Willwerth: Thoughts and Reactions to Week 3 in the NFL

By Brian Willwerth 

Bills 34, Patriots 31 – Look who’s alone atop the AFC East. For the second week in a row, Buffalo [3-0] came back from a huge deficit, capping the comeback with a 28-yard field goal from Rian Lindell as time expired. Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Bills’ comeback, throwing for 369 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. New England quarterback Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, but was also picked off four times, one of which was returned for a score by Drayton Florence. This was Buffalo’s first win over New England since the ’03 season opener.

49ers 13, Bengals 8 – Running back Kendall Hunter scored the only touchdown of the game by either team late in the fourth quarter to give San Francisco (2-1) the win at Paul Brown Stadium. The attendance was 43,363 – the smallest crowd for a Cincinnati home opener in 30 years.

Browns 17, Dolphins 16 – In Cleveland, Colt McCoy engineered a game-winning, 80-yard drive. He threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds left for the Browns [2-1]. Miami is still winless (0-3).

Titans 17, Broncos 14 – In Nashville, Matt Hasselbeck threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Daniel Graham with less than five minutes to play for Tennessee [2-1].  For Denver [1-2], quarterback Kyle Orton also threw two touchdown passes, but was picked off twice.

Lions 26, Vikings 23 (OT) – Just as Buffalo is the story right now in the AFC, the same can be said of Detroit [3-0] in the NFC. The Lions rallied from a 20-0 deficit in the second half. Jason Hanson kicked the game-winning 32-yard field goal in overtime. Detroit is [3-0] for the first time in 31 years. Minnesota [0-3] blew a big lead at home for the second week in a row; the Vikes squandered a 17-0 advantage to Tampa Bay last Sunday.

Saints 40, Texans 33 – There are many candidates this weeks “Game of the Day,” but I’ll give this contest the nod. At the Superdome, Drew Brees and Matt Schaub combined to throw for 743 yards and six touchdowns. In the end, New Orleans [2-1] got the last laugh against Houston [2-1].  The teams combined for 37 points in the fourth quarter, and 927 yards of total offense for the game. If you love offensive fireworks, this was the game for you.

Giants 29, Eagles 16Eli Manning spoiled Philadelphia’s home opener. He threw four touchdown passes, including two to Victor Cruz. The Giants improve to [2-1], while the Eagles fall to [1-2]. Also, the team is somewhat concerned about Michael Vick’s health. He left in the fourth quarter with a broken right hand. Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said Monday that Vick’s hand was just bruised, not broken.

Panthers 16, Jaguars 10 Cam Newton did not throw for 400 yards; he didn’t even come close. But he did find Greg Olsen for the game-winning touchdown with 4:20 left to give Carolina its first win. Newton finished with 158 yards passing. Jacksonville rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert made his first NFL start, throwing for 191 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Raiders 34, Jets 24 –  A Rex Ryan-led defense gives up 234 yards rushing? Rex, meet Darren McFadden. He had 171 of those yards and two touchdowns as Oakland [2-1] won before at home. The Raiders handed the Jets their first loss of the season.

Ravens 37, Rams 7 – After losing to Tennessee last week, Baltimore [2-1] took out some serious frustration against St. Louis [0-3]. The Ravens had a 27-0 lead and over 400 yards of offense – in the first half. It was blowout city from that point on.

Chargers 20, Chiefs 17 – It wasn’t pretty for San Diego [2-1], but the Bolts did enough to keep Kansas City winless on the season. The Chargers got two short touchdown runs from Ryan Matthews to bail out quarterback Philip Rivers, who was picked off twice.

Packers 27, Bears 17 – The Super Bowl Champs are off to a [3-0] start. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes as Green Bay beat its long-time rival at Soldier Field.

Seahawks 13, Cardinals 10 – In a defensive battle in Seattle, the Seahawks picked up their first win of the season. Tarvaris Jackson scored his team’s lone touchdown on an 11-yard run.

Buccaneers 16, Falcons 13 – In Tampa, the young Bucs’ [2-1] defense was the story, sacking Matt Ryan four times and forcing three turnovers.  Tampa Bay stopped a five-game losing streak to Atlanta. The Falcons [1-2] have already lost as many games this year as they did in the entire 2010 regular season.

Steelers 23, Colts 20 – If you thought this would be a cakewalk for Pittsburgh without Peyton Manning on the field, think again.  It took a Shaun Suisham field goal with 4 seconds left to give the Steelers the win.  Each team scored a defensive touchdown: Troy Polamalu for Pittsburgh, Jamaal Anderson for Indy (0-3.)

