Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Season In Review: 32 Storylines From The 2012 NFL Regular Season 0

Posted on January 03, 2013 by Andy Larmand

It’s been a good one and I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say we’re all sad to see it go, but the 2012 NFL season has provided us with exciting finishes, triumphant record-breaking performances, comebacks, winning streaks, losing streaks and of course, replacement officials. Disappointments, pleasant surprises, rookies leading their teams to the playoffs and unspeakable tragedy have all left their marks on the past 17 weeks as well.

Here are 32 of the biggest stories – one about each team – from the 2012 regular season of NFL football.

Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Flew into a wall: Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11, 4th in NFC West): Normally, when you lose nine games in a row, that’s the biggest story of the year. That was not the case for the Arizona Cardinals this year, however. Following the rib injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb in Week 6, things went from bad to worse in the desert as the Cards spiraled from a 4-0 first place team all the way to the bottom of the NFC West. Arizona’s quarterbacks, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, were three big reasons why. In that time frame, they combined to go 1-9 and throw 18 interceptions to just three touchdowns. A five-game stretch even resulted in Lindley throwing more touchdowns to opposing teams via interception returns (four) than he threw to his own receivers (zero). A few of the trio’s passing highs included 74, 72 and 64 yards. It probably didn’t help that All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had just 20 catches for 213 yards and no touchdowns in the final seven games of the season. Either they will trust that Kolb will return healthy next season or one would think they spend their first-round pick this spring on a competent quarterback. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the team on ‘Black Monday.’

Atlanta Falcons (13-3, 1st in NFC South): The Falcons went 13-3 in 2012 and locked up their second straight No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but that’s not really news – at least not until they actually do something in the playoffs. Matt Ryan improved his home record to 33-4 in five NFL seasons, but that wasn’t even the biggest thing, in my opinion. For the sixth consecutive season, Roddy White played in all 16 games (hasn’t missed a game in his eight-year career) and put up what would seem like Pro Bowl worthy numbers. He did not make it, however, but teammate Julio Jones did. White had 13 more catches and 153 more yards than Jones on the season. Interesting. In fact, White has finished out of the top 10 in receiving yards just once in the last six seasons (2009). In the last six seasons, he has ended up ninth, eighth, second, 13th, fourth and eighth in the NFL in receiving. He has gone to just three Pro Bowls, however, including one due to an injury of another player. The biggest story out of Atlanta this season may just be the fact that one of the most productive receivers in the league from year to year was snubbed from the Pro Bowl after once again bringing that consistent level of exceptional play. Should he be mad? Yes.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6, 1st in AFC North): It was kind of a tale of two seasons for the AFC North champion Ravens. They began the year 9-2 and were in the driver’s seat in the division as well as in good position in the hunt for a first-round bye. Then came injuries, however. Already without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Terrell Suggs, All-Pro Ray Lewis tore his triceps in Week 6 and was out for the rest of the regular season. In Week 7 against Houston, Suggs would return. Their success in the last few seasons shows the importance of those two players to the team. As if the Lewis wasn’t bad enough, cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL in the same game and he, too, was lost for the year. Lewis is slated to make his return this weekend, but without these three players all on the field in the second half of the year, Baltimore went from a 9-2 team to one with an average 10-6 record. Should they face an early exit in the playoffs, these injuries will have likely given them their death sentence as the up-and-down offense can’t really be counted on.

Buffalo Bills (6-10, 4th in AFC East): As one of the most disappointing teams of 2012, the Buffalo Bills were projected by some to be contenders in the AFC East and perhaps even make the playoffs. That illusion was quickly lost, however, after the team began the year with a 3-6 start, including a 48-28 loss to the Jets on Opening Day. They finished 6-10 at the bottom of the division for the fifth straight year. Buffalo has missed the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons. Of the six teams that they did beat on the year (the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets), not one of them had a winning record. In fact, they had a combined record of 27-69. The defense, which was supposed to be solid with the addition of Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus in his second year, gave up 45-plus points four times on the season as the Bills finished 31st in the league in rush yards against, allowing 145.8 per game. C.J. Spiller did have a solid season as he finished eighth in the league with 1,244 rushing yards, but a knee injury to Fred Jackson really ended up hurting the offense, which finished 19th in the league in total yards. Buffalo fired head coach Chan Gailey on Monday.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Carolina Panthers (7-9, 2nd in NFC South): For the third straight year the Panthers finished under .500, but for the second straight year they had a dynamic rookie on the field with them. As the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, linebacker Luke Kuechly not only led the team in tackles, but he led the entire league. He finished the season with 164 while also picking off two passes, recovering three fumbles and deflecting eight passes for the 10th-ranked defense in Carolina. He was not selected to the Pro Bowl, however. Kuechly was so impressive that he may have even slightly overshadowed the sophomore season of Cam Newton, who was just the third quarterback ever to lead his team in rushing yards in a season. With the two of them as their foundation, the future looks bright in Carolina if they can build around them. They could return to the playoffs as early as next year for the first time since 2008.

