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Why The Dallas Cowboys Will Win the Superbowl

Published: January 8, 2010

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It is, of course, impossible to predict the future.

And betting on a team tied for the fifth best record among the remaining contenders is not exactly maximizing your odds.

But when I ask myself “Who is the best team in this year’s NFL playoffs?” There is no question in my mind the answer is the Dallas Cowboys.

With a stellar passing game and running game, the Cowboys’ offense is ranked second in the NFL. Yet, I actually think the strength of the team is its defense. 

Officially ranked ninth in the NFL, the Cowboys defense is seriously underrated. They finished second in the NFL in points against, only 14 points behind the Jets. If the Colts and Bengals had actually competed full-tilt against the Jets, Dallas would undoubtedly have finished first.

The only team that scored more than 21 points against Dallas all season long was the NY Giants—twice. And luckily for the Cowboys, the Giants aren’t in the playoffs.

The Dallas defense is tough. It’s relentless. There are playmakers at the front, there are playmakers at the back.

Three weeks ago, they took on the NFL’s No. 1 ranked offense in the midst of a 13-game undefeated streak, fueled by impressive blowouts that had many predicting the Saints to finish 16-0.

The Cowboys defense dominated the Saints offense, crushing its confidence so badly that the Saints lost to a 2-12 team the following week and finished the season with three straight losses.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense followed up that performance with back-to-back shutouts in must-win games. The second came against a hot and dangerous Eagles team led by Donovan McNabb, who were playing for the division and a first-round bye.

Does anyone still question the caliber of this Cowboys defense?

Over the last few years, the Cowboys have always had good teams. Their problem has been consistency from week to week.

So far they proved their critics wrong by exorcising their December demons, but their own consistency will still be their biggest challenge in the playoffs. Particularly that of the offense. A 7-6 win like they had in Week 11 was probably a one-time offer.

Although Dallas dominated Philadelphia last week, the Eagles are no easy playoff opponent. Win that, and the ‘Boys earn the right to travel to the Metrodome to take on the awaiting Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. Another win, and the Cowboys face a guaranteed third dangerous opponent in either Green Bay, Arizona, or New Orleans.

An off-game against teams of that caliber and the Cowboys are likely done. But if they bring their best each week, I can’t see how those teams will defeat the complete package that is the Dallas Cowboys.

Now let’s turn our attention to the Superbowl.

I think the most complete team in the AFC is the Chargers, and I can’t see anyone making it out of the conference but them or the Colts.

How would a Cowboys-Colts Superbowl play out? I would guess similarly to Dallas’ win over New Orleans.

What about a Cowboys-Chargers Superbowl?

San Diego is the next-closest thing to the Cowboys, and would probably pose the toughest challenge. Indeed, they edged Dallas in a great game on Dec. 13, and may well do so again. But in the end, Dallas’ elite defense should give them the edge between two otherwise closely-matched teams, so I lean towards the Cowboys in a rematch.

Dallas may yet get bounced in the wildcard round.

But it says here the Cowboys are the team to beat. The only question is whether they beat themselves, or save it for their opponents and win their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

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Why The Philadelphia Eagles Wont Make The Superbowl

Published: January 8, 2010

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The Eagles, at 11-5 entering the playoffs, look like a team that could be a serious contender on paper, and some expect them to make it to the show.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, despite an outstanding season, the fun may be short lived.

Let’s consider that the Eagles losses can be very telling in two ways.

First, they lost to Dallas twice with one game being for the NFC East division title.

Other notable losses were to teams such as New Orleans, San Diego and Oakland.

With the exception of Oakland, the losses the Eagles compiled are very obvious markers of a team that struggles against premiere contenders.

In the two meetings against Dallas, the Eagles scored a total of 16 points while allowing  Dallas to total 44 against their defense. Additionally, the Eagles choked in a game where the NFC East crown was up for grabs.

If you look at the breakdown of there team rankings, the Eagles are very average in terms of defense, ranked 17th against the pass, and ninth against the run. In the playoffs they will be facing a Dallas team ranked second in overall offense.

The Eagles best chance to advance past the Cowboys and contend in the playoffs would be for a Cowboy’s collapse, which I don’t see happening in the this game.

The offense of the Eagles has shown bursts of greatness, but mostly been an average unit that lacks the consistency of a championship team.

Overall, while this team established an 11-5 record, they fall short in many key areas.

First off, the running game they posses is going to have a very hard time establishing themselves against the NFC defenses this year. This in turn will leave the passing game exposed, and with mediocre receivers playing against elite defenses, the offense is in for a long day.

The Eagles don’t have the dominating defense from seasons ago and they can’t afford to rely on them to bail out a sputtering offense. 

It should be a long day for the Eagles and their fans as Dallas clearly is the better team in this contest.

