From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Changes might be coming for the New York Jets.Mark Sanchez losing his starting job won't be among them.Rex Ryan again stood by his quarterback Monday despite Sanchez's struggles in an ugly mistake-filled 30-9 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday that left the Jets coach searching for answers and fans chanting for Tim Tebow to take over."I think Mark's our guy," Ryan said. "I don't think there's any doubt about that. I'm confident in Mark."There's no question, though, that the Jets (3-5) need to figure things out, and quick. They have games at Seattle and St. Louis after their bye-week break, followed by a home game on Thanksgiving night against New England.Ryan originally planned to have the players report to the facility on Monday and Tuesday, but decided to give them the full week off to be with their families and prepare for Hurricane Sandy."I want them to get away and when they come back, we have to be all in," Ryan said during a conference call. "The only chance we have is if we are 100 percent all in. We have no wiggle room. We need to start playing a ton better."Ryan will brainstorm with his coaches this week before they take a few days off, and he expects suggestions on how to fix "everything" from everyone on his staff."Is it a little change? Is it a radical change?" Ryan said. "I'm up for anything."While Tebow won't be the solution as the full-time quarterback, Ryan acknowledged that he'll explore how the versatile backup can be used more on offense after seeing minimal playing time during the season's first half. Tebow has played in just 54 offensive plays, averaging less than seven per game."I think we'll take a hard look at how we're using him, what we're asking him to do," Ryan said. "Are there other things we can do with him? I think you're absolutely right. We will definitely look at that."So much was made in the offseason about how Tebow would add a unique element to the offense, whether it was in wildcat or read-option packages, but that certainly hasn't materialized. Last week, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said he could "do a better job" of using Tebow.To his credit, Tebow has not complained publicly, or offered a sliver of frustration, knowing he could be doing more to help this team."I'm just ready and willing," said Tebow, who even lined up at wide receiver Sunday. "Whenever they call my number, I go out there to help the team and (I'm) not listening to what the crowd is saying."There's a good chance that Tebow will be a large part of the discussions between the coaches this week, and would understand if the backup quarterback wasn't thrilled with his role so far."Any competitor wants to be out there playing, so it wouldn't be shocking if that's how he felt," Ryan said. "As a football team, we're frustrated. We're getting closer and closer, and we thought we were getting better as a football team, but we took a step back yesterday."The Jets allowed a blocked punt to be returned for a touchdown, had a field goal blocked and Sanchez fumbled on a sack that the Dolphins later turned into a score. There were mistakes all over the field, and it wasn't all Sanchez."We all understand it comes down to execution," center Nick Mangold said. "It doesn't matter if we have Joe Namath back there if we don't execute."There were missed throws, dropped passes, failed assignments on the line and in the running game -- and it all added up to a dismal performance on offense. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie intimated after the game that the defense has been doing its part while the offense continues to struggle.With a long break in between games, there's plenty of time for frustration to fester, something that helped rip apart the Jets' season a year ago. Mangold insists that won't be the case this time around."We learned last year that pointing fingers and being disgruntled is not going to help anybody," Mangold said.The players also support Sanchez as their leader, despite the growing public sentiment that some sort of change needs to be made to save the season."I believe in Mark just as much as he believes in me being a nose tackle," Sione Po'uha said.Sanchez was 28 of 54 for 283 yards with a touchdown, but had the fumble late in the opening quarter on a sack by Nolan Carroll. He also was intercepted by Chris Clemons when he had the Jets driving while trailing 27-3 in the third quarter.There are mistakes still being made by Sanchez that many don't expect from a fourth-year quarterback. But, he has also had to adjust to a constantly changing cast of characters on offense around him. While many teams build around their quarterbacks, particularly a first-rounder such as Sanchez, the Jets have rebuilt the personnel on offense on a regular basis.Only two skill position players remain from Sanchez's rookie season in 2009: tight end Dustin Keller and running back Shonn Greene. While it's not the only reason for Sanchez's struggles, the frequent turnover can't have helped his development.So, for now, this remains Sanchez's team to lead -- to a second-half surge or a second straight season out of the postseason."If it was one guy, I think it's easy to say we'd make that change," Ryan said. "But I think Mark gives us the best chance to win. That's how I feel. Can Tim be successful? Yeah, absolutely. We'll look at that as well. But in my opinion, Mark as the starting quarterback gives my football team the best chance to win."------NOTES:Po'uha said he has no structural damage to his back after missing three games because of severe stiffness. He returned Sunday and played 21 snaps. ... Ryan said thinks RB-WR Joe McKnight (sprained right ankle), LB Bart Scott (hyperextended right big toe), S Eric Smith (sprained knee) and RB Bilal Powell (dislocated right shoulder) should be healthy and ready to go against Seattle.
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.
HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.
Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. combined on a three-hitter, Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Astros reached the World Series for only the second time by blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.
Next up for the Astros: Game 1 against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Verlander, the ALCS MVP , and fellow Houston ace Dallas Keuchel will have plenty of rest before the World Series begins at sweltering Dodger Stadium.
"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."
The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve , the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.
Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.
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.
Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.
Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture 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. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.
"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.
CC Sabathia entered 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. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.
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 went 1-6 on the road this postseason.
After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis.
Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.
Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.
Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.
It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.
Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.
Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.
A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.
Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh.
With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.
"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."