A Few More Links…

A few more links from this morning:

Christopher Price has his 10 Things We Learned Last Night about the Patriots and Eagles.

Jim Donaldson says that there is clearly a chink in the Patriots armor. Steve Solloway says that Patriots fans should be thankful for actually having a competitive game to watch. Dan Pires says that it is not going to be pretty within the confines of Gillette this week. Mark Farinella has the Eagles proving to be no Patsies last night.

Peter King devotes the opening of Monday Morning Quarterback to the Patriots game, and how Wes Welker saved New England last night. Michael Silver has his Monday Morning Rush column, and leads off with a look at Jacksonville QB David Garrard. ESPN reporters check in with The Last Call – a look back at the action of week 12.

From Philly, Laura Nachman has some observations about the Patriots/Eagles NBC telecast. NBC showed Curt Schilling at the game, wearing a Tedy Bruschi jersey, and the Red Sox pitcher weighs in with his thoughts on the game.

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Patriots Survive Eagle Attack

(Morning Links provided by David Vidinha. Dave can be reached here)

The Philadelphia Eagles gave the Patriots everything they had last night in Foxboro, nearly disrupting the Patriots journey to an undefeated season. The Eagles made certain there would be no talk of “RunningupthescoreGate” after last night’s game forcing the Patriots’ starters to play a full sixty minutes. The Eagles listened to John Madden’s advice from earlier in the week, “come out and be aggressive”, and aggressive they were, eschewing a field goal early in the game, going for it on fourth-and-one, which led to their first touchdown. Later in the half, they surprised the Patriots, recovering an onside kick. The Patriots showed their true spirit though, ultimately charging back and pulling out the 31-28 victory. Tom Brady’s assault on Peyton Manning’s touchdown record was put on hold last night, instead Brady who was 34-of-54, 380 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, showed why he already holds a 3-to-1 lead over Manning in the only record that matters. With Brady’s performance last night, Michael Felger tells us he has regained the MVP vote from Randy Moss. The Eagles did everything possible to contain Randy Moss, holding Moss to 5 catches for 43 yards, but all that attention left the speedy Wes Welker (13 catches, 149 yards) to post a career game. This is a great way to describe the impact of Wes Welker. Along with Welker, Robert Lee of the Providence Journal has Jabar Gaffney having a “breakout” game.

For all of the talk about a record 22.5 point spread, Vegas surely got this one wrong. It did serve to provide some extra motivation for the Philadelphia players, who were not scared. The big question now, which will surely be debated all week is whether the rest of the league now has a blueprint on how to defeat, or at least disrupt the Patriots. If nothing else, Tony Massarotti says last night’s game proved the Patriots are vulnerable. Jackie MacMullan puts a more positive spin on the meaning of last night’s hard fought victory. No matter what gameplan teams decide to use, ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli says that you “cannot fool Brady”. Don Banks says the Patriots’ narrow victory may serve to help them in the long run.

Asante Samuel’s two bookend interceptions were huge, and ultimately the deciding factors in last night’s game. Jeff Horrigan has Rodney Harrison calling Samuel “the best defensive back in the NFL.” While a majority of the attention will be paid to the Eagles defensive scheme, AJ Feeley, the Eagles back-up QB played a tremendous game with the only tarnishes coming on the Samuel picks.

Within the Herald’s Notebook we learn that Rosevelt Colvin left the game with a foot injury. The Globe’s Notebook has Bill Belichick crediting Asante Samuel with the game deciding interceptions.

Amongst all of last night’s drama, the Patriots have clinched the AFC East, making them the Division Champions and also tying them with three other teams for the fastest to secure the division since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978.

Scott Benson over at Patriots Daily has the Patriots dodging a bullet last night. That plus random thoughts on last night’s victory.

Black Friday

David Scott attempts to figure out why he was asked to appear on Entercom-owned WRKO this morning, and then just as quickly, told it wasn’t going to happen after all.

A few notes from the morning papers today:

It seems that Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and the Globe just figured out that December 29th’s Patriots-Giants game, slated for NFL Network, is not going to be available to Patriots fans who don’t have NFLN on their cable/satellite package or who don’t live in range of WCVB channel 5. The column paints the NFL as the bad guys, and ends with the hope that the league will “do the right thing.”

Michael Felger offers evidence that the Patriots are doing things differently this season than they have in the past when it comes to late-game scores in blowouts.