Chicago Bears (10-6, 3rd in NFC North): You can have a good beginning. And you can have a good end. But if you don’t have a good middle, most of the time, success is not on the horizon. The Chicago Bears found this out the hard way in 2012 as they became just the second team since 1990 (out of 53) to miss the playoffs after starting a season 7-1. Unfortunately for them, they lost five of their next six before finishing the season with two straight wins, but by then, it was too late. Jay Cutler‘s injury had a bit to do with it, but ultimately the offense they put out on the field could not get it done in the second half of the year as they averaged just 17.3 points per game in the final eight weeks of the season. Chicago has now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons with their only playoff run ending in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual champion Packers two years ago. Head coach Lovie Smith was fired on Monday in a very surprising move that could ultimately result in more bad than good for the team.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, 2nd in AFC North): The Bengals are going to the playoffs for the seconds straight year behind their talented second-year playmakers Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Green really made a leap in his second year as he finished 10th in the league in receiving yards (1,350), tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (11) and seventh in receptions (97) while making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He even had a stretch early in the season in which he caught a touchdown pass in nine consecutive games. His 84.4 yards per game also cracked the top 10 in the league. As the team’s biggest name on the offense, Green continued to put up monster numbers even when drawing the best coverage schemes from opposing defenses. His 164 targets in 2012 were tied for fifth in the league behind five of the best receivers of this generation. Green came up seven catches shy of breaking the record for the most receptions by a player in his first two NFL seasons as Cincy opted to rest most of its starters in their season finale. He has a chance to be the most productive receiver in Ohio since Chad Johnson.

Cleveland Browns (5-11, 4th in AFC North): In a backfield that featured two rookie starters in quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns were not able to avoid a second straight last place finish in the AFC North, but did win one more game than they did last year (four) if that’s any consolation. Richardson broke Jim Brown‘s franchise record for most rushing yards in a season by a rookie with 950 and also scored 12 total touchdowns. He started every game he appeared in and went over 100 yards three times before being forced to miss the team’s final game with an ankle injury. Weeden also missed the season finale with a shoulder injury. In 15 games at quarterback, he was 297-of-517 passing for 3,385 yards and threw 14 touchdowns. If both of them can come back healthy next year and the Browns can put some other pieces of the puzzle together, they look to be able to contend in the tough AFC North in 2013. Head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert were both fired by the team on Monday.

Read the rest of this entry →

Peterson Comes Up Just Short, Cowboys Miss Playoffs: Week 17 Storylines 0

Posted on January 01, 2013 by Andy Larmand

The final week of the 2012 NFL season was just as good as the first 16 were. With 16 division matchups on the schedule, it had it all: shutouts, blowouts, third-string quarterbacks, elimination games, records being chased and of course another opportunity for Tony Romo to choke. (He did). For the last time in 2012, your storylines from the week that was in pro football.

Eight would have been great: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson came up eight yards shy of tying the single-season rushing record, but his Vikings are heading to the playoffs.

Eight would have been great: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson came up eight yards shy of tying the single-season rushing record, but his Vikings are heading to the playoffs.

Adrian Peterson came within eight yards of tying and nine of breaking the NFL single-season rushing record, but with time running out in the game, Blair Walsh kicked a 29-yard field goal to break the tie  and send the Vikings to the playoffs, ending Peterson’s regular season. Minnesota defeated the Packers, 37-34, for their first win against their division rivals since 2009. The loss also ended Green Bay’s 12-game division winning streak. Peterson did become just the seventh running back to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season as he concluded the regular season with 2,097 yards on the ground. The Packers had won nine straight regular season finales before the loss. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns in a game for the fourth time this year, including two to Greg Jennings. Walsh added to his NFL record with his 10th field goal of 50-plus yards on the season. Peterson finished the season with seven 150-plus rushing games, tying the NFL record. Minnesota has made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Packers, who finished the regular season at 11-5 and the Vikings, who finished 10-6, will play each other on Saturday in the Wild Card round.

