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Scoreless In Seattle: Week 14 NFL Storylines 3

Posted on December 12, 2012 by Andy Larmand

As Christmas approaches, some NFL coaches were doing whatever they could to get back on the nice list in the eyes of their owners. Teams that hadn’t been doing a lot of winning this year found ways to get the job done in upset style in Week 14, but some, however, continued to fall face first into the snow (or desert sand).

No. 1: Peyton Manning got the Broncos to the 10-win mark for the first time since 2005 as he has the team poised to make a playoff run.

Peyton Manning highlighted the weekly Thursday night game as he threw for 300 yards for the first time since Week 10 at Carolina, but threw just one touchdown pass after eight in his previous three games. This marks the seventh time in his career that he has thrown 30 or more touchdowns in a season. He also turned the ball over at least once for the sixth straight game, but his Broncos still won their eighth straight, beating division rival Oakland 26-13 on Thursday night to improve to 10-3 on the year. The eight-game win streak is the longest for the Broncos since 1997-98 and with their 10th win of the year, they have hit double-digits in wins for the first time since 2005. The Denver D picked off at least one pass for the ninth straight game. Denver’s five-game lead in the AFC West is tied for the Falcons for the largest division lead through 14 weeks.

Rookie running back Doug Martin, a regular name in this post, became the first rookie running back since 2008 to record 1,500 yards from scrimmage in Tampa Bay‘s last-second 23-21 loss to the Eagles. Philly won for the first time in nine weeks behind Nick Foles, who threw for 381 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner as time expired. He became the second rookie in as many weeks to win a game with a TD pass as time expired (Luck). All seven of Tampa Bay’s losses this season have been by eight points or fewer. The Eagles now have as many wins (one) since Oct. 1 as the Phillies.

Don’t look now, but the Jets – yes, the New York Jets – have won two straight after picking up their first ever win in Jacksonville Sunday by a score of 17-10 and are now being considered as a team with a chance to sneak into the playoffs. Mark Sanchez was back in there, but the Jets found the endzone twice on the ground and picked Chad Henne off twice en route to their second straight win and third in four games. Montell Owens scored his first rushing touchdown since 2008 for the Jags, who have lost two straight. Sanchez didn’t throw an interception for just the fourth time this year.

The joke that is the Arizona Cardinals just keeps getting funnier as they dropped their ninth straight game after starting the season 4-0. They didn’t just lose though – they lost 58-0 (not a misprint) to the Seahawks. The Seattle defense forced eight turnovers (four fumbles, four interceptions) and led 38-0 at halftime – their largest halftime lead since 1977. Marshawn Lynch ran for three touchdowns on just 11 carries and finished with 128 yards – his first multi-TD game of the year. Larry Fitzgerald remainedinvisible as he caught just one ball for two yards and Arizona quarterbacks John Skelton and Ryan Lindley combined to go 19-of-39 for 111 yards and four interceptions. The 58-point margin of victory is the largest in Seahawks history and the 58 points are the most the team’s ever scored in a single game. Not surprisingly, the 58-point loss is good for the worst in the 92-year history of the Cardinals.

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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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Pour Me Some Henne: Week 11 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Jaguars QB Chad Henne had a career day on Sunday, throwing for 354 yards, four TD’s and no interceptions in place of Blaine Gabbert.

In the last week of football before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for first-time starters, for 59 points, for favorites holding on for their lives in overtime thrillers and for not being a Cardinals fan. I wasn’t as thankful for the Thursday Night game though.

The Bills and Dolphins kicked things off in a lackluster matchup of sub-.500 teams on Thursday Night Football with the Bills getting the win, 19-14. They did so without scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2007. Marcus Thigpen became the first Dolphin to ever return a kick and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. The Bills had a punt return TD and a fumble recovery in the same game for the seventh time since 2001 and improved to 6-1 in those games. Only seven points were scored in the 2nd half with Miami getting a 4th quarter touchdown.

Sunday was a much better day, which we learned early on with three of the early eight having exciting finishes in overtime. The Texans held on for their lives as the 1-9 Jaguars gave them all they could handle in a crazy 43-37 overtime game. Matt Schaub went off for 527 yards and five touchdowns in the win – both were career highs for him and the 527 passing yards were good for the 2nd-most in a game in NFL history. Andre Johnson caught 14 balls for 273 yards and a 48-yard touchdown to win the game in overtime. Seven of his catches came in the 1st half for 132 yards. His 273 total yards marked the most in a game by a wide receiver since Terrell Owens had 283 in 2000. Houston had been down by 14 in the 4th quarter before rallying to force overtime.

Though they did make it quite a game, the Jags have now lost seven in a row after blowing a chance to salvage their season in the spoiler role. Their offense was resurrected after starter Blaine Gabbert went down and backup Chad Henne replaced him. Henne ended up throwing for 354 yards and a career-high four touchdowns – the first time a quarterback has thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions off the bench since Steve Young did it in 1987. Henne also extended the game with a conversion on 4th & 10 in overtime. He entered the day with four total TD passes in his last five starts. Rookie receiver Justin Blackmon finally had a day worthy of a top-10 draft pick, catching seven balls for 236 yards and a touchdown. His highest yards total coming into the day was 67. His 81-yard TD catch was also good for the 2nd-longest in Jacksonville history behind Troy Edwards, who caught one from 84 yards out in 2003. With another one on Sunday, Cecil Shorts became the first player this season with four touchdown catches of 35 yards or more.

