Patriots score in the 1st quarter of Super Bowl for the 1st time under Bill Belichick

With a 26-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal, the New England Patriots snapped a dubious streak of slow starts in the Super Bowl. It was the first time under Bill Belichick that the Patriots scored points at all in the first quarter in a Super Bowl.

That’s right. Not once in the Patriots’ first seven trips to the Super Bowl with Belichick and Tom Brady did the team score a single first-quarter point.

Tom Brady’s arm just happened to be there and I swiped, Graham said. I was just so thankful to be able to make that play to get us off the field and change the game.

Graham didn’t realize that he caused the fumble. He reached for Brady’s arm, and the next thing he saw was Barnett picked it up and they were running off the field.

I’ve had a couple of crazy injuries, but this was pretty crazy, he said. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do.

A cut on his hand wasn’t going to stop him. But with a couple of weeks to heal the hand, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s fine.

Tom Brady is 40. Bill Belichick is 65. Retirement isn’t far on the horizon for the two pillars of the New England Patriots dynasty, but it would be surprising if Super Bowl 52 were the last game for either. Still, that rumor is making the rounds this week.

Super Bowl 52 got off to a lively start between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles. With the first quarter in the books, let’s take a look at how the squares game is playing out.

While it’s easy to point to the team’s two future Hall of Fame skill players, McDaniels’ influence shines through in his ability to promote unheralded players into big roles and then watch them shine. He’s helped turn formerly anonymous players like Dion Lewis, Chris Hogan, and even Wes Welker into major contributors for New England. The 2017 Patriots finished the season ranked first in total yardage despite the absence of players like Pro Bowler Julian Edelman, Super Bowl 51 hero James White, Malcolm Mitchell, and Hogan.

Does Super Bowl 52 show that home-field advantage is becoming more important?

The NFL is a league built around the goal of parity, but recently, the playoffs have been pretty predictable. In four of the last five years — including the upcoming matchup between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles — the Super Bowl has paired up the top seed in the AFC and with the top seed in the NFC.

The only season that bucked that trend was last year when the No. 2-seeded Atlanta Falcons played the top-seeded Patriots in Super Bowl 51. With the Dallas Cowboys going down in the Divisional Round, the Falcons didn’t have to play any postseason road games on their way to the Super Bowl.

Are the teams at the top of the league dominating more than ever? Is it just a coincidence? Whatever the explanation, leading a conference with the best record in the regular season has been a solid formula for postseason success.

The Suns (18-42) have lost a season-long eight in a row, 13 of 14 and 16 of 18 in a downturn that began after a 114-100 victory over Oklahoma City on Jan. 7.

The New York Knicks got a season-high 26 points from Trey Burke and put up 120 playing without their All-Star.

Yet all they talked about was defense after breaking an eight-game losing streak with a 120-113 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.

“Our defense was pretty much the reason we won,” said Burke, who came off the bench to hit 12 of 22 shots. “A lot of people look at the offensive end, but defense allowed our offense to get some good looks.”

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 23 points and six assists for the Knicks, who won for the first time since Jan. 30 and the first time since losing Kristaps Porzingis for the season to a torn ACL.

Evan Fournier scored 25 points for the Magic, who lost their fourth straight.

“We finally guarded somebody,” said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who gave much of the credit to Burke.

Martinez is coming off a career-best season last year with 45 home runs and a .690 slugging percentage in 119 games.

It’s a good bat — at least 40 homers — and we’re trying to win this s—, said Ramirez, whose $22 million option for 2019 will vest if he reaches 497 plate appearances. This is how we can do it, to get him. It’s a good player.

Martinez, an outfielder, slots into Boston’s lineup as the primary designated hitter, which in turn pushes Ramirez into a first-base timeshare with Moreland.

It’s one of those things that, once we get into the season, it’s not about our at-bats. It’s more about the wins and losses, Moreland said. We’re going to worry about that part of it. He’s a force, obviously. To have him kind of anchored in the middle of our lineup is only going to help us.

He hit 29 homers and slugged .741 in 62 games after a midseason trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Remember how six teams still had a shot to finish their conference seasons unbeaten in Tuesday’s projection? Thursday’s results reduced that number to just two, and one of the remaining teams, the Rhode Island Rams, faces its stiffest test of league play tonight, visiting a St. Bonaventure Bonnies club that would love to pick up a fourth Group 1 win for its at-large hopes (Friday 7 p.m., ESPN2).

The contract is the largest in Padres history.

Hosmer gets a $5 million signing bonus payable within 30 days of the contract being approved by the commissioner’s office. His salary is $20 million each year from 2018 through ’22 and will be $13 million annually from 2023 through ’25 if he doesn’t terminate the deal.

A four-time Gold Glove winner and 2016 All-Star, Hosmer will be introduced during a news conference Tuesday morning at Padres camp in Peoria, Arizona.

