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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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One Career Ends And Another Is Born: Super Bowl XLVII Storylines 0

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

The good news? Super Bowl XLVII had just about everything one could have asked for in the final professional football game for 213 days. It featured a pair of brothers facing off against each other, an icon of a generation going out on top, an energizing rookie quarterback, a jaw-dropping halftime show, an intentional safety, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and one 33-minute power outage. Not to mention a furious comeback in the second half that fell just short of making it the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The bad news? It’s the final football game for 213 days. It was a great one though.

As always, we have a lot to get to in the last edition of the weekly NFL storylines being that this was the final game of the 2012-13 season. I’d just like to thank God for giving me the fingers to type this with. God is so great.

Joe Flacco, Super Bowl XLVII MVP, tied the all-time record with 11 touchdown passes in a single postseason in the first Super Bowl since 2002 without either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. Only he and Joe Montana have ever accomplished that. All five quarterbacks to ever throw eight-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs have won the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis is going out on top if you haven’t heard. After 12 seasons, Lewis won his second career title. It is the longest span between titles by any player in NFL history. Baltimore has won four straight against the 49ers, outscoring them 103-50. San Francisco lost its first Super Bowl in their history and Baltimore improved to 8-1 all-time as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. They also improved to 2-0 all-time in Super Bowls (won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000). When they won it all in 2000, they were the No. 4 seed as well and the last two Super Bowl champions have been the No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. The previous two meetings between these two teams featured a total of two touchdowns; this one had six.

Baltimore finished the regular season with a record of 10-6. In each of the last three seasons, the eventual Super Bowl champion finished the regular season with no better than 10 wins (Packers with 10 in 2010, Giants with nine last season). The NFC had won three straight Super Bowls before the Ravens win. The last AFC team to win a title before this was the Steelers in 2008. With 65 points being scored in the Super Bowl, the total from this postseason grew to 571, which broke the previous record of 530 set in 1995. No. 2 seeds had been 4-1 in their last five Super Bowl appearances before the 49ers’ loss. With Flacco winning MVP, six of the last seven Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Only Santonio Holmes in 2008 won the award as a non-quarterback. Baltimore became just the second team to ever win a championship after leading the league in penalty yards during the regular season (1974 Steelers). After 19.5 sacks in his first 13 games, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded one since. In the Super Bowl, he had no sacks and made just two tackles. Six games are the longest he has ever gone without a sack.

No NFL team had ever even reached the Super Bowl after ranking 15th or worse in both total defense and total offense during the regular season. The Ravens were the first and they won it all. Flacco has no interceptions in his last 195 pass attempts. With a second-quarter interception of Colin Kaepernick, Ed Reed tied the all-time record with his ninth career postseason interception. Baltimore improved to 11-5 in road or neutral playoff games in their history, the best win percentage of any NFL franchise. The 49ers had 15 former first-round picks on their roster for the Super Bowl to the Ravens’ eight, but Baltimore beat them anyway. With his first-quarter TD catch, the fourth for him this postseason, Anquan Boldin tied the amount he had in the regular season. Kaepernick was able to set the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single postseason with 264. He came up just two yards shy of tying the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback in the Super Bowl as he finished with 62, but did have the longest ever TD run by a quarterback in the big game with his 15-yarder.

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NFL Classic Rewind: Elway Outduels McMahon for Denver Victory in Monday Night Shootout 31

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

On a cold Monday night in November of 1987, the Chicago Bears traveled to Denver to face off with the Denver Broncos in a game that featured two teams that had appeared in the previous two Super Bowls.

Entering the game with the league’s best record at 7-1, the Bears seemed poised for a second Super Bowl title in three seasons.

Chicago was still under the leadership of head coach Mike Ditka, but finally had a healthy Jim McMahon at quarterback and running back Walter Payton, who had announced he would retire at the end of the season.

While the Bears were establishing themselves as a Super Bowl favorite, the Broncos were having tough time defending their AFC championship as they entered the Monday night showdown with Chicago with a 4-3-1 record and in third place in the AFC West.

Despite their inconsistency, the Broncos still felt confident about their chances of a second straight Super Bowl as they still had quarterback John Elway at the helm.

But if the Broncos were to make that second straight trip to the Super Bowl, they could not afford to lose against the Bears.

The Bears got the ball to start the game and drove from their 10-yard-line to the 49-yard-line, where they faced a 3rd-and-2.