Christopher L. Gasper and Karen Guregian each file nice pieces on Patriots third year safety James Sanders, who has emerged this season as a difference maker in the secondary.

Hector Longo says that the Patriots had better be prepared for more Pro Bowl snubs this year.

There’s a doubleheader at the Garden today, as the Bruins take on the Islanders in their traditional noon game on the day after Thanksgiving, and the Celtics welcome Kobe Bryant and the Lakers tonight.

Marc J. Spears and Mark Murphy look at the ancient Celtics/Lakers rivalry getting some new juice this season with the Celtics return to contender status.

Over on the Boston Metro webpage, I’ve got a look at another feature that has been brought back with the Celtics new status – The Return of the Sixth (man).

A few media columns from this week:

In the Washington Post, Leonard Shapiro examines the increasing trend of sportswriters leaving publications for television and internet gigs. He credits the late Will McDonough as being one of the pioneers in this.

Michael Hiestand looks over the gamut of offerings available on ESPN360.

Tom Hoffarth offers an extensive list of lowlights from the year in sports media.

Dave Darling looks at backhanded compliments often used by sportscasters while calling games.

The limited reach of the NFL Network is also the subject of columns by Jay Posner, Barry Jackson and David Barron.

Neil Best checks out the new NHL Network instead.

Counting Down ’till Turkey Time

If the AFC Playoffs Began Today; Week Twelve is posted on Patriots Daily today.

Also check out John Molori’s exclusive interview with Bryant Gumbel.

Apparently Peter King has realized that he might need access to Bill Belichick and the Patriots sometime during this historic season. There can be no other reason for his column yesterday, titled Belichick deserves better.

King, as you recall, was one of those leading the charge in the whole Spygate scandal and was highly critical of the Patriots coach during that affair, saying that this incident wasn’t going to go away. Perhaps King realizes he is in danger of getting shut out by the Patriots the rest of the way unless he attempts to play nice. Or, maybe since all of the national media has turned against the Patriots, King has figured out that now he can stand out by defending them. These things all work in cycles…

Today on WEEI, King said that he still thinks the Ravens can beat the Patriots. Even if the Ravens’ defense is inspired that night, how is their offense, which has been anemic, going to score enough points to win?

Jason Whitlock says that Randy Moss has been more valuable than Tom Brady this season.

DJ Gallo predicts what advice the Patriots coaches will have for Charlie Weis when he talks to them after the season about what he can do better at Notre Dame.

Mark Starr in Newsweek says that there are plenty of reasons for the Patriots to keep running up the score.

Bill Burt says that the Patriots greatness shouldn’t be confused with a lack of sportsmanship.

Seth Wickersham checks out the old and new versions of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, and tries to determine which is better.

Michael Silver has his weekly 32 Questions NFL power rankings.

Bill Simmons has the Western Conference part of his retroactive NBA preview.

It appears that Daisuke Matsuzaka didn’t bring in as many Japanese endorsements as the Red Sox thought he would in his first season in Boston.

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Features to watch during tomorrow’s NFL Programming:

FOX (Packers/Lions – game starts at 12:30)

  • Pregame tribute to America’s Armed Services.
  • Pam Oliver talks to recently reinstated Green Bay Packer Koren Robinson about his lifelong battle with alcoholism and his inspirational road back to the NFL.
  • Legendary athletes in every sport, including Wayne Gretzky, Jack Nicklaus and Roger Staubach, pay tribute to future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre.
  • NFL on FOX Galloping Gobbler Award.

CBS (Jets/Cowboys – game starts at 4:15)

  • Thomas Jones of the Jets going up against his brother, Julius Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.
  • Ravens fan Katy Marchman, a 9-year old girl who suffers from Angelman Syndrome.
  • Grammy Award-winning recording artists Ashanti will sing the national anthem, while Kelly Clarkson will perform at halftime.

NFL Network (Colts/Falcons – game starts at 8:15)

  • U.S. Army “Team Leaders.”
  • A look at the special relationship between Colts head coach Tony Dungy and Mark Lemke, a truck driver from Shelton, Iowa who tragically lost his son.
  • Adam Schefter goes “Around the League.”

Keeping up with High School football tomorrow? Check in with the Boston.com High School Sports Blog or the Herald’s High School Insider.

Rask Impressive in Debut

David Scott offers up his Turkeys of Boston Sports Media for 2007.