This method isn’t perfect. It ignores that you can’t just erase a homer and everything else would have stayed the same. There’s a series of events affecting game flow. Was that lost homer turned into an out or a double? If it was still a hit, what would have ensued, keeping in mind most pitchers’ skills are poorer from the stretch. An out versus a hit modifies the pitch count. Plus, this is only homers. What would the flow have been with different outcomes on other batted balls? Still, it’s better than ignoring the impact.

Eric Hosmer ready for leadership role with Padres, will wear No. 30 to honor Yordano Ventura

We’re not looking for Eric to come in here and be Knute Rockne and deliver speeches from day one, general manager A.J. Preller said. It’s the things he shows daily: the passion for the game, the love for the game, the competitiveness, the intellect, the curious mind, wanting to get better. Those are the things that kept coming back from guys who played with him or against him. That’s why we were so convicted that he was the guy for us at this time.

In 2017, scores were slightly down with Eric Gordon beating a field that included Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, and previous champion Thompson with a score of 25 in the first round, 20 in the second and 21 in an overtime win.

Hodges still holds two records — most made shots (21) in a round and most consecutive shots made (19). Those records may have staying power beyond the new format.

Here’s the thinking behind all five spots on the floor, and why an NBA player might choose it over another spot.

You see these guys bouncing around and playing, you want to participate and be playing with your teammates, said Murphy, who was the only position player not to participate in team drills Tuesday, one day before the Nats’ first official full-squad workout. But I think it’s the understanding of when they loose me, when the training staff lets me go and it’s time to play, you only want to come off the DL once. I don’t want to start playing games and then have to stop. So that’s kind of the mindset we’re taking right now.

The Diamondbacks say they’ll use the spring to decide between Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano. Bradley has the best skills, but he also has proved effective in the ever-popular multiple-inning role. With the humidor, Boxberger’s control and gopheritis might not be as much of a problem while Hirano’s low strikeout rate won’t matter as much. It’s still anyone’s guess, but those expecting Bradley to be the closer should be less confident.

With nine or 10 desert games, the other teams in the NL West will be affected. Keeping in mind a strong offense will still score runs in pitchers’ parks, it appears only Coors Field will be off-limits for streaming. This makes the back-end starters on the Dodgers, Rockies, Padres and Giants more palatable, especially in leagues with daily moves. On the flip side, lower-end hitters from these clubs are less attractive, since there’ll be many road trips with all neutral or pitchers’ parks.royals_010

Belichick has enjoyed six seasons without turnover for his top two assistants, adding up to more Super Bowl rings since 2012.

When the Eagles and Patriots take the field for Super Bowl 52, it will mark the sixth “rematch” in Super Bowl history. But other than New England still having the same starting quarterback and head coach, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, everything is completely different from Super Bowl 39.

The run for the Pats with McDaniels and Patricia is longer than that of Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, who won three rings in four years together.

The Patriots still have their share of mighty mites, but they’ve come a long way since David Givens, Deion Branch and Troy Brown were Brady’s primary targets. Givens, at 6-0, 212 pounds, wore No. 87 in Super Bowl 39 after leading the team with only 56 catches for 874 yards in the regular season.

Now it’s 6-6, 265-pound Rob Gronkowski wearing a slightly bigger version of that uniform and doing a lot more damage. Gronk finished the season with his favorite team-high number of catches, 69, and also led the team with 1,084 receiving yards and 8 receiving TDs.

Gronk didn’t play in Super Bowl 51, so he has some making up to do. It was Branch, not Givens, who ended up winning game MVP in Super Bowl 39, catching 11 balls for 133 yards. Gronk will be one of the best non-Brady MVP bets for Super Bowl 52.

The most expensive tickets are very close to the field and typically include some sort of pregame/postgame hospitality and maybe even an on-field experience.

The most common, and usually cheapest, place to buy Super Bowl tickets is on reseller websites like StubHub, SeatGeek and Vivid Seats. Fans can also head to NFL Ticket Exchange, the official reseller of the NFL, however those prices tend to be higher than those listed on other ticket re-selling sites. That said, its most expensive Super Bowl ticket package, as of Jan. 23, was “only” $40,000, which is a steal compared to the top-end prices at other resellers.

Which raises the question: Why would Brady retire when he clearly still can perform at an all-time level and shows few if any signs of regression?

The answer: A man who’s abnormally healthy after having played 18 NFL seasons would be wise to maintain said abnormal health; health that, in a sport like football and in a league like the NFL, is as guaranteed as about half of the two-year contract Brady recently signed with the Patriots.bills_045

The Jets shopped the talented but troubled Richardson before last season’s trading deadline.

