Patriots Survive Jags, Limp Into Season Finale

Not one to put into the style points section.

The Patriots started sluggish, and were sloppy for much of yesterday, but managed to get enough defensive stops to hold off the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16 and improve to 11-4 on the season.

The offensive line had problems protecting Tom Brady, who threw two interceptions, the secondary was depleted (when Pat Chung is back out there taking regular turns on the defense, you know things are bad) and the compete level at times across the board was lacking.

Still, they survived, and will have the opportunity, however slight it may be, to play for a first round bye next Sunday. If the Colts, who have nothing to play for in terms of playoff seeding, but who will get a boost from the return of coach Chuck Pagano this week, can beat the Texans at home Sunday, the Patriots can get the bye with a win over the Dolphins. They can also get a bye with a win and a loss by the Broncos at home to the Chiefs, but that scenario seems even more unlikely.

The Colts and Texans play an early game on Sunday while the Patriots have been flexed to 4:25pm, so New England will have an idea of what their chances are before they take the field.

A few of the more insightful links from today:

Pats are human … and a playoff bye is still possible – Jonathan Comey says that we learned that “the Patriots are subject to the same emotions and human frailties as anyone, and that even Bill Belichick’s coaching wasn’t enough to get his team up on a road trip against a nobody team.”

What we learned: In the end, it’ll always come down to Tom Brady – Christopher Price says that it’s impossible to make a broad statement about the state of the defense based on this game.

When it matters most, Patriots’ defense just good enough – Michael Whitmer says that when they needed to, the defense made the plays to win the game.

Patriots offense hits the skids, but can rebound – Greg A Bedard looks at some areas of concern for the offense, but adds that all is not lost.

More questions as game-to-game play varies – Tom E Curran notes that the Jaguars threw the kitchen sink at the Patriots, but that they still need to show more consistency game-to-game.

Patriots don’t feel like celebrating – Mike Reiss has the Patriots players treating the game like a loss, but also notes that the team wasn’t alone in underachieving yesterday.

Get the rest of the Patriots stories at PatriotsLinks.com.

Going for it? Why Red Sox trade for Joel Hanrahan is noteworthy – Alex Speier says that Boston’s pursuit of the All Star closer indicates that they believe they can contend in 2013.

Celtics still looking for swagger – The Celtics play the Brooklyn Nets tomorrow at noon. Chris Forsberg says that this is a chance for Boston to “push back” at the Nets.

Avery Bradley could play on road trip – Mark Murphy’s notebook says that the guard could make his debut within the next week.

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 35 vs. the 76ers

Celtics (27-7) vs. 76ers (24-10)
December 22, 1979
The Spectrum

The 76ers sought revenge three days before Christmas.  After the humiliation of a 25-point loss at the Boston Garden just three days prior, the city of Philadelphia couldn’t wait to spread its love to the visiting Celtics at the Spectrum for this 8pm prime time match-up.  Going into the game, the Sixers vowed they would be better prepared.  In the December 22, 1979 publication of the Boston Globe, Bob Ryan spoke with Julius Erving. [Read more…]

Bird’s Rookie Year — Game 34 vs. the Spurs

Celtics (26-7) vs. Spurs (17-16)
December 21, 1979
Boston Garden

The Celtics continued their hot streak as they hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at the Garden.  The C’s hit the glass, ran the break, and moved the ball exceptionally well in a lopsided 133-114 victory.  The win marked the 27th victory for the Celtics, and improved their winning streak to seven games. [Read more…]