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Mitch's Sports: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before: Patriots Rally For Huge Comeback Win

Down ten points in the fourth quarter, outplayed for the vast majority of the game, their best receiving threat out of the game with concussion symptoms. Yep, the New England Patriots had the Jacksonville Jaguars right where they wanted them.

We shouldn't be surprised any more, but each successive comeback victory, each improbable, sometimes seemingly impossible escape from the jaws of defeat has its own sense of drama, and the Patriots 24-20 win at Foxboro yesterday was another mini-thriller in the long chapter book of a franchise, player, and coach who are rewriting the history of the NFL before a fan base that can hardly believe their good fortune, while many more around the country are getting sick and tired of the narrative.

But you have to give credit where it's due, even if you equate Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with being the football versions of Darth Vader and Lord Voldermort. The Pats had lost Rob Gronkowski to a vicious helmet to helmet hit that left him dazed on the field, and he did not return, the NFL finally getting serious about concussion protocol following a hit, even if they haven't figured out how to protect their players for the long term. Without Gronk, and with Brady constantly being pressured and hit by the fast and powerful Jacksonville defensive line, it looked grim for New England, especially facing a third down and 18 from their own 25, trailing by ten.

But Brady found a way, hitting Danny Amendola for a 21-yard gain and a first down. Then 31 yards to Phillip Dorset for his only catch of the day, but a big one. And the drive kept going, culminating with a nine yard toss to Amendola for a touchdown and suddenly it was a three point game. The Patriots defense held on the next Jaguars possession and then Brady went to work again, driving the Pats downfield and finding Amendola for the go-ahead touchdown, and this catch by Amendola was remarkable, Brady slinging a fastball that #80 had to go airborne to snag while somehow keeping both feet in bounds at the very back of the end zone even as the momentum from the throw was pushing him out.

And let's not forget the other MVP play in a game chock full of them. The Jaguars would have scored a go-ahead touchdown of their own if not for a brilliant defensive play on their final drive by Stephon Glimore, the Patriots cornerback who leaped in the air and with one hand smacked down a Blake Bortles pass on 4th and 15 that was ready to fall into the arms of wide receiver Dede Westbrook and if it had, he'd have gone end zone for sure, ruining all of Brady's previous heroics. Just a great play by Gilmore, the biggest of his career to this point.

The game was finally secured when the Pats took over following that defensive gem and Dion Lewis atoned for an earlier fumble by rushing for a first down on third and none and the Pats were able to run out the clock from there. Yet another come from behind how did they do that classic from the Patriots, who now go for an unprecedented sixth super bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, and despite everything I've just said, I find it hard to believe that the Patriots are such overwhelming favorites for this game, given what the Eagles did to a very good Minnesota Vikings team did yesterday.

All the talk around the Eagles has been about whether back-up quarterback Nick Foles can do what MVP candidate Carson Wentz was doing before he went down with a season ending injury. But Foles looks more than comfortable in his role. Yesterday he torched the Vikings for 352 yards and three touchdowns in Philly's 38-7 romp over Minnesota. The Eagles have a defense that mirrors Jacksonville in having fast and relentless defenders who can get to a quarterback quickly, and players like Patrick Robertson who had a highlight reel 50-yard interception return for a touchdown yesterday.

You just have to wonder if Brady can pull off yet another comeback win if the Pats fall behind against Philly in the big game. It will also be critical for the Pats to have Gronkowski available for the super bowl, but even with a two week chance to rest, he should not be allowed to play if there's any sign that his concussion symptoms have not abated.

Meanwhile I have to admit I was rooting for the Vikings, if only because it would have been cool to see for the first time a team playing on their home field in the Super Bowl and also because the Vikings have never won a super bowl despite being there four times. As said, the Eagles have never won a super bowl either, but they did win the NFL title game before it was called the super bowl, back in 1960.

In the NBA the Orlando Magic beat the Boston Celtics 103-95 despite 40 points from Kyrie Irving.

In the NHL the LA Kings ended their 6 game losing skid beating the NY Rangers 4-2.

The UVM men's basketball team continues its best-in-the-nation conference winning streak, now 27 games without a loss against America East foes dating back to last season, after the Catamounts beat Hartford 76-53 yesterday.

Payton Henson had a team high 18 points for UVM in a game that was never in doubt, the Catamounts jumping out to an 18-3 lead in the first quarter en route to their ninth straight win, while upping their record to 16-5 on the season.

The UVM women were victorious against their Hartford counterparts as well, winning 53-47 at Patrick Gym. Hanna Crymble poured in 17 points and was joined in double figures by senior captain Sydney Smith, who scored 15, and Hayley Robertson added 14 in securing UVM's sixth win of the season.

Saint Michael's College Alpine skiing junior Guillaume Grand placed third in the giant slalom for his fifth career podium at the Colby College Carnival at Sugarloaf Mountain.

In other Nordic Ski events, Paul Rechberger's first individual collegiate victory helped lead the Castleton University men's alpine skiing team to third place in the giant slalom event at Ragged Mountain on Sunday.

Also at Ragged Mountain, the Castleton University women's alpine ski team placed second out of 10 competing schools in the giant slalom event, with Linn Ljungemo taking third place in the individual running to lead the Spartans, and the Spartan women finished in third place in the seven-kilometer Classical event Sunday at the Castleton Invitational, held at the Mountain Top Nordic Center. The Castleton men finished fourth, while UVM took first place.

Andrew Siegel of Vermont won Sunday's individual competition with a time of 19:17, just five seconds faster than Charlie Maitland of Clarkson, the only other racer to break the 20 minute barrier.  

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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