Sports Weekender

1195486247The Pats are back; the Celtics never lose; and a big win for Boston College hoops all in this edition of the weekender.

After two weeks of getting pushed around physically, and out-schemed frankly, the Patriots pushed back yesterday. Now that was the team we had come to know over the first 3 months of the season.

Maybe it was the day off Bill Belichick gave his team on Wednesday (an almost unheard-of move). Maybe it was the silly talk from overmatched safety Anthony Smith, or maybe the Pats just broke through the late-season wall. Whatever it was, they played up to expectations and took a huge step toward an undefeated season.

It was interesting to see the Pats go right after the over-aggressive Smith with play-action fakes, and the wide receiver flea flicker. How many teams can actually choose to embarrass someone on the other side; and then go do it?

Sure, sure. Smith’s words had no more effect on the game than did the fans chanting “Guarantee.” We get that. But something happens to the Patriots when they feel backed into a corner.

From Belichick:

“We’ve played a lot better safeties than him, I’ll tell you that.”

From Rodney Harrison:

He didn’t move fast enough. (Rodney) Harrison was leading the Pats DBs on a lap when he crossed paths with Smith and unleashed a torrent of God-only-knows-what in Smith’s direction.

“I just said, ‘Hey, you never know what’s going to happen,’ ” Harrison said. “It might be a long day.”

Smith cursed. Harrison laughed. Welcome to the eye of the storm. Enjoy your stay.

From Vince Wilfork:

“Everyone wanted to see what we were going to do against this great Pittsburgh Steeler team, and we showed up.”

Did we mention the Jets are in town this Sunday?

“Vegas is going to have us down by 70,” Jets linebacker David Bowens told writers after the game. Sounds about right.

The Celtics are a machine

Hard to pick a more convincing win. The blowout over the Raptors on Friday—the second-best team in their division—or the double-digit win at Chicago the next night. If you’re keeping track at home, the C’s have played five back-to-backs so far this year, and they are 5-0 in the second game. Equally impressive? Four of those five wins have come on the road.

This is San Antonio Spurs territory were seeing. Actually it’s better than the Spurs.

The Celtics point-differential (Hubie Brown’s favorite stat and we never argue basketball with Hubie) is an off-the-charts +13.9. San Antonio’s is +8.9, which is still excellent. The Celtics are statistically the best defensive team in the league, the third-best shooting team, and the leaders in rebounding margin. Three very good indicators.

Now the East isn’t the West, and the Celtics don’t head out to the other coast until Christmas. They also don’t play the Spurs until February. Fair or not, people will withhold judgment until then, but they are every bit as good as their record indicates.

BC wins in a hostile environment

Caught a lot of the BC game against Maryland last night, and it’s amazing the job that Al Skinner does with that team. Skinner gets a lot of heat because he looks about as active as a mummy on the sidelines. Compared to say, ex-BC, and current Maryland coach Gary Williams, who acts like a spoiled teenager who had his car keys taken away. With a worse mouth.

Maryland is a very tough place to play, mainly because the students are obnoxious as hell. At Duke, the fans are obnoxious, and creative. At Maryland, they’re just obnoxious. But in the heat of the game, the passive Skinner held his team together, while the passionate Williams saw his team implode with stupid fouls and technicals.

Tyrese Rice proved again that he is one of the best guards in the ACC, and Tyrelle Blair (11 blocked shots!) is a monster in the paint. This looks like another tournament team for BC.

Extra! Extra!

The Red Sox gained another draft choice after the Brewers gave Eric Gagne $10 million, partial ownership of the Chorizo in the Sausage Race, and the right to take Bernie the Brewer’s slide any time he wants. It’s good to be the Red Sox.