Curran: Uncharacteristic ending for the Pats


Curran: Uncharacteristic ending for the Pats

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO Jack Brady didnt care his father Toms season had just ended. He didnt care what Antonio Cromartie called his Dad just four days earlier.

What mattered to Jack was the huge green truck with the airplanes on the side that had a huge thing going up in the air.

Daddy, look! Jack exclaimed, pointing at the huge hydraulic lift loaded with Jets equipment rising up to the back of the 18-wheeler. Do you see that?!

Tom Brady saw it. But he didnt share the same enthusiasm.

Tom Brady had seen all he needed to of the Jets on this Sunday their linebackers, their blitzes, their corners, their interceptions, their round and proud coach. He likely wishes he could have seen it all through Jacks innocent eyes instead of his own.

Because at that particular moment, Bradys eyes were moist and red. Hed just spent time with his head on the shoulder of Wes Welker, two tough teammates sharing a good cry while a cadre of close friends and relatives looked at the floor and scuffled their feet.

It wasnt what anyone expected to see by 8 p.m. on this particular Sunday. The presumed 2010 MVP crying on the shoulder of his 5-foot-8 receiver. But few things happened Sunday that anyone expected.

Not the pick Brady threw into the arms of Jets linebacker David Harris on the Patriots' first drive. Not only had it been 339 attempts since Brady threw it to the wrong team, it was the kind of dunderheaded, unanticipatory throw that lesser quarterbacks make. And so ended a drive that until that point felt like a continuation of the Patriots 45-3 dismantling of the Jets in Week 13.

That was the first uh-oh.

The second came when Alge Crumpler dropped a certain touchdown pass on the Patriots' second drive. The Patriots settled for three. Points off the board on their first two drives? And poor plays made by guys whove been in the league 20 seasons combined?

And so it went from there. A third-and-6 play from the Patriots 45 on which Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was flushed from the pocket turned into a 37-yard completion. And an LT touchdown two plays later.

A strange replay challenge on a third-down pass to Santonio Holmes at midfield when there was no clear shot making it seem Holmes dropped it (he didnt).

Punt protector Patrick Chung calling for a fake punt with 1:14 left in the half and the ball on the Patriots 38. Then dropping the snap. And a Jets touchdown four plays later.

An out-of-sync offense. A defense that for once was only able to watch big plays not make them.

What. The hell. Happened?

Was it the Jets crap talk? Did it get into the Patriots heads? Did it make them tighten up, want too much to shut New York up and send them home sniveling and shamed?

No, said Matt Light and Bill Belichick.

Ask them, said Jets center Nick Mangold.

This much is true. For all the speculation that the Jets talk was a smoke screen being used to cover up their own insecurities, they didnt look too insecure Sunday. They looked confident. And every Patriots mistake only served as another log on the fire.

Anytime you take a beating like we did in the last game, it just fuels us, said Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis. We felt like we were totally disrespected the last time. Granted, they ran the score up on us, Brady with his emotions. They were doing our Jet run on certain plays." (Aside: how ridiculous is it for grown men to get angered by someone mocking their team logo or their "Lights out" dance?) "Going into this game, we just wanted to get them back."

To do so, the Patriots would have to be complicit in their downfall. They would have to play unlike they did since Cleveland. They were. They did.

We picked the wrong day to play our worst football," Deion Branch said. "I think today was worse than Cleveland. We just didnt make no plays.

"The Jets have always been a good team, said left tackle Matt Light, a member of an offensive line that allowed five sacks, scads of hurries and plenty of Brady knockdowns. They present some unique challenges and we didn't rise to the occasion. This is a different level when you get to this time period. We all talk about it and everybody says the playoffs are a different beast. I'm just not 100 percent sure if everybody understands that.

It wasnt for lack of care or effort. Or chemistry. Thats what the 2009 team that got waxed by Baltimore was about. It was a lack of . . . on-field cohesion? Self-belief?

We didnt make the plays when we needed to and thats unfortunate, said Light. We got a great team, we got great guys, we had great chemistry throughout the year. Unfortunately in this game it doesnt mean much at the end of it. Its not every day you get an opportunity like this and to fall short, thats a tough pill to swallow.

A pill so tough it can leave a Hall of Fame quarterback choking on tears.

Playoff football comes down to who makes the plays and we made too many mistakes, Brady lamented. Its totally a new season. There is a sign back there that said 0-0 and thats the truth.

And the Patriots who authored an amazing and unexpected 2010 season are 0-1. Oh, one and done.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

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


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.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?


0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.