Saturday, August 26, 2006

NY Giants Pass NY Jets 13-7 --

NY Giants O-line did run block very well.

NY Giants hold off Jets 13-7 wire reports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Aug. 25, 2006) -- With the Giants defense playing so well, Eli Manning can afford to have an off day.

While Manning struggled, the defense put in another stellar performance, notching five sacks and three turnovers in a 13-7 victory against the New York Jets. Neither offense did much of anything, but neither team seemed too concerned.

Manning went 10-for-20 for 107 yards with an interception. Chad Pennington started for the Jets, but also played inconsistently, going 11-for-20 for 125 yards with an interception.

"We just couldn't get a good rhythm," Manning said. "We got something good going at the end of the first half, but the Jets did a good job of making it tough on our passing game by dropping a lot of guys."

Tiki Barber was about the only player producing on either team. His 20-yard run into Jets territory helped the Giants finally mount a drive late in the second quarter.

The Giants (3-0) scored when Brandon Jacobs plowed in on a 1-yard run with 56 seconds left in the half. Manning played one series in the third quarter and led another scoring drive, capped by Jay Feely's 39-yard field goal.

Barber finished with 11 carries for 60 yards in one half of work, and the Giants ran for 142 yards on 36 carries in the game. But it was the defense that stood out once again. Darrell McClover's blocked punt return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter prevented the Giants from posting their second successive shutout.

"This is two straight weeks we have played well on defense," said linebacker Brandon Short, who had two sacks. "The sky is the limit for this defense as we all get comfortable with this system."

The Giants defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since the opening series against Baltimore in a 17-16 victory to open the preseason. They had five sacks against the Jets, with several more knockdowns on Pennington and Kellen Clemens, and forced three turnovers.

Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard plunge opened the scoring and sent the Giants on their way to victory.
"We're setting a tone and a precedent for the season," Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "It's not the prettiest, but it's something to keep building on."

The Jets (1-2) need to find something to build on, and cut down on the miscues. Running back Kevan Barlow, acquired in a trade with San Francisco last Sunday, lost a fumble on the Jets' second possession of the game.

On their next drive, rookie D'Brickashaw Ferguson was whistled for a false start, and Doug Jolley was flagged 15 years for unnecessary roughness when he used his head to shove Sam Madison while the two were out of bounds.

After Erik Coleman intercepted Manning and gave the Jets great field goal position, Ferguson was whistled for a false start again. This time it was on fourth-and-1 from the Giants 28 late in the first quarter, and it took the Jets out of field goal range.

There were other errors. Mike Nugent missed a 49-yard field goal when the ball hit the upright in the second quarter. The Jets tried their hurry-up offense to close the half and got down to the Giants 40, but Antonio Pierce sacked Pennington.

The quarterback stayed in for two series in the third quarter. But R.W. McQuarters intercepted his badly thrown pass on the first drive, and the Jets went three and out on the next. Clemens came on in relief and struggled badly, going 3-for-11 for 24 yards with an interception.

The play of the Jets offense in three preseason games could be cause for concern. Pennington has led no scoring drives in the two games he has played. He missed the victory against Washington last week to be with his ailing father in Tennessee.

"The name of the game is inconsistency," Pennington said. "We have a few good plays, and then we have self-inflicted wounds to stall our drives. ... We've shown some spurts of real good football. Our effort is there. But we can't confuse effort with results."

While Clemens did little in his appearance, Jared Lorenzen had some success. Lorenzen, known more for his girth, put together a nice drive against the Jets' defensive starters. He went 5-for-7 for 44 yards on the series to set up Feely's 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Vikings Defense May Be Gelling; Vikings Over Ravens 30-7 --

One year after the great makeover, the Vikings defense may be comings together at the right time -- before the regular season

Vikings shut down Ravens 30-7 wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 26, 2006) -- Fred Smoot turned a fast move on Steve McNair's pass into six points. The Baltimore Ravens weren't nearly that sharp.

Smoot highlighted a big night by Minnesota's defense with a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Vikings blanked Baltimore's first-team offense and beat the Ravens 30-7.

"We're just playing team ball. It's not a hero defense. Everybody's making plays, not just one person," said Smoot, who forced one of four Ravens turnovers. He bruised his ribs trying to make a tackle in the second quarter, but said later he was fine.

