Spikes gives Patriots 'D' some venom

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Spikes gives Patriots 'D' some venom

Just a cursory look online at the New England Patriots defensive stats tells the ugly story of a unit that struggles to stop teams in the pass-happy NFL. Week in and week out this teams defense is a source of concern and angst for its coaching staff and its fans. Its maybe one of the last units in the league that would instill any form of fear in an opposing offense.

Fortunately for the Patriots and their fans, Brandon Spikes reign of terror transcends statistics.

Now playing in his third campaign for the Pats, Brandon Spikes has emerged as one of the hardest hitters in an NFL that is currently doing its best to be anything but a contact sport. The results are twofold. Spikes ability to make a play with big hits has made The Sandman an instant favorite with Pats fans that are desperate for any reason to cheer for the defense. And Spikes role as the Patriots resident on field anesthesiologist has made him a lightning rod for yellow flags and whiny criticism in this kinder, gentler, lamer NFL.

Last Sundays game against the Bills was no different as Spikes forced a fumble after he baptized Buffalos Fred Jackson, ending his day with another spectacularly vicious hit. Spikes was also assessed a roughing the passer personal foul on a sack that used to be the price of doing business at the QB position in the NFL.

This was the second time this season that Spikes has single-handedly terrorized the Bills and you could tell his play is leaving its mark on both a physical and emotional level.

Even before the ball was snapped Sunday, the presence of Brandon Spikes was felt. A tweet from the wife of Bills Tight End Scott Chandler featured his child warning Spikes to Not even look at her Daddy, obviously a response to Spikes turning Papa Chandler into a Benny Hill dummy on a brutal blindside block during an interception runback. Brandon Spikes was subsequently fined 21,000 for not playing nice by Roger Goodells NFL. Considering how Chandler was absolutely smoking the Patriots secondary that game, Id say it was a good investment.

After the game was over, you didnt have to search Twitter for Buffalo outrage as Spikes once again pillaged the Bills offense like a rampaging tribe of Visigoths. It was all over the post-game coverage. Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick wasnt content with getting a borderline penalty that clearly bailed him out of an intentional grounding call. After ending the games final drive with an interception worthy of Buffalos tradition of choking, Fitzpatrick moaned to the press about Spikes once again violently demoralizing his team.

I think Spikes is an emotional player, Fitzpatrick said. I think hes a punk at times and took a cheap shot at Scott (Chandler) in the first game and was doing a lot of talking and hitting out there. Hes not one of my favorite players, not high on my list.

Sorry Ryan, a Punk runs his mouth and then avoids confrontation. If they ever play hockey again, take in a Sabres game and watch Patrick Kaletta or Steve Ott for the proper definition. Brandon Spikes doesnt avoid confrontation; he embraces it and then celebrates among the debris. If you want to run to Roger Goodell because Spikes put you teammate to sleep and then read your buddies a bedtime story, go ahead. But then which one of you becomes the Punk?

Bills running back Tashard Choice also commented on Spikes, particularly his flexing on the sideline after KOing Jackson. Choice said that Spikes would get his. Considering the Patriots arent playing the Bills again this year and since Spikes wont be in the CFL next season, he shouldnt worry about Choices comments too much.

Honestly, I dont have a problem with the Bills making these comments so much as I have the problem with these comments getting any serious consideration from the media. But thats the sad state of todays NFL.

Where was this outrage when Ray Lewis hurt Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall and taunted him and his teammates in 2008? After the play, I wasn't screaming 'he's hurt.' I was screaming 'he's done,'" repeated the iconic Raven to Sports Illustrated after he delivered the hit that ended Mendenhalls rookie campaign. Was the block on Chandler cheaper than the highlight reel hit that Steelers wide out Hines Ward delivered to the Bengals Keith Rivers with the crown of his helmet, sending him flying and breaking his jaw?

This isnt Brandon Meriweather doling out worthless cheap shots while doing nothing to improve the defense. This is a player conducting himself largely within the confines of an increasingly wussified sport producing game-changing carnage. Im sure with todays safety at all costs mentality regarding the NFL, my opinion on Spikes will be reviled as prehistoric and crude. Quite frankly, I really dont care.

Luckily for Patriots fans, Spikes doesnt care either. The only man to fear on the Patriots defense will simply play his punishing brand of football and let the chips, as well as the bodies, fall where they may.

Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ortiz the oldest to hit 30 home runs in a season

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES:

"It's one of those freak things. You don't plan on it happening, but it's one of those things. So we'll just see what the results say and move on from there.'' - Andrew Benintendi on his knee injury.

"That's kind of a routine 3-1 play. Unfortunately, it comes at a time when you've got two outs and a guy on the move. But that's a routine play.'' - John Farrell on the deciding play in which Heath Hembree couldn't hold onto the ball at first.

"I felt good. I felt strong.I felt good out there the whole game.'' - Rick Porcello, asked how he felt going back out for the eighth inning.

"I think everybody in the ballpark knew that that ball was leaving.'' - Porcello, on the hanging curveball to Evan Longoria.

 

NOTES:

* The loss snapped a five-game winning streak against the Rays for the Red Sox.

* Three of the four Red Sox walk-off losses this season have occurred because of errors.

* The homer by Evan Longoria was his first off Rick Porcello in 40 career at-bats.

* Rick Porcello has now pitched seven innings or more in six straight starts, the longest run for a Red Sox starter since John Lackey did it in 2013.

* David Ortiz is now the oldest player to ever hit 30 homers in a season

* Ortiz has now reached the 30-homer, 100-RBI level 10 times with the Red Sox, including the last four years in a row.

* The loss was the first of Heath Hembree's career, in his 67th major league appearance.

* Dustin Pedroia tied a career high with two stolen bases, the 12th time he's swiped two bases in the same game.

 

STARS:

1) Evan Longoria

The Rays were down to their final five outs when Longoria struck, hitting a game-tying homer off Rick Porcello.

2) Brad Miller

Miller's two-run double in the third enabled the Rays to stay close until Longoria's homer tied things up five innings later.

3) Rick Porcello

Porcello gave the Sox length and was brilliant in getting out of some early jams before settling in through the middle innings.

 

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Shaughnessy: Everything Farrell does blows up in his face, particularly in 8th inning

Dan Shaughnessy joins Sports Tonight to discuss Rick Porcello giving up a game-tying homerun in the 8th, and explains why John Farrell has been very unlucky with any decision he makes.