Home Is Where The Upset Is

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

"Can you hear me now? Good. Thanks for making Eli suck today."

Eagles 23, Giants 11 – It seems rather odd to me that Eli Manning has been playing in the Meadowlands for his career and yet has trouble throwing in the winds. I thought the addition of Brandon Jacobs for the Giants would turn the tide in their favor this week, but Donovan McNabb’s velocity on his passes cut thtrough when Eli’s fell weak, making the big difference after both defenses generally took the right approach to stopping the running games.  Philly’s defense fared better, stopping New York from ever reaching the end zone. Five trips to the red zone resulted in no touchdowns.  If you’re a Giants fan and the play-calling on 3rd and 4th downs made you want to pull a Buddy Ryan on Kevin Gilbride, I understand. It’s like Andy Reid transferred his crappy play-calling essence across the stadium today.

With no rooting interest left, I’m going to go with Donny Mac: despite all the times Philly has tried to run him out, I want him to win a title — because it will shut them up for the rest of his career.

Steelers 35, Chargers 24 – Final score not completely indicative of the beatdown handed out by the Pittsburgh D upon Philip Rivers. The Bolts offens never really go right after that first quick touchdown drive, and while Ben Roethlisberger completed some great throws and had the opportunity for others, Wilie Parker was the star of the game offesnively, darting in and out of the SD front seven during the entire game.  There was nothing as satisfying as watching Rivers get pounded by Lamar Woodley and Brett Kiesel.

Ravens 13, Titans 10 – Bad delay of game call late obviously, but I have a dirty suspicion that Blatimore would have converted a 3rd and 7 just as well as a 3rd and 2 at that point, because the Titans’ offense shot itself in the foot too many times with turnovers to give the D any encouragement. While Joe Flacco got some deep balls going, we’d advise holding off on the fellating. Those deep throws obscured some rather pedestrian stats and he’s not very good with the short to intermediate passing game. At this point, he’s a younger Dilfer, and Baltimore lost Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington in the War of Attrition. I saw seven guys fall thanks to injury in the second half alone.

Cardinals 33, Panthers 13 – Not quite sure what compelled John Fox to empower Jake Delhomme to throw into double and triple coverage rather than just completing handoffs — the Arizona defense helped, but that can’t be all of it — and it resulted in six turnovers for Delhomme, who telegraphed passes, threw to Steve Smith in triple coverage, and looked like he did for much of the 2007 season prior to going down for the season. That’s probably the last game he’ll play in a Carolina uniform.  Delhomme wasn’t the sole problem: not doulbe covering Larry Fitzgerald the entire game seems like the error of a first-time head coach, no someone like Fox, who ought to be on thin ice next season.

The Jump To Conclusions Mat Has Way Too Many Footprints On It


Look, I’m not going to state that the facts out there surrounding Plaxico Burress’ shooting himself in the thigh aren’t there. It’s monumentally stupid of him to be carrying a gun illegally, only having a permit that had expired in Florida and at the very least, not applying for one in either New York or New Jersey. The fact that it went off in his pants suggests he has no clue about how to operate the safety on a gun, which is even more disturbing.

But I can’t help but sit back and want to smack the usual suspects like Bob Costas, Mike Ditka, and the rest of the NFL studio show crews make the usual suggestions about how players shouldn’t be allowed to own guns, and that they shouldn’t be out late after certain hours. Witness Ditka on the guns bit:

“This is all about priorities. When you get stature in life, you get the kind of contract, you have an obligation and responsibility to your teammates, to the organization, to the National Football League and to the fans. He just flaunted this money in their face. He has no respect for anybody but himself. I feel sorry for him, in the sense that, I don’t understand the league, why can anybody have a gun? I will have a policy, no guns, any NFL players we find out, period, you’re suspended.”

Lucky for us he never ran as the GOP candidate for Senate from Illinois. Jesus, who thought this guy would make a good senatorial candidate?  As long as he has the permits (which he apparently didn’t), it shouldn’t have mattered, period. The NFL is not big enough to where it should decide to take away people’s individual rights.