McNair, the new Baltimore quarterback, gave another efficient performance (13-for-17 for 80 yards) but showed his age a bit in the pocket.

He took two sacks, by Pat Williams and Kenechi Udeze.

And a slow throwing motion on his second-quarter toss toward the sideline to Mark Clayton made it possible for Smoot to jump the out route and sprint untouched for the score. Coach Brian Billick said Clayton ran the wrong pattern, and McNair said he could have thrown the ball more in front of his receiver.

But Baltimore's problems went much further than that play.

"The hesitation. The lack of execution. The mental errors. Preseason or not, you can't dismiss it," said Billick, who returned to Minnesota for the first time since he was the offensive coordinator here from 1993-98. "That was a regrettable performance."

About 15 pounds heavier and humbled by a bad first year with the Vikings, Smoot will be an important part of their new Tampa 2 scheme under defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

After picking off McNair and wrestling the ball away from Clayton, the sixth-year cornerback raced untouched, cocked his right arm with the ball in hand against his helmet, struck a Heisman pose with his left arm for the final 20 yards and finally bowled the ball through the end zone in an elaborate preseason-game celebration.

Mark Clayton couldn't catch Fred Smoot, and the Vikings ran away from the Ravens.
The Vikings certainly had reason to praise their defense. Both teams' first units played until halftime, and the Ravens gained only 86 yards while falling behind 10-0. Mike Anderson and Musa Smith managed 7 yards rushing apiece with Jamal Lewis resting a strained hip flexor muscle. Perennial Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden returned to action after missing most of training camp following his father's death.

"The whole offense struggled tonight. When you struggle up front, it's not a good night for the running backs, and that's what happened tonight," Smith said.

Minnesota's front four put plenty of pressure on McNair.

"He didn't have much place to step up and throw that football," coach Brad Childress said.

McNair was more concerned about correcting his own offense.

"It wasn't about them. It was more about us," McNair said. "I think we made too many mental mistakes for the third game."

Minnesota's Chester Taylor couldn't find running room for the third time this preseason, carrying 10 times for 27 yards against his old team. He's gaining 2.8 yards per rush.

Brad Johnson went 9-for-15 for 95 yards, with three completions for 43 yards to Troy Williamson, but Baltimore's defense was stingy as usual and yielded only a 45-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell -- who made three of his four three-point kicks.

Jason Carter, also a punt returner who is fighting for one of the last receiver spots on the roster, was the only offensive star for the Vikings. He caught two passes for 107 yards, including a 77-yard score from rookie Tarvaris Jackson in the fourth quarter to make it 20-7.

Wendell Mathis rushed 10 times for 41 yards, taking advantage of some extra snaps in a thin Minnesota backfield. Ciatrick Fason hurt his left shoulder in the first quarter and didn't return, and Mewelde Moore missed his second successive game because of a knee injury.

McNair has completed 31 of his 40 preseason passes, and this was his first interception. Acquired in a trade with Tennessee this summer, the oft-injured, three-time Pro Bowl pick is trying to give the Ravens the stability they've lacked at quarterback for years.

Kyle Boller, whom he replaced, went 9-for-15 for 105 yards with second-stringers. He guided an eight-play, 77-yard drive in the third quarter -- topping it off with a 1-yard scamper for a touchdown by sneaking the ball with his left hand just inside the pylon.

Boller had success with Clarence Moore, who made two impressive catches for 60 yards -- including a one-handed grab over Dovonte Edwards at the Minnesota 2 to set up Boller's score.

Third quarterback Brian St. Pierre struggled, throwing an interception to Willie Offord and fumbling after Ray Edwards' hit. The ball was scooped up by Khreem Smith and returned 29 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 remaining.

"I think this was the best game for the defense this preseason. We made a lot of splash plays," Offord said.

Matt Leinart Breaks Out! 15 of 21 for 144 and 1 TD; 'Zona Tops Bears 23-16

Once he gets set in the system, look out!

Leinart shines in Cards' win over Bears wire reports

CHICAGO (Aug. 25, 2006) -- Matt Leinart showed why the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 10th pick in the draft.

Leinart took over for Kurt Warner in the second quarter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the Arizona Cardinals over the Chicago Bears 23-16 in preseason action.

