The Cowboys looked good last night, coasting to a 37-27 victory over injured Brett Favre and the Pack.
Romo threw for 309 yds and 4 touchdowns giving TO 156 yds and a TD. Patrick Crayton chimed in with 2 TD's and Fasano with one. Favre went out early with 2 INT's and was replaced by A. Rodgers who did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over and managing the game.
The Cowboys are progressing nicely and have become stronger each week. Here are a Couple things I noticed the Cowboys need to work on.
1. Sit Julius Jones on the bench....forever.
2. Don't throw the ball to Terrell Owen's in the clutch or when he is standing wide open in the End Zone.
The due return of Terry Glenn is sure to help the boys who look pretty good agianst a 10-1 Packers team. Everything is going right for the Cowboys right now, well see if it can last through the first round of the playoffs
Friday, November 30, 2007
The Cowboys looked good last night, coasting to a 37-27 victory over injured Brett Favre and the Pack.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Unless of course you happen to be one of the priviledged few who already have the NFL Network. If you haven't heard of it, you're not alone. It's an obscure high-number cable-channel operated by the NFL that is available on a few select cable and satellite providers.
Supposedly, 30 million people already have access to the network. I'm sure three times that will petition their cable providers to get access before next year. Roger Goodell is probably peeing himself with glee. Most of these obscure cable networks remain obscure because the don't draw much an audience compared to what their owners charge cable providers. Looks like the NFL Network is getting a little bit of a boost.
Who knew when they set the schedule to play a few select games on the NFL Network, that one of them would turn out to be the hottest game of the year? Rumor has it that the NFL is making the game available on a live feed via their website.
Frankly, I'm disappointed in the whole affair. I understand that they schedule these things months in advance, but to have a game of this magnitude unavailable to the vast majority of the American population is a tragedy of epic proportions.
The Packers and Cowboys belong on my 62" Mitsubishi DLP in all its 720p/1080i high definition glory. It does not belong in a 4 inch window on my laptop, or even a crappy 480i scaled pic on my HDTV (don't think for a minute that when the NFL Network arrives that it will be in HD for many, many years).
If the Game of the Year happens and no one watches, was it really the Game of the Year???
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I read an excellent post over at FoxSports this morning. Part of it is here, for the rest, click here.
In today’s Sports Culture we are quick to throw around titles like Great, Greatest, and Best. Ohio State vs. Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl produced the Greatest Championship Game of all time. That was until 2006 when Texas beat USC in the Rose Bowl. Maybe it was 2007 when Boise St upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Miami vs. Ohio St went from the Greatest Game ever to the second best Fiesta Bowl in a matter of 4 years.
I am going to throw around the term greatest in this respect. The 2007 NFL Regular Season has had the most entertaining big game matchups in the history of the league. Consider the following:
1) October 14, 2007, New England (5-0) at Dallas (5-0) – This game had it all. First (5-0) team vs. (5-0) team. The last undefeated team in the NFC vs. the best-undefeated team in the AFC. Tony Romo vs. Tom Brady. Randy Moss vs. TO. America’s Team vs. Public Enemy #1. I still think this game is unfairly labeled as a blowout. Part of the reason is because New England was ahead 14-0 in that game after the first quarter and part of the reason was the final score. Dallas led 24-21 in the 3rd quarter. The score was 31-24 New England after three quarters. The 4th quarter got away from Dallas, but it was a competitive game until the final minutes.
2) November 4, 2007, New England (8-0) at Indianapolis (7-0) – This was billed as the best regular season matchup in the history of the NFL. The latest that two undefeated teams squared off in a regular season game. Three of the last four Super Bowl Champions were on display. It was a rematch of the 2006 AFC Championship Game. Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. Some felt the game didn’t live up to the billing because the score was only 24-20. When you consider the Patriots trailed 20-10 in the 4th quarter before coming back to win 24-20 the game was a classic contest.
3) November 29, 2007, Green Bay (10-1) at Dallas (10-1) – Okay, it isn’t (8-0) vs. (7-0). But it sure is good. The last time two (10-1) teams or better met was 1990 when the (10-1) New York Giants traveled to (10-1) San Francisco. The time before that was back in 1969 when the (11-0) Rams lost to the (10-1) Vikings in Los Angeles.
Any of the three contests are worthy of highlighting season. We are going to have had them all within two months of each other. It isn’t so much that there are so many good playoff teams playing in the 2007 season; we have seen that on a number of occasions. 1991 saw the #5 seeded Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs at 11-5. 1998 saw the four-conference finalist have a 55-9 record. 14-2 Atlanta played on the road in the NFC Championship game. 2001 saw the 49ers open up a playoff game in Green Bay with a 12-4 record as the 5th seed. 2004 saw the four-conference finalist combine for a 53-11 record with 14-2 New England playing on the road in the AFC Championship Game.
However, most seasons you don’t have this many great matchups this late in the season. Rarely will you have so many instances where the heavy weights square off against one another. Most weeks (8-3) Jacksonville at (9-2) Indy is drawing national headlines. It’s the second best game this week. In a couple weeks we have Pittsburgh at New England in what will be our 4th premier non-divisional matchup of the season. It will probably be New England’s only test to go undefeated prior to the season finale against the Giants. It has truly been a historic season in terms of great regular season matchups.
Dallas and Green Bay have quite a bit of history in their own rite. Their first meeting was in Dallas’s expansion season back in 1960. The Packers would beat the Cowboys 41-7 in Green Bay. Green Bay was beginning the Lombardi era. They would suffer his only playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles later that season. 1961 would mark the first of 5 NFL Championships and 2 Super Bowls victories.
The Cowboys and Tom Landry would finish that 1960 season 0-11-1. Neither appeared to be headed for greatness. By 1966 Dallas was playing Green Bay in the title game. They would lose the 1966 Championship Game in Dallas 34-27. They would lose the Ice Bowl in 1967 by the score of 21-17. Dallas would win their first Super Bowl in the 1971 season. Landy would coach the Cowboys until the 1988 season.
The two franchises went in different directions after the Lombardi era. The Packers would win one playoff game in the 1981 strike season. It would mark their only playoff victory from 1968 season through the 1992 season. Dallas would go on to win two Super Bowl under Landry and lose three others. Two of those losses were to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dallas would have a winning record every year from 1966 to 1986. Jerry Jones would buy the Cowboys and hire Jimmy Johnson to coach the Cowboys in 1989.
