July 27, 2017

Just Can’t Win, Baby

For their week ten match-up, the Oakland Raiders headed east to take on the New York Giants.  The Raiders were coming off a filthy and disgusting 49-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Giants were coming off a bye week.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski had been suffering from sore ribs and didn’t look like he was feeling too well.  So, instead of his usual deep kick, he sent a knuckle-ball down the right side of the field.  It was picked up by wide receiver Jerrel Jerningan at the four-yard line and as he started to head up-field, the ball was knocked loose by cornerback Taiwan Jones and recovered by wide receiver Andre Holmes.  If Holmes had cut back inside, he most likely would have found the end zone.  But he was pushed out of bounds at the New York five-yard line.  Running back Rashad Jennings took the ball up the middle and was stopped at the one-yard line.  Quarterback Terrelle Pryor took matters into his own hands on the next play and dove over the top of the pile for a Raider touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with 14:07 to go in the first quarter.

The Giants went three and out on their first possession and punter Steve Weatherford didn’t get off a very good punt.  But the ball did manage to get a good roll and was downed at the Oakland 27.  A 16-yard completion to tight end Mychal Rivera and a nine-yard scramble by Pryor had the Raiders in New York territory.  But a holding call on left tackle Khalif Barnes moved them back ten yards and the drive stalled.  Marquette King came on to punt and it was blocked by rookie defensive end Damontre Moore.  Safety Cooper Taylor picked it up and took it the rest of the way for a Giant touchdown.  Replay showed that Moore wasn’t even touched by a blocker and that led to probably one of the easiest blocked punts ever.  Kicker Josh Brown made the point after and the score was tied at seven with 9:22 to go in the first quarter.

The Raiders got the ball back at their 20 and only accumulated 16 yards on their drive.  King punted and the Giants took over at their 15.  Quarterback Eli Manning found wide receiver Victor Cruz for a gain of eight and running back Andre Brown ran up the right for seven more yards and a first down at the 30.  On second and nine from the 31, Manning was sacked by linebacker Sio Moore for a loss of 11 yards.  The ball came loose but Manning recovered it.  On third and 20, Manning tossed a screen pass to running back Peyton Hillis and he was hit by several Raiders.  The ball popped out and was recovered by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  This gave the Raiders great field position at the New York 21.  However, three plays netted exactly six yards and Janikowski was brought in for a 33-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Raiders led 10-7 with 3:21 to go in the first quarter.

The teams traded punts and the Giants took over at their ten-yard line with 14 minutes to go in the second quarter.  Some big gains on the ground by Brown and completions to Cruz and wide receiver Rueben Randle moved them quickly to the Oakland 45.  Then it was time for wide receiver Hakeem Nicks to get in on the action and he caught two passes for 18 yards and the Giants were knocking on the door.  On third and four from the 17, Manning looked for Cruz, but the pass was incomplete.  But, fortune smiled on the Giants as Houston was flagged for jumping offside.  There is no excuse for jumping offside.  It’s pure stupidity and shows a lack of discipline.  That gave the Giants a first down at the 12.  On third and three from the five, Manning found Randle in the end zone for another Giant touchdown.  Brown made the point after and the Giants led 14-10 with 7:36 to go in the second quarter.

Jones had a good kickoff return and the Raiders started at their 41-yard line.  Two runs by Jennings moved the ball to the New York 48.  And then the flags came.  As the game wore on, I could tell that Pryor was nowhere near 100 percent.  He hurt his knee last week and was wearing a brace in this game.  With his patchwork offensive line letting defenders by on a regular basis, he was scrambling all over the place.  He was flagged for intentional grounding and then our good friend Barnes was flagged again for holding after a nice 20-yard run by Jennings.  On third and 34, Pryor looked for Streater and the pass fell incomplete.  That was a “drive” that started out with some hope and ended in total disaster.  King punted and the ball was downed at the New York three-yard line.  A couple of runs by Brown and a 25-yard pass to Randle got the Giants moving.  But on first down from the 37, Manning looked for Cruz up the right side and his pass was picked off by cornerback Tracy Porter and returned for a 43-yard touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 17-14 with 1:18 to go in the first half.  The Giants had some time to try and get in field goal range, but head coach Tom Coughlin opted for a couple of running plays.  That didn’t go over too well with the crowd and they let him know it as they headed for the locker room.

The Raiders started at their 20 and a nine-yard pass and a short run by Jennings got them a first down at the 30.  On third and two from the 38, Jennings took it up the right side for a gain 18 yards and a first down at the New York 44.  Two completions to wide receiver Denarius Moore netted another first down at the 13.  Another short run by Jennings and a neutral zone infraction on the Giants made it second and three from the six.  Jennings ran up the middle again and was dragged down at the one by safety Antrel Rolle.  But it got them a first down and they only had one yard to go.  In these kind of situations, I prefer to bring in the heavy formation.  Get as many big bodies in front of the running back as you can and plow a hole for him to run through or even have the quarterback take it over the top like they did in the first quarter.

I guess offensive coordinator Greg Olson doesn’t see it that way.  Jennings was stopped on first down.  No big deal.  Try running it again.  My wife was sitting there yelling “Give it to Reece!”  No.  Reece was nowhere to be found.  Then they called a passing play which was incomplete.  Then Barnes decided that no one was paying any attention to him and he decided to commit a false start penalty.  That moved them back to the six.  From the six, Pryor looked for Streater and the pass fell incomplete.  Another flag made an appearance and Jennings was called for holding.  The Giants declined it and Janikowksi made his 24-yard field goal attempt.  That put the Raiders up 20-14 with 6:56 to go in the third quarter.  How the hell can you move the ball 79 yards without much of a problem and when you have three opportunities to get one yard, you can’t do it?  Those three plays from the one were absolutely pathetic and should be used as an example of how NOT to score from the one-yard line.

