Defending champs fall in final seconds


Defending champs fall in final seconds

From Comcast SportsNetPHILADELPHIA (AP) -- When Lawrence Tynes got a do-over, LeSean McCoy couldn't watch."I was so nervous, praying please let him miss it," McCoy said.The sellout crowd that prematurely celebrated a victory seconds earlier likely felt the same when Tynes got a second chance because Eagles coach Andy Reid had called a timeout in an attempt to ice the Giants' kicker.But Tynes was short on a 54-yard field goal attempt with 15 seconds left and the Philadelphia Eagles held on for a 19-17 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.With McCoy leading the way on the ground, Michael Vick guided Philadelphia (3-1) to its third comeback win.The Eagles became the first team in NFL history to have each of their first three wins by two points or less according to information provided to the team by the Elias Sports Bureau."It's a much easier way to play this game," Vick said. "You can come out and score 28 points and the defense can play well and you can be up and it can be easy."That hasn't been the case so far.Alex Henery kicked a 26-yard field goal with 1:49 left and the Eagles overcame two pass interference penalties on New York's final drive.The defending Super Bowl champion Giants (2-2) have struggled against Philadelphia, losing eight of the last nine meetings."We knew it was going to be a game that was going to come down to the fourth quarter," Eli Manning said. "We knew we were going to have to earn every yard. They're a good defense, they're a good team. We had opportunities, we were close."McCoy had 121 of his 123 yards rushing in the second half. The All-Pro had six carries for 2 yards at halftime."I think we just stuck with it," McCoy said. "I just had that feeling, that feeling I want the ball."Vick threw TD passes in the final two minutes in consecutive 1-point wins over Cleveland and Baltimore the first two weeks before a 26-7 loss at Arizona.After Manning tossed a go-ahead 6-yard TD pass Bear Pascoe, Vick drove the Eagles to the Giants 2 before Osi Umenyiora sacked him for a 6-yard loss on third down. Henery then hit his fourth field goal to put Philadelphia ahead to stay.Henery also connected from 48, 35 and 20 yards.A pass interference penalty on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie kept the Giants' last drive alive and put the ball at the Eagles 35 after Manning threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1. Another pass interference call on Nnamdi Asomugha on third-and-10 moved it to the Eagles 27.Then Ramses Barden got called for offensive pass interference to move it back to the 36."I thought it was on him," Barden said of Asomugha. "But I know he's a competitor, and he came to play tonight. We were both fighting for position and it's just one of those things."After an incomplete pass, the Giants sent out Tynes to try for the winning kick on third-and-18 because they didn't have any timeouts remaining."I don't believe in icing the kicker," Vick said. "You let him kick it and if it's in, it's in. You can't play games. I don't know where that started. We got to end that tradition."Vick was 19 of 30 for 241 yards and the turnover-prone Eagles protected the ball. The Eagles led the NFL with 12 turnovers through three games, but didn't commit any.Manning completed 24 of 42 passes for 309 yards, two TDs and one crucial interception.He threw a pick to Rodgers-Cromartie in the end zone after a 30-yard pass to Victor Cruz on fourth-and-1 got the Giants to Philadelphia's 10 on the final play of the third quarter.Manning redeemed himself on New York's next possession. He completed passes of 31 yards to Barden and 41 yards to Domenik Hixon. He then found Pascoe wide open over the middle for a 17-16 lead with 6:45 left.McCoy finally broke loose by running for 56 yards on consecutive carries in the third. He was stopped at the 1 on a 22-yard gain, and then couldn't get in on three straight carries. The Eagles settled for a 20-yard field goal by Henery that made it 10-3."The O-line found themselves as the game wore on," Reid said. "They were able to block well enough to where McCoy had big yards."The Giants answered after David Wilson ran the kickoff back 45 yards to the 43.Mixing run and pass effectively, the Giants moved to the 14. On third-and-3, Manning threw a TD pass to Cruz, who celebrated with his trademark salsa dance in the stadium where it all started. Cruz burst on the scene with a breakout performance in a 29-16 win at Philadelphia last September.Using a no-huddle offense, the Eagles drove 70 yards on 11 plays late in the first half for their only TD. They converted three third downs on the series, including Vick's 19-yard TD pass to DeSean Jackson on third-and-9.Before the game, the Eagles retired the No. 20 worn by Brian Dawkins for 13 seasons from 1996-2008. The hard-hitting safety went to eight Pro Bowls and was a four-time All-Pro in 16 years with Philadelphia and Denver.Dawkins, one of the most revered athletes to play in this sports-crazed city, sent the sellout crowd at the Linc into a frenzy when he ran out of the tunnel during pregame introductions. Wearing his green No. 20 Eagles jersey, Dawkins did his unique, crawling, gyrating entrance. He then joined the captains at midfield for the coin toss. Dawkins changed back into his navy blue pinstriped suit and led the crowd in signing "Fly! Eagles! Fly!" at halftime.NOTES:The officials got a standing ovation when they walked onto the field an hour before kickoff. ... McCoy has four 100-yard games vs. the Giants. ... Manning wasn't sacked.

Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener


Smart yet to be ruled out of Celtics’ opener

WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart remains out with a left ankle sprain injury sustained earlier this week, but has yet to be ruled out for the season opener against Brooklyn next week.

An MRI came back negative on Smart’s ankle, which was good news.

But there’s still a high level of uncertainty as to whether Smart will heal in time for the team’s opener at home against Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

He sprained the left ankle in the second quarter of a 121-96 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday when he stepped on the foot of Knicks guard Justin Holiday.

Smart fell to the floor and was helped to his feet by teammates Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas in addition to the team’s head trainer Ed Lacerte.

The Celtics are indeed hopeful he will heal in time to play next week, but league sources indicate it’s doubtful due to the nature of the injury and Smart’s history with left ankle sprains.

He sustained one in his rookie season and it kept him out for several weeks and he has had a few minor ankle sprains since then.

Even if he shows signs of being healthy enough to play prior to the opener, the Celtics are likely to be overly cautious to best insure that when he does return he does not re-aggravate the ankle.

Smart appeared in all seven preseason games for the Celtics this season, averaging 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Smart shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled mightily from 3-point range while connecting on just 13.6 percent of his 3-point shot attempts.

If Smart is unable to play in the opener or potentially longer, look for the Celtics to lean heavily on Terry Rozier who has been the breakout performer for Boston in the summer and in camp.

“I’m just trying to do whatever they need me to do, to help us win games,” Rozier told “I’m feeling good, real good about where my game’s at now. Obviously we’re a better team in every way, with Marcus out there. But if he’s not ready to go, the next man up has to get the job done. If that’s me, it’s me. I’ll be ready.”








Friday Bag: What might the Patriots get for Garoppolo in a trade?


Friday Bag: What might the Patriots get for Garoppolo in a trade?

FOXBORO -- Every Friday we take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or a Friday Bag, as we call it. Typically Tom E. Curran and Mike Giardi join me in this endeavor, but I'm flying solo as those two get ready to head down to Pittsburgh. 

If you ever have any questions for us, feel free to tweet at us using the hashtag #FridayBag, and we'll get to as many as we can. 

On to the Bag...

PP: Roberts has been kind of a revelation. It began with his performance against the Browns, when led the team in tackles, and it continued against the Bengals as he was a crucial piece in the Patriots' second-quarter goal-line stand. Not bad for a sixth-round pick who Bill Belichick hadn't even heard of until he popped in the tape of last year's Houston-Navy game and noticed the undersized linebacker making impact plays. I think his future usage will be based on 1) the health of Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower, and 2) the types of offenses the Patriots face moving forward. On Thursday, I wrote about just how infrequently the pair has been on the field. If that trend continues, the No. 3 linebacker in New England will essentially see starter snaps even though the team has moved to what is primarily a two-linebacker defense. Against run-heavy teams (like Cleveland, or probably Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger), Roberts could see more time, whereas pass-happy clubs may get a heavier does of Barkevious Mingo. Roberts has been on the Patriots injury report this week with an ankle issue.

PP: It's an interesting question, John. For a couple of reasons, actually. The first -- and maybe you had this in mind -- is the fact that Stephen Gostkowski has become less-than-automatic this year. If the extra point isn't a given, why not go for two? At least I could see that being your logic. The second is that the Steelers are known to be a team that is as willing to run two-point plays as often as any other team. Bill Belichick said this week, that his team will prepare more for that play than they would normally, which in and of itself, other than the obvious scoring advantage, is an argument to run more two-point plays. If it makes your opponent's work week a little more difficult, go for it. The reason I think the Patriots have not tried more two-point plays under Belichick is twofold: They trust their kicker, and I don't think they'll shy away from using Gostkowski moving forward, despite his recent struggled; I also think they might like to hold onto the two-point plays they do have drawn up to save them for critical situations. 

PP: I do think there will be some kind of trade made, Miguel. The Patriots have obviously been willing to wheel and deal during what is otherwise a pretty monotonous trading deadline when compared to the other three major sports in this country. The position? That's tough. It will depend on the team's overall depth at that point in time, which will be based in large part on whatever injuries they incur between now and then. If I had to guess right now? I'd say tight end. Specifically a blocking tight end. They obviously love to stock up on that position, and it's one that isn't all that deep on the current roster. After Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, there's AJ Derby and...that's it. The team recently placed tight end Greg Scruggs on injured reserve -- after choosing to keep him on the active roster over guard Jonathan Cooper, mind you -- and haven't filled his roster spot with another player at that position. 

