You know how it works…..15 deserve props, 7 got lucky, and 1 is a total zero. The Ravens don’t factor into the equation until Tuesday’s Top 7.
Please allow me to prop you….
1-Chris Johnson, LenDale White, and Kerry Collins
The Titans became the first team to clinch their division Sunday when they beat the Browns 28-9 to finish an AFC South title. And they did it the exact same way they’ve been winning games the rest of the season. Kerry Collins was good even if not great; throwing for 155 yards and 2 TD’s. Chris Johnson added 136 yards on the ground and a TD plus 30 yards in the air. White rushed for 99 yards and another TD to compliment the Titans’ dominant ground attack.
It was called the “Dream Match”; but it was thoroughly a blowout. Not only was Manny Pacquiao destroying Oscar De La Hoya through 7 rounds Saturday night before “The Golden Boy” gave up, some (including 2 of 3 judges) actually thought it was a shutout. The win was particularly impressive for “Pac Man” because he had to step up two weight classes just to fight the legendary De La Hoya. It might be the end of a career for De La Hoya, but it might also be the highlight of a career for Pacquiao.
3-Coach Ken Whisenhunt and the Arizona Cardinals
Now it’s real. The Cardinals had to wait two more weeks to start celebrating; but after beating the Rams 34-10 Sunday; the Cardinals clinched their first ever division title since moving to Arizona. Not only that, but the Cardinals have now also clinched their first ever home playoff game since moving to the desert. And while their offense has been impressive this season; their defense has been just as impressive; including scoring 2 TD’s on Sunday. If nothing else, this win (and the NFC East title that comes with it) prevents fans in Phoenix from being able to exclaim “Same old Cardinals” every time they watch a game.
4-Ken Niumatalolo, Ivin Jasper, and Buddy Green
What else can you say about the Mids’ dominance over Army over the last 10 years? They’ve won 9 of the last 10 in the historic rivalry; and 7 straight. Over those last 7 wins, the Mids have won by an average of 29 points per game. And the success Ken Niumatalolo’s team has had this season has come on all sides of the ball. Offensive Coordinator Ivin Jasper has won with 3 different quarterbacks; including senior Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada; who directed them to Saturday’s 34-0 win over the Black Knights. And Defensive Coordinator Buddy Green will finish the season with two consecutive shutouts; which no one would have predicted.
5-Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints
Two teams who BADLY needed wins to keep their NFC playoff hopes alive both got them Sunday, and are both now 7-6. Drew Brees threw for 2 TD’s, Reggie Bush rushed for 80 yards and caught a TD, and Pierre Thomas rushed for 102 yards with 2 TD’s (1 rushing, 1 receiving) as the Saints beat the Falcons 29-25. The Bears got receiving TD’s from Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen as they beat the Jaguars 23-10.
6-Ohio State and Michigan
Just when Ohio State thought it had pulled the day’s biggest upset in college basketball; leave it to Michigan to try to be the one to upstage them. Evan Turner scored 28 points and pulled down 10 boards as the Buckeyes romped to a 67-62 win over #7 Notre Dame at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Meanwhile in Ann Arbor; DeShawn Sims tallied 28 points and 10 boards as the Wolverines stunned #4 Duke 81-73
7-Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots
It looked two weeks ago like the Jets were clearly going to be able to win the AFC East. But just two weeks later; there’s a 3-way tie; and the Jets look little like the team that was a Super Bowl contender not too long ago. The Dolphins allowed the Bills to net just 163 yards of total offense in a 16-3 win north of the border. In Seattle, the Patriots rallied for 11 4th quarter points to get past the Seahawks 24-21.
Hayes scored just 13 points in Maryland’s win over George Washington Sunday night; but it was the way he scored them that made his night so important. The game was tied at 4 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the game; when Hayes nailed a 3 point jumper. 36 seconds later; Hayes had hit 3 3-pointers, and Maryland’s lead was 13-4. They’d never relinquish that lead, and the Terps went on to a 76-53 win.