Overall, the Eagles should be a one and done team, losing a third time to the Dallas Cowboys, 34- 14.


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Why the New Orleans Saints Won’t Make the Superbowl

Published: January 7, 2010

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First, my congratulations to the New Orleans Saints for a well played season; and I’m sure there fans are excited, however, the hype and excitement that was the Saints’ season is about to close in January.

Although they have an explosive passing attack and the cannon-armed quarterback in Drew Brees, the Saints are a team that are dangerously close to falling short and here’s why.

Looking back at the Saints schedule, the opponent’s records combined were 97-127, 30 games under .500.

Early in Week Two, the Saints faced an early season Eagles team that has since revitalized itself and proven to be a competitor. 

Although the victory was dominating (the Saints won 48-22) the Eagles are not the same team they showed to be in September.

They played the New England Patriots, whom are not the same Patriots from years past, and decidedly beat them 38-17.

Despite an impressive victory, they nearly lost the next two games against Atlanta and Washington—the evidence that the offense wasn’t as consistent as they were early in the season.

And lastly, they played the Dallas Cowboys who were on the rebound and heating up at the right time, and lost…at home.

The rest of the schedule provided an array of teams that were either squeaking into the playoffs or jockeying for draft position.

The Saints’ season consisted of feasting on teams the likes of, Detroit (2-14), Buffalo (6-10), St. Louis (1-15), Tampa Bay (3-13), Washington (4-12), and Carolina (8-8). 

Together these opponents compiled a record of (24-72).

These teams provided the Saints with eight easy victories—pretty hard not to make the playoffs with that considered.

In the games against competitive teams, and those jockeying for playoff positions, the Saints’ average margin of victory was 15, not quite the dominating margin stats and records would lead you to believe.

Consider that in weeks 10 and 13, the saints barely escaped St. Louis and Washington with victories averaging a margin of four points with the two opponents going 5-27 combined.

From week 10 onward the Saints were not the steamroller that they were in the first half of the season as they won by an average of 12.6 points before dropping the last three games, in which Brees and co. played against Dallas and Tampa Bay.

Outside of the numbers, this team has become more exposed to defensive coordinators and seems to have become tunnel visioned on their game day approach.

It seems that if you examine the schedule, the Saints let their guard down against teams they feel are not on their level.  They can’t afford that in the second season.

At this point in time the NFC is wide open for any of the playoff teams to seriously make a run to the Superbowl. 

Instead of the NFC being a two-horse race between the Vikings and the Saints, teams like Green Bay and Dallas are knocking at the door and would be a legitimate adversary for the Saints.

The Saints also have some issues that need addressing, namely defense.

We all know the Saints can score, they rank number one in total offensive yards per game.

However, on the defensive side of the ball, the Saints rank 25th overall.  Specifically, 21st against the run and 26th against the pass.

The teams in the NFC playoff race consist of teams whom rank in the top 10 against the run and pass, with the exception of Arizona contending from the weak West division.

Green Bay ranks first against the run, averaging 83.3 yards per game, followed by the Vikings in second, Dallas in fourth, and Philadelphia in ninth.

The Saints cannot afford to become a pass only team against any of the above mentioned.  The ability to run must be established because without that, Drew Brees becomes average.

Simply put, I just don’t see the dots connecting for New Orleans.

The schedule they had due to the past two seasons being under .500 has given them a false sense of security, and that will cost them in the playoffs.



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I’m Con”Vince”d Young Will Win a Superbowl With Tennessee

Published: December 14, 2009

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It was just months ago that we were all sitting around talking about what a bust that Vince Young kid had become.

After only two seasons as a starting quarterback, he was already starting to fizzle under the pressure of the big time.

Young’s physical and mental struggles through the 2008 season were well documented, and some reports were so disturbing that many believed his career in the NFL was over.

Kerry Collins was the guy for the Titans. A 13-3 record and a playoff berth had the veteran firmly entrenched as the Titan’s starter, leaving Young to his mopey ways on the bench.

Enter the 2009 season.

The Titans start a miserable 0-6, including a most embarrassing 59-0 loss to New England. Coach Jeff Fisher blames everyone BUT Collins. Owner Bud Adams blames no one BUT Collins and calls for Vince Young to take over the reigns of the offense.

At first, the Vince Young experiment of 2009 was merely a fashion show of sorts. The Titans were hoping he would play well so they could sell him off to the highest bidder at the end of the season, and avoid paying his very expensive bonus.

But after a 5-1 run by the Young-led Titans over the last six games, many are beginning to wonder if Young may be more than an old toy being put up for sale.

Young has played remarkably well in his first starts since being benched in the season opener last year.

The former Texas star has thrown for 1,383 yards (61 percent completion) and seven touchdowns to only three picks. He’s added 219 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Young’s resurgence is his maturity both on and off the field. 

On the field he is making smart reads and very accurate throws. He isn’t rushing his progressions and he’s using his athleticism to set up better throws, rather than taking off running every time.

Moreover, his teammates believe in him again. For any normal team, a 0-6 start would be a deal breaker. In the case of the Titans, however, Young’s leadership has lifted them back in to playoff contention, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds (though a guy named Chris Johnson may have helped a bit too).

Young’s 99 yard, game-winning drive against Arizona in Week 12 demonstrated everything that has changed about him: He stood in the pocket and made the quick reads, he didn’t panic when the blitz was on and kept his eyes down field, and most importantly, he never once showed signs that he was afraid.

There was a time when Vince Young had similar swagger. His days at Texas proved that he could handle pressure and lead his team when they needed him most. His teammates could count on him to make the big play.

After a rough patch in his career as a Titan, I’m beginning to see the rebirth of a fine young quarterback and a fine young man, the guy we Longhorn fans loved.

It’s still too early to say he’s all the way back, but the signs are good at the moment.

In fact, the signs are so good that I’m willing to make the bold statement that I believe Vince Young will lead these Titans to a Super Bowl in the next four years.

Don’t mistake this prediction for bias optimism, just look at what Young has got around him.

Chris Johnson is one of the best, if not the best, backs in the NFL. His presence on the field and his home run-hitting ability takes a lot of pressure off of Young to make ALL of the plays.

The defense is finally getting healthy again, and with a solid draft in 2010, this could be one of the better defenses in the league for the next few years.

Jeff Fisher may have been partly responsible for the 0-6 start and not starting Young earlier than he did, but he’s still one of the best in the business. He knows what it takes to get to the big game and I believe he’ll get them back.

Many great quarterbacks dream of Super Bowl victories and many of them fail in their quest to claim the Lombardi trophy (see Dan Marino).

Though Vince Young has a long way to go to become one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, I have no doubt he has what it takes to lead the Titans to the promise land. 

His quiet confidence and his unwavering desire to win will serve him well. 

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Undefeated Superbowl Matchup? Sorry Folks, Not The Colts

Published: December 3, 2009

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The Colts and the Saints are both 11-0, and everybody is dreaming about a Superbowl match-up between two undefeated teams.  The Saints look unbeatable, and the Colts have a relatively easy schedule remaining, so it is plausible.

But its not going to happen.  Sorry folks.

The New Orleans Saints might pursue perfection, but the Colts won’t.  Once they clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they’ll mail it in.  The team’s philosophy won’t change despite the general fan sentiment that momentum won them the Superbowl in 2006-07 whereas resting players has caused the team several early playoff exits.

“You don’t get rusty missing a half of a ballgame or three quarters of a ballgame,” said team president Bill Polian on his weekly radio interview.  “That doesn’t happen. That is fantasy. There is nothing to it. I don’t believe in momentum.”

The team has made roster moves to reflect this strategy already, signing running back Mike Hart from the practice squad even though there are already three healthy running backs on the active roster.  This is a good sign that Joseph Addai and Donald Brown will get plenty of rest once the Colts clinch a number one seed.

According to Bill Polian, the team’s preference to rest players in meaningless games dates back to the Colts’ 1999 season in which the team went 13-3 but lost linebacker Cornelius Bennett for the playoffs in a game that had no impact on their seeding. 

Polian’s disregard of momentum actually dates back to his time with the Buffalo Bills, and they went to four straight Superbowls.

The Colts organization is all about winning the big one, and even though some of the players may want to go 17-0, there isn’t going to be any dissent if the coach tells them to sit.

The good news for Colts fans is that the team will have plenty of time to get healthy before making their playoff run.  Players who have minor nagging injuries that wouldn’t normally keep them out of the lineup, such as Dwight Freeney, will certainly benefit from some time off. 

Unfortunately, this may make it  very difficult for the Colts to get a victory against a team like the New York Jets.  Bye bye perfect season.

“I can assure you that if a game is meaningful, every player on our team is going to be out there,” emphasized Polian.

Too bad all the games aren’t going to be meaningful.

Check out my new website and get the latest Colts updates from the media and the players all in one place!

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Buffalo Bills’ Resurgence Will be Built on Superbowl Winners, No Excuses, No Exceptions

Published: November 29, 2009

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Bill Polian is responsible for assembling the best NFL teams of the past two decades. As General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts, Polian created the alchemy of team chemistry and individual talent involving players and coaches that resulted in the Colts two 10-0 starts in the 00’s, and culminated in their ’07 Superbowl victory.

No doubt Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning had a lot to do with the team’s overall win percentage and their crowning moment, but the man who hired them is perhaps the one who deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

While the Buffalo Bills of the ’90’s never won a Superbowl, their unprecedented 4 consecutive Conference championships and complete dominance of their opponents throughout those four years (90-93) could be argued to exceed any other cumulative achievement, even though they barely missed the ultimate achievement on their first attempt, and seemed to go downhill from there in subsequent Superbowl appearances.