The good news: the Colts won their regular season finale. The great news: Chuck Pagano was back on the sidelines to coach it. J.J. Watt failed to get any sacks and finished two shy of the NFL single-season record as the Texans lost to the Colts to fall all the way to the third seed in the AFC, missing the bye they had been in position for all season long. Watt finished with 20.5 sacks on the year. Houston has never won at Indianapolis – now 0-11 all-time with the 28-16 loss on Sunday. A career-long 70-yard TD pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton on 3rd & 23 all but sealed the win for the Colts. Deji Karim returned a second-half kickoff 101 yards for Indy, their longest return since 1973. Andre Johnson tied the career record of 10-reception games set by Wes Welker last week with the 18th of his career. Reggie Wayne now has at least three catches in 64 straight games, extending his NFL record. The Colts became the seventh team to improve by nine wins in just one year, going from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012. Houston finished 12-4 after losing three of its last four games and will host the Bengals in the Wild Card round, while the Colts will travel to Baltimore.

The Chicago Bears have made a little history of their own as they became just the second team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after starting the season with a 7-1 record despite beating the Lions, 26-24, in Detroit and finishing with a 10-6 record. They have now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. Matt Forte did rush for 1,000 yards for the third time in his career. The Lions finished a disappointing 4-12, but Matthew Stafford shattered the previous record of 691 pass attempts in a season and finished with 727. Calvin Johnson caught five balls for 72 yards and came up 36 yards short of the first ever 2,000-yard receiving season. It broke his streak of eight straight 100-yard receiving games and four straight 10-catch games, which were both NFL records. He finished the season with an NFL record 1,964 receiving yards. Chicago fired head coach Lovie Smith on Monday after a 3-5 end to the year and that has apparently prompted kick returner Devin Hester to consider retirement.

Read the rest of this entry →

The Best Individual Performances in Super Bowl History: 30-21 0

Posted on February 02, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Santonio Holmes capped off an MVP performance with a game-winning grab in Super Bowl XLIII.

This is Part 3 of the 50 Greatest Individual Performances in Super Bowl History.

In today’s section, we take a look at performances 30 through 21:

30. Troy Aikman-Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys, XXVII

Aikman had the fourth highest-rated quarterback performance in Super Bowl history, a 140.7 rating, as he completed 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and threw four touchdowns in the Cowboys’ 52-17 blowout of the Buffalo Bills.

Aikman also rushed for 28 yards, more than Bills running back Thurman Thomas who ran for only 19 yards.

29. Jack Lambert-Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers, XIV
The most memorable in Lambert’s Super Bowl career occurred in Super Bowl X when he threw Cowboys safety Cliff Harris after Harris taunted Steelers kicker Roy Gerela for missing a field goal.

However, his best performance came in Super Bowl XIV when Lambert made 14 tackles, 10 of them solo, and made an interception when the Los Angeles Rams were at the Pittsburgh 32-yard-line, to preserve a 24-19 lead which the Steelers increased following the interception to come away with a 31-19 win.

Lambert had 14 tackles in that Super Bowl X, but what makes this performance greater is fellow linebacker Jack Ham was injured and did not play against the Rams.

28. Kurt Warner-Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals, XLIII

Warner has the three highest passing totals in Super Bowl history, with his effort in Super Bowl XLIII for the Arizona Cardinals being the second highest as he threw for 377 yards on 31 of 43 passes and threw three touchdowns on the league’s best defense in 2008.

Down 20-7 in the fourth quarter, Warner completed 13 of 17 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns as the Cardinals took a 23-20 lead with 2:47 to go when Warner found Larry Fitzgerald for a 64-yard touchdown.

However, the Cardinals gave up a touchdown and Warner fumbled the ball on their last offensive possession as Arizona fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: Eagles Stop Smith and the Cowboys 2

Posted on December 08, 2010 by A.J. Foss

One of the most memorable moments in the 2009 NFL season was the Indianapolis Colts scoring a last-second touchdown to pull out a 35-34 victory against the New England Patriots after the Patriots were stopped on 4th-and-2 at their own 28-yard-line, despite holding a six-point lead  with about two minutes to play.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s decision to go for the first down in this game was reminiscent of former Cowboys head coach Barry Switzer’s gamble to go for a first down in his team’s own territory with the game tied in the final minutes of a December showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The former Oklahoma head coach became head coach of the Cowboys following the departure of Jimmy Johnson after the 1993 season.

Johnson had led the Cowboys from a 1-15 season in his first year in Dallas to two straight Super Bowl titles, behind the famed “Triplets”; quarterback Troy Aikman, wide receiver Michael Irvin, and running back Emmitt Smith.

In Switzer’s first season, the Cowboys finished with a 12-4 record but were knocked off by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

In 1995, the Cowboys jumped out to an 8-1 start before being humiliated by the 49ers 38-20 in Dallas, leading owner Jerry Jones to come out and say that the team was outcoached.

