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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Commissioner Goodell with T.J. Simers & Fred Roggin of AM 950 Los Angeles - NFLMedia.com

Roger weighs in on the LA situation in this interview.

Commissioner Goodell with T.J. Simers & Fred Roggin of AM 950 Los Angeles

October 30, 2006
T.J. Simers: On how the NFL turned off all of Los Angeles coming out of the New Orleans owners meeting?

Roger Goodell: We’re trying to be direct with our fans, and tell them what our challenges are. You know that I’m a pretty direct person, but from our standpoint, we’ve been working on the L.A. solution and we’re trying to be part of that solution and doing something that’s good not only for the NFL, but the community. We are just being direct with what our challenges are.

Fred Roggin: On has the league made it impossible for Los Angeles to have a franchise?

Goodell: Has the league made it impossible? If you re-call back in the late nineties, we gave an expansion franchise to Los Angeles, and we did that on the expectation that we wanted to be there and as long as people felt like there was a solution that worked for us. What happened is a long story, but the bottom line is it was not a solution that worked for the NFL, and we’re not going to make a bad deal. I think what everyone has to understand is that the city of Los Angeles is a great city with or without the NFL. The NFL has done very well without the city of Los Angeles. We think that we’d be better together, but it has to be a solution that works for the community and the NFL.

Simers: On can this deal be made without the NFL getting any public money contributions from the city of Los Angeles?

Goodell: We haven’t been talking about public money. That is an issue that either the media or politicians raise all the time. Listen, you’re talking to an entity that is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars of investment to your community, and trying to solve an issue that you’re facing in your community, which is the state of the Coliseum. That is one of the things people have told us here, is that the Coliseum needs significant work done, and that’s why they’re looking at other alternatives to see what they can do. We are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Simers: On hasn’t the league already agreed to providing private funding?

Goodell: We have agreed to put private funding in. We have done that in many markets. As a matter of fact, we’re the only league in the world that I know of that puts league money into stadiums around the country. We would do that, but it has to make good business sense.

Simers: On is the main issue the cost of the stadium?

Goodell: The expense is one of the challenges we’re facing there. Here in New York, we’re trying to get a stadium built for two NFL franchises exceeding a billion dollars. It’s a tough nut to crack, and it’s a challenge we’re going to have to figure out, but we’ll figure it out.

Roggin: On it being as simple as if A, B and C to get done, then we’ll have a franchise in Los Angeles?

Goodell: I don’t think it’s that simple. I think the biggest thing we can do is to work with not only the political leaders, but also the business leaders to quietly try to figure out how we can find a win-win solution for the community and the NFL. I don’t like the roller coaster either. That’s why we’ve been trying to be very direct. We’ve had good dialogue with many of the leaders both politically and business wise, and we know there are fans out there who want to see NFL football back, and we want to bring it back. They just want to see the end game, when the team starts and we understand that.

Simers: On David Israel’s comments that the NFL and Los Angeles negotiations are dead?

Goodell: Is that a proclamation by Mr. Israel?

Simers: Yes, it was.

Goodell: I just wanted to understand what Mr. Israel was saying.

Simers: On Israel, speaking on the behalf Mayor Villaraigosa and Governor Schwarzenegger, states that the NFL has worn out its welcome in Los Angeles?

Goodell: I have had very good dialogue with the mayor, and I’ve had numerous conversations recently. I have been very direct with him and I think he’s appreciative of that. I know they want results, and we want results too, but I can only be direct on this. I’m not in this as a popularity contest. I’m in this to do what’s best for the NFL at the end of the day.

Simers: On what your dad would have said when you became the NFL commissioner?

Goodell: I hope that he would have been very proud. He knew before he passed away that I was pursuing my dream of working for the NFL, and that was a great thing, but I don’t think he would have ever imagined me sitting in this chair right now.

Simers: On how you started as an NFL intern in 1982 and how we have a high school kid in our office working with us?

Goodell: I just spoke with Jason, and I told him to choose his role models carefully (laughter). He told me he wanted to be a sportswriter like T.J. Simers (laughter).

Simers: On what’s been the biggest surprise since assuming the commissioner post?

Goodell: It’s a good question, and I have to tell you it’s really how people treat you differently. You’re of a different status, and that’s difficult for me because I feel like I’m just the same guy that was doing my job three months ago.

Roggin: On what was the process like waiting to find out if you would be the next commissioner, and how would you have felt if you weren’t selected?

Goodell: I was prepared for that. When I was sitting in the room I felt like I had done everything possible. That I had represented myself the way I wanted to be represented and put my best foot forward. If they had decided not to select me, I was prepared for that and ready to move on in life.

Tracy Simers: On have you spoken with Commissioner Tagliabue recently about Los Angeles?

Goodell: Yes, I have. I spoke with him in advance of the meeting in New Orleans. I told him where I thought we were and he understood. Again, I think you have to find a solution that works for all parties.

Simers: On how the NFL is going to play a game in Germany before a game in Los Angeles, and does that make any sense?

Goodell: I’ve heard that line before, and you’re using someone else’s line T.J., and I’m disappointed in you (laughter).

Simers: On a prediction of what year Los Angeles is going to have a franchise?

Goodell: I’ve never been on a timetable. I hope we can bring it back successfully and give all those fans something great to cheer about besides great football from USC, UCLA and a lot of high schools that play there. We want to be back in Los Angels with NFL football.

Simers: On can we be there before 2011?

Goodell: I sure hope so. I’ll work at it.

Broncos / Colts Game - View From The Third Deck At Invesco Field

Ever wonder what it looks like to watch a Denver Broncos game from the third deck of Invesco Field? Well, here's a video that gives you the view:

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tom Brady Shatters Vikings Pass Defense; Pats Win 31-7 - NFL.com

Brady leads Pats to 31-7 win over Vikings

NFL.com wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota counts itself among the many NFL franchises trying to copy the New England Patriots' plan for success. The Vikings learned on Monday night that they still have a lot of catching up to do.

Tom Brady beat Minnesota's relentless rushing defense by simply throwing over it for 372 yards and touchdowns to four different receivers, and the Patriots pounded the Vikings 31-7 to win their sixth straight regular-season road game.

New England's defense had four sacks and four interceptions, forcing Brad Johnson into a handful of uncharacteristic mistakes.

"The plan was to come out and put the ball in the air a little bit," Brady said, grinning. "The receivers made a lot of great plays, and it was a lot of fun, needless to say."

Still firing well into the fourth quarter, Brady didn't let up -- going 29-of-43 to beat a defense that had been pretty decent against the pass, too.

New England (6-1) more than doubled Minnesota's average of allowing 15.8 points per game, setting the tone for an easy victory with an opening drive on which Brady completed all six of his throws for 94 yards.

"Whatever holes we had in the coverage, he found it," Vikings safety Darren Sharper said.

Johnson was no match for the unflappable, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback. Picked off three times, Johnson was 20-of-33 for 185 yards and forced to watch from the sideline for the final 12 minutes when backup Brooks Bollinger went in.

"The turnovers played into that," Vikings coach Brad Childress said, when asked about the switch. "It's important you have respect for the football."

Minnesota's only score was a 71-yard punt return by Mewelde Moore in the third quarter, but Patriots rookie Laurence Maroney -- playing in the stadium where he became a college star -- answered that with a 74-yard kickoff return.

New England now has a big matchup, at least for November, at home against Indianapolis (7-0) on Sunday.

"We're happy to win," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "but it doesn't get any easier. We have a tough challenge coming up this week against the Colts."

The Vikings (4-3) proved they weren't in their opponent's class just yet. Playing their first Monday night home game in five years, they were consistently outschemed and outworked. The jazzed-up crowd of 63,819 lost the buzz by halftime.

"You come into this environment, and you see the fans leaving midway through the fourth quarter," said Brady, who hasn't lost in 10 NFL games indoors.

Well, he's usually pretty good wherever he plays. Save for an up-for-grabs pass up the sideline that Sharper snagged for a one-handed interception as he fell down in the first quarter, Brady was brilliant.

The last time he was here, Brady was leading Michigan to a win over the University of Minnesota in 1998. And, boy, it sure looked like Brady was facing those defenseless Gophers again -- not a Vikings team that had held every prior opponent to 19 points or less and entered the game ranked seventh in the league in total yards allowed.

First-year defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin has helped create a dominant unit, but his charges were embarrassed on each of New England's three first-half scoring drives.

A frighteningly easy opening march ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell. The Patriots drove 93 yards in eight plays to get a 23-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski in the second quarter. And just before halftime, they moved 74 yards in 11 plays to take a 17-0 lead on a 9-yard scoring toss to tight end Benjamin Watson.

Dillon and Maroney came into the game, combined, with nearly 700 yards rushing, but their impact was minimal except for Maroney's momentous kickoff return.

No, it was all Brady in this one, slinging his usual darts all over the field to 10 different receivers. He started the game in the shotgun, with an empty backfield, and lined up in that five-wide set several times throughout the first half. Ten of New England's first 11 plays were passes.

Minnesota just couldn't keep up.

Tom Brady enjoyed his best game of the season with 372 yards and four touchdown passes.
Childress has built the Vikings into a run-first, low-risk outfit that relies on a sound defense and a take-what-it-can-get offense to succeed. One problem with that is they're not made for big rallies.

Their largest deficit to date was 17-3 against Detroit, and they overcame that with a 23-point fourth quarter three weeks ago. But after Troy Brown's 7-yard touchdown catch, set up by Maroney's return, Minnesota was down 24-7. On the next possession, Troy Williamson dropped a should-be touchdown on a long pass up the sideline when he failed to adjust to the ball as it arrived.

The Vikings, then, were out of opportunities. After a career-best 169 yards last week at Seattle, Chester Taylor was bottled up -- gaining only 22 yards on 10 carries. He suffered a shoulder stinger in the third quarter and was a non-factor the entire night.

Brady gave rookie Chad Jackson his chance to score late in the third, a 10-yard completion that Jackson deftly converted by virtually crawling into the end zone to keep from falling down.

Mike Vrabel intercepted Johnson on the next possession, and when Minnesota had the ball again Bollinger was behind center. New England then provided the punctuation to a near-perfect night, forcing a three-and-out with three straight sacks.