The Giants went nowhere on their next possession and Weatherford’s punt went only 27 yards.  That gave the Raiders some nice field position at the New York 48.  On second and twelve from the 50, Pryor found Reece for a gain of 16.  They gained one yard on the next two plays and on third and nine, Pryor committed the ultimate sin.  Streater was wide open breaking across the middle, but Pryor looked for Moore on the right side and his pass was picked off by cornerback Terrell Thomas at the 30.  Thomas was dragged down by Holmes at the Oakland five-yard line.  As he was being brought down, the ball came loose and rolled through the end zone.  That would have been a touch-back, but Thomas was ruled down at the five.  Three plays later, Brown took it in from the one.  See?  The Giants know how to score from the one-yard line.  Brown made the point after and the Giants now led 21-20 with 2:15 to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders took over at their 30 and Pryor connected with Streater for a six-yard gain.  Then Barnes was flagged for holding again.  Maybe we should have Barnes switch sides and play for the Giants.  He’s hurting the team he plays for and he’s helping the team he’s playing against.  After that, the drive stalled and King punted again.  It was fielded by Randle at the 15 and returned to the 25.  On second and 14 from the 21, Manning hooked up with Nicks for a gain of 25 and a first down at the 46.  A 15-yard completion to Cruz and some more tough running by Brown got them a first down at the Oakland 21.  They would get as far as the five and have to settle for a field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Giants now led 24-20 with eight minutes to go in the game.

Neither team did much with the ball on their next possessions.  With just under five minutes to go, the Raiders had one more shot to find the end zone.  Starting at their 33, Pryor was sacked by linebacker Keith Rivers.  From the 31, Moore caught a short pass and turned it into a gain of 15 yards and a first down at the 46.  The next two plays got them nowhere and on third and ten, Pryor had all the time he needed to find a receiver.  He stood tall in the pocket and he stood there and he stood there and he stood there.  I was having flashbacks to the days of JaMarcus Russell and screaming “THROW THE DAMN BALL!”  He didn’t throw it and eventually, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka threw rookie right tackle Menelik Watson aside and sacked Pryor.  The ball came loose and was recovered by defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.  That pretty much sealed the deal and the Giants ran the clock out and came away with a 24-20 victory.  The win was their third in a row and their record improved to 3-6.  The loss was the second one in a row for the Raiders and they dropped to 3-6.

For the Raiders, Terrelle Pryor completed 11 of 26 for 122 yards, zero touchdowns and one very costly interception.  He also added 19 yards on the ground and ran for a one-yard touchdown.  Rashad Jennings did an admirable job filling for the always injured Darren McFadden.  He gained 88 yards on 20 carries and had 19 yards receiving.  As a team, the Raiders rushed for 107 yards on 25 carries.  Denarius Moore and Marcel Reece tied for the lead in receptions with three and Moore had the most receiving yards with 45.  Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with eight and he also had a tackle for a loss and a sack.

For the Giants, Eli Manning completed 12 of 22 for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception.  Andre Brown carried the ball 30 times and led the team in rushing with 115 yards and one touchdown.  All totaled, the Giants rushed for 133 yards on 38 carries.  Hakeem Nicks led the team in receptions with five and Rueben Randle had the most receiving yards with 50 and a touchdown.  Antrel Rolle led the Giants in solo tackles with ten and he was also credited with a sack and one tackle for a loss.

Unlike the game against the Eagles, the Raider defense played well enough to win this game.  They sacked Manning three times, forced turnovers and played very well overall.  The big problem was penalties.  The offside call on Houston on third and four was huge and kept a drive alive.  As I said before, Khalif Barnes had a horrible game with false starts and holding penalties.  The Giants should give him an honorary jersey for helping them out.  Still, the offensive line as a whole played badly and Pryor who was already nowhere near 100 percent rarely had time to find a receiver.  Here’s one more fun fact for you to chew on.  That loss was the 11th straight for the Raiders in the eastern time zone and they have not won a game in the eastern time zone since December of 2009 when they squeaked out a win in Pittsburgh.  That’s beyond pathetic.

Up next is another road trip and they will be heading to Houston to take on the Texans.  The Texans suffered their seventh loss in a row yesterday to the Arizona Cardinals and running back Arian Foster is lost for the year.  But, if the offensive line cannot contain J.J. Watt and the Houston defense, it’ll be another long day for the Raiders.  Maybe left tackle Jared Veldheer will be back to help them out.  We’ll see.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

 

Happy Anniversary Leatherheads!

Happy 4th of July!  Wow, it has been 36 years since the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976.  The year 1976 is when I began to follow sports.  I made my first wager of $1 with my grandmother that the Cincinnati Reds would defeat the New York Yankees in the World Series.  I won and that dollar probably went towards gum or some other candy.  A year later I might have spent that dollar on a pack of Fleer Team Action football cards.  Last year, I spent slightly more than a dollar to launch Leatherheads of the Gridiron with my friend, Mike Lynch of Seamheads.com

The site launched on July 4th with our first post, Welcome to Leatherheads of the Gridiron!, written by yours truly.  In that post, I introduced what our mission was and our outstanding affiliations.  Let me re-introduce those organizations.  Seamheads.com is a leading and ground-breaking baseball site, check-out The Baseball Gauge and the Negro Leagues Database.  The Professional Football Researchers Association is THE organization to be a member of if you love the history of pro football.  PFRA has members worldwide and is growing rapidly.  Last year PFRA published The Early History of Professional Football, a must have for any fan of the game’s early beginnings.  The Intercollegiate Football Researchers Association is headed by Tex Noel, the legendary college football statistics historian.  IFRA membership is free and includes an outstanding monthly newsletter, The College Football Historian.

Since the launch, our affiliations have grown.  Among them is Gridiron Greats Magazine, the leading publication on football history and its memorabilia.  Bob Swick, the editor and publisher of the magazine, hosts a wonderful podcast with co-host Joe Squires on the Leatherheads National Podcasting Network, properly entitled Gridiron Greats: Football History and Its Memorabilia

Speaking of podcasting, we launched the podcasting network on BlogTalkRadio.com on September 22, 2011 with Thursday Night Tailgate and the show’s first guest, former 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker Levon Kirkland.  The show is hosted by Chris Mascaro and his long-time friend Angelo Cane.  Since that first show, these two friends have become first-rate interviewers and entertainers, and have had on the show over 70 current and former NFL players, including Blaine Bishop, Rocky Bleier, Conrad Dobler, Jim Everett, L.C. Greenwood, Rodney Hampton, Roy Jefferson, Karl Mecklenburg, Bart Oates, Dan Pastorini, Andy Russell, Fred Taylor and Richmond Webb.

A third podcast that I would like to call special attention to is Three Point Stance: The Leatherheads College Football Hour, hosted by blogger and college football aficionado Pete Sonski.  Each week, Pete chats with some of the most knowledgable bloggers, writers and historians from around the country to discuss the latest happenings in college football.  My favorite show from last season was the January 7, 2012 show when Kris Brauner of Saturday Night Slant and David Luckie of I Bleed Crimson Red joined Pete to discuss Alabama vs. LSU, the BCS National Championship Game.

