Patriots

Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

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Bruins know they can't take Sabres lightly

BUFFALO -- Claude Julien has pointed out in recent days that the Bruins need to do a better job focusing in games against teams out of the playoff race.

There is good reason for that.

The B's have 16 regulation losses on the season, and 10 of them have come against non-playoff teams. That speaks to a loss of focus against lesser teams, and difficulty keeping their level of play consistent regardless of the opponent.

Of course the Bruins are Stanley Cup champs and theyve already experienced epic clashes with the class of the league this season. Their games against the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins, Canucks and Red Wings were all days when the Black and Gold put their best foot forward.

But with teams scratching and clawing to say alive as the regular-season schedule begins to shrink in the dog days of February, points became more difficult to come by and Buffalo should be a great example of that on Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.

Theyre playing well right now. The first two games we played against them were good games and were not expecting anything different, said Chris Kelly. They want to move up the standings just like we do. If you look there are a lot of three point games at this time of year and teams are bearing down.

If theres a chance for at least one point then you better believe both teams are going to get that point. There are no easy points in the second half and that hasnt been a secret for years.

Julien is fully aware that the Sabres have won three of their last four games, and are in the last gasps of their playoff hopes. Buffalo sits 11 points behind Ottawa for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but does hold some games in hand.

The Sabres also still hold quite a healthy bit of ill will for the Bruins after Milan Lucic took out Ryan Miller with an open ice collision thats seemingly set Buffalos season on a spiraling path ever since.

Every team is battling to stay in the playoffs or for a playoff spot, said Julien. We expect every team from here on in until the trade deadline, at least, to be very hard to play against; even after that there will be teams looking to be spoilers and guys fighting for jobs on teams that wont be making the playoffs.

The rest will be about fighting for position. I dont think there will be any easy games from here on in.

It sounds like it should be a fun ride for the rest of the season with the grind portion of the regular season officially entered.

Trump calls on NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch for season

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Trump calls on NFL to suspend Marshawn Lynch for season

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump says the NFL should suspend Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch sat during most of the U.S. anthem and stood for the Mexican anthem before Sunday's game against the Patriots at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

Lynch hasn't stood for the national anthem since returning from retirement this season.

Trump tweeted early Monday: "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down."

Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement last season when he refused to stand during the anthem to protest racial inequality and police brutality.

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

Patriots hit heights in altitude of Mexico City against Raiders

In a conference call last week, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio wondered if Sunday's game in Mexico City with the Patriots might show how two contrasting approaches to handling the altitude could impact the outcome. 

Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady made sure of it. 

The Patriots utilized a hurry-up attack during their first drive -- a 16-play sequence -- that tested Oakland's conditioning early. Who would handle it better? The team that spent the week training at altitude in Colorado Springs? Or the team that wanted to beat the effects of the altitude by training at sea level and traveling to Mexico City the day before the game?

PATRIOTS 33, RAIDERS 8

Judging by how Raiders rookie defensive back Obi Melifonwu asked to come out of the game, and seeing linebacker Nicholas Morrow doubled over on the sidelines during the series, the Patriots initially looked like the more well-conditioned club. 

Stephon Gilmore and Danny Amendola had to leave the game briefly because they were dehydrated, but the final score, 33-8, suggested that the Patriots were better prepared.

Brady certainly had no issues playing at Estadio Azteca. He finished the game having gone 30-for-37 for 339 yards and three touchdowns. He had a quarterback rating of 131.9. 

At various points, Brady's name was chanted at the stadium, which he said caught him by surprise. He recently watched the television copy of last year's Texans-Raiders game just to get a sense for what the crowd would be like, and he remembered hearing Raiders fans dominating the crowd.

"That was very much a surprise," Brady said of the cheers. "Especially since seeing some of last year's game; they were very pro-Raider. But it seemed like we had a lot of Patriots fans here too, so that was great to see."

Rob Gronkowski said that the interaction with the fans in Mexico -- which included walking from the locker room through the stands to the sidelines -- was one of the things that made the trip a memorable one. 

"We really didn't get to do that much, explore around or anything, but we got to interact with the fans and everything coming out of the tunnel," he said. "That was a cool experience, seeing all the fans go wild and everything, giving them high-fives, so that was super neat.

"I wasn't sure what to expect, never played down here. It was a great experience, though. The way the fans were interacting was actually unbelievable. They were super loud. They sounded proud, and it was just a great experience overall coming here. Having that type of experience definitely makes it worthwhile and awesome."

Stephen Gostkowski, who turned in one of the plays of the day with a 62-yard field goal at the end of the first half, was similarly grateful to play in such a unique environment. 

"It was just an unbelievable atmosphere," Gostkowski said. "The stadium was great. The fans were unreal. Just a fun experience. To have a hand in a win, see the excitement from all the guys, it was really cool."

"That was pretty cool," Brady added. "I've been around a long time so if you're a fan of the NFL, you've probably seen me at some point, but it's still an incredible experience to come here and play football and see the reception and hopefully there's more games here, and the game continues to grow, and other people get to see it in person and experience it because it's a game that I love and so do a lot of other people around the world."

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