The first-round pick the Jets reportedly were seeking for Richardson is out of the question because of a subpar 2016 season and his well-documented off-field issues. The swap for third-round picks in the Timmy Jernigan trade probably helps define trade compensation for Richardson. Moving Richardson would wipe his $8.069 million fifth-year option salary from the Jets’ books.

There is more upside with Brissett because he is younger and more mobile than Tolzien. But Brissett has been with the Colts only since Sept. 2, when he was acquired in a trade with New England.

“Players don’t see their bills or keep track of their payments. They’re in the dark about taxes. They lose touch with their own money,” the authors write.

“You think of sharks in the ’hood, you think of gang bangers and drug dealers. You haven’t seen nothing ’til you step into some of these white-collar criminals,” said Scott, to which investment manager Ed Butowsky adds in the book, “I know many people who have had money wired out of their accounts to private equity accounts or into other accounts without their knowledge.”

The losses incurred by some players are staggering. Sapp made “$82,185,056 during his NFL career. He ended up with $826.04 in his bank account,” and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Former linebacker Keith McCants signed a $7.6 million contract in 1990 but tells the authors that he “bought a yacht, a mansion and a couple of cars. That ain’t a million dollars. That’s several million. I pretty much gave it away.”

Signing a 27-year-old kicker — who’s never played in a regular season game — less than 24 hours before your regular opener isn’t something that usually works out for you, but it definitely worked out for the Raiders on Sunday.

It will be the third career start for Lynch, the Broncos’ first-round draft pick in 2016. He injured his right shoulder Aug. 26 in a preseason game against the Packers and hasn’t played since. In each of the last two preseasons, Lynch was beaten out for the starting job by Siemian.

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, who’s been searching for answers, used the word “mojo” a number of times when speaking to reporters earlier this week.

“Last year, we always pulled out the close games, and this year, we know we can do it and everything just hasn’t added up yet,’’ Raiders fullback and lineman Jon Feliciano told reporters this week, according to ESPN. “There’s something missing. That’s what [Del Rio] has been talking about, bringing that mojo back, that intangible that we had last year. We’ve got to bring it back this year.”bills_023

Owners will see the way the arrivals of McVay and Marrone coincided with instant and comprehensive turnarounds.

And they will believe, not wrongly, it could be their team next season. If you want to know why there’s so much coaching turnover in the NFL despite clear evidence continuity succeeds, it’s because there are also quick-fix examples such as the Rams and Jags every season. It’s easy to become intoxicated with the possibility. It might be even easier this season.

The upheaval of this season further shames teams stuck in a perpetual downswing. If even the Rams and Jaguars can rise for a season, why can’t the Browns even approach getting their act together?

Neither Keenum nor Foles carries the negativity Rex Grossman had as the Bears’ quarterback when they won the NFC title on the strength of a running game and defense in 2006. But before him, the likes of Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Delhomme, Brad Johnson, Kerry Collins and Chris Chandler were more the norm on one side of the Super Bowl.

Keenum vs. Foles is nothing new, and in a copycat league, their teams’ success should open up a lot of old-school possibilities.

Of her experience with the Falcons, Sowers said, “I could not have asked for a more open minded and accepting group of people to work with. I never once felt judged and I was treated just like anyone would want to be treated: as a typical person working to build a career.”

Sowers said that she thought an openly gay male coach “would be accepted just like anyone else.” She added, “What most people need to remember is that the NFL is a place of work for these players and it is a job that provides for their families. They are professionals and what you will find is they act like professionals in everything they do.”

The agreement could lead to a reduction in the number of players participating in the protests. Jenkins said he no longer would raise his fist during the anthem, as he had been doing. But Jenkins and Boldin acknowledged that the deal does not directly address the protests.cowboys_100

A pair of killer turnovers buried the Vikings in the first half.

After failing to generate a takeaway against the Falcons, Philly’s defense swung the contest early with Patrick Robinson’s 50-yard, against-the-grain pick six of Case Keenum to tie the affair at 7-7. Keenum’s arm was hit on the throw by Chris Long, triggering the quarterback’s first pick six all season and the lone defensive touchdown allowed by the Vikings during an otherwise stellar campaign.

The Eagles have been the league’s best and most complete team for most of the season as Wentz, in his second year, elevated his play to MVP caliber. But after he he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Sunday, Philadelphia must try to win a Super Bowl with fill-in Nick Foles. Watson was well on his way to being the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year and establishing himself as one of the league’s next-generation headliners at quarterback before tearing an ACL .

Theo Riddick, RB, Lions: As an owner of Riddick in a league in which my backfield is thin, the increase in his workload comes at a terrific time. But be warned: Detroit Coach Jim Caldwell has said he expects Ameer Abdullah (neck) to be back in the mix in Week 15. Certainly that could reduce Riddick’s ceiling against a Bears defense that has been a sieve against the run, having surrendered four 100-yard games over the past six weeks. Riddick owners hope when it comes to playing this weekend, the Lions will look at his production in the past two weeks.