This is when the Packers and Cowboys crossed paths again. The Cowboys hiring of Jimmy Johnson and trade of Herschel Walker to the Vikings led to a rebirth of the Cowboys. They would win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years from 1992-1995. Meanwhile, the Packers hired Ron Wolf in an attempt to turn around one of the worst run franchises in sports. He hired Mike Holmgren, traded a first round pick for Brett Favre, and signed Reggie White in free agency. The rest was history. The Packers would appear in 3 straight NFC Championship games from 1995-1997, winning the 1996 Super Bowl and losing the 1997 Super Bowl. They have had one losing season since 1992.
From 1993-1996, Dallas and Green Bay played each other a total of seven times. The game was played in Dallas all seven times. Three times it was in the playoffs. Dallas went 7-0. The average score was 33.3 to 18.3. Dallas won every game by more than a touchdown with five of the seven Dallas victories coming by double digits. While Green Bay had the superior passing attack, Aikman managed the game more efficiently behind the best offensive line and running game in football. Even in Green Bay’s magical 1996 Super Bowl season; Green Bay lost 21-6 in Dallas. They would not get to face the Cowboys in the playoffs in 1996, due to Carolina upsetting Dallas in the second round.
Green Bay would finally host Dallas in the 1997 season. The Cowboys were going through an up and down season and went to Green Bay 6-5. The Packers were in the midst of their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The frustrations of the 1993-1996 seasons were taken out on Dallas that day 45-17. The Cowboys would fail to win another game the rest of the season. The Cowboys would get back to the playoffs in 1998 and 1999. However, they have not won a playoff game since 1996. The 1996 Panthers loss and the 1997 Packers loss are the two games that marked the end of 1990’s Cowboy dynasty.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24.
Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor's father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.
"His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me," said Sharpstein, Taylor's former lawyer. "It's a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans."
Taylor died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday, Sharpstein said.
Two carloads of mourners, including the athlete's father, arrived at the house Tuesday morning. They remained inside and did not speak to reporters. A single bouquet of flowers was left by a palm tree just outside a front gate. Beside the mailbox, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor's shooting.
Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse's hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins' vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn't sure how he had squeezed the nurse's hand.
"Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something," Sharpstein said.
Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at the University of Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging the key femoral artery and causing significant blood loss.
"According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder," Miami-Dade County police said in a statement. "We do not have a subject description at this time."
But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor's home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor's girlfriend called 911.
Sharpstein said Taylor's girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor's 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor's girlfriend were injured.
Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary.
The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor's home, according to police.
"They're really sifting through that incident and today's incident," Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, "to see if there's any correlation."
Taylor's death comes nearly a year after Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting following an argument at a Denver nightclub on Jan. 1. University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was shot to death in November 2006 several miles from Taylor's home in an unsolved killing.
Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Prep in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is police chief of Florida City.
A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor rarely granted interviews. But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart - an emerging locker room leader.
"From the first day I met him, from then to now, it's just like night and day," Redskins receiver James Thrash said Monday. "He's really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It's been awesome to see that growth."
After Taylor was drafted, problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL's mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the Redskins.
Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a 2006 playoff game.
Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor's home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months' probation.
Taylor said the end of the assault case was like "a gray cloud" being lifted. It was also around the time that his daughter was born, and teammates noticed a change.
"It's hard to expect a man to grow up overnight," said teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who played with Taylor at Miami. "But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child."
On the field, Taylor's play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he'd ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.
This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee.
"I just take this job very seriously," Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. "It's almost like, you play a kid's game for a king's ransom. And if you don't take it serious enough, eventually one day you're going to say, 'Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.'
"So I just say, 'I'm healthy right now, I'm going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?' And that's whatever it is, whether it's eating right or training myself right, whether it's studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself."
His hard work was well-noted.
"He loved football. He felt like that's what he was made to do," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "And I think what I've noticed over the last year and a half ... is he matured. I think his baby had a huge impact on him. There was a real growing up in his life."
Saturday, November 24, 2007
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Dennis Franchione came to Texas A&M to restore the glory to the Aggies. He left with a mediocre record and an embarrassing scandal on his resume.
Franchione resigned as the Aggies head coach on Friday, ending a rocky five-year tenure less than an hour after his team beat archrival Texas 38-30 at Kyle Field.
The school announced Franchione had accepted a buyout, but refused to give details.
He finished 32-28 at A&M, far short of the expectations when he replaced R.C. Slocum in December 2002. Off the field, Franchione was caught this season selling inside information about the program to big-money boosters in a secret newsletter.
Franchione's contract ran through 2012 and paid him a base salary of $2 million per year.
Dressed in a gray suit, Franchione stepped to the podium after beating Texas for a second straight season and ended all speculation.
"We appreciate the opportunity we have had at this great institution, to work with this administration," he read from a prepared statement. "We have made many lasting friendships."
The Aggies (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) finished the regular season with four losses in six games. Franchione, who will not coach the Aggies in their bowl game, did not take questions from reporters.
Swarmed by cameras on the field after the game was over, Franchione pushed through the throng to embrace junior quarterback Stephen McGee, his staunchest supporter during this tumultuous season.
None of the Aggies were available for comment after Franchione spoke.
"We have an outstanding group of young men on this team and especially great people," Franchione said. "We want them to know that we love them, feel blessed for our time together, and will miss them."
Franchione hooked arms with McGee on the field to line up for one more post-game "yell," a timeworn A&M tradition. He found his wife, Kim, and tightly clenched her hand as he walked slowly off the field, embracing more than a dozen players and friends along the way.
Athletic department spokesman Alan Cannon said the players did not know about Franchione's intentions until after the game.
A&M went 19-21 in Big 12 games under Franchione and lost 12 of 15 games against rivals Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas. They still haven't won the Big 12 since 1998.
Late in Slocum's tenure, the Aggies slipped to the middle of the league - unacceptable at a place where Bear Bryant once coached and A&M was power in the Southwest Conference.
Franchione had a reputation for turning programs around, but not much changed after he arrived.
The Aggies went 4-8 in Franchione's first season, including a 77-0 blowout loss to Oklahoma. It was A&M's first losing record since 1982 and the grumbling from the fans were already starting.
A&M opened the 2004 season with a 41-21 loss to Utah, then ended it with a 38-7 loss to Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. A promising start in 2005 disintegrated when the Aggies lost their last four games and finished 5-6.
