Tag Archives: st. louis rams

C’s Circuit: Embrace the Cinderella Celtics

Brad Stevens continues to work magic with the Boston Celtics.

Brad Stevens continues to work magic with the Boston Celtics.

It’s tough not to feel good about the Boston Celtics these days. The team is 8-5 since the acquisitions of Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome just before the NBA Trade Deadline on February 19th. Also, the Celtics have won their last two games without Thomas (bruised back), including a thrilling 95-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently in second place in the loaded Western Conference.

The Celtics are a Cinderella story as they reside just one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They don’t have a star player, but the Celtics play together and Brad Stevens has been fabulous calling plays out of timeouts at the end of games. For example in the 85-84 win over the Utah Jazz on March 4th, Stevens noticed that the Jazz had their 7-footer Rudy Gobert defending the inbounds pass and they were switching so he called a play for Tyler Zeller. Marcus Smart lobbed a long pass to Zeller who hit a buzzer-beating bank shot to send the Celtics to an exhilarating victory. In the win over the Grizzlies, Stevens drew a play for Kelly Olynyk, but he told Evan Turner to see if an alley-oop pass to Smart was available. Smart gained a step on former Celtic guard Courtney Lee and Smart banked in a shot before hitting the ensuing free throw to give the Celtics a 91-90 advantage.

Many fans have been rooting for the Celtics to lose over the past couple of seasons so they can get a potential superstar in the Draft. Isn’t it more fun to cheer for your team when they are underdogs? The most memorable victories in recent Boston sports history has been the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the St. Louis Rams, and when the Boston Red Sox came from 3-0 down to beat the hated New York Yankees in seven games in the 2004 ALCS and then they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Both of these teams’ championship runs were so improbable. I’m not saying the Celtics will go on a championship run, but it would be fun to cheer for the superstar-less Celtics and see how far they go.

The Celtics can follow the Atlanta Hawks’ model of success. Of course, the Hawks have made every postseason since 2008. Last season, the Hawks finished in eighth place and they fell in seven games to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. This year, the Hawks used that run and some good health to claim the first spot in the Eastern Conference. Also, the Celtics will have about $30 million in cap space with a talented free agent class. They also have numerous draft pics over the next several years to remain in contention.

After all, everyone loves an underdog story and isn’t this the reason we watch sports? This is the season of Cinderella teams breaking people’s hearts around the country.

Excuse me for hoping the Celtics make a deep run in favor of taking a chance on a talented, yet not fully developed, teenager coming out of a year of college.The kid in me still enjoys fairy tale endings.

 

 

12 Reasons The Patriots Lost Super Bowl XLVI

The Patriots are just about set to take on the NFC Champion Seahawks in their sixth Super Bowl appearance in the last 13 years. In their two most recent trips in 2007 and 2011, however, the Pats have not been able to come away victorious. In their most recent Super Bowl loss to the Giants, there were some pretty clear reasons as to why they were unable to win the game. We all remember the last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive orchestrated by Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw’s accidental touchdown and the last-second Hail Mary attempt falling incomplete. Chances are, however, most people have forgotten about some of the other reasons the Pats came out on the wrong end of the score, but not to worry. Here are the top-12 reasons the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLVI.

Tom Brady walks off the field in Indianapolis following the Super Bowl XLVI defeat.

Tom Brady walks off the field in Indianapolis following the Super Bowl XLVI defeat.

Read more

Patriots 2012 Regular Season By The Numbers

On the surface, it is easy for any fan to see just how good or bad of a season their team has had. Whether it be wins and losses or total points put up, some stats tell the story, god or bad, of the year of their favorite team.

What most fans fail to sometimes realize, however, is all the stats that go into making an NFL team successful. Here are a bunch you would never even think to remotely consider about the 2012 season of the New England Patriots.

You name it. If it can be statistically tracked in the NFL, it’s probably in this post.

0 – The number of wins the team had when their leading rusher was under 40 yards for the game (0-2).

0 – The Patriots had no two-point conversions on the year. Just kind of odd.

0.5 – Brandon Bolden averaged half a yard more per carry than Stevan Ridley did.

1 – The number of franchises to score 500 points four different times. New England accomplished that this year after 500-point seasons in 2007, 2010 and 2011 as well.

1 – The New England offense ranked first in the NFL in total yards, yards per game, points and points per game in 2012.

1 – Of the four members of the team who finished the year as the starting secondary, only one (Devin McCourty) was on the team last year. Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Steve Gregory were the other three.

1 – Vince Wilfork‘s four forced fumbles were tied for first in the NFL.

1 – The number of full games that tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were both on the field for the whole contest – the season finale against the Dolphins.

1 – The number of NFL quarterbacks to throw at least one touchdown pass in all 16 regular season games for three straight seasons – Tom Brady in 2010-12.

2 – The number of teams to ever win 10-plus games in 10 consecutive seasons – the Patriots became the second to accomplish that this year.

2 – Their two-game losing streak in Weeks 2 and 3 was tied for their longest losing streak since they lost four straight in the 2002 season.

2 – This season was the second time they have gone undefeated against the AFC East, joining the 2007 team.

