Tag Archives: Boston.com

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer prize for breaking news

Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory salutes his staff for their work during the Boston Marathon, noting that it was such a trying period.
Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory salutes his staff for their work during the Boston Marathon, noting that it was such a trying period.
The Boston Globe won the Pulitzer prize yesterday for breaking news coverage of the Boston Marathon. While I’m glad to have played a part in the coverage, I’m so sorry I had to.

We’re now at the one-year anniversary of the tragic bombings that took place. It’s a good time to reflect on what an honor like this means and to keep it in perspective. So many people spent countless hours reporting, editing, and updating the public on every single piece of information that came across our paths. And over time, as the accolades have piled up, the awards continue to be a somber reminder of what has taken place, both for those who were intimately involved in the coverage of the tragedy and those who were only on the periphery. Three people were killed — Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu and later Sean Collier — while more than 260 others were injured.

That somberness, despite any hint of joy or pride in the recognition bestowed, remains. It won’t leave us. And if there were a better way to win an award, I would take it. I can only speak for myself in that sense. But that sentiment was shared widely yesterday in the newsroom after the awards were announced.

“There’s nobody in this room that wanted to cover this story. And each and every one of us hopes that nothing like it ever happens again on our watch,” Globe editor Brian McGrory said.

How we covered the Marathon in the very beginning

Boston.com was truly a pivotal part of the Marathon coverage for the Globe and was a prominent portion of the Globe’s entry to the administers of the Pulitzer prizes at Columbia University. As the leading web portal in New England, we were first with the news online and we truly were a 24-hour news operation going forward. In those immediate hours, I was manning the desk with then Boston.com sports editor Matt Pepin. We were putting together projects and photo galleries from the day’s race and were getting ready to wind down from the cranked up nature of the Marathon. That changed when the first tweets and photos came from the finish line. Matt and I culled those tweets together together before one of our producers, Steve Silva, sent his first dispatch.

What many people don’t remember about the Globe’s coverage is that those first tweets and photos were posted in Boston.com’s live race blog before we transitioned to the actual live coverage of the bombings. We ran both live blogs for a period of time because there were so many of our online readers — a substantial amount actually — who were on our site for the race coverage. Those numbers only increased dramatically in our race blog before we switched over completely. Maintaining both was seen as the right thing to do for our readers until it was no longer feasible.

This is where the quick thinking of Adrienne Lavidor-Berman, the Globe’s social media editor, came into such great use. She was able to deftly handle the transition and set us up for success. Matt and I handled the race blog (the sports guys) and Adrienne handled the bombings blog. We made sure to cross post until we finally made the split.

Also worth remembering was that both Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com, because of heavy internet traffic, were down for a period of time. During that period, the Globe actually had our live blogs hosted by ScribbleLive’s servers, which enabled us to keep publishing live and keep our readers informed. ScribbleLive describes this in full here.

You can only imagine all of the technical, emotional, and logistical difficulties that arose during that time. In that sense, it was remarkable we were still able to produce the content we did. So I think it’s important to note that while the reporting on the ground was pivotal, there should be quite a bit of recognition to our developers and web staff for being able to traverse such a difficult set of circumstances.

Again, I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish, but I’m really sorry that such a tragedy is what caused it. And as what was noted yesterday by the Globe’s sports editor, Joe Sullivan, when a stressful, adverse, and unwelcome situation arises, you never know how you’re going to react. The staff of the Boston Globe and Boston.com reacted by doing its job. I think the Pulitzer just recognizes that.

Have you seen the re-designed mobile site for Boston.com?

A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.
A screenshot of the new mobile site for Boston.com.

As part of the change that is occurring at Boston.com and the Boston Globe, the site is going through a re-design.The mobile portion of the site launched last week. You can catch a glimpse of it above or visit mobile.boston.com.

The cool thing is the site also has responsive design, just like BostonGlobe.com. So it’s built in the mold of new-ish sites BetaBoston.com and BDCWire.com.

Here’s some sample screenshots.

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Change is coming

So I’ve been meaning to address a number of professional changes for me for some time. The tricky thing is you never know how much you can say and who is gonna throw a fit because you said it. (And then after awhile you just lose track of the time.)