As Franchione brought in his own players, A&M was repeatedly exposed by faster, more athletic teams. After beating Texas in the 2006 finale, the Aggies lost 45-10 to California in last year's Holiday Bowl, the program's worst-ever postseason defeat. A 34-17 loss to Miami on Sept. 20 began this year's downward spiral.
While many of the teams in the Big 12 moved to high-scoring, passing offenses, A&M stuck with an old-fashioned, option running attack. The Aggies came into Friday's game ranked last in the Big 12 and 108th in the nation in passing offense, averaging 171 yards per game.
A&M's defense ranged from average to awful under Franchione - it was ranked 88th in the nation this season, a far cry from the "Wrecking Crew" days of the mid-1980s and '90s.
Last year, Franchione likely earned himself one more season by beating Texas 12-7 in Austin. As sweet as it is to beat the hated 'Horns again, it didn't earn him a longer stay in College Station this time.
"We have enjoyed 35 years in coaching, and we'll consider our time in Aggieland to be a rewarding part," he said. "We wish the best to everyone here."
A week after the loss in Miami, a newspaper reported that Franchione's personal assistant had been sending out e-mails with inside information about the program to boosters who paid $1,200 a year to get it. Embarrassed athletic director Bill Byrne suggested Franchione breached his contract, admitted NCAA rules were broken and vowed the messy scandal would be part of Franchione's year-end evaluation.
Byrne said after Friday's game that the school had completed its investigation into the e-mail scandal. He said the school was convinced that Franchione "did not intentionally, knowingly, or directly participate in actions that were inappropriate or in violation of rules or policies."
Byrne added that he thought Franchione was guilty of "inadequate supervision and oversight."
New Mexico was 9-50 in the five seasons before Franchione arrived in 1992. The Lobos had three winning records in six seasons under Franchione and went 9-4 in 1997.
In 1998, Franchione moved to TCU, which finished 1-10 the previous season. The Horned Frogs - with LaDainian Tomlinson in the backfield - never had a losing record in Franchione's three seasons and went 10-1 in 2000.
Franchione spent the next two seasons at Alabama and the Tide went 10-3 in 2002 before he bolted for A&M, what he called his "dream job" at the time.
After he resigned, Byrne was the only man speaking for him.
"I want to express my regret and gratitude to Coach Franchione for his courage in making this decision, and putting the interests of his players and this institution ahead of his own interests," Byrne said in a prepared statement. "We wish Coach Franchione the very best moving forward and we are grateful for all of his hard work and effort while he was here at A&M."
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - LSU let its second chance slip away.
Twice the Tigers were No. 1 and in control of their national championship hopes.
Twice the team with a flair for the dramatic couldn't pull out a triple-overtime victory against a Heisman Trophy contender.
Darren McFadden rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns, and even threw for another score to lift Arkansas to a 50-48 victory Friday, likely eliminating another team from the national title.
"Certainly, he had a Heisman performance today," LSU coach Les Miles lamented. "Right now, there's a goal of our football team taken off the board and it's sad. ... Tonight, we'll be sick."
LSU may very well play a bowl game in New Orleans, but the one they were hoping to play - the BCS championship game on Jan. 7 - now looks out of reach.
That had to devastate most of the 92,606 fans who filled Tiger Stadium with earsplitting roars throughout this classic, then quietly filed out while the Razorbacks stormed the field in triumph after snapping the nation's longest home-winning streak at 19 games.
The Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) had already clinched the SEC West Division and will move on to the conference title game in Atlanta on Dec. 1, but will do so feeling a little hollow.
Winning the SEC title will put LSU in the Sugar Bowl. No team with two losses has ever played in the national title game. A few more upsets could put LSU back in the debate, but it could've been so easy for the Tigers.
"It's a sick feeling, losing another tough game that we played our hearts out," tight end Richard Dickson said. "We can think about it for a while but we have to come out next week and win an SEC title."
McFadden's rushing touchdowns went for 16 yards in the second quarter, 73 yards in the third period and 9 yards in the second OT. His TD pass was a flawlessly executed 24-yarder over the middle to Peyton Hillis after McFadden froze the defense with a play-action fake.
Heisman voters will have to think twice about leaving McFadden off of the top of their ballot now.
"However you want to put it," McFadden said, "numbers speak for themselves."
Hillis scored four TDs, the last in the third overtime. Felix Jones ran for the critical 2-point conversion to make it 50-42 for the Razorbacks (8-4, 4-4).
LSU responded when Matt Flynn found Brandon LaFell for a 9-yard TD, but Matterral Richardson intercepted the 2-point conversion attempt, and Arkansas' bench emptied onto the field in triumph, having ended the nation's longest home winning streak at 19 games.
"Hey, we were the best team in the country today," boasted Houston Nutt, who is rumored to be on his way out as the Razorbacks' head coach. "To come down here in Baton Rouge and win is huge."
McFadden, last year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, now has 1,725 yards rushing this season, breaking the school's single-season record he set last year.
No doubt there are West Virginia and Ohio State fans who'd vote McFadden for Heisman if they could.
McFadden often took direct snaps in the "Wild Hog" formation, in which he was a triple threat to run, hand off or throw.
While he looked quite comfortable in the quarterback role, he was most dangerous running the ball, as usual. All of his rushing TDs came on direct snaps.
"We had been watching film of LSU and saw they had weaknesses against running quarterbacks," McFadden explained. "So it was something we planned on doing all week."
Miles said he thought he had a good plan for the "Wild Hog," with two defenders shadowing McFadden. LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith did his best, making 15 tackles.
"There's a point where I thought we were going to defend that thing pretty well," Miles said. "There were two pretty good LSU tacklers ready to tackle that guy and he didn't go down. It definitely affected us."
Maybe McFadden was running a little angrier than usual after hearing Miles purposely mispronounce Arkansas as ar-KANSAS in sound bytes this week.
"They weren't saying it right so we wanted to let them know how to say it," McFadden said.
Hillis ran for 89 yards and Jones had 85 as Arkansas finished with a 385 yards on the ground against one of the best run defenses in the country.
It's the second time this season the Tigers have fallen while at No. 1. The winner of Saturday night's game between No. 2 Kansas and No. 3 Missouri will likely take over the top spot in the rankings and the BCS standings. No. 4 West Virginia, which was third in the BCS standings, has a chance to sneak up to at least No. 2 in each with a win over Connecticut.
As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes are done and waiting it out. They were fifth in the last BCS standings.
Whichever team reaches No. 1, it'll be the fourth top-ranked team in this season of instability. The last season with four No. 1s was 1997.
