Pats escape with an overtime win against the Jets (VIDEO)

21 Oct

When New England's Devin McCourty fumbled away a kickoff return just before the two-minute warning, some unlikely possibilities were suddenly on the table.

The much-maligned Jets had the ball already in field-goal range in a tie game and were looking at taking over first place in the AFC East. The Patriots were inexplicably staring down 3-4, with four very close, late, heartbreaking losses. And anyone who happened to still be alive in their survivor pools were going to get knocked out taking an 11.5-point favorite to win.

The Jets made a mistake. They didn't put the Patriots away when they had the chance.

New York's first two plays were runs up the middle that gained 3 yards, including the first one on a Wildcat play from Tim Tebow, even though Mark Sanchez was in the middle of a 328-yard passing day against a Patriots secondary that has been suspect, at best. The third and 7 pass call resulted in a sack. Big and bold Rex Ryan played for a field goal when he had the chance to knock out the Patriots and one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

When the Jets got that field goal with 1:37 left, taking all of 24 seconds off the clock, the only question was whether Tom Brady was going to win the game in regulation or simply lead a game-tying drive to send it to overtime. Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 15 yards, then 12 more. He hit Danny Woodhead for a pair of completions that gained 27 more. The Patriots tied the game on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. That should have surprised nobody.

New England won the toss in overtime, Brady led another drive that ended with a Gostkowski field goal, then Sanchez fumbled on the Jets' only possession to allow the Patriots to escape with a win. New England is in first place in the division at 4-3.

New York played a very good game. Statistically, the Jets played the Patriots nearly even across the board. New York had a great chance for the upset win and first place in the AFC East at the two-minute warning. Instead, the Jets let Brady and the Patriots hang around and beat them.

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Carson Palmer’s backhanded flip for an interception epitomizes the Raiders’ first half ‘effort,’ though Oakland rallies to win (VIDEO)

21 Oct

Maybe Brett Favre could pull off that whole "backhanded flip that turns out great" pass. Carson Palmer can not.

The Oakland quarterback provided the lowlight of a really bad half of football for the Raiders.

Palmer was moving to his left against the Jaguars when he decided to try to flip the ball out to a receiver. Instead it was tipped by a Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny and intercepted by Derek Cox for a truly horrific turnover. That Palmer trade isn't turning out so well for Oakland. Shocking.

That play summed up the first half for the Raiders. Not only are the Jaguars bad, and playing at Oakland, they were without running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who injured his foot early in the first quarter, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who also went out with an injury in the first half (OK, so that injury might not be so damaging for Jacksonville).

The Raiders were losing 17-6 at halftime, one of their worst halves of football in a season that has already been full of them.

Luckily for the Raiders, the Jaguars were a comedy of errors as well. With backup quarterback Chad Henne being utterly ineffective, the Jaguars let the Raiders come back and tie the game to send it to overtime (Oakland almost won in dramatic fashion on a 64-yard field goal try by Sebastian Janikowski as regulation time expired, but his kick was short). In overtime the Jaguars fumbled deep in their territory and the Raiders won on a field goal.

Palmer's terrible pass didn't turn out to be that big of a deal, just kind of embarrassing.

Tags: , , , Carson Palmer, , , , lowlight, , , Paul Posluszny, ,
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Jets offense moving backwards as Sanchez kicks ball out of end zone for a safety (VIDEO)

21 Oct

Mark Sanchez did the right thing, but that didn't make it any less funny.

The Jets offense, a punchline for most of the first half of the season, added to its blooper reel in the second quarter against the Patriots.

The Jets were deep in their own territory when Sanchez handed off to Shonn Greene. The ball popped out and bounced back into the end zone. Sanchez had little choice but to boot the ball through the end zone for the safety. That was better than risking the Patriots falling on the fumble for a touchdown. But it did sum up the Jets' general offensive futility this year.

The Jets actually started well. Greene's touchdown in the first quarter gave them the early 7-0 lead. That lead lasted 12 seconds, as Devin McCourty returned the ensuing kickoff 104 yards to tie the game right back up.

