Patriots

See how Andrew Luck got his first NFL win

746838.jpg

See how Andrew Luck got his first NFL win

From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Andrew Luck sure didn't play like a rookie Sunday afternoon.He looked like a new, younger version of Peyton Manning.The Colts rookie threw two touchdown passes, took advantage of several key Minnesota penalties and marched Indianapolis 45 yards in 23 seconds to set up Adam Vinatieri for a 53-yard field goal with 8 seconds left, which gave Indianapolis a 23-20 victory over Minnesota in Luck's home debut."It's just amazing that the guy's able to go out there and do the things he does as a rookie," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He certainly had to put the ball on them, and he did."Many of those wearing No. 18 jerseys in Sunday's crowd had probably forgotten it took Manning a little longer to win his first game. He started 0-4, including two home losses, before finally beating Ryan Leaf and the San Diego Chargers on Oct. 4, 1998.Luck's older teammates couldn't be happier to get this early win, either, especially after last season's 0-13 start spurred speculation about going winless for the regular season.The No. 1 draft pick made sure it didn't happen again. Indy's new quarterback finished 20 of 31 for 224 yards on a solid, not spectacular day.He played the entire second half without three starters on the offensive line, yet managed to move the Colts into field-goal position twice. Luck actually did his most impressive work eluding pass rushers and throwing on the run.Time after time, he managed to escape trouble including twice on Indy's winning drive, to complete passes. And when the Vikings made mistakes, he made them pay.He got a field goal out of a roughing the kicker penalty and a personal foul call, penalties that kept one second-half drive alive, and when the Vikings blew a coverage just before halftime, Luck hooked up with Reggie Wayne for a 30-yard score.The Vikings (1-1) were frustrated all afternoon."We were rushing him. He moved around a lot. It (stinks), missing sacks," Jared Allen said. "He did a good job. If the guy is not as mobile, we probably have six sacks.Sure, Luck made a few miscues -- such as taking the 17-yard sack on third-and-5 with 3:00 to play. Or spiking the ball when the clock was already stopped just before Vinatieri came onto the field for his field goal.But, like Manning, Luck didn't let the miscues bother him."I guess some people were under the impression that the clock was going to run, so I guess we looked a little foolish killing the clock when it was already stopped ," Luck said, laughing as he explained why he spiked the ball with 12 seconds to play. "Oh well."The Colts (1-1) have won three straight home games dating to last season and improved to 10-0 in home games against the Vikings.After settling for two field goals in the first 54 minutes, quarterback Christian Ponder rallied the Vikings late and got the big break he needed when defensive end Cory Redding batted his fourth-down pass up into the air. Kyle Rudolph got his hands on the ball, too, tipping it up again and toward teammate Stephen Burton, who hung onto the ball for a 7-yard TD. That made it 20-13 with 5:07 to play.Ponder was 27 of 35 for 245 yards with two TDs, but was sacked four times. Percy Harvin caught 12 passes for 104 yards."We had opportunities. We just didn't capitalize on them," Adrian Peterson said after running 16 times for 60 yards and catching three passes for 20 yards.The Vikings were just getting started, though.Following the big third-down sack on Luck and a poor punt, Minnesota took over at the Indy 47 with 2:29 to play. The Vikings finally tied the score when Rudolph hung on for a 6-yard TD reception to tie the score with 31 seconds left."You want to score and the defense has to go out there and hold in that situation," coach Leslie Frazier said. "That's our league. In that situation where we were, we needed to get the ball in the end zone and we got to go out and play defense."But 31 seconds was too much time for Luck.He started the last Colts' series by rolling to the left and hooking up Donnie Avery for 20 yards. Then he stepped up in the pocket and threw to the right, a 20-yard strike to Wayne. Then he got the Vikings to jump offside, moving the ball to the Minnesota 35, and after the spike, Vinatieri lived up to his nickname as the best clutch kicker in league history."The kid's got poise," Wayne said. "He's got some winning in the blood."Notes: Avery tied his career high with nine receptions. He also had 111 yards. ... Colts center Samson Satele left the game in the third quarter with an undisclosed knee injury. Right tackle Winston Justice and left guard Joe Reitz (knee) were inactive. ... During one stretch Sunday, the Colts ran 31 plays, compared with four for the Vikings -- including a kneel down at the end of the first half. ... Colts have won all three home games (two in preseason) this year, but has lost all three on road. ... Blair Walsh has made all six of his field-goal attempts in his first two games including a 51-yarder to open Sunday's scoring.

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

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

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.

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

MORE:

 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE