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Props Slaps
 10 years ago '04        #241
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5-2 Lions... YES......
 10 years ago '04        #242
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Symbolic gesture
By Michael Silver, Yahoo! Sports
October 29, 2007

Michael Silver
Yahoo! Sports
LONDON – The play seemed to unfold as if it were in slow motion, like some sort of whimsical instant-replay primer for an untrained British audience on a wet day at Wembley Stadium.

There was Eli Manning, a steady stream of Miami Dolphins drifting to his right as he stood in the pocket following a play-action fake to Brandon Jacobs, an English Channel of an opening daring the New York Giants' slow-as-a-London-waitperson quarterback to run for paydirt (or, in this case, pay-mud).

Manning ran, slip-sliding across the soggy grass like Vince Young with cement rollerblades. From the Miami 17-yard line, he rolled to his left and angled toward the pylon in the left corner of the end zone. Charging to cut him off was Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year – a man literally larger-than-life in London, where a 26-foot animatronic replica of his likeness had been on display around town all week.

Watching from the sidelines, Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora actually started laughing. Standing near the line of scrimmage, New York center Shaun O'Hara gave the touchdown signal as Manning reached the 5, then immediately thought to himself, "How stupid will I look if he doesn't make it?"

When Manning eluded the diving Taylor and skidded into the end zone, scoring the first touchdown in the first NFL regular season game played outside North America, O'Hara and his fellow linemen reacted more excitedly than any of the 81,176 roaring fans at Wembley. And why shouldn't they have? In a way, Manning's 10-yard run 59 seconds before halftime of a nondescript game the Giants would win by a 13-10 score was a metaphor for the first half of New York's season.

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Seemingly destined for failure, it developed into an unexpected if not particularly picturesque rush of resourcefulness that provided a measure of satisfaction in which the entire team could share.

"That was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time," said Umenyiora, the Giants' sack leader with eight. "When I saw him trying to beat JT, I was in shock, but he got it done."

The Giants, who won their sixth straight game after an 0-2 start to move a half-game behind the Dallas Cowboys (6-1) in the NFC East, did just enough to get past the 0-8 Dolphins on Sunday. After taking a 13-0 lead into halftime, New York held on after rookie receiver Ted Ginn Jr.'s first career touchdown, off a 21-yard pass from Cleo Lemon, brought Miami to within three points with 1:54 remaining.

Just when you thought the game was threatening to become interesting, former Giants kicker Jay Feely's benign onside kick skidded out of bounds. The Dolphins, as is often the case with dismal teams, had squandered all three of their timeouts and thus were powerless to keep Manning from running out the clock with three kneel-downs.

What that meant to the live audience was that, other than the streaker who took the field before the second-half kickoff and ripped off his official's outfit to bare virtually all (Happy Halloween!), the only image most people will retain from this game in a couple of months was Manning's meandering trip to the end zone.

Peyton's Kid Brother had an equally incomprehensible 18-yard scramble down the left sideline late in the third quarter, another bright spot on an evening in which he consistently overshot receivers and completed just eight of 22 passes for a career-low 59 yards. If those numbers look ugly to you, they were representative of a game that couldn't have done a worse job of selling the sport to a skeptical European populace.

The two teams combined for just 187 net passing yards, which is a good quarter for Tom Brady these days, and seven fumbles, one of which, Lemon's bar-of-soap special at the end of the first half, Giants defensive end Michael Strahan recovered to set up a gift field goal. New York picked up four penalties on one drive while trying to ice the game in the fourth quarter, and each kicker shanked a field goal. The game's longest play was 22 yards.

And many Americans think soccer is boring?

As they head into a bye week with the NFL's fifth-best record, the Giants aren't about to start stressing on their lack of style points. After giving up a combined 80 points while losing their first two games to the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, this was a team that seemed on the verge of collapse, with a coach (Tom Coughlin) in the final year of his contract and a young quarterback (Manning) whose presumed status as a franchise player was being called into question.

At that point Coughlin, who had already made an effort to be less physically punishing in practice and more receptive to his players' wishes, told the team in a meeting, "When you get tired of losing, that's when you'll do something about it."

He then informed the Giants' players exactly how they could work their way out of their predicament, and they responded by running off six in a row while allowing those opponents an average of just 15.3 points a game.

"A blind man can definitely see that our defense has definitely been the huge factor in our last six games," O'Hara said. "They've put pressure on quarterbacks, created turnovers and really come on strong."

It may not have been obvious to some of the fans at Wembley less versed in modern-day NFL truths, but unless you are the New England Patriots or the Indianapolis Colts, the line between success and failure is a lot thinner than most of us care to admit.

"When we were 0-2, guys put all the pressure on themselves," said Giants cornerback Sam Madison, who played for Miami from 1997-2005. "They didn't put pressure on Coach Coughlin or Eli Manning or the defense. Everyone did his part, and we were able to f!ght through.

"If we hadn't, we could've been in the same situation the Dolphins are in right now. We could have just laid down, packed it up and gone home."

