The Steelers go three-and-out and punt. The Patriots get the ball back at their 23 with 2:06 to play, trailing by five.

Field goal, Patriots. Brady throws two straight incomplete passes and is sacked on third down. Stephen Gostkowski comes on and kicks a 46-yard field goal to cut the Steelers lead to 24-19 with 3:56 to play.

Brady fails to connect with Gronkowski on a third-down pass from the Pittsburgh 44. But the Steelers are called for defensive pass interference, extending the Patriots drive.

In total, five rookies are part of the rotation, and Shane Larkin (who was playing in Spain last year) has played a key role. Yet none of them has shrunk from the moment. Of course each has had his own share of struggles (except perhaps the unflappable Tatum), but all have managed to step into their assigned roles and contribute to the team’s success.

Of course there’s also a little bit of luck involved. With the very notable exception of Hayward’s injury, a lot of things have gone well this year. Irving hit the ground running and has quickly stepped into the franchise-player role. In a way, the roster overhaul helped him because there was no established culture to which he needed to acclimate—it was all new for almost everyone, and not even mastermind Danny Ainge could have predicted exactly how the team culture would develop.

Now let’s look at numbers. Newton’s rushing production in 2015: 636 yards and 10 TDs. His rushing production so far in 2017 with two games left: 643 yards and 5 TDs. So he’s just as valuable there.

His passing has had a big drop-off in stats and efficiency, resembling more of his disappointing 2016 season. The eye test, however, says Newton is making some big-time plays when Carolina needs him most. He helped the team beat the Patriots on the road earlier in the season, then the Vikings and Packers at home of late.

If Wilson is on the board for putting his team on his shoulders, Newton should be, too, with a better team. Newton’s chances would shoot up from zero should the Panthers win the NFC South and jump up to a No. 3 seed.

What happens next is the full-scale integration of Isaiah Thomas into the lineup. Even Thomas’ return to the Garden was subdued. He had jokes and greetings for all the familiar faces who lined up to pay their respects and he even hugged it out with Danny Ainge in the hallway when they crossed paths.

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The Nets are the gift that just keeps on giving.

Opponent winning percentage: .492; tied for the 12th-easiest. The Vikings’ schedule trended on the easier side, but look at how other teams did with backup quarterbacks this season (see: Packers, Texans, Colts and Dolphins). The Minnesota defense allowed the fewest points, but Case Keenum also finished second in Total QBR.

Opponent winning percentage: .535; eighth-hardest. The Saints played one of the toughest schedules in the NFL and held their own. Not only did they win the NFC South, but they posted a plus-57 point margin against winning teams, the second-best in the NFL.

The Lakers gave this pick up in the Steve Nash trade with Phoenix back in 2012 that began their current downward spiral. It then went to Philadelphia in an ill-fated, three-team trade deadline deal involving Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Knight. It then changed hands again when the 76ers moved up to get Markelle Fultz.

If the pick doesn’t convey to Boston, the 76ers get to keep it, but they’ll have to give up a high 2019 pick instead, likely via the Kings. More on that in a second.

Jeffery: If you ask Taylor Lewan, and if he says he blew an assignment, he’s lying. He turned out to block Clowney, and Clowney did exactly what he’s supposed to do, which was go inside. He went inside and blew past, and Taylor Lewan didn’t see it coming. Yes, it was a blocking error, because he was supposed to block him, of course, but Clowney really made that play. What I would say to people is really just stop hating. That is greatness at its best.

Thompson: Sure, the guy missed a block. But at the same time, Clowney did what he did, and I don’t think there are very many people who would do that that quickly, that violently.

Shaw: Thank god I’ve never gotten hit by JD. I can remember his first spring practice when he came to South Carolina — or maybe it was fall camp — but they taught the D-ends to tag off from the quarterback. And I go in the showers after practice, and I just had these slap marks all over my ribcage and back. I was like, JD, man, really? You’re going to have to learn just to run by me, bro.

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An argument can be made that Roethlisberger and Bell are more worthy MVP candidates.

Brown obviously wouldn’t be enjoying such prosperity without Roethlisberger delivering him the football. Big Ben has lived up to that nickname in 2017 by ranking second overall in passing yardage (3,744) and fourth in touchdowns (24).

All that said, here’s what’s been rattling around in my head recently: Wiggins’ offensive stats in wins and losses are not very different, which is quite unusual for a high minute player. He scores the same number of points on the same TS percentage in wins and losses. He does rebound and assist at a somewhat higher rate in wins, but the differences are not huge. This is bizarre, and might just be a sample size anomaly. But Zach LaVine had similar splits last season, and it makes me wonder whether the impact of a third option is less than we might expect.

This is the first four seasons of each player’s career, with of course Andrew Wiggins in the midst of his fourth season.

I include this because DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay are often cited as comps for Andrew Wiggins. As you can see, it works fairly well. Gay was (and is) bigger, a better defender and rebounder, but perhaps lacks a little of Wiggins’ offensive gifts. DeRozan was quite similar, though an even worse and less frequent three point shooter. He also made an unusual leap in his fifth year in the league.

The Raiders go three-and-out on their first drive and punt. Dallas will take over on its 32.

Turnover, Cowboys. Dallas advances to the Oakland 35 on an 18-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Jason Witten, but three plays later, another Prescott pass intended for Witten is picked off by Oakland cornerback Sean Smith, who returns it to the Raiders’ 30.

He runs the exact same play but from further above the three-point line, taking the same screen, blowing by another two defenders and pulling up for the same mid-range jump shot. Only this time, he pulls up from exactly the foul line, and only this time, it’s nothing but net.

He throws his hands up as if to say, about time.

That’s the type of night it was for Butler, who finished with 30 points on a pedestrian 7-of-17 from the field. When his shot isn’t going down, he finds other ways to make winning plays.

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Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes reportedly victim of robbery

Chiefs rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes and three others reportedly were robbed Friday by a man they believed was armed with a handgun.

According to KLTV, Mahomes and the others told deputies in Smith County, Texas, that a man approached them as they were getting out of a vehicle and was “gesturing as if he had Cheap Bike Jerseys For Men a handgun in his waistband.” He then demanded unspecified property from the victims and drove off, the report said.

Deputies later located the suspect’s vehicle and arrested two men, Michael Blake Pinkerton and Billy Ray Johnson, after a traffic stop. Items taken from Mahomes and the others were found inside the vehicle.

Pinkerton was charged with aggravated robbery and was being held on $50,000 bond. Online jail records show numerous arrests for the 34-year-old Pinkerton dating back to 2000.

Johnson was charged with tampering with evidence and two counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Mahomes was born in Tyler and grew up in nearby Whitehouse, Texas, where he starred before moving on to Texas Tech. The Chiefs selected him with the 10th overall pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. “We are looking for and attempting to develop baseball players around the world at all levels. Not just elite prospects, but also pre-schoolers. Maybe toddlers is a little bit too early,” Park told Sporting News. “An important part of those ventures is partnerships with schools, partnerships with school districts, partnerships with the governments, to bring the sport not just into the classroom, but also, in some ways, create what we think of as baseball curricula.