in June’s draft, especially given Phil Kessel’s production of late. There’s not much production on Kessel’s scalp, where According to Cameron Frye says time and karma have been harsh mistresses. Tea Party Throwdown digs up some old clips of Marc Savard’s 90’s do and is happy he can now afford a hair stylist. Onto facial hair, where Something’s Bruin hasn’t seen a stache like Duck George Parros’ since the days of the Super Mario Bros.

Now that we’ve paid last respects to Belichick & Co., I’ll come out of the crossover with much more on the Sox next week. In the meantime, if you’re aspiring to blog on the Pats or know of someone who does, let me know about it. Theirs is the thinnest voice among Boston’s four major pro sports teams. I’m only an e-mail or a tweet away at [email protected] / @BobEks.

Celtics Get a Breather Against Nets

The Celtics tipped off against the hapless New Jersey Nets last night, and the outcome was never in doubt, as the Nets never even attempted to play defense. The Celtics were up 71-35 at halftime, and rolled to a 111-87 victory.

Frank Dell’Apa has the Celtics getting more of a workout in the gym the morning of the game. Steve Bulpett says that with a game tonight, the rout was just what the team needed. Tony Lee has the Celtics able to rest up for tonight’s game with the Bulls.

Mike Fine has Kevin McHale saying that health is the only thing that can stop these Celtics. Chris Sheridan has Brian Scalabrine getting the last laugh on the Nets. Gary Washburn says that guys like J.R. Giddens, Shelden Williams, and Bill Walker are all going to need to contribute at some point. Paul Flannery has the NBA sending mixed messages.  

Dell’Apa’s notebook has Doc Rivers mystified for the $25,000 fine he received from the league for arguing with the officials on a call that was ultimately reversed by the league.

Bruins

The Bruins dropped the first game of their three-game California trip last night, 4-3 to the Anaheim Ducks. Fluto Shinzawa says that the Bruins had lots of fight, character and chances, but came away with nothing. Stephen Harris has the Bruins frustrated that their strong effort yielded nothing. Jessica Isner has the Bruins unable to finish the job. Joe Haggerty has the Ducks splashing cold water on the Bruins. (Why does CSNNE.com have a Bruins game story, but not a Celtics one?)

Graig Woodburn has the Bruins offense improving, but the losing continuing. Mike Loftus has the Bruins trying to take things one day at a time.  Shinzawa’s notebook says that Patrice Bergeron would welcome a reunion of his 2005 World Junior Championship team. Harris’ notebook has Milan Lucic not yet giving up on his Olympic dreams.

Patriots

Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots offseason shopping list should be longer than usual this year. Ian R. Rapoport says that the pass rush should be a priority.

Michael Felger deals with the restless natives in his mailbag. Jerry Thornton wishes he could be Bill Belichick.

Rapoport’s notebook has Junior Seau saying he’s retiring. Monique Walker has more in her notebook.

Red Sox

John Tomase has Boof Bonser happy to be in Boston. Amalie Benjamin has lefty Brian Shouse getting a minor league deal with the team. Joe McDonald has extensions for Victor Martinez and Josh Beckett on Theo Epstein’s to-do list in the coming weeks.

Brian MacPherson and  Gordon Edes have Daniel Bard ready for a new year of challenges. Michael Silverman has Daisuke Matsuzaka looking to report to camp in great shape. Jeff Goldberg says spring training is five weeks away for the defense-heavy Sox.

Disappointment Still Lingering

The postmortems on the 2009 Patriots continue…

Karen Guregian looks at how the Patriots defense might be fixed, position-by-position. She says re-signing Vince Wilfork, and then adding someone like Julius Peppers is the answer. Kerry Byrne says that it is time to dump Randy Moss. And not for the reasons you might think. Tom E. Curran outline the first of his 12-part offseason game plan for the Patriots. Jim Donaldson has a position-by-position autopsy on the 2009 Patriots.

Mark Farinella says that the Patriots dynasty did NOT die on Sunday. No, it died the morning after the Patriots loss to the Colts in the AFC title game after the 2006 season, when he says Bill Belichick abandoned all his coaching roots and decided that to beat the Colts, he needed to become the Colts. Shalise Manza Young has a few questions she’d like to get answered from Belichick.

