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Monday Morning Realist: Divisional Playoff Edition

By: Akiem Bailum (@Li495Akiem on Twitter)

Technical Faults


Unfortunately, the last few weeks, I have been MIA on TRST due to some internet issues pertaining to where I was staying at over the Christmas break. I have since returned to campus, where my computer works beautifully with the internet & have missed writing columns, doing videos, talking to fans, and dropping an occasional one-liner online. But I’m back and just at the right time—when it looks like the NFL playoffs may have hit its peak in terms of competitive games.

Instant Classic


It was the Divisional Playoff Round this week in the NFL, which means that the teams that won last week in the Wild Card matchups headed on the road to face those teams that had earned byes. One of those was the Baltimore Ravens who have plans on having Ray Lewis (and potentially Ed Reed as well) retire from the NFL as Super Bowl Champions as did John Elway, Jerome Bettis, and Michael Strahan. They beat the Colts last week in Baltimore.

This week, their opponent was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field in the Mile High City, and going into the game, almost everyone (except me and a few others) picked the Baltimore Ravens to win this football game. Most of the national football press felt it would be a rout and that there was no reason to be played.

This game was the reason why there is the phrase “Any Given Sunday”. At the beginning of the game, it looked like it would be a Broncos coronation party. The first score of the game came on a special teams play as Denver’s Trindon Holliday returned a punt return 90 yards for the first touchdown. Denver took a quick 7-0 lead. That would be erased by a 59 yard bomb from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith to tie it at 7. Then, Peyton Manning threw an interception (one of his two for the game) to Corey Graham who returned it 39 yards for the score.

Poor Champ Bailey.

Baltimore 14-7. All of a sudden, the Ravens who everyone wrote off were in it on the road vs. the high-octane offense of the Broncos.

It was tied going into halftime thanks to another TD pass from Flacco to Smith. 21-21.

Holliday Season apparently wasn’t over in Colorado as Holliday had on his Devin Hester (circa 2008) cleats on. After his punt return, he returned a kickoff return for 104 yards for a Denver touchdown. 28-21. The Ravens later tied it again.

With the score at 35-28 late in the 4th quarter, John Fox made an extremely questionable decision by not throwing on a 3rd & 7 with Peyton Manning as his quarterback. That would’ve sent the Ravens home packing their valuables for the spring & summer months. That gave the Ravens new life & they capitalized. A 70 yarder from Flacco to Jacoby Jones tied it up again at 35. One thing has to be said about the Ravens—most say that the receiving corps of the Atlanta Falcons is the best in the NFL with Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, etc. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin aren’t too shabby either.

The game eventually went into two overtimes with the Ravens winning 38-35 on a 47 yard field goal from Justin Tucker that came after an interception of Manning. Ray Lewis will play another game & Peyton Manning has another loss in the postseason.

Oh, and yeah, the Tebow memes began immediately on Twitter.

Flacco was 18/34 for 331 yards and 3 TDs. Ray Rice rushed for 131 yards. Smith and Jones had huge receiving days for Baltimore. Peyton Manning’s line was 28/43 for 290 yards, 3 TDs and 2 picks. Eric Decker (who is now dating supermodels apparently because of the notoriety he’s gained from catching Manning’s passes) had 6 of them for 84 yards.

This game was the game of the playoffs so far and was an instant classic. One of the best playoff games in history. It belongs in the archives.

Baltimore’s season goes on as they are clearly playing to get Ray Lewis one more ring before it’s all set & done for #52. Their opponent in the AFC Championship Game will be the New England Patriots, as it was last year.

New Game, New Stakes, Same Venue, Same Result



The numbers 42 and 14 were on the minds of the Houston Texans all week as they prepared for their AFC Divisional Matchup in Foxboro vs. the New England Patriots. That was, of course, the score that the Pats thrashed the Texans by back on Monday Night Football late in the season in Foxboro, despite the fact that it was billed at the time as what could’ve been the best football game on the 2012 Monday Night Football programme.

Midweek, fans were abuzz as runningback Arian Foster used critical words from a Dan Shaughnessy Boston Globe column that basically called the Texans a fluke team and that Houston would be easy pickings for Brady’s bunch—as his Twitter avatar.

Similar to the armchair quarterbacking going on by pundits concerning the Ravens/Broncos matchup, almost no one outside of Houston picked the Texans to defeat the Patriots.

The first play of the game was a 94 yard kickoff return from the Texans’ Danieal Manning. Just what Houston needed to get off to a quick start & send New England a message that this wasn’t Monday Night Football anymore.

Instead, 3 plays later, they had to settle for a Shayne Graham 27 yard field goal to put Houston up 3-0. It should’ve been 7-0. Those first few minutes were emblematic of the Texans’ offense over the last few games. They struggle in the red zone and Matt Schaub wasn’t the same Matt Schaub that led the Texans to an 11-1 record through the first 12 games of the season.

Of course, you can’t settle for field goals when you play Tom Brady and the Patriots and it was only a matter of time before they made Houston pay. They took the lead at the end of the 1st quarter and would ultimately extend it to a 17-3 advantage. We haven’t heard much of the name Shane Vereen before this game, but Brady has an ability to turn unknowns into household names down the road. He had 3 touchdowns on the day.

While the Texans did hang tough and made it a game at halftime with the score at 17-13, it’d be an entirely different story in the 2nd half as the Patriots began doing what the Patriots seem to do a lot of the team—make their opponents look like they belong in college. They’d get the ball back in the beginning of the 2nd half, and scored a touchdown on their first possession thanks to a Stevan Ridley 8 yard run. Ridley is one of the things that makes this Patriots team so dangerous. They could run the ball in previous years when they had players like Corey Dillon, and it looks like they’ve got that again with Ridley—believe it or not.

The Patriots won the game 41-28 & will play the Ravens in a rematch of last year’s AFC Title Game that is well known for Billy Cundiff’s Wide Left—better not mentioned in the state of Maryland.

