Andy Roddick vs. Roger Federer The Australian Open is the first grand slam of the year in the tennis world. Even though it is late January, the temperature is ranging from the low 100s to the high 110s (Fahrenheit, of course - fuck you, rest of the world!) in Australia. Number 7 player in the world, Andy Roddick of the United States, faces the machine from Switzerland, Roger Federer (number 2 in the world). In his professional career, there is no player Federer has beaten more often than Roddick, with a 15-2 edge in overall tournament play. Those not privy to how dominating Federer is - he's won 13 grand slams, which is second overall in the history of tennis, and he's got at least 5 more years that he could play at this level. Leading up to this match, both players have lost only two sets, and are looking at the top of their game - unfortunately for Roddick, his top game is still well below Federer's.

First Set

Roddick's typical weapon of choice is his serve, but besides for his first service game, he was coming up flat. Federer wins all of the long baseline rallies, and starts chipping away at Roddick's mind by exploiting all of his weaknesses. To be honest, in all my time watching tennis (roughly 15 years) regularly, I haven't seen a more meticulous player than Federer - he can latch onto a flaw until you are just too afraid to even try the shot again. He was hitting short slices to force Roddick to the net, which exposed two parts of Roddick's game: his poor net play, and his poor approach shots. Federer held his serve with no difficulty at all, and looked as though the first set was just a warm up for him. Really, the only excitement of the first set was when Roddick started jawing at the umpire on a questionable call. Federer rolls through and wins the first set 6-2.

Second Set

Roddick came into this set a little more hungry, and you could see he wanted to try something different on his serve after being broken twice in the opening set. Now instead of hitting the 110s - 120s (mph) on his serve, Roddick is throwing up balls in the 130 mph range. This is exactly what Roddick needed because it made for quick, easy winning points. Even if Federer doesn't win the point, the long rallies help his game because it lets him get in his flow. There's a little more back-and-forth on the Federer serve in this set, primarily because Roddick started attacking the second serve opportunities by stepping inside the baseline. Of course, Federer being the mastermind, he would start putting a lot more topspin on his serves so they would kick out wide and force Roddick to hit them off-balance. To me, it was pretty fucking admirable to watch Roddick play so hard, chasing down every ball he physically could, after being thoroughly spanked in the first set. Roddick's only major mistakes came on his last service game, when it was 5-5, which Federer took advantage of to polish off the set at 7-5. Being down in sets 2-0 to Federer must feel like being in a plane that runs out of fuel...the ending is inevitable no matter what you try.

Roger Federer Hitting a Forehand

Third Set

Roddick continues to try to do whatever he can to try to get Federer slightly off his game - drop shots, charging the net, deep slice approach shots - and it is definitely improving his chances. It looked like the set was going to be over at 2-2, with Roddick serving at 15-40 (double break point), but he fought back and kept the set on serve. This set started to look a lot like the second set, with Federer serving down 4-5, but unlike the second set, Roddick came into this return game on a mission. Federer was starting to look like he might be losing this set at 15-30, with Roddick starting to go for more on his baseline shots. Surprise surprise...Federer bounces back under the pressure, and gives Roddick the serve back now at 5-5. This is exactly how the second set went, but it felt like Roddick had more momentum going into this game. Unfortunately, Roddick stopped going for the bigger serves and the bigger shots, and made an absolute blunder at the net with the game at deuce. Just like the second set, Federer breaks Roddick's serve at 5-5, and cruises through his own service game to win the set 7-5. Roger Federer wins the first 2009 Australian Open Semi-Final: 6-2 7-5 7-5.

Rhetoric

What can I say? There's a reason why Roger Federer is knocking on the doorstep to tennis immortality. The man simply plays a perfect game: his serve is under the radar even though he doubled Roddick's ace count for the match, his backhand is as dangerous as his forehand, and the way he will sink his teeth in when he gets a lead, just make him the most feared tennis player (in history?). Some people are made to be doctors, some people are made to build houses, and Federer was made to play tennis. Federer's anticipation, court knowledge, and sheer talent all make him one of the most incredible athletes in the history of competitive sports.

Throughout the match, Roddick kept a rather open dialogue with the umpire, which is definitely part his personality and part nerves. On the other side of the court, Federer is the calm and collected assassin, always with his game face on and even his demeanor is all business. The line umpires were absolutely terrible in this match, including the people calling the service lines. Even though people gave Andy Roddick a slight chance to win this match, Federer came out to an early lead and was really never out of his comfort zone. It was cool to see tennis legend Rod Laver flew out from Los Angeles to watch the open, and sat in for this early match (which was played on the court named after him). Federer now looks to see who he faces in the championship, where he could square off with his "arch-nemesis", Rafael Nadal (#1), or the emerging young player, Fernando Verdasco (# 14). It is basically assumed that Nadal will cruise through his semi-final, which will make for another championship showdown between Federer and Nadal.

The Philadelphia Eagles come into face the Arizona Cardinals for the NFC Championship game - both teams were not expected to be at this point, and the Eagles needed 17th week magic to even make the playoffs. Eagles were the lower ranked team, but many sports writers considered the Cardinals to be the underdog in this game. Cardinals have Anquan Boldin back in the line up for this game, but they were still planning on having Larry Fitzgerald as their primary target.

Kurt Warner Throwing under Pressure

First half was absolutely all Cardinals, on both sides of the ball. Kurt Warner looked brilliant in the pocket, and had all kinds of time to throw. Edgerrin James had some solid running to loosen up the Eagles defense, and Warner spread the ball around starting from their first possession. The Cards opening drive touchdown was the first TD they gave up in the first quarter of a game since week 10 against the Giants. Cards defense was swarming the Eagles receivers, and getting to Donovan McNabb quickly off the hike. It was just complete dominance for the first half, with three TD passes to Fitzgerald, including a sweet-ass flea flicker play. McNabb looked really shaky dealing with the Cardinals in his face, throwing behind and below his receivers. Even when the Eagles had developing drives, they had to settle for punting for field goal attempts, rather than touchdowns. McNabb's go-to guy in the first half was his tight end, Brent Celek, even though it is usually his all-purpose running back, Brian Westbrook.

Going into the second half, the Eagles were down 6-24, and it looked like it would be another slaughter for the Cardinals. On the Eagles first drive Donovan McNabb coughs up the ball after several nice passes, and it started to feel like the game would be out of reach. Eagles blitzing started to mean something, and every time Warner dropped back to pass, he had less than 2 seconds to make his decision, which typically meant an inaccurate pass. When the Eagles got the ball back on their second possession, McNabb aired it out for a 50 yard gain to Kevin Curtis which lead to a red zone TD off a slant play to Celek. On their next possession, the Eagles spread the ball to Curtis and DeSean Jackson (who had been relatively quiet until now), and end with another red zone TD to Celek off an outside-inside route.

Kevin Curtis Splitting through Cardinals Secondary (Photo by Kevin Terrell/NFL.com)

It went to 24-19 with the Cardinals still having the edge going into the 4th quarter, but definitely losing their momentum. McNabb drops an absolute bomb down to Jackson for a 62-yard TD pass, after bobbling the ball under single coverage. Eagles score 19 unanswered points in less than 9 minutes, to take their first lead of the game for 25-24. If football was scored like boxing, the Cards would have had the first half, but the Eagles would definitely have the second half - Eagles offense was moving swiftly at their will. Cards struggling to get their offense going, so they are forced with a 4th and inches in the middle of the field. Tim Hightower gets the call after two unsuccessful attempts at getting the first down, and ends up getting the edge for a 6 yard first down. That 4th down pick up was the big turning point in the game, as the Cards continued down the field with two consecutive passes to Fitzgerald, to setup an 8-yard screen play TD pass to Hightower.

Larry Fitzgerald with One of his Amazing Catches (Photo by Kevin Terrell/NFL.com)

Larry Fitzgerald surpasses Jerry Rice's record of 409 postseason yards in a single season, ending this game with 152 yards, and going into the Super Bowl with 419 passing yards. It was looking a little bleak for the Cards as the Eagles started to dominate the second half, but Kurt Warner and Fitzgerald willed the victory. The Cards defense had to hold the Eagles back on their final drive under two minutes to go, but it pretty much felt like it was in the bag after the screen play to Hightower. Now the Cards travel to Tampa Bay and await their next opponent, being either the Steelers or the Ravens. Cardinals will be able to win their first title in 61 years, which is the second longest drought in professional sports.

* All photos courtesy of NFL.com.

LeBron James HustlingThe visiting New Orleans Hornets come into this game, wearing throw back jerseys from their New Orleans Buccaneers days. They have a tough task ahead of them with the home Cleveland Cavaliers: give them their first loss at home this season (Cavs are the only team in the NBA still perfect at home). This is the Cavs 17th sellout this season at home, and they have been having their way with opponents at Quicken Loans Arena with an average margin of victory at 16.5 points per game. On top of having the second leading scoring in LeBron James, the Cavs are best in the NBA at opponents points per game, opponents field goal percentage, and are second in the NBA on the offensive side of the ball at field goal percentage. While the Hornets are still a powerful team in the Western Conference, behind their star point guard Chris Paul (who is number one in the NBA in assists and steals), they have been playing pretty lackadaisically this season compared to last.

Peja Stojakovic came out shooting for the Hornets, but was relatively quiet by the end of the game. LeBron was spreading the ball early, freeing upon open three pointers from Wally Szczerbiak and Aleksandar Pavlovic (who had his first start of the season). With tight defense, and making it rain threes, the Cavs started steam rolling a tired-looking Hornets squad. There was little life in the Hornets for the entire first half, with the only notable thing being Chris Paul getting his 2,500th assist in his NBA career (getting their second fastest in NBA history). It seemed like whenever the Hornets starters were on the floor, they were slow to walk up the floor, slow to help out defense, and did absolutely nothing on the offensive boards. LeBron was kept relatively in check for the first half, but still helped with rebounds and allowing their three point shooters to be open on the wings.

Going into the second half, the Cavaliers were up 51-36. The Hornets starters really looked like they didn't want to be playing, which is really strange for a team that usually plays with decent intensity. The game was never really close, as the only offense the Hornets got was out of David West and Chris Paul, but there was virtually no defense through most of the game. We only saw a little life out of the Hornets with about 5 minutes left in the third, when they finally decided to play some team defense. The Cavs started the fourth quarter a little flat on offense, and were really riding on LeBron's shoulders to keep them ahead. At 4 minutes left in the game was the first time in the second half that the Hornets got the game within a single digit deficit, but it was too little too late. One of the main things that allowed the Hornets to slowly creep back into the game was the three point shooting that seemed to sizzle out for the Cavs - they hit 9 in the first half, and only got their first one in the second half with 3:40 left in the game. The Cavs finish the Hornets off in an easy 92-78 victory, with only small signs of concern near the end of the third.

LeBron James once again proves why he is the most explosive player in the NBA. Even coming into the game with a cold, and falling hard on his right elbow in the third quarter, he still managed to soar (literally) above all of the Hornets. 14 of LeBron's 29 points came in the fourth quarter alone, which he has typically been missing due to the Cavs being up by so much that he's been able to rest at the end of games this season. It was really strange to see the Hornets playing with such little energy, especially since the Cavs were the team that played a game the day before. The last thing I will mention is that the more I see Anderson Varejao play, the more I like him. He's not a super talented player, but he plays with more heart than most NBA teams combined. His hustle play reminds me of players like Dennis Rodman and Kurt Rambis - the guy simply plays hard every second he's on the floor.

Last year's Stanley Cup champions, Detroit Red Wings, enter this game at Staples Center against the home, Los Angeles Kings, leading the NHL in scoring, and having the best power play percentage. The Wings have been alternating their netminders this season, between Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin; both have 15 wins this season, and Conklin gets the start against the Kings. On the other end, Kings recently got rid of Jason LaBarbera to make way for Jon Quick, who comes into the game 4-4-0 on the season. Wings have had a killer season at 30-7-6, and there is little doubt that they will make their 18th consecutive playoff appearance - a record that will likely never be beaten by any other professional team.

Rare Shot of the Kings on Offense

Even though the Kings have only won 4 of their last 13, at 17-19-6, there is still a sellout crowd at Staples Center, with an overwhelming majority of Detroit fans. Early in the game, and throughout the entire way, the few Kings fans in attendance try to fight off the regular "Go Wings go" chants from the Detroit fans. Not much for the Kings fans to cheer about, aside from several close scoring chances all coming up short. Wings Kirk Maltby scores first at 12:20 into the game, and it is all downhill for the Kings from there. Henrik Zetterberg dishes a brilliant one-timer through the legs of Kings' defensemen Sean O'Donnell to find a wide open Johan Franzen for an easy goal right in front of Quick. Not sure if the pass would be considered luck or skill, but when you play such an offensive-minded game like the Wings, good things are bound to come your way.

Conklin Getting up after a Glove Save

The Wings win the game 4-0, with another two goals in the second period almost replicating what was seen in the first. For their third goal, Jiri Hudler fakes the shot from the center of the left face-off circle, and hits Mikael Samuelsson for the easy finish. A few minutes later, Tomas Kopecky finds a diving Kris Draper from behind the net. If Quick stopped any of the four goals, it would have been seriously impressive, but I can't say any were his fault. The Kings just did not put any pressure on the Wings when they were behind their own net, or when they were in and around Quick's crease. Where the Kings lack in skill, they normally make up for in intensity and physicality, but that was not the case this game.

Wings Help Defense Behind their Net

The Wings were winning the loose-puck battles, and even though the Kings were slightly more physical, it was sloppy - they'd lunge to pick up the hit, which typically would mean they were out-of-position. It seemed like aside from a couple scoring chances from Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown, they Kings could not get anything going on offense. Derek Armstrong and Matt Greene were leading the way in physical play for the Kings. In general, it is pretty amazing watching Detroit play, with the mind-blowing skill from the stick of Pavel Datsyuk, and watching future Hall of Fame'r Chris Chelios playing in his 25th season (he's turning 44 this year). One thing that stood out to me was a cheap shot from Kopecky in the third; during the most major scuffle of the game, Kopecky took a cheap shot at Armstrong with a punch to the face with his glove on. Punching someone with your glove on is some pretty pussy shit, especially when he's not expecting it. Here is the last half of said scuffle:

Even though the talk of this season has been the play from the San Jose Sharks, the Red Wings are only one game behind them, and are looking as good as ever; it's still early, but putting your money on the Wings repeating would be a pretty sound wager.

