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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Manning 77-yarder to Cruz rallies Giants 27-23 (Yahoo! Sports)

21 Oct

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) looks to pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- While Robert Griffin III is quickly becoming the NFL's most exciting quarterback, there's none better than Eli Manning with the game on the line.

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Redskins TE Davis hurts left leg (Yahoo! Sports)

21 Oct
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis injured his left Achilles tendon and was declared out for the rest of their game with the New York Giants.
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AP source: Union could challenge Tagliabue role (Yahoo! Sports)

21 Oct

FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2012, Roger Goodell, left, the NFL's chief operating officer, and Paul Tagliabue, NFL commissioner, pose for photos after Goodell was selected to succeed Tagliabue as the league's new commissioner at an NFL meeting in Northbrook, Ill. Goodell appointed Tagliabue on Friday, Oct. 19, 2012, to hear the appeals of four players suspended in the New Orleans Saints bounties scandal.(AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The NFL players' union might challenge former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue replacing Roger Goodell as the appeals officer in the Saints' bounties case.

Tags: , , , NFL players' union, officer, , , , Tagliabue role, the Saints, Union,
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Redskins Garcon inactive, Giants Bradshaw active (Yahoo! Sports)

21 Oct
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Washington wide receiver Pierre Garcon is among the Redskins inactives for Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
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Giants activate DT Canty, for Redskins game (Yahoo! Sports)

20 Oct
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The New York Giants have activated defensive tackle Chris Canty for Sunday's NFC East game against Washington.
Tags: Chris Canty, , , , , , NFC East game, , , ,
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Jets’ McKnight a ‘game-time decision’ vs. Pats (Yahoo! Sports)

19 Oct
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) -- Rex Ryan says New York Jets running back-kick returner Joe McKnight will be a ''game-time decision'' on whether he plays Sunday in an AFC East showdown with the New England Patriots.
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Concession Speech: 2012 Washington Nationals

18 Oct

With the regular season over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our old pal Chris Needham, who has writing about the Nats on the Internet way before anyone outside of the Beltway was paying attention.

My Beloved Washington Nationals Fans: I stand here before you today, a humbled man. My proverbial tail between my non-proverbial legs. The baseball gods have spoken. We have been handed a great loss, and although I do not agree with the outcome, I will respect it.

Before I speak to you, I want to speak directly to the American public. I understand how many of you were supporting us, pulling for our Nats to defeat the red menace from St. Louis. Although your support was fleeting, I do appreciate it, and I can only apologize that we let you down. We shall do better in the future.

But to my comrades in the army of the Potomac, I urge you to hold your head up. We can confidently say that we are First in War. First in Peace. And First in the National League East! That banner we will unfurl next April noting this city's triumph shall not take the sting of defeat away, but it shall be a cottony balm, a steady reminder of that long, successful campaign.

Mistakes were made: In the end, we lost. With the season on the line, runs hemorrhaging from the bullpen, we came up a pitcher short. All season long, we played with just enough pitchers, enough to lead the league in wins. But in the end, it was just one more steady arm we needed to stem the tide. And who could have possibly forseen that?

Sure, our opponents will point and laugh and mock us for going into the campaign while refusing to deploy one of our biggest strengths. But this is not about Stephen Strasburg or the decision to shut him and his Cy Young arm down. It's not about the willful choice Mike Rizzo made to stubbornly stick to his preordained plan, no matter how blindingly obvious it was to any moron that this was a special season with as good a chance as any to win the World Series. It is not about Mr. Rizzo's inflexibility, lack of adaptability, or his chutzpah. For he hath a 50-page binder, a doctor who hasn't examined the patient in months, and a player agent who stands to make millions when his client signs with the Yankees in four years on his side. This decision cannot be questioned because .. science! Don't question science. Ok? Where's your degree, Einstein?

Mudslinging time: Instead, this is about us, announcing our candidacy for the next six years. In Rizzo we trust. And he hath assured us that our window did not open in 2012, despite what your lying eyes saw. It will open in 2013 and run through 2018. So while we're licking our wounds today, we're ready to spit in our opponents' eyes tomorrow, and every day for the next six seasons -- especially if they're run by an anonymous GM.

You scoff, but look around the East. The Mets? Ha. If ever there were a franchise in need of a Federal bailout ... The Marlins? If ever there were a franchise in need of being declared a disaster zone ... The Phillies? If ever there were an entire city in need of being declared an EPA superfund site, bulldozed, then buried in a landfill under a cement dome...

And that leaves us with the Braves. Oh, those silly Braves. Sitting there all high and mighty, crowing how their plan to deal with a young, potentially injury-prone pitcher was superior because it allowed him to pitch in the postseason. Yeah, brilliant plan there, guys. You scaled back his innings during the championship season so that you fall a few games short of the real goal, and get stuck playing in the play-in game, which your so-called ace gacks away, done in by shoddy defense by the 74-year-old gomer playing third? That's not the kind of leadership we need. That's not the kind of leadership that wins divisions. There's a reason nobody calls them America's Team anymore.

