Deflate-gate? Report: Patriots being investigated for using deflated footballs

The NFL will investigate the possibility that the New England Patriots deflated footballs during the AFC championship game, which they won 45-7 over the Indianapolis Colts, according to Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com.


Breaking: A league source tells me the NFL is investigating the possibility the Patriots deflated footballs Sunday night. More to come.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

It rained constantly on Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., which made gripping the ball challenging. Obviously, a less-inflated ball is easier to grip than a fully inflated one.


I’m told at one point the officials took a ball out of play and weighed it. Should hear more tomorrow on this subject.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

The league has guidelines on how much pressure the ball must have — between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, weighing between 14 and 15 ounces.

Kravitz says the fine could be a stiff one if the Patriots are found guilty.

There was a delay before the third-quarter-opening kickoff that might have included game officials investigating the balls the Patriots were using.


Told if a league investigation confirms deflated footballs it will result in lost draft picks. Stay tuned.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015



Nobody is suggesting this is why the colts lost obviously. They were manhandled.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

Although there hasn’t been an NFL team accused or found guilty of this recently, former USC head coach Lane Kiffin — who, coicindentally, was named the front-runner in several reports to become the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator — was accused of doing the same against Oregon in 2012 before losing his job during that season.

The Patriots have faced accusations …read more

Deflate-gate? Report: Patriots being investigated for using deflated footballs

According to Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com, the NFL will investigate the possibility that the New England Patriots deflated footballs during the AFC championship game, which they won 45-7 over the Indianapolis Colts.


Breaking: A league source tells me the NFL is investigating the possibility the Patriots deflated footballs Sunday night. More to come.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

The game was marred by constant rain, which makes gripping the ball more challenging. Obviously, a less-inflated ball is easier to grip than a fully inflated one.


I’m told at one point the officials took a ball out of play and weighed it. Should hear more tomorrow on this subject.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

The league has specific guidelines on just how much pressure the ball must have — between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, weighing between 14 and 15 ounces.

Kravitz believes the fine could be a stiff one if the Patriots are found guilty, even if they’ll still play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

There was a delay before the third-quarter-opening kickoff that might have included game officials investigating the balls the Patriots were using.


I’m told at one point the officials took a ball out of play and weighed it. Should hear more tomorrow on this subject.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015



Told if a league investigation confirms deflated footballs it will result in lost draft picks. Stay tuned.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015



Nobody is suggesting this is why the colts lost obviously. They were manhandled.

— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) January 19, 2015

Although there hasn’t been an NFL team accused or found guilty of this recently, former USC head coach Lane Kiffin — who, coicindentally, was named the front-runner in several reports …read more

Max Scherzer makes the Nationals favorites to win World Series

(USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Washington Nationals, the pressure is on.

The Nats swooped in Sunday and reportedly snatched the offseason’s biggest free agent – agreeing to a contract with ace pitcher Max Scherzer. Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown is among the scribes reporting Scherzer has a seven-year deal with the Nats.

We don’t know just how many dead presidents are attached to that contract, but we know it’s a lot. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says Scherzer will get “more than $180 million”

Getting the contract in place, believe it or not, was the easy part. Now the Nats — a teams that hasn’t lived up to the hype the past three seasons — will be under even more scrutiny.

They’re the obvious World Series favorites now. That’s what happens when you take a team that was already an “early World Series favorite” the day after the last series ended, then add the best free-agent pitcher on the market. That’s what happens when you put Scherzer next to Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in a starting rotation, three pitchers who could each be a No. 1 starter, then add Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. Of course, the Nats were a popular World Series pick the past two seasons too, and we know how that worked out.

The Nats don’t just need to win, they need to make everyone forget the disappointments of the past. There was last year’s crushing NLDS loss to the Giants, the didn’t-make-the-postseason flop of 2013 and the dramatic playoff exit of 2012, in which they blew a 6-0 lead in Game 5 of the NLDS. That included a four-run, ninth-inning gutpunch that still hurts in D.C.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Adding Scherzer — who won the AL Cy Young in 2013 and then was 18-5 …read more

Max Scherzer makes the Nationals favorites to win World Series

(USA TODAY Sports)

Now, Washington Nationals, the pressure is on.