He entered the game with 5:13 left in the second quarter and completed 12 consecutive passes at one point, while leading the Cardinals (2-1) to a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown early in the third quarter.

Leinart completed all six passes on his second possession as the Cardinals drove 54 yards in the final minute of the half, Neil Rackers' field goal extending their lead to 10-6.

After Antrel Rolle intercepted Rex Grossman on the opening possession of the third quarter, Leinart went 4-for-4 as the Cardinals drove 42 yards against the Bears' first-string defense for a touchdown that made it 17-6.

Warner wasn't bad, either, going 8-for-11 with 73 yards and touchdown pass.

As expected, the Cardinals' Edgerrin James did not play much. He carried three times for minus-2 yards on the game's opening possession and did not return. In three preseason games, he has 1 yard on seven attempts.

Grossman was 13-of-21 for 117 yards and an interception after two rough preseason games for Chicago (1-2) but did little to end the quarterback debate among fans.

Backup Brian Griese was cheered when he entered with about five minutes left in the third. Then, he went 10-for-14 for 131 yards and a touchdown, and heard a "Griese! Griese!" chant late in the game.

Bears running back Thomas Jones did little to distinguish himself, rushing for 3 yards on four attempts in the first half after missing the first two preseason games with a pulled left hamstring.

Jones, who rushed for 1,335 yards last season, was dropped from No. 1 on the depth chart for missing voluntary offseason workouts. But the anticipated competition between him and Cedric Benson hit a snag before the first practice at training camp.

Jones pulled his hamstring while running during a physical on July 27.

Benson, meanwhile, got hurt and got into trouble.

The No. 4 draft pick in 2005, he missed his third game with a sprained left shoulder and is questionable for the preseason-finale at Cleveland. And the Bears disciplined Benson for leaving the sideline last week against San Diego and missing a mandatory postgame meeting.

After completing 10-of-25 passes for 130 yards in the first two preseason games, Grossman hit his first five and led a first-team offense that was scoreless in the preseason to a field goal on the Bears' first possession.

The Cardinals took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, the 67-yard drive culminating with Warner's 4-yard pass over two defenders to a leaping Leonard Pope in the right corner of the end zone.

Chicago's Robbie Gould kicked his second field goal - a 39-yarder - with 5:21 left in the half to make it 7-6, and he lined up for a 32-yarder with 1:00 left in the half. But the Bears called time, went for it on fourth-and-1, and Adrian Peterson got hit for a loss.

Leinart, who reported late and passed for 45 yards against New England last week in his preseason debut, hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 27-yard pass that helped set up Rackers' field goal. Leinart's 4-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson made it 17-6 early in the third.

Ben Roethlisberger Getting Sharp, But Eagles Top Steelers 16-7

Akers, Eagles defeat Steelers 16-7 wire reports

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 25, 2006) -- David Akers ' transition to a new holder is going well.

Akers kicked field goals of 40, 49 and 52 yards to help make Donovan McNabb's brief appearance a productive one, and Jeff Garcia connected with Greg Lewis on a 61-yard touchdown pass to lead the Philadelphia Eagles over the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-7.

McNabb led the Eagles to a pair of field goals before going to the bench. Meanwhile, the Steelers didn't get any points during the two series Ben Roethlisberger played. Charlie Batch threw a 23-yard TD pass to Cedric Wilson for Pittsburgh's only score. Kicker Jeff Reed missed field goals of 50 and 47 yards.

Akers made all three of his kicks with punter Dirk Johnson holding. For years, backup quarterback Koy Detmer held for Akers. However, Detmer figures to be the No. 3 quarterback behind McNabb and Garcia, so he likely will be inactive on game days.

"The 52-yarder was the best operation so far between me and Dirk, the most rhythmic," Akers said. "I'm going to learn from him and he's going to learn from me. We'll be good either way."

Roethlisberger finished 9-of-14 for 52 yards and one interception. McNabb was 7-of-9 for 79 yards, though he was sacked three times.

Kicker David Akers and holder Dirk Johnson are gelling at the right time.
The Eagles took a 9-7 halftime lead after Garcia drove the offense 35 yards on six plays in 38 seconds to set up Akers' 52-yarder just before the second quarter ended. Garcia completed passes of 15 and 18 yards to Reggie Brown on the drive.

