Archive for November, 2011

Barack Obama, Iran, and Occupy Wall Street

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

For the uninitiated (yes, you, Obama cabinet members), Iran just attacked the British embassy  in Tehran. In the real world attacking an embassy is an act of war. The question is whether Barack Obama will ever “grow a pair” and deal with Iran.


Barney Frank: Good Riddance

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Good riddance to big, bad, Barney.

(No, not the purple dinosaur who sings children songs. The angry Barney who turned purple with rage and righteous indignation.)

Barney Frank held a press conference to announce that he is retiring from Congress when his current term ends.


5 days off

Monday, November 28th, 2011

One of the great things about Thanksgiving weekend is that it is the only time of the year with 5 straight days of football. While NFL fans like myself realize that college football does not count, at least it is something.

Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, and a weekend of more football games concludes tonight with Monday Night Football.

Yet the reason why these 5 days are great are not just because of what they offer. It is what is left out.

For 120 hours, Americans do not have to deal with Barack Obama. He may have given a speech in the last few days, but if so he was tuned out even more than usual. We did not have to hear nonsense about “millionaires and billionaires,” “fair share,” “sharing the wealth,” “fairness,” and any other words that are code for a failed leader desperately trying to keep his job while others lose theirs.

For 120 hours, Occupy Wall Street protesters were defeated by America’s love of capitalism. It is one thing to face off against police officers afraid to use force to crack down on thuggery. It is quite another to try and occupy a shopping mall and inhibit soccer moms unconcerned with the rule of law. One woman pepper sprayed others to get an X-Box 360 on sale at Walmart. She would have shot OWS protesters if they were in the way.

Football games went off without a hitch because setting up tents outside of ballgames is not called protesting. It is called tailgating. People without tickets were denied admittance, leading to games that went off without incident.

Even those who did not go shopping did what many Americans do on the day after Thanksgiving. They began preparing for Christmas. I happen to be Jewish, but loud Christmas music drowns out protesters with more effectiveness than rock music in the 1990s smoked out Manuel Noriega.

Liberals represented by Obama, Reid, Pelosi,, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Paul Krugman are angry, bitter, failed human beings. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her offspring Ed Schultz (no, not really) of MSNBC are angry failed people. So are most OWS protesters. Yet the angry left these past few days was confronted with the one weapon they cannot defeat:


Even in tough times, Americans are happy, optimistic people. We believe in the competitiveness of football, the joy of spending time with family and friends, and the thrill of bargain hunting. Most people would sooner go to a mall than sit outside in an unclean park.

Even those like myself who just wanted peace and quiet enjoyed solace and men beating each other up over an oblate spheroid.

While Tuesday will bring a return to politics, let’s enjoy the real meaning of Thanksgiving, that being thankful.

We are Americans. We are free. We are the Shining City on a Hill. No amount of leftist complaining can change that.

Thank you America for 5 wonderful days off from liberalism.

Now to enjoy Monday Night Football and then get back to work on Tuesday.


NFL 2011–Week 12 Recap

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

Five straight days of football is what Thanksgiving is all about. The week 12 NFL recap got kicked off with three Thanksgiving Day games followed by college games on Friday and Saturday followed by another fantastic NFL Sunday wrapping up on Monday night.

Before getting to the NFL, some very quick non-NFL notes.

Normally college football is irrelevant, but USC thrashed UCLA 50-0. Yes, 50-0. Matt Barkley is hoping that his NFL stint will be more like Carson Palmer and less like Matt Leinart and John David Booty. Yet despite having the better record, USC is on probation and ineligible for a bowl game. So despite losing by 50 points, UCLA is going to the Pac 10 Conference Championship. I got my grad degree at USC, but now root against them. My undergrad school was the University of Judaism, now American Jewish University. Yet AJU has no football team, despite producing many football teams’ surgeons and accountants. As for why I root against my own grad school, it is because USC Coach Lane Kiffin is the devil. The former Raiders coach was fired, and soon after the team improved.

In Canadian Football League news, the 99th Grey Cup Championship featured the British Columbia Lions against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Lions won 34-23 to win their first championship since 2006. I speak for all Americans and real football fans when I say I am glad a French team did not win.

Now on to real football, the National Football League. Virtually every game this week was exciting in the fourth quarter. Do not call it parity. It is competitive balance, which benefits the league by creating the “Any Given Sunday” scenarios.

(This is unlike the NBA, where the same teams win every year. The NBA lockout just ended. Fine. This is a football column, hence basketball getting parentheses.)

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions–This entire week has been about the 1962 Vince Lombardi Packers who came into Detroit and got smacked around. It makes for an interesting storyline but has no bearing on today. Green Bay is undefeated but both of these teams are good. A healthy Matthew Stafford is as good as anybody, even Aaron Rodgers. Yet two good teams can come together and simply play a bad game.

The first half was unwatchable. Detroit dominated statistically, out-gaining Green Bay 216-86. The Lions had the ball for 20 minutes. Yet promising drives died under a hail of penalties. The Lions killed themselves the entire game. Green Bay was immobile, but with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half, the first big play of the game broke a scoreless logjam. From the Detroit 20, Stafford had a pass batted up in the air and intercepted by Clay Matthews. Green Bay took over at the Detroit 13, and Rodgers would hit Greg Jennings for a 3 yard score to have the Packers up 7-0. Detroit tried to get something back but Jason Hanson missed a 47 yard field goal try as the 7-0 score stuck through the rest of the half.

In the third quarter the Packers finally got some offense going in an attempt to put the game away. Rodgers led a 77 yard, 11 play, 6 minute drive. ROdgers hit Jermaine Finley for 26 yards, Donald Driver for 15, and Greg Jennings for a pair of 19 yard gains to set up 1st and goal at the 7. The key play of the game came on 3rd and goal at the 3. Rodgers threw incomplete, but a personal foul on Ndomakung Suh meant 1st and goal at the 1. Worse, it was a mindless penalty as Suh actually kicked a player while he was down after the play was over. Rather than a field goal try, Suh was disqualified and will face a heavy fine from the league. His mindlessness led John Kuhn to run it in and put the Packers up 14-0.

Stafford then led the Lions from their own 19 to the Green Bay 45. Yet again he was intercepted, and the Packers took over at their own 35. Rodgers needed only one play to make the Lions pay, as a 65 yard touchdown pass to Jones had he Packers up 21-0. Two plays later Stafford was intercepted yet again, giving Green Bay the ball at the Detroit 33. The Packers would settle for a 35 yard Mason Crosby field goal, but a 7-0 halftime game was now a 24-0 Packers blowout after three quarters.

Stafford tried to rally the Lions, and a 16 yard touchdown run by Williams followed by a successful 2 point conversion had the Lions within 24-8 with a full 13 minutes remaining. Yet there would be no comeback. Rodgers led a 6 minute drive that culminated in a 32 yard field goal to put the game out of reach. The Lions would get a garbage time touchdown to make the score respectable, but the message was clear. The better team won.

Despite the slow start, Rodgers finished 22 of 33 for 307 yards and 3 touchdown with 0 interceptions. Stafford was 32 of 45 for 276 yards and the touchdown at the end of the game, but also the 3 killer interceptions. The Lions at 7-4 are still in the playoff hunt but Jim Schwartz has to address the penalties, especially when they lead to ejections. As for Mike McCarthy and these Packers, they did not suffer what the Lombardi Packers did. They stated undefeated, and at 11-0 can now seriously talk about an undefeated season. Yet Lombardi’s Packers won the championship that season, and as great as these Packers are, they will say they have not won anything yet. The last time they tried to repeat as champions it ended in heartbreak. 27-15 Packers

Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys–Given that there is no natural rivalry here, it is impossible to discuss this game without bringing up Leon Lett. Yet the real story before getting to that is that both Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin and Miami tailback Reggie Bush dated Kim Kardashian, rendering this game the substanceless bowl. With Miles Austin being injured, wrath can be directed toward Miami more.

As for Leon, A few months after Lett fumbled the ball away in the Super Bowl, Dallas led Miami 14-13 in an uncharacteristic Texas snowstorm. Miami went for the winning field goal and it was blocked. The Cowboy players were all supposed to stay away from it and the game would have been over. Lett went sliding into it, touched it, and Miami recovered it. They kicked another field goal and won the game. Dallas would win the Super Bowl that year, so for the second time in 2 years all was forgiven.

This year both of these teams started shaky. Dallas was 3-4 and Miami was an awful 0-7. Yet Gary Kubiak and Tony Sparano hung tough and both of these teams come in with 3 game winning streaks. Dallas is tied for first in their division while Miami is at 3-7 actually not totally out of the playoffs in a weak AFC.

Even Kim Kardashian could not be blamed for this terrible first half given that she did not date most of the players. Tony Romo twice completed passes to the Miami defense, while 3 times, twice out of the shotgun, Matt Moore had trouble handling the snap from center. The first 29 minutes of awful football saw a 26 yard Shane Graham field goal in the first quarter and a 32 yard Dan Bailey kick in the second quarter. A 3-3 game seemed destined to go to the locker rooms when one mistake changed things with one minute left in the half. On 3rd and 14 from their own 24, a shotgun snap was mishandled and eventually recovered by the Cowboys at the Miami 5. One play later Romo hit Robinson as the Cowboys led 10-3. Yet Dallas got soft at the end as a lengthy defensive pass interference penalty led to another field goal to get the Dolphins within 10-6 at the half. The potential tying touchdown was not caught by Kardashian-dating Bush, resulting in the field goal.

The Dolphins began the third quarter at their own 20 and Moore moved them in 11 plays and 7 minutes to a 3rd and 4 at the Dallas 9. Yet Moore then fired incomplete, and a 27 yard field goal had the Dolphins within 10-9. Miami got the ballback at their own 26. On 3rd and 13, Moore went deep to Hartline for a 41 yard gain. Moore then went deep to Brandon Marshall for a 35 yard touchdown as the Dolphins finally cracked the end zone to take a 16-10 lead.

With 4 minutes left in the third quarter Dallas took over at their own 23. On 2nd and 7 Romo hit Jason Witten for 9, Murray for 17, and Robinson for 14. Dallas began the fourth quarter facing 3rd and 3 at the Miami 23. Romo hit Witten for 5 and then Robinson for the 18 yard touchdown as the third lead change of the game had the Cowboys up 17-16.

From the Miami 19, Moore continued leading the Dolphins on another solid drive, taking 14 plays and over 7 minutes off of the clock. Yet 1st and goal at the 3 would again lead to nothing as Kardashian-dating Bush lost 2 and Moore fired incomplete twice. Graham hit his fourth field goal as the fourth lead change had the Dolphins up 19-17 with 7 minutes left in the game.

Dallas would punt,  but with Kardashian-dating Bush only gaining one yard, the decision to pass the ball rather than grind out clock proved costly. Miami would punt and the Cowboys would have one final shot from their own 36. Romo hit Witten for 23 yards, immediately rendering time not a factor. Murray ran for a pair of 6 yard gains down to the Miami 29 at the 2 minute warning. Miami used all of their timeouts but Murray kept running for 9, 3, 4, and 5. At this point the Dolphins were powerless to stop the clock. Dallas wound it down to 3 seconds before Bailey came in for the potential winning kick.

