Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

Brady's Pats look just like Niners of 80s and 90s

FOXBORO Before getting swamped by the Patriots Monday night, the Houston Texans described their game with New England as the biggest in franchise history.
After the game, Patriots guard Logan Mankins said, I know the team we play next week. Its not the biggest game in their franchise history.
Not by a long shot. Next up for the Patriots? The San Francisco 49ers.
While this years model of the Niners is still making strides to be an elite team, the storied history of the franchise remains fresh and nowhere does that history reverberate more strongly than in New England.
When owner Robert Kraft bought the Patriots in 1993, he made it clear the franchise he would emulate was the 49ers, the NFLs gold standard of the 80s and 90s.
If it isnt mission accomplished, its pretty close.
The Patriots are the most successful franchise of the 2000s with five Super Bowl appearances in 12 seasons, three Super Bowl titles, a perfect regular season in 2007 and a Hall of Fame quarterbackhead coach combination in Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.  
The Niners, with their 5-0 Super Bowl record and 16 consecutive seasons of 10-or-more wins from 1983 to 1998 are the only team New England is chasing when it comes to sustained, unstinting excellence over more than a decade. The win over Houston brought the Patriots to 10 consecutive 10-win seasons.
In the Super Bowl Era, not even the Steelers were able to sustain the same level season after season for as long as the Niners did and the Patriots have.
Throw in the personal.
Tom Brady, grew up in San Mateo, California, went to the 1981 NFC Championship game where Dwight Clark made The Catch, idolized Joe Montana and is now mentioned in the same breath as Montana as perhaps the greatest ever.
Bill Belichicks coaching idol, Paul Brown, was the man under whom Bill Walsh learned what became the West Coast offense. And Belichicks Giant defenses banged helmets for NFC supremacy with Walshs Niners for a decade in the 80s.
Contemporary linkage? The 2012 Niners executed a quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick that hearkens back just a little to the switch Belichick made from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady in 2001. There are some differences Bledsoe was the Patriots franchise hood ornament while the Niners have been gearing up to replace Smith for years; Brady proved over several games to be better than Bledsoe, while Kaepernick made his bones in practice and cameos. But the comparison mostly stands.
Yet all that is window dressing to a game that could be could be a prelude to another meeting in New Orleans in early February.
The Patriots are in the midst of their annual December crescendo. Theyve won seven straight games and the three blemishes on their 10-3 record came by a total of four points.
The Niners are 5-1-1 over their last seven and are in the midst of a crushing late-season schedule that has them on the road for four out of five games.
Both teams are the No. 2 seed in their respective conferences. Both have designs on getting home field for the playoffs. Neither can afford to stub their toe down the stretch and miss out on a first-round bye.
Its a short week for us; we dont know them very well, Belichick said Wednesday. We havent played them in quite awhile and theyve made a lot of changes since the last time we did play them. We really have to do a good job of trying to catch up preparation-wise this week. Hopefully we can do that, but these guys do a lot of things well.
Having Brady, whos in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, helps New England make up the stagger a little bit.
Brady said Wednesday he began working on San Francisco on Thanksgiving night after a 49-19 prime-time win over the Jets.
Harbaugh was asked how hed slow Brady down.
Well, we'd sure like to find the answer to that and then implement it, he confessed. But it is really difficult. They're tough to do that against. They have a really good scheme, really good play calling, and then great individual effort at each position. The great ability that they have to play as a team. We could talk for hours about how good they are."
The Niners, meanwhile, remain an impressive work in progress. Kaepernicks been the anointed starter for four games. He brings a dimension to their offense that former starter Alex Smith didnt the ability to threaten a defense in multiple ways and create but hes an NFL embryo compared to someone like Brady.
Context? Kaepernicks thrown 134 passes in the NFL. Bradys thrown 6,609. Including playoffs.
So on Sunday night, the former gold standard will face the current gold standard. And it may not be for the last time.

Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’


Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask has been outstanding through his first three games this season after stumbling out of the gate last year. The .947 save percentage and sub 2.00 GAA are all the more impressive for Rask when also accounting for a lower body issue that’s been nagging at him since the opening night win a little more than a week ago.

Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden, but it was also clear on a couple of stops that he was feeling discomfort in his lower half as he extended into the full butterfly. 

That was confirmed by Rask following the win when he admitted he was dealing with “something” after the game, and by his absence from the practice ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday morning.

“Uh-huh. There’s always a little something-something,” said a smirking Rask, when asked if he’s playing through something physically.

Instead, Babson College goalie coach Mike Ronan was called into emergency duty, and took the practice ice along with Bruins backup netminder Anton Khudobin.

Claude Julien said following practice that Rask was dealing with the same “general soreness” that last week pushed him out of a scheduled start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s uncertain whether he will make the start against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“The general soreness he had last week is still there,” said Julien. “[The medical staff] will see tomorrow how he's doing.”

Rask also missed a Bruins practice with soreness last Friday in Toronto, and wasn’t able to play the next night in the loss to the Maple Leafs. Injuries aside, Rask has been brilliant against both New Jersey and Winnipeg and was solid over the final 40 minutes against the Blue Jackets in an opening night win to start the season.

“Tuukka was outstanding in Winnipeg and he was good again [vs. New Jersey],” said Julien. “So, there are no issues with Tuukka. I think he’s giving us the hockey and the goaltending that we are looking for.”

Well, maybe there is one slight “issue with Tuukka” if a nagging lower body issue starts keeping him out of Bruins games and practices on the regular.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings at Friday practice:









Liles-C. Miller






Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick


Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick

The Celtics continue to offer James Young or R.J. Hunter for a second-round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical reports.

The Celtics need to be down to 15 players by 5 p.m. Monday. Young and Hunter are on the bubble to make the roster. For CSN Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely’s look at the candidates for the final roster spot, click here.