Jon Gruden fired as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, after 7 seasons of heading up the team, along with General Manager Bruce Allen. Gruden lead the team to a Super Bowl victory in the 2002 season against the Oakland Raiders - just one year after leaving the Raiders as their head coach - making Gruden the youngest head coach to ever win a Super Bowl.

Jon Gruden Has to take his Intensity Elsewhere in 2009

The Bucs overall record under Gruden was 57-55, with finishing 2008 9-7 after being 9-3. They lost their last four games, and most importantly, they lost their final game (a home game, mind you) against the Raiders, which knocked them out of a playoff spot. I can't say I'm stunned because of what happened this past season, but most of us following the Bucs this season were not expecting to see this news. In fact, I just asked a buddy yesterday if he thought Gruden or starting quarterback Jeff Garcia would be gone next season, and we both thought there was no way the Bucs would make such a huge change.

After Mike Shanahan was let go from the Broncos, it really seams like a terrible time to be an NFL head coach. It is almost a joke at this point, but I am wondering if Bill Belichick should worry about not having made the playoffs this season. Chuckie, as Gruden has often been nicknamed, will no doubt find a replacement team easily for the 2009 season. The Bucs head coach position is now probably the most coveted opening, if not second only to the New York Jets.

Posted
AuthorRedmanthatcould
CategoriesSports Reviews

Embarrass is probably not a strong enough word for what happened in Carolina today. This was an absolute beating; a slaughter, a massacre. The Arizona Cardinals came into this game as the heavy underdog to the Carolina Panthers, who finished number two in the NFC. It was supposed to be a sure victory for the Panthers, but I guess no one told that to Cardinals' starting quarterback, Kurt Warner. On top of the fact that the Cards finished the season so poorly, the Panthers have not lost a home game all season. The winner of this game goes onto play the winner of the Philadelphia Eagles / New York Giants game for the NFC championship.

Kurt Warner Poised in the Pocket (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This was a very easy game to analyze, from both teams. Cardinals came out on a mission to get their running game going, to open up their highly-explosive passing game. Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower both had solid games from the Cards back field, loosing up the Panthers defense with power running. 3 and 4 yard gains on first and second down made it really easy for Warner to get first downs. Warner played a solid game, helping his team to an easy 33 - 13 victory. Larry Fitzgerald proved again why he is one of the most dangerous receivers in the NFL, and why it was a no brainer for him to be a part of the NFC pro bowl roster. Even with Anquan Boldin out of the game, the Panthers corners could not take care of Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald had one circus catch early in the game, where he just out-jumped the double coverage on him, and the rest of the game he was equally as impressive. He set a Cardinals postseason record with 166 receiving yards, with lots of crossing patterns that were made possible due to all the time Kurt Warner had to make decisions.

Larry Fitzgerald Circus Grab (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It almost pains me to talk about how the Panthers played. Their starting quarterback, Jake Delhomme, turned 34 today, but that was the only high point of his Saturday. He played so bad, I sincerely question whether or not he was playing a legitimate game, or if he was on the take. If this was the real Jake Delhomme, then he deserves the next spot in the Southwest "Wanna get away?" commercials. How do you explain 6 turnovers - 1 fumble and 5 interceptions - in one playoff game? How does the starting quarterback of the second best team in the NFC do that? He threw only 12 interceptions over the 16-game regular season, and has 5 interceptions in one playoff game. This is was just too baffling to make any sense of. I understand throwing into tight double-coverage once, or even twice...but 5 interceptions...come the fuck on. And how do you go the entire game only giving your pro bowl wide receiver, Steve Smith, two passes. DeAngelo Williams had an OK game in their back field, but it was really nothing special, and he went virtually unnoticed. After their opening drive touchdown, the Panthers just withered away.

Jake Delhomme Pointing to the Muscle he wasn't Using (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Now the Cardinals wait and see if they play in New York for the NFC championship, or host the Eagles in Arizona. Either way, no one would have predicted that the Cardinals would have beat two tough NFC South opponents back-to-back. No one other than maybe Kurt Warner. Not sure where he was the last decade or so, but Warner is back at the top of his game, for possibly his last legit Super Bowl run. Chances are very good that Anquan Boldin will be back in the line-up for the NFC championship game, which gives Warner even more weapons than he had against the Panthers. All I know is it's gotta feel like utter shit being Jake Delhomme right now, after one of the most embarrassing postseason games I've ever seen. The only saving grace for Jake is that his last name is kind of difficult for the average person to pronounce, so people won't probably start saying, "you Delhomme'd that one" although they should.

Way to Delhomme it, Delhomme.

* All photos courtesy of Getty Images / NFL.com.

As though there was not enough drama in the NFL this season, we have even juicier news than Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the foot, Tom Brady being out for the season, the Dallas Cowboys not making the playoffs and Brett Favre being "forced" out of Green Bay. Mike Shanahan with his Team

Long-time Denver Broncos head coach and most recently executive VP of football operations, Mike Shanahan was fired Tuesday. Shanahan was dropped two days after the last day of the regular season, where his Broncos lost a decisive game to division rival, San Diego Chargers. After going 8-5, the Broncos lost their three remaining games, being the only team in NFL history to lead a division every week, and then lose that top spot in the final game. All that being said - what the flying fuck, Denver?

Loyalty, motherfuckers, do you speak it?!

Let's see...Mike Shanahan was with the Denver Broncos for 14 seasons. Over that span, he had a 61.6 winning percentage, won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in the 1997 and 1998 seasons, and only had two losing seasons in 1999 and 2007. Before being let go on Tuesday, Mike Shanahan was the longest tenured head coach in the NFL, with the next closest being Jeff Fisher of the Tennessee Titans who has 11 seasons under his belt.

There were certainly some obvious firings that were going to take place this off-season, but Shanahan's name was not on anyone's radar. In my opinion, this was a horrible decision by the Broncos' owner Pat Bowlen, and I sincerely hope it bites him square in the ass. On behalf of Mike Shanahan to you, Mr. Bowlen: go fuck yourself and the horse you rode in on.

What makes this even more bizarre is that it even took the players by shock - just imagine your current manager being fired out-of-the-blue, even though he seemed perfect for the job and did it for 14 MOTHERFUCKING YEARS! Broncos' starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, had this to the Rocky Mountain News after he found out:

I'm disappointed, I'm shocked, I'm not happy about it, I'm not pleased with it at all. We had zero inkling this was going to happen. I didn't have a clue.

No big deal though, if Cutler becomes too outspoken - which he typically is - just can him too, right? He only racked up the most passing yards of any Broncos QB in 2008, surpassing John Elway's previous mark, but who cares? It's business, baby. Right?

Mike Shanahan watching Jay Cutler Throw

The only way there could be any justice in this is if the Kansas City Chiefs pick up Shanahan as their head coach, and he beats the shit out of the Broncos every time they face each other in division games for the next 14 years. I'm not even a Broncos fan and I still feel this is a piece of shit move of epic proportions. I sincerely hope the Broncos' record drops like a turd next season, you assholes.

UFC 92: The Ultimate 2008

UFC 92 is one of the biggest cards I've seen in recent memory, if not the biggest. The three fights I will go over could each easily anchor any card as the main event, and there were no disappointments, but plenty of upsets. This was the sort of event that really confuses me when I hear people are still fans of boxing, because the UFC is so much more exciting than boxing. Where UFC has really excelled and boxing has decisively slowed down is the fact that there are MMA fighters that are becoming household names, while the average person couldn't name two or three boxers.

Quinton Jackson vs Wanderlei Silva

This fight is in the Light Heavyweight Division, and is the third fight overall between Quinton Jackson and Wanderlei Silva. The first two fights between them went to Silva, with both of those fights were in Pride fighting (the main MMA competitor to UFC). These fighters really don't like each other, but it is easy to not like Jackson - he loves running his mouth, and he is extremely flashy. Before the fight began, you could see that Jackson looks much smaller than in prior fights, and Silva is just a mean looking motherfucker. Silva comes into the fight as the favorite, especially since he won the last two times they faced each other.

1st Round

The fighters did not tap gloves to start the fight, which is usually typical sportsmanship at the beginning of a fight. It started extremely cautiously from both men, with only some signs of fighting half-way into the round from Silva's leg kicks and one big knee. They didn't even exchange punches, even though it was all a stand up fight.

Silva goes in for a soft right punch, that Jackson easily ducked under, and countered with a BIG left cross. This exchange was out of absolutely nowhere, and that left cross knocks Silva out cold. Jackson went in for a few more punches when Silva was on the ground, but those were pointless - Silva was fully knocked out after that left cross. Jackson wins by knockout at 3:21 in the first round.

Conclusion

This was a strange fight, to be sure. Really not much of anything happened prior to the knockout. You could have sneezed and missed it because it came out of nowhere. Silva was clearly surprised, and Jackson was probably surprised it ended the way it did. My guess is that if that same left cross landed later in the fight, Silva would have been able to take it because he would have been warmed up.

Frank Mir vs Antonio Nogueira

This fight is for the Interim Heavyweight Championship, and the winner of this fights Brock Lesnar for the Heavyweight title. Frank Mir and Antonio Nogueira have a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, but Mir has a much better stand up game, and Nogueira would have the edge on the ground. You may remember Mir from years back when he was at the top of his game, prior to a devastating motorcycle accident, that many said he would not recover from. During his return to form, Mir actually beat Lesnar, but that was when Lesnar was very inexperienced in the UFC, so a re-match would be killer. That being said, there's still a big, dominating fighter standing in the way of that re-match, with Nogueira being the heavy favorite to win. Nogueira is probably the ugliest fighter in MMA today, with the kind of face that even possibly a mother couldn't love.

1st Round

The round starts with lots of kicks from Mir, and he landed a couple big right punches to the head of Nogueira. Mir is controlling the fight early, and keeps pushing the action with punching combinations that lead to uppercut after uppercut. Mir knocks down Nogueira with a big straight left, but he did not follow it up on the ground because he wasn't ready to knock out Nogueira and probably felt he would lose momentum.

Nogueira is surprisingly not doing shit this round; he's basically a punching bag for Mir. As the first round closes, Mir knocks Nogueira down again; Nogueira took brutal punishment this round, and he's lucky to get out of it.

2nd Round

Not a lot going on to start the first half of the round; Nogueira kept back tracking when Mir would try to come in. Mir lands a straight left that rocked Nogueira back, which Mir followed up with a devastating left hook that knocks Nogueira down for the third time, and wins Mir the fight. With 1:54 in the second round, Mir wins by technical knock out.

Conclusion

This was all Mir from the get-go, and in 38 MMA career fights, is the first time Nogueira losses by knock out. As Nogueira stood back up after the fight was called, he stumbled around like he didn't know where he was; Nogueira got fucking rocked. Mir is now the new Interim Heavyweight Champion, and awaits his re-match with Lesnar to see who will hold the heavyweight title.

I really like Mir as a fighter, and as a person. He studies his opponents thoroughly before facing off, and is essentially a historian of MMA fighting. Some people don't like him because he looks like a pretty boy, but it's not his fault that he's so dominating that even a dominating fighter like Nogueira could do no damage to him. After his win, Mir showed Nogueira tons of respect, and even added these humbling words:

I've never been more afraid in my life as I was when I walked into the ring tonight

Rashad Evans vs Forrest Griffin

This fight is for the Light Heavyweight Championship, and is considered the main event for UFC 92. Forrest Griffin is the winner from the first season of the Ultimate Fighter show, while Rashad Evans won the second season. A couple interesting things about Evans MMA / UFC career: he has never been defeated in MMA and he's never attempted a submission in UFC. Evans is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, but he has turned into a stand up fighter, who likes to ground and pound if it gets to the floor. Griffin is the every man fighter, that most UFC fans like because he is a no nonsense, scrapping fighter. Griffin is a freestyle fighter, with heavy striking (particularly kicking due his long reach), and great submission technique.

1st Round

Early on they are trading nice leg kicks, with not much going on in the punching game. Griffin was able to land lots of leg kicks, although none of his high kicks landed. Evans is very quick with his combinations - going in fast, and coming out fast - with great foot work as usual. The first round saw no clinches or take downs, as both fighters were sizing each other up with an all out stand up fight. Griffin took this round, but only marginally; his biggest strike was a hard kick to the ribs which Evans really felt. This round was easily the most exciting round of the evening so far.

2nd Round

Evans starts off with some nice left jabs, but that Griffin started to push the issue. Griffin started this round much more aggressively, and after a couple successful combinations, it looked like he could smell blood. After this big rush from Griffin, Evans blows him a kiss and grabs his dick - exactly why very few people like this cocky, flashy asshole.

Griffin keeps working on the inside and outside of Evan's left knee with powerful kicks; even more so than the first round, Griffin is landing kicks left and right, to the legs, mid-section and head of Evans. Evans not doing much of anything this round, until he gets a big right hand in. Evans changes his strategy a bit by leading his attacks with kicks rather than just all punching.

Griffin ends the round with a really nice combination that concludes with a small superman punch to the face of Evans. Griffin really took advantage of his reach advantage with leg kicks, and clearly pushed all the action in this round. While Griffin only marginally won the first round, he decisively won the second round.

3rd round

Griffin once again starts aggressively with nice combinations. At this point in the fight, it has basically been a kickboxing fight, with the clear edge going to Griffin. A minute into the round, Evans has his first big opening with a ton of punches taking Griffin to the ground. While Griffin is on his back, Evans lands several hammerfists, which looked like it was going to be the end, but nice work from Griffin to get out of it and get into a full guard. At this point, Evans sees that he is not going to finish it off yet, so he eases up until he can get a better position.

Still on the ground, on a closed guard from Griffin, Evans lands some really powerful right elbows, which allows him to get onto his knees for more leverage. Now with even more control, Evans starts making it rain punches, with a vicious of ground-and-pounding. Evans seals the fight with a huge straight right to the chin of Griffin, which allows Evans to get on his feet and starts pounding away at a flailing Griffin. After several lefts directly to the head of Griffin, the fight is called. Evans wins by technical knock out at 2:46 in the third round.

