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Chiefs, Giants Among Surprises, Luck Ties Impressive Mark: Week 4 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on October 01, 2013 by Andy Larmand
The Saints' offense, led by Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles, has them off to a 4-0 start.

The Saints’ offense, led by Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles (43), has them off to a 4-0 start.

For the first time in 2013, the NFL traveled across the pond to Wembley Stadium in Week 4 for a matchup of a couple of surprise 0-3 teams and did not disappoint the locals. Also featured is Andrew Luck matching an impressive quarterback mark, a double-digit, fourth-quarter comeback in Houston, Denver scoring and then scoring some more and the Chiefs improving to 4-0. Perhaps more notably, the blue team in New York is now 0-4.

The 49ers and Rams began the week in an NFC West showdown on Thursday night and after two straight losses in Weeks 2 and 3, the Niners kept a three-game losing streak off of Jim Harbaugh’s resume with a 35-11 rout of St. Louis. Harbaugh has still never lost three in a row as 49ers head coach. The Rams finished the night with 18 total rushing yards on 19 attempts. They have now recorded less than 100 yards on the ground in nine straight games. Also, they were the first team since 2008 with 19-plus rush attempts and 18 or fewer yards. They were also the last team to do that. San Fran improved to 5-0 all-time when Colin Kaepernick throws two or more touchdown passes.

The Vikings scored a first-quarter touchdown for the eighth straight game as Christian Ponder connected with Greg Jennings from 70 yards out to help them get up, 10-0, on the Steelers in London. The eight straight with a touchdown in the first quarter is a team record for them. Pittsburgh is 0-4 for the first time since 1968. Jennings needs just two more 70-yard touchdown receptions to tie the all-time record of nine held by Jerry Rice.

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Panthers Embarrass Giants, Body Parts Lost: Week 3 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As September continues to move toward October, this NFL season is providing us with some truths that stand the test of time and some that have and will continue to shock us all. And then, there are the teams or players who break the norm – finally. Week 3 saw the end of an almost-century-long losing streak, the worst loss ever for one head coach, a potential Cinderella story getting to 3-0, a first for the 49ers since 1958, and the Jaguars, well, being the Jaguars. Here are your Week 3 NFL headlines.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

The Eagles lost their eighth straight game at home and the Chiefs, led by former Eagles coach, Andy Reid, improved to 3-0 with a 26-16 win to open the week on Thursday night. It is just the second time Philly has ever lost eight in a row at home and first time since 1936-37. Lesean McCoy managed his third-highest rushing total in the loss, but only second-highest of the season with 158 yards and Michael Vick posted a career-high 61-yard run. The Chiefs joined the 2002 Panthers as the last team to start a season 3-0 after winning two or fewer games the year before. Alex Smith became the first Kansas City signal caller to win his first three starts with the team since Joe Montana in 1993.

Calvin Johnson tied Torry Holt as the fourth-fastest player to accumulate 8,000 career receiving yards as he did so in his 95th career game and Detroit beat the Redskins, 27-20. The win was the first ever for the Lions in the city of Washington (1-21) as they had not beaten the Redskins on the road since they were in Boston in 1935. The Skins fell to 0-3, but Robert Griffin III’s 975 yards through three games are the second-most all-time by a quarterback who started out 0-3. Matthew Stafford became just the second quarterback since 2001 to throw for 200-plus yards in the first half of each of his first three games of a season. Read the rest of this entry →

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.

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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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Offensive Outbursts And Injured QB’s: Week 10 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, accounted for four touchdowns, including one rushing, as the Ravens beat up on the Raiders, 55-20 in Baltimore Sunday.

Week 10 of the NFL season saw some of the highest point totals of the year, some of the most significant injuries and a tie. Yeah, there aren’t just ties in fútbol. There’s ties in football too, apparently. Ten teams put up 30 or more points including the Ravens who went nuts for 55 and four starting quarterbacks went down with injuries including Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger. There were also some upsets on the day as the Saints held on to end the undefeated season of the Falcons and the Bengals took care of the Super Bowl champion Giants by 18 points.

The Colts and rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, continued to roll as they handled the Jaguars 27-10 and won their fourth straight to kick off the week on Thursday night. Luck rushed for two touchdowns in a game for the second time this year and now has five rushing TD’s this season. The rest of the Colts’ team has combined for two. Peyton Manning has never rushed for two touchdowns in a game. Luck’s six wins on the year are tied for the second most by a rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. Indy improved to 9-1 on Thursday Night games since the merger, which is the best win percentage of any NFL team.

The Ravens scored a franchise-record 55 points in their win over Oakland, who has still never beaten Baltimore on the road (0-4). Their offensive outburst was sure welcomed as they had scored less than 20 points three times on the year before Sunday. Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards in the win after he had combined to throw for just 300 in the team’s previous two games. The weird thing though was that Carson Palmer threw for 27 more yards than Flacco. The Raiders allowed a franchise-high 48 points through three quarters and the 55 points they gave up was good for a new franchise record. In the win, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones became the first player in NFL history with two career kickoff returns of at least 105 yards for touchdowns, according to Elias.

Denver was another team to win big as they took care of the Panthers 36-14 while forcing two turnovers and registering two returns (and interception and a punt) for touchdowns on the day. The aforementioned Manning tied Dan Marino for the third-most wins by a quarterback (147) and for the second-most career TD passes with 420. The playoff-bound Broncos improved to 6-3 following their fourth straight win.