Instead, from the unexposed fan's perspective, they're watching their not-so-swift quarterback make a 26-foot anamatronic's human counterpart look slower-than-life – and heading back across the Atlantic as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Those are some Giant steps we never saw coming back in September.
 10 years ago '04        #243
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STORY OF MY LIFE

Fortunately, I did see one exciting football event this weekend – a Premier League match between Reading and Newcastle United at Madeski Stadium. The Newcastle United fans, most of whom had traveled up to eight hours by train, were raucous and unceasing and communicated mostly in chant or song; they were doing so at the pub next to the Reading train station when I disembarked three hours before the game, and it was tempting to join them and go full road warrior for the afternoon. But once I roamed the town and learned more about the home team, I realized my allegiance belonged to the Royals.

The Reading Football Club has been around since 1871, two seasons ago the Royals came through with the best season in 135 years, winning championship of England's Division One league and a first-ever promotion to Premiership. Showing they were no scrubs, the Royals shook a slow start last season and finished eighth in the 20-team Premier League, just a point below a UEFA cup finish. With two American starters, goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann midfielder Bobby Convey (who sat out Saturday's match while recovering from a knee injury), and a cool royal-blue-and-white color scheme for home games, Reading was an easy team to adopt. The start to '07-08 had once again been choppy, and Newcastle, led by England national team stalwart Michael Owen, came in ranking near the top of the standings. Reading, however, came to play on Saturday, outplaying Newcastle in a scoreless first half and finally taking a lead nine minutes into the second half when tall, red-headed striker Dave Kitson rammed home a lovely left-footed shot into the upper right corner of the net. Most of the 24,119 fans at Madejski, a stadium a third the size of Manchester United's, came alive after that, chanting back at the rowdy Newcastle fans and anticipating a victory. Alas, an own goal off a free kick that glanced off a defender as it skipped in front of the net equalized the match in the 76th minute, and the fans in my vicinity were as bitter as the delicious tap beer I'd been enjoying at various establishments for the past several days. Eight minutes later, Reading manager Steve Coppell removed star striker Leroy Lita and replaced him with Shane Long, and literally within seconds Long hooked a goal into the far right corner that had me hugging and dancing with complete strangers. (You have to love a coach who, after the game, described his timely call for Long thusly: "The timing was fortunately exquisite.") A minute later, I joined my new friends in chanting to the Newcastle fans, "You're not singing anymore …" When the 2-1 victory was complete, Reading had taken a step toward respectability (the Royals now stand near the middle of the league with more than two thirds of a season to play) and garnered at least one new fan.

I'M HOT CAUSE I'M FLY …

It's nice to see that back home in the States, the Patriots and Colts did their respective parts to hype up the Game of the Century: next Sunday's showdown between the undefeated rivals at Indy's RCA Dome. While the Colts' second-half surge in a 31-7 victory against the Carolina Panthers was impressive, the Pats, as has been their custom, outdid them, rolling to a 52-7 victory over a Washington Redskins team that seemed (cue Larry David voice) pretty good before this undressing at Gillette Stadium. As New England continues its "How Dare Anyone Question Us?" tour, coach Bill Belichick once again faced running-up-the-score scrutiny at game's end. An excerpt from the press conference: Q: At 38-0 you went for it on 4th down, on 45-0 you went for it on 4th down. What was the philosophy there? BB: "What do you want us to do, kick a field goal?" Q: I didn't want you to do anything. I'm just asking what the philosophy is. BB: "It's 38-0. It's fourth down. (We're) just out there playing. (We're) just out there playing." Meanwhile, while the Colts' Peyton Manning was breaking Johnny Unitas' franchise record with his 288th career touchdown pass, the Pats' Brady threw three to remain on pace to smash Manning's 2004 single-season record of 49 touchdown passes. Brady now has a career-high 30 TD tosses in eight games, putting him on pace for 60. Sixty!

While the Pats and Colts reside in their own penthouse of a universe, it's inspiring to see that the two teams viewed as those mostly likely to match or surpass them heading into the '07 season have fought their way back from the depths of the underground. The Chargers brought some joy to their fire-stricken region with a 35-10 dismantling of the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium and, with their third straight victory, improved to 4-3 and moved into a tie for first place in the AFC West. Meanwhile, about 500 miles to the north, the New Orleans Saints (3-4) also won their third straight game, destroying the San Francisco 49ers, 31-10, at Monster Park to move to within a game of the first-place Panthers in the NFC South. Drew Brees (31-of-39, 336 yards, four TDs) completed passes to 10 different receiver, including three TDs to the suddenly revived Marques Coltson, as New Orleans finally resembles the team that I and many others thought was Super Bowl worthy before its humbling opening month.

Here's a wild stat: The Browns (4-3), with a 27-20 victory over the 0-8 Rams in St. Louis, have a winning streak (two games!) for the first time since Weeks 5 and 6 of the 2003 season. Derek Anderson (18 of 25, 248 yards, three TDs) has completely quieted the "Play Brady Quinn" talk, and Romeo Crennel has already matched his 2006 victory total. Now here's the crazy thing: Had the Raiders' Tommy Kelly not blocked Phil Dawson's 40-yard, last-second field goal attempt in Oakland last month, Cleveland might be 5-2 and tied with the Steelers for first in the AFC North.