No mas!

About two weeks ago, we had a major shakeup at Boston.com that will help the site better differentiate itself from the Boston Globe. For all of my friends and family that are wondering, yes, there is a difference between the two sites. While Boston.com has been the portal site of the Boston Globe newspaper since 1995, that relationship between the paper and the site changed significantly when the paper decided to launch BostonGlobe.com in September 2010 (it went live just a year later). When the site went live, we began the company’s two-site strategy, with one site remaining free (Boston.com) and the other subscriber based (BostonGlobe.com). Obviously that confused everyone involved because multiple pieces of content, whether they be stories, photos, or video, were on both sites.

I can’t tell you how many times I tried to explain to Claudia what the difference was between the two sites. Let’s just say she never fully understood.
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Patriots franchise tag options slim, unattractive

If there is one takeaway from the NFL Scouting Combine that had nothing to do with the action on the field, it was the reports of continued negotiations between the Patriots and cornerback Aqib Talib.

The negotiations are a welcome development given Talib’s importance to the team’s secondary. His stock has increased league-wide. His respect is universal. No one forgets how he shut down the Saints’ Jimmy Graham and how he saved the Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons.

The six-year veteran, whose brash and quixotic play helped improve the Patriots’ secondary ten-fold (a jump from the 29th-ranked pass defense in 2012 to the 18th-ranked pass defense in 2013), can very well determine the team’s draft strategy and approach in free agency.

Read the full post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

5 takeaways from the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl

A key to Seattle’s huge victory over Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII was the Seahawks’ pass rush, particularly Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons. (Charlie Riedel / AP photo)

What happens when an unstoppable force hits an immovable object?

Well, now we know.

The Seattle Seahawks flattened the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8, proving that the top defense in the NFL could manhandle the league’s No. 1 offense — historically the league’s most prolific offense — with ease time and time again. The Seahawks then took the beatdown to historic heights, causing us to question whether the Broncos would be the first team to be shut out in Super Bowl history.

That’s the anticlimactic end to a year that coach John Fox, quarterback Peyton Manning, and the rest of the Broncos were not expecting. Fox is now 0 for 2 in the Super Bowl. Manning is 1-2. Their legacies are shaken.

So how did it happen? How did the Seahawks win so convincingly and the Broncos play so poorly when everything that matters was on the line? Let’s recap with one final “5 takeaways.”

1. All-around awesome — The Seahawks got contributions from all three phases of the game. That’s one we hear in New England quite a bit, given Bill Belichick’s penchant for peppering the press with those very same remarks. On Sunday it was clear what that talk means when put to action. The Seahawks scored by safety, two field goals, a rushing touchdown, a defensive touchdown on an interception, a kickoff return for a touchdown, and two passing touchdowns. No other Super Bowl team in history had scored in every phase of the game — and in every possible way. Describing it as a team effort doesn’t really catch the enormity of what was accomplished. The Seahawks were opportunistic, aggressive, and successful in everything they attempted to do. That kind of dominance is rare and most certainly unforgettable.

2. The pass rush was key — The Broncos accounted for four fumbles (two lost) and two interceptions. It was a bad day at the office for Manning (one lost fumble, two interceptions), wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (one lost fumble) and center Manny Ramirez (fumbled into the end zone, causing the safety) when looking at the turnovers alone. But a number of the game’s turnovers, particularly Manning’s interceptions, were the cause of pressure up front by Seattle’s Cliff Avril and others. Manning didn’t really see a clean pocket in the first half. When the Broncos quarterback got his first sustained drive going in the second quarter, he got hit by Avril while looking to throw the ball downfield to Knowshon Moreno. That pass was intercepted by Malcolm Smith, who promptly brought the interception back for a 69-yard touchdown. Avril was a nuisance all game. The Seahawks’ defensive line had tremendous penetration with three tackles for a loss. Given the pedigree of the Broncos’ offensive line, which had allowed the fewest hurries and sacks all season, the Seahawks’ front seven proved it could do what so many other teams had failed to do: get to Manning. Avril and Chris Clemons (1 sack), were the jewels of the bunch.

