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Broncos Outlast Cowboys, Patriots and Seahawks Fall From Perfection: Week 5 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 08, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As we took off into the second quarter of the season (for most teams), the fascinating phenomena kept rolling in. Included in this week’s list is something that hasn’t happened to the New England offense in seven years, a first for any quarterback since the merger, the continuation of home dominance for one NFC North team, a record-tying day for one tight end and an offensive outburst in Dallas. Here are your Week 5 NFL headlines.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

Travis Benjamin had a career night in the return game for the red-hot Browns.

The Browns scored their first rushing touchdown of the season (and it wasn’t Trent Richardson) in their fifth game and stayed perfect when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer as they beat the Bills, 37-24, on Thursday night. They did, however, lose Hoyer for the season with a partially torn ACL suffered early in the game. Cleveland punt returner, Travis Benjamin, tied a franchise record with 166 punt return yards in the win for the first-place Browns. Their 37 points were the most they have scored in a game since putting up 41 back in 2009. Since Week 3, they are averaging 28.3 points per game after averaging eight points per game in the first two weeks.

The Patriots fell from the ranks of the unbeaten and the Bengals improved to 6-22 against the AFC East since 1998 as New England managed only six points in the 13-6 loss. The six points were the fewest for the high-powered New England offense since being shut out on Dec. 10, 2006, 21-0, in Week 14 against Miami. The Bengals’ 5-22 record had been the third-worst against one division in that span. Andy Dalton’s first-quarter interception in the red zone was the first red-zone pick of his career. Tom Brady fell two short of the all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass as he failed to record one in game No. 53. The Pats had won 63 straight games when allowing 13 points or less with their last such loss coming in 2001. Read the rest of this entry →

2013 NFL Predictions: Division Winners, Super Bowl Champs, Individual Awards and League Leaders 5

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Andy Larmand

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It’s almost here, but if you weren’t excited enough about the NFL returning in a couple weeks, here are a few more reasons. It’s time to make some predictions that will inevitably have clear cut outomes and boggle the minds of some while sparking some pretty intense debates. I think I have them all right, though. Here are my picks for all eight division winners, the four Wild Card teams, each conference’s championship matchup, the Super Bowl, league leaders and major award recipients.

AFC East (2): Patriots - Nine straight division titles when the team has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady? Yeah, make it 10 for New England. While they undoubtedly will be transitioning on the field this season, they are still fairly high above the other three teams in the division. Plus, their quarterback never runs into butts.

AFC North (4): Bengals - Get used to hearing “Dalton to Green” and get used to seeing the Bengals in the postseason (even if it is just for one game) for the third straight year. Cleveland will probably finish fourth.

AFC South (3): Colts - The Colts made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012 and it seems to me they are not done improving. Eleven wins last season was good, but I see them hitting at least 12 this year, including making a push to overtake the Texans late in the year with a huge win over them in Week 15.

AFC West (1): Broncos - Obviously. This one will probably be the biggest division win by any team this season. I say 14-2 for Denver with San Diego the closest to them at 7-9. Welker…and Decker…and Thomas might play a role in their success as well. Read the rest of this entry →

Win Or Go Home: NFL Wild Card Weekend Storylines 0

Posted on January 08, 2013 by Andy Larmand

There were only four football games on TV this weekend – two on Saturday and two on Sunday. But, thats okay. It’s the playoffs! Someone really should have told Andy Dalton, though as some unfortunate quarterback play stole the spotlight on Saturday.

PLAYOFFS?! Jim Mora, made famous for his rant at a press conference in 2001, is getting gained on by Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis as the coaches the two with the most playoff losses without any wins (Mora: 0-6, Lewis: 0-4).

The Bengals and Texans kicked off Wild Card Weekend for the second straight year on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game and the first playoff game of  Matt Schaub‘s career (was injured last season). Houston won last year’s game and they won this one too, though it was ugly, 19-13. The game was the fourth rematch in the Wild Card round from the previous year in history and all four times the team that had won the first one has won the second one. In an ugly first half, the only touchdown that was scored was a Leon Hall interception return for Cincinnati, but they trailed 9-7 at the end of two thanks to some very sloppy play. The Bengals were the first team with negative passing yards in the first half of a playoff game since 2006. Dalton had -6 yards through the air in the half. It was the fourth consecutive game with a defensive TD for the Bengals and their first interception return for a touchdown in the postseason since 1973. A.J. Green had no catches or targets in the first two quarters of the game. Cincinnati has not won a playoff game since 1990 and also fell to 0-6 on the road all-time in the postseason. Dalton finished with just 127 yards on 14-of-30 passing.

