Morning Sports Update

NFL writer Bill Barnwell predicted two areas the Patriots will address in the offseason

One of the "likely targets" could be acquired in a trade.

Mac Jones Patriots
Mac Jones and the Patriots' offense during the regular season finale against the Dolphins. AP Photo/Doug Murray

The Bruins lost to the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, 7-1. It was a difficult game for Tuukka Rask, who allowed five goals on 12 shots.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Bruins retired Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 jersey:

And tonight at 7:30 p.m., the Celtics host the Hornets at TD Garden.

Bill Barnwell on the Patriots’ offseason: After not making the playoffs a season ago, the Patriots rebounded in a meaningful way in 2021. New England finished 10-7, fighting the Bills for the AFC East in a much more closely contested race than many would’ve thought possible in preseason.

Yet in the end, Buffalo proved that Bill Belichick’s team still has a long way to go to fully close the gap. The Bills dominated the Patriots 47-17 in the AFC wild-card clash.

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While Mac Jones played well at times in his rookie season, one NFL expert sees it as a critical offseason priority that New England get its young quarterback some more help.

ESPN writer Bill Barnwell recently shared some thoughts on how the teams that lost in the wild-card round can respond ahead of the 2022 season.

For the Patriots, Barnwell sees a clear need: Adding a top receiver.

“The Patriots spent tens of millions of dollars on receiving talent last offseason, but in adding Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, they brought in supplemental players,” he noted.

New England could also use another pass-rusher, but getting help for Jones is more pressing.

“It’s generally easier to find a star edge rusher in free agency than it is a similarly talented wide receiver, but with Judon in the fold, the Pats need the wideout far more,” Barnwell explained.

“Davante Adams is set to be a free agent, but it would be shocking if the Packers let him leave,” Barnwell added. “A more likely target might be Calvin Ridley, who could be available via trade from the Falcons this offseason.”

Ridley, 27, had a breakthrough season in 2020, hauling in 90 catches for 1,374 yards and nine touchdowns. In 2021, he stepped away from football in October to work on his mental health, and did not return for the remainder of the season.

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Other wide receivers have already been mentioned as potential Patriots targets in the offseason, including Chris Godwin of the Buccaneers.

Trivia: Calvin Ridley was a 2018 first-round pick. The Patriots made two selections in the first round that year. Name those two players.

(Answer at the bottom).

Hint: Both came from the University of Georgia.

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Florida State upset sixth-ranked Duke on Tuesday night:

On this day: In 2002, the Patriots’ playoff run appeared to be over before it had even really begun. Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson broke through and sacked first year starter Tom Brady, jarring the ball loose. The resulting fumble was recovered by Oakland, appearing to end New England’s chances in the game.

But thanks to the “tuck rule,” the fumble was ruled an incomplete pass by the officials, handing Brady and the Patriots the ball back. Given a second chance, New England made the most of its opportunity, driving down field before Adam Vinatieri drilled a 45-yard field goal through the snow and wind—a kick that Belichick has called “the greatest of all time“—to tie the game.

In overtime, New England put together a drive with short passes from Brady and timely runs from Antowain Smith. In the end, Vinatieri’s 23-yard field goal (his third kick of the day) sealed a 16-13 win. It was the first playoff win of the Brady-Belichick era, and the last Patriots game ever played in the old Foxboro Stadium.

Daily highlight: Comoros, making its debut in the African Cup of Nations, pulled off a stunning 3-2 upset of Ghana on Tuesday. Ahmed Mogni scored the winning goal (his second of the game) in the 85th minute. It was a historic upset that sent Ghana out of the tournament.

Trivia answer: Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel

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