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Guregian: If this is the real Patriots, the season’s not lost

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Guregian: If this is the real Patriots, the season’s not lost

FOXBORO — To Tell the Truth. That was the underlying theme for the Patriots sitting at 2-3, with the Cowboys coming to town.

This was pretty much a tell-all game to find out what the Patriots were made of, and if there was hope for them the rest of the season.

Heading in, it was hard to get a firm read on Bill Belichick’s team with losses to Miami, New Orleans, and Tampa, and wins against two of the worst teams in football (New York Jets, Houston). But with Jerry Jones’ team invading Foxboro, it was like having the big reveal.

So who are the real Patriots?

A team that’s going to make things interesting heading into the December, and perhaps beyond. And that’s the feeling, even with a crushing 35-29 overtime loss to the Cowboys.

This was an inspired effort, and then some, for the Patriots, who hung in against a better, more talented football team.

They lost, and are now 0-4 at home. But if this is the team that shows up every week, if this is the Mac Jones we’re going to see from here on out, they’re going to win their share of games, and make it interesting, even starting out 2-4.

“It’s a tough one to lose,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “Yeah, it was a good football team. Give Dallas credit . . . I know we just came up a little bit short. I thought we went toe-to-toe with them for 60 minutes . . they just made a few more plays than we did.”

Forget calling it a moral victory. What it was, was a positive sign going forward, for the rest of the year.

While they hung in with Tom Brady and Tampa Week 4, this was different, much different. It was an even more telling game about what the Patriots are capable of, and perhaps a launch point for them going forward.

This was tough, hard-nosed, entertaining football for four quarters and beyond. Dak Prescott (36 for 51, 445 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) just refused to lose, hitting CeeDee Lamb with a 35-yard touchdown pass to win the game in overtime.

“It’s not about how you start. It’s about how you finish,” Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne said, reflecting the emotion of the team.

Many probably thought the Pats were dead much earlier, after Jones threw a pick-six to Trevon Diggs with 2:36 to play, with the Cowboys going up by five.

But they were hardly done. The Patriots boldly stood up then, and in this game in general.

Jones simply shook off the play.

He came back with just over two minutes to play, and fired a 75-yard bomb to Kendrick Bourne for the go-ahead score.

It was a perfectly thrown ball, with Jones going right back at Diggs. It was a sensational “take that” moment for the rookie quarterback.

“Guts. He’s got some guts,” said center David Andrews after the loss. “He’s got some gusto Talk about mental toughness . . . How do you respond any better than what he just did? We needed a play and got one from him.”

And who was it that called Jones (15 for 21 for 229 with two TDs and an interception), a “peashooter?” Think again, Rex Ryan.

The better question might be: Where has that been all year?

The Patriots have been extremely cautious with the rookie quarterback to this point, but he has those type of plays in him. He’s more than capable of throwing the ball downfield, and that’s going to speak volumes going forward.

The Patriots defense, meanwhile, which was unwavering all game, just couldn’t hold the fort any longer. They kept losing bodies, and were on the field double the time than the Cowboys.

The Pats did win the toss but didn’t score on their first possession in the overtime, leaving the door open for Dallas, who simply won the war of attrition. The Pats just couldn’t hold off the league’s second-ranked offense any longer.

In all, the defense was on the field for 82 plays, versus 50 for the offense. Perhaps some of that was by design with a bend-but-don’t break defense, but they eventually broke in the end.

“It sucks,” said Andrews. “I thought we battled … we showed some mental toughness. A few plays here or there, but that’s how it goes in this league. There’s not a big margin for error.”

The Patriots had forced the issue for much of the game.

While they might not be in Dallas’ league talent-wise, they simply played a smarter, gutsier brand of football to take a 14-10 lead at the half.

And for a change, the Patriots started out fast, and Josh McDaniels took some of the shackles off Jones.

Prescott & Co. moved the ball, but were stalled time and again in the red zone. A goal line stand before halftime had been the signature moment of the game, and perhaps the season, with the Patriots holding firm on four tries by the Cowboys at the one-yard line.