PP: Thanks for the question, Paul. If you listen to what Devin McCourty has said on Quick Slants over the course of the last few weeks, he'll tell you that third down comes down to matchups. The Patriots are primarily a man-to-man team, and I think their defensive backs could do a better job of plastering to their receivers in those situations. But coverage and pass-rush are always linked, and the Patriots pass-rush has to come into focus when discussing third down because -- particularly in third-and-long situations -- that's when they should be creating havoc in opposing backfields. The Patriots have pressured less of late as they've gone up against athletic quarterbacks who are dangerous outside the pocket, but sooner or later they're going to need more from their front. Jabaal Sheard (24 total quarterback pressures this season) and Chris Long (20) have been consistent, but as a team the Patriots are tied for 19th in the league with 11.0 sacks.

PP: When considering a Patriots trade involving Jimmy Garoppolo, I think a good place to start might be the Sam Bradford deal executed between the Eagles and Vikings. Minnesota sent a 2017 first-rounder and a 2018 conditional fourth-rounder in order to pick up the former No. 1 overall pick. Garoppolo doesn't have near the game experience Bradford had at the time he was traded -- he had thrown for 14,790 yards, 78 touchdowns and 52 interceptions in 63 career starts -- but even in just six quarters of play, it was relatively apparent that Garoppolo could successfully run a complicated scheme. I would not be surprised if another team was willing to cough up a first and a third or better in order to acquire Garoppolo as their next franchise guy. Teams are that hungry. If it works out, and if a team finds someone it can trust for the next 10 years, that's a small price to pay. If the Patriots decide to deal Garoppolo, when they do so -- will it be with a year left on his deal, will it be with Garoppolo on the franchise tag, will it be mid-season? -- will impact the price. As far as Belichick's eventual retirement impacting the quarterback decision . . . I don't think it will. I think even after Belichick is gone, he'll want the franchise to be in good shape because he knows that will be a reflection on his work and therefore a part, however small, of his legacy. I don't see him selling out -- ie trading Garoppolo to get value now -- if he doesn't think that's the best decision for the team. 

PP: Given the offensive output the Patriots have posted over the course of the last two weeks, and given the players around him, I'd say James White has been more than enough. If the Patriots needed more from that position, having a healthy Lewis would be their best option. He can simply do things that neither White nor most other backs in the league can when he's at his best. But right now? With Gronkowski, Bennett, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan around to see the bulk of the targets, Lewis would be more of a luxury than a necessity. For that reason, not only is White enough, but I'd imagine that the Patriots would be incredibly cautious about bringing Lewis back. He's been in and around the locker room of late, but the six-week window for Lewis to begin practicing only just opened, and I would not be surprised if the team wanted to use most of it to buy Lewis as much time as possible. Once he begins practicing, the Patriots will have three weeks to decide if they want to activate him, meaning it could be as late as Week 15 when he makes his return. If healthy, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better end-of-season addition. 

PP: I had a chance to speak with Jones at length earlier this week and he's a player who clearly understands that he needs to show the coaching staff more in order to re-gain a role. He said he didn't know if his ejection in Cleveland had anything to do with the decision to make him a healthy scratch, and so I don't know if it did, either. It couldn't have helped his chances at more playing time, though. Jones admitted he needed to be the bigger person in that scenario, even though Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins lunged at his legs. For Jones to come from Alabama, get to this level, and not contribute off the bat has been a bit of a surprise for Jones, I think. While he's frustrated he hasn't been able to do more, he understands he's not where he needs to be. From a locker-room standpoint, his teammates like him, and he's saying all the right things. I'm not sure that's enough to make him active for this week -- Eric Rowe played well in his debut, and Edelman and DJ Foster showed up as returners -- but it's a sign he's approaching his situation with a positive attitude and trying to do the right things. 

PP: Hey, David. Just based on recent history, and based on which team I think has the better defense right now, I'd have to say Denver. Mile High has been this team's own personal house of horrors for a long time. Players will tell you Buffalo is a little underrated in terms of how difficult it can be to play there, but I don't see the Patriots getting swept in the regular season by Rex Ryan's club.

PP: I think what we're seeing from Edelman is simply what should be expected from a player coming back off of multiple foot surgeries. He may not be quite as sharp getting in and out of breaks, but keep in mind he was doing that at an elite level before he went down last season. Even if he's negatively impacted by the procedures he's undergone, he's still been able to get open and make plays with the ball in his hands. He was highly-effective as a punt returner against the Bengals, returning a free kick 16 yards, and taking back three punts for an average of 16.3 yards. His receiving statistics over the last couple of weeks have looked a off (nine catches on 16 targets for 65 yards), but Brady has misfired to Edelman on a couple of notable occasions -- once over the middle last week, and once deep down the middle of the field in Cleveland -- when he was open. Connections on either of those plays could've made for bigger numbers and resulted in fewer concerned Patriots fans. Edelman's not exactly himself -- he was added to the injury report on Oct. 6 and has been limited in practices ever since -- but he's still a viable option in the passing game and an effective blocker. He's played in 117 of 144 snaps (81 percent) since landing on the injury report.