I have to give credit to the Texans for hanging tough. They kept on playing hard football until there were triple zeros on the clock at the end of the 4th quarter. They got a couple of more touchdowns, even though they came 3 quarters too late. Houston has rising stars like J.J. Watt, Arian Foster, and a future Hall of Fame wideout in Andre Johnson. What some in Houston will be clamoring for is a quarterback that can perhaps challenge Schaub’s starting job but that’s not happening.

As for the Pats, this AFC Championship Game should be a fun one. If any AFC team can prevent New England from going back to the Super Bowl, it’s Baltimore. It should’ve been Baltimore last year if weren’t for the…well…we know by now.

The game, though, came at a cost as Rob Gronkowski reinjured his left forearm and has been declared out for the remainder of the postseason.

Bottom line is this: Sunday night can’t get here soon enough.

San Francisco’s Treat


With a home win vs. the short-handed Minnesota Vikings under their belt, the next test for the Green Bay Packers would be on the road in San Francisco vs. the 49ers. They didn’t look like the same team they were when they hit their peak shortly after the controversial Golden Tate “Fail Mary”, but still looked good enough to win postseason games. Injuries, of course, hurt them throughout the season as well. Also, there was the (I believe, overhyped) element of Rodgers being passed over in favor of Smith by the 49ers in the NFL Draft.

The story for the Niners was that Colin Kaepernick was playing in his first postseason game since Jim Harbaugh made the decision to stick with Kaepernick after the injury to Alex Smith. When it came to playoff experience, Rodgers (a 1 time Super Bowl champion) vs. Kaepernick looked like a mismatch.

And it was…for the team hailing from the Badger State of Wisconsin.

Early on, a Sam Shields Pick 6 interception of Kaepernick to make it 7-0 Pack seemed to confirm the concerns some had about Kaepernick in this kind of environment in his first playoff game. He made up for it by running 20 yards for a touchdown to tie it at 7. The score would be 24-21 going into the half.

After that, the Packers would tie it on a field goal from the much maligned Mason Crosby. 24-24. From that moment on, Candlestick Point was Colin Kaepernick’s world and the Packers were simply living in it. Kaepernick’s total line was 17/31, 263 passing yards, 181 rushing yards, 2 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, and 1 pick. That 181 is an NFL record for any QB, regular season or playoffs. The 181 is also more than the entire rushing attack of the Packers, who finished with 104.

Frisco also got huge outings from Michael Crabtree (9 catches for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Frank Gore (23 carries, 119 yards, 1 TD). For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers went 26/39 for 257 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.

Green Bay’s season has ended with a thud on the road. Their offseason will be filled with talk of potential free agency departures, most notably Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings. The stuff coming from Jennings himself, as well as what’s coming from the team, make it a near inevitability that Jennings will not be returning to Lambeau Field in 2013-2014. Jennings, of course, will demand major dollars for a team to commit to his services.

As for the 49ers, they’ll be returning to the NFC Championship Game. After Kaepernick’s performance vs. Green Bay and the fact that they have a stellar defense on top of everything else, there are many that will predict the Niners to win their matchup when they head on down to…..


Snatching Defeat From the Claws of Victory (And Vice Versa)


Even though at the beginning of the year I picked the Atlanta Falcons to represent the NFC at the Super Bowl, I spent the entire second half of the season zoned in on the NFC and, in particular, who looked like the surprise team that would give someone like an Atlanta or Green Bay or San Francisco issues in the playoffs. While no one mentioned it because of their distance from the East Coast, the Seattle Seahawks looked like that team.

Not only were the Seahawks making a run, but with the news that the Sacramento Kings were on the verge of being sold to two Seattle based businessmen to return the Sonics back to the city, Seattle sports were running on Cloud 9 status.

Earlier in the year, the Falcons were having a tough time stopping the run. The Seahawks have a Pro Bowl runningback in Marshawn Lynch. They have a defense as good as anyone’s in the league—just the ingredients needed to pull off an upset against Atlanta’s Dirty Birds.

Such a scenario played itself out Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Dome & for the first half, Atlanta looked to be answering the bell rather soundly and smoothly. Russell Wilson made some rookie mistakes and there was the huge stop that the Falcons got on both 3rd & 1 (and 4th and 1) when it looked like the Seahawks would score their first touchdown of the game down big early.

Another one of them was late and had to do with clock management, but there is conversation in Seattle that the last 1st half play run by the Seahawks actually was got off in time.  

Meanwhile, it was 20-0 Falcons heading into overtime and 49ers fans by the Bay began calling their travel agents to book flights for Atlanta.

Seattle wouldn’t get their first score until 9:47 remaining in the 4th quarter on a 29 yarder from Wilson to Golden Tate. 20-7 Atlanta. A Falcons drive late in the 3rd quarter led to Jason Snelling touchdown pass from Matt Ryan making it 27-7. Maybe, that’s where the game was over.

Seattle then said, not so fast as they have played the NFL’s version of the Boston Red Sox circa 2004 a lot this season—always playing 4 quarters. Down 27-14, the Seahawks’ Earl Thomas picked up a key interception—one of Ryan’s two interceptions on the day. That gave the Seahawks a chance to inch closer and it became 27-21. With 31 seconds to go, the ‘Hawks got their first lead of the day courtesy of a two yard run from Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to make it 28-27.

But, it was with 31 seconds to go.  And as the Bears in 2008 and this year’s Panthers and Raiders will tell you, you are giving Matty Ice 30 minutes if you give him 30 seconds. Two long passes were all the Falcons needed to get into field goal range for Matt Bryant, who was called the other “Matty Ice” by head coach Mike Smith in the Falcons’ postgame press conference.