As for the NFC's version of the Browns, give it up for the Detroit Lions, who went into Chicago and scored a 16-7 victory to sweep their season series with the Bears. The Lions, who gave up 56 points at Philadelphia and 34 at Washington in blowout defeats, cooled off Chicago by intercepting four Brian Griese passes – three in the end zone – by four different players and holding the Bears to 255 yards. The Lions lead the NFL with 20 takeaways and, coming off six consecutive seasons with double-digit defeats, are now 5-2 for the first time since 2000. Informed of this stat after the game, wideout Roy Williams asked reporters, "2000? Two thousand years?" It just seems that way, but second-year coach Rod Marinelli has something special brewing in '07

A source close to J.P. Losman says he was told the quarterback was kept on the bench after returning from a knee injury in favor of rookie Trent Edwards because Bills owner Ralph Wilson wanted to save money (on a potential playing-time bonus for Losman and on future contract payments). So how did Losman respond when Edwards left Sunday's road game against the Jets in the third quarter with a wrist injury? He led Buffalo on consecutive scoring drives, including an 85-yard touchdown pass to Lee Evans with 3:38 remaining, to give the Bills a 13-3 victory that improved the team to 3-4.

It seems like a hard thing to pull off, given the dearth of meaningful stats in soccer, but fantasy football (of the non-American variety) is big in England, according to London resident and longtime reader Simon, with whom I walked into Wembley from the train station. Who, I wondered, were the LT equivalents. "Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney would probably be the first two picks in most leagues," Simon says. "And you can get a lot of points from goalkeepers, with Peter Cech probably being the most desirable." Coming next week: An update on fantasy snooker. Or not.
YOU AIN'T CAUSE YOU'RE NOT

First, a disclaimer: I'm a big Marvin Lewis supporter. But as the Bengals' miserable season continued Sunday with a 24-13 home defeat to the Steelers that dropped Cincinnati to 2-5, it was not a particularly impressive day for the fifth-year coach. First the Bengals had just 10 men on the field when Pittsburgh's Hines Ward caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter; he was (imagine this) wide open on the play. Then, trailing 14-3 with 2:16 left in the first half, the Bengals had a fourth-and-1 (more like two feet) inside the Steelers' 2, and Lewis called timeout. He then sent Shayne Graham onto the field for a 20-yard field goal, provoking boos from the record crowd of 68,188 at Paul Brown Stadium and similar feelings on his own sideline. "It's like telling a kid he can have some candy and then saying, 'Um, not right now,' " receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh told reporters after the game. That the Steelers then drove down and scored a touchdown – with Willie Parker running it in from the 1 with eight seconds to go and flexing his muscles in celebration-made the decision even more deflating. And how's this for the vote of confidence Houshmandzadeh gave afterward: "That's why they're 5-2 and we're 2-5. Good teams put it in the end zone. Teams like us kick field goals."

When Steven Jackson scored from the 2 on the Rams' opening drive against the Browns, it marked St. Louis's first rushing touchdown of the season. I know the injuries have been brutal – and Jackson left the game after hurting his back, after having finally returned from his lingering groin problem – but that's just pitiful. The NFL should schedule a January game between the Rams and Dolphins, and play it in some country we really, really don't like.

Meanwhile, I hope Jets coach Eric Mangini gets down on his knees every day and thanks the Dolphins and Rams for existing. Otherwise, we'd be calling his 1-7 team the worst in years. So, all you Herm Edwards haters out there – as this awful season drags on, perhaps you'll start to appreciate the former Jets coach for his ability to salvage seemingly lost seasons, an art he has transported to Kansas City. The Mangenius, meanwhile, is making last year's rookie playoff run seem like an aberration.
 10 years ago '04        #244
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• I know the NFL felt an obligation to play the Star Spangled Banner before the Dolphins-Giants game at Wembley, but it felt a little weird watching all those Brits sit patiently through an anthem that tells of our soldiers' bravery while enduring a bombing a.ssault from English forces. No matter: Jocelyn Brown did an inspired version of a hard-to-nail song, and Paul Potts (winner of the UK's version of 'America's Got Talent') brought the heat while belting out "God Save The Queen" (no, not the s3x Pistols' version referenced below in "Trippin' On E"). I also thought it was a little bizarre that the sound system blared Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song" ("We come from the land of the ice and snow…") as Miami charged onto the field, but far be it from me to question the tune that started it all for one of the greatest bands of all time.

TWO THINGS I CAN'T COMPREHEND

1. How I could stand underneath Big Ben (technically The Clock Tower) last Friday for half an hour, watching as my friend Dan the Man asked passersby for the time (and, after they'd look at their watch, add, "No, the exact time") and laugh giddily … every single time. Also, for that matter: That no one in London could explain to me how the massive clock adjusts to Daylight Savings Time, which hit in the UK early Sunday morning, while retaining its famed accuracy.

2. Why Mike Nolan left Alex Smith in the game after the quarterback took a pair of hard hits to his recently separated right shoulder, the second of which came in the third quarter with the Saints leading the 49ers 24-3. Smith is supposed to be the franchise's quarterback of the future; why mess with his throwing arm, let alone in a futile situation? Even Drew Brees got to call it a day in the final minutes, but Smith kept playing until the bitter end.

OVER-THE-TOP, EPHEDRINE-LACED DIATRIBE AT 4:19 A.M.