Just as Marv Levy and the Hall of Fame quality talent on both sides of the ball during those years get their share of credit for Buffalo’s achievements, again, one must give the lion’s share to the man who hired the talent and who understood the intangibles that were necessary to cause the kind of chemical reaction to make the sum equal even more than the very impressive total of the parts.

Therefore, with all the talk about getting one of the many A-List (meaning Superbowl winning) former head coaches currently available, perhaps the conversation should begin with the General Manager’s position.

Given that Polian left Buffalo under less than happy circumstances, largely due to (Hall of Fame) owner, Ralph Wilson’s shortsightedness, it might seem beyond ludicrous to propose that the two of them kiss and make up but I am going to propose just that. Polian has already done his job in Indianapolis. I think a sincere apology and a significant raise, all guaranteed, plus the opportunity to return to Buffalo and finish the job he came so close to finishing the last time could be enough to lure Polian back.

With Polian back in the front office, most fans would finally let out a huge sigh of relief and wouldn’t care who Polian hires as Head Coach, trusting him fully to find the right person. But in case Polian doesn’t come back, fans need to know that when Mr. Wilson says he is determined to get top level talent in all aspects of Bills leadership, he truly means it. Other than Polian there are several other great football minds that have won Superbowls from the front office. And as we know, there are even more former Head Coaches with the same credentials.

But, Mr. Wilson, we as Buffalonians, as Bills Nation around the world, expect you to do whatever is necessary to have Polian or his equivalent back in the Front Office. Saying you tried but you were rejected, is not acceptable. Everyone has their price. Everyone has their terms. Find out what that price, what those terms are, and get us a General Manager and Head Coach who have climbed the mountain and come down with the tablets.

We do not have time, nor do you, Mr. Wilson, have time for experimentation. We need and we expect you to get it right with these two key hires, and have them in place before the end of the season in order not to lose them to other competitors.

As for the coaching position, there are at least ten former Head Coaches who have won at least one Lombardi trophy. The Buffalo search MUST be limited to these ten people.

It should be noted that one who has publically indicated his interest in the position does not qualify. Mike Martz took St. Louis to a Superbowl victory as offensive coordinator, and to a loss as head coach. The failure to win as head coach is operative here. He should not be contacted.

Apparently the Bills have also contacted former Bill Jim Haslett. Haslett has not come close to winning a Superbowl. Sentiment must be put aside here. He does not qualify. Listen, Mr. Wilson. The qualifications must, MUST be absolute. Superbowl champions only need apply.

Now that we’ve set the bar and eliminated the unqualified, who should be considered?

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Chicago Bears: Superbowl Contenders Or Playoff Pretenders?

Published: September 11, 2009

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A lot has been said, written, debated, and repeated about the Chicago Bears this offseason.  They traded for a marquee quarterback, they shook up the defensive coaching, and have Superbowl aspirations. 

They will get the perfect chance to show the NFL what kind of team they are when they open in Green Bay on Sunday Night Football and finally put some substance on the debate.

At least on paper, the NFC North promises to be one of the best divisions in football this season and could easily have three playoff teams playing come January.  But if the Bears want to be a part of that group and get back to the postseason after a two-year Superbowl slump, it’s not the offense that should be scrutinized.

The Bears’ shiny new Pro Bowl 4,500-yard passer has shifted a lot of the focus away from where Chicago struggled last year: defending the pass.  You can point to the defense’s time on the field when the offense couldn’t sustain a drive, but Chicago has never expected its offense to do much.

When push came to shove, the defensive line could not get a pass rush and the banged up secondary was exposed.  To make any kind of playoff run this year, the Bears must hassle the opposing quarterback.

Sunday proves to be a stout test of who the Bears will be this season.  The Green Bay Packers have a potent offense and a new and somewhat unknown defense after switching to the 3-4.  What it will come down to is the Bears’ defense vs Aaron Rodgers.

Where Jay Cutler was the headline offseason move, Rod Marinelli was perhaps a more important addition.  He had a terrible record as a head coach but was and still is one of the most respected line coaches in the NFL. 

If the Bears’ defense buys into Marinelli’s system and regain the form worthy of the Monsters of the Midway, the city of Chicago will be in for a treat.  However, if the Bears give Rodgers time to pass, it will be the second blowout loss at Lambeau in as many years.

Cutler and the Bears’ wide receiving corps is easy to focus on, but an offense is something the Bears have rarely had and don’t rely on.  If the defense can keep the game close, the upgrade at quarterback can win them the game.

Harris, Ogunleye, Anderson, Urlacher, Bowman, and Tillman will decide the fate of the Bears this season; not Hester, Bennet, Davis, Aromashodu, and Cutler.  Without a strong defense, the Chicago Bears may be better called the Chicago Chipmunks.

