Tag Archive | "oakland raiders"

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Blog & Tackle: Penalties by the numbers

Posted on 02 November 2009 by Chris Pika

Many Ravens fans are of the opinion that the officials are targeting the Ravens, either for reputation, or for earlier comments after the New England game that went unpunished by the NFL league office.

Now, based on my time in the league, I believe that NFL offiicials are the best in the four major sports. How you watch a game in the stands at an angle overlooking the field is much different that seeing it at field level. The speed of how the game occurs would be jarring for even the most well-informed fan to make the correct call at game speed. It’s a tough job that requires split-second decision making and rock-solid rules knowledge. That doesn’t mean they get it right all of the time, but the percentage is higher than what you think, based on evaluations.

With that opinion, here are the NFL leaders in penalties called, accepted and yards penalized (via STATS, Inc.) without further comment, just grist for the mill on a Monday. All of the below info is through Sunday’s games.

Total Penalties Called On (accepted and declined)
1. Buffalo 69; 2. St. Louis 64; 3t. Baltimore 62; 3t. Green Bay 62; 5. New York Jets 60; 6. Philadelphia 59; 7. Oakland 57; 8t Detroit 56; 8t. New York Giants 56; 10. Houston 55. (Least: Jacksonville & Seattle, 36 each)

Total Penalties Accepted
1. Buffalo 59; 2. Green Bay 57; 3. St. Louis 55; 4. Baltimore 53; 5. New York Jets 52; 6t. Arizona 50; 6t. Dallas 50; 6t. Philadelphia 50; 9. Detroit 49; 10t. Kansas City 47; 10t. Oakland 47. (Least: Seattle 33, Jacksonville 34).

Total Penalty Yards
1. Baltimore 510; 2. St. Louis 477; 3. Green Bay 474; 4. Buffalo 458; 5. Dallas 424; 6. Detroit 407; 7. Philadelphia 401; 8t. Arizona 386; 8t. New York Giants 386; 10. San Francisco 385. (Least: Jacksonville 259, Seattle 279)

For comparison sake, here is the penalty totals for opponents when playing the Ravens this season:

Penalties Called Against Opponent (Opponent Total/NFL Rank; Leader/Total; Least/Total)
Called Against Ravens Opponent: (56/12th; Buffalo/72; Least: Miami/35); Accepted Penalties: (41/T-18th; Buffalo/64; Least: Miami/32); Penalty Yards by Opponent: (276/29th; Buffalo/546; Least: Miami/215).

Ever wanted to know what kind of penalties are called on the Ravens? Here is your list for both the offense and defense:

Ravens Specific Defensive Penalties (Ravens Total/NFL Rank; Leader/Total)
Pass Interference: (6/2nd; St. Louis/8); Illegal Contact: (3/T-2nd; Green Bay/5); Roughing the Passer: (4/T-1st with Tennessee); Offside: (3/T-22nd; Tennessee/10); Personal Foul: (3/T-14th; Green Bay/7).

Ravens Specific Offensive Penalties (Ravens Total/NFL Rank; Leader/Total):
Holding: (7/T-7th; Arizona/11); Offsides/False Start: (9/T-15th; Buffalo/18); Grounding: (1/T-2nd with 7 teams; San Francisco/2); Delay of Game: (2/T-12th; Cincinnati/6).

On special teams, the Ravens have been called for the following penalties:
Kickoff/Kick Return: Holding 2, Roughing 1. Punt/Punt Return: Holding 1, Illegal Block 2. Placekicking: Holding 1.

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Blog & Tackle: Vacation’s over, it’s back to work

Posted on 26 October 2009 by Chris Pika

Now that everyone has had a chance to remember what it was like to be outside, do the laundry or actually acknowledge their children/spouse/significant other on Sundays for the first time since August, the Ravens are back on the clock this and every week until January (and beyond?).

Bye week in the NFL is almost like getting a forced vacation. You go full-bore from the start of camp, and then you get four days off to recharge, play golf, see the family, etc. The long weekend comes to an abrupt end as game plans and position meetings replace sleeping in and cooking breakfast. You come back to a desk full of memos, projects and missed calls, and you can’t stare at the stack and wish it away. You have to dive in and deal with it in small doses.

So after Week 7 action in which we saw Minnesota finally get stopped in the fourth quarter (by the Steelers), the Bengals dismantle the Bears, the Giants lose for the second straight week, the Cardinals win on the road for the third straight time, the improbable comeback by the Saints in Miami and a Texas-sized beatdown by the Cowboys over the Falcons, where does that leave the hometown purple heroes?

Well, right where we left them at 3-3. Unfortunately, neither the Vikings or Bears were much help to the Ravens in the standings. Denver had the week off, too, and the Broncos will be raring to go this week in Baltimore.

The Ravens players and coaches know they could have been 4-2 or even 5-1 (or just as easily 2-4), but as the most astute coach will say, “It is what it is.” The Ravens have put the first six weeks behind them. A must in the NFL, since the schedule will not allow for time to for the “what might have been” game. That game’s for the fans to play on sports talk stations, in bars and on the internet.

That doesn’t mean the coaches and scouts haven’t been hard at work looking at tape of games and practices, trying to figure out what hasn’t worked and replacing those items with ones that do succeed. The problem is, the Broncos have had the opportunity to do the same. Nothing is static in the NFL, except for the fact that if you can’t stop something in particular, teams will keep pressure on that issue until you do — and then they will go on to something else. It is a chess match each week.

Everyone has something to play for, whether it’s the playoffs, or fighting for jobs. Everyone comes to play each week, and you have to be ready whether you play a team that’s 5-1 or 1-5. Just ask Philadelphia about Oakland. You think Eagles coach Andy Reid hasn’t gotten that point across about a reeling Redskins squad under a seemingly lame-duck head coach they play Monday night?

