Tag Archives: troy polamalu

The Regular Season is Over. And a 7-9 Team is in the Playoffs

With the exception of the unfortunate fact that the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, a team that is NOT significantly better than the Detroit Lions, is in the National Football League playoffs, it was a pretty good year for the NFL.

Tom Brady was sensational, Arian Foster was a horse, Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis remained the best defensive players in the NFL, our pal Israel Idonije had a great year in Chicago, the Lions got better, Kansas City stepped up, Oakland improved, Tim Tebow showed why he should be No. 1 in Denver, Peyton Manning willed the Colts back to the playoffs, Brett Favre retired, Sam Bradford arrived and the poor Minnesota Vikings finished the year with an interim coach, a collapsed stadium and a vantage point from the basement of the NFC North.

On Sunday evening, the NFL’s playoff schedule has been set. In the opening round, New England and Pittsburgh have the byes in the AFC while Atlanta and Chicago have the byes in the NFC. New England and Atlanta have home field throughout the playoffs. This Saturday, New Orleans plays at Seattle at 3:30 while the Jets play at Indianapolis at 7, both games are on NBC. On Sunday, Baltimore is at Kansas City at 12 Noon on CBS and Green Bay is at Philadelphia at 3:30 on FOX.

Let’s enjoy it because if the folks who run the league and the Players Association don’t get their collective act in gear, we might have nothing but the CFL, the UFL and BCS next season.

OK, Sport Select and Fantasy Players, here are your NFL scores and highlights for Week 17…

Sunday night…

Seattle 16 St. Louis 6

Just a horrible football game. Seattle wins the NFC West with a 7-9 record, the first sub.500 division champ in league history and they’ll get to play host to New Orleans on Saturday.

Sunday afternoon….

Detroit 20 Minnesota 13

The Lions won their final four games and finished ahead of the Vikings in the standings. It’s the first time since 1990 that the Vikes have finished last in the NFC North. And Brett Favre, who was inactive yesterday with a concussion, HAS retired. Detroit’s Shaun Hill threw for 258 yards and a touchdown. Minnesota’s only touchdown came on an interception return by Jared Allen. It looks like Leslie Frazier will keep his job as the Vikings head coach.

Green Bay 10 Chicago 3

Aaron Rodgers one-yard pass to tight end Donald Lee gave the 10-6 Packers all they needed in the fourth quarter to win the game and lock up a playoff berth.

NY Giants 17 Washington 14

The 10-6 Giants got the win but they didn’t get the help they needed to make the playoffs. The Packers win eliminated New York.

Indianapolis 23 Tennessee 20

Peyton Manning threw two touchdowns passes and Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning field goal with no time left on the clock as the 10-6 Colts made the playoffs again.

NY Jets 38 Buffalo 7

Veteran Mark Brunell threw two TD passes for the 11-5 Jets as Mark Sanchez rested for the playoffs after the first series of downs.

Tampa Bay 23 New Orleans 13

Tampa finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs. Bucs QB Josh Freeman threw for 255 yards and two TDs. The Saints finished 11-5 and will head off to the post-season.

New England 38 Miami 7

The Pats’ Tom Brady went 10-fort-16 for 199 yards and two touchdowns. His new favorite target, Rob Gronkowski caught six passes for 102 yards and a TD. The 14-2 Patriots won their final eight games. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano could lose his job this week.

Pittsburgh 41 Cleveland 9

The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger went 15-for-22 for 280 yards and two touchdowns as 12-4 Pittsburgh clinched the AFC North title. Expect the Cleveland coaching staff to be fired en masse today. (Note: Eric Mangini was fired Monday morning before 9 a.m.)

Baltimore 13 Cincinnati 7

The Ravens offence did nothing, but Ed Reed had two interceptions and Ray Lewis recovered two fumbles. Baltimore will enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak.

Atlanta 31 Carolina 10

Matt Ryan threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns as the Falcons finished 13-3 and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Dallas 14 Philadelphia 13

Jason Garrett will be go from interim to semi-permanent head coach of the Cowboys (all coaches are semi-permanent). Stephen McGee threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Jason Whitten with 55 seconds left to give Dallas the victory. Michael Vick did not play for the Eagles, but will start this coming Sunday against Green Bay.

Oakland 31 Kansas City 10

The Chiefs Matt Cassel was awful – 11-for-33 for 115 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Oakland’s Michael Bush carried 25 times for 137 yards and a touchdown. The 8-8 Raiders went 6-0 within the AFC West Division and missed the playoffs. The Cjiefs won it at 10-6.

San Francisco 38 Arizona 7

It was likely Alex Smith’s final game for the 49ers and he was pretty good. He threw for 276 yards and two TDs.

San Diego 33 Denver 28

Chargers rookie Ryan Matthews ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns. For Denver, QB Tim Tebow threw two touchdowns passes and ran for another.

Houston 34 Jacksonville 17

The Texans’ Arian Foster rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns and won the NFL rushing title.

Thursday Night Game Should be a Steelers Steal

Week 16 in the NFL opens tonight with Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7:30 on Rogers SportsNet.