When I witnessesd Costas’ outrage on Football Night in America, I thought, “Spoken like a man who has never understood what it’s like to have to fear for your life.” It took Tiki Barber to correct Costas, by saying that many black athletes grow up in tough situations with gangs where they are protected because of their athletic abilities, and are used to a world where you have to protect yourself — you do not trust security people or the police. I don’t know if this is reflective of Burress’ background, but if you are a black man with millionaire money, you’re going to be wary inside and outside your home.

The situations are not comparable, as Burress was out on the town with teammates Antonio Pierce and either Derrick Ward or Ahmad Bradshaw (depending on who you read or hear)( but it’s silly not to think of how Sean Taylor was killed in his home and Antoine Walker was robbed near his home in Chicago.  Again — those are at home, but don’t you think you would protect yourself even more when you were out of you think you are a target? Yet this impulse seems to elude everyone commenting on the stubject before everything is known.

It is merely another string in Burress being a bad actor; it is part of a narrative to take missed meetings and fines and conflate them into something larger and more insidious. But the cycle hasn’t played itself out yet. Burress still has to be charged, and we have to find out his side of the story, too.  It’s asking too much to back off for a little bit though — there is blood in the water.

The Red Zone: Getting The Point Across

(Video tip to Black Sports Online.)

Seahawks 34, 49ers 13 – Normally I would not lead with this because there were a litany of better games on, and I was saved from having to watch this travesty by the grace of my local Fox affiliate who rationally decided that no one in our little part of California wanted to watch the Niners get beat. However, it produced the most coherent yet quotable of coach rants from Mike Singletary, who is visibly and understandably frustrated with a quarterback who is responsible for 11 fumbles and 17 interceptions, a tight end that dogged it a bit and cost them 15 yards on a dumb penalty, and a defense that allowed a fullback, a fullback, to gather up 116 yards and two TDs on only four receptions.

Saints 37, Chargers 32 – Essentially, the Chargers stalled themselves early in London, which allowed Drew Brees and whatever mishmash of talent he has catching footballs to get up early and get a lead. 14 penalties for more than 100 penalty yards don’t help, especially when the defense has completely quit or doesn’t have enough to stop any sort of potent offense. The AFC West is slowly morphing into the NFC West, if you can believe it.

Panthers 27, Cardinals 23 – Kurt Warner got the Cards out to a 17-3 lead, but then Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith powered a Carolina comeback in Charlotte, prodded on by an amazing play where Smith looked like he had gone out of bounds on his way to the end zone, but his heel had not touched the sideline while his foot came down near it.

Cowboys 13, Buccaneers 9 – An ugly game in which Tampa Bay essentially got stopped in the red zone when they were able to mount drives, including the last failed drive with less than a minute to go. Brad Johnson threw one TD pass to Roy L. Williams, and if you have any Dallas players on your fantasy teams, I’d advise benching them until Tony Romo comes back.

Jets 28, Chiefs 24 – New York won in spite of Brett Favre as much as they did because of him. The Gunslinger threw three picks, making Tyler Thigpen look like a competent quarterback until Herm Edwards’ late conservative playcalling got int the way. Thigpen finished with two TD passes.

Giants 21, Steelers 14 – Something I’ll never understand about defensive coordinators: you go to all this trouble, if you’re Dick LeBeau, to develop good coverage and blitz schemes to use on Sunday, yet, after your team’s offense gives up and awful safety on a botched punt snap, you play prevent. Of course, when you play prevent, you give up a score, and Eli Manning hitting Kevin Boss to go ahead for good seemed utterly predictable. It would help if Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t spending half the game on his back.

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Stealing Signals: 15 Straight No-Hit Innings

Cubs 6, Astros 1 – Ted Lilly decided to try and follow up Carlos Zambrano’s no-no with one of his own, getting 6.2 innings of no hit ball before giving up a hit to Mark Loretta.  Homers from Jim Edmonds, Derrek Lee, and Geovany Soto provided the muscle on offense. You have to feel for the Astros, though — that’s a situation (playing in Milwaukee, a short drive from Chicago, with all their families in Houston) that they shouldn’t have been in.