Yes, another Miami-Dallas game came down to a field goal late, although this time the weather was perfect. The kick was good, and the 5th lead change of the game saw the Dolphins have their 3 game win streak snapped to fall to 3-8. Jason Garrett has seen the Cowboys win 4 straight after early struggles to get to 7-4 and lead their division at least temporarily. This was a great second half, taking an early turkey and turning it into a fine football game. 20-19 Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens was the evening Thanksgiving game. This is the Harbaugh Bowl, the only reason the NFL would schedule a game between a pair of teams with zero rivalry besides sibling. Yet the NFL lucked out, as both of these teams are Super Bowl contenders. The 49ers are on the road and have the shakier quarterback, although this could be a defensive slugfest anyway.

When Rob and Rex Ryan played the Ryan Bowl in Week 1 with Buddy Ryan watching, the defensive masterminds saw an offensive explosion and 51 points on the board. It is all about personnel. The Harbaugh Bowl between Jim and John with dad Jack looking on saw a pair of coaches known for offense utilize their personnel as the expected slog did materialize.

Billy Cundiff got the Ravens on the board with a 39 yard field goal and David Akers responded for the 49ers with a 45 yard field goal. In the second quarter the 49ers would have a 75 yard touchdown pass nullified by a chop block. With 6 minutes left in the half from the Baltimore 35, Joe Flacco went deep and was intercepted. Yet defensive pass interference meant a 50 yard gain to the Frisco 15. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 1 a lateral run lost 4 yards, meaning another field goal. Cundiff hit from 25 to have the Ravens up 6-3. Alex Smith moved the 49ers from their 20 to a 4th and 3 at the Baltimore 40 with 23 seconds left in the half. The 49ers went for it and Smith hit Walker for 5. Yet on the next play Smith went deep and was intercepted by Lardarius Webb in the end zone to end the half, the first ever interception in a Thanksgiving Day game by a Lardarius.

San Francisco began the third quarter after a touchback and soon faced 3rd and 17 at their own 26. Smith threw up a prayer and somehow Michael Crabtree came down with it for an 18 yard gain. Smith would lead Frisco to the Baltimore 25, but Terrell Suggs sacked him for a 10 yard loss. Akers came in for a 52 yard field goal to tie the game 6-6, and it was good. Yet 13 plays and 7 1/2 minutes still saw no trips to the end zone. Each team would only have one drive in the third quarter as the 49ers used up half the period and the Ravens used up the other half.

Baltimore took over at their own 24.. On 3rd and 6 Flacco hit Anquon Boldin for 7. On 3rd and 7 from the Ravens 38, Flacco hit Evans for 8. On 3rd and 6 from midfield Flacco hit Pitta for 11, Rice for 6, Leach for 10, and Dickson for 15. The third quarter ended with the Ravens facing 3rd and goal at the 8. On the first play of the fourth quarter Flacco hit Pitta for the touchdown as the Ravens led 13-6.

Midway through the fourth quarter a field position game had the Ravens at their own 40. On 3rd and 4 Flacco found Rice for 17 yards. Ricky Williams then gained 12. Cundiff came in for a 39 yard field goal to try and put the game on ice. His kick was good, and the Ravens had the very hard fought win.

San Francisco fell to 8-2 in a division they lead by several games. However, getting the top seed is slipping away as they are 2 games back of Green Bay. They still lead the NFC race for the other 1st round bye. Baltimore remains in first place in their brutal division in an AFC that is totally up for grabs. They will not have another game for 10 days, and their nasty defense that sacked Smith 8 times will only get better with the return of leader Ray Lewis from a toe injury. Both of these teams have 8 wins, and a Super Bowl rematch is still a possibility that would be worth contemplating. 16-6 Ravens

Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons–The Falcons are in contention for the NFC South division title under non-descript white guy Mike Smith, while the Vikings are a miserable 2-8 and have lost Adrian Peterson.

After an exchange of punts, the Falcons took over at their own 20. Michael Turner gained 10, and a facemask tacked on 15 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 45, Jason Snelling gained 3. Turner gained 10 and 9, and on 2nd and 19 from the 27, Matt Ryan hit Douglas for the touchdown to have the Falcons up 7-0.

In the second quarter the Falcons took over at their own 32. Short runs would lead to a 2nd and 13 just past midfield. Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 9, Douglas for 18, Gonzalez for another 18, and a 6 yard touchdown to Roddy White to have the Falcons up 14-0 with 4 minutes left in the half. Minnesota would punt, and a 42 yard punt return by Weems had the Falcons starting at the Minesota 36 with 2 minutes left. Matt Bryant would hit a 37 yard field goal to have the Falcons up 17-0 at the break.

Minnesota clawed back in the second half. After an exchange of punts, the Vikings took over at their own 20. Christian Ponder hit Toby Gerhart for 8 and Gerhart ran for 12 more. Ponder hit Vicente Shiancoe for 16, and on 3rd and 4 from the Atlanta 40, Ponder ran for 5. On 3rd and 1 from the 26, Ponder hit Reisner for 5. On 3rd and 10 from the 21, Ponder found Percy Harvin for 20, and Gerhart got the final yard to have the Vikings down 17-7 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter after the 14 play, 80 yard, 8 minute drive.

Minnesota got the ball back at their own 20 and quickly went 3 and out to start the fourth quarter. Yet Franks fumbled the punt, and the Vikings had it at the Atlanta 36. On 4th and 13 from the 39 and needing 2 scores, Leslie Frazier decided to go for it rather than try a 57 yard field goal. Ponder went deep to Percy Harvin for a miracle touchdown. 13 1/2 minutes remained in the game, and the Vikings were within 17-14.

After an exchange of punts, the Falcons took over at their own 27 with 10 1/2 minutes left. Turner gained 5 and Ryan hit Gonzalez for 6. Ryan then went deep to White for 26 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the Minnesota 30, Ryan went back to White again for 23 more. Ryan hit Palmer for a 3 yard touchdown as the Falcons had some breathing room with a 10 point lead with 6:40 to play.

Yet Minnesota has a gamebreaker, and his name is Percy Harvin. He took the kickoff 7 yards deep in the end zone and returned it 104 yards. He did not reach the end zone, but Minnesota instantly had 1st and goal at the 3. Any points would make it a one score game again. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2, Harvin only got 1. On 4th and goal at the 1, , Leslie Frazier decided to go for it. Gerhart got blasted for a 2 yard loss and the Vikings were done. They gave the Falcons all they could handle, but are still 2-9 while Atlanta got the hard fought win to stay in contention for their division. Matty Ice earned his nickname by going 27 for 34 for 262 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. 24-14 Falcons

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals–While Marvin Lewis again has th Bengals improved, this game remains a fight to finish behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore until proven otherwise. Walrus Mike Holmgren just wants his Browns to defeat somebody in a game worth watching.

Cleveland took over at their own 21 and some short runs by Peyton Hillis led to 3rd and 1 at the Cleveland 38. Hillis gained 2. Colt McCoy then went deep the Jerrius Norwood for a 36 yard gain. On 3rd and 10 from the 24, McCoy went deep again to Norwood, this time for the touchdown as the Browns led 7-0.

The Bengals took over at their own 23. On 3rd and 19 Andy Dalton hit Hawkins for just enough. On 3rd and 8 just shy of midfield, Dalton hit Simpson for 9. Cedric Benson, despite getting arrested again a few days earlier, broke free for a 33 yard gain. Yet on 4th and goal at the 1, Marvin Lewis decided to go for it and Benson got stopped for the second time this week and the first time not by police officers. Yet it was temporary as Cleveland punted it back and the Bengals took over at the Browns 47. Benson gained 7, Dalton hit Green for 24, and Benson ran the final 16 to tie the game 7-7.

The second quarter began with Cleveland at their own 31. Runs and short passes would eventually lead to a 32 yard field goal by Phil Dawson to have the Browns up 10-7 with 9 1/2 minutes left in the half. With 45 seconds left in the half the Bengals faced 2nd and 10 at their own 27. Rather than just go to the half, Dalton was sacked and fumbled, giving the Browns the ball at the Cincy 14. McCoy hit Little for a 3 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left in the half to have the Browns up 17-7 and make Holmgren a most happy Walrus.

Cincy began the third quarter at their own 25 and Dalton led a 12 play, 6 minute drive. Yet the drive would stall at the Cleveland 5 yard line as the Bengals settled for a 23 yard Mike Nugent field goal to get within 17-10. Cleveland would take over at their own 30 and soon face 2nd and 18 at their own 40. McCoy scrambled for 20 to keep the drive going. Phil Dawson missed a 22 yarder in a loss recently, but from 54 yards out he had no problem as the Browns were back up 20-10.

With 4 minutes left in the third quarter the Bengals again took over at their own 25. Benson gained 9 and 1, and then Dalton went to the air. He hit Hawkins for 8, Green for 35, and Gresham for the 22 yard touchdown to have the Bengals within 20-17 after three quarters.

On the first play of the fourth quarter from the Cleveland 25, McCoy was intercepted. The Bengals took over at their own 46. On 3rd and 9 from the Cleveland 43, Dalton hit Gresham for 15. Nugent would hit a 40 yard field goal to tie the game 20-20. It would come down in the end to who wanted it least.

With 5 minutes left in regulation the Browns took over at their own 32. On 3rd and 6 at their own 44, McCoy hit Little for 19 yards. Yet from the Cincy 37, 3 more plays netted 0 yards. With 1:55 to play Fritz Shurmur had a critical decision to make. Dawson had made a 54 yarder, and this one was 55. He opted for the field goal knowing a miss would give the Bengals golden field position. Dawson never had a chance as another bad snap meant a kick missed way wide. With 1:51 to play, the Bengals took over at their own 45. These are the Browns.

With just over one minute left, on 3rd and 8, Dalton had a man in his face when he threw up a prayer that should never have been thrown. Yet Green plucked the duck out of the air, broke a tackle, and raced all the way for a 60 yard gain to the Cleveland 2 yard line with one minute left. These are the Browns. The Browns had all of their timeouts, and used them as Mike Nugent kicked the 26 yarder with 41 seconds left. The Browns would take over at their own 26, and 4 straight McCoy incompletions meant Mike Holmgren was once again an unhappy Walrus. Everyone say it. These are the Browns. The Bengals are 7-4, which proves they can barely beat bad teams. 23-20 Bengals

Carolina Panthers @ Indianapolis Colts–The Panthers are a bad team but even at 2-8 Cam Newton provides some excitement. As for the Colts, Jim Caldwell remains stoic in the face of a miserable 0-10 nightmare. Somebody somewhere cared about this game, and league rules required it not be canceled.

After an exchange of punts, the Panthers took over at their own 45. On 3rd and 6 Newton scrambled for 7. On 3rd and 10 from the Indy 44, Newton hit Brad LaFell for 17. Olindo Mare hit a 40 yard field goal to have the Panthers up 3-0.

