Friday, September 28, 2007

Breaking news

Bizarro Al Downing?

Brett Favre is 2 picks behind George Blanda for the all time lead in most interceptions thrown (275 to 277), and opposing defensive backs are chomping at the bit for number 278.

"He's three away," [Vikings safety Darren] Sharper said. "...We're all planning to get that third pick."

How cool would that be, having that on your mantle? In a similar vein, John Smoltz struck out Ryan Howard for his 196th strikeout of the year, breaking Adam Dunn's record set in 2004, and Derek Jeter gave herpes to his 481st woman, a stripper from Scores named Brandi, breaking David Crosby's record set in 1987.

Redskins decide they're not quite old enough

Adam Schefter is reporting the Redskins will sign Keenan McCardell, 9th all time in receptions, on Monday. McCardell is 37, over 8 months older than any player on Washington, and he'll be 38 when the playoffs come around. I can't imagine Vinny Cerrato looking at the roster, and saying "You know what we need? More experience. Another veteran at the end of his career." That's like Nicole Richie looking in a mirror and thinking she's too fat. Maybe Snyder, Gibbs, and Cerrato are like Nicole Richie, Paris Hilton, and Lindsey Lohan except instead of loving coke and hating food they love over the hill football players and hate draft picks.

Most unintentionally funny video ever?

Got this from Profootballtalk, it's one of the funniest videos I've ever seen.

Michael Vick finally does something right

Get this: Michael Vick can get up to a year knocked off his federal sentence for testing positive for pot. taking advantage of an obscure Federal Bureau of Prisons (B.O.P.) Rotational/Developmental Assignment Program (R.D.A.P.) loophole — 18 U.S.C. 3621 to be exact — [Vick] could possibly reduce his sentence by one year...

From U.S. Code posted at Cornell Law School's site:
Period of custody — The period a prisoner convicted of a nonviolent offense remains in custody after successfully completing a treatment program may be reduced by the Bureau of Prisons, but such reduction may not be more than one year from the term the prisoner must otherwise serve.

The caveat is that is must be a nonviolent crime, but Vick's lawyer could make a legitimate case of that for Vick. Also, this does nothing for his pending state charges. I found the link to this at 100% Injury Rate, who confirmed this with someone from the website American Prison Consultants. They ask the question: is Vick some kind of criminal genius who has spent the last six months poring over his legal books, or a stressed out pothead? Probably the latter.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

O.J's 11: The trailer

Here's a pretty damn funny video from If I had more black friends maybe I would have come up with it first. Oh well.

So is Jan Barry Bonds?

The WBRS sports blog compares every team in the MLB playoff chase to characters from The Office, which finally returns tonight to regain it's place as the best thing on network television. My favorite:

Cleveland Indians: Creed Bratton
Nobody is really sure what to make of Creed; he's dangerous, that's for sure. The Indians are the same way. Sure, they've got Sizemore, Hafner and Martinez, but does that make them a real contender, or just a borderline homeless guy who sleeps in the office four days a week?

Best pilot ever? (Mild spoilers)

I started watching Bionic Woman (watch it here) last night with high expectations. Of all the high profile shows debuting this fall, had the most going for it: decent concept, decent cast, high production values. This pilot exceeded my expectations and is the only show I've tried this month, out of Chuck, K-Ville, and Life, that I'll continue to watch.

Spoilers Begin

It opened up with a heavily armed group taking down Sarah Corvis (Katee Sackhoff, Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica), who, as many learned from the ubiquitous previews, is the original Bionic Woman, at least in this universe. We then get about five minutes setting up the life of the main character, Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan, EastEnders), typical fare that takes up about half of Alias. She and her fiancee get in a car accident with Corvis, who rams her with a semi rig. Her fiancee implants her with some type of nanotechnology, and the man behind this project (Miguel Ferrer, from Crossing Jordan and Traffic) needs to be convinced that she is a worthy subject. The fiancee helps her escape, she develops her powers in a montage with nods to Superman: The Movie and Spider-Man, and she runs into Corvis while tending bar. And rainy, rooftop fight ensues, and Sommers enters an uneasy truce with Jonas Bledsoe, the mysterious financier.

Spoilers End

What I liked about this show was that it was 40% action, 40% conspiracy, 20% character development. I imagine it was pitched as a cross between The Matrix, Alias, and X-Files. There have been some good to great pilots over the years, none better than The Sopranos, but when comparing this to pilots of action shows such as 24, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and shows that have been long forgotten, Bionic Woman is as good or better than any of them.

Inside The Catch II

ESPN frequently airs NFL's Greatest Games, a series produced by NFL Films encapsulating great games. Tuesday night, they aired The Catch II, #21 on my list of most memorable games.

The 49ers came into the game 12-4, with coach Steve Mariucci somehow on the hot seat. They had lost the division the "Dirty Birds" 14-2 Atlanta Falcons and were transitioning to a younger lineup. Third year receiver Terrell Owens was coming off a breakout year where he caught 14 TDs, and was on his way to becoming the #1 option ahead of Jerry Rice, who had played only 2 games in 1997 due to tearing his ACL and MCL in week 1. Formerly thought of as a draft bust, Garrison Hearst blossomed in his second season as a 49er. He had a career high 1570 yards rushing yards in 1998 (3rd in the NFL), including a memorable 96 yard game winning TD run in week one against the Jets. Steve Young was coming off career highs in yards and passing TDs, but had never beaten the Packers, dating back to his days as a Buccaneer. The Packers had eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs the last 3 seasons.

The Packers went into the game 11-5, losing the division to the 15-1 Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre had arguably the greatest three year stretch in NFL history 1995-97 with 3 straight MVPs and 2 Super Bowls, winning one. In 1998 he took a step back, throwing 23 interceptions, but still topped 30 TDs. Reggie White was coming off a 16 sacks season in which he won Defensive Player of the Year for the second time, but was contemplating retirement. Coach Mike Holmgren had returned the Packers to their glory days, but his contract ran out at the end of the year, and was looking for total control and record money. Calling the plays was offensive coordinator Andy Reid, who figured to be a hot property in the offseason.

Right away, the teams starting making mistakes. On the third play of the game, Young hit Owens for a first down, but Darren Sharper stripped T.O., and safety Pat Terrell recovered around midfield. It took T.O. a while to recover from the fumble, as he went on to drop four passes. Tight end Tyrone Davis would drop a sure TD pass on 3rd and goal from the 5, and the Ryan Longwell nailed a field goal for a 3-0 lead. The 49ers punted on their ensuing possession, but Dorsey Levens fumbled inside the 20, setting up a 19 yard TD drive by the Niners to make in 7-3. Young hit tight end Greg Clark; lined up left he faked like he missed a block and ran an out.

Levens was all over the Packers next drive, including a 22 yard on 4th and 1 to the the Niners 2. Favre then hit Freeman on a post for a TD to go ahead. Darren Sharper picked off Young on the next drive for his second turnover of the game, the Packers punted, and the Niners drove inside the 20 setting up a 34 yard game tying field goal. Longwell missed a 50 yard field goal on the next drive, the Niners went no where and punted, Packers punt returner Roell Preston fumbled, and the Niners recovered inside the Packers 20. Two plays later, Young was picked off for the second time in the half by George Koonce. Levens capped off the drive with a 2 yard TD, and the Packers were up 17-10 at the half.

On the first draft of the second half Favre threw an interception to Lee Woodall on 3rd and 21. Young hit Clark for his second TD to tie it at 17 on a similar fake missed block, except he ran a post toward the middle of the field. Packers punted and the teams exchanged field goals. Then Owens made a physical 37 yard catch, his second, along the sideline to set up a go ahead field goal. The next play, Favre threw an inexplicable pass across his body that was intercepted with under five minutes left. The 49ers ran Hearst twice, then threw a shallow out to Owens. Owens dropped what would have been an easy first down, his fourth drop of the game, and people in the press box were already were already writing stories taking him the goat of the game.

The Niners punted, pinning the Packers at their own 11. Favre goes right down the field, hitting a covered Corey Bradford in the slot with a perfectly placed pass on a go. From the San Francisco 15, Favre set up an audible in the huddle if he saw the safety pressing. Freeman was to run a hook and then float to the back of the end zone. Since Mariucci had been the Packers quarterback coach, the teams had similar terminology in their offenses, and the audible was meant to make the Niners think Freeman would run a hook. Sure enough, Favre called it and the 49ers safety bit, and on Freeman's second TD Green Bay went up 27-23 with 1:56 left.

The Packers had taken Jerry Rice out of the game with extra coverage, so with Owens' struggles, Steve Young went to third receiver J.J. Stokes for much of the ensuing drive. He finally hit Rice for his first catch with 0:27 left, but he put the ball on the ground and it was recovered by Bernardo Harris. The refs had called Rice down, and this was before replay, so the drive went on. The Niners lined up on 3rd down from the Pack 25 with 0:08 left and the Packers dropping eight. Young tripped on the center's feet dropping back, which he says made the defense relax for a moment. He regained his composure and lofts a perfect pass up the middle to T.O. on a skinny post among four Packers defensive backs. T.O. pinballs between Sharper and Terrell, holds on, and bursts into tears hugging the ball in one of the most remarkable finishes in playoff history.

Things would never be the same for either team. Mariucci and his coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinwig and defensive backs coach Jim Mora, Jr., was retained by San Francisco. Steve Young sustained a brutal concussion on a hit by Aeneas Williams week 3 of 1999 and never played again. Rice had two of the worst seasons of his career before leaving San Francisco for Oakland. Garrison Hearst broke his ankle the first play the next week at Atlanta and missed the next two seasons. Owens became a star on that play, and with the other 49ers stars suddenly disappearing all around him, started to morph into the divisive figure he has become a decade later.

Packers General Manager Ron Wolf called for instant replay, blaming the missed call on the Rice fumble for the loss, and replay was adopted the following year. Wolf wouldn't cede control to Holmgren, so less than a week later Holmgren was named Executive VP, General Manager, and Head Coach of the Seattle Seahawks. Two days later, Andy Reid was named head coach of the Eagles, and has said that if T.O. doesn't hold onto that pass, the Eagles would not have wanted to wait another week to name a head coach. Reid replaced Ray Rhodes, who was named Packers coach the same day after being the only person to interview. Reggie White announced his retirement, but would sit out the following season before playing 16 games with the Panthers in 2000.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

You're jocking my style

I have to admit, I was pretty damn flattered to see a link to an article titled "Memorable Games That Flew Under The Radar" the day after seeing a link to my blog entry "The 25 Most Memorable Games since 1990" was referenced on their site. I thought I'd see a reference to a great Pac 10 basketball game, maybe even the Little League World Series. But the Bavarian Finger Wrestling Championship?

Has eBay been hacked?

Huge breaking news on the internet: eBay may have been hacked because personal information such as contact and credit card information is being posted on the "Trust & Safety" eBay message board! Yesterday at around 9 AM EST account information of approximately 1200 eBay users was posted on the message board with the subject "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" followed by a six digit number. It's not clear what percentage of the data was accurate but I'm hearing mostly accurate with some credit card numbers being off.

One possibility is that the information that has been posted was compiled by phishing. But a Youtube video (since removed) was posted with the title "ebaY Major Hack AttacK! User's Data Posted On Ebay T&S Bd" under the username cappnonymous. Here is a list of usernames for eBay accounts whose data has been compromised. This is honestly one of the most devastating things that could possibly happen on the internet. As many people have credit card or PayPal accounts linked to eBay as any other site on the web. Change the passwords to your eBay and PayPal accounts immediately.

The mother of all jumbotrons

Get a load of the new Verizon Center jumbotron! Click here for a 286 kb, full size version. Does it looks like there's a blue Capital inside or is it just me? It looks unbelievable, but I'm a little sad because that means that my NHL 08 will be a little out of date. Props to for the pic.

Less postseason baseball coverage on Sportscenter? Yes please!

Here's some good news: ESPN and MLB are stuck in a feud that could mean less postseason baseball coverage on the worldwide leader and more football coverage. ESPN scooped TBS by announcing the All Star games this year before TBS's supposedly exclusive, rain delayed special. Major League Baseball responded by limiting Baseball Tonight's access to AT&T Park at all times during All Star weekend except the Home Run Derby.

The latest standoff is over ESPN's refusal to air commercials promoting postseason games on Fox and TBS. ESPN's stance is that they are not contractually obligated to promote what essentially is a competing product, like they and TNT are for postseason NBA coverage. ( mentions that the Monday Night Football booth mentioned "the NBA on TNT" six times Monday when Charles Barkley was in the booth.) Baseball could potentially mete out a punishment similar to the All Star game, which, I hope and pray, could mean less fluff analysis from John Kruk and Dusty Baker, both of whom make Joe Theismann look insightful.

It really shouldn't surprise me that Major League Baseball continues to make petty, myopic decisions like this one, but it does. Seriously, how does daring Sportscenter to rein in their baseball coverage make sense when it's in your interest to promote your product? But this little jihad makes me happy; I would prefer hearing Ed Werder relaying unnamed sources in the Bears' locker room in a Grossman piece over Karl Ravech trying to turn a five second clip of Joe Torre praising a set up guy into a five minute piece by a factor of infinity.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Griese will get the start for the Bears

Adam Schefter is reporting the Brian Griese will start at Detroit next week for the Bears. Normally positive, Steve Young was savage in his appraisal of Rex Grossman last night, saying that when he didn't give full effort to make a tackle after a turnover in the Super Bowl he had seen enough. This is in addition to Grossman admitting that he was too concerned about New Year's Eve partying to be focused for a Packers game late last year. What I'm getting at is no one should feel bad for Rex Grossman. He had his shot and didn't take it seriously.

Feel bad for the team. They've put in the effort to get points any way that they can, usually with the special teams, because they expect nothing from the offense. Feel bad for Griese, who had the bad fortune of following John Elway at Denver. He's never finished a season with a TD to Interception differential of worse than -1, and is actually (get ready to have your mind blown) 18th all time in passer rating. I'll be the first to admit that it's an overrated stat, but that's got to indicate that you have a capable backup when you're starter is turning it over twice a game.

Week 3 Power Rankings

My Week 2 Power Rankings look pretty good in hindsight, with as high as I had the 0-2 Eagles and Jets and as low as I had the 2-0 Lions. When you make a list based on how good you perceive the teams to be as opposed to how well they've been playing, teams don't move as dramatically. The biggest riser was the Eagles moving up 7, the biggest fall is that of the Vikings, dropping 9 spots.

1. New England Patriots (3-0) (Last week: 1) AFC East
2. Indianapolis Colts (3-0) (2) AFC South
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0) (4) AFC North
4. Dallas Cowboys (3-0) (5) NFC East
5. Baltimore Ravens (2-1) (3) AFC North
6. Tennessee Titans (2-1) (9) AFC South
7. Green Bay Packers (3-0) (10) NFC North
8. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) (11) AFC South
9. San Diego Chargers (1-2) (6) AFC West
10. Denver Broncos (2-1) (7) AFC West
11. Houston Texans (2-1) (8) AFC South
12. Seattle Seahawks (2-1) (16) NFC West
13. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) (20) NFC East
14. Cincinnati Bengals (1-2) (13) AFC North
15. New York Jets (1-2) (17) AFC East
16. Chicago Bears (with Griese as starter, 28th with Grossman) (1-2) (12) NFC North
17. Washington Redskins (2-1) (15) NFC East
18. San Francisco 49ers (2-1) (14) NFC West
19. Carolina Panthers (2-1) (18) NFC South
20. Oakland Raiders (1-2) (25) AFC West
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1) (24) NFC South
22. Miami Dolphins (0-3) (26) AFC East
23. Detroit Lions (2-1) (21) NFC North
24. Arizona Cardinals (1-2) (22) NFC West
25. Cleveland Browns (1-2) (28) AFC North
26. New York Giants (1-2) (30) NFC East
27. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) (31) AFC West
28. Minnesota Vikings (1-2) (19) NFC North
29. New Orleans Saints (0-3) (23) NFC South
30. St. Louis Rams (0-3) (27) NFC West
31. Buffalo Bills (0-3) (29) AFC East
32. Atlanta Falcons (0-3) (32) NFC South

Division Power Rankins (by sum of team rankings)
AFC South - 27 (-3 from last week)
AFC North - 47 (-1)
NFC East - 60 (-10)
AFC West - 66 (-3)
AFC East - 69 (-4)
NFC North - 74 (+12)
NFC West - 84 (+5)
NFC South - 101 (+4)

As featured on

A huge week for The Skinny Post. First, on Thursday, I got a mention from The Big Lead, one of the top sports blogs on the web. And now, on September 25, 2007, I get a mention from's Extra Mustard, where they show much love to blogs.

What are the 25 most memorable games since 1990? The Skinny Post offers a very thorough list. (Thanks to Ryan Cleaver of Rockville, Md., for the link)

Also, my preseason prediction of New England over Dallas in the Super Bowl with Tom Brady as MVP looks pretty on the money right now.


My top Emmitt-isms from last night:
"They've got to get back to running the game."
"He does everything that a coach want him to do."
"Defense win championships."
"He looks to throw when he have to."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Little Man

In a mildly hyped interview with George Michael, Daniel Snyder said that a newspaper would have more of a bias than a television station.