On fourth down, a diving Ja’Whaun Bentley managed to knock the ball from Prescott, who dove forward and tried to stretch the ball over the goal line. It was initially ruled a touchdown, but after review, it was correctly ruled a turnover, and a huge statement from the defense.

The Patriots also produced a tipped-ball interception with the Cowboys poised to score in the red zone, with Kyle Dugger coming up with the ball at the goal line to nullify another potential score.

The Patriots essentially gave the Cowboys all they could handle, but It was still far from perfect in the end, and with a team like the Cowboys, you can’t let your foot off the gas — offensively, but especially, defensively.

Looking at the game as a whole, the Pats still had issues with the offensive line. Jones got rocked on more than one occasion, with tackles Yodny Cajuste and Isaiah Wynn both getting beat by Randy Gregory.

And the secondary still looks thin. There’s no way around that. Lamb torched them, with nine catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper had five catches for 55 yards, and tight end Dalton Shultz also had five catches for 79 yards.

The backs, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 110 yards. The defense just couldn’t stop the bleeding in an emotional-roller coaster of a game.

“They just made more plays than we did,” said Bentley.

They gave the NFC-contending Cowboys all they could handle, and if they continue to play like that, they can still make something of the season.

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Revolution playmaker Carles Gil named MLS MVP

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Revolution playmaker Carles Gil named MLS MVP

The MLS electorate is diverse by design but it spoke with one voice in favor of New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil.

The Revs’ star was presented with the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Award on Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony inside the Optum Field Lounge at Gillette Stadium.

The event was hosted by former Revolution striker Taylor Twellman, an ESPN soccer analyst who won the award with New England in 2005, and Revolution owner Robert Kraft, team president Brian Bilello and sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena participated in the presentation.

Gil was accompanied by his wife Maria and the proceedings included video highlights of his big plays from the Revolution’s historic 2021 regular season, which saw the team win its first Supporters Shield with an MLS record 73 points.

The Landon Donovan recipient is selected by an electorate of current MLS players, club technical staff members and the media, and Gil won each faction in a landslide. With 37% of the players’ vote, he was the only one to reach double digits. Gil also got 57.6% of the vote from club officials and 61.6% from the media. Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar, Seattle’s Joao Paulo, Sporting Kansas City’s Daniel Salloi and Valentin Castellanos of New York City FC rounded out the top five.

“The award is voted on by really three groups,” said Bilello. “It is the players, sporting staffs from the different clubs and the media that covers soccer in our country and Carles won all three of those votes running away.

“Whether it is Carles’ peers, whether it is his foes or the media which covers the teams, all of them unanimously chose Carles as their MVP for the season.”

Gil had the numbers to win over the undecideds. The 29-year-old Spaniard led MLS in several significant offensive categories including 18 assists, an MLS record 130 chances created, 25 big chances created, 81 chances created in open play and 49 chances created from set pieces.

The Revolution were 10-2-4 when Gil scored a goal, 22-0-7 when he recorded an assist and 5-0-1 when he had a goal and an assist. Great playmakers need finishers and Gil had his choice of three phenomenal international goal scorers in Adam Buksa (Poland), Gustavo Bou (Argentina) and Tajon Buchanan (Canada).

Buksa led the team with 16 goals in the regular season while Bou was tied for fourth in MLS with 24 combined goals and assists. Buchanan had eight goals and five assists in 27 games. Bou and Buchanan were Gil’s targets in open play while Buksa was his header of choice on set pieces.

Buksa and Bou were the goal scorers in the Revs’ 2-2 shootout loss (5-3) to NYCFC in the MLS Cup Eastern Conference semifinal on Nov. 30 at Gillette Stadium.

“It is a pleasure to play with those types of players and all of them really are incredible to me,” said Gil, who showed emotion during his acceptance speech.

“They make my role easier with the guys we have up top. Adam has a great game in the air and can capitalize on those passes and Gustavo and Tajon are incredible players.”

Arena, who was named MLS Coach of the Year, has a unique perspective on the award as he has coached Gil for parts of three seasons and Donovan over seven campaigns (2008-2014) with the LA Galaxy. While Donovan was a finishing forward and Gil creates scoring chances in the midfield and on set pieces, they were both impact players in their own right according to Arena.