Carolina got the ball back at their own 38 and Newton hit Steve Smith for 30 yards. The second quarter began with the ball at the Indy 22. Stewart ran for 8, and on 3rd and 2 from the 14, Newton did what he does, running for the score to have the Panthers up 10-0.

This is where fans question whether the Colts are tanking the season to draft Andrew Luck. This is an insult to anybody who cares about and respects the NFL. The losing is eating at Bill Polian, Jim Caldwell, and professionals such as Jeff Saturday. This team is awful, but they have not quit. After a touchback, Curtis Painter hit Reggie Wayne for 14. A defensive pass interference penalty was a 42 yard gain, and Donald Brown ran for a 17 yard touchdown to have the Colts within 10-7. The Colts would eventually take over at their own 41 with 4 minutes left in the half. Joseph Addai gained 16 and Brown 8 more. With 1:51 left in the half Adam Vinatieri would hit a 43 yard field goal to tie the game 10-10.

After an Indy punt in the third quarter, Carolina took over at their own 36. On 3rd and 5 Newton hit Olsen for 13. On 3rd and 1 from the Indy 37, Newton ran for 12 and Deangelo Williams took a handoff up the middle for a 25 yard touchdown to have the Panthers up 17-10.

The game then got sloppy as Newton led the Panthers to the Indy 39. He hit Jeremy Shockey for 8, but Shockey fumbled and the Colts took over at their own 39. Pierre Garcon gained 8 and the Curtis Painter went deep to Reggie Wayne for a 40 yard gain to the Carolina 13. After offensive holding moved the Colts back, they fought to a 3rd and 4 at the 7 before a run by Garcon lost 6 yards. Vinatieri connected from 31 as the Colts trailed 17-13 after three quarters.

Carolina began the fourth quarter at their own 20 and Stewart gained 10 and 13. On 1st and 20 from the 33 after offensive holding, Newton found Smith for 20. Newton went back to Smith for 18 more and then to Shockey for 24 down to the 2 yard line. Williams took it in to have the Panthers up 24-13 with 10 1/2minutes to play.

Indy kept fighting after a touchback. Painter hit Reggie Wayne for 11 and Brown gained 12. On 3rd and 9 from the Indy 44, Painter hit Wayne, who this time raced for a 56 yard touchdown. The 2 point conversion failed, but the Colts were within 24-19 with 8 1/2 minutes left.

They kicked off to Pilares, who took one 101 yards for a score last week. This week he took the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the Indy 32. Yet on 3rd and 3 Stewart only gained 2. On 4th and 1 from the 23, Ron Rivera decided not to gamble. Olindo Mare hit the 41 yard field goal with 6 minutes to play. The Oanthers led by 8, but failed to put the game away.

The next drive for the Colts looked just like the previous one, as a touchback was followed by an 11 yard Painter pass to Garcon and a 12 yard Brown run. Unnecessary roughness tacked on 15 more and painter hit Jacob Tamme for 9. On 2nd and 1 from the 33, Painter went for al the marbles and was intercepted in the end zone by Gamble with 4 1/2 minutes left.

Carolina went 3 and out, and the Colts took over at their own 28 with 3:09 to play. Painter hit Garcon for 15 and 8 and Austin Collie for 11 more as the 2 minute warning came with the Colts facing 2nd and 9 at the Carolina 37. Painter hit Brown for 17, but with 1:21 left the Colts faced 4th and 5 at the Carolina 15. They were so close to their first win. Painter hit Collie for 12 to set up 1st and goal at the 3 with 40 seconds to go. Painter fired over the middle and the ball was batted up in the air. Martin came down with the deflection and somehow got his feet down for the acrobatic catch. Martin plays defense for the Panthers. Jim Caldwell could only look expressionless as the Colts fell to 0-11 with the agonizing loss. 27-19 Panthers

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars–With Matt Schaub out for the year, the 7-3 Texans would have to rely on Captain Checkdown Matt Leinart, who needs to prove he has gotten over the celebrity bimbo stage and now wants to play football. They travel to division rival Jacksonville as Blaine Gabbert has had a rocky rookie year.

Things got off to a rough start for the Texans, but not because of Leinart. Arriun Foster fumbled and Youboty returned it 38 yards for a touchdown to have the Jaguars up 7-0. Houston would settle down and take over at their own 33. On 3rd and 2 Foster picked up 43 yards, and on 3rd and goal from the 1 Foster took it in to tie the game 7-7.

The second quarter saw Gabbert take over the Jaguars at their own 20. On 3rd and 5 he hit Maurice Jones-Drew for 31 yards and Shorts for 25 more. A 14 yard pass to Mercedes Lewis set up 1st and goal at the 3. Yet a failed run and a pair of incomplete passes meant a 21 yard Josh Scobee field goal and a 10-7 Jaguars lead.

The teams would exchange punts, and a 42 yard punt return had the Texans starting at the Jacksonville 26. Leinart was actually allowed to throw short passes, and a 6 yarder to Foster was followed by a toss to Joel Dreesen, who broke tackles for a 20 yard touchdown to have the Texans up 14-10 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Gabbert on a 3rd and 10 from his own 24 was then intercepted, giving the Texans another short field at the Jacksonville 34. Leinart ran 3 plays and lost 1 yard, but Scobee bailed him out with a 53 yard field goal to have the Texans up 17-10 with 4 minutes left in the half.

With 1:50 left, Gabbert had led the Jaguars to a 55 yard field goal try, but Scobee missed it. Leinart had 1:45 from the Houston 45. On 2nd and 10 Foster ran for 10, and Leinart got hurt on the play. Yes, Captain Checkdown managed to complete almost an entire half of football. TJ Yates was the emergency quarterback, and he came in for the very first time in his career. Gary Kubiak immediately had him throwing, and he hit Owen Daniels for 5 and Jones for 10. Yates would fumble, recover his own fumble, and then hit Daniels for 24 to set up 1st and goal at the 6 with 41 seconds left in the half. A penalty would kill the drive but Neil Rackers connected from 33 to have the Texans up 20-10 going into the locker rooms.

A hideous second half puntfest saw Jack Del Rio bench an ineffective Blaine Gabert and replace him with Luke McCown with 7 minutes left in regulation. Gary Kubiak just prayed that his third stringer would stay upright. From the Jacksonville 33, McCown quickly led the Jaguars to a 4th and 3 at the Houston 17. Needing 2 scores, Del Rio played it safe and Scobee hit the 35 yarder to have the Jaguars within 7 with 4 minutes left.

Houston went 3 and out and the Jaguars got the ball back at their own 26 with 3 minutes left and one timeout. On 3rd and 5 McCown found Dillard for 21 yards. After the 2 minute warning, McCown was sacked. With the clock running at 1:35, Jacksonville faced 3rd and 27 at their own 35. McCown went deep to Mercedes Lewis for a 25 yard gain. Yet on 4th and 2 from the Houston 40 with 1:16 left, McCown threw incomplete to end the threat. Jacksonville had another tough loss in a bad season. As for Houston, it is hard to say an 8-3 team is in trouble, but they are. Wade Phillips has fixed the defense, but they need a quarterback. Worthless Captain Checkdown Matt Leinart lasted almost one half of football, but his injured shoulder most likely put him out for the rest of the season. 20-13 Texans

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets–After the Jets punted twice and the Bills once, Buffalo took over at their own 10. A defensive facemask and a 17 yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Smith had the Bills at their own 46. On 3rd and 5, Fitzpatrick hit Chandler for 13. On 3rd and 2 from the Jets 28, Fitzpatrick hit Spiller for 13. Spiller gained 7 and then 2 on 3rd and 1. Fitzpatrick would hit Nelson for an 8 yard touchdown to complete the 13 play, 90 yard drive that consumed nearly 9 minutes to put the Bills up 7-0.

The Jets took over at their own 22 and on 3rd and 2 Santonio Holmes ran for 23 yards as the first quarter ended. Shon Greene ran for 18, Mark Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress for 8, and McKnight gained 7 more. From the 9, Sanchez hit Holmes for 6 and Dustin Keller for the 3 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.

After a solid Buffalo punt, the Jets faced 2nd and 8 at their own 4 with 3:40 left in the half. Sanchez was intercepted, giving the Bills gift field position at the Jets 20. Fitzpatrick would throw a 5 yard touchdown pass to Stevie St Johnson just before the 2 minute warning to have the Bills up 14-7. Yet in one of the most classless displays, St. Johnson did an end zone celebration pretending to shoot himself in the leg, mocking the Jets Burress, who went to prison for 2 years for his accidental self-shooting in a nightclub. Chan Gailey could not be happy with the resulting unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Kicking from the 20, it initially appeared Chan Gailey called an onsides kick, which would make no sense in that situation. Further review saw that the kicker just slipped, as the Jets took over at the Buffalo 36.  Sanchez hit Greene for 7, and a defensive personal foul moved the ball to the 14. On 3rd and 10 Sanchez hit…who else…Burress for the tying touchdown. Burress bowed to the crowd as the teams were tied 14-14 at halftime.

Fitzpatrick led the Bills from their own 20 to the Jets 38 before a run lost 3 yards to force a punt. After a touchback, Greene ran for 12 and McKnight added 9 and 2. From the Jets 44, Sanchez hit Keller for 22 and McKnight for another 13. Sanchez would hit Keller for an 18 yard touchdown to have the Jets up 21-14. Buffalo would face 4th and 2 at their own 33 on the next series and would punt. Yet Antonio Cromartie continued to struggle on special teams as he fumbled another one. The Bills took the gift at the Jets 36 and needed only one play to capitalize as Fitzpatrick found former Jet Brad Smith for the tying touchdown as the teams went to the fourth quarter deadlocked 21-21.

Tied at the half, tied after 3 quarters, and tied with 5-5 records made it obvious that this dead-even matchup between desperate teams trying to stay in the playoff hunt would go down to the final play. The Jets would go 3 and out, and the fourth quarter began after a Buffalo penalty with the Bills facing 2nd and 21 at their own 21. Fitzpatrick hit St Johnson for 16 and on 3rd and 5 found Nelson for 6. CJ Spiller would gain 6 and 9. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the 14 play, 7 minute drive would only lead to a 53 yard field goal attempt by Dave Rayner. Rayner connected, and the Bills led 24-21. Both teams would then go 3 and out as the Jets took over at their own 18 with 6 minutes left in regulation.

Illegal use of hands moved the ball 5 yards forward and Shon Greene gained 11. Sanchez hit Burress for 14 just past midfield. On 3rd and 8 Sanchez hit Turner for 12. At the 2 minute warning the Jets faced 3rd and 11 at the Buffalo 36. Sanchez found Burress for 18. With time no longer a factor the Jets let the clock run. On 2nd and 8 from the 16, Sanchez fired to the end zone, and Santonio Holmes had the touchdown. Fireman Ed and the crowd erupted as the Jets had the 4 point lead.