Snyder: Well I think part of the problem with the media is that there's a landscape change in the media, and newspapers, for example, their circulations are declining rapidly, three, four percent a year. So what they need is controversy to sell, they need negativity. And I think when it all comes down to it, it becomes a sort of feeding frenzy for them. If you look at the more modern media, newer technology, whether it be Comcast SportsNet or what have you, it's almost a little bit less biased because there's less agenda.

Now, Comcast SportsNet fills an enormous amount of programming with Redskins interviews, and have a financial partnership with them, with Redskins Radio on twice for an hour today. It's unbelievable how biased television has become with regards to sports because they air so many games. For example, it wouldn't make much sense for Sportscenter to talk about the decreasing relevance of baseball and the rampant use of HGH as a lead in for Sunday Night Baseball. And it's a joke the Snyder thinks his constituency is so stupid as to not realize that.

"You cannot change the stripes of a leopard"

If my most memorable games list was a little longer, I might have had the epic Cowboys/Giants at the Meadowlands where Emmitt Smith carried the Cowboys to an overtime win and a first round bye. Every football fan I know couldn't help but respect him after that show stopping performance. He charmed all demographics in Dancing with the Stars, and should have been a great addition to ESPN's NFL Countdown pregame show. Unfortunately, he has a poor grasp of English and a shocking lack of NFL knowledge. He twice uttered the phrase "You cannot change the stripes of a leopard," and tabbed the 1-1 Chargers as the most likely team to drop to 0-3. It has gotten so bad he is taking away from his legacy as a player. What's making it worse is that Keyshawn Johnson is a complete natural as a rookie analyst.


America's team
Packers 31 - Chargers 24
How can you not be rooting for the Green Bay Packers? If Green Bay is playing meaningful games in December expect to see them on Sunday Night every week with the flexible schedule. The Packers are 3-0 despite being last in the NFL in rushing with 57 yards a game. 47 pass attempts, 13 rush attempts yesterday. They're in the middle of the road in offense and defense, but they're tied for 5th in the NFL with a +2 turnover margin. Peter King and the ESPN heads are saying the Chargers running more, but Rivers opened up 15 of 15 - maybe they should be rushing less. San Diego is 1-2, but they've lost to two good teams and are in a weak division, there's still plenty of time to right the ship.
Game ball: Brett Favre. 28 of 45, 369 yards, 3 TDs (record tying 420 for career), 2 carries 1 yard
Don't put the loss on: Philip Rivers. 27 of 36, 306 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Int, 1 carry, -1 yard

Best win
Eagles 56 - Lion 21
The Eagles dispatched of the flukish 2-0 Lions, going up 35-7 after 20 minutes. Kevin Curtis was getting open, which no Philly receiver has done this year, against the perennially porous Lions secondary. Curtis and Brian Westbrook became the first teammates to score 3 TDs a piece in a half, and Westbrook was two receiving yards from going 100 rushing and receiving in the first half. McNabb turned back the clock a year in the first half, going for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. Am I the only one who kind of liked the throwbacks? The Lions are third in the NFL in offense, 29th in rushing. They're 1st in passing by 44 yards a game, an absurd margin. The Calvin Johnson injury looked innocuous, but anytime you're dealing with a back injury anything could happen.
Game ball: Donovan McNabb. 21 of 26, 381 yards, 4 TDs, 3 carries, 7 yards
Don't put the loss on: Roy Williams. 9 catches, 201 yards, 1 TD

Worst loss
Patriots 38 - Bills 7
What a tough loss for Buffalo: J.P. Losman out at least 2 weeks, Paul Posluszny out for the year. There is no silver lining on this season for the Bills, maybe Glenn Dorsey in the draft. This game wasn't as close as the final score indicated: New England was stopped a yard short of first down and Tom Brady fumbled at the Buffalo 1 yard line. The Pats have scored 38 points in every game, and Randy Moss and Brady are on pace to break every single receiving and passing single season record except most receptions.
Game ball: Tom Brady. 23 of 29, 311 yards, 4 TDs, 1 carry, 2 yards
Don't put the loss on: Brian Moorman. 7 punts, 49.0 yard average, including 75 yarder from own 1, 2 times inside 20, no touchback

Worst win
Panthers 27 - Falcons 20
Jake Delhomme was off to a fantastic start this season with 3 TDs in each of the first two games, but left with an injury to his throwing elbow. Steve Smith was held to 1 catch for 10 yards, but goaded DeAngelo Hall into 67 penalty yards on a game tying 3rd quarter drive. Profootballtalk is reporting that he got beat up in the locker room after the game. The Falcons scored 10 points total their first 2 games, 20 against Carolina. Is it all Morten Anderson? Maybe. Joey Harrington had one the best games of his career, but they need to rush the ball more: 45 passing plays, 19 rushing plays.
Game ball: DeShaun Foster. 20 carries, 122 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, 13 yards, 1 TD
Don't put the loss on: Roddy White. 7 catches, 127 yards, (on pace for 1264) 1 TD

Best loss
Jets 31 - Dolphins 28
Miami - 424 yards of offense, New York - 256. Miami gave up a kick return TD and a TD with 0:02 left in the first half, otherwise they would have won this game. But Miami isn't going anywhere this year and is probably better served with a top ten pick. Ted Ginn, Jr. had his first catch, and Jason Taylor lined up as a Z receiver, drawing a key PI call in the end zone. I still think Ronnie Brown is an elite back. Chad Pennington is near the bottom of the league in yards per completion, but he's second to Brady in passer rating. Thomas Jones had 110 yards rushing, 109 in his first 2 games. Jerricho Cotchery and Laveraneous Coles are one of the top 5 receiving duos in the league.
Game ball: Leon Washington. 2 kick returns, 111 yards, 1 TD, 7 carries, 18 yards
Don't put the loss on: Ronnie Brown. 23 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD, 6 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD

Best example of karma
Raiders 26 - Browns 24
Best ending of the day: Phil Dawson lines up for the game winner, and Lane Kiffin calls a TO right before he kicks the game winner. The next kick is blocked and the Raiders get in the win column. Cowboys fans have to be happy about the way this turned out. Josh McCown could barely walk, and Culpepper came and was similarly efficient. Lamont Jordan is a good player, in the offseason I was hoping my Ravens would trade for him instead of McGahee. Jamal Lewis and Derek Anderson really came back to Earth in this one. Kamerion Wimbley is a stud; he's the best player on this team by a mile.
Game ball: Lamont Jordan. 29 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches, 32 yards
Don't put the loss on: Kamerion Wimbley. 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble

Most conservative
Giants 24 - Redskins 17
The Redskins fell apart in the second half, with 30 yards in the first 28 minutes. They went down the field on their last drive, but two bizarre spikes killed their chances, with 0:25 left on their 4th down play. Clinton Portis stayed on the bench for the last series; Ladell Betts is a premier backup but isn't the blocker or receiver that Portis is. The Redskins match up poorly with teams whose Achilles' is their secondary - next up for the Skins are the Lions, another such team. Cornelius Griffin left the game in the 3rd quarter; teams run the ball at will when Griffin is out of the lineup. On the game winning TD, Carlos Rogers has got to make that tackle on Plaxico Burress. The Giants really aren't missing Tiki Barber, or Jacobs for that matter. Derrick Ward has 360 total yards on the year. Say what you will about Eli Manning - he's not affected by the criticism, crucial for playing in New York.
Game ball: Mathias Kiwanuka. 8 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Don't put the loss on: London Fletcher. 10 tackles, 1 fumble recovery

Least conservative
Jaguars 23 - Broncos 14
The Broncos got stuffed on 4th and 1 down 20-7 late in the third after using their 3rd timeout, then went for it again on 4th and 5 from their own 9 with over four minutes left down 20-14. I would take Jay Cutler over Matt Leinart if I had the choice; I'd take country over Hollywood. Jacksonville gets destroyed by the Titans on the ground, then shuts down Denver (Travis Henry: 11 carries, 35 yards, 1 TD)? Guess they plugged the holes. David Garrard/Byron Leftwich reminds me of Doug Flutie/Rob Johnson from about 8 or 9 years ago. Garrard is a better game manager. Maurice Jones-Drew went way too high in fantasy drafts. He'll be lucky to have half of his 16 TDs from last year this year.
Game ball: David Garrard. 14 of 20, 154 yards, 1 TD, 12 carries, 52 yards
Don't put the loss on: Brandon Marshall. 7 catches, 133 yards

