Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cal 30, Stanford 21 - Golden Bears will win Big Game

The Cal Stanford Big Game day is here and Cal will beat Stanford 30 to 21.

I've got to get this and a few other blog posts in before I leave for Atherton and then Palo Alto, but man what fun this week has been. So much Big Game fun it curtails the work routine.

The problem of any content creator - with the exception of a game developer of which I also am (just run my Oakland Baseball Simworld) - is that you have to create it before you install it. In my case that means being out and about, then tired, and then again too tired to pull an all-nighter to enter anything. But that's ok.

Now to important Big Game matters, working backward in time from now.

If you're wondering why you've seen so many Stanford photos on the front page it's due in large part to the fact that one of the SFGate editors is a Stanford grad and dad who's shall remain nameless until Cal wins and he has to deliver what will be my prized bottle of Merlot. As I wrote to him, the wine represents Cardinal blood and will be well consumed by me after we (Cal) clobber Stanford!

Friday featured the playing of the 27th annual Little Game. This touch football mega-event is the brainchild of my friend Cal grad and now Yahoo Sports Senior Writer Mike Silver and is played every year on the Friday before the Big Game. We played from (well for me because I arrived late) 4 PM to dark and I made a video of it that you will see next week.

As for the game's outcome, it ended in a tie and with 10-year-old Zach Heywood running 98 yards to score a touchdown as a group of Old Blues tried in vain to find him in the dark!

After that we met at the famous Sacramento and Front Street Cal grad institution that's called The Royal Exchange to catch up with friends and have a decent cocktail, coupled (for me) with dinner at Globe Restaurant, then a jaunt to meet friends at Cafe Prague, then winding up at The Clift Hotel, then home.


On Wednesday, it was the Guardsmen Luncheon at The Fairmount Hotel, where comedian Bob Sarlatte delivered his annually good monologue with an array of jokes and quips that included a little factoid that this was former Examiner and Chronicle Sports Columnist Glenn Dickey's 328th Big Game luncheon!

At the event, Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh took the podium to a somewhat muted chant of "Go for two!" by Cal grads - including me. Cal Coach Jeff Tedford reported that star running back Jahvid Best is getting better rapidly and said that it was good he just had the concussion as it could have been worse.

Big Game Day! But a word on the protest

But now, it's time for the Big Game, but I have to say a few words about Friday's protest at Cal that resulted in the occupation of Wheeler Hall for 11 hours. I think one reason Big Game celebration seemed to lack the on-campus zest of the past (and why we went to San Francisco) was the feeling that the University itself doesn't support its students as they try to get an education.

Increasing tuition such that it will eventually cost over $10,000 per semester and in a recession is heartless. Moreover, not decreasing University staff incomes by 20 percent is equally a mistake.

There is a disturbing pattern developing where the people that run California government and education corporations want to tax and charge the poorest consumers of service, rather than feel some of the pain with an income cut.

This is especially true in Oakland with the parking tow sting that's still going on, taking in more Oaklanders in terrible ways that eventually will change the politics of the city. Meanwhile, a number of City of Oakland non-elected staffers enjoy incomes at and over $200,000 a year and with no cut in sight.

If you're wondering what all this has to do with the Big Game, that's just the point: everything! It's hard to have as much fun when your government and education leaders seem to be trying to stick it to you, but the show must go on!

GO BEARS! Beat Stanford!


by TJ ROSENTHAL for Football Reporters Online

Watch The You Tube Video Here:

The J-e-t-s Jets Jets Jets were left for dead late Sunday as Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew jokingly apologized at the podium to fantasy owners for taking a knee to help run out the clock. Now  4-5 and somehow trailing in the AFC wildcard hunt after a 3-0 start, even coach Rex Ryan admitted after the last second 24-22 loss to Jones-Drew's Jacksonville Jaguars that a playoff berth now looked bleak. Then suddenly that night hope arrived when Bill Belichick of all people, helped breathe life into a Gang Green season that was beginning to appear hopeless.

The controversial decision by Belichick to ice the game against the undefeated Peyton Manning led Colts from his own 28 with a six point lead and just 2:08 left, backfired.  The stunning 35-34 win, capped by Manning's game winning TD throw to WR Reggie Wayne with 0:15 left after the Pats failed 4th and 2, leaves the Jets only two games back of the hated Pats. The Jets could find themselves just one off the AFC East division lead while owning the head to head tiebreaker with a win in Foxboro Sunday.

