What to do with win streaks?


What to do with win streaks?

With last night's blow out over the New Jersey Devils, the Bruins remain entrenched as Boston's undisputed best team. Even though the B's season isn't even halfway complete, if you ask anyone in the city: Who has the best chance to win a title in 2012? The Bruins are the only logical answer.

But right now, of Boston's three active teams, the Bruins actually sport the least impressive win streak. Sure, they've won eight of their last nine, and 22 of their last 26 games, but thanks to their New Year's Eve loss in Dallas, the Bruins current winning streak is at one.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are still riding hot on eight straight games, and after last night's beat down of the Nets, the Celtics, after starting the season with three straight losses, have now won four straight.

But unlike the Bruins, of whom Boston knows what we have and are confident in what they can do, the Pats and C's remain a mystery. Despite a combined 12 straight wins, neither has shown enough to sell us on any serious long term success (aka: a ring). Then again, they haven't had the chance.

It's a tough little predicament that fans find themselves in. On one hand, teams can't control their schedule. They can only beat who they're allowed to play. So while wins over the Jets (the best of the bunch), Chiefs, Colts, Eagles, Broncos, Redskins, Dolphins, Bills, Pistons, Wizards, Wizards and the D-League Nets, aren't entirely impressive, it's not the Pats' and Celtics' fault. They've literally done as well as they possibly can. When it comes down to it, what more could we really expect them to give? Yet, it's still not enough.

Unlike the Bruins, who over the course of this amazing stretch have consistently embarrassed quality teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Florida, Los Angeles, Ottawa and (this year at least) Toronto, with the Pats and C's we still have to wonder: What happens when they face legitimate competition? This while holding on to lasting images of ugly losses to the Steelers and Giants, the Knicks and Heat.

It's not that we don't think they can beat the good teams, we're just not sure that they can, and that's a problem. It's unbelievably strange, when you consider the Pats haven't lost since two weeks before Thanksgiving and the Celtics now sport the second-longest winning streak in the entire NBA.

But thankfully (or maybe not), this indecision won't last much longer. Starting Friday, the Celtics host the Pacers, who are 4-2 and maybe even a little better than their already impressive record suggests. After that, they have four days off before hosting the defending champion Mavericks on Wednesday, and Derrick Rose and the Bulls on Friday. The very next night they're in Indiana for a very tough back-to-back against the Pacers before returning home that Monday to host Kevin Durant, Kendrick Perkins and the Thunder probably the best team in the West. By the end of that stretch, for better or worse, we'll know what we have in the 2012 Celtics.

And by that time, we'll also know a thing or two more about the Pats. Not that anyone can or will be content with only one win in these playoffs, but winning one game (at least to start) will go a long way in increasing our expectations, and easing some of our fears. Whether they beat the Bengals or Broncos, or more than likely, the Steelers, the Pats will have shown us something and have that four-year-old monkey off their backs.

If not, hey, we always have the Bruins.

That's all I'll have today on Standing Room Only, but tomorrow's another day, with a big AFC Playoff preview and NFL playoff picks. So stay tuned, and until then, have a merry Thursday.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24


Syracuse uses late 99-yard drive to beat UConn, 31-24

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Syracuse receiver Amba Etta-Tawo is making the most of his final year of college eligibility.

The graduate transfer from Maryland caught 12 passes for a school-record 270 yards and two touchdowns and the Orange beat UConn 31-24 on Saturday to snap a two-game losing skid.

Etta-Tawo scored twice in the game's first five minutes on touchdown receptions of 57 and 30 yards. His 59-yard catch from the shadow of his team's goal line highlighted a 12-play 99-yard fourth-quarter drive that put the game away for the Orange (2-2).

It was his fourth straight game with at least 100 yards receiving.

"It goes back to chemistry with the quarterback and the coaches trusting me," Etta-Tawo said. "They trust that I'll make the plays and they keep on giving me opportunities to make the plays."

Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 40 passes for 407 yards and those two scores. He also scored on a 6-yard run to complete the length-of the field drive.

"We had to do it," said Etta-Tawo. "We had to drive down the field and try to put the game out, and that's exactly what we did. Everybody dug in, dug a little deeper."

Noel Thomas had 14 receptions for 111 yards for UConn (2-2). Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome ran for 81 yards and a touchdown.

It took Syracuse just 51 seconds on its first drive and 92 seconds on its second for Dungey and Etta-Tawo to make it 14-0. Etta-Tawo had five catches for 115 yards in the first quarter.

"I think he's already passed his previous career high as a collegian in the first four games with us, (more than) his whole entire career he had at the other school," coach Dino Babers said. "I think, if you asked him, I think he might have made a good choice (to transfer)."

The Huskies responded by scoring twice in the second quarter and for the second straight week, the Orange couldn't hold the early double-digit lead.

"We can't just go up 14-0, 17-0 in the beginning of the game and then put ourselves back in a dog fight," said linebacker Zaire Franklin, who was in on 14 tackles. "Some of these games we've got to have it over by the beginning of the second quarter."

Cordell Hudson pickup off a tipped pass from UConn quarterback Bryant Shirreffs and ran 22-yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that gave the Orange a 24-17 lead. It was just the second interception for the Orange this season.

The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter after holder Tyler Davis, a former high school quarterback, hit tight end Tommy Myers with a 17-yard pass on a fake field goal to set the Huskies up at the Syracuse 8-yard line.

But Syracuse's defense held, and linebacker Franklin stopped Shirreffs on a fourth-and goal from the 2-yard line with just over 6 minutes left. The Orange marched the length of the field to put the game away.

"Going back, I would probably buy some more time and throw it to the back of the end zone," said Shirreffs, who threw a 24-yard touchdown to Davis with 33 seconds left to make the final score close. "I came up short. The linebacker made a good play and I didn't."