With a Bang…

The NFL post-season officially began this evening, and the Patriots started off with a lil’ bit of gusto.

A surgically precise nuclear strike may be the effective description.

After a week of Tebowing in Tebowmania the clock struck midnight on Denver’s Cinderella story as their wunderkind anti-quarterback fall down go boom.  Not that Tim Tebow played a completely inept game and certainly not that he was completely to blame, but Tom Brady came out looking like a first ballot Hall of Famer with something to prove.

Looking to win their first playoff game since the ‘magical’ run of 2007 versus San Diego, Brady threw for a touchdown to Wes Welker on the opening drive, setting up an NFL record five passing TD’s in the first half for the Pats who would score six passing TD’s over-all in a 45 to 10 rout.

As CBS’ Dan Marino said during the game’s  halftime show, “The only way the Denver Broncos have a chance of coming back is if Brady goes and plays for the Broncos.”

The 6 passing touchdowns ties an NFL playoff record (The last quarterback to throw six touchdowns in a postseason game was San Francisco’s Steve Young in Super Bowl XXIX against the San Diego Chargers) while Rob Gronkowski’s 3 TD receptions ties a record for the same playoff feat.  Brady, with Gronkowski, Hernandez, Welker and Branch set team highs for playoff performances.  The Defense played easily their most outstanding game of the entire season.  It was a loud and very obvious statement not only to Denver but to the rest of the remaining playoff teams.

In other news:

In my first effort to mention new Sox manager Bobby V., here are some slightly interesting tidbits courtesy of ESPNBoston.com.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn’t sound overly impressed Saturday when assessing the Yankees’ quick-strike addition of Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda to their rotation. “They’re probably an upgrade from (Bartolo) Colon and (Freddy) Garcia. Probably. I don’t know. It seems it.”  Valentine told the Providence Journal at a Jimmy Fund event in Boston.  “Pineda, when I saw him the first half, he looked unhittable.  Second half, he looked OK, (The Mariners) saw a lot of him and they traded him.  Kuroda is a good pitcher — a year older than he was last year, pitching in the American League and not the National League, pitching in not a great pitcher’s ballpark (Yankee Stadium) from a great pitcher’s ballpark (Dodger Stadium).”

Valentine did make a couple of valid points there: Pineda had a 3.03 ERA and eight wins before the All-Star break and a 5.12 ERA and just one win after it; and Kiroda has a career 3-8 record and 4.33 ERA against American League opponents.  One thing Valentine couldn’t argue was the Yankees’ rotation certainly got a lot deeper.

Also, Valentine did not confirm reports that the Red Sox had extended a spring training invite to catcher Jason Varitek, but he did mention Saturday he didn’t forsee a situation where either Varitek or veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield returned to the team without a role defined for them.   “I couldn’t imagine having Wake come in and compete for a job, I can’t imagine that. Even ’Tek, for that matter. It’s not something I can imagine.”  He called Varitek’s long-tenured situation with the club “unique” and said it “should be handled in a unique way.”

Varitek has not yet officially signalled his intention to retire.

Pedro Martinez had a message for the Red Sox on Friday night: They should not cut ties with Jason Varitek. Not now. Not ever.  You have to keep him in Boston. He was our head, our captain. He should retire as a member of the Red Sox, and never leave.” Martinez said at a charity dinner in his honor at the Liberty Hotel. With former Sox general manager Dan Duquette in the audience, Martinez joked about resuming pitching in the big leagues for the Baltimore Orioles, where Duquette has landed as GM.  Relating a story he said he’d never shared before, Duquette described how he and Martinez’s agent, Bob Gilhooly, came to terms on a new contract for Martinez at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. They made the deal, Duquette said, under pressure from members of the Secret Service, who with their search dogs were impatiently waiting for them to exit their suite so they could prepare it for a soon-to-be arriving guest — President Clinton.  They got the deal done, Duquette said, thanks to a Secret Service agent who said he was from Maine.  “I don’t know who this guy is,” the agent said to his superior, gesturing at Duquette, who was sitting on the edge of the bed, “but he’s trying to sign Pedro Martinez. The President of the United States can wait.”

Martinez expressed his unending affection for Boston and called winning the 2004 World Series and the parade that followed the highlight of his career.


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