Celtics

Patriots romp past Jets, 49-19

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Patriots romp past Jets, 49-19

Rex Ryan arrived in New York four years ago promising -- with colorful, I-didn't-come-here-to-kiss-Bill-Belichick's-rings language -- to put an end to the Jets' role of nail to the Patriots' hammer. And for a while, he delivered.

There was New York's upset victory over New England at the Meadowlands in 2009 in Ryan's second game as coach. Then there was the Jets' playoff win in Foxboro the following season, Ryan's third conquest of Belichick in five meetings . . . and one which propelled his team to its second straight AFC Championship Game.

The Jets would lose that AFC title game, just as they did the year before, and it's been mostly downhill since then. And on a mild Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium, the ride may have come to an end, if not now then certainly at the end of the season, for Rex Ryan . . . at the hands of the man whose rings he hadn't come to kiss.

Belichick's Patriots humiliated Ryan's self-destructing Jets on national television, taking advantage of four New York turnovers and scoring three touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds in the second quarter as they raced out to a 35-3 halftime lead. The eventual 49-19 pounding probably ended the Jets' playoff hopes and may have sealed Ryan's fate.

Owner Woody Johnson has already expressed his displeasure at how New York's season has unfolded, and Thursday night's outcome -- which drops the Jets' record to 4-7, four games behind the 8-3 Pats with five to play -- could mean the end of the reign of Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum. A new era will begin, replacing one that started so promisingly back in '09.

And ended so horribly in '12.

The carnage began in routine enough style, with a two-yard scoring pass from Tom Brady to Wes Welker on the first play of the second quarter capping a six-minute, 15-play, 84-yard drive that gave New England a 7-0 lead. The Jets drove into Patriots territory on their next possession, but -- in a harbinger of things to come -- the Pats stuffed Bilal Powell on a fourth-and-one from the 31 and Powell coughed up the football. It rolled a little more than 10 yards and Steve Gregory recovered on the 17.

What followed was the most amazing 52 seconds of this long and sometimes bitter rivalry:

On the next play, Brady hit Shane Vereen with a screen pass in the left flat and -- amazingly -- Vereen raced untouched 83 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Speaking on CSNNE.com's Web-only halftime show, ex-Patriots star Troy Brown said he'd never seen, at any level of football, a player run 80 yards on a swing pass out of the backfield without anyone laying a hand on him.

On the second play of the next series, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez tried to make something of a broken play by taking the ball himself up the middle. But he ran into the backside of his own guard, Brandon Moore, fumbled, and Gregory scooped the ball and raced 32 yards for a touchdown.

Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Joe McKnight lost the ball at the 20-yard line when he was hit by Devin McCourty. Julian Edelman plucked it out of the air and ran it in from 22 yards out.

In 52 seconds, the Patriots had increased their lead from 7-0 to 28-0. They would make it 35-0 when Brady found Edelman behind the Jets' secondary for a 56-yard touchdown with 3:08 to play in the half.

Game. Set. Match.

There were still 33 minutes or so to go, and the Jets managed to score the next 12 points to regain a little self-respect at 35-12 in the third quarter. That self-respect disappeared when the Pats scored twice in the final period, on a one-yard sneak by Brady (capping an 87-yard drive) and a nine-yard run by Stevan Ridley (after yet another Jets fumble) to make it 49-12. New York scored one final TD for the 49-19 final.

When it was over, it was hard to remember a time -- and just two years ago, no less -- when these Jets were considered to be not only the Patriots' equal, but even their successors as the powers of the AFC East.

It was fun while it lasted. But in the end, the hammer always wins.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Celtics-Mavericks preview: C's need to play Smart vs. Dallas

Get it done. No excuses.
 
That has been how the Boston Celtics have played most of this season.
 
And if there’s one Celtics player who embodies that on this team, it’s Marcus Smart.
 
The fourth-year guard has struggled all season with his shot-making, but when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter you can count on Smart to be on the floor.

THE WINNING STREAK

He has been among the many reasons Boston has won 15 in a row, which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
 
And Smart will be among the Celtics looking to keep it going tonight against the Dallas Mavericks.
 
Most likely, Smart will make an impact with his defense, which is among the best in the NBA.

How good?
 
Smart has a defensive rating of 93.4 (points allowed per 100 possessions) which is tops among all guards in the NBA, and ranks third among all players who have played in at least 10 games this season.
 
But in the 110-99 win over the Hawks, Smart knocked down a couple of 3-pointers which was a big deal considering how mightily he has struggled shooting the ball this season.
 
Smart is shooting 27.3 percent from the field as well as from 3-point range – both career lows.
 
However, he’s also averaging career highs in assists (4.5) and rebounds (5.1) this season.
 
And while he certainly doesn’t appear to be affected by the shooting struggles, he acknowledges that it is something that he can’t help but think about from time to time.
 
“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working (on shooting) all summer,” Smart said. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. But like I said, we got other guys who are playing well. My job is to get them the ball and do whatever I can, go back down the floor, play defense and get the ball again.”

In Boston’s win over Atlanta, Smart spent a good amount of time defending Marco Belinelli who had four points on 2-for-10 shooting compared to 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting when these two teams met earlier this month.
 
Coach Brad Stevens pointed to the job Smart did on Belinelli, in addition to the clutch offensive rebound he was able to snag and quickly put back up and in that gave Boston a 103-95 game with about two minutes to play.
 
“He was really good,” Stevens said.
 
The same could be said for most of the Celtics of late.
 
Kyrie Irving is coming off his most efficient game of the season, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field. Jayson Tatum had a rough start, but he came on strong as well with 14 points – all coming in the second half.
 
But the backbone of Boston’s success lies in what they’re able to get done defensively.
 
So far, Boston’s defense has been as strong as we’ve seen this early, in quite some time.
 
Boston, which has a league-best defensive rating of 95.9, has length, savvy and an overall total buy-in by the players on what Brad Stevens is looking for, from them.
 
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (3-14) are coming off their most impressive victory this season, a 111-79 win over Milwaukee.  Dennis Smith Jr. has been among the more talented rookies this season. He’s averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Dallas is indeed in a transition period where longtime superstar Dirk Nowitzki (10.3 points, 5.5 rebounds per game) is gradually passing the torch to his younger teammates like Harrison Barnes (18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds) and Smith Jr.
 
Much like the Hawks game, the Celtics must approach this game with a focus on the opponent and not their record.
 
Because the Celtics are no longer just a good team on the schedule. They are a measuring stick for most to see how they stack up against the league’s best.
 
And the Celtics understand how their success has changed how teams see them.
 
“Now that we have a reputation, I think everyone is coming for us,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “Now we have to come play even harder, and I think we can do that. I think we are more than capable.”

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