23.10.2018 at 09:21 #20247
FOXBOROUGH Authentic Randall Cobb Jersey , Mass. — Having already survived two win-or-go-home battles, the Tennessee Titans face their toughest test when they visit the defending champion New England Patriots in Saturday night’s AFC divisional round game.
The Titans pulled out a 15-10 home win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their regular-season finale to earn a spot in the playoffs. They then went on the road and rallied from 21-3 down and stunned the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 to advance for the second time.
Now, the Titans are two-touchdown underdogs as the Patriots are expected by most people to take the next step toward their sixth Super Bowl crown of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Era.
“It just shows that how tough of a team they are under the pressure,” New England’s Rob Gronkowski said earlier this week. “They’ve basically won two playoff games — one to get into the playoffs and a playoff game last week. It just shows how tough they are, how fundamental they are and that they’re ready to bring it in the clutch times.”
The Patriots have won the last six games between the teams and the Titans haven’t won in Foxborough since 1993, when they were the Houston Oilers.
While the Titans were pulling off their major comeback against the Chiefs, the Patriots were going through another bye week, but one that was filled with controversy. An ESPN report dealt with dissension among New England’s power trio of owner Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady — much of it centering around the Pats’ trade of Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for just a second-round draft choice.
So, the Patriots have been dealing with questions all week — as the Titans just prepare.
“You know what, I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know anything about it,” Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey said on a conference call with the New England media, regarding the controversy. “I’m not a social media guy. I don’t know enough, I really don’t, to make any comment about something like that.”
One thing, besides championships, the Patriots have become known for is blocking out distractions. Belichick simply won’t allow any outside stimuli to affect his team.
“Throughout my years here I’ve seen a lot of negative, a lot of positive,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “The reputation that Coach tries to get us to have is just ignore the noise — ignore the noise from the outside and I feel like that’s what myself and a lot of other players have been doing.
“You just gotta ignore the noise and just focus on what we’ve been doing all year and that’s preparing hard, studying our opponent, getting ready, mentally and physically for the big game, so what’s going on on the outside, as a team, as an organization, just gotta keep grinding, keep going, keep doing our job.”
The New England defense is spending the week preparing for mobile quarterback Marcus Mariota, a third-year pro who can make things happen with his legs. He ran 87 yards for a 2015 touchdown.
“He actually knows when to run and when to pass the ball when scrambling,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said Wednesday. “It’s a very unique skill because a lot of guys once they get scrambling, they’re not even looking downfield anymore, they’re just looking to run. But he always has his eyes downfield — always knows when to run, when to throw the pass, I would say his touch on the ball, too, that gets people open when he’s scrambling.”
Mariota, who threw 13 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions during the regular season, had two touchdown passes and one pick in the playoff win. One of the touchdowns passes actually went to himself after Darrelle Revis batted down one of his passes before Mariota caught it and scored.
But Mariota was also sixth in the NFL (Brady was first) in third-down passer rating.
Wednesday Womens Randall Cobb Jersey , the Titans announced running back DeMarco Murray will miss his third straight game with a knee injury, while the Patriots could get both James White and Rex Burkhead back to further fortify a running game that has excelled even without them thanks to Dion Lewis.
Earlier this week, Titans’ All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said the goal of his defense is pretty simple — turn Brady into Blake Bortles.
“It’s a playoff game, so it’s not like it’s the preseason where I can go out there, ‘Oh, it’s Brady,’ and I’m chillin’,” Byard said Tuesday.
“This is a playoff game. So I don’t really care if it was Joe Montana. You know what I’m saying? I’m trying to go out there and win the game. I want to make him look like Blake Bortles if I can and try to catch a couple picks.
“Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but it’s a playoff game. I’m not really looking at it like that.”
Cornerback Logan Ryan, a former Patriots player now with the Titans, has been limited in practice with an ankle injury.
Clayton Kershaw pitched his way to freedom while earning his first win in 2 1/2 months.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner won’t be facing any further restrictions in his next start after a solid outing in the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ 8-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Five Dodgers homered including Max Muncy with a pair, and the team’s six homers were the most they’ve hit at home since also launching six on Sept. 9, 2013, against Arizona.
”You want to get guys back in the dugout as fast as possible the way they’re swinging the bats,” said Kershaw, who was limited by a pitch count in his last three outings.
Ivan Nova (4-6) became the first pitcher in Pirates history to give up five homers in a game. Pittsburgh has been outscored 25-4 in the first two games of the series.
”They’re horses over there. It’s a stacked team,” Pirates third baseman David Freese said. ”They’ve just got really good approaches right now and they’re on time, all of them are on time.”
The Dodgers have 11 homers three days into July and 122 so far this season after slugging a major league-leading and franchise-record 55 in June.
”It’s pretty remarkable what we’re doing,” manager Dave Roberts said. ”When I look at what we’ve accomplished offensively, we’re in some uncharted territory.”
Kershaw (2-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings of his third start since coming off the disabled list. The left-handed ace’s two strikeouts were against Nova and Kershaw didn’t walk anyone to earn his first victory since April 15 at Arizona. He had two losses and four straight no-decisions since.
”His velo is down a little bit but he’s still got that cutter and he works it. He’s just a guy that locates,” Freese said. ”You can sense when he’s out there that he trusts every pitch he’s about to throw. That’s that makes him really good.”
Kershaw had not gone as late as July 3 with just one win since his rookie year in 2008 when he didn’t earn his second victory until Aug. 7.
”It’s kind of what we wanted,” Roberts said of Kershaw. ”The fifth and sixth innings were probably the best for me. The ball came out well. We can feel confident going forward the reins are off.”
Joc Pederson and Muncy homered back-to-back for the second straight game.
Pederson sent Nova’s first pitch of the game over the right-field wall and Muncy followed with a shot to center field for a 2-0 lead.
”They have a really good lineup but we’ve got to be able to do a better job than that,” Nova said.
Muncy led off the third with his team-high 20th homer for a 3-1 lead.
”I never thought I could hit this many home runs in such a short amount of time,” said Muncy, who has played in just 63 games this season.
Freese provided the lone bright spot for the Pirates, going 3 for 3 with a pair of RBI singles that twice cut the Dodgers’ lead to one run, and a solo homer off reliever Yimi Garcia.
Chris Taylor kept the slugfest going in the fourth with a two-run shot that made it 5-2. He went 3 for 4 with a strikeout and finished a single shy of hitting for the cycle.
”It seems to be contagious up and down the lineup, which makes it fun in the dugout,” Taylor said.
Yasmani Grandal led off the sixth with a homer and Taylor doubled to deep center field to chase Nova.
Nova gave up a season-high seven earned runs and nine hits, struck out three and walked two in five innings.
”It’s not fun to give up that many homers,” Nova said. ”Sometimes you give up that many runs and you don’t feel that bad, but giving up five homers is too much.”
Nova’s replacement didn’t fare any better. Enrique Hernandez blasted a two-run homer on the first pitch from Dovydas Neverauskas, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 8-2.
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp’s run of eight hits in eight consecutive at-bats ended when he struck out to end the first. One night after tying a career high with five hits, including a three-run homer, Kemp was hitless in four at-bats with two other strikeouts.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (right index finger infection) went on the DL retroactive to June 30. He was scheduled to start Wednesday’s series finale.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler was moved to the DL retroactive to June 29. He began a rehab assignment for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga.
RHP Clay Holmes (0-0, 2.25 ERA) will replace Musgrove in the series finale on Wednesday. Dodgers LHP Rich Hill (1-3, 4.68) took a no-hitter into extra innings in Pittsburgh last August before allowing a walk-off solo homer in the 10th.
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