Morning Sports Update

‘Thatโ€™s our reputation right now’: Ivan Fears had a blunt assessment of the Patriots’ fumbling issues

"That would have made the difference in two games."

Patriots fumbling
Patriots running back Damien Harris fumbles while trying to score against the Texans. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Red Sox officially have an American League Championship Series opponent after the Astros defeated the White Sox 10-1 on Tuesday.

Game 1 of the series gets underway at 8:07 p.m. on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

And tonight, the United States men’s national team hosts Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier at 7 p.m. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner is once against expected to start.

Ivan Fears on the Patriots’ running backs: During his Tuesday media availability, Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears unsparingly discussed the team’s fumbling issues.

“That’s our reputation right now. That’s not a secret now, let’s be honest,” Fears admitted. “It would be crazy for anybody to think anything other than that. We’ve turned the ball over on key situations going in for scores. That would have given us two games by now. That would have made the difference in two games.

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“So that is a fact that we’ve got to deal with and we’re gonna have to — it’s gonna take us all year to get that out of people’s mind. All year,” added Fears. “And believe me, we’re going to be working at it, it’s not something where anybody’s happy about. I don’t think the players are happy about it, we’re not happy about it. But we’ve got to — the only way you change that stat is you do it during play. That’s when you change it.”

Asked if there was any concern if there could be so much emphasis placed on ball security that it might affect a running back’s production, Fears took a lighter approach.

“Damn, now you want me to be a psychiatrist? I mean come on!” joked Fears.

“Yeah, I’m sure there’s some truth to that,” he explained. “Who knows — who really knows? The point is, he’s got to understand how important it is to carry the ball. And if he carries it with the right technique, the right emphasis on proper handling of the football at all times, I don’t think we’ll have this problem. Now Damien has been very successful in carrying the ball all year last year. And then this year, I’m not sure exactly what’s going through his mind at certain times there. It seems to be something that we’re going to have to stay on top of and keep working at.

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“Now, I don’t want to change who he is as a runner,” Fears noted. “That’s important to us, because production is based on running hard, being a physical runner and getting extra yards, and all those things are very important. But somewhere along the line we got to understand that if we let the ball go, it’s a problem. It’s a real problem. And we can’t have the ball out of our hands. That’s important.”

Trivia: Ivan Fears has been the Patriots’ running backs coach since 2002. Who was the team’s leading rusher that season?

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: He was a 1997 first-round pick by the Bills.

More from Boston.com:

The Golden Knight’s pregame show: Before the Seattle Kraken got underway in the team’s inaugural NHL game (a 4-3 loss to the Golden Knights), T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas unleashed some impressive on-ice animation.

On this day: In 2013, New England experienced one of its greatest days. First, it came from the Patriots, who staged a miraculous comeback against the Saints that culminated with Kenbrell Thompkins’s winning touchdown catch summarized by the iconic radio call of Scott Zolak uttering, “Unicorns, show ponies, where’s the beef?

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Later that night, things looked bleak for the Red Sox in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers. Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth (and 1-0 in the series), David Ortiz stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

Swinging on the first pitch from Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit, Ortiz sent both the ball (and Detroit outfielder Tori Hunter) into the Boston bullpen to tie the game, with Red Sox radio announcer Dave O’Brien unleashing a famous call of his own in the process.

In the bottom of the ninth, a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single to left field allowed Jonny Gomes to score, and Boston emerged with a 6-5 win, tying the series at 1-1. The Red Sox won three out of the next four to defeat the Tigers, and went on to beat the Cardinals in the World Series.

Daily highlight: Justin Rennicks scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for Revolution II on Tuesday, deftly applying a chipped finish.

Trivia answer: Antowain Smith.

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