Most quarterbacks
Ravens 26 - Cardinals 23
The Ravens jumped all over Arizona, dominating offense, defense, and special teams, going up 20-3 at the half on huge return from Yamon Figurs. Matt Leinart looked like a deer in headlights against the Ravens defense, and then Kurt Warner comes in and looks automatic. Warner attacked Corey Ivy, starting for a sick Samari Rolle. I've heard rumblings that Rolle might be seriously ill. Antrel Rolle lost his starting job, he had 87 tackles and 1 Int last year. Chris McAlister was on Larry Fitzgerald most of the game, he had 5 catches for 85 yards. Anquan Boldin has 14 catches, 181 yards, 2 TDs. Steve McNair was playing at less than 100%, and left the game when his groin tightened up on him. Kyle Boller (8 of 10, 83 yards) had the game winning drive.
Game ball: Yamon Figurs. 2 punt returns, 75 yards, 1 TD, 2 kick returns, 64 yards
Don't put the loss on: Anquan Boldin. 14 catches, 181 yards, 2 TDs

Biggest complainer
Steelers 37 - 49ers 16
Vernon Davis barked about not getting the ball enough during the week, with 4 catches in the first 2 games. He was targeted early and often Sunday, with 4 catches on 8 passes his way, with 2 drops. Frank Gore has got to get more than 16 touches. Taylor Jacobs scored his 1st TD since November 2, 2003. The Steelers don't play the Ravens until week 9, they've got a great chance to be 7-0 at that point. Willie Parker leads the NFL in rushing. Hines Ward limped off the field in the 3rd quarter; all those flattening blocks he's issued over the years are starting to catch up with him.
Game ball: Willie Parker. 24 carries, 133 yards, 1 catch, 9 yards
Don't put the loss on: Marques Douglas. 8 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss

Best point spread
Colts 30 - Texans 24
How about some love for Vegas nailing the 6 point line? The Texans are another team people should be rooting for, but they have an uphill road in the ridiculous AFC South. Ahman Green and Jacoby Jones both left the game with injuries, but Houston managed to stay in it until the end. Two incredible highlight reel plays from this game: the opening kickoff return by Jerome Mathis, where he stopped and started on a dime, and the TD flip by Joseph Addai, who is having a monster fantasy year.
Game ball: Joseph Addai. 22 carries, 72 yards, 2 TDs, 3 catches, 19 yards
Don't put the loss on; DeMeco Ryans. 13 tackles, all short of first downs

Worst quarterback
Dallas 34 - Bears 10
Dallas receivers had about 8 drops, including 2 big ones by Patrick Crayton, who needs to be benched as badly as Rex Grossman. Sam Hurd should start over Crayton, and of course Marion Barber, III over Julius Jones. But besides depth at receiver the Cowboys look like the most complete team in the NFC, especially when Terence Newman comes back. In the meantime, Anthony Henry has 4 picks in 2 games. The Bears are way too reliant on Devin Hester to make a play; it's too easy to take him out of the game. Just don't kick it to him. Grossman now has 33 turnovers in his last 17 games. The rest of the team deserves better.
Game ball: Tony Romo. 22 of 35, 329 yards, 2 TDs, 1 Int

Least consistent team
Seahawks 24 - Bengals 21
Week 1 they destroy Tampa, week 2 they lose to the Cardinals, so week 3 they eek out a win against the Bengals? If Matt Hasselbeck ever had some receivers to throw to, he'd have 35 TDs. Deion Branch is a nice player who asked for more catches, but Nate Burleson is way too inconsistent and Bobby Engram can't get any separation. Shaun Alexander shows no effects from last year's foot injury. Carson Palmer looked a little bit off all day. The Bengals could easily be 0-3, but could just as easily be 3-0. Now they host New England next week and will probably drop to 1-3 going into their bye.

Best rookie
Chiefs 13 - Vikings 10
Adrian Peterson went over 100 yards rushing and 150 total yards for the 2nd time in 3 games. Call me crazy, but he's already one of the top five backs in the NFL. Unfortunately, they have nothing at receiver. They should have signed Reche Caldwell to give them a veteran presence. They've got a nice nucleus besides that. Last year's first rounder Chad Greenway had another strong performance with 8 tackles and a fumble recovery. Jared Allen was suspended the first two games after multiple DUIs and had two sacks. He's a free agent this offseason and it will be interesting how pursued he is. Damon Huard will hold onto his job for another week with a solid performance, although he did lose a fumble. Dwayne Bowe has a TD in 2 straight.
Game ball: Jared Allen. 8 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble that was reversed, a forced fumble on the next play
Don't put the loss on: Adrian Peterson. 25 carries, 102 yards, 1 TD, a fumble that was reversed, a fumble on the next play, 3 catches, 48 yards

Boringest game
Buccaneers 24 - Rams 3
Both teams combined for 267 yards passing in a snoozer. What the hell is going on with Mark Bulger? Negative TD/Int ratio, less than 6 yards a pass... St. Louis has got to be rethinking that $30 million signing bonus. Jeff Garcia looks like a bargain, as Gruden's job looks more and more secure. Tampa has the hardest stretch of their schedule coming up: road dates at Carolina and Indy, home versus the Titan, at Detroit, then Jags at home. So we'll know if they're for real next month.
Game ball: Barrett Ruud. 11 tackles, 1 Int
Don't put the loss on: Stephen Jackson. 30 carries, 115 yards, 4 catches, 18 yards

Friday, September 21, 2007

The 25 Most Memorable Games since 1990

My favorite thing about sports is seeing a great game. Most of the time, I'd rather see my favorite team lose a transcendent game than win a blowout. I've been following sports pretty closely since the start of the 90's, and here are my 25 most memorable sporting events.

1. Yankees 6 - Red Sox 5. Game 7, 2003 ALCS. October 16, 2003. Aaron Bleeping Boone. The Red Sox were favored to beat their hated rivals -150 with vintage Pedro (14-4, 2.22 ERA in the regular season) on the mound. Clemens walked off the mound trailing 4-0 with nobody out in the 4th for what, at the time, was thought to be his last start, but Grady Little left Pedro in for too long, Posada tied it up in the bottom of the 8th, and Boone won it off Wakefield in the 11th. Best game in the history of Yankee Stadium according to Peter Gammons.

2. Duke 102 - Kentucky 101. 1992 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Finals. March 28, 1992. The shot. Christian Laettner game winner with 2.1 left. Best game ever according to ESPN, FOX Sports, The Cincinnati Enquirer, AOL FanHouse, Big Blue History, and hundreds of other sources.

3. Patriots 20 - Rams 17. Super Bowl XXXVI. February 3, 2002. The Patriots dynasty begins. People forget that the Rams were 14 point favorites, making this one of the most monumental upsets in sports history. The game turned on a Ty Law 47 yard interception return, and Tom Brady led the game winning drive from his own 17 with no timeouts and 1:30 left. This game also featured a memorable 9/11 halftime tribute by U2.

4. Longhorns 41 - Trojans 38. 2006 Rose Bowl. January 4, 2006. But they had Vince Young. ESPN memorably ranked the 2005 Trojans as one of the greatest teams of all time, but they couldn't stop Vince Young as he ran for 200 yards and 3 TDs, including the game winning 8 yard scamper with 19 seconds left.

5. Czech Republic 2 - Canada 1. 1998 Olympics: Men's Ice Hockey Semifinal. February 20, 1998. Hasek/Roy in Nagano. Possibly the greatest duel in the history of sports, Dominick Hasek matched Patrick Roy stop for stop until the shootout, where Robert Reichel scored the only goal. Canadian coach Marc Crawford is remembered for leaving Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman out of his shootout lineup.

6. Twins 1 - Braves 0. Game 7, 1991 World Series. October 27, 1991. "He could have outlasted Methuselah." Without question the best 1-0 game ever. Jack Morris went 10 scoreless innings on 126 pitches in a truly throwback performance, outdueling John Smoltz, who went 7 1/3 scoreless. Gene Larkin drives in Dan Gladden with 1 out in the bottom of the 10th to set off pandemonium.

7. Bulls 87 - Jazz 86. Game 6, 1998 NBA Finals. June 14, 1998. "If that's the last image of Michael Jordan, how magnificent is it?" Jordan goes for 45, including the last four points of the game, but the last shot over Bryon Russell provides another iconic image for MJ.

8. Patriots 32 - Panthers 29. Super Bowl XXXVIII. February 1, 2004. Defensive malfunction. After a scoreless 1st quarter, both teams go bananas as both quarterbacks throw for more than 320 yards.

9. Boise State 43 - Oklahoma 42. 2007 Fiesta Bowl. January 1, 2007. Hook and ladder to tie, Statue of Liberty to win? The Sooners were 7.5 point favorites, and Adrian Peterson had come back for this game from a broken collarbone. The last minute and a half is historic: Sooners tie it, Broncos throw a pick 6, eventually run hook and ladder with 17 seconds left on 4th and 18. Then after a Peterson TD run on the first play of OT, Broncos score on 4th down on a WR option that has been lost to history and get the win on a Statue of Liberty play.