Glen Farley has a last look at the 2009 Patriots, a team that just couldn’t close out games when they needed to. Rich Garven has a final report card for the Patriots. Mike Reiss has his first offseason Patriots mailbag.

Ron Borges says that the Patriots need a major overhaul if the hope to rejoin the ranks of the contenders. This is the manic depressive Borges, who can be reasonable and sane, even slightly positive in print like today, and over-the-top nasty, snide and condescending at night on the air, as he was on CSN basically claiming that Tom Brady had one foot out the door here in Foxborough. Art Martone has Troy Brown saying that this Patriots team lacked toughness.

Dan Duggan has Darius Butler showing some promise this season, and looking to build on it for next year. Ian R. Rapoport says that the Patriots will be looking for receivers this offseason. Adam Kilgore has Wes Welker saying that he knew he was done right when the injury happened. Curran has Kevin Faulk saying that he thinks he’ll be back next season.

Rapoport’s notebook has Belichick and the Patriots heading for uncharted waters in the uncapped year ahead. The Projo Patriots Journal has Welker still waiting to schedule his ACL surgery.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett has a look at Brian Scalabrine, and how his teammates value the contributions that he makes to the team. Gary Washburn says that Kendrick Perkins in earning respect around the league as one of the top dirty-work centers in the game. Liam Martin says that if the Celtics are going to make a championship run, their best hope might lie in the play of Rajon Rondo. Jessica Camerato talks to Rondo about the art of passing the ball.

Jim Fenton has the team still struggling to get back to full strength. Chris Forsberg thinks that all these injuries could be a bad sign for the future. Robert Lee says that all the injuries have prevented the Celtics from being able to separate themselves in the tough Eastern Conference. A. Sherrod Blakely has the Celtics injuries reminding him of a soap opera.

Red Sox/MLB

Amalie Benjamin has a feature on new Red Sox pitcher John Lackey, giving us an idea of the type of person he is, and what we can expect from him as a member of the Red Sox. Alex Speier looks at whether moving Jacoby Ellsbury to left will affect his offense. Sean McAdam looks at offseason winners and losers.

Jon Couture says that Mark McGwire is still only a very small part of the steroid story. Scott Coen looks at the irony that Roger Maris once had an asterisk attached to his home run record. Steve Buckley isn’t moved by McGwire’s confession. Neither is Dan Shaughnessy.

Bruins

Steve Conroy has the Bruins hoping to heal out on the road. Kevin Paul Dupont says that they could be in for a bumpy ride out West. James Murphy has Mark Recchi’s offensive techniques are rubbing off on his teammates. Mike Loftus has Milan Lucic hoping to return to the lineup sometime on this trip. Fluto Shinzawa looks at just how shorthanded the Bruins are.

Patriots Pack It In

The Patriots packed up their belongings yesterday and headed out, some (many?) of them likely for the last time as members of the franchise.

Mike Reiss says that there is a lengthy to-do list on tap for this offseason. Albert R. Breer says that there will be plenty of pieces needed this offseason, and wonders if they can put it all together. He lists a number of questions that need to be answered. Karen Guregian says that there won’t be a quick fix to the Patriots issues, but she thinks she knows where to start. Jennifer Toland has the Patriots clearly out quickly following the sudden end to their season. Hector Longo tells us what he thinks the team should do going forward, and says that it is fish or cut bait time with Jerod Mayo, who clearly must’ve stolen Hector’s sandwich at some point this season. Shalise Manza Young says that the leadership void was a huge problem this season.

Jeremy Gottlieb, Michael Felger and Ron Borges crank out the final, dismal report cards. Mark Farinella  says that looking back on this season won’t be a pretty picture.

Bob Ryan compares the Sunday postgame Bill Belichick with the Monday Bill Belichick. Gerry Callahan no longer trusts Belichick. Glen Farley says that the Patriots are entering a whole new era. Mark Farinella has Patriot players expecting plenty of changes for next season. Bill Reynolds says that Sunday’s debacle did permanent damage to Patriots mystique. Did it even exist still?

