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

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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’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.

Here are the results of that question:  

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%

3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%

T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%

Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%

Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%

Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here for the complete poll. 

 

First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

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First impressions from Red Sox’ 8-6 win over Rays

BOSTON - First impressions from the Red Sox' 8-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park:

*The Red Sox got some much-needed contributions from the bottom of the order.

Aaron Hill was 0-for-20 when he came to the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but slapped a tie-breaking single to right to put the Red Sox ahead to stay.

Batting ninth was Jackie Bradley Jr. who was 3-for-17 when he singled in the fifth, homered in the sixth and doubled home a run in the ninth, right after Hill's heroics.

The Sox have been carried offensively by the top four or five in their lineup, but that's a tough way to win.

At some point, others in the batting order have to contribute. The timing couldn't have been better than for that to start on Wednesday afternoon.

* Why was Junichi Tazawa throwing fastballs ahead 0-and-2?

Tazawa entered with the bases loaded and Logan Forsythe due. After two quick strikes, Tazawa kept throwing fastballs to Forsythe, who took the second one and lined it back up the middle for a two-run single.

Tazawa's best pitch is his split-finger, and it seemed like that would have been the more prudent choice there -- to get Forsythe to chase a pitch out of the zone.

It's doubtful that there were concerns about a split bouncing in the dirt and getting away from catcher Sandy Leon.

Strange.

*Hustle counts.

The Rays lost out on a run in the third inning and it changed the game.

 With two outs, the Rays had Tim Beckham at second and Logan Forsythe at first when Kevin Kiermaier stroked a line drive to the gap in right-center.

Beckham jogged toward the plate, but at the same time, Kiermaier attempted to stretch a single into a double. His throw arrived in time for a tag to be placed on him as he slid into second.

Worse, from the Rays' standpoint, Beckham hadn't crossed the plate before the tag was applied at second, so what should have been an automatic run was not a run at all for Tampa Bay.

 

 

 

 

Brady to serve as Michigan honorary captain Sept. 17

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Brady to serve as Michigan honorary captain Sept. 17

Tom Brady will have some time on his hands the next couple of weeks. So, why not travel back to the ol’ alma mater to serve as honorary captain.

That’s what the Patriots quarterback will be doing Sept. 17 when Michigan hosts Colorado at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh told the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen, another Michigan alum, that Brady will be back in Michigan for the game. 

There has been speculation that Brady will find time to work out with the Wolverines to stay sharp while he’s away from the Patriots serving his four-game Deflategate suspension. His visit with the Wolverines will no doubt fuel more of that talk.