Bruins rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask made his first NHL start a successful one last night, as the Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs in Toronto, 4-2.

Fluto Shinzawa notes that Rask was drafted by Toronto, (traded to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft) and says he didn’t look rattled at all during his debut. Stephen Harris says that someday we might look back at last night as a key moment in Bruins history.

Harris’ notebook has Rask enjoying his win over the team that drafted him. Shinzawa’s notebook has coach Julien flipping the right switches leading into last night’s win.

Patriots

Mike Reiss notes that if a comparison can be made to this Patriots offense, it is the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, who interestingly enough, also had Randy Moss. John Tomase has John Madden praising the Patriots, and specifically Bill Belichick, for keeping his team focused and motivated each week out. Jim Donaldson says that Joe Montana’s 49ers have set the bar for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Christopher Price has more on Madden’s comments about the Patriots.

Reiss mentioned it in his mailbag yesterday, and today Niner Watch, Week Twelve is posted on Patriots Daily.

I thought it ironic that the Herald has a piece touting Bill Belichick’s motivational techniques. Just a couple of weeks ago, on November 2nd, Mike Felger on his radio show (along with Patriots Football Weekly Andy Hart and Tom Casale) said that Belichick as a motivator is “a disaster” and that he is “weird, terrible, awkward” and that players only play for him because of his game plans. By the way, Al Groh was not the Patriots defensive coordinator in 2001 – he was the head coach of Virginia by that time.

Tomase also has a very good Tale of the Tape look back at the Bills game. However, in the post Madden, Tiki on the Pats, the blog states that the Patriots will be the first team since the 2001 Ravens to play two straight games in prime time. Last year’s Broncos played three straight prime time games, First on Sunday Night Football against the Patriots, then on Monday Night Football vs. Baltimore and finally on Sunday Night Fottball against Oakland. There was a bye week in there, but the team played three straight prime time games. Eric McHugh has a Patriots report card from the Buffalo game. Lenny Megliola notes that Pro Football is supposed to be hard, but the Patriots make it look like child’s play.

Reiss’s notebook observes that the Patriots will be playing their first “hat and t-shirt” game of the season on Sunday night against the Eagles, as they can clinch the AFC East with a win. Glen Farley’s notebook has the Patriots Hall of Fame getting closer to completion.

Celtics

Peter May has fans, media and even other teams around the NBA now taking notice of the Celtics, and even using them as a measuring stick. Steve Bulpett notes that the Magic were able to expose the Celtics a little bit, and other teams will be quick to try and copy them. Scott Souza says that the Celtics will be doing their best to try and learn from their mistakes in the Magic game.

Bulpett’s notebook has the Celtics going back to basics at yesterday’s practice, hoping to return to their winning ways tonight against Golden State.

Red Sox/Mike Lowell

Michael Silverman notes that “Comfort level, not the bottom line, was the deciding factor for Mike Lowell” in his return to the Red Sox. Nick Cafardo says that “Thirty seven and a half million was enough for Mike Lowell.” Jeff Goldberg says that Lowell showed that he is not just all about the money, and speculated that Terry Francona could be next for a new contract from the Red Sox. Joe McDonald has Lowell’s decision trumpeted by all.

Mike Fine notes that Boston has become a destination for athletes of all sports.

11.20.07 Afternoon

Mike Reiss has a new edition of the Ask Reiss Patriots mailbag posted today.

The PatriotsDaily.com mention is appreciated, Mike!

Gregg Easterbrook continues to whine about the Patriots poor sportsmanship in running up the score, and drops this stunner in the middle of a Patriots rant about how Tom Brady gets too much credit for the Patriots offensive success: Put Joey Harrington behind New England’s great offensive line, and he’d be a star.

Steve Almond of Salon.com tries to play the angle that Boston fans are actually miserable with all the success their teams are having, and are having an identity crisis. I don’t know where he found the “fans” he quotes in this piece, including a Patriots season ticket holder who says that Boston fans “secretly need their teams to screw up.”

By that logic, shouldn’t all the Bruins games be sellouts?

If you haven’t had a chance, you really should listen to the Tom Brady Interview with Dennis and Callahan this morning. He got into it with them a little bit on the topic of when the starters should come out of the game, starting around the 12:00 minute mark or so.

Red Sox radio announcer Joe Castiglione is interviewed by Sports Media Guide.