"It's probably one of the most embarrassing games I've been a part of," Johnson said.

49er Look Terrible - Chicago Bears 41 Niners 10 - NFL.com

Bears pound Niners 41-10, improve to 7-0

NFL.com wire reports

CHICAGO (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Brian Urlacher 's one-handed interception was headed to the highlight reel as soon as he tumbled to the ground after somehow batting the ball to himself.

Urlacher's stellar play symbolized what kind of afternoon it was for the refreshed and still unbeaten Chicago Bears -- and how frustrating the day was for the San Francisco 49ers.

Wearing bright orange uniforms and showing their speed on defense and special teams, the Bears overwhelmed the 49ers from the outset. They jumped to a 24-0 first-quarter lead and 41-0 halftime cushion before coasting to a 41-10 victory.

At 7-0, Chicago is off to its best start since the 1985 Super Bowl champions won their first 12 games.

"It was amazing. Twenty-four points in the first quarter? That's pretty impressive, especially in this league. It doesn't happen a lot," said Rex Grossman, who rebounded from his poorest performance to throw three TD passes.

Urlacher's acrobatic interception, in which he batted Alex Smith 's pass and then caught it with one hand as he was being knocked down by the 49ers Justin Smiley, was one of four turnovers the Bears generated in the first half. All four led to touchdowns.

Urlacher's play came on the heels of a national sports magazine survey of NFL players in which he was rated the second-most overrated player to Terrell Owens.

Asked if he had any reaction to the poll, last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year said: "No, I don't. Watch the film. I don't know what people are saying. All I can do is go out there and play hard and try to help my team win."

Grossman rebounded from a four-interception, two-fumble performance in a narrow 24-23 win at Arizona before a bye week to complete 23 of 29 passes for 252 yards against the 49ers' woeful pass defense.

Thomas Jones and the dominant Bears proved to be too much for the hapless Niners to handle.
"I'm just glad I went out and did what the coaches asked me to do, respond from having a poor game and learn from some of the mistakes I made and continue to get better," Grossman said.

The 24 first-quarter points set a franchise record for the opening period and the 41 in the first half tied a mark set in 1948 against Washington.

"At halftime you just think to yourself, 'How did it get out of control so fast?"' said 49ers defensive lineman Bryant Young. "It happened so fast we were just trying to find a way to get it resolved. ... We have to give ourselves a chance."

San Francisco averted a shutout in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard field goal by Joe Nedney and a 16-yard TD pass from Smith to Antonio Bryant.

Six plays after Urlacher's interception, Grossman's 5-yard TD pass to Muhsin Muhammad made it 17-0 and the Bears were on their way.

How good are they?

"No one expects us to do what we do. No one wants to give us any credit," Urlacher said. "Everyone wants to say they didn't play well. There's a reason they didn't play well."

Smith was stripped of the ball in the 49ers' next series, and Tommie Harris picked it up and ran to San Francisco's 13. That set up a 1-yard TD by Cedric Benson and a 24-0 lead with a minute to go in the opening quarter.

"Hopefully I will never have to deal with a halftime coming in 41-0 like that," Smith said. "We talked about it all week. This is a team that feeds off turnovers, a team that strives off turnovers."

The Bears had such a comfortable lead they went on fourth down from the San Francisco 1 early in the second quarter. Grossman lofted a TD pass to Desmond Clark.

After the Bears took an early 3-0 lead, the 49ers Maurice Hicks fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Cameron Worrell recovered at the 15, leading to a 7-yard TD run by Thomas Jones.

San Francisco entered giving up 32 points a game, but the defense wasn't to fault early on because turnovers allowed the Bears to work from short fields. Drives started at the 15, 41 and 13, and they turned all three into touchdowns to take the big opening-quarter lead.

The 49ers coughed up the ball a fourth time late in the half when Bryant caught a pass and fumbled, with Ricky Manning Jr. recovering.

Instead of running out the clock, the Bears capitalized again. Grossman's 27-yard TD pass to a wide-open Clark with 10 seconds left, which completed a quick four-play, 70-yard drive in just 62 seconds.

Bill Parcells Bounced Back: Dallas Cowboys Beat Carolina Panthers 35 - 14 - NFL.com

Romo, Dallas stun Carolina with big rally

NFL.com wire reports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Tony Romo found a way to put a smile back on Bill Parcells' face.

Romo rallied the Cowboys from a 14-point first-quarter deficit, passing for 270 yards and a touchdown, and Julius Jones ran for 94 yards and a score to help the Cowboys beat the Carolina Panthers 35-14. The Cowboys set a team record with 25 fourth-quarter points.

"He's a guy who's been miserable all week," said receiver Terrell Owens, Romo's top target with nine catches for 107 yards. "I asked him coming off the field on Friday, I asked him how it was going and he said he doesn't like to get his butt kicked. As a team, we're tired of losing; we know we have a decent team. We just have to go out and play like it."

Romo, starting in place of the benched Drew Bledsoe, showed poise in slowly leading the Cowboys (4-3) back, using a variety of short passes to different receivers.

Early in the fourth quarter, facing a third-and-12 from the Carolina 21, Romo sidestepped pressure and fired a 16-yard pass to Jason Witten. But the drive stalled when Romo misfired to Witten in the end zone on third down, and Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 24-yard field goal to cut the Panthers' lead to 14-13.

On the ensuing kickoff, Sam Hurd ripped the ball from Brad Hoover and recovered the fumble at the Carolina 14. On the next play, Jones ran untouched up the middle for the touchdown. The Cowboys added the 2-point conversion when Romo faked a draw and threw a pass to Owens to make it 21-14.

"It's been tough, you never know, the change that we made at quarterback," Romo said. "You never know what you're going to get ... with a new starter who is untested. I was anxious just like Bill was to see what we were going to do out their tonight."

Owens was impressed by Romo's poise.

"Tony gives us a different change of pace," Owens said. "He gets the ball out quick and he gave us some chances. Everybody came up with some big plays today. Jason Witten played tremendous over the middle."

Dallas sealed the win when Roy Williams intercepted Jake Delhomme's throw on Carolina's possession after Jones' touchdown. Delhomme lost another fumble with under 2 minutes to go, Carolina's third turnover in the fourth quarter.

"This is about as poor of a performance in the fourth quarter that I have been associated with," coach John Fox said. "I apologize for all the people who paid for tickets."

Marion Barber had touchdown runs of 3 and 14 yards late as Parcells won a game after trailing by 14 points in the first quarter for only the second time in his career. The victory justified his decision to sit Bledsoe and end his streak of 70 consecutive starts. Bledsoe paced the sideline for most of the game, wearing a visor and occasionally glancing down at the play chart on his wrist, while applauding Romo's performance.

"Drew actually came up to me before the game (and) said he was rooting for me," Romo said. "Drew's a really, really class act. He's a very pleasant guy, and I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Drew."

After one start, Tony Romo seems to have won the admiration of Terrell Owens AND Bill Parcells.
Romo completed 24 of 36 passes and had one interception, which led to Steve Smith's 24-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 in the second quarter.

But the Panthers (4-4) were plagued by mistakes as they blew a double-digit lead for the second successive week. Instead of Romo struggling in his first NFL start, it was Delhomme, making his 62nd consecutive start, who had problems. He was 17-for-31 for 149 yards and an interception.

Smith, Michael Gaines, DeShaun Foster and Keyshawn Johnson all dropped passes. Johnson's might have been a touchdown in the third quarter, spoiling his first game against Dallas since he was released in a salary-cap move so the Cowboys could sign Owens.

"It's a team game. We all didn't get it done. We need to get better," Delhomme said.

Smith was angered when asked about his two drops, and his fumble of a punt return as the Panthers' once promising season has taken a turn for the worse.

"Just keep keeping your stats," Smith said. The Panthers were even plagued by a coaching miscue. Fox called a timeout late in the first half that wiped out Richard Marshall's blocked field goal. Given a second chance, Vanderjagt kicked a 38-yarder to make it 14-10 at halftime.

"Hopefully with the bye coming, that will give us a chance to get healthy and maybe find some guys who can finish games," Fox said.

Foster rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown for Carolina, which lost starting cornerback Ken Lucas to a groin injury in the first quarter, forcing rookie Richard Marshall to alternate coverage on Owens and Terry Glenn.

In a season filled with controversy, Parcells left the field with a grin.

"We haven't been having a lot of fun around here. They're having fun right now," Parcells said. "That's the thing that I enjoy the most -- when I see the faces of those players."

Vince Young Wins Again - Tennessee Titans 28, Houston Texans 22 - NFL.com

Young, Titans get better of Texans

NFL.com wire reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Vince Young danced on the grass, tossing his cap to cheering fans as he made his final exit from the Tennessee Titans' field.

David Carr spent most of the second half grabbing the neck of his jersey, angry at being benched for committing too many turnovers.

At least Young left some people in Houston happy: Young finally admitted he was glad to beat his hometown team after he ran for a touchdown and threw for another, and the Tennessee Titans won consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2003 season by beating the Texans 28-22 Sunday.

"It means something to me, my family and all the fans back home in Houston, but at the same time, it meant the most here," Young said with a smile. "The Tennessee Titans wanted to get another victory coming off the bye."

The Titans had gone 39 games before putting together consecutive victories.

"It is certainly nice to get back-to-back wins now," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "Of course, our goal now is to go out and get the next one."

The Texans (2-5) lost their 11th straight road game, wasting backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels' three TD passes in the final 17 minutes. His last pulled them within 28-22 with 1:54 left, and the Texans tried an onside kick.

But Bobby Wade jumped up and grabbed the ball, allowing the Titans (2-5) to run out the clock.

That left Houston coach Gary Kubiak unhappy and Carr apologizing for his performance.

"I preached to this football team the step we have to take as a football team, we have to be able to go on the road, protect the football and play solid football ... We had too many bad things happen to us on the road," Kubiak said.

Kubiak said Carr will start again next week at the New York Giants.

"I'm going to demand whoever plays that position protect the ball. That's what I told David," Kubiak said.