Dodgers 8, Pirates 2 – Hiroki Kuroda throws seven shutout innings while Manny Ramirez has three hits and James Loney drives in two.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 1 – That Adam Dunn trade is now providing some actual impact with an eighth inning two-run shot to make the difference (and maybe quite a few games too late.)

Yankees 4, White Sox 2 – Mariano Rivera enters second place on the all-time saves list behind Trevor Hoffman. A double by Wilson Betemit broke the tie game in the seventh.

Red Sox 13, Rays 5 – Six homers off the Tampa pitching staff provided one hell of a margin, and pushes Daisuke Matsuzaka to a record of 17-2 despite being one of the most on again, off again pitchers — he has had the luxury of getting good offensive support.

Nationals 7, Mets 2 – Watch it all go down the drain. The lead over the Phillies is now half a game, Pedro Martinez gives up four runs in six innings and the heart of the order (Beltran, Wright, Delgado) go 0-for-11.

The Red Zone: Eddie Guns Misfires

Broncos 39, Chargers 38 – I’m a Denver homer and even I will admit that referee Ed Hochuli completely blew it. We shouldn’t have had that chance to win that game. That said, it was smart and ballsy to go for two after Jay Cutler threw it to Eddie Royal for the touchdown because it was playing with house money and because San Diego would be reeling from getting fucked over. These teams will be fighting for the AFC West crown, because Philip Rivers and that offense know how to close and come back. They wouldn’t have gotten to the AFC championship game if they didn’t. Cutler is still learning how to finish, and there could be some shaky times. But each offense looked really good for a half.

Patriots 19, Jets 10 – The game ended with the old Brett Favre that we’ve gotten used to: a late pick-off by Brandon MeriweatherMatt Cassel threw for 165 yards, didn’t throw any TD passes, but didn’t muck it up and while he’s not going to be raging up any fantasy rosters, he might stand a chance of getting the Patriots back to the playoffs.

Titans 24, Bengals 7 – How long is Marvin Lewis for this world of NFL coaching? He’s been undermined and this looks to be the worst team he’s ever fielded in his years in Cincinnati.  Kerry Collins, relieving Vince Young, threw for one touchdown and dispensed the ball to LenDale White and Chris Johnson to eat up yardage. Tennessee’s defense got lethal, and now they are in first place in the toughest division in football.

Bills 20, Jaguars 16 – What world is this we live in, with Buffalo starting 2-0?  Trent Edwards is looking like the starting quarterback they’ve been looking for (it helps if you have Marshawn Lynch to hand off to) by throwing a fourth-quarter touchdown against a tema that was in the playoffs last year.

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Ill-Advised NFL Previews: NFC East

Hey, folks. I’m back. Didja miss me? Oh, right. Well, with both professional and college football starting in a matter of weeks, it’s tossed-off preview time. Planning at least one division a day and sometimes two for NFL, a college football Top 10 and more format to come. Teams with an asterisk by their names are my guesses as to who will be Wild Cards this year.

1. Dallas Cowboys — On paper, I have no reason to believe this team won’t win a hyper-competitive division yet again. There’s too much offensive and defensive power to not do well between Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, and Adam Jones. The Cowboys do need Terence Newman to get healthy and stay that way — although Jones will take the punt returning problems away — and Patrick Crayton needs to be a solid #2 wideout this year. I don’t they go 13-3 again — their division is too tough, and don’t ask me to predict playoff wins for Dallas.

2.  New York Giants* – I feel bad about putting a Super Bowl champion this low on the pole, but there’s a lot of if-come-when surrounding the Giants, and it’s rather predicated upon how much of Eli Manning’s breakout during the playoffs last year is really permanent and whether the pass rush that won them the Super Bowl will be the same without Michael Strahan leading it. It’s not that I question Justin Tuck’s ability, but that’s a large gap (*rimshot*) to fill. Probably a good, safe Wild Card bet, though, so I’ll say they still make the playoffs.