With one minute left, The Jets kicked off to former Jets phenom Brad Smith. Smith took it back to the Bills 27. Sanchez had done his job, and now Fitzpatrick had 54 seconds to pull of a miracle. Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for 18 and Chandler for 11 as the Bills took their first timeout at the Jets 44 with 40 seconds left. Fitzpatrick scrambled for 15 to the Jets 27 as the Bills took their second timeout with 15 seconds left. Fitzpatrick went to the end zone to St. Johnson incomplete and to Smith incomplete. With 2 seconds left, it all came down to 4th and 7 at the 24.

Fitzpatrick went deep to St. Johnson, but there would be no end zone celebration this time. The pass fell incomplete, and Gang Green had gutted out a heart-stopping win. Buffalo fell to 5-6 under Chan Gailey while Rex Ryan saw his team fight hard to get to 6-5. Both quarterbacks were magnificent, with Fitzpatrick going 26 for 39 for 264 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Sanchez was only 17 of 35 for 180 yards, but 4 touchdown passes and only one interception was just enough. In a shootout at the end, the Jets made just one more play on defense than the Bills as the game became an instant NFL classic. 28-24 Jets

Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams–The other game that nobody wanted to watch and the league refused to cancel saw the worst of the NFC Worst. Yet at least some exciting special teams plays kept the fans awake. Miller took a punt back 88 yards for a score to have the Rams up 7-0. The rest of the first half was unwatchable, as John “Red” Skelton was intercepted, only to have Sam Bradford fumble it back. Jay Feely would hit a 29 yard field goal for the Cardinals and Josh Brown would hit a 35 yarder to close out the half as the punt return touchdown was the difference in the 10-3 Rams lead.

The the third quarter saw the Cardinals explode, with Beanie Wells running wild. After a touchback, Wells ran for 9 and 7. Skelton then went deep to Larry Fitzgerald for 41 yards to the Rams 23. On 2nd and 18 after a holding penalty, Skelton hit Doucet for 14. Wells gained 3 and on 4th and 1 from the 14 Ken Whisenhunt decided to go for it. Yet a costly false start penalty killed the chance and the Cardinals settled for a 37 yard Jay Felly field goal to get within 10-6.

The Rams took over and soon faced 3rd and 9 at their own 28. Kendricks would fumble the ball and the Cardinals would take over at the Rams 28. On 3rd and 13 Skelton scrambled for just enough. Wells did the rest, running for 7, 4, and the 7 yard touchdown to put Arizona in front 13-10. The Rams would punt, and this time Peterson would make them pay, taking it 80 yards for a touchdown to match the St. Louis return earlier. It was Peterson’s 4th punt return for a score this year, tying the NFL record shared by Devon Hester and several others. The Cardinals led 20-10 after three quarters, but this game was far from over.

The Rams took over at their own 21. On 3rd and 6, Sam Bradford hit Gibson for 8 and on the next play went deep to Pettis for a 35 yard gain. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bradford on 3rd and 8 from the Arizona threw incomplete. Josh brown would make the 48 yard field goal to have the Rams within 20-13. Arizona took over at their own 26, and on the first play from scrimmage Skelton was intercepted. Yet Despite taking over at the Arizona 37, all the Rams could gain was 5 yards. From 50 yards out with 13 minutes left in regulation, this time Josh Brown was no good.

Both teams went 3 and out and the Cardinals took over at their own 45 with 10 minutes left. Wells ran well all day, and gained 4. Yet on the next carry after gaining 5, Wells fumbled and the Rams took over at the Arizona 43. Bradford went right to work, hitting Spach for 3,  Kendricks for 24, and Brandon Lloyd for the 16 yard touchdown. Midway through the fourth quarter, the game was tied 20-20. Despite some exciting play, the awful records of these teams made the football world root against overtime.

Arizona took over at their own 25. On 3rd and 6 Skelton hit Fitzgerald for 9. Wells atoned for his earlier fumble by breaking free for a 53 yard gain. He was on his way for a touchdown but got caught at the 9 yard line. That saved the touchdown as the Cardinals got no further than the 4 yard line. Feely hit the 22 yarder and the Cardinals had the 3 point lead, but 4 minutes still remained as the Ram took the ball at their own 27. On 3rd and 1 Bradford threw incomplete. Steve Spagnuolo decided to punt and trust his defense.

Arizona took over at their own 26 with 3:14 left. On 3rd and 4 with everyone expecting a run, Whisenhunt decided not to play it safe. Skelton threw to Larod Stephens-Howling for 14 yards as the Rams took their final timeout with 2:55 to play. A pair of 3 yard gains meant the 2 minute warning and a critical 3rd and 4 at the Rams 48. Wells was the workhorse all day, but it was Stephens-Howling who got the carry for a 5 yard gain as Arizona ran out the clock. Even bad seasons can produce great performances, and Well finished with 226 yards on 27 carries. Arizona got the win while St. Louis kept falling to defeat. 23-20 Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Tennessee Titans–Inclement weather and a pair of average teams hanging onto playoff contention produce a game that was…well…average. Both of these teams have been known for defense in years past, but this year they are both trying to find their identity.

A game filled with turnovers saw the Bucs fumble and the Titans take over at the Tampa 38. Tennessee got nothing and punted. Josh Freeman would lead a 6 minute drive that resulted in a 43 yard Connor Barth field goal, but the lead did not last long. Mariani took the kickoff at the goal line and returned it to the 16. He then handed it to Campbell, who took it the remaining 84 yards for the touchdown. This was not the home run throwback Adelphia Miracle, but nevertheless it had the Titans up 7-3.

Matt Hasselbeck would throw an interception that the Bucs failed to capitalize on. Rob Bironas would miss a 42 yard field goal as neither team played well in the bad weather. A sack of Josh Freeman midway through the second quarter meant another fumble and the Titans taking over at the Bucs 38. Bironas would hit a 31 yard field goal with 4 minutes left in the half to put the Titans up 10-3.

Tennessee got the ball back and with 1:11 left in the half faced 3rd and 11 at their own 34. A short pass to Ringer meant another fumble as the Bucs had it at the Titans 29 with one minute left. Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for 9, 8, and 6. With 16 seconds left in the half, Freeman hit Williams for a 3 yard touchdown to tie it 10-10 going to the break.

The third quarter saw Tampa Bay move the ball but fumble it away again as the Titans took over at their own 37. A facemask on the offense after another fumble meant 1st and 25 from the 22. On the next play Hasselbeck found Aqib Talib, who plays defense for Tampa Bay. The 27 yard interception return for a touchdown broke the tie. The offenses did nothing in the third quarter as the Bucs led 17-10 entering the fourth.

The last play of the third quarter saw Chris Johnson run for 25 yards to have the Titans at the Tampa Bay 44. On 3rd and 7 Matt Hasselbeck found Nate Washington for 12. On 4th and 15 Bironas came in for a 52 yard field goal try. Bironas connected, and the Titans were within 17-13 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, Blount quickly ran for 1 and 14 to midfield. Freeman hit Williams for 9 and Blount gained 7 more. Yet 1st and 10 from the Tennessee 34 was ended by consecutive offensive penalties as the Bucs punted. Tennessee took over with 7 minutes left at their own 20.

Hasselbeck hit Williams for 11 and Chris Johnson ran for 10 and then broke free for a 34 yard gain. Ringer ran for 7 and on 3rd and 3 from the 18, Hasselbeck found Hawkins for 11. With 3 minutes left, the Titans faced 4th and goal at the 2. Hasselbeck dropped back, and fired high over the middle to Williams, who made the catch and came down with both feet inbounds. The Titans led 20-17 as the Bucs took over at their own 33.

Freeman was then quickly intercepted, and the Titans took over at the Tampa 47. Only 2:19 remained but the Bucs had all of their timeouts. On 2nd and 8 Johnson broke through for a 21 yard gain as the clock moved to the 2 minute warning. A false start meant 2nd and 15. Ringer carried a couple times as the Bucs used all of their timeouts. On 4th and 9, Bironas came in for a 38 yard try to extend the lead. The kick was good, but the Titans did not put the game away. After a touchback, the Bucs had 1:44 to try and move 80 yards for the win.

Freeman hit Williams for a pair of 23 yard gains and Tampa was on the move. On 3rd and 10 from the Tennessee 34, Freeman hit Lumpkin for 9. With 46 seconds left, the Bucs faced 4th and 1 from the 25. The weather was bad in the first three quarters but downright awful in the fourth quarter. 9 turnovers in the first 59 minutes were split with 5 for Tampa Bay. Needing one yard, Freeman fumbled. He recovered his own fumble, so it was not  10th turnover. However, Tampa Bay lost a yard and turned it over on downs. The battle in the rain was over, and Tennessee clawed their way to 6-5 under Mike Munchak as Raheem Morris saw his Bucs all but get eliminated from playoff contention. 23-17 Titans

Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders–For more on the game of the day, go to

This was all about injuries. In the 1980s these teams were without their starting quarterbacks as Jim McMahon and Jim Plunkett were out and backups got knocked out. By the time these teams finished the game, Walter Payton and Marcus Allen were throwing passes as the Bears won a brutal 17-6 game. The last time these teams met the Raiders led another defensive bonelock 6-3 with 4 minutes left. Yet they could not hang on as the Bears won for another 17-6 win.

This game saw Jay Cutler out for the season. Caleb Hanie played well in the NFC Title Game last year, but this would be his first NFL start. The Raiders have recovered from losing Jason Campbell with Carson Palmer playing well. Yet the Silver and Black were still without Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, and Denarius Moore. Sebastian Janikowski still had his sore hamstring but played. Darrius Heyward-Bey did play despite getting knocked cold last week. Yet one key matchup would be one of the greatest punters of all time in Shane Lechler against the greatest punt returner of all time Devon Hester and another great returner in Johnny Knox. Despite the injuries, Lovie Smith had the Bears at 7-3 and Hue Jackson had the Raiders at 6-4. In a year of fantastic finishes for the Raiders, this was another one that went down to the wire.

The Bears went 3 and out and the Raiders took over at their own 29. Palmer made it look easy early on, hitting Heyward-Bey for 19 and Myers for 24 more. Michael Bush ran for 6, yet 2nd and 4 from the 22 led to a pair of incomplete passes. In a theme that would become way too common on the day, the Raiders failed to reach the end zone. Seabass barely snuck a 40 yarder inside the upright as the Raiders led 3-0.

Both teams then went 3 and out, and the Bears soon faced 1st and 15 at their own 14. Hanie was intercepted by Stanford Routt, and the Raiders had gift field position at the Chicago 31. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 7 and Michael Bush ran for 4 and 2 more. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the 18, an incompletion was followed by a sack of Palmer and an 11 yard loss. Seabass came in for a 47 yarder, and again he barely snuck it inside the upright as the Raiders led 6-0.

The Bears took over at their own 18 and Matt Forte ran for 33 yards just past midfield. Yet on 3rd and 15 from the Oakland 43, Hanie was intercepted for the second time by Michael Huff, giving the Raiders the ball at their own 43. On 3rd and 7 Palmer found Kevin Boss for 8 as the first quarter ended. Yet a sack of Palmer meant another punt. Every time the Raiders punted the Raider Nation held their breath, but Lechler was not taking on Hester. A gorgeous 44 yard punt went out of bounds at the Chicago 3 yard line.