Vince Young put on a good show against his hometown team.
The Texans passed up Young, the hometown favorite, because they had Carr and used the top pick in the draft on defensive end Mario Williams. Carr had justified the choice so far, completing an NFL-high 70.3 percent of his passes.

But the Titans harassed Carr into his worst performance this season, sacking him four times and forcing him into three of Houston's five turnovers. Kubiak pulled Carr midway through the third quarter and replaced him with Rosenfels.

"It wasn't my best effort," said Carr, who called his benching the hardest thing he's had to deal with.

Houston came in having won two of its last three. The Texans outgained Tennessee 427-197 on offense and held the ball for more than 36 minutes. It wasn't enough to overcome the mistakes.

On Rosenfels' second play, his pass to league-leading receiver Andre Johnson's hands to Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones for his first career interception, which he returned to the Houston 24.

Young found Wade three plays later for a 20-yard TD pass and a 21-3 lead. The No. 3 pick overall in the draft ran for 44 yards and was 7-of-15 for 87 yards passing.

Jones, cited Saturday for misdemeanor assault for allegedly spitting on a woman in a nightclub, also returned a punt 52 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter against a unit that had been the NFL's stingiest on punt coverage.

Fisher said Jones still faces team punishment and may miss a game once the coach investigates further.

Tennessee defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch, who sacked and stripped Carr of the ball just before halftime, said the Titans felt they had Carr rattled after Tony Brown picked up the ball and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown.

"We were back there in the backfield all day today," Vanden Bosch said.

Atlanta Falcons 29-27 Over Cincinnati Bengals - NFL.com

Vick tosses another win, 29-27 over Cincy

NFL.com wire reports

CINCINNATI (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Michael Vick has found a balance. His passer rating is just as impressive as his 40-yard dash these days.

Vick threw three more touchdown passes, leading the Atlanta Falcons to a 29-27 victory over a Cincinnati Bengals team that had never seen anything quite like the show he put on.

Few teams have.

The mercurial quarterback has led the Falcons (5-2) to consecutive wins over the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers and the defending AFC North champion Bengals by throwing the ball. Vick has thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games, proving his point.

"I feel I just need the opportunity to throw the ball," said Vick, whose passer rating of 140.6 was the second highest of his career. "Just give me the chance to do it. I've felt like all along, this is what I could do."

No matter what they did, the Bengals (4-3) were helpless to run him down or shut him down.

Many of the Bengals' defenders had never faced Vick, who put on quite a show in his first career visit to Cincinnati. He went 20 of 28 for 291 yards and left would-be tacklers scattered all over the field while running for another 55 yards.

Seen enough, Bengals?

"He's a heck of a player," defensive end Bryan Robinson said. "When your goal is to keep him in the pocket and you do that and he still makes the play, that's frustrating."

In the last two games, Vick has gone 38 of 58 for 523 yards with those seven touchdowns and two interceptions, which translates into a passer rating of 119.5. Previously, Vick had never thrown more than four touchdowns in any two-game span of his career.

"He's leading like a champion," said tight end Alge Crumpler, who has caught four of those seven touchdowns. "He never points fingers at anybody in this locker room and is constantly encouraging everybody."

Michael Vick accounted for 346 total yards and three more passing touchdowns.
He was so good that Carson Palmer, last year's NFL leader in touchdown passes, and Pro Bowl receiver Chad Johnson were reduced to a sideshow.

Palmer made it close, throwing a 55-yard touchdown pass to Chris Henry that cut it to 29-27 with 3:41 to go. But Vick helped the Falcons run the clock down to 19 seconds before a punt pinned the Bengals at their 17-yard line.

Palmer fumbled while being sacked, ending one of his better performances of the season on a downcast note. Palmer was 24 of 36 for 266 yards in his failed quest to keep up with Vick.

"He's like nobody else in our league -- a Reggie Bush-type player," Palmer said. "He's exciting and fun to watch. He's one of the few guys you pay to go watch play."

The main event was supposed to be the matchup of Johnson and cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who had kept up a stream of trash talk since they met at the Pro Bowl last February. Eight months of dissing culminated in one last face-to-face exchange before the first play.

The Falcons took the bait.

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Hall threw Johnson to the ground emphatically on the first play, and safety Chris Crocker drew a late-hit penalty for knocking down Johnson again when he got up.

Johnson was under the Falcons' skin. Now, he had to get into the end zone.

He'd promised at least two touchdowns. He got one midway through the first quarter, taking a quick throw from Palmer and putting a move on Jason Webster to shake free for a 14-6 lead and his second touchdown of the season.

Johnson finished with six catches for a team-high 78 yards -- numbers that failed to back up the prolonged brag.

"Their game plan was to just throw away from me," Hall said. "For the most part, it was a relatively quiet day for him."

After the game, Johnson had nothing but good wishes and good words for Hall.

"It was a lot of fun," Johnson said. "I enjoyed it. It's not every day you get to play against one of the best in the NFL."

Vick let the Falcons get the final word.

In one say-it-all play, Vick eluded the rush, rolled left, pulled up and lobbed a 26-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins in the third quarter. His 8-yard pass to fullback Justin Griffith put the Falcons ahead to stay at 26-20 -- a bad snap scuttled the extra point -- and showed that teams can't worry exclusively about his speed anymore.

"He's just getting comfortable," Hall said. "He's coming into his own."

Baltimore Ravens Over New Orleans Saints 35-22 - NFL.com

Ravens flex their muscle in 35-22 victory

NFL.com wire reports

NEW ORLEANS (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Blasted off his feet as he threw, Steve McNair lay on his back for a moment, then propped up his head, grinning after another first-down pass.

In his return from a concussion and strained neck two weeks ago, McNair never shied away from contact, throwing accurately in the face of penetrating defenders or scrambling for key first downs.

By the time the New Orleans Saints figured out how to slow him down, McNair had run for one touchdown and thrown for two more as the Baltimore Ravens snapped a two-game losing streak with a 35-22 victory.

"Feeling confident and having the will to go out there and execute" is what McNair said about getting off to a fast start. "Our offense has been struggling and today was a good day."

The Ravens' defense was dominant as well, accounting for two touchdowns on a pair of 12-yard interception returns by Louisiana natives Ronnie Prude and Dawan Landry. They also knocked Reggie Bush out of the game in the fourth quarter. Bush went to the locker room favoring his left ankle, but later said he did not expect to miss a game.

Baltimore (5-2) became the first team to beat the Saints in the Louisiana Superdome this season and made it look easy, despite coach Brian Billick only recently taking over the play-calling after firing offensive coordinator Jim Fassel following the Ravens' last game two weeks ago.

"I particularly like the play calls of the two interceptions for touchdowns," Billick joked. "Today was players knowing what it is they needed to do, having worked it properly in practice."

Still, the play-calling wasn't bad, and several Saints said the Ravens surprised them by how often and when they threw.

The Ravens used crisp play-action fakes out of running formations to pass for several key first downs and took a 7-0 lead on a 5-yard quarterback draw.

Rookie Dawan Landry celebrates his second-ever INT and his first-ever touchdown.
McNair gave Baltimore a 14-0 lead on a quick third-down slant to Clarence Moore early in the second quarter. He finished 17 of 23 for 159 yards, which was more than enough with Ravens running back Jamal Lewis gaining 109 yards on 31 carries.

"He is running hard and physical and that's the style running game we're going to have," Billick said. "It's great to get him cranked up."

Even when McNair made a mistake that should have resulted in an interception, it worked out for a score. Late in the first half, his pass for tight end Todd Heap was underthrown and linebacker Scott Fujita was set to intercept it. But cornerback Jason Craft got a finger on it, tipping it over Fujita and straight to Heap, resulting in a 28-7 lead for the Ravens at halftime.

"It was a combination of them kind of beating our butt a little bit and us not getting any breaks," Fujita said.

New Orleans (5-2) kept fighting, but the deficit was far too large against Baltimore's hard-hitting defense.

Drew Brees was intercepted three times, twice on deflections, and sacked twice. Ray Lewis, who made six tackles, also thwarted the Saints' first decent scoring chance when he intercepted Bush's halfback pass intended for Marques Colston in the end zone. That was the second turnover for Bush, who fumbled at the Saints 43 when he was hit by blitzing safety Gerome Sapp as he took a handoff on the Saints' opening drive.

"When you make mistakes on your end of the field, they result in points for the opponent," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "In this case, if you look at the turnovers, that's what happened. It's not any magic formula. It went against everything we've been trying to accomplish and we've just got to go back and make the corrections."

Brees finished 24 of 45 for 383 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Horn became the Saints' all-time leader in touchdown catches when he hauled in a 32-yard scoring pass in the second quarter, passing Eric Martin. His 49th touchdown catch as a Saint made it 21-7, but New Orleans wouldn't get any closer. Rookie Colston had touchdown catches of 47 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter and has six TDs this season.

The Saints could not run the ball, however, finishing with only 35 yards on 14 carries.

The Baltimore secondary, meanwhile, did not miss an opportunity to punish the Saints for making mistakes.

Landry's touchdown on the first of his two interceptions made the score 35-7 about midway through the third quarter, prompting an initial flow of disappointed fans to the exits. His second interception early in the fourth quarter all but cleared out the place.

Video: NFL Coaching Meltdowns: Herman Edwards, Mike Ditka, Jim Mora, Dennis Green, Jim Fassel

In this video we see some classic meltdowns by NFL coaches Herman Edwards, Mike Ditka, Jim Mora, Dennis Green, and Jim Fassel after losing games, and including the most recent tirade given by Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Dennis Green.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Oakland Raiders Shock Pittsburgh Steelers 20 to 13; Win Two In A Row - NFL.com

Raiders KO defending champs 20-13

NFL.com wire reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (Oct. 29, 2006) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers might have been better off if Big Ben sat out this game.

Chris Carr returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, Nnamdi Asomugha also took back an interception by Ben Roethlisberger for a score and the Oakland Raiders mounted a late goal-line stand to hold on for a 20-13 victory over Pittsburgh.

Roethlisberger, playing a week after being knocked out with a concussion against Atlanta, struggled from the start against the Raiders (2-5). He threw interceptions on two of Pittsburgh's first three possessions and then twice again in the fourth quarter when the Steelers (2-5) were driving for a potential tying score.

