Patriots

Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do

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Belichick: Not a lot Watt can't do

If you look up tackling numbers for Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, you'll see they look similar to those of 2011.

Total in 2011: 48
Total in 2012: 49

Assists in 2011: 8
Assists in 2012: 10

Impressive, especially considering the Texans still have four games left to play, including a Monday night showdown in New England this week.

If you really want your eyebrows to get a workout, look at Watt's sack statistics. In 2011, his rookie season, he had 5.5.

Though 12 games this year: 15.5. He's nearly tripled last season's total.

The number is nearly unbelievable for a 3-4 defensive end. Traditionally, players at that position are two-gappers who work to free up playmaking linebackers.

If that's the mold, Watt has shattered it. Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained how on his Tuesday conference call.

"I think Houston, even though theyre a 3-4 base, theyre really an under team in their regular defense so theyre more of a one-gap team," Belichick said. "You see five technique a lot and then when they go to sub, hes an inside rusher and theyre in sub a lot. Theyre probably in sub more than theyre in base.

"He certainly makes a lot of plays in the 3-4 defense, he has excellent quickness and hes long so he does a good job rushing against everybody the tackles, the guards and hes very effective on games because of his speed and quickness and his length and his instincts."

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his offensive line best be on guard Monday night.

Watt is not just a menace to the passing game for taking down quarterbacks; the 23-year old is nicknamed "J.J. Swatt" for a very good reason: He has defended 15 passes this year.

Only five players in the league have more. All five are cornerbacks.

"Thats a career number for a lot of defensive linemen 15 in one season is remarkable, really," Belichick said. "Of course hes long and hes athletic but he does have great instincts to get in the passing lane. So, if hes getting to the quarterback and knocking him down thats one thing. If hes not, if hes getting double teamed or the slide comes to him or something like that, hes also been very disruptive in not only knocking down balls but some of those have resulted in interceptions.

"Hes really a complete player, he does everything well. But yeah, that number of batted balls is, Id say, an extremely high number. Hes very disruptive."

It doesn't hurt that the 11-1 Texans are so often ahead in games they force quarterbacks into passing situations. Those situations give Watt and his defensive teammates more opportunities.

The note isn't included to take away from Watt's talent, it's just Houston's reality. That the team has a young defensive end who takes advantage every single chance he gets . . . well, that's where opponents should worry.

Did the Texans see it coming?

They saw enough to scoop Watt up with 2011's 11th overall draft pick. But while the selection is solid, any expectations it held have been exceeded exponentially.

Belichick has his theories on why.

"I dont think he had the opportunity to do some of the things that hes had the opportunity to do in the National Football League. He was a productive player in college but a little raw, a little underdeveloped in terms of his overall football experience. But obviously as hes gained that, hes really grown with it and hes become very adept and proficient at a number of different things and techniques.

"His athletic ability and his ability to be a better technique player, to recognize things, to play instinctively and all that has grown, its grown quickly and its been very impressive. Hes taken all the athletic ability that he has and hes really played with it to a very high level."

Watt will see how his stats stack up against the Patriots in less than one week.

Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

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Raiders' Marshawn Lynch suspended game for shoving official

NEW YORK - Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch was suspended for one game without pay by the NFL on Friday for shoving a game official during the Raiders' victory over Kansas City on Thursday night.

Lynch was ejected from the game after he shoved line judge Julian Mapp.

The scuffle started when Oakland quarterback Derek Carr was hit late on a run by Kansas City's Marcus Peters midway through the second quarter. Raiders offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn immediately confronted Peters, and Lynch sprinted onto the field from the bench to join the fray. Mapp tried to break up the fight, but Lynch pushed him and grabbed his jersey. Lynch also got a personal foul.

NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan wrote a letter to Lynch, saying:

"You made deliberate physical contact with one of our game officials as he was diffusing an active confrontation between players. You were disqualified for your inappropriate and unsportsmanlike actions. Your conduct included pushing the game official and grabbing his jersey. ... You were not directly involved in the active confrontation that the game official was attempting to diffuse, nor were you a participant in the play that initiated the confrontation. You were the only player from either team who ran from the sideline to midfield to insert himself into a situation in which he was not directly involved."

Lynch will be eligible to return to Oakland's active roster on Oct. 30, the day after the Raiders' game against the Buffalo Bills.

Lynch finished the game with two carries for 9 yards.

The Raiders rallied to win 31-30 on a touchdown pass by Carr on the final play, and Lynch was in the locker room after the game congratulating his teammates.

Lynch came out of retirement this season and was traded from Seattle to the Raiders. Lynch said he wanted to make a comeback so he could give something back to his hometown of Oakland before the Raiders move to Las Vegas in 2020.

Lynch has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.

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Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

Larkin provides fourth-quarter spark, Celtics beat Sixers, 102-92

PHILADELPHIA – Despite playing its second straight game without a key rotation player, the Boston Celtics did just enough to get their first win of the season, 102-92, over Philadelphia.

Boston (1-2) was led by Kyrie Irving’s game-high 21 points, but it was Shane Larkin's floor game down the stretch that truly catapulted Boston to its first win of the season.

Larkin, who was seeing action in large part because Marcus Smart was out with a left ankle injury, provided a huge spark in the fourth before finishing with 10 points and four assists.

He drained a 3-pointer that tied the game at 75-all, which was part of an 18-9 Celtics run.

The Sixers (0-2) were led by J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless who had 19 and 18 points, respectively. Joel Embiid got off to a slow start, but finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Boston played with a lead for most of the first half, but Philadelphia took over with a 7-0 run to end the second quarter and had the Celtics playing catch-up for all of the third and some of the fourth quarter.

Boston was once again short-handed, with Marcus Smart out with a left ankle injury. He replaced Gordon Hayward, whose left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s loss to Cleveland on Tuesday, is expected to keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

But with players out, that opens up opportunities for others to step up.

Larkin, who walked away from a contract overseas that would have paid about $5 million more than he’s making with the Celtics, was one of those players.

Aron Baynes, who got the start with Smart out, had 10 points and eight rebounds. Boston also got another strong game off the bench from Terry Rozier who had 14 points and seven rebounds

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