Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

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Game info: Patriots vs. Dolphins

GAME TIME: 1 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Dolphins lead, 50-43

LAST MEETING: Patriots 27, Dolphins 24 on Dec. 24, 2011 at Gillette Stadium

The Patriots will clinch their fourth consecutive AFC East title with a victory. The Pats have won 9 of the last 11 AFC East championships (in the other two seasons, they finished tied for first but lost on tie-breakers) and 14 division titles overall.

If the Patriots win, they will earn their 12th straight winning season. Only the 49ers (1983-98) and Cowboys (1970-85), with 16 straight winning seasons, have had longer stretches than 11. New England enters this week tied with the Raiders (1970-80) for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

The Patriots are an NFL-best 41-5 in the month of the December since 2001.

Bill Belichick is 43-7 (.860) in December with the Patriots, the best record in December among head coaches with one team in NFL history (minimum 25 games). George Seifert (San Francisco) is second (27-6, .818).

Since the 2010 season, the Patriots are 19-0 in the second half. In both 2010 and 2011, the Patriots were 8-0 in the second half of the season. Their last loss was in the 2009 season-finale at Houston, a 34-27 loss, on Jan. 3, 2010.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Bill Belichick (200) needs one more win to tie Dan Reeves as the seventh-winningest NFL coach of all time.

With one touchdown pass against the Dolphins, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 44 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season. He needs one more to break a tie with Kurt Warner for fifth place all time.

Brady (3,671) needs 16 completions to move past Fran Tarkenton (3,686) into ninth place on the NFLs all-time completion list. Vinny Testaverde is in eighth place with 3,787 completions.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Jerod Mayo needs to have a 10-plus tackle game against the Dolphins for his 10th game in 2012 and his sixth straight game with 10 or more tackles.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles, tying Mike Vrabel (2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

Stevan Ridley (939) needs 61 yards rushing to reach 1,000 yards and give New England its 15th 1,000-yard rushing season. He will be the 12th Patriots player to reach 1,000 yards and first since BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2010.

Wes Welker (16) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a second place tie with Marvin Harrison (15) and tie Jerry Rice (17) for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

Welker (961) needs 39 receiving yards for his fifth career 1,000-yard season.

Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

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Morning Skate: Blackhawks get band back together

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while knowing that nobody will ever forget the courage and zest for life that 5-year-old Red Sox fan Ari Schultz showed in his far too short life. Rest in peace, little guy.  

 *PHT writer James O’Brien has the Chicago Blackhawks adjusting to the returns of both Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp after their short stints away from the fold. It will be really interesting to see if the Blackhawks can recreate their magic by bringing some of the past Cup pieces to the scene after last year’s disappointing end.

*Ilya Kovalchuk is primed for a return to the NHL in 2018-19 after playing one more season, an Olympic season no less, in the KHL.

*Good piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Arpon Basu chronicling the day with the Cup in Montreal for Marc-Andre Fleury.

*Speaking of the Blackhawks, it sounds like Jonathan Toews is going to scale back on the “Captain Serious” approach to his hockey career this upcoming season.

*Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee is pleased with the state of his expansion team after looking at some of the pieces, and doing a little wheeling and dealing after the fact. I mean, you have to wheel and deal if you’re a hockey team in Vegas, right?

*Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar is relieved his new contract with the Winged Wheels will allow him to avoid arbitration.

*For something completely different: It remains to be seen whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but we’re completely in a culture where media entities are writing full stories about posters. Okay, I think this is a bad thing and my mind is already made up.

 


 

Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

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Andrelton Simmons slugs Angels to 7-3 win over Red Sox

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- When runs come in bunches, so do the wins for the Los Angeles Angels.

Andrelton Simmons drove in three runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer, Albert Pujols went 3-for-4 with two RBI and the Angels rallied for a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night.

Simmons hit his 10th homer of the season to left and put the Angels ahead 4-3 in the third inning after falling behind early. Pujols doubled to score Yunel Escobar and Mike Trout to start the four-run outburst.

"When we got a pitch to hit we hit it hard," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Albert got us going, that's a big double. One thing that can get you back into the game, extra-base hits tonight showed up."

The Angels improved to 38-10 when scoring four or more runs, compared to a 10-41 mark when held to three or fewer.

Battering Red Sox ace David Price even after facing a 3-0 deficit after two innings made this particular offensive eruption all the more impressive.

"We started chipping away," said Simmons, who went 2 for 4. "Guys just kept putting up good at-bats. We just didn't make it easy for them."

JC Ramirez (9-8) recorded his second win at home in 11 starts, striking out six while allowing one earned run and five hits in six innings despite struggling early.

The Red Sox got off to another fast start after scoring five runs in the first inning on Friday. Hanley Ramirez had an RBI single to start the scoring, and the Red Sox got two runs in the second after the Angels' franchise-record streak of 14 games without an error ended when Ramirez couldn't make the catch to complete a double play while covering first. Mookie Betts hit his 31st double to knock in a run and then was driven in by Andrew Benintendi for a 3-0 lead.

However, the Angels were able to respond after dropping the series opener. They added two runs in the fifth when Simmons singled, again bringing home Pujols, and he scored on a throwing error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Trout picked up an RBI in the sixth, giving him five in seven games this home stand.

Price (5-3) gave up five earned runs and seven hits in five innings, allowing more than three earned runs for only the second time this year.

"The one thing that they did do well was they forced him to throw a lot of pitches," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Obviously, the third inning, two big swings were the difference."

ANOTHER PUJOLS MILESTONE

Pujols became the 26th player to score 1,700 runs when he touched home plate after Simmons went deep. Pujols joins Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays in amassing at least 600 home runs and 1,700 runs.

Scioscia called Pujols' continued climb into the history books a moment of "living history."

"He's had an incredible career and he's got more in his tank," Scioscia said. "It's fun to see the guys he is connected with."

FARRELL TOSSED

Farrell got the boot for arguing with umpire Phil Cuzzi in the middle of the fifth, though his original intent was to keep Dustin Pedroia from the same outcome. But by the time Farrell got to home plate, Pedroia had ended his conversation with Cuzzi and Farrell picked up where it left off.

"Anytime you make a comment about balls and strikes, that's probably what it's going to get you," Farrell said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: INF Josh Rutledge (concussion) is likely to come off the disabled list on Monday. ... Mitch Moreland was in the starting lineup at DH for the first time this season.

Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (strained oblique) pitched four innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Salt Lake, giving up three earned runs and six hits.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (4-12, 4.60 ERA) has just one win in his last 10 starts, but it came against the Angels last month. Porcello has allowed two earned runs in 14 innings over his last two starts, striking out 13 without allowing a walk in that span, and still took the loss in both outings.

Angels: RHP Parker Bridwell (3-1, 3.18 ERA) went a career-high 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win against the Red Sox last month. Bridwell has held opponents to two earned runs or fewer in five of his last six starts.