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Super Bowl LI: Brady Leads Patriots March Through Atlanta 0

Posted on February 05, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Tom Brady joins Charles Haley as the only players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls.

Tom Brady joins Charles Haley as the only players in NFL history to win five Super Bowls.

For the first 45 minutes of Super Bowl LI, it looked like the young gun Atlanta Falcons weren’t just going to win their first Super Bowl, but were going to embarrass the New England Patriots in a way that hadn’t happened since they lost Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the Patriots dynasty.

Trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, the Patriots dug deep and showed their greatness on both offense and defense on their way to scoring 31 straight points to win 34-28 in the first Super Bowl ever decided in overtime.

With the victory, quarterback Tom Brady joins Bart Starr as the only quarterback to win five NFL Championships and the only one with five Super Bowl victories (he joins Charles Haley as the only players with five Super Bowl titles). Head coach Bill Belichick now joins Vince Lombardi and George Halas as coaches with five NFL Championships and is the only one with five Super Bowl wins as a head coach.

Much like when the Green Bay Packers needed a final memorable drive to overcome a deficit to defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the Ice Bowl to claim their fifth NFL title, the Patriots needed some late miracles to claim their fifth title.

However, while Starr needed just one late drive to win, Brady and the Patriots had to score on their final five possessions to claim their championship.

Though he struggled early, Brady proved in the second half that he is the greatest quarterback in NFL history. He finished the game completing 43 of 62 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns.

After the Falcons scored early in the third quarter to take a 28-3 lead, Brady led the Patriots on scoring drives of 75 yards, 72 yards (field goal), 25 yards and 91 yards to send the game to overtime. They then marched 75 yards in eight plays to win the game. Brady passed for all 91 yards in the tying job and 63 yards in the final winning drive. Read the rest of this entry →

Interesting Choices for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selectors 0

Posted on February 04, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Terrell Davis averaged more than 1,600 yards rushing per season during his four prime NFL campaigns.

Terrell Davis averaged more than 1,600 yards rushing per season during his four prime NFL campaigns.

With LaDainian Tomlinson as the only sure-fire pick for the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class, the selection committee could be in for a long day trying to differentiate the other choices.

In addition to Tomlinson, former defensive stars Jason Taylor and Brian Dawkins are on the ballot for the first time. Though both players have a Hall of Fame caliber portfolio, it seems unlikely that they will get the call in their first year of eligibility.

Among the other modern era candidates, former Washington Redskins offensive lineman Joe Jacoby is the closest to falling off the modern era ballot, which would significantly reduce the likelihood that he will be inducted in the near future. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the two-time first team All-Pro and four-time Pro Bowler will generate enough support to earn a gold jacket.

More likely to earn induction than Jacoby is a group of former stars who have been on the ballot for a handful of years while waiting for other deserving players to clear a HOF path.

Former “Greatest Show on Turf” teammates Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner are both on the ballot for the third time. While there have been some to question whether Warner is deserving of the Hall of Fame, it seems likely that he will ultimately get the nod. It would be fitting for Warner and Bruce, who caught 1,024 passes for more than 15,000 yards during his career, to be selected in the same class.

Another receiver who will certainly eventually earn a gold jacket is the flamboyant Terrell Owens. With 1,078 career catches, 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns, Owens unquestionably has the numbers to earn a spot, however, given his toxic reputation, the voters may choose to leave him sitting for at least another year before putting him in the Hall.

For some reason, Hall of Fame voters historically tend to gravitate towards selecting offensive linemen while being tougher on skilled position players.

Joining Jacoby as offensive linemen on the ballot are three players who will all likely eventually earn a HOF spot. Perhaps the most controversial of these picks is Tony Boselli. The three-time first team All-Pro and five time Pro Bowler was unquestionably among the best players in the league during his career, but because injuries limited him to only six full seasons he could be waiting a while before heading to Canton. Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl LI: Can the Falcons Penetrate the Patriot Defense? 0

Posted on February 03, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Will Roger Goodell have to give the Super Bowl LI trophy to Tom Brady?

Will Roger Goodell have to give the Super Bowl LI trophy to Tom Brady?

While the media has focused much of their pre-Super Bowl conversation on how awkward it will be if Roger Goodell has to hand the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the real question is whether the highest scoring offense in the NFL can continue their magic against a New England defense that was ranked first in the NFL in scoring defense.

Considering that the Patriots allowed their opponents to score fewer than 20 points 13 times this season, including each of the last five games, while the Atlanta Falcons offense has scored at least 28 points for eight straight weeks (and 14 times this season), something has to give.

Dating back to their first of seven Super Bowl appearances in the Belichick-Brady era against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, the Patriots have generally been successful in grounding a high-flying offense. Only the Carolina Panthers with 29 points and the Seattle Seahawks with 24 have been able to exceed 21 points. Ironically, the Patriots were able to win both of those games.

However, not since facing the “Greatest Show on Turf” have the Patriots faced a team with the offensive firepower of their upcoming opponent. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the rest of the Atlanta offense have been a matchup nightmare all season.

Ryan is the likely NFL MVP after passing for 4,944 yards and 39 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Jones had a 300-yard receiving game against the Carolina Panthers and caught 83 passes for 1409 yards despite missing two games with injuries.