Chicago went 3 and out, and the Raiders got the ball back at midfield. Yet throughout the entire season, the Raiders have not been able to put teams away when totally in control. On 4th and 1 from the Chicago 41, Hue Jackson decided to go for it and Bush gained 2. Yet Palmer was then sacked for a 9 yard loss, and on 3rd and 19 from the Chicago 48, Palmer was intercepted by Graham. The Bears took over at their own 26 with 9 minutes left in the half.

Marion Barber ran for 15, 4, and 8 to set up 1st and at the Oakland 47. Yet a penalty had the Bears facing 3rd and 18 at their own 45. Hanie scrambled for 24 yards in front of a stunned home crowd. On 3rd and 8 from the 29, Hanie found Johnny Knox over the middle. Knox escaped one tackle and outran the Raiders for an easy touchdown. Despite totally beating up the Bears, 2 plays had Chicago in front 7-6 with 5 minutes left in the half.

After a touchback, Palmer found Marcel Reece, who took a short pass for a 47 yard gain. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 7 and Bush gained 2 to set up a critical 3r and 1 at the Chicago 24. Surprisingly, Hue Jackson went for the deep ball and it was incomplete. On 4th and 1 Jackson decided not to go for it. Seabas hit the 42 yarder, but with 3 minutes left in the half the Raiders only led 9-7 after another drive stalled.

It was not Devon Hester but Johnny Knox who took the ensuing kickoff and made the Raiders pay, bringing it back 56 yards to the Oakland 35. On 3rd and 7, Hanie hit Davis for 16. With 35 seconds left in the half the Bears had 2nd and 1 at the 7. Hanie then made a critical mistake. He rolled right and then tried to throw left back over the middle of the the field. The ball was tipped by Aaron Curry and intercepted by Kameron Wimbley at the Oakland 15. Wilmbley is not the fastest guy, but he had a convoy of blockers down the sideline. Yet on his way to a touchdown the other way, he was pulled down by Louis after a 73 yard return A horse collar tackle penalty gave the Raiders 1st and goal at the  with 18 seconds left.

A run by Bush lost a yard, and the Raiders called timeout with 14 seconds left. Palmer then rolled out and found Bush, but he was stopped at the one yard line. The play took so long to develop that only 5 seconds remained. On 3rd and goal at the one, after initially lining up to go for it, an exasperated Hue Jackson decided not to risk it and sent in Seabass. Another squandered opportunity meant a 4th field goal as Seabass hit from 19 to give the Raiders the 12-7 halftime lead.

The question that Raider fans keep asking is will the Raiders finally “finish” a game? Will they put one away so they don’t have to worry about a stressful fourth quarter. The Raiders took over in the third quarter at their own 20 and Palmer hit Reece for 11. Bush gained another 11, and Palmer hit Reece again for 29 yards down to the Chicago 29. Palmer hit Schillens for 17 yards. Yet on 2nd and 8 from the 9, the Raiders failed again as a holding penalty killed the drive. Seabass kicked a 37 yard field goal to tie the team record for field goals in a game with Jeff Jaeger. The 10 play drive had the Raiders up 15-7, but it was still a close game.

Chicago would punt twice and the Raiders once as the Raiders took over at their own 38 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 2nd and 14, Palmer hit Schillens for 16. From midfield Bush ran for 14 and Rock Cartwright added 4 more. Palmer hit Bush for 12 and again the Raiders were in the red zone at the 20. Palmer hit Schillens for 11 and again the Raiders had 1st and goal. Again the Raiders fell apart. A run lost 3 yards. A 12 yard touchdown pass to Bush was nullified by a holding call. Palmer was then sacked. On 4th and goal from the 26, Seabass came in for his 6th field goal try. Seabass had already connected from 40, 47, 42, 19, and 37. The kicker with the sore hammy was 6 for 6 as the 44 yarder was good. He held the all time team record for one game, yet the Raiders only led 18-7 after three quarters. Once again, the Raiders would have trouble finishing.

The fourth quarter began from the Chicago 18 and Marion Barber ran for 21 and then 4 more. On 3rd and 1 from the Chicago 48, Hanie got the yard. Hanie would hit Spaeth for 9, and on 3rd and 6 from the Oakland 36, Matt Forte came up one yard short. On 4th and 1 from the 31, Lovie Smith decided not to go for it. Robbie Gould is another good kicker from long range, and he drilled a 50 yarder to have the Bears within 18-10 with 11 minutes left in regulation.

After a touchback, a bizarre set of circumstances occurred on 2nd and 10. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 15 yards on the sideline. Lovie Smith decided not to challenge the completion. Yet the Raiders almost took a delay of game penalty, and had to burn a timeout. In a strange scenario during the timeout, Heyward-Bey was actually near the sideline joking with Lovie Smith. Neither one was trash talking, and it seemed amicable. Yet while good sportsmanship is encouraged, bonding with the opposing coach at that juncture was just strange.

It was also costly as the timeout gave Smith the chance to get one more camera angle. Heyward-Bey’s second toe came down inbounds, but his heel may have been out. Now Smith did throw the challenge flag, and the call was reversed. Had the Raiders just snapped the ball or taken the delay, it would have been 2nd and 10 or 1st and 15. Instead it was 3rd and 10, and the Raiders lost a timeout as well. Oakland went 3 and out, but Shane Lechler rocketed a punt far over Devon Hester’s head for an 80 yard punt. It was “only” 60 net after the touchback. If Ray Guy is the greatest punter of all time, which he is, Lechler is a very close second.

Yet praise for Lechler aside, the Raiders still had not put the game away. Hanie found Knox for 19 and 16. Hanie then scrambled for 7. On 3rd and 3 from the Oakland 35, Hanie went deep to Knox again but this time it was incomplete. Gould came in for a 53 yarder, and he leveled it by a country mile. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bears were only down 18-13.

Michael Bush would struggle all day, as Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and the rest of the Chicago defense kept him in check. Bush would finish with only 69 yards on 24 carries. After another run of 0, the Raiders had to pass rather than take time off of the clock. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 9. On the crucial 3rd and 1, Bush gained 14. Yet offensive holding instead meant 3rd and 6. Normally the Raiders fll apart at this point, but on 3rd and 6 Palmer Palmer calmly found Schillens for 14. Bush gained 7 and then lost a yard, setting up a critical 3rd and 4 at midfield as Chicago took their first timeout with 4 minutes left.

You have to run the ball in this situation. Throwing incomplete passes just stops the clock. Hue Jackson does not care, and he seems to be going for broke with Al Davis watching from up above. Needing only 4 yards, he went for the bobm and  Palmer found Louis Murphy for a 47 yard gain to set up 1st and goal at the 3. After 6 field goals and 56 minutes of frustration, Bush carried it in the end zone. The Raiders led 25-13. Was this game finally finished?

No. Not by a long shot. From the Chicago 16, a pass to Matt Forte was blown up in the backfield for a 6 yard loss. After another incompletion the Bears took their second timeout with 3:10 to play and the Bears facing 3rd and 16 at their own 10. This was where the Raiders could blitz and knock a kid making his first NFL start silly. Yet the Raiders rushed only 3 people, and the cliche about the prevent defense preventing a win proved more than just cliche. Hanie went deep to Knox for an 81 yard gain. While the clock was ticking, Hanie would hit Davis for the 9 yard touchdown with 2:17 to play. Just like that, the Bears were only down 5.

The Raiders were in this situation before in a pair of games, giving up a miracle Hail Mary to Houston before winning on the final play. They gave up a gift to Cleveland and then an onsides kick before winning a heartstopper that should have been a blowout. Now the Raiders had taken a 2 score lead late and had to defend against another onsides kick. Gould hit it perfectly. Matt Giordano got his hands on but then got blasted by Peanut Tillman. A mad scramble ensued, and Dave Ausberry somehow came away with it for the Raiders at their own 46. There was 2:11 to play but the Bears still had one timeout. Could the Raiders finally finish a game?

No. They could not. Bush lost a yard and the Bears took their final timeout. Bush gained 2 and the 2 minute warning stopped play. On 3rd and 9 from the Oakland 47, everybody knows you run the ball and wind down the clock. You don’t even consider passing since an incompletion stops the clock. Again, Hue Jackson still does not care. Palmer threw to Reece. Reece caught it in the flat but could not shake a tackle. The Raiders again failed to put the game away, and the Bears would have one more shot. The Raiders took the intentional delay of game and punted on 4th and 10 from their own 46. Again the Raider Nation held their breath as it became one more battle between Shane Lechler and Devon Hester. Even Ray Guy would be praising Lechler as another perfect punt went out of bounds at the Chicago 4 yard line to go with his earlier one at the 3 yard line.

With one minute left and 0 timeouts, Caleb Hanie had to go 96 yards. Hanie hit Hurd for 8, but the clock kept running. Hanie found Williams for 22 as the clock kept running. Hanie spiked the ball with 26 seconds left and the Bears still at their own 34. Hanie found Forte for 12 as the clock kept running. From the Chicago 46, there was plenty of time for a spike and a Hail Mary. Yet the ending to this game would be strange.

Hanie got to the line with 4 seconds left and both teams totally disorganized. Hanie started to spike the ball. Had he spiked it the Bears would have had a chance at the Hail Mary without question. Then he briefly considered doing the fake spike that Dan Marino made famous. After a brief moment, he reconsidered and spiked the ball.  There was still a couple seconds left but even more confusion as the officials huddled. Because Hanie waited to spike the ball rather than spike it immediately, it was ruled intentional grounding because there was a Raider defender bearing down on him when he did it. Although it was clearly a spike and not an attempt to avoid a sack, the rule clearly states that if a quarterback throws the ball into the ground with a defender right near him, it is intentional grounding.

So the team that won on the Holy Roller and the Sea of Hands and lost on the Immaculate reception, the Tuck Rule, and the fumble recovery safety game now had the intentional grounding finish. Although a couple seconds still remained, the rule required not only a loss of down but a 10 second runoff. The Hail Mary was never attempted, and just like that, the game was over.

Hanie finished 18 of 36 for 254 yards and 2 touchdowns but 3 costly interceptions. Yet he still almost won it. Palmer finished 21 of 37 for 301 yards and one interception with zero touchdowns. The Raider Nation will now become Hanie fans as Chicago plays Kansas City and Denver in the coming two weeks. No Chicago runner had more than 63 yards, but they totalled 162 yards on the ground, a cause for concern. Despite a combined 45 points, this game in the end was about defense and special teams. Rolando McClain was back, although Richard Seymour was one of the injured. Yet the defense bent very severely  but in the very end did not break.