OK, Wembley streaker guy (reportedly Mark Roberts, the same person who dropped trou at the start of the second half of Super Bowl x*xVIII, just after Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, before getting leveled by the Patriots' Matt Chatham and who has graced so many other events with his unclothed presence): You are brave and shameless and resourceful and dramatic, and those push-ups you did on the wet field before being apprehended by security forces before the third quarter kickoff Sunday were a bold touch. But, sadly, you are not a streaker. I don't care how much of your uncovered flesh you reveal, dude – if you cover up the most private of parts, as you did Sunday with a red, white and blue sock and G-string, you're a poseur. You're like Cinemax to the real streakers' hard-core. A real streaker, like the guy (Robert Opal) who zipped past host David Niven during the 1974 Academy Awards, goes full frontal. There should be a different name for you. "Stringer?" my colleague John Branch of the New York Times suggested in the Giants' locker room Sunday. I'm thinking the word "Freaker," a hybrid of faux streaker, would do the trick.

TRIPPIN' ON E(MAIL)

"You are insane! That is the nicest thing I am going to say in this e-mail. The Super Bowl in London is a good idea? Are you nuts? It is bad enough that American kids are being surpassed in 'America's Pastime' by Venezuelans and Italians (remember the Olympic loss in baseball to Italy?). Pro basketball is dominated by 'Team International,' the San Antonio Spurs. Now you want to take an unofficial holiday, the Super Bowl, and ship it off to our orthodonically challenged cousins to the East? What is next, running the Kentucky Derby in Dubai? This goes beyond money and marketing, this is our last slice of Americana. Roger Goodell has done a great job as the new Commish, but for him to suggest such an asinine idea, takes it all away. We have yet to have a Super Bowl in a cold weather climate in America. No New York, No D.C., no Chicago. Yet send it over to London in February, you obviously have never been to England in the winter. Shame on you!"

Mike
Laurel, Md.

I understand your feelings, but for what it's worth, if you busted out that rant in the Camden Town pub in which my friends and I cavorted with the locals Saturday night, you might find that you, too, would soon be orthodontically challenged.

"I think the a.ssumption that playing a Super Bowl in England will make American football a global game is ludicrous. American football will be tougher to sell in Europe than soccer is in the United States. I hope to God I never see American football played at Wembley; not because I don't want the Super Bowl in England, but because it is such a historical ground. The likes of which no American football fan could ever appreciate. The ground is older then the United States , and playing American football on it would taint it! Play American football anywhere in Europe , just not on historical grounds, or on any pitch intended for football. American football players do not respect football, and therefore, should not be found on a pitch. Especially one as beautiful and breathtaking as Wembley."

Jack
New Hampshire

I hate to break it to you, Jack, but if you turned on your TV Sunday you could have watched an American football game taking place on that hallowed ground – in the new Wembley, by the way, which opened this past March.

"Just wondered what sport was brought to the United States? You guys always back every sport that crosses our bourders. When NASCAR went to Mexico … it was 'good.' What national sport have they brought a game to the USA? Taking the NFL to Europe … after NFL Europe flopped … good? How is it good and again what national teams of theirs have they brought to the United States? Nothing! …"

Mark
Kennesaw, Ga.

Bourders? What's with the Olde English?

"Can you do us all a favour and move to London, never to be heard of again? please?"

John Lopez
Palo Alto, Calif.

Favour? I'll tell you what – let's declare Palo Alto its own country, and my friends from Berkeley and I will invade it at our discretion.

"You suck worse than the Rams. Not possible you say, then read your waste of a column saying the Super Bowl – the hallowed and quite sacred game that should never be played anywhere but a stadium here in the U.S.A. – should be played in London. I say then go live there and torture people in England and elsewhere with your a.ss-trash writing. Get out! Leave! If you think London is so great then go! You criticize stadiums and cities for not being something they are not trying to be. Get over yourself. Could you really do any better at organizing the whole thing? With the way you write, much less think obvious by your lack of writing skills, I would say no. Please leave. Go. Scram. Vamoose. Beat it. No wait, just leave. And to boot you, quoted Michael Stipe who couldn't even hold is own against a kicker. Man you dug down really low but from my point of view you have only one way to go, up. What a wus!"

Robert Krug
Kirkland, Wash.
 10 years ago '04        #245
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Disagree with a writer's opinion, bust out the old "Love It Or Leave It" refrain – I'd say that sucks worse than my Cal Bears the past three weeks, and that's pretty bad.

"What in the world are you talking about? That is a terrible article. You say one of your refutes was 'so what?' Nice, that's like a 6-year old answer. It does take money away from the cities. Also, it is the NFL (National Football League) and the 'National' means nation, and that refers to the nation of the United States. Why would this be taken overseas when it is an American sport. It's nothing like the European soccer crap you were talking about. This is an American sport that belongs in America. It's bad enough to even have one game played somewhere other than American soil, but to have one for every team, every year … it's ridiculous. The only thing more ridiculous than that is the fact that you actually support this awful idea! I can't help but think that you just don't really care about this country like most patriots do."

Nathan S.
Lansing, Mich..

I love my country, and not just the people with blue-state sensibilities, but those of you with "rediculous" ones, too.

"There is no evidence that the British or Europeans really care all that much about American football. It's pretty much been ignored by the Europeans, so I don't know why you'd want the Super Bowl played there. It makes no sense."

Larry Weitzman
New York City

Maybe it's the fact that when tickets to Sunday's Dolphins-Giants game went on sale, 40,000 tickets were sold in 90 minutes, with another 120,000 requests turned away.

