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Manning And Boldin Star; Kelly And Reid Undefeated: Week 1 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Lucky Seven: Peyton Manning had a night for the ages to open the season.

Lucky Seven: Peyton Manning had a night for the ages to open the season.

After seven long months of OTA’s and talking about Tim Tebow, football returned this Thursday under the lights in Denver, Colorado. And this time the lights stayed on for the whole game. The season got started with one of the best players of this generation reminding us all that he can still get it done, included a first for a veteran wide receiver, the extension of a couple of Opening Day streaks, one milestone coaching victory and a first for a Lions‘ player since the days of Barry Sanders. Here are all the important notes, interesting accomplishments and head-scratching statistics from Week 1 of the brand new season.

Peyton Manning tied the all-time single-game record with seven touchdown passes in the Broncos‘ 49-27 win over the defending champion Ravens Thursday night. He became the first quarterback to throw seven TD passes in a game since Joe Kapp in 1969. It was the 74th time in his career he has thrown three or more touchdown passes in a game – the most all-time. Denver’s 22-point win was the largest ever opening-week win by a team against a defending Super Bowl champ.

The Falcons lost their first ever season opener against the Saints as they fell, 23-17, after blowing a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Atlanta had been 6-0 all-time against New Orleans to open the season. In the loss, however, Tony Gonzalez became just the third player to record a touchdown catch in 17 different seasons, joining Jerry Rice (19) and Irving Fryar, who also did it 17 times.

With two against the BillsTom Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 49 consecutive games for the Patriots - five shy of tying Drew Brees for the all-time record. He also improved to 21-2 in his career against Buffalo. New England won its 10th straight opener and they forced at least one turnover in their 28th straight game.

The Bucs fell to 0-7 all-time in road games against the Jets as New York pulled out the 18-17 win on a last-second field goal. Tampa committed 13 penalties in the game, leading to five New York first downs and helped put them in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Rookie Geno Smith helped lead the Jets with a 76.0 QBR in the fourth quarter.

Marc Trestman joined Chip Kelly and Andy Reid in winning their debuts with new teams.

Marc Trestman joined Chip Kelly and Andy Reid in winning their debuts with new teams.

A.J. Green hauled in nine passes for 162 yards to break Chad Johnson‘s franchise record for receiving yards in a season opener, but the Bengals fell to the Bears in Marc Trestman‘s debut, 24-21.Bears kicker, Robbie Gould, set a Soldier Field record with a 58-yard field goal in the win.

Seattle and Carolina combined for just 19 points in the Seahawks‘ 12-7 win. Cam Newton put up career lows in total yards (163) and passing yards (125) for the Panthers in the loss. Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards, despite managing just the 12 points and it was the first 300-yard game of his career.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 191 yards as the Steelers mustered just nine points and fell to the Titans, 16-9. It was the fifth time since 2011 that Big Ben threw for less than 200 yards in a game. Though this was Pittsburgh’s first loss in a home opener since 2002, Roethlisberger did go over the career 30,000-yard passing mark on the day. Pittsburgh got on the board three seconds into the game after it was ruled that Tennessee kick returner, Darius Reynaud, fielded the opening kickoff before the goal line and then took a knee in the endzone. The safety tied the fastest score in any game since the merger.

The Browns lost their ninth straight season opener, 23-10, at the hands of the Dolphins. Nine straight is the longest active streak in the league. The teams combined for just 67 rushing yards and the Browns were just 1-for-14 on third down. Brandon Weeden set a new career-high for pass attempts in a game with 53, but threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.

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Cris Carter’s Long Journey Ends in the Hall of Fame 63

Posted on August 02, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Though best remembered for his years as a Viking, Carter started his career with three seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Though best remembered for his years as a Viking, Carter started his career with three seasons as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

When I met Cris Carter in July 1989 there was little doubt that he had the ability to one day be a Hall of Fame wide receiver. However, after spending six months around him during the 1989 season I would have put his chances of actually ever living up to that potential somewhere between none and less than none.

So, it is quite amazing (and a testament to how people can change) that 24 years later Carter will indeed be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend in Canton, Ohio.

Talent was never the problem for Carter. The brother of former Indiana University and NBA player Butch Carter, Cris was a great multi-sport athlete and heavily recruited as both a basketball and football player.

An Ohio native, he chose to stay in state and attend Ohio State University. Originally Carter planned on playing both sports in college, but after setting a Rose Bowl record with nine catches for 172 yards during his freshman year, he decided to concentrate on football.

By his junior season in 1986 Carter was a consensus All-American and had already set the Ohio State record for career receptions.

However, as a harbinger of things to come, Carter was declared ineligible for his senior season after it was discovered that he had signed a contract with sports agent Norby Walters.

Allowed to enter the NFL through a supplemental draft, Carter was selected in the fourth round by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Under the direction of colorful head coach Buddy Ryan and sporting an exciting roster of young stars including Reggie White, Randall Cunningham, Jerome Brown, Mike Quick and Keith Byars, the Eagles were a team on the rise. As a rookie, the 21-year-old Carter saw very limited action during the strike-shortened season. He played in nine games and caught five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns.

The next season he moved into the starting lineup and was a key performer on an Eagles team that won the NFC East and reached the playoffs for the first time since the 1981 season. Carter caught 39 passes for 761 yards (19.5 ypc) and six touchdowns.

By 1989, Carter seemed to be on a path to greatness, but few realized that he was actually on a path to self-destruction.