The Nats swooped in Sunday and reportedly snatched the offseason’s biggest free agent – agreeing to a contract with ace pitcher Max Scherzer. Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown is among the scribes reporting Scherzer has a seven-year deal with the Nats.

We don’t know just how many dead presidents are attached to that contract, but we know it’s a lot. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says Scherzer will get “more than $180 million”

Getting the contract in place, believe it or not, was the easy part. Now the Nats — a teams that hasn’t lived up to the hype the past three seasons — will be under even more scrutiny.

They’re the obvious World Series favorites now. That’s what happens when you take a team that was already an “early World Series favorite” the day after the last series ended, then add the best free-agent pitcher on the market. That’s what happens when you put Scherzer next to Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann in a starting rotation, three pitchers who could each be a No. 1 starter, then add Doug Fister and Gio Gonzalez. Of course, the Nats were a popular World Series pick the past two seasons too, and we know how that worked out.

The Nats don’t just need to win now, they need to make everyone forget the disappointments of the past. There was last year’s crushing NLDS loss to the Giants, the didn’t-make-the-postseason flop of 2013 and the dramatic playoff exit of 2012, in which they blew a 6-0 lead in Game 5 of the NLDS. That included a four-run, ninth-inning gutpunch that still hurts in D.C.

(USA TODAY Sports)

Adding Scherzer — who won the AL Cy Young in 2013 and then was …read more

Conor McGregor wins spectacularly, earns title shot against Jose Aldo

Conor McGregor, of Ireland, celebrates a win against Dennis Siver, of Germany, after their featherweight fight at UFC Fight Night, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015 in Boston.  McGregor won via 2nd round TKO. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Conor McGregor guaranteed himself a featherweight title shot and a nice paycheck Sunday with his performance in a one-sided rout of Dennis Siver at TD Garden in Boston.

But when McGregor did a flying leap over the cage and raced toward champion Jose Aldo, seated ringside, making threats and shouting epithets, the passion for and the significance of the upcoming title fight increased monumentally.

It now stands as one of the most hotly anticipated fights of the year, one that will draw a massive crowd and guarantee each of them a massive payday.

McGregor was an 11-1 favorite over Siver, but it was like he was an 11,000-1 favorite. He was completely composed and in control and ruthlessly broke Siver down and tore him apart.

The end came at 1:54 of the second round, shortly after McGregor landed a straight left that sent Siver staggering backward onto the canvas. McGregor mounted him and quickly finished it, forcing referee Herb Dean to wave it off.

Siver was cut, his face full of welts and bumps and looked as if he was mugged by a gang of thieves.

McGregor had boasted before the fight that he’d easily out-class Siver and stop him early. He went out and methodically did just that, raking Siver consistently with straight left hands and hurting him with kicks to the legs and body.

His only short-coming on this night was in coming up a bit short of a win in just two minutes. But he even had an answer for that.

“I’ll tell you, I said two minutes, but I meant two rounds,” McGregor said, deadpan, in the cage not long after he’d scored the biggest win of his career.

McGregor turned the featherweight division on its head almost from the moment he made his UFC debut on April 6, 2013, when he blew out Marcus …read more

NHL Three Stars: Eakin scores on special teams; Zetterberg’s hatty leads comeback

No. 1 Star: Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars

Eakin earned his first multi-goal game of his career thanks to his play on specialty teams. The Stars center put his team ahead of Chicago by two goals while short-handed, and scored what would end up being the game winner on the power play:

No. 2 Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

Detroit was down 3-0 to Buffalo by 13:37 of the first period. Leave it to the captain to lead the charge for the comeback. Zetterberg’s 4-point night included an assist Gustav Nyquist’s power play goal to get the Red Wings rolling and a hat trick for good measure.

No. 3 Star: Rick Nash, New York Rangers

Nash, a plus-3, scored 26-seconds into the game against Pittsburgh to put the Rangers up 1-0. His second goal in the game was credited as the game winner despite it being more-or-less an own goal by the Penguins.

