No Huddle: Patriots-Jets postgame sound

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No Huddle: Patriots-Jets postgame sound

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- This week's No Huddle has a distinctly different flavor. Why? After New England slapped down the Jets, 49-19, on Thanksgiving night, one thing was clear: New York's locker room would be more interesting.

The team is a mess.

Thursday night's game was as much about the Jets imploding in on themselves as New England playing well. Hence why the home team's locker room sound told a better story.

But we'll start with a couple Patriots bytes. For tradition's sake.

Quarterback Tom Brady on the team's third-down efficiency today:

"I thought we did a real good job on third down. This is a team that's very good on third-down defense. They challenge you in a lot of ways with their blitz schemes, but if you make a lot of conversions, you can beat schemes."

Brady was being kind. That is all. The Jets entered this Week 12 game at the bottom of the NFL's third-down 'D' barrel. As of Friday morning, the bottom is where they remain, surrendering 46-percent of opponent attempts.

New England did even better. Behind Brady, the Patriots converted 11 of 15 third down opportunities. Perhaps that's what the "beating schemes" addendum was all about.

Head coach Bill Belichick on if he's ever experienced three touchdowns so quickly in a game:

"Well, unfortunately, I was on the other end of that at the Pro Bowl a couple years ago and it was 42-0 in the middle of the second quarter on the same kind of plays, touchdowns, interception returns, fumble returns, and things like that."

Two things stand out to me here.

1. Belichick has been coaching in the NFL since 1975. To say that he can empathize with the Jet crash that involved New England putting up 21 points in 52 seconds (Patriots offensive touchdown; Jets fumble and Patriots recover for a TD; Jets fumble ensuing kickoff and Patriots recover for TD) only in a Pro Bowl? Some dictionary sticklers might not consider that real empathy.

2. It might really be empathy and not a dig when you consider the source. This is Belichick; it's entirely possible he treated that Pro Bowl, played in January of 2010, like a real game. His AFC squad was in trouble, if so -- Atlanta's Mike Smith had the NFC up 42-7 at halftime. At least the 55-41 final score depicts a more competitive game. Better still, for Belichick that nobody cares about the Pro Bowl.

I digress.

Jets coach Rex Ryan on if the big losses are discouraging:

RR: "Of course I'm discouraged. I'll put it to you this way: We're about as wounded as we can possibly be, but we're not dead. I can tell you this: We will give everything we have, every ounce of energy we have, to get this thing going That's from a coaching standpoint as well as the players. If not, then we'll make adjustments."

Rex's 4-7 Jets now have the most losses in the AFC East. Of course he's discouraged.

I think the "wounded but not dead" characterization is interesting. Depends on what you're talking about. If the season ended today, the Jets wouldn't be in the playoff picture. That's pretty dead by football standards.

Yet we've got five games to go.

New York's schedule isn't awful: Arizona and San Diego at home; Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Buffalo on the road. There are some winnable games there. But even if they used the Patriots loss as do-or-die motivation instead of the start of some drain-circling (as it appears), the best the Jets can do is 9-7.

You know what? Why even go there?

Ryan on what happened when quarterback Mark Sanchez ran into his own teammate and fumbled:

"My understanding is, I thought he reversed out the wrong way. That's what happened. It was a mental mistake and then he just tried to slide. When he did, he actually ran into Brandon."

What actually happened was, Sanchez ran face-first into offensive lineman Brandon Moore's butt and fell down. But it's good to understand the play from an X's and O's point of view, too. I guess.

Moore on if the turnovers were a sign of the team not being prepared:

BM: "This was totally unexpected. We don't expect to turn the ball over like that. It's something that we preach coming into the game as far as self-inflicted wounds and protecting the football. It was a big point of emphasis. It was unexpected."

Moore is exactly right about the surprise factor. No team expects to turn the ball over, but the way New York repeatedly shot itself in the foot -- the five fumbles, the interception, the surrender of an 83-yard Patriots touchdown pass on a wheel-route -- was too absurd to even imagine.

The Jets are now owners of a -3 giveawaytakeaway differential. It would look worse if the defense didn't keep up because their 22 turnovers (10 interceptions, 12 fumbles) is tied for third-most in the NFL.

