The Patriots once again struggled their way to victory, overcoming a fourth quarter deficit that they found themselves in thanks to turnovers and penalties. Tom Brady brought the Patriots back for a 28-21 win over the fired up Lions, who gave the Patriots all they could handle.

Mike Reiss has the Patriots talking about their mistakes and lack of energy and focus yesterday. Shalise Manza Young says that at some point the Patriots aren’t going to be able to get away with these mistakes and still come away with a win. Scott Benson looks at the game coming to a peaceful ending after an out of control afternoon for the Patriots. John Tomase looks at the Patriots barely surviving on a day in which they played without emotion and came out with a lackluster effort. Mark Farinella has the Patriots sleepwalking their way to another victory. Lenny Megliola reports on the Patriots just managing to avoid a Lions trap. Alan Greenberg has Tom Brady able to come in and rescue the Patriots from their own mistakes in leading the comeback. Jennifer Toland has the Patriots needing to scratch their way to victory over the hapless Lions. Michael Parente has a look at the Patriots managing to avert disaster by pulling out the win yesterday. Mike Lowe says that nine and three is the best thing you can say about the Patriots after this one.

It wouldn’t be Monday without Christopher Price and his 10 Things We Learned Yesterday feature. Ron Borges says that the Patriots need to correct mistakes that have become too familiar if they want to have any chance of going to the Super Bowl. He also manages a little dig at Fred Smerlas, a reference to the Globe’s story yesterday about the Patriots taking away Smerlas’ season tickets. Michael Felger says that the Patriots offense saved the game once they went to the old Charlie Weis style and spread the field in the fourth quarter. Albert Breer says that the Patriots should’ve lost to the Lions yesterday, and that a better team would’ve buried the Pats for the mistakes that they made. Ian Clark has the Patriots thankful just to survive yesterday.

Like Borges, Dan Shaughnessy focuses on the mistakes and takes a dig at Smerlas. Jim Donaldson tells why the Patriots CAN win the Super Bowl, but why they WON’T. Steve Buckley says that winning isn’t enough of a silver lining for how badly the Patriots played yesterday. Rich Garven asserts that the Patriots are making the kind of mistakes that will come back to haunt a team in the postseason. Dan Pires agrees that the Patriots need to clean up their act, and have four games left this month to do so.

Tony Massarotti looks at a big day for Corey Dillon, who not only went over the 11,000 yard mark for his career, but also scored three touchdowns. Christopher L Gasper notes that the Patriots running backs didn’t put up big numbers yard wise yesterday, but they carried the load when it counted the most. Tim Weisberg has Laurence Maroney getting shaken up a bit on a first quarter hit.

Farinella has Reche Caldwell raising his game as the season has progressed, recording his first 100 yard receiving game of the season yesterday. Paul Kenyon has Caldwell getting better and better for the Patriots as the season goes on. Dan Ventura has Caldwell touting his alma mater Florida to play for a national championship instead of Brady’s Michigan. David Brown has Caldwell and Brady teaming up during the game and then debating the merits of their college teams afterwards. Greenberg offers up another look at Brady’s unshakable confidence in his ability to lead his team to victory.

Chris Kennedy looks at Detroit’s phantom timeout, which could’ve been a key moment of the game, but instead only became fodder for discussion. Donaldson has the refs acknowledging their mistake in grating Detroit a timeout when they didn’t have any.

Amalie Benjamin has Mike Vrabel shaking off a knee to the head late in the game. Steve Solloway notes that feelings quickly went from cheers to fears on the play in which Vrabel got knocked in the head. Kenyon says Vrabel appears to be OK after having his bell rung making the interception to seal the game. Dan Ventura looks at how valuable Vrabel is to the Patriots defense, making him one of the players on the defense the team and ill-afford to lose for any length of time. Toland examines Vrabel’s smooth transition from outside to inside linebacker yesterday. Brown has a look a Vrabel’s afternoon, which was unforgettable, except by him.

