Monday, September 21, 2009

Here's the Bill, Belichick

The football gods really have long memories. Either that, or they took extra-long notes on the 2007 NFL season.

How else to explain what happened to the New England Patriots on Sunday at the Meadowlands? Better yet, how it happened?

Think about this: in Week 2 of 2009, the New York Jets talked junk about the Patriots and threw it all into the streets about what they wanted to do to them, and how they weren’t about to bow down to them, and all the things that should have had them eating about 10 flavors of crow by game’s end. And not only did the Jets back it up, they actually did make the Patriots look bad, even keeping them out of the end zone.

Not a huge deal, you might say, since this clearly is less of what we’re used to seeing of the Patriots, less of what we expected of them, and more of the injured Tom Brady than the rehabbed Tom Brady. But those who believe in karma have no doubts about what went on Sunday.


(Continue to The Steele Drum)

Buccaneers Get Buffaloed

"No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills!" - Chris Berman, ESPN

The Buffalo Bills didn't have to circle their wagons on Sunday.

No, the team they were facing wasn't that big of a threat.

Sure, there are no easy wins in the National Football League, but before some of the hometown fans were planted in their seats, the Bills had run up a quick 17-0 lead on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sure Tampa Bay fought back and made a game of it for a while, 20-14, Bills, but when all was said and done, when all the Buccaneer defensive weaknesses were exploited, Tampa Bay headed for home 0-2 and absorbed another defensive setback in the 33-20 loss.

(Continue to Buccaneer Bow Shots)

USF Loses Grothe for Season

It was Jim Leavitt's worst fear.

The Sunday MRI on the left knee of all-everything quarterback Matt Grothe spelled it out in shocking manner:

Torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The 2009 season for the all-time leader in Big East offensive yardage crashed and burned.

And the news ushers in the week that all USF players had marked and circled. This is FSU week. The Bulls make their first-ever trip to Tallahassee for a Saturday game that will let them know how they've progressed in the state's football hierarchy.

(Continue to Running with the Bulls)

Eli, Giants Crash Jerry Jones' Party

Conventional thinking got thrown for a loss around the NFL on Sunday when five of the top six teams in the Grill Room's NFL 100-PROOF RANKINGS went down in flames.

No matter, all that's true and blue about America still stands today after the N.Y. Football Giants went deep in the heart of Texas to christen Jerry Jones' billion-dollar death star by presenting him his fat head on a silver platter.

Giants' quarterback Eli Manning (330 yds, 2 TDs) got revenge against greedy oilmen for Eli's everywhere when he engineered a last-minute drive that resulted in Lawrence Tynes' game-winning, 37-yard FG as the clock expired.

After their 33-31 victory, the No. 3 Giants' were the only top team to survive an unpredictable day around the NFL.

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Mangini's Browns Not Any Better

It might not matter who coaches the Cleveland Browns these days, because the coach has absolutely nothing to work with. The team was closer to being decent when it returned to town 10 years ago than it is today.

This second incarnation of the Browns, a franchise the NFL recreated from scraps after Art Modell spirited the original off to Baltimore in 1995, hasn’t been much to talk about. Nor is the team’s most recent performance: a 27-6 loss Sunday to the Broncos.

Losing to the Broncos is not unusual; those old Browns did so with regularity. But at least they routinely made a game of things in Denver; at least they went onto the field and looked like a polished NFL team.

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

A Signature Win for Jets

This just wasn’t any victory for the New York Jets.

This was over New England, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. At home, in front of a rabid, energized crowd that was tired of losing to the Patriots.

Sunday’s 16-9 victory was, quite simply, one of the biggest wins in this decade for this franchise.

“The Patriots are a hell of a football team. I just thought we were the better team today,’’ coach Rex Ryan said. “That’s all we said the whole time. We believe that we are the better team today. We went out and showed it.”

If anybody doubts how the Jets are going to go about this season, their blueprint has been on display through the first two games.