Steve Buckley says that there is a big mess to clean up in the locker room, and new leadership is needed. Brian MacPherson says that this season’s rookie class showed some promise. Ian R. Rapoport says that the offensive line might see some changes next season. He also has Belichick saying he likes a coordinated effort on his coaching staff. Young says that Belichick wants assistants who question his decisions at times. Dan Duggan has Stephen Gostkowski hoping to return next season.

The Globe notebook says that a lack of leadership might’ve affected the team this season. Rapoport’s notebook has Derrick Burgess hoping to return next season.

Celtics Can’t Overcome Hawks, Refs

Last night was a prime example of why some people think the NBA is a joke.

When the mild-mannered Mike Gorman, who goes out of his way to try and not criticize the officials, lest he encourage or validate the emotional outbursts of broadcast partner Tommy Heinsohn, is verbally scratching his head in wonderment over just what the referees are calling, you know something is very wrong. At one point Gorman started to say something, and then just said something along of the lines of “I’m not going to even try and guess at what they thought they saw there.”

What has me scratching my head this morning is the fact that this is just not discussed in the newspapers. The topic is hot among fans who watched the game, so you know that it is something that readers want to read about. If someone had this morning chronicled the questionable calls and non-calls from last night, and tried to put them into context and show how they impacted the game, don’t you think that would be a popular column today?

Instead, all that is really mentioned is Doc Rivers’ ejection, and blanket statements that the technical fouls and ejections are not an excuse for the Celtics losing. Which they’re not. But the ejection is just such a tiny sliver of what was happening last night. It was embarrassing for the NBA. The league makes a big stand about players coming off the bench, whether there is an altercation or not. After a big Joe Johnson shot in the fourth, the entire Hawks bench ran out onto the court, to the point that it looked like a timeout had been called. There hadn’t been. The game just went on. Balls that obvious went off the knee of the player out of bounds right in front of an official were called the other way, Rajon Rondo got ridden out of bounds by two Hawks, and he was called for stepping out of bounds. I actually thought Heinsohn kept his composure pretty good on the air.

Lost in all of this is that the Hawks are damn good, Joe Johnson is a silent assassin, and the Celtics just match up terribly with them. I do not want to take away anything from the Hawks, who once again made huge shots down the stretch, especially Johnson. Those were all factors in the Atlanta win as well, but for no one this morning to mention all of the bad calls last night is inexcusable.

Julian Benbow has the Hawks coming alive in the third quarter after Celtics coach Doc Rivers was ejected. Mark Murphy says that despite the competition and emotion that the Hawks bring out in the Celtics, the Celtics still don’t think of them as a rival. Robert Lee has the third quarter technicals turning the tide for the Hawks. Chris Forsberg blames Doc Rivers and the Celtics tempers for the loss. A. Sherrod Blakely says that the Hawks own the Celtics. Bill Doyle says that the Celtics still aren’t afraid of the Hawks. (Maybe they should be.) Jim Fenton has Rivers getting ejected last night after working hard all season to avoid technical fouls. Tony Lee has the Celtics just able to get the job done in the second half.

Gary Washburn looks at a young, confident Hawks team that has beaten the Celtics all three times the teams have played this season. Steve Bulpett says that you can’t blame the technical fouls and Rivers’ ejection for the Celtics loss last night. What about all the rest of the curious calls and non-calls? They sure added up. Rich Levine casually mentions the “Bennett Salvatore Show” last night, and that “most of the talk” will be about that. Well, why not write more about what most people will talk about regarding last night’s game? Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics have been easy prey for the Hawks this season.

Paul Flannery says that Tom Thibodeau won’t want to add this game to his resume – another overlooked factor in the lost. Taking over with seven minutes to go in the third quarter, Thibodeau didn’t substitute once the entire rest of the game. Flannery notes that the four starters minus Scalabrine all logged 40+ minutes on the second game of a back-to-back.

Rich Thompson has Jamal Crawford finishing the game strong and proving to be a great signing for Atlanta. Jessica Camerato has Mike Bibby unfazed by the constant boos he hears in Boston.