NFL Week 2 – News and Notes

By NoontimeSports.com 

Week one of the NFL season is officially in the books, but now, it’s time to get everyone set for the next official “football Sunday!” Here’s the latest headlines and news from Wednesday, enjoy.

*The New England Patriots blew out the Miami Dolphins on Monday, but now Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi are expressing their concern for Chad Ochocinco‘s social media habits, as well as his preparation too.

*It’s a do-or-die week for the Dallas Cowboys, as well as a bounce back one for quarterback Tony Romo, who collapsed during the fourth quarter last Sunday against the New York Jets. ESPNDallas.com provided an interesting story on how Romo can bounce back this week against the San Francisco 49ers.

*According to David Garrard‘s agent, the former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback wants to find a championship squad, so he can win a Super Bowl.

* It’s early, but should the Indianapolis Colts start preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft? Perhaps, they’d want to select Andrew Luck, especially if Peyton Manning remains sidelined because of neck surgery.

Daily Noontime – September 12, 2011

Once again, Tony Romo failed to win a game in the fourth quarter!

Good Monday morning, and welcome into yet another awesome edition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s the headlines and news of the day! 

Headlines: 

* Unfortunately, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo couldn’t hold onto the ball in the fourth quarter, as he gave away his team’s lead and the game to the New York Jets.

* Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton may have not led his team to their first victory of the season, yet managed to throw for 422 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals.

* The slumping Boston Red Sox lost again, as the Tampa Bay Rays swept the weekend series on Sunday.

* Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed to the media on Sunday that he doesn’t want his wide receiverDez Bryant to return kick-offs or punts.

* This is quite fascinating news – Stephen Strasburg pitched only three innings on Sunday, which might be a head scratcher, right?

* How bad were the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday? Well, one thing is certain, they need quarterback Peyton Manning under center.

Games to Watch: 

* New England at Miami (NFL) – 7:00pm eastern 

* Tampa Bay at Baltimore (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Detroit at Chicago White Sox (MLB) – 8:10pm eastern 

* Oakland at Denver (NFL) – 10:15pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Wouldn’t it be cool to play against Darth Vader in fantasy football? 

Daily Noontime – September 8, 2011

Once again, Tim Wakefield will have to wait for another chance to snag his 200th win!

Happy Thursday y’all and welcome into yet another spectacular edition of the Daily Noontime. In fact, it’s the award winning Daily Noontime in case you were wondering! Any who, here’s the day’s headlines and news, enjoy! 

Headlines: 

* Once again, the Boston Red Sox watched Tim Wakefield struggle to earn his 200th win, which sadly didn’t happen.

* The Baltimore Orioles did the Sox a favor, as they beat the New York Yankees on Wednesday in 11 rainy innings.

* The New York Jets seem to believe that wide receiver Plaxico Burress still has what it takes to win, as well as be successful in this league.

* According to multiple reports over the past 24-hours, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning won’t start this Sunday against the Houston Texans.

* The Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli admitted recently that he was rather content about the way things played out with his team last season.

* Former Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Hugh Douglass appears to be unhappy with the way his former head coach Jack Del Rio is running things these days.

Games to Watch: 

* New York Yankees at Baltimore (MLB) – 1:05pm eastern 

* Arizona at #9 Oklahoma State (NCAA Football) – 8:00pm eastern 

* Cleveland at Chicago White Sox (MLB) – 8:10pm eastern 

* New Orleans at Green Bay (NFL) – 8:30pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Are you ready for some NFL on NBC? It’s back! 

Daily Noontime – September 6, 2011

Despite scoring 24-points, Miami couldn't muster an opening day win!

Happy Tuesday y’all and welcome into yet another dandy Daily Noontime! Here’s the day’s headlines and news, as well as a great video too! 

Headlines: 

* Despite earning an impressive win against the University of Miami on Monday, Maryland’s uniforms was the bigger story.

* According to a recent report, Pepsi has decided to extend their sponsorship with the NFL.

* Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinatorRob Ryan answered questions recently surrounding his brother’s foot-fetish, which I’m sure didn’t make Rex Ryan too happy.

* The Philadelphia Phillies aren’t exactly the happiest team these days, as they’re challenging umpire Joe West‘s recent controversial call, which was made against the Florida Marlins this past weekend.