There is also a game this week on Saturday, Christmas Day, as Dallas plays at Arizona. This Sunday, the big games include the 10-4 Jets at 10-4 Chicago, Indianapolis at Oakland, the Giants at struggling Green Bay on Sunday night and New Orleans at Atlanta in a battle of the two best teams in the NFC South on Monday night.

In Pittsburgh, all-pro safety Troy Polamalu will not play tonight when the Steelers meet Carolina. On the coast, Troy Smith, not Alex Smith, will start at quarterback for the 49ers on Sunday against St. Louis; Joe Webb is the likely starter for the Vikings on Sunday night when Minnesota plays at Philadelphia; and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is confident he’ll start on Sunday afternoon against the Giants after practicing yesterday.

Only two weeks remain in the 2010 regular season and 20 teams are still in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLV in North Texas.  Chicago has locked up the NFC North, and Atlanta, New England and Pittsburgh have clinched playoff berths.

According to the NFL media folks in New York, seven of the eight divisions currently feature a team in or tied for the top spot that did not win its division in 2009. Chicago locked up the NFC North title with a win last week after finishing third last season.  Four other clubs that did not win division titles in 2009 – Atlanta, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – can clinch a division championship this week.

We’ll look at Sunday’s games on Friday, but as for tonight’s matchup, I’ll take the keyboard and write this week’s summary:

Carolina Panthers (2-12) at Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4) Line: Steelers by 15 (some books have 14.5)

Really? Seriously? I would never, ever, ever suggest to anyone to take 15 points. Ever. Except maybe in this Thursday night monstrosity. The Steelers won’t be as good without the injured Troy Polamalu, the Pittsburgh offensive line has not done a good job protecting Ben Roethlisberger in recent weeks and Pittsburgh doesn’t score a lot of points anyway (17th overall with 307) so there is a real reason to worry about the spread. Carolina is coming off a 19-12 home win against Arizona while Pittsburgh lost last week, at home, 22-17 to the Jets. I like Pittsburgh a lot, but not by 15.



Favre Hurt, Flacco Sacked and Manning All Over The Place As Week 13 Provides Plenty of Surprises

TAMPA, Fla. — It was a wild one Sunday as Week 13 in the National Football League provided all sorts of thrills and spills.

Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre injured his shoulder on the third play of the game, but tarvaris Jackson came off the bench the lead the Vikings to a 38-14 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Now, this morning, everyone it seems is screaming to start Jackson next week against the Giants. Sounds great, but remember, T-Jack just won at home against the UFL-like Bills. The Giants are a whole different argument.

Meanwhile, a big sack and forced fumble by Troy Polamalu led to a late touchdown by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 13-10 in a defensive struggle. I’m sure Baltimore’s Joe Flacco is a good quarterback, but he had so little time to throw and put so few points on the board that it’s hard to tell.

Meanwhile, Peyton Manning threw four interceptions, two were returned for touchdowns and the one in overtime led to the winning field goal while here in Tampa, the Bucs Josh Freeman did his best Peyton impersonation by throwing an INT in the dying seconds to seal a loss to Atlanta.

A lot of quarterbacks were great on Sunday. Many more were not. But it sure made for some interesting football:

Sunday night…

Pittsburgh 13 Baltimore 10

Ben Roethlisberger threw a nine-yard TD pass to Isaac Redman with 2:51 remaining after Troy Polamalu forced a Joe Flacco fumble on a sack. The Steelers are 9-3 and in sole possession of first place in the AFC North.

Sunday afternoon….

Minnesota 38 Buffalo 14

Brett Favre injured his shoulder on the third play of the game and Tarvaris Jackson came in and was sensational. He threw two touchdown passes to Sidney Rice while Adrian Peterson rushed for 107 yards and three more touchdowns as the Vikings improved to 5-7. Jackson could start this coming Sunday at home against the Giants.

Chicago 24 Detroit 20

Jay Cutler hit Brandon Manumaleuna with the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter, right after a dreadful roughing call against the Lions Ndamukong Suh. The Bears re 9-3 while the 2-10 Lions have lost five straight.

Jacksonville 17 Tennessee 6

Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for a career-best 186 yards as the Jags took over first place in the AFC South with a 7-5 record.

Green Bay 34 San Francisco 16

Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns while Greg Jennings caught six passes for 122 yards and two TDs.

Cleveland 13 Miami 10

Mike Adams interception in the final minute set up Phil Dawson’s game winning 23-yard field goal with no time left.

NY Giants 31 Washington 7

Brandon Jacobs rushed for 1-3 yards and two touchdowns while Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

Seattle 31 Carolina 14

The Seahawks Marshawn Lynch rushed for 83 yards and three touchdowns.

Oakland 28 San Diego 13

What an upset, as Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell threw for one touchdown and an for another. The Raiders swept the season series with San Diego.

Kansas City 10 Denver 6

The Chiefs Jamaal Charles rushed for 116 yards while Matt Cassel threw a three-yard TD pass to Leonard Pope to win it.