Conclusion

This was a big shift of momentum, as the fight was definitely going to Griffin until Evans landed his big punches to get Griffin to the ground in the third round. When Evans started teeing off his hammerfists, it was the beginning of the end. Evans is now the new Light Heavyweight Champion.

Griffin, very humbly thanked all the fans for coming out to watch the fight, and said he simply got his ass kicked by the better fighter in Evans. Even in defeat, I liked Griffin more than Evans.

This will be the first of two games between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, for a repeat of their showdown in last seasons finals, where the Celtics mopped the floor the with the Lakers. Celtics are on an absolute tear this season, with the best start in NBA history at 27-2, and this game will really be a test of how each team stacks up this season. Celtics are looking for their 20th win in a row against an offensively-charged Lakers team, that is 23-5 overall, and 14-1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. To start the game, Paul Pierce, of the Celtics, and Kobe Bryant, of the Lakers, are doing whatever they want offensively. Rajon Rondo, of the Celts, picks up two quick fouls within the first three minutes of the game, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers elects to keep him in the game. Neither team is doing anything on the offensive glass to start the game, nor are they containing dribble penetration. First quarter is pretty even, with the Celtics up 24 - 23. Bryant finished the first with 10 points, even though Ray Allen played him extremely well on defense. Neither big man - Kevin Garnett, of the Celtics, or Pau Gasol, of the Lakers - had much of a first quarter. Celtics only starter on the floor to start the second quarter is Pierce, while the Lakers have starters Bryant and Andrew Bynum. The Lakers also have Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom on the floor who are both easily starters if they played on any other team in the NBA.

Doc Rivers Yelling at Celtcis (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

What I love about Ariza, besides his athleticism and court awareness is his hustle. After a huge hustle play, from Ariza, the Staples Center crowd went absolutely nuts. Bryant and Allen are shooting lights out to start the second quarter. Two beautiful alley-oop play from Rondo to Garnett quiet the crowd momemtarily. Near the end of the half the Lakers finally start getting some offensive rebounds, and start playing a more physical brand of basketball. Very clear that when the starters for both teams are on the floor, the Celtics have the edge, but when the benches are out there, the Lakers were outplaying them. Strange that the Celtics first trip to the follow line was with 13.5 seconds left in the first half while they average 29.6 per game. The Lakers clearly out-hustled and played better defense than the Celtics. Bryant finishes the first half with 16 points, and Garnett has 12 points. Going into half-time, the Lakers up 51 - 46.

To start the third, Luke Walton dishes a pretty bounce pass to a back-door cutting Bryant who slams the ball home, energizing the crowd. Pierce starts extremely hot on the offensive side and playing inspired, while the Lakers are getting a nice lift from Bynum's physical play. As the third quarter reaches the half-way point, the Celtics are playing a bit sloppy on both ends of the floor, with missed assignments on defense, and terrible passing on offense. What is impressing me the most about the Lakers is their beautiful ball movement, and their ability to play good defense without fouling. After the Celtics show some signs of unraveling, Doc Rivers takes a well-placed time out, to get his team back on track. This leads to a 15-5 run from the Celtics, where Pierce and Allen start really taking over on offense, and the Lakers are not getting any second chances on their trips down on offense. To close the third, Odom hits two three pointers back-to-back, which is pretty unusual for the 6' 10" forward. Lakers reclaim their lead, with a 9-3 run, with Bryant on the bench to end the third. Going into the fourth quarter, Lakers are up 71 - 67. Now Phil Jackson, Lakers head coach, is only 12 minutes away from his 1,000th career victory.

Andrew Bynum Contesting Paul Pierce's Layup Attempt (AP Photo/Jeff Lewis)

Celtics intelligently start the fourth by running their offense through Allen, to bring it within two points three minutes into the fourth, and a few minutes later it is as though they forgot about Allen. Neither team is really in sync offensively half-way through the fourth; they are playing with lots of emotion, but the skill level has gone down drastically. With under five minutes left in the game, Ariza charges up the crowd with yet another huge hustle play, diving out-of-bounds and saving the ball. Garnett is having a big fourth quarter on both end of the floor, while Kobe Bryant is relatively quiet. Under three minutes to go, and the game is dead even, meaning that every trip down the floor is that much more critical. Ray Allen has lost his range in the fourth quarter, throwing up more three point bricks. Gasol turning the heat up to bring the Lakers up by four with two minutes left in the game; Lakers on a 6-0 run. The big men for both teams are taking over, with Gasol and Garnett trading off brilliant plays. Gasol scores the Lakers last 7 points, with all three of his baskets coming off of assists from Bryant, putting the Lakers up 5 with 1:38 to go. Gasol comes up big again with a huge block on a Ray Allen three point attempt, which essentially caps the game. Lakers finish the game on a 13 - 2 run, and get the win 92 - 83.

Celtics winning streak ends at 19, and Jackson gets to his 1,000th career victory the fastest in NBA history. It was incredible hearing how loud the crowd was getting in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Lakers win this game on the shoulders of Gasol's big plays and Bryant's excellent ability to spread the offense. This wasn't a playoff game, but it definitely felt like it, and it came down to the defense and hustle play from the Lakers to pull off this huge victory. Garnett played extremely well for the Celtics for the entire game, but Pierce and Allen definitely tapered off in the fourth quarter, when it really mattered. Nonetheless, if both teams keep up this type of intensity for the rest of the season, there's no doubt that they will have a re-match in the finals.

36-Hour Sale: All Los Angeles Kings Home Game Tickets for January Only $11.50!
The Los Angeles Kings, in conjunction with Sports Chalet and KTLK AM 1150 present a pretty sweet-ass ticket sale. Tickets for all Kings home games, at Staples Center, in January will be $11.50 a pop - that is absolutely dirt cheap! They state that lower-level seating is also including with the $11.50 ticket pricing. On top of it all, you can feel good about your purchase as $1 from each ticket sold will benefit the Children's Hospital. Seems like a fucking no-brainer if you ask me. Pricing is available for only 36 hours, starting tomorrow, Friday December 26th at 11:50 a.m., and going through Saturday December 27th at 11:59 p.m. Get on this deal early, to beat out all those piece of shit ticket scalpers.

The games in January are against several top caliber teams, so even if you are not a huge Kings fan, you can at least see some quality hockey all around. Each game starts at 7:30 p.m. PST, and here are the dates and teams the Kings will face:

  • Saturday, 01/03/09 versus Philadelphia Flyers
  • Thursday, 01/08/090 versus Anaheim Ducks
  • Saturday, 01/10/09 versus New Jersey Devils
  • Monday, 01/12/09 versus Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Thursday, 01/15/09 verus Detroit Red Wings
  • Thursday, 01/29/09 versus Chicago Blackhawks

When you hit the TicketMaster purchase page, remember to key in the password: JINGLE. For ticket purchasing information, go to LAKings.com. Hope to see some decent turnout from anyone in L.A. that calls themselves a Kings fan!

Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Kings entered Nationwide Arena coming off of two road loses, with a record of 13-14-6, while the Columbus Blue Jackets, with a record of 14-15-4, have won their last five home games. During their last meeting, earlier this month at Staples Center, the Kings shutout the Blue Jackets 3-0, and they were poised to let history repeat itself. Blue Jackets unfortunately have to play the rest of the season without their rookie phenom, Derick Brassard, after he dislocated his shoulder last week during a fight with fellow rookie James Neal of the Dallas Stars. Both teams have a rookie in net; the Kings giving Jon Quick the nod for only his second start of the season, while the Blue Jackets have the amazing talents of Steve Mason guarding their post. Mason comes into this game leading the league with a 1.91 goals against average, and 4th in the league with a 0.929 save percent - not too shabby at all!

Steve Mason Tested Early & Often

Kings come out for blood. It seems the main strategy Kings head coach, Terry Murray, wanted to accomplish was to dump the puck into the offensive zone early and often, play aggressive forecheck, gain the offensive zone with speed, and get as many shots on goal as possible. They applied these tactics from the first dropped puck, and got off to an early lead with the first goal of the season for Raitis Ivanans coming in the first three minutes of the game, after Mason allows a big rebound right on the doorstep to his net. This was a goal Mason could have stopped regardless, but it came off Ivanans' stick like a knuckle-puck.

Kings kept digging and finding loose pucks, with lots of shots on net, even though many were low percentage shots from the point. Half-way into the first, you can hear the Blue Jackets crowd getting testy, wanting their team to step it up. Unfortunately for them, the Kings get a second goal in the first period, as Anze Kopitar gives a beautiful (delayed) one-timer to Patrick O'Sullivan, for O'Sullivan's ninth goal of the season.

At one point in the first period, the Kings outshot the Blue Jackets 11-2. The only real test in the first for Quick was a big save off a point-blank shot from Rick Nash, who always has an impact on the game. It is no wonder the Blue Jackets are last in the league on the power play, because they did absolutely nothing on their three opportunities in the first period, including 20 seconds where the were 5-on-3. Blue Jackets coach, Ken Hitchcock, decides to change things up a bit for the second period, and his team started playing much more aggressive because of it. Blue Jackets defenseman would pinch in on plays in their offensive zone to keep the puck in their possession, and the team in general was attacking the Kings passes in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone. How do the Kings respond? With even more shots on goal. Even though the feeling on the ice was that the second period went to the Blue Jackets (unfortunately for them, this is not boxing, and the only thing that matters is they didn't score), the Kings outshot them again, this time 21-10. Those 21 shots on goal in the second set the Kings season high for shots on goal in any period. Most of those 21 were shots from the point, with the only scoring opportunity coming during a power play when Kyle Quincey unloaded a big slapshot that hit the goal post.

Blue Jackets have no Answer

For the most part, this was not a physical game, other than some key hard hits from the Blue Jackets in the second. Kings really had no answer for their physicality, and didn't really need to - they played a Red Wings style game, letting their sticks do the talking. The third period was more of an onslaught from the Blue Jackets, and the Kings only came on the attack when they could. For about the first 8 to 9 minutes of the third, the Kings defense played played extremely soft and sloppy. Other than that stretch, they controlled their zone with smart passing, and aggressive forechecking on the other end of the ice. At one point, it felt like the tables were turning in the third with a Rick Nash goal, but it was ruled from the officials in Toronto that the ruling on the ice, of the goal coming off a highstick, would stand. For those unaware of the rule - if a player touches the puck with a highstick (above the level of the crossbar), then an ensuing goal off that highstick is not counted. With 2:08 left in the game, the Kings seal another 3-0 shutout with the first goal of the season from Peter Harrold, who played give-and-go with Kopitar.

Of the five penalties the Kings sustained in the game, three came because of Rick Nash - this guy is a big, fast scoring machine, and really draws a crowd when he's on the ice. Nash reminds me a little bit of Eric Lindros in his prime, with a little less weight and his physical play is centered on extending his offense, rather than being a bruiser. Jon Quick played a solid & controlled game, even on only 24 shots, there was a small stretch half-way into the third where the Blue Jackets crashed the net and kept trying to jam the puck through.

Jon Quick with the Shutout

Even though Steve Mason let three goals in, he still played one hell of a game himself, facing 42 shots and a really determined Kings team. As I am sure Ken Hitchcock already knows, he desperately needs to work on his team's power play, as they never seem to get anything set. Although the goalies and Patrick O'Sullivan were awarded the three stars of the game, I would have to go with Anze Kopitar over O'Sullivan. Kopitar had two assists, seemed to always be pressing the issue to get the puck into the offensive zone, and played some great team defense. He's not a big guy, but he makes up for it in stick handling, forechecking and ice awareness.

The New York Giants come into this game at 11-2 against the struggling Dallas Cowboys who are 8-5. This is the second to last regular season game to ever be played at the Cowboys Texas Stadium, before they move to their new home in Arlington, Texas for the 2009 season. Both teams are coming off of some recent controversy - Giants Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the foot (literally) and Cowboys Terrell Owens being very vocal (as usual) about not getting the ball down-the-stretch in their lose last week. Owens was booed during the opening introductions, and was booed several more times throughout the game. Giants also have a key scratch to their starting running back, Brandon Jacobs, who is still out with a knee injury. For two teams known for their explosive offenses, and dominance with time of possession, this was most certainly a defensive battle. Neither team could get anything going on the ground, which also meant neither quarter back had much time to throw the ball on passing downs. Since neither team got much out of their running backs, the first half saw many three and outs, and lots of bad passing. No big plays to speak of in the first half, and really no offense from the Giants. The Giants went into half time with a season low 78 total yards - their lowest first half total since November of 2006. Cowboys big drive in the first quarter, which should have resulted in at least a field goal, was squashed by back-to-back sacks by defensive end Renaldo Wynn, and nose tackle Jay Alford.

Patrick Crayton After his Touchdown Reception (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Cowboys most impressive drive in the first half resulted in a touchdown pass to wide receiver Patrick Crayton, on just the fourth play of the drive. It looked like Cowboys QB Tony Romo was across the line-of-scrimmage when he released the ball, but a Giants challenge of the play was overruled, giving the Cowboys their only points of the half. Giants only scoring drive of the first half, which resulted in a field goal, came off a big 24-yard pass play to their big tight end Kevin Boss, who was lined up as a wide receiver on the play. Romo got hit and hurried early and often. Romo was forced to make many off-balanced throws, with Giants defense in his face, as well as throws off his back foot, and with little time to react in the pocket. For the most part, Romo handled the Giants blitzing well. On a sack in the first half, it looked like Romo might not have finished the game with a blow he took to his lower back, but he fought through it. Giants QB Eli Manning really had no time to get into any kind of rhythm. Cowboys had a relentless pass rush, which is a tough element to work around when you have a pocket QB like Manning. This half was all defense, with a slight edge going to the Cowboys.

Second half was almost a repeat of the first, and as well as the Cowboys defense played in the first half, I was impressed at their complete dominance in the second half. It became more and more obvious that Marion Barber was still not feeling 100%, because Tashard Choice lead the way out of the Cowboys back field on both rushing and passing plays. Giants most certainly are a different team without Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress in the lineup. They could get nothing going on the ground, which left Manning susceptible to sack after sack after sack. The key to the Cowboys defense was they were getting good pass rush with their 4-man front, allowing their secondary to play very physical; without Burress in the lineup, the Giants main threat was Domenik Hixon, who was covered like a glove by Terence Newman. Manning was forced to lots of 3rd and long plays, which meant he had to hold the ball longer to allow his receivers time to run to the first down line, but the Giants offensive line was no match for DeMarcus Ware, or Greg Ellis.

