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Monday, December 28, 2009

If Rondo ever learns how to shoot free throws, look out world

Following up their Christmas day win over the Magic (their best win of the season thus far), the Celtics laid a Paris Hilton size dump fittingly in Los Angeles last night.

With the game tied at 90, Rajon Rondo (20 points, 6 assists) had a chance to close it out with 1.5 seconds left when he got fouled by Baron Davis (24 points, 13 assists) but Rondo bricked both shots.

And what do you know, Davis took the ensuing inbounds pass and hit a fadeaway buzzer-beater as the Clippers (13-17) stole one, 92-90 at the Staples Center.

Boston (23-6) led by as much as ten points in the second half but without Paul Pierce for the next week, they are desperately missing their most clutch player.

Tony Allen started for Pierce and he submitted 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. We know Tony Allen too well to get very excited about these flashes since he'll probably get hurt tonight and miss the rest of the season but Tony has played out of his mind since he came back.

Ray Allen scored 13 and Kevin Garnett added 12 points and eight rebounds. Rasheed Wallace and Eddie House both notched eight points off the bench.

The Clippers are still as mediocre as you remember but they should be better with stars like Davis and the underrated Chris Kaman (27 points, 12 rebounds). Eric Gordon added 15 points in the win.

For some reason, the Celts looked like a tired team as they shot a pitiful 1 of 12 on 3-pointers. They'll look to bounce back tonight in Golden State against the allergic-to-defense Warriors.

All the Bruins wanted for Christmas was a goal-scorer, it didn't happen

I'm sorry to say it but it is painful to watch the Bruins this season.

They've been desperate for a goal-scorer since Phil Kessel left over the summer but they haven't made a move yet.

With two solid goaltenders, the best defenseman in hockey, a great coach and one of the NHL's best playmakers, the pieces are there for a deep Stanley Cup run but without someone that can score 30+ goals every year, they'll be in 3-2 and 2-1 games for the rest of the season.

Last night in Florida stuck right to the script as the Bruins beat the Panthers 2-1, their third consecutive win.

Florida (16-17-7) scored first with a lucky goal-a staple of every Tim Thomas start-when former Harvard great Dominic Moore flipped a shot on Thomas (25 saves) that trickled in. Radek Dvorak and Jordan Leopold assisted on the goal.

Michael Ryder tied it in the second period with his 10th goal of the season. He tipped an Andrew Ference shot from the point with Blake Wheeler also notching an assist.

Marco Sturm, Boston's top goal-scorer at the moment, won it with his 11th 4:39 into the third period. Marc Savard and Dennis Wideman assisted as Sturm went to his patented move, cutting to the middle and snapping a quick shot. It went off the crossbar, off the post, off Scott Clemensen's (26 saves) pads and in.

The Bruins will try and get their fourth win in a row tonight as they continue playing in the Sunshine State, this time against the Lightning.

Where has this team been all season? Patriots win AFC East title

For most of this season, Patriots fans (that are somewhat rational) have been resigned to the fact that yes New England would make the playoffs but they'd probably get bounced in the first round. Bottom line, they weren't going to make any noise.

Well yesterday's events threw a wrench in that depressing blueprint as the Patriots played their best game of the season with a 35-7 win over the Jaguars at Gillette Stadium.

It was the Patriots' (10-5) third straight win and it clinched the AFC East title. Tom Brady (23 for 26, 267 yards) threw four touchdowns passes, three to Randy Moss and Wes Welker had 13 catches for 138 yards.

For the first time all season, New England's running game featured a stable of four healthy backs and they produced a season-high 197 yards rushing.

Still without Vince Wilfork, the defense looked great, making an early fourth-down stop and picking off two errant throws by David Garrard.

New England received the opening kickoff and marched down the field on their best, most creative drive of the year. However, Laurence Maroney fumbled at the 1-yard line and Jacksonville (7-8) recovered.

It seemed like a big deal at the time but on the ensuing Jags drive, head coach Jack Del Rio chose to go for it on fourth and 1 at their own 35-yard line. Maurice Jones-Drew (18 rushes, 63 yards) was stuffed by James Sanders and that was basically the game.

Moss gave the Patriots a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown catch. New England blitzed Jacksonville with 21 points in the second quarter-one of its best of the season. Forgotten man Chris Baker made a nice 26-yard touchdown catch, Sammy Morris (12 carries, 95 yards) scored on a 1-yard run and Moss caught a 6-yard TD.