Both Owen Daniels and Arian Foster were huge for the Texans, who have now won a playoff game in consecutive seasons. Daniels finished the game with nine receptions for 91 yards and Foster finished with 140 yards and the team’s only touchdown as he became the first running back to ever rush for 100 yards in each of his first three career playoff games. His 425 rushing yards in those games are also good for the most by a player in his first three career postseason appearances. Shayne Graham made all four of his field goal attempts in the game. Houston still has a chance to become only the second team to win the Super Bowl after finishing the regular season 1-3 or worse. Schaub nearly doubled Dalton’s passer rating (83.4 to 44.7) as the veteran came out on top in this one. Jermaine Gresham caught just two passes for seven yards and had two drops bounce off his hands. The Texans will head to New England to take on the Patriots in a rematch of their Week 14 game on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Houston lost the contest 42-14.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton struggled hearing the play calls in noisy Reliant Stadium and struggled even more in executing them as Cincinnati's season is done.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton struggled hearing the play calls in noisy Reliant Stadium and struggled even more in executing them as Cincinnati’s season is done.

A couple hours before kickoff, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder determined his injured elbow was not going to allow him to play in the game against the Packers. Joe Webb, who hadn’t thrown a pass this season, got the start and became the first quarterback in NFL history to start a postseason game after not attempting a pass in the regular season. He was the first QB to start a playoff game with only one career win on his resume since Kelly Holcomb in 2003. With all that going against them, it was never really close after the Packers scored 24 unanswered points to win, 24-10, and earn a rematch with the 49ers next week. Dalton may have felt a little better as Webb threw for just six yards in the first half of this game. Adrian Peterson ran for just 99 yards in the game on 22 carries and failed to become just the second 2,000-yard rusher to win a playoff game in the same season. No rushing champion has run for 100 yards in a playoff game since Edgerrin James did in 2000.

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Sanchez Finally Benched: Week 13 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 05, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Mark Sanchez may have pulled off a miracle by remaining in the New York lineup for 12 weeks, but it appears his reign as starter may be over after being replaced in the 2nd half of Sunday’s game. Surprisingly, without “butt fumble” in there, the Jets got a win. So did 15 other teams.

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez may have finally found something he’s good at: holding the clipboard and keeping Tim Tebow (left) company on the New York bench.

The Saints traveled to Atlanta to take on the division-leading Falcons on Thursday night in a game that they had to have to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Drew Brees, however, threw FIVE interceptions and saw his NFL-record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass end at 54 in a row. This was the first time since Oct. 4, 2009 that Brees did not throw a touchdown pass in a game and the first time he, or any Saints quarterback, has ever thrown five picks. Roddy White had no catches in the 1st half for the first time in his last 78 games. His first catch came with less than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  With four on the night, tight end Tony Gonzalez now has at least 70 receptions in 10 straight seasons, tying the NFL record, and 13th season overall, tying that record as well. Matt Bryant made a 55-yard field goal in the 4th quarter and has now been good on his last seven kicks of 50 yards or more. Atlanta improved to 11-1 with the 23-13 win and has won 46 of 47 games when holding a lead at any point in the 4th quarter. The Falcons converted on just one 3rd down in the game (1-11). With the Tampa Bay loss to Denver, the Falcons clinched the NFC South for the second time in three seasons.

