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Sports Then and Now



NFL Classic Rewind: Pats End Orange Bowl Jinx To Advance to First Super Bowl 36

Posted on September 08, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1985, the New England Patriots pulled off one of the most shocking runs to the Super Bowl as they won three straight road games in the postseason to win the AFC Championship.

The third and final road victory was a 31-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game that not only clinched the Patriots their first Super Bowl berth, but was the first time the Patriots defeated the Dolphins in their home stadium, the Orange Bowl.

The 1985 season was the first full season for head coach Raymond Berry, who had taken the head coaching reins midway through the 1984 season after Ron Meyer was fired because of a rift between Meyer and the players.

The Patriots got off to a slow start in 1985 as they dropped three of their first five games for a 2-3 record.

But after Steve Grogan replaced starting quarterback Tony Eason who separated his shoulder in the sixth game, New England went on a six-game winning streak until Grogan broke his leg in an overtime loss to the New York Jets in the twelfth game of the season.

Eason once again became the starter and helped New England to wins in three of their last four games to finish the season with an 11-5 record and a Wild Card playoff berth. Read the rest of this entry →

Best Quarterbacks in NFL History: Where Does Favre Rank? 8

Posted on December 27, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Where does Brett Favre rank among the top quarterbacks in NFL history?

Now that it appears Brett Favre’s 20-year NFL career is finally in its last stages, it provides an opportunity to analyze where the gunslinger ranks among the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

There have been many superstar quarterbacks who fall short when selecting the all-time greats because while they may have posted excellent career numbers, they never measurably made their team better.

The best quarterbacks make an average team good, a good team great and a great team into a champion.

Trying to analyze the value Favre brought to the Packers and recently to the Jets and Vikings can be challenging. Given his tendency for risk taking and the subsequent risk-reward results, did Favre make average teams perform at a higher level than they would have otherwise or did he make key mistakes at inopportune times that kept great Packer and Vikings teams from going as far as they maybe would have had he not been such a gunslinger?

During his 19 years as a starting quarterback, Favre has led his team to at least eight victories 17 times and to double digit win totals 10 times. However, Favre has a 2-3 record in NFC Championship Games and late interceptions cost his team in each of his last two trips to the conference title game.

Favre will retire as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards, pass attempts, pass completions, touchdown passes, passes intercepted and times sacked. However, he ranks only 17th in completion percentage and 21st in passer rating. So, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between how great he has been and how many of his records are purely a result of his longevity.

Since the game of football and the quarterback position have evolved so dramatically from the early days of the NFL, for the purpose of creating this list, I have included quarterbacks whose primary careers occurred after 1955. There is no question that Sammy Baugh, Otto Graham and Sid Luckman deserve to be recognized as among the best quarterbacks of all-time, but to try and thoughtfully compare their careers to those of today’s stars in virtually impossible.

Because quarterback stats have increased so dramatically even during the last 55 years, using just single season or career stats to analyze all-time greatness isn’t really an accurate assessment of where a player ranks among the best of all-time. Other qualities such as team success, comparison to others from that particular era and quality of the skill position players around the quarterback also can be used to chronicle success.

Below is my take on the top 10 quarterbacks in NFL history. In general, the selections are not significantly different than those listed in many other all-time quarterback lists.  Rather, there are some differences in my order than on other lists. If you have an opinion, please feel free to provide your own top 10. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: Marino Out-Guns Bledsoe in Return From Achilles Injury 1

Posted on September 30, 2010 by A.J. Foss

Going into the 1994 NFL season, many pro football experts and Miami Dolphins fans were skeptical that legendary quarterback Dan Marino could return to his old brilliant self.

In the fifth game of the 1993 season, Marino tore his Achilles tendon on a play in which he was not even touched.

Marino missed the rest of the season as the Dolphins finished with a 9-7  record and failed to make the playoffs.

Even though the tendon was healed by the time training camp began for the 1994 season, it did not appear that Marino was ready.

Not only did Marino have to wear a special shoe for the foot in which he tore his Achilles tendon, his right calf was atrophied, further limiting his already lack of mobility.

To make things worse, Marino completed only four of 12 passes for 37 yards and threw two interceptions during his playing team in the Dolphins’ four preseason games.

While the future looked bleak for Marino, the sky was the limit for the Patriots’ quarterback, 22-year old Drew Bledsoe.

Bledsoe had been selected as the #1 overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft by the Patriots and started 12 games in the 1993 season as he threw for 2494 yards and 15 touchdowns to comply a 5-7 record in the games he started. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: Aerial Show At The Meadowlands 2

Posted on October 31, 2009 by Dean Hybl

Each week, Sports Then and Now picks one NFL matchup and looks through the history books to find an intriguing past meeting between the two teams. We recap the game and hopefully help reintroduce (or introduce for you younger readers) you to some of the greats (and in some cases not so greats) from the history of professional football.

As rivals in the AFC East, the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets have played some memorable games through the years.

Many of those memorable games, including the game we will feature, included Dan Marino firing passes for the Dolphins.

In 30 career games against the Jets, Marino connected on 58.3% of his passes for 8,651 yards and 72 touchdowns. Those numbers are by far the most of his career against an individual opponent.

Marino passed for 521 yards and three touchdowns in a 1988 game against the Jets, but also had five interceptions as the Jets won 44-30.

The two squads have met in the playoffs only once, with Miami posting a 14-0 shutout in the 1982 AFC Championship Game.

Our Classic Rewind looks at a matchup in 1986 when both Dan Marino and fellow member of the 1983 quarterback class Ken O’Brien were both at the top of their games. The result was an offensive explosion that still ranks among the greatest in NFL history.
Read the rest of this entry →

Times Have Changed For Rookie Quarterbacks 1

Posted on September 17, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Matt Stafford passed for 205 yards and three interceptions in his debut for the Detroit Lions.

Matt Stafford passed for 205 yards and three interceptions in his debut for the Detroit Lions.

There was a time in the not so distant past when the biggest things a rookie NFL quarterback had to worry about on game day were wearing a cool baseball cap and keeping track of his clipboard.

Current rookies Matt Stafford and Mark Sanchez are just the latest reminder that times have certainly changed, at least for top draft picks.

Instead of carrying clipboards and wearing baseball caps, highly drafted rookie quarterbacks today don’t usually have to wait long before getting a chance to show their stuff.

In the last two seasons, four of the five quarterbacks taken in the first round started the opening game of their rookie season. Only Josh Freeman of Tampa Bay, who was the third quarterback for the Bucs in their 2009 opener against Dallas, wasn’t under center from the beginning of his career.
Read the rest of this entry →

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      Cuba is known for producing great baseball talent and there has arguably been no one from the island better than the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

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