If the Monsters of the Midway show up on Sunday, the Bears should be Superbowl contenders.  If they can’t get off the field, they will be playoff pretenders and will be watching the playoffs at home on a flatscreen for the third straight year. 

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My College Essay On The Horrid Officiating Of Superbowl XL

Published: September 8, 2009

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Now I know this topic has been talked over as many times as it can, but in my English class, this became a viable topic for our first rough draft of a major essay.

I was originally going to do it on expanding the content allowed in rated R movies (idea inspired after watching Tarintino’s terrific Inglourious Basterd’s). As ideas were tossed around in class this one clicked in my head, and many of the students wanted to see one done on the topic, so I went ahead and did it.

I already did not have any homework, so this would be a breeze, having to do very little research, here is my first draft of “The Ultimate Superbowl Fustercluck”. 

This is not an attempt to piss one side off or the other, this is just a formal paper that the students in my class enjoyed so I thought I would share it on Bleacher Report.

Make sure to read the disclaimer! 


The Ultimate Superbowl Fustercluck

(Disclaimer, Steelers fans may not like the harsh reality and truth behind what is being divulged in this article, if you are one of these delusional characters who claim to have not had help from the officiating crew in the 2005 Superbowl en route to the biggest fustercluck in Superbowl history, please either discontinue reading now, or keep an open mind while you read through the honest unbias view (required for this essay), of the points of contention discussed in this paper. Both the Seahawk’s calls, and Steelers calls will be examined in this essay)

The Seattle Seahawk’s were at an all time high in 2005, a league best 13-3 record, an 11 game win streak, six Pro Bowl starters on offense alone, and owner of the NFL’s MVP in record setting touchdown machine (28 total) RB Shaun Alexander.

Having just beaten the Washington Redskins 21-10 in the Divisional playoff round (without the aforementioned MVP RB I might add), they were on their way to the NFC Championship game for the first time in 21 years.

In attendance, I got to watch my team throttle the Carolina Panthers 34-17, en route to our first Superbowl berth, our time had finally come. The memories of that game still give me Goosebumps, it was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Maybe I would not have been so thrilled if I knew what was about to go down two weeks later.

I knew our matchup with the AFC representative, the Pittsburgh Steelers, would be tough, they had a great defense, and we had the leagues best offense, a great matchup indeed.

“I didn’t think we would have to play the guys in the striped shirts as well”

-Mike Holmgren, Seahawk’s rally, February 5th, 2005

The above statement could not have been said any better by anyone who watched the biggest robbery in Superbowl history. He surprisingly did not end up drawing a fine for the obvious “shot” at the referees, headlined by Bill Leavy.

Going into the game, we were definitely looking like the underdogs, we were not favored (minus 7 spread), 3/5 of the broadcasting crew picked the Steelers (good for you Chris Berman and Chris Carter). Because the game was in Detroit, Michigan, a five hour drive from Pittsburgh, it was obviously littered with far more black and yellow, then green and blue.

I always like being the underdogs, so this was of no concern, still, Seahawk’s fans had absolutely no clue what was about to smack them in the face.

First Quarter, 2:03 left: 

We moved the ball at will on this so called “Steel Curtain, Iron Curtain”, whatever you prefer, with our high-powered offense and drove to the redzone (inside the opponents 20 yard line). Pro Bowl QB Matt Hasselbeck flung a 16 pass to WR Darrell Jackson in the endzone for a TD, which would have put us up 7-0 going into the second quarter


This is the first point of contention.

He was guarded by Steelers S Chris Hope, both of whom were going for the ball. League rules state that if both players are jostling for position, both have an equal right to the ball. Jackson was flagged for Pass Interference pushing off of Hope, WITHOUT gaining any significant separation.

You are allowed to initiate contact like Jackson did if both are going for the ball at the same time and are not attempting to create significant separation in doing so.

Lets say Hope was looking away not going for the ball, and Jackson had shoved him out of the way, created separation, en route to the TD catch, then that would be grounds for a P/I call. This play was not that case, contact is allowed when going for the ball by both parties with the exception of pulling someone’s hands down, face masking, tackling, etc.

We settle for a Field Goal and take a 3-0 lead, the team is clearly dejected, but still has the lead, but the drive would have to be considered a failure, although there is not much the Seahawks could do about that.


Second Quarter: 2:00 left, second point of contention.

On a third down and one at the Seattle one-yard line Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger was tackled short of the endzone, and then extends his hand across the white plane of the endzone when he was already down, head linesman Mark Hittner, a Pittsburgh native, called it a TD.

Despite being challenged by Seahawk’s coach Mike Holmgren, the play stood. Ben stated on the David Letterman show that he did not think he got in, and that the team was ready to go for it anyways.

