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Mike Shalin's Working Press: Patriots very good in a lousy league

By MIKE SHALIN
November 13. 2017 11:58PM
Nov 12, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks to tight end Martellus Bennett (88) in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports 

Watching what passed as an NFL game late Sunday night, a thought came to mind that had to be posted on Facebook.

“As good as the Patriots are, and they’re very good, the NFL stinks.”

The post was widely liked and received. There is a growing feeling concerning the quality of so many of these teams in the current league. MOST games stink, and this one was no exception. The Broncos we once knew are dead, along with so many others.

The Patriots don’t stink, but look at what the Denver not-so-special teams did to turn that game into a blowout. Do special teams get credit if the punt returner completely misses the first punt of the game? And on it went.

Columnist Dan Shaughnessy used to like to call the rest of the AFC East “tomato cans,” an old boxing reference. Now, tomato cans rule.

Remember when everyone was talking about 19-0, and Julian Edelman called it stupid?

How about 15-0? After the 2-2 start.

The rest of the schedule shows the Pats playing the Raiders south of The Wall (sorry, couldn’t resist), two games each against the Bills and Dolphins, one against the Jets and a legitimate game at Pittsburgh.

Let’s see what happens.

Strong performance

Regardless of the current state of the Broncos, you know the Patriots will always treasure a win at Denver, especially a blowout win.

Led, of course, by Tom Brady, who came in 3-7 in Denver.

“It was fun for me to watch,” said Brian Hoyer, Brady’s former and current teammate. “People ask me since I’ve been back what’s changed. I think Tom’s pretty much the same. So for me, it’s great to be out there on the field with him, and watch him perform and execute the game plan.

“He did such a great job. I had a smile on my face the whole time being back . . . watching him play. It was fun.”

More money

Roger Goodell is reportedly asking for a $49.5 million annual salary and a private jet in contract extension talks with the league owners. Quoting the Adam Schefter/Chris Mortensen ESPN.com piece: “One NFL owner told ESPN that there are ’several owners in this league who don’t make $40 million a year.’ The owner was referring to the salaries that owners take, which does not include the increase in valuations that each NFL franchise has undergone.”

Brooklyn roads

Call it the ultimate trap game.

Maybe.

The sizzling Celtics have the Golden State Warriors coming to town Thursday night for what could be Boston’s 14th win in a row. We don’t know Kyrie Irving’s status for that game, but the money here is on the new masked man to play.

Back on April 2, 2016, the Celtics ended the Warriors’ 54-game home winning streak. Thursday, the Warriors would be able to end a streak that would match Boston’s 14-gamer in 2010. The Celtics’ longest winning streak ever is 19 games, in 2008.

But that’s all in the future. First, it’s the Nets, who have, to this point, anyway, been the gift that keeps on giving. Will they taketh away in Brooklyn Tuesday night?

Doubtful. We will explain.

The Nets just completed a 2-3 western trip and are 5-8 on the season. But they are 3-2 at home and this game could be like the Super Bowl for them after all the indignities they’ve suffered at the hands of the Celtics in recent years.

But in typical Nets fashion — the only luck that franchise ever has is bad — D’Angelo Russell, averaging 21 points and 5.7 assists per game, suffered a left knee contusion Saturday night in Utah and is out. That backcourt already lost Jeremy Lin for the season and has Spencer Dinwiddie out with a sore hamstring.

So forget the trap. The Celtics will go for 14 straight Thursday night.

If you want to look ahead at the team record, Boston follows the Warriors game on the road at Atlanta, Dallas and Miami, comes home for Orlando, goes for 19 at Indiana and then No. 20 would be at home against Avery Bradley and the Pistons.

They’re impressed

Before his team suffered a 95-94 loss to the surging Celtics Sunday, Toronto coach Dwane Casey said, “Defensively they’ve made a focus. They’re much better than they were last year defensively. They’ve made a commitment to the defensive end with length, with youth. They’re just doing a heck of a job defensively. And I think that’s been the difference.”

After the game, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry said, “They are the best team in the NBA right now and they are playing unbelievable. Everybody is picking up slack.”

From the Twitterverse

From @nflresearch: “Jacoby Brissett has 4 passing touchdowns of 60+ yards this season. Neither Peyton Manning nor Andrew Luck ever had more than 3 in a season for the @Colts”

From @redsox_stuff: “Signing JD Martinez and not giving up any players just makes too much sense. That’s why DD won’t do it.”

From @colinkaepernick: “In Feb I donated to Black Vets for Social Justice. Today I’m thinking of vets that fought only to come home to keep fighting for their rights”

From @christianarcand: “Dwayne Allen joins the “1 TD from Brady” club — some excellent names on this list.” The list includes Terry Glenn, Chad Johnson, Michael Floyd and LeGarrette Blount.

From @NFLresearch: “Dion Lewis: Only player since the 1970 merger with 2 career games with a kick return TD & rushing TD (including playoffs)”

From @ESPNNFL: “Here’s the list of QBs who got to 40,000 yards faster than Matt Ryan: Nobody”

Perfect game

Mookie Betts, competing in his second PBA Scorpion Championship, part of the World Series of Bowling, threw his second perfect game 300 before being eliminated in the second qualifying round.

“Hopefully there’s more to come,” said Betts, who earned a hundred bucks for his efforts.

His scores? 236, 173, 195, 211, 157, 169, 300, 199, 198, 193.

Hanging them up

Carlos Beltran announced his retirement Monday, taking with him a Hall of Fame-caliber resume. Nine All-Star teams. Three Gold Gloves. Rookie of the Year. Finally a champion (in a diminished role). Outstanding postseason performer.

He batted .287 with 435 homers,1,587 RBIs and 312 stolen bases. He batted .307 with 16 homers, 42 RBIs and 11 steals in 65 postseason games.

A report surfaced Monday that the Red Sox will meet with free agent Carlos Santana this week. This is a name that would truly help this lineup. Switch hitter. He rejected the $17.4 million qualifying offer and would cost a compensatory pick. He is solid at first base.

Speaking of south of “The Wall,” the Dodgers and Padres will reportedly play a San Diego home series in Monterrey, Mexico, in May.

Finally, re: Yankees manager: I have this feeling that if George Steinbrenner were still alive and he had fired Joe Girardi, he’d be so fed up by now he’d re-hire the guy he just fired.

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.


Sports columns Patriots/NFL Red Sox/MLB Celtics/NBA Bruins/NHL