Boston Bruins

For the Jets, this has to be rock bottom

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For the Jets, this has to be rock bottom

From Comcast SportsNetEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The San Francisco 49ers were coming off a stunning road loss, angry and missing home.They headed back with an impressive win and looked again as though they're one of the NFL's elite teams.Carlos Rogers returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown, and Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- on a wildcat-style option -- all ran for scores as the 49ers cruised to a 34-0 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday."After the last game," linebacker Aldon Smith said of San Francisco's 24-13 loss at Minnesota last week, "some people were questioning us and we knew what we were capable of."Rex Ryan's Jets, meanwhile, have plenty to answer for right now, which is why he sent his players home for two days to do some soul searching."I apologize for my language," said Ryan, so angry that he had trouble even getting started. "I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but really ... there's no two ways, in or outs about it."San Francisco (3-1) used a solid running game that gained 245 yards, a smothering defense, a little bit of the wildcat-style offense and even blocked a punt to improve to 4-0 following losses under coach Jim Harbaugh.Instead of heading back to the West Coast last Sunday, Harbaugh had his team stay in eastern Ohio and practice at Youngstown State all week. It worked last season, when they followed a win at Cincinnati with a victory at Philadelphia. Well, the 49ers might have a new home away from home."I think the whole week we had more edge," quarterback Alex Smith said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth the whole week. I don't think that goes away after a day. There's no 24-hour rule. The loss sits around and you talk about it."And, the 49ers figured out how to put it way behind them."This is more the way we are accustomed to playing," Harbaugh said.Ryan took no solace from the Jets (2-2) losing to one of the NFL's best. After all, San Francisco plays the way Ryan wishes his team did."It's obviously unacceptable," Ryan said. "It starts with the coaches. The players ... they've got to dig deep, look down at themselves."It was San Francisco's first shutout since beating the St. Louis Rams 26-0 last December. New York's last shutout loss was 9-0 to Green Bay on Oct. 31, 2010, and it was the Jets' biggest home shutout loss since falling 37-0 to Buffalo in 1989.Meanwhile, the Jets lost top wide receiver Santonio Holmes to what appeared to be a serious left foot injury. If Holmes misses significant time, the Jets would be without their two biggest playmakers after All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis was likely lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left knee last week at Miami."We've got to play with who we've got," quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "None of those guys are going to get better overnight."On the first play of the fourth quarter, Holmes caught a pass from Sanchez for 4 yards, but his left leg appeared to go out on him. The ball flew out of his hands, and Rogers picked it up and returned it for a score.Holmes left the stadium in a golf cart, holding crutches, his left foot in a boot.Ryan said Friday that the Jets would wait to put Revis on injured reserve until he has surgery in a few weeks, keeping him available in case New York goes to the Super Bowl. If the Jets play like this the rest of the way, getting to the playoffs will be a tall task.The struggles on offense have also started many to wonder if it's time to let Tebow play more at quarterback -- or maybe even start instead of Sanchez."I don't think that's the answer," Ryan said. "I think Mark's the answer at quarterback."But he added: "Again, time will tell."Sanchez had another poor game, going 13 of 29 for 103 yards and an interception. New York also finished with just 45 yards rushing. Tebow, meanwhile, had a limited role again, rushing twice for no yards, but completed his first pass with the Jets: a 9-yard toss to Dedrick Epps, who injured his right knee on the play."I'm ready to do whatever they ask me to," Tebow said.Alex Smith was efficient, going 12 of 21 for 143 yards and no touchdowns, but more importantly, no interceptions.The wildcat-style offense worked early -- but for the 49ers and not Tebow and the Jets.Instead, it was Kaepernick who put the 49ers up 7-0 early in the second quarter, taking a direct snap and running untouched off left end for a 7-yard touchdown. Kaepernick also had a 17-yard run earlier in the game, and a 30-yard scamper late.With just over a minute left in the first half, the 49ers were aggressive despite starting the drive at their 26. A 23-yard catch by Vernon Davis on first down got things rolling, and San Francisco ended the half on David Akers' 36-yard field goal.Boos and some chants of "Tee-boww! Tee-boww!" rang out as the Jets went three-and-out for the second straight possession in the second half. It never got any better for New York."Guys are just upset and frustrated," Sanchez said. "This is not the way we imagined this game going."NOTES:Mario Manningham, a Super Bowl hero with Giants before joining the Niners as free agent, returned to the Meadowlands and had three catches for 47 yards, plus a 28-yard gain on an end-around. ... Akers also missed from 55 and 40 yards wide right. ... New York lost fullback John Conner with a hamstring injury. ... San Francisco got 62 yards rushing from Gore, 56 from Hunter and 50 from Kaepernick.

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different. 

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rams hold off 49ers for wild 41-39 win

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Coach Sean McVay walked into the postgame news conference and immediately asked, "Anyone have a beer?"

He probably wasn't the only person who wanted a drink after watching a surprisingly thrilling Thursday night shootout between his Rams and the San Francisco 49ers that wasn't decided until Los Angeles prevented a potential game-tying 2-point try and then delivered a rare defensive stop after blowing the onside kick in a 41-39 victory.

"We talk about mentally tough, be your best regardless of the circumstance," McVay said. "I thought the players did that. They found a way in spite of some of the ups and the downs to come away with the win."

While the defense came up big late, it was the offense that carried the day for the Rams (2-1), who have gone from the lowest-scoring team in the NFL a year ago to a dynamic one through three games under McVay.

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns, Todd Gurley ran for 113 yards and scored three TDs and Robert Woods (108) and Sammy Watkins (106) each topped the 100-yard mark receiving in Los Angeles' second 40-point performance of the season. The Rams have 107 points in all so far, the second-most in franchise history after three games to the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

"Since I've been here we haven't been able to do that," Gurley said. "Hopefully we can keep putting points together, keep working together and keep learning from this. I think we left a lot more points off the board."

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion on a deflection by Troy Hill and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

"I just rushed it, I missed it, I made a mistake," Gould said. "Obviously, I wish I didn't do that, or we'd probably be playing in overtime right now.""

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

The Rams were 8 for 12 on third down, including all three of Goff's touchdown passes.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

"I just told him to start over," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "Got to go back to work. We didn't change anything, went right on with the script. But it was a tough way to start out."

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.