Benbow’s notebook has sitting out with a sore foot last night, and injury that may sideline him for a week. Murphy’s notebook has Kevin Garnett set to return in about 10 days after resuming workouts yesterday. Lee’s Celtics Journal has more on KG. Blakely’s Celts notes has more on Doc’s ejection, and Wallace sitting out. Fenton’s notebook and  Doyle’s notebook have more on Garnett’s latest supposed 10-day return. (The Celtics really need to stop making projections as to when KG will be back. It’s tiring. This more of the same from last season. He’ll be back when’s he’s back. Leave it at that.)

Patriots coming in separate post.

Quoth the Raven, “Nevermore.”

While most of us were prepared for the fact that the Patriots season might come to an end yesterday, I don’t think anyone forsaw the first quarter dismantling that the Baltimore Ravens laid on Tom Brady and the Patriots. It was 24-0 Ravens seemingly in the blink of an eye, as the Ravens dominated and the Patriots collapsed in perfect sync. To their credt, the Patriots fought to the end, but they had dug themselves too deep a hole, and the result was a 33-14 season ending loss for New England, which also saw the Patriots suffer their first home loss of the season, and their first home playoff loss of the Belichick/Brady era. It seemed to be the end of  a lot of things at Gillette yesterday. The aftermath isn’t going to be pretty.

If your gut wasn’t churning already, Chris Warner has the Gut Check on Patriots Daily.

As you look below, you’ll see that there are a lot of links, a ton of coverage of this debacle. To help you sort it out, I’ll going to pick out the top five this morning, and list them here at the top (They’re all also linked in context below) – these articles are all free of the nastiness, the victory laps, the “end of an era” declarations, and focus on what went wrong this season and yesterday, and what needs to be done going forward.

Team in transition just not tough enough – Mike Reiss says that this team has a lot of work to do, starting now, if they hope to return to championship form.
Patriots’ big picture isn’t pretty – Eric McHugh says that the Patriots need to take a good, long, hard look at themselves in the proverbial mirror.
Don’t be so fast to nail the coffin – Steve Solloway says that those declaring the Patriots dead need to get a grip. The season is finished, not the franchise.
Edelman should be face of Pats’ future – Bill Burt says that the Patriots have a gem in Julian Edelman, and he will be a big part of their future.
There’s a big issue on tap: Wilfork – The Globe notebook wraps up a lot of stuff from yesterday.

Now here’s the rest, the good, bad and the ugly:

Ian R. Rapoport has the Patriots buried in a first quarter avalanche by the Ravens. Adam Kilgore says that yesterday was a performance never seen before by these Patriots. Shalise Manza Young has the loss leaving the Patriots and their fans stunned and silent. Andy Vogt recaps a historic beatdown at Gillette. Jennifer Toland has the once-promising Patriots season ending with a thud. Jonathan Comey has an up-and-down season ending with plenty of regrets for the Patriots. Mark Farinella calls this perhaps the least-inspired effort of Bill Belichick’s coaching tenure. Tom E. Curran says that the end is here, the dynasty is over, etc etc etc. Mike Lowe has the Patriots going one and done this postseason. David Pevear says that while Bill Belichick’s legacy is safe, he and his team should still be embarrassed. Steve Krause has the Patriots going out with a whimper. Tom King says that Baltimore dominated from start to finish.

Mike Reiss says that this loss shows that the Patriots have a lot of work to do to return to contender status.  Dom Amore has the Patriots decade of dominance ending quietly. Jeff Howe says that early mistakes did in the Patriots yesterday. Eric McHugh says that the big picture is not pretty for this franchise. Glen Farley says that throughout this season the Patriots were more pretender than contender. Christopher Price has the end coming quietly for the Patriots. Brian MacPherson has the Patriots season crashing to a halt yesterday. Karen Guregian says that it will be a long time before the next Super Bowl appearance by this franchise unless a better job fixing mistakes is done. Curran says that these Patriots just weren’t good enough.

Despite the protests of Tom Brady, Jeff Jacobs believes that the Patriots era is over. With all that went wrong yesterday, Ron Borges blames it all on Randy Moss. You can guess what Dan Shaughnessy has for his theme today. Jim Donaldson says that while most agreed the Patriots weren’t true Super Bowl contenders, most though they were better than this. Tim Weisberg blames Brady for the loss, and says that his passer rating was the worst of his playoff career…worse than a 2006 divisional playoff loss to the Chargers. Whoops. Kirk Minihane has the legend of Tom Brady taking another hit yesterday. Michael Felger says that the entire season was one to forget for the Patriots. Krause insists that Patriots fans deserved better answers from Belichick following the game. Howard Bryant says that this loss should really shake the Patriots right to their foundation.