 Make no bones about it though, Sunday will be a monumental challenge. Maybe the clubs toughest they will face all year. The 6-3  Pats want revenge for their week two loss at the Meadowlands while QB Tom Brady was shaking off  the rust from season ending knee surgery in 2008. They'll also look to erase the bad taste in their mouth from having the Colts on the ropes, then letting them off the hook. Nonetheless, it's as good of a position that a Jet team who has lost five of six could've hoped for.

The Pats are not the same team the Jets saw in September. The biggest reason is that Tom Brady is back. The Pats most important player is second in the NFL in passing yards with 2,739, trailing only Manning with 2,872.  Brady is tied for second with Drew Brees for TD passes with 19 (again trailing only Manning who has 20). The Brady to Randy Moss combo has also woken up. After the slow start , Moss is now second in the league in both yards with 891 and TDs with seven. Pesky WR Wes Welker, out early in the year with hamstring issues, is healthy again and once again a threat to eat up yardage if too much attention is focused on Moss.

The Jets are at this point, a shell of their early season selves. They own the NFL's top rushing attack averaging 170 yards per game despite losing Leon Washington for the year out in Oakland. The swagger of the team is gone though. Or missing at least. Mounting losses will do that to a team. By week four as the Jets were headed to New Orleans in what was at the time, a battle of the undefeated, many were calling the Jets defense the top unit in the NFL.  The 27-17 loss in the Big Easy gave Jet fans the first look at the types of mistakes rookieQB Mark Sanchez could make. A key ill advised interception in the end zone to FS Darren Sharper gave the Saints a 10-0 lead and they never looked back. The loss was followed by the defense then getting humbled for the first time as well, as they got torched for 416 yards by the Wildcat in Miami in week 5. Things got worse the following week as the glue of the defense NG Kris Jenkins was lost for the season to a torn ACL during a  week six OT loss to putrid Buffalo. Run stopping has suffered since. Jones-Drew burned the Jets for 123 yards last Sunday. Sanchez threw an astounding 5 interceptions during the Bills loss, raising the questions of how much responsibility the Jets should entrust the rookie with the rest of the way.

 The second meeting between the clubs will renew a rivalry that contains a decade of seething hatred. Bill Parcells left New England for the Jets in 1997 then Bill Belichick returned the favor. Slated to be announced as the new Jet coach in 2000, Belichick pulled a trick play out of his book and resigned as "HC" of the Jets at the press conference announcing him. In doing this he avoided the shadow that Parcells as a front office man would've cast over his star pupil. Belichick then went on to return to New England where he was Parcells defensive coordinator in the mid nineties,  to win four Super Bowls in New England. Doing it  with the help of a coaching staff that consisted of many former Jet assistants under Parcells. 

The rivalry took another odd turn when top Pats assistant Eric Mangini then usurped Belichick's wishes to go anywhere but the Jets and signed on to become of course, the Jets head coach in 2006. Mangini was immediately locked out of the Foxboro facility. In 2007 after a blowout loss in the opener, "Mangenius" then complained that the Pats were using cameras to spy on the Jet sidelines. This brought about the controversial "Spygate" incident which threatened to ruin Belichick's credibility and hall of fame resume as new charges against "Belicheat"  seemed to come out of the woodwork every day.

 In the Spring of 2009, new Jet head coach Rex Ryan injected some new blood into the storyline by proclaiming that he didn't come to New York "to kiss Bill Belichick's rings." Given the result in week two,  a 16-9 win over Belicheck's crew, Ryan looked like the leader of team that could talk the talk AND walk the walk. In fact, after the game, outspoken Jet LB Bart Scott defended teammate CB Darelle Revis, who did a great job on perennial All Pro WR Randy Moss, on a day that included a key interception by the Jets top corner on a pass intended for Moss. 

"I hear the easy copout by Randy Moss, saying that anybody can guard ... that 'I can play cornerback if I had safety help,'" Scott said. "That was a one-on-one jump ball. I think sometimes you've just got to give the man his credit, understand that [Revis] was the better man that day..[Revis] shut him down. He intimidated him. Randy was coming across that middle real slow. Tell him to man up next time and come across the middle like a man if he wants to be a complete receiver."

Rest assured Moss and the Patriots haven't forgotten their performance that day or the words exchanged by both clubs after the game.  When it comes to the Jets- Patriots there is no such thing as a short memory, only a long history of bad blood. This brings us now to the latest chapter in the saga.