Right now, the final 10 Ravens opponents in the regular season have six winning records, three losing marks and one .500 club. Fortunately, three of those 10 games will come against the two teams currently in front in the AFC North race, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Gone are the 14-10 games Ravens fans were accustomed to earlier in the decade. There will be more of the 33-31 variety going forward this season. You can’t make wholesale in-season personnel changes, but gameplans can be tweaked to maximize the positives and some younger players will be asked to step up. The Ravens offense isn’t afraid on the road, Joe Flacco can make the tough throws, Ray Rice has become the primary rushing threat who can also catch the ball out of the backfield for big yards and Ladarius Webb can return kicks effectively to shorten the offense’s yardage workload — all positives.

It will be up to the offense to carry the day. Control the line of scrimmage and the clock and minimize the exposure of the defense against the high-powered offenses like Denver, Cincy, Indy and others possess. Grab the lead early, and impose the playbook on the opponent. Carry the lead to the fourth quarter, and pound the ball to move the chains and the clock. Defensively, stop the run and find ways to pressure the quarterback into bad decisions. In short, the formula that helped the Ravens so much in 2008 and in the first three games of 2009.

It’s time for the Ravens and their fans to get back to work, and not panic at the pile of work sitting on the desk when you get in the office. It’s a manageable stack — you just have to approach it one week at a time.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (10/22/09)

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (10/22/09)

Posted on 22 October 2009 by Jack McManus

9:36-

Sean Salisbury is next up to talk about the NFL. He talks about how the Radiers’ win over the Eagles shows that no NFL is an automatic win. He also talks about the big win the Texans had over the Bengals. The Texans are a team that could make a strong playoff run. Next, Sean explains how the Titans subconsciously gave up during the game on Sunday. Sean states that Josh McDaniels made some great moves this offseason that has allowed the Broncos to be where they are this season. To finish up, Sean picks the Steelers to defeat the Vikings this weekend.

sean 

Be sure to follow follow Sean on twitter.

9:14-

Heather Dinich, who covers the ACC for ESPN is the next guest. She starts off by stating the this may be Bobby Bowden’s last season in Tallahassee because many boosters are not pleased with the team’s results. In regards to Maryland, Dinich believes that the team needs to get more young players ready for the future. She also weighs in on the John Turner-Debbie Yow controversy. She states that Debbie Yow has done a great job considering the situation she inherited. She next talks about the rise of the football programs at UNC and Duke. She has picked the Blue Devils to beat the Terps. In regards to James Franklin, Dinich thinks that the “coach-in-waiting” idea does not work for most teams that use it.

8:49-

Amy Fadool from Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia is on to chat with Drew. She talks about how the Phillies were able to play very well in the playoffs, despite some struggles late in the regular season. She next explains how the Phillies are built similar to American League teams. This is partly due to manager Charlie Manuel’s experience in the American League. She also previews the team’s likely upcoming series with the Yankees. She says the New York fans may have an impact on some of the games.

fadool 

8:26-

Lou calls in with a cheap shot. He calls out baseball players for constantly spitting. This problem is magnified by HDTVs. He says that this has become a part of baseball culture and should be fixed. Another caller takes a cheap shot at John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome. He believes that Harbaugh was unfair to Chris McAlister. If McAlisterwas able to get healthy, he could have possibly helped the struggling secondary. Another caller defends Harbaugh’s actions regarding McAlister. He explains that McAlister did not show any respect to the new coaching staff last season. He also points out that no other team has expressed much interest in signing the cornerback.  

8:08-

Brian Billick comes on with Drew, as he does each Thursday. Brian states that too much blame is being placed on Defensive Coordinator Gregg Mattison. He explains that Mattison is in a dilemma because of the talent level in the secondary. Brian next talks about how the league is trending toward using big, physical receivers. He also talks about how impressed he was with Joe Flacco’s performance under pressure in the final quarter of the game this past weekend. He next talks about the importance of the bye week. He explains that it is very difficult to make any major changes during only one week. Only minor adjustments are common. In the Ravens’ case, Brian thinks the team should protect more against the big play, even if it means giving up longer sustained drives. The team is currently ranked 26th in the league in giving up big plays.

billick 

7:30-

Glenn takes a ”Cheap Shot From the Bleachers” by taking a shot at John Turner. After Turner made this message board post, he made local headlines. When Glenn tried to reach out to Turner and have him on the show this morning to explain his comments he declined. Glenn explains that Turner needs to take responsibility for his comments and not place extra pressure on his son or the Maryland football team.

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When Life Gives You Lemons – Read My Blogs …..

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When Life Gives You Lemons – Read My Blogs …..

Posted on 20 October 2009 by Rex Snider

Stover Would’ve Made It …..

Damn, it felt good to say it. And, as preposterous and pig-headed as it sounds, you know the prospect of Matt Stover, lined up for a 44 yarder, crossed your mind. You envisioned it – DON’T LIE TO ME …..

I’m not sitting here saying “WHAT IF ….”

It’s impractical. But, more than a few Baltimore football loyalists have been wondering how Steve Hauschka would fare when finally fronted with a crucial game-deciding field goal attempt.

You’ve been to Training Camp – it’s easy to put the ball between the uprights on a steamy summer morning, in Westminster.

You’ve also been to the pre-game festivities, at M&T Bank Stadium, when kickers display their version of batting practice homeruns, with 60 yard field goals.

You’ve watched Steve Hauschka convert extra points and “low-pressure” field goals without much regard for his game breaking ability.

You waited for Sunday’s game to get here. It’s HERE. And, now, the Ravens have another thing to worry about, because everybody has this uneasy feeling in their stomach. One thing will cure it – getting another chance and making it.

Until that time arrives, we’re gonna allow lots of crazy things to cross our minds.