Alabama won the championship and deservedly so.  I voted Alabama number one most weeks in the Leatherheads College Football Top 16 Poll.  Our poll was created by Dan McCloskey and several Leatherheads participated each week, ranking their top 16 teams.  Among our poll contributors are Bo Carter, a correspondent for the National Football Foundation, and Dr. Robert Stevenson, a college football historian and writer.  The poll is a favorite among our visitors and I look forward to the upcoming college football season so I can cast my vote each week after the action on Saturday.

I like to mention a few of our other contributors who have made significant contributions to Leatherheads.  Ken Crippen, the Executive Director of PFRA, who wrote our first article, Building a Champion: 1920 Akron Pros.  Ken has been supportive from the earliest stages of Leatherheads.  George Kurtz faithfully contributed All Out Blitz: NFL Team News and Notes each week during the NFL season while also co-hosting the weekly Leatherheads Fantasy Football Show with host Chris Mitchell.  David Boyce, the Raider Guy, wrote about the Oakland Raiders after watching each game with a magnifying glass.  If you missed a Raider game, just read David’s account of the game and you will know exactly what happened during the game.  Terry Keshner, what can I say?  He may be our MVP among the writers.  He has contributed the most articles and has written in the offseason while many others, including myself, have contributed elsewhere on baseball.  Besides being prolific, he is one funny guy.  I love each and every piece he has written, always making me laugh at some point while reading.

On a personal note, I have had many great football-related moments.  My team, the New York Giants turned an up and down season into a memorable season for sure.  Eli Manning said he was among the elite and he backed it up.  I quoted myself in Hang Time Outside the Hash Marks that Eli had a free pass the rest of his career if he beat the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  He did win.  The rematch took place earlier this year and the results were the same.  Eli is not just elite among active quarterbacks, he is elite among G-Men legends and may have earned a place in Canton. 

Last month, I attended the PFRA meeting at NFL Films in New Jersey.  Not only did I get a chance to tour NFL Films, but I also got a chance to meet in person Leatherhead Chris Garbarino, co-author of The Cookie That Did Not Crumble, and many other PFRA members that I have long admired like Ken Crippen, Chris Willis and new Leatherhead Brian Marshall.  I also had a chance to chat with the son of Lavvie Dilweg, a long overlooked legend of the gridiron who passed away in 1968 and is still waiting to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  PFRA has created a fact sheet to promote his candidacy for election.  He is surely deserving.

Another highlight for me occurred after I posted Ed Sprinkle, a Coffin Corner Classic by the late-great football historian Bob Carroll.  A comment by Lee Bramlett, the son of Navy All-American Leon Bramlett, led to a reunion over the phone between Bramlett and Sprinkle, another overlooked legend of the pro game and a member of the NFL’s 1940s All-Decade Team who played college ball at Navy with Bramlett.  I exchanged a few emails with a woman I discovered on the Internet that new Sprinkle at his retirement community and she sent me his contact information which I relayed to Lee Bramlett.  A great, rewarding story!

Looking back over this past year has been enjoyable.  Looking forward, I get excited just thinking about where we are heading.   As the college and NFL seasons start to approach, we will be increasing our posts and adding to our podcasting lineup.  New contributors join Leatherheads each month.  Currently, we are fifty strong.  We continue to add new affiliations like Stitcher Radio, where you can listen to our podcasts on your phone or iPad.  If you go to our Stitcher page at www.stitcher.com/LEATHERHEADS and download the app, enter the promo code LEATHERHEADS and you will be entered in a monthly drawing to win $100 cash.

Another new affiliation is the Canadian Football Research Society.  CFRS is a fairly new organization that has been founded to promote, develop, and encourage the study of the game of Canadian football.  I am proud to be a member and look forward to watching this organization grow.  Look for more CFL coverage on Leatherheads.

So as we kick off another year as a community, I hope that you will keep coming back.  I say community, because that is what I call Leatherheads when I reach out to our fifty and growing community of contributors.  Not every member has written or been on a podcast, but they all have made contributions in one way or another.  Leatherheads continues to seek more contributors.  So if interested in joining our community as a writer, podcaster, guest, poll contributor or in some other capacity, please reach out to me at jwilliams22@snet.net

In closing, thanks again to all the members of the Leatherheads community.  Thanks also to our readers and listeners. 

I hope you had a glorious 4th of July.

 

Peyton, Out of Place

Imagine Magic Johnson wearing a Celtics jersey, or Yogi Berra playing for the Dodgers.  How about Walter Payton with a “G” on the side of his helmet or Richard Nixon skinny-dipping at the Kennedy Compound?

More strange sights, actual ones, are ahead now that Peyton Manning is leaving Indianapolis to play for the Jets?  Dolphins?  Jaguars?  Chiefs?  Broncos?  Seahawks?  Pride of Southland Band?  Old number-18’s departure from the Colts was inevitable and it’s the right move for Indianapolis.  Only the late-great Al Davis would give a $28 million roster bonus to a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback with a bad neck and possibly no chance of growing a mustache.

The Colts might not be better off this season without Manning but, in the long-run, it had to happen.  If Indy only owed the four-time MVP, say, $10 million, and two potentially great quarterbacks weren’t available in the draft, and if the Colts didn’t have the number one pick, and if Curtis Painter didn’t have that cool hair well, then, Peyton should be staying put.  But things are far different.  It’s sad, it’s tough, but it’s necessary.  If Manning plays another three or four years or more at a Peyton Manning-level then the horse shoes will look like a horse’s ass.  But what are the odds that a guy who has been in the league since the Clinton years can continue to excel into Rick Santorum’s first term? (Joke! Just a joke! We all know Ron Paul is going to win.)

So where does Mr. Manning and his 54,828 yards, 399 touchdowns, fragile vertebrae and bruised ego go?  Do you think he’ll call Ryan Leaf for advice?  Maybe Peyton’s father, Archie, can engineer a deal with the Giants.  Whoops, too late, that was the deal for the other son and a damn good one for both Eli and New York.  So maybe, Archie convinces little Peyton to go to the other New York team, the Jets.  Is New York big enough for two Mannings? (Plus one Jeremy Lin?)  Next season’s Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans, which is where Eli and Peyton grew up.  The year after that it will be held at the Meadowlands.  A Manning v. Manning Super Bowl on their home turf.  Wow!  Chris Berman is already excited and the rest of us are already nauseated.