The 49 yard kick from Bryant was wide right and sure to go down in history as one of the lowest moments ever in Atlanta sports—except for Pete Carroll calling a timeout on the sidelines. A clear instance of the bush league move known as “icing the kicker”. In my opinion, such a move is bogus and ought to go into the category of unsportsmanlike penalties. It should be an automatic 15-yard penalty.

So thanks to Carroll pulling off a move that he should’ve left at USC, Bryant got another shot and split the uprights beautifully. 30-28. An onsides kick would make it interesting at the end, but the Seahawks weren’t playing the Packers and it wasn’t Monday Night Football in Seattle. This Hail Mary attempt from Wilson wound up in the hands of Julio Jones. Falcons will host the 49ers in the NFC Title Game.

Seattle’s season is over, but there’s clear reason for optimism in the Emerald City. No one (me included) had the Seahawks even making the playoffs and now they have a bright future with Wilson at the nucleus of it. The Seahawks have nothing to be ashamed of. They will be back next year and likely for years to come.

As for the Falcons, they’ve finally won a playoff game & have (for now) put to rest the common talking point among football pundits that it’s a team that’s only built for the regular season & can’t win in the playoffs. They’ve won. Now, can they send the Falcons to the Super Bowl for the first time since losing 34-19 to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII—John Elway’s last game.

As for stats, Matt Ryan was 24/35 with 250 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 INTs. Even though there was been increasing talk around Atlanta surrounding Jacquizz Rodgers, veteran runningback Michael Turner had himself a resurgent game with 98 yards on 14 carries.

For the Seahawks, Wilson went 24/36 for 385 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. He’d also be sacked twice, once by Vance Walker and once by Johnathan Babineaux. For the most part, the Falcons’ defensive line turned off “Beast Mode”. While Lynch had the 1 TD that put the Seahawks up late, he only had 46 rushing yards on the day on 16 carries. Zach Miller and Golden Tate did have huge receiving days as both went over 100 yards and each scored a touchdown (8/142 for Miller, 6/103 for Tate).

And among everything else, my preseason Super Bowl prediction of Ravens vs. Falcons is still alive for another week. I’m not boasting, though.

Did I mention earlier also that this upcoming Sunday can’t get here soon enough?

Check out The Real Sports Talk on YouTube and at for all your NFL Playoff coverage! We’ll have analysis and previews of the AFC and NFC Championship Games Throughout the Week!

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Monday Morning Realist Week 11

By Akiem Bailum, host of TRST’s “10 Minutes on the Clock”, Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Weak Cards In Every Deck


The Atlanta Falcons have held the top spot in the NFC ever since Week 1. If there was any week for the Dirty Birds of the ATL to lose, it was this week.

With the Cardinals coming into their matchup vs. the 8-1 Falcons having lost 5 straight, Atlanta was seen as a heavy favorite. This was supposed to be one of the more relatively easier victories that the Falcons could rack up this season, right?




The first play for the Atlanta Falcons from scrimmage would be prophetic of how the entire game would go. Matt Ryan’s first throw would be intercepted by the Cardinals’ Rashad Johnson. The Cardinals capitalized on it with runs from Laron Stephens-Howling to take a 7-0 lead.

Atlanta would turn the ball over to Arizona two more times in the 1st quarter as Ryan would throw 3 picks in the opening frame alone. He would have 5 for the game. After 1 quarter, Arizona was leading 13-0 on the top team in the NFC as their defense started to resemble the defense was had seen during the 1st 4 weeks of play.

The Falcons would slowly, but surely, claw their way back into it as they took advantage of the fact that Arizona’s struggling offense settled for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. The 3-yard run in the 1st quarter from Laron Stephens-Howling would be the only TD for the Cards. 4 Jay Feely field goals would round out the Arizona offensive attack.

You had to have a feeling that the Falcons would find a way to pull it off. First with John Skelton, and then with Ryan Lindley (who made his NFL debut, by the way), their offense never really got going. Atlanta had another bad day when it came to stopping the run as the Cardinals would outrush the Falcons 137-58. Passing, it would be a different story. Larry Fitzgerald only caught the ball 1 time for 11 yards.

In addition to the 5 picks and 1 sack, Matt Ryan went 28/46 for 301 yards. Roddy White, though, would have a huge day despite their difficulties contending with the ‘Zona D—8 catches for 123 yards.

The Falcons move to 9-1 while the Cardinals are now 4-6 and losers of 6 consecutive games. Arizona hasn’t been the same team since the Kevin Kolb injury. It’s obvious that if this team had a real NFL quarterback (like a Peyton Manning, for example, whom they were pursuing over the offseason) they’d be a more legitimate contender than they are now.

As for the playoff-bound Falcons, they seem to be in trouble if they have plans on going to New Orleans to play in the Super Bowl this year. Teams now know how to beat this team—with defense and the running game. I picked Atlanta to get to the Super Bowl, but right now, they do not want to face the Seahawks in the postseason.

In Week 12, the Falcons travel on the road to play the Buccaneers while the Cardinals go back home to face their division rival St. Louis Rams.

Free Football in Texas (Part I)


At 4-5 entering Week 11, the Dallas Cowboys probably needed to defeat the Cleveland Browns in order continue to have a shot at the playoffs. At 4-6 in the NFC, it wouldn’t look good going forward for America’s Team.

The Browns at this point are 2-7 and 0-4 on the road & are playing for solely pride at this point. Early on, though, you would think the roles were reversed. At the end of 1 quarter, the score would be 13-0 Browns—just like Cardinals/Falcons was.

And just like the Cardinals/Falcons game, the Cowboys would come back to the tie it, but it would be tied at the end of regulation. Trent Richardson turned out to be the huge performer for Cleveland with 28 carries for 95 yards. Brandon Weeden also continued his improving play with a 20/35 day for 210 yards and 2 TDs.

Tony Romo was put under duress all game long. The Browns defense managed to get to the ‘Boys #9 a grand total of 7 times. 8 Cleveland defenders, including Craig Robertson and (appropriately since we’re entering the holiday season) Frostee Rucker were responsible for the 7 sacks on Romo.

