Torrey Smith loses his brother, wins the game


Torrey Smith loses his brother, wins the game

From Comcast SportsNetBALTIMORE (AP) -- Operating with little sleep and much emotion, Torrey Smith played a magnificent game under the most difficult circumstances.His teammates on the Baltimore Ravens helped Smith cope, then provided him a victory for his effort.Rookie Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Ravens a 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night in a rematch of the AFC championship game.Playing less than 24 hours after his younger brother died in a motorcycle accident, Smith scored two touchdowns and caught six passes for 127 yards. Only hours earlier, he wasn't even sure if he would suit up."It was tough. I didn't know until 4 o'clock if I was going to play," Smith said. "I only had like an hour of sleep. Emotionally, I didn't know how I was going to hold up."Smith left the team hotel at 1 a.m. Sunday to be with his family. Upon arriving at the stadium, the familiar surroundings helped Smith get ready to go."When I came here, the more I was grounded. The more comfortable I began to feel," he said. "I'm glad I came back up here. It helped me out a lot."Coach John Harbaugh said: "If you're around athletics, I guess you feel like it's an escape, an opportunity to do what he does. He's being doing it his whole life; he knows what to do. When Torrey said he wanted to play, the decision was finished. He was going to get the opportunity to play, he deserved that."A moment of silence was observed before the game for Smith's brother, 19-year-old Tevin Jones."It means a lot not just for us but for my family. ... That's for my little brother,'" Smith said.When the teams met in January, the Patriots squeezed out a three-point win at home to advance to the Super Bowl. The stakes weren't nearly as high in this one, yet the game was eerily similar.In the previous meeting, Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds. In the encore, Tucker -- who took the job away from Cundiff in training camp -- drove his kick just inside the right upright.The game-winning kick followed a pass interference call against Devin McCourty, who was covering Jacoby Jones.As the officials were leaving the field, Patriots coach Bill Belichick grabbed one of them by the arm. He didn't pursue as the official continued to run off the field."I'm not going to comment on that," Belichick said. "You saw the game. What did we have, 30 penalties called in that game?"Actually, 24, including 14 against the Ravens for 135 yards.Baltimore (2-1) won its 12th straight at home behind Joe Flacco, who went 28 for 39 for 382 yards and three touchdowns.Tom Brady completed 28 of 41 passes for 335 yards and a score for the Patriots (1-2), who fell below .500 for the first time since Week 1 of 2003."We didn't do what we needed to do to help our offense tonight," Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wolfork said. "And it (stinks), because coming into the game, I think we had a pretty good idea of how we wanted to play it. First quarter, it showed. It seems after that, we really couldn't get off the field. Offense played their tails off and we just left them out to dry. We can't do that."New England led 13-0 after the first quarter and 30-21 with 14 minutes left, but couldn't make either lead stand up.Wes Welker had eight catches for 142 yards and Brandon Lloyd caught nine passes for 108 yards for the Patriots, who fell to 6-1 against the Ravens in the regular season -- 7-2 including the playoffs.Down 20-14, the Ravens opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice. Brady matched that with an 80-yard march of his own, repeatedly picking on cornerback Cary Williams, before Danny Woodhead scored on a 3-yard run to put New England ahead.After Stephen Gostkowski kicked his third field goal to make it 30-21, Smith caught a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 left to get the Ravens to 30-28. Flacco went 6 for 7 for 76 yards in the 92-yard drive.Baltimore executed the game-winning drive in the final 2 minutes.New England took a 13-0 lead before the Ravens got their initial first down. Then, after Baltimore went up 14-13, Brady engineered a frantic touchdown drive at the end of the first half to put the Patriots back in front.Welker, who came in with only eight catches in two games, played a key role for New England in the opening minutes. He recovered a fumble by Brady on the Patriots' second play, and on New England's second series Welker broke loose on the left sideline for a 59-yard completion that set up a 37-yard field goal.The long pass to Welker pushed Brady into 12th place on the career yardage list, past Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana (40,551).On the first play following the kickoff, Steve Gregory intercepted a pass by Flacco and took it 36 yards to the Baltimore 6. On third down, rookie Brandon Bolden ran in from the 2 for his first NFL touchdown.Late in the first quarter, Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.After two three-and-outs and an interception, Flacco found his rhythm the fourth time he got the ball.Flacco moved the Ravens 82 yards in 13 plays in a drive culminated by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Smith. Then, after a New England punt, Baltimore covered 92 yards in eight plays. The capper was a 20-yard TD pass to tight end Dennis Pitta, who hurdled Gregory inside the 10 before completing his romp into the end zone.Brady answered with a touchdown pass of his own, a 7-yarder to Julian Edelman with 2 seconds left to cap an 81-yard, beat-the-clock march.NOTES:Baltimore amassed 503 yards in offense. Rice ran for 101 yards on 20 carries. ... Edelman left with a hand injury. ... Baltimore punted only three times.

Backes, Krejci look to get rolling offensively for Bruins

Backes, Krejci look to get rolling offensively for Bruins

BOSTON – While David Backes didn’t score a goal in his first home game as a member of the Bruins, his team came away with a comeback 2-1 win Thursday night over the New Jersey Devils in their home opener at TD Garden.

The 32-year-old Backes didn’t have anything on the scoreboard to show for it, but he led all Bruins with six shots on net and seven registered hits while starring as both an offensive threat and a physical presence bringing some much-needed attitude to the table.

