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The secret to the Patriots’ success . . . and other takeaways

This Duron Harmon interception is one of eight picks the Patriots have made this season; their opponents have made just one.
This Duron Harmon interception is one of eight picks the Patriots have made this season; their opponents have made just one.John Cetrino/EPA

Picked-up pieces while contemplating 16-0 and 19-0 . . .

  This doesn’t get mentioned enough: The No. 1 reason the Patriots win every week is ball security. Through seven games the Patriots have THREE giveaways. Two lost fumbles and one interception (which we all know was an accurate pass that bounced off Julian Edelman). The Patriots never, ever give the ball away. Not even with properly inflated footballs. The Detroit Lions already have 20 giveaways.

  Nov. 5 marks the 30th anniversary of Bill Walton’s 32d birthday, which was also the day his first wife arranged to have a stripper perform for him at midcourt of the gym at Hellenic College (Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology) after Celtics practice.

A couple of members of the Grateful Dead were on hand (Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, if memory serves), but the one thing I'm certain of is that Danny Ainge and Greg Kite bolted for the locker room as soon as the young lady with the boom box began her routine.

"Whatever happened to a simple birthday cake?'' Kite asked as he left the scene.

A red-faced Walton sat in a folding chair at midcourt for the performance, which had been OK'd by Celtics coach K.C. Jones. Something tells me this would not happen today.

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  As reported by Nick Cafardo in Sunday’s Globe, Jeremy Kapstein is among the first victims of Larry Lucchino getting the boot from the Red Sox. The man with the yellow headphones sitting behind home plate is going to be missed by the Red Sox. Kapstein was old-school, unconventional, and never a favorite of the top-heavy baseball ops department, but he was also invariably correct in his baseball evaluations.

Dr. Charles Steinberg, another Lucchino operative, was seen moving stuff out of his Fenway Park office last week to another Sox office across the street.

  World Series TV ratings were up this year (thank you, Mets), but the final game was still beaten by “Sunday Night Football.” It was 23 million for Packers-Broncos compared with 17.2 million for Mets-Royals. Closer than I expected.

  A couple of my e-mailers think Dave Dombrowski looks like a young George Plimpton and Torey Lovullo sounds like Steve Carell’s Michael Scott on “The Office.’’

  The first words in the NFL’s appeal of Judge Richard “Ito” Berman’s decision to vacate Tom Brady’s suspension are, “Stripped of its celebrity . . .”

The NFL clearly believes that Berman got a little starstruck while he was rendering his decision.

  Five World Series games should be enough to alert 30 general managers about the risks of taking on Yoenis Cespedes. New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault ripped Cespedes, saying, “How ’bout the one when you take the ball off [the knee] and you take yourself out of the game in the World Series?” then apologized for the remark.

  We have legendary teams, venues, and individuals on tap for some of our local college programs.

There are no seats available for the Catholic Super Bowl when Notre Dame plays Boston College in a Fighting Irish "home" game Nov. 21 at Fenway Park. Even though BC has struggled badly this season, it's an impossible ticket to score.

Then get ready for Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans at historic Matthews Arena on Huntington Ave. The Northeastern Huskies are playing Michigan State in men's and women's basketball, and men's hockey, on the weekend of Dec. 18-19. The Huskies-Spartans men's hoop game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.

Next year, on Nov. 12, 2016, Holy Cross is going to play Fordham at Yankee Stadium. The Crusaders have downgraded in a big way since the Orange Bowl days of the 1940s. Fordham, of course, was the collegiate home of Vince Lombardi and the Seven Blocks of Granite. (HC and Fordham are both mentioned on Page 122 of Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises.")

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  Talked to Jim Leyland at the World Series. He loves Dombrowski and says, “The Red Sox are going to get good real quick.’’

  Tyler Seguin’s hat trick Tuesday made me long for the days of Bob Lobel’s 11 p.m. recap on Channel 4, which surely would have included, “Why can’t we get players like that?’’

  Former Herald sports columnist Michael Gee took a lot of heat in 2007 when he suggested that the Patriots might be better off losing just one game before the start of the playoffs. Woe to the person who suggests that this time around.

  Lucas Duda made a bad throw that cost his team Game 5 of the World Series, but you have to like any young player who strolls to the plate to the tune of Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower.’’

  Citi Field features “Piano Man” on the PA before the home half of the eighth when the Mets are leading. At the moment Billy Joel croons, “The manager gives me a smile,’’ a giant image of a grinning Terry Collins flashes on the big board in center. This is what was happening late Sunday at the same moment Matt Harvey was successfully (and unfortunately) lobbying Collins to let him return to the mound for the ninth inning of Game 5.

  There are plans for an Ernie Banks statue at Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, which Banks attended. Booker T. did not have a baseball team when Ernie graduated in 1950. He played basketball and football and ran track in high school.

  Former Red Sox reliever John Trautwein will receive the first Champion Award for his work with the Will To Live Foundation Thursday at the Seaport Boston Hotel. Trautwein, who lost his son to suicide in 2010, will be honored by Screening for Mental Health, founders of massmen.org. Trautwein’s book, “My Living Will,” is available on Amazon. Anyone who wants to attend Thursday’s event can call 781-239-0071.

  Channel 4’s Steve Burton will soon be known as “Austin’s Dad.’’ Austin Burton, a junior at Newton South, leads all Eastern Massachusetts quarterbacks with 27 touchdown passes. He chucked four TDs in a victory over Haverhill in the first round of the EMass tournament last weekend. It was South’s first football playoff win in more than 30 years.

Burton will lead South against Billerica in a Division 2 North semifinal Friday night at Billerica.

Both of Austin's older sisters are Division 1 basketball players (Kendall at Villanova, Kayla at Lehigh), and his baby sister Veronica might be the best of the bunch.

Parents Ginni (swimming) and Steve (football) were varsity athletes at Northwestern. Austin's grandfather, the late Ron Burton, was the first player ever drafted by the Boston Patriots. The Ron Burton Training Village in Hubbardston has served more than 4,000 youngsters over the last three decades.


Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_Shaughnessy