As it turned out, this game would be one of 3 on Sunday that would go into overtime. Dan Bailey had already kicked 2 field goals earlier. He would end it with a 38 yarder to send the Cowboys Stadium crowd home happy. Dallas prevailed 23-20. Even though Romo was sacked 7 times, he did throw for 313 yards on 35/50 passing and 1 TD.

Also, Dez Bryant is one of the most maligned players in the league for his off-the-field exploits (and rightfully so). But his day was big today for the Silver and Blue—12 catches for 145 yards.

There would be a scary moment towards the end of the game when the Cowboys’ Kevin Ogletree would collide helmet to helmet to helmet with two Cleveland Browns and would be taken out of the game. With the high amount of concussions suffered last week, this is the last thing anyone wanted to see happen to any player.

Dallas is now 5-5 and only 1 game behind the 6-4 New York Giants who were on their bye week in Week 11 (the last week for bye weeks, by the way). Dallas gets Washington at home in their annual Thanksgiving Day matchup this Thursday Turkey Day. Cleveland’s next opponent shall be the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday for Week 12. The Browns are now 2-8.

Free Football in Texas (Part II)


Two NFL football games occurred in the state of Texas on Sunday. Browns/Cowboys wouldn’t be the only one that would result in free football for the fans in a state that has to be considered the American Football capital of the world.

Jaguars/Texans at Reliant Stadium also would extend into overtime as it seemed on paper that this one wasn’t even supposed to be competitive. Jacksonville was 1-8 coming into this game and are playing only for pride. The Texans are coming off an impressive defensive performance against the Chicago Bears on a nationally televised matchup on Sunday Night Football. Mismatch on paper, right?




With no Blaine Gabbert for most the game, Chad Henne would be taking the snaps on the day for the Jacksonville Jaguars…and didn’t do too badly. Houston’s defense clearly didn’t game plan for Henne as they did for Gabbert and it showed—Henne threw 16/33 for 354 yards and 4 TDs this game. Justin Blackmon would have a monster outing for Jacksonville as well as he caught 7 passes for an astounding 236 yards.

Though, obviously, part of that is the fact that the game would go deep into overtime as was shown by the box scores for both teams. The top-5 ranked defense in the NFL was being carved up by a quarterback who isn’t exactly a veteran and a team that isn’t exactly in the thick of things even in a weak AFC. It was 34-20 in the 4th quarter.

2 touchdowns from Matt Schaub to Garrett Graham later, Houston would tie it up and the score became 34-34.

With just over 4:00 minutes left in the overtime period, both Jacksonville and Houston were tied at 37-37. Last week in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams would resolve nothing in 5 periods of play as their game resulted in a tie. Late in the overtime period, it looked like we’d be seeing two straight ties in two consecutive weeks. Chalk that possibility, obviously, up to the new overtime rules that make NFL overtimes more similar to those in college.

Schaub initially would throw an interception before the Jaguars would turn the ball over on downs. Then, a 48 yard connection from Schaub to Andre Johnson later would seal the deal as the Texans improved to 9-1 with a 43-37 victory over the Jaguars. Matt Schaub would throw for the 2nd most yards of a quarterback in NFL history—527 with 5 TDs and 2 interceptions and a 43/55 day. Johnson also had himself a big day too—14 receptions for 273 yards and (of course) the game winning score.

With Week 12 upcoming, it’ll be a short week of practice for the Houston Texans as they will play the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day. The 1-9 Jacksonville Jaguars will stay in the division as they play the Tennessee Titans in J-Ville.

Mojo Risin’


Important free football wouldn’t only take place in the state of Texas. It also did so in North Carolina as the 5-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers took on their divisional rival Carolina Panthers at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

After losing 4 of their first 5, the Bucs have out of nowhere looked like one of the hottest (if not the hottest) team in the league. Carolina is another one of these teams that are simply playing for pride at this point, but they too hung tough with a good team in their division. At one point, it was 21-10 Panthers.

Tampa would tie the game up with only 12 seconds left in regulation with a Vincent Jackson touchdown catch from Josh Freeman. The Bucs getting Vincent Jackson is paying dividends for them.

One 15 yard pass from Freeman to former Colt Dallas Clark later would seal this one for the Bucs as they came back to defeat the Panthers 27-21. Tampa Bay now is 6-4 with the Panthers at 2-8.

One notable statistic came from Doug Martin. ESPN’s SportsNation is now referring to him as “Martin ScoresEasy”. He ran easy once again today—24 carries for 138 yards as he continues to make a case for rookie of the year. Samantha Gordon isn’t the only runningback that America has become introduced to this year, apparently.

Josh Freeman (who I still maintain as underrated) went 25/46 for 248 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.

Cam Newton’s line would include a 16/29 for 252 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions, and 2 sacks. Brandon LaFell for the Panthers would have 6 catches for 93 yards.

Next up for the Buccaneers shall be the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium—a game that many will have as a potential upset pick for Week 12. The Panthers will go on the road to Philadelphia to play the 3-7 lowly Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday Night Football.

Not Quite Ready, Just Yet


Patriots/Colts was unarguably the hottest ticket on the NFL programme from about 2001 to 2009. But, with Peyton Manning now in Denver and leading that team towards the playoffs, it has lost a little bit of luster lately.

By the way, Peyton and his Broncos had a huge game vs. the Chargers and Philip Rivers who seemingly thinks he plays for the other team these days.

The story of the Indianapolis Colts has been one of the most appealing to NFL fans this year. Coach Chuck Pagano is battling leukemia and the team has used it as a rallying cry for the rest of the season. Andrew Luck is right up there with Doug Martin (and possibly Robert Griffin III) as a rookie of the year candidate.

