All last year, the Patriots' offensive line was celebrated as it offered 'max protection' for Tom Brady. Brady ended up being sacked on 3.51% of his passing attempts, good for 6th in the league.
But the space of 15 minutes in the first quarter of the Super Bowl, the Pats line turned 'old' as Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora got outside the NE tackles and knocked Brady out of rhythm.
Celtics fans rejoiced last summer, when GM Danny Ainge acquired -- in separate deals -- Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, multiple All-Star and likely Hall-of-Famers.
The Celtics cruised through the regular season, and won the first two games in the first round of the NBA playoffs over the Atlanta Hawks. But after two easy wins in Boston, the scene shifted to Atlanta.
And the Southern cooking went over well for the young Hawks. They bounced back on Saturday night with a 102-93 win, but everyone expected a different story tonight.
In tonight's game, the veteran Cs jumped to an early lead, as expected. But the lead stalled out in the first quarter as the offense settled for three pointers. After the Hawks climbed back, the Cs then went on another run to push the lead to 73-63 with 1:45 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth, Atlanta coach Mike Woodson simplified the playbook by turning the ball over to Atlanta's Joe Johnson, who lit up the Cs for 20 in the final quarter. Johnson played all but 2 minutes of the game, and coupled with active bodies like Josh Smith and Al Horford, they challenged Garnett on the boards on both ends of the floor.
The Cs do retain home court advantage, and return to Boston for Wednesday night's Game Five. But the inability to control Johnson, and to control the glass, raises serious questions about the future of this Celtics team. And unlike the Hawks, who start three young players (Smith, Horford, and Marvin Williams), for the Celtics, the future is now.