After two prime time games it is back off to the local sports bar for out of town fans without the Sunday Ticket this week. There will be a grand total of just eleven stations nationwide that will be broadcasting the Pats game at Jacksonville: eight in New England that always air the Pats, and three in Jaguar country. Here’s the full listing of those CBS stations:

  • WFSB in Hartford, CT
  • WBZ in Boston, MA
  • WSHM in Springfield, MA
  • WABI in Bangor, ME
  • WGME in Portland, ME
  • WAGM in Presque Isle, ME
  • WPRI in Providence, RI
  • WCAX in Burlington, VT
  • WGFL in Gainesville, FL
  • WTEV in Jacksonville, FL
  • WTOC in Savannah, GA

In case you are wondering if the Pats game is getting the least amount of coverage of any game this week, the answer is no. That dishonor goes to the Jets; their game versus San Diego will be broadcast by just six stations nationwide.

It is a Fox doubleheader this weekend; the big early game on CBS is Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (airing on 77 stations), and their only late game is Cleveland at Denver (36 stations). Other early games on CBS are Tennessee at Green Bay (28 stations), Indianapolis at Kansas City (21 stations), Oakland at Carolina (18 stations), and Buffalo at Miami (10 stations).

New Orleans at Dallas is the primary early game on Fox, both in New England and nationwide; it will be available on 104 affiliates. Other early games on Fox are Minnesota at Houston (45 stations); Washington at Philadelphia (26 stations); and St. Louis at Tampa Bay (18 stations). Seven cities (Charlotte, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, New York, and Pittsburgh) will get no early game on Fox due to archaic NFL broadcasting rules.

The late game on Fox in New England as well as most of the country is the Giants at the Ravens; it will be broadcast on 163 stations. The other late game on Fox is Chicago at Arizona; it will be available on 38 stations, while Denver gets no late game on Fox.


NBC earned a 15.2 overnight rating for the Pats-49ers “Sunday Night Football” game, which was up 35% from Ravens/Chargers last year (11.3), and even with Packers/Patriots in 2010 (15.2). It was NBC’s best NFL overnight rating since the Giants-Eagles in Week 4 (15.6), and NBC’s third-best overnight of the season.

When the final numbers came in 23.2 million people watched the game; it was the most watched show of the week and tops in the 18-49 demographic. In that category it blew away the competition, drawing more than 11 million viewers in that age group; the 2nd highest rated show was at less than 6.9 million.

In stark contrast was last night’s Week 15 edition of “Monday Night Football,” featuring the 6-7 Jets versus the 4-9 Titans. The game drew a 7.9 overnight rating on ESPN, which was down a whopping 27% from both Steelers-49ers last year (10.8) and Bears-Vikings in 2010 (10.8). The 7.9 overnight is tied as the third-lowest overnight of the season for “Monday Night Football”.


NBC Sports Network will air a new show in February featuring Michelle Beadle, who used to co-host a fluff show on ESPN with Colin Cowherd. Apparently the show will be titled “The Crossover”, air for a half-hour daily, and will feature a blend of sport and pop culture.


While the NBC Sports network still has a ways to go in filling their inventory of available space on their daily schedule, this doesn’t exactly spark my interest. How about an hour-long daily show on football during the NFL season, then the same for college football and other sports? I don’t care if it’s Wayne and Garth talking X’s and O’s, it would still be better than some of the programing they currently have.


Speaking of Cowherd, he is going to be leaving the above-mentioned “SportsNation” show. Charissa Thompson will remain, while Cowherd (who will retain his radio show) will be replaced by Marcellus Wiley. Wiley just seems to be too intelligent to be doing that show. To me a better fit would be Trey Wingo – he seems to be a wannabe comedian – and move Wiley to “NFL Live”.


Premiering this week:

Wednesday, December 19:
8:00 ET on NFL Network
“A Football Life” – The Immaculate Reception
We are just four days away from the 40th anniversary of the event. On 4th-and-10 from their own 40 with 22 seconds left to play Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to Frenchy Fuqua. Jack Tatum went for the big hit, Franco Harris caught the ricochet and ran it in 40 yards for the game-winning touchdown. Personally I don’t think Tatum ever touched the ball, so it should not have been a legal catch – but we get to analyze it all over again tomorrow.


No Thursday Night Football this week, though there is one game on Saturday: Atlanta at Detroit at 8:30 ET on espn.

