After nearly doing what seemed the impossible, Matt Flynn and the rest of the Green Bay Packers put quite the scare into New England fans on Sunday night. After back-to-back near perfect weeks, Boston and the rest of New England were hoping for more of the same. This week the Celtics continued to roll, the Bruins continued to get by, the Red Sox beefed up their bullpen, and the Patriots narrowly escaped an eye opening win over the Packers on Sunday night in Foxborough.
The Boston Bruins
In what seems to be stereotypical fashion now, the Bruins have become the only upsetting professional team here in Boston. While everyone else keeps enjoying success, the Bruins continue to struggle and just barely scrap by in comparison to their Boston companions. The B’s only managed to win one out of their three games this past week, and even that almost did not happen. After a 3-2 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday and a 4-3 loss to division leading Montreal on Thursday the Bruins just narrowly escaped with a win against Washington on Saturday 3-2.
Losers of their last three games, the Bruins desperately needed a win Saturday night against the Capitals. Despite a 3-0 lead after the first period alone it almost seemed as if the Bruins were trying to lose the game after allowing 2 more goals and being out shot 26-2 in the third period. Tim Thomas continues to be a brick wall for Boston in the net when they need him most. With a win under their belt now the Bruins can hopefully begin a nice winning streak as a Christmas present. Just two games await the B’s next week, both at home, as the Ducks and Thrashers come to visit the T.D. Garden on Monday and Thursday.
The Boston Celtics
They might be old and they might be injured, but that has stopped the Celtics from putting up the longest win streak so far this season in the NBA. After another three wins this week the Celtics now have a 13 game streak. The bad news however, is that since the 2000-01 season, whichever NBA team had the longest winning streak of the season has not advanced to the NBA Finals. The Celtics are included in this list during the 2008-09 season when they won 19 games in a row and were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Hopefully, the Celtics will either end this unfortunate curse of winning streak teams in the NBA or hope for some other team to fall victim to that curse.
After a close game with New York on Wednesday that ended with a near buzzer beater by Paul Pierce and a not so much buzzer beater by Knicks’ star Amar’e Stoudemire the Celtics continued to role with easy wins against Atlanta (102-90) and Indiana (99-88). What’s even more impressive about these wins is that the C’s won each of these games without at least one of their regular starting five.
Shaquille O’Neal missed both the New York and Atlanta games forcing rookie center Semih Erden to start against two very good centers in Stoudemire and Al Horford. Rajon Rondo has also been sidelined for about two weeks after twisting his ankle against New York on Wednesday. Nate Robinson has taken his spot in the starting line-up for now and has flourished in that role. So far in his two starts this past week, Robinson has scored 32 points. He might not be the assists leader like Rondo is, but that duty was easily filled by Paul Pierce who had a triple-double on Sunday against Indiana. Pierce scored 18 points, dished out 12 assists, and grabbed 10 rebounds, en route to be named Eastern Conference player of the week.
Next week the Celtics will play just twice with a match-up with Philadelphia on Wednesday and an Eastern Conference Finals re-match with the “new look” Orlando Magic on Christmas.
The Boston Red Sox
Injuries might have been the biggest problem for the Red Sox last season, but besides the injuries the Red Sox also suffered from a weak bullpen. So after getting the two big bats he wanted to get to beef up Boston’s line-up, Theo Epstein turned his attention to fixing the bullpen. The Red Sox brought in four new pitchers this week, well it was actually three new pitchers and one familiar face. Matt Albers, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles was signed to a one year deal along with former Red Sox lefty, Lenny DiNardo. Those names probably do not sound too exciting for a bullpen that needed help, but in probably one of the biggest steals for far of the off season the Red Sox acquired former White Sox closer, Bobby Jenks for two years at $12 million. Jenks statistically had his worse season yet last year, but was injured for a good part of it. He is due for a big bounce back in Boston and will provide security if Jonathan Papelbon’s skills continue to decline. Shortly after the Jenks announcement, Boston also announced they had signed right hander Dan Wheeler, most recently of the Tampa Bay Rays. Wheeler was always a Red Sox killer out of the bullpen and now hopes to add strength to an already formidable team and re-building bullpen.
The New England Patriots
Aaron Rodgers out with a concussion and a three year player making his first NFL start ever against the red hot Patriots? Sounds like another blow-out by the Patriots was in store for us to watch on Sunday night. However, Matt Flynn and the rest the Packers stunned the Patriots as they nearly beat New England, but inexperience stopped their momentum in the final seconds of the game. The Patriots were able to hold onto a 31-27 win despite poor defensive play and only having the ball for a mere 20 minutes of offense.
The defense was really exposed again on Sunday night despite their increasing confidence and talent level. There were some bright spots in the defense including an interception return for a touchdown by Kyle Arrington, but other than that the defense looked tired from having to play what seemed like the entire game. They were also without linebacker, Brandon Spikes, who has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating the NFL’s drug policy rules. Spike was accused of using steroids, but has claimed that he did not know the drug he took was a performance enhancer. However, he will return to the team for the playoffs.
The highlight of Sunday night’s game had to come from offensive lineman, Dan Connelly. Connelly who is also a member of the kick return team was the lucky recipient of a Green Bay squib kick. Normally, one does not get to see an offensive lineman run back a kick return, and last night one had never seen an offensive lineman run back a kick for 71 yards. Connelly returned the kick nearly for a touchdown in what happened to be the longest kick return by an offensive lineman in NFL history. It was a spark for the Patriots to get their second touchdown (a two yard pass from Brady to tight end Aaron Hernandez) as well as a good laugh for the fans to see the 313 pound lineman run nearly into the end zone.
The Patriots got a good wake up call on Sunday that they are not invincible without the expense of a win. After beating up so much on Jets and Bears the last two weeks, the Patriots were probably feeling on top of the world and may have believed nothing could stop them on the way to the Superbowl. Now with two more favorable games (The Buffalo Bills next week and the Miami Dolphins the week after) to close out the season the Patriots will look to lock up first place and home field throughout the playoffs in the AFC.
About the Author
Written by Geoff Poster
I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. I currently work for WODS Radio and Mix 104.1 Radio in Boston, MA as both a board operator and member of the promotions department. I am interested in pursuing a career in sports media. I currently have a Boston sports podcast entitled The Last Name Show, and I also write for the website SportsofBoston.com