Kelly remains a polarizing figure within the league. In informal recent conversations with front office executives from several teams, there was a mix of opinions. Some continue to regard Kelly as a bright offensive mind with innovative ideas who brought about his own downfall in Philadelphia by being granted too much power over shaping the roster, then landed in an impossible and dysfunctional situation in San Francisco that resulted in a too-quick firing. Others now dismiss him as a two-time NFL failure who would be wise to return to college coaching.

Which is it? That’s where things get more complicated.

“I understand what our fans feel about this issue,” Goodell said. “And we feel the same way about the importance of our flag, about the importance of patriotism. And I believe our players feel that way.”

The Thunder didn’t want to be props in a ceremony for James.

James will eventually get to 30,000 and join Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) and Dirk Nowitzki (30,808) on the select list.

“I was hopeful it took two games for him to get that,” George said. “I’ve been part of a lot of those baskets he’s had. That’s an achievement or a milestone I didn’t want to be a part of.”

Coughlin went 3-2 against Belichick in the regular season as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants, with the two losses coming by a combined four points. But of course, Coughlin truly became a thorn in Belichick’s side during their two postseason encounters: Super Bowls XLII and XLVI, each of which ended with Coughlin’s Giants hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. That 0-2 playoff record is Belichick’s worst mark against any opposing head coach.

Yes, Coughlin will be at this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, representing the Jaguars. But no, he is not the head coach, nor will he be on the sideline. Nonetheless, Coughlin’s mark is branded on every coach and player he’s been around in his first season as Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations. These Jags have showcased Coughlin-esque tendencies since the day he arrived.

Why has Coughlin been so successful against Belichick? That’s a great question for two of his former players: center Shaun O’Hara and quarterback David Carr. O’Hara played seven seasons for Coughlin’s Giants and was part of the Super Bowl XLII team, while Carr served under the coach in New York during two separate stints and was a member of the Super Bowl XLVI squad.

And while we’re here, this is the look of a man dying just a little bit on the inside after his quarterback made an ill-fated decision to throw the football at the goal line. It reminded me of the face Pete Carroll made at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. Does anyone else find it the least bit strange that the Patriots were the incredibly fortunate beneficiaries of stunning unforced errors in both cases?

Greg Olsen, TE, Panthers: For clarification, Olsen is not an option for owners in Week 11 as Carolina is on a bye. Olsen has been out since departing in Week 2 with a broken foot, but he is in line to come off the injured reserve list and play in Week 12. Olsen’s ownership has trickled upward the last couple of days, but he remains available in more than 40 percent of ESPN leagues.cowboys_052

Wisniewski says Philadelphia’s offensive improvement throughout the game reflected a growing comfort level between Foles and his blockers.

With George’s shoe being the newest in Nike’s signature line, it’s also slotted as the least expensive, just north of $100. That price point has forced Hardman to do more with less, while still bringing design and innovation to the line.

That’s the challenge. People expect a lot out of signature product, Hardman said. You have to be a little craftier with how you do the design and how you’re going to bring energy to it. The kid wants everything. They want the $110 shoe to be just like the [$185] LeBron shoe.

Last year, the PG1’s debut colorway hearkened back to one of Paul’s favorite hobbies, his love of fishing. With a gray fish-scaled upper and white accents, the sneaker spoke to his more relaxed off-court approach. For this season, the brand is bringing together its first collaboration for the PG series, partnering with Sony’s PlayStation gaming system for a first-of-its-kind sneaker on the NBA hardwood.

The Eagles scored on three of their final four possessions before ending the game with kneel-downs. Foles also wasn’t sacked after Philadelphia’s opening possession.

Obviously, Wentz was known for running around and, as an O-lineman, you’ve got to be ready to adjust to that, Wisniewski said. Nick has a different way of doing things. We have to be aware of where our quarterback is, but you also have to know where he likes to move if he’s going to move.

There’s always guys that aren’t going to understand it and like it, but if we can get two, three, four, five of the guys to embrace it, Walton said. I’m a big believer in you train your muscles in the weight room, you train your skills out here on the court.

Your mind is like a muscle, it can be trained. It needs work, it needs quiet time, especially in today’s world that we live in with social media and constant stimulation to your phone all day. It’s important for guys to understand you can train your mind to gain an advantage in this sport that we play.

1. Mayfield won three consecutive Big 12 titles and dominated the college ranks, but scouts have a few questions, and the Senior Bowl will begin to provide some answers. Oklahoma listed him at 6-foot-1, but the annual Senior Bowl weigh-in will give scouts an accurate height down to an eighth of an inch. How comfortable will Mayfield be in running a basic, more pro-style offense at the Senior Bowl as opposed to the shotgun spread attack he employed at OU? NFL coaches and scouts will be watching for that as well.cowboys_026