Celtics

Game info: Patriots vs. 49ers

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Game info: Patriots vs. 49ers

GAME TIME: 8:20 p.m. EST

TV NETWORK: NBC

TV ANNOUNCERS: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya

RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gil Santos and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: 49ers lead, 7-4

LAST MEETING: Patriots 30, 49ers 21 at Candlestick Park on Oct. 5, 2008

This weeks game will be a battle between the team of the 2000s and the team of the 1990s. The Patriots 126 wins in the 2000s is the all-time best mark for a decade in NFL history. In the 1990s, the 49ers had 122 wins, which is the third-best record for a decade in NFL history.

The are 18-15 all-time on Sunday Night Football, including 9-9 under coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots are 11-5 in home Sunday Night Football games and 7-10 on the road.

The Patriots have won 13 consecutive regular-season December games, a streak that began with a win over the Panthers on Dec. 13, 2009, and is tied with the 1968-72 Cowboys for second-highest number of consecutive December wins. The Chargers hold the record, posting 18 consecutive regular-season wins in December from 2006-09. The Patriots also had 12 straight December wins from 2006-08.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
With one touchdown pass against the 49ers, Tom Brady will extend his streak to 46 straight games with at least one touchdown pass and continue his third-longest streak all time, behind Drew Brees (54) and Johnny Unitas (47).

Brady has 52 career 300-yard games in the regular season. He needs one more to break a tie with Kurt Warner for fifth place all time.

Brady (3,833) needs 167 passing yards to reach 4,000 yards for the fifth time and join Dan Marino (6), Drew Brees (6), Brett Favre (6) and Peyton Manning (11) as the only players to have at least five seasons with 4,000 passing yards.

Stephen Gostkowski (7-of-10 from 50 or more yards) needs one more 50-yard field goal to tie Adam Vinatieri (8-of-17) for most 50-yard field goals in Patriots history. Gostkowski has two 50-yarders so far in 2012 and can become the first Patriots player with three 50-yard field goals in a single season.

Rob Ninkovich has a team-leading five forced fumbles, tying Mike Vrabel (2007) for the most forced fumbles for a Patriots player within the last 20 years.

Wes Welker (17) needs one more 10-plus catch game to break a tie with Jerry Rice for the most 10-catch games in NFL history.

Welker (95) needs 5 receptions to become the first playerin NFL history with five 100-catch seasons.

The Patriots defense has forced a turnover in 24 straight games, dating back to 2011 and including the first 13 games of 2012. The last NFL team to have at least one takeaway in all 16 regular season games was the 2010 Atlanta Falcons.

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Magic

Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”

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Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

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Morning Skate: Carey Price struggled with chronic fatigue

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while happy to be done driving back and forth from Montreal for a little while. 

 

*Carey Price was reportedly suffering from chronic fatigue at the beginning of the season related to some vitamin deficiencies. That’s got to be re-assuring to an NHL hockey team when their $10 million a year goaltender is starting to complain about chronic fatigue in the very early stages of his gigantic contract. It makes any complaints about Tuukka Rask making $7 million a year to be child’s play in comparison. 

 

*It just keeps getting better with Isles rookie Mat Barzal as this weekend Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane was raving about him and the way he plays hockey. 

 

*Good for old friend Chris Kelly, who says that a gold medal for Team Canada at the Olympics would be a great capper to his hockey career. 

 

*In an amazing story, the Vegas Golden Knights just keeping better and more powerful in their inaugural seasons. Pro Hockey Talk has the details. 

 

*In an interesting twist and a harbinger of more changes to come for the organization it would appear, Paul Coffey was named as a skills coach within the Oilers organization. 

 

*For something completely different: Tom Brady getting in touch with some F-bombs prior to today’s game against the Jaguars.