Jets tight end Dustin Keller on how Coach Ryan felt about the game:

DK: "I'm not going to quote him word for word, but he is disappointed in us. He has higher expectations for us and we have higher expectations for ourselves. For how we feel about ourselves and what we are capable of. And to do that, it is just embarrassing."

I wonder why Keller can't quote his coach?

Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow on Coach Ryan stating he didn't want Tebow to play with his injury:

TT: "It was and I appreciate his concern. I had to do a little bit of talking just to dress, but I just want to be there for my teammates in case they needed me in an emergency situation."

Only one player who was active for Thursday night's game did not play in Thursday night's game.

Tebow.

Come to find out, the backup has two cracked ribs. Fine. So why did he dress? Why, in Tebow's own words, did he "do a little bit of talking just to dress"? Shouldn't New York have activated a healthy quarterback -- like Greg McElroy -- in case Sanchez had to leave the game? Tebow reportedly couldn't even breathe deeply without pain.

Ryan insisted on his Friday conference call that the backup could have played in an emergency situation.

"Tim was cleared to play. He wanted to play. And that's just the way it is."

Heroic? Or silly?

Sanchez on how he handles fans chanting for Tebow:

MS: "The same way I've handled it before and just block it out. I don't think about it. I just keep playing, keep fighting for our guys and just continue to work, try to get better, and eliminate some of these mistakes that have hurt us."

You can applaud Sanchez for putting on a brave face, but he's in an impossible situation. This is not Colin Kaepernick versus Alex Smith, this is Tebow.

Last year some fans spent tens of thousands of dollars to buy billboards in Denver reading, "BRONCOS FANS TO JOHN FOX: PLAY TEBOW."

Fox caved. Tebow played. Denver went 7-1 over its next eight games.

Does this mean he's the solution for New York's quarterback quandary? Absolutely not. But you have to think, cracked ribs or not, pressure for Tebow to replace Sanchez will only continue to build.

Think about it for a second: Why are you reading his quotes? Why did the only active player who didn't play Thursday night hold court with reporters and answer questions?

All 30 of them.

Blakely: Victory was far from a beauty, but Celtics don't need to 'win pretty'

Blakely: Victory was far from a beauty, but Celtics don't need to 'win pretty'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The NBA game is a thing of beauty most nights. But Sunday's game between Boston and Detroit left a lot to be desired. 

Lots of turnovers by both teams, free throws being bricked ... a game that at times was painful to watch. 

And for the Celtics who escaped with a 104-98 win, this might have been the most beautiful game they've played all season.

Teams that rely on the 3-ball as much as Boston does, typically don't do well in the postseason. 

They tend to be more finesse than physical, more marshmallow-soft than mallet-hard.

But there was nothing soft about the way Boston played Detroit, a team that usually tosses them around like a rag doll around the glass. 

Not on Sunday, a night in which Boston won the battle of the boards 52-45.

And it was a slow-drip killing by Boston on the glass against Detroit, finishing each quarter with an overall rebounding advantage which speaks to how they never really allowed the Pistons to gain any significant traction on the boards. 

The Pistons, like they always seem to do, didn’t make things easy for the Celtics.

They blitzed Isaiah Thomas, forcing someone taller than 5-foot-9 on Boston's roster who averages less than 29 points per game, to step up.

There was Jae Crowder delivering a stealth job scoring and on the boards before finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Marcus Smart was effectively crashing the glass with four of his five rebounds being of the offensive variety.

And then there was Jaylen Brown, the only rookie of significance to play in the game. He did more than just score 13 points, but delivered a back-breaking dagger of a 3-ball in front of the Celtics’ bench with 37.3 seconds to play that put the Celtics ahead 98-86.

This was the kind of performance by the Celtics that speaks to a team that’s starting to develop a deeper understanding that they're going to have to do more than just knock down 3's in order to truly be successful, especially on nights like Sunday when they didn't play one of their best games.

There was a stretch in the third quarter that on most nights would have been the demise of this Celtics team.

Leading 67-52 following a 3-pointer by Thomas with 9:06 to play in the quarter, Boston went nearly four minutes without scoring a single point, a span in which the Pistons scored 11 points.

“We started (the third quarter) out bad,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “I think we had six or seven turnovers in a row and things weren’t going our way. But we stayed together, kept fighting and things started turning for us in the end. We made plays down the stretch.”

