Bleak week at SB45 will be saved by game

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Bleak week at SB45 will be saved by game

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

DALLAS - One team joined the NFL in 1921. Its name - Packers - was derived from a local meat-packing company that sponsored them. The other team joined the NFL in 1933. Its name - Steelers - came from the industry that was the lifeblood of the city of Pittsburgh for so many years. Both teams have basic, no-frills uniforms. The Packers are a community-owned franchise. The Steelers are owned by the Rooney family, a crew that so well represents the sensibilities of Western Pennsylvania that they may as well be community-owned as well. The Steelers led the league in rock-ribbed defense this season, allowing 232 points. The Packers were second, allowing 240. There will be, for the first time in the 45-year history of the Super Bowl, no cheerleaders on the sidelines Sunday when the Packers and Steelers get it on. It will be about football. It will be glorious. And it will be a beautiful departure from what Super Bowl week has been about so far. The runup to the planet's biggest one-day sporting event has been somewhat joyless. The threat of this being the final NFL game for a while has cast a pall on the proceedings, as owners and players wrangle over how to divide 9 billion or so in annual revenues between the 32 teams and 1,800 players. Beyond that, the locale's been a bit of a disaster. Temperatures most of the week have made it feel more like North Dakota than North Dallas and the whole region's response to several inches of snow and sheets of ice has been criminally negligent - "Wow, snow! AND ice! Hope it all melts soon!" On Friday, six people were injured when ice slid off the roof of Cowboys Stadium. A billion dollars spent on a building and nobody wondered what would happen if snow got stuck on the top?To be frank, the way good, old-fashioned American capitalism gets bastardized by a guy like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and the schlock, schtick and look-at-me attitude that pervades every Super Bowl is a turnoff. But then the game finally gets here. And this one could not be any more football-based. The only distractions the two teams provided were ones that would never have occurred pre-Internet. Two injured Packers players whined on Twitter about not being included in the team Super Bowl photo (a decision later rescinded) and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sang and drank at a piano bar (video courtesy TMZ)Now it's about two of the best young coaches in the NFL. The Steelers' Mike Tomlin is trying at 38 to become the youngest coach to ever win two Super Bowls; the Packers' Mike McCarthy, a man who had 15 players land on injured reserve, guided his team to a 10-6 record and has won three road games in the playoffs to get the Pack in here. Neither man received a single one of the 50 votes for NFL Coach of the Year. Neither man cares right now. It's also about the quarterbacks - Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. Rodgers is more technically refined and fundamentally sound. He's a discreet smartass who seems eminently likable. Roethlisberger plays quarterback like a tight end, is trying hard to bury the loutish image he cultivated in his first seven seasons in the league and could win his third Super Bowl title Sunday. Your friends who come over and watch one football game all year will remember the wonderful hair of Troy Polamalu and will be enthralled by the almost-equally wonderful mane of Clay Matthews. You can also tell them they were the best two defensive players in football this year. In the end, those two and their 'dos are a kind of weird metaphor for this game. The packaging is outrageous, over-the-top and distracting. But at their core, they are brilliant football players. The game will save us all. Bart Scott, what say you?
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

Beyond the numbers: Kings offense will test Celtics defense

BOSTON – When it comes to defense, the Celtics are quick to claim that it is indeed the foundation for which their team is built upon. 
 
Still, far too often this season, we have seen cracks in their usually Teflon-tough defense, the kind that ultimately means the difference between winning and losing.
 
The Celtics’ defense will once again need to step up and play well tonight against a Sacramento squad that has shown it can fill it up offensively of late. 
 
Sacramento (7-11) has scored 100 or more points in eight of their past 10 games. In that span, their 107.2 points per game ranks ninth in the league. 
 
In that same span, the Celtics have allowed opponents to score 100.3 points per game, which ranks 10th in the NBA in fewest points allowed.
 
And when it comes to winning, limiting teams to less than 100 points has been huge in Boston’s win total. 
 
The Celtics have held eight opponents to 100 points or less this season. 
 
Their record in those games? 8-0.
 
Within that limited scoring, Boston must also make sure teams don’t get into a nice groove shooting the ball. 
 
Boston is 0-5 this season when an opponent shoots 48 percent or better from the field. 
 
While there are several things Boston must do to be successful, having the right kind of defensive disposition ranks at or near the top of that list in their efforts to play with the kind of defensive success that gave so many hope that this would the year Boston would hold court among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

“We have to get a little more nastier on the defensive end and not let a team come in and get comfortable,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.
 

Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

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Brady, Bennett, Edelman questionable for Sunday vs. Rams

FOXBORO -- The Patriots injury report for Sunday's game with the Rams is out. While they'll be without one big name, but their others are still very much in play. 

Rob Gronkowski, who was scheduled to undergo back surgery on Friday, has been ruled out. Jordan Richards, who is dealing with a knee issue and has not practiced this week, will also be held out of action on Sunday. 

Tom Brady (knee), Julian Edelman (foot), Martellus Bennett (ankle/shoulder) and Chris Hogan (back) -- all of whom practiced on Friday -- have been listed as questionable for the Rams game at Gillette Stadium. Special teamer Nate Ebner (concussion) returned to practice on Friday and is also questionable, as is Trey Flowers (shin) and Elandon Roberts, who popped up on the injury report with a jaw issue Friday. 

Special teams captain Matthew Slater missed Friday's session after participating on both Wednesday and Thursday. He's been ruled as questionable. Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton is also questionable after missing his second straight day of practice with an illness.

If Slater and Ebner are at all limited this weekend, coupled with the loss of Richards, the Patriots kicking game would be significantly impacted. Hogan took reps as the team's personal protector on the punt team earlier this week and may fill that role should Ebner miss time.