Breer looks at the Patriots struggles in defending the Mike Martz coordinated offense. Farinella has the Patriots defense happy to escape with a win, but recognizing the need for improvement.

Joe McDonald provides his game analysis, with key plays from all sides of the ball. Greenberg’s Patriots sidelines report has similar information. Buckley compiles the list this week of the best and worst from the game. McDonald tabs Corey Dillon as his player of the game with his three touchdown performance. He also has Rosevelt Colvin’s strip sack as the key play of the game against the Lions. The Herald chooses the same play as their play of the game. Felger has the Lions stealing a page from the Patriots playbook in the game within a game followup. Breer says that after having seemingly put things together last week against the Bears, the offensive line took a step back yesterday in their protection of Brady.

Bob Duffy has Jon Kitna trying to take the blame for the loss for the Lions. Farinella has the Lions pulling out all the stops yesterday in an attempt to get the upset. Check the coverage from Detroit in the pages of the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

Reiss’ notebook has Brady citing a fourth quarter conversion to Troy Brown as a momentum changer in this one. Tomase’s notebook has Laurence Maroney leaving the game after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first quarter and not returning for the balance of the game. Young’s talking points has Heath Evans taking blame for the safety. Garven’s notebook has the Patriots getting a little more nicked up yesterday, but still managing to survive. Weisberg’s notebook looks at the Lions getting an extra timeout yesterday, courtesy of the officials. Parente’s notebook looks at the Patriots spreading the offense in the fourth quarter, generating some much-needed spark. Farinella’s notebook has more on Vrabel and his (almost) unforgettable game. Lowe’s notebook looks at the Patriots depth coming through once again for them. Tom King’s notebook has more on Caldwell coming on late in the season.

Red Sox

Rob Bradford has what I think is the first interview and story on Jon Lester and the young lefthander’s fight with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Bradford discovers that Lester is not alone in his fight.

The baseball winter meetings are on in Orlando, and Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox come into them with plenty of work to do. Michael Silverman says that by the time the week is over, we should have a better idea of what the 2007 Red Sox are going to look like.

Jeff Horrigan has Curt Schilling stating again that things are fine between he and J.D. Drew and that he looks forward to having him as a teammate. Mike Fine says that it is time to part ways with Manny.

Chaz Scoggins says that he will vote for Mark McGwire to make the Hall of Fame, and will do so with a clear conscience.

Celtics

Get ready for more Brian Scalabrine. With Wally Szczerbiak out tonight with a sprain ankle, the much-maligned forward figures to see increased playing time for the Celtics. Shira Springer has Doc Rivers signing the praises of Scalabrine. Steve Bulpett admits that his inbox finds plenty of people wondering why Scalabrine plays at all. Scott Souza examines whether the glass is half-empty or half full for the Celtics these days. Bill Doyle says that this Celtics team simply isn’t ready to win.

Tim Weisberg looks at the NBA players association filing two unfair labor practice charges against the league.

Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa has P.J. Axelsson still feeling the effects of a bruised left foot, two weeks after taking a puck off of it. Stephen Harris has Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins getting better together the last couple of weeks. Mick Colageo ponders whether the Bruins should make a deal or not. Check out the BSMW Power Play for a look at the Bruins improved play as of late.

I’m going to need time to process the whole Fred Smerlas/Glenn Ordway/Tailgate Ticket issue with the Patriots. I feel somewhat safe in thinking that we’re not going hear Ordway say at 2:00pm today: “We’re going to get into this whole tailgate ticket scalping scandal today.” There seems to be a lot more to this story that wasn’t in the Globe…things that raise questions in me as to how big a deal this really is. I’ll probably have some more thoughts on this in the afternoon/evening post today…

Versus has Bruins/Canadiens tonight at 7:00. FSN has Celtics/Bulls at 8:30. ESPN has Panthers/Eagles at 8:30.

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