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Steve Bisciotti- Wasting Money ??? Say It Isn’t So …..

For years, we’ve been told the Ravens owner is a guy who’s made his money the old fashioned way – he’s earned it. We know the real-life accounts …..

A modest childhood, in Anne Arundel County …..

Working his way through school, including Salisbury State University …..

Starting his own business, with little more than an insatiable desire to succeed …..

Steve Bisciotti isn’t living the American Dream. HE IS THE AMERICAN DREAM.

Right?

Every person living within the borders of this great country knows the economy has truly struggled over the past couple years. Times are tough – and we’re subsidizing some companies, while bailing-out others.

Whenever I see a corporation that has landed in the lap of dysfunction and desperation, I’ve wondered “Hmmm …. How would Steve Bisciotti feel about this?” Does he support the free rides given to GM, Chrysler and AIG?

I’ve never observed Steve Bisciotti as a guy who wastes money. By all accounts, he appears to be a MONEY MAKING MACHINE – and correct in virtually every business decision.

But, now, I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m wondering if Maryland’s Most Notable Gazillionaire is feeling duped by his staff’s decision to give Domonique Foxworth enough money to buy 540 brand spanking new Corvettes?

Yes, that would be Domonique “The 27 Million Dollar Man” Foxworth …..

The return on investment? Well, he really looks good while chasing guys – who have a football in their hands, huh? Actually, Foxworth wasn’t the most pedestrian member of the Defensive Secondary, on Sunday, but he’s still done very little to earn that new contract.

In all fairness, the Ravens owner and his staff have made good signings, as well …..

But, I do wonder what “Bank Bags” Bisciotti is thinking these days …..

The Return of “Little Bill” on Nickelodeon

If you’re a parent of a son or daughter under 25 years old, you certainly remember the hit Nickelodeon cartoon, “Little Bill.” It featured storylines from a book series, by Bill Cosby.

Well, I’m happy to report I’ve started writing the screenplay for “Little Bill – 2,” which I will be submitting for Mr. Cosby’s review. I plan on keeping it elementary and consistent with the preceding version.

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In “Little Bill – 2,” our main character, Little Bill, played by John Harbaugh, imitates his hero, Big Bill, played by Bill Belichick. And, with normal human instinct, Little Bill repeats his role model’s moves, mannerisms and quotes.

Look for Harbs, as he continues coining his trademark Belichick bytes …..

“They scored more points ….”

“We need to do a better job ….”

“We will work hard ….”

Thanks, coach. Can we quote you on that? By the way, it seems more credible for coaches with fists full of Super Bowl rings to do things as they please. Whereas, the coaches who are still learning the job and the town, itself, might want to be a little more endearing and cooperative.

When the Patriots lose a couple games (which hardly happens), the fans can rely on the team’s record of FOUR SUPER BOWL appearances, in eight seasons, as evidence that things will be okay. Bill Belichick has the “cred” to bluntly suggest “don’t worry about it” in very few words.

Where did John Harbaugh develop such a resume’ ???

He hasn’t …..

Thus, when reporters and fans ask for some reassurance or hopeful outlook, would it be too hard a task to elaborate a little bit? In fairness to Coach Harbaugh, I’m not referring to the post-game pressers, when emotions still run high.

But, the dramatic three word clichés, as a formidable response to a plausible question, a day later, are not acceptable. Oh, they might be allowed, per policy. But, it’s as unacceptable as the efforts of some players.

So, repeat after me ……

BIG BILL
LITTLE BILL

BIG BILL
LITTLE BILL

See the difference ???

Well, well, well …..

In fairness to Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh, his former D-Coordinator – turned Head Coach of the New York Jets, hasn’t been spewing his very quotable and borderline pompous remarks lately …..

I guess that’s what a ‘lil bit of losing can do for you, huh?

Damn, it was getting to the point where I was starting to avoid another guy named “Rex.”

What’s Sexy-Rexy gonna do if his team keeps doing stupid things, or if young Mark San-CHISE keeps throwing strikes to players in the wrong colored jerseys?

If things don’t work in the Big Apple, I would think Mr. Bisciotti would borrow some money from Domonique Foxworth, and lure his former D-Coordinator back to Bawlmer, for a promotion to D-Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach/Official Team Spokesman …..

Seriously, can you imagine this exchange …..

Reporter – “Coach, what happened out there today ???”

Rex Ryan – “They scored more points.” “We will circle the wagons.” “We are men.” “By the way, that’s a good question.” “Our players are tough.” “Play Like A Raven.” “Thanks for the good question.”

Nah – NOT A CHANCE !!!!

The Trade Deadline Arrives …..

We will finish this off in the spirit of all good Orioles fans …..

To recognize the looming NFL’s trade deadline, I’d like to propose the following possible deals …..

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Frank Walker, Prescott Burgess, the rights to former Raven Dan Cody, a Michael Phelps’ autographed bong and a handpainted portrait of Al Davis on the underbelly of a blue crab ….. to the Oakland Raiders for Nnamdi Asomugha

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Justin Harper, Jason Phillips, Samari Rolle, the rights to former Raven Leon Searcy, an autographed copy of his new novel “Burning Down The House” by Peter Angelos and an unopened suitcase found floating in the inner harbor ….. to the Cincinnati Bengals for Rey Maualuga

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Willis McGahee, the rights to former Raven Chris McAlister, any future rights to Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin, an authentic Anita Marks-Miami Fury jersey and a pair of New York Yankees panties ….. to the New England Patriots for Randy Moss and Steven Gostkowski.

Let The Countdown Begin …..

Without providing any free advertising to other Baltimore radio stations, we have just 19 days until the start of 24/7 Christmas music on one particular affiliate …..

Merry Christmas & Happy Halloween !!!!

