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Monday, May 2, 2016

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Bengals Reportedly Considered Benching T.O. Prior to Knee Injury

Wide receiver Terrell Owens ended his season in about the most fitting fashion possible: catchless. Actually, T.O. was playing well for the Bengals who had lost 10 in a row before beating the Browns Sunday, but his mouth apparently was becoming a problem in Cincinnati. You telling me coaches and organizations don’t enjoy being called terrible by their players? There’s a shocker.

Anyway, Owens left Cincinnati’s game Sunday during the team’s first possession after hurting his knee. It’s quite a downer for T.O. given the way his season had been going — he had 72 catches, 983 yards, and nine touchdowns — strong numbers for any receiver, regardless of team and age. Owens even went through a five-game stretch where he scored at least one touchdown.

But before the knee injury even arose, Pro Football Talk reported that the Bengals were considering deactivating Terrell for the final three games of the season. Cincinnati had lost 10 in a row with him in the lineup, so as long as he was ripping the organization what did they have to lose? The knee injury went ahead and fixed the glitch, but the latest report is detrimental to T.O.’s future.

Owens was lucky the Bengals took a chance on him this year. Though he played well and the rest of the team stunk, he regained his reputation as a locker room disturbance. What team will want him now, especially since he’s returning from knee surgery? It may be the end of the road for The Player, and it’s quite an ignominious exit for T.O.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Kohl

Matt Flynn Impresses Even in Loss to Pats

If you thought the Patriots were going to hammer the Packers on Sunday night because Matt Flynn was in for Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, you’re not alone. I think we all can raise our hands if we were asked that question. That also means everyone outside of Matt’s parents were shocked by how well he played.

The former 7th round pick from LSU went 24/37 for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss on Sunday night. Flynn threw an interception, lost a fumble, and was sacked five times, but he had Green Bay in the game the entire time and he played better than almost anyone could have anticipated. Flynn matched Tom Brady pass for pass and actually looked better than the MVP-candidate for most of the game.

Some people will criticize Flynn and say he proved his youth and inexperience with the way he mishandled the end of the game. I disagree — I don’t think many other quarterbacks would have managed things better. Spare me the “he learned his clock management in college from Les Miles” talk — Matt Flynn was impressive in his first career start and proved he is fully capable of leading the Packers to victory in the future.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Donald Brown Breaks Out for Colts, Austin Collie Goes Down with Third Concussion

With their 9th straight playoff appearance on the line at home against the Jaguars, the Colts scratched out a 34-24 win. Jacksonville has to be extremely disappointed with the loss because a win would have given them their first ever AFC South title. The Colts however have some bad news to bring them down from the delight of their win.

Wide receiver Austin Collie, who was returning from his second concussion of the season, broke out as we predicted. He caught eight passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns in his first game since week 11. But Collie was led into triple coverage on a bad pass by Peyton Manning late in the first half and had his head hit hard. Collie was down for a few minutes before walking off the field after suffering his third concussion of the season. There is little doubt that Collie is done for the season and one can’t help but wonder if this may become a chronic problem for the second-year receiver from BYU.

The bright side for the Colts was the strong play by Donald Brown. The former first-round pick busted out with his best career performance, rushing for a career high 128 yards including a 43-yard touchdown and 49-yard run. With starter Joseph Addai still out because of a neck injury and Mike Hart out with an ankle injury, it’s on Donald Brown to carry the Colts’ league-worst rushing attack. On Sunday, he did just that. With the Jags home against the Redskins and at Houston to close out the season and the Colts at Oakland and home against Tennessee, I like Jacksonville’s chances of beating out Indy for the division.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Matt Cassel Fought Through Appendectomy to Lead Chiefs in St. Louis

Matt Cassel may have been a disappointment for the Chiefs last year, but the sixth year quarterback is earning his pay this season. Cassel has played turnover-free football, throwing for 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions all season. In fact, Cassel had gone 163 pass attempts without interception until Kevin Dockery picked him off in the first quarter of Sunday’s clash with the Rams.

Cassel did not look his best against the Rams but he played well enough to win against a pretty good defense. He went 15/29 for 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception against St. Louis. Cassel also carried six times for 17 yards including a 13-yard run to pick up a key first down. The numbers certainly were not spectacular but it was Cassel’s accomplishment that stood out; the former Patriot was playing for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove his appendix on December 7th.

After missing last weekend’s critical contest in San Diego and being limited in practice all week, Cassel did not know how his conditioning would be for the game. He even said he didn’t do much in pregame warmups to conserve energy for the game.

