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12/12/2010 - 11:03pm
Sources: Rivera initiated contact with Sox

According to multiple major league sources, Mariano Rivera's representatives were the ones to initiate contact with the Red Sox in an attempt to get the team interested in the closer. While the Red Sox would ultimately make a two-year offer to Rivera, according to sources the team's expectation was that he would be returning to the Yankees. The 41-year-old ultimately re-signed with New York, securing a two-year, $30 million deal.

 

While there was some thought that because of the offer to Rivera the Red Sox were prepared to non-tender closer Jonathan Papelbon, separate sources suggest the Sox were never inclined to let Papelbon become a free agent this offseason. In the short-term, the team valued the reliever's presence in the back-end of its bullpen, while long-term it coveted  any draft picks that might come the Sox' way if Papelbon were to sign elsewhere in free agency next year. The Sox' closer is arbitration-eligible for a third...

12/12/2010 - 8:49pm
Brady: 'It was a fun day'

Tom Brady continued his incredible late-season run on Sunday at Soldier Field with 369 yards passing and two touchdowns in the Patriots' 36-7 romp over the Bears. He has now thrown 268 passes without an interception, the third-best streak in NFL history. 

 

"There's a long way to go I don't think anything's been accomplished yet. We don't sit here and think we've got it all figured out." Brady said of the playoff-clinching rout. 

 

Brady capped off a nearly-perfect first half with a 59-yard bomb to Deion Branch, making it 33-0 on the final play before halftime. "I thought it was great to get out to a lead today, to play from ahead, that was really important. We took advantage of some opportunities we got on offense. We also didn't take advantage of some other opportunities. It was a fun day. We'll remember that one. 

 

"It was one of those days, one of those days...

12/12/2010 - 8:23pm
Deion: Brady said 'No' to taking knee

The play that will be recalled as the one that put away the Bears as time ran out in the first half Sunday almost never happened.

 

Deion Branch caught a 59-yard 'hitch and go' route from Tom Brady down the left sideline as time expired in the first half. But Branch said there was "a lot of yelling" on the Patriots sideline with one coach yelling out for Brady to take a knee with a 27-0 lead. 

 

"At one point, the coach was telling us to take a knee [laughter] and I'm looking at Tom like, 'take a knee,' and he was like, ''No.' He called a route and I was like, 'Alright, good. That's a good route.' I'm thankful to have him," said Branch, who felt the TD made up for the 71-yard punt return for a TD by Julian Edelman that was called back because of holding by rookie Dane Fletcher.

 

"But if you think about it they took the punt return away from Julian, which was a big minus...

12/12/2010 - 8:06pm
Deion: Playoff clinch 'doesn't mean anything'

In the moments following their 36-7 win over the Bears at Soldier Field, Deion Branch said it's nice to have clinched a spot in the playoffs but that is hardly their end goal. 

 

"It doesn't mean anything right now," said Branch, who set a new career regular-seaon best with 151 yards receiving. "I think the thing is we want to continue to improve each and every week, to see how far can we go, as far as what's next. That's a plus, knowing we're in the playoffs, that's a plus but I think there's more football left in the rest of the season. We have three games and we're looking forward to them."

 

The Patriots can clinch their second straight AFC East title and their 9th in 11 seasons with a win over Green Bay next week and a Jets loss at Pittsburgh. 

 

For more, visit the Patriots page at weei.com/patriots and the blog...

12/12/2010 - 8:02pm
Belichick: 'The credit goes to the players'

Bill Belichick met with the media following the Patriots' 36-7 win over the Bears on Sunday in Chicago. Belichick was understandably pleased with the effort of his team, now an NFL-best 11-2.

 

"The credit goes to the players," Belichick said. "They executed and did the things we needed to do. They've done it before and they've stepped up and did it again today. I'm really proud of the way they performed."

 

Deion Branch set a career high with 151 yards receiving and Tom Brady was again brilliant with 369 yards passing and two TDs. Belichick was impressed with the 59-yard TD connection by the two on the final play of the first half.

 

"Of course the play to Deion at the end of the half, that was two great players there making a great play," said Belichick. "You really have to give Tom and Deion credit there on that one, it was great execution."

 ...

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