Atlanta 28 Tampa Bay 24

Eric Weems scored on a 102-yard kickoff return and Matt Ryan threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins as the Falcons rallied from a 10-point deficit with 14 points in the fourth quarter.

New Orleans 34 Cincinnati 30

New Orleans QB Drew Brees hit Marques Colston with the game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left as the 9-3 Saints won their fifth straight.

St. Louis 19 Arizona 6

The Rams Steven Jackson rushed for 107 yards including 27 on the game’s lone touchdown and the 6-6 Rams stayed in a first-place tie with Seattle in the NFC West.

Dallas 38 Indianapolis 35 (OT)

Peyton Manning threw four interceptions. Two were returned for touchdowns while the fourth was returned far enough to get David Buehler in position to kick the game winning 38-yard field goal in overtime.

Tonight, in the Monday Nighter, it’s the 9-2 New York Jets against the 9-2 New England Patriots in a battle of the two best teams in the AFC East – and maybe in all of football. Thursday night this week, Week 14 starts with the Colts play the Titans.

Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers Defence Trumps Arizona Offence

TAMPA — It’s game time. Here is our pick for Super Bowl XLIII… and why.


Pittsburgh Steelers, AFC Champions (14-4) at Arizona Cardinals (12-7) at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.


What makes Super Bowl XLIII so simple in its scope is the fact this is a game about Pittsburgh’s defence and Arizona’s offence. They’re calling it Steel Curtain II here in Tampa, and there is little doubt that the reason the Steelers are seven-point favourites is the fact they possess the No. 1 defence in the NFL.  Since defence always trumps offence, we’ll go with the Steelers. But one thing could change it all: Kurt Warner-to-Larry Fitzgerald. If those two hook up early and put some points on the board, Arizona could run away and hide. Meanwhile, if strong safety Adrian Wilson does his job and helps stop the Pittsburgh running game, then Arizona could win it by half-time. Trouble is, I just like that Pittsburgh defence far too much — Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison. Wow. By 9:30 tonight, the Steelers should be holding their sixth Vice Lombardi Trophy.

Take: Pittsburgh


Final score: PITTSBURGH STEELERS 20, Arizona Cardinals 10 


Championship Week: 2-0


Season: 159-106-1

The NFL Championship Games: A Post-Mortem

It will be the upstart Arizona Cardinals and the heavily-favoured Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII and don’t forget, the 92-CITI Sports Machine will be live at the big game all next week.

In the meantime, it was quite a Championship Sunday for a team headed to the big game for the first time in franchise history and a team going off to try to win its record sixth Super Bowl crown.


In Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals took a big halftime  lead (24-6), blew that lead (25-24) and yet came back to beat the Philadelphia Eagles with a tremendous drive late in the fourth quarter, 32-25. The Cards Kurt Warner was 21-for-28 for 279 yards and four touchdowns while wideout Larry Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns as the 9-7 Western Division champs won the NFC title. Some were calling that final drive, “Warner’s Hall of Fame drive.” They might be right.


Talk about red-hot (no colour-coded pun intended). It was only a month ago that the Cardinals were demolished 35-14 in their own building by the Minnesota Vikings and now, this team full of surprises is off to the Super Bowl.


However, as great a game as Kurt Warner had at the helm of the Cardinals yesterday – and yes, Warner becomes the first quarterback ever to return to the Super Bowl after an eight-year absence – it could be that his favourite target, Larry Fitzgerald, is the best football player in the game.


Fitzgerald, who grew up in Minneapolis and went to Pitt, was absolutely spectacular and during the Cards game-winning fourth-quarter drive, the Pro Bowl-bound Fitzgerald caught three important passes for 39 yards. 


Fitzgerald has caught 100 yards worth of passes in each of his team’s last five games. If he does it again on Feb. 1, the Cardinals could be Super Bowl champs.


Although, they do have to face a Steelers team that appears to have way too much on defence.


On Sunday, the Steelers (and their No. 1 NFL defence) beat Baltimore (and their No. 2 NFL defence) 23-14 in a game that had   Troy Polamalu’s stamp all over it. The Steelers monster defensive back had four tackles and an interception return for the game’s final touchdown.


It’s a little tired perhaps, but if offence fills buildings and defence wins championships, then it’s clear the Pittsburgh Steelers should win Super Bowl XLIII. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did what he needed to do, but it was that sensational defence that won the Steelers another AFC title


While Warner, Fitzgerald and the rest of the Arizona offence put up 32 points to win the NFC championship, the Steelers got seven of their 23 points from the defence en route to Tampa.


The Steelers defence was outstanding as LaMarr Woodley had seven tackles and two sacks, Ryan Clark had eight tackles and, of course, Polamalu was out of this world. It was a defensive masterpiece and late Sunday night, the Steelers were rewarded in one small way: They were made 6 ½-point favourites in the big game.


Of course, that’s something the Cardinals will pin up in their lockers at Raymond James Stadium next week.


See you at Super Bowl XLIII and if you aren’t going, listen for me on 92-CITI-FM in Winnipeg, The TEAM 1260 in Edmonton and The FAN 960 in Calgary.