For the second time this year the Raiders preserved a 25-20 win on the final play. The Bears saw their 5 game winning streak snapped but they are still in the wildcard chase at 7-4. The Raiders have won 3 straight and are also at 7-4 for the first time since the 2002 team that went to the Super Bowl. Oakland leads the AFC West by one game over Denver and 3 games over collapsing San Diego and Kansas City. Next week the Raiders are at Miami, which looked like an easy win when they started 0-7 but now looks tough since they won 3 straight and were one play from 4 straight wins. The Raiders never make it easy, but Hue Jackson has held this team together through all the injuries. As for punter Shane Lechler with 2 punts inside the 5 and an 80 yarder, and kicker Seabass going 6 for 6, Raider fans just shake their head in amazement. Just win baby. 25-20 Raiders

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks–Several critical games took place in the afternoon. Then there was this game, as the Redskins under Mike Shanahan have lost 6 straight and faced Pete Carroll, who still wishes he was at USC.

Rex Grossman took the Redskins on a 14 play, 80 yard drive to start the game that consumed 8 minutes off of the clock. Grossman hit Helu for 9 and on 3rd and 11 from the 31, defensive holding kept the drive going. On 3rd and 6 from the Seattle 45, Grossman hit Santanta Moss for 8. Helu gained 5 and 8, and from the Seattle 33, Davis ran for 31 and then caught a 2 yard touchdown pass as the Redskins led 7-0 to conclude their offense for the first half. Washington would reach a 3rd and 3 at the Seattle 30 on their next drive, but a chop block penalty killed the drive.

We keep hearing about Good Rex and Bad Rex, and in the second quarter from the Washington 23 Bad Rex was intercepted again, setting up the Seahawks at the Washington 20. Tarvaris Jackson has been mostly worse than average, but he only needed one play to hit Marshawn Lynch for the tying touchdown, concluding the Seattle offensive highlights for the first half as the teams deadlocked 7-7.

Leon Washington returned the second half kickoff 51 yards to the Seattle 48. After a false start, Lynch gained 4, 10, and 3 on 3rd and 1. Yet it was all for naught as Stephen Hauschka would miss a 51 yard field goal.  From the Washington 41, Grossman needed only one play to go deep and throw another interception. Midway through the third quarter Seattle took over at their own 35. A defensive pass interference penalty meant 44 yards to the Washington 21. This was what qualified as offense. Hauschka made a 36 yard field goal as the Seahawks led 10-7 in a game that for some reason still had fans in the stands when the fourth quarter began. They would regret they stayed.

Seattle took over with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter at their own 12. Lynch gained 12 and 7. Jackson hit Obomanu for 11 and pair of 2 yard Washington runs had the fourth quarter beginning with Seattle at midfield facing 3rd and 6. Jackson went to Baldwin for a 26 yard gain. and then to Robinson for 7 more. On 3rd and 2 from the 18, Lynch got 3. Jackson hit Golden Tate for the touchdown and the Seahawks led 17-7 with 13 minutes left in regulation.

Washington came quickly back from their own 30. Grossman hit Davis for 5, Santana Moss for 13, Jabar Gaffney for 17, and Helu for 7. On 3rd and 3 from the 28, Helu ran around the end all the way for the score to get the Redskins within 17-14 with 10 minutes left

Seattle went 3 and out and the Redskins took over at their own 44. Grossman hit Sellers for 15, but an intentional grounding call on Grossman meant 3rd and 19 at midfield. All Grossman could do was go deep to Armstrong for a touchdown as very Good Rex had the Redskins up 20-17 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the game.

Graham Gano kicked the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving Seattle the ball at their own 40. A chop block penalty moved them back 15 yards and Seattle punted. Washington took it over on heir own 17 and Grossman then fumbled. Grossman recovered his own fumble for an 8 yard loss. Washington would punt and with 2:13 left, the Seahawks faced 4th and 5 at their own 23. With only one timeout left Seattle all but had to go for it, and Jackson was sacked for a 9 yard loss.

Washington took over at the Seattle 14 and Mike Shanahan took no chances, not even letting Grossman raise his arm. Helu gained 2, 2, and 3, and on 4th and 3 from the 7, Gano connected from 25. The Redskins led by 6 but had failed to put the game away as Seattle took over at their own 20 with 1:06 to play. On 3rd and 9 Jackson became an Outkast as he was intercepted to end this game of blunders. Washington finally won with the 16 point fourth quarter. 23-17 Redskins

New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles–In a game where coaches come and go, Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick and Walrus Lite Andy Reid still remain. These teams played in the Super Bowl after the 2004 season, and have kept their teams competitive year in and year out. Yet this year New England struggled early before righting the ship to get to 7-3 while Philadelphia has seen its dream team collapse. Despite winning last week to get to 4-6, again Vince Young would play instead of Michael Vick.

Philly made it look easy early on from their own 16. Young found Captain Morgan Brent Celek for 22 and then went deep to Riley Cooper for a 58 yard gain down to the 4. McCoy got 2 and then 2 more for the score as the Eagles led 7-0 only 2 minutes into the game.New England punted, and Philly took over at their own 20. Young went deep again to Desean Jackson for 44 yards, and hit Cooper for 6 more. McCoy gained 5, but the drive stopped at the 25. Hereny hit the 43 yard field goal and the Eagles led 10-0. Then reality set in. The game would be a blowout, but not in the way Philly hoped.

After a touchback, Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis ran for 5, 3, and then nothing on 3rd and 2. Yet defensive holding kept the drive going. Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 16 , and on 3rd and 5 from the Eagles 46 hit Wes Welker for 10. On 3rd and 1 from the 27, the Eagles jumped offsides. On 3rd and 3 from the 15, Brady hit Hernandez for 11. Green-Ellis took it in from the 3 to cap off the 12 play, 7 minute, 80 yard drive and get the Patriots within 10-7.

The second quarter began with the Patriots at their own 39. Brady was sacked for an 8 yard loss, but on 3rd and 13 from the 36, Brady went for the bobm to Deon Branch. The 63 yard connection saw Branch go down at the one, and Green-Ellis took it in to have the Patriots up 14-10. Young needed only one play after a touchback to throw an interception, and Molden returned it 27 yards to the Philly 34. Yet New England failed to capitalize when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39 yard field goal.

Philly would go 3 and out anyway and New England took over at their own 24. Brady hit Hernandez for 9 and Woodhead ran for 10. Brady hit Welker for 9 more and Hernandez for another 7. From the Philly 41, Brady went deep to a wide open Welker as the defensive breakdown had the Patriots cruising 21-10.

With 7 minutes left in the half the Eagles took over at their own 18. Young hit Jackson for 12 and 9, and McCoy broke free for 22 yards to the New Engand 39. Young hit Jackson for 8 and Celek for another 24 to set up 1st and goal at the 5. Yet the Patriots clamped down on defense as the 10 play, 5 minute, 78 yard drive only resulted in a 22 yard Henery field goal. The Eagles trailed 21-13, and left Tom Brady 2:06 on the clock.

New England took over at their own 21 and Brady scrambled for 13 at the 2 minute warning. On 1st and 5 after a penalty, Brady hit Branch for 13. Another defensive penalty tacked on 5 more, and Brady ran for 6 and hit Welker for 10. From the 27, Brady would throw 3 straight incompletions, but Gostkowski hit the 45 yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the half to have the Patriots up 24-13.

In the second half the Patriots turned out the lights. On 2nd and 9 from their own 32, Brady hit Welker for 12 and Branch for 10. Brady scrambled for 8, hit Branch for 11, and then Hernandez for 18 to the 9 yard line. Brady then found Welker for the score as his passing clinic had the Patriots cruising up 31-13. Philly took over at their own 20 and Young led them to 3rd and 1 at the New England 2. McCoy was stopped for no gain, and Andy Reid decided to go for it. Young threw incomplete, and the last chance to make this a competitive game evaporated.

In the fourth quarter Brady would lead a 14 play, 75 yard drive that ate up 7 1/2 minutes of clock. An end around would lose 9 yards, but on 2nd and 19 from the Philly 24, Brady made it look easy by going to Welker for the touchdown to make it 38-13. Philly would get a touchdown before the game ended but needed 16 plays to do it. Young would finish 26 of 48 for 400 yards, much of it in garbage time. He had one touchdown and one interception. Brady meanwhile was 24 of 34 for 361 and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Most importantly, Phillt at 4-7 is all but eliminated from playoff contention while New England at 8-3 has a stranglehold on their division. 38-20 Patriots

Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers–Jon Fox has rewarded Tim Tebow and his 4-1 start by wiving Kyle Orton. This is truly Tebow’s team now. With John Elway standing on the sidelines, the pressure will always be there. As for the Chargers, Norvelous Norv Turner has seen the Chargers lose 5 straight as Philip Rivers leads the league with 17 interceptions. Yet both of these teams entered the day still in contention for the AFC West crown although looking up at Oakland. Fox again shackled Tebow, only allowing him to throw 18 times. Tebow completed 9 of them for 143 yards and one touchdown. Yet Tebow also had 67 yards rushing on 22 carries. How far can intangibles carry a guy where his tangibles are questioned? With a pair of interesting offenses, the expected pinball machine never materialized. Far from it.

After a touchback, Rivers came out throwing, hitting Antonio Gates for 8 yards. Mathews steamrolled on the ground, gaining 14 and 15. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the Denver 35, Rivers threw incomplete. Nick Novak came in for a 53 yard field goal, and he hit it to put the Chargers up 3-0. Tebow would lead the Broncos on their next 2 series to the San Diego 44 and 38 respectively, but no further. Jon Fox played it safe and made it a field position game. Late in the opening quarter the Chargers took over at their own 9.

On 3rd and 1, Rivers got the yard, and Rivers then hit McMichael for 20 as the Chargers began the second quarter at their own 39. Mathews gained 8 and 5, and Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for 15 more. Mike Tolbert gained 9, and on 3rd and 1 Jacob Hester got 2. Rivers hit Brown for 9 and Brinkley for 5. On 3rd and 4 from the 6, Rivers completed the killer 91 yard, 15 play, 9 minute drive with a touchdown pass to Gates as the Chargers led 10-0.

San Diego got the ball with golden field position at the Denver 44. They gained only 2 yards to waste the opportunity. With 2:19 left in the half the Chargers took over at their own 29. Rivers was sacked for a 13 yard loss at the 2 minute warning. On 2nd and 23 from the 16, a defensive personal foul meant 1st and 10 at the 34. Rather than get to the half, a pair of incomplete passes and a run that went nowhere allowed the Broncos to get the ball back.

Eddie Royal returned the punt 31 yards and Denver took over at the San Diego 46 with 1:27 left in the half and 2 timeouts. Tebow hit Fells for 19 and illegal contact added 5 more. Tebow hit Eric Decker for the 18 yard touchdown with one minute left in the half. Despite virtually no offense, Denver only trailed 10-7 at halftime.

The second half was even uglier. Denver went 3 and out, and the Chargers took over at their own 45. Rivers hit Vincent Brown for 30, and on 3rd and 11 from the 26, Rivers found Antonio Gates for 17.  San Diego stalled, and Novak hit a 25 yarder to have the Chargers up 13-7.