Honorable Mention: Five different New York Rangers had 2-point games against the Penguins. David Perron is enjoying his new life in Pittsburgh. Here he splits the Rangers defense to score on Henrik Lundqvist:

… Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves for Dallas in the 6-3 win over Chicago. Jamie Benn helped his team’s cause with 3-points (all assists). Tyler Seguin scored a goal to put him in a tie with Rick Nash for the NHL’s goal scoring crown at 28. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa combined for 14 of the Blackhawks 34 shots; by the 6:30 mark of the first period, Chicago had already registered 11 SOG. Speaking of Saad, everyone loves a spin-o-rama goal:

… The ‘Yotes trailed from the early second period on until Lauri Korpikoski brought them within one by converting on the power play. Playing in place …read more

NHL Three Stars: Eakin scores on special teams; Zetterberg’s hatty leads comeback

No. 1 Star: Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars

Eakin earned his first multi-goal game of his career thanks to his play on specialty teams. The Stars center put his team ahead of Chicago by two goals while short-handed, and scored what would end up being the game winner on the power play:

No. 2 Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

Detroit was down 3-0 to Buffalo by 13:37 of the first period. Leave it to the captain to lead the charge for the comeback. Zetterberg’s 4-point night included an assist Gustav Nyquist’s power play goal to get the Red Wings rolling and a hat trick for good measure.

No. 3 Star: Rick Nash, New York Rangers

Nash, a plus-3, scored 26-seconds into the game against Pittsburgh to put the Rangers up 1-0. His second goal in the game was credited as the game winner despite it being more-or-less an own goal by the Penguins.

Honorable Mention: Five different New York Rangers had 2-point games against the Penguins. David Perron is enjoying his new life in Pittsburgh. Here he splits the Rangers defense to score on Henrik Lundqvist:

… Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves for Dallas in the 6-3 win over Chicago. Jamie Benn helped his team’s cause with 3-points (all assists). Tyler Seguin scored a goal to put him in a tie with Rick Nash for the NHL’s goal scoring crown at 28. Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa combined for 14 of the Blackhawks 34 shots; by the 6:30 mark of the first period, Chicago had already registered 11 SOG. Speaking of Saad, everyone loves a spin-o-rama goal:

… The ‘Yotes trailed from the early second period on until Lauri Korpikoski brought them within one by converting on the power play. Playing in place …read more

Five biggest storylines for Super Bowl XLIX: Seahawks vs. Patriots

So we’ve got us a decent little Super Bowl matchup — the New England Patriots vs. the Seattle Seahawks — in a battle of the top two seeds in each conference.

That leaves us 13 days to break down the matchup ad infinitum and go through all the tangible X’s and O’s. (Trust me: We’ll do it, too.)

But let’s step back a bit and take a look at the big picture. What are the major storylines heading into Super Bowl XLIX?

We came up with the top five:

Brady, Belichick go for 4

The New England Patriots return to the scene of the crime — Glendale, Ariz. — where their perfect season was ruined in early 2008. After winning 18 straight games up to Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots fell to the New York Giants in dramatic fashion. That, many Patriots fans felt, was supposed to be their fourth title, but they didn’t win that one and haven’t won one since, despite three championships in a four-year span from 2001-04.

Head coach Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, two more with the Giants as an assistant coach and will be going for No. 6 overall. He’ll be seeking his fourth title with Tom Brady as his quarterback, which would tie the duos of Joe Montana-Bill Walsh and Terry Bradshaw-Chuck Noll.

Of course, Bradshaw and Montana never lost a Super Bowl game; Brady has lost two, but he also will become the first QB to start in six Super Bowls. And a Patriots loss would mean Brady has lost three straight Super Bowls, which has been accomplished (is that the right word?) by only three quarterbacks: John Elway, Jim Kelly and Fran Tarkenton.

Does Brady …read more

Five biggest storylines for Super Bowl XLIX: Seahawks vs. Patriots

So we’ve got us a decent little Super Bowl matchup — the New England Patriots vs. the Seattle Seahawks — in a battle of the top two seeds in each conference.

That leaves us 13 days to break down the matchup ad infinitum and go through all the tangible X’s and O’s. (Trust me: We’ll do it, too.)

But let’s step back a bit and take a look at the big picture. What are the major storylines heading into Super Bowl XLIX?