"Here's a reason for the NFL to take it's time about coming to Europe, especially for a Super Bowl. Their fans don't deserve it! I don't know how many times I've been derided for actually liking 'American Football' as my European work colleagues call it when I could be enjoying World Football (soccer), rugby, crickett, or ski jumping instead. I was shocked that most of them think NFL athletes are wimps for playing in pads, having no idea of the physical superiority and toughness it takes to play the world's hardest hitting, most violent team sport. The world sees the NFL as a novelty. That's the attraction for them, like the circus. They just see it as entertainment, like motocross or professional wrestling while their sporting hearts are 100 percent devoted to the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga when the word football is uttered. Until that changes, even just a little bit, I wouldn't come with the Super Bowl. Preseason and a sprinkling of regular season games is all they need and truly want, believe me. If the NFL comes in force, they'll accuse us of trying to displace their true love, soccer, and just bad mouth the United States more than they already do. Bringing the NFL 100 percent global with Super Bowls and/or a European Conference right now is a really bad idea."

Joe Scopelite
Plain City, Ohio.

Based on my short time in London, I agree that many fans look down upon the NFL and feel that rugby players, because they don't wear pads, are much tougher. That said, there are a lot of people in Europe, and enough of them seem to like cultural embarrassments like KFC and Subway for me to believe the NFL could find a niche market here.

"Why should Americans have to accept the Super Bowl being played in London? Could you imagine having Chelsea play Manchester United for the Premier League Championship in Detroit? What would be the reaction in England? We watch the NFL through all 17 weeks of the regular season, and for the three weeks of playoffs. After that, we are possibly going to have America's biggest sporting event moved to a different continent? I understand that the NFL is a business, but are a few new fans worth making the current fans angry? I think that Goodell would be wise to Let it Be."

John
Pennsylvania

I hate to break it to you, but I think Goodell's favorite track from that album is "Across the Universe." As for the concept of having a big Premier League match in the U.S., check out this link suggested by reader Keith Kleszynski of Oklahoma City.

"Yes, you're right, we should embrace a London Super Bowl. And we should play the World Series in Africa . And how about the NBA championship in Korea . Ooo, and the NHL Cup in South America. That way, American's that live and bleed for their teams and their sports won't have a chance to see it live, or on the correct time zone, so a bunch of biscuit-eating wankers can under-appreciate it live. You're an idiot, as always."

Shane
Syracuse, N.Y.

Or how about the Stanley Cup in Canada? That would be blasphemous, right?

"Right on about how moving the Super Bowl to another country should have no bearing on who attends and who doesn't, or who can't. As a loyal fan of my team (Ravens) I'm already priced out of going to a Super Bowl if they somehow make it to one again. I don't have the thousands of dollars for tickets and transportation. And I'm probably not lucky enough to win a ticket lottery or contest. So, I'll be watching on TV no matter what."

Jeff
Baltimore

Take it from someone who has been to 14 Super Bowls: The game itself is much better on TV.

"Thank you for going against the grain and pushing for the London Super Bowl idea. I love the idea as well, but I have only one concern: the time difference. How would they handle that?"

Ben R.
New York City

A game that kicked off at 9 p.m. in London would begin at 4 p.m. on the East Coast and 1 p.m. in the Pacific Time Zone … just like a normal Sunday. And after a day's worth of massive consumption, most Americans could get to sleep earlier on Super Sunday and be in slightly better shape for Hangover Monday.

" 'Is it the NFL's job to prop up the Detroits of the world, or can the league make a decision in its best overall marketing interests?' I can't believe you said that. If you want NFL expansion in Europe, fine. Why does that have to turn into a bashing of Detroit? Intelligent people can state their opinion without attacking third parties. Detroit did an excellent job with the Super Bowl, and for you to claim the NFL is 'propping it up' is the most absurd thing I've ever heard. Detroit does just fine without the likes of you, and we would do just fine without the NFL, even though we do support the Lions. We were here before the NFL, and we'll be here long after. You should learn some manners."

Bob Johnson
Warren, Mich.

Easy Motown – I wasn't bashing, just pointing out that hosting a Super Bowl, from an economic standpoint, is nobody's birthright. I have nothing but love for the city in which my mom was born and spent part of her childhood. And, for the record, the city's host committee did a tremendous job with Super Bowl XL. I'm sorry if I hurt any feelings.

"Mike, excellent job on the Joe Strummer reference and link, and a bonus for your 'Anarchy' adaptation. Glad to see there's a place in your heart for the punks. Most of my Deadhead friends look at me like I desecrated Jerry Garcia's grave when I tell them how great the Clash was. And as for a Super Bowl in London, why not? The overwhelming majority of fans are watching it on TV anyway."

James Asali
Philadelphia

Tell your friends I'd bet my last tie-dye that the Fat Man liked the Clash.

"Michael, you touched on just about everything with having the Super Bowl in a place like London. One other thing to consider would be the weather. The chances of having 'interesting' weather in late Jan./early Feb. in London are as the English say 'smashing.' Personally, it would be great to see a mud pit game or even worse weather, after all it is football. To you, does this have any bearing on the choice? … "

Guillermo Espinosa
Truth or Consequences, N.M.

Good point, especially after experiencing Sunday's rainfest. Wembley has a nice design that shields most spectators from the wetness, but that doesn't help the players much, and I can see why many people prefer that the Super Bowl continue to be played where those chilly winds don't blow.