Oakland won back-to-back games for the first time since last October and handed the defending Super Bowl champions their fifth loss in six games.

Pittsburgh still had a chance after the two late interceptions, getting a first-and-goal at the 1 trailing 20-13 with about three minutes left.

But Robert Thomas stuffed Willie Parker on first-and-goal and hit Najeh Davenport for a 4-yard loss on second down. After a false start by Davenport put the ball at the 10, Roethlisberger completed a 7-yard pass to Hines Ward.

On fourth down, Kirk Morrison broke up Roethlisberger's pass to Santonio Holmes in the end zone.

After the Steelers forced a punt, Pittsburgh had one last-ditch chance. Roethlisberger completed a 49-yard pass to Nate Washington down to the Oakland 4 on the final play.

The Steelers had their chances in this one.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Morrison made a leaping interception on a pass from Roethlisberger to Ward on fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 36.

Trailing 13-6, Pittsburgh drove to the Oakland 7 before Roethlisberger threw a pass over the middle that Carr stepped in front of at the goal line and raced the length of the field for the score that made it 20-6.

Oakland's pass defense lived up to its No. 1 ranking, which had been achieved in large part because the Raiders trailed so often early in the season opponents didn't need to pass.

But along with the four interceptions, Oakland also sacked Roethlisberger five times and allowed Pittsburgh's receivers little room to operate until after the Raiders went up 20-6. Willie Parker caught a 25-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger on the next drive.

Roethlisberger finished 25-for-37 for 301 yards, but most of the damage came after Pittsburgh fell behind 20-6.

The Steelers did their best impression of the Raiders by committing four turnovers and four personal fouls. Pittsburgh is in danger of being unable to defend their title in the playoffs, falling three games behind Baltimore in the AFC North.

The 2006 debut of last year's leading receiver Jerry Porter did little to help Oakland's anemic offense. The Raiders managed just 98 yards, giving up six sacks and failing to score on offensive touchdown as they once again struggled to block a blitzing opponent.

Porter, inactive the first four games and suspended the last two as part of a long-running feud with coach Art Shell, came in on Oakland's first play of the second quarter. He caught a 19-yard pass in the final minute of the half to set up Sebastian Janikowski's 19-yard field goal that made it 10-6 at the break.

Oakland's other score in the half came on Asomugha's 24-yard interception return.

Oakland's leading rusher LaMont Jordan played sparingly with a sore back and Justin Fargas led the rushing attack with 55 yards on 18 carries.

Indy Colts Beat Denver Broncos 34-31; Remain Undefeated At 7-0

Manning, Wayne help Colts escape Denver

NFL.com wire reports

DENVER (Oct. 29, 2006) -- Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne picked, poked and plowed their way through a Denver defense that was designed specifically to stop them.

Manning passed for 345 yards and three touchdowns - all to Wayne - and Adam Vinatieri kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2 seconds left Sunday to lift the Indianapolis Colts to a 34-31 victory over the baffled Broncos.

Wayne finished with 10 catches for 138 yards and did most of his damage against defensive back Darrent Williams. Williams was Denver's first pick of the 2005 draft, a defense-heavy class that was part of an ongoing effort by the Broncos (5-2) to shore things up after those embarrassing playoff debacles in Indy in 2003 and '04.

It looked as though things were coming together very nicely; Denver came in comparing favorably to the best defenses of all time, having allowed only 44 points through six games.

Then came Manning & Co., who gained 437 yards to become the first team to start 7-0 in consecutive seasons since the 1929-31 Green Bay Packers did it three straight times.

Manning went 32-for-39 for 345 yards with a passer rating of 129.2. He wasn't intercepted, wasn't sacked, was barely touched, in fact.

His counterpart, the much-maligned Jake Plummer, did a wonderful job matching Manning, leading a Denver offense that hadn't scored 20 points all season. Plummer went 13-for-21 for 174 yards and a passer rating of 104.1. Rookie running back Mike Bell came off the bench for 136 yards and two scores.

But this was one of those games where the team that has the ball last was going to win.

Wayne's third touchdown gave Indy a 31-28 lead with 3:35 left. But when Bell answered immediately with a 48-yard run, the Broncos stalled at the Colts 30 with 1:49 to go and had to settle for a tying field goal. It then became clear this would be Indy's game to win.

Manning did it cruelly and efficiently, working the sidelines and finding every soft spot in the zone defense the Broncos used, and surprisingly stuck with, even as Indy's yardage piled up.

The two big plays were Manning to Wayne for 14 yards and Manning to Wayne for 9 more - both catches made in front of Williams, who all week acknowledged this game was something of a referendum on his presence in Denver.

Vinatieri, brought to Indy to make kicks exactly like this one, nailed the 37-yarder to finish a 4-for-4 day and help the Colts finish a perfect second half - they scored each of the five times they touched the ball after halftime. Denver's desperation kickoff return went nowhere and the Broncos saw their 13-game, regular-season home winning streak ended.

Indy, meanwhile, re-established itself as the team to beat in the AFC, taking a two-game lead in the win column over Denver and all the closest contenders with the season nearing the halfway point.

Joseph Addai ran for 93 yards for Indy and Dallas Clark, the tight end who has long been tough for Denver to cover, finished with six catches for 68 yards, as Manning spread his 32 pass completions to seven receivers.

Pat Summerall's Calling 49ers v. Bears Game Today

I'm watching the Niners v. Bears game on Fox and to my surpise, am hearing a voice that for a long time I associated with the Dallas Cowboys and John Madden: Pat Summerall.

According to Wikipedia, Summerall retired in 2002, and after Super Bowl XXXVI, but was drawn back in this year.

It's really cool to have him back in the face of American Culture.

ESPN's Michael Irvin Take High Road On Tiki Barber's Comments

Last week, New York Giants Running Back Tiki Barber responded to Michael Irvin's assertion that Tiki Barber's a quitter by calling him an "idiot" on his radio show.

Given the chance to talk back on national television, the energetic Irvin took the high road, stating that his views were just that.

I say, good for Michael Irvin for, in one swoop of his tongue, effectively ending an unfortunate and immature feud.

Jerry Porter To Play For Oakland Raiders Today - Finally - ESPN

If this is true, it's about time, and too bad that The Raiders let the whole matter with Jerry Porter grow to such immature proportions.

Report: Reinstated Raiders WR Porter to play
Associated Press

Jerry Porter reportedly will see his first on-field action Sunday for the Oakland Raiders.

An unnamed person close to the wide receiver told The Contra-Costa Times that Porter would play against the Steelers. The person told the newspaper that Porter worked with the first-team offense upon his reinstatement from suspension.

Porter was reinstated by the Raiders on Wednesday after the NFL and the players association agreed to cut his four-game suspension in half.

Porter was suspended Oct. 15 for insubordination a day after being kicked out of practice by coach Art Shell. The NFL Players Association appealed the suspension the following week, calling it "excessive."

Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, union executive director Gene Upshaw and Harold Henderson, the NFL's executive vice president for labor relations, can agree to settle the grievance without a hearing.

Porter, Oakland's leading receiver a year ago, had been inactive the first four games before the suspension. Shell said he planned to talk to the receiver when he returned to the team but would not commit to using him in a game for the first time this season.

Shell and Porter clashed almost immediately after the coach was hired in February over Porter's offseason workout plans. Porter made public a trade demand at the start of training camp and was inactive for the four games before the suspension.

Porter had been working with the scout team in practice before being kicked out after an argument with the coach Oct. 14.

The Porter situation had led to some grumbling by players unhappy that one of the team's best players wasn't being used. Oakland struggled offensively without Porter, losing its first five games before finally breaking through with a 22-9 victory last week against Arizona.

Porter, in the second year of a five-year contract worth $20 million, was docked about $115,000 in pay for the two-game suspension.

Porter led the Raiders with 76 catches last season and had 942 yards receiving and five touchdown receptions in 2005.

Porter, a second-round pick out of West Virginia in 2000, has 239 catches for 3,215 yards and 24 touchdowns in six seasons with the Raiders. He has never reached 1,000 yards receiving in a season, missing the mark narrowly last season and with 998 yards in 2004.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Friday, October 27, 2006

NFL 2006 - Year Of The Ticket Broker

The National Football League has proudly issued press releases annoucing the number of weeks where each team has sold out its home game, including some organizations that have been habitually non-sellout examples, like the Oakland Raiders.

In the case of the Raiders, this is the second year since their return that they've had more sellout games than non-sellout games, and they've had the worst record in the NFL until last Sunday. Why so many sellouts? It's not because people want to see the NFL's supposedly worst team, it's the secondary ticket market.

The rise of online ticket sales has changed the landscape of sellouts in the NFL. When this season started, RazorGator, an online ticket brokerage, came through and purchased the majority of Eagles seats, leaving none for public sale. Well, that's not quite fair, they were available publically, just through RazorGator. Some of the best seats went for over a grand. And the Eagles weren't the only NFL team bitten by the secondary ticket market.

While RazorGator's a brokerage, with StubHub.com, an online ticket market, everyone can be a ticket broker, charging whatever price, high or low. For example, one can get tickets to Sunday's Raiders / Steelers game for just $28. Yes, it's a nose-bleed seat, but it's below face value. But the simple fact that I can get such a ticket for cheap is a new development. It means that ticket prices are actually coming down.


Well, my theory on this is two fold-- at least for StubHub users -- that sellers are not all professional scalpers and really want to get rid of tickets, but for those who are pros, they may have an inventory they just want to dump. The result in either case is cheap tickets.

In fact, the tickets on Stubhub.com are generally lower than those sold on Craiglist, and safer, too. People using Craiglist have to meet the seller in person -- unless your lucky enough to find a post that links to a Stubhub-related website -- and risk being robbed by the seller or buyer. A problem that has worsened this year.

Still, one can get tickets to any NFL game. But when you go to a sold out game, and see sets of seats empty, you can both thank and blame the ticket broker who could not sell out his or her inventory. But their purchase of the tickets guarantees the rest of us will see NFL games on TV.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

New York Jets West Side Stadium Video Documentary - www.antdogs.com

This is a video documentary of the politics behind the proposed and now defunct New York Jets West Side Stadium. It was produced by Anthony Thornton of www.antdogs.com, a 22-year old Fim major at City College, New York.

