Fox 25 had Rob Nikoleski hosting Sports Sunday and quoting Winston Churchill in regard to the Patriots. Opening the show was the news that the Red Sox have signed Ramiro Medoza. Then onto the Patriots highlights, followed by the Jets. Levan Reid’s segment focused on Faulk and Vinatieri. The Patriots go to Faulk when they need a spark and today was one of those days. There was a plan from early in the week to get Faulk in there, to use him against the Dolphin’s linebackers. Adam Vinatieri once again makes the clutch kicks. Anthony Pleasant made a speech before the game, many think it was his last game. Dave Wannstedt should be fired, according to Reid.
Kevin Mannix and Ron Hobson were in for the next segment. The comeback today was amazing, shades of last year, according to Hobson. Coach pulled out all the stops before this one, bringing out the Super Bowl Trophy. Mannix wonders why the Dolphins stopped giving the ball to Williams, especially at the end of the game. If he was the coach here and had done that, the media would be all over him. As for next year, Hobson feels the building blocks are here, they have the QB and the offensive line, though they might want to move Light from right tackle to left and bring in someone better there. Faulk should have a bigger role next year. Mannix doesn’t think that Faulk can be the every down back, he’s more of a change of pace guy. As for the two first round picks, do they package them, or use both? If there is a first class lineman, Hobson feels they should trade up. Mannix also thinks they need help on defense, both on the line and linebacker. Grade for the season, C or C- from Mannix, C from Hobson. They’re an average team.
Highlights from the Boston year in sports was the Sunday’s Best segment. Dan Duquette crying, Celtics comeback in playoffs, Ted Williams death, and of course the Patriots playoffs and Super Bowl. Derek Lowe’s no hitter, and McLaren’s hit in the playoffs. Red Sox fast start, and fade in the summer. Opening of Gillette, Revolution play for a title, Celtics get new owners and Theo Epstein becomes GM of the Sox.
On NECN’s Sports Late Night, Chris Collins was joined by an emotional Ronnie Lippett, who lamented the great comeback today and what a shame it was that this team is not in the playoffs. He says they deserve to be in the playoffs. There’s a lot of hurt that they’re not going. It pains him greatly that now we have to start talking about next year when it comes to the Patriots from this point forward. Later, in answering a caller who complained about Brady not be able to throw the long ball, Lippett said that he can throw it, but they don’t let him, if you want to get mad at someone about this, get mad at the offensive coordinator, who doesn’t call more of those plays and allow him to get good at it.
Bob Lobel on Sports Final comforted viewers by telling them they could be Miami fans. Says Parcells might want to wait a few days before taking the Dallas job, the Dolphins could have a coaching job open soon. Alice Cook filed the game story from Foxboro, with clips from many players. Steve DeOssie and Scott Zolak were in first, this was an amazing game, DeOssie noted the bad feeling for 52-55 minutes, then turnaround, he also talked about the Miami reporters just waiting for the Dolphins to collapse. Cannot fathom why Williams didn’t get the ball at the end. Wannstedt should be fired. Then a lot of speculation began on Parcells to Miami. Great situation, can play Patriots twice, Jets twice and Bledsoe twice. Then Lobel brought up next years schedule. He says it looks like a tougher schedule next year. Zolak says its about how you finish. It’s a credit to the Patriots that they didn’t quit today. DeOssie though mentions how the Patriots weren’t even in the game the last two against the Titans and the Jets. How did Miami lose this game today? Great to see Kevin Faulk involved so much today. Why haven’t they use him more? Lobel wants to know what Miami was thinking on the kickoff after the Patriots drew within three. Zolak says the Jets look like the Patriots of last year. Lobel says this is a disappointing season, but would’ve been much worse had they not come back this afternoon. DeOssie says this win takes the edge off the disappointing season. Lobel wonders if there is a danger of overblowing this final win and not looking at this season’s failures. DeOssie says not in this town. Once again Lobel says be glad we don’t live in Miami.
Michael Felger, Michael Smith and Steve Burton joined Lobel next. Felger noted that right up to halftime of the Jets game things looked good, Terry Glenn even catches a TD just before the half. Saw some of the old magic today in the Patriots. Smith said the season was disappointing, but there were some fun moments. Needs in the draft, Felger says they need to work on the run on both sides of the ball. Lobel brought up Belichick’s contract. Felger says they’ve been talking all year, might even have some sort of agreement in place. Are the Jets the Patriots of this year? Smith is all about momentum, Titans and Jets both have it coming in. Felger is about home field, Jets have one home game, but then have to go into Oakland or Tennessee and will have a tough time. Then onto how the Dolphin’s managed to lose this game. Felger says the definition of choke is kicking the ball out of bounds to begin overtime. Lobel says abject fear on the part of the Dolphins started when the Pats converted the two point conversion to pull within three. More Parcells talk…should he go to Miami or Dallas? Either way he’ll be facing the Patriots. A little about schedule, should be easier next year, not just in games, but as far as prime time games. Felger says they won’t have a tough Monday Night game on the road in December next year.