Flynn finished 209 yards passing and three touchdowns, two of them to Demetrius Byrd, who also was the intended receiver on the failed 2-point try that ended the game. Flynn also ran for a 12-yard score in the first overtime, when LSU could have emerged victorious with a stop on fourth-and-10.
But Casey Dick found Hillis open for a 12-yard gain to keep the Razorbacks alive, then later found Hillis again for a 9-yard tying TD.
Jacob Hester rushed for 126 yards and two TDs for LSU, which had to rally from a seven-point deficits three times in the second half, and convert two fourth-down plays on its last drive in regulation, just to force overtime.
LSU had made a habit of pulling off dramatic second-half comebacks in victories over Florida, Auburn and at Alabama. Their only other loss also came in triple OT at Kentucky, with quarterback Andre Woodson putting on a Heisman-worthy performance.
This time, Arkansas and the embattled Nutt walked away holding the "Golden Boot," a trophy shaped like the states of Arkansas and Louisiana.
"This league's the toughest league in America and that's why it's hard for a lot of people to understand that every Saturday, anybody can beat anybody in this league," Nutt said.
Or on Fridays.
Nutt, who will have his team in a bowl game, may not be back with the Hogs next season after growing unrest in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas officials have yet to confirm that, however, and firing Nutt may be a less popular move now.
Miles job is not in jeopardy, but there's been talk he could be moving after this season, too. Miles, who played at Michigan and was an assistant coach there, is widely considered a top candidate to replace Lloyd Carr as the Wolverines' head man.
Before Miles decides that, LSU still has a couple games to play - just probably not the one the Tigers were hoping to play.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Many think that Tom Brady is a no Brainer for the MVP this season for his record breaking touchdown pace. I came across an article today that believes otherwise.
No offense to Tom Brady, one of my favorite NFL players of all time, but Randy Moss is the MVP of the National Football League.
It ain't even close.
Seriously, denying Randy Moss this year's Associated Press MVP award would be borderline criminal. If Allen Iverson is the answer in basketball, Randy Moss is the question that no one in football can answer.
How do you stop him?
He can't be stopped; he can only slow himself, as he did for a couple of miserable years in Oakland.
Brady is on the brink of shattering every single-season passing record known to mankind and the Patriots are well on their way to smashing every scoring record. And we love nothing more in this country than showering superstar quarterbacks with awards, hype and credit.
But Randy Moss should not and cannot be denied this season. His impact on the football field is so obvious and so overwhelming that even Joe Buck should cast an MVP vote for Mr. Moss. The value of wide receivers has never been more evident than this season.
Terrell Owens earned Tony Romo a $67 million contract and paved the road Philly fans will use to escort Donovan McNabb out of town. Marvin Harrison went down with a knee injury, and Peyton Manning's feet got happy again and his interception total escalated.
Look, it's still a quarterback's league. Manning and McNabb are great players. Romo is headed for greatness. But they're significantly diminished without their favorite toys.
Moss is a kingmaker. This isn't the first time he made a good offense outstanding. The scoring record the Patriots are chasing is the standard Moss' 1998 Vikings established. In that same year, Moss, a rookie at the time, turned 35-year-old Randall Cunningham into the league's top passer. Cunningham threw 34 TDs and 10 INTs and the Vikings finished the regular season 15-1.
Denny Green looked as smart as Bill Belichick.
Randy, despite 17 TDs and 1,313 receiving yards, didn't win the MVP that year because Terrell Davis took a run at Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record, cracking 2,000 yards.
Well, the excuse this year will be Brady's numbers. I'm not knocking Brady. He's an incredible player. He's just not as valuable as Randy Moss.
There's only one Randy Moss. When he shows up motivated, focused and ready to have fun, records fall, defenses quiver, quarterbacks have once-in-a-lifetime seasons and his teams win ... by lots of points.
Moss is doing more for Brady than Brady is doing for Moss. The same thing could be said about Cunningham and Jeff George, who both looked Elway-esque winging footballs to Moss.
This week George pointed out to me what makes Moss different from every receiver who has ever played the game.
"Intimidation," George explained. "Defensive backs are trained to turn and play the football. Guys are too scared to turn away from Randy. You'll see two DBs running with Randy, but they'll never turn and find the football because they're too afraid to take their eyes off Randy. As a quarterback, you just throw it up to Randy no matter the coverage because you know he'll be only guy looking for the football."
How many times have we seen that this season — two guys wrapped around Randy and Brady floating a ball into traffic?
This isn't a co-MVP situation. It's not a slap at Brady, one of the three best QBs of all time.
It's long overdue recognition for Moss. It's long overdue acknowledgement that receivers — given today's rules about defensive-back contact and the prevalence of three- and four-receiver offenses — can have as much impact on a game as quarterbacks.
Moss reminds me of Shaquille O'Neal. We took O'Neal for granted during his prime on the basketball court, and he won just one MVP award. In retrospect that's ridiculous. O'Neal's impact on the NBA far exceeds Steve Nash's, and Nash has won multiple MVP awards.
Moss isn't likely to surpass Jerry Rice as the greatest of all time. Rice was too consistent and was a driving force in the 49ers dynasty. Rice vs. Moss will be like the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain debate. Except we didn't deny Wilt a few MVP trophies.
Let's no longer deny Randy Moss. Yes, he used to be extremely immature. His effort at times was atrocious. None of that matters this year. With defenses doing everything within reason to slow him, Moss has 16 TD receptions, more than 1,000 receiving yards, the Patriots are 10-0, and, most important, Moss has made Tom Brady the second-most-valuable player in football.
Priest Holmes retired Wednesday, ending a short comeback hailed as one of the most improbable in NFL history.
The 34-year-old three-time Pro Bowl running back was injured in Kansas City's loss to Indianapolis on Sunday. He was out of football for 22 months after sustaining head and neck injuries in a game in October 2005. But he showed up in the Chiefs' training camp in July saying he had seen himself in a dream playing football.
Working hard to get back in shape, he started the last two games in place of Larry Johnson, who will be out again this week with a foot injury. Kolby Smith, a rookie who has only a few carries this year, will likely start for the Chiefs (4-6) against Oakland.
The team announced Holmes' retirement in a statement before a planned news conference.
Holmes is the Chiefs' all-time rushing leader with 6,070 yards and accumulated 8,172 yards rushing in 11 seasons with Baltimore and Kansas City.
"I have truly been blessed with the opportunity to play in the National Football League," he said. "I will be forever grateful to the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization for the opportunity to come to Kansas City, where the community embraced me from Day 1."