Garcia's TD pass to Lewis put the Eagles ahead 16-7 in the third quarter. Lewis, fighting for one of the final wideout spots on Philadelphia's roster, beat cornerback Ricardo Colclough on a deep middle route, caught Garcia's pass in stride and streaked into the end zone. Lewis had his first two catches of the preseason for 91 yards.

"It was good to be able to do something positive," Lewis said.

The Steelers, 0-3 for the first time since going 0-4 in the 1987 preseason, remember that their starters didn't score a touchdown on offense last preseason -- but the team went on to win the franchise's first Super Bowl in 26 years.

Roethlisberger, whose June 12 motorcycle accident left him with a broken jaw, broken nose and a concussion, played two series in the first two games, leading the offense on one drive that ended in a missed field goal and one touchdown while mostly using a no-huddle.

Roethlisberger didn't speak to reporters, but coach Bill Cowher said he's pleased with his quarterback.

"I like where he's at," Cowher said. "I like his mindset. I like the way he's operating the offense and I like where he's at -- not just in games, but in practices."

McNabb, who missed the final seven games last year following surgery for a sports hernia, has played well for the Eagles. He's led the offense to two touchdowns, four field goals and 26 points on nine drives. Overall, McNabb is 23-of-31 for 283 yards, one TD and no interceptions in four games.

"If you look back to last year, we had about 19 or 22 guys injured. You just can't win any sport like that," McNabb said. "All of us are healthy. All of us are playing well together."

Roethlisberger looked sharp while driving the Steelers to the Eagles 35 on the opening drive. But he took an intentional grounding penalty, was sacked by Darren Howard on the next play, and his pass was picked off by Brian Dawkins on third-and-38.

The Eagles' first drive almost ended when Ike Taylor stepped in front of McNabb's pass to Brown and appeared to make an interception, but the play was overturned after Philadelphia challenged just before the Steelers' offense snapped the ball.

Akers then kicked a 40-yarder for a 3-0 lead, and hit one from 49 yards out on the next drive.

Eagles wideout Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season after tearing his right Achilles tendon in training camp, played in his first game since the Super Bowl 18 1/2 months ago. He had one catch for 4 yards.

Philadelphia running back Correll Buckhalter, who has missed three of the last four seasons with knee injuries, looked strong in his second game. Buckhalter ran for 31 yards on seven carries and had four catches for 16 yards.

Randy Moss Scores Twice; Raiders Beat Lions 21 - 3 -

Randy Moss escaped the Detroit secondary. And yes, we do link back to the Mothership

Moss, Raiders rout Lions 21-3 wire reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (Aug. 25, 2006) -- Randy Moss and Aaron Brooks look as if they're already in midseason form.

Moss caught two touchdown passes from Brooks and the Oakland Raiders opened the preseason with four straight wins for the first time since 1975, beating the Detroit Lions 21-3.

"It's going in the right direction," coach Art Shell said. "We're making progress in all aspects of our team. But it's still a work in progress. We have a lot to do."

Brooks got off to a slow start in his first season in Oakland, completing only one pass in each of his first two exhibition games. But after an improved performance last week against San Francisco, Brooks showed signs of being able to click with Moss better than Kerry Collins did last season.

On just the third play from scrimmage, Brooks lofted a deep ball down the middle to Moss, who easily beat Fernando Bryant for a 63-yard touchdown catch and dove into the end zone. Moss flipped the ball to the fans in the Black Hole after his first touchdown catch from Brooks this preseason.

Quarterback Aaron Brooks has looked solid since his arrival in Raider Nation.
"It was nice to finally hook up for six," Brooks said. "He ran a hell of a route. The safety bit on the crossing route. Randy did his job diving into the end zone. It was a great effort on his part."

Brooks went 5-for-7 for 65 yards on the Raiders' third drive, connecting with Moss on a 14-yard pass on a third-and-7 and then finding the big-play receiver on a twisting 25-yard catch in the back of the end zone.

Brooks went 3-for-3 for 59 yards on the next drive, which was capped by LaMont Jordan's 14-yard touchdown run that made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter.

The Raiders also excelled on defense, forcing three turnovers and holding the Lions scoreless until Jason Hanson 's 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The performance improved Oakland to 4-0 in the preseason for the first time since Shell was a player.

Shell, brought in to change the attitude in Oakland after three straight losing seasons under Bill Callahan and Norv Turner has the Raiders looking good with one exhibition game remaining.

