Red Sox legend joins the Yankees

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Red Sox legend joins the Yankees

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Kevin Youkilis is about to get a different look at the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.The hard-nosed Youkilis, who helped personify Boston's championship teams over the past decade, on Tuesday became the latest former Red Sox star to switch sides and land in Bronx. The free agent reached a deal that filled New York's immediate need for a third baseman to fill in for injured Alex Rodriguez.The one-year contract for 12 million is pending a physical. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press about the agreement under condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.Youkilis, who turns 34 in March, is expected to play third base while Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod plans to have the operation in mid-January and could be sidelined until the All-Star break or beyond.A three-time All-Star, Youkilis will get an early look at his old club. The Red Sox are set to open next season at Yankee Stadium on April 1.Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs are among the Boston stars who wound up in pinstripes in recent times. Of course, the most famous player to make that move was Babe Ruth.For years, Youkilis was among the more popular players at Fenway Park -- scruffy and intense, Boston fans loved how he battled the Yankees. Youkilis and Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had their own feud that exemplified the ill will between the clubs -- the inside fastballs that caused the trouble between them tapered off in recent seasons and now they're set to become teammates.Minus Rodriguez for several months, the Yankees tried to find a fill-in. They made the offer to Youkilis last week at the baseball winter meetings. The agreement was first reported by Fox Sports.Eric Chavez, A-Rod's backup for most of last season, joined Arizona last week. The Yankees considered several options as a stopgap at third, including Jeff Keppinger and Mark Reynolds, but both accepted deals with other teams.Youkilis played third base and first base last season for the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox.He was traded to the White Sox last June as Boston's new management reshaped the Red Sox roster. There was friction from the start of the season, when first-year manager Bobby Valentine questioned Youkilis' commitment -- Dustin Pedroia publicly stood up for his longtime teammate, yet it seemed clear Youkilis' days in Boston were numbered.With the White Sox, Youkilis got off to a nice start before tailing off. He combined to hit a career-low .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.An All-Star in 2008, 2009 and 2011, Youkilis won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007. He is a .283 hitter with 148 home runs in nine seasons, and was on Boston teams that won the World Series in 2004 and 2007.With the Yankees, Youkilis also could play first base to give Mark Teixeira a break and could serve as the designated hitter on occasion.There is still uncertainty about when Rodriguez will return. He is a 14-time All-Star and baseball's priciest player, with his current overall contract worth 275 million.Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs last season, and is fifth on the career homers list with 647. He slumped to .120 with zero RBIs in the playoffs, and was benched and replaced by a pinch hitter in key situations.

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Tomlin calls Patriots 'a--holes' in speech Antonio Brown posts on Facebook

Showing a knee-buckling lack of self-awareness, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put up 13:35 of footage on Facebook Live after his team’s 18-16 win over Kansas City on Sunday night.

It was a weird betrayal of the team’s privacy by one of its star players. Brown, allowed viewers to see live (and on tape until it’s inevitably taken down) that, while head coach Mike Tomlin was around a bank of lockers addressing what Tomlin presumed was his entire team, Brown was mugging in front of his phone for a growing online audience.

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The video starts with Brown and teammates having fun in front of their lockers. As the team is called together for a postgame prayer, Brown keeps the camera rolling. After the prayer, Tomlin made a statement.

“When you get to this point in the journey, not a lot needs to be said,” said Tomlin. “Let’s say very little moving forward. Let’s start our preparations. We spotted those a******* a day and a half. They played yesterday. Our game got moved to tonight. We gonna touch down at 4 o’clock in the f****** morning. So be it. We’ll be ready for that ass. But you ain’t gotta tell them we coming. Because some of us might not like the damn (woofkisses?) The chest pounding.  Keep a low profile.”

While Tomlin was issuing that low-profile request, Brown rolled on. Another Steeler then spoke up saying, “Keep cool on social media, this is about us, nobody else.”

Finally, what sounded like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger addressed the team saying of Foxboro, “That’s a lion’s den we’re going into this week. It’s a lion’s den. I’ve been there, a lot of us have been there. Keep your mouth shut.”