The game was only the second in NFL history to feature two 200-yard receivers. Should the Jags have been able to upset the Texans, it would have been the first time since 1985 that a team with a record of 1-8 or worse had beaten a team with a record of 8-1 or better.  Wow, that was a lot. And that’s only just the first game.

Andre Johnson caught the winning touchdown in overtime and then jumped into the crowd following Houston’s thrilling 43-37 win.

In Carolina, the Bucs came back from 21-10 down in the 2nd half to beat the Panthers 27-21 in overtime on a Josh Freeman touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. Vincent Jackson caught a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with 12 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. Rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 138 yards and a TD and recorded his sixth straight game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Tampa Bay and their fourth in a row.

In the final overtime game, the Cowboys came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Browns, 23-20 in overtime. A late touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Benjamin Watson gave the Cowboys the ball back with too much time on the clock and they kicked a field goal to send it to overtime. Cleveland hasn’t won in Dallas since 1993. The comeback marked just the second time in Cowboys history that they have won a game they trailed by 13 points at the half. In a shocking twist, Tony Romo has not thrown an interception in any of his last three games (2-1). All three overtime losers blew double-digit leads.

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Young Colt: Who Needs Luck When You’ve Got LUCK? 0

Posted on November 08, 2012 by Andy Larmand

 

Through the first eight games of his NFL career, Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, has thrown for 2,404 yards and helped his team win five games.

There was a lot of pressure on the Colts coming into the year. I mean a lot. For starters, they won just two games last season and were winless through their first twelve. On top of that, they parted ways with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time to move on to their quarterback of the future.

As a rookie quarterback in the NFL, No. 1 draft pick and successor to Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck has been forced into learning a little bit about living up to the hype. After leading Stanford to a 30-8 record in three seasons and racking up two second place Heisman Trophy finishes, Luck is rolling with the big boys now – even though he already was one in college.

Luck passed up the No. 1 overall pick in 2011 to return to Stanford for his senior season and develop even more skills as well as get his degree. When his college career was finally over, he had thrown for 9,430 yards and 82 touchdowns in just three seasons.

Then, on  Thursday, April 26, 2012, Luck began the next phase of his football career. He was officially drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts to be their immediate starting quarterback and replace one of the icons of professional football, Peyton Manning.

As a rookie, he has completely bought in to the Colts’ way. His leadership and work ethic are both already much further along than they should be at the young age of 23, which he turned just three days after the start of the season. If that wasn’t enough, he even recently shaved his head in support of coach, Chuck Pagano, who has been battling cancer for much of the season.

His first test as a pro came against the Chicago Bears and their crazy good as well as experienced defense. Luck looked all right, but his performance against what would turn into the top defense in the league in 2012 reflected that of a rookie. He threw three interceptions and just one late touchdown when the game was already out of reach in his team’s 41-21 loss on opening day.

The team went 2-3 through the first six weeks of the season with losses to the Jaguars and a 35-9 demolishing to the struggling Jets. They did, however, beat a couple of playoff contenders in the Vikings and the Packers. Luck did throw for 1,208 yards in the first five games (241.6 ypg). It was just a matter of really finding some consistency.

With the Jets game behind them, the Colts would be staring at some favorable match-ups in the coming weeks. A Week 7 game against the Browns with fellow rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden, and Week 8 at Tennessee provided the Colts with a chance to turn things around. And Luck did just that.

With his team trailing late in both games, Luck engineered back-to-back game saving drives that ended up resulting in wins. His game-winning touchdown pass in Week 8 beat the Titans, got Indy to .500 in the division and pushed them over .500 overall for the first time since Manning had left.

Week 9 was more of the same as the Colts grinded out a 23-20 win over the hot Dolphins. Luck threw for a rookie record 433 yards in the win and mixed in two touchdowns with no interceptions. Through eight games, Luck has thrown 10 touchdowns to just 8 interceptions. Through eight games, Luck has thrown for 2,404 yards which is exactly what Manning had through his first eight games and tied for the most ever. Most importantly, through eight games, Luck has the Colts sitting at 5-3 and in 2nd place to the tough Texans in the AFC South at the season’s midway point. If the season ended today, the Colts would be in the playoffs as a wild card team. They have also already more than doubled their win total from last season.

Luck has become the second rookie in NFL history with four 300-yard passing games in his first year. The other was his predecessor, Manning. He also has four 4thquarter or overtime game-winning drives through eight games.  The four other rookie QB’s have combined for four among them. Of course, it helps to have a world class talent like Reggie Wayne at his disposal. Wayne has 61 catches for 835 yards and three touchdowns on the year and more importantly, has given Luck that go-to receiver that all young quarterbacks need.