3.  Washington Redskins – There are always adjustment periods that come with a new coach and yet another new offense, and I hope the lag time isn’t that long for Jason Campbell. He’s a solid QB who deserves better than the floundering he’s had to go through, and looks like he might get it with Jim Zorn’s West Coast system. Picking up Jason Taylor was a smart trade for a veteran from the front office, which has not had a lot of those over the years. I just don’t think they can leap over the Giants and Cowboys for a playoff spot, and there will be an NFC team outside the East that’s good enough for a Wild Card.

4.  Philadelphia Eagles – I hate doing this to Donovan McNabb again, but Eagles management hasn’t done shite to help him on the receivers end in a division loaded with offensive talent.  It doesn’t help matters that all the NFC East teams could finish .500 or above again. McNabb doesn’t deserve to go out like this — but these are the things that make a fan base impatient and a front office do dumb things, especially when you can start the office pool on when Donny Mac will be hurt and miss time these days.

If That Ad Shows Up In SI, I’m Canceling My Subscription

In an otherwise throwaway gossip column by Jo Piazza in the NY Daily News, we have a tidbit that’s sure to make the majority of us retch in response, not solely because the idea of Giants QB Eli Manning pitching any sort of product seemed improbable nine months ago (and those Citizen EcoDrive ads at right became the product of derision until the Super Bowl), but due to what he might be hawking in the future.

Calvin Klein may be trying to get into Tom Brady’s pants (the company, not the designer, to make him the brand’s new underwear model!), but word on the street is sexy men’s underwear line 2(x)ist is trying to get his rival, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, to model their teeny-weeny, bikini-style briefs.

Ew, ew, ew.  I have nothing personally against either Peyton or Eli because their singular hang-dog facial expressions amuse me greatly, but Manning the  Younger is quite possibly the last athlete I would choose to see modeling skivvies (if I had to decide which male jock I had to see on the advertising pages in my magazines.)   This isn’t nearly as problematic or questionable as, say, Brett Favre or Koren Robinson doing promotions for Seagram’s, but it’s quite possibly more wince-inducing if it happens.

Hat tip to Ben Maller for the Daily News piece.

“Sex” and the singular star Sarah Jessica Parker (scroll down) [New York Daily News]

The Red Zone, Week 3 Late Games.

Cowboys 34, Bears 10 – Let the Rex Grossman speculation intensify! The Sex Cannon threw three picks in the game as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Terrell Owens, and Marion Barber III walked all over a depleted Bears defense in the second half after a first half ended in a very dull 3-3 tie. The Chicago faithful screamed “GRIESE! GRIESE! GRIESE!” after the second pick thrown to Cowboys corner Anthony Henry, and I have to note this as as a Bronco fan: Chicagoans, you really, really don’t want to go there, pinning your playoff hopes on Brian Griese. It can only end in tears. I know these things.

Raiders 26, Browns 24 – Lane Kiffin is a quick study. One week after getting the short end of the stick on the gamesmanship against the Broncos, he pulls the exact shame shit on Romeo Crennel, when he runs Phil Dawson out there for the game-winning field goal. Kick is up and good — whoops, time out! Dawson blows the second. Raiders break an epic losing streak. Also, despite throwing for 200+ again, Josh McCown gets cheered while limping off on a bad knee for Daunte Culpepper. You stay classy, Oakland.

Jaguars 20, Broncos 14 – As for Coach Rat Fink, he and the Horseheads eat a loss due to not being able to stop the rush and keep the defense off the field. There were more offensive fits and starts in Denver than necessary, and letting Fred Taylor run around doesn’t help. The worst part: Denver’s vaunted secondary couldn’t keep Jacksonville’s sorry receiving corps from getting open.

Giants 24, Redskins 17 – First half, all Washington. Second half, all Giants. Eli Manning led a comeback as the Giants D makes stop after stop in the second half, and were aided by Joe Gibbs and Al Saunders’ inexplicable play calling at the end of the game — rushing twice to Ladell Betts at the 1 while the line is stacked.

Seahawks 24, Bengals 21 – Shootout up north, with Carson Palmer throwing for 300+ and the Cincy defense stiffening up a bit — except when Matt Hasselbeck led the game winning drive with a touchdown pass to Nate Burleson.

Photo: AP/Nam Y. Huh