This video's a great example of how a proposed stadium can stir passions positively, or in this case, negatively. It features the Rev. Al Sharpton, and several New Yorkers and elected officials.

Dallas Cowboys On The Decline

Seems that the Dallas Cowbows are heading for a downslide. The drubbing by the Giants Monday night was only the tip of the Iceberg. Coach Bill Parcells has many holes to fill and little time to do it in the always tough NFC East. The Cowboys run defense is weak at best. T.O. is a Quality WR when he can shut his mouth long enough to catch a few passes. But the Big Question is....Will Parcells stay after this year if the 'boyz post a less then .500 record? or will he pack it in to avoid more Heart trouble. QB Tony Romo is only a stopgap measure. I believe Dallas will have to deal in the Next draft for a Pick high enough to draft a quality QB, unless they drop several games the rest of the season and play themselvs into the Brady Quinn Sweepsteaks.

Fieldposition - New Series Of Podcasts

Fieldposition.com and the Fieldposition Podcast have introduced a new series called Conversations.

Conversations are Mini Podcast interviews conducted by Fieldposition.com's Field reporter Bill Chachkes. SBS own Zennie Abraham will be a frequent contributor, discussing the Business of the NFL, as well as Metro Philly's asst. sports editor Adam Levitan, who will discuss Fantasy Football. The First "conversation" is already posted at Fieldposition.com/podcast.

SF 49ERS Proposed Stadium: Is HNTB Cutting Corners To Save Money?

The San Francisco 49ers have played their games at two stadiums, Kezar Stadium in the center of San Francisco, and now Candlestick Park, which is now called "Monster Park."

While Monster Park at Candlestick Point has been the scene for some of the greatest plays in NFL history, it's seen better days. It has less than the standard number of luxury boxes, has a weird shape that causes the hard wind off the point to play havock with the kicking game, and has a large number of seats with views obstructed by beams holding up the second deck. It's time for a new stadium.

In fact, long past the time for one.

The first time a new stadium was considered for Candlestick Point, it was 1982. That proposal was a renovation, the costs of which kept going up and up and the economy faling into recession, until the need for the stadium was no longer important at the time.

The second attempt -- another renovation -- was taken over by then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who wanted a new stadium. That proposal barely passed the vote called Proposition D and E, but it did, the problem was that the Niners owners didn't have the right financing in place.

This 2006 proposal is the third attempt.

What's different with this one is simple in my view: the stadium model gives the look of a cheap facility -- the photo at the top of this post is the new proposal. Take a good look at it. Ok, the model itself is cheap, without the detailed seat representation I'm used to seeing, but there's more. For example, in all of the designs of seen for a stadium in the swirling winds of Candlestick Point, there's always been some kind of wind break or design that causes the wind not to swirl.

Take a look at the photo on the left -- it's the stadium part of the stadium mall proposed by Eddie DeBartolo and Carmen Policy. The extreme right side and near top of the photo shows the kind of hangover roof I'm referring to. And another view of this design is to the right. It looks like a complete stadium, without cutting corners.

Not this new design.

The new 49ers Stadium Proposal is open air at the top, with no shielding or protection of the crowd from the elements. In this, it looks like a high school stadium. The sideline seat structure does not hug the field, as do other designs. In fact, the last stadium proposal -- see the photos -- did have a seat structure that hugs the sidelines. The new proposal seems to have the stadium made in straight sections, rather than a smooth structure that hugs the field.

Yikes! .

Whatever's going on, it looks like project architects NHTB is cutting corners, or at least being told to do so. That's a mistake. As it looks now the stadium costs about $700 million and I predict that cost will increase to $1 billion.

That's terrible.

The 49ers staff and Mayor Gavin Newsome should check into this. As I told both the Mayor and a person working on the "San Francisco Olympic Bid" since the stadium's a part of the bid, any cost overuns may impact San Franciso's Olympic Bid.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000 * FAX (212) 681-7573

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

NFL-104 10/24/06 MICHAEL SIGNORA, NFL, 212-450-2076


The NFL will stage up to two international regular-season games per season beginning in 2007, further demonstrating the league’s commitment to competing in a global sports marketplace and to developing a greater presence beyond the
borders of the United States.

NFL club owners approved a resolution at a league meeting in New Orleans today that enables the league office to schedule up to two regular-season games per season outside the United States beginning in 2007 and continuing through
at least the 2011 campaign.

“This step comes in response to the tremendous and growing interest in the NFL around the world,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “The owners believe that hosting a limited number of regular-season games outside the United
States on a regular basis is in the best interests of the league and will help to increase the fan base, build awareness of the NFL and grow the sport worldwide.”

Participating teams and venues will be decided at a later date with Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom as potential host countries.

In 2005, the NFL staged its first-ever regular-season game outside the United States as the Arizona Cardinals hosted the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City.

A crowd of 103,467 flocked to Azteca Stadium – the largest crowd for a regularseason game in NFL history.

The NFL has engaged in almost 20 years of international activity, including the preseason American Bowl series, the NFL Europe League, grass roots programs and customized television programming.
# # #

Dallas Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells Picks Tony Romo As QB; Drew Bledsoe Says He's The Best

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Bill Parcells picked Tony Romo as the starter after his three-interception, one touchdown performance against the New York Giants. I personally think it's a terrible idea, and will result in the Cowboys losing several games. Drew Bledsoe says he's the QB to win and I think he's correct. Here's what Drew said in the Dallas Morning News "blog."

In what was a break from club protocol, Drew Bledsoe held a news conference following the news of his demotion.
"Thanks for coming," he deadpanned at the start of the 10-minute session.

"In this league, it's day to day, week to week, and apparently half to half," Bledsoe said in reference to being yanked at halftime of Monday night's game.

He said Bill Parcells informed him of the decision during a 30-minute conversation this morning. He said he was "surprised" that Parcells would demote him, but that he still respected him.

"I really believe in my heart of hearts that I give us the best chance to win," Bledsoe said.

He called his experience during the second half of Monday's game "surreal." And when asked whether he thought he would've led the Cowboys to a victory, he said, "I have to believe we would've won. That's my makeup."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Atlanta Falcons Tickets Exchange - Buy or Sell Falcons Tickets

Get Atlanta Falcons tickets for all games with a click here "Atlanta Falcons" Se the exciting Falcons with Michael Vick.

Oakland Raiders - Keys To Win? O-Line Blocking and Defense

The Oakland Raiders finally won a game, and just in time for a visit by the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. What were the keys to the win? The offensive line and the defense.

The offensive line finally used a different blocking technique -- they didn't retreat! They stood up and blocked their assignments. Yes, there were some sacks, but far fewer hurries and pressures than we've seen this season. Plus, there was slightly more formation variation.

Now I'm still not sold on the offense entirely, but they're taking steps in the right direction. I'd still replace Tom Walsh, however.

Hire Hue Jackson.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dallas Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells - Has He Lost His Winning Style?

ESPN's in love with Dallas Cowboys' Head Coach Bill Parcells. Watching ESPN's Monday Night Football and listening to Tony Kornheiser in particular, you'd think Parcells was the Pope. Everything he says is wrtten on stone tablets for posterity. Every coach that wins coached with him. Every team he's coached he's won a Super Bowl with.

Ah. Hold on with that last sentence.

The last time Coach Parcells won a Super Bowl was in 1990. That was 16 years ago. And with the Dallas Cowboys now 3 and 3, and arguably not going to sniff the NFC East Division Championship this year, and having not reached the playoffs since Parcells first year in 2003, it's time to ask this question:

Are Coach Parcells best days behind him?

I ask this question after seeing Parcells' staff clearly outcoached by Tom Coughlin and the NY Giants and lose 36 - 22. On defense, the Giants just split Defensive End Michael Strahan out over the tight end. Instead of having the offensive tackle just wait for Strahan in the pocket, he goes off and helps on the defensive tackle. So the tight end releases for a pass, and Strahan is unblocked. The result? A sack.

The Giants tried a variation of this later. Only this time they blized Lavar Arrington in the tackle - guard gap, and the tackle went after the defensive end, but the guard didn't even touch Arrington. The result? Another sack. (What should have happened was to either call a play to leave a back in or go with five wide receivers and force coverage.)

What did Dallas do? Stay with the regular game plan in the first half. They can't seem to adjust to what the oppenent is doing fast enough.
Then I saw Parcells just throw his season away by bringing in preseason favorite forth-year QB Tony Romo to replace hapless Drew Bledsoe. The result? An interception -- three of them actually. It was a move borne of frustration and thus not a good one. And even then, in the second half, the Cowboys still didn't effectively deal with the problem of Strahan over the tight end, because they called plays rolling out Tony Roma in that direction -- that's how his first pass came to be tippeed and intercepted.

In my view, the Cowboys problem is squarely with the design of its passing game, not who's at QB. The Cowboys don't have a good timing offense as would be designed by Bill Walsh. It's sloppy. It's not crisp. It's terrible. They can't get the ball to Terell Owens, and let's face it, he's a playmaker. Give him his reps and he's happy. I could care less what funny quips he has with Owens, but that goes to show you how immature ESPN's coverage can be. Parcells is a coach, not a comedian.

All of this falls on Bill Parcells. I think the coach is a great leader and has a storied past. But it's not working with the needs of the Dallas Cowboys today. The Dallas Cowboys need to know how to adjust to what their opponents are doing, and fast -- don't wait until halftime. I like Coach Parcells, but they don't give Super Bowl trophies for great press conferences.

New York Jets Beat Detroit Lions To Go 4 and 3 - NFL.com

Up big, Jets hold on for 31-24 victory

NFL.com wire reports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Oct. 22, 2006) -- The New York Jets are getting pretty good at these suspenseful endings, complete with lots of nail biting, sweating and nervous energy throughout the stadium.

"I didn't take a deep breath until we got that last first down," coach Eric Mangini said with a big smile.

Leon Washington rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries, scored the first two touchdowns of his career, and sealed the win by running for a first down with just over two minutes left as the Jets held on to beat the Detroit Lions 31-24.

The Lions put a scare into the Jets, who led the entire game, by getting within a touchdown with 2:22 left when an outstretched Mike Furrey caught the ball in the back right corner of the end zone. Mangini challenged the play, but it was upheld with officials saying Furrey got both feet in bounds and had control of the ball.

New York (4-3) got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff and ran out the clock to escape with a victory, matching its total from last season.

"We weren't expected to win but four games this year if you let the so-called experts tell it," wide receiver Laveranues Coles said. "Again, we've got four wins, but we can't rest our hats upon that."

The Jets, whose previous three victories were all decided on the opponents' last possession, won consecutive home games for the first time since 2004. But again, it didn't come easily.

After the Lions (1-6) closed within a touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining, Chad Pennington completed a 16-yard pass to Chris Baker, and Brad Smith followed with a 2-yard run. Tyoka Jackson was called for defensive holding on the play, one of nine penalties called on the Lions, moving the Jets further into Detroit territory. Washington then took the ball, ran to the left and scooted 16 yards -- tiptoeing the sideline -- with 4:51 left.

"It was unbelievable for him to maintain his balance," Pennington said. "That was a big-time play."

Rookie Leon Washington is becoming the Jets' go-to guy with 20 carries, 129 yards and two TDs.
New York took advantage of Detroit being without their two starting defensive tackles, Shaun Rogers and Shaun Cody, finishing with 221 yards rushing.

"It's disappointing, in terms of our run defense," Lions coach Rod Marinelli said. "If any one thing jumped out, we couldn't control the run game. In this league, if you can't stop the run, you're not going to win."

Washington had his second 100-yard rushing game, and Kevan Barlow added 49 yards and a TD on 12 carries.

"Whenever you run the ball, you're able to control the defense and you can do things in your favor that help you win the game," Washington said. "Today, we came out and obviously ran the ball early and were effective."

Kevin Jones scored on a 9-yard shovel pass from Jon Kitna to cut Detroit's deficit to 24-17 with 9:09 left. Kitna converted two third-down passes for first downs and a 17-yard pass to Furrey on fourth-and-11 to set up Jones' score.

"We're just not finishing games," said Kitna, who was 22 of 36 for 269 yards, three TDs and two interceptions. "We're not starting very good and we're not finishing good in the fourth quarter. That makes it hard. We've played good in spurts."

The Jets scored their first first-quarter offensive touchdown in 20 games on Washington's first career TD 2:45 in.

"We knew we needed to get off to a fast start as far as keeping their offense off the field," Pennington said.

Justin McCareins' 44-yard touchdown catch made it 14-0 with 4:02 left in the opening quarter. On third-and-1 from the Lions 44 following an offsides penalty on Kalimba Edwards, Pennington ran the play action to perfection, freezing the linebackers and freeing up McCareins down the right sideline for his first reception since Week 2.

Pennington finished 16 of 22 for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Roy Williams caught a 22-yard pass from Kitna to make it 14-7 with 7:54 left in the half. Williams, who came in leading the NFL in yards receiving, was held to two catches for 29 yards.

Justin Miller put the Jets in great position on the ensuing kickoff, returning the ball 56 yards to Detroit's 41. Six plays later, Barlow plowed up the middle for his fifth touchdown of the season, giving the Jets a 21-7 lead with 5:28 left in the half.

Jason Hanson kicked a 25-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 83-yard drive by the Lions to make it 21-10 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.

Mike Nugent's 33-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give the Jets a 24-10 lead.

"That was a very winnable game," Williams said. "Once again, we were our own worst enemy today: penalties and turnovers."

Michael Vick Throws 4 TDs, Falcons Outlast Steelers 41-38 - NFL.com

After a week of conrtroversy, the Falcons came together and Vick came of age as a passer.

Falcons pull out wild 41-38 OT victory

NFL.com wire reports

ATLANTA (Oct. 22, 2006) -- Ben Roethlisberger stood on the Pittsburgh sideline with a white towel hanging around his neck. All he could do was watch as Michael Vick and the Falcons finished off the Steelers in a game that was just too good to be settled in 60 minutes.

Remember this one. It could be a defining game for both teams this season.

Vick threw a career-high four touchdown passes and hit another long play in overtime, setting up Morten Andersen to kick a 32-yard field goal that gave Atlanta a thrilling 41-38 win that featured enough twists and turns to last an entire season.

Where to begin? Vick responded to his critics in what had been a dismal season throwing the ball. Roethlisberger was unstoppable until he got knocked out with a scary blow to the head. Hines Ward had a remarkable homecoming.

There's more. The Falcons (4-2) though they had won in regulation on a 56-yard field goal by their No. 2 kicker, but it didn't count. The Super Bowl champion Steelers squandered a 17-7 lead, fumbling three times and getting surprised by an onside kick in the first half.

The Falcons struck for touchdowns after every Pittsburgh miscue, hanging around in a game that could have been a blowout. Finally, after six lead changes and both teams missing chances to break a 38-38 tie in the final minute, the second-oldest player in NFL history won it for Atlanta.


"We learned something about ourselves today," Falcons coach Jim Mora said. "We can hang with the heavyweight champs."

The Steelers (2-4) tied it at 38 with 3:19 remaining when fill-in quarterback Charlie Batch threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ward, who grew up in the Atlanta area and longed to play for the Falcons.

On this day, he burned the Falcons badly, catching eight passes for 171 yards and a career-best three TDs, including a 70-yarder in which he literally ran out of his right shoe.

Morten Andersen's game-winner made up for his miss as time was running out in the fourth.
Even that wasn't enough. Atlanta won the coin toss for overtime and never let the Steelers have the ball. Vick converted on third-and-9 by scrambling away from Troy Polamalu and flipping a 26-yard pass to Alge Crumpler. Five plays later, the 46-year-old Andersen came on to make the winning kick, atoning for a 52-yarder that fell just short in the final minute of regulation.

"Moments like this are the main reason I'm a Mike Vick fan," Mora said. "For all the talk about what Vick can't do, I like to talk about what he can do. And he does things that no other player in the history of the game at that position has the ability to do."

Coming off a near-perfect first half the previous week against Kansas City, Roethlisberger was brilliant again before halftime, going 15 of 20 for 235 yards and three touchdowns. But Big Ben was knocked unconscious early in the third quarter on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Chauncey Davis after letting go of a pass.

Roethlisberger remained on the turf for at least five minutes before finally wobbling to the sideline, then got wheeled to the locker room on the back of a cart. After changing out of his uniform, he could only watch from the sideline.

Coach Bill Cowher said he wouldn't know for a few days if Roethlisberger would be able to play in Week 8 at Oakland.

Week 7's top games

Watch some of the best games from Week 7 all over again with NFL Replay on NFL Network. Airing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET, the broadcasts will feature a 90-minute fast-paced format complete with original television announcers and cameras. There will be an extra replay this go around. Week 7's games to be replayed are:
· PHI at TB, Oct. 24, 8 ET
· SD at KC, Oct. 24, 10:30 ET
· PIT at ATL, Oct. 25, 8 ET
· CAR at CIN, Oct. 25, 10:30 ET

Click here to find out more about NFL Replay.

It was another blow to the Steelers quarterback, his year already marred by a serious motorcycle accident and an appendectomy, and a discouraging loss for a team that seemed to get its season back on track with a 45-7 rout of Kansas City the previous week.

"We left everything on the football field and I couldn't be more proud of the group of guys," Cowher said. "We've dug a hole for ourselves, no question. But I know the character of this football team and we'll be back."

Batch did a good job in relief, throwing for 195 yards and two TDs. But he never got a chance in overtime.

Atlanta thought it won in regulation when Michael Koenen, who lost the kicking job after two games but still handles the punting and long field goals, booted through a 56-yarder with 35 seconds remaining. Cowher managed to call timeout just before the snap, however, and the officials waved off the play.

Koenen tried again and missed, but Polamalu was called for running into the kicker. The Falcons then sent on Andersen, whose try was straight down the middle but fell on the end line.

There was still time for Pittsburgh to pull out a victory. Batch delivered a 25-yard pass to Ward and the Steelers raced up to the line to down the ball with eight seconds to go. However, receiver Nate Washington flinched ever so slightly before Batch took the snap and threw the ball into the ground, a false-start penalty that automatically led to the remaining seconds being run off the clock.

Ward slammed his helmet to the turf in disgust. The Steelers wouldn't get the ball again.

"This game was the one I wanted the most because Atlanta passed me up when I was coming out of college," Ward said. "This is one I really circled on my calendar."

Vick was 18 of 30 for 232 yards, hooking up with tight end Crumpler on touchdowns of 22, 3 and 31 yards. Crumpler tied a team record for TD catches in a game, while Vick broke his personal mark of three scoring passes in a game, also connecting with Michael Jenkins on a 17-yarder.

The wild game rekindled memories of the last Atlanta-Pittsburgh matchup, a 34-34 overtime tie in 2002.

This time, the Falcons got to celebrate.

Oakland Raiders Beat Matt Leinart And Arizona Cardinals For First Win, 22 - 9 - NFL.com

Raiders defense gets the game ball, but the offensive line used better blocking techniques.

Raiders stomp Cardinals for first win

NFL.com wire reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (Oct. 22, 2006) -- Art Shell gathered his team the night before the game and told his players they needed to find some swagger.

Nothing like a visit from the hapless Arizona Cardinals to do the trick.

Andrew Walter threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss, ReShard Lee ran for a 1-yard score in the first quarter and the Raiders overcame five turnovers to win their first game of the season, 22-9 over Arizona on Sunday.

"It's a weight off everybody's shoulders to get a first win," Shell said. "I'm most happy for the guys in the locker room. It's not about me. It's about those guys in the locker room. They've worked very hard to get some taste of success."

The win snapped an 11-game losing streak and ended the growing talk of a possible winless season for the Raiders (1-5), who found all sorts of ways to lose in previous weeks.

"By no means does this set our season on a pedestal," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "We've still got to go out and get some more wins."