We came up with the top five:

Brady, Belichick go for 4

The New England Patriots return to the scene of the crime — Glendale, Ariz. — where their perfect season was ruined in early 2008. After winning 18 straight games up to Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots fell to the New York Giants in dramatic fashion. That, many Patriots fans felt, was supposed to be their fourth title, but they didn’t win that one and haven’t won one since despite thee championships in a four-year span from the 2001 through the 2004 seasons.

Head coach Bill Belichick has won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, two more with the Giants as an assistant coach and will be going for No. 6 overall. He’ll be seeking his fourth title with Tom Brady as his quarterback, which would tie the duos of Joe Montana-Bill Walsh and Terry Bradshaw-Chuck Noll.

Of course, Bradshaw and Montana never lost a Super Bowl game; Brady has lost two, but he also will become the first ever QB to start in six Super Bowls. And a Patriots loss would mean that Brady has lost three straight Super Bowls, which only has been accomplished (is that the right word?) by …read more

Peter Laviolette rages at referee for winking at Blackhawks bench (Video)

It’s subtle, but one gets the idea that Peter Laviolette is rather distrusting of the National Hockey League’s on-ice officials.

This is the man who introduced the concept of “Montreal Typical!” into the hockey lexicon, accusing the refs of favoring the Canadiens during games at Bell Centre. That happened when he was coaching the Philadelphia Flyers on “HBO 24/7”; and once again, reality show cameras have caught Lavy getting candid.

The Nashville Predators have a show called Beneath The Ice that offers candid looks behind the scenes of the team. A recent episode captured Laviolette during a Dec. 29 game at the Chicago Blackhawks, in which he accused referee Kevin Pollock of … “winking” at the Blackhawks bench.

Seriously.

“YOU DID WINK AND EVERYONE HERE SAW IT” said Laviolette, hilariously, as Pollock defended himself and then threatened to kick the Predators coach out of the game if this line of accusations continued.

Laviolette countered by asking him not to “lie” to him about winking at the Blackhawks bench.

Awesomeness No. 1: Watching Eric Nystrom (24) attempt not to openly guffaw at this situation. Awesomeness No. 2: Hearing Seth Jones narc’ing on Pollock, saying he just saw him wink to the Blackhawks bench.

Our love for this video knows no bounds. For the record, both teams had five power plays in the game.

But seriously, why didn’t Pollock use the obvious cover story? “Yes, I winked at the Chicago bench. Have you seen Patrick Sharp?”

s/t Eye On Hockey, via reddit

Sharp.

…read more

It’s a Rob Gronkowski Dance Party and everybody’s invited

When it’s time to party, Gronk will party down.

Rob Gronkowski has been a key factor in New England’s success this season, so it stands to reason that he’d have plenty to dance about. The Patriots obliterated the Colts 45-7, and although Gronk only caught three passes for 28 yards, one of them was a definitive touchdown. So, hey, why not get down with your gigantic self?

And here’s one more from a different angle. The tongue lolling out really ties the whole dance together:

The Patriots have every reason to celebrate. They’re on an absolute tear, and if they’re not the favorites heading into Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle, they’re at least even money. Makes even a guy like Tom Brady want to get down and get funky, right?

…. all right, well, we’ve got two weeks for you to work on your moves, Tom.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter.

Follow @jaybusbee

And keep up with Jay over on Facebook, too.

…read more

Andrew Luck needs more from Colts, but they also need better Luck

For the Indianapolis Colts to take the next step, a lot of things have to happen.

After a season when Peyton Manning was hurt and before Andrew Luck arrived, the Colts were a dismal 2-14.

In Luck’s rookie season, the Colts made the wild-card round of the playoffs.

In Luck’s second season, the Colts moved to the second round of the postseason.

This year. Luck’s third, the Colts made it all the way to the AFC championship game.

To go beyond, both Luck and the Colts need to make big improvements. This is not just about another incremental improvement in 2015. The Colts need far more, and Luck needs to be far better.

Luck was up and down this season. Look beyond his gaudy pass numbers. And yes, it must be said: He was asked to account for nothing less than a nada run game and a patchy offensive line, not to mention a spotty defense and a Reggie Wayne in clear decline.

But overall, Luck still had clear room for improvement. And it showed at the worst time.

Poised to make his first Super Bowl, Luck came up small. Dropped passes were a problem early on, but Luck never fully got in rhythm in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots and couldn’t string back-to-back quality drives together.