They were 6-3 heading into their game in Foxboro vs. the New England Patriots when no one (myself included) expect Indy to even be in this position after a dreadful 2-14 “Suck for Luck” clip they posted last year.

Of course, one had to fully expect reality to set in as they went up against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. No sane person outside of the state of Indiana should’ve been predicting the Colts to beat the Patriots. Maybe in the future when Luck gets more experience, but not now.

Indy was able to hold their own for a while. They took leads of 7-0 and 14-7 in the 1st half and were only down by a touchdown at the end of the 1st half.

Then Tom Brady put on his Superman cape, or something.

After the 1st half it was over. What was close at the half would become a rout at the end of the 3rd quarter. It was 38-17 Patriots by then. It would be 59-24 by the time there would be 4 zero’s on the game clock at the end of the 4th quarter.

It was another blowout victory for the Pats, something that they’ve become more and more accustomed to over the years. Brady would have another Brady-like performance going 24/35 for 331 yards, 3 TDs. As for Rob Gronkowski, his day would include 7 receptions for 137 yards and 2 of the Pats’ touchdowns.

Unfortunately for the Pats, the win would come at a cost. Gronk was later diagnosed with a broken forearm and will be going in for surgery on Monday. He’ll miss 4-6 weeks (possibly the remainder of the regular season). They’re already banged up enough with no Aaron Hernandez.

As for Andrew Luck, he’d go 27/50 for 334 yards, 2 TDs and 3 interceptions.

The Patriots will play their divisional rival New York Jets on Thanksgiving Night on NBC and are now 7-3. The 6-4 Colts will return home to Lucas Oil Stadium for a matchup vs. the Buffalo Bills

Preserving The Status Quo


Baltimore Ravens. Pittsburgh Steelers.

As football fans, we all know by now the numerous connotations of hard-hitting, smash-mouth football that are associated with these two teams. Week 11 of Sunday Night Football in 2012 would be no different.

Of course, this game would be missing some notable defensive presences, including Ray Lewis and Troy Polamalu. It’d also be missing Ben Roethlisberger. With the injury he sustained last week vs. the Kansas City Chiefs putting him on the shelf for 3-4 weeks, the Steelers now are turning to former Jaguars QB Byron Leftwich in Big Ben’s stead.

The start of the game looked promising for the Steelers. They got out to an early 7-0 lead thanks to a 31 yard run from Leftwich for a TD. That’s one thing that most will not remember him doing at any time while playing in North Florida for the Jags.

It also came at a cost as after the TD, he seemed to be clutching his throwing arm and it showed throughout the duration of the game. He didn’t seem to have the same zip on some of his throws as one would have. And with Roethlisberger on the shelf until December, this was without a doubt, the last thing any Steeler fan needed to see. The words “Charlie Batch” started to come out of the mouths of football fans in Western Pennsylvania.

After that, the Steelers would score only once after that. They’d struggle to get anything going as on many of Leftwich’s passes, they’d be immediately met by Ravens defenders or their secondary.

On the other side, Joe Flacco’s line for the day would be 20/32 for 164 yards and 0 TDs.

The biggest play of the day would come courtesy of a Baltimore Raven as late in the 4th quarter, Jacoby Jones returned a Steelers punt 63 yards to make it 10-7 Ravens. That gave Baltimore a lead and they wouldn’t look back after that. Jones, earlier in the year, has already notched returns of 100+ yards twice, so he’s given the Ravens a pretty good year so far on special teams.

Even at the conclusion of Week 11, it’s not over. In fact, the Steelers and Ravens will meet again in 2 weeks as part of the Week 13 schedule. This time, of course, it’ll be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

As for Week 12, the 8-2 Ravens travel almost the full way across the country to San Diego to play the struggling Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. 6-4 Pittsburgh gets the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and the Cincinnati Bengals were also victorious over the tepid Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11 by a final score of 28-6. Cincy is 5-5, meaning 3 teams in that division have a chance at the playoffs, including those somewhat surprising Bengals.

 Stay tuned to TRST for the most in NFL coverage, including The NFL Final Score every Sunday!


George St. Pierre unanimously beats Carlos Condit!-Silva or Hendricks next for GSP?

Hosted by Tim Kelly and Justin Godsey
Follow Tim on Twitter @KashKelly_TRST and Justin @TheJustinGodsey

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Your Favorite Athletes Halloween Costumes

By Tim Kelly-Founder of The Real Sports Talk
Follow Tim on Twitter @KashKelly_TRST

Despite Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on the Northeast this week, in many places trick-r-treating went on. And while everyone else loves seeing little kids dressed as Superman and Cinderella, I enjoyed these a bit more. Please vote for your favorite costume at the poll below.

Washington Nationals Outfielder Bryce Harper-What costume where you really expecting?

Former Steelers Wide Receiver Hines Ward-As “The Walking Dead” becomes one of the most popular shows on television, they have gained a fan in Hines Ward

WWE Legend “The Rock”--He looks like a living Hulk as it is, this is just the icing on the cake.

Rapper “Ludacris”--Well Anthony Davis is busy making his NBA debut, so Luda went as far as growing a unibrow, to dress as Anthony Davis.

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Monday Morning Realist Week 6

By Akiem Bailum, host of The Real Sports Talk’s “10 Minutes on the Clock” Show
Twitter: @Li495Akiem


All’s Well That Ends Well




The Atlanta Falcons’ home game vs. the Oakland Raiders had no business being competitive. This is one of those games where you look at the matchup on paper & simply decided by how many touchdowns the Dirty Birds will win.


The Oakland Raiders’ defensive line had Matt Ryan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Matty Ice threw for 3 interceptions, had only 1 TD, and was sacked once. He did throw 24/37 for 249 yards, but there are some who say his average-at-best performance today put his MVP candidacy in jeopardy. I’m not so sure about that since it’s only Week 6.


The score was 13-7 by halftime. One statistic that stands out was how the Raiders outrushed the Falcons 149-45 with a three-headed running monster of Darren McFadden, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Mike Goodson.