While Belichick spent Monday trying to justify why he had no faith in his defense down the stretch at  Indy, Ryan spent part of Monday according to locker room reports, giving a passionate plea to his team that drove the rookie head coach to tears.

Offensive lineman Damien Woody reported "He was talking about the situation -- this upcoming game with New England and how we're still there, how we still have a pulse. He said It's all about us, that nobody believes in us and that we are the only ones who believe we can get things done..He said, 'I believe in you; I believe you get can get this thing done,' and that's when he really got emotional." Revis added" I haven't been a part of a meeting where a coach cried like that."

Emotions. That's what the Jets need. They played so well early on when they were driven by them. The Jets have to stick together and begin to believe like winners again, because as Woody noted regarding Ryan's speech, few believe in the Jets right now. Only the players themselves can help change the perception that the Jets season is for all intensive purposes, over. The chance to reinvent themselves and not waste what was a promising start to 2009, presents itself Sunday. Albeit, it's the first place Pats they are dealing with. The hated Pats. The Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Pats. Drama and daunting task aside, with a win the Jets will be back in business again in the AFC East. 


JET PRESSURE ON BRADY. That how the Jets beat the Pats in week two. Brady was rushed, off his timing, and inaccurate. Much of it due to rust, the other, the Jet pressure. Without pressure, you can forget about it.

REVIS MOSS ROUND TWO: The winner of this battle will give his team the edge. "Revis Island" won the first one but Moss has been on fire since and surely remembers the bravado the Jets spoke with in shutting him down.

EMOTION: The Jets have to play with emotion Sunday. There has to be a "back against the wall" and  "us against the world mentality." This rivalry seems to bring it out naturally, but the Jets shouldn't wait to get kicked in the face before they decide to  get themselves going. If they do that in Foxboro,  it may be too late.

Watercooler Chat-The Waiver Wire

Watercooler Chat-By by David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

The Waiver Wire

Week 10 Wire

If you missed the bus last week, you might have caught a break if fantasy owners were paying attention to the injury reports on running back Ladell Betts. Even with Portis listed as doubtful last week there were questions about Betts health and it wasn't until late in the week that he appeared a solid go for Sunday. Well there are no questions this week and after his Sunday performance against the Broncos, you had better be quick on the move to snag him off the wire this week.

Another new darling to add to your list this week comes from the St. Louis Rams, rookie wide receiver Brandon Gibson. Elevated into action beacuse of the injury to Keenan Burton last week, Gibson quickly made his presence felt catching seven balls for 93 yards. The Rams rookie was targeted frequently and appears to be in line to start Sunday. Facing an inconsistent Cardinals secondary that is ranked 30th, if Bulger is able to find time Gibson could be a nice pick up for week 11.

There aren't too many games this season that Browns running back Jamal Lewis is going to circle on his calendar, but Sunday could be one of the few. This week he and the Browns travel to Detroit to face the Lions and their 19th ranked defense that is allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Last Monday night the offense really struggled with Quinn returning under center, expect Mangini to lean heavily on the ground game to take some pressure off.

With Brian Westbrook down, but not out just yet the door has been swung wide open for rookie running back LeSean McCoy. The Eagles rookie runner has been more than a capable replacement when give the opportunity. In his last two starts for Philly McCoy has averaged 92 yards from scrimmage and this season he's carrying a four yard plus per carry average. McCoy also gives the team the versatility out of the backfield with 23 receptions this season. With Westy out for at least the next couple if not several weeks, McCoy is a nice replacement option and even has a little more value in PPR leagues.

Playing the Fantasy GM

Sometimes when you are the man in charge you just have to grab the reigns and make the call. One of those big decisions is knowing when to sit a player and when to start a player, much like real coaches and GMs operate. When the season started many fantasy owners likely expected their week one or week two pick up of quarterback Brett Favre was more for insurance than anything else. Now that we are 10 weeks into the season, those owners are having to re-evaluate their rosters.