Speculation as to where Peyton will go will get more attention over the next few weeks than Ann Romney’s Rolex collection.  But whatever happens, it probably won’t feel as funky as we fear.  In 1973, the Colts traded Johnny Unitas to the San Diego Chargers.  In 1920, Babe Ruth went from the Red Sox to the Yankees.  Khloe Kardashian used to be a man.  Things change.  People move on, old storylines die, new ones emerge. And, just so long as Gregg Williams isn’t mad at us, we’re all going to survive.

 

 

Giants 37, Packers 20

After defeating the Atlanta Falcons at home last week, the New York Giants made it to the next round of the playoffs and headed up to to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion, Green Bay Packers.

The Giants got the ball first and started at their own 20.  Quarterback Eli Manning completed passes to wide receivers Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz that moved the ball to the Packer 42.  A short run by running back Ahmad Bradshaw and a 13-yard pass to tight end Travis Beckum got the Giants a first down at the Packer 18.  They would get as far as the 13 and kicker Lawrence Tynes made a 31-yard field goal to give the Giants an early 3-0 lead with eight and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.

Packer kick returner Randall Cobb returned the kick to the Packer 21. On the return, it looked like he fumbled, but the replay showed his knee was down.  Two passes from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley and a pass to wide receiver Greg Jennings got them to the  Giant 31.  The drive would stall at the 29 and kicker Mason Crosby made a 47-yard field goal to tie the game at three with five and a half minutes to go in the first quarter.

On third and 11 from their own 19, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks caught a pass for 15 yards to move the ball to the 34.  Manning found Nicks again on the very next play.  Nicks caught the pass, bounced off some Packer defenders and ran the rest of the way for a 66-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 10-3 lead.

The kickoff by Tynes went out of bounds and the Packers got good field position at their own 40.  Some running by Rodgers and running back Ryan Grant moved the ball to the Giant 49.  An 11-yard pass to wide receiver Jordy Nelson gave them another first down at the 38.  From the 38, wide receiver Greg Jennings caught a six-yard pass and appeared to fumble.  Replay showed the play over and over again and it sure looked like the ball was coming out before his knee was down.  But the replay official didn’t see it that way and ruled Jennings was down.  An offside penalty on the Giants and a 16-yard pass to wide receiver James Jones got the Packers another first down at the 11.  On second and seven from the eight, Rodgers found fullback John Kuhn for a touchdown and that knotted the score at ten.

With momentum in their favor, the Packers tried an onside kick.  It was recovered by the Giants and they had good field position at the packer 41-yard line.  A pass to Beckum and a nine-yard run by Bradshaw moved the ball to the 21.  That was as far as the Giants would go and a 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked.  The Giants couldn’t capitalize on the good field position and the score remained tied at ten.

After a punt by the Packers, the Giants moved the ball through the air from their own 20 to the Packer 34.  On second and five from the 34, Manning looked for Nicks, but the pass was picked off by safety Morgan Burnett at the 13.  He returned it 12 yards to the Packer 25.

On third and seven from the 28, Rodgers found Jennings for a gain of ten and a first down.  From the 38, Kuhn ran up the left side and the ball came loose.  Safety Antrel Rolle picked it up and returned it nine yards to the Packer 34.  Once again, the Giants couldn’t get the ball into the end zone and settled for a 23-yard field goal to put them up 13-10 with just under two minutes to go in the first half.

The Packers couldn’t get anything going and punted.  The Giants took over with 41 seconds remaining.  A nine-yard catch and a 23-yard run by Bradshaw gave the Giants a chance to try a long field goal from the Packer 37 before halftime.  But the kicking unit stayed on the sideline.  Manning took the snap and launched a bomb to the left side of the end zone where it was caught by Nicks for a 37-yard touchdown to end the half.  At halftime the Giants had the momentum and a 20-10 lead.

Another touch-back got the Packers the ball at their own 20.  A 14-yard pass to Jennings and a 15-yard scramble by Rodgers got the Packers to their 49.  A 16-yard pass to wide receiver Donald Driver moved them into Giant territory.  On first and ten from the 30, defensive end Osi Umenyiora sacked Rodgers and forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Deon Grant.  However, the Giants couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and punted.

Passes to Driver and running back James Starks got the Packers to midfield.  Starks got the call on the next two plays and the Packers found themselves in Giant territory again.  On third and five from the 17, Rodgers fired a pass to Finley across the middle.  Finley couldn’t hang on to it and Crosby was called on for  a 35-yard field goal attempt.  It was good and the Packers now trailed 20-13.

The Giants punted on their next possession and the Packers once again moved the ball into Giant territory.  But, on fourth and five from the Giant 39, Rodgers was sacked by linebacker Michael Boley for a loss of six yards.  Clinging to a seven-point lead, the Giants knew they had to get a drive going and get some more points.  Passes to Cruz and Manningham and a defensive holding penalty moved the ball to the Packer 28.  Another pass to Cruz put the ball at the 17.  Runs by Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs inched the Giants a little deeper into Packer territory.  But on third and five from the 12, Manning was sacked by linebacker Brad Jones.  Tynes made his 35-yard field goal attempt and the Giants now led 23-13 with just under eight minutes to go in the game.

On second and five from the 34, Rodgers found Grant for a gain of ten. Grant was hit by safety Kenny Phillips and the ball was picked up and returned to the Packer four-yard line by linebacker Chase Blackburn.  On first and goal, Manning hooked up with Manningham for a four-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 30-13 lead with 6:48 to go in the game.

Facing a 17-point deficit, Rodgers knew he had to get his team going.  On third and ten from the 24, a pass to Driver fell incomplete.  However, a roughing the passer penalty was called on Umenyiora and that gave the Packers a first down at the 39.  A pass to Cobb for 21 and a 16-yard scramble by Rodgers got them down to the Giant 24.  On second and two from the 16, Driver caught a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 30-20 with 4:45 to go.

An onside kick by Crosby was recovered at the 50 by Cruz and the Giants knew a couple of first downs would get them a win and a trip to San Francisco.  On third and 11, Manning found Cruz wide open for a gain of 17.  Bradshaw ran up the left side for 24 yards to give the Giants a first and goal at the ten.  On second and 14, Jacobs ran up the right side for a touchdown and that gave the Giants a commanding 37-20 lead with 2:36 to go.  One last desperate attempt by Rodgers was picked off by Grant and the Giants came away with a huge playoff win on the road.