Withstanding a slew of mistakes while still being able to defend well enough to hold on to a lead, is something the Celtics haven’t done nearly enough of this season.

But when they failed in this area earlier this season, there was always the possibility of addressing this via a trade at the deadline.

But that ship has sailed.

And the Celtics players, whether they want to embrace it or not, have to step up and secure the number two seed or better, in the East.

Doing so means getting the job on nights like Sunday when their best play isn’t present.

Doing so means winning a game with Isaiah Thomas giving you less than 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Doing so has to become more than a goal, but an expectation for Boston.

And Detroit was a great opportunity for them to do just that.

To Boston’s credit, they did just enough to leave the Palace of Auburn Hills for the last time (the team will move to downtown Detroit and play at the Little Caesars Arena next season) with a victory that was hard-earned and by anyone’s definition far from a thing of beauty.

And that folks, is what makes this victory just that … a thing of beauty for a team that has visions of parlaying a strong showing following the All-Star break into a deep playoff run that will surely be one in which they will not always play their best but still must find a path to success.

Smart for one was pleased with the Celtics winning in a not-so-aesthetically pleasing style.

“You don’t want to win pretty,” Smart said. “Especially getting ready for the playoffs and things like that. Games aren’t going to be pretty; there’s going to be some ugly games. The team that’s willing to get down and dirty is the team that’s going to come out of the series.”

Stars, studs and duds: Smart's rebound 'as big as there was'

Stars, studs and duds: Smart's rebound 'as big as there was'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The Boston Celtics came into Sunday’s game looking to rebound from back-to-back losses.

So it was only fitting that down the stretch, one of the biggest plays in Boston’s 104-98 victory over Detroit was – what else? – a rebound.

Marcus Smart out-hustling Detroit’s frontcourt to corral a free throw miss by Jaylen Brown – and getting fouled on the play – was a major factor in Boston (38-21) continuing to solidify its place as the second-best team in the East.

Smart went to the free throw line and made both free throws which put the Celtics ahead 100-96 with 37.3 seconds to play.

“Smart’s free throw rebound was as big as there was,” said Boston head coach Brad Stevens.

Smart had five rebounds for the game, four of which were offensive boards which contributed to his 14 points off the Celtics bench.

His play was needed on a night when the Pistons – like most teams – went to great lengths to make sure anyone but Isaiah Thomas had the ball down the stretch.

And to the credit of Thomas’ teammates like Smart, they delivered.

“We can’t put everything on Isaiah, especially when teams know where we’re trying to go,” Smart said. “They know Isaiah is ‘Mr. Fourth Quarter,’ so they’re going to try everything they can to get the ball out of his hands and make other guys make plays and that’s what we did tonight.”

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

Boston got yet another big game from their best scorer, with Thomas delivering a game-high 33 points on 10-for-23 shooting.

Andre Drummond

Free throw shooting aside, the Celtics had lots of problems keeping Drummond from dominating the boards. He finished with a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds.

 

STUDS

Jaylen Brown

The steady improvement in Jaylen Brown’s game continues with yet another solid performance. He scored 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting which included a corner-3-pointer late in the game to put the Celtics ahead.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

He drained a couple of 3’s in the second half that was critical to Detroit’s near comeback after being down 15 points in the first half. He finished with a team-high 18 points on 6-for-14 shooting with three rebounds and three assists.

Marcus Smart

There is something to be said for making winning plays, something Smart tends to do with a high level of consistency. He had 14 points off the Celtics bench to go with five rebounds – four on the offensive glass – including a late offensive rebound in which he was fouled and later, converted a pair of free throws to put Boston up by four points with 37.3 seconds to play.

Jae Crowder

There were lots of standout performances by the Celtics on Sunday, but few were as under-the-radar as Crowder’s night. He finished with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds in addition to dishing out five assists along with a steal.

 

DUDS

Kelly Olynyk

It was one of those nights for Olynyk who never got into any kind of flow or rhythm while in the game. He finished with five points, missing six of his eight shot attempts. He grabbed six rebounds but turned the ball over three times in just over 19 minutes of court time. And maybe most telling, his plus/minus was -11 which was the worst figure among Boston players.