One late drive in the 4th quarter resulted in a Raiders’ touchdown courtesy of Darren McFadden from the 2-yard line. The score was tied at 20 with 40 seconds left in regulation.


But, as the 2008 Bears and this year’s Panthers will tell you—when you give the Atlanta Falcons 40 seconds, you might as well be giving them 40 minutes.


It may not have been the long bomb to Roddy White that we’re used to seeing, but Ryan did engineer a series of short passes down field with receivers making good use of the sidelines to get out of bounds and stop the clock.


One Matt Bryant 53 yard field goal later, the Falcons beat the Raiders 23-20. Atlanta is now 6-0 for the first time in their history. The Raiders are now 1-4.


While the Falcons are undefeated, they haven’t looked like the dominant team they were in Week 1 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs. Teams are starting to figure them out. Atlanta is a pass-first team, so they may want to try to utilize Michael Turner more. They also have to do a better job at stopping the run. This is the 3rd consecutive game where they’ve been outgained on the ground. They were also outrushed in that 40-24 rout of Kansas City, but KC is a run-first offense. Not Atlanta.


As for the Raiders, why did the game get away from them, ultimately? It would be in typical Raider fashion with penalties. 14 flags were thrown in the game with the Silver & Black committing 12 of the fouls. It cost them 110 yards. Standard protocol in Raider Nation.


A word to the wise for teams with leads on the Falcons in the 4th quarter, though—make sure it’s with only 1 second left in the quarter (and the game). Week 7 is a bye week for Atlanta while Oakland returns to the Black Hole to play Jacksonville.


High on Premium Jet Fuel




The Indianapolis Colts traveled to the Meadowlands to play the New York Jets after an emotional Week 5 victory over the Green Bay Packers. That victory was won on the backs of Reggie Wayne and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.


Between that victory & the on-field and off-field issues that the New York Jets have had, one would think the Colts would continue that momentum into Jersey.


It didn’t happen & it was a textbook example of the phrase “Any Given Sunday”. While Mark Sanchez only threw for 85 yards, that didn’t matter because the Jets’ offensive attack was centered on the ground. The Jets out-rushed the Pats by a ratio of around 6 to 1. Shonn Greene alone had 161 of their 252 yards on the ground.


The Colts were well-known during the Peyton Manning years of having a liability of poor tackling & not being able to stop the run. This game had to bring back flashbacks of those years. Apparently, the more things change, the more they remain the same in the Hoosier State.


All 3 scores for the Colts came via Adam Vinatieri field goals. Andrew Luck had 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. 4 turnovers overall for Indianapolis.


Yes, there was even a Tim Tebow sighting. That one highlight may get more play on ESPN than anything from the baseball League Championship Series if I know ESPN the way I think I do.


The Jets are now 3-3. Indy falls to 2-3. The Colts will return to Indianapolis to play the Cleveland Browns in Week 7. New York gets New England in Foxboro.


Making a Duck Out of An Eagle
^An old Q102 Philadelphia radio diss liner at a competitor back in the early 90’s for those that may not know.



Another Eagles game results in another day where Michael Vick commits multiple turnovers. 3 of them for the team as it turned out.


Turnovers or no turnovers, the game should’ve been won with 5 minutes & change left in the 4th quarter. The Eagles were leading the Detroit Lions 23-13. The game should’ve been over. Philly’s defense played great in the first half of the game as well as throughout the 3rd quarter. The Lions executed perfect clock management at the end of the quarter first from a Nate Burleson TD to make the game 23-20 and then with a field goal from Jason Hanson with 3 seconds left to go.


In overtime, the Eagles won the toss & decided to receive. Their first drive wasn’t much of one as they lost 21 yards to give Detroit the ball.
Collegiate-based overtime rules and all, the Lions scored a game winning field goal from Hanson to give them the victory and move to 2-3. The Eagles are now 3-3.


Another Eagles loss also gives fans more of an opportunity to question the play calling of Andy Reid. While LeSean “Shady” McCoy only rushed for 22 yards on 14 carries, Michael Vick had a better running day than McCoy did. According to Eagles fans, that’s part of the problem. The offensive line can also be seen as at fault.


What this game came down to was simply that one team played until there was nothing left in the 4th quarter & the other didn’t. That’s what allowed the Lions to come back late & later win it in overtime.


In Week 7, the Lions shall play their division rival Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football—already Chicago’s 2nd MNF’er of the year. The Eagles have a bye—which Vick said in his post game press conference, could be good for the team so they could, possibly, “find themselves” as it would be.


The 12th Man Beats #12




Much was made (possibly too much) about how the New England Patriots offense would have issues going into Seattle as CenturyLink Field is known for having one of the loudest stadia in the NFL. I don’t pay attention ever when pundits mention the phrase “crowd noise”. In my opinion, the talk of crowd noise affecting offenses is bigger noise than the crowd noise itself.


Nonetheless, the Pats Week 6 matchup was vs. the Seahawks in Seattle. Both teams were coming off wins the previous week. New England vs. Peyton Manning & Denver in Foxboro and Seattle going to Carolina and engaging in a defensive struggle with the Panthers.


In a way, this week the Eagles and Pats can both relate to each other. Both lost leads late in the 4th quarter. The Eagles’ lead was 10. New England’s was 14 & they were facing a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson—who was sacked 2 times by New England’s D.


Brady has many receiving targets on that team as we know. Among them would be Wes Welker who had 10 receptions for 138 yards and a TD.


But, sometimes, it’s not how you start but how you finish. Brady has been known for engineering 4th quarter drives late. This time, it was Russell Wilson’s 4th quarter. Two TD passes to Braylon Edwards and Sidney Rice in the 4th quarter would give Seattle the 24-23 lead. Jason Jones, Marcus Trufant, and Seattle’s defense would stop the Pats late and display why they’re one of the Top 5 defenses in the NFL.