For the Giants, Eli Manning completed 21 of 33 for 330 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.  Hakeem Nicks caught two touchdown passes and he and Victor Cruz combined for 12 catches for 239 yards.  Brandon Jacobs ran for a touchdown and he and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 95 yards on 21 carries.  Defensively, the Giants forced four turnovers, allowed 25 first downs and 388 total yards.  They sacked Rodgers four times and Michael Boley led the team with eight solo tackles, two sacks, three tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.

For the Packers, it was an uncharacteristic day for them as the receivers dropped passes throughout the game and they fumbled the ball away three times.  Aaron Rodgers completed 26 of 46 for 264 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  He spread the ball around to nine different receivers and Donald Driver led the team with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.  Rodgers also led the team in rushing with 66 yards on seven carries.  Grant and Starks combined for 77 yards on 14 carries.  Defensively, the Packers allowed 19 first downs, 420 total yards, forced only one turnover and sacked Manning only once.  Safety Charlie Peprah led the team with nine solo tackles and one tackle for a loss.

The Giants will be heading out to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on Sunday at 6:30 eastern time.  They met in week ten at San Francisco and the 49ers came away with a  27-20 victory.  As I mentioned in my Saints-49ers article, they met in the playoffs in 2003 and the 49ers came back from 24 points down and won 39-38.  Will the upcoming meeting be just as exciting?  Time will tell.

 

 

Giants 24, Falcons 2

The beginning of this game was like a chess match.  A very boring chess match.  After two three and outs by each team, the Giants were the first team to get a first down with just under nine minutes to go in the first quarter when quarterback Eli Manning completed a pass to tight end Jake Ballard for a gain of 13.  After that, the chess match continued as they couldn’t get another first down.  With six minutes to go in the first quarter, the Falcons finally got a first down when quarterback Matt Ryan found wide receiver Julio Jones for a gain of 20. The Falcons would drive all the way to the Giant 24, but Ryan was stopped when they decided to go for it on fourth and one.

The Giants took over at the 24 and a holding penalty backed them up ten yards.  On second and 21 from the 13, the Falcons would put the first points on the board when safety James Sanders forced Manning to throw the ball out of the end zone.  Manning threw the ball to the right side of the field and there wasn’t a receiver in sight.  He was called for intentional grounding and that gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead.

The Giants managed to get the ball rolling mid way through the second quarter with a 13 play, 85-yard drive that took 7:32 off the clock.  The drive was highlighted by a 14-yard scramble by Manning on third and two and a 34-yard run up the right side by running back Brandon Jacobs that moved the ball deep into Falcon territory.  On first and goal at the four, Manning found wide receiver Hakeem Nicks for a four-yard touchdown to make it 7-2 at halftime.

The second half began and it was the same old thing for the Falcons as they were forced to punt on their first possession.  A field goal by Giant kicker Lawrence Tynes made it 10-2 with eight minutes to go in the third quarter.  The Falcons moved the ball down to the Giant 21 and were forced into another fourth and one situation.  Once again, they didn’t convert as Ryan was stuffed by the Giant defense.  This has been a recurring theme for the Falcons and I’m not sure why they didn’t try a field goal.  At least that would have put some points on the board.  That was the turning point of the game.

The Giants took over at the 21 and on third and three from the 28, Manning found Nicks across the middle.  Nicks weaved his way around the Falcon defense and bolted up the left side for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 17-2.

After another Falcon punt, it was time for the Giants to put the nail in the coffin.  On third and six from the Giant 34, running back Ahmad Bradshaw got loose for an 18-yard gain to move the ball into Falcon territory.  On first and ten from the 27, Manning hooked up with wide receiver Mario Manningham for a 27-yard touchdown to make it 24-2.  That was all they needed as the dominant Giant defense rose up to the challenge and shut down the high powered Falcon offense.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan completed 24 of 41 for 199 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.  Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for 12 catches for 116 yards.  Michael Turner was held in check as he ran for 41 yards on 15 carries.  The Falcons had a total of 64 yards on the ground.  Linebacker Curtis Lofton led the team with nine solo tackles.

For the Giants, Eli Manning completed 23 of 32 for 277 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.  Hakeem Nicks led all receivers with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns.  Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw combined for 155 yards on 28 carries.  As a team, they had 172 yards on the ground.  Antrel Rolle led the team with six solo tackles.

It was a great day to be a Giant fan.  The defense allowed only 14 first downs, had two sacks, five tackles for a loss and allowed just 247 yards.  They also stopped the Falcons on three fourth down attempts.  The offense held the ball for 34 minutes, went eight for 15 on third down conversions and racked up a total of 442 yards.

Up next for the Giants is a trip to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers.  The game will be on Sunday at 4:30 P.M. Eastern time.  They met in week 13 and the Packers came away with a hard fought 38-35 win.  It should be a great game on a cold night and I’m looking forward to the re-match.

 

 

 

All Out Blitz

Arizona Cardinals: Right now Andre Roberts is expected to start opposite Larry Fitzgerald at WR. Now don’t get too excited and go running out to pick him up in your fantasy leagues. This could easily change before the season begins…..Speaking of Fitzgerald, he wants to sign a long term deal with Arizona as he is happy with their off-season moves, but if a deal can’t be worked out, the Cards can’t franchise him as he has a clause in his contract that prohibits that move.

Atlanta Falcons: Rumors are flying around the Atlanta training camp that the addition of WR Julio Jones will allow the Falcons to have more of a high tempo aerial attack. With WR Roddy White and TE Tony Gonzalez, the Falcons could certainly go this route, but it’s hard to see them going in this direction unless it is necessary; as it’s hard to win shootouts week in and week out…..With all the talk about the Saints, Packers, and Eagles, the Falcons have been able to fly under the radar so far. They just may be the best of them all.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Ed Dickson is practicing once again. Dickson needs to be on the field as much as possible in order to gain QB Joe Flacco’s trust. Flacco could use a big target over the middle…..Where RB Ray Rice goes in your fantasy draft probably depends on whether or not you believe that Ricky Williams will take over the Willis McGahee role and vulture short yardage touchdown runs. The Ravens coaching staff states that Rice will get those carries, but I have my doubts.

Buffalo Bills: If LB Shawn Merriman can continue to put pressure on the opposing QB like he did in the first preseason game, than the Bills’ defense could be better than first thought…..QB Brad Smith saw quite a few snaps in the Wildcat formation during the first preseason game. He could be a weapon in that offense, as the Bills want to use him similar to how the Steelers used Kordell Stewart in the 90s…..The Bills finally parted ways with former 1st round pick LB Aaron Maybin. Can you say bust?

