Patriots Get Back To Work, Prepare For Peyton and the Colts

After taking care of business in Pittsburgh and enjoying a couple of days off, the Patriots return to work today, preparing for another big challege to their defense. Peyton Manning and the Colts may be banged up and not the team they’ve been in previous seasons in November, but a wounded tiger (Colt?) is a dangerous tiger.

Patriots face a different QB challenge in Manning – Tom E Curran says that Patriots approach this week will have to be different from last week. Glen Farley says that Manning is a horse of a different color lately.

Will Patriots keep it coming? – Greg A Bedard wonders if the Patriots will use a similar blitz scheme this week against Manning and the Colts.

Bill Belichick Explains Which Stats Aren’t for Losers and 19 Other Thoughts – Jeff Howe drops 20 thoughts on the Patriots.

Pats’ numbers don’t add up, but wins do – Robert Lee looks at the anomaly that is the New England Patriots, statistically.  

Pats defensive line rivals Big 3 years- Rich Garven looks at the Patriots defensive line, which has been impressive despite shuffling players in and out of the lineup.

Crystal ball a bit cloudy this year – Mark Farinella tries to figure out why he’s been so lousy at predicting NFL games this season.

Troy Brown blasts Terrell Suggs for anti-Patriots comments – The Patriots don’t need to respond in public these days. With Brown, Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi in the media, they’ve got their defenders out there.

Ron Brace steps up – Karen Guregian’s notebook has the second year lineman making progress. The Globe notebook from Monique Walker has Shawn Crable getting his walking papers. Again. The Patriots Journal from Robert Lee has BenJarvus Green-Ellis playing his best against the toughest defenses.

Allen proves his game is more than long-range – A. Sherrod Blakely has a very good look at Ray Allen, and his complete game.

Big Baby growing up for Celtics – Scott Souza has the fourth-year forward showing maturity on and off the court.

Things we learned at the GMs’ meetings: Warning shots from Theo Epstein – Rob Bradford reports from the GM meetings.

Red Sox comfortable with Saltalamacchia as starting catcher – Sean McAdam has more from the meetings, including Epstein’s thoughts on the catching position. Mike Fine has more on the catching position.

David Ortiz wanted ‘something different’ – Jackie MacMullan chats with the Red Sox DH.

Bruins Look to Build Momentum With Trip to New York to Face Rangers – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins looking to keep things going.

Patriots Score High Among Media Graders

As you might imagine, the report cards for the New England Patriots this week are a whole lot better than they were last week. On the heels of a failing effort in Cleveland, the Patriots aced their test in Pittsburgh Sunday night.

Making The Grades – Patriots At Steelers – Chris Warner steps in for Jeremy Gottlieb this week on the Patriots Daily report card, and brings his own style to the grading process. See the other report cards this morning from: Ron Borges | Mike Reiss |  Michael Felger | Kirk Minihane.

Refrain: Yet again, Brady has answer – Dave D’Onofrio has Tom Brady stating his case once again as the best QB in the league, heading into another battle with Peyton Manning.

No time to waste for Patriots as playoff picture starts to take shape – Christopher Price says that the AFC playoff picture is already coming together, and the Patriots need to keep winning.

Pats pass rush gave Big Ben little time – Brian MacPherson looks at what the Patriots changed up in order to be able to sack Ben Roethlisberger five times on Sunday night. Ian R. Rapoport says that variety was the key.

Five observations from impressive win – Tedy Bruschi weighs in on his former team.

Soured by ‘extra sugar’ – The Globe notebook by Shalise Manza Young and Michael Vega has the Patriots talking about the Steelers getting a little dirty. The Herald notebookfrom Rapoport has Bill Belichick OK with Brady’s sideline histrionics Sunday night. The Patriots Journal from Brian MacPherson has more on Brady.

Enforcer should get a major penalty – Kevin Paul Dupont says that Colin Campbell should face disciplinary action from the league. More on this from Stephen Harris | Joe Haggerty | Amanda Bruno.

