Sunday Links from Len.
Eskimo Up!!! The Patriots are back in the AFC Championship Game after winning another classic as Adam Vinatieri kicked another improbable game winner with just over four minutes left to give the Pats a 17-14 win over Tennessee. Michael Smith has the story on a shivering win. Michael Holley found a Titan who still does not respect the Patriots. Tennessee guard Zach Piller was not only unimpressed with the Patriots defense, but also believes it “sucked” and that he would be “shocked” if the Pats won it all. But Eddie George and Jeff Fisher seem to understand what the Patriots are all about. Michael Felger says the Patriots defense has guts. Despite the fact that Steve McNair picked on Poole, Wilson, and Samuel, the defense hung in there and closed out the Titans. Tony Massarotti has the story on Antowain Smith who gained key yardage last night including a big run when the Pats were pinned at their five yard line at the end of the third quarter.
Jackie MacMullan has the story on the suddenly human and possibly injured Adam Vinatieri, who once again found a way to deliver. Nick Cafardo is convinced that Tom Brady just knows how to win. Ron Borges finds irony in the fact that a shank by a punter would cost his team a very big game. It’s ironic that it was Pro Bowler Craig Hentrich and not Ken Walter. Bill Reynolds just isn’t surprised by the gutsy Pats who always find a way to get the job done. Kevin Mannix is doing the Super Bowl Shuffle.
Paul Kuharsky explains that it was a game of lost opportunities for the Titans who allowed Brady and the Pats to convert 44% of third downs.
Michael Felger’s Notebook has the Pats signing Romeo Crennel to an extension that will make RAC one the highest paid defensive coordinators in the NFL. Of course, Crennel is still up for head coaching positions in Chicago and Buffalo. Felger also got a reaction from Rodney Harrison on the Keith Bulluck column in yesterday’s The Tennessean. Harrison believes that Bulluck has some growing up to do and that you should never say anything to motivate the other team. After the game, Bulluck said that if he weren’t a grown man, he would cry according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.
Mike “Grady” Martz decided not to go for the win in regulation. Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post-Dispatch has the game story on the 29-23 Carolina win and some questions for Martz. The Post-Dispatch Report Card gave Martz a D. If Martz were coaching a New England team and pulled a stunt like that, he’d get an F minus and would probably be lynched. Pat Yasinskas of the Charlotte Observer was shocked too that Martz believed he owed it his players just to “get into overtime”. But that shouldn’t take anything away from a great effort by the Panthers and the exciting Delhomme to Smith connection that won the game.
Kansas City hosts the Colts at Arrowhead in the early game today at 1:00 PM on WBZ-4. Bob Ryan says the Chiefs aren’t too concerned with their 4-3 finish. They’ve won 13 in a row at home and feel good about today’s game. Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star, who loves one sentence paragraphs, says it is quite okay for fans to get greedy and start thinking about the Super Bowl. He says it’s the greatest thing to hit Indy since IU was making a championship run in hoops.
Green Bay and Brett Favre have a date in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field. It’s the late game on FOX-25 at 4:45. Rich Hoffman of the Philadelphia Inquirer says Andy Reid has proved to be a great coach through December. He needs to prove he can win in January. Phil Sheridan thinks the Eagles can take advantage of Brett Favre’s penchant for throwing interceptions.
Shhhhh!!!!! The Bruins beat Detroit for the second time in a week. Kevin Paul Dupont has the game story on the 2-1 OT win with Joe Thornton providing the game winner.
Syracuse crushed BC. Michael Vega has the game story. PC lost another game at the buzzer. Rutgers star Herme Lamizana hit two three pointers in the final 10 seconds to beat PC 65-64 including the clincher with .4 seconds left. Kevin McNamara has the game story.
The Celtics are at Houston. FSNE has it at 8:30 PM.
The Patriots are hosting the AFC Championship next Sunday at 3:00 PM. The game is on WBZ-4. The forecast from weather.com calls for snow showers with a high of 17 and a low of 3.