Brandon Meriweather picked off Garrard in the first half and returned it 56 yards while Shawn Springs made his first play of the year, an interception in the red zone when New England was still preserving the shutout.

Moss' final score was a 17-yard catch and run where he dove near the end zone and stretched his arm and the ball over the line.

Garrard's two-yard run in the fourth quarter ended the shutout but by that time nobody cared.

Fred Taylor looked good in the fourth quarter, running for 35 yards on 11 carries. Kevin Faulk had 41 yards rushing while Maroney was on the bench for the rest of the game following his fumble.

Jerod Mayo had his best game of the season, making 15 total tackles, 11 solo.

Now the question is how much do you play Brady, Moss, Welker and other key players since next week at Houston doesn't mean much to the Patriots. They're locked in to the third or fourth seed but they will host a Wild Card game.

Bill Belichick hates to rest anybody so who knows how it'll play out. The AFC playoff scenarios are a mess which means there should be a lot of interesting games on the final day of the regular season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Patriots find a pass rush, beat the hapless Bills

Once again, it wasn't pretty (at all) but the Patriots beat the Bills yesterday 17-10 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

It was New England's (9-5) first true road win since their only other win away from Gillette was in London.

They also received two early Christmas presents as the Jets lost to the Falcons and the Dolphins lost in overtime to the Titans. The Patriots are two games up in the AFC East with two games to play.

The two things to take away from yesterday (besides how pathetic Buffalo is) were the reappearance of Randy Moss off milk cartons and post office walls. Plus, the Pats non-existent pass rush stopped by and sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards a combined six times.

Tully Banta-Cain led the Patriots' defense with three sacks, while Derrick Burgess, Gary Guyton and Mike Wright also recorded sacks. Finally, Jonathan Wilhite had an interception.

Buffalo (5-9) looked like world-beaters on their opening drive as they held the ball for 14 plays and 9:24 but they stalled in the red zone and were forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Rian Lindell.

Without Vince Wilfork (one of the NFL's best) and Ty Warren (a very solid defensive end), the Patriots defensive line was completely pushed around on that first drive.

Rookie Ron Brace (4 tackles) started in the middle for New England and Wright (6 tackles, sack, 2 tackles for loss) subbed for Warren. Brace proved why he's been inactive much of the season while Wright continued to get everything out of his limited ability.

Moss (5 catches, 70 yards) put the Pats up 7-3 in the second quarter on one of Tom Brady's (11 for 23, 115 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) only good throws: a perfect 13-yard strike to the back of the end zone that Moss controlled and tapped his feet down before going out of bounds.

Laurence Maroney (23 carries, 81 yards) gave New England a 14-3 lead with 24 seconds left in the first half. Nobody will ever credit him until he has an injury-free, solid season, but Maroney is slowly becoming the weapon he's shown glimpses of in the past.

Buffalo couldn't get out of its own way as they had 10 penalties in the first half-an NFL record this season-and finished with 11 overall for 124 yards.

Stephen Gostkowski's 30-yard kick put the Pats up 17-3 but the Bills made it close when Lee Evans caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick.

The Bills recovered the ensuing onside kick but rookie Aaron Maybin was offsides so they chose to kick it deep and they never saw it again.

Jacksonville comes to Gillette next Sunday and then the Patriots wrap up the regular season at Houston in two weeks. If New England wins on Sunday, they'll clinch the division and would have to think hard about resting Brady since he's clearly banged up and not himself. He has an interception in four straight games.

If the playoffs started today, the Broncos would be coming to Gillette in the Wild Card round. Not a bad matchup.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ho hum, Celts win 11th straight and have best record in the NBA

It's funny how fast things can change in the NBA. A few weeks ago, the Celtics looked old and very vulnerable. Well they're still old but after winning their 11th straight last night, 110-105 over the Grizzlies, Boston (20-4) has the best record in the NBA.

Sure, the Celts have thrived against mostly weak teams but still they are 12-1 on the road. Since last night was the final game of a brief three-game road trip and because it was against a team that plays the style that gives Boston the most trouble (young, athletic), a seasoned fan had to know it wouldn't be easy.

