Ravens flock to Flacco's defense


Ravens flock to Flacco's defense

On Monday, Ravens safety Ed Reed made some impolitic remarks about quarterback Ed Reed.
"I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense, Reed said. "I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. I dont know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didnt look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past. You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him what to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys. And he cant play like that."
On Wednesday, the Ravens assembled to put the toothpaste back in the tube.Ravens coach John Harbaugh went first, saying of Reed, "Heand I had a chance to have a conversation. And I had a chance to talk to some of the other guys about it and I understand where we are. Were getting ready for Sunday.Asked if the timing could have been better, Harbaugh said, I understand where Eds heart is. All of our guys, when they say things and you get a chance to talk about it Were together all the time. We know each other. We understand where each other is coming from. Im sure there are some things he would have like to have said a little better.
"If you look at the whole context and hear the tone of his voice and the message he was trying to communicate, its a good message. But obviously, things could have been said differently. The way you read them and stuff like that, Im sure hes not really happy about that.Flacco acknowledged he was initially put off by the comments, saying,"When I first saw it, I was like, Whats going on? Like I said, we talked about it. We are a team around here. Its not really that big of an issue. I dont really take things that bad. It is Ed. It is what it is.

He spoke to Reed.Flacco also was aware that both Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis defended him. That's something that - because of Flacco's inconsistency - happens often.

"I wish those guys didnt have to come to my defense on all kinds of things," Flacco admitted. "I dont really think they have to. The way things are talked about, it just makes it that someone has to come out and say something. Terrell, all along, knows how to go out there and stick up for all of us.

Lewis was particularly impassioned in his defense of Flacco.

"There is no one player that makes the team great.," said the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer."It takes a team effort. For Joe, who came in here and did what hes done for us Ive told people from Day One when I first saw that kid throw the football, I said, That kid is special, You watch all of these guys who went in the top, first draft picks, and they arent even in football anymore. Youre talking about a guy who came into this league, has been to the playoffs all four years and has given his team the opportunity to win games.
"Joe doesnt play defense. So, when we gave up touchdowns on defense, that wasnt Joes fault. When people beat us on defense or scheme something against us, thats not Joes fault. The times that Pittsburgh was scrambling and made a big play on us, that wasnt Joes fault. So, a lot of things that people always try to put on the quarterback, I understand that, but it isnt about that. Its about the Baltimore Ravens. We are a complete team. We go into games and we win as a team, we lose as a team.

Said Suggs, I dont have to stick up for Joe. His reputation speaks for itself. I just say what people seem to forget sometimes. Thats all that its about. I aint even going to get into that anymore.
Flacco attempts to seem bemused by the whole situation but - given his comments this season about not getting credit -thereis a level on which the questions seem to bother him.

Will a Super Bowl championship back off the critcism?

"I dont care," he said. "I will be wearing a ring, and we will be holding a trophy. The perception probably wont change, but it does not really matter.

Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"


Pastrnak on B's loss: "We kind of stopped playing"

BOSTON – At the end of the day, it was simply a game where the Bruins allowed themselves to get outworked in the third period and overtime. 

The B’s held a three-goal lead in the second period and still enjoyed a two-goal lead in the third period, but eventually dropped a frustrating, futile 5-4 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden on Saturday night. It was clear to most speaking after the game that the Bruins eased up on the gas pedal once they’d scored their fourth goal of the game in the second period, and simply watched as the Sabres stomped all over them in the game’s second half. 

“I think we might have been a little bit too scared to play [in the third period], you know? We tried to just flip the pucks away, and didn’t make any plays trying to get it in the zone. Instead we should have just kept going like we did in the first two periods,” said David Pastrnak, who scored a pair of goals early in the loss to allow the Bruins to build up the three-goal lead. “Obviously we’re disappointed. We got one point. I think we didn’t play our game in the third period. We kind of stopped playing and they were all over us, and you know, it’s on us. We were the ones that gave them their point, but the first two periods were good. It’s just another learning session.”

To Pastrnak’s point, the Bruins were outshot by a 15-6 margin in the final 20 minutes of regulation and 21-6 overall in the third period and overtime prior to Ryan O’Reilly’s game-winner during 3-on-3 play. It was at this point the Bruins certainly missed stalwart stay-at-home defensemen Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller in the D-zone, and fell short of qualified penalty killers while trying to burn off a Brandon Carlo interference call at the end of the third period. 

All of that caught up to them once the Bruins loosened their grip on the Sabres, but certainly the feeling is that the loss should’ve been avoidable even if some of the circumstances made it difficult for the Black and Gold. It also should have been avoidable against a Sabres hockey club that was dreadful last season, and is again one of the doormats in the Atlantic Division in the early going thus far. 

“Those are the games you can’t lose. We obviously didn’t do the job there in the third and close it out, but we’re going to have to regroup and work on our game and be better for the next one,” said Brad Marchand. “We didn’t play the game we needed to play. We relaxed a bit and we started losing a few battles in the wrong areas, and you know, they just played better than we did.”

It’s mystifying that any team would need a crash-and-born loss like Saturday night in order to learn any lessons moving forward, and it certainly might have been a different story for the Bruins if they weren’t missing a few big defensive pieces. But that’s not how it went down for the Black and Gold as they sagged under rising pressure from the Sabres, and simply stopped working when the chips were on the table late in Saturday night’s game. 

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0


Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.