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Dallas and Green Bay Take Centerstage Today in Rematch of 2016 Playoff Thriller 0

Posted on October 08, 2017 by Chris Kent

Call it a rematch.

The Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers in week five of the NFL season today. While revenge will be the intent of the Cowboys, the Packers will be looking for their third straight win and with it claim early season supremacy over their NFC brethren.

Green Bay’s 34-31 win over Dallas in last season’s NFC divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium – AKA Jerry World – ended the Cowboys unexpected storybook season at 13-4. Dallas won the NFC East for the second time in three years, buoyed by a franchise-record 11-game winning streak. While the Cowboys were in control of their eventual division championship throughout the season, their season came to an abrupt end when Aaron Rodgers worked his late-game magic with a one-of-a-kind throw that has been firmly entrenched in the storied lore of this matchup.

Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on this clutch play in last's year's dramatic playoff win over Dallas.

Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook connected on this clutch play in last’s year’s dramatic playoff win over Dallas.

Facing third-and-20 from his own 32-yard line with 12 seconds left to play, Rodgers rolled out of the pocket to his left and spotted tight end Jared Cook running toward the side line. Rodgers fired a long pass to Cook who caught it while bending at the knees and dragging the tips of his two feet inbounds before falling out of bounds. Three seconds remained which then ticked away as Mason Crosby drilled a 51-yard field goal to send the Packers to the NFC Championship game and Dallas into the offseason one-and-done. It was a bitter defeat for the Cowboys and their fans who have waited nearly nine months for the two teams to meet again.

The defeat was even more deflating for Dallas when you consider that the game was full of drama, something the Cowboys’ franchise has always been known for. Dallas went up 3-0 – its’ only lead of the game – at the 11:28 mark of the first quarter before Green Bay scored 21 unanswered points to take a 21-3 lead with 8:14 left in the second quarter. Playing from behind nearly the whole game – a position they were rarely in the whole season – the Cowboys were taken out of their normal comfort zone. The Packers lead 21-13 at halftime.

Rodgers three-yard touchdown pass to Cook gave Green Bay a 28-13 lead early in the third quarter, a score which remained entering the fourth quarter. Dallas continued its’ rally by scoring consecutive touchdowns 7:31 apart in the fourth. The second one came when Dak Prescott connected with Dez Bryant on a seven-yard scoring play. Prescott’s two-yard run provided the two-point conversion and the game was tied 28-28.

The Packers retaliated on their ensuing drive with Crosby’s 56-yard field goal putting Green Bay up 31-28. That left the Cowboys with 1:33 following the ensuing kickoff. Prescott took Dallas on a 6-play 47-yard drive in 58 seconds to set up Dan Bailey’s 52-yard field goal knotting the score at 31 apiece. There were still 35 seconds left and Rodgers used it to put the Packers in position to win it behind his now legendary play.

Rodgers finished the game 28-for-43 for 355 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while compiling a 96.6 quarterback rating. Prescott, in his first career playoff game, was 24-for-38 for 302 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception, and had a 103.2 QBR. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott – who lead the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards during the 2016 regular season – ran 22 times for 125 yards. Mistakes were relatively even as each team had one turnover while the Cowboys had a slight 3-2 edge in sacks. Read the rest of this entry →

Will This Finally Be the Year for Jerry Kramer? 5

Posted on August 26, 2017 by Dean Hybl
Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

Jerry Kramer (#64) should join his teammate Paul Hornung (#5) in the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2018.

In 1969, former Green Bay Packers offensive lineman Jerry Kramer was selected as the greatest offensive lineman of the first 50 years of the NFL. Unless the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee commits a true travesty next February, Kramer will finally be selected to the Hall of Fame as the NFL completes its 98th season.

Much has been written on this site and in many others over the years about how ridiculous it was that Kramer continued to be overlooked for the Hall of Fame. After retiring from the NFL in 1968, Kramer was first a finalist for the HOF in 1974 and was a regular selection finalist nine times between 1974 and 1987 and was also a senior finalist in 1997.

Each time, Kramer failed to the necessary support from the selection committee to earn enshrinement.

Over time, it went from Kramer being an obvious pick, to a theory that there were already a large number of 1960s Packers to in recent year’s disbelief at some of the players and contributors earning induction while Kramer continued to be on the outside.

It has gotten over the last decade to the point where almost every list that looks at potential Hall of Fame candidates listed Kramer as the most deserving player not currently enshrined.

