Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues

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Curran's 34 lines on 17 Patriots issues

Sit down, because this will rock you to your core. Over the final seven games of the 2011 season, Aaron Hernandez was targeted more than eight times per game: Sunday, he saw six passes.

I think we know whats afoot. A phase out for Hernandez and an example of the Patriots evil genius where they sign a player to a huge contract or guarantee him nearly 10 million (in the case of Wes Welker) and then dont use him.

After watching the debacle authored by the Raiders backup long snapper Travis Goethel Monday night -- a ground ball on which the punt by Shane Lechler was aborted, a slow wobbler leading to a blocked punt and another ground ball leading to another aborted punt -- you can be sure of this: Its good to be an out-of-work linebacker with actual long-snapping abilities this week.

On the Ras-I Dowling pass interference in the first quarter, one of the contributing factors was at the snap. Dowling was still looking into the backfield when the ball was snapped and Kendall Wright was on Dowling and nearly past him by the time Dowling reacted.

The two biggest assets Stevan Ridley has as a running back are superior balance and the ability to make the first tackler miss more often than not. BenJarvus Green-Ellis ball control was enviable but Ridleys got far more explosiveness.

The new Nike pants being worn around the league? The players arent fans of them, saying they bunch up around the crotch and come down too easily in the back.

Josh McDaniels did a terrific job of throwing different formations, personnel and quick throws in during the opener. The Cardinals will have a ton to prepare for this week.

Jason McCourty didnt have friendly things to say to Aaron Hernandez when McCourty drove Hernandez out on the sideline in the second half. Ill (screw) you up all day (friend), was what the sideline mics picked up.

Went to the Mayo Bowl on Monday night at Kings in Dedham and saw Patriots guard Dan Connolly up and about, which is a good sign that the concussion he suffered Sunday was mild.

Also seen at the event, defensive tackle Gerard Warren who raised his eyebrows and smiled when asked if he might be back with the team. Tom Brady and wife Giselle Bundchen were there, too.

Their presence can cause chaos and, as a result, Brady says he sometimes takes a pass on public events to avoid detracting from the mission of them. That he showed up for Mayos event for the first time (I believe, not dead positive) was a nice gesture.

When I walked past Brady, he and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd were locked in football-related discussion. It just doesnt stop with Brady.

When you realize that the most times Chad Ochocinco was targeted last season was five (against the Giants in October) and then realize that Lloyd had eight balls thrown to him, the notion of a Welker freeze-out takes another hit. If one spot is getting more passes and the ball is thrown less (31 times) it stands to reason the target numbers will drop.

Lloyd wasnt too happy with me after Sundays game when I asked him if he slowed down on the first quarter deep ball from Brady. It was an incomplete pass, dont read too much into it, he said icily. When I told him its my job to read into things and then check if theyre right, he stared hard at me then asked for the next question. Weve since straightened it out. I share this because it helps readers understand the dynamic that players and reporters are in when a question that critiques performance arises. The player isn't going to like being second-guessed; the reporter isn't going to like having a legitimate question dismissed. It's a fine balance.

Is Richard Seymour a possible Hall of Fame player? Discuss.

Kevin Kolb will get the start Sunday for the Cardinals when they visit the Patriots, it appears. He was 6-of-8 for 66 yards directing the game-winning drive for the Cards against the Seahawks after John Skelton injured his ankle.

The pursuit speed of Chandler Jones continues to be the most impressive aspect of his game. On the strip sack that led to the Donta Hightower touchdown, Jones turned the corner on Michael Roos then accelerated in two huge steps to get to Jake Lockervery impressive.

At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

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At the half: Sixers applying pressure early and often against the Celtics

The Celtics are getting more than they bargained for against the Philadelphia 76ers who are once again, record-wise, among the worst teams in the NBA.

They didn’t look like it in the first half which ended with the Celtics trailing the Sixers 53-45.

Boston came into the game having won its last four road games. And they did so by playing solid defense, something that has been noticeably absent in the first half.

Philadelphia came into the game as one of the NBA’s better 3-point shooting teams and has lived up to the lofty ranking.

In the first half Philadelphia made nine of its 18 three-point attempts while the Celtics are way, way, way at the other end of the 3-point shooting spectrum while missing eight of their 11 3s with Isaiah Thomas making a pair with the lone other made 3-pointer coming from Marcus Smart.

The defense struggled, the offense never had any kind of flow and not surprisingly, the Celtics found themselves playing from behind most of the first half.

Here are the first half stars from Saturday’s game.

STARS

Sergio Rodriguez: His playmaking was solid as usual, but it was Rodriguez getting it going with his jumper that really produced surprisingly strong results for the Sixers. He had 11 points, four assists and a steal in the first half.

Isaiah Thomas: Playing his game which is shooting and attacking the rim, Thomas was Boston’s lone double-digit scorer in the first half with 15 points which is tops among all players.

STUDS

Dario Saric: It was a solid first half as Saric contributed both on the boards and the scoreboard. He had 10 points in the first half along with five rebounds.

Gerald Henderson: Henderson had one of those high efficiency-type games with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting.

DUDS

Celtics 3-point shooting: It was a miserable first half for a team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in 3-pointers made and taken this season. At the half, Boston has shot 2-for-10 on 3's.

Celtics defense: Boston has shown little to no signs of providing the kind of push-back they’ll need in order to leave Philly with a win. In addition to allowing Philadelphia to shoot 47.4 percent from the field, Boston also allowed the Sixers to knock down nine 3's.

Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

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Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

Isaiah Thomas has established himself as one of the NBA’s top players in the fourth quarter of games this season.

“I’d rather play that than any other quarter,” Thomas said.

But there will be times when the game’s flow or head coach Brad Stevens’ gut will tell him to go in a different direction with Thomas’ minutes which is something the two have had conversations about which has helped eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings.

“We’ve had player-coach talks, how he feels and how I feel,” Thomas said. “That’s the relationship we have. We changed it up a little bit (in the win over Sacramento) and I’m just happy we got the win.”

In that game, Thomas was replaced by Terry Rozier with 3:20 to play in the quarter and Boston trailing 66-63. He returned to the floor at the 8:31 mark and the Celtics were down 76-74.

“The key is, there are some times where you feel like those last few minutes of the third quarter will be real important moving forward,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “Especially based on how your team is playing. And you just have to make that decision. You have to make that decision, you take him out early in the third like we did (against Sacramento) and put him back in earlier; or play him through until the two or one-minute mark in the third, and then give him his rest up until the seven or six. Either way, we’ve talked about it like I do with all our guys, especially the guys that are playing and big in the rotation.

Stevens would love to come up with a game plan and stick to it with little to no changes being made.

But the NBA game is unpredictable and his job as the head coach is to make the necessary on-the-fly changes that best position the Celtics for victory.

“Ultimately there will be days that it will be very consistent and there might be a time or two where I’m gonna go with my gut,” Stevens said. “They know that and we’ve talked about it.”

And while Stevens’ decision may not sit well with some, players understand it’s all done to achieve one goal – win. 

“There’s a number of reasons why you make a decision to leave someone in or take someone out,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we have to figure out game to game, moment to moment, what’s best for our team. That’s what I’m charged with. That doesn’t mean I’m always right. I’m not gonna act like that. Ultimately, those guys know I’m thinking about it all the time.”