It was basically a carbon copy of countless games from the last three seasons; the Celtics made just enough winning plays at the end to come away with the win. The biggest shot was Ray Allen's (18 points) three-pointer off a busted play with 17.5 seconds left.

Paul Pierce led the C's with 19 points and six assists. Rajon Rondo had 18 points and nine assists, Kevin Garnett had 13 points and eight boards while Kendrick Perkins added 13 points and six rebounds before fouling out.

The bench gave Boston a big left as Rasheed Wallace scored 15 and Eddie House had nine points.

Memphis (10-14) has one of the best starting fives in the league, really. Rudy Gay was coming off a career-high 41 point game and he followed that up with a team-high 23 points and seven rebounds. O.J. Mayo had 21 points and Zach Randolph added 20. Marc Gasol, who's much tougher than his older brother Pau, notched 15 points and eight boards while Mike Conley Jr. tossed in 11. Rookie Sam Young had 11 points off the bench.

Memphis led 31-28 after the first quarter and 55-54 at the half. Boston turned it on in the third quarter (31-26) and held on in the fourth (25-24).

The C's come home for three games, starting with Allen Iverson and the Sixers on Friday night.

It's Tuukka time Claude, just go with it

Tim Thomas is a good NHL goaltender. He had a career year last season and was rewarded with a new contract and the Vezina trophy. All of that is irrelevant in the here and now because he is struggling and backup goalie Tuukka Rask is really starting to come into his own at the NHL level.

Thomas (7-8-4, 2.48 GAA) lost his third straight start last night as the Flyers won a Winter Classic preview 3-1 at the TD Garden.

It seems like every game Thomas is good for at least one soft goal. Last night didn't have any complete stinkers but Kimmo Timonen's game-winner is probably one that Thomas would like back.

Boston (16-10-6) led 1-0 on Vladimir Sobotka's tip in on Shawn Thornton's shot in the second period. Steve Begin also assisted on what turned out to be the Bruins' only goal of the game.

The Flyers (15-15-1) have been playing terrible so they desperately needed this game to gain some momentum. Rookie James van Riemsdyk (a UNH product) tied it early in the third with a redirection. Arron Asham and Timonen assisted.

Timonen's goal which put Philadelphia up 2-1 was a long shot from the point that was deflected off Blake Wheeler's glove and past a screened Thomas (35 saves). Jon Kalinski and Matt Carle assisted.

The B's had a chance as they received a power-play with 1:03 left. They pulled Thomas to make it a 6-on-4 advantage but they couldn't put one past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher (26 saves).

Timonen clinched it with an empty-netter that went the length of the ice.

Boston has today off and then practices the next few days before going to Chicago to play the high-flying Blackhawks (maybe the best team in the Western Conference) Friday night.

Rask (9-2-2, 1.97 GAA) deserves the next start.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wes Welker is no Randy Moss, which is a good thing

For the last month as the Patriots have been in their worst tailspin in years (losing three out of four), it's become clear that for whatever reason Randy Moss is bailing on this team.

Things reached a boiling point on Wednesday when he showed up late for a meeting, along with Derrick Burgess, Gary Guyton and Adalius Thomas. Bill Belichik sent all four home for the day and Thomas wasn't active yesterday.

Burgess (3 tackles, sack) and Guyton (1 tackle) actually played decent in yesterday's 20-10 win over the Panthers at Gillette Stadium but Moss (1 catch, 16 yards, fumble) had his worst game in a Patriots uniform.

It doesn't help Moss that Wes Welker is a teammate; Welker represents everything Moss is not known for: hard work, toughness, going over the middle, a good attitude. On a day when Tom Brady struggled again (19 for 32, 192 yards, TD, INT), Welker was the passing game. He finished with 10 catches for 105 yards.

New England (8-5) had to win this game and while they played rather poorly and were fortunate to be facing a team going nowhere (with a backup quarterback), it's still a win. The Jets and Dolphins both won to remain one game behind New England in the AFC East.

The Patriots survived two fumbles and the interception by Brady. The good news was the defense looked good (save for a few breakdowns) and the running game was very productive on a rainy, messy afternoon.

Laurence Maroney had one of the best games in his career with 94 yards on 22 carries. Kevin Faulk added 58 yards rushing and a touchdown while Sammy Morris had 35 yards rushing (although he was stuffed on a predictable fourth down call and also fumbled).