Luck made some big throws, such as his 36-yard sideline pass to T.Y. Hilton, but also struggled with consistency. He had six passes batted down (a few of which could have been intercepted, completed only 12-of-33 passes (even with the drops, still …) and had two picks.

Did his team let him down? Absolutely.

This is an incomplete roster, and it also showed in this game. The offensive line was so-so, the defensive line was pushed around, the secondary was slow to react to several throws in the …read more

Andrew Luck needs more from Colts, but they also need better Luck

For the Indianapolis Colts to take the next step, a lot of things have to happen.

After a season when Peyton Manning was hurt and before Andrew Luck arrived, the Colts were a dismal 2-14.

In Luck’s rookie season, the Colts made the wild-card round of the playoffs.

In Luck’s second season, the Colts moved to the second round of the postseason.

This year. Luck’s third, the Colts made it all the way to the AFC championship game.

To go beyond, both Luck and the Colts need to make big improvements. This is not just about another incremental improvement in 2015. The Colts need far more, and Luck needs to be far better.

Luck was up and down this season. Look beyond his gaudy pass numbers. And yes, it must be said: He was asked to account for nothing less than a nada run game and a patchy offensive line, not to mention a spotty defense and a Reggie Wayne in clear decline.

But overall, Luck still had clear room for improvement. And it showed at the worst time.

Poised to make his first Super Bowl, Luck came up small. Dropped passes were a problem early on, but Luck never fully got in rhythm in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots and couldn’t string back-to-back quality drives together.

Luck made some big throws, such as his 36-yard sideline pass to T.Y. Hilton, but also struggled with consistency. He had six passes batted down (a few of which could have been intercepted, completed only 12-of-33 passes (even with the drops, still …) and had two picks.

Did his team let him down? Absolutely.

This is an incomplete roster, and it also showed in this game. The offensive line was so-so, the defensive line was pushed around, the secondary was slow to react to several throws in the …read more

Super Bowl betting line: Opening point spread foretells a close game

Want to bet on the Super Bowl? It’s easy this year. Just pick a winner.

The Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks line at Westgate in Las Vegas and the Caesars Entertainment properties opened as a pick ‘em, which means there is no point spread for either team to cover, as neither is favored, at least initially. The initial over/under total at the Westgate is 48.5.

According to Jeff Sherman, an assistant manager at the Las Vegas Westgate sports book, and Dave Tuley, who writes for ESPN.com, the consensus as the Patriots put the finishing touches on their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts was that the line was a pick ‘em. Although Tuley said MGM properties had the Patriots as a 1-point favorite.


SB XLIX lineSeahawks PICK vs Patriots (total 48.5)

— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) January 19, 2015



ViewFromVegas of #SuperBowl line…MGM now has New England -1 over Seattle, Caesars at pick ‘em…offshores also mostly pick ‘em now

— Dave Tuley (@ViewFromVegas) January 19, 2015

That doesn’t mean that’s where the line will end up. Last year the Seahawks opened as a favorite, but the line moved quickly toward the Denver Broncos, who became the favorite. VegasInsider.com’s Super Bowl point spread database says the Broncos closed as a 2.5-point favorite. Oddsmakers move the line based on betting volume on one side or the other, usually with the goal of getting close to an even split on both sides.

If the Seahawks and Patriots do end up as a pick ‘em, it would be unprecedented. According to VegasInsider.com’s history, a Super Bowl betting line has never closed as a pick ‘em. San Francisco was favored by just 1 point over Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI and Miami was favored by a point …read more

Super Bowl betting line: Opening point spread foretells a close game

Want to bet on the Super Bowl? It’s easy this year. Just pick a winner.

The Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks line at Westgate in Las Vegas and the Caesars Entertainment properties opened as a pick ‘em, which means there is no point spread for either team to cover, as neither is favored, at least initially. The initial over/under total at the Westgate is 48.5.

According to Jeff Sherman, an assistant manager at the Las Vegas Westgate sports book, and Dave Tuley, who writes for ESPN.com, the consensus as the Patriots put the finishing touches on their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts was that the line was a pick ‘em. Although Tuley said MGM properties had the Patriots as a 1-point favorite.