10. Rams 23 - Titans 16. Super Bowl XXXIV. January 30, 2000. The tackle. Kurt Warner capped off maybe the greatest season ever with a Super Bowl record 414 yards including a 73 yard bomb to Isaac Bruce with 1:54 left, and then Steve McNair led an 89 yard drive, but he needed 90 to tie.

11. Yankees 3 - Diamondbacks 2. Game 5, 2001 World Series. November 1, 2001. Byung-Hyun Kim blows it again. The day after Derek Jeter hit the first November World Series home run, Scott Brosius hit a two run homer to tie it in the bottom of the ninth, and Soriano drove in Knoblauch to win it in the 12th. Paul O'Neill's last game in Yankees Stadium, he was nearly moved to tears in the top of the 9th as the fans in right field chanted his name.

12. North Carolina 77 - Michigan 71. 1993 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game. April 5, 1993. No, Chris! Webber rebounds a missed free throw with 20 seconds left and picks up his pivot foot a few feet from the Tarheels' bench. He then takes it to the other end of the court and calls a timeout he doesn't have, giving UNC free throws and the ball.

13. Bulls 122 - Trailblazers 89. Game 1, 1992 NBA Finals. June 3, 1992. Atlas shrugged. The only rout on this list, Michael Jordan went for a jaw dropping 35 points including six 3 pointers in the first half, firmly establishing himself as the world's greatest athlete in the span of about an hour.

14. Rangers 2 - Devils 1. Game 7, 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. May 27, 1994. Matteau, Matteau, Matteau! The New York Rangers or New Jersey Devils both would have been favored to beat any team from the Western Conference, so this series was the de facto finals. After the Devils won game 5 to take a 3-2 lead, Messier promised the series would go 7. He delivered with a hat trick in game 6, bringing a highly anticipated game 7. Three games in the series went to double overtime, including game 7.

15. Chiefs 31 - Broncos 28. October 17, 1994. "And the best thing you can see is when it says zero, because then you know, even if he's got the ball in his hands, he can't do anything with it." The greatest regular season game ever played, and the greatest Monday Night Football game, was tied 7-7 after the first quarter, 14-14 at the half, and 21-21 after the third. With 2:45 left, down 3, Shannon Sharpe fumbles a pass from John Elway. The next play, Chiefs running back Marcus Allen fumbles it right back to Denver. Elway takes them 39 yards to paydirt, scoring on a six yard run with 1:29 left. Joe Montana, in his second season with Kansas City, goes 75 yards on nine plays (7 of 8 passing for 65 yards, a 10 yard run by Allen), capping it off with a 5 yard TD pass to Willie Davis with eight seconds left.

16. Sweden 3 - Canada 2. 1994 Olympics Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal Game. February 27, 1994. The Paralyzer. Peter Forsberg scores the greatest goal of all time (seriously, watch it) on a one handed backhand from outside the crease ending, to this day, the only gold medal deciding shootout in the Olympics. It was Sweden's first gold medal in Men's Ice Hockey and the goal was immortalized on a stamp.

17. Bills 41 - Oilers 38. 1993 AFC Wild Card Game. January 3, 1993. "The lights are on here at Rich Stadium, but you might as well turn them off...this one is over." Backup quarterback Frank Reich, who led Maryland to the largest comeback in NCAA history, took Buffalo back from a 35-3 deficit at home in front of a raucous crowd for the biggest comeback in NFL history.

18. Diamondbacks 3 - Yankees 2. Game 7, 2001 World Series. November 4, 2001. "Mystique and Aura? Those are dancers at a nightclub." Joe Torre goes to the well with Mariano Rivera once too often as he fails to get the two inning save. Luis Gonzalez drives in Tony Womack with a blooper over the drawn in infield.

19. Ohio State 31 - Miami 24. 2003 Fiesta Bowl. January 3, 2003. This game had a little bit of everything: a spectacular forced fumble by freshman sensation Maurice Clarett, a gruesome injury to expected top five pick Willis McGahee, and a controversial pass interference call on Miami on the first of two overtimes. Had the call not been made, Miami would have won on that play. Recent improprieties at Ohio State have cast some doubt into the legitimacy of this title.

20. Valparaiso 70 - Ole Miss 69. 1998 NCAA Men's Basketball Midwest Regional 1st round. March 13, 1998. "A sort of hoops hook-and-ladder." The Crusaders inbound with 2.5 seconds left, down 67-69, to Bill Jenkins, who receives the ball and passes to Bryce Drew in one smooth motion. The coach's son, his momentum going toward the basket, nails it, and Valpo eventually makes the Sweet 16 as a 13 seed in one of the all time Cinderella stories.

21. 49ers 30 - Packers 27. 1999 NFC Wild Card Game. January 3, 1999. The Catch II. Terrell Owens catches a 25 yard TD from Steve Young with three seconds left to beat Brett Favre and the Packers at Candlestick. Jerry Rice hadn't caught a pass in the first 59 minutes, and fumbled his first catch, but he was called down by refs.

22. Pacers 107 - Knicks 105. Game 1, Eastern Conference Semifinals. May 7, 1995. Choke. Reggie Miller scores 8 points in under 9 seconds to turn a 105-99 deficit with 16.5 seconds left into a 107-105 lead with 7.5 seconds left. The game also had a NBA Playoff record 58 fouls called, breaking a record set in a quadruple overtime game.

23. Red Wings 1 - Blues 0. Game 7, 1996 Western Conference Semifinals. May 16, 1996. From 60. It was the first full season after the strike shortened 94-95, and the Red Wings had the second best regular season record in NHL history with 131 points. The Blues had traded for Wayne Gretzky a the month before the trade deadline to join Brett Hull on their first line. Steve Yzerman takes the puck from Gretzky and scores his most memorable goal against Jon Casey from just inside the blue line in double overtime.

24. North Carolina 102 - Duke 100. February 2, 1995. "Ooooh! It's unbelievable, baby!" The greatest Duke-Carolina game of them all, and probably the greatest regular season NCAA Basketball game. Carolina came into Cameron Indoor #2, Duke unranked, but they played as even as possible into double overtime, brought there by a running 40 footer at the end of overtime by Jeff Capel, III. Voted the number one moment in ESPN basketball history.

25. Broncos 31 - Packers 24. Super Bowl XXXII. January 25, 1998. "This one's for John." The Packers were 11.5 point favorites as the NFC had won 13 straight Super Bowls. Terrell Davis ran for 157 yards and 3 TDs, but didn't touch the ball in his most memorable play. Suffering from migraines, he missed most of the 2nd quarter, but Mike Shanahan sent him out to set up a fake dive that resulted in an Elway TD run. The iconic image from this one is the Elway helicopter on third down that kept a drive going in the third quarter that eventually resulted in a Davis TD.

Games that just missed the cut: Tyus Edney's cross court run against Mizzou, Nebraska's divine intervention OT win against Mizzou, Leon Letts Thanksgiving gaffe, the Falcons/Vikings NFC Championship Game, the tuck rule game, last year's AFC Championship Game, Super Bowl XXV, games 4 & 5 of the 2003 ALCS, game 4 of the 2001 World Series, game 6 of the 1991 World Series, Game 6 of the 1993 World Series, and Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Thanks to, where I got a lot of the pics.

First Edna Krabappel now this

Gordie Howe's neighbors are apparently taking 17,000 pictures of Chateau Howe a day, so he was granted a restraining order against them. I can understand being starstruck, but 17,000 pictures of Gordie Howe's house? What kind of a market is there for Mr. Hockey paparazzi shots? What if the Dorfmans moved next door to, say, Tiger Woods? Would they take a billion pictures a day? And if you're taking that many pictures, why not just videotape their house?

If Howe really wants to get rid of these pricks, he should take Homer's advice to Bart when he needed to end his fictitious relationship with Miss Krabappel - "Three simple words: I am gay."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Like somebody bungee jumped off my right nut"

It's officially a lower abdominal strain, but Ken Griffey, Jr.'s description of his latest injury is the most gruesome sentence I've ever seen. I mean, holy crap, if faced with the decision of someone bungee jumping off a nut versus, I don't know, getting blown up by a nuclear bomb, at least the bomb might give you super powers, if comic books are based on reality.

Is Dr. Z the least fun human being ever?

Sometimes I don't agree Peter King, but the man visits training camp, he watches games in person, and he often writes columns that can spark a healthy debate. Dr. Z, on the other hand, gives the impression that he's an unfunny old man who watches the NFL from his couch and hates everybody. (Here's a column where he rips Warren Sapp - "I always knew Sapp was a phony..." Just about everyone else in the media loves Sapp.) In his latest Power Rankings, he says of the Steelers:

Rookie TE, 6-7 Matt Spaeth, has two TD catches in two games. Last year Steeler tight ends caught six. "He's a fantasy league all-star," says Mike Tomlin, the coach. I don't know what this means because I don't know how it works, don't want to know, never will want to know. Why'd you have to bring it up, anyway?