Steve Smith gave Carolina (5-8) a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 41-yard touchdown catch from Matt Moore. Shawn Springs was left alone in coverage after Brandon Meriweather went to cover another Panthers receiver and Springs will never stop Smith by himself.

Faulk tied it up in the second quarter with a 3-yard run 1:08 before halftime.

Ben Watson (3 catches, 37 yards) capped off New England's longest drive of the season (13 plays, 96 yards) with a 5-yard touchdown catch from Brady. Watson is known for his Braylon Edwards-esque stone hands but give him credit as he held on after being drilled by a Carolina defender.

John Kasay's 36-yard field goal in the fourth quarter made it 14-10 New England but Stephen Gostkowski sealed it with two long kicks of his own (48 yards and 47 yards).

For reasons unknown, DeAngelo Williams (13 carries, 82 yards) didn't get the ball much even though it was obvious that Moore (15 for 30, 197 yards, TD) couldn't make the easiest of throws.

Burgess and Jarvis Green both recorded sacks on the final Carolina drive as New England showed some semblance of a pass rush for once. Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork both left the game with injuries so hopefully they'll be back next weekend. The Pats can't afford to have their two outstanding defensive lineman out for any time.

There are three games left in the regular season and the Patriots look for their first true road win next Sunday in Buffalo. Odds are there will be three feet of snow on the ground.

Friday, December 11, 2009

See you next summer Obama

The Celtics let the good times roll last night in our nation's capital, surviving 104-102 against the Wizards for their ninth straight win.

Ray Allen scored 18 points, which helped him go over 20,000 for his career. Rajon Rondo led the C's (18-4) with 21 points (including a sick dunk late in the fourth quarter) and 11 assists. Kevin Garnett had 17 points, Kendrick Perkins added 16 points and 11 rebounds while Paul Pierce notched 12 points.

The Wizards (7-13) can still talk with the best of them but at the end of the day, they're just not very good. And I don't think having uberbozo Flip Saunders on the bench will do anything to change that losing atmosphere.

Gilbert Arenas led Washington with a game-high 25 points and eight assists. Brendan Haywood and Andray Blatche both scored 17, Antawn Jamison had 16 points and Caron Butler was held to 10 points.

The Wizards led 28-27 after the first quarter but Boston looked to blow it open with a 37-22 second quarter. Washington outplayed the Celts in the third (24-19) and the fourth (28-21) but they had nothing to show for it.

Winning was a direct result of good work at the free throw line (26-14) and on the glass (40-34). It wasn't pretty but it was a road victory and those are always tough to come by in the NBA.

The C's visit another underachieving team tomorrow night when they take on the Bulls.

Phil Kessel, now there's a haircut you can set a watch to

In a scheduling quirk by the NHL, the Bruins and Maple Leafs played twice in six days in Boston. Boston embarrassed Toronto 7-2 on Saturday and last night, they let them hang around a little more but still dispatched them 5-2 at the TD Garden.

You almost feel bad for Phil Kessel, who was held scoreless in his first two games back in Boston. Then you remember how much money he's making to do nothing but score a few goals and you reassess things.

After stumbling around for much of the early season, the B's (16-9-5) have found their game to the tune of 8-1-1 in their last ten and first place in the Northeast Division.

Boston jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second period as three completely random players found the back of the net: Mark Stuart (from Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille), Derek Morris PPG (Zdeno Chara, Michael Ryder) and David Krejci.

Toronto (10-14-7) scored two quick goals in the third period to make it somewhat interesting. Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin were the two Eastern Europeans out of central casting to score for the Maple Leafs. Mark Recchi put it away with a pair of late goals for the Bruins.

With 2:37 left in the game, Recchi scored a power-play goal from Blake Wheeler and Krejci then he had an empty-netter from Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm.

Tuukka Rask continued to prove why it's Tuukka time as he improved to 9-2-2 with 32 saves. Injury or not, Tim Thomas has earned his seat on the bench and Rask deserves to be the starter for the time being. Kudos to Bruins coach Claude Julien for realizing this early.

The B's will travel to Long Island tomorrow night to take on No. 1 pick John Tavares and the Islanders.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's time like this when you have to say, boy do the Patriots suck

If you could tell a few weeks ago that the Patriots were about to blow up, you're a more perceptive person than me.