Bill Burt says that the one silver lining for the Patriots yesterday, and perhaps only hope for the future is Julian Edelman. Dan Duggan has Edelman making plays despite clearly being in pain. Monique Walker has Kevin Faulk doing his best to rally his teammates yesterday, but it wasn’t enough. Farinella says that Faulk and Edelman were the only bright spots for the Patriots yesterday. Steve Solloway says that people shouldn’t be so fast to nail the Patriots’ coffin shut just yet. King believes that at some point this team will become the New England Patriots again.

Albert R. Breer says that Tom Brady just could never get into a groove without Wes Welker. Steve Buckley has Tom Brady refusing to use injuries as an excuse for his play. Bob Ryan says that Brady may deny it, but it is clear to him that the QB is playing very hurt. Donaldson has Brady saying that the Patriots will be back in the future. Vogt has Brady already looking ahead to next year. Rich Garven says that the loss of Welker sealed the Patriots fate. Chris Forsberg has Brady not interested in making excuses after this one. Danny Picard says that this was not the Tom Brady New England fans are used to seeing in the postseason. Howe says that this was a preseason-like performance.

Guregian has Vince Wilfork ready to move on if he and the Patriots cannot work out a long term deal. Farinella wonders if this was Wilfork’s final act with the Patriots.

Dan Ventura has the Ravens achieving their goal of “no free access” for the Patriots offense. Peter Abraham says that the Ravens defense was able to do exactly what they wanted to do, all day long. Michael Vega has Ray Rice sparking the Ravens from the very first play from scrimmage. Vega has Mark Clayton getting a bit of redemption for his drop in week four. Robert Lee has the Ravens seizing control from the very start. Peter Gobis has the Ravens feasting on big plays.

Hector Longo checks in with his two-minute drill wrapup of the game. Duggan examines the Best & Worst from yesterday. Ventura looks at the quick TD from Ray Rice. Rich Thompson has that run as the play of the game. John Hill has reactions from the fans. Lee provides postgame analysis from both sides of the ball.

Rapoport’s notebook has Adalius Thomas believing he’s played his last game as a Patriot.  The Globe notebook has Vince Wilfork as the biggest situation facing the Patriots this offseason. Young’s notebook also featured Wilfork as the lead topic. Vogt’s notebook says that the Patriots could look very different next season. Farley’s notebook has more on what could’ve been Wilfork’s last game as a Patriot. Toland’s notebook says that the future is murky for several Patriots veterans. The S-T notebook has the boo-birds making rare appearance in Foxborough. Gobis’ notebook has Rice getting the Ravens cooking early. Lowe’s notebook has more on Wilfork’s contract status.

Attempting A Friday Megalink Fest, Part II

Let’s finish up our links from earlier today. We’ll finish up the West and Canadian links. But we do have some national links to add.

National

Mike Reynolds of Multichannel News reports that Fox Soccer Channel is very close to purchasing either key cable rights or the owner outright of Setanta Sports US.

Glen Dickson of Broadcasting & Cable writes that Cisco will deliver video for multiple platforms for NBC’s online streaming of the Winter Olympics.

Tom Ziller of Fanhouse writes about Turner Sports luring ESPN’er Matt Winer to NBA TV. 

Also from Fanhouse, Milton Kent laments the death of the Washington Times sports section.

Amanda Bruno of Batter-up with Bruno notes that Twitter took down a fake Jackie MacMullen account after it put up a phony Red Sox trade.

Jeff Levine at the Biz of Football says everything is pointing to a work stoppage in the NFL come 2011.

The Thoroughbred Times reports that NBC and ESPN Radio received Eclipse Awards for their coverage of horse racing. 

From the UK, Campaign looks at an ESPN World Cup marketing campaign surrounding “The Group of Death”.

Midwest

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams’ TV ratings remained steady despite their losing record this season. 

West

Dusty Saunders of the Denver Post says the Colorado Rockies have a new radio voice.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jay Posner didn’t like Brent Musburger’s call of the BCS National Championship Game.

