Curran: 46 lines on 23 issues

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Curran: 46 lines on 23 issues

FOXBORO Postgame leftovers and pregame tidbits to gnaw on as weget our bags packed for Super Bowl 46.

1. I was on the field for the final two minutes of the AFC Championship and under the goalpost when Billy Cundiff lined up his kick. My thought as he took the field was that I was now going to be stuck on the field away from my computer for who knew how long as overtime slogged forward.

2. The kick that will live in Baltimore infamy sailed directly over my head and totally missed the net. My reaction was, Holy fudge!

3. Then I was looking at exultant minutemen and stunned staties as the crowd exploded behind me. And I was glad I was on the field for that.

4. Cundiff was ghost white leaving the field and heading into the tunnel with a Baltimore assistant coach by his side. As he went up the tunnel, Patriots fans hung over the rail, screaming Thank you!

5. With the Patriots on the field for their extended postgame celebration, I went to the Ravens locker room to mine for nuggets. Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis spent an extended period talking to each other and when they were done, Suggs was near tears.

6. Ravens corner Chris Carr sat at the end of the locker room with some other defensive backs and said to his teammates, Can you believe that arrogant bleep tried to throw a deep ball on us to No. 18? I was like, Who is No. 18? "

7. The play Carr referred to was the fourth-quarter pick Tom Brady intended for Matthew Slater. It was a deep ball that worked from the other side in the season opener against Miami.

8. I asked Brady why he threw it. I just made up my mind to do it, he said regretfully.

9. It was interesting to see that, when Brady got to the podium in his postgame press conference, he immediately took the two Gatorade bottles perched in front of him and tucked them behind the podium. No free endorsements for his press conferences.

10. Brandon Spikes played well against the Ravens. He also did stupid things like throwing a punch during one post-play scuffle and shoving Marshal Yanda from behind after another.

11. Either play could have cost the Patriots defense 15 yards especially the latter. I asked him about it and he said he was playing mind games with the Ravens.

12. And that encapsulates why even though hes an entertaining guy and pretty talented hes an enigma.

13. Sterling Moore is going to be a good player for this team. Hes got excellent ball skills and quickness and his two plays at the tail end of the AFC Championship game were both proof of that.

14. O.J. Brigance played one game for the Patriots in 2002. He was with the team from September 10 to the 17th, made two special teams tackles and was released, ending a 12-year professional career that he spent in Canada and in the NFL with the Dolphins, Ravens, Rams and briefly the Patriots.

15. Confined to a wheelchair because of his battle with Lou Gehrigs disease, Brigance is now the Ravens Director of Player Development and was at the AFC Championship on Sunday, in the press box during the game and in the locker room afterwards. The 42-year-old has been a source of inspiration for the Ravens for several seasons.

16. I couldnt help but observe the unbridled excitement and joy in the Patriots locker room Sunday night and not contrast it to one of the oddest locker room scenes I remember from a victorious team. That was in January 2008 when the Patriots finished off their 16-0 regular season in New York and after a season under siege and ruined by the videotaping controversy the vibe was of a team extending a middle finger to a media horde that had ripped it mercilessly and questioned its legitimacy all season.

17. The 2007 team was better. This team and this season have been far more enjoyable.

18. When Robert Kraft mentioned Monday the interception that slipped through the hands of Asante Samuel on the final Giants drive in Super Bowl 42, it was clear he remains unforgiven. On the Saturday before that game when all the position groups were having their pictures taken, Samuel hollered for the 2008 free agent class to gather round for a shot and that did not go unnoticed.

19. It surprised me that the Giants opened up as three-point underdogs to the Patriots in SB46. They beat the Patriots in October, beat the top two seeds in the NFC on the road and played in a better conference.

20. Not surprisingly, the early money has poured in on the Giants. I say, take the over.

21. Oh, and the Ravens mismanaged the final play of their most important game in 11 seasons. A professional kicker should be able to make a 32-yarder in a scuba suit so this whining about the sinister and diabolical Patriots maybe just maybe screwing with the downs on the scoreboard and confusing the Ravens is a juvenile and embarrassing way of dodging responsibility for being unable to execute a job.