While people might fan themselves over Tomlin calling the Patriots a*******, that’s benign and likely will be matched in private by Patriots coaches this week.

What’s staggering is that a player of Brown’s ability and seeming intelligence would be so self-absorbed as to be agog at putting on a video show for Facebook followers at the expense of his coaches, teammates and franchise.  

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

Curran: Steelers survive, advance to AFC Championship Game vs. Patriots

For the third time in the Belichick-Brady Era, the Patriots will be trying to step over the Steelers to get to a Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh went into Kansas City on Sunday night and outlasted a breathtakingly sluggish Chiefs team, 18-16.

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If you spent the day stewing about the Patriots adequate-against-Osweiler-but-probably-nobody-else offensive performance Saturday night, maybe Sunday night calmed your nerves.

Despite having a more than 2-to-1 edge in total yards entering the fourth, Pittsburgh had managed just six field goals from kicker Chris Boswell. Their best chance at getting six on the board was squelched when Ben Roethlisberger got picked at the goal line in the first half.

That Kansas City was even in the game with a chance to tie it in the final three minutes has to be humbling for the Steelers. They dominated every statistical category of consequence while the Chiefs played aimlessly behind Alex Smith, who may be a cut above Brock Osweiler but is definitely a cut below every other quarterback in the Divisional Playoff round.  

On this night, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t much better.

Still, Pittsburgh’s got the best 1-2 punch in the NFL at running back and receiver – LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown were both at 101 yards after halftime – and New England’s entire defensive game plan will revolve around corralling those two and getting them horizontal.

The Patriots beat a Roethlisberger-less team in October, 27-16. Landry Jones was at quarterback that day.

The Steelers were in the Patriots’ red zone four times. They came away with 10 points. They were inside the Patriots’ 40 six times and finished with 16.

“In an offense like that with a bunch of very explosive players, one slant can turn into a touchdown so you have to be really careful in your coverages,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich told me after that game. "There’s not just one go-to guy. They got a running back that can catch it out of the backfield and make plays (Le’Veon Bell). [Antonio Brown] can catch it anywhere on the field and make plays. You just have to make sure with a guy like [Landry Jones] to have him make the throws. It’s hard in this league to be perfect. So to have him sit back there and try to make all the throws was what we chose and the secondary did a great job.”

Bell and Brown combined for 268 yards from scrimmage against the Patriots.

The Steelers scored one touchdown.

The ever-dawdling Bell, who practically walks to the line of scrimmage then skips around like a little kid with a full bladder before finding a crease to exploit, is where it will start for the Patriots.

If the Patriots are going to go to their seventh Super Bowl since Belichick’s hire, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown, Donta Hightower and Elandon Roberts – their two best interior linemen and their two inside linebackers – will be the ones who start the bus. The overwhelming majority of Bell’s runs are between the guards so building a wall and out-patienting him as he probes for a crease is Job One.

The Chiefs weren’t stout enough at the line of scrimmage and Bell brutalized them. It will, of course, fall to more than just those four. Trey Flowers, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Vincent Valentine and Shea McLellin will also be in focus. Run-support from safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will be a part of it as well, but that’s where the Steelers become tough to deal with.

Once Bell’s established himself, the Steelers can start to work play-action and get Brown into space. Creep too far and the numbers on the back end could wind up being insufficient to deal with one of the NFL’s fastest players.

That’s why you can expect the Patriots to not overexert themselves with pressures and blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger. They’ll want as many back in coverage as possible to deal with Brown and some of the other Steelers speed merchants.

The Patriots have dealt with Pittsburgh’s defense enough to know where to attack. LeGarrette Blount ran for 127 yards on 24 carries in the first meeting and

Tom Brady went 19 for 26 for 222 with two touchdowns.

The Patriots had Gronk that day and the Steelers didn’t have Roethlisberger. That tips the scales some when measuring the differences. But after watching Pittsburgh kick six field goals and keep afloat an underperforming Chiefs team, the issue that dogged them in October – red zone offense – looks like its still around.

And they are going to visit a team that does that led the NFL in preventing points.