The GM Game

At 39 years of age it was conceivable to believe that Brett Favre's best days had past him and that even with a talented team like the Vikings he would only best serve as a fantasy back up. There must magic at 40, or 40 is really the new 30. Since turning 40 on October 10th, Favre has elevated his play. As of Oct 18th this season, in his last four starts the Vikings quarterback is averaging 300-yards passing per game and has throw eight touchdowns with only two turnovers. In that span, Brett Favre is averaging 23 fantasy points per game, better than Drew Brees (18 pts/game), Peyton Manning (22 pts/game), and Matt Schaub (19 pts/game). As well as he is playing he should now be considered a number one fantasy quarterback and he's a must start. With a remaining schedule that includes; the Bears (16 passing touchdowns allowed) twice, the Cardinals (ranked 30th against the pass), the Seahawks (ranked 22nd), and the Bengals (ranked 21st) Favre is a must-start everyweek! Start him!


By William Queen Jr. Contributing Writer-Football Reporters Online
All the bye weeks are over and that means that the NFL, along with all its players, is back in full swing. And out of the grand spectrum of players the NFL has to offer, I think the Atlanta Falcons 3rd string running back Jason Snelling will surprise many as this week’s fantasy sleeper.
Fresh off the bench, Snelling is getting an opportunity this week vs. the Giants to show the world why he’s in the NFL. The funny thing is that it’s all off injuries suspense. Both starter Michael Turner and 2nd stringer Jerious Norwood will be treating their injuries this week, giving Snelling the chance he’s been waiting for.
Coming off the best performance of his career last week vs. the Panthers, there couldn’t have been a better time for Snelling to get the start. He ran for 61 yards and 1 touchdown off 18 carries last week vs. Carolina; that’s with split carries. The Giants haven’t exactly been the same smash-mouth defense that we remember them being in years past, so it shouldn’t be very tough to reach 100 if he gets a fair dosage of carries.
It’s not very often that a 3rd string running back gets a shot at starting vs. the New York Giants and the fact that he’s been doing great this season just adds to the likely hood of him doing well. So look for Snelling to take advantage of the situation and make the most of it and, hopefully, the most of your fantasy team.

NFC South Week 10 Wrap Up

  NFC South Week 10 Wrap Up

By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer
Southeast Region

New Orleans 28 St. Louis 23
This was not supposed to be this hard for the Saints, but with the kind of football they have played recently, it’s no surprise that it was. Drew Brees started the year blowing defenses away with accuracy and hardly any mistakes. These past few games he has shown many flaws that can cost the Saints down the line come playoff time. So they came in to this with the chance to find their offense again. To put together four quarters of Saints football that add up to points. What they did was continue to make the mistakes that have made the past three games harder on them. The Rams had more first downs, more passing yards and more total yards. That is some of the things that have not happened to the Saints all year. They turned the ball over three times in all. Brees threw two more picks and was 18-26 for 223 yards. He also threw for two touchdown but once again was unable to dominate a lesser team. Reggie Bush had two scores for the first time since last year and Courtney Roby returned the second half kickoff 97 yards for another score. All of this was needed to hold off a 1-8 team that has not put up much of a fight against most opponents this year. The defense is really becoming an issue they must address now. The Rams were able to run with Steven Jackson (26-131 and a touchdown), and pass with Marc Bulger (26-40 298 and 2 scores with one pick). If the Saints are hoping to overtake the likes of Indianapolis, New England or defending champion Pittsburgh they have much work to do. They did rush for over 200 yards but must find a balance of pass and run to be more effective. They will have to tighten up on defense, as the elite teams will eat them alive in the postseason with their failures and mistakes.
Carolina 28 Atlanta 19
The theme of a Panthers win is simple these days. Don’t let Jake Delhomme get rattled and provided him with some defense to help. For the third game in a row he was turnover free and finished 15-24 for 195 yards and two touchdowns to Steve Smith. The running game was just as effective with DeAngelo Williams getting 92 yards on 19 carries and Jonathan Stewart adding 82 with two scoring runs. Carolina used the hurry up offense with Delhomme calling the plays and it worked pretty well. The Falcons on the other hand had their issues and the first one was the injury to running back Michael Turner’s ankle. He had already rushed for 111 yards when he got hurt and is now questionable for this week. Quarterback Matt Ryan had a horrendous first half and finished up 22-41 for just 224 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He has now thrown as many picks as last year and is suffering from the so-called sophomore jinx. The defense was shorthanded and they were out of sync all day. Jason Elam is one of the most sure fire kickers in this league and even he missed a 34-yard field goal that would have put the Falcons in the lead. Still Carolina found a way to keep Atlanta in the game until Richard Marshall intercepted a Ryan pass and then Stewart ran away with the game on his 45-yard scamper to end it.
Miami 25 Tampa Bay 23
Well it looks like the Bucs may have found their future quarterback in a season otherwise lost. For the second consecutive week Josh Freeman led his team on a fourth quarter comeback but fell just short this time. He was 16-28 for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception but showed why this team chose him. He was also harassed by the Dolphins defense as he fumbled a snap to stop a drive and fumbled two more while being sacked but kept those. Still he had those shining moment you love to see out of an underdog type player like his scoring strike to Maurice Stovall to end the first quarter. The way he can keep his cool long enough to lead this team to the comeback when they really have no business being in the game. Kellen Winslow continues to improve getting over 100 yards receiving for the second time this year. Still head coach Raheem Morris continues to look for the right personnel to make this team click. Freeman is gaining confidence while learning the game of the NFL. His teammates are impressed with his ability to keep his cool in the line of fire. Kicker Connor Barth had field goals of 51,49,50 and 54 yards showing that the team has a kicker they can count on for the long one.