Thomas, Bruins shut out Devils, 3-0 – Danny Picard and Joe Haggerty have Tim Thomas with another shutout.

No sympathy for Devils – Rich Thompson has the Bruins bouncing back strong.

B’s Michael Ryder shows he belongs – James Murphy says that Ryder is making a case to stay with the Bruins.

Tim Thomas dazzles (again), Bruins use a strength to solve a weakness – DJ Bean has some points from the game.

It’s not yet time for Seguin to take wing – Fluto Shinzawa’s notebook says that Tyler Seguin will need to remain at center for the time being. The Bruins notebook from Rich Thompson has more on Ryder. The CSNNE.com notebookfrom Haggery has Johnny Boychuk closer to a return.

Celts to get backcourt additions – Scott Souza has Delonte West and Avery Bradley ready for action. Dan Duggan and Frank Dell’Apa have more on the return of West.

Perkins’ rehab a team effort – Peter May has Kendrick Perkins using Wes Welker as inspiration in his recovery from knee surgery.

For Theo Epstein, trip not a vacation – Michael Silverman has the Red Sox GM heading to Walt Disney World, but not for a vacation.

Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein following his usual plan – Mike Fine has Epstein using familiar methods to assemble the 2011 bullpen.

McAdam at the GM meetings: Theo’s to-do list  – Sean McAdam looks at what the Red Sox need to do this winter.

Colin Campbell Called Marc Savard a “little fake artist”

This is a story that is sure to get bigger in the days to come, and has a strong Boston angle to it.

Colin Campbell, who serves as Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL – and chief disciplinarian – seems to have had a grudge against Bruins center Marc Savard, and that may have played a role in Campbell’s decision not to suspend Matt Cooke for his cheap hit on Savard which has essentially halted his NHL career. The story is based on emails from and to Campbell.

See the following links for more:

Leaked emails suggest Colin Campbell held bias against Savard, Bruins – (New England Hockey Journal)

Have Savard emails exposed NHL’s Colin Campbell as corrupt? (Yahoo! Sports)

Who did Colin Campbell call “a little fake artist”? (Cached version of the site that originally broke this story – mc79hockey.com – the site is down from so much traffic.)

A complication to this is that ironically, Campbell’s son, Gregory, now plays for the Bruins. Colin Campbell apparently also has a history of trying to intefere in matters to defend his son.

Patriots Stun Steelers (and everyone else)

I can’t get on anyone in the media for doubting the Patriots going into last night’s game, because I did the same. In my mind, I imagined the Steelers bringing great energy at home, and relentlessly pushing the Patriots over the field. It didn’t happen. In fact, the exact opposite happened. The Patriots played with the relentless energy, sacking Ben Roethlisberger five times, and Tom Brady three three touchdowns to rookie Rob Gronkowski in a 39-26 Patriots victory.

However, I did enjoy old friend Albert Breer accusing the Patriots of running up the score last night, and then quickly backtracking.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Patriots show resiliency in win over Steelers – Christopher Price looks at some things to take away from one of the most emotionally satisfying wins in recent memory for the Patriots. Tom E Curran has Five thoughts and Bill Burt has five reasons Patriots fans should be giddy.

They put squeeze on Roethlisberger – Greg A Bedard looks at the relentless and constant pressure the Patriots defense applied to the Steelers QB. Mark Farinella has more on a fired-up Patriots defense. Karen Guregian has the defense answering the call after the debacle in Cleveland.

Tom Brady gets Patriots fired up – Mike Reiss says that this one clearly meant a little more to the Patriots QB. Tom E. Curran has more on a fired-up Brady. Ron Borges has a great line to open his Brady column. Jeff Howe has more from a happy Brady.

Patriots silence their doubters once again – Jim Donaldson says that what happened in Cleveland last week was a fluke.

Gronkowski holds family banner highest – Farinella notes that on a winning day for the Gronkowski family, rookie Rob had the biggest day. More on the rookie tight end from Monique Walker and Shelly Anderson.

