Saturday, January 06, 2007

Colts get defensive, Dallas goes out with a bungle

Colts, Seahawks epitomize the "survive & advance" theory in less-than-impressive wins

Indy's defense finally makes an appearance, just in the nick of time
Colts 22, Chiefs 8
Line: Colts -7

Is it possible for the Pats to trade for Ty Law before the next round of the playoffs start? Or the Chargers? Because the former New England safety sure has Peyton number. The wily veteran picked off the befuddled Manning three more times tonight to bring his total to 7 INTs in the last two playoff games these two have squared off against each other.

Unfortunately for Law & the Chiefs this time the performance didn't result in a win as the revitalized Indianapolis defense manhandled Larry Johnson & the Chiefs offense to the point of embarrassment.

The team that had allowed 170+ yards per game on the ground this season gave up only 44 today, 32 to LJ who had been #2 in the league this year with over 1800+ yards rushing. The entire Colt defense allowed a mere 126 total yards, and the rest of the Chiefs' offensive numbers were just plain ugly: 7 first downs (none until 3:26 left in the 3rd quarter), 1-11 on 3rd down, 4 sacks allowed, and a drive chart to puke over.

How about 6 punts, a missed field goal, 2 interceptions, a fumble and one touchdown. Does that sound like a formula for winning a playoff game? I didn't think so either.

The Mannings were not much better. Peyton (30-38, 268yds, 1 TD, 3 INTs) did not have his best game, and perhaps it was fitting justice that it was those guys on "the other side of the ball" that bailed his ass out this time. I guess you won't hear him complaining about not being able to be on the field all the time to help procure the win this time.

Now the Colts have to travel to Baltimore and take on the ravenous Raven defense. Is the Indy D for real, or was that just a one game blip, a perfect storm that coincided with the return of lightning rod safety Bob Sanders, a sloppy Chief team, and an terrible coaching job by Herm you play to win the game yet I can't seem to win the big one Edwards?

One thing's for sure: if Manning throws 3 more picks against the Ravens he and his team of minions will not be advancing to the AFC Championship game.

He'll be heading to a psychiatrist's office to try and have the nightmares of Ty Law haunting him removed from his memory bank.

Dallas bobbles its chance to advcance in a wild Wild Card game in Seattle
Seattle 21, Dallas 20
This game was the exact opposite of the first one: exciting, competitive, balanced and with a thrilling finish.

Unfortunately for Cowboys fans it was yet another heartbreaking finale to a promising season as the former toast of the league, QB Tony Romo, got toasted by a botched snap on what could have been the game-winning kick by Martin Grammatica with just over 1:00 left in the game.

Up to then it was a see-saw affair that had the Cowboys take a 10-6 lead just before halftime on a 12-yard-TD pass from Romo (17-29, 189 yards, 1TD) to Patrick Crayton, but the 'Hawks took the lead right back on a score from Matt Hasselbeck to Jerramy kick me in the groin Stevens(5 recs, 77yds, 2 TDs, no groin hits) But the play that happened next could have been the tide-turner that gave the contest to the 'Boys.

On the ensuing kickoff after Stevens' TD Dallas' Miles Austin returned the kick 93-yards for a momentum-swinging, soul-crushing type of score that made it 17-13 Dallas in the blink of an eye. Seattle was shellshocked and it looked unlikely it would get up off the Starbucks-stained mat.

But after Little Martin nailed a 29-yard FG 4 minutes into the 4th to make the score 20-13 Cowboys, things really started to get squirrelly.

Backed up against their own end zone Dallas ran a little swing play to Terry Glenn. After he slipped down and struggled to regain control of the ball he got up and attempted to gain some positive yardage out of the play. Wrong. Glenn was popped by Seattle's Keith Jennings and the ball flew backwards into the end zone. As Seahawks flew around trying to land on the ball it went out of the end zone for a safety, making the score 20-15 Dallas with 6:00 to play.

It really got interesting when Seattle took the free kick and drove 50 yards in 4 plays, capped by a gorgeous 36-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck(18-36, 240 yards, 2TDs, 2 INTs) to Stevens for a 21-20 Seattle lead with 5:00 to go. The try for 2 points failed, and Romo had 4:24 to mount the winning drive.

Which he did. He took the ball all the way from Dallas' 28 to the Seattle 2 yard line and put the team in a position to win its first playoff game since 1996. A key play came on 3rd & 1, when Jason Witten turned and barrelled ahead for an apparent first down at the 1, but replays proved he didn't get the spot.

Tuna nearly went for it on 4th & 1, which in hindsight might have been a better idea, but instead lined up for the chip shot kick.

After a timeout they lined up for the 23-yarder, and Romo would be the handler, as he has been for two seasons, you know seeing as he was a scrub up until just 2 months ago. Well the grinning gunslinger bobbled a perfect snap, got up and tried to race for the end zone but was tripped up from behind in a highlight reel-worthy, game-saving tackle by Jordan Babineaux, stopping Romo one yard shy of the first down that could have ended Seattle's NFC champion reign.

I've said it before but this time I really mean it- THE BLOOM IS OFFICIALLY OFF THE ROMO. Nothing like blowing a playoff game because you can't get a snap down? Think all the members of his fan club will be patting him on the back now, yukking it up over which singer he is actually dating and so forth?

This guy will be lucky to recover from this disaster, and if he does he might not have the same coach guiding him.

That's because this could have been the Tuna's last game. That decision will most certainly come in the next few days, and will depend on whether a certain obnoxious wide receiver will still be wearing a star on his helmet next year.

But one things definite: Romo needs to spend more time getting better on the field than getting hookups off of it.


Let the REAL season begin: NFL Playoffs start today

After 17 weeks of the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Yucs, of Bengals coming to play harder at the Cincy PD than Paul Brown Stadium, of the Detroit Lions and their naked drive-thru-loving assistant coach, of Nick Saban, Dennis Green and Art Shell, of endless Brett Favre slurping, the Jay Cutler Experiment, Ben Roethlisberger's medical issues, of Chris Simms' lost spleen, of head-stomping (Albert Haynesworth) & groin kicking (Tyler Brayton), of spitting (TO) & quitting (Randy Moss), and of the insufferable Jim Moron, Jr. it's finally time...

...for the REAL NFL season to start.

Oh sure the regular season is great, as we get a chance to witness the record-breaking brilliance of LaDanian Tomlinson, the excitement of a team like the Titans climbing from the depths of the winless to the cusp of the postseason, and the people of New Orleans not only getting to bask in the return of their beloved Saints but enjoy a postseason appearance to boot.

But the season also meant listening to Chucky Gruden explain why he's sticking with an over matched rookie quarterback when he had a serviceable (and high-paid) vet on the bench all along, Monday Nights filled with Tony Kornheiser attempting to be natural & funny while Joe Theismann pretended to care, and weekly T.O.D.-incited melodrama.

So I say bring on the playoffs and let's all enjoy this brief but exhilarating run to SB XLI.

Kansas City Chiefs (9-7) @ Indianapolis Mannings (12-4)
4:30P, NBC
Line: IND -7

Oh goody, just what all us Manning-haters were hoping for: a run-dominant team that could give Indy's horrid rushing defense fits and keep the Mannings' offense off the field for a good chunk of the game.

How bad was Indy's rushing D? How about last in the league, allowing a staggering 173.0 yards/game, which was a mind-blowing 27.6 yards per game higher than the second-worst team (St. Louis, 145.4 YPG.)

And who do they get to face in round 1? None other than Grandmama himself, Larry Johnson, the man who set a new NFL record for carries in a season with 416 and who finished 2nd in the league in rushing with 1,789 yards, 26 fewer than LT the MVP.

LJ's production helped KC to the be the 9th best rushing team in the league and means that Indy better be ready for a ground pounding when the teams square off at the RCA Dome. But the thing about Kansas City is that if they can't run for some reason either Trent Green or Damon Huard is capable of moving the chains through the air as well. While Green has struggled since his return from an early season concussion (7 TDs, 9 INTs in 7 games), Huard excelled in Green's absence, compiling 1,878 yards with 11 touchdowns and only 1 pick in 9 games.

But let's get real here, this is going to be a classic "my strength can beat your strength" contest: Kansas City will run, run, run, pass to Tony Gonzalez, then run some more and make the beleaguered Indy front line stop Johnson from gashing them for 200+ yards and carrying the Chiefs to a date in the next round.

And Indianapolis will wait for their name-calling, underachieving, aw-shucks leader to call out the correct plays at the line, hit receivers Marvin Harrison & Reggie Wayne and TEs Ben Utecht & Dallas Clark and hope rookie RB Joseph Addai can somehow duplicate his 171-yard effort against Philly in Week 12; Addai had only one other 100+ yard game all season.

The good news for Indy is that Kansas City was a middling 18th vs. both the pass (208.4 YPG) and the run (120.5 YPG) this year, plus it has the benefit of experience, the "been there, done this" factor, while the Chiefs might just be happy to be here.

But us Manning Haters know what happens to the Regular Season Wonders once the real season begins...

...they turn in to the Post Season Chokers.

MY PICK: I know, I know, I've been laying off the predictions and made it one of my resolutions for the new year- I shalt not make horrendous sports predictions- but I'm just going to give a roundabout guesstimation.

Based on the evidence KC should gash the Mannings on the ground and force Indy to play long ball all day. Yes Manning loves to pass, but with their ground game non-existent and the time getting short he could be haunted by ghosts from his playoff past...

...Ty Law with a another big interception of Peyton and Adam Vinateri with a game-losing shank.

A guy can dream, right.

I'm not sure about the score, but I do believe that it will be close.
Chiefs will cover

Dallas Cowboys (9-7) @ Seattle Seahawks (9-7)
Line: SEA -2

This one could be called the Freefall Bowl. Both teams come into this game on major down slides at the end of the season; Dalls lost 3 out of its last 4 and looked awful in doing so, and the Seahawks limped to the finish line, also losing 3 of its final four, although it ended on a winning note (of course, they played the Yucs.)

So it will be interesting to see which team comes out and can establish some sort of consistency and control on the game with bot having been so rickety going into the postseason.

Dallas' defense has been the major problem for the Cowboys, as it surrendered 33 PPG the last 4 games. Although the rushing defense finished a respectable 10th in the NFL, allowing just over 103 YPG, it will be thoroughly tested this evening as the 'Hawks will try to establish Shaun Alexander early & often.

The burning question for the Cowboys and its fans is which Tony Romo will show up? Will it be the cocky & confident kid who leapt into the starters role with a flourish, winning 5 of his first 6 starts while throwing 12 touchdowns to only 7 interceptions? Or will the shaky, starlet-eyed greenhorn who lost 3 of his final 4 and seemed less worried about his 6TD-6 INT ratio than which C-list songstress he was rumored to be dating show up and give the game away?

Defending NFC Champion Seattle has struggled to find an identity, as so many teams do in their post-Super Bowl seasons (except the Pats of course), this year, mainly due to major injuries to key players. Although it pulled an early-season coup by trading for receiver Deion Branch, the team couldn't fully utilize his talents because his quarterback and key component of the running game both missed significant time.

Now that Shaun Alexander & Matt Hasselbeck are back and fairly healthy Seattle should be able to incorporate Branch into the attack for this game and form a potent offensive trio for the Cowboys to defend. If Alexander can get going play like he did against Green Bay (201 yards) and San Diego (140 yards) after missing 6 games with a broken foot, then Seattle has a solid chance to advance.

Dallas needs Romo to get back to his early form, which he may be able to achieve due to a number of injuries in the Seattle secondary (Marcus Trufant, Kelly Herndon, Jimmy Williams); for Marion Barber III and Thomas Jones to move the rock on the ground; and the defense to contain the two-pronged Seattle attack.

Not to mention T.O.-D. I mean I would prefer not to mention T.O.-D. Let's just say one of the most infamous moments in the Dennis Rodman-izing of Owens' career came at this very site, when he scored a touchdown as a member of the 49ers, raced to the luxury seats in the end zone of Qwest Field, pulled out a Sharpie, autographed the ball and handed it to his manager in the front row.