Holmes was the 2002 Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,615 yards in just 14 games in 2002. In one season, he set a then-NFL record with 27 touchdowns. The mark has since been broken twice.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
According to Phil Jackson, their was a little too much penatration in the Lakers game last night....A brokeback amount.
When Jackson was asked if too much penetration was leading to open outside shooters after the Spurs dropped 13 threes on the Lakers, Jackson replied,
"We call this a 'Brokeback Mountain' game, because there's so much penetration
and kickouts," Jackson said. "It was one of those games."
League spokesman Brian McIntyre said, "The remarks are in poor taste, and the Lakers have assured us such remarks will not occur in the future."
With the Lakers D, they might as well grab there ankles, because they are going to be getting Broke-backed all season long.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will miss Sunday's game against Oakland with a torn ligament in his right knee.
Coach Brad Childress said Monday that Peterson tore his lateral collateral ligament in the Vikings' 34-0 loss to Green Bay. Peterson will not require surgery, Childress said.
"The good news is that the knee is otherwise stable and the injury is isolated to that ligament," Childress said. "I'm told that's a good healing ligament."
Childress said this is not a season-ending injury, but he did not talk about when Peterson might be back.
"I'm real hesitant to put a timeline on that thing," Childress said.
Vikings trainer Eric Sugarman said there is "absolutely no question about it" that Peterson will play again this season, according to Scout.com.
Peterson was hurt just a week after he set an NFL single-game rushing record with 296 yards in a victory over San Diego.
Team doctors told Childress that with ligament tears graded on a three-point scale, with three being the worst, Peterson's tear is "two-plus." It's not as serious as an anterior cruciate ligament tear, which would have required surgery and ended Peterson's brilliant rookie season.
"This is not one of those," Childress said.
Peterson was injured in the third quarter Sunday. Packers cornerback Al Harris hit him in the knee just as Peterson was about to make a cut downfield, and the star rookie writhed in pain for several minutes in a scary scene.
"That pain was horrible," Peterson said Monday, according to Scout.com. "I don't know if you've ever experienced a pain where you don't want nobody to touch you — you just want to be still for a few minutes to calm down — that was the kind of pain it was. Not knowing what to expect, I was just praying to God, please don't let it be anything serious."
Sugarman said that the Vikings' clinical diagnosis on the field and on the sidelines quickly alleviated concerns that he might have torn his anterior cruciate ligament, a season-ending injury that would have required surgery.
"He didn't really ever say he felt a pop," Sugarman said, according to Scout.com. "He felt a burning sensation in his knee. ... He doesn't have an unstable knee. When he walks around, it doesn't feel like it's giving out."
After conducting an interview on Monday, Peterson walked away without a noticeable limp, and Sugarman said there was no swelling or effusion (blood in the knee joint), and that the running back has full range of motion in his knee. It also helps that the outside of the knee, where the injured lateral collateral ligament resides, is further supported by three other structures that help stabilize that area of the knee, including the hamstring.
"When you don't know what the injury is and you know it's a knee, especially being a running back, that's something that will definitely make you a little worried," Peterson said, according to Scout.com.
It could have been much worse, according to Sugarman, if Harris made contact closer to the front of Peterson's knee.
"He's lucky," Sugarman said, according to Scout.com. "If (Harris) is 30 degrees in front with (Peterson's) foot fixed, we're talking about a very significant injury today. So he's very lucky that this is all he has and he's going to be just fine."
Losing the only offensive star it has will be a devastating blow to a unit that has struggled in every game Peterson has not topped 200 yards rushing this season. It's been a one-man show in Minnesota, with Peterson accounting for 1,081 of the team's 1,551 yards rushing and eight of the team's 10 touchdowns rushing.
The No. 7 overall draft pick out of Oklahoma broke the single-game rushing record two weeks ago against San Diego, racking up 296 yards to put him on pace to smash Eric Dickerson's record for yards rushing by a rookie in a single season.
Now the Vikings will turn to veteran Chester Taylor, who topped 1,200 yards rushing last season and has been solid in spot duty behind Peterson this year. Taylor is averaging 5 yards per carry in a backup role.
"He obviously has a track record," Childress said. "We just expect somebody to pick up there."
Peterson took over as the starter after rushing for 224 yards in a victory over Chicago on Oct. 14. The Vikings scored 34 points that week, and the only other time they've topped 30 points in a game this season was during Peterson's historic performance in their 35-17 victory over the Chargers two weeks ago.
An unbalanced attack on offense is mostly to blame. The Vikings rank No. 1 in the NFL in rush offense, but are 31st in passing offense and have flip-flopped quarterbacks all season.
Brooks Bollinger became the third quarterback to start this season in Sunday's loss to Green Bay, and Childress said he will go with Tarvaris Jackson against the Raiders.
With the Packers keyed almost solely on stopping Peterson, the dazzling runner was limited to 45 yards on 11 carries before he was hurt. The Vikings had just 17 plays in the first half thanks to Bollinger's struggles in the passing game, and had no chance after falling behind 20-0 early in the second half.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Once they stopped beating themselves with penalties, the Dallas Cowboys took command of the NFC East by riding their biggest stars: Tony Romo and Terrell Owens.
Romo hit Owens on two of his four touchdown passes and Dallas opened a big lead in the division by ending the Giants' six-game winning streak with a 31-20 victory on Sunday.
"If you want to call it swagger, yes we have the confidence that we know we can go out and beat teams," said Owens, who broke the game open with second-half TD catches of 25 and 50 yards. Owens finished with six catches for 125 yards, his third straight 100-yard game.
"Obviously today, we had more penalties than we would like and we have to eliminate those," T.O. added. "That was everybody's emotions running high. There was a little trash-talking by them. We came here. The game was played and I feel like we made a statement."
With the win, the Cowboys (8-1) opened a two-game lead over the Giants (6-3), a three-game edge on Washington (5-4) and a four-game margin on Philadelphia (4-5). Dallas also swept the season series with New York, so it has the tiebreaker should they finished tied.
"It's another step along the journey that we're trying to go through to get where we want to go," said Romo, who completed 20-of-28 for 247 yards. "A win like tonight just adds to your confidence. When you do something like this, you have a chance to do something special."
The last time the Cowboys started a season at 8-1 was 1995, the last time they won the Super Bowl.
With seven games left, the Cowboys also are tied with Green Bay for the best record in the conference. The two will play in Dallas on Nov. 29.