Compared with the second overall pick of this year’s draft, Robert Griffin III, Luck has 2,404 passing yards to Griffin’s 1,993 and has two more touchdown passes. More importantly, Luck has two more wins than the electrifying Griffin, whose Redskins sit at 3-6 through nine games.

The hype, the preperation and the execution all have the Colts in position to return to the playoffs this year. As Luck prepares to face the Jaguars tonight, he can help his team take a giant step towards that goal. A win would improve the team to 6-3 and more importantly, to 2-1 in the division.

The Colts travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jags at 8:20 pm.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

Week 6 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on October 18, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Oh, the excitement: Peyton Manning capped a comeback for the ages on Monday night and could hardly contain his excitement after.

As always, another exciting week in the NFL has come and gone and we can hardly wait for the next one. And as always, more of the impressive, improbable and entertaining unfolded right before our eyes.

Comebacks, blown leads beat downs and upsets contributed to another fun-to-watch week of America’s favorite sport.

Let’s start out west. Facing a 24-0 halftime deficit in the last game of the week, Peyton Manning led the Broncos all the way back to shock the Chargers by scoring 35 points in the 2nd half. Denver won 35-24. They became the first team in NFL history to win by double digits after trailing by at least 24 points and only the third team to come back and win. It also tied the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history. On a side note, Phillip Rivers now has 12 turnovers this season.

A little further north, the Seahawks overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to shock the favored Patriots by one with a deep touchdown pass form rookie, Russell Wilson to Sidney Rice in the final minutes. New England is 3-0 when running the ball more than passing it and 0-3 when passing more than running. On Sunday, Tom Brady threw the ball 58 times, but did throw a TD pass in his 38th straight game.

Drew Brees did not throw a touchdown pass to extend the all-time record to 48 straight games, but that is only because the Saints had a bye on Sunday.

It was also a week of tight games as the Titans, Falcons, Dolphins, Lions, Ravens, Bills, and Seahawks all won their games by three points or less. They beat the Steelers, Raiders, Rams, Eagles, Cowboys, Cardinals and Patriots, respectively.

After their 4-0 start, the Cardinals dropped their second straight game to the Bills, 19-16.

After opening 5-0, the Texans dropped their first game of the year to the Packers 42-24 on Sunday night.

The Falcons pulled out another late win with a last second field goal from Matt Bryant to push their NFL-best record to 6-0. And then there was one. We know they’ll stay perfect heading into Week 8 as they have a bye for this week.

The Browns finally got their first win of the season, beating the Bengals 34-24. The Lions and Bucs were disappointed to learn that there would not be an addition to their winless seasons club this year. It is the first time since 1990 that every team has had at least one win through Week six.

Aaron Rodgers was unbelievable, going 24-37 for 338 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions on Sunday night. Three of those touchdown passes went to Jordy Nelson. On the other side, the six passing TD’s the Texans allowed tied the total they had given up through the first five games of the year. Arian Foster rushed for just 29 yards on 17 carries, but did have two touchdowns. His 1.7 yards per carry was the lowest in his career.

The Texans and Ravens are the only AFC teams with winning records through six weeks. Seven teams are at .500. This is the latest into a season that a conference has had no more than two teams with winning records.

For the first time since 1987, all four AFC East teams are in first place. That’s right, the Pats, Jets, Bills and Fins are all 3-3.

Eli Manning threw for just 193 yards in New York’s win over the 49ers. Manning had thrown for at least 200 yards in 24 straight games.

Robert Griffin III ran for a 76-yard touchdown in the Redskins’ win over the Vikings. The touchdown run was the longest by a quarterback since 1996.

Jay Feely kicked a 61-yard field goal to send the Cardinals to overtime. Larry Fitzgerald reached 10,000 career receiving yards before the age of thirty. Only Randy Moss had done so before.

The Ravens allowed 200+ rush yards for the second straight game and won both. Baltimore gave up 227 yards to Dallas on Sunday – the most in franchise history. They also improved to 4-0 all-time against the Cowboys and Jacoby Jones tied the longest kick return touchdown in NFL history with the league’s third ever 108-yarder.

It wasn’t all good news for the Ravens, however, as they lost both Ray Lewis (torn triceps) and Lardarius Webb (torn ACL) to season-ending injuries. Haloti Ngata was also hurt in the game. The Ravens stingy D is already without Terrell Suggs.

The Jets actually won an easy game, beating the Colts 35-9 to somehow be tied for first in the AFC East. Shonn Greene scored three rushing touchdowns. Indy has lost 10 straight road games.

Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in a half for the first time in his career.

The Lions became the last team to pick off a pass from an opposing quarterback in Week 6 after the Raiders became the second-to-last team earlier in the day.

Michael Vick now has nine red zone turnovers this season. The next highest number is six for Mark Sanchez.

The Bears, with a surprising 4-1 record remain on top of the NFC North and are followed closely behind by the surprising 4-2 Vikings.

The NFC West keeps three of its teams above .500, while the Rams sit at 3-3.

All done. See, it was a busy week in the NFL.

Some information was taken from ESPN Stats & Info.

 

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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