And a primma donna was born. Let's hope there are no moments like that tonight.

The hotter team normally wins these games and by virtue of spanking the Bucs the Seahawks qualify as the hotter team here. Dallas ended the season by allowing 39 points to Detroit in a humiliating home loss. How quick can you bounce back from something like that, even with an irritated Tuna barking at you all week?
Seattle to Cover

Either way this should be an intriguing evening- it could be another sad chapter added to the Payton Post Season Failure opus, and the end of Bill Parcells career as a coach.

Then again it might just be a stepping stone to Manning's first Super Bowl and win #1 in Tuna's quest for a third ring.

It's the No Freakin Logic league for Pete's sake.

Anything can happen.



Friday, January 05, 2007

Best. Earl. Ever.

Not sure if anyone caught the all new episode of My Name is Earl last night, but if you didn't, and you're a fan of the show, you'd better check the rerun schedule. Or buy Season 2 when it comes out on DVD.

Because last night the comedic gods came together and formed the perfect fusion of two shows that were always meant to be joined together:

Earl meets C*O*P*S*

In a stroke of creative brilliance the writers decided to mate reformed redneck hooligan Earl, his lovable half-wit brother Randy, his trampy, trailer-trash ex-wife Joy and the rest of the sleazy inhabitants of Camden County with the show that has been busting losers like them for nearly two decades.

I've said in earlier posts that I thought the sophomore effort of this silly little show had lost some of its oomph after a "nowhere to go but down" debut season. My feelings were formed after the 2-part season opener about Joy stealing a box truck. Yawn.

But in the last few weeks the show has come roaring back, first with the hilarious claymation stoner episode featuring Christian Slater, then the three-part "Randy loves Catalina" arc. That series of eps began with Earl attempting to teach Gay Kenny how to be macho but he actually turns him into a gambling addict and ends with the brothers travelling to Mexico to find Catalina so Randy can tell her he loves her. The third installment had a great cameo by John Leguizamo as Catalina's slimy Uncle Diego.

But this latest episode blows all the others out of the water. The residents of Camden are sitting around the Crab Shack on a boring Sunday afternoon when an episode of COPS, shot three years earlier, comes on the tube. As everyone gathers around to re-enjoy their 15 minutes of fame the show dissolves into what looks like an actual episode of the show that made shirtless rednecks en vogue.
Some of the highlights include:

*Earl stealing one of the police cruisers and giving it to Joy as a present; she would later pull over an innocent driver and threaten top "shoot her in the face" if she failed a sobriety test.

*Joy throwing a bowling ball off her trailer roof onto a Def Leppard mirror and a shard of glass piercing the postman's eye (you had to see the lead up)
*Randy being shot out of a tree with a tranquilizer dart after trying to flee the fuzz and landing on a trampoline like the bear in that infamous clip.

*Gay Kenny cruising repeatedly by a man dressed in nothing by a giant python while standing in his yard. Why was it so funny? Kenny was driving a LeCar and cranking "Wishing Well" by Terence Trent D'Arby.

*Crab Man's grandmother getting him busted for pot possession when she calls the cops to their house because of a noisy neighbor.

If none of this sounds funny, well then you're not a fan of the show so foget about it. But if you love the show because of its offbeat, bawdy humor then this is one episode you won't want to miss.

Especially the part where Earl skins his pecker. "Oh, that's a lot of gravel."


Thursday, January 04, 2007

A dizzying day of pertinent stories

So I get back from the last supper with the in-laws before they head back to Cincy at the lavish Macaroni Grill (a chain in desperate need of a name change) and I click on my usual sites to get up-to-date with what's happening in the world (feel free to peruse my links list.)

I see story after story that catches my eye and causes me to click on the headline. Freaky things are happening in all corners of the sports and entertainment worlds- what the hell has been going on since I've been tied up in family land?- so I thought I'd better take note of them by category just to keep things straight as some of the events seem to be overlapping each other.

The list is pretty extensive, but since I've hardly posted this week I figured I have a lot of time to make up for.

Plus there are no bowl games tonight for the first time since around Thanksgiving.

Celebrity/Athlete Police Blotter
-Noted sportscaster and insufferable know-it-all Jim Lampley was arrested for domestic violence and violating a restraining order after tossing his girlfriend around her apartment Wednesday night.

The 57-year-old long-time HBO boxing announcer and voice of the Olympics has been accused of getting extremely drunk & high at girlfriend Candice Sanders' apartment and then becoming so enraged that her threw her around the place before speeding off with his 14-year-old son. Amazing.

This is the same guy who chastised listeners of Jim Rome's radio program of being too stupid to realize that the new millennium did not begin in 2000 but in 2001 and who always comes off as an uppity, smarmy, condescending cad.

Guess he's just a raging alcoholic pothead like the rest of the clones.

-Denver police locate vehicle thought to be used in Darrent Williams' shooting death
Four days after the Denver Broncos cornerback was gunned down in his limo on a busy Denver street the police have found the SUV believed to be involved in the incident.

The 1998 Chevy Tahoe is reported to be owned by a man who was in jail at the time of the slaying, but obviously police are hoping he will know who was using his vehicle while he was incarcerated. The man is thought to have ties to powerful gangs, possibly the notorious Crips.

The SUV was parked on a street south of the Denver airport in a remote stretch of an industrial area. It had evidently been partially spray painted black to cover the natural white paint job in an obvious attempt to camouflage the sought-after vehicle for as long as possible.

Hopefully the discovery of the potential getaway car will lead police to some CSI-style clues that will allow the authorities to catch the dickheads who committed this senseless crime.

-Suspect caught in fatal stabbings at Chris Chelios' Detroit bar
In another wild story right out of the plot of a bad ESPN series two employees at Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios' bar were stabbed to death by a disgruntled former employee on Tuesday.

The 44-year old veteran of 22 NHL season co-owns the establishment, known as Chelli's Chili Bar, located right next to Comerica Park in downtown D-Town. The employees were in the building preparing for their work day when police say a 17-year-old former busboy came in and stabbed the manager, Megan Soroka and a cook, Mark Barnard, before fleeing.

Police say Justin Blackshere, who had been fired about 2 weeks ago, has confessed to the killings and also of robbing the safe. Chelios has said that he was on the phone with Cook, whom he called a dear friend and respected employee, when she had to hang up to investigate a disturbance.

This was just another senseless, tragic act that occurs in our world every day, but because this time it just happened to cross over into the high-profile world of sports it gets more recognition than the hundreds of other stories just like it.

Other recent high-profile arrestees include bloated rapper Busta Rhymes (busting up his driver in a dispute over money)...Detroit Lions offensive lineman Ross Verba (passing bad checks?!)...imbecilic rapist Mike Tyson (D.U.I.-N.C.-driving under the influence of nose candy) actor/model/nobody Tyrese was not arrested but could be shortly for punching his pregnant girlfriend in the arm and thigh Thursday morning...and this just in, Padres pitcher Jake Peavy was just busted at the Mobile, Al. airport for requesting that a police officer give him a ticket for illegally parking outside the terminal...

We now return to our regular programming.

Football News:
Another NFL coach on the way out- Cowher to step down after 15 seasons in Pittsburgh
I guess the Bus was right after all.

Steelers coach Bill Cowher will confirm Friday what retired Steeler great Jerome Bettis told everyone before this post-Super Bowl season began- that the coach known for his chin, spittle, and gritty attitude will step away from the Steel City after 15 years on the sidelines.

A news conference is scheduled for 1:00 pm but Cowher reportedly already informed his coaching staff of his decision to walk away from the NFL in order to spend more time with his family at their home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

After leading the Steelers to their first NFL championship since 1980 and compiling a record of 140-90-1 the disappointment and grind of trying to repeat as champion just got to be overbearing for the success-driven leader, who conceded that he thought about hanging it up right after the Bowl win.

This season the Steelers finished 8-8, only Cowher's 4th non-winning campaign during his tenure, and the team faced numerous on & off field distractions which played against them all year: the motorcycle accident and appendicitis of starting QB Ben Roethlisberger; the retirement of Bettis, the NFL's 5th all-time leading rusher, seriously hindered the run-dominant offense; injuries to key players like Hines Ward, Roethlisberger, and Troy Palumalu; and embarrassing losses to Jacksonville (9-0), Baltimore twice by a combined 58-7, and the lowly Raiders (20-13.)

Now the Steelers will be on the hunt for a coach for the first time in 15 years and they need only look in house, as assistants Russ Grimm and Ken Whisenhunt are already hot candidates to become head coaches elsewhere. Meanwhile The Chin will take a year off, "be with his family", i.e. do some TV to keep his name in the loop, then land a prime new gig a year from now, when the Coaching Carousel is sure to have a fresh round of casualties.

-Grossman tells reporters what everyone knew long ago: he went on the field unprepared to play
When Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman admitted on Thursday that he was "not giving 100%" while preparing to play Green Bay in the season finale because he knew he wasn't going to play much he may have been more prophetic than he thought.

His inattention to the task at hand-preparing for the playoffs and improving on his horrendous TD/INT ratio- resulted in an atrocious 2-12, 33 yard, 3 interception outing and may eventually lead to him being benched.

This clown had the nerve to say that because it was the last game, and New Years Eve, he wasn't as focused as he should have been for the contest that the Packers ended up winning 26-7. How can he not be focused? People in the Windy City have been screaming for his head on a platter after his umpteenth 3 interception game of the season and clamoring for backup Brian Griese to take the snaps as the starter and he can't get prepared to do his JOB because he's worried about watching the freaking ball drop?!

Hey I-N-T-Rex, get your head out of your ass before your team is bounced from the playoffs and you end up working in fellow Gator bust Danny Wuerffel's soup kitchen!

NBA News:
Heat coach Pat Riley to take "leave of absence" due to knee, hip injuries
It looks like Shaq isn't the only broken down old man on the Heat roster. Head coach Pat Riley informed the team and media yesterday that he will be taking an immediate & indefinite leave of absence to have surgery on his degenerative hip and knee but will rejoin the team whenever his rehab allows him to do so.

For now the defending champs will be coached by none other than Ron Rothstein, who was the first coach in the history of the franchise. But with the team in disarray, players being suspended (Antoine Walker has been benched for failure to meet conditioning goals-there's a shocker) and Wade & Shaq laboring with nagging injuries, why should the Hall of Fame coach even bother to come back?

After all, he got his way: he ousted Stan not the man Van Gumby in the middle of the season last year and got credited for his 5th NBA title, now he can rest his hip & knee sipping limoncellos on South Beach while the team sinks back into South Florida obscurity with the Marlins & Dolphins. Brilliant!

-Jordan's wife files for divorce again- but this time, she means it
His Airness and his Mrs. are getting divorced after 17 years of marriage presumably because of MJ's proclivity for his mistresses.

A week after reports circulated that Jordan was trying to sway some luscious honey to come to a party for Derek Jeter while he was dining in New York with Charles Oakley Juanita called it quits for good. The couple had previously split up in 2002 but Juanita withdrew that request (cha-ching!) Jordan also had a long term relationship with another woman disclosed when the woman sued him for paternity.

I mean how many years of putting up with an adulterer can a woman take before the money becomes just not good enough?

Evidently the answer to that question is 17.

Baseball Hot Stove Update:
The Unit set to take his dirty 'do and nasty 'tude back to the desert of Arizona
The New York Stankees are about to send disgruntled human and freakish pitcher Randy Johnson back to where he came from- no, not the planet Uranus, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The mating of a 6'11" asshole with a city that hates dickheads unless they are members of the family was a match made in hell, beginning with Unit's infamous "get away from me" tirade against a reporter on the street as he was heading to his first Stankee press conference and ending with his failure to win even one big game for the pinstripes. Johnson finished an unspectacular 34-19 regular season record in the Bronx, but it was his 0-1, 6.92 mark in three postseason appearances that left a bad taste in the fans' mouths.

The move paves the way for Roidger Clemens to return to New York to be with his BFF Andy Pettitte, but let's face it, the reason Randy was let go was because he didn't do what former running mate Curt Schilling did for the hated Red Sox- bring a world championship with him.

Former Sox get new homes
On the same front Doug Ball Stealer Mientkiewicz signed a one-year deal to join the Evil Empire; if that's not a match made in heaven I don't know what is: the man who tried to steal the baseball from the final out of the 2004 Series and whom all of Red Sox Nation hates joining the team we all LOVE to hate.

Wonder if he'll locker next to Judas Demon?

Other former Sox to sign elsewhere include second baseman Mark Can't Buy Me love Loretta who will agree to a deal with the Astros, and Keith the Burger King Foulke, who signed a one-year deal with the Indians for $5 million.

Two things of note here: why Loretta can't seem to find a home when two years ago he was considered one of the best second sackers in the game is a mystery worthy of a Court TV special; and how can a washed up, broken down loser like Foulke get a deal for that much money from an organization with playoff aspirations?

Oh yeah, Fausto Carmona.

That's all I got. I'm gonna go buy a police scanner ao I can keep up on the rest of the stories.


Back to blogging...what's been going on?

I feel like I have been on vacation because I have not posted very much this week. That's due to an influx of in-laws plus all the other craziness surrounding this two week holiday period.

Let me see where I left off and what I have missed. The list is quite extensive so I'm going to go start where my last entry left off, after the Fiesta Bowl on Monday night, which seems like about 8 days ago.

-Louisville gets just enough offense to hold off Wake in a sloppy Orange Bowl, 24-13

In a game that was the exact opposite of the Fiesta Bowl heart-pounder the Cinderella Wake Forest Demon Deacons played their style of football- defensive and opportunistic- but it wasn't enough to defeat the explosive Cardinals and quarterback Jeff Brohm.

persevered through many Louisville mistakes to throw for 311 yards but no touchdowns as the Cards had to overcome 2 costly fumbles, a dropped touchdown pass by receiver Mario Urrutia and a missed field goal by Groza winner Art Carmody.

Down 13-10 early in the "5th quarter", as the Deacons refer to the 4th in honor of star linebacker John Abbate's deceased little brother, who wore #5, the Cardinals came roaring back on the strength of two long touchdown drives (81 yards, 71 yards.) Tampa's own Anthony Allen, a powerful runner who looks more and more like he should be the featured back next year even if Michael Bush comes back, capped off an 81-yard, 8 play drive with a 1-yard TD run to give the Cards a 17-13 lead and Brock Bolen's 18 yard scoring jaunt with just under 5:00 to go sealed it.

Although Wake's magical season came to a bitter end, with a school-record 11 wins, a Coach of the Year award for Jim Grobe and an Orange Bowl appearance they certainly have nothing to be ashamed of in Winston-Salem.

Meanwhile Louisville finished the season 12-1 and if it weren't for the upset by Rutgers in late November the Cards might be laying claim to the national championship. But with Brohm coming back, Allen heading into his sophomore season and Urrutia heading into his junior campaign, this team is a pre-season Top 5 lock and will be a force to be reckoned with in 2007.
Plus they're really fun to watch.

-In the "what else is new dept?" Notre Dame is embarrassed in a bowl game again
New year, same results for the pitifullly overrated Notre Dame football program. The Losing Irish dropped their NCAA-record 9th consecutive bowl game dating back to 1994 with a humiliating 41-14 drubbing by the hometown LSU Tigers last night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl (isn't it ironic that the former sponsor, Nokia, has been dropped for an insurance company in the Katrina-ravaged bayou country?)

Dame began the season ranked #2 and its obnoxious fan base had every reason to think this could be the year that the Irish contended for a national title again, or at least won a major bowl. Wrong on both accounts, whiskey breaths. Not only did the Irish (10-3) plummet to #11 in the final poll but the combination of head coach/savior Charlie Weiss, probable #1 NFL draft pick Brady Quinn and sure-fire first-rounder Jeff Samardzija wasn't enough to lift the Irish to its first big win since the Lou Holtz era.

Pretty boy Quinn's stats were anything but: 15-35, season low 148 yards, 2TDs, 2 INTs

The over matched Irish looked solid in the first half, when it rang up most of its 291 yards of offense and briefly tied the game at 14 with less than 3:00 to go in the half. But from there on out it was the JaMarcus Russell show, as the enormous (6'6", 260 lb) junior QB took over the game, and potentially the #1 draft slot from his more-heralded counterpart.
Russell crushed the Irish hopes with his rocket arm

Russell immediately led the Tigers (11-2) on a 5-play, 82-yard drive and ran it in himself from 5-yards out for the go ahead score just before the half, then he used his huge frame and cannon-like arm to catapult LSU to its second huge bowl victory at the Superdome, the first being the 2003 Sugar Bowl that helped the 12-1 Tigers lay claim to a share of the national championship.

The potent Tigers compiled 577 yards of offense against the woeful Notre Dame defense as Russell exploded for 332 yards and 2 TDs, including a gorgeous 58-yard bomb to end the third quarter that started the onslaught of "will he or won't he declare for the draft" questions. If he does come out his performance could help him challenge Quinn for the #1 spot; a guy who can easily loft the ball 70+ yards in the air is the stuff of Al Davis' wet dreams.
And if he stays we have another entry for the 2007 Heisman race.

But can we please stop sending the Irish to major New Years/BCS bowls? It's painfully obvious now that the Fighting Overrateds don't deserve the honor any longer.

-NFL MVP? Oh gee, it's LT
In the least shocking development since Mike Tyson got arrested again San Diego Chargers running back LaDanian Tomlinson was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the 2006 season.