“FRO’s Favorite Five” Frankie’s Favorite Fantasy Picks Week 11

“FRO’s Favorite Five”
Frankie’s Favorite Fantasy Picks
Week 11

By Frankie Underwood, Senior Fantasy Writer at Email questions and comments to

Short and sweet this week, since I have a weekend vacation:

Atlanta QB Matt Ryan against a still depleted Giants defense.

Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall against Kansas City.

Baltimore WR Derrick Mason against a depleted secondary in Indianapolis.

Chicago TE Greg Olsen against the Eagles.

Cincinnati Defense against Oakland with a new starting QB.

Last Weeks Favorite Five

Donovan McNabb - 450 passing yards 2 TDs 1 INT, that’s what I like to see.

Laurence Maroney - 31 rush yards 15 receiving yards 1 TD and 1 Fumble, at least he scored.

Sidney Rice – 200 receiving yards, what a day!!!

Todd Heap – 43 receiving yards, I guess that’s O.K.

Dallas Cowboys – 4 sacks, Tennessee or Green Bay would have been better choices.

Seven & Out – Week #10

Seven & Out – Week #10

By Michael – Louis Ingram-Associate Editor/Director of Scouting Football Reporters Online/ Contributing Writer-Black

PHILADELPHIA (BASN/FRO): The teams are approaching the top of the stretch, and as always, it will be not a matter of how one starts; but how one finishes.
Meanwhile, let’s get back to rollin’ those bones. Alright, shooter - the point is 10;
The NEW ORLEANS SAINTS defeated the St. Louis Rams 28-23 and improved to 9-0 for the first time in franchise history.  The Saints have scored an NFL-best 331 points, the fourth-most by a team in the first nine games of a season in NFL history.
(As the legions of fantasy fondlers masturbate at the sound of his name, I can’t find fault with 9-0; however, I can find fault with a contemptible punk like Drew Brees, who had the nerve to say the Old School retired players who helped him become a millionaire didn’t matter. With the overall offensive talent the Saints have, just about any QB could be successful with them now. So point blank – win some games in December, and a playoff game or two, and then we’ll talk. Until then, fuck Drew Brees - and the hobbyhorse he rode in on!)
Tennessee running back CHRIS JOHNSON rushed for 132 yards in the Titans’ 41-17 win against the Buffalo Bills.   Johnson, who leads the NFL with 1,091 rushing yards and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry, joined Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (1963) and Vikings running back ADRIAN PETERSON (2007) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and average 6.4 yards per carry in a team’s first nine games of a season.
(We love Chris Johnson and the way he plays; but we have issues with the mainstream press ignoring Vince Young going 3-0 since reclaiming the starting spot; not, mind you, at the behest of head coach Jeff Fisher, but team owner Bud Adams. Hmmm - maybe the bird flipped by Adams after the victory over Buffalo wasn’t for the Bills’ fans after all).
San Diego running back LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the Chargers’ 31-23 win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Tomlinson recorded his 145th and 146th career touchdown and surpassed MARCUS ALLEN (145) for the third-most touchdowns all-time (JERRY RICE, 208; EMMITT SMITH, 175).  Tomlinson, who now has 12,145 career rushing yards also moved into 12th place for most rushing yards all-time.
(And, while Tomlinson is still being unappreciated in San Diego, Andy Reid and the Eagles continue to bitch up in prime time with their spineless approach on offense; I would rather have my defense go first and 10 from the opposition’s one yard line with no points scored than kick a fucking 8 yard field goal! Meanwhile 24 carries and two rushing touchdowns for L.T. and a game where Donovan McNabb threw for 450 yards, a career record – but still loses the fucking game - Lies, damn lies – and statistics; need I say any more?)
Arizona quarterback KURT WARNER threw two touchdown passes in the Cardinals’ 31-20 victory against the Seattle Seahawks.  Warner, who now has 200 touchdown passes, reached the mark in his 118th career game, becoming the fifth-fastest player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. 