One of Three Sacks b DeMarcus Ware (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

As John Madden mentioned several times throughout the game, the team to win would be the one that would get something going on the ground, and that ended up being the Cowboys. Both of their touchdown drives in the second half came off of big runs by Tashard Choice. On the first of these two drives, Choice had a big 22-yard run, which was followed by a dump pass to Jason Witten where he took the ball down to the 1 yard line after an awesome straight arm to middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. Once again, it was the Choice / Witten combination to get the Cowboys their other touchdown of the second half. With just over three minutes in the game, the Cowboys face a 3rd and 9. Romo goes to Witten on a short crossing pattern, that he catches 3 yards away from the 1st down marker, but he literally dragged free safety Michael Johnson to extend for the 1st down. On the very next play, Choice springs for the largest run of the game (38 yards) off a beautiful block from guard Leonard Davis, which gives Choice his first NFL touchdown, and seals the game for the Cowboys at 20-8.

Tashard Choice Trotting in for his 38-Yard Touchdown Run (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The story of the game was defense through and through, and the Cowboys just wanted it more. DeMarcus Ware had an amazing game, with three sacks on Manning, putting him at the top of the list for league leaders in sacks. The 8 sacks by the Cowboys defense was the most the team had in 11 years. The Giants don't seem to be able to handle the Cowboys pass rush - they have faced the Cowboys twice this season, giving up 12 sacks, while only giving up 11 sacks combined in their other 12 games. This loss puts the Giants hopes of home field advantage in the playoffs in question, setting up a huge game next Sunday night as they face the Carolina Panthers which will determine who takes top honors in the NFC. Cowboys really needed this win, putting them at 9-5. Funny how winning erases doubt and hostility, as we saw shots of Romo / Witten / Owens laughing on the sideline near the end of the game. Without question, this was a huge win for the Cowboys, who still have two big games: at home against the Ravens, and in Philadelphia against the Eagles.

I love games like this one, where it is a battle of defenses, and football in December is fucking awesome.

* All photos courtesy of Getty Images / NFL.com.

If you're gonna lose, I guess it's better to look good while doing it; the new jerseys for the Los Angeles Kings are very slick. With the Toronto Maple Leafs vising the Kings, it meant just about everyone in Los Angeles that transplanted from Toronto was in attendance. At this point, the Kings "home" games have pretty much turned into road games, since they have no real fans and their crowds almost always are predominantly cheering for their opponents. In any case, this game was a pretty entertaining evening with two struggling franchises squaring off. The Leafs entered the game at 8-9-6, while the Kings came in at 10-9-3.

Opening Face Off: Toronto Maple Leafs at Los Angeles Kings

The Kings came out of the gate hungry, with Alexander Frolov scoring an early goal in the first minute of play, and they kept the pressure on for a majority of the first period. Leafs started to show some signs of life near the end of the first period, but the momentum was heavily in the Kings favor throughout the period. It was kind of funny that throughout the game, the Leafs-majority crowd at the sparsely-populated Staples Center would cheer "go Leafs go" much louder than the "go Kings go" cheers. Other than the early goal, Leafs netminder Vesa Toskala was a fucking brick wall. Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera was not tested early, but stopped all 10 shots he faces in the first period.

Both teams played pretty conservatively through the second, and while the Kings had more shots on goal in the period, the Leafs had the better scoring opportunities. The teams started upping the physical play, with lots of small scuffles after the whistle blew. After a leveling, HUGE hit from Leafs big defenseman Jeff Finger on Kings forward Oscar Moller, Kings center Derek Armstrong came to the rescue. Watch the mediocre fight that ensues between Armstrong and Finger:

The goalies continued to play strong through the third period. Toskala had big saves in the second and the third, with some awesome glove hand saves, while LaBarbara had to deal with several break-aways in the third off of Kings careless defensive mistakes. Here is Toskala flashing some leather in the second period:

12 seconds into the third, the Kings Sean O'Donnell gets called for tripping, which seemed harmless enough at the time. With that penalty coming to a close, the Leafs enter the Kings zone offsides, which was not called, but the tripping penalty seconds later against the Kings Dustin Brown was called. No big deal though since this would mean the Leafs were 5 on 3 for only a mere 13 seconds, right? Sure enough, Leafs Matt Stajan knots the game at 1-1 before the first tripping penalty expired. Here is how that goal unraveled, and I will add LaBarbara had no chance with how crowded the crease was:

Now the Leafs are 5 on 4, with the momentum heavily on their side, and the Staples Center still loud from their fans. Leafs score again on the second power play, off a nice one-timer. It was a textbook pass off the stick of John Mitchell from behind the net, for an easy wrister from Mikhail Grabovski who was on the doorstep of the Kings goal. Once again, little LaBarbara could do, and while I have been pretty critical of him in the past, he played an all but flawless game against the Leafs. Toskala was really put to the test after those two early goals from his team. Kings overall intensity level went through the roof, and they kept on pressuring Toskala to come up with big save after big save. When the Kings defense would occasionally pinch the blue line to add to the attack, it led to Leafs uneven attacks if the puck got loose in the neutral zone, which LaBarbara handled with ease. Strangely enough, the only part of the third that the Kings were not dominating the attack (after those first 2 goals by the Leafs, of course) was when they went on the power play with about 8 minutes left in the game. Kings had tons of opportunities to tie this game up, but just could not get the job done against the quick Toskala. Last ditch effort for the Kings was to pull LaBarbara, but it didn't amount to any real scoring chances as the Leafs defense gave them a tough time dumping the puck in.

For more than half the third period - pretty much after their second goal - the Leafs were just playing not to lose. It worked out for them off the brilliant play of Toskala who ended up stopping 32 out of 33 shots on goal. They Leafs put up a third goal on the empty net, icing the game 3-1. Neither team played a great game, and it would have probably been a lot more interesting for the Leafs fans if their team did not shut down offensively after their early third period goals. But as they say - a win is a win is a win - so if you play ugly and win, you still get the two points.

What a difference a year makes, huh? Last year, the San Diego Charges came into week 13 with a 6-5 record, before winning their next five straight, then losing in the second round of the playoffs, while the Atlanta Falcons came into week 13 at 3-8, to then go onto to loss their next five games, ending their season at 3-13. Now in 2008, the tables have most certainly turned. The Chargers came into this game at a pathetic 4-7 in a division they were expecting to win handily, and the Falcons came in at 7-4 on the shoulders of their rookie superstar quarterback, Matt Ryan. In their last 5 meetings, prior to Sunday's game, the Falcons won 4 out of 5, even though the Chargers were ahead in rushing and passing yardage. The only difference in this 22-16 victory for the Falcons is that they finished the game ahead in rushing and passing.

Welcome to Qualcomm Stadium in Beautiful San Diego, California

Chargers came out of the gate, at least pretending to be a team hungry for a big win at Qualcomm Stadium, in front of their home crowd. On their opening drive, they had 4th and 3 at the Falcons 34, which they decided to go for rather than kick the field goal. Philip Rivers pass was tipped at the line by Falcons Jonathan Babineaux, and they turned it over on downs. On the contrary, the Falcons started off very conservative with easy pass plays to get Matt Ryan's arm game ready, which setup an easy field goal.

LaDainian Tomlinson has all but put up the white flag of surrender. In my opinion, his ass needs to be benched - he is not playing like a team player. His running has about the same intensity as waiting in the line at the DMV. Tomlinson literally only had one powerful run, which came up in the third quarter, resulting in a 6-yard rush where he actually finished the run. At the end of that run, Tomlinson put middle linebacker Curtis Lofton on his ass, which was his longest run of the game. By the end of the game, he had 24 rushing yards on 14 carries, and it was not his offensive line that didn't come to play, it was all LT. The only impressive thing Tomlinson did all game was get his 500th career reception. On the other side of the ball, Michael Turner ran all over the Chargers defense. He could get 4, 5 and 6 yard gains at his leisure, which made very manageable third downs for the Falcons. Michael Turner just did whatever he wanted, whether it was a powerful run up the middle, or getting around the edge to the outside; he had a Marion Barber type of game, owning up both the defensive line and the secondary. Here is an example of the type of holes and the type of running until the end of the play that Turner had:

Matt Ryan had a solid game, and looked very comfortable in the pocket. His favorite target, Roddy White, accounted for 112 of Ryan's 207 passing yards. There was very little pressure on Ryan other than a few times where he was hurried with someone in his face. He threw a couple amazing balls, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to an outstretched Justin Peelle. His most impressive drive was at the end of the third quarter, when the Falcons started at their own 28, and went down the field to score. Not only did this end up being the winning drive, but it showed off why the Falcons are now 8-4. Ryan went to four different receivers on this drive - of the five receptions, three of them were wide fucking open including a 25-yard pass to White - Turner was also involved with a nice 15-yard run (his biggest run of the game), and Ryan got a crucial first down with a quarterback sneak on 3rd and 1. His counterpart, Philip Rivers, really could not get anything going after the opening drive. Chargers had a pitiful 69 yards passing in the first half, and 43 of those yards came from their opening drive. In the second quarter, after Tomlinson was crushed on a run for a loss of three yards, the Chargers were pinned to their 1 yard line, and on the next play Rivers is called for intentional grounding in their own endzone which results in a safety.

Hand off to Tomlinson 1 of 4 Hand off to Tomlinson 2 of 4 Hand off to Tomlinson 3 of 4 Hand off to Tomlinson 4 of 4
Tomlinson Getting Pushed back to the 1-Yard Line by Strong Safety Lawyer Milloy

Philip Rivers big problem has always been, and continues to be holding the ball too long. Look at how long Brett Favre or Kurt Warner hold the ball - usually out of their hands within a second and a half - Rivers holds the ball into the 3 or 4 second mark, which always ends up badly. In general, Rivers did not look sharp this game. His poise and decision-making were nowhere to be found; couple Rivers' play with Tomlinson's obvious lack-of-spirit, and some "interesting" decisions by Norv Turner (going for it on 4th down on their first possession, and going for 2 when it wasn't necessary), and it is no surprise the Chargers potent offense came up flat, moving the team to a record of 4-8. Chargers only bright spot came on the defensive side of the ball when free safety Eric Weddle picked up a fumble and returned it for an 86-yard touchdown. Here is the video of Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran coughing up the ball after getting hit by Chargers corner Quentin Jammer, allowing Weddle the highlight reel opportunity:

Chargers playoff hopes are now all but over. They do have a shot though, but it would be a very "if all the stars aligned" sort of outcome. The Chargers would have to win all of their next four games, and the Denver Broncos would have to lose all of their next four games. Now that would make for an incredible finish, considering the last game of the Broncos season is at Qualcomm Stadium. It is an unlikely finish, but it could happen considering the Broncos will be facing Carolina and Buffalo, while the Chargers big test is at Tampa Bay in week 16. If I were a Chargers fan, I would not bet on getting into the postseason - this team is just not the same team it was last year.

Your Los Angeles Kings unveiled their new alternate jersey this past Saturday, November 22 during a shootout loss to Colorado in front of a sold out crowd at the Staples Center. For those of you that haven't seen the Kings new alternate jersey, here it is:

The L.A. Kings New Alternate Jersey

This jersey clearly recalls the Kings heyday of the late 80's to mid 90's, otherwise known as the Gretzky era, with it's black and silver color scheme. It was around this time, when I was about 10 or 11 that I started watching and generally becoming interested in hockey, and being that I was an L.A. resident, the Kings were, and still are my team. It would be about another 5 or so years until I would start playing.

So with that little bit of exposition out of the way, I am torn on this new jersey. I have truly mixed feelings...

Okay, so the crest, I'm pretty sure I'm liking the crest. It's bold without looking like the Chevy emblem. But it's lacking a horizontal stripe at the bottom. To me the horizontal stripe at the waist makes a jersey look more like a jersey and less like a sweater which is what was worn by the Original Six. My biggest problem with the jersey is the very thing that the Kings purposely instituted into it's design, and that is the color scheme.

Look, I can't stress enough how much better these colors look without a Chevy logo adorning them, but if you remember back about ten years, one of the chief reasons the Kings moved away from the silver and black was due to the strong gang affiliation these particular colors held. It's the same reason why there are still so many Raiders fans out here. It's less about the team and more about the menacing implications of the colors. Silver and Black = Mean and Scary.

Out here in Los Angeles back when the Kings were wearing these colors during the Gretzky era, you had gangbangers who couldn't tell a hockey puck from a doorknob, walking around rocking a Kings Jersey. And if it would have meant more fans for my team then that would have been great. More people in the stands cheering them on, fucken awesome! I'm all for that. But that just wasn't the case.

The proof is in the pudding (whatever the fuck that actually means), but you just don't see these same folks, from the casual to the non fan, walking around in one of the Kings current purple jersey's

"Hey, I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out."

I'm not looking to hold onto a homogenized and gentrified fanbase, as is so stereotypically associated with ice hockey. Ice hockey is second maybe only to soccer by way of diversity, but the sport I love has a bad enough reputation as it is, however unjustified it may be. Even though hockey players are some of the absolute warmest and most approachable guys around. And I'm not narrowing the field to only include professional athletes.

Sure, sometimes some dirty shit goes down on the ice. But you know what, that's where it stays - on the ice. And that's why I'm so afraid of people misrepresenting my sport by wearing this new alternate jersey simply for the colors, or the big fat "L.A." sewn into the crest, and not because they actually like the team, my team, the Los Angeles Kings.

That being said, I'll probably be sporting one of these bad boys before the year is up.

- Lenny

Posted
AuthorBTH Staff
CategoriesSports Reviews
2 CommentsPost a comment

America's team comes into this game with a 5-4 record, facing a tough 6-3 Washington Redskins team. This marks the 96th regular season meeting between these two franchises, but the game lacked the usual intensity of the rivalry. Don't get me wrong - practically any game from week 10 and on will be filled with emotion and at least some desperation, but the typical fiery hatred was not brewing between the teams. Notable players coming back from injuries are the Cowboys starting quarterback, Tony "broken pinky" Romo, and Redskins starting running back, Clinton Portis. While Romo was out, the Cowboys dropped 2 of the 3 games they played.