And now there's a new contender for worst team in the NFL in the Cardinals, who have lost six straight.

Arizona blew 14-point leads after the first quarter the previous two weeks, including a 20-point second-half lead a week ago to Chicago when the Bears won 24-23 despite committing six turnovers.

"I can't believe that we're sitting at 1-6. But we are," coach Dennis Green said. "Absolutely this is my fault. It's my job to make sure the ship is being ruddered the right way."

Last week's collapse led Green to throw a podium-pounding tantrum and fire offensive coordinator Keith Rowen. But Arizona fared little better under new coordinator Mike Kruczek.

Rookie Matt Leinart was 13-for-32 for 203 yards and two interceptions to lose his third career start, Edgerrin James ran for 34 yards on 13 carries and Arizona could only manage three field goals from Neil Rackers.

After years of success in Indianapolis, James is struggling in his first season with the Cardinals. He has 89 yards on 49 carries the past two weeks and has yet to top 100 yards in a single game and is now questioning his decision to leave the Colts.

"I wasn't prepared for this, man, I really wasn't," he said. "I don't know what we're doing now."

Moss had his biggest game of the year despite a few drops, catching seven balls for 129 yards to help Oakland end an 11-game losing streak dating to last season.

But the biggest key was the defense, which put constant pressure on Leinart and shut down James.

Warren Sapp and the Raiders finally have something to smile about.
Michael Huff, the player the Raiders took instead of Leinart in April's draft, tackled Marcel Shipp in the end zone for a safety. Derrick Burgess added two sacks and deflected a pass that was intercepted by defensive lineman Terdell Sands.

"We're going to enjoy it," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "We got our win. ... You have to enjoy it because in this league wins are tough to come by so enjoy it while you have a chance."

Walter earned his first career win by outplaying Leinart, the player the Raiders passed on in the draft because they believed Walter was their quarterback of the future. Walter, who left with a hamstring injury in the third quarter, finished 17-for-30 for 263 yards.

Leinart looked nothing like the player who became the first NFL quarterback to throw two first-quarter touchdowns in his first two starts.

"He was flustered," safety Stuart Schweigert said. "His eyes were wide open. He was throwing the ball away real quick."

With starting running back LaMont Jordan out with a back injury, the Raiders rode Walter's arm to take the early lead.

They moved the ball with ease in the opening quarter. After a fumble by Zack Crockett ended the opening drive, Oakland drove for the first score following a missed 49-yard field goal by Rackers.

Walter avoided the pressure to complete a 32-yard pass to Moss on third-and-21 and converted a third-and-13 later in the drive on a 16-yard pass to Ronald Curry. Those passes -- two of Oakland's five conversions on third and more than 10 yards -- led to Lee's 1-yard leap into the end zone.

After Sands' interception gave the Raiders the ball at the Arizona 32, Walter went deep on the next play, connecting with Moss on the score that made it 14-0.

The Raiders tacked on a pair of field goals by Sebastian Janikowski and the safety to become the NFL's last team to win a game.

Matt Hasselbeck Out For Up To Four Weeks - NFL.com

Seattle's Hasselbeck out up to four weeks

NFL.com wire reports

KIRKLAND, Wash. (Oct. 23, 2006) -- Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will miss two to four weeks with a strained ligament in his right knee, coach Mike Holmgren confirmed.

An MRI showed the Pro Bowl quarterback strained the medial collateral ligament while getting rolled into by a Minnesota pass rusher during a Week 7 loss to the Vikings.

"There are three levels (of seriousness)," Holmgren said. "So he's right in the middle.

"He's on crutches for a few days ... I guess it's kind of good news for me. It could have been worse."

Seneca Wallace, a fourth-year veteran, will make his first NFL start in Week 8 at Kansas City (3-3). The Seahawks (4-2) are already without league MVP Shaun Alexander, who remains out indefinitely with a broken foot.

On the opening drive of the second half, Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson got past a block from fullback Mack Strong. Henderson then swung the left side of his torso into the lower half of Hasselbeck's right leg, which was planted after Hasselbeck had just thrown an incomplete pass.

Hasselbeck crumpled to the ground immediately, rolled over and then tried to get up. When he could not put weight on the leg to stand, he fell again and angrily pounded the turf while trainers rushed to his side.

Hasselbeck was taken the sideline with his weight on the shoulders of two trainers.

"I was falling to the ground and Mack Strong kind of pushed. I definitely didn't mean to do it," Henderson said. "It was definitely an accident, I hope he gets back soon."

When asked if he thought it was a clean hit on Hasselbeck, Holmgren said Oct. 23, "I'm going to stay away from that ... I'm going to let someone else make that call."

Wallace was 14-for-25 for 134 yards passing and two interceptions playing almost the entire second half against Minnesota, after spending last week's practices running the scout team. He also lost a fumble in his own end zone while Ben Leber sacked him. Kevin Williams covered the ball for Minnesota's final score.

"For the circumstances, I think I did all right," Wallace said after the game.

Ben Roethlisberger Concussion? Injury Report Due From Steelers - NFL.com

Steelers mum on Roethlisberger's injury
NFL.com wire reports

PITTSBURGH (Oct. 23, 2006) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't saying if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sustained his second concussion in slightly more than four months.

Roethlisberger was fit enough to fly home with the Steelers following their 41-38 overtime loss Sunday in Atlanta, and to drive his SUV to a team meeting Monday, despite being briefly knocked unconscious during a helmet-to-helmet hit with the Falcons' Chauncey Davis.

By definition, a concussion is a disruption of the brain's activities caused by a sudden blow to the head - much like the hit Roethlisberger absorbed while being sacked by multiple defenders. Doctors who have studied concussion patients have said some act and look fine within hours or even minutes of being injured, while others take longer to look normal.

The Steelers' biggest concern is if this is Roethlisberger's second concussion in slightly more than four months. He sustained a concussion, and needed seven hours of surgery mostly to repair facial injuries, when his motorcycle collided with a car June 12 in Pittsburgh.

A football player receiving a second concussion in a relatively brief time can be susceptible to succeeding concussions, according to various concussion-related studies by doctors who have studied the issue for the NFL. Also, a player receiving multiple concussions in a brief time span may need a longer recovery time before playing again than one coming off his initial concussion.

This time, Roethlisberger lay on the turf for about five minutes, then was unsteady while being led off the field. He also looked dazed while riding to the locker room on a motorized cart. But he was back on the sideline later in the game and looked normal afterward.

"I was just hoping and praying they didn't have to bring out the stretcher," said backup Charlie Batch, who had flashbacks to Chiefs quarterback Trent Green's head injury earlier this season when he saw Roethlisberger go down. "You never want to see anybody hit like that."

The Steelers did not provide an update Monday on Roethlisberger. Unlike most NFL coaches, Bill Cowher doesn't hold a news conference on Mondays or allow anyone else in the organization to speak about injuries. He will talk to reporters on Tuesday.

The Steelers have been among the NFL teams most proactive in concussion-related studies, research and testing. Several doctors who undertake such work for the NFL and NHL are associated with the Steelers or have offices in the complex where the Steelers' practice facility is located.

Roethlisberger was not wearing a helmet during the motorcycle crash and also decided against wearing the recently designed football helmet that affords more protection against head injuries.

Cowher may say Tuesday if Roethlisberger has any chance to play Sunday for the Steelers (2-4), losers of four of five, against the Oakland Raiders (1-5). The Steelers are 0-3 on the road. If not Batch would replace him, as he did Sunday and in the Sept. 7 season opener against Miami when Roethlisberger was out with appendicitis.

Batch might be the NFL's most dependable backup, going 3-0 as a starter the last two seasons. He is 24-of-39 for 410 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions this season and threw for two touchdowns and 195 yards after replacing Roethlisberger on Sunday.

"I started to get in a groove and I got more comfortable out there," Batch said.

Roethlisberger's injury came during his second strong performance in as many weeks. After throwing seven interceptions and no touchdown passes in his first three post-crash starts, all losses, he was 32-of-41 for 476 yards, five TDs and no interceptions against the Chiefs and Falcons.

A week after seemingly righting their season by beating Kansas City 45-7, the Super Bowl champion Steelers again trail Baltimore (4-2) and Cincinnati (4-2) by two games in the AFC North.

"I still think we're a great football team," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "I still think we have the players in here to do exactly what we did last year. But it's going to be tough with (Sunday's) loss."

Dallas Cowboys Outcoached By New York Giants, Lose 36 - 22 - NFL.com

Giants swarm Cowboys, take NFC East lead

NFL.com wire reports

IRVING, Texas (Oct. 23, 2006) -- The New York Giants had their way with Drew Bledsoe so much that he got benched at halftime. Tony Romo's on-field promotion thrilled Dallas Cowboys fans - until he threw an interception on his first snap.

That's how it went Monday night: The Giants made all the big plays, the Cowboys made the big mistakes.

Eli Manning threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress on the fifth play, LaVar Arrington sacked Bledsoe for a safety soon after and the Giants fended off several potential momentum-changers, beating the Cowboys 36-22 to stake a big head start in defense of their NFC East title.

A week after sacking Michael Vick seven times, New York got four against Bledsoe - two by Michael Strahan, tying Lawrence Taylor's club record - and two against the more-mobile Romo. More important for the Giants (4-2) was their four interceptions.

Sam Madison picked off Bledsoe on a potential go-ahead pass into the end zone, costing the statuesque quarterback his job, at least for the rest of the night.

Romo was intercepted three times, with Kevin Dockery taking the last one 96 yards with 2:33 left for the game-sealing touchdown, leaving coach Bill Parcells staring down with his arms folded, seemingly out of answers for Dallas (3-3).

While Romo sparked the offense at times, his miscues were too much to overcome. He got little comfort from Bledsoe, who stood alone on the sideline wearing a visor pulled down over his eyes, mostly keeping his fingers curled inside his collar.

Romo, who hung his head after the last interception, perked up spirits moments later with a 53-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Crayton soon after. But it was too little, too late.

The Giants clearly enjoyed themselves in this one, from their defense's trademark jump-shot celebrations to running back Brandon Jacobs celebrating a touchdown T.O.-style - on the Cowboys' star logo in the end zone.