An exchange of punts had the Broncos at their own 20 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Willis McGahee ran for 21, and on 3rd and 5 Tebow ran for 7 to the San Diego 47. Another 3rd and 5 had Tebow hit Willis for 12. Yet Denver woud stall as well and would have to settle for a 41 yard Matt Prater field goal to complete the 11 play 6 minute drive, and get Denver within 13-10 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter  saw the Chargers quickly facing 3rd and 1 at their own 29. Mathews rumbled for 39 yards. Yet San Diego again then went cold and a 48 yard try by Novak was no good with 12 1/2 minutes left to play in the game. Tebow moved Denver from their 38 to a 3rd and 6 at the San Diego 33. Yet a critical offensive holding penalty pushed Denver out of field goal range as they punted with 8 1/2 minutes left.

San Diego went nowhere and Denver got it back at their own 26 with 5 1/2 minutes left. On 3rd and 11, Tebow went deep to Erick Decker for a 39 yard gain. Tebow then found Rosario for 23 more. At the 2 minute warning Denver faced 3rd and 8 at the 10, with time not a factor. On 3rd and 8, Tebow was only able to gain 4. A 24 yard Prater kick tied the game 13-13 with 1:38 to play. San Diego took over at their 25 and reached their 40, but a sac of Rivers killed the opportunity as the teams went to overtime. 4 quarters did not settle things, and the teams needed almost the entire 5th quarter to decide things.

Denver began the extra session at their own 20, but on 3rd and 2 from their own 44 Tebow only got half of it. Jon Fox took no chances on 4th and 1 and punted. San Diego would punt it back. Denver went 3 and out, and with 9 minutes left in overtime Rivers led a lengthy drive from the San Diego 20.

Rivers hit Brown for 11, and on 3rd and 3 found Gates for 5. From just past midfield, Mathews gained 14 and 3 ,more to the Denver 32. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 31, Tolbert was blown up in the backfield for a 4 yard loss. Norv Turner had a tough decision to make with only 2 1/2 minutes left in overtime. Turner could go for it, or punt and rely on his defense, but he went for the field goal knowing a miss would give Denver excellent field position. From 53 yards out, Novak’s kick was blocked. However, Jon Fox had called timeout at the last moment, giving Novak a second chance. Novak’s kick was long enough, but no good. Denver had life, and the ball at their own 43.

Tebow ran for 12 and then 4 more. At the 2 minute warning, on 2nd and 6 from the Chargers 41, McGahee ran for 24. From the 17, Jon Fox took no chances. He had Tebow center the ball, and on 2nd down with only 33 seconds left in overtime, Prater came in. From 37 yards out, Prater nailed it. Denver is now 5-1 under Tebow and 6-5 overall, only one game behind Oakland. The Chargers are in full meltdown mode, having lost 6 straight to fall to 4-7 and 3 games out of the division lead with 5 left. San Diego has run the table late before, but this may finally be the end of Norvelous Norv Turner in San Diego. 16-13 Broncos, OT

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs is the Sunday night game. Pittsburgh at 7-3 needed to win to stay tied atop the AFC North with Baltimore and ahead of Cincy. Kansas City saw Kyle Orton arrive in the building off of waivers and practice Friday night, but that was not enough to get him in the game. Todd Haley went with Tyler Palko for his second ad most likely last career start for the Chiefs. Pittsburgh looked much better on paper, but the Chiefs played hard at home in this defensive slugfest.

Runs by Battle and short passes moved the Chiefs from their 20 to a 3rd and 5 at their 48. Palko went deep to Dwayne Bowe for a 25 yard gain. A key play in the game came on 2nd and 7 from the 24. Palko passed for only a one yard gain, but Troy Palomalu left the game with a concussion and did not return. Ryan Succop would hit a 41 yard field goal to put the Chiefs up 3-0. Ben Roethlisberger calmly moved the Steelers from their own to the Chiefs 8. Mewelde Moore then got the carry and ran 6 yards before getting popped at the 2 yard line. The resulting fumble was recovered by Arenas for the Chiefs in the end zone for a touchback.

The Chiefs would soon face 3rd and 1 at their own 39. Palko fumbled, and Grizzly Adams Brett Keisel recovered for the Steelers at the Chiefs 38. On 4th and 2 at the 30, Mike Tomlin decided to go for it. Roethlisberger hit Redman for 6. Yet 1st and 10 at the 24 turned into a penalty and a sack and 4th and 29 at the Chiefs 43 out of field goal range as the Steelers punted anyway.

Yet despite the Chiefs coming up huge on defense, their offense self-destructed. On the last play of the first quarter, facing 1st and 10 at their own 8, Palko was intercepted by Ike Taylor. Taylor returned it 29 yards as the Steelers began the second quarter with 1st and goal at the 7. The defense again came up big for the Chiefs as the Steelers got no further than the 3. Shawn Suisham hit the 21 yarder to make it 3-3.

After a touchback, Palko needed only one play to get intercepted again. The man who was cut fromt he CFL and the UFL had tough times against one of the best defenses in the NFL as the Steelers took over at the Chiefs 24. On 3rd and 6, Big Ben was sacked for an 11 yard loss. Yet defensive holding instead meant 1st and 10 at the 15. Rashard Mendenhall ran for 6 and caught a pass for 7 more down to the 2. Big Ben hit Saunders for the touchdown as the Steelers led 10-3 with 11 minutes left in the half. That concluded anything resembling highlights for either team until late in the game. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the half Succop hit a 49 yarder to get the Chiefs within 10-6. Suisham responded with his own 49 yarder as the half ended as the Steelers went to the locker rooms up 13-6.

The second half was a war of attrition. Pittsburgh reached the Chiefs 42 but then Roethlisberger was intercepted. On the next series the Steelers reached 4th and 4 at the Chiefs 39, but Mike Tomlin decided to punt. Kansas City faced 4th and 1 at their own 29 and Todd Haley gambled on a fake punt. Arenas took the direct snap and gained 5 yards. Yet the Chiefs would end up punting later on anyway.

With 13 minutes left in regulation the Chiefs took over at their own 8. Palko would lead them 70 yards in 6 minutes and 13 plays. On 3rd and 2 from the Steelers 22, Battle got stopped. Midway through the fourth quarter, on 4th and 2, Todd Haley decided not to go for it. Succop made the 40 yard field goal, but the Chiefs still trailed by 4.

Pittsburgh went nowhere and the Chiefs took over at their own 30 with 4 minutes left in the game. On 3rd and 4 Palko hit Jonathan Baldwin for 6. With 1:24 left, the Chiefs faced 4th and 7 at their own 45. Palko fired over the middle to Bowe, who caught it right near the marker and rolled over untouched for the first down and a 9 yard gain. The clock ticked below one minute but the Chiefs still had all 3 of their timeouts. The Chiefs took their first one with 45 seconds left facing 3rd and 4 at the Steelers 40. Palko hit Steve Breaston for 8 as the Chiefs took their second timeout with 38 seconds to play. Yet the rally was snuffed out when Palko was intercepted by Lewis to end it. Dwayne Bowe was in the area and did not even raise his hands to try and break up the pass.

It was ugly, but the Steelers got the win to get to 8-3. They are tied atop their division and are part of a logjam for the best record in the conference. As for the Chiefs, they fell to 4-7 and are all but mathematically eliminated from contention. 13-9 Steelers

New York GIants @ New Orleans is the Monday night game. The Giants have already begun their annual second half swoon under Tom Coughlin while Sean Payton has the Saints clicking on all cylinders. This battle of Bill Parcells disciples matches the Giants defense against the Saints offense. The Giant defense won the battle early on as Sean Payton gambled on a fake field goal try that did not work. Eli Manning led the Giants from their 10 to the Saints 18, but was then intercepted in the end zone. Yet after a scoreless opening quarter, the Saints offense just did what it does.

After the touchback, Pierre Thomas gained 9 and 2. Drew Brees hit Graham for 23 and Darren Sproles for 6. On 2nd and 4 from the Giants 30, Sproles ran for 23. The Saints began the second quarter at the 4 yard line and on 3rd and goal Brees hit Moore for the score as the Saints led 7-0.

The Giants took over at their own 30. Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for 8 and Brandon Jacobs gained 9. Runs and short passes bogged down at the Saints 24 as Lawrence Tynes hit a 42 yarder to get the Giants within 7-3.

After an exchange of punts Brees made it look easy from the 20. He hit Devry Henderson for 21, and on 3rd and 7 found Darren Sproles for 22 and Henderson for 24. Sproles gained 5 and Brees hit Jimmy Graham for the 5 yard touchdown to have the Saints up 14-3 with 2 12 minutes left in the half.

The Saints got it back at their own 12 with only 1:10 left in the half. All Brees could do with such little time is hit Marquis Colston for 50 yards and then again for 13 more and a third time for 15 more. Brees hit Moore for the 10 yard touchdown as 88 yards took 35 seconds. A 7-3 game after 27 minutes was a 21-3 Saints blowout at halftime.  Eli Manning was 14 of 24 for 171 yards and an interception. That is not bad for only one half of work. Yet Drew Brees was 17 of 25 for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Yes, that was in the first half, as the Saints had 354 yards of total offense in only 30 minutes.

The Giants got the second half kickoff and soon faced 1st and 20 at their own 37. Manning went deep to Nicks, who had the ball before getting blasted by Quddus, resulting in an incompletion. The play was called a personal foul on a defenseless receiver, a horrendous call. QUddus did not use his head or go to the head. It was a textbook shoulder hit to the chest. What is he supposed to do, allow the completion? That dreadful call gave the Giants 1st and 10 at the Saints 48. Manning then hit Ware for 5 and Ballard for 24 more. From the 8 yard line, Jacobs blasted a defender near the goal line and got in to have the Giants within 21-10.

The Saints came right back but soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 31. Brees hit Henderson for 8 and 9. Brees hit Thomas for 15 and 24. From the 8, Brees scrambled and dove for the end zone to have the Saints up 28-10.

The Giants soon faced 3rd and 1 at their own 29. Scott fumbled the ball, but he replay clearly showed Scott was down. Yet the Giants somehow lost the challenge as each team was the victim of an awful call. From the Giants 29, Brees went deep to Graham for the touchdown to have the Saints in pure pinball machine mode up 35-10. At this point the Saints had amassed over 460 yards of offense and there was still over 4 minutes left in the third quarter

Normally when the game is a blowout the announcers turn to irrelevancies, but a pair of people in the stadium were worth talking about. Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich was fighting for his life 2 years ago with a rare form of bone cancer. Now he is not only alive and healthy, but on the roster. The game was not going well, but his story is still inspirational.

A sadder story was on the Saints sideline. Former Saints special teamer Steve Gleason is battling ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease. 5 years ago he was part of one of the most memorable moments in NFL history and probably the greatest moment in Saints history outside of the Super Bowl. In the first game back to the Superdome 56 weeks after Hurricane Katrina, it was Gleason who blocked the punt that was recovered for a touchdown by DeLoach. That one blocked punt may not have saved the city, but it lit the stadium up for fans starving for any sign of good news. Now 5 years later Gleason has a painful death sentence, and Brees and others raised money for ALS earlier in the week. Gleaseon lifted an entire Gulf Region, and now the fans were there to support him.