(While Warner is a good guy, let’s remember that the throw means nothing – without the catch. Give Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston and Ben Patrick some love, too!)
Minnesota quarterback BRETT FAVRE passed for a season-high 344 yards in his 300th consecutive start (including postseason) in a 27-10 win over the Detroit Lions.  Favre’s 344 yards are the third-most passing yards in a game by a 40-year old quarterback in NFL history.  He trails only Pro Football Hall of Famer WARREN MOON (409 on October 26, 1997) and VINNY TESTAVERDE (355 on September 12, 2004).
(While Favre continues to rack up accolades, we know it took Testaverde at least a decade before he became a successful pro quarterback, and Moon was a star walking in the door.  As Minnesota seeks to fine-tune their potential for post-season success, they would do well to remember that #4 may make the noise, but #28 does the damage. Forget Adrian Peterson – and you can forget Miami; no matter how much swashbuckling is done).
Buffalo rookie safety JAIRUS BYRD registered his eighth interception of the season today against Tennessee.  Byrd has an interception in five consecutive games and is one of only two players since 1970 with an interception in five consecutive games in their first season in the NFL.  The other was Kansas City’s ERIC HARRIS in 1980 (six in a row).
(With all the noise made about young talent on the offensive side of the ball, a lot of defensive talent is taking a back seat due to the lack of publicity. Byrd has already proven to be a skilled ball hawk as a Buffalo Bill {like father, like son, right Gil?} and is a likely free agent prize-in-waiting should he remain healthy in a couple years; and Byrd is my front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Don’t let this one get away, Mr. Wilson!)
In a 41-17 win over Buffalo, Tennessee Titans head coach JEFF FISHER became the 10th head coach in NFL history to coach 250 career games (regular and postseason) with one team.  The Titans’ victory gives Fisher 136 wins for his career, tying him with Hall of Famer HANK STRAM for 20th all-time.
(They should subtract the 21 games Vince Young has won; since Fisher never wanted him quarterbacking his team in the first place. Rest assured, if he’s going to win any more games for the Titans, it will be with Young under center, if he knows what’s good for him).
Well, as always – once the point’s established, if you throw a seven, you’re gonna crap out!

FRO's FAVORITE FIVE Top Five NFL Moments - Week 10

Photo: Lucas Oil Stadium-Where Peyton Manning trumped Bill Belichick ....

Top Five NFL Moments - Week 10
by Jon Wagner, Sr. Writer-At Large, Football Reporters Online


After starting the 2009 season 4-0 on the road but just 1-3 at home, Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals appeared headed for another head-scratching home defeat. They trailed Seattle, which came in 0-3 on the road, 14-0 more than halfway through the second quarter, after being stopped on their first five drives. Then, Warner and the Cardinals caught fire, scoring on their next three possessions and on five of their next six, spanning the game’s final three quarters. In the end, the Cardinals scored 31 of the game’s final 37 points, to beat the Seahawks, 31-20. Warner finished the game throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 29 of 38 passes for 340 yards. It marked the 51st career 300-yard game for Warner, tying him with the legendary Dan Fouts for fourth on the all-time NFL list.


Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson calls his teammate Sidney Rice “Showtime,” but he didn’t come up with the nickname himself. “He’s got it tattooed on his arm,” Peterson said. ”It fits him well.” It certainly did on Sunday, in the Vikings’ 27-10 victory over the Detroit Lions, who joined the Houston Oilers (1982-84) as the only NFL teams to lose 31 of 33 games. Rice caught seven passes, accounting for 201 of Brett Favre’s season high 344 yards, to help the Vikings to 492 total yards of offense. It was the third time in four games that “Showtime” put on a show, as the Vikings’ 2007 second-round pick followed up receiving games of 176 yards in a win over Baltimore in Week 6 and a 136-yard effort in a Week 7 loss at Pittsburgh.