The Patriots are now 3-3 while the Seahawks are 4-2 in an uber-competitive NFC West that features 4 of the top defenses in football. Meanwhile, the Dolphins and Bills won their games as well. The entire AFC East at this point in the season is logjammed at 3-3. Meaning fans of all 4 teams are claiming first place, and reserving “last” for their rivals.


Winning, But At What Price?




Of course, the Baltimore Ravens’ bread and butter has been defense ever since the year 2000. They’ve slowly, but surely, transitioned into more of an offensively-minded club around Joe Flacco and Ray Rice. Their transition to offense may have taken too fast a turn before they know it.


In recent years, their defense has been criticized for being too old. Others defended it saying that they’re experienced. It’s a common theme in sports. You’re experienced when you have a lot of years on you and you do well. You’re old when you have a lot of years on you and the age shows.


The Ravens’ rush defense in the past two games now has given up 200+ rushing yards each to the Chiefs and now to the Cowboys. Teams don’t win many games when that happens. It’s also in stark juxtaposition to where the rush defense was prior to the last two weeks.


Baltimore hasn’t had its bye yet, so they’ve played the full slate of games so far. Their bye is in Week 8. They allowed 129 rushing yards vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. They allowed 111 rushing yards to the Philadelphia Eagles who are being heavily criticized for not running the ball enough. 77 vs. the Pats (who NEVER run the ball as long as #12 is anchoring the offense) & 43 vs. the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football.


The strangest thing about it was that they won both games. What bailed out Baltimore today was a Jacoby Jones 108 yard kickoff return—just shy of the longest in NFL history.  Joe Flacco would throw for 236 & only 1 touchdown. Tony Romo for the Cowboys had 2 TDs, 1 interception, and 261 passing yards.


Unfortunately, for Baltimore and their fans, the game came at a price. In addition to raised concerns over their run defense, there’s concern that Lardarius Webb may have torn his ACL, Ray Lewis may have injured his triceps, and Haloti Ngata may have injured his MCL. The Lewis & Webb injuries are feared to be season ending.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that these injuries would be devastating for an offense that’s already banged up enough. It’d also be a shame if after Lewis’ injury, he announces after the season that he retires from the NFL. No future Football Hall of Famer like Ray Lewis should leave the league with an injury.



2011 Called, They Want Their Team Back


They love their football deep in the heart of Texas. The Cowboys are “America’s Team” and the rising Houston Texans are emerging as potential contenders for a Super Bowl. They were undefeated coming into their Sunday Night matchup vs. the Green Bay Packers.


Emphasis on “were”.


Most saw the game as a continuation of the defensive difficulties the Packers have experienced as of late. These included blowing a 21-3 halftime lead last week in Indianapolis that gave the Colts their 2nd victory on the season.


What was supposed to be a competitive game wasn’t competitive. Aaron Rodgers clearly had enough. They thrashed the Houston Texans at The Power Plant (what I call Reliant Stadium) by a score 42-24.


Rodgers doesn’t have that Discount Double Check on him for nothing. 3 touchdowns to Jordy Nelson alone in addition to 3 more for a grand total for 6 in the game. The NFL record is 7 & he tied the all time Packer record that was set by—not Bart Starr or Brett Favre…but Matt Flynn?


Huh, Come Again?


Flynn threw 6 TDs just last year in Week 17 when the Packers defeated the Detroit Lions 45-41. This was when they had the best record in the league & resting most of their starters so they can be healthy for the playoffs—a strategy that didn’t pan out well for the Pack last year.


As for the Texans, this was rare. This is supposed to be the #1 rated defense in the league & the Packers looked like their old selves from last year. It also was in their heads as the Packers continued to tack on points on points on points. The Texans played horrible and undisciplined defense tonight. There were 3 penalties during the game on Houston that really cost them a chance at getting back in the game.


The one that was called for leaping of all things (Peyton Manning can tell you all about that one) allowed for a 21-17 lead to become 28-17. It looked like the Texans would stop Green Bay and make them settle for a Mason Crosby field goal. Instead, they continued to score & score & score.


The one bright spot for the Texans’ defense tonight was J.J. Watt. Both sacks on Rodgers tonight were courtesy of JJ Watt who is now being referred to in H-Town as “JJ Swatt”. Also, Andre Johnson made a bit of history by eclipsing 10,000 receiving yards for his career. Larry Fitzgerald also did it in Week 6 for the Cardinals, but he’s getting added recognition for doing so before the age of 30.


Other than that, it was all cheese tonight. The Texans’ D was clearly lactose intolerant.


It is Houston’s first loss of the year and they’re no longer undefeated at 5-1. The lone unbeaten team left is the Atlanta Falcons and they seem to be showing signs that their first loss may be on the horizon too.


Green Bay will now travel to St. Louis to play the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. The Texans get to stay in Houston as they will play likely short-handed Ravens @ Reliant.


Stay with the Real Sports Talk for the best in NFL coverage including our weekly recap show—The NFL Final Score!

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

By: Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

2011 was the Year of the Lockout. Both the NFL and NBA experienced well-noted labor stoppages that frustrated fans and threatened the popularity of their respective sports.

But, the NFL and NBA were each (luckily) able to put their differences aside with their respective player unions & ink new deals preserving seasons. The NFL played its full slate of games and the NBA’s was shortened, but not significantly.

But those labor disputes seem to pale in comparison to the 2004 NHL lockout that wipedout the entire 2004-05 season & Stanley Cup Playoffs/Finals. That seemed to be a debilitating blow to hockey in the United States. It will always be the king of the sporting culture in Canada, but Stateside, it became less of a sport & more of a punchline. ESPN decided to back away from hockey after that, making the NHL having to ink a deal with (at-the time) Comcast owned Versus.

Now, that Versus is the NBC Sports Network & NBC is the primary TVpartner of the NHL in the states, it seemed to be poised to continue its trend upward.