Aside from the fact that the 14-2 Chargers are by far the class off the league this season Tomlinson ran his way to a myriad of records, establishing himself as one of the greatest backs of all time in just his 6th season. The list of accomplishments is lengthy, but here's a rundown of the highlights:
*Set the NFL record for touchdowns scored in a season (31)

*Set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns scored in a season (28)

*Set the record for most points scored by a player in a season (186)

*Rushed for at least 100 yards in a game 10 times (9 in a row)

*Scored at least 2 touchdowns in 10 games (8 in a row)

*Led the NFL with 1,815 yards rushing on just 348 carries (5.2 YPC) and also had 508 yards receiving on 56 receptions (9 YPC)

*Threw for 2 touchdowns

Other than that it was just an average season for the humble kid from TCU. This guy exemplifies what a role model athlete is all about. After he broke Shaun Alexander's touchdown record he waved his teammates into the end zone to celebrate what he called a "team accomplishment." It's class & dignity like that combined with jaw-dropping talent that makes him one of the most deserving MVP's ever.
By the way Drew Brees, the man who was being hailed as the potential winner a few weeks ago, finished a very distant second: LT received 44 votes, Brees 4.

VY adds NFL ROY to his trophy case
In other NFL award news (why is it that the NFL announces its award winners immediately following the season but the MLB drags its announcements out for a solid month after the World Series?) Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young ran off with the Offensive Rookie of the Year trophy, easily beating out second place finishers New Orleans' Marques Colston and Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew, 23 votes to 9.

Young amassed 2,199 yards passing with 12 TDs (+13 INTs) and added 552 yards rushing and 7 scores with a 67 passer rating and 52% completion rate.

The 3rd pick in the 2006 draft grew into a capable team leader, one with the intangible quality of being able to will his team to wins despite pre-draft talk about his awkward throwing motion, poor test scores and raw skills. After taking over the starting job from Kerry Collins in game 4 Young orchestrated the Titans rise from 0-5 disaster to 8-8 playoff contender, thanks to a miraculous 6-game winning streak in which Tennessee mounted 4 late come-from-behind wins.

Young ended up 8-3 as a starter and brought the Titans to the brink of the postseason; if Tennessee had been able to knock off the Pats in Week 17 it would have made the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

An impressive victory in a long line of wins for the National Champion quarterback from Houston. Wonder how hard his hometown Texans are kicking themselves now after passing over Young for unspectacular DT Mario Williams?

-Coaching carousel picks up speed after NFL season ends
No sooner had the dust settled following the end of the regular season that the first casualties of the coaching axe were announced.

In another candidate for the least surprising news ever Falcons head man Jim Moron, Jr. was let go by team president Arthur Home Depot gazillionaire Blank about 3.2 minutes after the Falcons lost the finale to the Eagles.

Moron sealed his fate with another late season swoon that saw the front-running Falcons slip from 5-2 to 7-9; coupled with his idiotic rant on a Seattle radio program in which he vehemently professed his desire to coach his Alma mater, the University of Washington, even though the Huskies have a coach (Ty Willingham) and the Falcons were in the thick of a playoff battle, and it was no surprise that the impatient Blank gave the son of Jim Mora his pink slip.

No word if he was given a complimentary Bostich nail gun and a case of nails as a consolation prize.

Shortly following that announcement came the second least shocking development in the coaching world: Arizona's Dennis Green was let go after another disappointing season in the desert.

Green's Cardinals limped to a 5-11 record despite a boatload of talent, a shiny new expensive stadium, and new found hope for success. Instead the Cards wallowed in mediocrity and awfulness, the epitome of which was the Week 6 meltdown on Monday Night Football in which Arizona blew a 20-point 3rd quarter lead and lost to the Bears 24-23.

Following that debacle Green launched into his now-infamous tirade where he screamed at reporters in the post game press conference "the Bears are who we thought they were, and we let em off the hook."

And now after 3 disappointing seasons (16-32) Green is off the hook for trying to turn this dysfunctional franchise around. Although the team is till on the hook for the $2.5 million it still owes him for his contract.

now has $32 million reasons why he likes college ball more than the NFL
And in the third piece of "no way?!" NFL coaching news, former Dolphins coach, notorious weasel and now proven liar Nick Saban has done exactly what he swore a week ago he wouldn't do: accept an 8 year, $32 million dollar deal to be the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Just days after the Fins finished another non-playoff campaign with a 6-10 record and a mere 13 days after flat-out stating " I'm not going to be the Alabama coach" the same man who tried to treat NFL players like kids and blew off a meal at the White House took his sorry 15-17 pro record and high tailed it back to the land where he can boss kids around and not have to answer to anyone for it.

Typical of coaches nowadays- whatever they are saying, don't believe them. Especially if the guy is a little dictator who uses players as a way to further massage his massive ego.
Well I think I'm all caught up for now. Gotta go work on the roof with my father-in-law. Will get further caught up later, if I don't fall and break my hip.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Bowl Recap: Rose redemption, fantastic Fiesta

There were two terrific bowl games played last evening and both had an indirect impact on the national championship picture.

USC finally snaps Rose Bowl curse, defeats Michigan 32-18
Will all the Michigan apologists/whiners please shut up now? The USC Trojans handed the favored Wolverines a Grandaddy of a beatdown and exorcised some demons by winning at the site of their last 2 painful losses.

The Trojans missed out on a chance at the BCS Championship Game after losing to rival UCLA 12-9 last month at the Rose Bowl, UCLA's home field. Last January the Trojans also went down in defeat at the storied site, which was hosting the championship game, to Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns, 41-38.

But on this glorious Southern California evening the team from across town treated the venue as their own thanks to a fierce defensive showing against the supposedly superior Wolverines and an awesome performance by wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. The explosive junior from Jersey caught 11 balls for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns and kept the Michigan secondary on its heels the entire night. His gorgeous 62-yard touchdown pass from John David Booty (27-45, 391 yards, 4 TDs) made the score 25-11 early in the 4th quarter, opening up what had been a close game, and Booty's 7-yarder to Steve remember me, I'm pretty damn good, too? Smith (7 recs, 108 yds, 1TD) iced it five minutes later.

But as much as the "Grandaddy of Em All" was blessed with offense (the two teams combined for 760 total yards) it was the USC defense that made the difference in this one. The Trojans sacked Chad Henne (26-41, 309 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) six times, five in the first half alone when the score was 3-3, and Michigan RB Mike Hart (17 carries, 47 yards) couldn't get room to breathe; in fact run-dominant Michigan was held to an unbelievable 12 yards on the ground, due to the yardage lost on all the sacks.