The Cincinnati Bengals resurgence this season doesn’t surprise me. After all, I picked them on our FRO Show as my surprise turnaround team of 2009 after their 4-11-1 season last year. I have to admit though, I didn’t think it would be the Bengals defense that would lead them back this year. I figured their defense would be better, but I thought a strong year from Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco would be leading the charge. And, although a 7-2 isn’t far off from where I thought they’d be at this point in 2009, I do find it hard to fathom that the Bengals have matched last year’s win total solely against their two biggest division rivals, after already sweeping both Baltimore and Pittsburgh. On Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Bengals, using a 96-yard kick return for a touchdown and a punishing defense, beat the Steelers at their own game, not even needing an offensive touchdown, to win, 18-12. Cincinnati held Pittsburgh to 226 total yards, sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times, intercepted him once, and most importantly, did not allow a Steeler touchdown. As a result, there’s a new balance of power in the NFC North, as the Steelers and Ravens are now chasing the Bengals this year.


At 3-6, the Tennessee Titans have had a very tough season overall, but one constant has been Chris Johnson. It’s just that now, Johnson’s exploits are leading to Titans’ victories. Johnson has been excelling all year long, but a lot of that came through an 0-6 start for Tennessee. Lately though, Johnson’s personal success has rubbed off on his teammates to the tune of a three-game winning streak. On Sunday, Johnson, as he has been all season, was a dangerous dual threat. This time, the talented running back reached triple digits both rushing and receiving, carrying 26 times for 132 yards while catching nine passes for another 100 yards. The second of his two rushing touchdowns broke a 17-17 tie with Buffalo, and started a huge 24-0 fourth quarter for Tennessee that was capped by the Titan’s defense returning two interceptions for touchdowns. Johnson is one of just three players in the NFL (the Ravens’ Ray Rice and the Rams’ Stephen Jackson, the others) who leads his team in both rushing and receiving.


Near the conclusion of NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast of the Indianapolis Colts’ stunning 35-34 comeback win over the New England Patriots, a happy Colts fan flashed a sign for the NBC cameras. It read simply, “Nobody Beats Colts.” Thanks to a huge miscalculation by Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick, those words remain true so far this season. The 9-0 Colts indeed had beaten everyone else so far this season, but to stay undefeated on Sunday, they needed someone else to beat themselves. With Belichik’s help, the Colts rallied from a 31-14 fourth quarter deficit to win a 35-34 thriller in the final seconds. Indianapolis still trailed 34-21 after a New England field goal with just 4:12 left in the game, but Peyton Manning led a 6-play, 79-yard drive in just 1:44, to cut the Patriots’ lead to 34-28 with 2:23 to go. Perhaps seeing how easily and how quickly the Colts marched down the field on that drive, Belichik then decided to do the unthinkable, going for a first down on 4th-and-2 from the Patriots’ own 28-yard line with 2:08 rather than punt the ball away and make Manning and the Colts earn the win with a typical long, two-minute drill type of drive. It initially appeared that the gamble worked, when Kevin Faulk had the ball past the first down marker, but he bobbled it, and was pushed backward while doing so, leaving him short of the first down. The Colts took advantage of Belichik’s failed risk, and moved to 9-0 on the season, going 29 yards on four plays in 1:47, winning the game on Manning’s fourth touchdown of the night, with just 13 seconds left. The irony in the Colts’ win is that it was their 18th straight regular season victory, finishing the 2008 regular season with nine wins and beginning the 2009 season with the same. That in itself isn’t ironic, what is though, is the fact that much is made (and rightfully so) of New England being the only team to go through an entire regular season with a perfect record of 16-0, and extending that to 18-0 in the playoffs. And, here was of all teams, New England, looking to prevent the Colts from going 18-0 over their past eighteen regular season games, and they had a great chance to do it on the Colts’ home field. But, because they couldn’t put the Indianapolis away with a big fourth quarter lead, Belichik panicked into giving the Colts a gift which allowed them to continue their own streak. Interesting stuff in Indy in the latest chapter of a great rivalry between two of the NFL’s best teams over the past decade or so.