Carolina Panthers: QB Cam Newton impressed in his first pro start and seems to be on target to start the season under center for Carolina. With that being said, if the Panthers had a solid veteran presence at QB, they would probably prefer to have Newton watch and learn but Jimmy Claussen does not give them that option…..TE Greg Olsen had a solid 1st game for Carolina. It should surprise no one if he is the team’s best receiver this season no matter who is throwing him the ball.

Chicago Bears: Neither WR Johnny Knox nor Roy Williams was all that impressive in the first preseason game, as only one ball was caught between them. So if there is indeed a training camp battle between these two, no one did all that much to cause separation…..I have a hard time thinking the Bears believe they can go into this season with Williams and Hester as your starting wideouts. Not all that impressive.

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals and CB Leon Hall are likely to open up contract negotiations shortly. Hall has pretty good leverage, as the Bengals have plenty of cap room and can’t let another CB walk and get nothing in return. They already let Jonathan Joseph go to the Texans. But then again, this is the Bengals we’re talking about…..WR AJ Green injured his knee in practice Wednesday, but it looks to be minor. Green may be one of the few reasons to watch the Bungles this season.

Cleveland Browns: I’m still trying to think of a reason to watch the Browns…..The teams top two RBs, Peyton Hills (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (knee), are both banged up but should be good to go by next week…..QB Colt McCoy might be that reason to watch the Browns. He had an impressive first preseason game. Still he is not a true franchise QB, rather he is more of a game manager.

Dallas Cowboys: WR Dwayne Harris had a fantastic first pro game and is gaining on Kevin Ogletree for the 3rd WR job, but before anyone gets too excited, the Cowboys don’t use three WR sets all that often. They love to go with two TEs and line up Jason Witten in the slot to go along with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant…..A name to remember in those two TE formations is John Phillips, as he may eventually surpass Martellus Bennett on the depth chart. Phillips was making noise in training camp last year before tearing his ACL.

Denver Broncos: While RB Knowshon Moreno has looked very good in practice so far, Willis McGahee could vulture TDs from him just like he did from Ray Rice last season…..It’s pretty much set in stone that Kyle Orton will start over Tim Tebow at quarterback. The bigger question may be who will backup up Orton: Tebow or Brady Quinn…..DT Ty Warren, who was being relied on to stuff the run for Denver, tore his triceps and is a candidate for IR.

Detroit Lions: DT Ndamukong Suh may think the $20K fine for ripping the helmet off yet another QB’s head is excessive, but he still will want to calm himself down for fear of getting the reputation that LB James Harrison of Pittsburgh has gained. Last thing Suh wants is the NFL to look at his play with a fine tooth comb…..DT Nick Fairly is no longer wearing a cast and seems to be on pace to possibly play in Week One.

Green Bay Packers: WR Donald Driver has stated that he will accept a demotion from his starting WR role if he feels James Jones or Jordy Nelson warrants the job…..WR Randall Cobb may not see much action in the passing game since the Packers are absolutely loaded at WR. He still could make a huge mark in the return game. Cobb will be a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches it, as if the Packers didn’t have enough of those types of players.

Houston Texans: LB Mario Williams doesn’t look the least bit comfortable yet in the 3-4 defense. Switching from DE to LB means Williams will now have coverage responsibilities, something he is not the least bit familiar with…..The Texans are starting to tire of RB Ben Tate’s injuries. They need to see him on the field to see if he can be a legitimate backup to Arian Foster. If not, than Steve Slaton will remain on the roster.

Indianapolis Colts: After watching the Colts backup QBs, you have to seriously wonder if they could ever win a game that Peyton Manning didn’t start…..Will this be the year that WR Pierre Garcon takes that next step? It would be a big boon to the offense if Garcon could become a bit more consistent in his route running, and even more so, if he could actually catch the ball. He has been one of the league leaders in drops the past couple of seasons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: There is a pretty good chance that the Jags will play it safe with RB Maurice Jones-Drew this preseason. He may not see a snap until Week One of the regular season…..QB David Garrard looks to get his first action of the preseason this weekend. He better get on the field soon if he wants to remain the starting QB. The longer he is out, the more likely it is Blaine Gabbert that opens the season as the #1.

Kansas City Chiefs: Rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin looks to finally be healthy and could see some action this week. But don’t expect anything big. Baldwin may be no better than 5th when it comes to passing options…..No matter where the Chiefs place RB Jamaal Charles on their depth chart, the team will go as far as Charles can take them.

Miami Dolphins: QB Matt Moore hasn’t practiced all that well with the team. However, he did impress the coaches with his play during the game Friday. Will he unseat Chad Henne? Probably not right away, but the team/players have little to no faith in Henne. It could just be a matter of time, unfortunately for the Fish, that their quarterback of the future is not on the roster…..RB Reggie Bush will get his first action this weekend. Coach Tony Sparano is still undecided if he will use Bush on punt returns. I am not sure why you wouldn’t.

Minnesota Vikings:  Apparently the Vikings first choice to start at QB was Tyler Thigpen, not Donovan McNabb. If that’s true, I’m not sure why Thigpen would sign in Buffalo for a backup job…..WR Percy Harvin may not play this weekend. It’s not due to migraines, but rather bruised ribs…..DL Kevin Williams has accepted his fate that he will finally be suspended after losing an appeal in the StarCaps case, probably four games.

New England Patriots: WR TJ Houshmandzadeh is scheduled to visit New England this week. It could be interesting to see Housh and Ochocinco together once again…..QB Tom Brady is said to be on fire in training camp. I would still like to see who becomes the Pats deep threat to stretch out the secondary…..You have to love coach Bill Belichick’s honesty about why the NFL moved the kickoff up to the 35 yard line—because they want to eliminate the return game.

New Orleans Saints: RB Mark Ingram has looked impressive in camp, but still it’s hard to see him having a big season with Pierre Thomas still on the roster…..If you’re looking for a sleeper WR for your fantasy league, Lance Moore could be your man.

New York Giants: A little bit of controversy here in the Northeast as QB Eli Manning compared himself to Tom Brady. You have to love his self confidence. He did beat Brady in a Super Bowl, but Manning has a ways to go before he can consider himself in Brady’s class, a sure fire Hall of Famer…..DE Osi Umenyiora has returned to camp, but one has to wonder if it’s just a matter of time until he walks out again if he is unable to get his contract extension.

New York Jets: WR Plaxico Burress finally practiced Wednesday. He will need all the reps he can get with QB Mark Sanchez…..LB Aaron Maybin, formerly a Bill, signed with the Jets Wednesday…..RB Joe McKnight suffered a concussion during the game Monday. He’s going to have to prove himself a bit more durable if he wants a bigger role in the Jets offense this season.