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 3

Posted on 02 October 2009 by kevinpb

Ravens 34 – Browns 3. Three games, three wins. This just in, the Ravens are a very good football team. All things being equal with injuries, the Baltimore Ravens will be a factor in the AFC with regard to which team goes to the Super Bowl. These aren’t your Daddy’s Ravens. They are still solid on defense, and are diverse and exciting on offense.
The Browns had no chance on Sunday at the Purple Palace. The Browns are a bad football team.

In week 3, the Ravens offense was as imaginative as effective. Again the Ravens relied on the “no-huddle” offense early in the game to create tempo and keep Cleveland off balance. They also unveiled a new package, based on the principals of the “read option” that was used so effectively by Vince Young at Texas. Five to ten times Flacco set up in the shotgun and read the defense before handing off to the back. McGahee scored both his touchdowns off this set, and early in the second corner they ran the option to Mark Clayton out of this set. Joe Flacco was 25-35 for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. Three games into the season and Flacco has 2 – 300 yard games. The offensive line was dominant, opening gaping holes and keeping Flacco upright.

Defensively, the line dominated the run, and provided steady yet unspectacular pressure all day. The secondary had a much better day, admittedly, against a far inferior quarterback. The defensive backfield was much more aggressive and attacked the ball when it was put in the air. One thing that I have noticed is that Brendan Ayanbadejo is playing a lot of inside linebacker, especially in obvious passing situations. I guess the coaches are not sold on Tavares Gooden’s coverage skills.

Special teams wise, they were better. Koch was solid with the limited punting he did and Hauschka was perfect in PAT’s and field goals. Our return game is still not good, it seems we are out of sync and always just a second late getting the hole. We covered better, but Harbaugh and Rossberg still like to tempt fate by kicking the ball directly to the dangerous return men. I will give them credit though, just before halftime after we scored, instead of kicking to Cribbs, like they did to Sproles last week, they kicked it high and short and made someone else field the ball. At least they learned their lesson.

I have to give credit to Cam Cameron, he was so far ahead of the defensive coaches for the Cleveland Browns with play calling. When the Browns loaded the box, he threw the ball down the field, when they backed off he pounded the ball with the run. It was a complete mismatch on the field and in the coaching booth.

Next week we go to Foxboro. I am really looking forward to this game. I don’t think it will be easy, but there is no team in football the Ravens can’t beat. They are going to have to stop the run, force Brady to throw a lot and then pressure and make him uncomfortable. Next week would be a good week to go back to the all out pressure defense that was our staple for many years. If Wes Welker does not play, the Ravens will play over the top of Randy Moss so he doesn’t beat us deep, they will stop the run and Flacco and company will put up enough points to get out of Boston with a win.
RANTS

How bad are the Cleveland Browns – Pretty bad, but I have to question what they were trying to accomplish last Sunday in Baltimore. Loosing 27-0 late in the 3rd quarter or early in the 4th, with 4th and short on or about the Ravens 15 yard line, they decide to kick a field goal. I don’t understand the decision. For a team that has had trouble putting it in the endzone, and with the game already decided, why not pull out all stops to get a touchdown? Strange decision. Also, earlier in the 3rd quarter, James Harrison of the Browns rips off a 17 yard run for a first down. The Browns line up and run a quarterback sneak on first down. Who the hell called that masterpiece?

Man-Genius? I think not. Eric Mangini played coy all summer without naming a quarterback. Then he named Brady Quinn opening day starter. After only 2 ½ games, Mangini pulled Quinn, who was not performing, for Derek Anderson. Anderson comes in cold without proper practice with the Browns first team, against the aggressive Ravens defense. He throws three interceptions. Now Mangini has benched his chosen starter for the 2nd stringer who tanked against the Ravens. Beautiful coaching decision. The game was over at half time and no way Derek Anderson was going to change the outcome. If Mangini became convinced a change was needed, then he should have let Quinn finish the Ravens game, and prepared Anderson to start the next week. Now he has no quarterback. In a matter of three years, the Cleveland Browns have gone from having a Pro Bowl quarterback and a promising No. 1 draft choice at that position to no quarterback at all.

Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, Jared Gaither, Domique Foxworth, D’Quell Jackson, Eric Barton, LaMont Jordan, EJ Henderson, Darius Heyward-Bey, Stephen Heyer, Shawn Merriman, Jeremy Navarre, Kris Jenkins, Joey Haynos, Dan Gronkowski, Erin Henderson, Eric Hicks, Moise Foiku, Kevin Barnes, Andrew Crummey, Madieu Williams, Josh Wilson, Randy Starks, Dave Philistin, Adam Podlesh, Isaiah Gardner, William Kershaw, Dre Moore, Edwin Williams and Jaimie Thomas. What do they all have in common? They are former University of Maryland football players that are currently with an NFL team. That is a lot of talent being sent to the NFL from a Division 1A program that routinely continues to underachieve. I wonder what the problem could be? Oh yes, your Maryland Terrapins were embarrassed again this week by that national power Rutgers.

Political Correctness makes me sick – The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a spot in the baseball playoffs by winning the American League West Division. Their clinching celebration included honoring a fallen teammate, Nick Adenhart. The celebration included an homage to his likeness on the centerfield wall and dousing his jersey with beer and champagne. The symbolization was clear, they were celebrating like he was still with them. There have been rumblings that this type of celebration was not appropriate because Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. Please. Way to go Angels, I think your celebration was pretty cool.