I hadn’t seen this angle yet. Reggie Rivers of Pro Football Weekly claims that: The Patriots’ quest for a perfect season probably died when the Colts’ Adam Vinatieri was wide right on the would-be game-winner in San Diego. Probably? That’s a pretty strong statement.

Larry Weisman says that Bill Belichick isn’t going to let up on his team, and his team isn’t going to let up on opponents.

Mark Kriegel notes that the Patriots are making life hard for the bookies.

Randy Hill says that now we’re seeing just how good Kevin Garnett is.

With the Patriots on NBC for the second week in a row, John Madden got to weigh in on New England again during a conference call today. He reemphasized what he said last Sunday night about Tom Brady and the Patriots offense:

“It’s the best offense I’ve ever seen. I said the other night that Tom Brady is playing the position of quarterback, right now, better than I’ve ever seen anyone play it in my history. Where they go as the best team [of all time], I think offensively they are right there. I think the best offensive teams that won were probably the San Francisco 49ers, in my mind, and I think this [offense] — the way they’re playing right now — is probably better. Again, I put the whole thing together with the offensive line and the receivers and the quarterback and everything.

He went on to say that the Patriots defense isn’t to the level of the ’85 Chicago Bears, or to the Steelers’ teams of the 1970’s, so it would be hard to say if they’re the best all around team of all time, but offensively, he feels they’re right there.

The Bruins/Maple Leafs game tonight is on Versus, starting at 7:00.

Rollin’ On

The Patriots continue to roll, while the World Series champs lock up their cornerstone for three more years…

On Patriots Daily, Chris Price looks at the leap made by second-year safety James Sanders this season, who has become a playmaker on defense for the Patriots. He also has five keys to the game this weekend against the Eagles.

Michael Felger serves up his Patriots report card, find fault really only with the running game. Ian M. Clark also issues “predictably strong” grades for the Patriots performance in Buffalo.

Gerry Callahan says that you’re watching the Greatest. Team. Ever. Jackie MacMullan says that the defense might be getting overshadowed by the offense, but they are the foundation of this football team. Shalise Manza Young says that this team will never stop striving for perfection. Mark Farinella says that these Patriots are as good as it gets. Douglas Flynn agrees that this team is just in a league of their own. (Wow, two movie titles back to back)

Rich Thompson has Belichick very effusive in his praise of Randy Moss. Christopher L. Gasper examines the injuries to the running game which have left the Patriots precariously thin at that position. Robert Lee says that the Patriots aren’t going to let up on their opponents. David Heuschkel examines the record-setting pace that this team is on. Rich Garven looks back at Buffalo as the latest stop on the Patriots march through the NFL.

Thompson’s notebook has Adalius Thomas showing his versatility on Sunday night. Gasper’s notebook has more on the praise handed out to Moss from Belichick. Lee’s notebook has more on the improvement of Sanders this season. Garven’s notebook has Moss saying that the Patriots offense has yet to peak.

Red Sox

Amalie Benjamin and Rob Bradford report on Mike Lowell accepting a 3 year, $37.7 million deal to remain with the Red Sox. Jeff Goldberg looks at the Sox getting Lowell for the three years they wanted. Jon Couture looks at the Red Sox being able to keep Lowell without giving ground. Sean McAdam also reports on the agreement. Joe Haggerty says that the deal should be announced this afternoon.

Nick Cafardo says that the Red Sox have been dealing from a position of strength this offseason. Bradford says that with this deal, Lowell remains true to himself and the Red Sox. Mike Fine has the World Champs staying intact with this deal. Joe McDonald has Dustin Pedroia thrilled that Lowell is coming back.

Gordon Edes has the Red Sox sending a stash of good to the Hall of Fame from the World Series.

Celtics

Mark Murphy has the Celtics handling Sunday evenings loss to the Magic in stride, and ready to move on to the Warriors tomorrow night. Marc J. Spears reports that the Warriors were among the suitors for Kevin Garnett in the offseason, and might’ve been playing for them right now.

Jeff Howe has the Celtics growing more confident in Rajon Rondo with each game. Jeff Clark says that Celtics fans have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

Other

Stephen Harris has coach Claude Julien looking for improvement in the defense in front of Tim Thomas. Kevin Paul Dupont says that the team has some decisions to make in goal as well, as Thomas has been worked to the max thus far this season.

Frank Dell’Apa has Revs coach Steve Nicol not seeing any huge changes for his club next season, coming off a fourth MLS Cup defeat.