Stevan Ridley scored a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game as the Patriots improved to 9-3 and won the AFC East, beating the Dolphins 23-16 in South Florida. Tom Brady did throw his first interception in his last 202 passing attempts in the 1st quarter – that had been the longest active streak in the NFL. He also threw a touchdown pass in his 44th straight game – the longest active streak in the NFL since Brees’ was snapped on Thursday night. With a second quarter reception, Wes Welker went over 1,00 yards receiving for the fifth time in his career, extending his Patriots record and he tied Jerry Rice‘s all-time record with 17 10-reception games. He had 10 catches for 89 yards…in the 1st half! If that wasn’t enough his 12 catches for 103 yards got him to the 10-catch, 100-yard mark for the 16th time in his illustrious career – the most all-time. Ridley became the 12th Patriot to run for 1,000 yards in a season. The Patriots clinched the AFC East for the fourth straight year and have won 20 straight games in the second half of the season. Brady became the first QB in NFL history to win 10 division titles. Finally, the Pats have won 12 straight regular season December games, dating back to 2009 and are currently on a six-game winning streak.

Something had to give in the Meadowlands as the 4-7 Jets hosted the 4-7 Cardinals – losers of seven straight following their undefeated start. It certainly was not a pretty thing to watch. Sanchez gave Brees a run for his money, throwing three interceptions in a game that ended 7-6 in their favor. He was finally pulled by Rex Ryan, but not for Tim Tebow – for Greg McElroy, who promptly threw a TD pass. Tebow was inactive for the game with a rib injury. The Cardinals have lost eight straight following this ugly game. New York improved to 4-111 in their history when scoring seven points or less in a game. Arizona did not convert on a 3rd down the entire day (0-15). The Jets improved to 1-6 all-time in games that Sanchez has thrown three or more interceptions. The two teams combined for more punts (16) than points.

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An Exciting Thanksgiving Highlights Week 12 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Golden drumstick: Tom Brady earned Player of the Game honors for his Thanksgiving Night performance in New England’s win over the Jets.

If Thanksgiving isn’t the greatest holiday in the world, then I don’t know what is? What could be better than incredible food cooked by a mother or grandmother, family and friends and getting to watch football all day? Happy Thanksgiving.

The Lions kicked off Week 12 on Thursday afternoon in their 68th straight annual Thanksgiving Day game. They hosted the AFC-leading Texans, fresh off of their 43-point performance against the Jaguars just four days earlier. It was Detroit, however, who got out to a fast start at home as Mikel Leshoure scored a rushing touchdown on their first drive. It was the first 1st quarter rushing TD for the Lions since 2010 and just their second offensive touchdown in the 1st quarter this year. It was also the first rushing touchdown the Texans had allowed all season and the first time Detroit scored an opening-drive TD all year. So they had that to be thankful for.

The lead would not remain, however, and the Lions lost their ninth straight Thanksgiving Day game, 34-31, in overtime. That is good for the longest losing streak on Thanksgiving all-time. Entering the game, teams playing four days after an overtime game since 1987 were 4-13, but the Texans won anyway. Calvin Johnson became the seventh player in NFL history with 7,000 receiving yards in his first six seasons. With a Joique Bell touchdown run in the 4th quarter, the Lions now lead the league with 16 offensive 4th quarter touchdowns this season. With wins in their last two, the Texans improved to 3-7 all-time in overtime games after starting 1-7 in their short history. With 188 yards on Thursday, Andre Johnson now has 461 in his past two contests, the most in consecutive games in NFL history, according to Elias. The overtime period featured two turnovers and two missed field goals before Houston won it. The winning field goal was the first time they led all day. The Texans became the first team ever to win two overtime games in a five-day span.

The other yearly participant, the Cowboys hosted the Redskins in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. Like the Lions, Dallas dropped their annual contest to the Redskins 38-31. They did, however, come back from down 35-13 in the 4th quarter to make it close. With the loss, Dallas fell to 0-14 in their history when trailing by 25 points or more at the half. It was Tony Romo‘s first career home loss in the month of November (14-1) and his first ever loss on Thanksgiving (5-1). Washington was victorious on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1973 and won their first ever game against their division rivals on Turkey Day. Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns in his first career Thanksgiving Day game.

On Thanksgiving Night, the Jets hosted the Patriots and were thankful when it ended as their division rivals hammered them 49-19. Julian Edelman scored two more touchdowns to bring his total to four in his past two games, which equals his total in his first 45 career games. He became the fourth player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD and fumble return TD in the same season. In the 2nd quarter, New England scored three touchdowns in 53 seconds, becoming the third team since 1970 to accomplish that, according to Elias. In their past two games, the Patriots have combined for 108 points, which is good for the third-highest two-game stretch in history. Also, the win guaranteed that the 8-3 Pats would be the only team to finish .500 or better in each of the last 12 seasons. Tom Brady threw three TD passes, extending his streak to 43 straight games with at least one.

