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The Patriots got back on the winning track yesterday, embarrassing the Rams in St. Louis 40-22, thus avoiding a formula for disaster. Remember all the media vitriol in August when Bill Belichick was using players at different positions in preseason games? One local scribe said the coach was making a mockery of the game by giving Troy Brown some time at cornerback. Others voiced similar opinions. Some hinted that Brown was forced to do that against his will, and others accused Belichick of over coaching and micro-managing. How silly do these people look now? Of course they can just pretend it never happened, as usual. Michael Felger did make mention of this on Fifth Quarter yesterday, saying that once again Belichick was smarter than the media and everyone else.
Game stories from St. Louis are as follows. Ron Borges has an almost glowing account of a team that “that always plays to its capabilities. And sometimes beyond them.” More on Borges later, as he had an embarrassing stint on the WBCN pre-game show yesterday…Michael Felger says that once again, St. Louis was no match for New England. Tom E Curran observes how the depleted Patriots still had plenty in the tank to ward off the Rams. Alan Greenberg says this win yesterday was almost a work of art for Belichick as “he and his Patriots can paint a gridiron masterpiece with bright brush strokes.” Michael Parente looks at the Patriots pulling out all the stops to beat the Rams. Scott A Benson says that we’ve learned once again to never count out this Patriots team.
Dan Shaughnessy takes some time away from pounding the keyboard writing his new book to look at a total team effort for the Patriots. Kevin Mannix looks at the Patriots overcoming the plethora of injuries. Jim Donaldson says yesterday’s performance should silence any doubters of this team. Ian M Clark writes that yesterday’s game could turn out to be a defining moment for the 2004 Patriots. George Kimball looks at Adam Vinatieri and the Pats throwing the Rams a curve with their fake goal. Christopher Price says the Patriots once again took advantage of Mike Martz’s stubbornness in refusing to change his game plan. Michael Smith of ESPN.com looks at the emergence of David Givens as a top NFL receiver.
Mark Blaudschun, Jim Donaldson and George Kimball look at Troy Brown pulling double duty for the Patriots yesterday. Rich Thompson looks at Corey Dillon getting the Patriots off and running. Cliff Brunt and Blaudschun each have a look at the fake field goal. The Patriots had young and inexperienced cornerbacks on the field for much of the day yesterday, but Tom E Curran notes that they passed this test with flying colors. Craig Martin looks at the Rams’ baffled quarterback, Marc Bulger. On the other side, Tom Brady didn’t seem exactly “right” yesterday, but you can’t tell it by looking at his numbers, or the results. Rich Thompson looks at the Pats QB, who was able to lead several time consuming drives to keep the Rams offense off the field. Martin looks at Mike Martz once again left wondering where it went wrong.
Borges’ notebook looks at 100 yard performances from both Corey Dillon and David Givens, something that is becoming a common occurrence for both players. Felger’s notebook looks at Asante Samuel leaving and then returning with an injured shoulder. Curran’s notebook says that the Rams had a warning about the fake field goal and didn’t do anything about it. Greenberg’s notebook looks at the fake field goal. Parente’s notebook praises the Patriots preparation and versatility.
Back to Borges, on the WBCN pregame show, he was on fire, he and Dan Shaughnessy were guests and they were in the process of comparing the Red Sox and Patriots, it was noted that the Red Sox are a much more open, freewheeling and loose group. Borges commented that the Patriots players are individuals as well, and that “a lot of the players don’t like how things are done here, but they put up with it.” Yeah, winning is awful. Later, the topic turned to Mike Martz’s alleged role in getting the competition committee to enforce the illegal contact rule, and Borges went nuts. He railed on, saying that the Patriots organization complained for 25 years about a non-call holding incident against the Raiders and made the inference that they are hypocrites now for complaining about a group that simply wants the rules called as they are written. The thing is, when have you EVER heard a member of the Patriots organization, player or management complain about the rule being enforced? Show me the quotes. The best you’ll get is maybe Ty Law saying he’s still going to play the same style, and if they call it, they call. Borges added that if you watched the AFC title game last year, it was clear that the Patriots went against the rules, inferring once again that they cheated. He also went on to suggest that Randall Gay and Asante Samuel can not play, and that they would be torched by the Rams, he pronounced anyone who saw these guys make some plays as nickle and dime backs as “giddy” people who know nothing about football. He picked the Rams to win yesterday, but perhaps a little gun shy over his 73-0 pronouncement the last time these teams played, he refused to pick a score, something the other members of the panel had to do.
Some people might suggest to me that I’ve got it out for Borges. That is not the case. He simply keeps saying outlandish things to bring attention to himself, and all I’m doing here is relating the things that he has pronounced. I leave it up to you to make the judgment as to whether this guy knows what he is talking about.
Michael Silverman reports on what the Red Sox hope to accomplish at the Winter GM meetings. As reported yesterday, the team has made an offer to Pedro Martinez, but is also in the process of lining up meetings with Carl Pavano and Brad Radke.
Shira Springer looks back at the Celtics impressive win Saturday night in New York, noting how it showed the high potential this Celtics team could have. Steve Bulpett looks at Paul Pierce and some others coming in yesterday to get some work in on the off day.
Ray Bourque enters the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight. Russ Conway looks at the career of Bourque. Kevin Paul Dupont and Mick Colageo also look at Bourque being honored with a spot among the greats. Karen Guregian says that Bourque epitomizes the term “class”. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell has a look at the events that led to Bourque asking to leave the Bruins. Steve Conroy talks with Harry Sinden, who couldn’t have predicted how great Bourque would become. Marrapese-Burrell also looks at Bourque thriving in retirement.
ABC has Vikings/Colts at 9:00.