“Landon was goal scorer and Carles is a supplier of goals,” said Arena. “They are both outstanding players and obviously their value to their teams were great and are great. They are different players for sure. But they are two outstanding players for sure.”

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Report: Amid COVID, demand for lab space surges, leading to higher rents

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Report: Amid COVID, demand for lab space surges, leading to higher rents

Demand for Boston-area lab space is surging, but the supply is scant, leading to soaring rents, according to a new report.

Demand is far outpacing available space in the Boston area, with a record number of large biotech and drug companies seeking 100,000 square feet amid a global race for new drug development, according to the report from CBRE, a Dallas-based commercial real estate services and investment firm.

“The Boston lab market is expanding at an unprecedented pace,” said Jonathan Varholak, the firm’s vice chairman. “With over $9.3 billion of venture capital funding having flowed into Boston area life science firms in the first three quarters of this year, demand from startups is at an all-time high. We’re seeing record-setting rents and historically low vacancies as a result.”

The vacancy rate for existing lab and research and development space is just 1.1% in the Boston-Cambridge market, as average asking rents soar, jumping 7.5% to $94.62 per square foot in September compared to March 2021.

In Boston and Cambridge, where vacancy is 0.1% and 0.3% respectively, the average asking rents are now $100.00 per square foot in Boston and $112.79 in Cambridge, according to CBRE. The leasing of lab space has been pushed into the suburbs, including Watertown and Route 128 West.

“As we see in housing, space is scarce,” said Joe Boncore, CEO of the industry group MassBio. “But as we add more space to the economy, we expect the price of lab space to level off.”

Ten million square feet of lab space is under construction in the Boston area, which includes 9.3 million square feet of “spec” construction, where developers broke ground with no tenants signed at the time, the report said. Six million square feet is expected to deliver by the end of next year, and 3.2 million square feet is being converted from other uses such as office or warehouse space.

In Boston, life sciences employment has grown faster than the U.S average over the past 15 years, although Boston has only about a sixth of the life sciences employment as Middlesex County, including Cambridge, Waltham, Lexington, among others. Yet Boston has grown more rapidly over the past year: 7.5% vs. 5.2%, according to CBRE.

“Life sciences labs quickly have become a highly sought-after property type for both tenants and investors,” said Ian Anderson, CBRE’s Americas Head of Office Research. “This intense demand for lab space is the natural result of a global push for new medicines begetting strong funding and hiring in the life sciences sector.”

Global demand for vaccines for COVID-19 and viruses like it has led to initial public offerings for life sciences companies in the on pace for a record year, raising roughly $13 billion, according to CBRE.

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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

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MBTA to cut back bus routes Dec. 19, citing workforce shortages

Amid a national workforce shortage cutting across industries, the MBTA has not been spared.

The agency announced that, starting Dec. 19, bus service and Mattapan line service will be scaled back to accommodate employee attrition, which is outpacing new hires.

“Like other transit systems across the country, the MBTA is experiencing significant challenges in attracting the workforce needed to meet demands for service,” MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak said. “The MBTA is budgeted for a full level of service, and ready to add back services when we have hired and trained new bus and train operators.”

Poftak added in his comments that teams at the MBTA are working to streamline the hiring process and encouraged those interested in applying to head to mbta.com/apply.

The MBTA’s winter schedule will focus on maintaining service for routes with “durable ridership,” on routes with crowded buses and on supporting those returning to in-person work and school. The routes will also be adapted to new, COVID-induced travel patterns.

Buses will reduce in frequency by about one in every 20 scheduled trips, with many of the changes reducing frequency on weekdays, especially in the morning.

Several other bus changes are going into effect later this month. Route 111, with service to and from Woodlawn, will operate a simplified service pattern this winter, and Routes 62 and 76, which run between Alewife and the Bedford VA Hospital, will resume rush-hour weekday service.

The MBTA will hold a public information session Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. to discuss the changes. People can learn more about the affected routes at mbta.com/servicechanges.

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