With the end of 2010 coming and going, Boston fans are looking forward to what should be an exciting 2011. What potentially makes that 2011 so exciting? The slim chance that all four of the major sports teams of this great city could turn Boston into either Championship City or Title Town. The first team that will get the opportunity to test that possibility actually calls Foxborough, MA instead of Boston home, and they just finished off their regular season this week in impressive fashion.
The New England Patriots
They already had the number one seed and home field advantage locked up throughout their upcoming post season run as well as a first round bye, but did that stop the Patriots from trouncing the Miami Dolphins? Not one bit. In what some might have thought would be a closer game, the Patriots destroyed the Dolphins 38-7 in Foxborough on Sunday.
He did not have three of his top receivers in Wes Welker, Deion Branch, and Aaron Hernandez, but that did not stop Tom Brady for throwing another two touchdown passes; one to each Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler, respectively. Brady only played for the first half of the game before handing the ball over to back-up quarterback, Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was also impressive with New England’s third receiving touchdown of the day. After faking a double reverse play, Hoyer was able to launch a 42 yard bomb to find Brandon Tate in the end zone for the score. Add in a one yard run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a 94 yard punt return from Julien Edelman (the longest punt return in New England history), and a 28 yard field goal from Shayne Graham and you’ve got a nice 38 point cushion over the lowly Dolphins. Miami was able to score a touchdown late in the game, no thanks to New England cornerback Darius Butler. However, speaking of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the running back was able to reach the 1000 total rushing yards plateau for the season during Sunday’s third quarter. Green-Ellis is the first Patriots’ running back to accomplish the feat since Corey Dillon had over 1600 rushing yards back in 2004. Not bad for an undrafted free agent who prior to this season had only started in 3 NFL games.
So now the Patriots (and the Steelers) will get to relax for a week while the rest of the AFC playoff teams duke it out to face them in the second round. The Patriots will play whoever is the lowest seed left in round two. My money is on one of the two wild card teams (the New York Jets or the Baltimore Ravens) to be the Patriots first round match-up. There will most likely be an upset from one or possibly both the games next week as I believe the Jets and Ravens are better than both of the teams they are matched up against. Ideally, I think the Chiefs are the team all Patriots fans should want to see them play, but unless the Jets falter in a big way (not impossible) then I have a feeling New England will see their friends from the Meadowlands for the third time this season.
The Boston Bruins
In no particular order, I’m switching gears over to the Bruins now. The B’s were looking to continue their winning trend after Christmas and they did just that, but only for two games. The Bruins won two and lost two this past week during their four game road trip. Monday night they took out Florida, 3-2, and followed that win up with another on Tuesday at Tampa Bay, 4-3. However, Boston still cannot seem to get over it’s shootout problems. Both Thursday and Saturday night saw the Bruins losing in a shootout. Atlanta took a 3-2 victory over Boston on Thursday and then at Buffalo on Saturday the shootout woes continued with the Sabres winning 7-6. The Bruins will look to rebound next week with just three games. Monday night they finish off their road trip in Toronto followed by a brief one game home stand on Thursday against Minnesota. Saturday has Boston back on the road to Montreal.
The Boston Celtics
Christmas seems to be a catalyst for injuries and mediocre play by the Celtics the last few seasons, especially last year. So far it seems Boston fans are getting a bit of deja vu, but not as severe as last season. After losing on Christmas, the Celtics got back on track Tuesday night at Indiana with a 95-83 win over the Pacers. However, the good times could not keep rolling for the C’s. Wednesday night put a huge scare into Boston as it watched Kevin Garnett once again go down with a right leg injury early in the game against Detroit. While most feared that he had re-injured his surgically repaired right knee, the Celtics gave Boston a sigh of relief when it was revealed that Garnett’s injury was purely a muscle strain on his right calf and that at most he would be out a few weeks and not months.
Without Garnett, the Celtics struggled against Detroit losing 104-92 and on New Year’s Eve against New Orleans losing 83-81. Glen Davis (Garnett’s fill-in) can be blamed for the New Orleans loss as he chose to take a three point shot very late in the game that was out of his range and ability. Davis obviously missed and was ripped apart by a very furious Doc Rivers. Boston got back to it’s winning ways Sunday night at Toronto with a 93-79 win highlighted by the return of Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics will continue to get on without Garnett next week with a nice three game home stand. They will welcome in Minnesota on Monday, host the Western Conference leading San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, and finish off their season series with Toronto on Friday night.
The Boston Red Sox
There only a few more pieces to fill in for the team that hopes to put the final piece of title town together this upcoming October. One of those pieces came for the Red Sox in Hideki Okajima this week. Okajima was able to celebrate his 35th birthday on Christmas this year by getting a one year contract with Boston. The “other” pitcher from Japan did not have the greatest year for Boston, but was playing hurt for a good deal of it (just like everyone else on the team). The left handed Okajima finished the season with a 4-4 record and 4.50 ERA, he also allowed a .284 batting average to lefties. However, when Okajima was finally healthy for the final part of the season he was great. In September and October Okajima appeared in 14 games and 11.2 innings. During that time he posted a 1.54 ERA and struck out six batters. With the other key additions to the bullpen I think this a good move for Boston. Okajima does not have to be the only option to setup Papelbon in the 9th and can be focused more on getting out lefties in key situations.
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