2 – The number of teams to ever record 400 first downs in a season – the 2012 Pats and the 2011 Saints.

2 – The number of points that Stephen Gostkowski needed to tie the all-time single-season Patriots scoring record set by Gino Cappelletti in 1964.

3 – Pass plays in the NFL this season longer than Shane Vereen‘s 83-yard reception in Week 12.

3 – It had been three years since the Patriots lost four or more games in a season (10-6 in 2009).

3 – The Pats have scored 500-plus points in three consecutive seasons.

The Patriots' offense has been unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

The Patriots’ offense has been nearly unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

4 – New England had four different players lead the team in receiving in their 16 games – Brandon Lloyd (3), Wes Welker (9), Gronkowski (3) and Vereen (1).

4 – It was Brady’s fourth career season of throwing 30 or more touchdown passes, good for a tie for the fourth-most all-time.

4 – Welker finished four receptions behind league-leader Calvin Johnson, who had 122 on the year.

4 – The Patriots have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.

4 – The team had four different players lead them in rushing in their 16 games – Ridley (13), Bolden (1), Julian Edelman (1) and Danny Woodhead (1).

5 – There have only been five Patriots running backs to rush for 1,200 yards in the team’s history. Ridley became the fifth this year.

5 – Wilfork was elected to the fifth Pro Bowl of his career and will start on the defensive line for the AFC.

5 – The team has held its opponents to 20 points or less in five of six games since Nov. 18 (5-1).

6 – In 16 games, the Patriots only lost six fumbles.

6 – The Pats finished six spots higher in total defense this year compared to last season when they finished 31st in the league.

6 – New England has been a top-10 offense in the NFL for six straight seasons.

7 – The amount of consecutive games that Brady needs to throw a touchdown pass in to break the all-time record of 54.

7 – New England’s longest winning streak of the year from Week 7 through Week 14.

7 – The number of points that Brady’s total QBR trailed Peyton Manning‘s for tops in the league.

7 – McCourty was one of seven NFL players to return a kickoff more than 100 yards on the year.

7 – The team sent seven members to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

New England's seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

New England’s seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

7 – Last year’s NFL leader in interceptions, Kyle Arrington, had seven fewer interceptions in 2012 than a year ago. He had seven in 2011.

8 – The number of years it had been since the team had a 1,200-yard rusher before this year. Corey Dillon rushed for 1,635 yards in 2004.

8 – Rob Ninkovich led the team with eight sacks on the year.

8 – The Pats had eight return TD’s on the season.

9 – The number of games in which the starting offensive line of Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins were all on the field together.

9 – Brady now ranks ninth on the NFL’s all-time passing list with 44,806 yards. He needs 1,427 yards to pass Vinny Testaverde.

9 – Ridley finished the season as one of just nine non-kickers in the top-40 in the league in scoring.

9 – The team has a nine-game division win streak heading into next season.

10 – The number of consecutive 10-win seasons for the Patriots – the second longest such streak ever (16).

10 – The team scored 30-plus points 10 times in their 16 games in 2012 (8-2).

10 – The number of players who had a rushing attempt for the Pats in 2012 led by Ridley’s 290 carries.

10 – New England had 10 more sacks than it allowed in 2012.

11 – They also had 11 more interceptions than their opponents did.

11 – The combined number of points New England fell by in its four losses against the Cardinals (2), Ravens (1), Seahawks (1) and 49ers (7).

11 – The number of current and former Pro Bowl running backs that Ridley out-rushed in 2012.

Read more

Early Struggles Doom Patriots As 2nd Half Surge Not Enough

Down and (eventually) out: Tom Brady couldn't quite lead his team to a comeback for the ages as the mistakes mounted up in Foxboro.

Down and (eventually) out: Tom Brady couldn’t quite lead his team to a comeback for the ages as the mistakes mounted up in Foxboro.

Usually, 34 points is enough to win you a game.

Although, professional football games usually aren’t this ugly.

And the old adage lives on: good defense usually beats good offense.

That was not the case Sunday night, however, as this game was anything but usual. The league’s best offense met the league’s best defense in a primetime matchup at the stadium where the first-place Patriots have been unbeatable during the last three winters. The 9-3-1 San Francisco 49ers made the cross-country trip to the home of the 10-3 New England Patriots and, though they undoubtedly got nervous in the 2nd half, escaped with a 41-34 win over the three-time champs.

“Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to a team is to spend all week having everyone tell you you’re going to win the Super Bowl.”  It seems, at least right now, that this sentiment offered by Al Michaels during the broadcast last night, is right on the money.

In the nastiest of weather conditions (35 degrees and raining), which undoubtedly affected both teams, the 49ers came out flying and looked to definitely have the edge in the first 10 minutes of the game. As the president addressed the nation, the 49ers offense went to work.

The home team got the ball first as the rain poured down and got right into their no-huddle offense. After a 1st down completion to Brandon Lloyd, Stevan Ridley put the ball on the ground, but luckily for the Pats, Ridley’s backside was ruled down by the officials. On the next play, however, Ridley was sent backwards and less than a minute into the game, the stingy 49ers defense had forced a three-and-out on the league’s best offense and provided a sign of things to come.