For the Giants, their best hopes for a playoff berth seemingly are a wild-card spot.
"It does put us behind the 8-ball," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "If you ever play pool, I've seen people make shots from behind that 8-ball. That's what we are looking at."
Romo also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tony Curtis in the first quarter and a 20-yarder to Patrick Crayton just before halftime, starting a string of three straight touchdown drives.
Nick Folk added a 44-yard field goal.
Eli Manning threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey, who tied his career high with 12 catches for 129 yards. Reuben Droughns scored on a 1-yard run and Lawrence Tynes kicked field goals of 40 and 26 yards.
The second field goal came after New York had Brandon Jacobs' potential tying touchdown run early in the fourth quarter nullified by a questionable holding penalty on guard Chris Snee against Roy Williams.
"I didn't think I held him, but you have to go with the call," said Snee, who originally thought Dallas was being called for a penalty.
Until that point, the Cowboys were the ones hurting themselves with undisciplined errors. Four penalties in the first half gave New York 10 points and had Dallas heading to the locker room tied at 17.
The Cowboys were called for three penalties on the Giants' opening TD drive. The one everyone will remember was a taunting call against linebacker Kevin Burnett with the Cowboys ahead 17-14 in the waning seconds.
Jacobs had just been stuffed on a run from his 35 and Burnett yapped at him. The 15-yard walkoff moved the ball to the 50 with 12 seconds to go. Manning found Shockey for 29 yards to set up a 40-yard field goal by Tynes that tied the game.
"Once it's over, you have to learn from your mistakes," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "We couldn't harp on that. We just told them it was nothing-nothing. We've done it all year. The second half is ours."
The Cowboys' defense, which sacked Manning five times and intercepted him twice, stopped the Giants on the opening possession of the half and then Romo and company took over.
The go-ahead 25-yard touchdown pass came on a play where T.O. ran past cornerback Sam Madison and was wide open. It capped a 12-play, 86-yard drive on which the Cowboys converted three 10-plus-yard situations, the last a 13-yard pass to Crayton on third-and-11 from the New York 38. Owens scored on the next play.
Owens ran by safety Gibril Wilson on the long pass.
"If he gets moving, he's tough to catch up to," Romo said. "I just tried to give him some air and let him go get it."
Romo's other touchdown passes were just as easy against an improved defense that gave up 45 points in Dallas in the opener.
His 15-yard pass to Curtis on the opening series came after he broke containment on a pass rush. Just before reaching the line of scrimmage, he saw a wide-open Curtis in the corner of the end zone.
Manning, who was 23-of-34 for 236 yards on a day he threw mostly short passes, tied the game with his TD pass to Shockey.
Folk's field goal gave Dallas a 10-7 lead before Wilson's interception set up a 60-yard drive Droughns capped with his run.
Crayton gave the Cowboys a 17-14 lead with 20 seconds to go with a 20-yard catch and run after breaking a tackle by cornerback Aaron Ross.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
CINCINNATI (AP) - Receiver Chris Henry allegedly was involved in an altercation with a parking attendant on the eve of rejoining the Cincinnati Bengals from his eight-game suspension.
Henry practiced with the Bengals on Wednesday and will be eligible to play Sunday in Baltimore. Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for the first half of the season for repeatedly violating the NFL's conduct policy.
The third-year receiver stayed out of trouble during the suspension and was allowed to practice with the team for the last two weeks. He sat out a 33-21 loss in Buffalo on Sunday that dropped his last-place team to 2-6.
On Tuesday night, police in Newport, Ky., a suburb on the other side of the Ohio River within view of Paul Brown Stadium, were called to an entertainment district following a dispute over a parking fee.
A parking attendant told police that Henry and another man parked their sport utility vehicle without paying. According to an incident report, the attendant said Henry argued loudly with him and said, "Don't you know who I am?"
The attendant told police that Henry threw a $5 bill on the ground, but it was returned to him and police were called.
No charges have been filed. Police told 35-year-old Jason Baker of Bellevue, Ky., that he could file a complaint with prosecutors if he wanted to pursue the matter. Baker didn't return a phone message on Wednesday.
The Bengals were aware of the report but had no comment, noting that no charges had been filed.
When Henry talked to reporters after practice Wednesday, he agreed to answer questions about football only. Henry, the team's No. 3 receiver, took some of the blame for Cincinnati's poor showing during his absence.
"I realize it," he said. "That's why it was killing me not being able to play. I kind of feel I let my teammates down by getting suspended."
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Word from our gridiron spies is that the New England Patriots [team stats] are rather steamed that shock jocks Opie & Anthony - heard on the team’s flagship station WBCN [website] - aired a fake “news” story yesterday saying that QB/QT Tom Brady [stats] had been suspended for steroids.
“The team is not happy,” said Someone Who Knows. “And they let that be known. But at the same time they want this to go away and not become any more than it already is.”
The so-called “dirty urine” story was part of the demented duo’s ongoing “Make Stuff Up Tuesday” routine. Of course, Opie & Dopey are the same shock jocks that brought you the Mayor-Menino-Is-Dead rumor and the Sex-In-St.-Patrick’s-Cathedral scandal.
Team spokesguy Stacey James declined to comment on the matter other than to say that “we’ve notified our legal department.” Word is, the team got calls from a number of media outlets and fans who believed the report was true.
The not-so-funny gag is rather touchy because ’BCN airs the Pats games and advertises itself as the “Patriots Rock Radio Network.” At the same time, the station has little control over the content of the Opie & Anthony show, which comes out of New York.
Station spokesguy Chachi Loprete declined comment except to say, “It was ‘Make Stuff Up Tuesday’ on the Opie & Anthony show and the report is not true.”
The “Make Stuff Up” schtick involves listeners who call in and suggest fake stories that Opie & Anthony then report as if they are real. Yesterday, an early suggestion involved a fake car accident in which longtime “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak lost all his teeth.
The duo - who, you may recall, were fired from Boston’s WAAF [website] in 1998 after they aired a phony April Fool’s Day story announcing that Menino had died in a car accident - passed on the Sajak saga.
Then a caller from New York suggested the made-up Brady scandal.
“They kicked it around for a while, then went on the air at 7 a.m. and delivered it like it was real,” said one listener.
But many listeners who were not privvy to the pre-7 a.m. chit-chat apparently believed the Brady story was true. A number of fans called the Herald sports department to inquire about the story. And for a while yesterday morning the phrase “Tom Brady Suspended” was the most-searched topic on Google.
