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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Last Giants Game In the “Meadowlands”-the real Meadowlands

The Last Giants Game In the “Meadowlands”-the real Meadowlands
By Dr. Bill Chachkes-Managing Partner/ Executive Editor- Football Reporters Online

It’s not just the end of an era-It’s the end of my youth. When the New Jersey sports and exposition authority opened Giants Stadium on October 10th 1976, I was in my youthful teen years, both in life and in football. The New York Giants would not become a decent team again for about five more years. I was there for the plane overhead in 1978 proclaiming “15 years of lousy football, we have had enough.” I was there for the debut of Phil Simms and LT, for the “4 playoff teams in the first 7 years of the 1980’s”, for the “Almost” season of 1985, for “the” 1986 Stretch run to the 14-2 record and SBXXI. The Flipper Anderson “through the end zone and right into the locker room” catch of 1989.

But best of all, I was there for 1990. 31-7 Over the Bears in the playoffs, Parcells and Ditka prowling their sidelines like two sentries on opposite sides of the DMZ, the Giants feeling and knowing they needed to “make up” for the playoff loss to “dem Bears in “85”, I saw “O.J.” Anderson, Rodney Hampton, and Dave Meggett (the first three headed rushing monster!), I saw the “Jints” “ball control” 90% of the teams they played that season. Although I was already getting a press credential to the draft, that was the first year I got to watch games from the press box in the Meadowlands. I went to “Frisco” for the 15-13 stunner. I went to Tampa for XXV, working my first Super Bowl as a media member.

Then came a few down years again. “Fits and Starts” my Dad would have called them (he passed in December of 1987, and we buried him with a pair of Giants tickets to a home game against the Green Bay Packers scheduled for the next day in the breast pocket of his suit) had he still been alive. At least he got to see his team win a Super Bowl. “Now I can die in Peace,” he told me on the flight home from California. Eleven months later he was gone at age 59 to heart failure. My Mother always said the Giants weakened his heart. I said the strike of “87” was then last straw for him.

Ray Handley: I can still remember Tom Keegan of Bayonne, sitting five rows behind us in section 311 screaming at the top of his lungs “Handley Can you Hear me?? You’re a Bum Handley!!!” I remember January 14th 2000 and the Giants shut out victory in just their third ever NFC title game. Just as clear was the drubbing the Baltimore Ravens handed the Giants two weeks later. It was my last Super Bowl with a credential.

I’m going to miss the memories of Giants Stadium, the “Real” Stadium. The watered down diet soda, the warm water dogs, the “ramps” where I made friends at halftime and before games for a generation. I’ll miss you Meadowlands, but I’ll never forget you and the good times you gave me, or the education in the great game of football I got from sitting in section 311.


by TJ Rosenthal for Football Reporters Online

The Jets very own "Super Bowl" may very well be taking place at 4pm in Lucas Oil stadium. At 7-7 and needing help, the once 3-0 Gang Green take on the 14-0 Indianapolis Colts, needing to win in order to save the 2009 season. How many lives has Gang Green had? LB Bart SCott said jokingly "twelve." This after Rex Ryan called the season over after the horrifying last minute loss to Atlanta 10-7 that stripped the Jets of control of their own destiny from here on out. Who knew that the Raiders  much maligned former top pick QB Jamarcus Russell would later in the day come off the bench and save the Jets? This by rescuing the Raiders against hated rivals the Denver Broncos? Now forget the convoluted wildcard math for a moment, and focus in on this. Santa needs to leave a W by the Jets Christmas tree. Without a win, the Jets are no longer part of the conversation. Period. With a win that will shock the league, out will come the math and combos needed for the Jets to play past December. Gotta beat those Colts though.

 It won't be easy. Or will it? Nobody can quite tell if and when Indy coach Jim Caldwell will take out his starters.  With home field in the AFC wrapped up, all there is to play for is an undefeated season. All there is to lose is the health of key players. Will it be worth it to the Colts brass just to go 16-0?. It's certainly an incredible accomplishment that the Colts have come close twice to obtaining with Manning under center. But will hard hits on the future first ballot hall of fame QB,  should they occur, be worth accumulating in a game that matters only for the history books? What if pass rushing killer Dwight Freeney rushes around end and gets nicked up on the play? How far will the Colts be willing to go to win this game at full throttle? The Jets BETTER expect the Colts to go all the way. Anything less will leave the team flat and unprepared mentally for the challenge of outscoring a team second only to the Saints in total points, second to the Pats in points per game with 22.1 (Pats average 23.3) and fourth in yards per game at 383.00 per game.

 Peyton Manning leads all passers in passing yards with 4,213 and  perennial All pro WR Reggie Wayne is second in receiving yards with 1210, trailing only Andre Johnson, who Darrelle Revis shut down in the season opener at Houston this year. Revis will have to come up big once again as he's done all year against every top wideout the Jets have faced. TE Dallas Clark is having maybe his best year leading all tight ends in receiving yards while averaging 11.2 yards a catch. Expect once benched FS Kerry Rhodes, who has been playing great since the benching, to take that assignment on. Just as he did admirably against Tony Gonzalez for most of the Atlanta game. Versatile pass catching RB Joseph Addai missed practice Thursday due to personal issues but tough rookie out of UConn, Donald Brown, could fill in and keep the ground game going well should Addai miss Sunday's battle. 

Defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have combined for 23 sacks this season. These two must be blocked by D' Brickashaw Ferguson and Damien Woody with the help of the Jets running backs, if Sanchez is to have any chance throwing it downfield. The last game Sanchez threw with confidence, threw downfield effectively, may have been the loss to Miami in week 5 on Monday night. The Jets, will surely start the game with an initial game plan to "Ground and Pound" it with RB Thomas Jones and rookie Shonn Greene with a little Danny Woodhead mixed in. However, if and when the dam breaks on defense, the Jets could find themselves down two scores earlier than they'd like. Keeping Freeney and Mathis locked up will be the first of three essential steps the Jets will need to complete in order to hang with the Colts. The second will be confident decision making and accurate throws by the rookie QB out of USC. Third, Jet receivers will need to hold on to the catchable balls and also make a few tough grabs along the way. Hear that Braylon Edwards? Yards cannot be left on the field this week. A return to that confidence that was there in week 5, a long time ago, may be needed in a hurry on Sunday.

There are those in the media who DO give the Jets a chance this week, yet solely based on the assumption that the Colts won't finish the game with their starters. The truth is, if Revis and Rhodes can make Wayne and Clark pedestrian, if Rex Ryan's defense can pressure Manning at times, and Sanchez can regain an early season swagger that will not allow the Colts to keep eight in the box, the Jets can beat the Colts. WITH their starters. The real question is, can the Jets shut down two big passing game targets, get pressure on the QB, and attack through the air despite a shaky second half passing resume all on the same day? The answer to that difficult trifecta is days away but at least the three keys puts the onus on the Jets, not on the personnel decisions made by the Colts staff. Or the mindset of Santa Claus in determining which team has been naughty or nice this season. 


Sanchez get in the time machine: C'mon Mark, let's travel back to week 5 and Miami , when you brought the Jets back twice, played a carefree confident style in the pocket and GOT results. Tentative late throws won't help this week. In fact, they'll contribute to a rout. Dustin Keller Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, it's time to break out, all at once. 300 yards in the air for the first time this season. Let's do it.

Stop the Bermuda Triangle: Manning Wayne and Clark are a deathtrap. True there is Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and others, we know that. Yet It's those three that do the most damage. Clark is hard to jam at the line. Rhodes will need help but 
what is Rex Ryan's choice? PRessure Manning to speed up release time, have Revis shut down Wayne and Clark bothered play in play out, and there is hope. 
Get burned by this trio and you can warm up the buses by halftime. Oh, and THEN you'll see Colts second unit.