Oakland Raiders: WR Louis Murphy will miss the regular season opener with hamstring and groin injuries…..The good news is that WR Jacoby Ford and RB Darren McFadden are both on the mend and should get into a preseason game or two, but not this weekend.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles received a dose of good news when it was discovered that WR Jeremy Maclin does not have a significant illness and could begin practicing with the team in a week to 10 days. He is expected to be ready for the regular season…..The asking price for CB Asante Samuel is two 2nd round picks. So it seems he is unlikely to go anywhere, which makes sense seeing as though the Eagles seem to be all-in for this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Ike Taylor suffered a broken thumb in the first preseason game. Not a big deal though. He is supposed to be out of action for just a couple of weeks and won’t miss any regular season time…..WR Mike Wallace has set a goal this season of 2,000 yards receiving this season. While it’s always nice to set your goals high, that’s certainly not going to happen. Wallace seems to forget that the Steelers are a run team first.

San Diego Chargers: In fantasy leagues, drafting RB Ryan Matthews or Mike Tolbert could be dangerous, as the Chargers plan for these two seem to change by the day. The team wants Matthews to be the every down back, but right now, he hasn’t been all that impressive in camp…..TE Antonio Gates returned to practice this week and once again seems to be somewhat healthy. However, with plantar fasciitis, it could act up again at any time.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers were thinking about signing QB Daunte Culpepper but decided on Josh McCown instead…..WR Michael Crabtree was spotted without a walking boot, so it seems like the worst may be behind him…..If there is a QB competition between Alex Smith and rookie Colin Kaepernick, Smith is clearly ahead.

Seattle Seahawks: TE John Carlson has a labrum injury in his shoulder. Any missed time could find Carlson on the outside looking in with Zach Miller the new number one TE…..Even though Charlie Whitehurst clearly outplayed Tarvares Jackson in the first preseason game, head coach Pete Carroll stated that there is no competition at quarterback and that Jackson is his man.

St. Louis Rams: With the Rams minus a true number one WR, rookie TE Lance Kendricks could play a major part in their passing game…..WR Donnie Avery has returned to practice, but may have a hard time making the team. Don’t be surprised if he finds himself on the waiver wire before the end of camp.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Arrelious Benn, who is coming off ACL surgery, will be cleared for contact next week…..Apparently LB Mason Foster will be eased into game action rather than having everything thrown at him at once.

Tennessee Titans: RB Chris Johnson not only wants to be the highest paid back, but also wants to be one of the highest paid players in the NFL. This situation could get real ugly if his contract demands don’t come down…..Still no word yet on whether or not WR Kenny Britt will be suspended for his multiple transgressions this off-season…..If there was any doubt in your mind, Matt Hasselbeck will start at QB for the Titans, at least to begin the season.

Washington Redskins: The Skins plan to start John Beck at QB this season unless he plays terribly this preseason. The Shanahan’s believe he is the real deal. This is not saying much, but I think Rex Grossman is the better QB. Ouch!…..TE Chris Cooley made a visit to Dr. James Andrews regarding his knee. Makes one wonder how serious the injury is…..The Skins are deep at TE though, as Fred Davis is a pretty good option.

Hang Time Outside The Hash Marks

Peyton Manning is trying to come back from neck surgery. When a football player starts having issues with their neck, you have to start wondering how much longer their career will last. I always thought Manning would just keep on playing until he decides it is time to go. He may not have that choice. His body may make that decision for him.

If he does line up behind the center in week one of the regular season, he will continue his consecutive starts streak. Brett Favre holds the record with 297 consecutive regular season starts at quarterback. Manning is second at 208. So Manning needs to start 90 more consecutive games over the next six seasons to break the record.  That would be the tenth game of the 2016 season.

Besides the streak, Manning has the potential to break most of Favre’s other records. Here is what he would have to do in the next 90 games to break Favre’s passing marks for attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns and interceptions:

  ATT   COMP    YARDS   TDS   INT
2,960  1,619   17,011   110   139

 

In terms of breaking all these records within these 90 games, Manning’s season averages would look like this:

  ATT   COMP    YARDS   TDS   INT
  527    288    3,025    20    25

 

These would be subpar seasons for Manning. However, with injuries and Father Time creeping up on him, these averages would be acceptable, providing his next few seasons are better than his last few. So to break the completion mark, he would just have to complete 54.7 percent of his passes; a percentage not good in today’s game but not too shabby in the 1970s. His current career mark is 64.9%. He has never had a percentage as low as 54.7 so it would be un-Manning like, or should I say, un-Peyton like if that was his percentage over the next 90 games. He has had only one season under sixty percent and that was his rookie campaign in 1998 when he completed 56.7% of his passes. Archie, his dad, completed 55.2% for his career, and his brother Eli has completed 58% thus far in his career.

To be fair to Eli, his completion percentage has improved. He has gone over 60 percent the last three seasons, with a career-best 62.9 mark in 2010. BTW, Eli has a chance to move to the third spot in the all-time consecutive regular season QB starts list. He is currently in the sixth spot with 103 starts. With sixteen more starts in 2011, he would be at 119, three better than the current number three guy, Ron Jaworski. As a Giants fan, Eli can drive me nuts. However, the guy comes and plays week in and week out, giving it his all. If you look at his career numbers, they are pretty good and getting better each year. No matter what Eli does the rest of his career, he has already brought a championship to New York. I remember saying out loud during Super Bowl XLII, “If Eli brings us a championship, he gets a free pass the rest of his career.” I remind myself of that statement every time he throws an interception or fails to get the job done in the red zone.

It is interesting to note that if Peyton goes 45-45 in his next 90 games, he would have the same win-loss record as Favre. Favre has the most career wins at QB with an 186-112 regular season record. Peyton is currently at 141-67. Besides Favre, only John Elway (148-82-1) and Dan Marino (147-93) have more wins than Peyton. There is no guarantee he will pass both of them this season.

 

Don Chandler passed away on Thursday at the age of 76. He was among the best special teams players of his generation. After leading all major college punters with a 44.3 average for the University of Florida in his senior season, Chandler became a New York Giant in 1956.  He was the Giants’ punter for the next nine seasons. He also became their placekicker in 1962. His last three seasons (1965-1967) were with the dynasty Green Bay Packers. He played on four championship teams; his rookie season and his seasons with the Packers. He also played on teams that went to the NFL Championship Game in 1958, 1959, and 1961 through 1963, which included two loses to the Packers.