Does he have any desire to relate to his the huge percentage of his readers that play fantasy football? Or would he rather imply that he's above them? The guy picked the Buffalo Bills to win the Super Bowl four straight times, including a rematch when they lost the previous Super Bowl 52-17. He's been credited for being the driving force for keeping Art Monk out of the Hall of Fame ("catching 800 8-yard hooks just doesn't do it for me"). I look forward to the time when I don't see his droll writing on the pages of SI or when he's no longer a gatekeeper to the Hall and Art Monk finally has a chance.

Yet another reason to hate Notre Dame

As Notre Dame looks forward to playing Duke the week before Thanksgiving for their probable first win, they look for new and exciting ways to turn off blue chippers from considering making their way to the horrible weather of South Bend. Irish QB Demetrius Jones wants to transfer to Northern Illinois and told reporters he enrolled there last week, but Notre Dame isn't releasing him from his scholarship. They apparently aren't happy with the way it transpired; he practiced with the Irish the day after he enrolled at Northern Illinois without telling coaches his plans. The fallout is that he'll probably have to pay his way this year. On the bright side, Charlie Weis is locked up for a decade and only 58 days until they play Duke!

Definitely check out ESPN's new college football page, completely dedicated to Notre Dame.

The best sports game ever

I picked up NHL 08 last night and it rocked my world. Starting in 2003 EA let you control dekes with the right analog stick, allowing such ridiculous moves as deking backhand, putting it between your legs forehand, and shooting it with the stick between your legs. Last year, EA let you control shots with the R stick - you pull back to wind up a slapshot, push forward to shoot it. It didn't feature a full plate of features, but it was certainly a step forward in the genre.

This year's edition adds On the Fly AI. More so than any sports game I've ever played, the computer adapts to your playing style. For example, if you try the wraparound a few times in a row, the other team's defensemen will wait for you to turn in front of the net. If you try to cut off their passing lanes, they will take the puck more directly to the net and try to use you to screen the goalie. It comes across as incredibly authentic - if you can make the counter adjustments. Otherwise it's hard to score and harder to maintain a lead. There are other touches that add to the realism: if a shot trickles through a goalie's five hole, he'll keep his legs together and reach around with his glove to stop it.

And the graphics are so good it looks like a Pixar movie about a hockey game. Look at the shot of coverboy Eric Staal skating by his bench, the bench itself in particular. The sticks look photorealistic, the gloves pretty damn close. Gary Thorne and Bill Clement actually keep up with the gameplay, which has been problematic in the past. The Dynasty mode has been fleshed out, with two way free agent dialog, a salary cap, salary floor, and rookie cap, and a full minor league system.

This is a must to pick up in the biggest annual video game sale: the Toys 'R' Us Buy 2 Get 1 sale. It goes on until Saturday at least, possibly until next Saturday. Gamespot reports cutscenes are choppier on the PS3 version, so I'd recommend the XBox 360 version if given the chioce. Just because the NHL continues to be completely irrelevant as a spectator sport, NHL video games can still be highly entertaining.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Week 2 Power Rankings

I'm tired of seeing Dr. Z's B.S. power rankings so I'm going to make it rain with my top 32. My criteria: I would favor any team against any team listed below them if they played on Sunday.

1. New England Patriots. (2-0) AFC East
2. Indianapolis Colts. (2-0) AFC South
3. Baltimore Ravens. (1-1) AFC North
4. Pittsburgh Steelers. (2-0) AFC North
5. Dallas Cowboys. (2-0) NFC East
6. San Diego Chargers. (1-1) AFC West
7. Denver Broncos. (2-0) AFC West
8. Houston Texans. (2-0) AFC South
9. Tennessee Titans. (1-1) AFC South
10. Green Bay Packers. (2-0) NFC North
11. Jacksonville Jaguars. (1-1) AFC South
12. Chicago Bears. (1-1) NFC North
13. Cincinnati Bengals. (1-1) AFC North
14. San Francisco 49ers. (2-0) NFC West
15. Washington Redskins. (2-0) NFC East
16. Seattle Seahawks. (1-1) NFC West
17. New York Jets. (0-2) AFC East
18. Carolina Panthers. (1-1) NFC South
19. Minnesota Vikings. (1-1) NFC North
20. Philadelphia Eagles. (0-2) NFC East
21. Detroit Lions. (2-0) NFC North
22. Arizona Cardinals. (1-1) NFC West
23. New Orleans Saints. (0-2) NFC South
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (1-1) NFC South
25. Oakland Raiders. (0-2) AFC West
26. Miami Dolphins. (0-2) AFC East
27. St. Louis Rams. (0-2) NFC West
28. Cleveland Browns. (1-1) AFC North
29. Buffalo Bills. (0-2) AFC East
30. New York Giants. (0-2) NFC East
31. Kansas City Chiefs. (0-2) AFC West
32. Atlanta Falcons. (0-2) NFC South

Division Power Rankings (by sum of rankings)
AFC South - 30 points
AFC North - 48 points
NFC North - 62 points
AFC West - 69 points
NFC East - 70 points
AFC East - 73 points
NFC West - 79 points
NFC South - 97 points

McNabb plays the race card

Donovan McNabb, who referred to wide receiver Kevin Curtis as "White Lightning" when introducing the starting lineup on Monday Night Football, is at it again. He told Bryant Gumble on Real Sports that "There's not that many African-American quarterbacks, so we have to do a little extra." When asked about Manning, Brady, and Palmer, he said "Let me start by saying I love those guys. But they don't get criticized as much as we do. They don't."

Do they really? Mark Brunell was savaged in Washington over the last three years, while fans and those in the press called for Jason Campbell. Raiders beat writers are already calling for Daunte Culpepper or JaMarcus Russell to start over Josh McCown. Falcons beat writers are excited about the possibility of starting newly signed Byron Leftwich over Joey Harrington or Chris Redman. I'm personally leading the charge for Miami to start Cleo Lemon over Trent Green, and I imagine the Miami Herald will jump on that bandwagon soon. Last year, many people thought the Steelers should have started Charlie Batch over Roethlisberger after the motorcycle accident.

But with McNabb setting off this debate, Vikings coach Brad Childress will be in the crosshairs if he sits the struggling Travaris Jackson for the less than immortal Kelly Holcomb. Jackson threw four picks last week in an overtime loss. As a 2nd round pick from tiny Alabama State he shouldn't be starting in his second season on a team with a strong enough defense and running game to make some noise in the playoffs. Giving him some time to sit and watch would help him and the team, but thanks to McNabb it would create an additional distraction to the team.

Armless man beats someone to death

There are some stupid ways to die, stuff you'd hate to be in your obituary, but this might take the cake:

Relatives of Charles Keith Teer, 47, claim he died after the armless man, William Russell Redfren, head-butted and kicked Teer during a fight.

Granted, Teer died of a heart attack, but the headline still reads "Armless Artist Questioned In Neighbor's Death." Apparently, the armless man was dating the deceased ex-girlfriend. And since he didn't treat her like he used ta, the armless guy kicked him like a turboboosta. I've been able to find a picture of the suspect, he looks like quite the troublemaker.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Patriots are going 19-0

Prepare yourselves, '72 Dolphins - the '07 Patriots are going undefeated. Prior to Videogate, I figured that they'd sit starters and play conservative late in the season. Not now. Belichick wants to go undefeated under intense scrutiny and for this squad, which acquired the most talented player he's ever coached in the offseason in the form of Randy Moss, to be recognized as the greatest team of all time.

Looking at their schedule, their toughest matchups are at Dallas in week 6, at Indy in week 9 (right before the Pats' bye), and at Baltimore in week 13. The Cowboys are expected to add Tank Johnson and perhaps a healthy Terry Glenn at the midpoint of the season, so it's a good time to play them in week 6. Rodney Harrison will have served out his suspension by that point, and Richard Seymour will probably be back for Indy. New England hasn't exactly been forthcoming about Seymour's injury - but based on PUP rules if he's not back for Indy he probably won't play this season.

Most are ranking Indy and New England 1 and 1A right now, but some of the luster has eben taken off Indy's win against New Orleans now that they're 0-2, and they eeked out a win against the Titans by less than a field goal. The Patriots just routed two teams that went a combined 24-8 last year (in the AFC) by 24 points a piece. And if you thought they were fired up to play San Diego after Tomlinson ripped them and implied they were an inferior team, they will be spitting fire after blowing an 18 point lead in the playoffs to the Colts last year.

The Ravens are a tough team, especially at home, but the Patriots are exactly the kind of team that matches up well against them - an offense with lots of quick passes and a passing game that doesn't need to be set up by the run. New England also plays the Steelers and Redskins at home, and they could always lose to a random team, but I don't see that happening. There won't be any champagne for the '72 Dolphins this year.