My point of contention on this play is the Seahawk’s had been 7/9 on stopping goal line conversions during the regular season, and with that percentage, could have potentially stopped a play, and gone into the half with a 3-3 tie.


Third Quarter: Call against the Steelers.

Seattle Cornerback Kelly Herndon picks off a pass for a Superbowl record 75-yard return all the way to the Steelers 20 yard line. On the play there is controversy as to whether a block in the back penalty should have been issued. The ball would have been placed 15 yards at the spot of the foul, around midfield. For the sake of my comparison later in this essay, lets say this cancels out the Hasselbeck cut block penalty.


Fourth Quarter: 12:35 left, third point of contention.

Matt Hasselbeck completes a pass to TE Jerramy Stevens to the Steelers one-yard line. A yellow hankie is immediately thrown for a holding call on Seahawks RT Sean Locklear.

Now FYI for anyone reading this who does not know football, holding happens on every play, it is just a matter of when they call it or when they blatantly see it.

Going back and watching the game film, this is an awfully grey matter call. He has his hands up in the shoulder pads of the defender, knocking him if balance, and honestly, the call could have gone either way.

Except for the fact that Steelers LB Clark Haggans IS offsides at the beginning of the play, stopping the game at the exact moment the ball is snapped, his foot is over, barely, but over the line of scrimmage, the proper offsides call would have given the Seahawk’s the ball at the one yard line, or would have nullified the play, and moved them forwards five yards, in great position to take the lead.

It was because of Haggans early jump that likely forced Locklear to hold him in the first place

Regardless, the play is called back, and a ten-yard penalty is added on. Three plays later, Hasselbeck throws an interception, (after what should have been a TD, and a 17-14 Seattle lead).

This next part is what I call a triple whammy (the nullified TD, an INT, AND…), you would have to be sorely addicted to hardcore drug to not see this horrible call).


Fourth Quarter: 12:35 left, fourth point of contention.

On the play of the intercepted pass, Hasselbeck chases down the ball carrier, Ike Taylor, and does what I call a “chop tackle”, which pretty much means he rolled over and let the ball carrier trip over him. This is not an illegal action and is quite common by undersized players, and QB’s.

Another yellow hankie gets pulled out, I’m going out of my mind at this point.

“Illegal block in the back, defense, No. 8 (Hasselbeck) 15 yard penalty, automatic first down”

Even the announcers are speechless, now, this call does not seem like it would have serious repercussions, it was just a terrible call.

What people don’t seem to think about when this call is discussed is the play that comes after it. At the Steelers 44 yard line, instead of around their own 29-yard line, the Steelers run a gadget play (QB pitches to WR, WR becomes QB and throws it), exploiting our practice squad safety Etric Pruitt, who had never played an NFL game before being thrust in on the games biggest stage.

They burn us for a TD, I give them props, a good play exploiting our obvious weakness at that point.

Do you really think the Steelers would have run this gadget play had they not gotten the dreadful chop blocking call? No, they would not have, it would be too much of a risk so deep in your territory, but nonetheless, they take a 21-10 lead, and the game is pretty much over at that point.

Let’s ignore the Hasselbeck call, and focus on the two calls that nullified the TD’s. If those calls had been done correctly, it would have tacked on an additional 11 points, and potentially taken away 7 Steelers points, making the game at minimum a 21-21 tie.



There are several changes that should have been made due to the officiating of this game. The Hasselbeck block in the back call should have  resulted in a re-written rule to ensure that it does not happen again.

Because as per a loophole in the rulebook, stating that regardless a chop block below the waist is considered illegal on a play in the open field, regardless of the intention (i.e. tackling). it still should not have been allowed to happen on the games biggest stage.

Another obvious change that needs to be made is that no officiating member of the game can be a native, or reside in the cities of the two teams playing, The headlinesman, Mark Hittner, is a Pittsburgh native, and ironically was involved in one of the controversial calls, (Roethlisberger goal line play).

A third change should be more reviewable plays, in a nutshell, teams are given two “challenges” to attempt to overturn bad calls. What my proposed change is would allow more “booth reviews” which are initiated by the referee group, to allow for controversial calls such as the one in this game to be reviewed to their fullest extent.

What is done, is done, it will never be changed, and we have accepted that. All Seahawks fans seek is that Steelers fans can actually admit they were given some help at crucial points in the game by referees, the title in theirs, and we can give them that.

We can only ponder what could have been, and even today, having your one shot at glory stripped from you, still twinges a little, like it should.

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Packers Put NFC On Notice, Trounce Cardinal Starters, But Superbowl?

Published: August 29, 2009

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(Sorry for the lack of Packer backer content this week. I had some technical difficulties due to a faulty update from a company I won’t mention, but whose name rhymes with schmicrosoft)

Through three weeks of the preseason, no team has been more impressive than the Green Bay Packers. Period.  Even though the second and third stringers let Arizona back in the game, fans should be excited about the finish and the way head coach Mike McCarthy and his team responded.   

