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Week 20 NFL Game Recaps



Patriots 23, Ravens 20

  • How do you miss a 32-yard field goal? Billy Cundiff was paid $2.2 million this year. It's simply inexcusable that he couldn't convert a routine kick to send this game to overtime. He can't be allowed back to this team. Not after this.

    Of course, Cundiff shouldn't have been in that position anyway because Joe Flacco threw a game-winning touchdown to Lee Evans two plays earlier. Unfortunately for Baltimore, Evans couldn't hang on to the football, as Sterling Moore, who was on the practice squad earlier in the year, knocked the ball out of his hands. Moore saved the season for Tom Brady, who has now tied John Elway for most Super Bowl appearances (5) and Joe Montana for most playoff victories (16). If Brady wins in two weeks, it's an easy argument to say that he's the best quarterback in NFL history.

  • Brady didn't play like the best quarterback in NFL history in this contest, however. He finished 22-of-36 for 239 yards, one rushing touchdown and two interceptions. He was just off. The picks weren't really his fault because they were just great plays by the Baltimore defense (the second, which Bernard Pollard tipped to Jimmy Smith in the end zone, is the best interception I've ever seen), but Brady missed some routine throws, including one where he had Rob Gronkowski open in the end zone.

    Brady will obviously need to play better in the Super Bowl because his defense isn't good enough to carry the team. If Moore doesn't knock the ball out of Evans' hands, the Patriots would have surrendered a game-winning drive to Joe freaking Flacco. That says it all.

  • Speaking of Flacco, he was pretty brutal early on, but got into a rhythm in the second and third quarters just when it looked like he wouldn't be able to get a first down. Flacco finished 22-of-36 for 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He scrambled smartly when needed (4-27) and made some really nice throws, though New England's putrid defense made it pretty easy for him. Unfortunately, the pick was awful, as it was heaved right to Brandon Spikes with 7:30 remaining in regulation in Patriots' territory.

    Flacco deserves a ton of credit for this near-victory because he was handicapped by Cam Cameron's atrocious play-calling. Cameron decided to run the ball on first down on the opening three drives, putting Flacco in second-and-long each time. The Ravens consequently had to punt on all three occasions.

    Cameron's play-calling would improve, but he really screwed up on the penultimate drive of the fourth quarter. He had Ray Rice run a draw on 3rd-and-3 on the New England 30 - a down in which the Ravens couldn't lose yardage no matter what. Rice was tackled three yards behind the line of scrimmage, forcing Baltimore to go for it on 4th-and-6. Flacco would throw incomplete because of pressure.

    If I'm Cameron, I'm sending Cundiff a gift basket (and perhaps a suitcase full of money) because if the kicker doesn't whiff on that field goal, Cameron would have been the easy scapegoat.

  • There was one seemingly critical injury in this contest, and that was to Gronkowski. The big tight end injured his ankle and had to be helped into the locker room. He would eventually return, so that bodes well for his chances to play in two weeks. The Gronk led the team with 87 receiving yards (5 catches). Both Aaron Hernandez (7-66) and Wes Welker (6-53) had more receptions.

  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the lone Patriot skill-position player to find the end zone. The Law Firm was a monster, bulldozing the Baltimore defense for 68 yards on just 15 carries. He was so impressive that I joked, "Green-Ellis is the second coming of Walter Payton!" in the Live In-Games Thread on the forum.

  • Green-Ellis amazingly edged out Rice by a single yard. Rice dashed for 67 yards on 21 carries. He had just one reception for 11 more yards, which makes you wonder why he wasn't a bigger factor in the aerial attack.

  • Anquan Boldin had a second-consecutive solid performance, hauling in six grabs for 101 yards. Torrey Smith (3-82) and Dennis Pitta (5-41) both found the end zone. Smith could have had a much greater performance, as he was open twice for deep balls, but Flacco overthrew him on both occasions.

    Ed Dickson, meanwhile, really struggled. He had a big drop and was guilty of a crucial false start in the fourth quarter.

  • Congratulations to the Patriots for advancing to Super Bowl XLVI. I'm rooting for Bob Kraft because of his wife's passing earlier this year. However, I have to criticize him for one thing. He needs to shell out more money for the national anthem performer. Yes, the homeless woman poured her heart and soul into singing the Star-Spangled Banner, but Kraft needs to get a musician who doesn't live in a cardboard box next time.





    Giants 20, 49ers 17

  • Cam Cameron obtained Ten Ginn with the ninth-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, a selection that was viewed at the time as a major reach. Who would have thought that four-and-a-half years later, Cameron would be one of the scapegoats for one championship game loss, while Ginn's absence would be the reason for another championship defeat?