Quotes from George Steinbrenner about Larry Lucchino were brought up next, with Gordon Edes and Dan Shaughnessy. They talked about some of the history between the two of them going back to Lucchino’s days with the Orioles. Lobel asked if the pursuit of Contreras was amateurish…Edes says it wasn’t, the Sox did things right, the bit about buying up the hotel rooms was great gamesmanship, and the Red Sox worked hard on this one and thought they had an “in” on this guy according to Edes, who wanted to know what Lobel thought might be amateurish about the whole thing. Lobel mentioned the hotel rooms thing. Shaughnessy’s only contribution was to say that the Yankee name carries a lot of clout down there and it’s a matter of prestige to be pursued by them.
After a break, Sports Final OT commenced with a look at the NFL schedule for next week. Shaughnesy says watching the Dolphins was like watching the Red Sox in a World Series. Now we know what it’s like from this side of it Burton went back to the Red Sox/Yankees thing, now with the owners involved it’s going to get even more intense. Edes noted that Steinbrenner even took shots at his former partner John Henry in the article mentioned above. Henry had said the Yankees were taking a big risk giving Contreras so much money. Shaughnessy went back to 1919 to talk about the relationship between the Yankee and Red Sox owners, when the Red Sox owner said the Yankees were taking a big risk taking on Babe Ruth. He says it’s more fun this way having enemies like this, but Lucchino has enemies all over baseball. Edes noted that George ripped Jeter in the same article today. Lobel then went and plugged Shaughnessy’s new book. Edes says Mendoza is a nice addition to the bullpen. They’ve added some nice bullpen pieces, which was the biggest weakness of this team last year. He says the Colon thing should heat up this week. Lobel ended the show reminding everyone that you don’t live in Miami.
On WHDH’s Sports Xtra Patriots analysts Tim Fox and Fred Smerlas joined host Kip Lewis. Fox said the win today at least makes things look a little better heading into the offseason. Smerlas says the Patriots made mistakes early, but were able to capitalize on Wannstedt’s mistakes later. Lewis said looking to next year, they need to find people to stop the run. Fox says that will be a major focus in the draft. They need help in so many areas, but so do a lot of teams says Smerlas, what you need to do is upgrade an area without paying too much to take away from another area. Fox says another big receiver is needed to take the heat off of Troy Brown.
After a break, the group discussed Miami’s coaching decision to not run at the end of the game. Smerlas thinks maybe they hoped to take the Patriots by surprise, but they didn’t even play action or do anything else. Fox says Wannstedt should’ve told Norv Turner to run the ball. Smerlas recalled in the first half, the Dolphins punting the ball from the 35 yard line when they had things in their favor. Lewis discussed predictions for the team falling short. Smerlas said key injuries in areas they’re thin at (Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi) hurt them a lot, and they also didn’t make those little plays that they were making all the time last year. Fox said it was a lot more of a team effort last year. They had Brady do a lot more this year, was it because they gave him a big contract? Lewis picked up on that…did they put too much on him? Fox said he finished the season weaker than he started it. Relied too much on Troy Brown at the end. Smerlas noted last week seeing him on the sideline with his head down…we never saw that before. Kevin Faulk should figure in their plans more next year, he can adjust more on the fly than Antowain Smith, more speedy and elusive, can also catch the ball better.
After another break, the question was asked what the Patriots need the most. Smerlas says a running back that can get the tough yards. Fox says a big wide receiver with speed is what they need. Smerlas says they hope Graham will be that guy, Fox said that he didn’t get it over 16 weeks this year, he doesn’t think the guy is ever going to get it. They then looked at the playoff seedings. Lewis likes Oakland and the Jets in the AFC. Smerlas says watch out for Pittsburgh, they have big talented receivers, a tough defense and with Maddox, they could hard to beat. Fox says Oakland is the hands on favorite to him. Their offense is too good and is clicking right now. Lewis says if he had to put money on it, he’d pick Oakland. Smerlas says that’s what people have said the last 2 years too. In the NFC, Fox looks out for the Giants, a team hot at the end of the season. Smerlas says something is missing with Green Bay, a good team doesn’t lay down like they did today. He likes Tampa if they can get Brad Johnson back. The show concluded with video highlights from the year in sports.