* For the second day in a row, the Boston Red Sox lost, but not to the Texas Rangers, but instead the Toronto Blue Jays.

* Apparently, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning won’t play week one against the Houston Texans, which means his 227 consecutive starts will be erased.

Games to Watch: 

* Atlanta at Philadelphia (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* Boston at Toronto (MLB) – 7:07pm eastern 

* Milwaukee at St. Louis (MLB) – 8:15pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

Do you actually like Maryland’s uniforms? If so, why? 

Daily Noontime – August 30, 2011

Mark Sanchez got the better of Eli Manning on Monday!

It’s Tuesday, which means the week is slowly moving along. Here’s the headlines and news of the day, so enjoy, friends! 

Headlines: 

* The New York Jets flew past the New York Giants on Monday in an impressive win.

* Is it possible to think that Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels is underrated? If so, why? Well, here’s some reasons why Phillies fans shouldn’t be too concerned about their playoff pitching situation.

* The Philadelphia Eagles reached deep into their pockets on Monday and handed quarterback Michael Vick a brand new six-year, $100 million contract.

* Good news for Indianapolis Colts fans, quarterback Peyton Manning will ease his way back into practice mode, especially since he’s officially off the physically unable to perform list.

* The first game of a critical regular season series between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is on Tuesday and certainly the AL East division lead is on the line.

* Alex Rodriguez will be day-to-day going forward and could certainly miss the Red Sox-Yankees series.

Games to Watch: 

* Oakland at Cleveland (MLB) – 7:05pm eastern 

* New York Yankees at Boston (MLB) – 7:10pm eastern 

* Tampa Bay at Texas (MLB) – 8:05pm eastern 

* Chicago Cubs at San Francisco (MLB) – 10:15pm eastern 

Video of the Day: 

In case you missed Manning’s interview with the media on Monday, here’s the clip! 

Noonan: Cleaning Off the Noontime Sports Desk

Nothing better than cleaning off the Noontime Sports desk, right?

By Matt Noonan 

Cleaning off the Noontime Sports desk before Hurricane Irene – always a good time.

* Currently, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees remain in a heated AL East division crown race; however, they’ll be able to duke it out on Tuesday, which is when the Bronx Bombers invade Fenway Park for a three-game series. Anyone else somewhat excited for this mid-week clash?

* Does anyone else believe that Tim Wakefield doesn’t have “Lady Luck” on his side? After six starts, Wakfield hasn’t earned win number two-double-zero. Of course, some believe that the Red Sox organization shouldn’t feel bad, but as a fan, it’s easy to sense some sort of emotion, especially for the oldest player in the MLB currently. Eventually the knuckleballer will earn that significant victory, but exactly when will it happen remains a mystery. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Mr. Wakefield, as well as pray for the Sox offense to produce some runs too.

* According to a recent report, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera plans to start rookie quarterback Cam Newton during the team’s final preseason contest. Yet, is this a good or bad decision? Rivera has jostled this young man over the past few weeks, as well as given him false hopes that he’d be the starting signal caller this season. However, should Rivera really be saying this stuff? Seriously, haven’t we endured enough Cam Newton drama? In all honesty, I’d expect Newton to be the starting quarterback this season, but wouldn’t be surprised if Derek Anderson gets the nod, especially since Jimmy Clausen recently sustained a knee injury.

* If you’re a supporter of the Indianapolis Colts, how’re you feeling these days? Are you convinced that Kerry Collins is “your guy?” What’d you think of Reggie Wayne’s recent comments? In all honesty, it’s probably a “dark” time in Indianapolis. Perhaps the local economy will tank because of Peyton Manning’s absence? Hey, it happened in Cleveland when LeBron James traded in his winter jacket for flip-flops. Yet, without Manning, the Colts are a completely different team, so hopefully the Blue and White fan-base will have something to cheer about this season because otherwise it’ll seem as if Jim Mora is roaming the sidelines. Anyone remember his famous, “playoffs” rant?

* Brandon Davies was reinstated to the BYU basketball team on Friday after serving a season ending suspension in March. Yet, what exactly did he do? Well, he broke a rule and didn’t exactly respect the school’s honor code. In fact, have you read BYU’s honor code? It’s rather intense. Davies is the team’s top scorer and rebounder, so I am sure his teammates are happy to have him back on the roster. Although, one sure hopes that he’s learned his lesson and won’t have premarital sex again, especially since it’s forbidden on that particular college campus.

Well, that’s enough pondering. Enjoy the rest  of your weekend and of course, please be safe, especially those in New England!