New York should be happy now that it has beaten each division foe - Dallas (3-3), Washington and Philadelphia - and gets to play its next three game at home. However, the Giants also come away facing two serious injuries.

Arrington tore his left Achilles tendon and is likely for the season, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora missed most of the second half with a strained hip.


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Winning Pitch To Be Produced Into NFL’s Ad To Run During Super Bowl XLI Broadcast Events To Be Held For Fan Pitches in New York, Dallas and Denver, November 17-December 9

For the first time ever, the NFL is enabling fans to present their ideas for the Super Bowl commercial that best expresses the NFL experience. The winning pitch from the campaign, entitled “Pitch us your idea for the best NFL Super Bowl commercial ever. Seriously,” will be produced into the NFL’s Super Bowl commercial. The promotion officially begins on Tuesday, October 31, the NFL announced today.

Fans can now log onto www.nfl.com/superad, which provides a one-page overview of the contest. Complete details of the promotion will be posted on October 31.

Beginning on Friday, November 17, the NFL will host contest events in three NFL markets to gather pitches from fans. On November 17-18, fans will have their first opportunity to pitch the NFL at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Then, on December 1-2, Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas will host the second event. Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado will host the third event the following week on December 8-9.

By December 15, all submissions from the three markets will be scaled down to a total of 12 finalists with their taped pitches posted on www.nfl.com/superad. The final winning pitch will be determined through a vote by a panel of yet-to-be-announced judges, consisting of various members of the extended NFL family in areas such as marketing, advertising and media, and through an online fan vote at www.nfl.com/superad. The online voting period will run from 12/15/06 to 1/7/07. The winner will be announced on 1/8/07.

Joe Pytka, filmmaker and award-winning director of numerous acclaimed television commercials, will be directing the commercial pitched by the contest winner. In addition, Pytka will sit on the final judging panel and will review pitches throughout the promotion, offering his critiques on www.nfl.com/superad.

The contest winner will be eligible to have his or her pitch produced into a commercial that will run during Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, February 4 on CBS. The winner will be invited to the production set to view the filming of the commercial. In addition, the winner will receive a prize package that includes round trip airfare to South Florida for the winner and a guest and two tickets to Super Bowl XLI as special guests of the NFL.

An online promotion on www.nfl.com/superad will run in tandem with the contest for people that log on to vote for finalists. Voters will be eligible for prizes that include a trip to Super Bowl XLI.

Beginning on Tuesday, October 31, www.nfl.com/superad will provide fans with all of the details they need to know about the contest, as well as interviews, commentary and pitches for NFL commercials from NFL stars and personalities such as New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma and NFL Network’s Rich Eisen. In addition, once the pitch events begin, www.nfl.com/superad will include online elements like a video montage of highlights from auditions.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Evolution of the Offensive lineman part 1

The evolution of the Offensive Lineman Pt. 1-The Basics

Offensive linemen face the un-glorious task of hitting their opposition - whether it's the defensive line or a pass rushing linebacker - at least 80 times a game. Despite all of the changes in offensive schemes, the lineman's job has always been the constant. That is not to say that the prototypical size and training regiment remain unchanged. The evolution of football has enacted changes in the ideal height, weight, and athleticism of the ideal offensive lineman. And because of different pass and run blocking techniques, there is a split over what defines ideal size and weight. Some linemen, who weigh as much as 350 pounds, are able to run a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds. Other linemen may be as light as 285 to 300 pounds and may be quick enough to keep pace with some linebackers.

Not all offensive linemen start out "in the pit." Many linemen start out at other positions and get converted either in high school or early in college. Some offensive linemen start out as defensive line players or sometimes as tight ends. Then, at some point, a position coach notices the player's size or how he comes out of his stance. Certain physical attributes could lead the coach to believe that the player has an aptitude toward the type of techniques and the physical ability to withstand the contact to make a stellar offensive lineman. That type of selectiveness was not always thought necessary when it came to the offensive line. In the "golden" days of the game, the bigger you were the more likely you were selected to play "in the pit."

Until the late 1970's, most offensive linemen topped out around 250 to 265 pounds. In fact one player from the early 60's, Giants offensive guard Darrell Dess once remarked he would be fined $25 for every pound he was over the limit. Dess remarked that in those days, his weight limit was 257 pounds. He would regularly report to training camp over his assigned weight.

As athletic training evolved, trainers learned how to condition large players to have excellent strength, quickness and stamina without necessarily losing their mass. In order to match up physically with progressively bigger and bigger defenders, offensive linemen had to get bigger as well. As blitz packages and base defensive schemes grew more complex, and linemen facing more multiple assignments, linemen had to get bigger but had to stay quick as well. These days 285 pounds is considered the absolute minimum weight for an offensive lineman, with most playing well above 320 pounds at the pro level. An example of this trend is Raiders offensive tackle Robert Gallery who measures 6'7-1/2" and currently tips the scale at 332 pounds.

In the college ranks, many linemen are somewhat smaller. A typical lineman at a smaller college might weigh 265 pounds as a freshman, and maybe 275-285 as a senior, while at the bigger colleges, linemen are closer to pro weights. One example of a successful lineman at a smaller College is Columbia's left tackle Matt Barsamian , who is 6'5" and weighs in at 278 pounds. His eventual successor, freshman Moose Veldman, is 6'3" and 300 pounds. The current trend in the college ranks is to recruit heavier linemen whenever possible. Some current linemen in the NFL may tip the scales at less then 300 pounds, but this is very rare. Many college coaches are instructed not to scout or recruit offensive linemen weighing less then 290 pounds during their recruiting trips.

The recruiting practices employed by these colleges are not necessarily a direct translation to the requirements of the pro game. For example, the lightest linemen on the Dallas Cowboys current roster are listed at about 305 pounds: guard Cory Procter and tackle Kyle Kosier. Yet the Denver Broncos have only three offensive linemen that check in at over 300 pounds. Broncos guard Cooper Carlisle is 6'5" and only 295 pounds. The center lined up next to Carlisle, Tom Nalen, is 6'4" but weighs only 286 pounds. While it appears that Denver has linemen of insufficient size, the difference between Denver and Dallas illustrates the aforementioned split in the ideal size.

The style of line play each team employs dictates the ideal size and quickness required of their respective players. The Broncos are more of a pulling and trap blocking team in their running game. In other words, the linemen are sometimes called upon to pull back from their position on the line and run a sweep around the end of the line to clear room for the running back. This scheme requires faster linemen who are lighter on their feet. The Cowboys are more of a straight-ahead drive blocking team, which would require larger players at the position since they block down (inside) more often then they block up (outside).

In the next installment, we will look at how we got from a 1960's lineman like Darrell
Dess at 6'2" and 257 pounds, to today's Robert Gallery, and the Coaches who train Football's Largest Players to move like Dancers. We will also talk about some of the up and coming offensive linemen from the last three draft classes, and why it takes 3 to 5 seasons for an Offensive lineman to fully mature in the NFL.

Matt Leinart Comes Of Age On Monday Night Football

Way ahead of schedule and on a course to play against Titans QB Vince Young in the Super Bowl one day, Matt Leinart -- no stranger to big games, was impressive against the Bears.

Leinart strutted stuff in heartbreaking loss
Paola Boivin

The Arizona Republic
Oct. 17, 2006 12:00 AM

Ashton Kutcher is sitting in Bill Bidwill's private suite, the Cardinals are beating up on the Chicago Bears and all you can think is, "We've been Punk'd!"

Turns out, we were. Once again, the Cardinals muffed a golden opportunity. After coughing up a lead to the Bears on a Monday Night Football stage, Cardinals players filed out of the locker room, glassy-eyed and in disbelief. Their coach pounded the press conference podium and screamed after an innocuous question about the Bears.

"Surreal," receiver Anquan Boldin said after the 24-23 loss. "Unbelievable."

The sun that filtered through the open University of Phoenix Stadium roof reflected a national spotlight that focused heaviest on rookie Matt Leinart.

Even though his team disappointed, Leinart didn't. He efficiently ran an offense facing a defense ranked third overall in the NFL and became the first rookie in league history to throw two first-quarter touchdown passes in his first two starts.

Leinart received a call earlier in the day from his Southern California coach, Pete Carroll, who told him to not overthink the game, to not do too much. It was a game plan he executed well. If he wasn't handing off to Edgerrin James, he was throwing a variety of screen passes.

Most impressive was his awareness during the final drive, when the Cardinals tried to eat up the clock and put themselves in position to kick a game-winning field goal. Before each snap, it was obvious he was aware of both the defensive formation and the time on the play clock. His efforts were for nothing because Neil Rackers missed a 40-yard field goal with 52 seconds left.

"We just have to learn how to finish," Leinart said. "Confidence is a huge part of it. In college, when we stepped on the field we expected to win and knew we would win."

He completed 24 of 42 passes for 232 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. His mobility has opened up options for the offense, and he seemed to benefit from the starting lineup addition of Nick Leckey, who replaced center Alex Stepanovich.

The play he'll remember most came with two seconds left in the third quarter, when a breakdown on the line helped Mark Anderson sack Leinart from behind. He fumbled, and safety Mike Brown scooped up the ball and ran into the end zone.

"(The line) screwed up the pass protection, and he got hit on the side," coach Dennis Green said. "He expects everyone to do their jobs, and they didn't."

Of Leinart, Bears coach Lovie Smith said: "He's a good player. He's a scholarship guy."

Many in the stadium wore Leinart's No. 7 jersey, and he frequently waved his arms to encourage more noise.

Thanks to the quarterback, the scene near the luxury suites at halftime was very un-Cardinals-like.

Several invited guests of Leinart's, including actors Kutcher, Demi Moore and Wilmer Valderrama, watched the game from Bidwill's suite. Charles Barkley was signing autographs for fans when Monday Night Football host Mike Tirico walked by.

"See, I told you," Barkley said of his on-air prediction of a Cardinals victory.

Wonder if Barkley stayed until the end.

No one was more supportive of Leinart during the game than Kurt Warner, who frequently was seen offering the rookie words of encouragement, despite knowing very well what time it is.

It's Leinart's time. Even if it's still not the Cardinals'.

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