It was at that time during the summer of 1989 that I joined the Eagles as a Public Relations intern fresh out of college at James Madison University, where I had worked in the school’s sports information office and covered the football team for the school newspaper.

Spending the season as an intern with an NFL team was a dream come true, but while most of the Philadelphia players were great to work with, dealing with Carter was often more of a nightmare.

Unbeknownst to most of his teammates (or PR interns), it turns out that while Carter acted with great confidence (some would call it cockiness) on the field and in the locker room, he was actually losing a personal battle with substance abuse.

In hindsight, it actually makes sense that Carter was dealing with such demons. When I would make my daily trips to the locker room, you never knew which Carter you were going to run into. Sometimes he was engaging, friendly and helpful, however, more often he was difficult, condescending and just plain mean.

As a 22-year-old from a rural part of Virginia, I had never dealt with anyone who was an alcoholic or drug addict, so while others may have been aware of his problems, I was completely naïve and just trying to fit into the professional world and eventually handled it by only going near him when I needed to as part of my job.

On the field in 1989 Carter became the “touchdown maker” for the Eagles. He caught 45 passes for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, after catching eight passes for 113 yards in a Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears in the fourth week of the season, he never caught more than four passes in a game the remainder of the season. Read the rest of this entry →

Who Will Be 2013’s Surprise Teams in the NFL? 16

Posted on July 28, 2013 by Dean Hybl
With head coach Sean Payton back on board, Drew Brees and the Saints will look to return to the top of the standings in 2013.

With head coach Sean Payton back on board, Drew Brees and the Saints will look to return to the top of the standings in 2013.

Every season one thing you can count on in the NFL is that there will be teams that you expect to do well that will struggle and there will be teams that are expected to be bad, but will make a run toward the playoffs.

In the world of online football betting, everyone is trying to figure out which teams will be the surprise teams for the upcoming season because as all who do follow the NFL are aware from past history that there will be some.

Last season four teams that had posted losing records the previous season made the playoffs and there are many seasons when five or more such teams have made the leap.

As we look toward 2013, the question is which teams can do what the Colts, Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings did last season? Here is a look at some of the top contenders to rise from the ashes:

New Orleans Saints – 2012 Record: 7-9

It may not really be fair to include the Saints on this list. After all, they were 13-3 in 2011 and played the 2012 season with their head coach suspended and under the cloud of “Bountygate”.

With Sean Payton back on the sidelines and Bountygate now a distant memory, it would be of little surprise if the Saints are back in the playoff hunt in 2013.

Another distraction entering the 2012 season was the contract status of quarterback Drew Brees and with that no longer an issue, you can expect him to be back to his Pro Bowl best.

The Saints had a generally quiet off-season with their biggest acquisition being new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He will have a tough task making the New Orleans defense a playoff caliber unit as they allowed the most yards and second most points in the league last year.

While the offense will certainly be potent and probably good enough to get New Orleans back above .500, the defense must be better if the Saints want to make a deep playoff run.

Kansas City Chiefs – 2012 Record: 2-14

Following a 7-9 campaign in 2011 the Chiefs were a popular pick to take the next step in 2012. Unfortunately for them, the next step proved to be over a cliff as they posted the worst record in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry →

Family Reunion In New Orleans And The Rest Of The Championship Weekend Storylines 0

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

The good news? The Super Bowl is now less than two weeks away. The bad? It is the last NFL game until next September. On the second-to-last meaningful weekend of football, four teams – three that were there last year – fought for the right to travel to New Orleans and play in Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers and the Ravens would come out on top after the Falcons couldn’t hold a big lead and the Patriots couldn’t produce a single point in the second half. What do the two winners have in common? They are coached by a pair of brothers – who will be facing off in the Super Bowl with a pair of quarterbacks who have never been there before.

It wasn’t a good day for the high seeds and home teams as both the Patriots (28-13) and Falcons (28-24) saw their respective seasons come to a close.

For the first time ever, the San Francisco 49ers have reached the Super Bowl as the conference’s No. 2 seed with a comeback from 17 down against the Falcons in Atlanta. They will be making their sixth ever appearance in the big game and are 5-0 so far. Matt Ryan threw for 396 yards while posting a 114.8 passer rating – both franchise playoff records – but his three touchdowns were accompanied by one big interception to Chris Culliver late in the game. His record fell to 34-7 in his career at home. Colin Kaepernick didn’t have nearly the game he had last week as he ran the ball just two times for a total of 21 yards and threw for 233 and a touchdown. Coming into the game, Atlanta had allowed 8.9 yards per rush to quarterbacks in 2012. Kaepernick averaged 10.5 yards on his two carries. His passer rating of 127.7 topped Ryan’s, though, as he helped San Francisco to become the first team to reach consecutive conference championship games with two different starting quarterbacks since the Redskins did it in 1986-87. This was the first time since the Falcons migrated from the NFC West in 2002 that they have fallen to the ‘Niners. They have only won two playoff games in a season once – in 1998 (the only year they made the Super Bowl).

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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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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.

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    • Bob Cousy: Houdini of the Hardwood
      February 4, 2018 | 8:31 am
      Bob Cousy

      Bob Cousy

      The Boston Celtics traded prior to the 2017-2018 season for All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, but the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the first in a long line of superstars to play for the Boston Celtics.

      Before there was Bill Russell and Larry Bird, the Boston Celtics were powered by a 6-foot-1 inch guard from Holy Cross. Bob Cousy was the on-the-court leader for the Celtics in the era during which they emerged as a basketball juggernaut.

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