The Trojans took care of business in the We Shoulda Been In Glendale Bowl and provided plenty of content for the inevitable site. Now all the speculation is about whether Jarrett will head to the NFL or not, and if he doesn't the Trojans' return to the title game may be delayed by just one season.

A Fiesta Bowl Classic: Boise St. stuns Oklahoma, 43-42 in OT
Who woulda thunk it? The lightly-regarded Fiesta Bowl, featuring undefeated upstart Boise St. against Big 12 bad boys Oklahoma, would end up being the best bowl game in recent memory, probably dating back to the Miami/Ohio State championship classic in 2003.

Not only did the thriller feature three touchdowns in the final 1:26 of regulation but it also provided two seldom-used trick plays, both of which worked to a tee, a ballsy call by Boise coach Chris Petersen to go for the win, and was capped of by a marriage proposal on live TV. Now how the hell you gonna top that?

The Broncos were 12-0 but not one of the many teams griping about not getting a shot at the only other undefeated team in D-1, Ohio State. No, the boys from Boise were just happy to have cracked the BCS party, only the second team from a non-traditional BCS conference (the WAC)to do so (the other was Urban Meyer's Utah squad in 2004.)
So as long as they were there they thought they might as well go out and try and win the thing. Boise jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and bulged it to 28-10 midway thru the 3rd quarter. The orange & blue-clad Bronco fans were in their glory while the Sooners looked shell shocked and embarrassed.

But as with any team coached by Bob Stoops the Sooners would not give up. Adrian Peterson returned from his broken collarbone to rush for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns and it was his score with 3 minutes to go in the 3rd that made it 28-17 and gave the Sooners hope. By the time Oklahoma QB Paul Thompson (19-32, 233 yards, 2TDs, 3INTs) found Quentin Chaney from 5 yards out with 1:26 to go in the 4th to tie it at 28 the Sooners and their fans had more than just hope- they had momentum and confidence that they could finish off the reeling Broncs.

Twenty four seconds later Marcus Walker intercepted Boise QB Jared Zabransky (19-29, 262 yards, 3TDs, 1INT) and the Sooners had an improbable 35-28 lead and Uncle Mo was now clearly garbed in red & white.

To steal from Lee Corso, "not so fast my friend, because thanks to a magical play the Broncos would live to fight for another few minutes.

Facing 4th and 18 from midfield with 20 seconds left Boise had to pull out all the stops. Zabrabsky completed a pass for 15 yards to Drisan James, who ran to the right side of the field then pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb running to the left side. The old "hook & ladder /lateral" play worked to a tee as Rabb raced untouched 35 yards for the score and the Broncos had miraculously tied the game at 35 with :07 seconds left.

But the fireworks were just beginning.

In overtime Peterson scored from 25 yards out on Oklahoma's first play and the Sooners quickly grabbed a 42-35 lead. The Broncos needed a bit more time to score, but when they did it was much more memorable.

Wide receiver Vinnie Peretta hit Derek Schouman for a 5-yard TD pass on 4th down and all the Broncos had to do was kick the extra point to force another extra frame.

Once again, not so fast my friend.

After the Sooners took a time out Zabransky & Co. lined up to go for two. This confused the Sooners, and Boise made things worse by faking like the play was a pass to the left of the end zone. But Zabransky masterfully hid the ball in his opposite hand and passed it off backwards to an uncovered Ian Johnson for a beautiful "Statue of Liberty" 2-point conversion and the shocking 43-42 win.

In the euphoric aftermath, as Boise fans revelled in the University of Phoenix Stadium and the Sooners' sat sunned in disbelief, Johnson, the sophomore who lead the NCAA in touchdown this season (25) staged a moment that put every crappy dating show in this "reality TV era" to shame. After a live interview following his game-winning run he called his Bronco cheerleader- girlfriend Chrissy Popadics over, then got down on one knee and proposed.

As she jumped into his arms and said "yes", the same thing might be said when asked if the 2007 Fiesta Bowl was the greatest bowl game ever.


Monday, January 01, 2007


Sorry It's been so long since last post but it's been a pretty hectic time around the offices of the Bostonian, what with the in-laws in town, New Year's Eve festivities,attending bowl games, etc...

I hope that all my loyal readers had a safe and festive New Year's celebration.

Mine was definitely on the safe side- watched the ball drop with the wife & son, had a couple of glasses of champagne (you must pronounce that word as cham-pag-nee, a la Christopher Walken in his hilarious SNL sketch "The Continental") and hit the sack.

Does that mean I'm getting old? Well that's half of it, the other reason my celebration was pretty mellow is because my son & I went to the 2007 Outback Bowl at Ray Jay this morning. Kickoff was at 11:00 a.m. so by 9:30 I was in bumper to bumper traffic on I-275 attempting to get to the exit. Luckily I was one of the few locals trekking to the game (every other car had either a Penn St. flag or UT sticker on it), so I was able to use a few shortcuts gleaned from my trips to the Bucs game with my buddy JT and saved about 45 minutes of stall time.

Thus we made it into the stadium in plenty of time to see the pre-game festivities, which included Charlie Daniels singing the anthem, a flyover by four Harrier Jump jets followed by four paratroopers landing on the 50 yard line. Freaking awesome. Well, except for geriatric Charlie. Needless to say my son, who had never been to a game, college or pro, was awestruck. The flyover was low enough to blow our hair back, and loud enough to make Drew cover his ears while his eyes popped wide open.

Unfortunately I was watching the parachuters and didn't get a pic of the jets.

But I did get some good ones of the 4 guys who braved the blustery conditions (of course it was like the second rainy day in a month) and nailed their jumps.

Well except for the one bearing the UT flag- he slipped at midfield and drew a huge chuckle from the Nittany Lion fans...