This Weiters kid can play – For all of you Baltimore Oriole fans out there who were uneasy about the play of Matt Weiters; or more appropriately, were concerned that he wasn’t going to be as good as advertised, fear not the kid can play. Long past the time most Orioles are on the shelf for the year due to injury, and the others have packed it in, Weiters continues impress. His defense has continuously improved and he is really stinging the ball even when he makes an out. The homerun he hit in Toronto was a monstrous shot. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

“I can coach!” – Charles G Driesell. In the case of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, I don’t think that is the case any longer. I watched Joe Paterno on the sidelines the other night when Iowa beat Penn State. He looked completely mystified on the sideline. Bobby Bowden’s post game press conference after Florida State’s loss to South Florida is priceless. You really ought to try and find it and watch it. I am paraphrasing his statements, but they were something like, daggommit, they were good. They were a lot better then we thought they were. Don’t get me wrong, both Bowden and Paterno are Hall of Fame coaches, and while their respective programs are in decent shape nationally, they are no where near the viable force they once were on the national scene. It is clear that both coaches are pretty much figureheads for the corporations that are Penn State and Florida State football. Both programs are run behind the scenes by assistant coaches and are pretty much on cruise control. For either program to return to national prominence, a change needs to be made.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Showtime series, “Full Color Football: History of the AFL”. This series airs on every Wednesday at 8pm prior to Inside the NFL. It is a great documentary regarding the start up AFL and the years prior to the creation of the Super Bowl and all the way up through the AFL-NFL merger. If you are a football fan, you will love a look back at this league. It is really well done. Next week the episode will center on something that is near and dear to all Baltimoreans hearts, Super Bowl III. You can probably catch all the previous episodes on Comcast “On Demand” if you are so inclined.

Baby Steps – It’s good to see Steelers wide receiver, Limas Sweed progressing as a receiver in the NFL. Last week when he dropped a sure touchdown pass, he didn’t fall down and fake and injury. Baby steps, “Lame Ass”, baby steps.

RANKINGS

1. New York Giants – Defense wins championships, and this defense is pretty good. They are running the ball well and Eli is meshing with his new receivers.
2. New Orleans Saints – beat a decent Buffalo team at Buffalo and did it by playing great defense and running the ball.
3. Baltimore Ravens – rolled against a really bad team. They did what they were supposed to do. Let’s see what happens next week.
4. New York Jets – Titans had them beat except for the muffed punt at the end.
5. Indianapolis Colts – demolished the Cardinals. Very efficient game, hitting on all cylinders right now.
6. Minnesota Vikings – great throw by Favre, even better catch by Greg Lewis. A miracle away from being 2-1.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Wow, what a difference in Kevin Kolb from the Ravens game last year and the way he is playing now. Team hasn’t missed a beat.
8. Chicago Bears – went into Seattle, a very tough place to play, and got the job done. When “Good Jay” shows up they are a tough out.
9. Denver Broncos – I still don’t think they are as good as this ranking but they deserve to be here.
10. New England Patriots – I still think they are a little off kilter, but getting back to basics last week with the running game was a good first step. Let’s hope they don’t find their stride for at least one more week
11. Atlanta Falcons –no shame in losing at Foxboro, but their second half against the Patriots was nothing to write home about.
12. Green Bay Packers – gearing up for the Monday night showdown with ole what’s his name.
13. San Diego Chargers – still 2-1, but getting healthier. Would love to see them go into Pittsburgh and get the W.
14. San Franscisco 49ers – a good solid football team who got beat last Sunday on a hail mary. Frank Gore being hurt does not help them going forward.
15. Cincinnati Bengals – got to give this team some love, after that deflection loss the first weekend I thought they were dead.
16. Dallas Cowboys – I have no read on this team. They are 2-1, but I still think they are the odd team out in the NFC East.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – 1-2 what a great break for the Ravens, but they will stabilize and make a charge before the year is done.
18. Tennessee Titans – notoriously slow starting team the last few years, puts an awful lot of pressure on the team to play perfect and stay perfect at the end.
19. Seattle Seahawks – this team is very talented, they just caught a bad break when Hasselback broke his rib.
20. Arizona Cardinals – should be lower, but I know they can play better. All of a sudden Warner looks old.
21. Houston Texans – there is potential here. The defense must get better.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – does the nick name Jaguars work in Southern California?
23. Buffalo Bills – didn’t show up at home against the Saints. The TO explosion meter is ticking.
24. Miami Dolphins – brutal early schedule has not done them any favors. Pennington is hurt, time to audition for next year.
25. Detroit Lions – making strides as a team. I think they are getting better as a team
26. Oakland Raiders – the worst quarterback in the NFL.
27. Carolina Panthers – John Fox has had a nice run. I am afraid it is coming to an end.
28. Washington Redskins – should be embarrassed at how they are playing. To much talent to stink this bad. No accountability at all. Danny boy is getting nevous.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – quarterback change already. Young coach is not ready for the adversity they are facing. This is going to get bad real fast.
30. Saint Louis Rams – Kyle Boller with 2 touchdown passes. Let’s go Kyle.
31. Kansas City Chiefs- all that money they gave to Cassell isn’t looking like such a good idea right now.
32. Cleveland Browns – I think they ought to hire Tony Grossi to coach the team.

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2

Posted on 22 September 2009 by kevinpb

 Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2

Ravens

 

Ravens 31 – Chargers 28.  We have witnessed a lot of defining moments in the career of Ray Lewis; his Super Bowl performance, his open field stick of Eddie George that knocked him out of the game, his interception and return for a touchdown in the playoffs against Tennessee, and now this destruction of the San Diego Chargers last play from scrimmage as they are driving for the go ahead score.  If you have the chance to see a replay of the game, check out Ray moving before the snap closing into the gap, really a thing of beauty. 

 

At this time, I would like to thank Norv (why does everybody think I am a good coach) Turner for choosing to run the ball on 4th and 2 at the 11 yard line.  The Chargers were gashing the Ravens like Freddy Kruger with the pass, and on the most important play of the game they go away from what they had success with all day.  I don’t have a problem getting the ball to Sproles, but get the ball to him in space and let him make a play for you.