John Maffei of the North County Times is happy to see Joe Theismann back calling an NFL game.

Jim Carlisle of the Ventura County Star mourns the passing of Angels TV voice Rory Markas.

Jim looks at the NFL Wild Card Playoff games this weekend.

Diane Pucin of the Los Angeles Times says Clippers analyst Michael Smith is in a whole heap of trouble.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News discusses the impact of Rory Markas on his friends.

Tom hears from more of Rory’s friends in the wake of his passing.

Tom looks back at an eventful week in SoCal sports media.

Ryan Vaillancourt of the Los Angeles Downtown News says ESPN’s LA site looks to challenge local newspaper sports coverage.

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says those in bordering US towns used to watching the Olympics live through CBC will be out of luck this year when CTV airs the Games. 

Canada

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Toronto Globe and Mail has an issue with the Baseball Hall of Fame voting.

Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star notes the retirement of a Canadian radio legend.

William Houston of Truth & Rumours says the Maple Leafs are under fire on local sports radio.

And we’re finished with the megalinks.

Attempting A Friday Megalink Fest, Part I

I’m currently at the home office and it’s been quite difficult to blog with the boss constantly over your shoulder, but I’m doing my best. In between reports, phone calls and meetings, I’m trying to bring you some links. I may have to do this in two parts, but I’ll try to get this completed in one shot. Let’s do it.

First, you can check out your Weekend Viewing Picks for the college basketball, NFL, golf and other sports going on plus primetime TV.

Now to your links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand says the All-American Bowl gives fans the opportunity to see where the next generation of college football stars will play.

Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily says this just-completed NFL regular season was the most watched since 1990, almost 20 years, which is rather impressive. 

Glen Dickson of Broadcasting & Cable looks at ESPN’s plans for ESPN 3D’s productions which start in earnest later this year.

R. Thomas Umstead of Multichannel News writes about the cancellation of the highly anticipated Manny Pacquaio-Floyd Mayweather fight which many observers felt would have broken all pay per view records.

Rick Porter of zap2it.com says the BCS Championship Game on Thursday ruled the network primetime ratings.

Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina talks with Baltimore Ravens fan Stacy Keibler and Patriots fan Maria Menounos about this Sunday’s Wild Card playoff game.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell notes that “The Blind Side” should give actress Sandra Bullock her biggest payday ever.

Matt Ginella of Golf Digest talks with ESPN’s Jon Gruden about his excitement for golf and wish to win golf’s Grand Slam.

The Sports Media Watch is not happy with sportswriters who stereotype the NBA and other leagues.

SMW notes that ESPN’s Dick Vitale will be back calling the NBA for one game this season.

Maury Brown in the Biz of Baseball gives his predictions for MLB and its TV partners in 2010. 

Joe Favorito says pro soccer is hoping Philadelphia can give the sport a shot in the arm in both the men’s and women’s game.

Russell Scibetti in the Business of Sports has ten sports business stories to watch in 2010.

Steve Lepore of Puck The Media writes the real star of the NHL Winter Classic was the NHL Network.

Steve lists the regional sports networks and cable stations carrying the AHL All-Star Game later this month.

Len Berman provides his top five stories of the day

East and Mid-Atlantic

From the Boston Globe, Chad Finn looks at ESPN’s ESPN 3D channel which launches in June.

Bill Doyle of the Worcester Telegram writes about NESN’s Tom Caron who will be calling the two outdoor college hockey games at Fenway Park today.

Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News isn’t thrilled to have Joe Theismann on NBC’s Wild Card playoff coverage.

Phil Mushnick in the New York Post is coming out guns ablazin’ today.

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union raises an excellent point about one issue ESPN/ABC missed during the late stages of the BCS Championship Game.

Pete also looks at whether we should run out and buy a 3-D TV after we just purchased an HDTV.

Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner says the national sports spotlight fell on DC this week.

South

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that NBC will use some new, but quite familiar voices for the first NFL Wild Card playoff game this Saturday.

Jon Solomon of the Birmingham (AL) News was happy to have ESPN/ABC producing the BCS National Championship Game instead of Fox.

