Patriots put forth complete effort in 45-7 rout of Rams


Patriots put forth complete effort in 45-7 rout of Rams

There may be better ways to head into a bye week . . . but, boy, it's hard to think of any.

The Patriots offense hummed along as usual, or maybe even a little better; Tom Brady directed scoring drives (five straight touchdowns, and then a field goal) on each of the Pats' first six possessions. But you've come to expect that, or at least something like it.

Here's what you didn't expect: The Patriots defense, after surrendering its obligatory 50-yard touchdown pass on the game's first drive, clamped down on St. Louis in its best effort since Opening Day at Tennessee. New England held the explosive Steven Jackson to a mere 23 yards rushing, took away the deep ball (the touchdown notwithstanding), and -- straight from the who'da-thunk-it? department -- held the Rams to 4-of-13 on third- and fourth-down opportunities.

The resulting 45-7 victory on a rainy evening at Wembley Stadium in London -- so one-sided that Ryan Mallett even got fourth-quarter playing time in relief of Brady, his first-ever NFL action -- sends the Pats into the bye week at 5-3, the same record they had after eight games last year. The 2011 Patriots, of course, wouldn't lose again until the Super Bowl. And the notion that the 2012 version can run off 10 (or 11) straight wins, unthinkable prior to today, may still be unlikely but . . . well, maybe just not so unthinkable anymore.

"It feels good to finally put one game together as a team," said Vince Wilfork. "Doing a lot of things correctly, just playing good football all the way around . . . Guys can see that when we play together, and don't hurt ourselves, we can be a dangerous football team."

Brady directed the Pats to 474 total yards, their record-breaking 17th straight game of 350 or more yards. It was highlighted by touchdown drives of 78, 83, 78, 56, 80 and 55 yards, not to mention:

A pair of touchdown passes from Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski, who a) caught 8 balls overall for 146 yards and b) came up with a pair of highlight-reel spikes after his two scores, one of which was an uncanny imitation of the Queen's guards.

A 127-yard rushing effort from Stevan Ridley, including a career-long 41-yard run.

Two TD receptions by Brandon Lloyd, on his only two catches of the day.

On the defensive side, the Pats got sacks from Chandler Jones and -- who else? -- Rob Ninkovich, and interceptions from Alonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson. Ninkovich even had another fumble recovery, but it was wiped out by a penalty.

"We had a real good day today," acknowledged coach Bill Belichick.

That they did.

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?


BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.