 

Again special teams hurt the Ravens chance of putting the game away earlier.  After scoring to take a 21-13 lead with 2 minutes to go in the first half, they allow Darren Sproles to return the ball back over the 50 yard line.  Luckily, the defense was able to deny the touchdown, but giving up 3 points there changes it from a 2 score game to a 1 score game.  If you hold them without points there, you open the second half with the ball, then you have a chance to put them in a 15 point hole.  You don’t even kick the ball to Sproles in that situation.  The special teams have to get better.  Koch and Hauschka were very solid.

 

Defensively, the team showed a lot of heart, and you still can’t run on this offense, but the inability to get to the quarterback and our lack of ability to play physical and tackle at the corner position needs to be corrected.  With regards to Foxworth and Washington, I really did not see a lot wrong with their ability to stay with the receivers.  In most cases they were running stride for stride with them; but I didn’t get a sense that they wanted to compete.  By that I didn’t get the sense they wanted to make a play, when the ball was up in the air it seems that they were content to let the receivers make a play and then tackle them.  Fabian Washington can’t tackle at all.  I never want to see anyone get hurt, but we benefited by Frank Walker having to replace Washington at the end of the game.  I cannot believe I am praising Frank Walker…Geesh! 

 

The offense did not put up 500 yards like last week but was very effective.  They took advantage of the Chargers lack of depth on the front line and effectively pounded the ball with the run.  Willis McGahee was the more effective back on this day.  He ran decisively and with power.  Ray Rice did not have as good a game as the week before, he was bottled up as a runner bobbled the throw back pass late in the game which could have went for a big play.  Joe Flacco played a terrific game and the threat of him throwing the ball down the field keeps that 8th man out of the box and makes the running game that much more effective.  We didn’t throw the ball as much as the previous week but that was by design considering the bad shape the Chargers interior line was in.  You have to love the way Cam Cameron takes advantage of the defense’s weaknesses.

 

In any case we are 2-0 and it is Cleveland week.  This is a game at home that we should win.  Just don’t kick the ball to Josh Cribbs.

 

Rants

 

When an onside kick is not an onside kick – I have watched football for a lot of years but I was watching the Notre Dame – Michigan State game over the weekend and I saw something I have never seen and I am still not sure about the call that was made.  After scoring a touchdown, Michigan State kicked an onside kick from the 30 yard line.  The ball bound untouched just passed the 40 (the required 10 yards) and the next bounce it bounded backwards to the 38 yard line.  Michigan State fell on the ball and was awarded possession.  I guess that once the ball goes 10 yards it can go anywhere and it is still a live ball.  Interesting.

 

I am becoming a Boise State fan – Every year Boise State is a factor on the National Stage.  Chris Peterson, the head coach, is 37-4 in 4 years.  They consistently handle the teams in their conference and make a habit of beating “higher quality” programs.  They play an exciting brand of offensive football that puts a lot of points on the board.  I also find it interesting that ESPN routinely shows 3 or 4 of their football games on Friday nights throughout the college season.  This in effect makes them the only show in town as a kick off for each football weekend.  How long will it be before some big time school comes calling to hire Coach Peterson?

 

Tim Tebow is a terrific college football player.  He very well may end up being the most decorated college football player in history.  I love his passion and I love to watch him play, but he will never make it as a starting quarterback in the NFL.  The Jacksonville Jaguars have stated that they want to draft Tebow and feature him as their centerpiece on the team and in their marketing ventures.  That is a bold declaration and a terrific gamble for a player that most experts are still on the fence about being an impact player at the quarterback position in the NFL.

 

You went to St. Joe’s don’t embarrass me – Delonte West, who had the best game I ever saw a major college basketball player have, going 10 for 10 from the field and 6 for 6 from the foul line as St Joe’s beat Xavier in 2004, was arrested in PG County over the weekend.  He was arrested for speeding on a motorcycle when he cut off a police cruiser.  He was stopped and had a guitar case strapped to his back packed with 2 loaded hand guns and a shot gun.  Where was the guitar?  If you are speeding on a motorcycle carrying weapons in a guitar case, why would you even attempt to pass a police cruiser much less cut him off?  It was reported he was cooperative with the police…I guess so.

When the police asked him what he was doing, Delonte reportedly said that he was speeding because he was late to meet Lonnie Baxter down by the White House.

 

How long before the Terps basketball season starts? – That powerhouse Middle Tennessee State got Maryland again this year, beating the Terps 32-31 .  How long can this farce of a football team continue to represent a Major Division 1A University?  I was reading the reports of the game and press conference, and I cannot believe the things the head coach believes and is saying.  He stated after this loss, “we are going to do things the right way.” Gee Ralph, wasn’t that the idea from the get go?  You are an eyelash away from being 0-3 and you are now just going about doing things the right way.  Give me a break.  The good news is fans, that while Friedgen’s time may be limited (they have anointed James Franklin as his successor) the succeeding coach is already waist deep in the abyss known as Maryland football.  I don’t see that as a recipe for success.  Can Gary Williams coach football??

 

 

 

 

 

A real nice gesture – Vince Young, who has taken his share of criticism over the last 2 years, took time out of his week to show up at Steve McNair’s house to escort his sons to a father/son event at their school.  That is a pretty impressive and compassionate act.  Way to go Vince Young.

 

Who’s Number 2 – I don’t think there is any question that the Florida Gators are the best team in college football, but who is the next best team?  Is it Texas, a healthy Oklahoma, or Alabama?  It appears to me that the only team fast enough to play with the Gators is the University of Miami.  I am still not convinced that they have enough talent, but if they get through the next 2 weeks (against Va. Tech and Oklahoma), they can easily run the table in a weak ACC.  Are the college football fans ready for the 4th reincarnation of the Hurricanes?