If you need a football fix here are this week’s college bowl games; all games on espn, and all times eastern time zone:

– Thursday Dec 20 at 8:00: BYU vs San Diego State
– Friday Dec 21 at 7:30: Ball State vs Central Florida
– Saturday Dec 22 at 12:00: East Carolina vs Louisians-Lafayette
– Saturday Dec 22 at 3:30: Washington vs #19 Boise State
– Monday Dec 24 at 8:00: Fresno State vs Southern Methodist
– Wednesday Dec 26 at 7:30: Western Kentucky vs Central Michigan



This Day In Patriots History


December 18, 1960:
Houston Oilers 37, Boston Patriots 21

Butch Songin threw three third quarter touchdown passes to allow the upset-minded Patriots to take the lead and overcome a 13-point deficit, but Houston shut the Pats out in the 4th quarter to win the game. The Patriots finished their inaugural season with a 5-9 record while the Oilers would go on to win the AFL championship. Oscar Lofton had single game career highs for receiving yards (86) and touchdowns (2), while Songin had a career-best 327 yards passing and had no picks to go with the three touchdowns. Harry Jacobs led the Pats defense, who collectively forced six Houston turnovers, with two interceptions.


December 18, 1965 at Fenway Park:
Boston Patriots 42, Houston Oilers 14

The Pats finished the season on a high note, going 3-0-1 down the stretch, as they jumped out to a 26-point halftime lead and cruised to a 28-point victory. Gino Cappelletti caught two touchdown passes, kicked four field goals, and four extra points for a total of 28 points; he finished the season with a league-leading 132 points and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl. Cappelletti, who also led the league in field goal percentage in ’65, finished the game with 151 yards receiving.

Babe Parilli threw touchdown passes: 19 yards to Jim Colclough, and 26 and 57 yards to Cappelletti. Colclough would play for three more years with the Patriots but that 2nd quarter score, which put the Pats up 17-0, turned out to be the final one of his career. Parilli finished second in the league in passing yardage, and for the second straight year led the league in comeback victories. Rookie Jim Nance also scored a rushing touchdown; much more would be heard from him the following year.


December 18, 1976:
Oakland Raiders 24, Boston Patriots 21 at the Coliseum

The Ben Dreith Game.

I’ll leave it to you to google if you’re not familiar with it, but here’s my opinion: referee Ben Dreith was so intimidated by the crowd in Oakland he handed them the game. Perhaps I would prefer to think that is the reason for what happened rather than it being paid off by gamblers. Or maybe it was simply utter incompetence.

The Patriots had made the post-season for the first time in 13 years, winning the AFC East. In the regular season the Pats had crushed the Raiders 48-17. First Steve Grogan throws a perfect pass to Russ Francis, but the tight end can’t catch it because Oakland’s Phil Villapiano was flagrantly holding him – but no flag, and the Pats had to punt.

Then the New England defense appeared to have stopped Oakland when Dreith threw a flag on Ray ‘Sugar Bear’ Hamilton for a phantom roughing the passer penalty. Oakland would have had to turn the ball over but instead went on to score in the waning moments of the game. To this day Raider quarterback Ken Stabler says Hamilton did nothing wrong and was shocked at the call; the fact of the matter is that the Patriots were unjustly knocked out of the playoffs. To rub salt in the wound the Pats surely would have won the Super Bowl that year. The Steelers were decimated by injuries and Oakland beat them easily in the AFCCG, and this was one of those years where several AFC teams were better than any NFC team; the Raiders went on to beat the Vikings 32-14 in the Super Bowl.

Every once in a while you see a ‘top ten worst calls’, or there is a bad call and people talk about the Tuck Rule game. Sorry, the comparison is invalid – though I did find it fitting and pleasurable that it was the Raiders who would lose that game. Walt Coleman made the right call in 2001; it may be a bad rule, but it was the correct call. Dreith on the other hand – who said this past year that the replacement referees were doing a great job – got that call (and the previous one) totally wrong.

As for the game itself Francis had 96 yards receiving, including a 26-yard TD reception, and Andy Johnson and Jess Phillips both rushed for a touchdown – but nobody remembers or cares about that.


December 18, 1977:
Baltimore Colts 30, New England Patriots 24 at Memorial Stadium

For the second straight year questionable officiating ended the Pats season – though this time it was also due in large part to a fluke in the playoff tie-breaker setup. Referee Fred Silva’s blown fumble call combined with a tiebreaker system where the Colts were actually helped out by losing the previous week were all the real story, though the headlines justifiably talked about Bert Jones guiding the Colts to a victory after being down by 18 points.

The Pats were up 14-3 on a 5-yard pass from Steve Grogan to Russ Francis and a keeper by Grogan when Raymond Clayborn returned the kickoff to start the second half 101 yards for a touchdown., making it 21-3. Jones threw his first TD but a John Smith field goal made it 24-10. Jones then connected with Raymond Chester on 3rd-and-18 for a 78-yard score to make the score 24-16 entering the 4th quarter. Another Jones TD pass and it was 24-23, but things looked good when a punt by the Patriots was downed at the one-yard line. Jones marched the Colts the length of the field to win the game and the Pats season was over, finishing in second place with a 9-5 record.