Happy new year – Michael Felger weighs in on the Patriots, Bruins and LeBron James. Also on CSNNE, Rich Levine wonders what the ceiling for this Patriots team is.

Welker was slotted for success – Monique Walker’s Globe notebook has the Patriots offense rediscovering Wes Welker last night. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has more on Welker, Hector Longo cranks out his Two-minute drill.

Rajon Rondo and Goliath find their groove – Steve Bulpett has Rondo and Shaq working well together.

Delonte West set to join Celtics mix – Chris Forsberg has the Celtics guard set to join the rotation now that his suspension is over.

Krejci easing way back in – Fluto Shinzawa has the Bruins center practicing for the first time since suffering a moderate concussion.

Sunday Quicklinks

10 quick links for a Sunday morning:

Experience beats out youth again – Gary Washburn has the Celtics wrapping up a 3-1 road trip with a 116-110 OT win in Memphis.

Shaq O’Neal embracing role as enforcer – Chris Forsberg has Shaq (18 points) putting together his best game as a Celtic. Forsberg also has  plethora of postgame notes.

Big ups for Big Al Jefferson – Mark Murphy checks in with the former Celtic as part of his NBA notebook.

What to watch for Sunday against the Steelers – Christopher Price has some keys to the game for the Patriots tonight.

Ryan brothers do battle again — like old times – Greg A Bedard has Buddy Ryan’s kids facing off in Cleveland today.

Tom Brady’s mechanic: Tuneup needed – Karen Guregian has the QB’s guru weighing in on some things Brady needs to clean up as part of her NFL notebook.

Another ‘big game’ for Pats – Mark Farinella observes that the Patriots and Steelers have been playing big games since 1996.

Tim Thomas falls victim as offense stalls – DJ Bean with some thoughts on a 2-0 Bruins loss last night.

No want-ads for Theo Epstein, Red Sox – Michael Silverman’s baseball notes has the Red Sox GM typically tight-lipped about his offseason plans.

Potential attractions for offseason trade show – Nick Cafardo’s baseball notes is full of names that might be moved this offseason.

Allen, Pierce Lead Celtics Past Heat

[blackbirdpie url=http://twitter.com/paulpierce34/status/2952667827539968]

@PaulPierce34 It’s been a pleasure to bring my talents to south beach now on to Memphis

Yes, it was a pleasure to watch Pierce, Ray Allen and the rest of the Celtics play with a chip on their shoulder in beating the Miami Heat 112-107. The final score makes it seem like this was a much closer game than it really was. The Celtics led wire-to-wire and were never in danger in this one.

Nice tweak at LeBron by Pierce above, though not all appreciate it.

Celtics have ball in Miami – Mark Murphy has the Celtics picking up their second straight win against the NBA’s anointed.

Heat had no answer for Rajon Rondo – Jackie MacMullan has Rondo again leading the way for the Celtics.

Allen turns it up at both ends against Miami – A Sherrod Blakely says that the longer the game went on, the more open Allen seemed to get. Steve Bulpett  and Chris Forsberg have more on Allen’s night.

The Celtics make a statement – Paul Flannery says that this one was better than opening night.

Banged-up crew works on interior – Murphy’s notebook has the Celtics big men still not all healthy. The Globe notebook from Julian Benbow has more on Rondo.

The Bruins were not as successful last night, falling 3-1to the Canadiens at TD Garden.

Canadiens trip up Bruins – Fluto Shinzawa has the Canadiens scoring two third period goals to beat the Bruins. Douglas Flynn also reports on the loss.

Bruins continue struggles at home – DJ Bean looks at the curious problems the Bruins have had at TD Garden.

Rask can’t buy a win or a confidence booster – Joe Haggerty has the the Bruins goaltender with a severe case of buzzards luck. James Murphy and  Nancy Marrapese-Burrell have more on the young goalie.