The loss to Indy was obviously devastating and getting embarrassed by the Saints didn't help anything but losing 22-21 to a pretty average Dolphins team (without Ronnie Brown) yesterday afternoon was downright depressing.

Now the Patriots (7-5) sit just one game ahead of Miami (6-6) and the Jets (6-6), two shitbum teams that have no business even thinking about the playoffs but here we are.

Yesterday's loss had all the similar ingredients to every one of New England's other road losses this season. Did you know they haven't won a true road game yet this year? The new rule is they go for it on fourth down regardless of score or situation. The offense completely disappears in the second half and the defense can't make one noteworthy stop against scrubs like Chad Henne (335 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception) since they have absolutely no pass rush. Also, our red zone attack is pathetic.

Oh and Tom Brady (352 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) makes a couple uncharacteristic mistakes based on the fact that our offense is completely predictable, without a running game and basically revolves around Wes Welker (10 catches, 167 yards).

Other than his 58-yard TD catch to start the game, Randy Moss was invisible (2 catches, 66 yards).

Kevin Faulk's 6-yard run gave New England a 14-0 lead in the second quarter before Miami slowly started to chip away at our lead which you knew the Pats wouldn't hold.

First Davone Bess scored a 13-yard touchdown, the first of his career which is surprising because we made him look like a hall of famer yesterday (10 catches, 117 yards).

Dan Carpenter's 29-yard field goal with a second left in the first half cut the Patriots' lead to 14-10.

After a Dolphins three and out, New England had its final highlight of the day: a ridiculous 81-yard catch and run by Sam Aiken. Brady just threw it up in a crowd on the sideline and somehow Aiken came down with it, kept his balance then sprinted for the score.

Carpenter's 24-yard field goal made it 21-13 in the third quarter before Brian Hartline caught a 7-yard pass in the corner of the end zone from Henne. The Dolphins missed the two-point conversion but two things were clear: 1) they'd score again and 2) New England probably would not.

Therefore Carpenter's 41-yard kick with 1:02 left was no surprise. New England got the ball back but Brady promptly threw a bad pick to Channing Crowder when he was being taken down and that was that.

The Patriots have four more games: vs. Panthers, at Bills, vs. Jaguars, at Texans. It's a very winnable final four games but after yesterday's mess, who knows if this team can do anything anymore. They look lost and broken.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gregg Popovich's face will haunt your dreams

I'm not saying Popp isn't an incredible coach, a connoisseur of fine wine or a sly, intelligent man but damn son, does your mug have to be on HD?

The Celts went into San Antonio last night and knocked off the Spurs 90-83 for their sixth straight win. It wasn't a game that would have been called pretty (even with Eva Longoria in the Tex-Mex crowd) but Kevin Garnett led the C's (15-4) with a game-high 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Ray Allen had 15 points, Rasheed Wallace scored 13 off the bench and Rajon Rondo added 12 points, 12 assists and three steals.

For the second straight game, Paul Pierce scored less than 10 points (8 this time) but Boston still found a way to win. The Captain gets off the hook too since he carried the team earlier in the season when Ray and KG were finding their games.

As it has since the stone age, San Antonio's (9-7) fortunes still rest on the shoulders of Tim Duncan (16 points, 15 assists). The Spurs big three of Duncan, Tony Parker (17 points, 7 assists, 1 smokeshow wife) and Manu Ginobli (11 points) are still formidable although Ginobli is looking more and more like Bailke (sp?) from Perfect Strangers both in resemblance and basketball skill.

I will give the Spurs credit though as they picked up DeJuan Blair in the second round of last summer's draft. Anybody who likes the Big East could have told you this kid was a baller.

With that said, he killed the Celtics last night with a career-high 18 points and 11 rebounds. Boston is the second worst rebounding team in the NBA (I have no idea why) and they won last night despite being just pummelled on the glass (55-32). How you can win a game like that? Not sure.

It did help that the Spurs shot a Rondo-like 7-for-17 from the line.

With one more win tonight in Oklahoma City (don't sleep on Kevin Durant and the Thunder), the Celtics will come home with a perfect road trip.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kids gather 'round while Grandpa Recchi tells you about when real men played hockey

On the day that the Bruins officially signed Marc Savard to a seven-year extension, it was only fitting that he scored his 200th career goal as a nightcap in a 4-1 win over the Lightning at the TD Garden.

