NCAA

Pats deal with second straight subpar performance

201212231618586854802-p2.jpeg

Pats deal with second straight subpar performance

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The New England Patriots have picked a bad time for some mediocre performances.

Now they have just one regular-season game left to gain momentum going into the playoffs.

New England got off to a slow start for the second straight week and trailed the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 10-0 before getting a 23-16 win on Sunday.

That victory followed a 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in which the Patriots had an even worse start to the game, falling behind 31-3.

That's how quickly the Patriots (11-4) went from a dominant team with seven straight wins after a 42-14 rout of the Houston Texans to a disappointed one.

``We always talk about how we throw out the stats and throw out the records because it doesn't mean anything,'' defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said Monday. ``We never really know what we're going to get or what we're going to run up into.''

They ran into numerous problems on Sunday, some caused by the Jaguars (2-13) and others they brought upon themselves.

Jacksonville had more first downs on its opening possession (six) than New England totaled on its first four (five).

Tom Brady threw interceptions on two of the Patriots first three series. And they punted on their last two, allowing the Jaguars to move to the Patriots 12-yard line before Patrick Chung intercepted Chad Henne's pass on the final play.

``Certainly, (we) never really got into the game where we felt like we were going to string together a bunch of drives,'' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said.

The biggest problem was ``self-inflicted errors,'' Brady said Monday during his weekly appearance on WEEI radio.

``We've got to do a better job,'' he said. ``We've got some pretty important weeks of football ahead, and that's when we really need to play our best.''

The first chance to get rolling again comes Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins (7-8).

The Patriots beat the Dolphins 23-16 in Miami one week before rolling over the Texans, who had the NFL's best record at the time.

``What matters is that we finish out the season the right way and then try to prepare and have a great week of preparation, whomever we play (in the playoffs),'' McDaniels said.

Despite their recent problems, the Patriots still can be the AFC's top-seeded team. They'd achieve that with a win over the Dolphins while the Texans lose to the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos lose to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Patriots would finish second, and still get a first-round bye, with a win and a loss by the Texans or Broncos.

They would be seeded third if all three win, or fourth if they lose and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

With all that uncertainty, the Patriots still are thinking ahead even though they usually say the only game they focus on is the next one.

``You can't be totally oblivious to the possibilities that exist out there,'' coach Bill Belichick said. ``It's really hard to be specific on something like that when there are so many possibilities. You're working on a 25 percent chance of something; whatever you're working on, there's probably a 75 percent chance that you're wrong.''

If they don't get a bye, they'll play Indianapolis or Cincinnati. If they do, they won't know their opponent until the wild-card round is over.

So many possibilities.

``The most immediate one, that's the one that we'll take first and that would be the wild-card weekend if we're playing that weekend,'' Belichick said. ``We'll definitely do as much preparation as we can on those teams this week to make sure that we're ready to go on Sunday night or Monday morning if that's the way it goes.''

More immediately, the Patriots must analyze what went wrong against the Jaguars - execution, effort, emotion - and try to make sure it doesn't happen against the Dolphins.

Brady's passer rating of 73.9 was his lowest of the season. Henne's 348 yards passing were the third most the Patriots have allowed.

Sure, the Patriots won.

But beating a team that had just one win in three months since beating the Colts 22-17 on Sept. 23 - and doing it by just seven points - left them thankful but dissatisfied.

``I'm proud of the way we responded,'' defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said, ``but, at the same time, at the end of the day it won't be good enough.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

usatsi_13929416.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Virginia snaps 3-game losing streak with 63-58 win over Georgia Tech

ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Huff and Mamadi Diakite scored 17 points apiece as defending national champion Virginia snapped a three-game losing streak with a 63-58 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday night.

The Cavaliers (12-5, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) finally regained their winning touch after dropping out of The Associated Press ranking for the first time since November 2017.

Georgia Tech (8-10, 3-5) lost its fourth straight home game. The Yellow Jackets haven't won at McCamish Pavilion since a Dec. 4 victory over Nebraska. 

Diakite's dunk with 14:47 remaining gave Virginia its biggest lead, 43-29.

The Cavaliers were still up 48-37 with just over 10 minutes to go when Georgia Tech suddenly came to life offensively.

The Yellow Jackets scored on four of five possessions, stringing together a 9-0 run that cut Virginia's edge to 48-46.

That was as close as Georgia Tech would get.

Huff, a 7-foot-1 center, knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to thwart Georgia Tech's momentum. A few minutes later, he swished another open jumper to make it 55-48. 

Georgia Tech got a basket and a defensive stop, but Braxton Key swooped on for an offensive rebound to give the Cavaliers a second chance. With just over 2 minutes to go, Diakite was left open on the wing for a jumper that made it 57-50, effectively finishing off the Yellow Jackets.

Jose Alvarado paced Georgia Tech with 20 points.

Virginia led 33-25 at halftime, taking advantage of the home team's sloppy play. The Yellow Jackets hit 11 of 18 shots (61.1%) but turned it over 13 times, wasting far too many possessions against the defensive-minded Cavaliers.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers picked up a desperately needed victory to avoid their longest losing streak since a four-game skid from Feb. 12-20, 2017. While still a far cry from their national championship squad, Virginia showed some offensive efficiency to go along with its always-tenacious defense. Key chipped in with 10 points. 

Georgia Tech: This is shaping up to be another disappointing season, raising more doubts about whether coach Josh Pastner can turn around a program that is approaching a decade since its last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Yellow Jackets continue to show flashes of promise, but Pastner has been unable to develop any sort of consistency in his fourth season. 

UP NEXT

Virginia: Returns home to play North Carolina State on Monday night. 

Georgia Tech: Hits the road for the first of two meetings against No. 11 Louisville. The teams will meet again in Atlanta on March 7, the final game of the regular season. 

RELATED NCAA NEWS:

Quick Links

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: