Blog Archives

Week 14 Edition of the Monday Morning Realist

By: Akiem Bailum

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

In the past, Monday Morning Realist columns have featured a specific theme to them. An earlier one was centered around coaches that may very well be on the hot seat on Black Monday after Week 17 is finished. There’s one to this week’s as well.

In Week 14, things went due South for the AFC North.

Playing Through Tragedy


First up this week are the Cincinnati Bengals who came into their home game at Paul Brown Stadium vs. the Dallas Cowboys at 7-5 and barely on the outside looking in for the AFC playoffs. While the Bengals were looking to pad their playoff positioning, it was another tragic week throughout the league as a whole.

The NFL is still fresh off the Javon Belcher murder-suicide from last week in Kansas City that took the lives of two people and left a 3 month old girl without a mother and father.

This week, the league would deal with more tragedy as it was found out that the Cowboys’ 25-year old Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident that also involved teammate Josh Brent. Brent has since been charged with intoxication manslaughter and his bail amount has been set at $500,000. The most glaring piece of information on his record is that it’s not the first time Brent has had DUI related issues to deal with. He’s a repeat offender as he did it once while in college.

It’s simply the second straight week where something has meant a lot more than football in this case. Once again, on behalf of The Real Sports Talk, condolences to Brown’s family and the Cowboys organization.

Brent has since vociferously tried to lament that he’s heartbroken about what happened to Jerry Brown. The obvious answer to him is that none of this would’ve happened if Brent used common sense and realize that you don’t drink and drive. Add that to the fact that he’s a repeat offender clearly shows that he and his attorneys are on a PR tour. It’s another sad episode that should be a lesson to everybody and, once again, saps a lot of the fun out of what should be excitement about playoff races. For better or for worse, the game of football was trivialized again by tragic circumstances.

As for the game itself, the Bengals did maintain a 19-10 lead into the 4th quarter, but they had multiple opportunities to put the game away on both sides of the football. Key drops, including one from wide receiver A.J. Green where he would’ve had an easy touchdown, kept an emotional Dallas team in the game. Tony Romo also almost threw a late interception that was also dropped.

It allowed the ‘Boys to stay in it and Romo to engineer a game-winning drive resulting in a Dan Bailey field goal.

Romo was 25/43 for 268 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton went 20/33 for 206 yards, 1 TD, and a pick. Playing through tragic circumstances is never easy to do as the Kansas City Chiefs did last week. This game went beyond football for Dallas this week.

Dallas is now 7-6 and will return to Arlington to play the Steelers in Week 15.

As for the Bengals, they now face a short week at 7-6 before traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles. They may rue the day they “dropped” this game as it could be the difference between January football and beginning their offseason in that month—as evidenced by everything else that occurred throughout their division.

Banged Up in the Beltway


The Baltimore Ravens were smarting after losing in stunning fashion last week to the Pittsburgh Steelers and their third string quarterback Charlie Batch. One would expect that this would be the game for them to get back on track as they went to Landover, Maryland to play the Washington Redskins in what has been termed as the “Battle of the Beltway”.

One reason had to be why—the Pittsburgh Steelers have a real defense. The ‘Skins defense is 28th ranked in the NFL. But it was a defense that was able to hold its own last week vs. their division rival New York Giants. When it seemed like they were out of it, London Fletcher, Alfred Morris, and Robert Griffin III have put the Redskins back in the middle of the NFC playoff chase.

They came into this game at 6-6. Baltimore was at 9-3. While it was back-and-forth throughout, the Ravens did have to sustain more injuries as would be evidenced by those to Jameel McClain and Terrell Suggs (the Suggs injury occurred prior to the game).

The injury bug wouldn’t only bite the Ravens. Late in the 4th quarter, Robert Griffin III sustained a knee injury. He attempted to come back, but he clearly could no longer play a few plays later. He would be replaced by Kirk Cousins who would not only complete a game-tying drive late in the 4th quarter, but remained in the game to be part of a game-winning drive in overtime. Washington also received a huge play on special teams from Richard Crawford who returned a punt 64 yards all the way to Baltimore’s 24 yard line. A few plays later, Kai Forbath would make a 34 yard field goal to win it for the Burgundy and Gold.

Washington is now 7-6 and is in the thick of things in the NFC playoff race. The main question for them right now is will Robert Griffin III be healthy for next week’s game vs. the Browns, a game they should win. RGIII was able to avoid an ACL injury and he’s currently listed as having only a knee sprain, but his status still is unknown, according to reports.

Even without RGIII, Washington still has plenty of issues on defense and some are even hinting at a quarterback controversy between RGIII and Kirk Cousins. Those defensive issues will not win them too many postseason games even with their rushing attack led by Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III. Prior to the injury, Griffin was 15/26 for 246 yards and 1 touchdown in addition to rushing for 34 yards on 7 carries. Morris had 23 carries for 122 yards. They also got 5 receptions on 87 yards from Pierre Garcon.

Joe Flacco’s statistics are someone misleading—16/21 for 182 yards on 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. They would also get 20 carries on 121 yards from Ray Rice. Torrey Smith vented his frustration on Twitter about the team not being able to hold leads. The bottom line is that they have a lot of injury issues and the last couple of games were games they had great chances of winning—but didn’t.

Next week it doesn’t get any easier for the 9-4 Ravens—they go back home to play Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos.



The previous 3 weeks for the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t very memorable. They managed to go 1-2, but what showed more than anything else was that when Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t their starting quarterback, their offense was lost.

This week, they would get their two-time Super Bowl winning QB back and fans expected a return to the form that had Pittsburgh earlier in the season looking like the hottest team in the NFL.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Chargers are virtually done, especially after 4th and 29 two weeks ago vs. the Baltimore Ravens. And mid-week, there was the San Diego Union-Tribune report that said team owner Dean Spanos would fire head coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith at the end of the year. Spanos denied the report. We’ll see on Black Monday….

With both teams coming into their Week 14 tilt at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field colder than Steel City weather in December, something had to give. What gave out was Pittsburgh’s offense for the majority of the game. Towards the closing of the third quarter, the Steelers’ deficit was 27-3 and Philip Rivers looked like the Philip Rivers from circa 2008 instead of circa 2011.

Rivers went 21/41 for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roethlisberger also had 3 TDs while going 22/42 with one interception. Mike Wallace also had 7 receptions for 112 yards in a losing effort for the Stillers.

The loss now sends Pittsburgh to 7-6 while San Diego is 5-8. The Steelers get the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium in Week 15. The Chargers’ playoff hopes are slim if not done at best. They play Carolina at home next week, but judging from the last 3 weeks, Cam Newton and the Panthers are playing their best football of the year. Whoever doesn’t make the playoffs out of the AFC North may rue Week 14. All 3 top teams lost when they had chances to make their playoff standing more solid.

Oh, and the Browns won too. Go figure.

T(Win) Cities


You wouldn’t notice it if all you watched was the Bears/Vikings game inside the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but a major snowstorm hit the Twin Cities metropolitan area over this weekend. Some areas throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin are reporting as much as 16 inches of snow.

Luckily, The Dome’s roof didn’t collapse as it did during that year’s mishap (what I called the MetroFail) in 2010.

December. Snow. Outside. Cold weather. Bears weather.

Domed stadium. Advantage Minnesota Vikings.

No Brian Urlacher for the Bears—advantage Minnesota Vikings. The Purple-People Eaters were 5-1 at home coming into this game. They can thank that roof in what would be otherwise cold weather conditions for their victory over the Bears on Sunday.

Oh, and Adrian Peterson helped out a lot too. He’d rush 31 times for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. By the end of the first quarter, he’d have 100 yards already. Apparently, Christian Ponder learned from last week’s Green Bay Packers game that the key to the Vikings winning football games is Peterson pounding the rock and the defense doing the rest of the work.

They were able to do its work on Jay Cutler as they sacked him twice and also picked him off twice. One of those times would be a pick six to Harrison Smith. Other than that, he’d go 22/44 for 260 yards and 1 touchdown.

That was before he’d have to be taken out of the game with a neck injury. It is fresh in the minds of Bears fans what their offense looked like without Jay Cutler and they’re hoping he’s not out for any lengthy period of time.

In came Jason Campbell again. He did go 6/9 for 64 yards and 1 touchdown pass (to Brandon Marshall), but the late score came with less than 2 minutes left to go in the game. Minnesota won 21-14.

Minnesota is now 7-6 and will play the Rams in Week 15. They should win that game. Chicago is 8-5 and will get Green Bay in Soldier Field next week.

This Section Brought to You By the Number 58


The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals 58-0 on Sunday.

An NFL team defeated another NFL team by 58 points.

Enough said.

If Only The “D” Train Went to East Rutherford…


After getting to .500 at 5-5 before Thanksgiving week, the New Orleans Saints had their fans feeling a little bit more cautiously optimistic about the season. The 5 wins included a huge one at home vs. the division rival Atlanta Falcons in where a goal-line stand sealed the deal for New Orleans.

But, since Thanksgiving week, a lot has changed. They’ve lost at home to the San Francisco 49ers when Colin Kaepernick was starting just his 2nd game for the Niners. The week after that on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football, they lost on the road to the Atlanta Falcons after they had beaten Atlanta on 11 of their previous 13 meetings. Drew Brees threw 5 interceptions that game.

In Week 13, they’d travel to New York/New Jersey to play the Giants who were coming off a loss to the Washington Redskins in FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on Monday Night Football. One thing that hasn’t changed all year long about the Saints—the fact that this team still has the worst defense in the entire NFL.

It showed again as they’d allow 52 points to the Giants—the most they’d allow to a team all season long. Eli Manning threw 259 yards on 22/35 passing with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Rookie runningback David Wilson would have a breakout game. Not only did he rush for 100 yards on 13 carries, he’d also return 4 kicks for 227 yards including one for 97 yards and a touchdown. And according to statistics, he’s the first player ever in NFL history to return kicks for at least 200 yards and rush for at least 100 yards. Victor Cruz also caught 8 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.

For the Saints and Drew Brees, the turnover issues continued. New Orleans turned the ball over 4 more times, including 2 interceptions from Drew Brees—both to the Giants’ Stevie Brown. Other than that, he’d go 26/43 for 354 yards and 1 touchdown.

New Orleans is now 5-8. They’re finished. Their high-octane offense could not overcome their porous defense and it caught up to them in New York. They’re not getting into the playoffs out of the NFC with Chicago and Seattle both at 8-5. They will not be playing in a Super Bowl in their home stadium, so if those stories haven’t been scrapped already, scrap them now.

As for the New York Giants, they’re 8-5. It’s very important for them to win the remainder of their games because there’s still a chance that only one team out of the NFC East makes the playoffs. Washington is continuing their hard-charging run and so is Dallas. They’ve been very inconsistent their last 4 games. They looked great vs. Green Bay and New Orleans (teams that either had bad defenses or were injured) and not so much against Cincinnati and Washington (of course, the ‘Skins defense is hella suspect as well).

Next for the Saints—a home game vs. the Buccaneers who last this week to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants go to the Georgia Dome to play the Atlanta Falcons. That game should be fun to watch.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!


Unlike in Minnesota where they have a dome, there’s no such contraption encompassing Lambeau Field. And they did get snow which meant less-than-normally-visible conditions for Sunday Night Football in Green Bay. It’s December, so you wouldn’t want to see it any other way. Football played in the elements—it’s a beautiful thing.

Also, take into consideration that the last two games for the Detroit Lions were losses where they probably should’ve got wins—both over playoff caliber teams in the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.

That’ll happen when your defense is suspect like Detroit’s is…and when there’s concern that one of the players who is supposed to be one of your defensive standouts is getting the side-eye from people about being a dirty player.

That, of course, is Ndamukong Suh.

Green Bay would once again enter this game with two of their top defensive players still sidelined due to injury—Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews.

Early on, it looked like those same defensive difficulties would come home to roost yet again. Matthew Stafford and the Lions’ offense looked crisp early on as they jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. What began the turnaround for the Green Bay Packers would be a fumble recovery off Stafford from Mike Daniels. He’d return the ball 43 yards to the other end to make it 14-10.

Green Bay got the lead by Aaron Rodgers completing the 2nd longest run of his career—27 yards for a TD that made it 17-14. This game began to look like the Houston and Indy games for Detroit. Good starts, but fading late. What stuck out was how much the Packers ran the ball. Collectively, Rodgers, Alex Green, Dujuan Harris, John Kuhn, and even Ryan Grant combined for 140 yards on the ground. The Lions also ran the ball rather well themselves with 135 yards, but all of the Packer TDs would come via run plays. Rodgers went 14/24 for 173 yards. Randall Cobb also had a huge game with 7 receptions and 102 yards.

Matthew Stafford would go 27/45 for 264 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. It would also be another big day for Calvin Johnson. Megatron’s line—10 receptions for 118 yards. He continues to lead the league in receiving yards with almost 1500 on the season. And as NBC pointed out, he’s closing in on Jerry Rice’s record for most receiving yards in a season.

With the Lions at 4-9 now on the season, that’s practically the only thing they have left to play for. They’ll play the Arizona Wildca….uh…I mean the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale in Week 15. They better win that game. The 9-4 Packers, on the other hand, have plenty to play for. The NFC North title can once again be painted green and gold if they defeat the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field next week.

If the Playoffs Began Today….


 Texans 11-1 (1st round bye)

Broncos 10-3 (1st round bye)

Patriots 9-3

Ravens 9-4

Colts 9-4

Steelers 7-6


Falcons 11-2 (1st round bye)

49ers 9-3-1 (1st round bye)

Packers 9-4

Giants 8-5

Seahawks 8-5

Bears 8-5

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

Like The Real Sports Talk on Facebook at

Monday Morning Realist Week 13

By: Akiem Bailum

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Greg Who?


There’s no doubt about the fact that the New York Jets’ quarterback controversy at this point is basically a manufactured creation of the ESPN spin machine in Bristol. Mark Sanchez isn’t a good quarterback and neither is Tim Tebow. So many simply want to start Tebow because of what he did last year with Denver and the fact that he won two championships (only one as a starter) at the University of Florida.

That’s all fine and good, but as we all know, success in the NFL doesn’t always translate to success at the next level. You can ask a lot of USC quarterbacks about that.

There would be no Tebow sightings in East Rutherford on Sunday given that he was injured, so who had to play the role for backup of Mark Sanchez?

Greg McElroy? Greg McElroy? The name sounds more like something that’s associated with a New York or New Jersey State Senator rather than an NFL QB. But Greg McElroy was taking snaps vs. the 4-7 Arizona Cardinals.

The Jets were 4-7 themselves coming into this game and virtually have lost any shot at making the postseason a long time ago. The Cards have lost seven consecutive matchups after starting the season on a promising 4-0 note before the injury to Kevin Kolb.

If you are the kind of fan that loves defense and low scoring games, then this was your game. By halftime, the score would be 3-0 Arizona. Or, should I use the old baseball cliché where the score was actually 3-0 Diamondbacks leading the Mets heading into the Bottom of the 5th inning?

Regardless, though, New York did get another impressive performance from Shonn Greene. He looked like the lone standout on offense for either team with 24 carries on 104 yards. Those 104 yards were more than the yards any of the QBs had.

For the Cardinals’ Ryan Lindley—10/31, 72 yards, one interception, and 2 sacks. For Sanchez—10/21 for 97 yards, 3 interceptions and 3 sacks. Two of those interceptions came from Kerry Rhodes. If the Arizona Cardinals’ defense was combined with a competent offense (think New England or Denver) you would probably have your Super Bowl team right there.

Then, behind for most of the game and not scoring any points in the game, McElroy comes in and throws the game winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter with a 29 yard pass to Jeff Cumberland. Gang Green wins 7-6.

Apparently, the two teams forgot the memo that collegiate football teams play on Saturday and not Sunday. Also, that one touchdown pass from McElroy will be enough to send Gotham’s tabloid press into a frenzy. Cue the stories of there now being a three-way QB “controversy” for the Jets when there may not be one at all.

In Week 14, 4-8 Arizona travels to Seattle to play the Seahawks who currently would be the sixth seed in the NFC if the playoffs began today. The 5-7 Jets will face the Jaguars in Jacksonville.

Stay At Dome


The Minnesota Vikings need to find a way to reschedule their last four games to be played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome this year. Their 6-5 record coming into their game in Lambeau Field vs. the division rival Green Bay Packers was mainly due to a 5-1 showing in the 2012 season at home. They were an atrocious 1-4 on the road.

Meanwhile, Green Bay was coming off a game on Sunday Night Football vs. the New York Giants in which they got embarrassed—and a little bit exposed. They lost 38-10 to the G-Men and let Eli Manning throw 3 touchdowns. This was coming when the Pack were shorthanded on both sides of the ball. No Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Sam Shields, or Greg Jennings.

Jennings did return, but still, no Shields, Matthews or Woodson vs. the Purple People-Eaters.

Adrian Peterson knows a thing or two about injuries since he’s coming back from one—and doing so in authoritative fashion. He had 21 carries for 201 yards including an 82 yard run for a touchdown that, at one point, had Minnesota ahead 14-10. The Vikes could’ve extended out that lead before Christian Ponder threw one of his two interceptions while in the red zone.

Such a team is beginning to remind me of the old San Diego Chargers teams from the mid-2000s when it was clear that they were winning football games on the back of LaDainian Tomlinson and not Philip Rivers. Also, given this season and the average career length of NFL runningbacks, it’s time to start mentioning Adrian Peterson as a future Hall of Famer. For this season alone, he may wind up with 1900+ yards. Any football writer who doesn’t vote for either him or Peyton Manning as Comeback Player of the Year should either have their credentials stripped from them or should be drug tested. Both are probably the favorites for the MVP award as well.

As for the Packers, Aaron Rodgers was 27/35 for 286 yards, threw for 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Also, this has been a much maligned season for kicker Mason Crosby, but he did convert 3 of 4 field goals on the day.

The Vikings are now a 6-6 and football team and they are 1-5 on the road. That statistic shouldn’t make anyone who bleeds the pigskin version of purple and gold optimistic even if they are able to sneak into the playoffs past the Buccaneers, Seahawks, and Bears. This looks less likely after this week. Also, not utilizing Adrian Peterson in the red zone? Who was calling those plays for the Vikings? Their mascot?

They will stay in the division and will return to their “Dome Sweet Dome” in the Twin Cities to play the Chicago Bears. As for the 8-4 Packers, they’ll be on NBC’s Sunday Night Football next week against the Detroit Lions.

WTL…What the Luck?


Between the diagnosis of leukemia for head coach Chuck Pagano and the seemingly overnight sensation that Indianapolis Colts’ rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has become, it has made for one of the most intriguing stories this NFL season. Heading into their game with the Detroit Lions at Motown’s Ford Field, they were 7-4 on the season. This was a position that no one (myself included) thought they would be in after coming off a 2-14 with Peyton Manning injured. Also, we all know that he only went 3-13 in his rookie year for Indy.

Detroit is coming off a heartbreaker of a home loss to the Houston Texans who at the time were playing 2 overtime games in less than a week. But, they did make fans in Houston think about their own team’s defense which for 9 weeks looked like the best in the league.

They’d be on display again in a huge fashion. Matthew Stafford went 27/46, threw for 313 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. And they call Calvin Johnson “Megatron” for a reason. He caught 13 passes for 171 yards and 1 touchdown. There’s a reason he was targeted almost half of the time when Stafford was looking for a receiver to throw to.

Late in the fourth quarter, it looked academic. The Lions would pull off the upset of the AFC South’s Colts—something they were unable to do vs. the AFC South’s Texans. They led by a score of 33-21 going into the game’s final minutes and Luck was playing a game that was shifting the rookie of the year pendulum back in the direction of Robert Griffin III.

Then with 2:39 left in the game, he threw two of his touchdown passes. The first was to Lavon Brazil for 42 yards. The last one that one the game went to Donnie Avery for 14 yards as the Colts took only their second lead of the game—the one that mattered ultimately in the end. The Colts won 35-33.

For the game, Andrew Luck threw for 24/54 for 391 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. T.Y. Hilton would be the leading receiver with 6 receptions for 100 yards. Avery caught two touchdown passes on 5 catches and 91 receiving yards. The Colts pulled out another one just as they did earlier in the year vs. the Packers at Lucas Oil Stadium. That game, of course, was their first game after the organization heard the heartwrenching news that Chuck Pagano had leukemia.

Now they’re 8-4 and sitting pretty in a weak AFC in terms of their playoff chances as a Wild Card. Also, they’re the 5th seed right now if the playoffs began today. Guess who they’d face at this point in the first round of the playoffs?

Peyton Manning’s Broncos.

Your head is in the ground if you don’t think the media is pulling for the seedings to stay exactly as they are right now. Peyton Manning vs. his former team and the quarterback he was supposed to be mentor for. There’s an easy storyline right there.

Indy will go back home to play the Tennessee Titans. The 4-8 Lions head to Lambeau to the play the Packers on Sunday Night Football.

The Jovan Belcher Tragedy


Ok, it’s certainly fun at this point to look at the playoff races. I’m now doing a “If the Playoffs Started Today” section for Monday Morning Realist that I have temporarily shelved for this week’s column. There were plenty of other interesting games this week. The Steelers got a huge win over the Baltimore Ravens that kept their playoff chances alive. They’re now 7-5. Cincinnati Bengals are now also at 7-5 after defeating the San Diego Chargers in San Diego.

Even the Kansas City Chiefs won their game this week 27-21 over the Carolina Panthers.

Of course, though, that football victory was nothing compared to the personal loss the Chiefs organization went through on Saturday.

Early Saturday, news broke that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had taken the life of not only his 22 year old girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, but also himself as well. This didn’t happen in the home or abode of Jovan Belcher, it occurred in the Chiefs training facility. Also, it happened right in front of general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel.

The saddest thing to come out of what happened on Saturday morning was that a 3-month old little baby is now without a mother and a father. On behalf of everyone at The Real Sports Talk, I’d like to send out condolences to the families affected by these tragic losses as well as to the Chiefs’ organization.

It still pains me to know two things. Number one, CBS led off The NFL Today with a conversation about the playoff picture heading into Week 13 instead of leading with the Belcher tragedy. Also, the NFL still didn’t consider either canceling or even rescheduling the game for a later date.

The rest of the Chiefs players and coaches knew Belcher, if they knew about the personal issues he was going through, that’s for them to say and not us to speculate. Regardless of that, they were friends of his even though he committed two heinous acts that morning. I’m sure those players and coaches are now wishing they could’ve possibly done more to persuade Belcher not to have it come to this.

I’m a sports fan. We all are sports fans. Having that affiliation as a fan with a team and going through that team’s ups and downs is a tradition as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. But even with all of that being true, there are moments like these when we realize that these are human beings just like the rest of us.

They may be stronger, faster, and spend more time in the weight room than a lot of us, but they’re still humans with all of the issues that humans have to go through and many of those could be personal.

Prior to the game, a moment of silence was held at Arrowhead Stadium to bring awareness to the crime that is domestic violence. Belcher’s name was not mentioned during any of the pre-game proceedings, nor should it have been. Belcher took, what he probably felt, was the easy way out instead of using better methods to work through the issues he was having with his girlfriend so they can reconcile. Even if he didn’t want to do it for himself, or even Kassandra Perkins’ or Kassandra Perkins’ family, then he should have done it for his 3 month old baby.

Even in a week of football where we are four weeks shy of the postseason beginning, this week of football was rendered meaningless because of this atrocity that took place in Kansas City, MO/KS. The Chiefs’ 27-21 victory over Carolina was, arguably, the most emotional for a team this year (there’s also a case for Indy’s over Green Bay after the Pagano news). The Kansas City Chiefs have announced plans for the creation of a fund to support Zoey, the 3 month old daughter of the late Kassandra Perkins.

And after the game, Brady Quinn said this:

“The one thing people can hopefully take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people. I know when it happened I was sitting and in my head, thinking, what could I have done differently. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?

“We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half of the time we are more preoccupied and other things going on instead of the actual relationships we have right in front of us.”

“Hopefully people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

Well said, Brady Quinn. Well said.

National Domestic Violence Hotline—1-800-799-SAFE(7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY),

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—1-800-273-TALK (8255), 1-800-799-4889 (TTY),

Like The Real Sports Talk on Facebook at

Monday Morning Realist Week 12

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

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Getting the L Train Back on the Right Track With a W


In Week 11, the Minnesota Vikings were on their bye week. Meanwhile the Chicago Bears witnessed a weakness of their team when they were dominated on the road by the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. It, of course, got so bad that it created a quarterback controversy for the Niners—an organization that knows something about QB controversies.

Jason Campbell clearly wasn’t the answer to the Bears’ offensive problems and showed why he is a backup to Jay Cutler. It’s rare when a team starts mentioning how much they miss Cutler, but that’s the complex the Bears are in.

Historically, the Bears haven’t been good when it comes to QB play and Cutler may not be as much of a franchise QB as either Manning brother, Brady, Brees, or Rodgers. But it was clear that having Jay Cutler under center for the Bears would be a boost as they continue to press forward on a push to the postseason.

Prior to Chicago’s home matchup vs. their arch division rival Vikings, late word started to lead out to the press that Cutler was making significant progress in his recovery from the concussion injury he sustained on a Sunday Night Football loss to the Houston Texans. That progress became enough that he was cleared to start for the Bears in that game.

Cutler only went 23/31 for 188 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception—not uncommon numbers for Jay Cutler. But the Chicago Bears maintained possession for almost 40 out of the game’s 60 minutes. They also did better than the Vikings in converting on third downs. Chicago converted on 11 out of 19 while Minnesota only mustered 6 out of 16.

For the Bears, runningback Michael Bush would only rush for 60 yards on 21 carries, but scored 2 touchdowns. Brandon Marshall nearly had a 100 yard day as he caught 12 passes for 92 yards.

For the Vikings, of course Adrian Peterson would carry the load. He carried the rock 18 times for 108 yards despite the Vikes only possessing the ball for less than 23 minutes. Christian Ponder went 22/43 for 159 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.

The 28-10 victory for the Chicago Bears sends them to 8-3 while the Vikings fall to 6-5, making the wild card situation much more interesting in the NFC with only 5 weeks left before the playoffs start. Next up for the Monsters of the Midway will be another home game—vs. the 6-5 Seattle Seahawks. The “Purple People Eaters” shall remain in the division as they travel to Lambeau Field to face off against the Green Bay Packers.

Steel Curtain Replaced By a Steel Deli


The Bears and Steelers could relate to each other the past couple of weeks. Both teams have seen their quarterbacks sidelined and both teams know clearly what their offenses look like without them. While the Bears got their starter back off the shelf this week, the Steelers will have to wait a little while longer.

And the sight may not get any prettier for fans of the black and gold.

With both Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich out due to injuries, Pittsburgh would have to turn to veteran QB Charlie Batch to go under center for the Steelers this week. Their opponent would be the division rival Browns in Cleveland. Even with a 3rd-string QB, they couldn’t possibly lose to the Browns, right?


Precisely…wrong. In fact, it would get worse for the Steelers than it was against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football and Baltimore is what Cleveland isn’t—a playoff bound team.

As the old saying goes, there’s a reason why Charlie Batch is a 3rd-string quarterback. He would only manage 199 yards going 20/34 with zero touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. Surprisingly, he’d only be sacked once.

But, those 3 interceptions would be 3 of 8 turnovers the Steelers committed in this game. Among them—all four Steeler runningbacks (Chris Rainey, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer, and Isaac Redmond) would commit one fumble each.

The only other score for Pittsburgh would come via a Lawrence Timmons interception return that was returned 53 yards.

Brandon Weeden was a little bit better for the Cleveland Browns. He went 17/26 for 158 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. They’d also get an 85 yard performance from Trent Richardson who had those on 29 carries.

Plaxico Burress also made a much ballyhooed-return to the Steelers on this day. He’d be targeted twice and wouldn’t catch a pass.

It was a great defensive day for the Browns and the Steelers have seen (once again) what their offense looks like without Big Ben under center. I think they miss him…bad.

The Steelers are 6-5 and will play the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, just two weeks after the two rivals matched up in the ‘Burgh @ Heinz Field in Week 13. The 3-8 Browns shall play the Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Ten….Ten Wins


The Houston Texans were the first team to reach double digits in victories for the 2012-2013 NFL season with their overtime win over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. On the Sunday after Turkey Day, the Atlanta Falcons had the opportunity to join them by beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.

Last week, the Falcons played arguably their worst game of the season vs. the Arizona Cardinals at their Georgia Dome, and probably only got away with a win solely because they were playing the Arizona Cardinals and not a team with a real offense. They still managed to win, but other teams may have been given a blueprint as to how to beat them in the future.

Meanwhile, the Bucs were coming into this matchup as the hottest team in the NFL by winning their last five straight. Doug Martin (now nicknamed “Martin ScoresEasy” by plenty in the sporting press) is right up there with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III as the top candidates for rookie of the year.

In this one, Martin would be responsible for both Tampa Bay touchdowns, but carried the ball 20 times for just 50 yards. That means the Falcons (whose defense seems to be improving) has done what they have been unable to do for many of their games this season—prevent the other team from having huge days on the ground vs. them. Josh Freeman would throw for 19/30, 256 yards, with zero touchdowns or interceptions. 5 of those passes would be caught by Vincent Jackson for 97 yards.

Not that Atlanta’s rushing attack was much better. Jacquizz Rodgers had 10 carries for 49 yards, and the Falcons have been using him more than they have been using veteran RB, Michael Turner. Turner averaged just over 1 yard a carry—13 of them for 17 yards. Matt Ryan’s line would be 26/32 for 353 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 pick (Ronde Barber). It’d also prove to be another big day for Julio Jones—6 catches for 147 yards and the recipient of Matty Ice’s lone TD pass.

Late in the game, the Bucs played conservative (in my opinion) and tried to hit a 56 yard field goal that was out of Connor Barth’s range. Instead of going for it on 4th down, they tried to kick a field goal with the score at 24-23. On the next Falcons possession, they tricked the Bucs by throwing it once to Roddy White on 3rd down when most teams simply play it safe with run plays. The pass was caught and the game was over at that moment. Freeman’s hail mary pass on his last possession would be unsuccessful.

A five-game winning streak has been snapped for the 6-5 Bucs as they travel to play the Broncos next week in Denver. The 10-1 Falcons will go home to play the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football.

Speaking of Which…


The Saints have looked like another one of the hot teams as of late. After starting 0-4, they came into their home game vs. the San Francisco 49ers with an extremely high amount of momentum. They’ve gone from 0-4 to 5-5 and thanks to Drew Brees and head coach Joe Vitt, more fans in the Gulf South have more confidence when they associate their team with the “p” word.

Jim Mora would know.

Meanwhile after an impressive performance vs. the Bears on Monday Night Football, it propelled Colin Kaepernick to immediately assume the position of starting quarterback for the Niners. The thinking perhaps was that coach Jim Harbaugh wanted to see what Kaepernick could do vs. a good offense after carving up a great defense last week.

Kaepernick didn’t disappoint. He’s very mobile and seemed to find unorthodox ways to make a lot of passes, but he made them and that’s all that mattered. He would rush for San Francisco’s first touchdown of the game that put them up 7-0.

It may not have been what he did vs. Chicago, but he still threw for 16/25 for 231 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. They’d also get good performances from runningback Frank Gore (19 carries for 83 yards), and wideouts Delanie Walker (3 receptions for 81 yards) and Mario Manningham (5 catches for 69 yards).

San Francisco’s defense also came to play, proving why it is a top-10 defense in this league. For the Saints, Drew Brees went 26/41 for 267 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

The two picks were both pick six’s.

One happened at the end of the 2nd quarter to Virginia’s Ahmad Brooks and the other went to Donte Whitner midway through the 3rd quarter. Brees would also be put under heavy pressure by the Niners’ defensive line—he’d be sacked 5 times. Brooks, Aldon Smith, and Justin Smith would each be credited with 1.5 sacks.

Passing would be equal, but the 49ers also outrushed New Orleans by almost a 3:1 ratio.

It brings the Saints to 5-6 and they shall now travel to Atlanta on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football to play a Falcons team whom they beat earlier this year at the Mercedes Benz Louisiana Superdome.

As for the 49ers, it means another week of speculation that Kaepernick is their quarterback going forward in the future. With Alex Smith at the end of this deal, it may turn out that he could be the biggest loser with all of this. There are plenty of teams that could use a quarterback right now, though. A certain team in New York automatically comes to mind. So does one in Arizona.

It may not be Joe Montana vs. Steve Young, but it certainly feels like the late 80’s once again in the West Bay. Next up for the 8-2-1 49ers—the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

4th and 29 for Baltimore = 4-Finished for San Diego


Yeah, 4th and 29…but we’ll get into that later.

There’s no doubt that the San Diego Chargers (wearing their powder blues in this game) likely needed to defeat the Baltimore Ravens at home in Qualcomm Stadium to still have any outside shot at the playoffs. The Steelers lost earlier in the day to the Browns, but the Colts, Bengals, and Dolphins (the other 3 teams the Bolts need to somehow leapfrog to earn a Wild Card berth) all won their games in Week 12.

4th and 29! 4th and 29!….it’s coming.

For one half, it did look like the Chargers were playing with a sense of urgency and the Ravens looked lethargic on offense—which means one must give credit to the San Diego defense. Neither offensive line had a great day as Flacco was sacked 5 times while Baltimore got to Philip Rivers on six occasions. Arthur Jones (Ravens) and Antwan Barnes (Chargers) each came up with 2 sacks for their respective teams.

Things would of course change in the 2nd half with San Diego looking slow. Rivers’ day would include 23/36, 238 yards, 1 TD, and 0 interceptions. Ryan Matthews carried the ball 19 times for 72 yards and and Danario Alexander had 5 receptions for 74 yards.

But let’s be honest—4th and 29 was the game, the Chargers’ season, and possibly, the job security of head coach Norv Turner.

Rice’s huge move on 4th and 29 rivals that of his alma mater (Rutgers) to the Big Ten. Part of the beauty of the 4th and 29 play to Rice (which he was credited for 30 yards on) was that it happened on a screen play. Multiple Charger defenders had a chance to get one tackle on him before he got the required 29 yards, but they instead looked like their Kansas City Chiefs circa 2008 who couldn’t tackle worth beans.

The play would be reviewed for about 10 minutes, but it always looked like it would stand. It did and the Ravens took advantage. Justin Tucker would kick the game-tying and game-winning field goals for Baltimore—both from 38 yards.

The Ravens got themselves a huge victory, as the old phrase goes, by “hook or crook”. It brought them to 9-2, still one game behind the Houston Texans for the best record in the AFC. Also with the Steelers losing, they’re now 3 up on both them and Bengals for the AFC North. Lost in the 4th and 29 hoopla was that Torrey Smith also had a huge day and was probably the player of the game (not named Ray Rice) for Baltimore. He’d have 7 catches for 144 yards including his own huge play on a 3rd down in overtime that set up the game winner from Tucker.

As for the San Diego Chargers, they’re 4-7 in a division they can’t win with the Peyton Manning-led Broncos in it. They’re finished. 4th and 29 was a microcosm of their season this year. It was enough of a mental blow to give up the play, and it was an even bigger mental blow to not atone for it by scoring in overtime. They’re not making the postseason this year and Norv Turner may have not had less job security than he does now.

Eat your hearts out, Donovan McNabb and Freddie Mitchell.

In Week 13, Baltimore plays the Steelers at home while San Diego has to find some way to regroup to play another AFC North team at home—the 6-5 Cincinnati Bengals.


The theme of this week seems to be hot teams in the NFC that got derailed this week. We’ve already seen what has happened to the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Green Bay Packers would also face a similar fate.

With a 7-3 clip coming into their matchup vs. the New York Giants in the East Rutherford Meadowlands, they were winners of five consecutive games dating back to the last time they played on Sunday Night Football. That was when they dominated and frustrated the Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium in Houston.

But, despite winning a five-game winning streak that would give Green Bay control of the NFC North, they would come into their game vs. the G-Men shorthanded on the defensive side of the football. No Charles Woodson and no Clay Matthews. No Greg Jennings on offense added to their scoring difficulties.

It showed, and showed often.

After a 2-yard touchdown run from Andre Brown, the Packers were able to answer with an Aaron Rodgers 61 yarder to Jordy Nelson. That tied the game at 7-7 and it began to look like it would be a shootout at the Meadowlands.

It would be the only touchdown for Green Bay on the day.

The Giants would extend their lead to 24-7 and ultimately to 38-10 in the victory. Rodgers would go 14/25 for 219 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Eli Manning would return after the bye week in impressive fashion. He went 16/30 for 249 yards, and 3 touchdowns.

In addition, the Giants would sack Rodgers 5 times with Mathias Kiwanuka the recipient of two of the hits on Rodgers.

The win gets New York back on the right track at 7-4 and go up on the Cowboys and Redskins in the NFC East by 2 games. Late news broke, though, that somewhat sapped the euphoria of victory for Big Blue. Coach Tom Coughlin had announced in the Giants’ post-game press conference that runningback Andre Brown broke his fibula. He’d finish the game with 13 carries on 64 yards rushing including the 1st quarter touchdown.

The Packers are also now 7-4, but thanks to the Bears beating the Vikings earlier in the day, they’re now back in 2nd place a game behind the Bears. The simple issue with the Packers is that they have to get healthy. In a tough NFC, they can ill afford any losses to anyone else right now. They need to get Clay Matthews, Sam Shields, Greg Jennings, and Charles Woodson healthy for the final push for the postseason or they may be leapfrogged by the Bucs or Vikings. In addition to all of that, 4 of their last 5 games are in their own division—including two vs. the Minnesota Vikings.

If the Playoffs Began Today….


Texans 10-1

Ravens 9-2

Patriots 8-3

Broncos 8-3

Colts 7-4 (WC)

Steelers 6-5 (WC)


Falcons 10-1

49ers 8-2-1

Bears 8-3

Giants 7-4

Packers 7-4 (WC)

Seahawks 6-5 (WC)

Ironically, the Pack and G-Men would play each other if the playoffs began today. They may see each other this year one more time before the Lombardi Trophy is issued to the Super Bowl winner in February.

That’s for later, though. As for now, both teams now look to Week 13. New York will be on Monday Night Football as they take on RGIII and the Washington Redskins in Landover’s FedEx Field. The Packers will play one of those two games vs. the Vikes also in Week 13. That will be a home game for the Green and Gold at Lambeau Field.

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

Like The Real Sports Talk on Facebook at

Collegiate Super-Conferences Are a Matter of When, Not If

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

Twitter: @Li495Akiem


The classic Yogi Berra line “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” has been repeated time and time again in the sporting lexicon.

This is where the specter of conference realignment in college sports enters the picture.

Yesterday, this became true when the University of Maryland announced that they would be jumping ship from the ACC over to the Big Ten. Rutgers also announced similar intentions to ditch the ACC in favor of the Big Ten.

It wasn’t an entirely bad day at the office for the Atlantic Coast Conference, though. The University of Connecticut announced themselves that they are planning on leaving the Big East in favor of the ACC. This same conference is said to be in conversation with Louisville, South Florida, and Cincinnati (two of which are basketball schools) about replacing Maryland.

And if that wasn’t enough, Boise State, BYU, and San Diego State are now reconsidering the Big East to remain in the Mountain West Conference.

Let’s face it, though. The only way Boise State, BYU, and San Diego State should be considered east is if the NCAA is considering adding a conference for any schools in the Pacific Ocean. We already have the Pac-12. What about the Poc-12?

There’s even talk of Georgia Tech and North Carolina leaving for the Big Ten.

Conference realignment is like the significant other whom you just had a bad breakup with and don’t see for a year. And then, you see that person out the corner of your eye for about 10 times in a month. Then it becomes obvious that the person with whom you broke up with is stalking you to try and get back in your good graces.

Or, it could be to even get back and start anew with a new relationship.

Conference realignment is back and it’s not going anywhere until all of the pieces are in place. It may not be the rumoured mega-shift that was supposed to happen last year when the Big 12 was supposed to be absorbed into 3 conferences (Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC), but these colleges are looking at one thing and one thing only.

Green. As in dead presidents with green faces.

This whole thing is all about money. Let’s take why Maryland is jumping ship to the Big Ten. There hasn’t been much money stashed away in the turtle’s shell as of late, so the Terps have been cutting back on sports recently. This is a money-chase for them as they go wherever the money is.

There’s a truckload of it in the Big Ten. Why? The answer is easy—The Big Ten Network.

This network, while much maligned for its seemingly shoddy coverage of the Penn State scandal from last year, has been a gold mine for the ten (plus 4 now) schools that occupy this conference. Unlike other conferences (notably the Big 12) that disproportionately share money between the schools, all of the Big Ten money is shared equally between the respective schools. The Big Ten Network was priority #1 in Nebraska’s decision to join the conference and it is clearly Maryland’s as well. The same scenario rings true in the case of Rutgers.

Also, with the Big Ten Network, this conference is now a media conglomerate in addition to being a conference based on competition of student athletes. Adding Maryland and Nebraska opens the Big Ten Network in two new markets—Baltimore/Washington and the New York City area.

The Big Ten (and by proxy, its network) now will get major coverage in two of the top 3 markets in the country as it already has Chicago locked. The Big Ten Conference & Big Ten Network are both headquartered in the Windy City.

It has even been suggested by some that the move is a preemptive strike by the Big Ten aimed at Notre Dame. The reasoning behind this theory starts with the fact that the Fighting Irish will be moving all sports (sans football) to the ACC and that the majority of the Fighting Irish’s football games will be in the ACC.

If the ACC is seen as unstable because of Maryland and Rutgers leaving the conference for the Big Ten, it could make Jack Swarbrick (Notre Dame athletic director) reconsider the ACC for the B1G.

The bottom line is that if this doesn’t convince college football (and college basketball) fans that conference realignment will lead to Super-Conferences, nothing will. It is an inevitability and not a probability. Conference realignment will not end until we are stuck with either 4 or 5 “super-conferences”, each of which with 16-20 teams. The casualties from all of this will likely be either the (not so) Big East or the Big 12.

I’ve always maintained that Texas’ Longhorn Network was only the equivalent of applying a band-aid on a gash on your forehead after being bashed in the head repeatedly with a lead pipe. Slowly, but surely, that wound is starting to open itself up again. Last year, the Big 12 was within an eyelash of closing up shop for good as the Pac-12 had its eyes on virtually every Big 12 South school not named Baylor.

The only reason the Pac-12 didn’t pull the trigger was because it wouldn’t expand without Texas. And they didn’t want the Longhorn Network interfering with their own Network(s) they launched just recently.

It’ll still happen. It may not be the so-called “seismic” shift we were supposed to see, but this is something that will happen in small drops before the ceiling collapses with water falling on everyone’s heads.

The shame of it all is that there’s a real threat to some longstanding rivalries that would result from all of this. But in a college athletics landscape that still tries to find ridiculous reasons for not paying the players, ESPN, Fox, CBS, and NBC television monies are now the preferred commodity in what was supposed to be amateur athletics.

Except the money in 2012 NCAA is anything but amateur.

Maryland, see you in the Big Ten somewhere.

UConn, see you in the ACC somewhere.

Big East (or Big 12), see you….under the grass somewhere?

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!


LA Had McCourt; South Florida Has Loria

By Akiem Bailum–Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Most people would call them charlatans. Bud Selig calls them “owners”.

Three things are certain in life—death, taxes, and the Miami (or Florida) Marlins selling off their entire team every few years. We’ve seen it in the past even when they won their two World Series rings in 1997 and 2003. For some reason, Miami always seems to be a seller’s market.

Then came this year—2012. The Fish drastically increased their payroll and signed some big time players. These included Heath Bell and Jose Reyes. They even locked up a major name to become their manager—Ozzie Guillen.

And, of course, there’s that whole thing about the Marlins having a brand-spankin’-new taxpayer-funded stadium in a part of town called “Little Havana”. Of course, Miami would have a neighborhood called this since the area is virtually half Latina/Latino. This was also part of the Marlins broader strategy to blend in more with the South Florida lifestyle, hence the new logo as well.

But, as we’ve seen with Jeffrey Loria and the Fish, some things change yet others continue to remain the same.

Tonight, huge news broke that the Miami Marlins had announced a new deal to send Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar and a few prospects.

Firstly, trading for Yunel Escobar when it’s the worst-kept secret in baseball that he’s not exactly the best hustler on the base pads? In baseball circles, Escobar’s name is practically mud.

“Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain and simple,” tweeted Giancarlo Stanton.

Ricky Nolasco also let loose on his Twitter account with a 1-word response.


It’s interesting that Nolasco gets mentioned here, because, according to reports, the Marlins are not done. It looks like Nolasco could be next to hit the trading block this year. And if Stanton is this ticked off, he may want a trade since he seems to be reading Loria’s tea leaves for what they’re worth.

Current Blue Jay Jose Bautista also chimed in. Of course, we got a more positive response from Joey Bats.

“It’s a good day to be a bluejay!”

A wonderful day, Joey Bats. The Blue Jays just stocked up big time in a hot stove session that has seen their division rival Yankees and Red Sox do a grand total of nothing so far. In the eyes of many, the Jays just became the favorites to win the AL East in 2013. In the province of Ontario, a rarity is happening—no Jays fans are saying bad words about their owner, Rogers Communications.

But back to Loria.

It turns out everything that happened prior to the 2012 season was nothing more than a smokescreen for what would be yet another Marlins fire sale. The rebranding, the new stadium, the signing of players, the increase in payroll, the new manager, etc. would all lead to another one of these.

There’s something different about this one though. In the past, the Marlins have executed fire sales with the idea of loading, dumping off, and then loading up again slowly but surely. There’s something different about this one. What makes this thing so different?

Marlins Park.

One thing, though, that has not changed about the Miami Marlins is the attendance they are drawing to their new palace in Little Havana. They drew a huge crowd for their nationally televised season opener at the place vs. the St. Louis Cardinals only to see the Marlins not do much of anything vs. the Cards. The pregame ceremonies for the opening of Marlins Park resembled less like MLB Opening Day and more like the Opening Ceremonies of the World Cup.

It’s practically clear that Miami simply isn’t a baseball town. I would love nothing more than for baseball to succeed in South Beach since they’ve won two championships. But, there just doesn’t seem to be the passion for the Pastime in South Florida like there is in St. Louis, New York, Boston, Chicago, or in other cities.

With the climate not conducive to NHL and both the Dolphins and The U struggling at football, Miami’s sporting interests are basically limited to futbol and basketball.

This deal also takes me back to when MLB was intervening in the controversial Frank McCourt proceedings last year that involved him, his wife, and the LA Dodgers. Before McCourt ultimately gave in and Los Doyers were bought out by an investment group that included Magic Johnson, McCourt once made an interesting case.

He said that Selig’s hardline stance that McCourt should exit from the game was a double standard because other owners, like Loria, were doing the exact same thing—using their teams as virtual ATM machines for their other business interests. Let’s also remember that Loria is still in baseball because of a shady deal that involved him selling the Montreal Expos so he could buy the Fish.

There’s clearly no honor among thieves in Major League Baseball, and it turns out, McCourt was correct with this one.

Cheap owners are abound throughout Major League Baseball. It’s not just Loria. David Glass is the one that stands out to me as the head man in charge of the Kansas City Royals. He also happens to run a little small business in America’s Heartland known as Wal-Mart.

I think he’s got money, yet the Royals continue to stink every year.

Honestly, it is true that spending a bunch of money will not guarantee you a championship or the Yankees would’ve won 15 of the last 15 World Series. But spending smart money, as we know, can contribute to a championship. The Yankees use the money from their TV deal with the YES Network to invest back in the team.

The Marlins aren’t spending smart money. Heck, they’re not even spending at all. McCourt, Loria, and others like them are clear cut cases as to why baseball could use a salary cap in addition to a salary floor. This way, one New York Yankee won’t have a payroll as high as the entire Florida Marlins starting lineup.

Some baseball fans love this deal because the possibility of the Yankees and Red Sox heading back to the playoffs decreased a little bit tonight. But if there are still any South Floridian baseball fans left after tonight, they’ll be looking at this deal and think, “Loria fleeced us into paying for his new stadium just so he could sell off all of our good players?”

Oh yes, he did. And he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

The 2013 Miami Marlins—see you in last place somewhere.

The (20–) Marlins—see you in Las Vegas (or Portland, Charlotte, New Orleans) somewhere?

Buss & Kupchak Just Teased Laker Fans…Twice

by Akiem Bailum

On Twitter: @Li495Akiem

And as we know, no one likes to be teased, especially this much.

Remember back in your school days when there was someone you had a huge crush on and really wanted to talk to that person. Surprisingly, that person starts talking to you first and things start to go extremely well for about until you find you that he or she’s already taken.

Heart. Broken.

Laker fans can now relate.

A few days ago, we found out that the Los Angeles Lakers had indeed parted ways head coach Mike Brown after only their first 5 games. The Lake Show had become a boring infomercial as they had lost 4 of their first five in the regular season and went 0 for 8 in the preseason (if it means anything).

Laker brass had all but admitted that Mike Brown’s implementation of the “Princeton Offense” that involves continuous ball movement and spacing out was not compatible with this star-studded Laker squad.

With the unceremonious Brown-out taking place in LA, all eyes and indications seemed to turn to Phil Jackson. The number one question was did Phil even want to coach anymore. After numerous reported conversations Mitch Kupchak & Jim Buss had with Phil, the vibes were positive that Phil was preparing to come back. He even cancelled a speaking engagement in Chicago to prepare to return to the Laker bench.

Of course, when you are an 11-time champion in Phil Jackson, you come with a rather hefty price tag. Reportedly, he demanded $10 million a year, full power over basketball decisions, and the ability to take off the majority of road games (most likely to those games contested east of the state of Texas).

Phil clearly wanted the job. The fans were preparing for Phil to take the job. Reportedly, Dwight Howard even wanted Phil to get the job.

Phil didn’t get the job.

Instead, that went to former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni. The entire Southern California region spat out their morning coffee as they heard the news. So was Phil himself.

D’Antoni’s price tag isn’t as hefty as that of the 11-time champ. He’ll only be paid $12 million over 3 years (3 years guaranteed, 4th year being a team option).

Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, for whatever reason, just teased the entire Southern California region into believing that Phil Jackson would be returning to run things once again. If it’s one thing you don’t do, it’s tease Laker fans. Los Angeles is first-and-foremost a Laker town with no professional football team (for now) in that city. Many in Laker Nation are ticked enough that not all of the team’s games are available on TV in the region because not every cable company has agreed to carry their new network.

There’s been much speculation as to why Phil Jackson didn’t get the job. It could’ve been because the Triangle Offense was incompatible with Steve Nash. It could’ve been because his demands were too high.

And let’s not forget that whole thing about him dating Jeanie Buss. Even when he’s not visible, he’s still very close to the team.

If they felt the Triangle Offense wasn’t compatible with this cast of characters on this team, why even talk to or interview Phil? It’s clear that his relationship with the Buss family is so close-knit that they don’t know how to move on from him even if they want to. If they’re trying to move on from the Phil Jackson era, it’s admirable since he won’t want to coach forever, but the 11 championships are hard to pass up even if he wants more money.

Also, if Jim Buss didn’t give him the job because Jackson wanted to control the basketball making decisions, it’s clear that Jim Buss is nothing but a son playing with daddy’s toys.

Anyone who heard the Laker fans at the Staples Center on Friday Night knew that they had already made their choice with the chants of “We Want Phil”. Every indication was that they were going to get Phil. Given his track record in LA, that’s what makes this such an egregious tease.

That was only the first. The second is just around the corner.

Mike D’Antoni’s track record as a head coach is most remembered for his Phoenix Suns teams flaming out in the playoffs after having great regular seasons. D’Antoni was Nash’s coach in Phoenix. In 2005, they lost in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs—a team that actually did practice defense that year. In 2006, they’d lose in the postseason to the Dallas Mavericks.

D’Antoni’s style is to turn every basketball game into a track meet. The word “defense” is a foreign word to Mike D’Antoni.

That’s where’s the tease comes in. Every Laker game for the rest of the year just became the All-Star Game. D’Antoni’s style of ball will bring excitement, it’ll create highlight reels on Sports Center, and it will put fannies into the seats at Staples Center.

But, Laker fans are similar to fans of the Yankees or Manchester United. Anything less than a championship ring for the purple and gold is considered a failure of a season. D’Antoni’s track record does not exude much confidence that it’ll change in LA especially when he had those Phoenix Suns teams that looked like the league’s best team.

Plus, Kupchak and Buss have a bigger problem looming this summer if they fail to hoist a championship banner. Dwight Howard can leave Los Angeles after this year and they could find themselves in the exact same fix that the Orlando Magic did after this year. I saw when the media talked to Howard about the hire today and his body language didn’t look like that of someone who felt the team made the correct hire.

To make a long story short, if Howard doesn’t feel the Lakers are where he’ll win a championship, the Brooklyn Nets (where he really wants to be) are right there waiting.

Let the Showtime begin! Lights…Camera…Action! Take 1!

Monday Morning Realist Week 10

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Rotten Apple

Week 10 of the 2012 NFL campaign will be looked at as forgettable for both franchises that represent the nation’s top market.

After doing eenie-meenie-miney-mo between the Giants and Jets, I decided to start with Big Blue.
After coming off a loss last week vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers, the G-Men continued their test of the AFC North in Week 10 by going on the road to Paul Brown Stadium to face the Cincinnati Bengals.

Now, it has Giants fans all over the Tri-State area checking their calendars to see if there are any more AFC North games on their schedule.

The key for the Bengals today included their running game in opposition to that of New York’s in addition to turnovers. Cincinnati rushed for 129 yards and the Giants mustered a mere 76. They nearly doubled the amount of rushing yards New York had.

Turnovers normally do not win you football games either. The Giants had 4 while the Bengals only had 1. 2 of those turnovers were Eli Manning interceptions. He would also go 29/46 for 215 yards, 4 sacks, and no touchdowns. Andy Dalton would throw for 4 TDs despite less than 199 yards on a 21/30 day for him.

That’s now 2 straight that the Giants have lost and it once again has the faithful of Big Blue worried. In the past (i.e. before Eli Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin won 2 Super Bowls), this would prompt Giants fans to call into sports talk radio in New York and begin crowing about quarterback changes, criticism that Eli Manning is nothing more than Peyton’s little brother, and calls for Tom Coughlin’s head on a silver platter.

It’s also common for the Giants, even in the years where they’ve won Super Bowls, to have these 2nd half swoons and still manage to back into the playoffs. The rest of the Giants’ schedule is rather tough as well.

As for the Bengals, the win will continue to reinvigorate their playoff hopes in a weak AFC while still contending with the Ravens and Steelers—the latter of which looks like the hottest team in football at this point.

The record of the Giants is now 6-4 while the Bengals move to 4-5. The Giants will be on a bye week for Week 11 while the Bengals should go 5-5 when they play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Sounding Off

While the Bengals made mince meat of the Giants, the Jets traveled to Seattle to play the Seahawks. Gang Green was coming off of a bye week in Week 9 after being embarrassed at home by the Miami Dolphins 30-9. That was in a contest in which the Jets outdid the Dolphins in nearly every statistical category—except the one that mattered the most.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks were coming off a victory in Week 9 over the Minnesota Vikings that was dominated by rushing attacks. Marshawn Lynch would run for 124 yards in that game while Adrian Peterson had nearly 180.

Some things, unfortunately for the Jets, do not change.

It turned out to be (not) precisely what the struggling Jets offense needed—traveling to play a top 5 NFL defense in Seattle in a stadium known for its decibel level. The Jets offensive performance today included a grand total of no offensive touchdowns. The only TD on the game was off a fumble recovery in the 1st quarter.

Other than that, the line for Mark Sanchez was 9 for 22 with 144 yards, no touchdowns, 1 interception, and 3 sacks. An easy indicator of when Mark Sanchez has an off day is when Tim Tebow is ever in the game. He was and went 3 for 3. Dustin Keller also had a couple of key drops in this game.

Meanwhile, Seattle continues its push towards the postseason. Russell Wilson went 12 for 19 with 188 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marshawn Lynch had himself another huge day with 124 yards on 27 carries.
Here’s one way you know it was going to be a bad day for the Jets—the Seahawks first touchdown wasn’t thrown from Russell Wilson. It was thrown by Golden Tate. Tate had more TD passes on the day than did Sanchez. And, like Tebow, Tate is a southpaw.

Seattle is now 6-4 in a division that is looking more like it’ll be contested between them and San Francisco. Between their defense and their rushing attack, they are not a team I would want to face in the playoffs if I’m the Atlanta Falcons (who should be the top seed). Week 11 is a bye week for the ‘Hawks.

This could be a team that’s built for January despite the rookie quarterback. If not for the fact that they have a rookie quarterback, we’d be talking about them as Super Bowl contenders.
As for the Jets, the beat continues for them at 3-6 and the Rams lurking next week in St. Louis. As the postseason becomes less of a possibility for Gang Green, the calls in the Tri-State Area for the job of Rex Ryan will only get louder.

So will the Tim Tebow chants.

Saint Finished Yet!

New Orleans’ Week 10 matchup against the division rival (and undefeated) Atlanta Falcons was described as their Super Bowl. This was an accurate description. Heading into the game the Saints had won 3 of their last 4 games, but a loss to the Falcons in the same division would have been, possibly, the final blow to their postseason chances in a very tough NFC.

I predicted the Falcons would win this one because despite the Saints winning 3 of their last 4, what didn’t change is the fact that the Saints had the worst defense in the NFL.

The game turned out to be more reflective of one other statistic that could hurt the Falcons come postseason time—the Falcons’ weakness that is their rush defense. The Saints exploited that weakness today by outrushing Atlanta 148-46. To teams that may face the Falcons in the playoffs—that is how you beat them.

Some major offensive numbers were put up today. Drew Brees was 21/32 with 298 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Matt Ryan threw for a career best 411 yards, 34/52, also with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Tony Gonzalez and Roddy White would have more than 100 receiving yards as did Jimmy Graham for New Orleans.

When it mattered late with the Falcons driving into the red zone down by 4 and needing a touchdown, they got a defensive stop forcing a turnover on downs. No doubt that it was the biggest defensive stop of the year for New Orleans in a year that has been devoid of many this year.

Tony Gonzalez, though, did reach a milestone as he continues to engrave new accomplishments that will be on his Hall of Fame plaque after his career ends—100 touchdown receptions.

What does this mean? It means that the Saints are once again in the playoff race with Atlanta and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that is 5-4 and has won 4 consecutive themselves. It’s a safe bet that 4-5 for the Saints will become 5-5 since they get the Oakland Raiders in Oakland-Alameda next week. If what the Ravens did to the Raiders is any indication, I won’t want to be in the Black Hole next week as a Raider fan because it has a butt-whooping written all over it.

As for the Falcons, most pundits will still pick them to win the Super Bowl. I picked them to be the NFC representatives prior to the year starting. But, this team is starting to remind me of those Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts teams. Efficient offense, but had a weakness when it came to defending the run. It was their Achilles heel many a postseason and it could be that of Atlanta this year.

Also, more questions will arise of the Falcons if they once again flame out in the postseason this year. The talk in Atlanta will be if they’re a team built for the regular season and not the playoffs.
Atlanta is 8-1 and gets the flailing Cardinals at the Georgia Dome next week. Saints get the Raiders.

By the way, there’s a party this week at Mercury Morris’ place, I’ve heard.

Kissing Your Sister?

Ties in the NFL are, of course, a possibility. Ties in the NFL are, also of course, a rarity. In today’s society of sports cynics, ties are treated in almost the same capacity as losses.

Take what happened the last time an NFL game ended with both teams with the identical amount of points. It was in 2008 when an Eagles and Browns matchup concluded tied at 13. What everyone takes away from that game was when Donovan McNabb gave a press conference when he claimed that he didn’t know an NFL game could end in a tie.

The reaction around the Delaware Valley was immediate. Many Philadelphia Eagles fans as well as media eviscerated him for being an idiot and oblivious to the rules of football. Others just used it as an excuse for their case that he should leave football given he was entering the back end of his career.

Ties are taken as an aberration in the American sports landscape. They’re teased as being a result that should only happen in soccer or hockey.

We enter into the picture, today’s Rams/49ers game at Candlestick Point in San Francisco. What was 17-7 Rams going into the 4th quarter ended in a 24-24 tie as it concluded.

For most of the game, the NFC West leading Rams got outplayed. Steven Jackson ran for 101 yards while Frank Gore had nearly the same amount. St. Louis possessed the football for about 6 minutes longer than did the Niners.

Most of this was done with San Francisco’s quarterback injured. Alex Smith left the game with a concussion. Meaning Colin Kaepernick would be taking the snaps for the 49ers. While the centerpiece of their offense is Gore, Kaepernick did run for a touchdown in addition to going 11/17 with 117 yards with no passing TDs or interceptions.

Sam Bradford did have himself a respectable game as well—26/39 for 275 and 2 TDs.

St. Louis’ defensive line also looked like an NFC West defensive line based on what we’ve seen this year by sacking Niner quarterbacks 5 times—Michael Brocker and Robert Quinn each with 1.5.

It’s rare when a team’s record includes 3 numbers instead of one, but the Rams are now 3-5-1 while the 49ers are now 6-2-1. St. Louis goes home to play the lowly J-E-T-S. The Niners will be at home on Monday Night Football next week vs. the Chicago Bears.

We Want Foles!

Philly fans got Foles, albeit, in inauspicious fashion.

Week 10 between the Cowboys and Eagles in South Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field was a must win for both teams. Both were coming into the game 3-5, but the Eagles had lost 4 straight after a promising start to the season despite being bitten by turnovers.

Eventually, turnovers and porous offensive line play finally caught up to them and now they’re fighting for their playoff lives—if there are any at this point.

Head coach Andy Reid is also fighting for his job and football fans in the Delaware Valley have had enough. How popular most Jon Gruden (or even Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly) be in Philadelphia these days?

Philly got the game started with a 7-0 with a Michael Vick touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. The Cowboys would assume the advantage at half with the score being 10-7.

Michael Vick would be taken out of the game after suffering a concussion and an eye injury. So, in came Nick Foles. His first throw to Jason Avant wasn’t a bad throw but it was incomplete off of Avant’s helmet after he pulled up lame on the turf while running his route.

Foles’ first (and only) touchdown pass would be to Jeremy Maclin for 44 yards. At that moment, Twitter blew up with folks proclaiming that Foles had just wrested Vick’s job away from him. His first game wasn’t too bad given the circumstances—22/32 for 219 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He was also sacked 3 times and turned the ball over once on a fumble.

Meanwhile, for the Cowboys, Tony Romo would go 19/26 for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Dallas won this game in the 3rd quarter. It was 17-17, but a Dwayne Harris 78-yard punt return for a touchdown made it 24-17. 1 minute later, Foles’ interception was caught by Brandon Carr who took it 47 yards to the house. It was 31-17 and at that point, fake pink slips were being written throughout Eastern Pennsylvania directed at Andy Reid.

The next game for the Eagles will also be in the division—on the road in Landover, Maryland’s FedEx Field to play the Washington Redskins. Dallas heads home to play the Cleveland Browns. “America’s Team” is a 4-5 team right now.

Texans Are Pretty Good…No Bull

The last time the Houston Texans appeared on Sunday Night Football wasn’t a memorable experience for the Bulls on Parade. It was vs. the Green Bay Packers in Houston and Aaron Rodgers threw for a franchise record 6 touchdown in what was a victory with authority.

Rodgers and the Packers frustrated the Texans as they would commit a plethora of uncharacteristic penalties as well.

This time around would go a lot better for Houston than did last time. Coming into their matchup at Chicago’s Soldier Field, both the Texans and Bears were 7-1. Both were praised for their stellar defenses.

Throw in rainy conditions, and you have a matchup that will be conducive to high defensive performance. That’s what we got. In the first half of the game, both teams would combine for 6 turnovers. That’s a testament to defense outplaying offense.

Houston’s Danieal Manning (1 pick & an ex-Bear) & Kareem Jackson (1 pick) as well as Chicago’s Tim Jennings (2 picks) were especially stout on defense for their respective clubs. The conditions didn’t make things easier for the offenses either.

Jay Cutler only went 7/14 for 40 yards and 2 interceptions, but this was because the concussion bug also hit him too. Like Michael Vick, Alex Smith, and several other NFL’ers in the day, he would also be taken out of his game due to suffering a concussion. Backup QB Jason Campbell was only 11/19 for 94 yards.

Even Matt Schaub in the victory threw for less than 100 yards by going 14/26 for only 95 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 1 sack courtesy of Julius Peppers.

If anyone on offense stood out, it was the Texans’ Arian Foster with 29 carries for 102 yards as well as Chicago’s Brandon Marshall who caught 8 passes for 107 yards. Other than that, it was all defense. You are hoping that this is a preview of the Super Bowl if you prefer old-school, defensive, smash-mouth football.

One meme that much was made of was the idea that the Texans couldn’t win in bad conditions given that they’re mainly a “dome” team playing in warm Houston. I never believed that for a second.

With the victory, the Texans increase their record to 8-1 and maintain their hold on the 1 seed in the AFC. They’ll go home to play division rival Jacksonville in Week 11. As for Chicago, they’ll be on another nationally televised game next week—Monday Night Football in San Francisco vs. the 6-2-1 49ers.

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

Monday Morning Realist Week 7

By Akiem Bailum, TRST Columnist & host of “10 Minutes on the Clock” every Saturday

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Take These Broken Wings….

The ending of Week 7 of the 2012-2013 NFL season will be looked at as a living nightmare for Baltimore Ravens fans. In weeks 5 and 6, Baltimore’s rush defense gave up over 200 rushing yards & found some way to win both games.

But, that Week 6 victory vs. the Dallas Cowboys came at a huge price as Ray Lewis & Lardarius Webb suffered season-ending injuries. Lewis’ triceps tear at this point in his career could be career-ending.
The Ravens would get a slight boost prior to Week 7 with the return of Terrell Suggs. Suggs came to play in Week 7.

The rest of the Ravens did not—on either side of the ball.

In what can only be termed as an off-game for Joe Flacco, he didn’t look like the elite quarterback he proclaimed himself to be at the start of the season. He was 21/43 for only 147 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 4 sacks. 2 of those sacks would come from Antonio Smith—on consecutive plays.

That’s not counting all of the balls the Texans’ defense batted or spiked down when they weren’t picked. I wonder if they were playing volleyball throughout the game—or watched volleyball clips of Destinee Hooker, April Ross, and Jennifer Kessy throughout the week.

It may not have been 200 yards, but it was dangerously close. The Texans’ running attack (anchored by Ben Tate and Arian Foster) would combine for 187 rushing yards. Foster also had 2 touchdowns—the same amount of TDs quarterback Matt Schaub threw for. Schaub’s line also included going 23/37 for 256 yards.
The Ravens had couldn’t establish their run any better than they could stop Houston’s. Ray Rice only rushed for 42 yards and only carried the ball 9 times. Not exactly good play calling when you have a runningback of that caliber only getting the rock 9 times…isn’t it Cam Cameron?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Ravens fans continued to get injury scares from their own players. At one point, Ed Reed said that he took cleats to the ribs, but later said he’d be fine which stopped Ravens fans’ fast beating hearts for a few minutes.

2007—December of 2007. That was the last time that a Baltimore Ravens defense has allowed 43 points in a game. That was to Peyton Manning & the Colts.

But, games like this will not have Ravens fans too confident in their ability to get to the Super Bowl—where many (myself included) picked them to go before the season began. Flacco had an off game. Their issues are injuries and porous defense. Meanwhile, Houston is back on track after the thrashing they took last Sunday night vs. the Green Bay Packers.

“They played excellent, we did not.”—John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach. Nuff ‘Ced.
Next week is the Ravens’ bye week—and they need it. It’s also the Texans’. Baltimore is 5-2 while Houston is 6-1.

Cam Goes Ham….on his Coaching Staff

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Carolina Panthers 19-14 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in what was a rather competitive game, throughout. Dan Bailey almost beat the Panthers by himself as he kicked 4 field goals—including the last 2 in the 4th quarter.

Tony Romo was 24/34 with 227 yards and 1 touchdown. Newton also threw 1 TD pass in addition to going 21/37 for 233.

There were no eye-popping statistics from this one. No one rushed for over 70 yards. The leading receiver for either team was Dallas’ Miles Austin with 5 receptions for 97 yards. As expected, Steve Smith led the receiving charge for Carolina with 7 catches for 83.

When down 19-14, the Panthers did have a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but it was not to be as Newton had one of his 2 sacks. Also, a desperation play that saw several different Panthers touch the football eventually ended in a fumble & a DeMarcus Weir recovery. Those plays work…once in every 1000 occurrences.

After the game, though, Cam Newton’s Superman cape seemed to be strapped on a little bit too tight as he took his postgame presser. Everyone’s focusing on how he seemed to rip the coaches for not calling the same amount of run plays as pass plays. Also, he referred to a female reporter as “sweetheart”. I got out of it that he seemed to be too concerned with statistics than with winning the game.

Statistics are for geeks (like me) & for others in the press to fawn over. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up a lot of statistics but it didn’t win them their game vs. New Orleans, did it? Also, it’s obvious now that there’s conflict in the Carolina Panthers’ locker room. Between teammates calling out Cam Newton on the sidelines & in the media, now with him complaining about play calling, it’s obvious that there are some disgruntled Panthers in that Carolina locker room.

Those very Panthers will get the Chicago Bears in Chicago Week 8. Meanwhile, the Cowboys will go back home for a divisional clash with the Giants. Dallas is 3-3 while Carolina is 1-5.

Creamsicle Unis, Not-So-Vanilla Game

Tampa Bay’s matchup vs. the New Orleans Saints @ Raymond James was played with the Bucs wearing their well-ballyhooed old school swag. Even if many in Central Florida associate those unis more with the less-than-glorious days of the franchise, you have to admit that it makes Tampa’s cheerleaders look even hotter.

One week removed from a bye was nothing for Drew Brees. In their last game vs. San Diego, he set the all time record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Now for Brees to pad that record, a little bit. He got off to a good start with a 4 TD performance including 377 yards, 27/37 and only 1 pick.

The game also marked the return of Jonathan Vilma to the Saints’ defense and he pass defended on the first play. On his return, he’d say: “I’ve never had to fight so hard to defend my name, but running out on the field with my team today makes it all worth it.”

Meanwhile, for the Buccaneers, Josh Freeman was 24/42 for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns. Freeman is an underrated QB who would be getting Tim Tebow-like attention if he were on a flashier team like the Cowboys.

Receiving was the story of this one. Lance Moore caught 9 passes for 121 yards. Speaking of the Chargers, Bolts fans will remember this name very well—Vincent Jackson. V-Jax had a banner day in a losing effort for Tampa Bay with 7 receptions for 216 yards and 1 touchdown.

This game would eventually come down to Freeman and the Bucs having a shot to win the game as did Cowboys/Panthers. Freeman was successful in leading his team down the field, but couldn’t cross the goal line for a game-tying touchdown with Tampa Bay down by a mere 7. What looked like a game-tying TD pass to Mike Williams was actually waved off as Wallace was pushed out of bounds, invalidating the touchdown pass. Some Bucs fans are already campaigning for the return of the replace….no, I won’t go there.

Saints won 35-28. Both teams are now 2-4. New Orleans will face Denver next week on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. As for Tampa, they play their next game in 3 days on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football vs. the 5-2 Vikings. Yeah, that last part is true.

One Minute Men

Where’s Ripley when you need him? Believe it or not, Brees isn’t the only quarterback in striking distance of a record. So is Eli Manning. “Easy E” threw 1 touchdown pass today vs. the Washington Redskins. This brings his career total to 197—only two shy of the all time Giants record currently held by Phil Simms at 199.

Manning’s line for the day also included a 26/40 for 337 & 2 interceptions.

This week, it would be another NFC East team—Washington—that ran for over 200 yards. That’s to be expected though, when you have both Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris with productive days on the ground. Morris carried the ball 22 times for 120 yards and RGIII provided 89 rushing yards in addition to his 20/28 for 258 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

No one, though, is talking about anything that occurred prior to those last 2 minutes in the 4th quarter. At one point, it looked like the Redskins were about to get themselves a huge victory on the road in the division to send themselves to 4-3. Robert Griffin III connected for 30 yards to Santana Moss for a touchdown with 1:32 left in the 4th quarter.

But, as numerous other teams will tell you, 1:32 in the 4th is nothing to Eli Manning. It might as well be an hour and 32 minutes. After Eli’s first pass was incomplete, the 2nd one was anything but. Manning to Victor Cruz for 77 yards and that sent the G-Men back on top. Big Blue led 27-23. That would be the most important catch of the day for Cruz who had 7 on the day for 131 yards.

The final play for the Redskins would be a fumble from Santana Moss of all people. Moss probably went from hero player (other than RGIII of course) to a scapegoat in less than 2 minutes on sports radio in the nation’s Capital. Moss would have 3 catches for 67 yards.

The Giants are now 5-2 while the Skins fall to 3-4. New York will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys while Washington continues its road trip to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

As for New York’s Other Team….

They were atop (or at the bottom of, based on your preference) the AFC East along with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins at 3-3 coming into Week 7. The Bills lost to the Tennessee Titans 35-34 in a barnburner in Orchard Park, New York. The Dolphins were enjoying the sun and sand of Miami as they were on bye week.

The Pats & Jets were to play each other with the winner assuming the division lead.

Early on, Gang Green’s defense was grounded only mustering 7 points in the first half. But, you also have to give the defensive line of the Patriots some credit. Mark Sanchez was sacked 4 times. 1 ½ of those occasions would be courtesy of Rob Ninkovich.

The Jets running game went north of 200 last week against the Colts who were a team known even during the Peyton Manning era of having issues stopping the run. This week, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen combined for 131 rushing yards to outrush the Jets 131-106. Shonn Greene himself had a banner game last week at the Meadowlands vs. Indy—16 carries for a mere 54 yards this week.

And, in case you wanted to know, 4 Tebow sightings throughout the game. 12 yards on 4 carries.

As far as the lines on the quarterbacks go, Mark Sanchez—28/41 for 328 yards, 1 TD, 1 pick, and 4 sacks. Tom Brady’s performance was 26/42 for 259 yards, 2 TDs and 1 sack.

Even after two late Nick Folk 43 yard field goals to put the Jets on top 26-23—there was still 1:37 left on the clock. As we know, that’s nothing to Tom Brady. Clock management from the Patriots’ offense allowed for a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with no time left to tie the game at 26. New England would win the game in overtime, also via another Gostkowski field goal.

Two plays Jets fans will be looking at were a huge Mark Sanchez fumble in overtime as well as a crucial drop from Stephen Hill that would’ve probably led to a touchdown instead of New York settling for 3 points.

The Pats won 29-26. They now bring a 4-3 record to St. Louis next week. Gang Green goes back home for another matchup inside the division. They’ll be 3-4 as they play the Miami Dolphins.

Don’t Let the Scoreboard Fool Ya!

The final score may say 24-17 Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincy. But, one statistic might as well be on the final score of this game.


That would be the number of total yards the Steelers and Bengals gained throughout their matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. When you are outgained by 246 total yards on offense, that will not win you football games. And, it would’ve been even more if not for a bunch of dropped passes (mainly from Mike Wallace) they had throughout the game (and the 1st half in particular).

This isn’t even counting the dropped ball from Baron Batch that didn’t even come from Roethlisberger. That came from a trickeration play where receiver Antonio Brown threw a perfect pass to Batch that he would drop. That would’ve been an easy touchdown for Batch which would’ve made the disparity on the scoreboard even greater.

Jonathan Dwyer was the leading rusher for either team with 17 carries for 122 yards. Ben Roethlisberger’s line was 27/37 with 278 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and was sacked 3 times.
As for Cincinnati, their offense was putrid. Andy Dalton only completed half of his passes (14/28) and had only 105 yards. Even Flacco (in the same division) had more than that, and his day was beyond horrible. Benjarvus Green-Ellis was Cincy’s main rusher, of course—and ran for only 69 yards on 18 carries.

With the Steelers winning 24-17, it gets them back on track after they’ve suffered late, tough losses to both the Oakland Raiders & Tennesse Titans on the road. It’s their first road victory of the year. It’s also huge considering everything that’s going on with the Ravens.

Baltimore is 5-2 while Pittsburgh is 3-3. But, with the injuries that Baltimore has and their problems with stopping the run, the Steelers now have a legitimate shot at stealing (or should I say “steeling” with the pun intended) the AFC North—a division that was the Ravens’ to lose coming into the season.

While Pittsburgh is 3-3, the Bengals fall to 3-4. Week 8 will serve as the bye week for the Cincinnati Bengals. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will go back home to Heinz Field. Their opponent—the Washington Redskins.

Stay with the Real Sports Talk for the most NFL coverage including our Sunday recap show—the NFL Final Score!

Monday Morning Realist Week 5

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Move Over, Johnny Unitas

Coming into their Sunday Night matchup with the San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints (defense, in particular) seemed in need of a sabbatical. They were 0-4 in desperate search of that first win in a division that the Atlanta Falcons have virtually already won. Steve Spagnuolo was also on a hot seat whose temperature was only on the rise.

But, quarterback Drew Brees did send a special letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for suspended head coach Sean Payton to be present at the Mercedes-Benz Louisiana Superdome. The occasion was the possibility of history happening.

Having thrown a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, Brees was within 1 touchdown pass in this game vs. the San Diego Chargers from surpassing Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games in which he’s thrown a TD pass. Unitas is considered right alongside Joe Montana (and possibly either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning) for the title of “greatest quarterback of all time”.

In the first quarter vs. San Diego, Brees went to work. He wasted no time making history. Down 7-0 and on a 3rd & 6, Brees went 40 yards to Devery Henderson to tie the game and set the new record at 40 consecutive games with a TD pass.

Brees was far from finished. 3 more touchdown passes (all to Marques Colston) would give him 4 for the day. He went 29/45 with those 4 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 370 passing yards. It’s only fitting that he’d set history against his former team….and the quarterback that a long time ago, was the reason Brees found greener pastures in New Orleans.

That quarterback (Philip Rivers) would go 27/42 for 354 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Both TDs went to Robert Meachem (a former Charger), but Malcolm Floyd caught 5 passes for 108 yards.

The Saints are finally in the win-column with their 31-24 victory over the Chargers. New Orleans is 1-4 while San Diego is 3-2. Other than Brees making history and surpassing Unitas, the main thing I gather from this game is that as spotty as defense has been for the Saints so far, San Diego’s was even spottier. That’s to be expected when you have two quarterbacks the caliber of Brees and Rivers. Colston & Henderson both went over 100 yards on the day. That says something about San Diego’s secondary that day. What say you, Norv Turner?

The Chargers play the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Monday Night Football in Week 6. The Saints will be on their bye week.

Win One for Chuck

Recently, the Indianapolis Colts received heartwrenching news when they found out that head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. He had to be sent to a hospital and has been there ever since.

Coming into their home game vs. the 2-2 Green Bay Packers, the Colts decided to use that as a rallying cry. Jim Irsay, being as Twitter savvy as he his, did so by setting up the hashtag “ChuckStrong”. A “ChuckStrong” banner was displayed prominently at Lucas Oil Stadium with an orange ribbon as it is the official color for support of cancer research.

This is coming as the NFL is honoring breast cancer research month by having all of its players and other personnel adorn the color pink for all of October.

Early on, though, it didn’t look promising for Indy at home as the Packers led the Colts 21-3 at halftime behind two TD passes from Aaron Rodgers.

I imagine that Chuck Pagano’s name was probably uttered a few times by interim coach Bruce Arians because the Colts came out of their tunnel at halftime a totally different team. Slowly, but surely, they chipped away at Green Bay’s huge lead and Andrew Luck showed why he was a #1 draft pick. 31/55 for 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 362 yards. Reggie Wayne’s performance was especially phenomenal—13 catches for 212 yards including what wound up being the game winning score as he reached the ball across the goal line just barely enough for it to break the plane & count for 6 points.

After the game, their postgame huddle included a tribute to Chuck Pagano and the game ball was delivered to him in the hospital he was in. This win was definitely fueled by pure emotion & it’s also a sign that Andrew Luck can indeed play football as quarterback in the NFL.

As for the Green Bay Packers, they now have more questions about their defense, especially their secondary. Also, with their division rival Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears both sitting atop the division at 4-1 each, that Monday Night debacle in Seattle is looking much larger in the standings than it was when it happened. They’re now 2-3. Final score—30-27 Indy. Indy goes to Jersey to play the Jets in Week 6. The Pack head to Reliant Stadium in Houston vs. the Texans.

Throwing Too Many Arrows?

One moment in Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens/Kansas City Chiefs game is getting a lot of attention for the reaction it produced from one of an injured player’s teammates.

Matt Cassel only threw for 92 yards, but this was because at one point in that game, he was down on the ground due to an apparent injury to the head. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before having to be taken out of the game. What was very audible was that the injury was actually cheered by many of the fans at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here’s your moment of irony—in 2008, this same Matt Cassel had to be the starting quarterback for the entire season for the New England Patriots after Tom Brady was injured in the Pats’ home opener against….you guessed it…the Kansas City Chiefs. So, Cassel knows something about what injuries can do to a football team. New England went 11-5 that year & barely missed the playoffs.

The Ravens did beat the Chiefs 9-6 (or should I say the Orioles beating the Royals) in a game that was dominated by the running attacks. Rutgers’ Ray Rice ran for the Ravens 17 times for 102 yards. The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles had 140 yards in that game, but it could’ve been much more since he ran for 125 yards before halftime. 125 yards—on THAT (aged, but still dangerous) defense.

Don’t tell Chris Johnson.

What outraged Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston was the audible cheering of the KC fans after the Cassel injury. After the game, Winston was fuming.

We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer, and they can do whatever they want. I believe that… …But when somebody gets hurt, there are long-lasting ramifications to the game we play… …when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel—it’s sickening… …I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams , I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there… …Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people…hasn’t done anything to the media writers that kill him, hasn’t done anything to the people that come out here and cheer him. Hey if he’s not the best quarterback then he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we have 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out?… …I want every single one of you people to put this on your station and in your newspapers because I want every fan to know that. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it, we deserve it and I don’t want your pity. But we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.”—Eric Winston.

‘Nuff ‘Ced.

The Chiefs are 1-4 while the Ravens are 4-1. In Week 6, the Chiefs head to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers. Baltimore goes home to play the Cowboys.

1 Quarter Doth Not A Game Make

Or we’d be talking about the Cleveland Browns at 1-4 right now. In their game vs. the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, a 14-0 lead had Giants fans panicking about a blowout by the Cleveland Browns of all teams. They couldn’t seem like they could stop Trent Richardson on the ground.

But, Giants fans also know that as games go longer, Eli Manning and the G-Men seem to get stronger. That’s what happened. After going up 14-0 on Big Blue, the Browns were outscored the remainder of the game 41-13. Eli Manning’s line was 25 for 37 with 259 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

And the huge rusher of the day didn’t turn out to be Richardson, but Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants. He carried the ball a total of 30 times for 200 yards. Overall, the Giants ran for 240+ yards to the Browns who only had 84. This means that Bradshaw alone had more rushing yards than the entire running game of the Browns. That says something about how strong the run defense was for New York in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters.

Another New York Giant who had a huge game was Victor Cruz. Even though he only had 5 catches for 50 yards—3 of them came in the end zone. All 3 of Eli Manning’s TDs were thrown to Victor Cruz. Insert salsa reference here.

The Giants won 41-27. They now move to 3-2 while the Browns are still winless at 0-5. With the Saints winning, they’re now the only winless team in the league left. The Giants go to San Francisco to play the 49ers in Week 6. Cleveland goes back home for a divisional matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Keystone State Divided

With the Eagles coming off a turnover-free Sunday Night game vs. New York and the Steelers coming off a bye week, The Eagles/Steelers matchup was expected to be very entertaining for reasons beyond that whole Philadelphia/Pittsburgh thing.

But early on, the Eagles made that Sunday Night Football game seem like so long ago. Philadelphia QB Michael Vick early on committed 2 more turnovers. Those would be the only turnovers they’d commit throughout the game, though.

One of those turnovers would come as Vick would fumble the ball right on the goal line where it was recovered by Pittsburgh. That turnover would be a huge difference as the Steelers would only win thanks to a Shaun Suisham field goal at the end of the game. Many Eagles fans are blaming this one on Andy Reid’s play calling. Overall, Vick fumbled the football 3 times. Desean Jackson also had one of his own that the Eagles would recover.

But at the other end of the spectrum, Pittsburgh was penalized 9 times for over 100 yards. Pittsburgh also had 3 fumbles, but luckily for them, all 3 of theirs were recovered.

A lot of attention was shined on Rashard Mendenhall who had 1 touchdown in addition to 14 catches for 81 yards. Isaac Redman also chimed in with 41 yards on 13 carries. Ben Roethlisberger’s line was 21/37 with 207 yards. No TDs or Interceptions.

Two things Eagles fans will take from this game. The first is why doesn’t Andy Reid utilize LeSean McCoy more? Shady can be a runningback who can run for 100 yards a game and 1400 to 1500 yards a season. But many will look at Andy Reid for answers. Also, 2 more turnovers for the Eagles. It’s not as bad as the first 3 weeks, but the fumble at the goal line was the difference in the game.

The Steelers won 16-14. Pittsburgh is now 2-2. Philly is now 3-2. The Steelers play the Titans in Nashville on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. The Eagles go back home to play the Detroit Lions.

Brady vs. Manning Round….Too Many to Count

When Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are facing off in a football matchup, there’s no debate as to what will be the most talked about subject of that football game.

Coming off a 52-28 thrashing of the Bills, it looked like the Patriots would continue that against the Broncos. With 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots’ lead on the Broncos was 31-7. Brady only threw for 1 touchdown but he also rushed for another.

Brady didn’t need to throw for 3 TDs as he normally does as long as Stevan Ridley has games like he did against Denver at Gillette Stadium. He carried the ball 28 times and ran for over 150 yards. Wes Welker had a huge game too catching 13 passes for 104 yards. Both Ridley and Welker had 1 TD each.

Neither QB threw a pick. Peyton Manning’s line was 31/45 with 345 yards and 3 TDs. 2 of them came as it looked like the Broncos were going to stage a furious comeback. What was 31-7 became 31-21 and seemed on its way to becoming 31-28. 1 fumble from Manning later & this one was in the bag. Patriots win 31-21.

Manning is now in a position that he’s not used to being in—under .500 on a team that may not be the best team in their division. That’s what happens when you have to go to new teams and have to adapt to new coaches, new offenses, and coming off neck surgery. Next week—they go to San Diego on Monday Night Football to play the Chargers. That game will go a long way in determining who wins the division.

New England is now 3-2 with Denver now at 2-3. Week 6 for New England is at Seattle.

Stay With the Real Sports Talk for all the latest NFL News including our weekly NFL recap show, The NFL Final Score!