NFL Preseason Week 3 – News and Notes

Jerod Mayo is focused on making the Patriots final roster!

By Matt Noonan 

Catching up on two weeks of NFL preseason football – always a good time.

Here’s a look at some of the storylines and news of the day, which certainly should raise some brows, enjoy.

* According to various reports coming out of New England Patriots camp, linebacker Jerod Mayo expressed to the media, he hopes to make the final roster cut. OK, great decision on Mayo’s part, especially since this particular comment certainly illustrates the illustrious “Patriots way.” In fact, I am certainly a fan of his decision to state this because it shows his true work ethic. He’s not taking anything for granted, which is always a good sign, but in the end, it’s a given that Mayo will be sporting the “Flying Elvis” on his head this season. Mayo finished the ’10 campaign with two sacks and 175 tackles.

* Earlier this summer, veteran quarterback Kerry Collins stated, he was going to retire, but on Wednesday, he was lured back into the league by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Isray because of Peyton Manning’s health. As of now, it’s most certain that Manning will miss at least one or two regular season games due to a neck injury and offseason surgery. Collins, who has played 16 seasons in the NFL, will enter his 17th this fall with the Colts.

* Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James stated the following in recent report on FoxSports.com:

“I think the entitlement kills us. Our alumni, our former greats have made us America’s Team and we reap benefits that we haven’t earned — all the way around, as individuals, as a team. Those guys earned it. We just think we deserve it.”

Well, I guess it’s safe to say, the current Dallas Cowboys squad is feeling some pressure from their alums. OK, well, I guess we’ve finally discovered why the Cowboys have struggled to win their sixth Super Bowl championship in franchise history? Well, again, come up with your own reason or answer, but it’s safe to say, the Cowboys need to discover their own identity, as well as appreciate any guidance or support given to them by Hall of Famers or former legends. Will they be competitive this season? Who knows, but again, as long as they focus on themselves, as well as their current talent, they’ll be able to be somewhat successful.

* Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Brit recently met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss his offseason antics. Brit was arrested numerous times this past offseason and will now play the “waiting game,” while the league decides whether they’ll punish him for his behavior. The Titans drafted Brit in ’09 and ever since that glorious day in April, he’s had seven run-ins with the law, which isn’t something to boast or brag about these days.

Is Eli Manning in Tom Brady’s Class?

Why do you think Eli Manning decided to compare himself to Tom Brady?

By Matt Noonan 

So, apparently, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning believes he is technically in the same class, as New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady.

Hmm… do you believe this is an accurate and fair statement? Perhaps, Manning is trying to drum up some excitement for the blue and white fan base; especially since the Giants and Patriots will face-off against one another this season, yet, why compare oneself to Mr. Brady?

It’s rather hard to consider Manning and Brady on the same level or in the same sentence, however, if it’sPeyton Manning, well that’s one thing, but brother Eli, I don’t think so.

Eli experienced one of the greatest playoff runs in ’07, as he miraculously gained momentum at the right time, as well as led New York past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and the undefeated Patriots to capture Super Bowl XLII.

However, after that dramatic, yet, exciting run, Manning has yet to lead the Giants back to the title game. In fact, during the past three seasons, Manning has somewhat improved; especially since he’s tossed more touchdown passes than interceptions, but once again, he hasn’t exhibited the fact that he should be considered an elite quarterback.

When fans or media members consider the question, who’re the Top-5 quarterbacks in the NFL currently, they’d probably state, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers.

Hmm… I didn’t see Eli Manning in that particular group of names; did I misspell it or something? Hello, Eli, where’s your name?

When Manning entered the league, he not only struggled, but also appeared to be the complete opposite of his brother, Peyton. Eli’s numbers were terrible, especially since he seemed incredibly confused and dumbfounded on the gridiron. Players, media members and the New York fans heckled the young righty, as well as wanted him to leave town, but he remained under center and somehow managed to win a Super Bowl ring, which still leaves many football gurus wonder, how’d he do it?

In ’10, Manning tossed 31 touchdowns and 25 interceptions, which clearly proves that he’s not the greatest gunslinger in the game. In fact, his 25 interceptions are the most he’s ever thrown in his eight-year career, which might be somewhat of a red flag, right? Again, how can someone consider him one the best quarterbacks, especially if he throws numerous interceptions?