The Bucs also put up 34 points in their win over the Chargers and climbed over the .500 mark in the process at 5-4. In fact, the win marked the first ever by Tampa Bay at home against San Diego (1-5). Bucs’ rookie running back, Doug Martin, rushed for 68 yards on the day. Over his last three games, he has accumulated 605 yards from scrimmage, which is a new NFL record.

In the upset of the day, the Saints beat the previously undefeated Falcons at home, 31-27. With a 2nd quarter TD pass to Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees extended his NFL-record streak to 52 straight games with a touchdown pass. Tony Gonzalez caught both his 100th career touchdown and his 1200th career pass in the game for the 8-1 Falcons.  Marques Colston‘s TD catch in the 3rd quarter was the 55th of his career, which tied Deuce McAllister for the most in Saints history. In the past 10 years, Atlanta is now 1-45 when trailing by 11 or more points in the 2nd half.

Drew Brees and the Saints knocked off the undefeated Falcons for their fourth win in five games.

In Foxboro, the Patriots held on to beat the Bills, 37-31, thanks to a late interception by Devin McCourty in the endzone. Tom Brady improved to 20-2 in his career against Buffalo and the team improved to 10-3 under Bill Belichick following a bye week. Like Brees, Brady also kept his consecutive games with a touchdown streak alive at 41, throwing for two on the day. The Pats have never lost to the Bills at Gillette Stadium and Buffalo has not won on the road at New England since Nov. 5, 2000. New England has won 21 straight home games against AFC opponents.

In a division game that the Lions really needed, they fell to Minnesota 34-24 on the road and dropped to 4-5 on the year. Adrian Peterson rushed for 171 yards and became the first Viking in history to rush for 1,000 yards five times. He has had four straight 100 yard games less than a year after major knee surgery and furthered his case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Calvin Johnson finally had a huge game as he caught a season-high 12 balls for a season-high 207 yards and tied his season high with one touchdown.

Down south, the Titans had a day they’d like to see more of as Jake Locker returned and led them to a 37-3 beatdown against the Dolphins. He threw for two touchdowns, but just 122 yards in his return to the team. The 34-point loss for Miami marked the first time that they have lost by 34 or more points at home since the Chiefs had their way with them in 1968. Chris Johnson recorded rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 14-15 in 2010.

In the day’s other upset, the Bengals crushed the Giants 31-13. The G-Men fell to 0-6 all-time in Cincinnati and Eli Manning went his third straight game without throwing a touchdown pass (1-2). With two straight losses to open the month, Manning fell to 13-19 in November for his career, but is 27-5 in October. He also became just the fifth QB since 1982 to go three straight games without a touchdown pass at any point during the season after winning the Super Bowl, according to Elias. New York allowed just two 1st quarter touchdowns in their first nine games, but allowed two to the Bengals in the first five minutes of this one. Andy Dalton‘s four TD passes were a career-high for the second-year pro. A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game as he looks to keep that streak up on his way to the Pro Bowl.

The other team from New York didn’t fare much better. After predicting his 3-5 Jets would make the playoffs, Antonio Cromartie backed it up by letting the Seahawks get in the endzone four times in Seattle’s 28-7 win over the Jets. New York has lost three straight and in their last two games, they have been outscored 58-16. Sunday marked the first time since 1983 that the Jets and Giants have both lost by 18 or more points on the same day. Since Week 15 last season, the Jets are 3-9. Only the Jags and Browns have worse records during that span.

If you haven’t heard, the 49ers and Rams played to the first tie since the Eagles and Bengals finished 13 all in 2008. The 49ers had won 11 straight home games against division opponents, which was good for the longest active such streak in the NFL. San Fran didn’t get off to a very good start and trailed by 14 after one for the first time since 2006. For the Rams, it would have been the first time since the 2003-04 season that they had won three divisional games in a row. Their punter, Johnny Hekker, became the first punter with two pass completions in a game since 2004. The last time the 49ers finished in a tie was in 1986 and the last time for the Rams was in 1976. Alex Smith left the game for San Francisco with a concussion and is questionable for next week. In an interesting subplot, 1:12 of game clock was used in the 1st half during a measurement that no one seemed to see any reason in stopping the clock. Hmm, that time may have been valuable!

We knew 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, wasn’t a big fan of losing, but it doesn’t look like he enjoys tying all that much either.

In the primetime slot, the Cowboys and Eagles met with both teams being below .500 for the first time since 1990 with each of them desperately needing a win. With 21 points in 2:35 in the 2nd half, Dallas bested their division rivals 38-23 to improve to 4-5 while Philly fell to 3-6. Since 1990, only 1.4 percent of teams to start a season 3-6 have gone on to make the playoffs. To make things worse for Philly, they lost Michael Vick to a concussion as well. Though listed as doubtful, he hasn’t officially been ruled out for Week 11, but rookie, Nick Foles, is expected to get the start against the Redskins. The Eagles have lost five straight games for the first time since 1998 and for the first time under head coach, Andy Reid.

Shockingly enough for Cowboys fans, Tony Romo went his second straight game without committing a turnover and also recorded his first game this season with multiple TD passes and no interceptions. Big day for Dallas. The Cowboys became the first team since 1966 to score a touchdown on an interception return, a fumble recovery and a punt return in the same quarter.

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