Patriots

Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: Tom Brady

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Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: Tom Brady

Today, we reach the top of my 10 most important Patriots heading into the season. As Francis Albert Sinatra belted out (and many wannabes have since), “Top of the list, king of the hill, A-number-1 . . . ” There was no doubt. Not even in my twisted brain. It’s the quarterback . . . who can take solace after his last 24 hours, that he’s still the man up in here (said in my best Denzel Washington “Training Day” voice).

NO. 1: TOM BRADY

Why? Oh, I don’t know, let me think. Six trips to the Super Bowl.  Four Lombardi Trophies. A perennial top-3 signal caller dating back to, ah hell, a long time ago. And still able to author fourth-quarter performances like he did in the most recent Super Bowl, a showing that even Jimmy Garoppolo’s personal QB coach said is one we likely won’t see for a long, long time.

Previous Performance: He looked old and unsteady and indecisive during the first four weeks of last season, during which the Pats scuffled to a 2-2 mark. But the team finally solved its interior line issues, Rob Gronkowski became Gronk again and Brady hoisted that big chip back on his shoulder and played with an edge. It wasn’t always perfect. Heck, even in that season-changing win over the Bengals in Week 5, Brady made a couple of coulda-killed-'em throws, but eventually, that consistency we’ve come to know, expect and love from that player shined though. Oh, and don’t forget about the increased mobility. Maybe Brady isn’t the same assassin in the pocket every single week, but that much analyzed, much dissected, much talked about fancy footwork really showed that the man never stops working at his craft, even as he heads for his 38th birthday.

Questions surrounding the player: Father time. Brady wants to play into his 40s and his people think it’s possible. The new rules protecting the QB may make it easier, as well. But 38 is 38. Then there’s Deflategate. It’s dragging on. The suspension has been upheld at the league level and you just wonder how that may weigh on Brady’s mind. He’s as mentally tough as they come, but this is different. Far different. And will bear watching, whenever Brady settles under center.

Overall Outlook: Until he can’t do it, I’m going to continue to think he can do it. He’s surrounded by a fleet of good to elite skill players. If that line holds up, the numbers -- and the wins -- will be there.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left , and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL's longest active losing streak against one team.

Mariota didn't move around much on a cool night after missing a game with a strained left hamstring, but still managed to throw for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor's tiebreaking score.

The Titans (3-3) also snapped a two-game skid with the win.

Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left. Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge.

Derrick Henry then clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.

The Titans looked like the NFL's worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota's first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.

But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.

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