3. Ball control was on point — Russell Wilson’s first pass to Zach Miller was high and uncatchable, a sign of the second-year quarterback’s nervousness on the NFL’s grandest stage. But it didn’t take long for Danger-Russ Wilson to settle down and show exactly why Pete Carroll fell in love with him. He showed escapability, he made the easy throws, he ran it well, and he never put the Seahawks in a bad position. Between Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Seattle’s receivers, there were no boneheaded mistakes with the football. It is, and always will be, the No. 1 key to winning football games: taking care of the ball. The Seahawks had zero turnovers while forcing four. And Wilson, despite his wayward pass, did not offer any lame duck passes for his opponents to snatch away. It was symphonic effort.

4. Playmakers seized the moment — Percy Harvin played in only one regular season game for the Seahawks. On Super Bowl Sunday, he showed up big time. Harvin had two carries for 45 yards, caught a pass for 5 yards, and returned a kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. He took advantage of his opportunities and he wasn’t the only one. Wide receivers Jermaine Kearse (4 receptions, 65 yards, 1 TD) and Doug Baldwin (5 receptions, 66 yards, 1 TD) both made a little something out of nothing. Kearse bounced off three tacklers before running in a 23-yard touchdown. Baldwin avoided two tacklers to get in the end zone on a 10-yard reception. Running back Marshawn Lynch plowed his way into the end zone for a tough 1-yard score. There was a quality of grit and determination by each of Seattle’s playmakers to gain that extra yard and to make that extra move in order to seize the moment.

5. Perspective on history — Everything went downhill for the Broncos when they fumbled their first offensive snap of the game, which ended up becoming a safety. The Broncos were trailing 36-0 before they scored their first touchdown, a 14-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas to end the third quarter. That’ll help explain why Manning ended the game with an NFL-record 34 completed passes (34 of 49 for 280 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 1 fumble). The Broncos were forced to throw going into the second half down 22-0 and then down 29-0 on the Seahawks’ opening kickoff return in the third. So add an asterisk there because they abandoned the running game. They ran the ball five times in the second — twice to run the clock out in the waning moments. Demaryius Thomas’ 13 receptions are also a Super Bowl record. But it seems to all come back to the dire situation in which the Broncos found themselves. No playoff team wants to throw the ball 49 times. And similarly, no Super Bowl winner is going to only have 27 yards rushing.

Extras — One thing we’re not going to be talking about is Richard Sherman, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. He had been a source of hefty chatter ahead of XLVIII with the hopes that he’d do something or say something that could live up to his outsized personality. Sadly that moment didn’t come. But he certainly forced Manning to look the other way for three quarters, so it wasn’t like his presence wasn’t felt. … Seattle linebacker Malcolm Smith truly played a fantastic game. He recorded 9 tackles (five solo), an interception returned for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery. He joined Ray Lewis and Chuck Howley as the only linebackers to ever win Super Bowl MVP honors. And he’s also the youngest defender to ever do it at 24 years old and 212 days. … Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is now 0 for 3 in Super Bowls. … Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, who coached the Patriots from 1997-1999, became the third coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl and a national college championship. He joins Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer to hold that distinction.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

5 takeaways from the Patriots-Bills second game

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots finish the season on a strong note, downing the Buffalo Bills, 34-20, while securing a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Now, the Patriots can rest up and get healthy for their next opponent, either the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, or Kansas City Chiefs.

Here are our five takeaways from the game:

1. Bullish on Blount — It’s not too often that one player can affect a game so dramatically in at least two phases, offense and special teams. LeGarrette Blount, with his punishing running style and ability to gain yardage after contact, was able to do just that. He ran for a career-high 189 yards on 24 carries and added 145 return yards for a team record 334 all-purpose.

“I’m feeling good,” said Blount, with a crowd of reporters leaning on his every word. “I mean, especially after getting the win and performing like that. I’m feeling amazing. I don’t have words to explain it.”

The Patriots ran a season-high 43 times with Blount and Stevan Ridley (17 carries, 64 yards) getting the bulk of the load. The team finished with 267 yards, a season high. But it was Blount whose mix of speed and power that stole the show, breaking away for touchdowns of 36 and 35 yards.

