Brady unforgiving after close Buffalo game

938181.jpg

Brady unforgiving after close Buffalo game

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's Sunday evening press conference was short. He answered five questions before bluntly axing the affair.

He was not a happy man.

'Do you realize you're 20-2 against the Buffalo Bills in your career?' a local television reporter grinned.

"It was tight today," Brady retorted. "I'm glad we came away with a win. We fought hard. We certainly had more opportunities out there to score more points, but we didn't and made a great play at the end -- a couple great plays at the end."

The Patriots did win, 37-31, but they may find bullet holes in their jerseys.

With less than eight minutes to play, the Bills crept uncomfortably close to New England's 34-31 lead. Brady's offense had a chance to drive down, burn clock, and steal back its breathing room.

They got to the Buffalo 2-yard line before Stevan Ridley was tackled for a loss. On the next play, he was whistled for a false start.

Second-and-9: A Brady pass to Deion Branch fell incomplete. Third-and-9: Brady missed Danny Woodhead badly, threw it in the dirt.

New England was forced to settle for a field goal. Buffalo has two minutes to score. To win.

"We're always trying to make good plays whether it's the first quarter or the fourth quarter," Brady said of the team's failure to close out the game. "We've got to play through 60 minutes; that's the goal every week."

He sat on the bench during that final Bills drive, head bowed under the weight of a missed opportunity.

"It's frustrating when we don't play as well as we're capable of," he said at the podium. "But it's part of the game and part of mental toughness to put those things behind you and to keep playing hard, and we did that so that's why we won."

It's easier to say why New England didn't lose.

There were 23 ticks left on the clock when Devin McCourty intercepted Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. The pass was announced as intended for Buffalo receiver T.J. Graham, but that was as good as wishful thinking; McCourty just jumped and the ball landed squarely in his arms.

Touchback. Bailout. Whatever you want to call it, the play didn't make Brady want to celebrate.

But isn't a win a win? Wasn't that the quarterback's sentiment after New England snuck by the Jets in a 29-26 overtime victory?

"Were trying to win every week," Brady had said, October 24. "But whether you lose by one or 30 or win by one or 30, the record is the same."

He's not wrong. And he wasn't lying. It's just that, when those words were cast out -- calmly, confidently -- it was done so from the other side of the bye.

It's easier to accept ugly play in September and October because it's cushioned by time. The bad routes, forced throws, missed tackles, surrendered yardage -- all of that can be corrected over the coming weeks.

How many times did Brady say it himself?

'There's a lot of football left to play.'

There are seven games left to play now. Just shy of half a season. Wins are still wins, but as the weather gets colder, mistakes start to appear in patterns instead of as anomalies. A team's inability to strike a late-game deathblow festers, hangs on a team

And opponents can smell it.

"We had plenty of opportunities to do something about it way before I was sitting on the sidelines," Brady said of surrendering control in the final minutes. "I had an opportunity to do something about it 50 seconds before that and the defense really saved the day."

The Patriots may be grateful for last-minute heroics, but they don't want to make it a habit.

It doesn't suit Brady to be rescued.

Terry Rozier believes he can build off his postseason opportunity

celtics-roziers.jpg

Terry Rozier believes he can build off his postseason opportunity

BOSTON – If you look at Terry Rozier’s basketball odyssey, it is filled with moments in which the 6-foot-2 guard got a shot to make an impact and more often than not, he did.

During Boston’s first-round playoff series against Atlanta, Rozier went from a seldom-used reserve into a viable option off the bench that head coach Brad Stevens turned to a lot.

In fact, Rozier’s playing time in the playoffs more than doubled (19.8 minutes) from the minutes he logged per game (8.0) during the regular season.

“With this business, how it works, it’s all about opportunity,” Rozier said. “And my opportunity just happened to come (in the playoffs).”

And Rozier for the most part made the most of it.

It was an opportunity Rozier believes he can build on during the offseason with a goal being to cement a spot for himself in the team’s regular rotation.

He understands all too well that his opportunity to play more was due in large part to Avery Bradley suffering a right hamstring injury of the fourth quarter of Boston’s Game 1 loss at Atlanta.

The increased playing time naturally brought about a bump in his overall stats as his scoring (4.8 points versus 1.8), rebounding (3.4 versus 1.6) and effective shooting percentage (.478 versus .302) all underwent a significant increase.