Colin Kaepernick wasted no time after the three-and-out as he came out firing and picked up first downs on three consecutive throws. On the sixth play of the drive, Kaepernick hit former Patriot Randy Moss with a 24-yard pass for the touchdown as the crowd in Foxboro sat in shock at the start. San Fran marched 63 yards in 2:40 for the touchdown on 3rd & 7. It was Moss’ 156th career touchdown – second all-time.

Aldon Smith then showed why he has a chance to set the single-season sacks record as he got to Tom Brady twice on the next drive, though he was unable to bring him down either time. The San Francisco defense forced a second straight punt to open the night. The weather then helped the home team out as Kaepernick couldn’t handle the snap on 3rd & 1, but did cover it up and the team was able to punt it away.

A holding call on Mike Rivera on the return gave New England the ball at their own 20 and Brady threw up what may have been an ill-advised attempt that was picked off by Carlos Rogers, who returned it 53 yards to the 5-yard line of the Patriots. Thankfully, Delanie Walker returned the favor by fumbling at the New England three and after review, the fumble stood. Steve Gregory forced the fumble and Aqib Talib got the recovery. Brady made the touchdown-saving tackle (which ended up being huge) on Rogers to keep him on the right side of the goal line following his first interception in 230 pass attempts at home. Another three-and-out resulted, however, and Zoltan Mesko, who was very busy in the 1st half, entered the game for the third time.

Read more

Edelman, Gregory Spark Patriots As Fans THANKFUL For Smackdown Of Jets

Tom Brady, one of three Players of the Game, bites into a turducken drumstick after the Patriots’ 49-19 Thanksgiving Night win.

After a long day of turkey, stuffing and everything in between, the best part of the day finally arrived. The injury-battered Patriots and fast-fading Jets faced off for the second time this year on Thanksgiving Night in the Meadowlands as the Jets tried to salvage their season with a win over their archrivals.  The game was nothing short of bizarre with a scoreless 1st quarter followed by a 38-point 2nd quarter as well as the first 35-5 score in NFL history. When all was said and done, the Patriots won their fifth straight by a score of 49-19.

Rex Ryan, fresh off of eating three or four Thanksgiving dinners, led the 4-6 Jets into the Thanksgiving Night game against their most bitter division rivals. The short week proved killer for New York as the Patriots torched the Jets for 49 points including their first 35 in the 2nd quarter. The win improved New England’s record to 19-0 in the second half of the past three seasons.

It was an ugly start to the game as the teams traded punts and then a low throw from Tom Brady, who was looking for Wes Welker, brought up a 4th down for the Pats. Stephen Gostkowski was summoned and promptly missed his second field goal in the last two weeks and the score remained 0-0 midway through the 1st quarter, but Brady did go over 3,000 yards in a season for the 10th time in his career. He’s just the sixth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat six times.

The Jets began to drive until, in typical Mark Sanchez fashion, he threw an interception in the red zone. Steve Gregory picked it off to give the ball back to the Pats. It was the 22nd straight game with a takeaway for New England, the longest active streak in the NFL.

Read more

Patriots Running Back Bolden Suspended Four Games

Bold move: The NFL suspended Patriots running back, Brandon Bolden, on Friday after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing supplement.

Injured Patriots running back, Brandon Bolden, made news on Friday for something other than his injured knee or potential return to the playing field.

The NFL suspended the rookie from Ole Miss for four games without pay for violating the league’s substance policy with the use of an illegal performance-enhancing drug, according to the league. They declined to indicate what drug it was.

The hit leaves New England with just three running backs on the active roster. Bolden joins the newest Patriot, Aqib Talib, on the suspension list. Talib was acquired by the Patriots from Tampa last week and has one game remaining on a four-game suspension of his own.

Initial reports indicated that the drug may have been pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant commonly found in popular cold medications like Sudafed & Dimetapp, but the league declined to comment further than the announcement of the suspension.

Bolden burst on to the scene in the team’s Week 4 win against the Bills in which he exploded for 137 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, but has not played since leaving New England’s Week 6 game in Seattle with that injured knee.

He will be eligible to return to practice following the team’s Week 13 game against the Dolphins and can return to game action the following week against the AFC South leading Texans. He will miss games against the Bills (Sunday), Colts, Jets and Dolphins.

In six games this year, Bolden has run the ball well. He has carried 43 times for a total of 231 yards – most of which came in his breakout game against Buffalo – and two touchdowns.

The undrafted running back will forfeit $97,500 of his rookie salary, according to boston.com.

New England should be fine without their rookie in the backfield, however, as they will continue to ride second-year man, Stevan Ridley and mix in Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen against the terrible rush defense in Buffalo, which ranks 31st in the league through nine weeks of play, giving up an average of 169.5 rushing yards per game. Should they need him, they can always sign James Develin off the practice squad to fill the void.

The Patriots host the Bills (3-5) tomorrow at 1:00 in their first game since their demolishing of the Rams in London two weeks ago.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

« Older Entries