(Morning Links provided by Guest Blogger, Bob Ekstrom. Send Bob feedback here)

We took that turnpike exit ramp miles back. We’ve driven up and down the streets of town and, with yesterday’s impressive 34-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the top defense in football, we bought the place next door, even if we don’t like the neighbors much. We’re just waiting for closing day so we were wondering: can we can come knocking now?

As the Patriots’ passing attack and bend-but-don’t-break defense pushed Mercury Morris and Don Shula one step closer to forgotten, Tom Brady’s 399-yard, 4 TD performance did the same to the statistical legacy of Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Brady is now 989 yards and five TDs short of single-season passing yardage and TD pass records, respectively. In a day where negatives are hard to find, Randy Moss let his chance to eradicate Jerry Rice’s single-season TD reception record slide through his hands with a fourth quarter end zone drop, his second in two games.

Let’s open with some nice game accounts by Christopher L. Gaspar and Karen Guregian, who have the Patriots putting their money where the Steelers’ mouths are. Did Karen just call me a worrywort? Jennifer Toland says Bill Belichick’s 100th win in New England was a significant one. David Heuschkel has the Patriots less than intimidated by Pittsburgh’s shredded curtain defense. Christopher Price says it’s good to have the old Pats back. He also offers us ten things we learned in the blow-out win. Mike Reiss gives us an accounting of the game’s ups and downs. From the other sideline, the Steel City says Tom Brady is as good as gold. Perhaps they’re learning that a little silence can be as well.

The never superstitious Lenny Megliola puts the Pats’ regular season at 16-0 now that they’ve gotten by No. 13. Dan Shaughnessy also fast-forwards to 16-0 and warns of a heavy dose of Morris to come. Jeff Horrigan notes the continued improvement of Jabar Gaffney. Robert Lee was impressed with the Patriots’ red zone defense, while Horrigan says Rodney Harrison was in the red all day. Toland has more on Harrison’s big play.

With the Patriots now one of only five NFL teams to see 13-0, it seems almost sacrilegious to elevate a fool like Steelers’ safety Anthony Smith from sideshow to main act but it’s the sidebar de jour, especially when he tells Jackie MacMullan that yes, he’d do it again! John Tomase sure isn’t feeling too sorry for him this morning. Douglas Flynn says Smith’s shoddy play took over where his guarantee fell short. Jim Donaldson captures some less than remorseful post-game damage control, while Shalise Manza Young has Smith a little short in the sausage department.

Flynn has Brady admitting that his third quarter gadget play TD pass to Jabar Gaffney doesn’t work against the scout team, but then again, Moss never sold it with a drop. Heuschkel says that one was put in to send the Steelers’ mouthy defense a message.

Celtics / Bruins

A quiet day on the winter front, as both teams enjoyed off-days following Saturday night victories.

Jim Fenton reminds us that, despite The Green’s 17-2 start, it’s too early to think about spring before most of us have begun Christmas shopping.

Marc J. Spears catches up with Paul Pierce’s boyhood idol, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who thinks the C’s have what it takes this year.

Red Sox

You’d have to go back to 1626 when the Dutch picked up Manhattan for $24 to find a better deal than the weekend signing of Eric Gagne by the Brewers for one year and $10 million. After all, as Michael Silverman points out, the Sox actually got a draft pick out of it.

Gordon Edes offers an interview out of Japan in which Hideki Okajima found his transition a time of anxiety and discomfort. I can hardly wait for 2008 when he’s more comfortable.

Odds & Sods

In case you missed it, have a listen for yourself as Mercury spends 19 excruciating minutes on Boston airwaves Friday with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan show. If you listen to nothing else, you have to hear Morris’s distinction between “unbeaten” and “undefeated”, which starts at the 2:30 mark.

Bill Reynolds checks in on the kid next door, BC’s Jamie Silva.

Thanks for letting me get your busy week started here on BSMW. I’m Eks and, as always, you’re welcome to share your thoughts with me here. See you this afternoon.