Patriots working to eliminate last-second scores

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Patriots working to eliminate last-second scores

The Baltimore Ravens have recently enjoyed sneaking in a punch before the bell.
Last Saturday against Denver, quarterback Joe Flacco turned the tide with a lightning-quick drive. It looked certain Baltimore would enter the break down 21-14 to the Broncos. But any offensive frustration from earlier in the half disappeared as Flacco completed passes of 11, 15, and 32 yards to get the Ravens into the end zone. The game-tying drive took all of 40 seconds.
Which is longer than the "series" that tied the game at the end of regulation.
With Denver up 35-28 and 31 seconds to play. After one incomplete pass and a 7-yard rush, the Ravens were facing third-and-3 from the 30 and had zero timeouts to work with. Flacco threw up a 70-yard prayer that flew faster and farther down the sideline than a pair of Denver defenders and got caught by receiver Jacoby Jones.
The Patriots have watched the film.
"We never want to do that," head coach Bill Belichick said. "We always think that the end of the half can get a little different than the rest of the game because of situational play and also sometimes offensively teams change their method of attack and what theyre doing and how theyre doing it and that kind of thing. So you have to adapt and adjust to what they do."
As the Ravens are enjoying their last-second scores, New England has been allowing them.
The Patriots had a 17-3 lead in last weekend's Divisional Playoff against Houston with more than three minutes left before halftime. Quarterback Matt Schaub used more than half of the time to drive his team 47 yards on five plays for a touchdown. The series made it a one-possession game.
"We have to do what were doing better," Belichick said. "Its definitely a point of emphasis and Im sure it will be important in this game. Well definitely work on it."
Belichick doesn't think his defense let down its emotional guard when the Texans scored before the break. He said it's not so much about the Patriots failing to maintain their mental toughness as it is about execution. Plain and simple."We were trying to do the right things and we did some things that were good, but then we did some other things that werent as good as they need to be. Houston was able to take advantage of some of the things we were doing."
A sense of urgency is added now as there's no next week's game to fix problems for. Allowing those touchdowns, as the Patriots did for Houston, won't fly against Baltimore.
"Its a combination of better coaching, better playing, maybe better preparation, and hopefully it will be better this week."

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

'Ecstatic' Thomas was with Celtics teammates via FaceTime after Game 3 win

CLEVELAND – Gone but definitely not forgotten.

Isaiah Thomas, out for the rest of the playoffs with a right hip injury, wasn’t in the Q Arena physically, but his presence – and his face via FaceTime – were inside the locker room in the initial moments following their 111-108 Game 3 win over Cleveland.

“We called him right after the game,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “He got to celebrate with us a little bit. It’s sad that he’s not here. We wish he was here with us. We just want him to get better.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens added, “I didn’t even realize that had happened until later on. one of my first text messages was from Isaiah.  He’s hurting not being out there but he’s completely invested, for sure.”

He initially suffered the injury on March 15 at Minnesota, but re-aggravated it in the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to the Cavs. Less than 24 hours later, Thomas was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Instead of Thomas being the rock of sorts that the Celtics lean on with his play, he has become their rallying cry for the remainder of the playoffs.

“All we can do is play hard for him,” Bradley said. “He was excited with the way we played. We’re a family. Other guys got an opportunity to step up for us. Marcus (Smart) had a big game for us. It could be somebody else next game.”

Smart led the Celtics with a career-high 27 points which included a career-best seven 3’s going down.

And most important, the Celtics avoided going down 3-0 which would have all but sealed their fate in this series considering no team in league history has ever come back for a 3-0 series deficit.

Doing so without Thomas, the Celtics’ leading scorer and the top regular season scorer in the Eastern Conference, made the win all that more impressive for Boston.

“It meant a lot,” Horford said. “We know, Isaiah gives us so much and gave us so much this year. For him, we definitely wanted to come out and fight for him and our season and our team. It felt good to keep believing despite being down big. Just felt good to win the game and bring life back to our locker room. Because going down 3-0, that’s a death sentence pretty much. This was big.”

Not only to the Celtics players but also to Thomas who also texted head coach Brad Stevens full of excitement following Boston’s surprising win.

“He was excited,” Horford recalled. “He was ecstatic. I know he wishes he was here being part of it. We just need to keep doing it for him and our group and doing the best we can.”