...while the Penn State flag bearer landed just fine (foreshadowing, anyone?)
The game itself also turned out to be very entertaining. Penn State defeated the Vols 20-10 in a game that was played hard & tough by both squads and had all the elements of a classic old-time football game:

*Low Scoring- it was 3-3 for much of the first half and 10-10 at halftime

*Hard hitting- one Tennessee player nearly volunteered a few ribs after a nasty , "Jacked Up"-style hit in the second half (look for it on the highlights)

*Punishing running - Penn State running back Tony Hunt gashed the Vols defense for 158 yards on 34 carries and the Lions gained 183 yards on the ground

*Key turnovers- it was a big hit by Penn St. LB Sean Lee that jarred the ball loose from Tennessee RB Adrian Foster's hands at the PSU 12 and Tony Davis returned it 88 yards for the game-winning score (no photos of the actual run, but how 'bout a Jumbotron replay shot?)

All that plus my son & I had a great time at his first "real" football game, so it was a good New Year's day all around.

Well, not for everyone.

Denver Broncos defensive back Darrent Williams shot to death.
It was while I was stuck in that traffic jam that I heard the sad news about the death of the Bronco corner back; I was shocked to learn that the talented and by all accounts fantastic young man was killed after of another stupid night club confrontation .

In case you haven't heard the full story, after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs with a home overtime loss to the 49ers Williams and others attended a birthday party for Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin at a club called Safari in the LoDo section of Denver. LoDo is the revitalized, trendy part of downtown Denver that has seen a massive surge in popularity since the city renovated all the old warehouses and factory buildings and lined the streets around Coors Field with bars, clubs, restaurants and microbreweries.

Williams or someone with him had a minor confrontation at the party that appeared to be no big deal at the time.

But shortly after 2:00 a.m. Williams and his companions left the club in a Hummer limo when the vehicle was sprayed with gunfire on the busy downtown thoroughfare Speer Blvd., and the 24-year-old was hit by a bullet in the neck, killing him instantly. Two other people were taken to the hospital with injuries, and unconfirmed reports state that one of the other passengers in the ride was Bronco wide receiver Javon Walker, although he was reportedly not injured.

It's yet another senseless tragedy that is as old as becoming much too common with today's athletes. Two weeks ago Bears lineman Tank Johnson's bodyguard was shot & killed over a beef in a Chicago club, and just last night Vikings receiver Travis Taylor was Tasered and arrested for disobeying a police officer after exiting a downtown Minnesota night spot.

Let's move on to some on-field NFL news.

Playoffs are set after a wild final Sunday
It was a fitting end to a crazy 2006 season as the final wild card spot wasn't decided until about 7:30 EST, when San Francisco kicker Joe Nedney hit a 36-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the Broncos, knocking Denver out of the last spot and allowing the Kansas City Chiefs to slip in.

So the final standings look like this:

AFC: East- New England (12-4); West- San Diego (14-2); North- Baltimore (13-3); South -Indy (12-4) WILD CARDS: New York Jets (10-6); Kansas City (9-7)

NFC: East- Philly (10-6); West- Seattle (9-7); North- Chicago (13-3); South- New Orleans (10-6) WILD CARDS: Dallas (9-7); NY Giants (8-8)

Saturday: Kansas City @ Indianapolis, 4:30; Dallas @ Seattle, 8:00 EST.

Sunday: NY Jets @ New England, 1:00; NY Giants @ Philly, 4:30

Byes: San Diego; Baltimore; Chicago; New Orleans

Kansas City made the cut because Herm Edwards ran Larry Johnson to the tune of an all-time record for carries in a season (416) as the Chiefs knocked off the Jags, 35-30. So all Denver had to do was defeat the 11-point underdog Niners (7-9), because cocky coach Mike Shanahan even went so far as to say he didn't want the Chiefs to lose so the Broncos wouldn't "back in" to the playoffs. Wish granted, your royal genius.

The Cowboys tumble from atop the NFC East was complete after an embarrassing 39-31 home loss to the lowly (3-13) Lions. Philly's win over the floundering Falcons made the division race moot, but the way the Boys have staggered to the finish line has left many a fan in Big D wringing their hands over the playoff prospects of their erratic team. Dallas has allowed 32 points in its last 4 games and let the Lions score the most points it had since 2003. Yikes.
By the way, the Romo Bandwagon has OFFICIALLY rolled over after his 4 fumble (2 lost), 1 interception performance.

Seattle avoided the dubious distinction of having a record over .500 entering the post season, unlike the G-Men, by knocking off the woeful Yucs (4-12), 23-7. It's worth noting because the Seahawks were actually 3 point underdogs to the Yucs. How embarrassing is that? The defending NFC champions and current NFC West division champions getting points against a 3-12 team!

But as embarrassing as that may seem how about the worst 13-3 team in the history of the NFL, the Chicago Bears? These wannabe champs took on his holiness Brett Favre and the Packers last night and proceeded to leave a ring around the new spaceship-like interior of Soldier Field. The Bears got trounced, 6-7, and Rex Gross-man had yet another odorific outing: 2-12, 33 yards and 3 interceptions. Wow. Repeat after me, Lovie: "Rex is our quarterback...and we will be one & done."

After the game Favre feigned off questions of whether or not he will retire as he blubbered into the camera about his love of the guys and the game and blah,blah,blah. Just do it already, Brett, and spare us all the soap opera theatrics. I'm glad I didn't watch that horror show- I'm sure it was one giant Favre slurpfest for his # 1 fan, Madden.

So the regular season is over and it's time for the real season to begin. Interesting facts about this postseason, most courtesy of Mr. Peabody, a.k.a. ESPN's John Clayton:

*Two games will be rematches (NYG/PHI; NYJ/NE) and the road teams won all 4 games

*New Orleans finished 10-6 and got a #2 seed, New England went 12-4 and got a #4. Ah the wonderful NFC.

*There are 7 new teams in the playoffs this year; there were also 7 new teams in the playoffs last year. Can you say 'parity'?

* The Chargers, winners of 10 straight, are the hottest team going in. The Cowboys and Seahawks, ironically, are the coldest; both have lost 3 of 4 (I smell a Something's Gotta Give game.)

Well that's all I got for today. Gotta go watch the rest of the bowls and try to digest everything that has happened over the past 48 hours. I will return with a complete updated post tomorrow.

Happy New Year.

Darrent Williams, R.I.P.