SB XLIX lineSeahawks PICK vs Patriots (total 48.5)

— Jeff Sherman (@golfodds) January 19, 2015



ViewFromVegas of #SuperBowl line…MGM now has New England -1 over Seattle, Caesars at pick ‘em…offshores also mostly pick ‘em now

— Dave Tuley (@ViewFromVegas) January 19, 2015

That doesn’t mean that’s where the line will end up. Last year the Seahawks opened as a favorite, but the line moved quickly toward the Denver Broncos, who became the favorite. VegasInsider.com’s Super Bowl point spread database says the Broncos closed as a 2.5-point favorite. Oddsmakers move the line based on betting volume on one side or the other, usually with the goal of getting close to an even split on both sides.

If the Seahawks and Patriots do end up as a pick ‘em, it would be unprecedented. According to VegasInsider.com’s history, a Super Bowl betting line has never closed as a pick ‘em. San Francisco was favored by just 1 point over Cincinnati in Super Bowl XVI and Miami was favored by a point in Super Bowl VII. Those …read more

Jimmy Walker wins Sony Open in Hawaii by nine shots

On Monday, Jimmy Walker lost in a sudden-death playoff against Patrick Reed for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Walker got over the lost opportunity at Kapalua with a successful title defense at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Walker shot 62-63 on the weekend at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu to turn a two-shot 54-hole edge into a nine-shot win. His 23-under total of 267 was a shot shy of tying Russell Henley’s tournament record from 2013. Given how he finished, it was clear Walker didn’t want to leave the outcome in doubt.

“I really wanted to finish out the day today, like I didn’t do last week,” Walker said after the win.

Scott Piercy finished alone in second at 14 under par. Matt Kuchar, Harris English and Gary Woodland finished tied for third another shot behind Piercy.

After opening the round with seven consecutive pars, Walker played the final 10 holes in 7 under par. Walker dominated the second side at Waialae, taking just 20 putts over the weekend, including just 11 on Sunday. For the week, Walker was 13 under on the back nine.

The Oklahoman has not only been great in Honolulu, but in the Aloha State in general. In his last 12 Hawaiian rounds, including the four at last week’s Tournament of Champions, Walker is 61 under par. Pretty good.

Walker can now make the case he’s currently the best American player on the PGA Tour. Since October 2013, Walker has notched four PGA Tour wins, including this event twice. He also has seven other top-10 finishes.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Follow @RyanBallengee

…read more

New England Patriots make sixth Super Bowl in past 14 seasons

In Week 4, Tom Brady was benched at the end of a blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and New England was abuzz: Were the good times over for the Patriots?

Fast-forward three and a half months, and Brady was benched again. Up 45-7 with just over three minutes remaining in the AFC championship game, with rain and cheers raining down in equal shares at Gillette Stadium, Brady came off the field and enjoyed a hug with Bill Belichick.

Together, the duo will be heading to — amazingly — their sixth Super Bowl as quarterback and coach. The Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts Sunday by that same score and will face the Seattle Seahawks on Feb. 1, gunning for their fourth title together.

The Patriots turned on the afterburners after half, when they led 17-7, and roasted the Colts, who upset the Denver Broncos a week ago. But the Patriots led throughout the game, and Brady overcame a slow start to complete 23-of-35 passes for 226 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

After a punt for each offense to start the game, Colts returner Joshua Cribbs let the ball hit off his chest, and it was recovered by the Patriots’ Darius Fleming. Six plays later, LeGarrette Blount — after his initial touchdown was ruled short by replay — found the end zone from less than a yard out.

Dropped passes — two by running back Boom Herron — hurt the Colts, as they bogged down again offensively, this time on the Patriots’ side of the field, and Adam Vinatieri missed a 51-yard attempt way wide right. Much to the delight of the Foxboro faithful.

The Patriots went for the carotid artery. They drove 59 yards on eight plays, the big one being a great catch from Shane Vereen on an underthrown pass from Brady …read more

Will Marshawn Lynch get fined again by NFL?

(NFL Highlights screen shot)

SEATTLE Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is going back to the Super Bowl, which means another awkward week of him in media availability and another freakout about his awkwardness in media availability.

This time around, it might also mean news of some fines.