DESPERATION; MOTIVATION If the Jets DON'T come out with the same urgency and desperation that the Giants did in Washington Monday night, kiss 2009 goodbye. If the Colts come out highly motivated to stay perfect in 2009, kiss it goodbye as well. What the Jets could really afford, is a combo of playing desperate against a complacent Colts team that has it's sights already set on the Super Bowl in February. For the Jets, Sunday HAS to be THEIR Super Bowl.

follow TJ Rosenthal on twitter @ thejetreport

Merry Christmas Morning 2009 - give thanks for life

Merry Christmas Morning, 2009! Amid all the phone calls here and food and love, I have to share this with you. And it's not about which stores are open on christmas day 2009.

As readers of my blog post know, the passing of people is a big concern to me. Brittany Murphy's funeral was on Christmas Eve. Chris Henry died two weeks ago today. She was 32. He was 26.

Life on earth is a gift that's not appreciated or celebrated as much as it should be. We don't know how much time we have on Earth, yet some of us waste that time in the process of being nasty to others. Some souls are so ugly they make up lies just to hurt people.  And for no good reason, really. Stop. Please.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a positive affirmation of life itself. Regardless of what you belief or celebrate, taking time to let people know you appreciate them - giving good Karma - is time worth spending. They may not be here beyond tomorrow.

On Tuesday, my dear, wonderful, lovely friend in The Bay Area was in a bad car accident. This is her car:

She's alive, thank God. And it's funny how we as people work because last night I gave her a text to just touch base.  It was Christmas Eve.  I realized I'd lost touch for almost two weeks, which for me and my friends is an eternity. Then I called her and that's how I learned of the car accident. As you can see, it was not her time. I'm so happy she's still alive and we talked a long time.

If you have a feeling about someone regardless of how good or how bad your relationship is, act on it. Call them. Talk with them. If you had an issue with each other, deal with it in a positive way.  You'll be glad you did.

And make someone feel good. That's what it's all about.

Merry Christmas.

FANTASY FOOTBALL TALK-Looking under the hood of Week 15

FANTASY FOOTBALL TALK-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

Looking under the hood of Week 15

Do what you do best!....
Even though they may not have anything left to play for in the regular season, it may make great sense for Philip Rivers and the Chargers to keep doing what they do best. Over the past two and a half months only the Colts have been as good and no one's been better than Rivers. The Chargers have rattled off nine straight wins and look like a formidable opponent for everyone heading into the post season. Why? It's very simple, Rivers has mastered the art of the vertical game. In his last nine starts Rivers has thrown 18 touchdowns and passed for 263-yards per game. He has been unbeatable as a starter (17-0) in December and appears poised to lead San Diego deep in the playoffs. Fantasy owners would agree Rivers should keep doing what he does best.

If it ain't Broke don't fix-it....
The Colts have been in this precarious position once before and to put it simply, "don't fix things if they ain't broke." The Colts offense led by Peyton Manning has been not only outstanding, but at times this season it has been dominant. Manning is the epitome of consistency and every week he seems to be in a class of his own, finding ways to keep winning. While the Colts remain unbeaten they have not been perfect, but when Manning (33 touchdowns in 2009) passes for 300 yards every game (nine times this season) they are awful tough to beat. With two games left and a chance for an unbeaten season, the Colts really want to keep riding that winning feeling right into the post season. Rest may seem like a good idea, but when you have an offense and a Peyton Manning firing on all pistons while tamper with that formula. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.; let your players play.

Expect the Eagles to keep soaring.....
The Eagles and Donovan McNabb may be one of the few favorite fantasy offenses left this season with great incentive to go out this weekend and keep doing what they do best. McNabb was banged up a bit early in the season, but since has begun to take flight with his explosive Eagles offense (28.5 points per game/ranked 2nd). One of the keys has been the explosive DeSean Jackson (8 touchdowns) and McNabbs favorite red-zone target tight end Brent Celek (7 touchdowns). The Eagles are now using a full rotation of receiving opitons; last Sunday against the Niners McNabb completed passes to eight different receivers. With Brian Westbrook expected to return to action this week, there's really no reason to expect anything different from Andy Reid's offense. It should be all about passing and scoring once again as McNabb will look to soar on Sunday against the Broncos.

More fantasy Notes

The Texans quarterback Matt Schaub appears to be just warming up. With consecutive 360-yard passing games and three touchdowns to just one pick, Schaub looks like a lock to have a big passing day against a Dolphins secondary (ranked 23rd against the pass) that surrendered three touchdown passes to the Titans last Sunday.

The Niner's offense in recent weeks has managed to get back to the basics and hand the ball to running back Frank Gore. With 41 carries in his last two starts Gore has ran for 274 yards on the ground and scored once. With the Lions (ranked 24th against the run) and Rams (ranked 27th against the run) next on the schedule Gore looks to finish strong in 2009.

The Dolphins running back Ricky Williams has been making the most of his oppoprtunity as the team's featured running back with Ronnie Brown on IR. Williams is averaging nearly 100 yards per game over his last six games and has scored six times. With the Texans (ranked 17th against the run) up next Williams looks to be a very good start in Week 16 for fantasy owners.

Quietly and before anyone could forget about him the Chargers superstar receiver Vincent Jackson is back at it doing what he does so well. The playmaking wideout has put together back to back 100 yard receiving games while snagging 12 balls along the way. This past Sunday against the Bengals he was a one man wrecking creew catching two passes for scores. Although the Titans are healthy and playing well, because of his 6'5" frame, Jackson is always a tough matchup and a must play.

Very much under the fantasy radar, the Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has been a solid go to receiver for the past several weeks. In his last three games Finley is averaging a cool 74 yard receiving with a total of 21 receptions. The tight end also has three touchdowns over the same span and looks to continue to be the Packers go-to target over the middle. Next week he'll have a very good matchup against the Seahawks 29th ranked pass defense.

The Morning Huddle-a Look back at week 15

The Morning Huddle-By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online

(Just some thoughts from Sunday)

As we watched the games being played on Sunday in Week 15, it was not hard to note of couple of obvious facts that fantasy owners will be thinking about when looking ahead to 2010.

Looking at 2010

After watching his performances thus far in the fantasy playoffs, its safe to say that Matt Schaub has proven he is fantasy royalty; 25 touchdowns and eight 300-yard passing games in 2009, and has started every game this season for Houston.

With three 300-yard passing games in his last four starts and a total of seven this season, fantasy owners should be convinced that quarterback Tony Romo is among the fantasy favorites. If not, his 23 touchdowns this season with just seven picks should be more than enough to state his case.

Fantasy owners that had wide receiver Roddy White in their lineups on Sunday found out the hard way, a tough lesson learned. Do not start a fantasy receiver matched up with the Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. White finished the day with just four catches for 33 yards. This will be something on fantasy owners "what to avoid" watch-list for 2010 (or it should be).

What I Saw in Week 15

Manning is still determined....
the Colts quarterback Peyton Manning doesn't look like he wants to sit out and the way he's playing he can still do a lot of damage even in one half of play. Fantasy owners might be concerned about how much he'll play in Week 16, but even if he's limited last Thursday night against the Jaguars Manning still scored 16 fantasy points in the first half alone. Even though the Colts will face Darrelle Revis and the Jets, Peyton still has a too many weapons to choose from; he should be a safe play.

There's no mystery in New Orleans....
With all the committees on offense that the Saints running, countless receivers, multiple running backs in the backfield, there is no real mystery here. The only reliable fantasy play in New Orleans is their quarterback Drew Brees. Although Brees only scored 13 fantasy points on Saturday night against the Cowboys, in his last five games Brees is averaging more than 25 fantasy points. Like the Colts, the Saints could be limiting the play of their starters in the coming weeks, but like his counterpart in Indy Brees could do just enough damage for owners in a single half. It would be very difficult to sit him.

Quick Notes:

The Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles could very well be a early round draft pick in most fantasy leagues next season. He's making a great argument in any case with two consecutive 100-yard rushing games and six straight games with at least one score.

Marshall continues to be the Broncos primary and in some case only weapon in the passing game. In each of his last four games he has caught six or more passes and has scored in his last three. For the season Marshall has 93 catches for 1,081 yards with a career high 10-touchdowns.

10 Things I remember

1. The Bills inept offense continues to struggle with the pass regardless of who is under center. Once again wide receiver Terrell Owens was a non-factor catching just two passes for 20 yards.
2. On Sunday the Browns ran all through the Chiefs defense, but it wasn't the Cribbs-Jennings show. On Sunday it was all about Jerome Harrison as he ran for 286 yards to help the Browns win their third game this season.
3. The Jets focused on the run (29 runs) Sunday against the Falcons, but could never get the ground game out of the gate. Running back Thomas Jones led the team with 19 carries for 52 yards.
4. To answer the question, can Schaub be special two weeks in a row; with 367 yards passing, a touchdown pass, and a win on the road yes he can.
5. It doesn't matter who Chris Johnson faces in 2009, there is no stopping the Titans running back. Johnson totaled 159 yards (104-rushing, 55-receiving) on Sunday to help lead Tennessee back to a .500 record.
6. Kurt Warner's performance Sunday against the Lions was hardly any kind of redemption, but his 233 yards passing and two scoring throws were enough for the Cards to win at Detroit.
7. It wasn't the kind of day fantasy owners were expecting from the Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, although he did total 81 yards for the day.
8. Even without a couple of his horses, the Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has plenty of weapons to target; 306 yards passing and two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing).
9. It wasn't a six pack being served at Heinz Filed on Sunday as the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out-duel the Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers passed for 383 yards and three scores, while Big Ben tossed up five bills (503 yards) and three scores of his own in the win.
10. The Bengals honored their fallen teammate on Sunday with a valiant effort against the Chargers. Led by Carson Palmer (314 yards passing, two touchdowns) and Chad Ochocinco (105 total yards, one touchdown) the Bengals battled this one down to the wire, but came up just short when Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding booted a 52-yard game winner with less than a minute to play.