The Cowboys would win the next two games before dropping another home game, this time against the Washington Redskins, as they entered their late-season showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Under first-year head coach Ray Rhodes, the Eagles had complied a 8-5 record entering this game,  but had gone 7-2 ever since Rhodes had benched starting quarterback Randall Cunningham and replaced with veteran backup Rodney Peete.

Still, Rhodes played the “no respect” card for the Eagles as they hosted the Cowboys on a 13-degree afternoon in Veterans stadium, with a wind chill of minus seven degrees. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: High Scoring Cowboys Edge Redskins in 1999 Opener 1

Posted on September 08, 2010 by A.J. Foss

The consensus is that the best rivalry in the National Football League is between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.

For the past 40 years, the Cowboys and the Redskins have staged many memorable games in their annual quest to be the best in the NFC East.  One of those memorable games occurred on the opening day of the 1999 NFL season when the Cowboys came back from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to knock off the Redskins 41-35 in Washington D.C.

This opening day was supposed to be special for Washington as it was the first regular season game with Daniel Snyder as owner of the Redskins after he bought the team in May 1999 for $800 million.

Despite the fact they had finished 6-10 the year before, expectations were high for the Redskins as they had acquired quarterback Brad Johnson from the Minnesota Vikings for three draft picks.

While the Redskins seemed to be on the rise, the Dallas Cowboys had the look of an aging dynasty. In 1998, the Cowboys won the NFC East under first year head coach Chan Gailey but were stunned at home by the Arizona Cardinals 20-7 in their Wild Card playoff game.

Dallas had major off-the-field issues during the offseason as offensive tackle Mark Tuinei died of a drug overdose and defensive tackle Leon Lett was suspended for the entire season because of drug use. Read the rest of this entry →

Hall-of-Fame Induction is Pinnacle of Legendary Career for Cowboys’ Emmitt Smith 6

Posted on August 05, 2010 by Chris Kent

On April 22, 1990 – after the Dallas Cowboys selected him with their first-round pick in the National Football League Draft – Emmitt James Smith III arrived in Dallas for the first time ever as a Cowboy wearing a brown and yellow jump suit with polka dots. Smith, the 17th pick overall, wore the same thing at his introductory press conference. Soon, the legendary running back will be wearing the famous gold jacket.

Can you say extreme makeover? Absolutely. Smith’s attire has not been to shabby since that polka-dotted jump suit. Outfits such as the uniform of America’s Team, striped suit coats at press conferences, and his silky smooth green sleeveless shirt he wore on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars have dotted his wardrobe over the last 20 years. However, the gold jacket is in a class by itself.

In coming full circle, Smith has earned much respect for his on and off-the-field achievements. The National Football League’s all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards, Smith is on the doorstep of football immortality with only the formal and official festivities left to secure his place in history.

Smith displays his new jersey while decked out in his polka dotted jump suit at his first press conference in Dallas in 1990.

Smith is one of seven players, the maximum allowed in one year, that will be inducted into The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Saturday Aug. 7 in a ceremony starting at 7 pm EST. Smith joins Jerry Rice, John Randle, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, Dick Lebeau, and Floyd Little in making up the Class of 2010. Smith and Rice are both first-ballot inductees while Lebeau and Little were elected as senior committee nominees.

Smith’s journey to football’s ultimate honor started with some bold aspirations. Heading into his rookie year in Dallas, Smith made a list of goals he wanted to achieve during his pro career. Among things like leading the team in rushing and being a pro-bowl player, Smith also stated that he desired to become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.

Considering he stated this just two weeks after being drafted, before he had signed a contract, before he had ever been in an NFL training camp, and before he had ever touched the ball as a pro, he had his critics. Yet Smith had heard criticism before. NFL head coaches, scouts, personnel directors, and pro football media people did not have him rated as the best running back available heading into the draft. They claimed he lacked speed, was too short, too small, and not strong enough for the pro game. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Follow Us Online

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • SportsNation Pick!


    Sports Then and Now was very proud to be selected as ESPN's SportsNation Site of the Day on January 28, 2010! Click here to check out the video!
  • Sign up for Email Updates

    Sign-up to get daily updates of all the great articles and information on Sports Then and Now.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  • OnlineGambling.com has built an odds calculator that will help you work out the best odds for your sports betting needs.

    Gear up for your next trip with new North Face Backpacks from SportsUnlimited.com. Shop great Field Hockey Sticks from Grays & Gryphon.

    Affordable Satellite TV Great prices on Dish network packages.

  • Weekly Poll

    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
  • Post Categories



↑ Top