Steven Senne- APNFL- I'm not gonna lie to you. Part of the reason it took me so long to do a sports update is because Sunday night's game at Gillette left me at a loss for words (the good kind!). Sure preparations for Thanksgiving was part of it, but it's hard to summarize Sunday night's primetime Broncos-Patriots game in mere words, but here's my attempt-
To start off with, literally everything was going Denver's way in the first half at Foxborough. With just under 10 minutes to go in the first quarter, Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball which was promptly recovered by Broncos LB Von Miller and run back 60 yards for a TD to give Denver the early lead.
On New England's next possession, Brady was sacked and lost the ball on the Patriots own 28 yard line. Denver recovered and was able to punch it in from the Patriot's 10 yard line thanks to two carries by RB Knowshon Moreno to give the Broncos a startlingly quick 14-0 lead.
With Ridley benched, LeGarrette Blount came in at RB and on the 3rd play of New England's drive, fumbled the ball at mid-field. The Broncos recovered [starting to sense a pattern?- NANESB!] and Denver was once again in New England's red zone thanks to carries by Knowshown Moreno and Montee Ball. They got as close as the Patriot's 6 yard line before the Patriots defense came up with a huge sack of Peyton Manning, costing the Broncos 10 yards and forcing them to settle for a FG to make it a 17-0 game.
Denver added to their lead in the second quarter- although this was on a 70 yard TD drive engineered by Manning that started on the Broncos own 30- not capitalizing on a Patriots turnover (surprisingly). The drive was capped by a 10 yard TD pass from Manning to TE Jacob Tamme to but the Broncos out to a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 lead.
So- did you turn off the TV by this point? Either because you were a disgusted Patriots fan or were expecting a much better ballgame despite not being emotionally invested in either team? I gotta confess: I did- although I did end up tuning in for the 3rd quarter.
Brady broke Denver's shutout bid right out of the gate with a quick strike in the 3rd quarter. The Patriots started out from their own 20 to open up the second half and Brady moved the ball by passing to Kenbrell Thompkins, Rob Gronkowski and Shane Vereen before the Patriots got on the board with a 5 yard TD pass to WR Julian Edelman. This made it a 24-7 ballgame and the Patriots were down by a mere three TDs.
On the Broncos first possession of the second half, Denver got the ball as far as midfield before Montee Ball fumbled and Pats LB Brandon Spike recovered, giving New England the ball back on the Denver 32. With the short field, Brady got inside the Broncos red zone thanks to completions to Gronkowski and Vereen before RB Brandon Bolden was able to punch it in on a 1 yard TD run to make it a 10 point game with the better part of one and a half quarters of football to play. Those Patriots fans optimistic enough to be talking about a comeback at halftime were suddenly starting to look downright prophetic.
The 3rd quarter wrapped up the way it began- with a quick scoring drive from the New England offense. Thanks to an 11 yard return from Edelman (who had fumbled earlier in the game), the Patriots started out on their own 35 yard line. The drive began with a completion from Brady to WR Kenbrell Thompkins for 14 yards to put the ball at mid-field before Brady connected with Edelman for a 43 yard pass to put the ball on the Denver 8. With 19 seconds to go in the 3rd, the Patriots made it a three point game thanks to an 8 yard TD pass from Brady to Gronkowski to make it 21-24.
Starting out from their own 22, the Broncos were able to run exactly one play in their first possession of the 4th quarter before Peyton Manning was picked off by rookie cornerback Logan Ryan. Starting from the Denver 30, New England required just two passes from Tom Brady- a 15 yard completion to Gronkowski and a 14 yard TD pass to Julian Edelman to give New England a 28-24 edge, their first lead of the night and seemingly impossible scenario during halftime.
The Patriots were able to add to their lead thanks to a lengthy drive that started out from their own 47 that took just under 5 minutes- although the Broncos defense stiffened and forced the Patriots to settle for a 31 yard Gostkowski FG to make it 31-24.
However, the Broncos weren't done yet. After getting the ball back on their own 25, Peyton Manning led a drive down to the New England red zone where they were able to tie up the ballgame thanks to a 7 yard Demariyus Thomas TD catch to know up the game at 31-31 with 3:06 remaining in the 4th.
Both the Patriots and Broncos weren't able to able to do much of anything in the remainder of regulation, forcing OT. Interestingly, the Patriots won the coin toss but Belichick elected to give the Broncos the ball to start out the OT.
Just like the end of regulation, both teams weren't able to do much of anything with Denver getting the ball into New England territory before a 10 yard penalty forced them to punt. The Broncos were then able to pin the Patriots back inside their own 20 on the ensuing punt, and New England was able to get as far as their own 37 before they had to punt on 4th and 4.
This went on for awhile, and it appeared as though the NFL would have its second tie game of the day [earlier in the day, the Vikings and Packers played to a 26-26 tie at Lambeau Field- NANESB!] but when the Patriots punted with 3:01 left in OT. Former Patriots WR Wes Welker was set to field the ball inside the 20, but the ball made contact with Denver WR Tony Carter, making it a live ball that Pats Safety Nate Ebner recovered at the Denver 13 yard line. After two runs up the middle, it was decided to go for the chip-shot FG on 3rd and 10 with 2:00 left in OT. Gostkowski's kick was good from 31 yards to give New England the 34-31 OT win.
Tom Brady went 34-50 with 344 yards and 3 TD passes while getting sacked 3 times. Peyton Manning went 19-36 with 150 yards, 2 TDs, 2 sacks and an interception. Wes Welker had a total of 31 yards and was a conspicuous non-factor in his return to New England while Knowshon Moreno had 224 rushing yards and 1 TD for the Broncos. For the Patriots, Julian Edelman had 110 receiving yards on 11 catches with 2 TD receptions.