    Seriously, how big was Ginn's knee injury? If he's in the game, the 49ers don't muff a punt and fumble a return in overtime. You really have to feel for Kyle Williams. Unlike Billy Cundiff, Williams' main job isn't returning punts. He was in the game because Ginn was hurt. That doesn't excuse his two crucial mistakes that led to 10 New York points, but if you're comparing Williams to Cundiff, it's no contest. The kicker was more responsible.

  • This was a dead-even game otherwise. The total yardage was 319-319 at the end of regulation, and both squads would have been worthy NFC champions. The reason I picked the Giants, however, was that an even matchup like this would go to the team with the better quarterback. And Eli Manning was unquestionably the superior signal-caller.

    Manning went 32-of-58 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. That's an impressive stat line considering the immense pressure he was under. He seldom had time in the pocket and took six sacks (2.5 from Ray McDonald). San Francisco's defense definitely came to play.

    As for Alex Smith, he was 12-of-26 for 196 yards and two scores. He made a couple of great throws to Vernon Davis, but two things stick out to me. First, he had an open Kyle Williams downfield for a long touchdown in the second quarter, but overthrew him by about five yards. Second, Smith couldn't convert a third down to save his life. He was 1-of-13 in those situations, with the only positive result coming right at the very end of regulation when the Giants allowed him to complete a pass well short of the end zone.

    I don't want you to think that Smith is a lost cause or anything. He made great strides this year, and it wouldn't be fair to dismiss him because of this loss, especially after his late-game heroics versus New Orleans. He deserves a chance with more than one weapon to throw to. Vernon Davis was a monster again (3-112, 2 TDs), but no other Niner receiver or tight end did anything. Michael Crabtree caught one ball for three years yards.

  • Frank Gore had a really nice game. He rushed for 74 yards on just 16 carries, and chipped in with six catches for 45 receiving yards. Remember when I said this contest was evenly played? Well, Ahmad Bradshaw had the same amount of rushing yards and receptions (20-74; 6-52).

  • The star for the Giants was Victor Cruz, who had a whopping 10 grabs for 142 yards. All of his work came early though, and he didn't get a single reception in about 10 of the final drives. Hakeem Nicks (5-55) also played well, while Mario Manningham (1-17) and Bear Pascoe (1-6) caught Manning's touchdowns.



    My playoff 2011 NFL Power Rankings, will be posted Monday morning.

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    Douglas 08-02-2012 12:12 am xxx.xxx.xxx.161 (total posts: 1)
    8     9

    11.02.09 at 10:27 pmKevinJaguars have always been a run denfsee team. This play pissed me off so bad yesterday. Brian Russell ruined that game for the Jaguars. Tho Reggie Nelson should NEVER have been playing CORNER when he is a SAFETY (if u even want to call him that.) Reggie misses a tackle at the line of scrimmage then Russell gets knocked out like a B1tch.
    Denys 08-02-2012 12:12 am xxx.xxx.xxx1.28 (total posts: 7)
    9     9

    Nice Work Alex!Cool video of buds playing some barkyacd pigskin. Was it after Thanksgiving Dinner? Heh!Glad to see you are living the dream of me and a lot of aspiring sports media professionals.
    Hayckal 08-01-2012 11:19 pm xxx.xxx.xxx1.28 (total posts: 7)
    8     10

    11.03.09 at 4:34 pmSkim172At least Landry and Gay made contact brfeoe getting thrown like a rag doll. And they got trucked by Jacobs and Peterson. Big guy and Purple Jesus.Johnson's what, 180 pounds? And Russell didn't get trucked the top of his helmet sorta touches Johnson's shoulder pad, but that, that's all Russell right there. Jacksonville really doesn't have anyone better? Has Del Rio just given up on this football thing?
    Avijit 08-01-2012 11:04 pm xxx.xxx.xxx1.28 (total posts: 7)
    27     9

    Despite my chagrin, I will hudlde under the table as I say, the bengals. The turn-over in players from last season and many seasons prior has done the team some good. The trading of Mr. Chad Ochocinco and Mr. Carson Palmer has increased the overall morale. Without so much of the negativity, I think they will do much better this season. Now, let's talk about T.O.
    Maizatul 07-31-2012 02:56 pm xxx.xxx.xxx0.93 (total posts: 1)
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    being a long time dallas fan sad to say its been more bad than good but isnt that what being a fan is all about rotoing for your team through the good times and the bad even though it seems there are more bad than good i picked my team when i was seven sadly foy the colors and star but now i am 37 and love them for more than the colors and the star today wich go boys tonite!!!!!
    Divine 07-31-2012 02:10 am xxx.xxx.xxxnown (total posts: 3)
    12     9