 

No. 19 Forever – On Mike and Mike National Morning show on Tues. Sept 22, 2009.  There was a very open debate comparing Peyton Manning and John Unitas.  I think Peyton Manning is a wonderful quarterback, but he is able to do what he does, because of Johnny Unitas. While I think that comparisons like this are pretty ridiculous because of the different eras, there were certain aspects that came to light because of this debate.  First of all, I give credit to Peyton Manning for the class he showed in paying the proper reverence to John Unitas.  Secondly, the prevailing opinion of all the talking heads was that the records of the Baltimore Colts need to be separated from those of the Indianapolis Colts.  I know that such a distinction would have the overwhelming support of the people of Baltimore.  Maybe this debate will help further this cause.

 

Rankings

 

  1. New York Giants – There is a lot to like about this team.  Not the least of which is to go into Dallas and beat America’s team on their opening night.
  2. New York Jets – If you are going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk.  This is not a bad football team.
  3. Baltimore Ravens – You got to give them their due, they were not perfect, but they got the job done.  Big time win for the 1st place Ravens.
  4. New Orleans Saints – easily the most impressive team of the early season, my only concern is that their 2 wins are against Detroit and a “McNabb-less” Eagles.
  5. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons went into Carolina and beat a talented team that was utterly embarrassed the weak before.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – still a very dangerous team, get dominated by the Dolphins and they still find a way to win.  They had the ball less then 15 minutes for the entire game.
  7. San Francisco 49ers – This team is really starting to remind me of the old Ravens.  Run, run and run again, then play defense.  Tough minded football team.
  8. Minnesota Vikings – they may be better then this ranking, but they have only beat the Lions and Browns.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers – how many times have I waited for Jeff Reed to miss kicks against the Ravens.  Let’s see how they like to do the chasing.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles – tough loss to a real hot team without their quarterback.  I can’t penalize them to much for that.
  11. Chicago Bears – Monsters of the midway? No, but pretty effective football team which now has a good quarterback.
  12. San Diego Chargers – Threw at will on the Ravens, God bless Norv Turner.
  13. Tennessee Titans – I think they are a good football team, but they are in a big hole.  They cannot win a shoot out with Kerry Collins.
  14. New England Patriots– there are problems here.  The defense is too inexperienced, but there is also tremendous offensive talent.  They will get better as the year goes on.
  15. Arizona Cardinals– I am going to give them a mulligan for the first week, because I think the 49ers might be pretty decent.  Warner looked great against Jacksonville.
  16. Dallas Cowboys – Played Giants tough and won the first week, but there is something not quite right here.
  17. Green Bay Packers – loosing to Cincinnati at Lambeau is troubling.  Keep an eye on this team.
  18. Denver Broncos – Defense playing well, but Kyle Orton is still the quarterback.
  19. Seattle Seahawks – Still like this team, but only when Matt Hasselback is calling signals.
  20. Houston Texans – I can’t get their first week stinko out of my head.  Beat a real sound football team in the Titans.
  21. Jacksonville Jaguars – I am afraid this team is on a slippery slope.  This is not a good way to build the fan base. 
  22. Buffalo Bills – Played New England tough and soundly beat the Buccaneers.  They will get better if the offensive line doesn’t get Trent Edwards killed first.
  23. Miami Dolphins – this is not a bad team, but they have a brutal schedule, starting off 0-2 will come back to haunt them.
  24. Washington Redskins – we are one more loss away from sheer chaos among Redskins fans.  The Rams game was an ultimate embarrassment.
  25. Cincinnati Bengals – dug themselves out of a huge hole with the win at Green Bay.  They have potential, but they are still the Bengals.
  26. Oakland Raiders – this team is one player away from being a respectable team, unfortunately that player is quarterback.
  27. Detroit Lions - they are going to win 3-5 games this year.  There is definitely good talent here, just not enough of it.
  28. Carolina Panthers – played respectably against the Falcons.  Still have a long way to go.
  29. Kansas City Chiefs – played better on the road against the Ravens with Brody Croyle at the helm, then at home against the Raiders with Matt Cassell at the helm…hmmm.
  30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – think they miss John Gruden yet?
  31. Cleveland Browns – Defense is not very good and offense is worse.  Will play next week like it is a playoff game, but will it be enough.
  32. St Louis Rams – the Kyle Boller watch has begun, and I am rooting for him.

 

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The Wednesday Morning CMS Top-5: ‘The Greatest Moments of Sports Dishonesty’

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The Wednesday Morning CMS Top-5: ‘The Greatest Moments of Sports Dishonesty’

Posted on 18 March 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Welcome back for another edition of the Wednesday Morning CMS Top-5.

Today the topic is, “What are the greatest moments of dishonesty in sports history?”

No more wasting time, let’s get to the results:

Wonderboy

5.  Eddie Guerrero untying his shoes at Wrestlemania XX

4.  John Lucas coaching the Spurs once put 6 players on the floor for the final possession to beat he Bulls at the buzzer

3.  The Danny Almonte saga in the 2001 Little League World Series

2.  Glenn’s parents writing a sick note to allow him to go the the Ravens’ Super Bowl Parade

1.  Glenn convincing his professor at UMBC that he was a Retriever soccer player to get out of missing an exam

And as for Drew’s list:

5.  Ben Roethlesberger in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL

4.  The disputed ending of Marvin Hagler losing a split decision to Sugar Ray Leonard in Vegas in 1987

3.  Don Koharski being a “rat fink” in last year’s Game 7 Overtime between the Caps and Flyers

2.  The Orioles claiming Drew didn’t pick up his ’07 press pass, making him ineligible for an ’08 credential.

1.  Tom Brady’s fumble against the Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoffs in January ’02

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2008 Ravens Top 20 Moments: Nos. 5-1

Posted on 26 January 2009 by Alex Thomas

Here we go…the top 5 Ravens moments of the exciting 2008 season. Now that we’ve all had the proverbial “cold shower and a beer” to cure our purple hangover, let’s sit back and appreciate the top five moments of the season.