Both qualities meshed quickly with David Krejci once they were finally together on the same line against the Devils, and immediately gave the playmaking center the kind of big, strong and offensively talented winger that he’s thrived with over the years. The whole experience also gave Backes an appreciation for his new home fans as they packed the stands to root on the Bruins Thursday night ahead of the Saturday night showdown with Montreal.

“There’s always, wherever you are, that opening night, that first game at home, that first game of the season, there’s always that extra jump, that extra energy in the building. It was everything it was talked up to be here with the fans that know the game and really thrive off the hard-nosed play,” said Backes, who has a couple of goals in four games with the Bruins this season. “It just makes you want to go out there and play harder for these people that support you, and wear that same jersey that we wear up in the stands.”

Backes had some of the best chances that didn’t go down for the Bruins against Cory Schneider, and narrowly missed a first period score when David Krejci’s centering pass was received, and then redirected by Backes just wide of the net from his spot camped in front. The right winger was at it again in the third period with a couple more chances he couldn’t put past Schneider, but served as proof that Krejci/Backes is going to have some long, possession-heavy shifts this season by virtue of both of their talents.

“There’s no doubt [the addition of Backes] helped. You’re getting, I guess, a veteran player that plays hard and goes in and gets some hits and gets some pucks out for you. But at the same time I think you have to give David [Krejci] credit, he’s been working hard trying to find his game again,” said Julien. 

“It’s not easy when you have gone through surgery like [Krejci] has, and you know he had a late start to training camp and jumping in with the rest of the group there so that really kind of sets him back a little bit but I like the direction that he is going, I think he is working hard in practice, doing extra and doing what it takes here to find his game. Tonight was one of his better games, no doubt.”

Now, Backes, Krejci and Heinen have to get rolling offensively and start to show their balanced attack among the forwards now that the entire roster seems to be locked down ahead of starting on time this weekend vs. Habs.  



Curran: NFL embarrasses itself yet again in Josh Brown case


Curran: NFL embarrasses itself yet again in Josh Brown case

In February, the New York Times did a fawning feature on Lisa Friel, the woman hired to make sure the NFL never had an investigatory embarrassment like the one they had in the Ray Rice case.

As the NFL’s Senior Vice President of Investigations, Friel would be relentless and undaunted, stated wrote Times reporter Dan Barry, who wrote:

The only issue (she declined even to call it a frustration) is the expectation by some of instant investigative findings following an allegation. Friel said that she was no longer in law enforcement, had no subpoena power and must pursue these cases more like a reporter or private investigator.

This means asking the local police department for incident reports, transcripts of 911 calls, photographs, interviews with responding officers. This means wading through redacted documents, being rebuffed by witnesses and alleged victims, waiting for the processing of freedom-of-information requests. This means hitting walls, putting together a to-do list, then waiting for the case to be adjudicated, dismissed or closed.

Barry then cited Friel who said, “Then we’re going to circle back and go through the whole list again." 

Well, that certainly doesn’t align with what’s unfolding in the Josh Brown case.

Thursday, the league complained it hit a dead-end in its investigation into allegations of abuse by Brown. A portion of their statement:

“NFL investigators made repeated attempts — both orally and in writing — to obtain any and all evidence and relevant information in this case from the King County Sheriff’s Office. Each of those requests was denied and the Sheriff’s Office declined to provide any of the requested information, which ultimately limited our ability to fully investigate this matter. We concluded our own investigation, more than a year after the initial incident, based on the facts and evidence available to us at the time and after making exhaustive attempts to obtain information in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that we did not have the benefit or knowledge of these materials at the time.”

Later Thursday, the NFL’s effort to get to the bottom of the Brown case – or at least get background – was lampooned by the man the league said turned them away.  King County Sheriff John Urquhart, whose office investigated accusations that Brown abused his ex-wife while a member of the Seahawks, said the investigator that contacted his office didn’t make it clear he was representing the NFL.

“Since this is a hot-button item in the NFL, since it’s the NFL, we probably would have told them orally a little bit more about what we had.” Urquhart said. “But we don’t have them calling us here. We’ve got some goofus from Woodinville named Rob Agnew asking for the case file. We have no idea who he is.”

“We would have told them… ‘Be careful, NFL, don’t rush into this. This case is blossoming way more than what happened on May 22nd of 2015. We’re getting more information, be careful,’” he said. “Again, we’re not gonna give them specifics but we certainly would have cautioned the NFL to be careful about what they were going to do.”

The league has since taken exception to Urquhart’s representation of the facts.

Do you know how the league could have avoided embarrassing itself yet again, though? By being transparent, as I first wrote back in August when Brown’s one-game suspension came down and an explanation as to why he didn’t get six games was sorely needed.

Uncomfortable as it may have been to state publicly what the investigation had concluded at that point, citing mitigating factors that led to Brown’s reduced suspension and detailing the efforts made to get to the bottom of the situation would have at least put everything on the table.

I wrote then: The NFL had two choices when it how to package Brown’s suspension. Either leave people to presume it was trying to bury an infraction and save face for the beloved owner or a precious New York city franchise. Or demonstrate that there really was a new way of doing business by being painfully transparent. 

It chose the former. And they now deal with the fallout of mistrust. Again. Still.

And today, it’s miles worse.