From Comcast SportsNetThe Houston Texans spent a lot of time in the end zone, rolling up a franchise record for points and sending a clear message to the rest of the AFC:Last week's embarrassing loss to Green Bay was a mere hiccup. These Texans will be a handful all season.Matt Schaub threw two touchdown passes, Arian Foster ran for two scores and the Texans dominated a showdown of the conference's top two teams, routing the Baltimore Ravens 43-13 on Sunday."We were really into what we were doing," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said, "and we were there all day long, so it was a good team effort."Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown and the Texans (6-1) finally beat Baltimore (5-2), which was without Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb. The Ravens had won all six previous meetings and eliminated them from last year's playoffs.The big win took the sting out of the 42-24 defeat to Green Bay last Sunday. Schaub completed 23 of 37 passes for 256 yards and the Texans finished with 420 yards.Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers picked up where they left off by topping the St. Louis Rams 30-20. Rodgers, who threw six touchdown passes against the Texans, had three more against the Rams.Rodgers directed Green Bay to its second consecutive turnover-free game. He also has 150 career TD passes and 42 interceptions, breaking Dan Marino's NFL record for fewest interceptions at that milestone. Marino had 69 interceptions when he threw his 150th TD pass.Randall Cobb caught two touchdown passes and Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards for the Packers (4-3). Rookie Casey Hayward made his first start in place of injured Sam Shields and intercepted his fourth pass in three games."Winning is fun," said Nelson, who had a 3-yard TD catch in the first quarter. "That's why we play games. It's great to win back-to-back games, it sounds great to say that for the first time this year, but we've got to stack success."Elsewhere, it was New Orleans 35, Tampa Bay 28; New England 29, the New York Jets 26 in overtime; Tennessee 35, Buffalo 34; the New York Giants 27, Washington 23; Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 17; Minnesota 21, Arizona 14; Dallas 19, Carolina 14; Indianapolis 17, Cleveland 13; and Oakland 26, Jacksonville 23 in OT.At Houston, Terrell Suggs, last year's defensive player of the year, saw his first action for the Ravens since undergoing surgery on his right Achilles tendon last May. Suggs sacked Schaub in the first quarter and finished with three solo tackles.Otherwise, Baltimore's defense seemed overmatched without Lewis and Webb, who were placed on injured reserve this week. Safety Ed Reed, who acknowledged this week that he's been playing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, left in the fourth quarter with a chest injury. Reed said he felt fine after the game.Joe Flacco threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.The Ravens gave up their most points since a 44-20 loss to Indianapolis in 2007."It's not the end of the world," Suggs said, "but it's not something we're going to take lightly, either."At St. Louis, Rodgers was 30 for 37, setting a single-game franchise completion record of 81.1 percent with a minimum of 35 attempts. He has guided the Packers to touchdowns on 12 of 14 trips inside the 20 over the last four games."I think their plan was to dink and dunk and catch us off guard," Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. "They made the plays when they needed to."Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year, and just the Rams' 10th overall, to trim the deficit to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. But Rodgers made a terrific throw to Cobb for a 39-yard pass that put the Packers up by two scores with 3:06 remaining.------SAINTS 35, BUCCANEERS 28At Tampa, Fla., Jonathan Vilma played for the first time while appealing a season-long suspension for his role in the Saints bounty program and Drew Brees threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns in the come-from-behind win.Brees extended his NFL record for consecutive games with at least one TD pass to 49, while leading long scoring drives on four straight possessions for the Saints (2-4) to turn a 14-point deficit into a 28-21 halftime lead.Josh Freeman threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns for the Bucs (2-4).------PATRIOTS 29, JETS 26 OTAt Foxborough, Mass., Rob Ninkovich recovered a fumble by Mark Sanchez after Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 48-yard field goal in overtime for New England.The Patriots (4-3) moved into sole possession of first place in the AFC East. The day started with all four teams tied at 3-3, but the Jets (3-4) and the Buffalo Bills lost, while the Miami Dolphins were idle.Gostkowski tied the game with a 43-yard field goal on the last play of regulation.