"Seems like a more appropriate Pistols song for the selling of the Super Bowl!: 'God save the commish The fascist regime They made you a moron Potential sell out God save the commish He ain't no human being There is no future In England's dreaming of the Super Bowl Don't be told what you want Don't be told what you need There's no future, no future, No future Super Bowl for you God save the commish 'Cause tourists are money And our figurehead Is not what he seems Oh God save history God save our mad past time Oh Lord God have mercy All salaries are paid and the American past time sold!'"

Mike
Orwigsburg, PA

Brilliant.

TEXT/IM/EMAIL OF THE WEEK

"U leave another (expletive) message on my phone and I'm gonna (expletive) u up!!!"
Text Friday night (early Saturday morning London time) from Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp. We later cleared up the, uh, misunderstanding.

Michael Silver covers the NFL for Yahoo! Sports. Send Michael a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Monday, Oct 29, 2007 9:04 am, EDT
 10 years ago '04        #246
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Winners, losers and more: Perfect storm
By James C. Black, Yahoo! Sports
October 28, 2007

James C. Black
Yahoo! Sports
The New England Patriots made sure "the biggest underdogs in the history of sports" didn't spoil one of the most anticipated regular season games in recent NFL history.

Pretty much since the Patriots embarrassed the San Diego Chargers and the Indianapolis Colts held off the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, Nov. 4 has been circled as a collision course for the NFL's cream of the crop. And despite "supposed" multiple hurdles along the way, neither team disappointed. Not when the Patriots had their "Duel in Dallas." Not when Indy made its way back to Jacksonville, Fla., – site of the 375 rushing yards allowed debacle in December. And definitely not on Sunday when the Goliaths had a pair of wannabe Davids from the NFC trying to trip them up.

There's no need to go on and on about what Tom "The Terrific" and Peyton Manning have done up to this point. And no words – not in this space – can begin to sum up just how truly amazing of a matchup we could be in store for next week at the RCA Dome. So at this point, just sit back and get ready to be inundated with Colts-Patriots coverage for the next seven days.

But until then, here are some winners, losers and other observations from Week 8:

WINNERS

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• Come on now! You didn't think we would ignore the Pats and Colts highlights from Sunday, did you? Though realistically, what more can be said about Brady – already with a career-high 30 passing touchdowns – after he accounted for five more scores in the 52-7 blitzing of the Washington Redskins. Probably just as impressive – OK, this might be a stretch – was the three-sack, one touchdown-catch day of Mike Vrabel, who suddenly seems to have emerged as the most visible defender of the team.

• While the Patriots literally keep raising the point tallies week-by-week, the Colts just go out, post their 30-plus and notch another victory – becoming the first team in 76 years to go 7-0 three straight seasons. And even after the Carolina Panthers held the ball for 11 minutes during the game-opening scoring drive, Indy still dominated during a 31-7 victory. Apparently, Reggie Wayne (168 yards, one touchdown) is good enough to carry the receiving corps when future Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison is sidelined.

• With the Chargers coming off another impressive win, the question must be raised – which pair of San Diego "streakers" should we most believe? The group that's scored 104 points against the mediocre Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans the past three contests, or the ones who previously lost three straight games to the division-leading Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs? We should get a good read on the sudden contenders in the next six weeks when they face the likes of the Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chiefs and Tennessee Titans.

• Speaking of comeback stories, the New Orleans Saints are emphatically out to prove that last year was not a fluke. Drew Brees had his best game of the season (336 passing yards, four touchdowns) against the San Francisco 49ers as the one-time 0-4 Saints try to reach .500 against the Jaguars next week.

• Oh Romeo, how has thee turned the Brown-baggers into a competitive bunch in which the Dawg Pound no longer demands Brady Quinn as the starter? Seriously, what Derek Anderson and that offense have done after that embarrassing season-opening loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers is perhaps the most surprising storyline of the season so far – even more shocking than what's happening in the NFC North with the Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.

• This is just a wild guess, but there probably aren't too many folks still laughing at Jon Kitna after he stated in the preseason that the Lions would win at least 10 games and make the playoffs. They're halfway home to 10 wins after completing a season sweep of the Bears for the second time in four seasons.

• Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, a native of Lima, Ohio, and alumnus of Miami-Ohio, remained perfect (9-0) in his home state following the Pittsburgh Steelers' 24-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers have won seven straight in Cincy, four under Big Ben.

• Donovan McNabb (333 passing yards, one touchdown) and Brian Westbrook (92 total yards, two touchdowns) had good outings, but the Philadelphia Eagles defense probably deserves more credit for the teams' 23-16 win over the Minnesota Vikings. After all, for a second straight week, rookie dynamo Adrian Peterson (20 carries, 70 yards) was kept in check.

• Brandon Jacobs (131 rushing yards) had a career day in an otherwise ugly NFL regular season debut in London as the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins for their sixth straight win.

LOSERS

• No real analysis here, just a question: what the heck happened to the 49ers? Yes, they've had injuries, but the trendy preseason pick to win the NFC West would be working its way into conversation of the conference's worst … if not for those winless St. Louis Rams.

• Speaking of the NFC's winless one, has anything good happened for Marc Bulger since signing a lucrative six-year, $65 million deal in the preseason? A week after an abysmal outing in which he returned to action against the Seattle Seahawks, Bulger was temporarily knocked out of the contest against the Browns. He returned just in time to throw a game-sealing interception to Leigh Bodden on the Rams' final possession.