You can read about moments 20-16 by clicking here.

You can read about moments 15-11 by clicking here.

You can read about moments 10-6 by clicking here.

5. Ravens Clinch Playoff Berth – Earlier in the day on December 28th, 2008, the Patriots had beaten the Bills in Buffalo. Come 4:00 that day, all eyes in the New England area were glued to the Jacksonville/Baltimore game. It was pretty simple: if the Ravens won, they would be the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs. If they lost, the Patriots would leap frog the Ravens into the NFL’s second season. Needless to say, the Ravens did not disappoint. Led by two interceptions from Ed Reed and two fumble recoveries by Ray Lewis, the Ravens whacked the Jags 27-7 in week 17 to clinch an AFC playoff berth. Joe Flacco had one of his best games as a pro, going 17 of 23 for 297 yards. Surprisingly, Frank Walker led the team in solo tackles with six and even forced a fumble. This was Baltimore’s first playoff berth since 2006, when the Ravens went 13-3 with Steve McNair and Brian Billick.

4. Flacco’s Fingertip Catch – This was easily one of the most exciting moments of the 2008 season. In the Ryan Bowl, surprisingly, it wasn’t the defense that made headlines. Joe Flacco was the star of the game, completing a 70 yard bomb to Demetrius Williams to put the Ravens up 16-0. He also had a 12 yard touchdown run…but Joe Cool didn’t stop there. He took a snap out of the shotgun formation and lateraled the ball to Troy Smith, who found Joe Flacco 43 yards down the field behind the Oakland defense. Joe was a few inches away from having a receiving touchdown to complete the trifecta, but instead made a fingertip catch that made him lose his balance and sent Ravens fans into a frenzy.

3. Demolition in Dallas – In a game where not many people gave the Ravens a chance, Baltimore marched into the final game at Texas Stadium and rained on their parade. In front of old-time Cowboy greats such as Roger Staubach and Emmitt Smith, the Ravens beat America’s Team 33-24 in week 16. On back to back offensive plays, the Ravens scored two consecutive touchdowns–a 72 yard run by Willis McGahee and an 82 yard run by Le’Ron McClain, who delivered one of the best stiff arms to Ken Hamlin that I’ve ever seen. The big story of the game, however, was Derrick Mason, who played the entire game with one arm in one of the grittiest performances of the NFL season.

2. Payback in Tennessee – After suffering a loss to Tennessee earlier in the season, the Ravens got payback when it mattered most, beating the Titans 13-10 in the AFC Divisional playoffs to advance to the AFC Championship game. The Ravens won this game thanks to three forced turnovers from the defense, no turnovers by Joe Flacco, and some clutch field goal kicking from Matt Stover. With the win, Joe Flacco became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to win his first two playoff games. Unfortunately, the Ravens gathered a slew of injuries against the Titans, including a key injury to Samari Rolle that kept him out of the AFC Championship game.

1. The OJ Brigance Story - OJ Brigance defined the Baltimore Ravens’ attitude this season. With such a debilitating disease like ALS, he could have given up…he could have lied down and let the disease control his life. Instead, he adopted a positive attitude and became pro-active in helping others with the same disease. Brigance was a source of inspiration for the Ravens, and if he was not such an integral part of the 2008 campaign, the Ravens would not have been so successful.

If you would like to learn more about ALS, and possibly make a donation to help fight this disease, please visit the following websites:

http://www.brigancebrigade.org – The Brigance Brigade – OJ Brigance’s Foundation

http://www.alsa.org – ALS Association

http://www.als.net – ALS TDI – “The world’s largest ALS research center”

http://www.alscenter.org – The Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins

So there are my top 5 moments of the 2008 Ravens season…what are yours?

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Ravens Defensive Coordinator

Posted on 19 January 2009 by caseywillett

Now with Rex Ryan leaving to go become the new head coach of the New York Jets, talk is who in house could become the new defensive coordinator if the Ravens decide to go that route.

Here are a couple of possible candidates :

Mike Pettine-Outside Linebackers Coach. It is believed the Coach Pettine will be heading to the Jets with Rex Ryan to become the defensive coordinator of the Jets.

Greg Mattison- Linebackers coach. Coach Mattison was co-defensive coordinator/D-line coach with the University of Florida from 2005-2007. Coach Mattison was also the D-line coach with Notre Dame from 1997-2004.

Chuck Pagano – Secondary coach. Pagano was the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at the University of North Carolina. From 2005-2006 he was the defensive backs coach for the Oakland Raiders. Pagano was also the secondary coach for the Cleveland Browns from 2001-2004. Pagano coached Ed Reed while serving as the secondary coach for the University of Miami from 1995- 2000.

Vic Fangio-Special Assistant to the Head Coach -  Fangio served as the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans from 2002-2005. Was with the Indianapolis Colts as the defensive coordinator from 1999-2001. Fangio also served as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers from 1995-1998. While serving with the New Orleans Saints  from 1986-1994, he coached the vaunted Dome Patrol that featured Ricky Jackson, Pat Swilling, Sam Mills, and Vaughan Johnson. That LB unit was voted the best line backing corp in NFL history by the NFL Network.

I would guess the Ravens would fill this position relatively soon with the combine coming up in February.

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15-7-0

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15-7-0

Posted on 29 December 2008 by Glenn Clark

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……

1-Pau Gasol

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.

2-Chad Pennington

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.

3-Roger Goodell

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.

4-Alexander Ovechkin

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

Goalposts

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.

9-Greivis Vasquez

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.

10-Lance Ball

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.

11-Bobby Bowden

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.

12-Carmelo Anthony

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!

13-Mike Singletary

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!

15-Stuffed Shells

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.

2-Cleveland Cavaliers

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.

3-Morgan State

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.

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