Yet, since 2010 there have been a number of “head scratching” selections, especially among senior candidates (players retired 25 years or more). None of the senior players selected since 2010 were members of the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Time team or had played on more than three NFL Championship teams. Read the rest of this entry →

2016 NFL Preview: Will Defense Rule Again? 0

Posted on September 05, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Few would be surprised if the NFC Championship again comes down to the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals.

Few would be surprised if the NFC Championship again comes down to the Carolina Panthers against the Arizona Cardinals.

Despite all the talk that an NFL team must have a top-level quarterback and offense to be competitive, the reality is that 11 of the 12 playoff teams in 2015 (all except for the Washington Redskins) ranked in the top half of the league in scoring defense.

The Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos were especially reliant on their defense as they finished 19th in the NFL in scoring offense, but allowed the fourth fewest points in the league.

Whether the Broncos can repeat that pattern in 2016 will certainly be put to the test as their offense could struggle. With Peyton Manning making TV commercials (and cupcakes) and Brock Osweiler off to the Houston Texans, the Broncos are giving the quarterback duties to former 7th round pick Trevor Siemian, who has played in one NFL regular season game and is yet to throw a pass in an official game.

The defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers also had a great defense in 2015 (ranked 6th in points allowed), but they also had the best quarterback in the league and scored an NFL-best 500 points. If Cam Newton continues to play at an MVP level and the defense can overcome the loss of All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, look for them to again be the team to beat in the NFC.

Below are five additional interesting storylines to follow in 2016:

Has the Window Closed for the Green Bay Packers?
Since winning Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season, the Green Bay Packers have made five straight playoff appearances, including a 10-6 record a year ago. However, with the exception of the 2014 season when they had the Seattle Seahawks on the ropes in the NFC Championship Game, they have been unable to get past the divisional playoff round.

With 32-year-old quarterback Aaron Rodgers entering his ninth season as the starter and other key veterans closing in on the latter stages of their careers, the Packers may be nearing the point where their chances to win another championship in the near future are narrowing.

There was a time when it seemed that Rodgers had his pick of great offensive weapons. However, last season the preseason loss of Jordy Nelson exposed a lack of receiver depth and Rodgers seemed to be a victim. He posted the lowest completion percentage of his career and the fewest passing yards of any full season since he became the starter in 2008. His 92.7 quarterback rating was also the lowest of his career.

After being sacked only 28 times in 2014, Rodgers hit the dirt 46 times a year ago, which could have contributed to his struggles. It will be crucial for the Packers to shore up the offensive line and give Rodgers more time to work his magic.

With Nelson back this season and Eddie Lacy looking for a rebound season after struggling with his weight a year ago, it will be interesting to see if Rodgers returns to the top of the league statistically or if he will continue a slight decline.

Last year the Green Bay defense ranked 12th in points allowed, sixth in passing defense and 21st in rushing defense. While Green Bay’s success is generally dependent on Rodgers and the offense, they will go only so far if the defense struggles.

Will the Cincinnati Bengals Ever Win a Playoff Game?
The Cincinnati Bengals have reached the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, including the last five in a row. However, each trip has concluded with a loss in the wild card round and most of the losses haven’t even been close. Read the rest of this entry →

Brett Favre – All-Time Passing Yards Leader 0

Posted on October 27, 2015 by Tony Samboras
Though Peyton Manning is closing quickly, Brett Favre is currently the NFL's career leader for passing yards.

Though Peyton Manning is closing quickly, Brett Favre is currently the NFL’s career leader for passing yards.

In your quest to find a reliable betting strategy, you will be best served to look for betting systems that work over a long period of time. In the NFL, that is not an easy thing to do given the likelihood of major injuries and inconsistent play from the stars of the game. Consistency is always the key when selecting a betting strategy from a short list of betting systems that work.

The value of consistency can best be represented by looking at the football career of quarterback Brett Favre. He currently sits at the top of the list for career passing yards (71,838) with Peyton Manning zeroing in on the record with 71,215 yards. Favre also sits in second position for career touchdown passes with 508, second only to Manning’s amazing 537.

Brett Favre was drafted as the third pick in the second round by the Atlanta Falcons on 1991. He was anything but a darling to Falcons Head Coach Jerry Glanville who claimed from the beginning that Favre would just rot on the bench before he would ever play him. Of course, Favre did himself no favors when he threw four passes as a Falcon for zero completions and two interceptions, of which one was returned for a touchdown.