The offense has outscored opponents 76-10 in the first halves of games and the first team defense seemed let down when they allowed 10 first half points the defending NFC champion Cardinals Friday night. (They had shut out Buffalo and Cleveland in the previous two games).

The defense continues to create big plays and the first team defense now has 12 turnovers through three games in the preseason. Charles Woodson forced three fumbles and had two sacks, with the Packers scoring 17 first half points off those turnovers.

The second half in Arizona was similar to the Buffalo game where the defense let the opponent back in the game. In fact, the Cards had a chance to tie or take the lead after scoring a touchdown late in the fourth.  When Arizona missed the go-ahead two point conversion, the Packers continued to fight back.

Ruvell Martin returned an onside kick for six and then it was the Packers turn to go for two. Even though they missed it, we saw McCarthy’s dedication to teaching this team the importance of finishing games and wanting to win, preseason or otherwise.

Even Brian Brohm looked half-way decent going 4/5 against Cardinals starters. He made stick throws and seemed more in control of the offense than he has since being drafted in 2008. It may be too late for land a roster spot, but it certainly isn’t too late for him to increase his value in a trade.

But I want to be a voice of cautious optimism.

I don’t want to hear about Super Bowls or anything like that. The Packers are an extremely talented team, but with Aaron Rodgers are quarterback they have proven absolutely zero in the regular season except that they are maddeningly inconsistent.

Monday after Monday last season it seemed the talk from Cheeseheads was “Coulda, woulda, shoulda” because that’s how close the Packers were from turning a 6-10 team into a 10-6 team.

They went 3-0 against teams with sub .500 records and 3-10 against teams with .500 records or better.  So far this preseason they have played exactly one team with a winning record from last season.  Now to be fair, that means they played 13 games against teams who won at least 8 games last year, but a team who won the division and nearly the NFC just a year prior has to beat playoff teams at least once in a while.  In that category, the Packers went 2-5.

Aaron Rodgers looks in command of the offense, posting a gaudy 150+ QB rating this preseason. But he put up gaudy stats last season and it just didn’t translate into victories.

The defense was third in the NFL last season at intercepting opposing quarterbacks, but they couldn’t get stops when they needed them. The rushing defense was below average and this talented team faltered more often than it flourished.

I don’t want to say don’t be excited. Be excited. This Packers team is more talented than the team that made a run at the Super Bowl two year ago. This might be the most talented team the Packers have had since the mid 90’s. 

Jermichael Finley is a match-up night mare. For an example just look at the back-shoulder fade he caught over one Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie, one of the best athletes in the NFL regardless of position. Can he give the offense that game in and game out? What about when teams aren’t surprised by him anymore? Guys like James Jones and Jordy Nelson will have to step up and exploit match-ups against safeties if teams try to cover Finley with a corner.  

Speaking of corners, Charles Woodson and Al Harris are arguably the best corner duo in the NFL and Woodson could get four to six sacks this season in the new pressure D. They are playing at an All-Pro level. Add in Pro Bowler Nick Collins with Atari Bigby and a charging Anthony Smith, this secondary is deep, physical and smart.

Dom Capers will see to it they don’t have the communication break-downs that plagued them last year. He has to. If the quarterbacks have time, it doesn’t matter how talented your secondary is, they’re going to get beat. The offense has too big an advantage and NFL quarterbacks are too good.

 The biggest question will be the pass-rush. We saw what it did to mediocre quarterbacks, but it confused the heck out of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner.  He was never comfortable in the pocket, but when he was, he was effective.

That will be true with any quarterback. If the pressure doesn’t get home, there are match-up problems in the secondary whether it’s lineman in space, linebackers on wide-outs, or safeties having to help on multiple receivers.

I can’t see how you can stop this offense. McCarthy called a perfect game Friday, but he was all over the place as a play-caller last season.  Not just game to game, but even series to series it would seem he had a great game plan one moment and no idea the next.

The offensive line has played well in the preseason, with Ryan Grant looking quicker and more decisive than ever. But Josh Sitton and Allen Barbre are essentially rookies, neither ever having played a full season as starters.

The pass-rushers on this schedule are fierce between Allen, Ware, Ogunleye, Suggs, Harrisson, and Kearney just to name a few. And those are just the ends.

The NFC North might be the best division in football for interior lineman and those guys in Baltimore and Pittsburgh really know how make life tough on opposing offensive lines.

 The Packers are deep, cohesive, talented, physical, and excited to play. If they can lock down the penalties and play with discipline, I don’t see why they can’t win double digit games and be a serious contender in the NFC.