(Continue to New York Minute)

Thanks to Fans, Jets Get It Done

I don't want to make a huge deal out of this...but I got a game ball on Sunday.

"I think our fans are huge in this victory," said head coach Rex Ryan. "In fact, we're giving a game ball to our fans. It will go up in our trophy case. I thought they were the difference."

It's not the first time I've been given a game ball, incidentally. I remember I was awarded one after the Jets' playoff win over Jacksonville in 1999. I was loud then, too.

But I wasn't alone in this - I did have help. Besides the 70,000+ others screaming for much of the game, there was the Jets' defense. They played pretty well. They still have yet to give up a touchdown on this young season, holding the Patriots to three field goals (and after the Texans scored last week on only a defensive score).

And then there was Tom Brady. I'll delve into this one later in the week, but again he looked terrible, this time without the end-of-game flurry like the ones the Bills handed him last week. And there were times that he had the Jets' defense beat, but threw a terrible pass, and didn't seem on the same page as his receivers.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

Eagles Look to Rebound after Loss

PHILADELPHIA—The one thing that Eagles fans learned Sunday in their 48-22 loss to the high-powered New Orleans Saints is that their team has a long way to go before it can really consider itself among the elite teams in the NFC.

“It wasn't right today in any phase of it,” said Eagles head coach Andy Reid. “It was an absolutely horrendous performance.”

Granted, the Birds were without injured starting quarterback Donovan McNabb, but even with his presence would not have been enough to stop a juggernaut of a Saints offense that simply had its way with the Eagles defense, who gave up the most points at home since 1962.

On a day where the Birds were starting second-string quarterback Kevin Kolb, the Birds needed to play well on all sides of the football. In the first half, the Eagles offense managed to keep up with Drew Brees and company and trailed by four points at the intermission.

(Continue to NFC 'Easter)

Poofffffff ... Goes the Mountain West

Well, so much for all that talk about the Mountain West getting an automatic bid to the BCS.

One weekend of upsets restored order somewhat in the BCS universe. Each of the six BCS conferences has at least one team among the top 10 in the latest BCS Standings (simulated). The only BCS buster left standing, for now, is Boise State, who now firmly controls its own destiny for a second BCS bowl berth in three years.

The biggest loser over the weekend is the Mountain West (trumps even USC, but more on the Trojans later). BYU was mercilessly dissected at home by a Florida State team that nearly lost to I-AA Jacksonville State a week earlier. Utah's 16-game winning streak came to an end after its rally at Oregon fell short. As of now, TCU, with two nondescript victories, is the only undefeated MWC member that has a shot at a BCS bowl berth.

(Continue to BCS Guru)

In Defense of 'Resume Rankings'

New readers may not be aware of our controversial status in the Blogpoll. Controversial because many see our philosophy as unorthodox. First let me declare that Mergz and I believe that the current way college football is structured is FUBAR. The most important of college sports is also the one that relies on popularity and speculation to crown its champion. Let me also declare that it is impossible to accurately rank the top 25 teams out of 120, especially a couple of weeks into the season.

So Mergz has decided to try to remove as much subjectivity as possible out of our rankings for the Blogpoll (understanding that there will always be some). To that end the preseason Blogpoll is based on rankings of recruiting classes from the previous four years. Certainly there is subjectivity there, it's based on talent evaluations by third parties but for us it's a mechanical exercise.

Then, when the season begins, we start with a resume method. The teams with the most impressive resumes are ranked higher than those with less impressive resumes. And there is subjectivity here too. But there's one thing that isn't subjective: head-to-head results.

(Continue to Saurian Sagacity)

College Football: Week 3 Rankings

Hmmm... four conferences bunched at the top, all within 2.5 points of each other. But this is still week 3 - let's examine these to see if those points are gonna get higher or lower.