Bruins may have hard time kicking Hab-it – Stephen Harris says that Montreal seems to again be a tough matchup for the Bruins.

Wheeler isn’t out of place at center – Shinzawa’s notebook has Blake Wheeler with a successful first night at center. The Herald notebook by Rich Thompson has more on Rask. The Patriot Ledger notebook from Mike Loftus has Montreal stifling the Bruins energy line.

The Patriots are getting ready for a tough matchup in Pittsburgh Sunday night.

Patriots will face sound and fury in Pittsburgh – Tom E Curran looks at a hostile environment on tap for New England.

Big games abound for Patriots, Steelers Ian R  Rapoport looks a decade of big games between these two teams. Glen Farley also looks at the history between the teams.

Defense steals the show – Amalie Benjamin says that the Steelers are all about aggression.

Patriots’ young players coming through – Mike Reiss has a look at the Patriots young players and the contributions they’re making.

Brady back at practice in limited role – Shalise Manza Young’s notebook has the QB back at practice yesterday. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has Patrick Chung feeling better. The Patriots Journal from Robert Lee also has Chung talking about getting closer to a return.

Experts split on Carl Crawford vs. Jayson Werth – Scott Lauber looks at the two players rumored to be targets of the Red Sox this offseason.

Dennis & Callahan primping up for TV – Bill Doyle has the WEEI morning team getting ready for their NESN simulcasts which begin next week.

Berenguer is out of the mix – Chad Finn has NESN pulling Uri Berenguer off of NESN Daily.

Inconsistent NFL Power Rankings, And Why The Red Sox Are Almost An Afterthought – My SB Nation Boston media column has a rant about media “power rankings.”

Patriots Ratings Continue Strong on Local TV

The Patriots/Browns game on Sunday, despite the disappointing result for New England, still resulted in big ratings for WBZ. The game posted a 30.73 HH Rating Locally, equal to a 60 share.

The Patriots are on a record-setting pace for HH ratings through nine weeks in their designated market area with an average 31.9 HH rating. In addition, New England’s eight regular season games are the eight most-watched television programs in the Boston area since football season began.

This season, the Patriots have also been part of two record-setting NFL broadcasts. New England’s 23-20 overtime victory over Baltimore on Sunday, Oct. 17 helped CBS set the mark for the highest rating for its single-game window since it acquired the current AFC package in 1998. The Patriots-Jets game on Sunday, Sept. 19 was the most watched September CBS game ever.

This week, the Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in a highly-anticipated battle between two 6-2 teams on Sunday Nov. 14. The game will be broadcast to a national NBC audience with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth calling the game. Kickoff is schedule for 8:20 p.m. and will air locally on WHDH in Boston and WJAR in Providence.

Here’s a look at the local ratings for each game thus far this season:

Amalie Benjamin Moves Off Red Sox Beat

In a blog post on Extra Bases, The Boston Globe’sAmalie Benjamin has announced that she is leaving the Red Sox beat.

New challenges, and a word of thanks

She makes it clear that she is not leaving the Globe, just the Red Sox beat, and will instead focus on “features and other daily duties in sports.”

As for the reasons for leaving the beat, which she describes as her dream job since high school, she writes:

But the daily grind of the beat — the hundreds of thousands of airline miles, the hundreds of hotel nights, the thousands of unhealthy meals — is over for me, a move that will allow me to report on the stories that are so important to me, and hopefully to you.

This sounds very much like what happened with Shira Springer, who toiled on the Celtics beat for a number of years (with some very bad teams) before moving off to another “features” type role. Hopefully we’ll get more from Benjamin than we’ve gotten from Springer over the last couple of years.

This opens up a spot on the Red Sox beat, which still has Peter Abraham as Red Sox reporter, and Nick Cafardo as national baseball writer.

Mixed Bag Wednesday Links

With none of the local teams in action last night, it’s a mixed bag in the sports pages this morning. Excited about Kayem being named the “Official Frank and Sausage’’ of Gillette Stadium?