Unfortunately, last year you could say the same thing and it translated into just six victories.  No more excuses. This team is talented, and looks ready to go. They’ve put the NFC North and the rest of the NFC on notice that they’re ready to play. After all, they clobbered the defending NFC champions in a match-up of first teamers.

If they can learn on the fly how to handle adversity, this could be a really good team for a really long time; the kind of franchise Packers fans in the 90’s were used to. And then fans can really say things like “We’ll never forget you Brent.”

Superbowl Quarterbacks: Is There Something In The Water?

Published: July 15, 2009

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In watching Steve McNair being laid to rest in Southern Mississippi, I observed another Superbowl quarterback in attendance from this same neck of the woods; Brett Favre.

It dawned on me that two members of a very exclusive fraternity emerged from this humble, unassuming part of the south and it prompted me to do a little research.

There are only 52 people (alive and deceased), that have ever walked the face of this earth, who can claim membership in this club; quarterbacks who have led their respective teams to the Superbowl. I decided to focus my research on the demographics surrounding these 52 men, and came up with some interesting facts.


My initial impression in looking over this list is that it doesn’t necessarily represent the 52 best who ever played the game, from top to bottom. Yeah, there are quite a few great ones in this group, but there are also a few who were in the right place at the right time, who were surrounded by a stellar supporting cast, and who had Lady Luck hanging out on their sideline. Regardless, they had to be at least good enough to navigate their team through the regular season and brutal playoffs to get there.


In looking at birthplace and location where these signal callers cut their gridiron teeth and matured, I noticed that several geographical pockets began to form that were Superbowl quarterback (SB-QB) dense. There were also areas, some surprising, that were very SB-QB scarce.


The largest pocket was found centered over Pennsylvania (8) with a dwindling tail extending across the Midwest through Michigan (2), Ohio (3), Indiana (2), Illinois (2), and Iowa (1). Five more were located to the East in New York (2) and New Jersey (3).


Another large pocket was contained within California (7) itself, and further up the coast in the Great Northwest, a small pocket was located in Washington (3).


What I found to be the most impressive pocket, by far, encompassed Louisiana (7), plus Favre and McNair by reaching a short distance across the boarder into south Mississippi (2). This relatively small pocket of nine SB-QBs is so impressive, because unlike the population dense regions of the Midwest, East and California, this area is relatively population scarce.


Actually, you could go about a stone’s throw further east on the map and grab Stabler from Foley, Alabama and have a very impressive South Central Gulf Coast Pocket of Ten (10) SB-QB’s, centered over Louisiana and tailing down to the southeast.


To add credence to this argument, Louisiana and south Mississippi, together comprise about 6 million people or roughly 2% of the US population. Yet this region has produced over 17% of the SB-QBs to date. This is nearly a 1:9 differential (% US Pop:% SB-QB).


In contrast, Pennsylvania inhabits 4% of the US population and has produced just over 15% of the SB-QBs (1:4). California commands 12% of US citizens and has only produced 13.4% SB-QBs (1:1).


What really surprised me is that Florida and Texas, both incredibly talent-rich states with regard to football, have produced none, zero, nada SB-QBs. At least Florida has three universities that have each turned out one out-of-state SB-QB each (Florida, Florida State and Miami). Texas is noticeably absent in this category also.


Some additional interesting facts:


    • Pittsburgh (Kelly, Marino, Unitas) and Shreveport (Bradshaw, Humphries, Woodley) are the only two US cities to produce three SB-QBs each. (I imagine Bradshaw loves this two city connection).

    • Louisiana is the only state to have two cities that have produced two or more SB-QBs, Shreveport and New Orleans (Manning and Manning)

    • Only one non-US native has guided a Superbowl team; Canadian Mark Rypien from Alberta. He, however, attended Washington State.

    • Two universities can claim 3 SB-QBs each. Alabama (Starr, Namath, Stabler), and Notre Dame (Lamonica, Theismann, Montana). Although Montana is my all-time favorite, I have to give the nod to the Crimson Tide. How do you not put that trio anywhere but on the top!!!

    • The Pac 10 can claim 9 members, the SEC (8), Big 10 (6), Big East (5), ACC (4) and Big 12 (1-Ouch!!!). Note: These schools didn’t necessarily belong to these conferences at the time these QBs attended.

    • Smaller, non-BCS schools are well represented with 13.

    • “Joe’s” leads the pack with 4, followed by “Jim’s” (3), “Ken’s” (2) and “Steve’s” (2).

    • The only surname repeated, of course belong to Eli and Payton.


Naturally, all of this analysis is non-scientific, and may be written off by some as being purely coincidental, or a result of random happenstance. Having myself been born and raised smack dab in the middle of this South Central Gulf Coast Pocket, I like to think it is all due to some special mineral flowing through the underground aquifers and surface tributaries of this region. Regardless of the cause, you can’t argue with the results.




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