NFC South Week 15 Wrap Up

                 NFC South Week 15 Wrap Up
By Rafael Garcia
Sr. Contributing Writer-Football Reporters Online
Southeast Region
Dallas 24 New Orleans 17
Now that the Saints have gotten the perfect record thing out of the way maybe they can get back to playing football. The last month has seen this team struggle with a few teams and they have been exposed on defense as well. This past Saturday the Cowboys had aspirations of beating the Saints. Granted, it was a long shot but they still had a chance. Players like Tony Romo said that if the Boys played their game they could win. Well it appears that the rest of the world didn’t believe when Dallas did and they came out smoking. They put pressure on Drew Brees from the start of the game and ended up sacking him four times while forcing two fumbles that Brees lost. He was hit on many occasions and for three quarters could not put his team in the end zone. Dallas struck immediately in the first when Romo hit Miles Austin for a 49-yard touchdown to make it 7-0. At halftime is was 14-3 and when Marion Barber ran it in from two in the third the game looked lost to the Saints. In the fourth it became a different story as Brees began to move his team and finally hit pay dirt when Mike Bell scored from one-yard out. Now it was 24-10 with just over 12 minutes to go. When Lance Moore pulled in a Brees pass to make it 24-17 the Saints were back in it. Dallas got the ball back and looked to go three and out when Romo hooked up with Austin for a huge 32-yard gain and the first down. After moving the ball 74 yards on 10 plays the Cowboys set up for a 24-yard chip shot by Nick Folk to extend the lead to 10. Somehow it hit the upright and the Saints got the ball back with a chance to tie or win the game. So here were the Saints with the ball and a little more than two minutes to go. The ball was at their 20 and Brees proceeded to move the ball down the field. Just like that DeMarcus Ware stepped in and stripped Brees for the second time of the day and that was that. New Orleans was no longer undefeated and they could now look to the bigger challenge of finishing with the number one seed in the NFC. 19-0 is good, but more than that, they want finish strong in December and January to get to the Super Bowl. 
Atlanta 10 New York Jets 7
The Falcons came into this game with nothing to play for and for about 58 minutes they played just like that. The Jets defense pushed them around and dominated for most of the game. The Falcons did get on the scoreboard first when Matt Bryant hit a 24-yard field goal to make it 3-0 in the first. That would all the offense Atlanta cold muster as they punted seven times after that and missed a field goal later. They finished with 238 yards of offense and 73 of those came on the final drive. Matt Ryan returned at quarterback and was just 16-34 for 152 yards and one touchdown. The running game was ineffective as Michael Turner hurt himself again and Jason Snelling could not get off. Atlanta had only 12 first downs and they were just 7-18 on third down efficiency. Still as the saying goes you have to play the full 60 minutes, the Jets did not, and the Falcons did. With 4:27 left in the game the Falcons got the ball with one last shot at putting a dent in the Jets playoff aspirations. On a third and five from their own 32 Ryan hit Jerius Norwood for nine yards and the first down. On another third down play Ryan got another first down when he hit Roddy White for 16 yards and a face mask penalty on the Jets moved the ball to the New York 27. One last third down from the six and this time it failed when Ryan’s pass to Tony Gonzalez fell short. The Falcons took a timeout to discuss their options while the Jets knew all they had to do was get a stop and remain one game behind the Patriots in the AFC East. They decided to go for it and lined up in the shotgun again. They threw the same pass to Gonzalez again and this time he caught it in the end zone for the lead with 1:38 left in the game. The Jets took over but Mark Sanchez was intercepted for the third time on the game and Atlanta pulled out the victory. They were able to win the game and put the Jets playoff hopes in jeopardy. This is how you play football when you are out of the playoff hunt. Stay hungry and play with pride.
Tampa Bay 24 Seattle 7
Near the end of the game the stands were about empty, but some very irritated fans stayed to watch their team tank another game. The Bucs had just put a whipping on their team to win just their second game of the year. Josh Freeman bounced back from two horrible games to throw two touchdown passes while going 16-26 for 205 yards. Derrick Ward and Cadillac Williams each ran for a touchdown and Connor Barth kicked three field goals as Tampa Bay won on the road for the first time since last year. The Tampa defense recorded a sack; four interceptions and a lost fumble to the hapless Seahawks. Williams and Ward combined for 31 carries for 133 yards and Kellen Winslow chipped in with 93 yards on six receptions. Their record is now 2-12 but the team has been playing inspired football even when they are losing. It has been a rough season but some of the players feel like the team is headed in the right direction. Head coach Raheem Morris is in his first year and we will see if he makes it to a second. One thing is for sure with Freeman, Williams and Ward the team has a future to build on. They also have player s like Winslow and a kicker that is sure fire. Now let’s see how they put those pieces together for the final two games of the year. Granted they are at New Orleans and then at home for the finale against the Falcons. Still there is room for learning and working towards next year.
Carolina 26 Minnesota 7
Once again no one knows what Panther team will show up but if this one would show up every week they would be in the playoff running now. With no reason to play except to play the game itself, the Panthers stuck to Brett Favre and the Vikings in dominating fashion. They scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and sent the Vikings reeling. Matt Moore had a career day going 21-33 for 299 yards and his first three-touchdown game of his career. Jonathan Stewart ran all over the Viking defense for 109 yards on 25 carries and a rushing touchdown. He also had a touchdown catch from two-yards out to cap the scoring. The Panther defense was fantastic harassing Favre repeatedly and sacking him four times. Julius Peppers was in Favre face all night to the point where head coach Brad Childress thought of removing his star quarterback for safety purposes. Favre got angry and the two had a heated discussion. It was all for naught as the Panthers came out firing in the fourth as Steve Smith pulled in a 42-yard pass for the score to make it 12-7. Smith finished the game with nine catches for 157 yards and the Carolina defense held the Vikings to 10 first downs, 237 total yards and 1-10 on third down conversions. It was a dominating performance for sure but the Panthers need a lot of help. They have no answer to the question for the quarterback of the future. Sure Moore is 4-2 but he is still unproven. The defense will undergo an overhaul and there is still the question about the future of coach John Fox. Still for one Sunday things were right in Carolina and they will take that any day.

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