By Tom E. CurranNASHVILLE - The Patriots defense has carried the first half of its first game, allowing just 20 yards on 12 carries, coming up with a pick of newbie quarterback Jake Locker and having rookie first-rounders Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower combine for a strip sack (Jones) touchdown (Hightower). Some guy said 30-13 with the Patriots defense carrying the day during Pregame Live? You see it. Shoulda seen it. (Kiss of death for the second half right there). NOTES! Tough start for Ras-I Dowling at corner on the first drive, coming in for the nickel alignment in place of Hightower and bouncing Kyle Arrington to the slot. He allowed a 17-yard completion to Kendall Wright on third-and-7 and had a PI as well. Marquice Cole - who had a very good preseason - later took over the slot position in nickel and Arrington stayed outside. The Titans picked up a first down on fourth-and-inches throwing over the top of Arrington who had 1-on-1 coverage. They got 17 yards to Damian Williams on a nice throw by Jake Locker. That first drive ended well for the Patriots when a fairly blatant PI on Devin McCourty went uncalled in the end zone and Tennessee settled for a field goal. McCourty was in as the kick returner for the lone Titans kickoff. Brandon Lloyd's first Patriots touchdown shoulda happened but, on that fake reverse bomb the Patriots love to run, Lloyd slowed down and saw a wobbly pass from Brady float over his head. Brady also had a pass glance off of the face of Wes Welker. Those two dropsmisplays were 66 percent of his incompletions. He finished 10 for 13 for 123 and two touchdown passes. The Patriots defense held Chris Johnson to 9 yards on 9 carries in the first half. Outstanding tackling all half. The offensive line held up 90 percent of the half. The downside? A sack by Kamerion Wimbley yielded by Nate Solder. That resulted in a cut to Brady's nose. Stevan Ridley had a big first half with 58 yards on nine carries. SebastianVollmer and Marcus Cannon split time on the right tackle edge. Welker (1 catch, 5 yards) sat for the second series. Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner - a Patriots pair of rookie safeties - showed up with a pick and a nice special teams tackle. Aaron Hernandez' versatility remains remarkable. He's had a direct snap carry for 5, a screen reception, and a 23-yard touchdown. Julian Edelman has had a bigger role in the regular offense in terms of snaps. He's still making shaky decisions on special teams, though, fielding a punt he should have fair caught. He got banged on the play and fumbled but the Titans were flagged for interfering with the catch. Jermaine Cunningham had a sack from the defensive tackle spot. Jake Locker's not that bad.
NEW YORK - Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the New York Yankees finally solved Houston Astros nemesis Dallas Keuchel, beating the ace lefty 5-0 on Wednesday for a 3-2 lead in the AL Championship Series.
Gary Sanchez hit an RBI single off Keuchel and later homered to help the wild-card Yankees win for the third straight day at home and move within one victory of their first trip to the World Series since 2009.
The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Friday night, when Justin Verlander and the reeling Astros will try to regain their footing following an off day and force a decisive Game 7. Luis Severino is scheduled to start for New York.
Just days ago, Houston was up two games to none and appeared to be closing in on its second World Series appearance. But the Astros, like defending AL champion Cleveland before them, have been unable to put away these poised Yankees, who improved to 6-0 at home in this postseason in front of their cheering, chanting fans.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE
BOSTON – Gordon Hayward will have surgery on his left ankle tonight, according to a league source.
Hayward, who suffered a left ankle injury in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday night, was considering having the surgery in Boston or back in Indiana by a doctor who had operated on him when he played at Butler.
- Gordon Hayward has message for Celtics fans at TD Garden
- Gronkowski advises Hayward to treat rehab like anything else -- dominate
- Celtics expecting 'full recovery' for Hayward, but have no timetable
It’s too soon to determine a timetable for Hayward’s return, although the Celtics anticipate he will most if not all of the remainder of this season.
Hayward’s injury delivers a major blow to a Celtics team that were considered a top-two team in the East by most.
With Hayward out for an extended period of time, teams like Washington and Toronto are likely to get more serious consideration as another strong threat to Cleveland which has advanced to the NBA Finals each of the last three seasons.
Replacing Hayward in the Celtics starting lineup was Marcus Smart who joined Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Al Horford.