Ravens come away with redemption in Foxboro


Ravens come away with redemption in Foxboro

FOXBORO -- The Baltimore Ravens came to Gillette Stadium for redemption on Sunday.

And they got it in a 28-13 win over the Patriots in the AFC Championship.

It was redemption for the AFC title game last year that ended with New England going to the Super Bowl. One year later, the tables have turned. And that redemption was something the Ravens prided themselves on following the game.

"Last year we ran our course," said Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. "And it wasnt one play. It wasnt no dropped pass, it wasnt no one field goal, it was about a team that came in. And we came back and we were faced with adversity early this season. The injuries, starting with Sizzle Terrell Suggs the first time me, Ed Reed and Sizzle actually played together was against the Colts. So the up-and-down roller coaster that went through was just an example or just everything that we had to go through. Starting with last years loss here and then rebuilding as a team and coming in and having one of the best training camps ever, I can say, just because everyone believed in each other.

"Its just so special, its special to be here right now. Honestly, I just said that God doesnt make mistakes, man," added Lewis. "There was no way that he was going to bring us back here twice to feel the same feeling. He had a real plan for us the whole year. And thats one thing that I really congratulate my team by, that we stuck to the course, no matter what happened throughout the year. It was always, Next man up. And our locker room, its contagious. Its contagious with a certain respect that we have for each other, coaches all the way down to trainers. Its a great environment to be around. Thats probably the biggest thing I got out of telling them is, were back, were back. But this time were on our way to the Super Bowl."

Last year, the Ravens had to walk off the field covered in Patriots-colored confetti. They didn't want to see that confetti this year. And they didn't.

The loss last year weighed on the Ravens' minds, said wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught two touchdown passes on Sunday.

"We came here last year and left with a bitter taste in our mouth, we felt like this team the Patriots took something away from us," Boldin said. "And we wanted to come back and make that right. It wouldve been great to do it in front of our fans in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium, but we thought the proper way was to come back here and to win at Foxboro. And we were able to do that."

Said Ravens offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie: We didnt want to leave here the same way we did last year, seeing the confetti drop on them and their dancing, I mean, that hurt. There was no way we could go and repeat that same thing again. We knew it was in our hands, we just had to go out and execute the plays and make something happen.

Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win


Horford-Celtics partnership gives both stability, chance to win

BOSTON –  This is not where Al Horford thought he would be right now.
Back in May, the Atlanta Hawks had just been swept out of the playoffs by the soon-to-be NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
Disappointed with the outcome obviously, Horford was a free agent-to-be who was confident that he would be back in Atlanta and the Hawks would retool by adding to their core group which he was a major part of, and they would be back to making another run at it this season.
First there was the draft night trade of point guard Jeff Teague to the Indiana Pacers. 
And during Horford's negotiations with the Hawks in July, they were also negotiating with Dwight Howard and ultimately signed the Atlanta native to a three-year, $70.5 million contract. 
Before the Howard deal was complete, the Celtics had already made a strong impression on Horford during their presentation to him. 
So the choice was pretty clear.
Return to Atlanta and potentially have a major logjam up front with himself, Howard and Paul Millsap, or join a Celtics team that’s on the rise where his five-tool skillset – passing, rebounding, defending, scoring and making those around him better – could be put to great use on a team that’s clearly on the rise. 
Horford chose the latter, giving both himself and the Celtics exactly what they wanted – stability and a chance to win at the highest of levels.
The first shot to see how this basketball marriage looks on the floor will be tonight when the Celtics kick off the 2016-2017 season at the TD Garden against the Brooklyn Nets. 
The preseason isn’t the best indicator of what’s on the horizon now that games count, but Horford’s presence was undeniable.
Boston’s starters which includes Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson, each finished with a positive, double-digit plus/minus in the preseason. 
“He just makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He can do so many things out there at both ends of the floor. He’s going to be big for us this season.”
And his impact can be felt both on the floor and inside the locker room, similar to what he brought to the Atlanta Hawks.
“With the way that I go about it is, I’m trying to win,” Horford told CSNNE.com. “I’m gonna work, put in my work, try to help guys get better not only on the court but off the court as well. That’s how I carry myself.”
 And it is that approach to the game that has made his transition to the Celtics a relatively seamless one. 
Horford holds many fond memories of his time in Atlanta, a place that will always be near and dear to his heart. 
But he’s a Celtic now, coming in with the same single-minded focus that drives this organization to continue pursuing the only thing that truly matters to them – an NBA title. 
"Even though I’m leaving a lot behind, as a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”

Expect Patriots to tread carefully as Lewis nears return from knee surgery


Expect Patriots to tread carefully as Lewis nears return from knee surgery

FOXBORO -- Dion Lewis is reportedly set to return to the practice field this week, per NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, and you should expect the Patriots to move carefully as the running back edges closer to a return.

The team will have until November 16 to decide whether to activate Lewis, who tore his ACL last season against Washington on November 9. The ACL healed fine for Lewis after surgery was performed by renowned sports orthopedist, Dr. James Andrews. But knee pain that developed during the summer was found to be a patella stress fracture. That kind of injury is rare but not unheard of after ACL repairs as quadriceps flexion can put stress on a grafted area (and Lewis has giant quads). The remedy is inserting screws in the patella which was done in Lewis’ case. 

Now, with the “clock” started on Lewis’ return from the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, determining how well he responds to the increased workload of practice and then padded practice and hitting will be the next step in determining whether he returns by the middle of next month or is put on IR.

Meanwhile, the performance of James White so far has mitigated the sting of Lewis’ absence. While Lewis’ return wouldn’t be accelerated based upon on-field need – this isn’t a “rush ‘em back”-type injury – the team has to feel a little less urgency given White’s contributions so far as a runner and receiver. White as their primary sub back in Lewis' absence, and he's on pace for a career year, with 27 receptions for 244 yards and three touchdowns.