• Jeff Garcia threw three interceptions – his only picks of the season – and yet are overshadowed by an even bigger miscue during a 24-23 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. With the Bucs facing a third-and-10 with 37 seconds left from Jacksonville's 45-yard line, coach Jon Gruden skipped over the "conservative" section in the playbook and went for the touchdown instead of a field goal. Ike Hilliard, lined up on the far right, gave the cornerback a hesitation move and went free down the sideline. All alone, Hilliard watched the ball sail over his head as Garcia botched the brave and perfect play call. On fourth down, Garcia was picked by Reggie Nelson on a tip pass as he attempted to go back to Hilliard essentially ending the game.

• Wide receiver Steve Smith has to be having fun as injuries have forced the Panthers to play musical chairs at quarterback. Just when he thought he might be saved from the David "Carr" wreck, Vinny Testaverde was forced to the sideline after suffering a right Achilles' tendon injury in the first half.

WHAT THEY HAD TO BE THINKING

Rex Grossman: "And he's supposed to be giving us a better shot at winning?" after watching fellow Chicago Bears quarterback Brian Griese throw four interceptions – three in the end zone – during a 16-7 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Chad Pennington: "I feel like Rex Grossman" after replacement Kellen Clemens completed five of 12 passes with two interceptions during the New York Jets' loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Any kicker or punter: "And we wonder why folks don't consider us real athletes" after Houston Texans punter Matt Turk's inexplicable errant attempt to pounce on a bad snap in the end zone and was subsequently recovered by San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a touchdown.

All Redskins fans: "Why is he all alone when everyone in the stadium knows the Patriots like to throw to him?" when Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel entered the game as a tight end and scored his second touchdown of the season and 10th of his career./P>

Rich Gannon: "Enough with (No.) 65" after watching former Oakland Raiders teammate and left tackle Barry Sims pick up a third false start penalty during the 13-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans: Actually, those very words were uttered by Gannon's CBS broadcast partner, Kevin Harlan.

James C. Black is the NFL editor for Yahoo! Sports.

Updated on Monday, Oct 29, 2007 12:48 am, EDT
 10 years ago '04        #247
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Detroit 16, Chicago 7
Preview - Box Score - Recap

By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports Writer
October 28, 2007

Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen celebrates the Bears lone touchdown during the third quarter of their 16-7 loss to the Detroit Lions in a football game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007.
AP - Oct 28, 6:44 pm EDT
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CHICAGO (AP) -- Surprised? Yes, Roy Williams was surprised.

He was surprised to find out the Detroit Lions are 5-2 for the first time since 2000, not that they beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

"2000? Two thousand years?" Williams asked.

Either way, it's been a long time.

Jon Kitna passed for 268 yards, Kevin Jones ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, and the Lions again showed they're serious contenders in the NFC with a 16-7 victory over the Bears on Sunday.

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With the strong start, Detroit is making a bid for its first playoff appearance since 1999. The Lions have endured six straight seasons with at least 10 losses and won just three games last year, coach Rod Marinelli's first. But things are different now.

"This is uncharted territory for us," center Dominic Raiola said. "I think Rod is going to keep us in there, keep us knowing that next week's game (against Denver) is even bigger. We know what it means. ... We need to keep it in perspective and got to keep that mind-set that every week is a big game."

Four weeks earlier, the Lions scored an NFL-record 34 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Bears 37-27 in Detroit.

This time, they didn't need the dramatics.

They got two field goals by Jason Hanson along with a 4-yard touchdown run by Jones in the second quarter to take a 13-0 halftime lead and hung on from there.

Jones, making his second straight start after injuring his foot last December, was effective and Kitna was efficient, completing 24-of-35 without an interception. Roy Williams caught eight passes for 77 yards, and Shaun McDonald added six catches for 64 yards.

Greg Olsen's 20-yard touchdown catch with 5:26 left in the third quarter pulled the Bears within 13-7, but it was a dreary day for a team that was hoping to go into the bye with a .500 record. Instead, the defending NFC champions are 3-5 and reeling.

Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith walks off the field after their 16-7 loss to the Detroit Lions in a football game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2007.
AP - Oct 28, 6:43 pm EDT
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Brian Griese was unable to carry over the magic he used to orchestrate a game-winning 97-yard touchdown drive at Philadelphia the previous week, and the running game was a rumor again.

Griese threw four interceptions and got picked off three times in the end zone.

The Bears were threatening to pull within 16-14 when Gerald Alexander intercepted a pass intended for Mark Bradley midway through the fourth.

Blame for this loss goes beyond Griese, who was 22-of-40 for 208 yards.

Cedric Benson had another rough afternoon. He finished with 50 yards on 13 carries, 10 of those attempts coming in the first half. He dropped a pass on the game's first play, and things did not improve for him or the Bears.

Safety Adam Archuleta didn't help matters when he bumped Williams on a deep pass down the right side, a 47-yard penalty that moved the Lions to the 28. That set up a 26-yard field goal by Hanson on the first play of the second quarter.

Things continued to get worse for Chicago when Griese attempted to hit Mark Bradley in double coverage in the end zone. A leaping Kenoy Kennedy made the interception, and the Lions again made the Bears pay.

Jones ran it in from the 4, plowing over Lance Briggs, to make it 10-0 and cap a 93-yard drive.

"We didn't even know if we were going to have him at all this year," Kitna said. "And to have him playing at the high level that he is playing at is great for us."

