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Patriots need to revise their formula for success

Sunday’s sobering loss to the Eagles should serve as a wakeup call for the Patriots.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff/Globe Staff

Picked-up pieces while planning to publish my next big scoop in The Players Tribune . . .

 The Patriots Revenge Tour has become the Survival Tour. It all turned after the Washington win (8-0) as the body count mounted. The way the Patriots beat the Giants and Bills — victories owed to bailouts from Tom Brady, opponent stupidity, trickeration, and dumb luck — was simply not sustainable.

The Patriots were cuffed around by the Giants and Bills and needed miracles to come up with two victories to get to 10-0. This is not a workable formula for success. Ordinarily, winning football games comes down to talent and execution, not the time-tested Patriot way of waiting for the other guy to fall down.

If they want to advance to the Super Bowl, the wounded Patriots can't simply rely on the brilliance of Bill Belichick, the clutch play of Brady, and the abject mediocrity of the AFC. You actually have to be a good team.


Not to go all Trent Dilfer on you, but how good are the Patriots right now? They have no running game and no deep threats. Their offensive line has been awful. The defense looked strong in midseason, but lately they can't stop the run (certainly not without Dont'a Hightower) and they have little pass rush.

It will be great to see Gronk and (hopefully) Julian Edelman back for the playoffs, but are we supposed to think Brady can take this team to Santa Clara with little more than the dink-and-dunk passing game?

 Lots of steroid forgiveness in baseball these days. First we had Manny Ramirez helping out hitters with the Cubs, then Alex Rodriguez taking his redemption tour to television for the World Series. Now Mark McGwire is elevated to bench coach with the Padres and Barry Bonds will join the Marlins as hitting coach.

All this while the commissioner says that fantasy sports are not gambling. So when does Pete Rose get welcomed back? And how about Shoeless Joe Jackson for the Hall of Fame while we're at it?

 Quiz: Name the two colleges that can boast of having three Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks? (answer below).

 New Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy grew up in Brookline next door to the great Peter Gammons and first went to Fenway Park with his dad, Episcopal minister Thomas Kennedy. They took advantage of the $2 “clergy pass.’’ According to Kennedy, the Red Sox have 311 employees, not including ballplayers. And yes, the clergy pass still exists.

The NCAA has relaxed the six-win requirement for bowl eligibility, which means we have sub-.500 teams playing in bowl games. Oh, goody.

 Pretty sweet December lineup for the Celtics at the Garden. We get the history-making, world champion Warriors on Friday night. LeBron James makes his only regular-season visit next Tuesday with the Cavaliers. Two days after Christmas, rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis (he’s the 20-year-old, 7-foot-3-inch Latvian who was booed on draft day) and the Knicks come to the Garden, and on Dec. 30, it’ll be the final Boston appearance for Kobe Bryant.

 David Price’s best moment against the Red Sox came in Game 7 of the 2008 ALCS when he was 23 years old and he was summoned by Joe Maddon to face J.D. Drew with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the eighth and Tampa leading, 3-1.

Price was only one year out of Vanderbilt. He worked the count to 1 and 2, then threw a 97-mile-per-hour heater on the black. Drew committed, tried to hold back, but was ruled out on a checked swing by home plate umpire Brian Gorman.

When I asked Drew the following spring if he'd ever looked at a replay of the controversial call/moment, J.D. shrugged and said, "Nah. Wouldn't do any good.''


Terry Francona still thinks the 2008 Red Sox might have been his best team. The Sox have won a playoff game in only one of seven seasons since the night Price fanned J.D.

 Though winless in eight postseason starts, Price has not been that bad under pressure. Four of his eight postseason starts qualify as quality starts. In 2013, in a one-game playoff between Texas and Tampa Bay (counts as regular season), Price went nine innings in a 5-2 win. It put his team in the playoffs. In the final game of 2014, with the Tigers on the brink of falling into a tie with Kansas City, Price shut out the Twins for 7 innings and got the win to clinch the division for the Tigers. Just sayin’.

Speaking of Price, can we cease with the silly “here’s how much he makes per start, per pitch’’ calculations. Professional athletes are paid preposterous sums. We get it. But they are at the top of their profession and get market value.

Don't tell me Price makes $8,800 per pitch. Was that one pitch to Drew worth $8,000 to the Rays that year?

A 30-year-old boxer who get $1 million for winning a fight that last 30 seconds does not make $1 million for 30 seconds of work. He makes $1 million for 20-plus years of work it took him to get to that moment.

Your plumber is no different, only cheaper (not much, maybe). You are paying for his lifetime education, training, and experience. When someone asks me how long it took to write a column, I tell 'em it took 62 years to write that column.

 The New York Football Giants are back in a three-way tie for first place despite their hideous 5-7 record. Folks in the Apple suggest that Tom Coughlin might have gotten himself fired when he went for the touchdown on fourth and 2 from the Jets’ 4 with a 10-point lead in Sunday’s loss. Hope not.

But the Giants have lost too many games they should have won this year. According to Bill Pennington of the Times, if each Giants game this season ended with 75 seconds left in regulation, the Giants would be 10-2 instead of 5-7. That hurts.

I’m with Nick Cafardo on the Wade Miley trade. We all know the Sox need to beef up middle relief, but it would have been better to trade Joe Kelly or Clay Buchholz.

 We were flooded with remembrances of Jungle Jim Loscutoff when he died last week. A few more:

Loscy loved cigars and fire engines. Red Auerbach turned his muscle man into a cigar smoker, and Loscy always packed a bunch for his annual trip to Florida. He also once bought an antique fire engine to display at his children's Camp Evergreen in Andover.

New Hampshire attorney Joe Mitchell remembers an appearance by Loscy at the tiny Groton High gym in the late 1950s. The kids were expecting Frank Ramsey, but Loscy substituted when Ramsey had an illness in the family.


"He explained he was going to show us a few tricks of the trade,'' recalled Mitchell. "Using one of us as a foil, he demonstrated how to pull on a cutting player's shorts, push off a jump shooter's lower chest [after the shot, when all eyes are toward the basket] to get a quick start on the rebound, and associated other pieces of big-time art.''

All those tricks are from the Book of Red.

 Put me down as one who wants Michigan State to beat smug/lyin’ Nick Saban and Alabama on New Year’s Eve.

Glad to see Orioles executive vice president/baseball ops Dan Duquette had the smarts to hire Jeremy Kapstein (a.k.a. the man with the giant yellow headphones sitting behind home plate at Fenway). The former Larry Lucchino operative will be of great value to the Duke. Kapstein sees things. His evaluations invariably prove correct.

Words you never thought you’d hear from a Yankee boss: “Where their franchise happens to be sitting versus where we happen to be sitting, they have the ability to do certain things more so than we do.’’

That was general manager Brian Cashman on the Red Sox signing Price.

 Quiz answer: Alabama and Purdue. ’Bama had Bart Starr, Joe Namath, and Ken Stabler. Purdue had Len Dawson, Bob Griese, and Drew Brees.

Follow Dan Shaughnessy on Twitter at @Dan_Shaughnessy.