Photo: By Bill Menzel-Jets QB Mark Sanchez hands off to RB Thomas Jones

by TJ Rosenthal for Football Reporters Online

This WAS a playoff game. This WAS the game that was slated decide the fate of the 4-4 Jets who stare down the barrel of a brutal second half schedule that includes the Pats, Colts, Falcons, Bengals as well as the always tough Bills in Orchard Park. A win on Sunday and the Jets could find a starting point for navigating through a harrowing November and December. It was not to be. A crushing 24-22 loss to the now 5-4 Jacksonville Jaguars,  has left the Jets desperate and needing help in order to reach the postseason. A far cry from a 3-0 start that had left many Jet faithful willing to believe this was NOT the "same old Jets." Well, doubt has crept back into Jet nation.

The Jets gave up 21 first half points and trailed 21-13 at the half. The malaise attributed to perhaps the two week layoff coming off of their bye week. Both S Jim Leonard and FS Kerry Rhodes were  quoted saying he team was flat defensively in the first half. That's a hard pill to swallow for Jet fans, especially since reports had coach Rex Ryan chewing out his team this week to stop the excuses, imploring them to play like a playoff team he was quoted as claiming they are.

Star RB, the little bulldozer, Maurice Jones Drew torched the Jets early and often , with 78 first quarter yards. He finished with 123 on the day. The biggest play of the game however, came on a TD that Jones Drew chose NOT to score on.  With the score 22-21 Jets with 1:48 left, the Jets called for "Free Way"  a play that allows the opposing team to score in order to get the ball back and have a chance to win. On the first try the Jets mistakenly tackled Drew. "We couldn't even get that right," Ryan, never at a loss for words, admitted afterwards. The second time, Drew shrewdly stopped at the one yard line. With no time outs left thanks to wasting two earlier ( to prevent a  twelve men on defense flag and the other by Sanchez on the Jags goal line), the Jets were forced to watch the clock wither away. Josh Scobee added the virtual extra point at the gun for the 24-22 Jags win.

This erased the comeback that left the Jets up 22-21 with 5:04 left thanks to a Thomas Jones (21-77 yds) one yard TD plunge. WR Braylon Edwards (3-79 yds) had a key two point conversion knocked out of his hands by the Jags FS Reggie Nelson. The throw was behind Edwards but still catchable. "Nelson is paid to make plays and he made a godd play on that one." Edwards said. The former Browns WR, known for the dropsies is now 1-8 combined in games played this year with Cleveland and the Jets. His fault? No, but the frustrations is apparent. "It stinks..its not my fault per se but I don't want to fell like the black sheep." he added lamenting what so many Jets who've come and gone in this franchise's consistent  losing history must feel upon exiting the stadium.

The Jets are not dead yet. They ARE however, on life support. The defense has still yet to create points off of turnovers. The Sanchez to TE Dustin Keller combo, so poised to break out and open up the passing game outside the numbers, is just missing the mark on too many occasions. All parts, including game management by the coaches, need to start clicking fast or this season will be gone by Turkey day.

As for Sunday, has a player ever taken a knee over scoring a touchdown in order to keep the clock moving like Jones-Drew did? Probably not. Only the Jets franchise would be involved in a play like that.

Nonetheless , the Jets need to go to Foxboro and try to begin to erase the ghosts of their Gang Green past that have somehow crept back into the equation. Worse, they need to do it against  the furious Pats, their hated rivals, who want revenge from their week two loss at the Meadowlands. Bill Belicheck's first place crew also will be stinging from the loss at Indy Sunday night that saw them go for a strange fourth and two on their own 28 yard line in order to prevent Peyton Manning one last shot. It backfired. 

The 4-5 Jets remain just two games  back of the 6-3 Pats. A  win would inch them closer to the top of the AFC East and  give them the tie breaker over New England. When the dust settles this week, that will be how Rex Ryan must frame this next test. As a game that, with a win, restores hope. To do that, Ryan will have to stop Brady and put the "Same Old Jets" talk to bed again. It's funny how these negative Green ghosts somehow rear their ugly heads every season.


Turnovers: The Jets defense, built off pressure and chaos, again, didn't get any. End of story.

Thomas Jones vs Maurice Jones Drew. Jones-Drew won the battle in yardage 123 to 77. He also made the play of the day by not scoring on the final drive.

Mike Sims-Walker vs Darrelle Revis: Sims Walker managed a TD catch but didn't dominate the field. Revis is a big play guy the Jets desperately need
going forward. An interception taken back by a ball hawk shut down corner like Revis, would aid the Jets offense in a huge way.

Follow TJ Rosenthal on twitter@ thejetreport