That is where McMahon faked a handoff to Payton, and fired a pass to Willie Gault, who made the catch at the Denver 40-yard-line, made a spin move, and outraced several Bronco defenders for a 51-yard touchdown that put Chicago ahead 7-0 just over three minutes into the game.

After forcing the Broncos to punt on their opening possession, the Bears got the ball back at their 14-yard-line where it took them eight plays to get back into the end zone, a 6-yard pass from McMahon to tight end Cap Boso to increase the Bears lead to 14-0 with 5:26 left in the opening period.

Following the Bears’ second touchdown, Elway finally got the Denver offense on track as he led them on an eight-play, 84-yard drive, culminating with a bizarre touchdown that brought the Broncos back into the game.

From the Bears’ 22-yard-line, Elway rolled out to the right and fired a pass intended for Steve Sewell, who was in front of the goal line.

However, the ball was tipped by Bears safety Todd Bell, only to be caught by Vance Johnson for the touchdown to make it 14-7 early in the second quarter.

The Bears responded to the touchdown with another long drive, as McMahon completed six of nine passes on a drive that covered 89 yards from the Chicago 10-yard-line to the Broncos’ one-yard line where Chicago faced a third-and-goal.

For the third-and-one, Ditka sent in defensive tackle William “The Refrigerator” Perry, who ran in for two touchdowns during his rookie season in 1985, including one in the Super Bowl.

This time, Perry was sent in as a blocker, but McMahon called an audible on the line of scrimmage, and handed the ball off to “The Fridge”, who had not carried the ball all season, only to have Perry be stripped of the ball by defensive back Mike Harden, short of the goal line. Read the rest of this entry →

The 20 Greatest Individual Playoff Performances in NFL History 6

Posted on January 07, 2011 by A.J. Foss

John Elway led the Broncos 98 yards to tie the game then led them to victory over the Browns in the AFC Championship Game.

After previously counting down from number 40-21, here are the 20 greatest individual performances in NFL playoff history.

This list spans back to the beginning of the Super Bowl era in 1966 and does not feature any performances from the Super Bowl.

20. Ken Stabler-1974 AFC Divisional Playoff, Dolphins vs. Raiders

“The Snake” lead the Raiders to a victory in one of the greatest games in NFL history as Stabler completed 20 of 30 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns, his last touchdown pass a remarkable as Stabler launched a pass toward the end zone, as he was being pulled down by a Dolphins defender, that was caught by Clarence Davis, who took fought three Miami defenders for the ball.

The “Sea of Hands” as it become known as, gave the Raiders a 28-26 win and ended the reign of the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins.

19. Lamar Smith-2000 AFC Wild Card, Colts vs. Dolphins

In the first playoff game since 1982 without Dan Marino as the starting quarterback, the Dolphins go back to their roots, a smash-mouth rushing attack.

Lamar Smith carries the ball a playoff record 40 times for 209 yards and scores two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown, a 17-yard run in overtime to give the Dolphins a 23-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Read the rest of this entry →

Best Quarterbacks in NFL History: Where Does Favre Rank? 7

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: Broncos Block Chargers Chance at Victory 14

Posted on October 15, 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 two original members of the AFL, the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers twice annually on the field since 1960 and will face off for the 100th time when they meet November 22nd in Denver. Since 1977, the two teams have been the most dominant squads in the AFC West, combining for 19 of the last 32 division titles. Denver has won 10 titles, while the Chargers have claimed the division crown nine times, including each of the last three years.

There have been some high-scoring meetings between the two teams.

In just the second-ever meeting between the teams in 1960, Jack Kemp threw three touchdowns and the Los Angeles Chargers scored the final 14 points of the game to win 41-33. In that game, Gene Mingo of the Broncos kicked four field goals, scored a rushing touchdown and returned four kickoffs for 99 yards.

In 1963 the two teams took turns running up the score. Denver defeated San Diego 50-34 on October 6 and then the Chargers returned the favor with a 58-20 beat-down of the Broncos on December 22.

Perhaps one of the most exciting games in the series occurred in 2000 when the then-winless Chargers used three touchdown passes from Ryan Leaf to grab a 37-24 lead before Gus Frerotte tossed two touchdown passes in the final five minutes to lift the Broncos to a 38-37 victory.

Our pick for the Classic Rewind is a 1985 battle that features a pair of Hall of Fame quarterbacks in John Elway and Dan Fouts. Neither quarterback had a career day, but they both made the big plays down the stretch. The overtime battle finished with a dramatic twist that helped propel one team toward future success and the other toward a long period of futility.

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