Boston (14-8-5) have won six out of their last seven and they regained control of the Northeast Division. Marco Sturm led the way with two goals while Patrice Bergeron scored once and had two assists while Mark Recchi had three assists.

Tim Thomas (7-6-3) had one of his better games of the season, making 39 saves against the talented Lightning (10-8-8).

Savard opened the scoring with a power-play goal 8:05 into the first period. He banked a shot off Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith's (35 saves) skates from the side of the net. Derek Morris and Zdeno Chara assisted on the goal.

Almost six minutes later, Bergeron scored off assists from Chara and Recchi.

Sturm is the most mercurial player on the Bruins. He's talented for sure but he goes through long stretches of ineffectiveness not to mention he's about as fragile as J.D. Drew.

Therefore it was nice to see him score two in a row during the second period. Recchi and Bergeron assisted on both of Sturm's goals.

Boston travels to Montreal tomorrow night for a game with some historical significance. It will be the 100th anniversary for the Canadiens so those jokers will be going nuts. Is there anything else to do in Canada? Didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ray Allen ain't dead yet

Sure he maybe robotic and any day now he might be getting the senior discount but Ray Allen (at times) can still stroke it with the best of them.

Allen had his best game of the season last night (27 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) as the Celtics (14-4) rolled over the Bobcats (7-10), 108-90 for their fifth straight win.

It's amazing that Allen has been able to focus lately and play so well given his son's serious health issues but on a lighter note, damn his wife is fine.

Kendrick Perkins (21 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks) continues to blossom into one of the best centers-an endangered species in the NBA-that absolutely nobody outside of New England talks about.

Kevin Garnett added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists while Rajon Rondo (8 points, 9 assists) and Eddie House (12 points) also contributed to the win.

For probably the first and last time of his life, Nazr Mohammed led his team in scoring with 16 points off the bench. Raymond Felton had 14 points, Boris Diaw scored 13, Stephen Graham added 12 and Stephen Jackson mustered 11 for his new squad.

Things will get harder as the Celts end the road trip with a back-to-back: at the Spurs tomorrow night then at the Thunder on Friday night.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Saints are for real, Patriots are not

With one game, the New Orleans Saints proved to the NFL that they are the best team (forget Indy) at this moment. Similarly, with one pathetic performance, the New England Patriots raised many questions about their abilities when they play good teams.

In the Bill Belichick era, it's hard to remember a more thorough beating than the one the Saints (11-0) threw the Patriots (7-4) last night at the Superdome, 38-17.

Drew Brees (18 of 23, 371 yards passing, 5 TDs, perfect QB rating) completely tore apart New England's secondary. Marques Colston led New Orleans with 121 yards receiving and a touchdown while Devery Henderson had 116 yards and a touchdown and Robert Meachem added 69 yards receiving and a touchdown.

Tom Brady (21 of 36, 237 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) never looked comfortable and his main weapons, Randy Moss (3 catches, 67 yards) and Wes Welker (6 catches, 32 yards) were neutralized. The offensive stars for the Patriots were Laurence Maroney (64 yards rushing, 2 TDs) and Sam Aiken (7 catches, 90 yards) which is never a good sign.

After Jon Carney's 30-yard field goal gave the Saints a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, New England took its only lead of the game on Maroney's 4-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1.

New Orleans went up 10-7 after Pierre Thomas' 18-yard catch and run. At least four Patriot defenders whiffed at tackling him. Even more depressing than that was the blown coverage on the next Saints drive that allowed Henderson to be wide open for a 75-yard touchdown.

Stephen Gostkowski's 36-yard kick cut it to 17-10 but you can't settle for field goals against the Saints. Brees closed out the first half with a perfectly threaded 38-yard touchdown pass to Meachem.

Maroney gave New England some life with a 2-yard touchdown to start the second half but the Saints came right back with a touchdown 1:22 later. Brees hit third tight end Darnell Dinkins for a 2-yard score. All that was left was a 20-yard touchdown pass to Colston in the fourth quarter and the Saints' quest for a perfect season look very good.

More relevant to me is where do the Patriots go from here? They'll be favored in and should win their last five games (no guarantees) but where is their signature win? They'll win the AFC East and make the playoffs. But how can anyone take this team seriously when they completely crumble against the best teams?

They go to Miami on Sunday to try and sweep the Dolphins this season.