A change is going to come: For us to live up to achieve our lofty goals, we must reload, not rebuild. A tweak here, a tweak there. I do not suggest we need big changes, as the flag that will soon fly over Nats Park attests to the strength of our team. But with the uncertainty surrounding Adam LaRoche's commitment to our campaign, we must explore every option, whether that's having Michael Morse live in his shoes or getting LaRoche and his steady glove to commit to this franchise for the coming three years. We must explore improving the bullpen. As you saw, our fortunes rose and fell with the quality of their pitches. And we must consider our options for replacing Edwin Jackson ... although replacing a sub-.500 pitcher with an ERA over half-a-run higher than any other rotation mate should not prove to be an impossible goal.

Hope for the future: My fellow Nationals fans, as we look forward to these upcoming campaigns, we must reflect on how we got here, and how the solid foundation laid this year is strong enough to hold all the Commissioner's Trophies we are sure to earn in the coming years.

We will move forward with good young men like Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper leading the way. We will move forward with grizzled veterans like Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman leading by example, fighting through injury, and giving the team maximum effort every night. And we will move forward led by the young arms in our rotation, exemplified by Cy Young contenders Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

And lest you forget, our secret weapon will be fully operational next season. We are prepared to unleash a rested Stephen Strasburg on the league's unsuspecting batters. All along, our opponents told us we would not win without Stephen Strasburg. We accept their challenge, and next year, we are fully prepared to win with him.

My friends, the skies may seem dim today, but I assure you the future is bright. Our competition may have some individual stars that burn brighter, but I assure you that none have as many bright, young stars, and certainly none form as beautiful a constellation in the sky. And that means our competition is looking up at us, at our lofty heights. The future is bright, my friends, so do not despair. We may have lost this race, but nobody -- not New York, not Miami, not Philadelphia and certainly not Atlanta -- will be looking down on us again.

Follow Chris Needham on Twitter

Previous Concession Speeches: Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates,Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
Follow @bigleaguestew, @KevinKaduk and the BLS Facebook page!

Tags: Chris Needham, , , , Mike Rizzo, , , need, , , ,
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Rick Pitino, Jim Boeheim engage in friendly war of words at Big East media day

17 Oct

Thanks to a friendly war of words between Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino at Big East media day on Wednesday, the two meetings between league contenders Syracuse and Louisville this season promise to be especially entertaining.

Asked about Louisville coach Rick Pitino's assertion that the Big East adding Memphis and Temple "will more than make up for" the impending departure of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, a smiling Boeheim told, "Rick's full of s--- if that's what he really said." Boeheim then went on to express mild annoyance at Pitino's frequent statements that Syracuse would be better off in the Big East than the ACC, noting that Louisville likely would have left for the Big 12 had it received an invitation.

"The only thing I'll say about what Rick said all summer is that if Louisville could have left they would have left," Boeheim said. "Everybody knows it and I'm really tired of him saying what Syracuse should be or should have done because they would have left in a heartbeat. Everybody knows it.

"I don't mind him denying that fact, but when they start talking about Syracuse, I'm going to start talking about them."

Asked for his response to Boeheim's comments by, a smiling Pitino joked, "I think he's full of s***, and so we're both full of it." Pitino acknowledged Syracuse may have the stronger brand than either Temple or Memphis but suggested that from a competitive standpoint, the difference wasn't all that significant.

"Anybody who looks at where Memphis has been in the last 10-12 years, anybody who looks at the tradition of Temple and knows Franny Dunphy, would know I'm not full of s***," Pitino said. 

"If Temple played Syracuse 10 times right now, one's gonna win six and the other's gonna win four. Syracuse and Pitt are two great teams."

While Pitino was correct in his original points months ago that Memphis and Temple were the Big East's best possible options to replace its departed members, I think I'd side with Boeheim on this debate.

Syracuse is a top 10 program nationally and owner of a national title in the past decade. Pittsburgh had been the most consistent program in the Big East under Jamie Dixon until last year's rare down season. Those aren't track records even a quality program like Temple can match at this point, though Memphis is certainly closer to an even trade.

The one point where Boeheim may be wrong, though, is when he suggests Pitino would prefer to be in the Big 12. Perhaps Louisville as an institution would want that to protect its football program, but because of Pitino's Northeast roots and New York-area recruiting success, he likely is genuine when he says he prefers the Big East for his program.

Tags: assertion, , , , Louisville coach Rick Pitino, , promise, Rick Pitino, Syracuse, the Big East, , ZagsBlog
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Greene powers Jets to 35-9 runaway over Colts (Yahoo! Sports)

14 Oct

New York Jets running back Shonn Greene (23) celebrates a touchdown with teammtes Austin Howard (77) and Nick Mangold (74) as Indianapolis Colts strong safety Tom Zbikowski (28) walks away during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Handoff after handoff, Shonn Greene took the ball - and just kept running.

Tags: , , , handoff, , Shonn,
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