The Patriots get back to work tonight taking on the Dolphins in Miami on Monday Night Football. Nick Cafardo has a look at the game tonight, and highlights six bulleted points surrounding the contest. Kevin Mannix in his game preview says that Corey Dillon must have a big game, because the results aren’t pretty when the Patriots are forced to pass the ball. That’s a little bit of a stretch. Jim McBride has the scouting report for the Globe. Tom E Curran says that the Patriots fully expect the Dolphins to put up a mighty challenge tonight. Alan Greenberg says that the Dolphins began their annual late season collapse in July this year. Hector Longo says the Dolphins will look to exploit the patchwork secondary for the Patriots with big plays down the field. Michael Parente agrees that Miami will try more long plays tonight, but says they really only have pride to play for. George Kimball looks at the bad hand dealt to Miami interim coach Jim Bates.
Bob Ryan looks at the short term focus of the Patriots players and coaches, which stands in sharp contrast to the tendency of media and fans who want to look all the way ahead to playing the Steelers January 23 in the AFC Championship game. Chris Kennedy looks at Troy Brown’s role on defense, a role that looks to continue, and perhaps even increase. It’s pretty amazing that the coaching staff had Brown working out in preseason for this situation, isn’t it? They were mocked by certain members of the local media for it, some even hinting that Brown was being forced to do it against his will, yet in the end, it turned out to be something vitally important to the football team. Some more human members of the media acknowledge this, while others choose to ignore that they ever weighed in on the topic. Dan Pires looks at the Patriots success in finding undrafted players, looks at the Pro Bowl voting, and also has a bit on the play of Keith Traylor. Kevin Mannix says the Patriots are in the unusual position of going into Miami without much pressure. George Kimball talks to Jason Taylor about the season, rival quarterbacks, and his envy at the Patriots players who get to play both sides of the ball. Jim Donaldson looks at the San Diego Chargers, who have to be feeling a little smug towards Eli Manning, who snubbed them in favor of the woeful Giants.
In Miami, Greg A Bedard looks at Tom Brady continuing to add to his legend and contrasts him with Miami QB A.J. Feeley. David J Neal says that Brady’s humility makes him great. Greg Stoda says that even Nick Saban would need time to rebuild this Dolphins organization.
Gordon Edes looks at all of the Red Sox arbitration eligible players declining arbitration last night, including Jason Varitek. Tony Massarotti says this means that the clock is ticking for talks with Varitek, as the Red Sox have to get him signed before January 8th, or risk losing him. John Tomase hopes that we remember Pedro more for his brilliance on the field instead of for his selfishness off of it. Jose Martinez of the NY Daily News tells us that Pedro’s former buddy Nelson feels betrayed by the former Sox ace and vows to stick with the Red Sox. Jamie Pote of the Herald has Dave Roberts hoping for a starting role. In a split column, Terry Nau looks at the challenges facing both the Red Sox and Patriots in their quest to defend their championships. Pote also talks to Tim Wakefield, who denies any rumors of a strained relationship during the season between Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez, and wishes Pedro well going forward. He can’t wait to meet his new teammates and looks forward to defending their title.
Shira Springer looks at the Celtics developing mental toughness during this brutal December schedule. Mark Murphy looks at the Celtics improved play in the clutch, and the amazing stat that they’ve been either tied or ahead in the fourth quarter in 21 of their 23 games. Christopher Price says he was wrong about Gary Payton. He thought he was going to be a negative on this team, but instead has been one of the best parts of it. Murphy’s notebook has a couple Celtics expressing dismay that old teammate Eric Williams was traded away from his New Jersey home in the Vince Carter deal.
Congrats to Mike Giardi of NECN for getting a new deal from the station.
ABC has Patriots/Dolphins at 9:00.