Notes

Devin Hester set up Olsen's touchdown with a 39-yard punt return. ... Bears CB Nathan Vasher missed his fifth game with a groin injury, and DT Darwin Walker (sprained left knee) missed his third straight. ... The Lions were without DE Kalimba Edwards (knee). ... Detroit signed safety LaMarcus Hicks from the practice squad and released TE Courtney Anderson.
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Bears' Vasher sits out with groin injury while Walker misses game with sprained knee
October 28, 2007

CHICAGO (AP) -- Chicago Bears cornerback Nathan Vasher and defensive tackle Darwin Walker were inactive for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.

Vasher missed his fifth game with a groin injury, after returning to practice on a limited basis Friday. Walker has missed three straight with a sprained left knee.

The Lions were without defensive end Kalimba Edwards (knee).
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NFL Rumors
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Lions attempting to reclaim $10.1 million from Rogers

Saturday, Oct 27, 2007 6:58 am EDT
Charles Rogers

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An arbitration hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday in Detroit to settle a grievance filed by the Detroit Lions against Charles Rogers, their first-round draft pick in 2003.

The Lions were told earlier in the week the hearing would be soon, and confirmation came Friday, Lions chief operating officer Tom Lewand said.

The Lions are seeking to reclaim $10.1 million of the $14.4 million signing bonus Rogers got on his rookie contract in 2003. The Lions claim Rogers' diminished his value to the team by using drugs. Rogers was suspended for four games by the NFL in 2005 for violating the league's policy on substance abuse.

Source: Detroit News

Related: Detroit Lions
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Kitna not headed to bench

Tuesday, Oct 23, 2007 11:56 am EDT
Jon Kitna

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Jon Kitna's shelf life as the Detroit Lions' starting quarterback will be longer than originally anticipated.

Kitna is coach Rod Marinelli's quarterback of the present and future. Marinelli does not regard Kitna as a stopgap or interim solution while he looks to develop a young quarterback for the future.

Source: Detroit News

Related: Detroit Lions
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Hangover gone, Harris predicts Bears win over Lions

Monday, Oct 22, 2007 10:19 am EDT
Tommie Harris, Stephen Peterman

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The win over the Eagles appears to have cured the Super Bowl hangover of the Chicago Bears. According to the Chicago Tribune, Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris did nothing short of guarantee a victory over the Detroit Lions next Sunday in Chicago.

"We're ready," defensive tackle Tommie Harris said, speaking of the Lions. "You don't come into Philadelphia and win in that stadium against Donovan McNabb. So that boosted our confidence so much.

"Detroit don't come into Chicago and win in our stadium. We have to be 4-4 going into our (week off). We have to be. ... I'm going to do whatever I have to do for us to be 4-4."

Source: Detroit Free Press

Related: Donovan McNabb, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions
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Detroit's Bell requests trade

Saturday, Oct 13, 2007 8:28 am EDT
Tatum Bell

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Tatum Bell's agent, Jeffrey Griffin, told Detroit Lions president Matt Millen earlier in the week that Bell would like to be traded because of a diminished role in the offense.

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, and the Lions do not appear to have any interest in dealing Bell.

Source: Detroit News

Related: Tatum Bell, Detroit Lions
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Could Lions trade Bell back to Broncos?

Tuesday, Oct 9, 2007 2:00 pm EDT
Tatum Bell

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The Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos have already worked out one trade this year involving running back Tatum Bell, who was sent to Detroit in the off-season, along with offensive lineman George Foster, in exchange for cornerback Dre' Bly.

But could the Lions now trade Bell back to the Broncos?

Detroit coach Rod Marinelli is using this week's bye to evaluate the running back rotation, and that with Kevin Jones and T.J. Duckett both getting healthier, Bell might be the odd man out. The Broncos, of course, would lose their starting running back if Travis Henry loses in his current bid to avoid a one-year NFL suspension, and they might be interested in acquiring a back who already knows the offense.

Source: Profootballtalk.com

Related: Tatum Bell, Travis Henry, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions
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Martz eyeing head coaching opportunities

Saturday, Oct 6, 2007 7:46 pm EDT
Mike Martz

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Word is that Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz is already trying to gauge the head-coaching gigs that will be open after the 2007 season, and to position himself to get one of them.

After an ugly demise to his tenure with the St. Louis Rams, which left him with a reputation of being erratic and power-mad, Martz opted to get back to what he did best and put togehter a high-powered offense.

Source: Profootballtalk.com

Related: Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams
 10-31-2007, 09:50 AM         #255
SmooveDude 
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^^^^^nah we dont need martz goin somewhere else
 11-04-2007, 06:15 PM         #256
Kel Scrilla 
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44-7 victory today baby!!!
 11-04-2007, 06:21 PM         #257
SmooveDude 
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yea it was a good win....shows how well we can play with our confidence level high
 11-04-2007, 06:45 PM         #258
QueenzBaller26 
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CLAP IT UP FOR THE LIONS

good sh*t yall..good sh*t right there man...let brign back the black and blue division, much respect to yall

keep winning keep beating these teams up...and we will face yall in turkey bowl...thats where we settle our hate
 11-04-2007, 06:58 PM         #259
SmooveDude 
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lol thats a good word for the rivalry....hate lol
 11-11-2007, 07:52 AM         #260
SmooveDude 
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its only a matter of time
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