The game returned, and on the first play of the fourth quarter Manning went deep and found a wide open Victor Cruz for a 72 yard touchdown bomb. Yet the Giants defense had no answers for the Saints offense. Even trying to run the clock down they moved at will as Thomas gained 9 and 17 and Sproles picked up 17. Brees hit Thomas for 8 and Mark Ingram gained 5. From the Giants 24, Brees went for Graham, who also got blasted in this game of hard hits. Yet this one was helmet to helmet, and the personal foul call was correct. From the 12, Thomas ran it in with nobody near him as the Saints were up 42-17 with a full 11 minutes left.

Despite the blowout, Eli Manning did complete 19 straight passes late in the game. The 20th was incomplete in the end zone, but another questionable call of a hit on a defenseless receiver wiped out the incompletion. Manning’s 20th straight completion was a 4 yard toss to Cruz for their second connection of the fourth quarter. Up to that point Manning was 20 for 20 for 236 yards in the second half alone. Yet the Giants were still down by 18 with 5 minutes left. The only suspense came when after 21 straight completions, Manning misfired to fall short of the individual game record. He then fired incomplete again, but did not throw 21 straight incomplete since the 3rd one on 4th and 5 ended the drive.

All the Saints were trying to do was run out the clock, and on 3rd and 5 from the Giants 35, Ingram took a pitchout around the end and raced all the way for the touchdown for the final exclamation point with one minute left. The Giants fell to 6-5 as Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin had every right to be upset with his team’s poor defensive effort. They fell one game back of Dallas in the division although those teams play twice in the final 5 weeks. As for the Saints, they just keep rolling along and lead their division by one game. Eli Manning finished 33 of 47 for 406 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Drew Brees was 24 of 38 for “only” 363 yards but with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. 49-24 Saints


Cruel 2011 NFL Injuries down the stretch

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Joe Gibbs once said that it is not the best team that wins the Super Bowl, but the best healthiest team.

Injuries are always a part of football, but this 2011 season has seen some devastating injuries to teams that appeared to be cruising toward the playoffs. The sad part for those who root for underdogs is that several of these teams were franchises that have suffered for a long time and finally appeared to have light at the end of the tunnel before injuries kicked in.

Indianapolis Colts–This might be the biggest injury in the history of football in terms of impact. The Colts had several straight seasons of going at least 12-4. Then Peyton Manning was slow to recover from offseason neck surgery and would be out for most if not all of the season. They brought Kerry Collins out of retirement, and he got knocked out with a concussion. Curtis Painter has played so badly that the team is considering Dan Orlovsky, who was on the 2008 Detroit team that went 0-16. The 2011 Colts are 0-10.

The Houston Texans have never been to the playoffs, and Bob McNair has stuck with Gary Kubiak. This was finally the year they were going to break through, especially with Tennessee firing their quarterback and longtime head coach and Indianapolis losing Peyton Manning for the year. Several weeks in they lost Andre Johnson and now Matt Schaub is out for the year. The Texans are 7-3 but forced to start Matt Leinart. Life, like football, is so unfair.

The Kansas City Chiefs began 0-3 and clawed their way back to the edge of even with a 4-5 record and a game on Monday Night Football. Yet before that game Matt Cassel was injured, and he is now out for the year. Tyler Palko made his first NFL start and the Chiefs lost by 31 points. The Chiefs claimed Kyle Orton off of waivers but Palko will start again on Sunday Night Football. Kansas City has a brutal schedule down the stretch, and no Cassel is a killer. Also, early in the season they lost Jamal Charles to the freakiest injury in recent years as he was injured out of bounds stepping awkwardly on the first down marker.

The Chicago Bears had won 5 straight games and Jay Cutler was fantastic in that stretch. Yet last week in the fourth quarter of a game the Bears were winning, Cutler tried to tackle a defender after an interception and wound up breaking his hand. Cutler is out for the year as the 7-3 Bears turn to Caleb Hanie. Hanie has never started an NFL game, but he played well when Cutler was injured in last year’s NFC Title Game.

The Detroit Lions are another team in playoff contention who is hurting at a key position. The key to the Lions is a healthy Mattthew Stafford. He needs a balanced attack, but he will now be without Jahvid Best for the rest of the year due to concussion. Mr Best’s situation is so severe that he may never play football again. He has had concussion problems in the past. The Lions lost badly on Thanksgiving to drop to 7-4. They started 5-0 but are barely hanging on right now without an adequate running game.

The Buffalo Bills started 3-0 but have struggled and are now 5-5. Just when they need a ground game the most, Fred Jackson has gone down. He has been fantastic this season, and now the Bills are in a desperate situation.

The team that has probably been the most devastated by injuries is the Oakland Raiders. The 2-2 team started with the death of their owner Al Davis. Emotion carried them to 4-2, but in that 6th game Jason Campbell broke his clavicle and was lost for the year. Hue Jackson went out and immediately got Carson Palmer. Yet the Raiders have also been playing without Darren McFadden, with Michael Bush replacing him. They have not had Jacoby Ford. Darrius Heyward-Bey got hurt and did not return last week. All of those players are expected to return, and the Raiders lost a pair of games at home before winning consecutive road games to get to 6-4. The win last week was against a 2-8 Minnesota team that just lost Adrian Peterson for the year. The Raiders lead the AFC West by one game but are running out of bodies.

Hue Jackson keeps saying that there are no excuses, and those complaining should look to the 2010 Packers. They lost 15 players to injuries, including Ryan Grant in the season opener. They won it all, but some should remember that Aaron Rodgers stayed healthy, and Mike McCarthy is pass happy anyway.

Then again, look at the 1999 Rams. Trent Green went down in the preseason and some former grocery bagger named Kurt Warner replaced him and created the Greatest Show on Turf.

Yet the 1999 Rams are not the whole story. Again, look at the 2011 Colts.

For football fans everywhere, just pray for the health of your players. A Super Bowl could be riding on it.


Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers @ Baltimore Ravens

Minnesota Vikings @ Atlanta Falcons

(Falcons by 9 1/2, they cover)

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals

(Bengals by 7 1/2, they cover)

Carolina Panthers @ Indianapolis Colts

(Panthers by 3 1/2, Colts win outright)

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Tennessee Titans

(Titans by 3 1/2, they cover)

Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders

(Raiders by 3 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Washington Redskins @ Seattle Seahawks

(Seahawks by 3 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

New England Patriots @ Philadelphia Eagles

(Patriots by 3 1/2, they cover)

Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers

(Chargers by 5 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs is the Sunday night game.

(Steelers by 10 1/2, they win but fail to cover)

New York GIants @ New Orleans is the Monday night game.

(Saints by 7, they win but fail to cover)


Black Occupy Wall Street and the Mall Friday

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Thursday and today is a racist holiday known as Black Friday.

Between Black Friday and Occupy Wall Street, one question must be asked.

Does anybody sleep indoors anymore?

Whether people are occupying Wall Street or Shopping Malls, as long as you are not blocking me I don’t care. At least the shoppers killing each other are spending their own money. I personally think they should go to OWS protests and steal their money and their blankets as well. Share the wealth and all.

I try to stay home this time of year and just watch 5 straight days of football. After all, leaving the house just does not seem to work this weekend. A look back proves this.

2007: On Thanksgiving I mentioned what I was…and was not…thankful for.

Black Friday was a truly black day indeed as my Internet was down. For a new blogger that is a nightmare.

2008: I was in a serious relationship and against my will it was time to meet her parents. I traveled 3,000 miles. They were liberals, as was the girl. It went so badly that soon after that we broke up.

I kept Friday lighthearted, although it sucked for two straight years. I vowed not to leave my home again this weekend.

2009: I spent Thanksgiving in solitary confinement and did the same for Black Friday. I finally figured out what Black Friday actually was.

2010: To keep the spirit of Thanksgiving I made sure to have Turkey. That Swanson Dinner was delicious. I decided to become a civil rights hero and the next day worked to have the name of Black Friday changed to African-American Friday.

2011: I let the world know what I am really thankful for.

Then I got down to business and enjoyed my 10 hours of football.I forgot to get my Swanson, so I settled for Chinese food.

Black Friday is spent avoiding all of you, especially if you are either mall shoppers or protesters. I can do my shopping online and if law enforcement does their job the protesters will be removed. Street Cleaning Saturday has a nice ring to it.

Happy Black Occupy Wall Street and the Mall Friday.


What I am REALLY thankful for this Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

“Until I met a blind man, who taught me how to see…

A blind man, who could change night into day…

and if I can, I’ll make you come with me…

Here comes the sun, and will be chasing all the clouds away.”

That Aerosmith song reminds me that this Thanksgiving, there is one thing I am REALLY thankful for this Thanksgiving.

I could offer a bunch of cliches that are as sincere as they are repeated. I could say how thankful I am to be a free American in the greatest nation in the history of mankind. I could be thankful for our troops, and for how much I honor them.

All of that is true, but many people feel that way, as they should.

I could give in to my sophomoric side and thank any Republican brunette or Jewish brunette for letting me play with their yummy bouncies. For the ones who were Republican and Jewish, the gratitude will never be enough. They were fantastic.

I could celebrate sloth, not an honorable thing to do. I mean who doesn’t like watching 10 straight hours of football and gorging on food? Most people I know are normal.

I am thankful that somebody wrote a brilliant column about the 32 rules for playing family touch football on Thanksgiving Day.

Yet what I am really thankful for on Thanksgiving is something some people do not have.

I can see. I have the gift of full sight.

I have never been legally blind, but my poor eyesight has required glasses. I had to wear them since I was a kid, and I never liked them. They get broken, they get lost, they need to be updated, they fall out of fashion. I never tried contacts, but glasses were just a hassle.

A few months ago I had LASIK eye surgery. Thank almighty God, it worked.

I remember waking up the day after the surgery, looking around, and realizing that I could see everything crystal clearly.

I even work it into my speeches.

“What do you call a man named Eric who can see everything crystal clearly? Well you don’t call him Attorney General.”

Sometimes when I lose perspective I look out my condo window. Things that were far away are now closer.

In a few years I will need reading glasses, but for now I enjoy just having the full gift of sight I have not had since I was in fourth grade.

Thank you God. You created a beautiful world. I am so happy to see it in all its wonder.

To those who are blind, may God restore your sight.

To those who can see, love life.

Happy Thanksgiving.


A brilliant GOP foreign policy debate

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Finally, a debate worth watching all the way through…perhaps twice.

What made this debate the model for future debates was that most of the question were asked by people working for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

This was by far the very best debate of 2012, from inception to completion.


Super Committee Fails–Good!

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The Super Committee set up to deal with America’s debt problems has totally failed to reach an agreement.


The Super Committee deserved to fail, and thankfully it did.


He said, she said–Occupy Wall Street

Monday, November 21st, 2011

In an attempt to create a rich dialogue and have people discuss politics without vitriol, liberal columnist Catherine Poe and I have begun a monthly debate column entitled “He said, she said.” Every month we will take on a different topic. This month we take on Occupy Wall Street.

Yes, this absolutely is a fair and balanced discussion. So to all politicos of all stripes across the spectrum, enjoy the discussion!

eric aka the Tygrrrr Express