In the off-season, the Green Bay Packers saw Favre as the best alternative to its QB problems when compared to players available in the 1992 draft. They traded the team’s number one pick (19th overall) to acquire the man who would go on to become a legend in Green Bay.

As a testament to his durability and consistency, Favre played in 255 straight games for the Packers between 1992 and 2007. He then went on to play 16 straight for the New York Jets in 2008 and 29 straight with the Minnesota Vikings between 2009 and 2010 before succumbing to injury and retirement. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering the NFL Minister of Defense Reggie White 1

Posted on October 12, 2015 by Mike Raffone

Minister of DefenseToday’s Sports Then and Now blog remembers the late Reggie White.

An ordained pastor and Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman, this NFL defender brilliantly embodied his fitting Minister of Defense nickname.

During a storied 15-year NFL career, the Minister of Defense delivered his football version of a fire and brimstone sermon by dominating opposing offenses.

Whenever Reggie White set foot on the football field, he constantly administered defensive pressure. And, when away from the gridiron, he tirelessly catered to the needs of inner-city youth and those less fortunate through his work as a Christian minister.

NFL.com rated White as the #7 NFL player of all-time, and ESPN Sports Nation named him the greatest player in Philadelphia Eagles history. His storied career validates their lofty choices.

White graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1984 after being named SEC Player of the Year during his senior season. The Minister of Defense then played two years in the now defunct USFL with the Memphis Showboats, earning the 1985 USFL Man of the Year Award.

After the USFL folded, White proceeded to the NFL and starred for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1985 – 1992. Read the rest of this entry →

Is it Time to Like Brett Favre Again? 0

Posted on July 18, 2015 by Dean Hybl
Brett Favre told Sports Illustrated that he could still play in the NFL.

Brett Favre told Sports Illustrated that he could still play in the NFL.

I don’t know if you’ve had the same reaction, but for at least the last five years (and probably for all seven years since he left the Green Bay Packers) every time I see Brett Favre in a commercial or hear his name mentioned in any context, I do an internal eye roll and automatically tune out the discussion.

Earlier this month when the cover of Sports Illustrated showed a grinning Favre and promised insight into whether he thinks he could still play (of course he does), I had to set the magazine aside as just the thought of Favre returning to the NFL gave me a twitch.

That someone who was so beloved and enjoyed by football fans for over a decade somehow became the crazy uncle that no one wants to acknowledge or discuss is really one of the strange stories of the recent NFL.

There is little dispute that Favre was one of the quintessential players of the NFL from the early 1990s through the late 2000s. Even if you were not a Green Bay Packer fan, you knew about Favre and dazzled in his exuberance and talent.

He was the gunslinger who occasionally shot himself in the foot, but more often put the bullet directly in the heart of his opponents. He won a Super Bowl as a 28-year-old and very nearly made it back late in his career with both the Packers and later the Minnesota Vikings.

However, for many football fans, it was his inability to exit gracefully that is still remembered and is the reason he often is omitted from lists of the top quarterbacks in NFL history.

Though he had hinted at retirement a year earlier, it was not until March 4, 2008, just weeks after Favre had thrown an overtime interception that helped the New York Giants defeat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, that Favre announced his retirement.

Had Favre’s story ended there with a tearful goodbye and a career full of Packer memories, his place in history would certainly have been secure.

However, as is well documented, Favre spent the next three seasons turning the idea of retirement into a national joke.

Just three months after retiring, he told the Packers he wanted to come back. That led to a heated battle that burned many bridges between the quarterback and the team he had led for 16 years. The Packers had committed themselves to Aaron Rodgers (which turned out to be a pretty good decision) and hoped Favre would honor his decision to retire (they even offered him a $25 million marketing agreement to walk away).

Favre was clear that he was no longer interested in retiring and wanted to return to the NFL. If the Packers were not going to give him the starting quarterback job back, then he wanted them to release him so he could sign with any team. Rumors were swirling that he wanted to play for the division rival Vikings both because of their head coach (Brad Childress) and because they played the Packers twice during the season. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Joe Cronin: Player-Manager
      October 1, 2017 | 8:21 am
      Joe Cronin

      Joe Cronin

      In recognition of the start of the baseball playoffs, we recognize as the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month a man who managed pennant winning teams in Washington and Boston and spent more than decade as a player-manager.

      When the Boston Red Sox acquired Joe Cronin following the 1934 season they didn’t just get an All-Star player, they also got a new manager.

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