#1 SEC: A perfect weekend for the SEC - 6-0 in nonconf play. But there was probably only one decent win among them, Auburn over West Virginia. The rest were another win over the BigEast, 3 wins over the SunBelt, and a win over a I-AA cupcake. Their BCS opponents (West Virginia, Louisville, UCLA, NC State, Virginia Tech, & Washington) will probably cancel each other out, while their nonconf opponents and I-AA cupcakes will probably drag them down a bit as the season goes on.

#2 Big10: They took a bit of a hit this week, going 6-4 against so-so competition. Some of their losses don't look to bad, Cal & Notre Dame, but none of their wins look like they'll help in the long run. Overall, they're 5-6 against BCS teams, which isn't great. The only decent wins were over Notre Dame and proably Air Force, though some of their losses (USC, Oregon, Cal) aren't too bad. The cupcakes & losses to Northern Illinois and Central Michigan are gonna hurt.

#3 BigEast: A solid 6-2 this week with wins over Baylor & Oregon State which may help. The loss to Auburn won't be too bad, but losing to Kentucky could bring them down. The conference is perfect against the cupcakes & non-BCS teams, going 13-0 (of which only the win over East Carolina might be good), but they're only 3-5 against BCS teams. Their losses to Penn State, Auburn, & North Carolina won't be too bad, but Minnesota could hurt.

(Continue to The National Championship Issue)

Respect for KU ... Wait 'Till October

Fair or not, no one outside of Kansas will give the Jayhawk football team any respect.
Look at these numbers:
  • Outscored opponents 127-26 en route to a 3-0 start.

  • One of only four teams in the Big XII still undefeated.

  • Top two running backs Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum averaging more than five yards per carry and have eight touchdowns between them.

  • Quarterback Todd Reesing averaging 267 yards passing and two touchdowns per game.

  • Defense is only allowing 8.7 points per game.
(Continue to Inside Jayhawk Nation)

Small-College Football ... Refreshing

In between watching Alabama’s waltz against North Texas and Auburn’s stirring comeback against West Virginia on television Saturday, I took in the Miles College-Samford game.

Now, I truly love big-time college football, especially the Southeastern Conference. I attended Alabama in the 1970s when Paul “Bear” Bryant was still stalking the Crimson Tide’s sideline in his famous houndstooth hat and I was familiar with Auburn and its legendary coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan.

I also loved the NFL. My mother would let me leave church early so I could be at home in time to watch the noon kickoff of the NFL game on TV. I became a big fan of the Baltimore Colts because of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and John Mackey and cried when they were upset in Super Bowl III by Joe Namath and the New York Jets.

(Continue to Rue's Rant)

All's Right with Tigers' World, For Now

The Tigers avoided an embarrassing sweep in Minnesota and who, of all people, helped save the bleeding?

Nate Robertson.

Yes, that Nate Robertson, the one who has been battling against injuries and being a good pitcher most of the year. He threw five strong innings, allowed just two runs and struck out six batters in the Tigers’ 6-2 win Sunday afternoon.

(Continue to Michigan and Trumbull)

A Manchester Classic

It was an opportunity for Mancehster City that came up short in heart-breaking fashion.

Yet in the end, Manchester United showed why it is still one of the top clubs in the world, let alone the big dog in Manchester, as a stoppage time strike by Michael Owen enabld Man U to steal a 4-3 win over Man City at the Old Trafford.

United never trailed in the match, but each time it jumped ahead, City rallied for the equalizer. The last equalizer came from Craig Bellamy, whose goal in stoppage time appeared to have salvaged a draw for City, but extended stoppage time gave United enough time, and Owen won the first leg of the Manchester derby with a strike in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

(Continue to Soccer 24-7)

Swann Saves England's Blushes

Typical England. Just when you think they're in terminal decline, they produced an inspired performance at Durham yesterday, with Swann's five wickets leaving Australia posting a decidedly England-like score of 176, enabling the hosts to avoid the ignominy of a 7-0 whitewash.

Swann and Strauss would have given their right arms for a turner like this in the previous six games - although the frailty of England's batting may not have made that much difference to the overall outcome.

(Continue to Crick Down the Legside)
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