Ngata: 'We wanted to play the Patriots again'

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Ngata: 'We wanted to play the Patriots again'

FOXBORO -- It doesn't sound like the Ravens feel badly for Houston's loss. 
"I think we, personally, kind of wanted to play the Patriots again," Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata said Monday. "If we were to go to the Super Bowl, it would be great to go through Foxboro and win there. So, its another matchup that I think that were excited about, and hopefully, we can get it done this time."
Things did not go according to plan last time. 
New England escaped with a 23-20 conference championship victory in 2011. The Ravens hung tough for four quarters, but a dropped game-winning touchdown by Lee Evans and a missed field goal by former kicker Billy Cundiff (who was cut the following August) sealed the deal for the Patriots. 
"The feeling that we had in that locker room, I think we all wanted to get back to the AFC Championship," Ngata said. "And then to actually have it be back in Foxboro, its a good I dont know story."Tight end Dennis Pitta shared Ngata's sentiment. 
"Were excited about this game," he said. "Its been a long road getting back to this point, and the way we left it last year didnt sit well with us. So, were excited to be in this position again and give it another shot. The Patriots are a good football team. We know that, and theyve played well all season. So, I think everyone in the building is excited about this game."
Baltimore was one of four teams to beat the Patriots this year. 
The September 23 game was yet another classic between these two teams, a 31-30 brawl that literally came down to the final seconds. New England's two-point lead was on shaky ground when Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco got the ball back with two minutes to play. Flacco completed two big passes, 24 and 17 yards, respectively, out of three to get the Ravens to midfield. He followed up with two incompletions. Just 52 seconds remained and Baltimore was hung up on the New England's 34. A 27-yard defensive pass interference call on Patriots then-cornerback Devin McCourty improved the situation mightily. 
The Ravens won on a 27-yard Justin Tucker field goal.
But just like New England vowed its regular season win over Houston dried up and blew away before the playoffs, Baltimore claims its regular season win is long-forgotten. That game was way back in the Replacement Ref days, after all.  
"I think I look at it completely different," Ravens receiver Torrey Smith insisted. "Its the playoffs, and they are playing well dominating guys out there offensively and defensively. Its a completely different team. And, the refs were just coming back as well. That was an adjustment for some guys, too. 
"But New England is New England. We have a lot of respect for those guys, and they have been in this position so many times over the past few years. They have the history. They have been there, and we want to get to where they have been. They were there last year. They knocked us out, and for us, we want to get to that point, get this win and get to the Super Bowl."

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.
 
 

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.