It wasn’t a perfect weekend for the Caps; who lost to the Hurricanes Sunday. But on Saturday night, Alzner collected his first career NHL goal as the Caps beat the Maple Leafs 2-1. Hopefully it will be the first of many in what looks to be a promising career for the young phenom.
It wasn’t a perfect game; but Turner Gill’s Buffalo Bulls didn’t need perfection in the MAC Championship Friday night. The team; which features Dane Robinson and Michael Newton of Calvert Hall fame, forced 5 turnovers en route to a 42-24 win over previously unbeaten Ball State to claim the league title. Gill has taken the Bulls from 2 wins 2 years ago to MAC Champions this season, and might be on his way to a bigger gig very soon.
I can’t remember rooting for a College Basketball player who didn’t play for Maryland as much as I root for this kid. Curry was amazing again on Saturday, dropping 44 points in handing NC State a 72-67 defeat; the first loss of the season for the Wolfpack. It was just the 2nd win in the last 38 tries for Davidson over NC State, and came with Curry’s friend LeBron James watching courtside.
The Maryland soccer team needed just one goal to beat Creighton Saturday and head to their first College Cup since winning the National Championship in ’05; and it was Wallace who delivered early. Wallace sent a header to the near post from Michael Marchiano just 23:40 into their national quarterfinal; and the Terps made sure it held up for the 1-nil victory. Next up in the College Cup (Soccer’s version of the Final Four) will be St. John’s Friday night.
It was a perfect example of “Beamer Ball” Saturday afternoon in Tampa as Virginia Tech beat Boston College AGAIN for the ACC title. They controlled the ball for over 35 minutes; including over 100 yards on the ground from RB Darren Evans. They forced FOUR BC turnovers, and their defense scored twice-a safety and a fumble return for a TD in their 30-12 win. It will be a 2nd straight trip to the Orange Bowl for the Hokies, who this time will have to face Cincinnati.
He’s gonna remind you of it for the next few weeks, so I’ll do his work for him. Not only did he pick the Jets to beat the Titans two weeks ago AND the Broncos to beat the Jets last week; but he ALSO picked the 49ers to beat the Jets this week. He thinks you should use him as your betting service. I’m not sure if I agree with that; but he did help Ravens Roost 82 collect toys Friday night, so I guess he deserves props.
15-“The Chris Farley Show”
May I HIGHLY recommend this book to ANYONE on your Christmas list. Chris’ brother Tom and John Belushi biographer Tanner Colby collected interviews with just about everyone who knew Chris; and pieced the interviews together to tell the story of Chris’ life. I read the book over the summer, but was reminded of how outstanding it was when Barry Aparicio returned it to me Friday night after he read it. The book is easily one of the best I have ever read; and I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me a bit emotional.
You got lucky…..
1-David Akers and the Eagles’ FG unit
With the Giants trailing the Eagles 10-0 and just a few seconds left in the half; Akers set up for a short field goal that would have given the Eagles a commanding 13-0 lead at the half. But instead, the kick was blocked and returned for a TD, and the Giants pulled within 10-7 at intermission. After their first drive of the 2nd half; Akers was AGAIN blocked when he had the chance to extend Philadelphia’s lead. But the Eagles dominated the rest of the way; and managed to make the blocked kicks irrelevant in a 20-14 win.
2-Ralph Friedgen and Maryland fans on message boards everywhere
This has NOTHING to do with the Terps accepting a big to the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise (although I hear the Idaho is particularly lovely this time of year). Instead, this is based on the fact that with pressure mounting; Ralph was given a freebie when Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh resigned; meaning Ralph wouldn’t be faced with the likely decision of having to fire him; which was what the message board crowds had been chiming for in recent years. With Cosh gone, Ralph needs to now look for a progressive coach who also has the ability to recruit.
