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Mike Shalin's Working Press: No Gronk, no win in Miami

December 13. 2017 12:10AM
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant makes a catch over New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler for a touchdown during the second half of Monday night's game at Hard Rock Stadium. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)


Local fans had their clickers ready to keep an eye on first the Celtics and then the Patriots. Something to look forward to on a Monday night.

The anticipation rather quickly turned to dismay as the Celtics, playing without Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris, laid an egg in Chicago. The Patriots, without Rob Gronkowski, were pretty much dreadful in Miami.

Obviously, the basketball loss is no big deal. This is December. It means nothing.

But we’re here to tell you the Patriots’ loss might not mean a whole lot, either.

Yes, your team went 0-for-11 on third down conversions, the first third down shutout since 1991. Jay Cutler helped put an end to an eight-game winning streak. It leaves a bad taste for the rest of the week. But don’t forget one thing: This week is about the Steelers on Sunday. Win a win, the Pats would pull into a tie with the Houdini-like Steelers and own the tiebreaker.

You don’t think the Pats are going to lose to the Bills or the Jets in the final games, both at home, on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, do you?

Now, while the blame seems to be spread around among Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels, the defense, etc., let’s not lose sight that the No. 1 culprit in this game was Gronk. As we said here the other day, he and the Patriots are lucky the suspension wasn’t for two games.

No Gronk meant a tougher time for the other receivers, even with Chris Hogan back. That offense without Gronk and Julian Edelman is just not the same and when you factor in Brady’s problems at Miami — he’s 7-9 there — and the possibility of looking ahead at the Steelers and you get what you saw.

Deflating feeling

Jarvis Landry scored two touchdowns in the game, and made like he was letting the air out of the ball after the second one.

“This song right here, ‘Take the air out the ball, just so I can flex…’,” Landry said in the locker room as the song “MotorSport” by Migos, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B played. “I am taking the air out of the ball. I am deflating it.” ...

Wide receiver Kenny Britt is the latest Rutgers player being brought in by coach Bill Belichick as the Patriots continue to bring players in for this stretch run.

A couple of interesting numbers out of that game: the Pats are now 61-13 in December under Belichick, and the Dolphins are 23-of-24 on third down conversion defense in the last two games.

No show

Brian Scalabrine, asked by Mike Gorman after Monday night’s game what he learned from the Celtics’ worst game of the season, said, “Kyrie’s the MVP of the league.”

That’s what these eyes took from that game. Remember when Gordon Hayward went down and all the gloom and doom following this team? Now you toss in Irving, and Morris, and there you go.

“It was a collective success for them,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said, “and a collective failure for us.”

It was the second half of a back-to-back and now they’re looking at making it five games in seven days against Denver tonight and Utah Friday and a game at Memphis Saturday night.

The Morris knee thing is troubling. They need this guy and now have to hope he’s only out WEEKS.

Kyrie, talking about the win in Detroit Sunday, was asked what he wanted to do offensively, said, “Make a damn shot. I got in the paint as much as I would have liked and my left hand just wasn’t doing it for me tonight.”

Odds are …

Vegas has spoken after the season-ending injury to Carson Wentz.

NFL odds: Super Bowl: Patriots 9/4; Steelers 4/1; Vikings 8/1; Eagles 9/1

MVP: Brady 1/5; Russell Wilson 15/2; Drew Brees 20/1; Ben Roethlisberger 20/1.

After the Yankees got Giancarlo Stanton:

Odds to win the World Series: NYY 5/1; HOU, LAD 6/1; CLE 15/2; BOS, WSN, CHC 12/1; STL 18/1; ARZ 22/1

After Wentz became the latest star to go down for the year, former Patriot Chris Long said, “#11 is the man. Pure and simple. He will be missed and we will support our brother!! But I believe in Nick (Foles). Played with him in StL. Also saw him have an historic year in Philly. Everyone’s just gotta take it up a notch!!!”

Slow meetings

As this was being written, the Red Sox were quiet on their trip to Florida — and the local fandom was getting antsy. The Yankees followed the Stanton trade by shedding $13 million more by sending Chase Headley back to the Padres.

On Monday, Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “It didn’t, like, make my day that he went to the Yankees, by any means. He’s a heck of a player.”

He said he was involved in talks on Stanton but didn’t like the “early asks.” When the deals with the Giants and Cardinals were turned down by Stanton thanks to his no-trade clause, the Red Sox tried to get back in.

“When I reached out they were in the midst of dealing with the Yankees at that point,” Dombrowski said.

Now what? I threw a Facebook post out there asking what you, as a Sox fan, would offer J.D. Martinez. One of the responses was “nothing.”

But patience will be a virtue here. Chris Smith of MassLive tweeted Dombrowski saying, “I would anticipate this would be a late winter compared to a lot of years. It wouldn’t surprise me if major moves were taking place in January.”

Dombrowski on Hanley Ramirez: “I think he’s a better player than he played last year from an offensive perspective. So we’re looking for him to be better than that.”

As of late Tuesday, the media was still looking for Derek Jeter, baseball writer Jon Heyman tweeting: “All time bad optic: Jeter taking in a Dolphins game in Miami on the day Giancarlo trade was announced 250 miles up Florida’s turnpike in Orlando. Feels like there should be an in-person explanation for roster-destroying fire sale.”

Looking around

From the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, @peteabe: “In 93 career at-bats against pitchers on the #RedSox roster, Judge and Stanton have 1 home run. Cashman walked right into their trap. … Troubled Browns receiver Josh Gordon scored his first touchdown since 2013. … Saying “The league has never been healthier,” NHL president Gary Bettman sees the salary cap going from $75 to between $78 and $82 million next year. … Tip of the cap to Jack Morris and Alan Trammell for the Hall of Fame nod and their numbers — 47 and 3 — will be retired by the Tigers next season. … Toronto ace Marcus Stroman, tweeting after the Stanton trade: “Yeaaaaaaaaaaaa. AL East heating up. I like that. Can’t wait to face @Giancarlo818 in NY! @BlueJays” and: “March 29th, 2018. 3:37PM. Opening night against the @Yankees in Toronto. I’ll be ready to rock on the mound. Who’s coming!? @BlueJays” … Rajon Rondo, now with New Orleans, had a triple-double with his fourth team Monday night ... Finally, R.I.P. Perry Wallace, the first black basketball player in the SEC.

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

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