Lynch, who decided not to wear gold cleats in Sunday’s NFC championship game after the NFL reportedly threatened to eject him if he did so because it would be a violation of the uniform code, did two things he has already been fined for this season: A lewd gesture as he scored, and perhaps not meeting with the media after the game.

On Lynch’s remarkable go-ahead touchdown run with 1:25 left against the Green Bay Packers, Lynch slowed up as he got to the goal line. Then he grabbed his crotch after he scored.

I don’t particularly care if he grabbed himself and you might not either, but you know who does care? The NFL. The league fined Lynch $11,050 for grabbing his crotch when he jumped into the end zone to celebrate a touchdown against Arizona earlier this year. It was deemed unsportsmanlike conduct.

Lynch might also be in trouble for not being available to the media in the locker room after the game. Lynch, who dislikes speaking to the media (and that was probably the biggest story of Super Bowl week last year), was not seen in the locker room during media availability. ESPN.com also said Lynch wasn’t in the locker room during media availability after the game. Again, you and I might not care if Lynch speaks to the media but the NFL does. It fined Lynch $100,000 for not cooperating with the media earlier this season. A player needs to make himself available to the …read more

Super Bowl pits strength against strength with Pats vs. Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch, Tom Brady

Sometimes, the story ends up going exactly how everyone expected. The NFL’s two best teams will meet in two weeks in the Super Bowl, and it’s anyone’s guess how this one will play out.

Start with Seattle. The Seahawks were barely two minutes from an ignominious exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Packers, but only a miraculous finish (and some highly suspect Green Bay play) kept Seattle alive. The Seahawks had the finest defense in the game throughout the year, but it was their offense which couldn’t keep pace this day. Green Bay gifted this one to Seattle in a dozen different ways, but that doesn’t take away from the strength of the Seahawks.

Question is, will even the Seahawks’ defensive prowess be enough to contain a Brady-and-Belichick offense that could find flaws in a diamond wall? In the nightcap Sunday, Tom Brady demonstrated an absolute mastery of the offensive game, humiliating the Colts so badly that Indianapolis might well consider whether it wants to stay in the AFC.

This, then, is the key matchup of the Super Bowl: Tom Brady vs. the Legion of Boom. Give Bill Belichick enough time, and he ought to be able to suss out all of Seattle’s weaknesses, starting with the arm injury cornerback Richard Sherman suffered in Sunday’s game. Sherman indicated that he’ll be fully healthy, but what else would you expect him to say? For whatever reason, the Packers didn’t target the hobbled Sherman, but you can expect that Belichick will have no problem lasering in on any weakness.

The flip side of the matchup, Seattle’s offense against New England’s defense, seems at first glance to angle more in the favor of New England. The Patriots absolutely shut down Andrew Luck on Sunday, and if Seattle QB Russell Wilson brings any of the …read more

Report: Gary Kubiak expected to become Denver Broncos’ next head coach

Gary Kubiak sent out word previously that he was happy being the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens. But that was before the Denver Broncos and John Fox parted ways.

When the Broncos job opened up, everything changed. The former Broncos quarterback and offensive coordinator reportedly had a change of heart.


Broncos finalizing 4-year contract with Gary Kubiak to make him head coach. He will be introduced as soon as Tuesday.

— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) January 19, 2015

Kubiak will return to Denver to coach the team he spent nine years as a player — backing up current Broncos vice president John Elway — and 11 as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He last coached with the Broncos in the 2005 season, after which he became the head coach of the Houston Texans for the next eight seasons.

The Ravens lose an offensive coordinator who led them to nearly 100 more points scored this season compared to the 2013 campaign without adding many major players outside of receiver Steve Smith. After the Ravens’ lost to the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs, Kubiak’s name came up as a possible candidate for the Chicago Bears’ head-coaching opening.

Kubiak passed, however, saying he was happy calling plays for an up-and-coming team. But when Fox left, it opened up Kubiak’s dream job, it would appear.

The Broncos are a fascinating study, given that Peyton Manning’s status — after a tough run and a quad injury down the stretch — is unknown. But maybe that is a good thing. Kubiak reportedly told the Texans that he wasn’t interested in adding Manning, when he was a free agent, favoring Matt Schaub instead.

In addition, the Broncos also have a number of key free agents and likely will move on from the majority of the coaching staff …read more