Tom Brady Lets His Teammates Know They Need to Be Better and 19 Other Thoughts – Jeff Howe has 20 thoughts on the Patriots as they prepare to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Patriots’ signals mixed – Greg A Bedard examines why the Patriots are tied for the best record in the NFL despite being near the bottom of many statistical categories.

Wes Welker playing catch-up – Karen Guregian has the Patriots receiver still trying to trust his reconstructed knee.

Doom in for a visit – Mark Farinella visits with the voice of doom.

Brady the Pats’ midpoint MVP – Glen Farley hands out some midseason awards for the Patriots.

Pats miss Randy Moss on third down – Jeremy Lundblad looks at the Patriots offensive struggles since trading Randy Moss.

Graham steps in as kicker – Monique Walker’s notebook has the Patriots bringing in a kicker to fill in for Stephen Gostkowski. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport And Karen Guregian has Robert Kraft taking the high road when it comes to Logan Mankins. The Patriots Journal from Robert Lee has Bill Belichick with praise for the Steelers.

Believe it or not, Celtics were once regulars at the old R.I. Auditorium – Bill Reynolds looks back to a time when the Celtics played some games in the Ocean State.

Celtics’ best to come – Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics need some time to still come together.

Opportunity knocks – Rich Levine says that the Celtics, Patriots and Bruins all have big opportunities this week.

Assist by West will be welcome – Julian Benbow has Nate Robinson and the Celtics looking forward to what Delonte West can bring to the team.

Veteran Celtics rack up minutes early this season – A. Sherrod Blakely says that the Celtics “old guys” are playing big minutes in the early going.

Boston Bruins seek victory, not revenge, over Pittsburgh Penguins – Mike Loftus says that the Bruins won’t be concerned with Matt Cooke.

Jayson Werth isn’t worth $75 million to Boston Red Sox - Mike Fine says that the Phillies outfielder shouldn’t be the Red Sox main target. Maureen Mullen says that the Phillies could be interested in signing Jason Varitek.

Many paths to bolster offense – Scott Lauber looks at offensive options for Theo Epstein this offseason.

Patriots Flunk Out Against Browns

The report cards are in, and as you would expect, the grades are dismal for Bill Belichick’s unit this week.

Lets get right to it:

Making The Grades – Patriots at Browns – On Patriots Daily, Jeremy Gottlieb hands out the grades in his typical pull-no-punches style. More report cards from: Ron Borges | Kirk Minihane |Mike Felger | Mike Reiss | Rich Garven (midseason report card)

Ten keys to 2nd-half success – Dave D’Onofrio examines the keys to the second half of the season for New England.

Offensive unit’s struggles a deepening concern for Pats – Ian Rapoport looks at the issues with the Patriots offense.

New kicker might be needed to fill in for Gostkowski – Kevin McNamara’s Patriots Journal has the team prepping for a couple of weeks without their kicker. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport has more, as does the Globe notebook from Monique Walker.

The Celtics lost a tough one in Dallas last night, falling to the Mavericks 89-87.

Rondo jumped at his chance – Gary Washburn praises Rajon Rondo for attempting a game-winning three pointer, even if the try wasn’t successful.

C’s point in Delonte West’s direction – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics eager to get Delonte West back.

Jermaine O’Neal’s knee real sore spot – Bulpett’s notebook has the starting center sitting out the second half last night. The Globe notebook by Julian Benbow has more.

Bruins look to their future without Krejci – Joe Haggerty has the concussion to Krejci putting younger players on the spot. More on this from: James Murphy | Fluto Shinzawa | Rich Thompson | Mike Loftus

Bruins have a leg up in handling adversity – DJ Bean says that the Bruins should be able to handle Krejci’s absence.

Why Red Sox pitching coach could be a difference-maker – Alex Speier has a look at why Curt Young make a big impact on the Red Sox.

Bullpen door’s open – Scott Lauber has Theo Epstein looking to rebuild the bullpen. Again.