Patriots romp past Jets, 49-19

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Patriots romp past Jets, 49-19

Rex Ryan arrived in New York four years ago promising -- with colorful, I-didn't-come-here-to-kiss-Bill-Belichick's-rings language -- to put an end to the Jets' role of nail to the Patriots' hammer. And for a while, he delivered.

There was New York's upset victory over New England at the Meadowlands in 2009 in Ryan's second game as coach. Then there was the Jets' playoff win in Foxboro the following season, Ryan's third conquest of Belichick in five meetings . . . and one which propelled his team to its second straight AFC Championship Game.

The Jets would lose that AFC title game, just as they did the year before, and it's been mostly downhill since then. And on a mild Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium, the ride may have come to an end, if not now then certainly at the end of the season, for Rex Ryan . . . at the hands of the man whose rings he hadn't come to kiss.

Belichick's Patriots humiliated Ryan's self-destructing Jets on national television, taking advantage of four New York turnovers and scoring three touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds in the second quarter as they raced out to a 35-3 halftime lead. The eventual 49-19 pounding probably ended the Jets' playoff hopes and may have sealed Ryan's fate.

Owner Woody Johnson has already expressed his displeasure at how New York's season has unfolded, and Thursday night's outcome -- which drops the Jets' record to 4-7, four games behind the 8-3 Pats with five to play -- could mean the end of the reign of Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. A new era will begin, replacing one that started so promisingly back in '09.

And ended so horribly in '12.

The carnage began in routine enough style, with a two-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker on the first play of the second quarter capping a six-minute, 15-play, 84-yard drive that gave New England a 7-0 lead. The Jets drove into Patriots territory on their next possession, but -- in a harbinger of things to come -- the Pats stuffed Bilal Powell on a fourth-and-one from the 31 and Powell coughed up the football. It rolled a little more than 10 yards and Steve Gregory recovered on the 17.

What followed was the most amazing 52 seconds of this long and sometimes bitter rivalry:

On the next play, Brady hit Shane Vereen with a screen pass in the left flat and -- amazingly -- Vereen raced untouched 83 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Speaking on CSNNE.com's Web-only halftime show, ex-Patriots star Troy Brown said he'd never seen, at any level of football, a player run 80 yards on a swing pass out of the backfield without anyone laying a hand on him.

On the second play of the next series, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez tried to make something of a broken play by taking the ball himself up the middle. But he ran into the backside of his own guard, Brandon Moore, fumbled, and Gregory scooped the ball and raced 32 yards for a touchdown.

Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight lost the ball at the 20-yard line when he was hit by Devin McCourty. Julian Edelman plucked it out of the air and ran it in from 22 yards out.

In 52 seconds, the Patriots had increased their lead from 7-0 to 28-0. They would make it 35-0 when Brady found Edelman behind the Jets' secondary for a 56-yard touchdown with 3:08 to play in the half.

Game. Set. Match.

There were still 33 minutes or so to go, and the Jets managed to score the next 12 points to regain a little self-respect at 35-12 in the third quarter. That self-respect disappeared when the Pats scored twice in the final period, on a one-yard sneak by Brady (capping an 87-yard drive) and a nine-yard run by Stevan Ridley (after yet another Jets fumble) to make it 49-12. New York scored one final TD for the 49-19 final.

When it was over, it was hard to remember a time -- and just two years ago, no less -- when these Jets were considered to be not only the Patriots' equal, but even their successors as the powers of the AFC East.

It was fun while it lasted. But in the end, the hammer always wins.

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”
 

Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

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Win vs. Islanders 'a nice building block' for Bruins

BROOKLYN, NY – It wasn’t particularly entertaining and it won’t be all that memorable down the ride aside from the timing and importance of the meeting between the Bruins and Islanders. But it was a solid 2-1 team win for the Bruins over the Islanders at the Barclays Center on Saturday night with the B’s grinding all the way down to the end while protecting a one-goal lead through much of the third period.

Nearly everybody across Boston’s roster contributed in the major victory over the team trying to bypass them in the wild card standings, and it was a beautiful thing. Anton Khudobin stepped up when Tuukka Rask couldn’t start Saturday night’s showdown with a lower body issue, and Riley Nash supplied both Boston goals from a fourth line that’s played some of their best hockey lately.

It was unlikely heroes all around for the Black and Gold in the tightly-wound contest, but that diversity of talent and production can be a very good thing for a team looking to make that playoff push.

“You have to stay with it. You have to stay in the moment and stay with the game no matter what’s happening during the game. That’s how you get results, and that’s how you find ways to persevere through adversity,” said Patrice Bergeron. “We just got back to playing stingy, especially in the neutral zone. We got away from it the last few games, and it was nice tonight to be back playing a low-scoring game like what we’re used to playing.”

When it was all said and done the Bruins only allowed 19 shots on net and also killed off six penalties in the kind of grinding defensive showdown that you haven’t seen all that much out of the Black and Gold lately. It was exactly what Cassidy was looking for to snap the four-game losing streak, and once again start pushing the Bruins upward into the playoff chase.

“That’s the type of win that goes a long way in the room when your goaltender is battling hard and fighting that hard to see pucks and find pucks and your D are blocking shots. And you kill that many penalties. It was a nice building block for us,” said Cassidy. “From the goalie on out, everybody was in there [in the win]. It was a tough game. It was a nice Bruins win. We had been doing it with offense earlier, and we’ve got to be able to do it both ways. You need to be able to win 2-1 hockey games, and it had been awhile.”

Now it’s simply up to the Bruins to be feeling good about their latest win while going back to basics, and looking for more next time around after ending their worst losing streak of the season.