22. Seemed like the Patriots' field-goal block team was ready to go on the field. They musta gone over the If the Ravens are lining up a game-winning 32-yarder with 15 seconds left at the end of a chaotic drive, well be a down behind on the scoreboard so make sure you dont go by that strategy.

23. So Tim Thomas didnt go to the White House. Nothing wrong with a little conscientious objection as long as the guy is objecting conscientiously.

Beleskey, Krug missing from Bruins morning skate

Beleskey, Krug missing from Bruins morning skate

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.

It doesn’t appear likely that Beleskey is going to play Monday night vs. the Panthers, but it’s unknown what’s behind Krug’s absence from the skate.

Both Zdeno Chara and Noel Acciari took part in practice as they come back from injuries, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game. 
Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Schaller-Krejci-Backes

Spooner-Nash-Czarnik

Blidh-Moore-Hayes/Acciari

Chara-Carlo

Morrow-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller

Rask

Khudobin

Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

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Belichick on keeping Brady in: 'Seen those double-digit leads evaporate'

With 5:52 remaining in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Patriots and Rams, and with the hosts up 26-3, quarterback Tom Brady was back on the field to lead the Patriots offense. 

It was a decision that had some scratching their heads. Why risk the health of your Hall of Fame quarterback in a game that's essentially been decided? Particularly at this point in the year? Particularly just days after the team lost it's most dynamic offensive weapon to season-ending back surgery?

"Well, after the game turns out, it's easy to go back and make those suggestions," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on a conference call Monday. "I've seen a few games in this league. Seen those double-digit leads evaporate in a minute or two. I know that's not a big concern when it does happen and then when it does happen it's a major crisis and [there's] a lot of second-guessing about what should've been done or what shouldn't have been done. Trying to win the game."

The Patriots held the ball for a little over two minutes before punting it back to the Rams. By the time the Patriots got the ball back for the final time with 1:15 remaining, Brady was on the field to take two kneeldowns and wipe out the clock. 

He told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show on Monday morning that he wasn't looking for an early hook. The Rams have been accused of dirty plays in the past, and their coaching staff has a reputation for encouraging a reckless style, but Brady explained why he wanted to remain in the game late.

"All these games are close. I know yesterday, 26-3 at one point, but we’re playing for a lot here," he said. "i don’t think it’s ever right to take your foot off the gas pedal. We could use as many reps as possible, all the guys out there. There are different situations that come up in every game. You only get 16 weeks a year to try them out. You try them in practice, but there’s not the speed. There’s not the urgency. It’s not the decision-making because it’s unscripted.

"In practice you go and talk about these are the plays you’re going to run, these are the defenses you can get. Then you go into the game and they it’s all about decision-making really under pressure with everything on the line, so the more reps you can get with Malcolm [Mitchell] and [Chris] Hogan and Martellus [Bennett], guys that I haven’t played with, the better it gets."

Brady escaped his late-game reps no worse for the wear -- he completed three of four passes for 14 yards on his team's second-to-last drive -- but he did take one shot earlier in the game that had him ticked. Rams safety TJ McDonald got into the Patriots backfield untouched and drove Brady into the ground during a second-quarter drive. Brady got the ball away, but he was walloped, and when he got up he sought out McDonald for a few words.

"I think it was pretty emotional," Brady told Kirk and Callahan. "I didn’t see the replay yet, but he made a good clean hit. They were blitzing us. I knew we didn’t have him picked up and he put a little extra something on.”

Asked if the threat of a play like that late in a lopsided game bothered him, Brady said no.

"I said to my wife as I was driving home, she was like, ‘What was that?’ She wants to know about all these things and I was like, ‘I think it is all fair on the football field.’ You put yourself out there," Brady explained. "You’re up 20, you’re down 20. Everyone is playing hard and whatever happens out there is on the football field. I don’t think it was a dirty play.

"Guys love going in there and hitting the quarterback. They’ve been trained to hit the quarterback their entire careers, especially on defense. They get paid more hitting the quarterback. Their team is 4-8 so they are going to play hard 'til the end no matter what. They haven’t been in a lot of games this year so they are going to play hard to try and set them up for next year. I had no problem with that hit. I thought it was a real clean play. I was pretty pissed off for the most part yesterday because we weren’t executing as well as we could and that probably had something to do with it as well."