Romo Throwing with Cast (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jason Witten, who I simply cannot say enough good things about, is starting at tight end for the Cowboys again with a broken rib. You hear that, Romo? A broken rib, not a broken pinky finger! Felix Jones, typically the Cowboys back up at running back is out with a hamstring injury, which means Cowboys starting running back, Marion Barber, will be carrying the ball much more. Barber easily makes my top 5 favorite running backs, but his fumbles are surprisingly high as he comes into the game with 6 on the season.

This would be my first game catching the Redskins this season, and their new head coach, Jim Zorn. Zorn is a former quarterback himself, so he coaches his young starter, Jason Campbell, on literally every play. Zorn brings a West Coast offense feel to the Redskins passing game, but leaves their running game as it was before his reign.

1st Half

After Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff sacks Jason Campbell, the Cowboys now have at least one sack in the last 30 games. But the Cowboys defense did not phase the Redskins on this impressive scoring drive. Portis got several early touches, and Redskins big, strong full back Mike Sellers picks up a big passing play. Coach Zorn makes a gutsy call for the Redskins to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Cowboys 11 yard line. They go for it with a rush to Portis, who not only picks up the 1st down, but damn near scored. This setup the easy touchdown pass to Sellers, capping a 10-play, 49-yard drive. As part of this drive, Portis surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the season - not too shabby for a guy that missed the last two games, and we're only on week 10.

Romo starts the game going 6 for 6, and although he looks pretty comfortable, there were a couple passes he threw that were obviously very cautious when the Redskins defense got right in his face. This was actually a pretty drive for the Cowboys, with nice pick ups from Barber (both on the ground and in the air), and Roy Williams. Both of Barber's plays were made possible by massive blocks for Witten. While it was of no consequence to the drive, Terrel Owens got absolutely up-ended after a 2-yard gain by Redskins corner back Fred Smoot. I only mention it because I love seeing Owens get rocked. On Romo's 8th pass of the game (so he was 6 for 7 at this point), he throws behind Owens, who handily beat his man, corner back DeAngelo Hall of the Redskins, allowing for the easy interception by Hall. The Cowboys escape the first quarter being down only 7-0.

Campbell Keeping his Focus in the Pocket (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Kind of interesting that the Cowboys run several pitches to Barber, rather than your typical hand off. Rather than pounding Barber up the middle, they pull a tackle off the edge to lead block, allowing Barber to get to the perimeter. My guess is they were being cautious with Barber, considering Jones was not suiting up for the game, and wanted Barber to avoid the heavy running early in the game.

Romo is picked off for a second time, once again going for Owens on the right side of the field, running a slant. This time around, Owens gets drilled by corner back Carlos Rogers of the Redskins, which pops the ball straight up into the air; this gave Rocky McIntosh enough time to run it down and get his first career interception. Romo was going to Owens a lot in this first half, but did not throw him (or anyone else, for that matter) any deep balls. The cast Romo is wearing on his throwing hand is definitely effecting his accuracy and partially his confidence.

Not a whole lot to mention off the Redskins side in this first half. I liked Campbell's pocket presence, and quarterbacks that scramble are always fun to watch. Campbell had a big run on a 3rd and 7 for the first down, where he knocks over free safety Pat Watkins of the Cowboys secondary at the end of the run. The Redskins most impressive drive of the half, hands down, was their opening drive.

Romo Pitches to Barber Several Times (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Romo finally opens it up on the Cowboys last drive of the first half. He goes for a deep ball to Witten, for 28 yards, and then follows it up for another big pass for 25 yards to Owens. This drive leads to a Cowboys touchdown, with Barber pounding it in from the 2 yard line. On the following possession, the Redskins start with great field position after a nice kick return from running back Rock Cartwright; he was freed up from some sexy blocking by the wedge. With the great field position, and a couple nice passes from Campbell, the Redskins are able to put another 3 points on the board with a field goal. Tight end Chris Cooley was really the only Redskins player worthy of noting in this first half, with some honorable mention to Portis. The Redskins go into the locker room up 10-7.

Even though the Redskins led going into half time, I can't say that they were the better team on the field. Romo started feeling it towards the end of the half, and the Redskins defense still had the pounding running from Barber still to come. Unlike any other game I've seen out of the Cowboys, they actually played like a team in this first half. Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware both had sacks in the first half, but the Redskins defense was definitely more physical. Neither team really had any big plays, on either side of the field; most certainly a conservative first half.

2nd Half

Redskins open the second half with several pass plays. Cowboys defense steps up their physicality a notch, with strong safety Keith Davis getting a big hit on Portis, and corner back Terence Newman clobbering Santana Moss. Cooley gets some easy touches with short plays underneath, and the Redskins continue with their short yardage pass plays. The problem with these types of plays is that unless you scare the defense with a big play here or there, they are going to play your receivers much tighter at the line, making these 2-yard pass plays about as ineffective as rushing plays with no blocking. I suppose the Redskins woke the fuck up, and went for a big 21-yard pass to running back Ladell Betts. To me, it was very odd that Portis was not a factor on this drive, and they didn't give Campbell any opportunities to run it himself. The 12th play of this drive is a huge play from Cowboys Newman; he literally took the ball right out of Santana Moss' hands for the interception.

Barber Having a Field Day (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they did nothing with their next possession. But it's not like the Redskins did any better on their last drive of the third quarter. They get a big 24-yard pass play to Antwaan Randle El (surprisingly, his only catch of the game), Portis gets a big 20-yard run, but Ratliff sacks Campbell for the second time in this game, forcing the Redskins to take a 46-yard field goal. Not to say 46 yards is unheard of, but with 35 or even 40, you feel a lot more confident of your chances. Of course, kicker Shaun Suisham misses the 46 yarder, which leaves the game at the Redskins up 10-7.

Barber is unleashed in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys go to four rushes in a row to Barber, who is just having his way with the Redskins defensive line. At the same time, Romo is looking his best of the game. Even though my main man Witten dropped a really easy one, his back up, rookie tight end Martellus Bennett comes through with a clutch catch off a very well-placed through from Romo. This scoring drive went 8 plays, spanning 67 yards.

Bennett with a Big Touch Down Catch in the 4th (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Newman was playing Santana Moss pretty damn well for the most part. His biggest mistake was not taken advantage of, which came on the Redskins next drive. Campbell throws a bomb to Santana Moss, who blew right by Newman, but he dropped it right through his hands. Had he came down with the catch, it would have put the Redskins inside the Cowboys 10 yard line. In general, this was an extremely sloppy drive by the Redskins, at a monumentally crucial part of the game. Not only do we have the first dropped ball to Moss, but Devin Thomas also drops another ball, which would have resulted in a first down. The Redskins face a 4th and 4, and they are down 4 points, 10-14. They could go for it, which is pretty down risky, or they could attempt the 56-yard field goal (let's not forget Suisham already missed from 46 earlier in the half), which is also very risky. Coach Zorn elects to take a time out and think it over, and I'm sure part of the time out was "if only one of those two motherfuckers would have caught those balls, we wouldn't be in this mess".

Key Dropped Ball by Moss (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

After the time out, we see Campbell and the offense step onto the field, which pretty much means it is all-or-nothing at this point. This is where they separate the hockey moms from the future Vice Presidents. It is a passing play, to no one's surprise, intended for Santana Moss, but broken up by Newman beautifully. There is still plenty of time left in the game for the Redskins to make a defensive stop, and get the ball back. Plenty of time if the other team does not have Barber carrying the ball; the fourth quarter is where Barber makes his living.

Barber, as expected, keeps getting the ball to break the Redskins spirit. Barber tells the Redskins defensive line to jump, and they ask how high. Not only does he keep picking up first downs, but most importantly, he is staying in bounds, milking that clock like it's Friday at 4:30 and you can't wait to start your weekend. The Cowboys trot down the field with ease, with Barber pulling the sled. There is only one pivotal play left, on the Redskins 19, with 4th and 2. Rather than go for the field goal, and give the Redskins a chance to tie it up, the Cowboys decide to go for it on fourth down. My mom could guess who gets the ball on this call - Barber takes it to the right sideline and dives forward just getting the first down. That's all she wrote, and the Cowboys win 14-10.

Barber Turns the Dagger with a Key 1st Down in the 4th (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Barber easily had the best game of any player on that field. The man was fucking relentless. In the fourth quarter, every rushing play the Cowboys ran was to Barber, save a kneel down by Romo at the very end of the game. Barber pounded the Redskins for 66 yards in the fourth quarter alone. I hate to say it, but I actually liked how the Cowboys played this game, even though it was definitely on the conservative side. That's to be expected though, when our quarterback is playing with a cast on his arm. The Cowboys played like a team that was coming in with high expectations, and only at a meager 5-4 record; they played like an anxious team that needed a big win badly. Romo had this to say after the game:

Everyone worked hard all week, and it showed on the field.

Doubtful that everyone worked hard, but I give the Cowboys offensive line a lot of credit; it's not like those running lanes for Barber grow on trees. Witten and Owens had pretty quiet games, but they did their part when they were called upon. The team got over their own super star status and decided they preferred looking bad and winning, than looking good and losing. As for the Redskins - I don't really know why you were 6-3 coming into this game. They didn't play with any intensity on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense was pretty flat in the fourth quarter. Those hard hits of the first quarter became broken tackles int he fourth. Campbell's calmness in the pocket during the first half became shaky and confused in the fourth quarter, but his receivers definitely did not help with two key dropped balls. This wasn't the most entertaining game to watch, but it was nice seeing the Cowboys play with purpose for a change.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images / NFL.com

Maybe that title is a bit dramatic, but the Bills needed this win to keep pace with the 6-4 Patriots, and Dolphins (and the Dolphins are actually ahead of the Patriots, since they won their head-to-head game). Besides that, the Bills are playing the fucking 3-6 Browns - who expects them to actually lose? Especially coming off of three losses in a row, you think the Bills could step it up (at home, I might add) against the Browns. I am already talking all this smack about the Browns, but let's not forget they are still the only team to beat the 9-1 Giants this season. But still...it's the Browns. So what happened to the Bills the last three weeks? Well, let's focus on their starting quarter back, Trent Edwards. Over the last three games, he has had 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 2 lost fumbles. Not exactly all-star caliber play. Last week the Bills didn't even trust him enough to throw close to a long ball, as he had no passing attempts of over 20 yards. Aside from Trent Edwards' play, the Bills had only had 3 offensive touchdowns over the last three games; that's simply not going to cut it in the NFL.

Trent Edwards Shaky Play (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

So what's the Browns deal? Their big-time wide receiver, Braylon Edwards leads the league with 13 dropped balls. Their starting running back, Baltimore Ravens great, Jamal Lewis, has the 2nd lowest yards per rush average in the league. Lewis still holds the second best rushing total for a season, in NFL history; it's not like this guy is out of his prime either. Not to mention they have a very inexperienced quarter back, in Brady Quinn playing in only his third NFL game, and second as a starter.

This obviously has the makings of a good game. I hope you noted my sarcasm. In any case, it's 27 degrees in Buffalo, so if they can have a packed house to watch this game, then I can do my best to endure it in the comfort of the indoors.

1st Half

Trent Edwards starts the game off pretty well. And by well, I mean he's picked off twice on his first three pass attempts. The first interception was caused by a tip at the line by 350-pound nose tackle, Shaun Rogers of the Browns, while the second one was a poorly thrown ball intended for wide receiver James Hardy. The second interception really showed off the catching skills from line backer Andra Davis of the Browns, as he stretches out for it, catching it with his hands. This is the first time since the 1991 season that the Bills have an interception on each of their first two possessions. Nice work, Trent Edwards!

Quinn actually does have a decent start. He gets a bootleg called to use those legs early on, then a nice easy pass underneath to big running back Charles Ali. This could have been a big drive for the Browns, had Braylon Edwards not dropped an easy catch down field. Sure, I can say it's easy because I am not getting drilled by corner back Terrence McGee of the Bills, but I am also getting $0 for writing this article, while he is getting several thousand dollars to drop that ball. Rather than possibly scoring a touch down, the Browns settle for the 40 yard field goal. I will give Braylon Edwards a little credit, because McGee is playing him extremely well in the first quarter.

At Least Quinn Scrambles Decently (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

The only impressive thing about the Browns in this quarter is how hard their defense is cracking the Bills. Browns get a third interception off of Trent Edwards, as I suppose you could say he was intending to go for tight end Robert Royal, but after seeing the replay, you could make the case he was actually going for corner back Brandon McDonald of the Browns. Browns can only capitalize with another field goal off of this third interception.

Bills first quarter looks pretty grim: 3 interceptions off of 16 plays, and of course 0 points. This is the type of first quarter that only true football fans could stomach; saying it was tough to watch is an understatement. I've been more entertained peeling off the top Post-It off the stack. In a nutshell, this first quarter was about who could play worse. Even though Trent Edwards was the one with the 3 interceptions, you couldn't exactly say that Quinn was having a good game himself. Just all-around sloppy, undisciplined football.

The action starts to pick up a bit in the second quarter, as the Browns pitifully get their first first down of the game off of a Bills penalty on 3rd and 6. Then the Browns get a nice 13-yard reception from tight end Kellen Winslow off of a play action pass; easily their nicest pass so far, and is followed up with Braylon Edwards holding on (yes, he can catch) for a 19-yard grab. The difference this time around for Braylon Edwards was not that he didn't get drilled, which he still did, but this time around he caught the ball with his hands, rather than against his body. Jamal Lewis finally gets into the action with a nice rush to the outside, after straight-arming strong safety Donte Whitner and defensive back Bryan Scott of the Bills to the ground. That rush sets up a cool play for the touchdown, where Josh Cribbs lines up as a wide receiver, then comes in motion and gets the hand-off from Quinn to take in for the score. Quite an impressive drive of 13 plays, spanning 96 yards.

Lynch During his Big 18-Yard Gain (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Bills come back with a fury! Back-to-back big runs by running back Fred Jackson - one for 19 yards, and the other for 17. Even though those runs were both very pretty to watch, the best running of this drive came off of a short dump pass to running back Marshawn Lynch. He took the ball from the left side of the field, with a series of cuts he makes linebackers Davis, D'Qwell Jackson and free safety Brodney Pool miss their tackles; he literally took four of the Browns secondary in with him for the touch down, as they tried their best to keep him out. That was 18 yards of pure highlight reel action. But most impressive of all...can you believe that we had touchdowns back-to-back?!