New England had a 14-7 lead by the time Sanchez played kickball in the end zone for the safety. That play gave the Patriots a 16-7 lead and gave highlight shows some fodder for their game recap.

The Jets rebounded in the second half and led with less than two minutes remaining, before Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to tie the game, then win it in overtime. The two points the Jets gave up on that safety turned out to be pretty big in the end.

Tags: , , , , Shonn Greene, the Jets,
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That’s why they’re the Cleveland Browns: Josh Gordon drops a potential game-winning TD (VIDEO)

21 Oct

The Cleveland Browns are bad. They have been since 1999, when they came back into the league. It's a sick joke on the people of Cleveland, as if the Indians and Cavaliers weren't enough.

If it's possible to sum up Cleveland's woes with a play, it happened with just under seven minutes left and Brandon Weeden's perfect deep pass hitting Josh Gordon in the hands.

Gordon is emerging as a very nice player for the Browns, a good find in the supplemental draft this year. He was supposed to be raw coming out of Baylor, but is already the Browns' best receiver. He caught a touchdown early against the Colts, his fourth in three games.

So who better to have camping under a perfectly thrown ball with a chance to give the Browns the lead than Gordon? He beat his defender and was in perfect position to put Cleveland ahead.

Gordon dropped it. Of course he did. Cleveland fans did a collective face palm, something they've had practice at.

Browns coach Pat Shurmur then kicked Browns fans during their misery by making the inexcusably bad decision to punt on fourth-and-1 from the Colts' 41-yard line. Making a horrendous decision even worse, Shurmur punted after wasting a timeout. Yikes.

The Browns lost, 17-13, failing to capitalize on the momentum gained from last week's first win of the season against Cincinnati. Oh, and prized rookie Trent Richardson was out in the second half because he was ineffective trying to play through a rib injury.

We're sorry, Browns fans.

Tags: , , , Browns fans, , , Cleveland fans, , , , , , the Browns
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Joe Morgan flips a Buccaneers defender over his head on way to touchdown (VIDEO)

21 Oct

Saints receiver Joe Morgan's deep catch was just the beginning of his adventure to the end zone.

In the second quarter, Morgan caught an underthrown ball from Drew Brees, and that's when the acrobatics began.

Morgan first eluded Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron, ducking under Barron's tackle and somehow not letting his knee hit the ground. Then cornerback Eric Wright was bearing down fast, so he did what would come naturally to any NFL receiver or WWE wrestler. He went with a tried and true back body drop on Wright that would have made Shawn Michaels proud, flipping Wright over his head to break free. And Morgan still wasn't done.

He turned to get into the end zone and had cornerback E.J. Biggers bearing down on him, but he managed to take the impact of the blow and stretch to get into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown catch.

That was the rookie's second career touchdown, and he made it a memorable one.

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Tags: , Drew Brees, Eric Wright, Joe Morgan, , Shawn Michaels, Tampa Bay safety Mark Barron
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Chris Johnson sighting: Titans back shows off his old CJ2K form (VIDEO)

21 Oct

There are moments where Chris Johnson reminds everyone he's the NFL record holder in yards from scrimmage in a season.

Those moments have been far and few in between, but against Buffalo the 2009 version of Johnson showed up. The Titans running back scored a 16-yard touchdown early to break a scoring drought that dated back to Dec. 4 of last year, when he scored two against ... the Bills. Needless to say, the expensive free-agent additions to the Bills defense haven't helped much.

But it was Johnson's next run that was a throwback to the CJ2K days.

Johnson took a handoff right, cut back and found a crease, then outran the Bills secondary. He was pulling away, showing he still has that elite speed that made him one of the best running backs in the NFL a few years ago, and had enough of a lead to turn his head at the 20-yard line and taunt the Buffalo defenders on his way into the end zone. After that run, Johnson had 104 yards on five carries.

It was vintage Chris Johnson. Finally.

Johnson finished with 195 rushing yards to lead Tennessee to a 35-34 win. Buffalo, the darlings of the offseason after signing ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, is a disappointing 3-4 after the home loss.