“I try to take advantage of it as much as I can,” Rozier said of his increased role. “Whether it was rebounding, whatever the coach needed me to do. Like I said, I was happy to be out there just to enjoy the time with a lot of my teammates. It’s been a great year. I had a lot of fun.”

But as Rozier will soon find out, past success doesn’t necessarily correlate with improved play going forward.

In addition to putting in the necessary work to improve physically, Rozier knows he has to step his game up mentally, too.

The best players in the league have a certain swagger, an elite level of confidence about them that often separates them from the masses.

Rozier isn’t quite there yet, but having been given an opportunity to see his most action in the postseason can only help.

“I’m gonna feel more confident,” he said. “Not too many rookies can say they played in the playoffs. It’s definitely going to give me a boost for summer league. I’ll have the ball in my hands a lot. It’s definitely going to be a confidence booster.”

Among the areas that Rozier sees as an absolute-must for him next season is being more vocal with his teammates.

“This year was more learning, watching it and all the veterans,” he said. “Next year, I think I can take on a bigger role.”

Boston’s Evan Turner agrees.

“He’s going to be a good player in this league,” Turner told CSNNE.com. “He already defends at an NBA-level, a high level, so that’s half the battle right there. He just has to get more comfortable with his game, with his teammates and he’ll be fine.”

One thing that hasn’t been a problem for Rozier thus far in the NBA is rebounding.

This past season, he averaged 9.7 rebounds per 48 minutes which ranked 8th in the NBA. And his offensive rebound average per 48 minutes (3.7) was tops among players who logged at least 300 minutes this past season.

“It goes back to me just the way I grew up,” Rozier said. “Rebounding was always my thing. It’s something you can’t teach; it’s part of toughness. That’s something, I don’t think it’s ever going to leave me.”

Rozier said his goal next season is to average at least five rebounds per game which would put him in some pretty exclusive company.

This past season, only 12 guards averaged at least five rebounds who logged more than 300 minutes per game.

But as Rozier has shown us thus far, he can be an impactful player when given an opportunity – something he believes he will get more of next season.

“I can’t wait until next season,” Rozier said. “I felt (our season) was cut a little short. But unfortunately, things come to an end. We’ll be back next season. We’ll be better; I’ll be better. That’s the most important thing.”

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

red-sox-logo-110415.jpg

Tonight's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

Rick Porcello attempts to increase his record to 6-0 as he starts tonight for the Red Sox against the Yankees in the opener of their three-game series in New York.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DB
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
---
Rick Porcello P

YANKEES
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Aaron Hicks RF
Didi Gregorius SS
Ronnie Torreyes 3B
---
Michael Pineda P

 

Friday, May 6: Boudreau excited at prospect of coaching Senators

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Friday, May 6: Boudreau excited at prospect of coaching Senators

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fairly certain I’ll never be buying Tom Brady’s $200 cookbook:

-- Good piece on NBC’s Inside the Glass man Pierre McGuire, who is once again doing yeoman’s work during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

-- Bruce Boudreau is excited at the prospect of coaching the Senators as he readies for an interview with Ottawa. Boudreau would be a good fit there, given his past history with offensively talented teams.

-- Down Goes Brown lists their top-10 old guys without a Stanley Cup whose playoff hopes are still alive in this current postseason.

-- You’ve got to love the fancy stats crew that, when their team is down 3-1 in a playoff series, contends it’s all based on luck. No, it’s based on the other team scoring more goals than your team rather than which team is winning the puck-possession battle.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer Jason Brough has San Jose Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer ripping the goalie interference replay system, saying it’s been “clear as mud” all season after it cost the Sharks in their triple-overtime loss to Nashville. It feels like he’s got a point: I thought the Joe Pavelski goal should have been a game-winner too rather than be waved off for goalie interference.

-- It looks like the mighty have fallen quite: Stephane Da Costa isn’t on France’s World Championships roster after being in the NHL a couple of years ago. Or maybe the mighty are just hurt after playing last season in the KHL. It’s tough to tell at this point for the former Merrimack hockey star.

-- The massive nation of China is becoming a growing incubator for budding young hockey players and could become a new resource for the NHL.

-- For something completely different: For a Lego commercial for Star Wars movies that still don’t come out for almost a year, this is pretty great.