Belichick: Ravens loaded with explosive players

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Belichick: Ravens loaded with explosive players

FOXBORO -- In Baltimore's attempt to make big plays offensively, sometimes its quarterback Joe Flacco will just throw it up and see if someone can come down with it. Sometimes the throw is right on the money.

Either way, the Ravens aren't afraid to throw the ball. And they won't be afraid to throw the ball against New England's secondary in Sunday's AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium.

And why would they be? Their receivers have been pulling in everything that comes their way during the playoffs.

But as Patriots coach Bill Belichick pointed out on Wednesday, the Ravens' receivers and running backs are dangerous in more ways than just the deep ball.

"Torrey Smith's good," said Belichick. "They're all good. It's Torrey Smith, but that's all of them. It's Jacoby Jones, it's obviously Anquan Boldin. It's Dennis Pitta. It could be Ed Dickson, Tandon Doss, I mean, you could go right down the line. They throw it to all of them. And then they also have explosive players like Ray Rice, like Bernard Pierce, like Pitta, like Boldin, even Smith on some catch-and-run plays, where they take the ball on a five, six, 10-yard pass, and end up getting 40 or 50 with it because they're fast and they're tough to tackle.

"Some of them, they just launch it down there and throw it up, and the receivers go up and get it. Or they make great plays like they did last week against Denver. But sometimes it could be a screen pass or an under route or something like that, and they could turn it into a 50-yard gain too, because of their ability to run with the ball."

Either way, the Patriots are ready to face an explosive offense.

"All these guys can run," said Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo on Wednesday. "They can do multiple things. And then you have Anquan Boldin who's lining up at different spots. He always seems to come down with the ball no matter if he's in the slot, at the one spot, he's always making plays and doing a good job for them. So it's a good test for us. But it's not only for our secondary. I think it's for everyone across the board. It comes down to the pass rush. It comes down to us checking the tight ends and backs and the secondary holding up in the back end.

"So, it's a very explosive team, with a lot of big plays," Belichick added. "It's a lot of long balls, but it's not all long balls. It's a lot of catch-and-run plays too. So they get you both ways. If you play off them and give them a lot of space, then they'll kill you on the catch-and-run plays. If you get up there and try to take those away, they can kill you on the deep balls. They're very well-balanced. They execute well, and they can get a lot of yards in a hurry. They do a real good job on the deep balls. Real good."

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

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Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs top Raiders 21-13, take AFC West lead

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs top Raiders 21-13, take AFC West lead

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

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