Chandler was the NFL All-Decade punter of the 1960s. He punted for 28,678 yards with a 43.5 average. His yardage total was number one all-time when he retired. As a placekicker, he connected for 94 field goals with 530 points scored. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has not been too generous to special teams players. If they were, Chandler would be a good candidate to be enshrined.

 

Here is a list of the only players to kick 50 or more field goals and punt for 20,000 yards:

PLAYER            GAMES   FG   FGA    PCT  PUNTS   YARDS   AVG   YEARS
Don Cockroft       188   216   328   65.9    651  26,262  40.3   1968-80
Sam Baker          195   179   316   56.6    703  29,938  42.6   1953,56-69
Tommy Davis        138   130   276   47.1    511  22,833  44.7   1959-69
Don Chandler       154    94   161   58.4    660  28,678  43.5   1956-67
Danny Villanueva   110    85   160   53.1    488  20,862  42.8   1960-67
Dennis Partee      111    71   121   58.7    519  21,417  41.3   1968-75

 

Special teams players have had a difficult time getting into the Hall. To me it seems unfair. I know they play less demanding positions, but special teams is a huge part of the game. If you are the best at your position in your era, you should be honored for it.

Here is an honor roll of some of my favorite special teams players that have been overlooked by the Hall of Fame to this point (retired before the 2006 season):

Gary Anderson, Kicker (1982-2004)
Sam Baker, Kicker/Punter (1953,56-69)
Jim Bakken, Kicker (1962-78)
Timmy Brown, Running Back/Kick Returner (1959-68)
Gino Cappelletti, Flanker/Kicker (1960-70)
Don Chandler, Punter/Kicker (1956-67)
Don Cockroft, Kicker/Punter (1968-80)
Fred Cox, Kicker (1963-77)
Ward Cuff, Back/Kicker (1937-47)
Tommy Davis, Kicker/Punter (1959-69)
Ted Fritsch, Fullback/Linebacker/Kicker/Kick Returner (1942-50)
Horace Gillom, Punter/End (1947-56)
Bruce Gossett, Kicker (1964-74)
Mel Gray, Kick Returner (1986-97)
Bobby Joe Green, Punter (1960-73)
Ray Guy, Punter (1973-86)
Abner Haynes, Halfback/Kick Returner (1960-67)
John James, Punter (1972-84)
Dave Jennings, Punter (1974-87)
Norm Johnson, Kicker (1982-99)
Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver (1974-80,82-88)
Sean Landeta, Punter (1985-2005)
Pat Leahy, Kicker (1974-91)
Nick Lowery, Kicker (1978,80-96)
Jack Manders, Back/Kicker (1933-40)
Eric Metcalf, Kick Returner/Running Back/Wide Receiver (1989-99,2001-02)
Lou Michaels, Kicker/Linebacker (1958-69,71)
Brian Mitchell, Kick Returner/Running Back (1990-2003)
Mark Moseley, Kicker (1970-72,74-86)
Eddie Murray, Kicker (1980-95,97,99-2000)
Greg Pruitt, Running Back/Kick Returner (1973-84)
Reggie Roby, Punter (1983-98)
Rohn Stark, Punter (1982-97)
Steve Tasker, Special Teams Player (1984-97)
Jim Turner, Kicker (1964-79)
Rick Upchurch, Kick Returner/Wide Receiver (1975-83)
Bobby Walston, End/Kicker (1951-62)
Jerrel Wilson, Punter (1963-78)
Buddy Young, Halfback/Kick Returner (1947-55)
Note: Years only include AAFC, AFL and NFL seasons.

 

It will be interesting to see how Morten Andersen is voted on in 2013. Andersen may have been the game’s greatest kicker and is the all-time points leader in the NFL. With that said, football fans in Canada may argue Lui Passaglia is the greatest kicker in history. In a 25-year Canadian Football League career (1976-2000), Passaglia made 875 field goals and scored 3,991 points. He also punted 3,142 times for 133,832 yards. Bob Cameron (1980-2002) broke his punting yardage mark in 2002, ending his career with 134,301 yards on 3,129 punts.

Speaking of the CFL, are you watching Montreal’s Anthony Calvillo this season? On Thursday, he threw his 400th career touchdown and went over the 70,000 yard mark. Calvillo broke Damon Allen’s CFL touchdown passing record earlier in the year when he tossed his 395th TD. Allen, the brother of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen, was snubbed this year by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. Kind of shocking the CFL’s all-time leading passer (72,831 yards) and third all-time leading rusher (11,920 yards) didn’t make it. I would think the Hall will correct itself next year.

Calvillo’s 400th TD pass makes him just the fourth professional QB to accomplish this feat; joining Brett Favre (508), Warren Moon (435) and Dan Marino (420). Moon played in both the CFL (1978-83) and NFL (1984-2000) to accomplish the milestone (144 in CFL and 291 in NFL). Peyton Manning is next up with 399 TDs entering the 2011 NFL season. Calvillo was also the fourth QB to go over the 70,000 yard mark in pro football history, joining Allen, Favre and Moon.

If you’re a fan of the CFL and love history and statistics, I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia. I used to be a member of the Canadian Football Historical Association. When the CFHA was formed in 2003, one of their goals was to create a Canadian football encyclopedia since no definite source existed. Unfortunately, the CHFA folded in 2006 without creating this encyclopedia. To my delight, two of football’s best researchers, Tod Maher and Bob Gill, published The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia after the 2010 CFL season. The book covers “Every Player, Coach and Game, 1946-2010” as the front cover states. The book is available from Amazon.com.

 

A final list…Here are the runners with 9,000 career rushing yards in pro football history through 1967, including statistics from the AAFC, AFL, CFL and NFL:

PLAYER           GAMES    ATT      YARDS    AVG   TDS    YEARS
Jim Brown         118    2,359    12,312    5.2   106    1957-65
Johnny Bright     175    1,969    10,909    5.5    70    1952-64
Joe Perry         181    1,929     9,723    5.0    71    1948-63
Cookie Gilchrist  149    1,771     9,204    5.2    65    1956-67
Normie Kwong      184    1,745     9,022    5.2    76    1948-60*

 

Notes: *Totals do not include attempts and yards for the 1948 and 1949 seasons.
Brown played in the NFL. Bright and Kwong played in the CFL. Perry played in the AAFC and NFL.
Gilchrist played in the CFL and AFL.