With a chance to win their sixth straight, the Bucs took on the NFC-leading Falcons at home. Despite three Connor Barth field goals and two Atlanta turnovers, Tampa fell to their NFC South rivals, 24-23. The Bucs had a chance to win six straight games for the first time since their championship season in 2002. In the loss, rookie running back Doug Martin became the first Buccaneers player with 1,000 rushing yards and 9+ rushing touchdowns since 1995. Though they are 9-1, seven of those wins for Atlanta have come by seven points or less.

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Pour Me Some Henne: Week 11 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Jaguars QB Chad Henne had a career day on Sunday, throwing for 354 yards, four TD’s and no interceptions in place of Blaine Gabbert.

In the last week of football before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for first-time starters, for 59 points, for favorites holding on for their lives in overtime thrillers and for not being a Cardinals fan. I wasn’t as thankful for the Thursday Night game though.

The Bills and Dolphins kicked things off in a lackluster matchup of sub-.500 teams on Thursday Night Football with the Bills getting the win, 19-14. They did so without scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2007. Marcus Thigpen became the first Dolphin to ever return a kick and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. The Bills had a punt return TD and a fumble recovery in the same game for the seventh time since 2001 and improved to 6-1 in those games. Only seven points were scored in the 2nd half with Miami getting a 4th quarter touchdown.

Sunday was a much better day, which we learned early on with three of the early eight having exciting finishes in overtime. The Texans held on for their lives as the 1-9 Jaguars gave them all they could handle in a crazy 43-37 overtime game. Matt Schaub went off for 527 yards and five touchdowns in the win – both were career highs for him and the 527 passing yards were good for the 2nd-most in a game in NFL history. Andre Johnson caught 14 balls for 273 yards and a 48-yard touchdown to win the game in overtime. Seven of his catches came in the 1st half for 132 yards. His 273 total yards marked the most in a game by a wide receiver since Terrell Owens had 283 in 2000. Houston had been down by 14 in the 4th quarter before rallying to force overtime.

Though they did make it quite a game, the Jags have now lost seven in a row after blowing a chance to salvage their season in the spoiler role. Their offense was resurrected after starter Blaine Gabbert went down and backup Chad Henne replaced him. Henne ended up throwing for 354 yards and a career-high four touchdowns – the first time a quarterback has thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions off the bench since Steve Young did it in 1987. Henne also extended the game with a conversion on 4th & 10 in overtime. He entered the day with four total TD passes in his last five starts. Rookie receiver Justin Blackmon finally had a day worthy of a top-10 draft pick, catching seven balls for 236 yards and a touchdown. His highest yards total coming into the day was 67. His 81-yard TD catch was also good for the 2nd-longest in Jacksonville history behind Troy Edwards, who caught one from 84 yards out in 2003. With another one on Sunday, Cecil Shorts became the first player this season with four touchdown catches of 35 yards or more.

The game was only the second in NFL history to feature two 200-yard receivers. Should the Jags have been able to upset the Texans, it would have been the first time since 1985 that a team with a record of 1-8 or worse had beaten a team with a record of 8-1 or better.  Wow, that was a lot. And that’s only just the first game.

Andre Johnson caught the winning touchdown in overtime and then jumped into the crowd following Houston’s thrilling 43-37 win.

In Carolina, the Bucs came back from 21-10 down in the 2nd half to beat the Panthers 27-21 in overtime on a Josh Freeman touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. Vincent Jackson caught a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with 12 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. Rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 138 yards and a TD and recorded his sixth straight game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Tampa Bay and their fourth in a row.

In the final overtime game, the Cowboys came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Browns, 23-20 in overtime. A late touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Benjamin Watson gave the Cowboys the ball back with too much time on the clock and they kicked a field goal to send it to overtime. Cleveland hasn’t won in Dallas since 1993. The comeback marked just the second time in Cowboys history that they have won a game they trailed by 13 points at the half. In a shocking twist, Tony Romo has not thrown an interception in any of his last three games (2-1). All three overtime losers blew double-digit leads.

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