"He is leading us in the right direction and the best thing about it is we're following," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said.

Detroit tried to revamp its offense in the offseason by cutting quarterback Joey Harrington loose, bringing in Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and hiring Rod Marinelli as head coach. With one preseason game remaining, the Lions still need plenty of work.

Detroit's only touchdown the past two games came on a 15-yard drive after a turnover in last week's 20-16 loss to Cleveland.

"It's no reason to panic and start doubting what we're doing," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "There's no reason for that."

The team came out flat after flying into Oakland Friday morning, instead of the usual practice of traveling a day in advance.

Kitna went 11-for-22 for 118 yards and one interception and the team managed only 76 yards rushing. Dan Orlovsky, who has moved ahead of Josh McCown as the No. 2 quarterback, went 7-for-15 for 88 yards and one interception.

"The first half wasn't what we want. We had two or three breakdowns, and those things just can't happen," Marinelli said. "It's inexcusable. Those types of things can't happen. ... I would have been disappointed (even) if it was a scrimmage."

Brooks, who was let go after a rough season in New Orleans last year, is showing signs of a revival in Oakland. He was 9-for-15 for 187 yards, while Moss had three catches for 102 yards.

After being challenged for the starting job by Andrew Walter early in camp, Brooks has solidified the job with the two string performances. He is 19-for-32 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and one interception the last two weeks and appears ready for the season.

"I will say this, we would love to have that kind of performance on Monday night," Brooks said, referring to the season opener against San Diego. "That's what we're working for."

Seattle Seahawks Ready For Regular Season - Anja Crotts

Well fans, preseason is halfway over and we are only a few short weeks from starting a regular season sweep. In past years, Seahawks preseason has not been indicative of the upcoming regular season. We have been known to win three out of four games, then go on to a terrible season. Last preseason we went 3-3, then went on to win the division championship, and then on to get cheated out of a Super Bowl ring. Bottom line, they are practice games after all.

However, these games do show us a glimpse of what it to be seen in regular season. Hasselbeck is steady and strong and right on target, which is exactly what we want to see from our fearless leader. Alexander only had a few touches, which was expected, but we know he will be fine and will b-line for the spotlight when the regular season rolls around.

We have also seen a few starters earn their spots back, such as Trufant and Herndon at cornerback, Boulware at safety along with key returner Ken Hamlin, who we are extremely lucky to have back on the field…. And lets not forget that! However, we do have an up and coming players to take note of – Jordan Babineaux. He can play all positions, plays them all very well, and is fighting for each one of them. On top of that, he is smart and has learned all the positions so he can fill in at any time, and he is also much respected on the field. He will be a key player to watch as the season goes on.

Preseason training camp has now come to a close, and Holmgren is pleased with the efforts and play by his team, as are the players. In every interview and article I've read, the whole team is optimistic for the upcoming season and very pleased with everyone's play so far. It's going to be a great season, and all of Seattle knows it, which is why every game is sold out! Atta Seattle!! Get ready, because it's time to win back our rightfully owned Super Bowl!


Matt Leinart? Kurt Warner? NFL Fantasy Football - Anja Crotts

Baseball season is slowly coming to a close, and football preseason has begun! Fans are getting excited, and of course, the main talk is who is doing what on the field right now, but in reality, preseason games mean nothing.

However, these games do give us a taste of what it to be seen in regular season. We often see some players come out in shine in preseason, and therefore most fantasy football (FF) 'team owners' make their decisions based on preseason with a hint of remembrance from last season.

You'll see a lot of FF teams pick up Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner, two great examples of quarterbacks which are sure to be picked up by those inexperienced FF teams. The best strategy is usually to be calculated, smart, and steady… so fill your teams with players who are such.

Of course you know I'm going to say some Seahawks, such as Hasselbeck and Alexander, they have proven themselves to be great, steady, constant-numbers players.

There are the big name players as well, such as Tiki Barber, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, Larry Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Clinton Portis, and Marvin Harrison, just to name a few.

Will anyone be so risky as to take Terrell Owens? Probably. If he's in the game, he'll make plays. Chad Johnson is sure to make a solid return, but Tomlinson and Priest Holmes are sidelined… sure lots of unknowns this year with some big names! No matter what, stay smart and steady – you'll win the race!