Brady will always be considered a legend, as well as one of the games greatest signal callers in league history and yes, he’s also won three Super Bowls too. Yet, besides earning the Patriots some hardware, he’s also a six-time Pro Bowler, as well as a two-time First Team All-Pro. Brady has also proven that he’s Mr. Clutch and is certainly someone fans can trust with the game on the line.

All in all, I think it’s fair to state that Eli Manning is either easy crazy or trying to insult the Patriots. Who knows where this whole, “I am in the same class” comment came from, but expect the Giants-Patriots game to be circled on New England’s calendar. Brady, as well as his counterparts have been insulted or bashed numerous times over the years; however, it’s usually the Patriots who get the last laugh.

The NFL Is Back and Ready to Roll

Jeff Saturday hugs New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, as the NFL announced the end of the lockout on Monday.

By Hayden Bird 

While questions abound, one thing is now beyond doubt: the National Football League will return, triumphantly for the 2011 season.

On Monday, July 25, 2011, the NFL agreed to new 10-year collective bargaining agreement with no opt-out clause, (so we’re guaranteed a decade before another lockout can happen again) and in the famous words of a man who once saved from a similarly horrible fate, “tonight, I shall sleep the sleep of the saved and the thankful.”

Yet for all our jubilation at the return of our beloved pastime, there remains a lingering question.

For example, the NFL has apparently allotted $1 billion in “new funds” for retired players, with a reported $620 million to be used for a specially created “Legacy Fund” that would increase the pensions of players who retired before 1993.

No one outside of the immediately involved parties knows the details of this agreement yet. What constitutes a “retired player”? And is the newly added $1 billion taken from the players cut of the revenue?

Still, the agreement is in place, with an amazing amount of progress.

The Basics:  The crux of the conflict between the owners and the players was over redrawing the revenue distribution and in the end, there wasn’t much of a change. Sure, technically the owners “won” by forcing themselves into a majority of the revenue in an agreement that had previously been closer to a 50-50 split.

But the previous agreement had allowed the owners to take one billion dollars off the top every season. Now, that money gets included in the split with the players.

To summarize, everyone will be a little richer. That might be a gross over-simplification of months of negotiating, but it’s true nonetheless.

Also, the 18-game season idea went out the window. At least until 2013, when the owners can officially try and lobby for it again, but it would require that the players agree to it, so it’s not likely.

The cap gets reinstalled at a lower rate than in 2009 (there was no cap last year). In the near term, there’s a degree of wiggle room for teams who would otherwise struggle to adjust to a newer, lower cap in other circumstances (ahem Dallas Cowboys).

A new addition is a minimum salary cap. So to the people, who run the Cincinnati Bengals, just know that you can no longer nickel and dime your franchise. 99% of the salary cap must be spent in cash over the next two years. After that it settles to a slightly lower margin, but still guarantees a raise for players with minimum deals.

Does Sam Bradford deserve a large salary?

Rookie Contracts: The rookie contract situation is the centerpiece of what fans would call “progress” in this deal.

Last year around this time, the football world was looking around in unmitigated horror as Sam Bradford, the 2010 NFL draft’s first overall pick who had yet to play a down, was signed to a contract with more guaranteed money than three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.

That kind of insanity is usually reserved for our Federal Government (themselves in a serious negotiation).

So the NFL parties resolved this issue, drastically reducing rookie contracts. Cam Newton, instead of garnering a deal which Peyton Manning would covet, can now expect a salary on par with a mediocre starter.

To put it in perspective: instead of Sam Bradford’s six year, $78 million contract, Newton’s maximum will be roughly only $22 million over four years, with a fifth year option that could up the deal to $36 million overall.

That’s a big change, one that rookies will now feel instantly, as they sign up almost instantly for their new teams.

Training Camps: Rookies won’t be the only ones finding the rapid conditions of the new CBA difficult to take in. Established players, coaches and fans alike will now be scrambling to adjust.

Keep in mind that coaches and players haven’t been able to officially talk in months. Now, in the blink of an eye, we’re told that all 32 training camps will be going by the end of the week.

It defines the NFL’s modern concept of speed and its central role in the game.

Free Agency: Teams and free agents can now talk, and deals can be officially processed starting on Friday. Between camps starting and a shortened free agent period, this should make for some perfectly bizarre scenes where new players have mere days to acclimate before showing up in preseason games.

And speaking of preseason games, they will come back starting August 11th.

So after months of trepidation and panic for the many millions of NFL fans, we can thankfully note that only the Hall of Fame game looks set to be a casualty to the formally closed Lockout of 2011.