On the Bills next possession of the half, it was once again all their running backs. Jackson has a couple nice runs, including a 3rd and 4 off of the Wildcat formation (direct snap to the running back) for the first down. That play should have resulted in a loss of yards, but he pushed through the tackle of Davis, and dove forward for the first down. Another short dump pass to Lynch, where he breaks the tackle of line backer Leon Williams and runs out of bounds to intelligently stop the clock with 30 seconds left in the half. On 3rd and 6, Trent Edwards goes for a touch down pass, which should have been his fourth interception of the half, but Pool dropped it. The Bills had really good momentum on this drive; they should have scored a touch down, rather than settling for the field goal.

Even though Trent Edwards was starting to feel a bit more comfortable, there are still signs of inexperience and lack of confidence. The Bills running backs were all of their offensive productivity in that second quarter. On the defensive side for the Bills, McGee has had a good game against Braylon Edwards, and Marcus Stroud had been in Quinn's face several times. All-in-all, after 3 interceptions in the first half, the Bills only trail 13-10. I can only imagine the frustration of Coach Romeo Crennel of the Browns, having to witness such a terrible half from his opposition, and only being able to go up 3.

2nd Half

Browns opening possession could have started on a really high note with a big catch to Winslow, but it was called back because of an offensive pass interference call off the ball. Needless to say, they do nothing more with this drive. Trent Edwards starts off the second half OK for the Bills, with a 21-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Steve Johnson, primarily because he has about 10 minutes to make a decision. Bills offensive line had a great game, both protecting Trent Edwards and freeing up their running backs. Jackson makes a rare mistake on his next rush, as he has the ball punched out, and the Browns recover the fumble.

On the Browns next possession, we see flashes of skill out of Quinn. He gets a nice quarter back designed rush to build a little of that confidence. Braylon Edwards has a couple catches on this drive, including an easy pick-up to the Browns 22 yard line off a 3rd and 10 conversion with the Bills blitzing. Believe it or not, this is the Browns first third down conversion of the game. This decent Browns drive leads to a field goal.

Lynch Running Down the Sideline (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Guess what the Bills answer with? That's right - a field goal of their own! Their field goal drive was made possible by the great running of Jackson and Lynch (again!), and another big run after catch off a screen play to Lynch. You can really tell how shaky Trent Edwards is feeling when he dumps these short passes to Lynch, and even those are off-target. At the Browns 14, the Bills had 3rd and 2, which they decide to go for a rushing play to Lynch. Finally the Browns defense stood up to Lynch, thus forcing the field goal. It's really quite remarkable, but without the brilliant play from Jackson, Lynch, and the Bills offensive line, this game would be out of reach for them. The Bills go into the fourth quarter down only 13-16 at this point.

Browns are not getting much out of Lewis, so they decide to give the ball to running back Jerome Harrison to start the fourth quarter. Harrison springs free after a huge block from Ali to open the hole for him. That hole springs him for a 72-yard touchdown run. It's kind of funny when you think about that 72-yard run, because the Browns had a total of 69 rushing yards for the three previous quarters. Now the Browns are up 23-13, and the Bills fans are getting pretty restless. Not only is it fucking freezing in those stands, but their team is choking against the Browns. To give you a better idea of how cold it is in the stands: the commentators, who have an enclosed booth (albeit the booth is comprised of lots of glass) are freezing in huge jackets and gloves.

Harrison Charging Down the Field for a 72-Yard Touch Down Run (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Fear not, Buffalo, for corner back Leodis McKelvin is your new temporary hero. On the kick off directly after Harrison's big run, McKelvin runs it back for a touch down, which was made possible due to huge blocks from Spencer Johnson and Kirk Chambers of the Bills special teams. Kind of an interesting stat is that Trent Edwards holds the number two passer rating during the fourth quarter, in the NFL. So I suppose even though he has had an atrocious game so far, I should expect better things out of him. We'll see.

The Browns next drive is OK, with a decent pass play to Harrison down the right sideline, which helps the drive result in a field goal for the Browns. Now the Browns are back up by 6, at 26-20. One of the turning points in the fourth quarter came on the Browns next drive. Quinn attempts a pass that gets blocked at the line from line backer Kawika Mitchell, as he blitzed the center; the ball stayed in the air for about 10,000 years, until it finally came down and looked like free safety Ko Simpson had it cleanly for the interception. Browns smartly elect to challenge, because after looking at the replay, it was pretty obvious the ball hit the ground before h could get to it, so the Browns retain possession.

A bunch of boring stuff happens, Braylon Edwards (surprisingly) drops another easy ball for the Browns.

Bills get a nice punt return from Roscoe Parrish, and then a clutch catch from Johnson. Bills are making a game out of it with their play on this drive. Lynch has an absolutely huge play, blowing through the half-tackles four players off the Browns defense, and setting the Bills up at inside the 1 yard line. It sucks that Lynch did not take it in all the way - would have been nice to see him get the touchdown. They elect to go for the quarter back sneak, and they get the score!

It got so loud at the Bills' stadium that I doubt you could hear yourself fart. These Bills fans were going fucking wild - they did not want to see their Bills lose to the Browns, especially after going up 27-26 with 2:25 left in the game. Now the Browns get their chance to put the screws to the Bills, with 2:25 left in the game.

On the Browns drive, the Bills call a corner blitz, with defensive back Reggie Corner almost getting the sack but Quinn avoids him by stepping up in the pocket, and then delivering an awesome pass to Winslow. Winslow catches the ball in stride, and is able to get it out of bounds as he is drilled to the ground. Quinn's next pass, intended for Donte' Stallworth, should have been picked off by McKelvin to seal the game for the Bills, but it slipped out as he was making it to the ground. 3rd and 10 now for the Browns, and if you couldn't hear yourself fart before, now you can't hear yourself think - these Bills fans are fucking troopers. Browns decide they want to go for the big play out of Braylon Edwards, but he's once again well covered by McGee. McGee is quietly having the best game on the Bills defense. So now the Browns are left with a 56 yard field goal attempt.

56 yards is no joke, folks. For kicker Phil Dawson to come out here for the Browns on the road, trailing by 1, with less than 2 minutes left in the game and kick a 56-yard field would be epic. This is the sort of shit heroes are made out of, and Dawson gets on the field like it "ain't no thang" and easily drives the ball 65 yards right through those delicious uprights. As Scooby would say, "rut-roh" for the Bills and they amazing fans. It's most certainly worry time for the Bills, with only 1:39 left in the game and trailing by two.

Dawson Watching his big 56-Yard Game-Winning Boot (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Bills get nice field position at their own 44, which is already a good sign. After a clutch reception from Royal for a 22-yard gain, the fans go insane. My my my...the Bills could actually pull this off. Now they have the first down, in Browns territory, but still need to gain some yardage to bring it within a reasonable amount for their kicker Rian Lindell to send it home. Bills coaching staff decides to run the ball - three fucking times in a row - with Lynch picking up a total of 5 yards, to set it up for a 47-yard field goal attempt. Let's stop it right there for a second. Three rushing plays in a row? Believe me, I understand how poorly Trent Edwards was playing, but you still give him at least 1 pass attempt to try to make this a walk-in-the-park for Lindell. They could have even gone for a screen play to Lynch, which proved very successful earlier in the game, but instead they settle for the 5 yards on the ground.

I don't know about you, but I've never kicked a 47-yard field goal, with the game on the line, and it being freezing fucking cold outside (by this point the low 20s), and yet I still know 35 yards would feel a whole lot easier. But you know what - I don't get paid to make those decisions, so let's just assume the experts know what they are doing. Lindell comes out onto the field to attempt this 47-yard kick, and he just missed wide to the right. The kick is no good, and the Bills can pretty much forget about those dreams of the playoffs.

Big Santonia Thomas Ecstatic After Lindell's 46-Yard Miss (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

This could have easily been a 40 yard field goal attempt, and maybe it would have ended the same way, but as the coach you are tasked to do everything in your power to allow your team the best possibility to win. Leaving it up to just about pure luck with a 47 yard field goal is not how you fight for the playoffs. Then again, letting your starting quarter back throw 8 interceptions is the last 4 games is also not how you get into the playoffs. You either get in his fucking face, call different plays, fine him for every interceptions, or put in your back up quarterback. What you don't do is let shit get out of control, which is exactly how I define 8 interceptions in just 4 games. All that being said, even with how poorly Trent Edwards has been playing, he could have still made this a "W" in the win column for the Bills. I was absolutely shocked the Bills did not go for a pass play on that final series of downs, especially after Trent Edwards big completion to Royal.

Who I feel sorry for, after such a tough loss, are those fans. 73,000 fans came out in the blistering cold to watch their Bills take on the Browns. Sure, it being a Monday night game means it would be nationally covered, but I am sure there were plenty of other things these people could have gone to do. Instead, they either left work early or didn't go into work at all, just so they could watch their favorite team play a pretty talentless team in the Browns. Through it all, they couldn't even see their Bills pull it through. Neither team had really much going for them, with the exception of the fine play of the Bills running backs, and the occasional hard hits from the Browns defense. This is the sort of game where I don't consider the winner as the team which played first best, but rather, the winner was decided by which team played second worst.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images / NFL.com

Posted
AuthorRedmanthatcould
CategoriesSports Reviews

UFC 91, presented by Gears of War 2, took place at the sold out MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event was for the Heavyweight title between UFC newcomer, Brock Lesnar, and defending champion, "Captain America" Randy Couture. The co main event was in the Lightweight division between heavy favorite Kenny Florian and submission-expert Joe Stevenson. Overall, this was one of the better UFC events I have seen, and there were really no disappointing fights. Not to say fights that go to judge's decision are not entertaining, but it was great seeing every fight end in either a submission or TKO. Some fights ended quickly, but were still enjoyable to watch nonetheless. I will be going over 7 of the fights that I saw, and you can click on the link below if you want to jump to a particular fight.

Middleweight Division: Demian Maia versus Nate Quarry

Quarry will want to keep the fight standing up so that he can use his heavy hands. He has pretty solid submission defense, but he has had back problems in the past which could effect his grappling. Maia is a 2 time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, so he will definitely want to stick to the ground, even though he alleges that he likes to stay on his feet.

1st Round

As was expected, Maia takes the fight to the ground early, and got on Quarry's back with ease. Once Maia put Quarry in a body triangle, it was pretty much over. Maia had complete control of Quarry and this fight. To free up an opportunity for a rear-naked choke, Maia unleashes a fury of punches to Quarry's face, which left Quarry wide open.

Quarry taps out at 2:13 into the 1st round, and Maia wins by way of rear-naked choke submission. Quarry barely put up a struggle - it was over when it started; once Maia took Quarry's back, it was done. Maia fought with perfect technique. This is what Maia had to say at the end of the fight:

I like to make the people happy and put on a good show for the audience.

Not that it matters, but I could barely understand Maia.

Heavyweight Division: Gabriel Gonzaga versus Josh Hendricks

Gonzaga is approaching his prime, and looking for his next title shot, to get the Heavyweight belt back. He is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion, with amazing leg kicks. You may recall Gonzaga knocking Mirko Crocop (the huge Croatian kick boxer) the fuck out. Hendricks is fighting in his UFC debut, but he is no stranger to mixed martial arts (MMA), or competition in general. He has not lost an MMA fight in over three years, with a majority of his wins by submission, and he was a 2 time All American wrestler in college.

1st Round

There was a lot of stand up fighting early, with some ridiculously hard hitting from Gonzaga - even watching it on TV, you could vividly hear the impact of his striking. Gonzaga kept the pressure on from the first second of the fight, and Hendricks really did not know what hit him. Gonzaga plants a knee to Hendricks' chest, which freed him up for a HUGE right hand straight to Hendricks' face. That punch took Hendricks down fucking instantly, and even though Gonzaga still gave him another hit on the ground, the fight was over after the initial punch.

This TKO took all of 1 minute and 1 second of the first round. Gonzaga had little trouble with this fight, and had this to say afterward:

I want a title shot again; I want the belt back.

Welterweight Division: Matt Brown versus Ryan Thomas

Brown had to take this fight on very short notice, for only his third fight in the UFC. Not to say Brown was the UFC newbie between them, as it was only Thomas' second fight in the UFC. Thomas was in excellent shape for this fight, and none of his prior MMA fights have gone to a decision.

1st Round

Both fighters were very scrappy early on. Thomas got the better position early in the round, standing on top of Brown, and was able to land lots of head shots. Brown's only answer at this point was to use the cage to pick himself up after each take down. Thomas would then push Brown against the cage, and really control him making Brown look like a rag-doll. Brown was able to get in some nice knees to the body. The fight then went back to the ground, where Brown was looking for the body triangle. Brown was able to transition to a partial arm bar, but Thomas was able to squeeze out of it by landing blow-after-blow to Brown's face.

Both fighters were going at it at a really fast pace. It was a very exciting, energized first round from both fighters. The round started heavily in Thomas' favor, but Brown took over with superior technique, and as the round was ending he attempted a guillotine.

2nd Round

The second round starts with the fighters standing up and exchanging blows. It looked like they were both pretty fatigued after that fast-paced first round. The key part in this round was when Brown was on his back, with Thomas standing up and having his upper body pulled down by Brown. Brown was able to start locking in an arm bar, and Thomas slamming him to the ground actually made the arm bar easier on Brown to secure. As Thomas was slamming him on the ground, Brown was able to get in closer, and really secure the move.

At 57 seconds into the second round, Thomas taps out due to submission by arm bar. Brown even mentions the mistake Thomas made with his slams after the fight:

It's better for me than him for him slamming me like that.

Welterweight Division: Dustin Hazelett versus Tamdan McCrory

Both of these fighters do not look like UFC fighters. Hazelett looks like he should be repairing cars wearing overalls, and McCrory looks like he should be a computer hacker. They are both young fighters at age 22, yet seem pretty mature for their age from the pre-fight interview videos. Hazelett came out sporting a big beard, with Bad Moon Rising playing by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Hazelett recently received his black belt in Jujutsu. He is a very technical fighter, so even though he has a good stand up, he will want to take the fight to the ground. McCrory is a Greco-Roman wrestler, who is very good at submissions, with good Jujutsu and a really long reach.

1st Round

The fight opens with a big combination of punches from McCrory, and a lot of action right out of the gate. McCrory starts getting in some nice leg kicks, and focuses on the outer knee on the left leg of Hazelett. Hazelett lays in some big right hands, but he only started picking things up when the fight went to the ground. It looked like several times that Hazelett had the upper hand, and was going to submit McCrory, but somehow he kept rolling out of Hazelett's control. From the rubber guard, Hazelett gets McCrory in an omoplata shoulder lock, and he slowly worked down to McCrory's elbow.

This was easily the nastiest looking submission I have seen, with both fights I saw and watching clips on YouTube. Hazelett was probably a few seconds away from snapping McCrory's arm at the elbow. It was so bad I could not keep watching the replays.

In the first round, 3 minutes 39 seconds in, McCrory taps out with Hazelett gets the win with submission by arm arm.

While I did not hear about either fighter before, I wanted Hazelett to win because of how cocky McCrory came across in his pre-fight video.

Lightweight Division: Jeremy Stephens versus Rafael dos Anjos

Stephens is really heavy-handed, so he loves to stand up and exchange strikes. He has explosive power, and is most dangerous on his feet. Anjos relies on arm locks and low kicks, coming from his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background.

1st Round

Lots of punches exchanged early, and both fighters look very comfortable on their feet. Anjos keeps trying to take it to the ground, but Stephens take down defense is good to start, but gives up his back after a big take down by Anjos. On the ground, Stephens tries for the guillotine, but Anjos passes the Stephens' half guard. Anjos controls the first round very well, and Stephens could only try to answer by rolling Anjos over. This actually back fires on Stephens, as he opens himself up for a really brutal omoplata at the end of the first round. His fucking shoulder was being pulled back so badly, that it looked like his veins were going to pop out of his arm. It looked extremely painful, and I was very impressed that Stephens did not tap out.

2nd Round

Stephens starts this round with a big knee to the head, followed by a big right hand and another knee. Anjos places a lot of low inside kicks, and keeps trying to take the fight back to the ground, but Stephens battles to keep it standing up. Strange that Stephens then takes Anjos down after trying to stay up for so long, which leads Anjos into getting the advantage with an anaconda body lock. Stephens starts taking the round over near the end, as he gets on top of Anjos and start making it rain elbows, and a couple big punches. Anjos must have been hating life because he had his head up against the cage while taking all this punishment from the ground and pound of Stephens. Tough to say who took this round, because Anjos started off better when it was on the ground, but then it definitely went in Stephens' favor at the end of the round.

3rd Round

Not much going on at the very beginning of the round, until the best uppercut I have ever seen. Stephens looked like he was cocking a gun before he unleashed this massive uppercut. It looked like a punch straight out of street fighter by Ryu; it absolutely cleaned Anjos' clock. That uppercut was fucking unreal, and I know Anjos will be feeling that for days to come. On the instant replay, you see Anjos' head snap back, eyes roll back, and spit falling uncontrollably out of his mouth.

Anjos gets knocked the fuck out with 39 seconds into the third round. The fight definitely felt like it would have gone to Anjos' favor if it went to the judges. It was a really awesome punch - I cannot stress that enough. It didn't seem like Stephens thought he was going to land it, because immediately after the fight was called, he ran full speed into the other end of the cage.

Lightweight Division: Kenny Florian versus Joe Stevenson

Florian is a very popular fighter in the UFC. He started his career in the UFC as a very good grappler, but since has improved his striking ability, which makes his opponents forget how well he is on the ground. He has a black belt in Jujutsu, has very powerful elbows, and has been working on his Muay Thai. He found out that Stevenson was pissed off about being the underdog in this match, to which Florian said in the pre-fight interview:

I'm gonna go out there to destroy Joe Stevenson. I'm gonna show him why I'm the favorite. I'm gonna try to break his heart; break his will.

Stevenson is a great wrestler, and has a very dangerous guillotine. Many of his wins were by submission, taking him to a MMA career record of 34-8. Stevenson wants to show that he was not supposed to be the underdog, which seems to fire him up for the fight.

1st Round

Florian looks very light on his feet, bouncing around like he is floating. Florian lands a big left kick early on, and Stevenson gets off a big right hand. Stevenson keeps trying to take it to the ground early, but Florian fights him off very well. Stevenson is pushing the action, with a constant stalk. When Stevenson gave an opening, Florian took him to the ground and started bombing him with punches. This was pretty much the beginning of the end. Even though Stevenson rolls out of Florian's control, Florian gets his back and leads to a mount. Florian sinks in for the rear-naked choke. Very impressive submission by Florian on a powerful fighter like Stevenson.

Florian wins at 4 minutes and 3 seconds into the 1st round by way of a rear-naked choke submission.

Heavyweight Division: Brock Lesnar versus Randy Couture

This fight is for the Heavyweight Division title. Randy Couture is already in the UFC Hall of Fame for numerous accomplishments including being the first fighter in UFC history for being the champion in two weight classes - Light Heavyweight & Heavyweight. (B.J. Penn became only the second fighter able to claim the same designation earlier this year). Including this fight, Couture has fought for a title in 15 of his 19 UFC fights. Obviously he has the experience advantage over Lesnar, but Couture is 45 (14 years older than the 31 year old Lesnar), and has not fought since the end of August in 2007 during UFC 74. Couture's fighting base is Greco-Roman wrestling, and his strategy is to wear out his opponent. On fighting the gigantic Lesnar, this is what Couture had to say in his pre-fight interview video:

He's a big huge guy. He presents a lot of problems.

Lesnar is an absolute beast of a man. His super-human physique reminds me of Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier. At weigh in, he was only 265 pounds, but by the time of the fight, he was easily up to 270 or 280. In his short UFC past, Lesnar has out-struck his opponents 62-12, with an 88% take-down success. Prior to coming into the UFC, Lesnar gained some fame through World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), but was also an accomplished wrestler back in his college days. In 1999, he lost in the finals of the NCAA wrestling championship to now New England Patriots Stephen Neal, but went on to take the title in the following year. Not only is Lesnar an amazing athlete, an absolute freak of a human, could probably move your car with his dick, but he also actually ran the mile in less than 5 minutes in college. This man was meant to destroy people - just look at his name "Brock Lesnar" - you hear that and you think "gladiator". In Lesnar's pre-fight interview, he shows the respect he has for Couture, and says:

I'm gonna seize the moment; I'm gonna seize the opportunity.

1st Round

During the first round, the crowd is cheering "Randy...Randy...Randy". Lesnar gets some knees in early, but has his early take-down attempts defended well by the veteran Couture. Lesnar does get a big take down by slamming Couture to the ground, and then nails Couture with big left punches while he has position control. While on the ground, Lesnar worked a whole lot with little success, and eventually Couture brings it back to a stand up. This was a very relaxed and cautious first round; neither fighter really made any big strides, but Lesnar spent up a lot of energy, working right into Couture's strategy.

2nd Round

Big elbow from Lesnar early into the round really rocked Couture, but Lesnar did not push the action, so Couture was able to recover in time. While Couture had Lesnar pressed against the cage, Couture landed a big knee; during the ensuing exchange, Lesnar is cut above his right eye. Couture continues to control this round by holding Lesnar against the cage, and landing several knees.

What appeared like a harmless punch from Lesnar knocks Couture down; after the replay, we see that it caught Couture right in his left temple. After Couture went down, it was game over. Lesnar pounced on him and lands about ten thousand hammerfists before the fight is called. Lesnar also sprinkled in some elbows, if the hammerfists were not enough. After the fight was called, Couture was not getting up too fast - he looked absolutely stunned and discombobulated on the ground.

Lesnar wins the fight and takes the Heavyweight title by TKO at 3:07 in the second round. Sad to see Couture go down, but it was inevitable. Just looking at the two fighters standing side-by-side before the fight, we see Lesnar's bicep is about as big as Couture's head. It almost looked like they were not in the same weight class.

At the end of the fight, Couture had this to say about the fight:

That's just a big sonofabitch...that's all there is to it.

And when Lesnar was asked about how he felt about his win, he said:

I just believe in hard work, and it pays off.

For more information about the UFC, or to find out more about the really stacked fight card for UFC 92, check out UFC.com. If you are not a fan yet, you should definitely check out UFC 92 on December 27th at 7 p.m. The notable fights are Forrest Griffin versus Rashad Evans, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira versus Frank Mir, and Wanderlei Silva versus Quinton Jackson.

Posted
AuthorRedmanthatcould
CategoriesSports Reviews

The New York Giants come into the Philadelphia Eagles' stadium with an impressive 7 - 1 record, and not showing any signs of letting up after their Superbowl win last season. The Eagles come into this game at 5 - 3, looking for another win against a tough division opponent. Vice President Elect, Joe Biden, was at the game to cheer on the Eagles, in a comfortable box suite, while the rest of the Eagles fans had to sit in 48 degree weather - coming up in the world, Joe. ;)

Vice President Elect, Joe Biden, Enjoying the Game (Photo Courtesy of Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

It seems every week, as we get closer to the end of the season, the games get more important and the level of play steps up a notch. Both teams needed this win, as the remainder of their schedules are very tough; Giants have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, while the Eagles have the third toughest (based on future opponents' winning percentages). The Eagles knew they had a brutal game ahead of them, with the Giants having the number two rushing offense in the NFL (behind the Atlanta Falcons), and with Giants' Head Coach Tom Coughlin being tied for the best turnovers per game ratio of any coach with 150+ games (he is tied with Tony Dungy, of the Indianapolis Colts...the team the other Manning brother plays on).

Offense

Giants

The Giants got their big tight end, Kevin Boss, going early with some short passes, and gave Brandon Jacobs the ability to have another big game this season. Off of Jacobs' first three carries, he picked up 32 yards, and you already had the feeling he was going to have a very special game. Their first touchdown, was also Plaxico Burress' first catch of the game, coming off of a corner blitz that Eli Manning read perfectly. This 17-yard touchdown was the 33rd Manning-Burress touchdown combination, and was Burress' 4th touchdown reception of the season. The first quarter was all Giants, even though it ended with them only being up 10 - 7. The Eagles only had the ball for 90 seconds in the first quarter, and the Giants dominated with 176 total yards to the Eagles measly 12.

Giants long drive that started at the end of the first, was capped with a 1-yard touchdown reception by Kevin Boss, at the start of the second quarter. Boss extended his huge 6'6" frame to pull in this nice catch, giving him a touchdown catch in each of the last three games. That was probably the Giants most impressive drive, spanning 80 yards, over 10 plays, and taking 5:42 off the clock. It was strange to see the score close the entire first half, even though all the other stats would indicate that the Giants should have been destroying them. At the 8 minute mark in the second quarter, the Giants had 12 first downs to only 2 for the Eagles...that's just pitiful.

Eli Manning is about as Calm as Biden (Photo courtesy of Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

The story of the game for the Giants' offense was how calm Manning was in the pocket, their time-of-possession, and the amazing running by Jacobs. It just seemed like Manning had all day to throw, and he nearly did - the Giants had the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the game. Jacobs finished the game with 126 rushing yards, with an average of 5.7 yards per carry. My only beef with the Giants offense was how much they coughed up the ball. Several plays from Jacobs, and their other running backs, Derrick Ward & Ahmad Bradshaw, should have resulted in fumbles, but they were either down-by-contact or the ball went out-of-bounds. In my book, even if the result wasn't an actual fumble, I am still a bit worried about the hands of my back field, if I am Tom Coughlin. Speaking of their back field, I have to mention their full back, Madison Hedgecock. The guy gets no fucking recognition, even though he is the lead blocker on the majority of these huge runs by the Giants. He has had no carries for the season, but John Madden said it best:

He has turned into the best blocking full back in the NFL.

Eagles

Don't expect me to say a lot about the Eagles - not because I don't like them as a team (which I do) - but because they had the ball for a third less of the game than the Giants did. In the first quarter, their first touchdown came off of a direct-snap play, in what is called a "Wildcat Formation", that DeSean Jackson ran in. Seeing a lot more of these direct-snap plays this season, as many teams have seen how successful it has been for the Miami Dolphins (yes...those same Dolphins that went 1-15 last season, are now 5-4 to start 2008).

Jackson Dives off the Direct-Snap Touchdown (Photo courtesy of Michael Heiman / Getty Images)

It took a while for Donovan McNabb to get his rhythm; his first 9 passes only resulted on 1 reception. Eagles' Quarterbacks Coach, Pat Shurmur, will remind McNabb to plant his feet as he delivers the ball, which seems to be how McNabb gets out of his usual flow. By the Eagles second scoring drive, he started to have a better feel for the game. That drive went for 44 yards, spanning 6 plays, with an easy 10-yard touchdown reception for Jason Avant, when McNabb spotted his cut under-neath. Both of the Eagles first touchdowns were off of Giants' turnovers.

Really surprised to not hear Brian Westbrook's name much in this game. He is usually McNabb's favorite target, as he has great hands for a running back. Starting the second half, Westbrook only had 17 rushing yards off of 7 runs. Even without much help from Westbrook, the Eagles start the second half much better than they ended the first. Whenever McNabb had time, the Eagles' receivers could find holes in the Giants secondary. On their first drive of the second half, the Eagles were unstoppable. They started with great field position after a 37-yard kick off return by Quintin Demps, and make quick work of their short field. McNabb only need 6 plays and 3:36 off the clock to finish their most impressive drive of the game with a 7-yard fade route to Hank Baskett. This was Baskett's first catch of the game, but he practices that same fade route over-and-over in practice.

Baskett Climbs the Ladder for the Fade Route (Photo courtesy of Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

The Eagles final scoring drive included a couple big-time receptions by DeSean Jackson, and a nice scramble from McNabb himself. McNabb 5 years ago would have scored on that scramble, but those legs are not what they used to be, so he was stopped short at the 3 yard line. Since it was so late in the game, and the Eagles desperately need another score, Eagles' Head Coach Andy Reid elected to go for it on 4th and goal (once again, at the 3). On the next play, McNabb finds an open Kevin Curtin who was more than happy to give the Eagles another touchdown.

