Good news for Rondo, C's: Injury not serious


Good news for Rondo, C's: Injury not serious

BOSTON As Rajon Rondo lay on the Garden floor, writhing in pain, it was hard to see that play out on Wednesday against Toronto and not have flashbacks of Game 3 of the Miami Heat playoff series when Rondo suffered a dislocated elbow and ultimately returned to the floor that same night.

The spill Rondo took in the third quarter of Boston's 96-73 win over Toronto hurt. But it wasn't anything close to the pain he experienced in dislocating his elbow last season.

"I knew what a dislocated elbow feels like," Rondo said. "It wasn't that, so I was thankful for that. But my wrist was throbbing."

Kevin Garnett was among those concerned when Rondo didn't bounce back up quickly.

"When he didn't pop right back up, it made everybody nervous; I was included," Garnett said.

Garnett was one of the first Celtics to speak with Rondo following the foul.

"Having dialogue with him, and he wasn't really having much of that it was a major concern," Garnett said.

Team officials said Rondo had X-rays taken on the wrist, and those results came back negative. Rondo is being listed as day-to-day by the Celtics.

After seeing Rondo take such a hard foul, head coach Doc Rivers didn't think he was hurt badly at first.

"I was laughing right afterwards," Rivers said. "I wasn't (concerned) at first because I thought he was trying to get the flagrant (foul call)."

He did get that call, and missed the first of his two free throws.

After the free throw attempts, Rondo left the game and did not return.

"I wanted to come back," Rondo said. "I knew we had it under control. The best thing for me to do was rest."

The C's, whose lead peaked at 22 in the third quarter, did just that as no Celtic played more than 28 minutes against the Raptors (4-11) who have now lost six straight.

Without question, the oddest part of the game statistically was Rondo becoming Paul Pierce-like with his scoring, and Pierce doing his best Rondo impersonation by racking up the assists. Rondo led all scorers with 21 points, while Pierce had eight points and a game-high seven assists.

"Paul kind of joked and told me, let's switch roles tonight," Rondo said. "He would make the plays, and I would put it in the basket. I was trying to stay aggressive the entire night. I wanted to pick and choose my spots. I think I did a good job."

Rivers has no concerns about Rondo, the co-leader in assists with Steve Nash, getting away from time to time at being primarily a playmaker.

"You want him to be aggressive most nights," Rivers said. "His assists are going to happen because he's a great passer. Tonight was just one of those nights; he was basically just scoring; wasn't getting assists. But it was good for the team."

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6


SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Seahawks, Cardinals miss OT FGs, tie 6-6

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Seattle's Stephen Hauschka and Arizona's Chandler Catanzaro missed short field goals that would have won the game in overtime and the Seahawks and Cardinals settled for a 6-6 tie Sunday night.

Hauschka's 27-yard field goal was wide left with seven seconds left after Catanzaro's 24-yarder bounced off the left upright.

The tie was the Cardinals' first since Dec. 7, 1986, a 10-10 draw at Philadelphia when the franchise was based in St. Louis. It was the first for the Seattle since entering the NFL in 1976.

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Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

Curran: End result vs. Steelers justifies Patriots 'bend but don't break' defense

PITTSBURGH – “This game isn’t about numbers,” said Rob Ninkovich. “Everyone thinks about sacks and all these things as huge markers for success but there are a lot of teams with a lot of sacks that aren’t winning. I’ll take the wins over the sacks any day.”

It was another win on Sunday for the Patriots – 27-16 over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. There were no sacks. There was no chaos, no befuddled young backup quarterback flushed and addled by a complex defense. In fact, Landry Jones looked real comfortable back there in throwing for 281 yards and a touchdown.

Like Carson Palmer lighting it up late or Ryan Tannehill throwing for 387 or Tyrod Taylor converting third downs with impunity, Jones on Sunday continued a trend of quarterbacks looking pretty good against a very talented defense that – nonetheless – walked away with a comfortable win.


The Patriots have allowed 107 points – the fewest in the AFC and fewer than all but three teams in the NFC and all three of those have played one fewer game.

But it’s hard to escape the feeling that they’re playing it too close to the bone.

Except, maybe, Bill Belichick who once said quite plainly, “Stats are for losers.”

Not all stats though. We hear it often – three stats matter more than the rest: red zone defense, turnovers and third-down efficiency.

And if you look at those numbers for the Patriots defense, they were all fairly gaudy.

Pittsburgh was 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.

The Patriots yield yards but not points. And that’s by design, said Ninkovich.

“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,” said the veteran defensive end. "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.”

The Patriots rushed three or four most of the game. When they ran a corner blitz with Malcolm Butler, he didn’t get home and Jones hit Bell for a decent gain.  

“You can’t just pin your ears back because that’s when you get in trouble,” Ninkovich explained. “And then next week, there’s a guy (Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor) who can move in the pocket so that’s another whole type of defense you run with a mobile quarterback.”

Last season’s game at Buffalo is a good example of why Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia don’t like the feeding frenzy approach to defense. New England had the game in hand, 37-13 entering the fourth. And then, with everyone wanting to get in on the rush, Buffalo scored 19 in the fourth quarter with Taylor breaking contain and making plays with his feet.

After that game (and really, for most of Belichick’s tenure here), the Patriots were more interested in seeing what a quarterback could do in terms of stringing plays together.

The Patriots like their chances in that realm.

“It’s 1-on-1 matchups, guys making plays on third down and in the red area,” said safety Devin McCourty. “Guys are gonna make great catches every once in a while. Guys are gonna make great throws. You gotta live with that. They’re in the NFL too. But if we’re consistent with how we’re playing we’ll make enough plays to do well.”

They certainly do that.  As unpleasant as it seemed when the Steelers made it 14-13 (and had skewered themselves in the first half with a missed field goal, an end zone pick and a hold that wiped out a touchdown), the Patriots walked out with another double-digit win.

It felt like the butt-kicking could have been more thorough, though.

How does McCourty think Bill Belichick, film critic, will view the performance?

“Honestly, you never know,” McCourty said. “There’s times we leave the field feeling like we played terrible and (Belichick says), ‘You fix a couple things and we’ll be all right.’ And there’s times where you feel like you played well and we go in there and get ripped.

“The things Bill focuses on and what he expects out of our defense is what he (keys on) every week,” McCourty stressed. “No matter what the media says, no matter what the stats say. If we don’t give up any points but there’s three third downs where we give up the wrong leverage, that’s a problem. Monday afternoon (after film breakdown) is always a mystery.”

The results for the Patriots haven’t been (with the exception of the opener) cliffhangers. But the feeling persists that one of these weeks, this defense that plays a style daring the opposing quarterback to not shoot himself in the foot will go up against a quarterback that actually doesn’t.