The Violent World of Sean Taylor

I've been following the NFL closely for over 15 years and there has never been a hitter like Sean Taylor. (Highlight reel) Chuck Cecil was once called too vicious for the NFL by SI, (arrested for DUI Sunday, by the way) but Taylor, or The Meast, one of Doc Walker's many nicknames for him, is much bigger and faster than Cecil. Compared to the other big hitters of this generation, Taylor hasn't been fined repeatedly for illegal hits (like Rodney Harrison) and doesn't have a history of concussions (like Cecil and Troy Polamalu). There are more complete safeties in the league, but this guy is like the Vince Carter of the NFL - genetically engineered to do one thing that shows up on highlight films better than anyone who's played.

The running back class of 2000

With Jamal Lewis turning back the clock on Sunday, I thought it would be fun to look at the career stats of the running backs taken in the 2000 NFL draft. All of these guys are on the downside of their careers, except for Canidate who's out of the league. Alexander is the only guy with a shot at the Hall. I'll take a look at the class of 2005 a little later.

Carries Ru Yds Ru Avg Ru TDs Catches Re Yds Re Avg Re TDs
Shaun Alexander 2014 8888 4.4 98 204 1452 7.1 11
Jamal Lewis 1860 8052 4.3 46 162 1367 8.5 2
Thomas Jones 1387 5493 4.0 34 218 1402 6.4 0
Mike Anderson 904 4005 4.4 37 88 701 8.0 5
Reuben Droughns 845 3332 3.9 13 117 944 8.1 6
Ron Dayne 820 3026 3.7 22 41 238 5.8 0
Trung Canidate 240 1095 4.6 7 32 260 8.1 1

Steve Phillips knows nothing

Vegaswatch has excerpts from ESPN chats where Steve Phillips where he has consistently picked the Mariners to beat out the Yankees for the Wild Card over the last month. Picking the playoff field in MLB isn't rocket science - even people who barely follow the sport can pick the Yankees to make the postseason. And this guy's job is to know what's going on in Major League Baseball.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bottled Juice

Soderbergh is rumored to be going in a different direction for the next Ocean's movie. In this one, O.J. Ocean gets away with a double homicide, tries to steal some Joe Montana cleats, gets arrested and goes to jail. The sequel will be a cross between The Longest Yard and American History X, with some Oz mixed in.

Apparently the auctioneer O.J. robbed taped the break in, so hopefully that evidence will be more convincing than the DNA from the murder trial.

"Don't let nobody out of this room," Simpson says to one person in the room before turning his ire on the person he believes took his things. "Mother [expletive], you think you can steal my [expletive] and sell it?"

He asks the latter question several times on the tape before one of the men in the room says, "Mike took it."

Simpson responds, "I know [expletive] Mike took it." A few seconds later, he tells one of the men, "I always thought you were a straight shooter." The man responds, "I'm cool. I am."

But the plot has thickened: one of the accusers is asking them to drop the charges against O.J.! Honestly, if the Juice is somehow found no guilty or if the charges are dismissed, someone needs to get this guy a reality TV show immediately. I would this in any format. Like if it were a blind dating show, the pure horror of the girls as they realize they're on a date with a wife murderer. Or if O.J. was a judge of some sort Simon Cowell figure, and he ripped on a contestant, and in the green room talking to Ryan Seacrest they said "That's just his opinion, but at least he didn't stab me."

Mark Ecko making Todd McFarlane look bad

Clothing designer and Madden fixture Mark Ecko bought Barry Bonds' 756th home run ball for $752,467 and is allowing you to vote on it's fate. You can vote for him to give it to the Hall of Fame, to brand an asterisk on it and then give it to the Hall, or to shoot it into space. I vote space, because I have this image of it landing on another planet and creating a structure like the Fortress of Solitude from the Superman movies except instead of crystals it's made from syringes.

Maybe we better shoot it into space. The Russians are reportedly three months from shooting their own baseball into space.

R.I.P. Colin McRae

Colin McRae, 1995 World Rally Championship (WRC) winner and 3 time runner up, is feared dead after a helicopter crash on Saturday in his native Scotland. Colin McRae Rally line by Codemasters basically is to rally racing video games what Tony Hawk's line is to skateboarding games.


Best win
Browns 51 - Bengals 45
Absolutely ridiculous game. The Browns offense looks from hunger one week, and the next they hang half a hundred on one of the favorites in the AFC. Jamal Lewis looked his old, decisive self going off for 7.7 yards per carry, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow looked explosive, and Derek Anderson has reigned in the starting job at least until the bye week. Great news for the team, who won't feel a need to start Brady Quinn before he's ready. Winslow had microfracture surgery two years, Oden should go to his doctor. The Bengals defense didn't look great last week either, the six turnovers notwithstanding. They don't seem to be missing Chris Henry that much; the bigger loss was Chris Perry. Rudi Johnson needs someone to share the carries before they wear him out.
Game ball: Jamal Lewis. 28 carries, 215 yards, (most by a Browns back since Jim Brown in 1963) 1 TD
Goat: Leon Hall. Burned for at least 3 TDs, carried by Cribbs during his 85 yd KO return, and ate one nasty JLew stiff arm

Worst loss
Buccaneers 31 - Saints 14
The Saints drop to 0-2 and show that the preseason continues to be completely meaningless. Bush's lofty draft status makes Sean Payton feed him the ball, but Deuce McAllister has only 23 touches in two games - the fewest he has last year in a two game span was 25 surrounding the bye. The Saints need a third WR, or rather a second to push Devery Henderson (0 catches) to third. Great job of Garcia hitting his receivers in stride and poor tackling and positioning by the Saints secondary. The receiver drafted before Joey Galloway in 1994 was Michael Westbrook, the one after was J.J. Stokes. Coincidentally, Westbrook was the bouncer at the club Galloway went to after the win, Stokes the bathroom attendant. Cadillac Williams scored his first TD since week 3 last year. The Bucs averaged an eye popping 15.2 yards a completion and 24.3 yards a catch.
Game ball: Joey Galloway. 4 catches, 135 yards, 2 TDs
Goat: David Patten. Didn't tackle Cato June after giving up on a pattern and allowing a pick, 2 receptions on 7 passes thrown his way (although he took one for 58 yards, when it was 28-0)

Worst win
Ravens 20 - Jets 13
After going up three scores to start the 4th quarter, the Ravens passed 5 out of the next 9 plays, picking up one first down and running about four minutes off the clock in two drives. Ravens DE Trevor Pryce broke his wrist and figures to miss 3-5 weeks, a huge loss although the Ravens have a soft schedule over that span. Baltimore had 11 penalties this week, 10 last week. The Ravens' young offensive line looked much better at home, as Boller went virtually untouched. Boller looked as calm in the red zone as I've ever seen him, and I've seen virtually every snap he's ever taken. No controversy yet but if McNair struggles there will be. Kellen Clemens looked terrific against the NFLs best defense and has probably touched off a quarterback controversy in New York. First rounder Darrelle Revis looked much better after being torched by Moss last week. I haven't heard how bad Justin Miller was hurt but that would be a huge loss to their special teams, but not their defense. The Jets and the Saints are the only teams in the league without a sack.
Game ball: Marshall Yanda. In his first start, the rookie out of Iowa held Shaun Ellis to 3 tackles and no pressures, and opened holes for McGahee on the right side
Goat: Justin McCareins had two huge drops on the last drive, both looked to be because he didn't want to be hit

Best Loss
Jaguars 13 - Falcons 7
The Falcons' young defense will keep them in games if their offense would give them anything. But Joey Harrington is just a caretaker, Warrick Dunn is just keeping the tread on Jerious Norwood's tires until they can compete, and Roddy White is showing he belongs in this league. David Garrard looks like the right decision at QB, and it looks like this team plugged the holes in their rush defense, (82 rushing yards allowed) but they've got to put away teams like the Falcons earlier if they want to be a playoff team in the AFC. 11 penalties by the Jags (4 last week).
Game ball: Mike Peterson. 7 tackles, 2 sacks
Goat: Matt Prater was 0 for 2, missing field goals from 43 and 26, the difference in the game

Best story in win
49ers 17 - Rams 16
Frank Gore's mom passed away last Wednesday, but he played huge carrying the Niners to 2-0, against 2 divisional opponents by a total of 3 points. Brian Baldinger noted he "would have wanted his mother to play." Alex Smith hasn't looked great this season, but is it him or his lack of receivers? Rams 1st rounder Adam Carriker has been invisible after a huge preseason. Stephen Jackson has looked invisible after no preseason. The Rams are 0-2 after 2 home games against NFC opponents.
Game ball: Frank Gore. 20 carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches, 4 yards
Goat: Dante Hall. 3 punt returns for 8 yards, 3 kickoff returns for 54 yards, huge 4th quarter muff with 10 minutes left that set up game winning field goal