Sam Cunningham finished the year with a career-high 1015 yards rushing while Don Calhoun also had a career high with 727 yards on the ground, and Mike Haynes made his second straight Pro Bowl.


December 18, 1978:
Miami Dolphins 23, New England Patriots 3 at the Orange Bowl

The Pats lost in a meaningless game to the Dolphins on Monday Night Football, having clinched the AFC East the previous week. Both teams finished with 11-5 records but the Patriots won the tiebreaker. Tom Owen played most of the game at quarterback as a replacement for Steve Grogan and went 14-for-24 for 167 yards.

Despite the game not meaning anything in the standings it was highly notable. Billy Sullivan had suspended head coach Chuck Fairbanks for this game and the playoffs because Fairbanks had accepted an offer to coach at the University of Colorado. Sullivan made a unique decision when he named the two coordinators as co-coaches: OC Ron Erhardt would be the head coach when the Pats had the ball, and DC Hank Bullough would be the head coach when the team was on defense.


December 18, 1983:
Seattle Seahawks 24, New England Patriots 6 at the Kingdome

With a wildcard playoff spot on the line for both teams Ron Meyer’s Pats came out flat, turning the ball over three times while Seattle was rushed for 170 yards. Curt Warner ran for 116 yards and Steve Largent had 133 yards receiving and a touchdown to lead the Seahawks, would make it as far as the AFCCG. Meyer apparently threw in the towel with the score still fairly close (17-6) in the third quarter when he replaced Tony Eason with Mike Kerrigan, who was making his very first NFL appearance – and went 6-for-14 for 72 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.


December 18, 1986:
Ron Brace was born in Springfield, Mass.


December 18, 1994:
New England Patriots 41, Buffalo Bills 17 at Rich Stadium

After trailing 17-3 the Pats converted four consecutive Buffalo turnovers into 24 points, and went on to win their sixth straight game. The game eliminated the Bills from playoff contention, marking the second time in five years that Bill Parcells ended their season; the other was in the Super Bowl. The victory improved the Pats record to 9-6; a win the following week against Chicago would put them in the playoffs.

With 9:07 left to play in the second quarter Buffalo was up 17-3 but the Pats tied it on Drew Bledsoe touchdown passes to Ben Coates and Vincent Brisby. On the second play of the second half Rickey Reynolds returned a fumble 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Pats the lead.

When the Bills got the ball back Frank Reich hit Andre Reed on third-and-4 for an apparent first down, but Harlon Barnett knocked the ball loose and Reynolds fell on it at the Buffalo 47 – just 89 seconds after his first fumble recovery.

Bledsoe hit Brisby again for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 31-17, then Reed fumbled again – this time killing a drive at the Pats 5 yard-line. The Patriots easily moved the ball downfield before Marion Butts ran it in from the one to make it 38-17.

Bledsoe finished 22-for-31 for 276 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Besides Reynolds and Barnett on defense Maurice Hurst and Larry Whigham each had an interception, while Aaron Jones and Mike Jones both had a sack.


December 18, 2011:
New England Patriots 41, Denver Broncos 23 at Sport Authority Field

In one of the most hyped games of the NFL season the Patriots overcame a rough start and shutdown Tebow-mania, ending Denver’s six-game winning streak.

1:10 into the second quarter Denver had a 16-7 lead, had rushed for 167 yards, and held the Pats to four yards rushing. The Pats made some adjustments and from there on out dominated. The Patriots recovered three fumbles in the second quarter, converting them into 13 points, and led 27-16 at halftime.

Aaron Hernandez led all receivers with nine receptions and 129 yards receiving – both career highs – and his touchdown in the 2nd quarter cut the deficit to two. Tom Brady was 23-for-34 for 320 yards and two touchdowns. The other TD pass was the Pats first score of the game, a 33-yarder to Chad Ochocinco; that was his first (and as it turned out, only) touchdown reception as a Patriot.

With the win the Pats clinched the AFC East; it marked the 13th time since Robert Kraft became the owner in 2004 that the Patriots would play in the post-season. Andre Carter tore his biceps and later went on IR; as it would turn out this would be his last game with the Pats. Mark Anderson took his remaining snaps and recorded two sacks. The Pats scored three times on the ground: one TD each by Brady, Danny Woodhead, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.



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December 18, 1943:
Keith Richards was born in Dartford



December 18, 1980:
Christine Aguilera was born in Staten Island




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