Down 31 - 36, with 3:14 left in the game, McNabb and the Eagles hope for another strong trot down the field. This drive included a big 17-yard gain by Curtin, and a 7-yard rush by McNabb, but it seems Andy Reid's hubris got the best of him. The Eagles are on their own 46, with plenty of time to come back and win this game, and are facing a 3rd and 1. As I mentioned, Westbrook was virtually non-existent in this game, and I wouldn't count on a quarter back sneak from the aging McNabb; if I am Reid, 3rd and 1 is definitely a passing play at this point in the game. Instead, the Eagles elect to go for back-to-back rushes, thinking that it is just 1 yard - no biggie. Well, I am sorry for the Eagles fans that had the wind knocked out of their sails, but it was a biggie, and the Eagles were stopped dead in their tracks.

Defense

Giants

What defense? The Giants defense was barely on the field in the first half, and once McNabb got into a rhythm in the second half, he was virtually unstoppable. The Giants' secondary really had no answer for the Eagles receivers. In the first quarter, the Giants special teams recovered a fumble by Eagles' Demps (his only real blunder of the day, and he is a rookie after all), which only resulted in a Jeff Feagles' field goal. I suppose I should mention the interception by Sam Madison in the second quarter, which was simply a poor throw by McNabb, and I am sure he could normally make it with his eyes closed. Another Eagles' turnover that only resulted in a Feagles' field goal.

Madison was in the game to replace Corey Webster, who left a big chunk of the game to tend to a groin pull. Being someone with a groin that has stuff that doesn't like to be pulled (well...not too hard, at least), I am sure that was really unpleasant. Webster is a better man than me though, because there is no way I would make it back to play later in the game, as he did. The only big play the Giants defense had to make was when they stopped the Eagles on their final possession, with those back-to-back rushing plays. The one that was for 4th and 1 looked like Westbrook was going to make it, but Giants' linebacker Chase Blackburn jarred him enough to stop his forward progress.

Eagles

Mike Patterson had a hell of a game. Off of the third play of the game, he batted down a Manning throw, and was able to hold on for an interception. Later in the game, Brandon Jacobs was running for the first down, and noticed Asante Samuel was going to tackle him low, so he tried to hurdle over him - bad move. While in mid-air, Jacobs gets absolutely railed by Chris Gocong, forcing a fumble, which Patterson recovered. Samuel had a pretty quiet game, covering Burress the entire way; that might be considered a good thing for a corner back though, because you assume if they are not throwing the ball to the man you are covering, you must have their respect. Samuel's only memorable play was on a Giants' 2-point conversion attempt, when he swatted away the pass intended for Burress.

Even when the Eagles' secondary played the receivers well, the defensive line had no answer for the Giants' running back trio. Just about every time Jacobs, Ward or Bradshaw touched the ball, they picked up 4 - 7 yards. When putting it all in perspective though, the Eagles defense probably did not have a terrible game considering they were on the field a third as long as the Giants defense. Kind of an interesting penalty on Greg Lewis of the Eagles, which I figured I'd add. While Lewis was on the punt kicking team, he ran into the punt returner before the ball got there, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty. Never seen that penalty before, even though I knew it existed.

Recap

This was a fun game to watch, and you could feel the intensity in the air. Both sides played an extremely physical game, which could account for all the would-be fumbles from the Giants' running backs. There are two key plays that helped the Giants go 8 - 1, with a 36 - 31 victory over the Eagles. In the third quarter, Manning left the pocket and threw to Boss, which at first looked like he crossed the line-of-scrimmage. The referees conferred, and it was ruled an illegal forward pass. To which Coughlin said, "fuck you" and went for the challenge. After reviewing the play, the ruling on the field was reversed, and it was deemed a legal pass. Coughlin must have a lot of talented coaches looking at those replays, because he is the most successful coach in the history of coaches challenges (coaches challenges were initiated in 1999).

In McNabb we Trust - or Not? (Photo courtesy of Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

The other key play was one I mentioned earlier, when Andy Reid decided to go for rushing plays, back-to-back, on the Eagles final drive down the field. When you think Philadelphia Eagles, you think Donovan McNabb. McNabb is an extremely dangerous and talented quarterback, so when the game is on the line, I want it in his hands. Perhaps on another day, when Westbrook would have been on his A-game, it would not have been such an easy decision, but even still you have to give McNabb the opportunity to win you the game. Beyond that, the numbers speak for themselves: in 2008, the Eagles are 5 for 14 when faced with 3rd or 4th and 1 yard when attempting rushing plays, while they are 3 for 3 with passing plays. To me, it was a no brainer to try to have McNabb win it, but then again, I am not paid the big bucks!

Giants simply dominated time of possession, with solid rushing from Jacobs, and excellent protection for Manning. Even when McNabb could get a feel for the game, Giants proceed to put a beat-down on the Eagles' defense, thus keeping him off the field. Boss had a good game as usual, ending with a career high 69 yards receiving. Westbrook is normally really explosive out of the back field for the Eagles, but he was virtually non-existent for this game. Other than his fumble, Demps had several key kick off returns, and wide receivers Avant, Curtis & Jackson had decent games for McNabb. In a nutshell, the Giants were able to play their type of game on offense, and Reid was out-coached by Coughlin.

One last thought...

I think I witnessed the best hurdle of all time when I watched this game. Kevin Boss was going down the left sideline, and strong safety Quintin Mikell cam over for the tackle. Mikell, standing 5'10" is at a eight inch height disadvantage and nearly 50 pound weight disadvante with the Giants big tight end, so he has to improvise when trying to take Boss down. Mikell tries to take Boss' feet out, so Boss jumps straight over him; Mikell literally did not get a finger on Boss. It was fucking awesome to watch - I literally jumped out of my seat when I saw it. It is just not every day that you see a 6'6" tight end hurdle over a strong safety.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images

New England Patriots come into this game at 5-2, facing a struggling Indianapolis Colts, who desperately need a big victory at 3-4. This game marks Tony Dungy's 200th regular season game as the Colts head coach. The Colts really needed this win to get the players back in a winning mentality. Weather permitted the Colts retractable roof to open up, but they decided to partially close it to keep the noise level up. Joseph Addai, Colts starting running back, comes back after missing the last two games due to injury. BenJarvus Green-Ellis starts at running back for the Patriots, as Laurence Maroney is out for the season with a shoulder injury. It is interesting the way Colts quarter back, Peyton Manning, calls the plays at the line-of-scrimmage, and typically in a no huddle setup. Tom Moore, offensive coordinator, will give Manning a concept to play out, Manning then calls the specific play, and tells his offense at the line. The wide receivers don't come in for the plays, so the guys in the slot will tell them the play that is being run. Manning is one of few quarter backs that could be trusted to run a team's offense in a similar way.

Manning Getting his Groove Back (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On the other side of the football, as most of America knows, Tom Brady is out for the season, and Matt Cassel is standing in. John Madden explains the difference between Cassel and Brady: "Matt Cassel takes what the defense gives him; Tom Brady was a guy that would take what he wanted."

Matt Cassel on the Run (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Offense

The Colts got Addai a lot of touches early, to get him back into the flow of the offense. Their opening drive consisted of some hard running from Addai, a nice middle-of-the-field pass to Dallas Clark, and capped with an outside pattern by Anthony Gonzalez, for his first touchdown of the season. Gonzalez was the Colts first pick last season, and is already showing promise as another option for Manning in the slot. His touchdown was the 15th play of a 9-minute opening drive. This was Gonzalez' first TD grab of the game, but he was not done there.

Addai Back After Injury (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Later in the third quarter, on the Colts' first possession of the second half, Gonzalez has a stellar 8-yard catch for his second TD of the game, which was perfectly placed by Manning just over the hands of the Patriots Mike Richardson. That drive had a couple big plays by Reggie Wayne, and a key pass play to Clark off of a play-action fake. After this TD, the Colts elected to go for two points (to go up 15-12), which they converted off a brilliant catch by Wayne. Wayne held onto the ball even after getting absolutely rocked by the Patriots Brandon Meriweather. After seeing the replay from various angles, I was thoroughly impressed that Wayne held onto the ball - I know I would have dropped it, and most likely shit my pants too.

Gonzalez Game of his Career (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

For their last scoring drive in the fourth quarter, the Colts moved the ball around with some pretty moves, in the open field, from Clark to start the drive. On a crucial 3rd and 9, Gonzalez comes up with a huge 24-yard down the middle, and he took some punishment from another hard hit from Meriweather. Now the Colts were technically in field goal range, and they asked Adam Vinatieri to step up big time. Vinatieri had not made a 50+ yard field goal in his last 91 games (over 6 and a half years in the NFL), and he was going to attempt a 52 yard kick. His make ended up being the game winner, putting the Colts ahead for good at 18-15.

Vinatieri Game Winner (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Under Matt Cassel, the Patriots are obviously a very different team. Their passing attack relies heavily on lots of short, quick passes. 75% of Cassel's passes on the season come from the 0-10 yard range, which is a stark contrast to the way Brady loves airing it out. At the start of the second quarter, the Patriots have a solid 56-yard drive which should have ended in a touch down, but Colts corner back Tim Jennings broke up a certain TD pass, thus forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis & Kevin Faulk make up the Patriots back field, and although they do miss Maroney back there, these two are worthy surrogates. Green-Ellis is a really powerful runner, and had a solid game, while Faulk is more a utility back, as he will play in the slot for short passes & screens, or be put in for draw plays.

Green-Ellis Splitting the Defense (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The biggest surprise was that for the entire first half, Randy Moss was not thrown to once. It seemed liked they used him primarily as a decoy, because whichever side he lined up one was the side that the Colts strong Safety, Bob Sanders, would favor. This allowed the Patriots to open up their rushing game, and Wes Welker got lots of touches, even though he was kept in check for the majority of the first half. Welker came into the game with 49 receptions for the season, which lead the team with receptions, and this was his 8th game in a row with at least 6 receptions. During the second half, the Patriots woke up and starting throwing to Moss, who finished the game with 65 yards on 6 receptions, but they really should have gotten him going in the first half.

Quiet Day for Randy Moss (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

A key moment in the game was on the Patriots long drive that started at the end of the third quarter and ended with a field goal, taking 6:34 off the clock. During the drive, Moss for had a nice 11-yard gain for a 1st down, and Faulk blew by the Colts defensive line on a gain of 15 yards. On this drive, Cassel had his nicest throw of the entire game, but it only showed up as an incomplete pass. Jabar Gaffney ran a fade route, beating the coverage for what should have been an EASY 39-yard touchdown. He was so wide open on this play, he could have written a haiku on his trot into the end zone. Instead, he decides to let the ball go right between his hands. This was a ball my mom could have caught; needless to say, Gaffney - you fucking blew it. The drive was still alive, after a couple plays the Patriots have a 3rd and long on the Colts 17. Cassel goes to Welker, who comes up just a yard shy of the first down at the Colts 7. At the time, the Patriots were down 12-15, and they were facing a 4th and 1, which they initially were going for. I guess Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a change of heart, and uses their final timeout to get the field goal unit out there for the easy 25-yard field goal.

Defense

Colts defense is under-sized, with no player over six feet tall, but where they lack in size, they make up for in "hitting the snot out of you". That is not a stat yet, but the NFL should consider it with players like Bob Sanders and Keiwan Ratliff absolutely laying wide receivers out. Colts safety's were playing deep on most passing plays, which made it extremely easy for the Patriots to run draw plays at their will, and all their little underneath passes. Sanders picked off Cassel late in the game, but it really did not affect the outcome of the game.

Strong Performance from Sanders (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

On the other side of the field, it seemed like any decent yardage passing plays by the Colts meant their wide receivers were going to get a beat-down. As mentioned earlier, Meriweather had some Earth-shattering hits, and Mike Vrabel was no stranger tackling the Colts receivers in the slot. Vrabel had several key tackles to stop the Colts drives as they were building up momentum. Patriots obviously miss having Rodney Harrison out there on defense, both as another hard-hitter, and team leader. Harrison has missed the last two games on injured reserve, and will be missing the remainder of the season with a thigh injury.

Surprisingly, there were no sacks in the game for either team, and the Colts offensive line did a good job of making sure Manning was hardly touched. Cassel did a really good job of reading the Colts blitzes, which was impressive consider his lack of NFL experience.

Recap

The first half of this game was almost as boring as the Jets versus Raiders. There were no big plays, no real excitement on either side of the ball, or even on special teams. Madden described it as "a very conservative first half" which is pretty much code for they played like a bunch of pussies. For Pete's sake, there wasn't even a fucking penalty called in the first half! The first penalty of the game was called at 9:26 in the third quarter, which was the Patriots first overall penalty in their last 7 quarters of play. When the second half rolled around, there was definitely much more energy on the field. You could say the first half was the boring foreplay, and the second half was when they started exchanging deep anal thrusts.

While I typically respect just about any decision coach Belichick makes, I have got to say his challenge at the beginning of the first half was "ill-advised" at best. The challenge in question was that he believed the Colts had 12 men on the field, which would have got the Patriots a little yardage (had he won the challenge), but it was not worth the risk, given the circumstances. Later in the third quarter, Cassel needs to call a timeout (why, I could not figure out) which left the Patriots with one lone timeout for the game, and as I mentioned earlier, Belichick used their final timeout with his change-of-heart on the 4th and 1 play. Not to say having the timeouts would have changed the outcome of the game, but they might have. The Colts final possession revolved solely around running out the clock, leaving the Patriots with only 29 seconds to try to march up the field, from their own 20 yard line, to tie it up with a field goal. These timeout blunders, and Gaffney's terrible dropped ball were keys to the Patriots loss. If you are reading this Gaffney, I hope you understand that you absolutely fucking blew it. Cassel gave you an early Christmas present, and instead of taking the wrapping off, you decide to burn it to a crisp with your Zippo.

This first half was tough to watch, as it was very much "let's not make a mistake" and none of "let's try to win the game." I was happy to see more action in the second half, but it still felt like both teams were hesitant. The game was the Colts to lose, and it was definitely a must win for them. Had they lost and fell to 3-5, it could have very easily been the beginning of the end of their season. This was a big win for the Colts, against a strong team (Brady or not). Manning showed some sparkles of his past brilliance, and Cassel showed some real poise and concentration. I am sure the Manning family was happy to see both of their sons win. Cassel did have a couple "what the fuck?" moments, but he was in control for the most part. Even though the Titans and Giants success this season is over-shadowing the rest of the league, the Colts and Patriots are not going to go away easy.

All photos courtesy of NFL.com