A spokesman for XM Satellite Radio, which also carries the O&A show, insisted that the joke was obvious.
“It was clear to anyone who listens to the show that it was a gag,” said XM spokesguy Nathaniel Brown. “They actually build the story with the listeners and anyone who is familiar with the show knows the routine - it’s all made up.”
But considering their past history, it’s a wonder that O&A would want to go there. Besides being fired by WAAF for the Menino incident, they were broomed by Infinity Broadcasting in 2002 after they encouraged a couple to have sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with these guys,” said one insider. “You would think they’d learn a lesson but they never do.”
File Under: Bad News.
Apparently Goodell doesn't like how Pacman has been "makin' it rain" in the wrestling arena.
Heres the rundown.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones in April to sit out the 2007 season. On Tuesday, the commissioner informed Jones he still hasn't changed his mind.
Jones had met with the commissioner last week in New York, pleading for some leniency and an early return. But the cornerback whose biggest community service was buying wrestling tickets for Atlanta students to watch him at a pay-per-view event last month didn't convince Goodell.
The commissioner told Jones his suspension will last through this season, which would include the playoffs if the Titans (6-2) qualify.
"He will be eligible to begin working out at the Titans' facility following the conclusion of the team's season," the league said in a statement late Tuesday afternoon.
Attorney Worrick Robinson said Jones received a letter from the NFL notifying him of the commissioner's decision earlier Tuesday. They planned to talk further Tuesday night and a formal statement may follow Wednesday.
"He is very disappointed," Robinson said. "We're looking at different options."
Goodell had promised Jones' case would be reviewed after Tennessee's 10th game of the season. He met with Jones last Friday — two days before the Titans' eighth game.
But the Titans, who have replaced their best defensive player, had been expecting the suspension to stand.
"As we have said all through this process, we understood the suspension was for a year and made preparations to move our team forward without Adam Jones," the team said in a statement. "We will continue to monitor his situation and will address his future when he is reinstated by the commissioner."
Goodell originally suspended Jones in April for violating the league's personal conduct policy. At the time, Jones had been arrested five times since the Titans drafted him with the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft.
The suspension followed a Las Vegas strip club fight Feb. 19 in which police accused Jones of inciting a fight inside that led to a triple shooting outside that left one man paralyzed. Jones was arrested on two felony counts of coercion in June after dropping an appeal of his NFL punishment.
Jones said in interviews since his suspension that he felt he was being treated unfairly and that the punishment was harsh.
To keep himself busy, he signed a contract with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. But the Titans got an injunction that limited his physical contact to prevent any injuries. Jones' contract ended recently with TNA, and the Nashville-based company did not renew the deal.
His legal problems still haven't been resolved.
Jones faces a Nov. 27 hearing in Las Vegas. A felony count of obstruction in Georgia recently was postponed until March, and a public intoxication and disorderly conduct charge in Tennessee from August 2006 was revived and postponed until January.
With Jones on the roster in 2006, the Titans ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed. Without him, the Titans currently rank second in total defense and first against the run. They replaced him by signing veteran Nick Harper and second-year cornerback Cortland Finnegan developed into a starter.
They also have plenty of depth with Reynaldo Hill and Kelly Herndon.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Dennis Rodman, best known for his fierce defensive and rebounding ability, leading the National Basketball Association in rebounds per game for a record seven consecutive years and earning NBA All-Defensive First Team honors seven times, along with five NBA Championships (1989, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998), is ready to become a head coach - in the WNBA. Rodman, currently residing in Miami, FL, recently completed his second season of a makeover show, "Geek to Freak", with Mark Cuban's HDNet. Ready for a new challenge, Rodman says this is not a joke. "Any of my teammates can tell you that my knowledge of the game is second to none. My team would learn the skills that made me the player that will send me to the Hall of Fame. Our players would be in top physical condition. We would lead the league in rebounding, have a defensive-minded identity, and we'd run the triangle offense." -- PR Newswire
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Halfway through the first quarter, the overwhelmed Baltimore Ravens probably thought they were playing today's Steelers and all of Pittsburgh's Super Bowl stars of the past.
Turns out they were.
Ben Roethlisberger tied the Steelers' single-game record with five touchdown passes in the first half and Pittsburgh put on a Steel Curtain-like defensive show forcing four turnovers before halftime in a 38-7 victory over Baltimore on Monday night.
The Ravens (4-4) had a chance to tie for the AFC North lead by beating the Steelers (6-2) for a fourth straight time dating to 2005.
In reality, they had no chance at all. Not with all the big names - Mean Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw - who gathered to celebrate the Steelers' 75th season, whooping it up and pounding each others' backs with every big hit and turnover.
"It was a magical night to have those guys come and show their support," said Hines Ward, himself a member of the Steelers' all-time team that was honored at halftime. "You want to put on a show for those guys."
The Steelers forced three fumbles in the first quarter, with James Harrison hitting All-Pro safety Ed Reed so hard on a punt return the ball flew nearly 15 feet before Pittsburgh recovered. Four plays later, Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes for 15 yards on the first of their two opening-half touchdown pass plays and a 14-0 Steelers lead. Holmes had 110 yards on four receptions.
Right about then, it was becoming obvious this wouldn't be a repeat of Baltimore's two routs of the Steelers by scores of 31-7 and 27-0 a season ago.
Then, Roethlisberger was sacked 14 times and threw four interceptions.
This time he was near perfect, going 13-of-16 for 209 yards with no interceptions.
"I wouldn't even know how to begin to characterize this," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I'm just glad it's a short week and we don't have time to dwell on this."
Harrison, a non-drafted free agent once cut by Baltimore, became a starter this season after former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter was released. He seemed to torment Ravens quarterback Steve McNair on nearly every down.
Harrison had two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and interception and 2 1/2 sacks before halftime in a Jack Lambert-like performance. Lambert, coincidentally, was one of the few members of the Steelers' 75th anniversary all-time team who didn't attend.
"I haven't seen anyone play a game like that since high school - not in college or the NFL," linebacker Larry Foote said. "But we knew we were going to dominate. You could just tell in practice."
Harrison could tell when the game started.
"To tell you the truth, it seemed like everything was working," Harrison said. "It was a little more satisfying because it was Baltimore and they cut me."
Former coach Bill Cowher got the crowd going by making a previously unannounced on-field appearance shortly before the opening kickoff as a steady rain fell.
