Ravens' last-second FG sinks Patriots, 31-30


Ravens' last-second FG sinks Patriots, 31-30

It was a rematch of the 2011 AFC Championship Game, so it was only fitting that the Patriots put on a 2011 nostalgia show for NBC's national Sunday Night Football audience.

Wes Welker, after two weeks more or less on the shelf, was a lynchpin of the attack. Tom Brady, after two less-than-Brady-like performances to start the season, was Tom Brady again.

But most importantly, the defense -- after two encouraging weeks that stirred memories of the stout '03 and '04 championship units -- melted back into the can't-stop-nuthin' Swiss Cheese A.C.

After an encouraging start (two three-and-outs and an interception on Baltimore's first three possessions), the Pats' defense wilted, allowing the Ravens -- who put together drives of 82, 92, 80, 92 and 70 yards -- score five of the last seven times they had the ball. Justin Tucker's 27-yard field goal as time expired provided the game-winning points, as Baltimore handed New England a bitter 31-30 defeat.

Much of the postgame discussion will center on the officiating, and rightfully so; the replacement refs put on their most controversial performance yet (and under a national television spotlight, to boot). Twenty-four penalties were called -- on one of them, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was nailed for unsportsmanlike conduct when he complained that the refs didn't see him signalling for a time out -- and Bill Belichick was so frustrated he actually grabbed at one of the officials who was racing off the field after the game, in an attempt to talk to him.

But to blame the referees for the defeat is to ignore a disheartening, alarming night by the Pats' defense that wiped out all the optimism that grew after its performance in the first two games.

"The offense played their tails off," said Vince Wilfork, "and we just left them out to dry."

More to come . . .

Celtics late rally falls short, Bulls hold on to win, 105-99


Celtics late rally falls short, Bulls hold on to win, 105-99

It was only 24 hours earlier that the Boston Celtics learned a valuable lesson about what can potentially happen if you let up on an opponent too soon.

The Chicago Bulls made the same mistake on Thursday as the Celtics wiped out a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and made it a one-possession game for the last couple of minutes.

But like Boston did against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night, the Bulls managed to fend off a late rally by Boston in handing the Celtics a 105-99 loss.

Boston had multiple opportunities to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, only to consistently come up short.

Their last shot came with less than a minute to play and Boston trailing 101-99.

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown had the ball and seemingly had a mismatch with Nikola Mirotic guarding him.

Brown dribbled into the lane, spun away from Mirotic and left his feet and landed without anyone to pass to.

It would prove to be a critical turnover as Dwyane Wade came down afterwards and drained a 3-pointer, his fourth of the night, to make it a 104-99 game with 26.3 seconds to play.

That would be the Celtics’ last chance at a victory.

The Celtics trailed by as many as 15 points, but made it a game courtesy of a slew of baskets by Isaiah Thomas.

He finished with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting.

As well as Thomas shot from the field, he’ll most remember this game for the shots he didn’t make; his free throws specifically.

A career 86 percent free throw shooter, Thomas was just 2-for-6 from the line on Thursday.

Boston (1-1) also got a strong game from Avery Bradley who had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Bulls, playing their season opener with a newly-formed Big Three of prodigal son Dwyane Wade, ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo and All-Star Jimmy Butler, didn’t waste any time establishing control of the game.

Chicago opened the game with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 15 points. Boston had moments in which it cut into Chicago’s lead, but the Bulls’ control of the game remained strong throughout the night.

Things got a bit chippy in the second quarter when Jae Crowder was called for an offensive foul against Jimmy Butler, a good friend of his as well as a former teammate at Marquette.

After Butler hit the ground, he used his legs to tie up Crowder who fell to the floor afterwards. Crowder then forcefully put the ball in Butler’s chest.

That led to some back and forth trash talk between Isaiah Thomas and ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo.

Officials reviewed the play and called all four players – Crowder, Thomas, Butler and Rondo – were called for a technical foul.

Tempers cooled down afterwards for both teams as the Chicago Bulls continued to stay red-hot from 3-point range.

The Bulls were especially impressive in the first half when they were 7-for-13 on 3s.

And leading the 3-point barrage was Wade who rarely looked to score beyond the 3-point line a year ago. He would finish with 22 points which included a trio of 4-pointers which was the first time he made that many 3s since the 2012-2013 season when he played for the Miami Heat.

Chicago’s top scorer was Butler who had 24 points and seven rebounds.

Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter


Chicago Bulls sign former Boston Celtics guard R.J. Hunter

Minutes before they opened their regular season Thursday against the Celtics, the Bulls announced the signing of shooting guard R.J. Hunter.

Click here to view the compete story on CSNChicago.com