So much for the bulletin board material. As much as Mike Mularkey and Nick Cafardo tried to make material in Patriot Reign an issue before yesterday’s game, the only thing the Patriots 31-17 win proved was that most of the assessments made in the book were correct. And as author Michael Holley pointed out on the Big Show Friday, what do the Bills do now that that is the case? This one was a close one through three quarters, but the Patriots once again found a way to win, overcoming their own mistakes in the process, and putting up a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Game stories from Ralph Wilson stadium are trotted out by Michael Felger, who still wonders just how this Patriot team keeps doing it, game after game. Tom E Curran notes that the Patriots put an end to a streak of another kind by winning yesterday. He also looks at the breaks the Patriots got and at how Drew still thinks he could’ve made that naked bootleg on fourth and two. Alan Greenberg notes that by shutting down Travis Henry in the second half and turning up the pressure on Bledsoe, the Patriots managed to come out with the win. Michael Parente says that once again, a few key plays made the difference in this one. Nick Cafardo says that had a couple plays gone differently, the outcome would’ve been reversed in this one, also noting that the Patriots were all trying to dodge the media after the game. Chris Kennedy says the happy days in New England continue on.
Bob Ryan says that the Patriots don’t deserve to be 3-0 and that they’re playing as it it’s still the preason. Kevin Mannix takes a very short look at the Patriots struggles on special teams. Jim Donaldson is another who says the Patriots arguably should have lost this game yesterday. Michael Gee (subscription only) looks at the strange goings on in Buffalo yesterday, but notes that the Patriots practice for the irrational, and it pays off in games like yesterday. Stephen Neal said after the game that they’re told that if the opposing team recovers a fumble, they should trying to knock the ball through the end zone, which is exactly what Neal did. (While also almost knocking Bethel Johnson through there with the ball.) Ron Borges has a good article today, he focuses on the Drew Bledsoe fumble recovered by Richard Seymour for a 68 yeard touchdown and uses it point out the differences between the Patriots and Bills. Scott A Benson rightly points out that none of these wins comes easy, but perhaps that’s how it should be. George Kimball (subscription only) looks at another rough afternoon for Drew Bledsoe against the Patriots. A rough day indeed, but Kimball has Bledsoe, as always optimistic that he and the Bills can correct their mistakes and turn things around for the season.
Ian M Clark writes that the Patriots used a tried and true formula to get to their 18th straight win. Adam Kilgore and Bill Hoppe focus on Corey Dillon’s fumble at the 3 yard line. Curran looks at the Patriots’ depth, something that allows them to keep going at a high level even as they keep losing players. Michael Gee looks at how Tom Brady was able to handle to blitzing Buffalo defense all day without getting sacked. Alan Greenberg also looks at Brady, who got hit yesterday, but not sacked. Jim Donaldson looks at the New England defense, keeping the Bills winless on the season. George Kimball looks at the mistakes and penalties which brought the Bills down. Kilgore writes that the fourth quarter really showed the difference between Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe. Hoppe looks at the Patriots receivers, who despite being shorthanded, made the big plays when needed yesterday.
Cafardo’s notebook looks at former wrestler Stephen Neal making a football instinctual play by knocking the ball from London Fletcher and through the end zone. Felger’s notebook has a look at Richard Seymour getting his first NFL touchdown. Curran’s notebook looks at the poor performance on special teams by the Patriots. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots’ depth coming through. Kennedy’s notebook looks at Tedy Bruschi once again coming up big.
California, here we come. That’s the anthem for the Red Sox this week as they head out to Anaheim to play the Angels in the ALDS starting tomorrow afternoon. Dan Shaughnessy recaps the season and says the Red Sox have some playoff experienced veterans to rely on for the postseason. The obligatory Babe Ruth and Bucky Dent references are scattered throughout, so feel free to scroll on by. Tony Massarotti hands out his regular season report card for the Sox, wondering how much better the team with the third best record in baseball would’ve been if they showed up in May, June and July. David Heuschkel looks at the Red Sox wrapping up the regular season with a loss in Baltimore. Jeff Horrigan compares yesterday to a high school graduation. Sean McAdam has the Red Sox confident heading into their series with the Angels. David Borges says the Red Sox have said all year that the toughest team they face this year was Anaheim.
Howard Bryant (subscription only) has people from the A’s saying that the Angels don’t want to face Boston, and that their pitching won’t be able to handle the bats of the Red Sox. He also points to a series with the Angels as being the turning point of the season for the Red Sox. Jon Couture says that these Red Sox can hit a little bit. Kevin Paul Dupont has the Angels’ pitchers a little wary of the Boston lineup. Steve Buckley (subscription only) talks to various Red Sox players about what surprised them the most about this season. Mark Bellhorn and Bronson Arroyo were popular choices. Buckley also gets a to write a story he’s been trumpeting almost all season, the monster seasons of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. David Borges looks at Johnny Damon keeping his promise of a terrific season. Del Jones says Angels/Red Sox should be a terrific series.
Heuschkel’s notebook has more on Johnny Damon’s season. Bob Hohler’s notebook has Derek Lowe proclaiming himself not angry about being relegated to bullpen duty for the first round. Horrigan’s notebook looks at David McCarty getting some pitching work in yesterday’s game. Horrigan also has a brief sidebar noting there has still been no decision on Scott Williamson. McAdam’s notebook leads with more on Lowe, as does Borges’ notebook.
Mark Murphy reports that Gary Payton has agreed to play for the Celtics and will be in attendance for media day today and the start of training camp. Tim Weisberg isn’t thrilled about having Payton on the Celtics. Gabe Kahn says the Celtics are a mystery heading into training camp.
ABC has Chiefs/Ravens at 9:00. CN8’s SportsPulse will have Shira Springer on to talk about the Celtics and media day and will feature Hector Longo as their new Patriots Insider at 10:00.