Ray Buck in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says the Fiesta Bowl involvingTCU-Boise State was a ratings winner in the Metroplex and nationally as well.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News says Brent Musburger misjudged the severity of Colt McCoy’s injury during last night’s BCS Championship Game.

Barry and Cowboys radio analyst Babe Laufenberg held a live chat today.

Barry says ESPN/ABC’s Kirk Herbstreit helped to curse the Texas Longhorns during last night’s BCS National Championship Game.

The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron says when ESPN takes over the BCS next year, viewership could be hurt as not as many homes have cable.

David also has the national and local ratings for the BCS National Championship Game.

Mel Bracht of the Daily Oklahoman looks at NBC’s “B” team for the NFL Wild Card playoffs tomorrow.

Mel says the Big 12 kicks off conference play in a big way on Saturday.

Midwest

John Kiesewetter of the Cincinnati Enquirer recaps Cris Collinsworth’s appearance on what appears to be one of the last Jay Leno Shows in primetime.

Michael Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press talks to a former local sports anchor who’s looking for a job out of the market.

Trenni Kusnierek of MLB Network lists her new decade resolutions in OnMilwaukee.com.

Ed Sherman in Crain’s Chicago Business has his sports business and media winners and losers.

Paul Christian of the Rochester (MN) Post-Bulletin writes that the Green Bay-Arizona NFL Wild Card playoff game will provide some intrigue for viewers.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Dan Caesar writes that a former local sports radio talk show host left the Gateway City without taking shots at his former employer.

I’ll end it there for now. I will complete the megalinks tonight.

Getting Ready For the Playoffs Top Ten

I’ve been somewhat bemused this week as I’ve seen columns and heard radio announcers warning Patriots fans not to be overconfident heading into this weekend, and not to overlook how dangerous this Ravens team is.

Talk about not knowing your audience. I don’t think any Patriots fan is overconfident about this team. I think most think they have a decent chance to advance this weekend, but that is no sure thing. If anything, Patriots fans are pretty pessimistic about this team, and any wins from this point out are just playing with house money.

ESPN gets 3-D picture in focus – Chad Finn looks at ESPN’s announcement earlier this week of the formation of an entire sports network to launch later this year dedicated to 3D programming.

NESN’s Caron set to call a college winter classic – Bill Doyle looks at NESN and Fenway Park getting ready to host more outdoor hockey, this time of the college variety.

Can Patriots overcome loss of Welker? – Mike Reiss and Tedy Bruschi check the matchups between the Patriots and Ravens.

How they match up: Patriots vs. Ravens – Karen Guregian with a position-by-position look at this Sunday’s playoff matchups.

Can Tom Brady Be Trusted in the Fourth Quarter? – Michael Hurley asks a question no one would’ve even thought to ask prior to this season.

Ex-QB known to shine in spotlight – Chris Forsberg provides the daily (for this week) obligatory story on Julian Edelman. Still pretty good though.

Patriots Must Resort to Age-Old ‘Us Against the World’ Mentality in Playoffs – Kristen Merrill thinks the Patriots need to turn back the clock a bit this weekend.

Derrick Burgess the man! Huh? – From purely a trainwreck perspective, this column from Ron Borges needs to be mentioned. So Bill Belichick tries to motivate a player and increase his confidence  by praising him publicly. Borges takes this and makes it an insult to Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Andre Tippett and every other player to suit up on defense for the Patriots. He then runs in and whispers Belichick’s praise of Burgess to various Patriots players, no doubt blowing it way out of proportion and context. Or is Borges just defensive that Burgess ended up with more sacks this season (5.0) then Seymour (4.0) or Vrabel (2.0) this season, and trying, as usual, to discredit Belichick? I don’t think anyone (Belichick included) thinks that Burgess has been everything the Patriots envisioned to be this season, and I’m pretty sure Belichick was just trying to boost the confidence of a player he’s going to need if the Patriots hope to make any noise this postseason.

Wallace, Perkins working well together – With Kevin Garnett out, Mike Fine looks at how Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace have used the opportunity to learn to mesh their games.

Lowell just a victim of the business – Lenny Megliola has Mike Lowell in an awkward position with the Red Sox.

Also see the weekly Worry Wart from Chris Warner and our Trading Places feature on Patriots Daily.