Mitch's Sports Report: Patriots Special Teams Falter But Brady Saves Day; Bruins Beat Habs In OT
The New England Patriots looked to be in control of their Monday Night contest against the Baltimore Ravens last night, building up a 23-3 first half lead, but some uncharacteristic sloppy play to open the third quarter turned the game around in a hurry and the Pats needed some Tom Brady magic in the fourth quarter to finally pull away with a 30-23 win.
The Pats were coming off three wins in a row, but against some of the league's weakest teams, and the Ravens entered Foxboro with the league's number one ranked defense. That stat was rendered moot early as Brady threw touchdowns passes to Malcolm Mitchell and Martellus Bennett. Shea McLellin also gave the hometown fans some oohs and ahhs when he blocked a field goal try, leaping clean over the Baltimore center before swatting away the attempt. So the game was all Patriots but the mojo turned bad when Cyrus Jones decided to let a punt hit the turf and it brushed against his foot with Baltimore recovering at the Patriots' three yard. The Ravens scored soon after and on the ensuing kick-off more special teams goofery as Matthew Slater fumbled on the return, setting up another Joe Flacco touchdown and suddenly a 23-3 lead was a precarious 23-17 advantage. But Brady put the game away in the final frame when he found a wide-open behind the defense Chris Hogan for a 79-yard catch and run touchdown for the Pats' 11th win of the season, as Baltimore drops to 7-6. Brady finished with 406 yards and three TD's to add to his resume. The Pats face another tough test next week when they take in the Bronocs in Denver.
The Boston Bruins went into the Bell Centre last night losers of two in a row and facing a Montreal Canadiens team that more often than not has doled out heartache ton Boston since their first meeting in 1924.
But the Bruins played a gritty, hard-fought road game, and thanks to some spectacular goaltending from Tuukka Rask and timely goals by Austin Czarnik and Ryan Spooner, came away with a 2-1 overtime win. Czarnik gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead midway through the second period in a tight game that saw a lot of heavy hitting and even a dust-up featuring the diminutive Torey Krug. The Boston defenseman had delivered an open ice hit to Andrew Shaw that sent the Candiens forward tom the dressing room for a time, but Shaw did return. Brendan Gallagher took offense to the Krug hit and went after him for a rare bout of fisticuffs, but Krug would have the final say when he threaded a pretty pass in the three on three overtime period to Spooner, who slipped past the Montreal defense for a partial breakaway and slipped the puck through Carey Price's pads for the game-winner. Montreal challenged the goal hoping the Bruins would be caught having been offsides on video review but the goal stood. Paul Byron had forced the overtime for Montreal, scoring with three minutes to go in the third to deny Rask the shut-out. But Rask made 30 saves on the night, none better than the one against Tomas Plekanic in which he slid all the way across his goal crease on a two on one and stacked the pads to turn away the shot. The Bruins face another big challenge when they take on Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in Pittsburgh tomorrow night.
One Major League Baseball hot stove note, the L.A. Dodgers have retained the services of highly sought closer Kenley Jansen on a five-year, $80 Million deal surpassed in dollars only by the contract the NY Yankees handed out to closer Aroldis Chapman. Jansen saved 47 games for the Dodgers in 2016 and had been courted heavily by the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins. The Dodgers, by the way, as ESPN's Buster Olney recently pointed out, will likely pay more in luxury tax penalties next season that the San Diego Padres will dole out in total payroll. No wonder Padres fans love it when the Dodgers lose.