------TITANS 35, BILLS 24At Orchard Park, N.Y., Matt Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington for a 15-yard touchdown with 1:03 left in leading Tennessee.It was Hasselbeck's 22nd career fourth-quarter comeback and second in consecutive weeks. It happened in a game in which running back Chris Johnson enjoyed a long awaited breakout performance with 195 yards rushing and two scores. Jamie Harper also scored twice for Tennessee (3-4).Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 27 of 35 for 225 yards and three scores for the Bills (3-4), but turned the ball over twice, including a lost fumble.------GIANTS 27, REDSKINS 23At East Rutherford, N.J., Eli Manning threw a 77-yard scoring pass to Victor Cruz with 1:13 to play and New York (5-2) overcame a late touchdown by rookie sensation Robert Griffin III.Manning's pass to Cruz came two plays and 19 seconds after Griffin capped what was a potential game-winning, 77-yard drive with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss. The rookie had kept the drive alive for the Redskins (3-4) with a 19-yard pass off a desperate scramble on a fourth-and-10 play deep in his own territory and a 24-yard run on the next play.------STEELERS 24, BENGALS 17At Cincinnati, Ben Roethlisberger threw one touchdown pass, and the Pittsburgh Steelers overcame their injury-depleted running game to beat the Bengals.Shaun Suisham kicked field goals of 42, 47 and 42 yards, and the Steelers clamped down on Cincinnati's Dalton-to-Green connection, holding it to one completion.The Steelers (3-3) won on the road for the first time this season and improved to 12-2 at Paul Brown Stadium despite missing their top two running backs and two offensive linemen. The Bengals (3-4) fell to 0-6 the last two seasons against Baltimore and Pittsburgh.------VIKINGS 21, CARDINALS 14At Minneapolis, Adrian Peterson ran for 153 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, and Minnesota (5-2) survived an ugly second half to hang on for the win over Arizona (4-3).Percy Harvin caught Christian Ponder's only touchdown pass, but Ponder threw an interception that led to a second-quarter touchdown run by LaRod Stephens-Howling.Arizona's John Skelton went 25 for 36 for 262 yards and two turnovers.------COWBOYS 19, PANTHERS 14At Charlotte, N.C., Dan Bailey made a go-ahead 28-yard field goal with 3:25 remaining to help Dallas end a two-game losing streak.With Dallas trailing 14-13, Tony Romo led the Cowboys (3-3) into field-goal range with a 10-play, 44-yard drive to send Dallas to its ninth consecutive regular-season victory over the Panthers (1-5).------COLTS 17, BROWNS 13At Indianapolis, Andrew Luck became the first Colts quarterback to run for two touchdowns in a game since 1988.Indy (3-3) has already won one more game than it did in 2011.Brandon Weeden threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns, but Trent Richardson, who tried to play through a rib cartilage injury, sat out the second half after running eight times for 8 yards in the first half. The Browns (1-6) have lost 11 straight road games.------RAIDERS 26, JAGUARS 23 OTAt Oakland, Calif., Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 40-yard field goal after Cecil Shorts III fumbled on the opening possession of overtime and the Raiders rallied from 14 points down in the second half.Carson Palmer threw one TD pass and ran for another to force overtime for the Raiders (2-4) before they won it after Lamarr Houston forced a fumble that Joselio Hanson recovered at the Jacksonville 21.The Jaguars (1-5) lost star running back Maurice Jones-Drew to a left foot injury on the opening drive and quarterback Blaine Gabbert to an injured left shoulder in the second quarter.
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies
BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:
"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.
"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.
"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.
"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.
* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.
* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.
* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.
* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games
* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.
* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.
* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.
* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.
* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.
1) Steven Wright
Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.
2) Travis Shaw
Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.
3) Blake Swihart
Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.
A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.
There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.
“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”
Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.
Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.
“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”
The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.
So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.