    05.03.11 at 1:41 pmUnfrozen Caveman LawyerI would put Charles Haley's transformation from stone cold kiellr to lovable grandpa on par with George Foreman's. Neither of those transformations can hold a candle to Mike Tyson's though.
    Deborah 07-02-2012 01:59 am xxx.xxx.xxx4.84 (total posts: 1)
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    I'll say it again. Have you been underestimating the value of Tech plareys? Because the team that won Saturday was better prepared, made fewer penalties and scored more points. This is interesting since Texas catapulted to the top of the ranks and everyone expected it. Tech slowly climbs and people STILL doubt them. Amazing ...Must be "the system". Knot
    Keila 07-02-2012 01:54 am xxx.xxx.xxx8.37 (total posts: 1)
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    What the heck was the saftey (#12) doing on that play... why does he take the "under" route when only two plaecs Crabtree can go is (1) up the field or (2) out of bounds? How horrible was the Texas defense on that last drive. Freshman - you have to make that interception on the previous play!!!! It was gift wrapped!!TX and OU are now in the same boat... great offenses with horrible defenses... they are the Texas Tech of 2002-2007.I'm still not convinced about Tech, lets see what they do against OSU (next week at home) then OU (Norman)... i'm thinking a payback is due in Norman for last years "official" review debacle.
    Willy 07-02-2012 01:35 am xxx.xxx.xxx9.71 (total posts: 1)
    10     9

    Living on the West Coast, I got to see a lot of Locker. I was always imsspreed with his athleticism and he had a couple of big wins against USC even though his team around him was absolute garbage. He has good arm strength, mobility, is an athletic freak (also drafted to play pro baseball) and is a competitor. He has had struggles with accuracy, but I think that's an overblown knock because of the lack of talent around him. I think if the Bengals could grab him late in the first or top of the second, he'd be a good pick there.
    Edgar 06-29-2012 11:28 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.185 (total posts: 1)
    9     9

    Jake Locker is an athlete and a leeadr. Pure and simple. He made a great run in 2009 and put up great numbers, but the players around him last season were less than spectacular which is why he struggled. Jake has great size, great agility for a QB and toughness is definitely not something an NFL team needs to worry about. If Jake can get picked up by a team where he can learn behind an established QB on their way out like McNabb, Kerry Collins or Chad Pennington then he will be a very effective NFL QB. If Jake gets thrown into the league as a Rookie with expectations that mirror the success of Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford, than Jake Locker will be destined to fail. (David Carr, Ryan Leaf)Jake Locker has all of the tools and can make all of the throws that an NFL QB needs to be able to make, it is just a matter of having the patience to work with him for longer than 1 training camp before making him the 1st string QB.
    Ceren 06-29-2012 10:02 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.176 (total posts: 1)
    8     11

    i understand the rules but i think some veewirs are right you should do a video explaining the rules so people would get more into the game and in the videos AA ..apart from that great video one more time :D greetings from a proud member of the Boyah Nation Papamaki
    Thole 06-29-2012 08:30 pm xxx.xxx.xxx.149 (total posts: 1)
    9     11

    its a type of offense that was cteared by coach Urban Meyer when he use to coach Bowling Green. He had a horrible QB so he made new scheme where the Qb could run out of the pocket for quick yards or throw for about 5-15 yards. Its the type the Atlanta falcons use to help build on Micheal Vick's strengths.
    Sonia 06-29-2012 05:05 pm xxx.xxx.xxx1.28 (total posts: 7)
    8     9

    I think that the NFL should not ctiuarl endzone celebrations because as a fan i believe that when players such as Chad Johnson and Terrel Owens celebrate, it not only makes the game better but it also makes them better as players and it gives them more hunger for more.
    Solihat 06-29-2012 05:05 pm xxx.xxx.xxx1.28 (total posts: 7)
    9     9

    there is plenty more to know woman the reorcd for most fantasy points in a season IS held by dan marino s 1984 season when he threw for a reorcd 48 touchdowns. even though peyton manning broke that reorcd with 49 touchdowns, marino threw for 500 more yardsMarino-5,084/48 TD Manning-4,557/49TD.in a single season i would think it was LT 2 years ago when he ran in 3 threw 1 and caught 1. but who knows it could of been tony romo last year with 5 touchdowns against tampa on thanksgiving. he was on my bench behind peyton manning what a shame. Was this answer helpful?
    Elisabeth Constantine 04-05-2012 04:44 am xxx.xxx.xxx8.48 (total posts: 4)
    19     17



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