Tags: Buffalo, , CJ2K, , , holder, , , , yards from scrimmage
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Aaron Rodgers has a near perfect night, throws career-best six TD passes

14 Oct

Aaron Rodgers did the "Discount Double Check" when he shouldn't have. He ran up the middle for a touchdown, spiked the ball and mimicked putting on the championship belt -- his celebration for rushing touchdowns -- not knowing there was a holding penalty behind him to negate the play.

Hey, critics need to find something wrong with Rodgers' night, right? There wasn't anything else to nitpick because he was just about perfect against Houston. Even during his incomparable MVP season last year, or the Super Bowl-winning season before that, he never threw as many touchdowns in one game as he did Sunday night.

Rodgers threw six touchdowns to tie a team record, which was held by Matt Flynn (yes, that factoid is incredibly odd). The level of competition made the performance that much more impressive. Rodgers threw all those touchdowns against a Houston defense that was third in the NFL in yards allowed and had allowed just six passing touchdowns in its first five games.

[More NFL: Tim Tebow looks like an unwanted man]

Green Bay's 2-3 start before the Houston game wasn't what the team wanted, although one of those losses came during the replacement ref debacle in Seattle. Sunday night's 42-24 win seemed to be about Rodgers emphatically reminding people that he is the reigning MVP, and the Packers are still a championship contender as long as he's under center.

Rodgers admitted that Sunday was a little personal for him.

"We're all just tired of answering questions about what happened to the Packers, what happened to me," Rodgers told NBC in a postgame interview. "Just getting back to the way we're capable of playing. We haven't gone anywhere."

Later he was asked by Michele Tafoya what he would say to the critics.

"Shhhhhh," he said, before he walked off.

Some of the criticism surrounding the Packers was legitimate. They did blow a 21-3 halftime lead at Indianapolis last week, after all. Rodgers, as the leader of the Packers, carried the Packers out of whatever slump they were in.

Rodgers has some tremendous athletic gifts that make him a special quarterback, but one of his strongest talents is his ability to make remarkably accurate deep throws. Only two of his touchdowns against Houston were from within the 10-yard line. He had scoring throws of 41, 21, 48 and 18 yards.

[Also: Pete Carroll passes test from former employer]

The 48-yard touchdown to tight end Tom Crabtree wasn't the typical Rodgers big play where he makes a perfect bucket throw. But it was as impressive as any play he made on his big night. Rodgers was rolling right on third-and-1 and leaped just before he got nailed by a Texans defender with a clear shot on him. Rodgers still got enough zip on the pass to deliver a strike that traveled about 25 yards in the air right to Crabtree, who was wide open and walked into the end zone.

Rodgers finished the night completing 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He looked like the NFL's reigning MVP.

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Jets penalty on Andrew Luck epitomizes the plight of the defensive player (VIDEO)

14 Oct

There are many times defensive players in the NFL are literally put in no-win situations because of the rules that protect offensive players.

When Indianapolis' Andrew Luck threw an interception to New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Jets linebacker Aaron Maybin had two options as he saw Luck drifting towards the play getting ready to stop Cromartie on his way to the end zone.

Maybin could: A) Let Luck go and give the rookie quarterback, whose size and athleticism is as freakish as many players in the league, a chance to make the tackle, or B) Block Luck and get a 15-yard penalty.

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Maybin chose the second option. Or, rather, he did what came naturally to a football player and blocked a 234-pound man looking to tackle his teammate.

Maybin was given a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness. Cromartie's touchdown came back.

The penalty was called, presumably, because Luck hadn't taken the "distinctly defensive position" outlined in the rules that is required before a defensive player can block the quarterback on a turnover. Unfortunately for Maybin, Luck didn't line up in a three-point stance after throwing his interception.

Luck isn't even a half season into his NFL career and he's getting star treatment many other quarterbacks are afforded. Last week, Luck's interception was called back because of a penalty on Packers rookie Nick Perry, when it seemed the only thing Perry did was hit Luck really hard. That seemed to be Maybin's greatest sin as well.

[Also: Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden gets first win on 29th birthday]

This is why defensive players are getting angry. Brian Cushing getting his ACL torn by Jets guard Matt Slauson, when Cushing was defenseless and Slauson blocked him from behind, is far more dangerous than Maybin's football play on Luck. Slauson was fined $10,000 (Perry was fined $15,000 for his hit on Luck, by the way, if you wonder why defensive players complain) but the Cushing play seemed to mobilize the NFL's defensive players this week.

Vikings defensive end Jared Allen said his knee is just as valuable as Tom Brady's knee. Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews tweeted that if the NFL is worried about player safety it needs to protect players on both sides of the ball. They're right.

The NFL is right to be concerned with player safety, but defensive players would probably like a at least one decent option on those plays in which it seems like they can do no right.

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Tags: Aaron Maybin, , Antonio Cromartie, defensive player, , , , , ,
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Jay Feely makes a tremendous 61-yard kick, then misses the easy one for the win

14 Oct

Kickers experience extreme highs and extreme lows, but they usually don't experience both in the final 1:09 of regulation.

When Arizona's Jay Feely hit a career-best 61-yard field goal to tie Sunday's game against Buffalo, it was inconceivable that by the time the fourth quarter ended he'd be the Cardinals' goat.

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Arizona faced fourth and 10 in the fourth quarter and a choice: send out Feely for a field goal that seemed out of his range and was just 2 yards short of the NFL record, or go for it with a cold John Skelton, who just had come in for an injured starting quarterback Kevin Kolb. Arizona took a shot on Feely. And he not only hit the field goal, he had plenty of room to spare. It was one of the best kicks you'll see, considering the circumstances. The thrill didn't last long.

The Bills ran all of 23 seconds off the clock before they had to punt again. Skelton hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 28-yard catch that set up a much easier field goal for Feely. 38 yards. Feely had plenty of experiences in situations like this over his 12 NFL seasons. Two weeks ago he hit an overtime game-winner against Miami. On Sunday, Feely was going to go from hero to mega-hero.

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Feely, who had hit 11 of his first 12 field-goal attempts to start the season, bounced the potential game-winner off the goal post. He told reporters after the game that the field goal was tipped by Bills tackle Alex Carrington, and he couldn't remember having another field goal blocked or defended since 2006.

In overtime, Skelton threw a back-breaking interception to Jairus Byrd.

There was no miracle miss for the Cardinals after Byrd's big play. Bills kicker Rian Lindell hit the easy game winner.

So instead of talking about his career-long 61-yard field goal, Feely was left to answer questions about the one he missed.

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Giants remind everyone that they’re always a contender

14 Oct

Somehow, the Giants were significant underdogs at San Francisco. We all should have known better.

The Giants are masterful at this. Just when it looks like the Giants are slipping into mediocrity and everyone falls in love with the new hot team, they rise up and remind everyone that they are one of the elite teams in the NFL whenever they want to be.

[Also: Undefeated Falcons find way to pull off another win]

The Giants were plodding along at 3-2, not bad but not looking like a favorite to repeat as Super Bowl Champions. San Francisco on the other hand looked like the best team in the NFC. The 49ers had beat their last two opponents 79-3. And they were looking for revenge from last year's NFC championship game.

Of course the Giants won. That's what they do.

The Giants forced Alex Smith into three interceptions. Smith didn't even have two interceptions in a game all of last season or the first five weeks of this season. He had thrown one interception all season before Sunday.

[Also: Is this the wildest touchdown in NFL history?]

The 49ers seemed overmatched the whole game. The Giants trailed 3-0 in the first quarter and then scored 26 unanswered points to finish the game. Victor Cruz gave them the lead with a touchdown and a salsa dance early on. Ahmad Bradshaw had 116 yards, and his 1-yard touchdown early in the third quarter gave New York a 17-3 lead, which was more than enough.

And we should probably prepare for what happens next. The Giants will look ugly a few weeks, particularly at home, lose a few games, and other teams will get all the bandwagon buzz throughout the second half of the season. Then the playoffs will come, and the Giants will be just as good as they want to be.

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