The comeback from 24-0 is the biggest in the history of the New England Patriots and the ratings were the highest for a November football game in 17 years and the highest rated contest since NBC began the Sunday Night Football telecast in 2006.
For this upcoming Sunday, New England will travel to the Lone Star State to take on the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon with a kickoff scheduled for 1:00 ET. The rematch of the 2012 Divisional playoffs will be televised on CBS.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL- Since it's Thanksgiving, this means that both the Cowboys and Lions will be playing [Not each other, tho- apparently the universe will collapse upon itself if Dallas and Detroit ever play each other on Thanksgiving- NANESB!].
The Detroit Lions will host NFC north rival Green bay at Ford Field- that game is scheduled for a 12:30 ET kickoff and is scheduled to be televised on FOX.
Later on in the day, the Dallas Cowboy will take on the Oakland Raiders at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The contest is set for a 4:25 ET kickoff and will be televised on CBS.
To wrap things up, the Baltimore Ravens will host the Pittsburgh Steelers for an AFC North matchup on a game that will be televised on NBC with a kickoff scheduled for 8:30 ET.
NHL- HUGE news out of Canada heading into the Thanksgiving break [ours, not theirs- NANESB!]. The National Hockey League and Rogers Communications [NYSE- RCI: TSX- RCI-A & RCI-B] have agreed to a 12 year, C$5.3 billion deal to broadcast NHL games in Canada, blindsiding competitors such as TSN and the state run Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
This isn't just Rogers getting a bigger slice of the pie- this is basically Rogers buying up the Marie Callendar's chain while TSN and the CBC were waiting for their waitress to bring them a slice of the pie and then telling TSN and the CBC that they've secured the rights to any pies sold for the next 12 years.
Under the deal, the CBC will retain their iconic Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts, but only after Rogers has already selected their first pick for that night's matchup on their networks.
The deal with Rogers- Canada's largest wireless and cable provider- also includes rights to the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Stanley Cup finals. Although no official announcement has been made, it's widely believed that Rogers will re-sell some rights to Bell Canada [NYSE- BCE]- Bell and Rogers are joint majority owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Curiously, ADRs of Rogers traded on the New York Stock Exchange were down slightly after the announcement.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL- Wow...that was pretty embarrassing.
The Boston Bruins headed into the Thanksgiving weekend on the wrong end of an absolute beatdown at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings as the Bruins lost by a 6-1 final on Wednesday night at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena. Jarome Iginla accounted for the lone Bruins goal (which came late) while the Red Wings got tallies from Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Drew Miller and Gustav Nyquist.
The loss ends a 5-game streak where the Bruins managed to get at least one point and had won eight of their last 10 games.
The Bruins will return back to the TD Garden for a Friday afternoon for another Original 6 matchup when they host the New York Rangers. Puck is scheduled to drop at 1:00 ET and the game will be televised on NBC.
NCAA FOOTBALL- Big upset last weekend in the top 25 standings as the only undefeated team in the Big 12 was felled by a conference opponent late in the regular season- and it wasn't even close.
In Stillwater, OK, the Oklahoma State Cowboys managed to put up 49 points on the #3 ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday night, going on to win by a final of 49-17. At halftime, the Bears were trailing by a score of 14-3, but Oklahoma State came out in the second half to score three unanswered TDs in the 3rd quarter and won this one going away. Baylor slips to #9 in the AP standings while OSU vaults past them into #7.
So out of all the Top 25 teams, this leaves Alabama, Florida State, Northern Illinois and Fresno State as the remaining undefeated teams as they head into 'rivalry week' and their respective conference championships.
Perhaps the most compelling Rivalry Week matchup will be Saturday's Iron Bowl between #1 Alabama and a resurgent Auburn program, who comes into this weekend ranked #4. Kickoff from Auburn is scheduled for 3:30 ET and the game will be televised on CBS and can be heard on XM Channels 86 and 91.
Other Rivalry week matchups featuring undefeated teams from the BCS Top 25 include #16 Fresno State on the road against San Jose State on Friday- kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM ET on Friday afternoon and the game will be televised on CBS Sports network.
#2 Florida State, meanwhile, will travel to Gainesville, FL to take on the struggling Florida Gators, who are coming off a 26-20 stunning home loss to FCS Georgia Southern. To round out the BCS undefeteds, #14 Northern Illinois thumped the Western Michigan Mustangs by a 33-14 final on Tuesday night and will await the winner of Friday's Buffalo-Bowling Green State game for the MAC title game on December 6th.
To round out the BCS undefeateds on Rivalry Week, #3 Ohio State travels to the Big House in Ann Arbor, MI for The Game- that kicks off at 12:00 PM ET and will be televised on ABC and XM Channel 91.
While it doesn't involve an undefeated BCS title contender, another rivalry game of potential interest will pit #6 Clemson against #10 South Carolina, which kicks off at 7:00 ET and will be televised on ESPN.
BOSTON COLLEGE- No record-setting afternoon for RB Andre Williams, but the senior RB had a productive afternoon nonetheless on Saturday with 2 TD runs and 263 yards total against Maryland in the Eagles' 29-26 win over the Terps.
The final game of the regular season also happens to rekindle the old Big East-era rivalry with Syracuse as the Eagles will travel to the Carrier Dome to take on the Big Orange for the first time in three years and for the first time with Syracuse as a member of the ACC. This will be the Eagle's first trip to the Carrier Dome in 9 years and Syracuse needs a win to be bowl eligible while Boston College is looking to run the table and win their fifth straight game.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 ET and the game on XM channel 191 and will be streamed on ESPN3.