While for the span of the season observers of the Patriots have considered Stevan Ridley as the most talented running back on the team’s roster, Blount’s increased role as the starter has given those same observers cause to re-think that assertion. Because of injuries and Ridley’s benching, Blount was at one point the de facto lead running back. But now, after such a vivid performance, he can truly be considered the featured back.

2. Whatever is needed, any given game — The Patriots have an ever-changing offense, geared weekly for each opponent. That ability to game plan, using a motley crew of receivers and running backs, has allowed the Patriots to flip from being a running-dominated team, like Sunday against the Bills, to a pass-happy team whenever necessary.

There were doubts at different points this season whether the Patriots could stick with the running game, but with the rain on Sunday, they had to force themselves to feed Blount and Ridley. The results just happened to be fantastic.

“It was tough to throw the ball, tough to catch it,” Belichick said. “We saw a bunch of balls on the ground, more so than usual. That was definitely a factor. It got worse as the game went along. Yeah, it was definitely a running game.”

That kind of flexibility, to rely on different aspects of the offense and players each and every week, makes the Patriots a dangerous opponent in the playoffs.

See all of my takeaways in the original post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

W2W4: Patriots vs. Bills

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots’ history of dominance over the Buffalo Bills should play no part in planning for this week’s matchup, which holds the added caveat of having playoff implications in the AFC.

The team has said as much this week, and players have set themselves up mentally to go out and earn the win, including a first-round bye, and possibly home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s their motivation.

But how do they get there? Here’s a few things we’re watching that will help the Patriots achieve that goal.

1. Dealing with the two-headed monster — The Patriots will have to contain running backs Fred Jackson (836 rushing yards, 8 TDs) and C.J. Spiller (822 rushing yards, 2 TDs). The duo have helped the Bills become the second best rushing offense in the league (142.5 yards per game), a source of strength for a team that has had to deal with a fluctuating cast of quarterbacks under center. The Patriots are allowing 131.7 yards per game on the ground. Run stuffers Brandon Spikes (85 tackles) and Dont’a Hightower (91 tackles) will have to be on top of their game.

2. Containing Thad Lewis — Bills quarterback Thad Lewis, while not as well regarded as a runner as E.J. Manuel, is still well respected by the Patriots for his ability to scramble. He has only 22 carries for 48 yards (2.2 ypc) and a touchdown. The Patriots have done a good job of limiting the movement of quarterbacks of late, especially after the fiasco in Carolina.

See the rest of this post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

5 takeaways from the Patriots-Ravens game

BALTIMORE — The New England Patriots didn’t need a miraculous comeback or have to make last-minute defensive stand in order to bag their 11th win of the season, a 41-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens Sunday afternoon.

With a stingy defense and some ball control, the Patriots were able to wipe the floor with last year’s Super Bowl champions.

Here’s what we can gather from Sunday’s game:

1. Defense at the forefront — Forget the defensive touchdowns for a second, which can be considered as garbage time points anyway. Instead, note the team’s effort on third and fourth downs, holding the Ravens to 5 of 14 conversions on third down and 0 for 3 on fourth. There were some crucial stops that helped keep the Ravens from building up any rhythm, including two interceptions by Logan Ryan. And consider what the Patriots defense was able to accomplish in the red zone, holding the Ravens to 1 of 3 in these crucial scoring opportunities. It spoke volumes about Sunday’s effort and how it deserved a special place for this team with all of the injuries New England has endured.

The takeaways were also the Patriots’ first since Week 13 against the Houston Texans, ending a two-week drought.

It was the kind of performance that was commendable on a number of levels.

2. Adding up the bodies — Devin McCourty left Sunday’s game with a head injury, likely a concussion. Shane Vereen left as well with a groin injury. Steve Gregory had to leave the game temporarily. Dont’a Hightower was shaken up. Alfonzo Dennard was limited to a few snaps. And that’s on top of players like Nate Solder (concussion), Kenbrell Thompkins (hip), and Josh Boyce (ankle) missing with their respective ailments.

If there’s one thing Patriots fans are going to have to come to terms with, it’s this talk of the “next man up.” The Patriots have been preaching it for some time now after suffering season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork, Sebastian Vollmer, Tommy Kelly, and Jerod Mayo.

“That’s been the whole season, not just the whole game but the whole season,” said Chandler Jones. “Everyone has to be ready and everyone has to know what they’re doing. And as you can see a lot of guys stepped up and made plays.”

The Patriots have clearly bought into the “next man up” philosophy.

See the rest of my takeaways on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

W2W4: Patriots at Ravens

Going into Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots have playoff implications to consider.

A win and they’re win. A loss and things get complicated. There are injuries that require attention and an opponent that requires some extra game planning from a defensive perspective. Week 16 will not be an easy one. But nobody ever said it would be.

Here’s what we’re watching as the Patriots visit the Ravens.

1. What will the offensive line look like? — Left tackle Nate Solder has been ruled out of Sunday’s game after suffering a concussion last week against the Miami Dolphins, just a week removed from suffering another concussion against the Cleveland Browns. When Solder was forced to leave the Dolphins game, he was replaced by Logan Mankins, who moved over from left guard. Josh Kline came in to fill in for Mankins at guard. That may very well be the case again this week for the Ravens. The Patriots could also opt to use tackle Will Svitek at left tackle, or swap Marcus Cannon to left and insert Svitek at right tackle. We’ll see what they come up with.

2. How much will special teams factor into the outcome? — Patriots place kicker Stephen Gostkowski is coming off his worst game of the season, having missed a 48-yard field goal attempt and getting flagged for a kickoff that went out of bounds. Conversely, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is coming off his best outing of the season, going 6 for 6 on field goals, including a game-winner from 61 yards against the Detroit Lions. Add in two dynamic returners in Jacoby Jones for the Ravens and Julian Edelman for the Patriots, and this game has a good chance to be significantly altered by the kicking and return game, which would be fitting for two teams whose head coaches got their start as special teams coordinators.

See the rest of this post on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.

What to watch for as the Patriots visit the Dolphins – Boston.com

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins are the only thing in the Patriots’ way of clinching the AFC East for the fifth straight year.

But the Dolphins are no lapdog opponent. Winners of four of their last six games, and coming off an exceptional 34-28 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the snow, there is plenty to worry about. Considering the Patriots’ last outing against Miami, a 27-17 victory that was at the height of the team’s offensive struggles, there’s incentive to show strength at the top of the division.

Of course, there are injuries to consider. But there are also some good matchups that the Patriots need to be prepared for. Here’s what we’ll be watching.

1. Without Gronk, who will the Patriots turn to? — By sheer numbers, and considering the games each player has been available, the Patriots have been fairly balanced distributing the football to their playmakers. That may shift even more with tight end Rob Gronkowski out for good after suffering a torn ACL and damaged MCL. Gronkowski had39 receptions in only seven games – 5.6 catches a game. He’s the fourth-leading receiver on the team, behind only Julian Edelman (76 receptions), Danny Amendola (41 receptions), and Shane Vereen (40 receptions). Edelman has played in all 13 games, which averages out to 5.8 catches per game. Vereen, despite missing Weeks 2 through 10, is averaging 7.6 catches per game. You can guess for yourself who is going to get the bulk of the targets with Gronk out. As far as tight ends, Michael Hoomanawanui (10 receptions) leads all other eligible receivers for the Patriots with James Develin (4 catches) and Matthew Mulligan (2 catches) trailing.

2. An improved Tom Brady — In the Patriots’ first meeting with the Dolphins this season, Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career, throwing for 116 yards on 13 of 22 passing, including a touchdown and an interception. At the time, there was great concern over Brady’s right hand, which appeared to be swollen when shown on television (after the game, he not-so-slyly kept it out of view during his press conference). Now, we know there’s nothing wrong with Brady’s hand after a couple of top-notch performances against the Cleveland Browns (418 yards, 2 touchdowns), Houston Texans (371 yards, 70.7 completion rate), and Denver Broncos (344 yards, 3 touchdowns). His performance has been emblematic of what we know of Brady from the last dozen years. We expect to see more of the good Tom Brady on Sunday.

See the rest of this entry on Boston.com’s Extra Points blog.