But, ratings troubles over this past year didn’t exactly make 2011-2012 a banner year forthe NHL’s efforts to expand its popularity in the Lower 48. Now, they could be about to do the lockout tango all over again.

The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NHL’s Players Association concludesthis September—and already the initial offer from the League sounds eerily reminiscent of the game plan the NBA owners had last year.

Renaud P.Lavoie of RDS, the French sports network in Canada, reported that they would like to trim the amount of revenue the players receive from 57% all the way down to 46%. Another caveat is that they would like the players to wait a full 10 years before they can become unrestricted free agents.

In addition,the owners want 5-entry level contract years instead of 3, limiting of contracts to 5 years, and the termination of salary arbitration.

In short, the proposal was the equivalent of a middle finger at Donald Fehr.

Of course,there’s no way that this offer is going to get approval from the players. It’s a total procedural measure. It shows what the owners REALLY want, but in no way, shape, or form, should Commissioner Bettman expect the players to agree with this. Likely, Mr. Fehr and the players will come back with acounter-offer.

Rather than Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, NHLPA President Donald Fehr may hold the key to the 2012-13 NHL season.

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Owners sending middle finger to NHL Players with early Labor Negoatiations;Lockout looming

By: Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

Haven’t We Seen This Movie Before? 2011 was the Year of the Lockout. Both the NFL and NBA experienced well-noted labor stoppages that frustrated fans and threatened the popularity of their respective sports. But, the NFL and NBA were each (luckily) able to put their differences aside with their respective player unions & ink new deals preserving seasons. The NFL played its full slate of games and the NBA’s was shortened, but notsignificantly. But those labor disputes seem to pale in comparison to the 2004 NHL lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season & Stanley Cup Playoffs/Finals. That seemed to be a debilitating blow to hockey in the United States. It will always be the king of the sporting culture in Canada, but Stateside, it became less of a sport & more of a punchline. ESPN decided to back away from hockey after that, making the NHL having to ink a deal with (at-the time) Comcast owned Versus. Now, that Versus is the NBC Sports Network & NBC is the primary TV partner of the NHL in the states, it seemed to be poised to continue its trend upward. But, ratings troubles over this past year didn’t exactly make 2011-2012 a banner year forthe NHL’s efforts to expand its popularity in the Lower 48.  Now, they could be about to do the lockout tango all over again. The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the NHL’s Players Association concludes this September—and already the initial offer from the League sounds eerily reminiscent of the game plan the NBA owners had last year. Renaud P.Lavoie of RDS, the French sports network in Canada, reported that they would like to trim the amount of revenue the players receive from 57% all the way down to 46%. Another caveat is that they would like the players to wait a full 10 years before they can become unrestricted free agents. In addition,the owners want 5-entry level contract years instead of 3, limiting of contracts to 5 years, and the termination of salary arbitration. In short, the proposal was the equivalent of a middle finger at Donald Fehr. Of course,there’s no way that this offer is going to get approval from the players. It’s a total procedural measure. It shows what the owners REALLY want, but in no way, shape, or form, should Commissioner Bettman expect the players to agree with this. Likely, Mr. Fehr and the players will come back with acounter-offer.

Rather than Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, NHLPA President Donald Fehr may hold the keys to the success of the NHL next year.

Follow The Real Sports Talk on Twitter @TRSportsTalk

Like The Real Sports Talk on Facebook at

Prince Fielder wins 2012 Homerun Derby!-Did it suck?

Check out our live show tomorrow night at 11 pm EST after the MLB All-Star Game
Tim reacts to Prince Fielder winning his 2nd homerun derby.

Roger Federer wins record-tying 7th Wimbledon Title, after defeating Andy Murray.

By Brian Twitter: @Brian8556utube

This is going to be a special recap, I’m giving a set by set recap!

#3 Roger Federer def. #4 Andy Murray 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4

Set by Set:

1st Set: Both dominated their serves but Murray’s serve looked unstoppable. Murray won the set 6-4!

2nd Set: Now Murray’s serve wasn’t as impressive as in the 1st set while Federer’s serve was just as good as Murray’s in the 1st set. Another thing that made it clear Roger would win the set is that he broke Murray’s serve in the 12th game of the set to make it 7-5! Federer won the set 7-5!

3rd Set: Federer dominated this set. Quickly, he took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd Set and nearly broke Murray’s serve in the 2nd game to make a 2-0 or what would’ve been a 3-0 lead. Then in the 6th game of the Set, it went around 17-18 minutes long and 10 deuces and finally, Federer broke Murray’s serve then to give Federer a 4-2 lead and eventually a 5-2 lead, Federer won the set 6-3!

4th Set: Murray dominated the beginning of the Set, having a quick 2-1 lead (both games won when serving). Then Murray serves when it was 2-2 and Federer broke Murray’s serve, it becomes clear to me that this match is over. 3-2 Federer plus Federer serving made me know it was all over for Murray and I was right. Federer then won the next 2 games he served and so did Murray. So here it is, Federer serving to win number 7! 1st Point: Federer volley out, Murray 15-0! 2nd Point: Murray backhand out, 15 all! 3rd Point: Federer serve forces Murray to hit shot out, Federer 30-15! 4th Point: Federer ace, Federer 40-15! Championship Point 1: Federer hits it into net, Federer 40-30! Championship Point 2: Murray forehand out, FEDERER WINS!

Roger Federer wins his 7TH WIMBLEDON, making A 3-way tie for 1st all-time , His 17th grand slam title (2nd: Pete Sampras: 14) and now owns the record for most weeks at world’s  #1, Passing Pete Sampris!

Roger Federer’s reaction after winning his record tying 7th Wimbledon.

Updated Rankings:

#1: Roger Federer

#2: Novak Djokovic

#3: Rafael Nadal

#4: Andy Murray

#5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga