I call it 15-7-0 because I offer “props” to 15; I tell 7 they got lucky; and I tell one that they are an ABSOLUTE zero. If I propped 16; I’d call it 16-7-0. But that wouldn’t make much sense. The weekend started on Thursday here in America; so everything that happened Thursday and after this weekend was considered. And we’ll get to the Ravens on Tuesday; with our weekly “Tuesday Top 7.”
Please accept my props……
Gasol finished with 20 points in the Lakers’ 92-83 win over the Celtics on Christmas Day; but it was the 7 he scored in the final 3 minutes that helped the Lakers finish on a 13-2 run and get a measure of revenge for their NBA finals loss last season. The more impressive part of the game was how hard both teams appeared to be playing. While I still think a Cleveland-LA Finals would be better for fans; I certainly wouldn’t be disappointing with a Boston-LA rematch.
While I will admit that I was already rooting for the Dolphins as I felt the Ravens’ best bet in the playoffs would be to face them; I also couldn’t help but to root for Pennington on a personal level. The guy was cast-off as part of the Brett Favre soap opera; and sent to the WORST team in the NFL; mostly because no one else was really interested in him. You have to get the feeling that he enjoyed every second of his 22-30, 200 yard, 2 TD performance in the Dolphins’ 24-17 win over the Jets to clinch the AFC East title.
While I think we ALL agree that Goodell is significantly more palatable than the man who previously held his post; I have been a bit queesy of how the NFL has handled the 50th anniversary celebration of “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” I was very clear in my disdain for ESPN’s broadcast; and I definitely think the NFL has tried very hard to make fans believe that the Indianapolis Colts were somehow involved with the significant moment in football history. But I credit Goodell for taking the time this weekend to come to Baltimore; especially considering how many big football games were being played across the league. He recognized the city’s celebration of the anniversary at local events; and was in attendance to see the living Colts honored Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. Hats off to Goodell for doing the right thing in recognizing how important the anniversary is to Baltimore.
His two goals on “Mike Gartner Night” Sunday helped the Caps beat Buffalo 4-1. But it was THIS game winner Friday night in Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Sabres that reminded us why “The Great 8″ is clearly the best player in ALL of hockey.
5-Pat White and Alex Ruoff
Saturday was certainly a good day to be a West Virginia Mountaineer. At the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte; White finished his career 4/4 in Bowl games with 332 yards passing and 55 yards rushing in the Mountaineers’ 31-30 win over North Carolina. In Columbus, Ruoff scored 17 points to hand Ohio State their first loss of the season; a 76-48 blowout. The win was particularly sweet for Bob Huggins, who had twiced been passed over for the Ohio State job and was unable to schedule the Buckeyes when he was coach at Cincinnati.
6-Jerious Norwood and Michael Turner
The St. Louis Rams wanted to play for the future of their head coach Jim Haslett Sunday; but the Falcons wanted to play for the outside chance of still winning the NFC South. In the end; it was the Falcons’ running backs who would be the difference. Turner and Norwood combined for 264 yards on the ground and 3 TD’s as the Falcons won 31-27. They won’t win their division since the Panthers beat the Saints; but they’ll certainly be a popular choice to beat Arizona in the first round of the playoffs.
7-Rashad Evans, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Frank Mir
Evans got a 3rd round TKO of Forrest Griffin to claim the UFC light heavyweight; which was surprising. Jackson bounced back from a loss to Griffin and a total mental breakdown to avenge two prior losses in a first round knockout of Wanderlai Silva; which was shocking. And Frank Mir’s path back from a near-death car accident in 2004 saw him crowned interim heavyweight champion with a win over Antonio Noguero; which seemed downright impossible. It’s nights like Saturday’s UFC 92 Pay-Per-View that continue to show why the sport is amongst the best in the world right now.
8-Stephen Gostkowski and Matt Cassel
Hitting 2 of 3 field goals with the makes coming from 23 and 33 yards might not seem particularly impressive; but you have to understand what you’re looking at in this picture. Things were so windy in Orchard Park yesterday that the goalposts had to be centered multiple times before and during the game. Bills kick Rian Lindell at one point actually kicked a 47 yarder from the center of the field ALL THE WAY to the left; only to see the ball picked up by the wind and carried DIRECTLY to the right. Cassel was just 6/8 passing; but he added a 57 yard punt that was downed at the 1.
The Terps could have been a bit more aggressive in their 72-51 win over Bryant on Saturday afternoon; but you certainly can’t fault the passion and intensity of their star guard from Venezuela. Vasquez had another outstanding afternoon; scoring 19 points, grabbing 6 boards, dishing 4 assists and adding 2 steals. But it was his intensity that was particulary impressive Saturday; as he took the time to try to fire up his teammates as the team went through lulls on either side of the ball. After the game, Vasquez was beating the “we need to play for 40 minutes” drum louder than anyone. You have to love the passion.
Drew talked to Lance the week the Ravens played the Rams in the preseason; just before the former Terp scored a TD in the Rams’ win. He was released by the Rams in the first month of the season; but found a home on the practice squad of the Indianapolis Colts. After working as a “good soldier” throught the season; Ball was activated last week before Sunday’s meaningless contest with the Titans. Ball got the bulk of the carries for Indianapolis; and amassed 88 total yards of offense in the Colts’ 23-0 win. After the game, Ball called the day a “blessing” on his personal Facebook page. You sometimes can’t help but feel good for some of the game’s “good guys”, even if they play for the damn Colts.
With two other ACC teams losing Bowl games Sunday; the Seminoles had the opportunity to carry the flag for the league against Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. Not only did the ‘Noles carry the flag for the ACC; they practically jammed the flagpole directly into the heart of their Big Ten foe. The Noles were outstanding on all sides of the football; including two fumbles returned for TD’s. The final score from Orlando was 42-13; and the victory gave the 79 year old Bowden his first 9+ win season since 2004.
I guess he just needed a couple days off. The man they call ‘Melo dropped 32 in a return from a bruised elbow Sunday as his Nuggets beat the Knicks 117-110. You mean to tell me someone used his team’s trip to Madison Square Garden as a chance to return from injury? Stunning!
Beating a lifeless Redskins team 27-24 at home to finish the season might not be particularly impressive in itself; but the 5-4 finish the 49ers have somehow put together since Singletary replaced Mike Nolan as Head Coach has been impressive. He’ll be back next season; getting the chance to continue this team’s turnaround. With the Cardinals really not having proven anything, and the Seahawks undergoing another coaching change; he could have a chance to compete in the NFC West.
14-Rich in Westminster
First; he reminded me of THIS quote from Peter Angelos from when the Birds signed Albert Belle in 1998….
“We felt we had to make a move,” Angelos said. ”Our competition is the Yankees and the Red Sox. I have no intention of becoming a doormat for the Yankees or the Red Sox. We intend to be competitive.”
……HILARIOUS! Then, he proved his love for the Terps by ordering the Bryant game on ACC Select and live-blogging with me. AND; he capped his weekend by letting me know about Duke’s recruiting violations. And nothing makes me happier than hearing that Duke screwed up. Thanks for the heads up Rich!
Was there something missing from your Holiday celebration? I think I might know what you were missing. You see, while you were chowing down on ham, turkey, goose, mashed potatoes, or whatever you were eating; my mother spent her Christmas morning making stuffed shells. I believe that as of lunch today; they’ve now been on my plate for FIVE meals this Holiday weekend. My mom’s side of the family isn’t the Italian side; but you wouldn’t know it by her cooking. Thanks mom! And might I recommend that the rest of you consider switching to a new Holiday tradition next year.
Please allow me to inform you that you got lucky….
1-NFC Division Winners Carolina and Minnesota
The Panthers took a 30-10 lead to the 4th quarter in their finale against the Saints; but found themselves trailing 31-30 with just 3:16 to play. Despite the defensive collapse; Jake Delhomme got things together just long enough to march his team BACK down the field and let John Kasay hit a 42 yard field goal with 1 second left to hold on for a 33-31 win and the NFC South crown. In Minnesota; the Vikings had the chance to face a Giants team that treated the game with the respect of a common preseason affair; but couldn’t get ahead. The Giants held a 19-10 lead in the 4th quarter; but Ryan Longwell connected from 50 yards out as time expired to get a 20-19 win and clinch the NFC North.
I’m well aware that the Cavs DID end up beating the Wizards on Christmas night; but there is NO excuse for how they were forced to pull it out. The Wizards brought four wins on the season into the game; but after Antawn Jamison drilled a 3 with 1:39 to play; LeBron and company were down 89-82 and on the cusp of dropping their first home game this season. The Cavaliers ran off the last 11 points of the game to get the victory, but the Wizards served notice that the Cavaliers aren’t quite as unbeatable as they have seemed to be for much of the season at Quicken Loans Arena.
How much do YOU know about the William Jessup Warriors? When trying to look up information about them; all I could find was that the school “is the only evangelical Christian college between Fresno and Redding.” Thanks Wikipedia! Well, the Warriors ALMOST knocked off Todd Bozeman’s Morgan Bears Saturday night. Jermaine Bolden had to hit a 17 footer from the baseline at the buzzer to give the Bears a 70-68 win in the Shamrock Office Solutions Classic. Blame it on the jet lag?
4-1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While I’ve read that the ’76 Bucs were rooting for the Lions to actually get a win; it must feel at least a LITTLE good that you don’t have to always be remembered as the ONLY team to go through an entire NFL season without winning a single game. As far as the Lions concerned; after falling to 0-16 with their 31-21 loss to the Packers, I actually somehow still have the feeling things COULD get worse……and might.
5-Roger Mason Jr. and the Spurs
The Suns were FINALLY set to beat the Spurs in a meaningful game Thursday afternoon. In front of a sold out crowd and a Christmas day audience on ABC; Grant Hill hit a lay-up with 4.3 seconds left to put the Suns ahead by 2. But the Spurs found Mason wide open beyond the arc; and he drilled the game winner for a 91-90 victory. Just two nights later the Spurs’ luck would continue as they would allow lowly Memphis to take them to overtime before winning 106-103.
6-Randy Johnson and anyone in the WORLD who is capable of pitching even a LITTLE bit
I’ll go ahead and admit that “The Big Unit” wasn’t quite as terrible as I thought he would be last season. But he wasn’t exactly overwhelming, either. He went 11-10 with a very respectable 3.91 ERA in pitching ALMOST the entire season. Somehow, this was enough for a Giants team that doesn’t appear to be approaching competitiveness to give him $8 million to pitch by the Bay this season. I know he’s only 5 wins away from 300 for his career, but is that worth $8 million? And how much did the price of Jon Garland just go up?
7-Anyone who woke up with an Apple MacBook under their tree
Mine’s coming! But I had to pay for mine…….
You’re an absolute ZERO…….
Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Denver Broncos
Could teams have tried ANY harder to miss the playoffs this season? The Cowboys had a playoff spot WAITING for them; but couldn’t beat the Ravens in their final game ever at Texas Stadium. A week later; the Boys needed just to bounce back and get a win over an up and down Eagles team to clinch a spot in the postseason. Instead, the Eagles blew them out 44-6. The Buccaneers could have won any of their last FOUR games this season and it would have been enough; but a tough loss at Carolina was followed by a tough loss in overtime at Atlanta. After getting blown out in San Diego; the Bucs should little signs of life in Sunday’s 31-24 home loss to the lowly Raiders. The Broncos might be the worst; as they were NEVER out of first place this season; they even finished tied for first despite being eliminated. But needing just a home win over the Bills last week; the Broncos blew two leads and were then COMPLETELY run over at San Diego Sunday to the tune of 52-21 to allow the Chargers to clinch the AFC West title that should have belonged to the Broncos weeks ago.