AFC East champion Patriots not celebrating yet


AFC East champion Patriots not celebrating yet

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- With a 23-16 win over the Dolphins Sunday afternoon, the Patriots won their ninth AFC East title in 10 years.

The clinch was about as surprising as the post-game reaction.

"I think it's one of those things where you savor it for the next 24 hours, maybe, and then we'll enjoy it after the season," said Matthew Slater. "There's a lot of football left to be played, a lot to be decided, and goals that we still have to hopefully accomplish."

It is the Patriot Way to share credit, deflect praise, and celebrate nothing until the final bell. But this time, these guys aren't just going through the motions.

This year's clinch has come in Week 13. New England doesn't just have four games left, it has upcoming back-to-back games against the Texans (10-1) and 49ers (8-2).

However confident the Patriots might have been Sunday morning about winning the division, there's little certainly about the future from here on out.

"We'll enjoy this one today, but the road from here on out is very daunting," Slater said. "We have some tough opponents coming in to Foxboro, starting with Houston next week. There's a lot still to be decided as far as seeding is concerned. Ideally, we'd like to have the highest seed possible, so there's a lot of work left to be done."

Which is not to say the Patriots weren't appreciative.

In the locker room after the Dolphins game most players had their hats propped proudly in their lockers, and a few put them on before even getting dressed.

Trevor Scott, who had two sacks of Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, allowed himself a moment of revelry. But only because he and his teammates earned something they worked so hard for.

"We've been talking about it all week," Scott admitted. "It was good to beat the Dolphins and be AFC East Champs. That's what we aspired to all week. We had a good, hard week of practice and came out here. The fact that we got it done today . . . it's huge for us. It's a right step in the direction we want to go."

Think Scott just has a different perspective? Before signing with New England in March, the defensive end spent four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, whose "Just win, baby" mantra hasn't meant much since 2002.

But not even the longer-tenured Patriots are spoiled.

Linebacker Jerod Mayo has gotten a new championship hat and t-shirt in the last four of his five seasons in New England. He didn't wear the cap in his post game interview, but smiled widely when it was referenced.

"It never gets old," he said of the tradition. "This is a great group of teams -- Buffalo, the Jets, Dolphins."

And then he returned to center.

"We're going to enjoy this one, but we have other goals for the season," he sang in that old refrain.

Subban replaced in second period, Bruins lose to Wild, 5-0


Subban replaced in second period, Bruins lose to Wild, 5-0

BOSTON – The Bruins had to feel like things would go badly for them with both of their usual goaltenders on the shelf against the Minnesota Wild.

That’s exactly what happened with Malcolm Subban getting pulled in the second period for the second time in his two-start NHL career, and the Bruins ultimately falling by a 5-0 score to the Wild at TD Garden. Subban lasted a tad more than 30 minutes in this game, but looked shaky in allowing two goals in a span of 12 seconds to Minnesota as they took control early in the second period.

Weymouth native Charlie Coyle floated a spinning, surprise shot through the glove hand and leg pad of a slow-reacting Subban, and Chris Stewart followed by roofing a shot while all alone in front following the ensuing face-off.

Subban made a nice save on Marco Scandella to temporarily stop the bleeding, but was pulled from the game when Ryan Suter beat him low to the glove hand with a power play strike midway through the second. Subban was pulled after giving up the third goal of the night, and Zane McIntyre was ostensibly better even if he allowed a Jason Zucker deflected shot past him to give the Wild an insurmountable four goal cushion.

The Bruins tried to rally for something in the third period, but there wasn’t much going on after the shaky defense and subpar goaltending knocked all the wind right out of them. Jason Pominville scored late in the game on a rebound goal to round out the scoring. The scary part is that Tuesday night’s loss to the Wild represents the first of six games against worthy opponents that made the playoffs last season, and there’s no hint of when Tuukka Rask or Anton Khudobin might be ready to return.