3-The Minnesota Vikings
If the Vikings wanted to know what it felt like to be the only team to lose to a hapless, lifeless, winless team late in the season; they need only ask their former Offensive Coordinator Brian Billick how it felt to lose to the Dolphins last season. With Gus Frerotte sidelined; the Vikings watched Calvin Johnson haul in a 70 yard TD pass that would give the Lions a 13-10 advantage they took into the 4th quarter. But the Vikings got off the mat; lead by QB Tavaris Jackson, and pulled out a 20-16 win to save any Ravens-like embarrassment.
4-The %$&*(@^!(-ing Steelers
This team was dead in the water. They Trailed 13-3 in the 4th quarter, and were stuffed at the 1 trying to go into the endzone instead of kicking the field goal to make this a one possession game. Jeff Reed just BARELY hit the Field Goal that pulled them within 7; knocking it off the upright before going through. On the possession where they tied the game; they had to convert a 4th and 1; and Ben Roethlisberger just BARELY got the push by maybe an inch or two. And then they finally got Tony Romo to throw his 3rd pick of the game and returned for a TD? ARGH!!!!!!!!! Steelers win 20-13; Giants win the NFC East; and ANOTHER team fails to help the Ravens.
5-Tavon Austin and the Dunbar Poets
If the Poets had failed on their 2 point conversion attempt with 2 seconds left Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium; Austin would have still had an outstanding high school career. He still would have won 2 state titles; even if Fort Hill had won this one. But for a man who-much like Maryland’s Sean Mosley-has become somewhat of a folk hero in his prep career; he needed to plunge in to give the Poets the 20-19 win and their third straight state title.
Former UMBC assistant Frankie Allen has his work cut out for him trying to turn things around in Princess Anne; but it could’ve gotten MIGHTY ugly on Saturday. The Hawks TRAILED the New Jersey Institute of Technology at the half; and had just a 2 point lead in the final minute before hanging on for the 46-42 win, their first of the season. This would be well and good against many teams; but the Highlanders brought an 0-6 record into the game, AND had lost 39…..I repeat, 39…….consecutive games coming in. You just heard Coach Allen exhale; wishing Jay Greene was available to run the point.
7-People who knew to grab exactly 3 dollars for Philadelphia’s SEPTA system
I don’t think I’m asking for much. And frankly, Philadelphia’s SEPTA is MUCH better than Baltimore’s Subway system…..you know……the……uh……yeah. Anyway, a friend of mine who was also covering Army/Navy Saturday met me in Central Philly Friday night, and we decided to take public transportation to the game. Upon arriving at the station; we were made aware that instead of paying based on where you were going; you simply needed one token to get on the SEPTA each way. Tokens were 3 dollars each; but you had to have exact change. Realizing I had three singles and my friend had just a five dollar bill; we pooled a 5 and a 1 for what we thought would give us four tokens. Instead, after inserting the 5; the machine spit back 3 tokens and some change. When I asked the attendant if I could purchase just one more token; she informed me I could get two tokens for my original 3 dollars. In all, we spent 8 dollars for 5 tokens-only needing 4. You know, the Subway systems in New York and DC allow you to pay with credit cards for the EXACT amount necessary. Maybe the fine folks in Philadelphia should consider a similar method.
You’re an absolute zero……
Look, no matter what happened; there was going to be 3 teams with legitimate arguments to play for the National Championship. Heck; Penn State, USC, and even Utah & Boise State all have seemingly legitimate arguments too. But everyone knew coming in that if they wanted to play for the National Championship; they’d have to get to one of the top spots in the BCS standings. Only two teams did. You can’t fault any of the teams involved; only the laughable system that we are forced to let determine National Champions. Texas-Ohio State will be a compelling game; but it should be the 3-6 game in an 8 team playoff. I get the feeling Florida will probably overwhelm Oklahoma; but it could be a great game. It doesn’t matter; as the Championship Game will again be the product of a terrible, embarrassing system.
Talk to you in the morning.