Best story in loss
Steelers 26 - Bills 3
As more and more positive developments surround Kevin Everett's recovery, the Bills didn't look ready to play the Steelers, who look dominant after two weeks. Looking at their schedule, the Bills could easily start 0-12. Ashton Youboty looked capable in his first start, but whoever he covered probably made fun of his name. The Steelers look like a complete team after two blowout victories, against a Bills team that should have beat Denver and a Browns team that did beat Cincinnati. LaMarr Woodley is in the mix for defensive ROY.
Game ball: Willie Parker. 23 carries, 126 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches, 7 yards
Goat: Lee Evans. 2 catches, 17 yards, thrown to 7 times, 3 penalties for 40 yards

Best surprise 2-0 team in the AFC
Texans 34 - Panthers 21
After the Texans fell behind 14-0 to Steve Smith, you figured Houston was about to get throttled on the road. Not so fast, my friend. Andre Johnson answered with two scores of his own, but then left with a sprained PCL in the 4th quarter after the game was well in hand. Amobi Okoye, invisible and criticized in the preseason, had two sacks. I thought their Ahman Green singing was ludicrous but he's been key. If you haven't seen Steve Smith's 3rd TD you need to; it was Barry Sandersesque. How does the Panthers D line not register a sack against the Texans? Because Matt Schaub might have the quickest release in the NFL.
Game ball: Andre Johnson. 7 catches, 120 yards, 2 TDs
Goat: Nick Goings. 5 kickoff returns, 101 yards, fumbled kickoff early in the third quarter, leading to second Texans TD in 17 seconds.

Best surprise 2-0 team in the NFC
Packers 35 - Giants 13
The Packers wore out the Giants yesterday to move to 2-0 at home against 2 NFC East teams. Favre set the most underrated record in sports, most wins by a QB, with 149. Anytime you pass Marino (147) and Elway (148) at anything it's noteworthy. (Tarkenton is now 4th, Unitas 5th) But this team is more than just Favre. They've got a number of guys on defense who would start almost anywhere, most notable Aaron Kampman, who had 15.5 sacks last year. If the Giants lose next week at Washington they might as well shut it down for the season. They've got injuries all over, Coughlin has zero chance of being the coach next year, and it was a flawed team to begin with. They were reportedly trying to trade for a new left tackle two weeks ago!
Game ball: Brett Favre. 29 for 38, 286 yards, 3 TDs, 1 Int, 2 kneel downs
Goat: Jeremy Shockey. Foolish spike to draw an unsportmanlike when it was 7-7. I think he wants to be a star more than he wants to be an elite tight end.

Worst 2-0 team in the AFC
Broncos 23 - Raiders 20
The Broncos have won two straight games on walkoff field goals. It appeared that the Raiders won on a 52 yard overtime field goal until referees granted a Shanahan timeout; Janikowski missed the next attempt. Travis Henry leads the NFL in rushing, Javon Walker leads in catches and is sixth in receiving yards. Champ Bailey and Dre Bly both had picks, and compared to the Lions secondary the Raiders played last week you can appreciate their dominance. Lamont Jordan is back after a subpar 2006. An optimist would be happy with the Raiders play this year; they've been competitive and probably weren't going to compete for the playoffs anyway. But it's hard to lose two straight games like they've lost.
Game ball: Champ Bailey. 4 tackles (3 on running plays), 1 Int, no catches allowed
Goat: Sebastian Janikowski. Million dollar leg, two cent head

Worst 2-0 team in the NFC
Lions 20 - Vikings 17
The Lions have won two nail biters against teams with no passing games, perfect matchups for Detroit's shoddy secondary. Jon Kitna is a gamer; he suffers a concussion, begs his way back in the game, and then catches his own pass and gets hit like Cap Rooney in Any Given Sunday on the game winning drive. Calvin Johnson is on pace for 64 catches, 1048 yards, and 16 TDs. Detroit managed 359 yards against a good defense. Adrian Peterson didn't look as dominant as last week, but still managed over 100 total yards. He was the #7 pick, just like Troy Williamson, who disappears for months at a time. Travaris Jackson was brutal with four picks.
Game ball: Jon Kitna. 22 for 33, 245 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int, 3 carries, 13 yards, 1 catch, 9 yards
Goat: Travaris Jackson. 17 for 33, 166 yards, 4 Ints, 5 carries, 15 yards, 1 TD

Most glaring weakness
Colts 22 - Titans 20
Someone needs to get Vince Young some help. Brandon Jones had a huge drop with 15 seconds left on 3rd down, and Tennessee running backs had a total of one catch in a battle for 1st place (tied with the Texans) in the AFC South, which I dubbed a month ago the best division in football. Chris Brown came back to reality with 34 rushing yards on 12 carries, as LenDale White led the team with 64 yards on 15 carries. Roydell Williams had a nice game. Is Bob Sanders the frontrunner for Defensive MVP? The Titans had about half as many rushing yards as they had last week. Addai is going to finish the season as the number one fantasy player, which is why I told people to draft him as high as 3rd (behind LT and Jackson).
Game ball: Bob Sanders. 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks
Goat: Brandon Jones. Big drop, although he had a decent game otherwise with 5 catches, 57 yards

Best coaching
Arizona 23 - Seattle 20
After the Cardinals blew a 17-0 lead, they must have had flashbacks to numerous times when they just couldn't finish off opponents. But they put together a five minute drive after Seattle went ahead in the 4th quarter and Darnell Dockett recovered a huge fumbled snap after the two minute warning. Leinart was much improved over last week, and Edgerrin James has holes to run through. Lofa Tatupu was the best player on the field with 12 tackles and a pick. Deion Branch had a huge game, but I suspect they forced him the ball after having zero catches last week.
Game ball: Neil Rackers. 3/4 on field goals, including a game tying 52 yarder with 4:44 left and missing a 53 yarder, 2/2 on extra points, 4 touchbacks, 2 kick returns allowed. 1 was because an unnecessary roughness penalty made him kick off from the 15, the other was a squib with no time left and Seattle lateraled, still stopped at their 25
Goat: Matt Hasselbeck. 22 of 36, 281 yards, 1 TD, 2 carries, 6 yards, 1 big fumble

Best team in the AFC
Patriots 38 - Chargers 14
One day the Patriots are supposedly distracted, taking shots from the team they held on to beat on the playoffs, the Chargers looking to go 2-0 against Super Bowl favorites. The next the Chargers have to answer questions about why their superstar is last in the NFL in yards per carry. If the Patriots play like they did last night, no one in the NFL can beat them. Rosevelt Colvin has gotten better every year since a broken leg sidelined him in 2003. Randy Moss could be on his way to a historic season after missing not only the preseason but basically all of training camp. The Chargers offensive line, Pro Bowler Marcus McNeil in particular, look nowhere near the unit they were last year. Rivers clearly isn't getting the same time to throw, and Tomlinson isn't seeing the same holes.
Game ball: Rosevelt Colvin. 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 Int
Goat: Marcus McNeil. Owned by Colvin, failed to get the push for a crucial first down on 3rd and 1.

Best Team in the NFC
Cowboys 37 - Dolphins 20
It's easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback, so to speak, but the Cowboys should have locked Romo up during the offseason. Now they may have to franchise him, for which they would have to blow up the team. Marion Barber, III 89 yards on 14 carries; Julius Jones 32 yards on 15 carries. I know a lot of teams like to have two backs split carries, but Barber is a better runner, receiver, and blocker and Jones. Corner Anthony Henry seems to be feast or famine every week. This week was feast. Trent Green's play has dropped off each of the last 3 years. They don't need to rush John Beck, but I think they need to give Cleo Lemon a look. I was wrong about Ronnie Brown, I thought he'd turn in a decent year but he's on pace for 500 yards for the season on 3.0 yards per carry.
Game ball: Anthony Henry. 2 tackles, 2 Int, 2 catches allowed, 1 onside recovery
Goat: Trent Green. 23 of 40, 287 yards, 2 TDs, 4 Ints, 5 carries, 9 yards

Worst team in the NFL
Bears 20 - Chiefs 10
If you drafted Larry Johnson on your fantasy team, my condolences. They know this is going to be a rebuilding year in Kansas City, so in hindsight maybe they should have traded Johnson for whatever they could get, which was reportedly a 1st round pick from the Packers. It's so hard to watch Rex Grossman, because every snap is an adventure. Benson went over 100 after being shut down last week. Chicago is trying to work Devin Hester into the passing game but he was held without a catch.
Game ball: Devin Hester. 5 punt returns, 143 yards, 1 TD, 2 kickoff returns, 29 yards, 1 TD nullified by penalty
Goat: Dustin Colquitt. 8 punts for 346 yards, good 43.3 average, but gave Hester 5 returns