Since dropping a 29-28 contest to the Kansas City Chiefs on December 4th in a game that was decided on a defensive extra point return, the Falcons have stepped their offensive production up to an even higher level. They have averaged 39 points per game in winning their last six games and have exceeded 40 points three times. Read the rest of this entry →

You Are Looking Live – Remembering the Career of Brent Musburger 0

Posted on January 29, 2017 by Dean Hybl
There was Brent Musburger on the far left sitting with Joe Namath poolside prior to Super Bowl III.

There was Brent Musburger on the far left sitting with Joe Namath poolside prior to Super Bowl III.

Part of the memory for all sports fans are the faces and voices of the announcers and commentators who have helped connect us with great sports moments. As someone whose first memories of television sports include watching the NFL Today during the 1970s, Brent Musburger is one of those figures for me. His catch phrase of “You are looking live” still makes me excited and indicates that I better pay attention because something big could be about to happen. The announcement this week that the 77-year-old Musburger will be retiring from play-by-play duty on January 31st will leave a void in the sports world, but he has provided generations of fans with some great memories.

A graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Musburger began his career in the late 1960s and very quickly found himself in the middle of the action and controversy.

Writing for Chicago’s American newspaper, Musburger covered the 1968 Olympics and the controversial “black power” salute by Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos. In the article, he stated that “Smith and Carlos looked like a couple of black-skinned storm troopers” who were “ignoble,” “juvenile,” and “unimaginative.” Years later Musburger said that comparing the two athlettes to Nazis was “harsh”, but stood by his opinion that the Olympic stage was not the appropriate place to make a political statement.

Just a few months later, Musburger found himself poolside in Miami as one of a handful of reporters sitting with a brash young quarterback who was holding court before Super Bowl III. As it turned out, Joe Namath was just the first of many Super Bowl heroes with whom Musburger would rub elbows.

Beginning in 1968, Musburger was first a radio and then television anchor for WBBM in Chicago. He later moved to Los Angeles where he was a news co-anchor at KNXT (now KCBS-TV) and worked alongside Connie Chung.

In 1973 Musburger began serving as a play-by-play announcer for NFL games on CBS – his color commentating partners included Bart Starr, Tommy Mason and Wayne Walker – and two years later was given the role that would make him famous. Read the rest of this entry →

AFC Championship Preview: Shooting For Lucky Number 7 2

Posted on January 21, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Tom Brady is looking to make his record seventh Super Bowl appearance.

Tom Brady is looking to make his record seventh Super Bowl appearance.

The AFC Championship Game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots is a drive for number seven for both teams.

A victory over the Steelers would give New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady their record seventh Super Bowl appearance as a head coach and quarterback. If Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers prevail, they will be one step closer to earning the Steelers a record seventh Super Bowl Championship.

Though New England’s 14-2 regular season record is far superior to the 11-5 mark of the Steelers, the Pittsburgh squad that will be on the field Sunday is not the same team that New England defeated 27-16 in week seven.

Since a four-game losing streak dropped their record to 4-5 after a 35-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on November 13th, the Steelers have been virtually unstoppable. They have won nine straight games, including playoff victories over the Dolphins and Chiefs.

Though Roethlisberger is often overlooked in the conversation about the best quarterbacks in football, he is still a dynamic passer (3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns in 14 games) who has won three AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls. Having the best running back in football, Le’Veon Bell, and the one of the best wide receivers, Antonio Brown, certainly does not hurt the Pittsburgh offense.

While the offense has certainly been important for the Steelers recent success, the defense has also been a key. After allowing 27 or more points four times in the first nine games, the Steelers have allowed that many only once in the last nine games. They have allowed 28 total points in their two playoff wins.

The defense will have its greatest test in some time against Tom Brady and the Patriots. The Patriots have scored at least 34 points in each of their last three games and have reached the 30 point mark on nine occasions this season. Read the rest of this entry →

The Cleveland Browns Have Finally Reached a Point Where They Can’t Get Worse 0

Posted on December 24, 2016 by Tony Samboras
Even former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III has been unable to help the Cleveland Browns win in 2016.

Even former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III has been unable to help the Cleveland Browns win in 2016.

The once proud Cleveland Browns organization is in tatters. With a current record of 0-14 and two games remaining against teams they figure to struggle against, it seems a certainty the team will fulfill the ultimate in futility for an entire season. After finishing last season 3-13, which included losses in its last six games, the Browns look intent on going into next season with an active 22-game losing streak and a long path back to even being competitive.

This will be the team’s 13th year in a row that they have failed to make the playoffs. That’s the second longest current streak in the NFL (behind only the Buffalo Bills). Going into next season, they face the distinct possibility of breaking the record for consecutive losses by an NFL team. The current record stands at 26, which was set by the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers from its inaugural season in 1976 until towards the end of the 1977 season. This is not the kind of number the Browns want to find its name next to in the record books.

Looking at this year’s stats for a silver lining in another exercise in futility. Four different quarterbacks have recorded starts on the season with USC rookie Cody Kessler leading the way with 1,469 yards passing with 6 TDs and only 2 interceptions. Unfortunately, nagging injuries and inconsistent play landed him on the bench in favor of team retread Josh McCown. On the season, McCown has completed only 54.5% of his passes for 1,100 yards and 6 TDs and 6 interceptions.  It might be too early to give up Kessler, who showed some ability to compete earlier in the year, but the rest of the QB corps seems to have more questions than answers. Read the rest of this entry →

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