Once they got started, the Steelers lived up to coach Mike Tomlin's pregame prediction they would feed off the noise and enthusiasm.
"Coach Tomlin said all week the team that was more physical would win," Ward said. "Last year Ben got beat up against them but today we were more physical."
Harrison's hard hit caused Steve McNair to fumble on Baltimore's first possession and Harrison recovered himself at the 20. Roethlisberger responded by stepping out of the Ravens' pass rush to hit tight end Heath Miller on a 17-yard scoring pass midway through the first quarter.
A familiar pattern then settled in: the Ravens would turn the ball over, and the Steelers would score in a hurry as Roethlisberger also threw two TD passes to backup Nate Washington.
Harrison and Anthony Smith forced another fumble apiece, and Harrison jumped a McNair pass for an interception. McNair was 13-of-22 for 63 yards before being pulled in the fourth quarter, about the time the early departing fans from the crowd of 63,457 were creating a huge traffic jam around Heinz Field.
"It ain't hard to correct what's wrong. Just don't turn the ball over and make people beat us," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "They got the ball four times inside the 30. You can't do that and play championship football."
It was a bad night all around for the Ravens. Running back Willis McGahee was pulled with a concussion after gaining 50 yards on 12 carries, and will be evaluated Tuesday.
Roethlisberger, still in the game with the Steelers holding a 28-point lead, was pushed to the turf by Terrell Suggs on a 45-yard completion to Holmes in the third quarter, but returned early in the fourth quarter after having his right hip examined. His five TD throws gave him a career-record 20 in half a season, two more than his previous single-season high of 18.
"It's OK, I'm fine," he said after the game.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - No running up the score this week. Against the Colts, Tom Brady was content to close out another victory for the New England Patriots by kneeling down three times.
In what was hyped as the biggest NFL regular season game ever, the Patriots stayed on course for an unbeaten season as Brady threw two of his three touchdown passes in a four-minute span of the fourth quarter Sunday to overcome a 10-point deficit and beat Super Bowl champion Indianapolis, 24-20.
The win keeps the Patriots (9-0) on course for the NFL's first unbeaten season since Miami did it 1972 and gives them the first tiebreaker over Indianapolis (7-1) in the AFC playoffs.
"This is the first time we were in a ballgame late," said Brady, whose team had never before trailed in the fourth quarter and had beaten its previous eight opponents by an average of 25 points a game. "There wasn't any loss of confidence or determination."
Added New England linebacker Junior Seau: "We were going against a hostile crowd, an undefeated team, we took our hats off to them. But we still played well enough to win."
New England, which had been scoring more than 41 points a game, had piled points on late in several games in which they were far ahead, including last week's 52-7 win over Washington, when they kept playing hard well into the fourth quarter.
In this contest, anticipated since the schedule came out last April, they had to work their hardest just to win against perhaps the only team in the NFL close to them.
"We had an opportunity to do a lot of things," said running back Joseph Addai, the Colts' best offensive player on this day with 112 yards rushing and a 73-yard score on a short pass from Peyton Manning. "We left some points squandered and got field goals when we should have gotten touchdowns, but that's the nature of the game. Those guys are good. We'll see them again."
New England trailed 20-10 after Manning, who threw for 225 yards and a touchdown, scored on a 1-yard sneak with 9 minutes and 42 seconds left in the game, and the crowd roaring.
But on a second-and-10 from the Patriots 42, Brady hit Randy Moss over the top for 55 yards to the Colts 3 on a play in which Indy lost Bob Sanders, its best defensive back to injury. That set up a 3-yard TD pass to Wes Welker.
Rosevelt Colvin knocked the ball loose from Manning to force a punt on the next series. Then Brady hit Donte' Stallworth for 33 yards to the Colts 13 and on the next play found Kevin Faulk over the middle for 13 yards and the winning score with 3:15 left.
The defense finished it out. Jarvis Green knocked the ball lose from Manning and Colvin recovered to clinch the game on the Colts' next series.
"Some victories do mean more than others," said linebacker Tedy Bruschi, one of a handful of Patriots who played on all three of their Super Bowl winners. "This is one we're going to remember."
Coach Bill Belichick was less enthusiastic.
"This was just a football game against the Colts," the Patriots coach said. "That's all it was."
For three quarters "just a football game" looked like it belonged to Indy.
It seemed to have turned with 13 seconds left in the first half, when Addai took a short pass from Manning and raced 73 yards for a touchdown, at least twice faking out New England defenders who seemed as if they expected him to run out of bounds to stop the clock.
That gave the Colts a 13-7 halftime lead and seemed to be a huge momentum shift.
It certainly energized a Colts defense that was flying all over the field at the start of the second half. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis kept Brady under pressure most of the afternoon and when middle linebacker Gary Brackett picked off a Brady pass in the first minute of the fourth quarter that led to Manning's sneak, Indy seemed in control.
But Brady, who had 30 touchdown passes in the first half of the season, putting him on course to shatter Manning's three-year-old record of 49, finally awoke. The long pass to Moss was New England's first gain longer than 19 yards. It came on a scramble by Brady, who extended his record with at least 3 TD passes a game to start the season to nine games.
Moss proved to be a key throughout, finishing with 9 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. That came in the first quarter, when he easily leaped high over 5-8 Tim Jennings to pull in a 4-yard TD.
Coach Tony Dungy said the Colts had prepared for Moss, knowing the Patriots would go to him when they needed a big play. Yet, they were unable to contain him when it counted most.
"We didn't have the answer for Randy Moss today," Dungy said. "We had a lot of attention paid to him trying to stop him from catching the deep balls but he caught the deep one at the big time of the game. That was really the play of the game, got them a quick score."
The Colts played without Marvin Harrison, their top receiver, who missed his third straight game with a knee injury. Starting left tackled Tony Ugoh also was out and the Colts lost Tony Gonzalez, Harrison's replacement, with a finger injury in the first half.
In the end, that wasn't as much a factor as Brady. He threw for 153 of his 255 yards in the fourth quarter as the Patriots broke a three-game losing streak against the Colts, who beat them here 38-34 in the AFC title game last season and went on to win the Super Bowl by beating Chicago.
In that championship game, New England squandered an early 21-3 lead. On Sunday, though, the defense chipped in.
"Look at our situation last year," said Colvin, who grew up in Indianapolis and used to make popcorn at Colts games when they first moved here from Baltimore. "We were not playing 60 minutes and we turned an opportunity into a failure."
This time, the Patriots failed early. But they survived late, when it was most important.