Cassel may not be an MVP candidate or even the best offensive playmaker on his team (Jamaal Charles is, thank you), but Cassel deserves recognition for his steady season and for playing through pain. Even though it was a laparoscopic procedure, it’s impressive that Cassel could come back from surgery so quickly to lead his team to victory on Sunday.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tom Gannam

Seahawks Could Turn to Charlie Whitehurst After Latest Matt Hasselbeck Stinker

If the 6-8 record didn’t already tell you the Seattle Seahawks were in trouble this season, their thoughts of naming Charlie Whitehurst the starting quarterback should spell out their problems. Seattle got blitzed at home by the Falcons 34-18, gaining just 234 yards on offense. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck went 10/17 for 71 yards and two interceptions.

The Seahawks actually started the game off with a 12-play, 80 yard touchdown drive to go up 7-0. Matt Hasselbeck led the team to points on two of his four first-half drives, but they went three-and-out twice. It was after halftime that things turned into a disaster.

Hasselbeck was strip-sacked on his first play of the third quarter, allowing the Falcons to recover for a touchdown. His next two possessions he was intercepted in his territory leading to a field goal and touchdown. After the putrid performance by Hasselbeck, the Seahawks turned to Charlie Whitehurst.

Whitehurst entered the game with his team down 34-10 and he led them on a touchdown drive to make it 34-18. His next two drives were unsuccessful, but his ability to move around the pocket makes him an alternative for Pete Carroll. Carroll hasn’t decided on a starter for next week’s game, but based on a poll, the fans want to see a change.

Charlie Whitehurst is not the answer for Seattle but Matt Hasselbeck just is not reliable. Still, with the team still in the mix for the division title they should stick with Hasselbeck. As bad as he’s been he still gives the Seahawks their best chance of winning.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson; AP Photo/John Froschauer

Matt Dodge Now Infamous Amongst Giants Fans for Punting to DeSean Jackson

Prior to Sunday, no NFL game had ever ended on a punt return for a touchdown. Thanks to the Giants, that streak has been broken.

After blowing a 31-10 lead with 7:28 left in the game, the Giants were punting on the final play of regulation to try and send the contest to overtime tied at 31. Rookie punter Matt Dodge got a high snap, hurried his punt, and kicked it to return man DeSean Jackson. Jackson got a great block that took out three Giants players and handled the rest, recording his fourth career punt return for a touchdown.

The Eagles somehow pulled off the 38-31 miracle comeback victory and the Giants probably still don’t know what happened. As for Dodge, his status is probably more certain than anyone else; we’ll be shocked if he’s still employed on Monday. Dodge did not blow the 21-point lead in the 4th quarter, but he was instructed to punt the ball out of bounds away from Jackson and he failed to come through.

You better believe that’s the last time the Giants use a draft pick on the punter. Damn rookies. And somehow I don’t believe Giants fans will be putting together a facebook support group for him.

Ray Rice Has Best Career Game for Ravens to Beat Saints at Home

The matchup in Baltimore between the Saints and Ravens was one of several key games with heavy playoff implications Sunday. Baltimore won it 30-24 to solidify their playoff chances, making both teams 10-4. The defense held New Orleans to just 269 yards and forced two turnovers, ending the Saints’ six game winning streak. The rest of the work was taken care of by running back Ray Rice.

If you saw any of the game, it felt like every time you looked up Rice was breaking a big play. The pint-sized runner from Rutgers rushed for 153 yards on 31 carries, both season highs. He ran in Baltimore’s second touchdown giving them a 14-7 lead, and then he made it 21-7 with a beautiful 17-yard touchdown catch in single coverage. In addition to the season high rushing game, Rice also was the team’s leading receiver by far, racking up five catches for 80 yards.

Rice has had several big games in his career (see last year’s playoff game against the Patriots, his 155-yard game last year against the Steelers), but this was his best. Rice’s 233 scrimmage yards were a career high for the emerging star, and the best part is they came against a strong defense and in a key game with the playoffs on the line. It was great timing for the Ravens, but probably too late for most fantasy owners who were burned by Rice’s disappointing season until now.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass

Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe: TCF Bank Stadium Is ‘Unplayable,’ Like Concrete

The last two weeks has been an utter disaster for the Minnesota Vikings. Brett Favre’s consecutive games streak was snapped, backup Tarvaris Jackson got hurt and ended up on injured reserve, the Metrodome roof collapsed because of snow, and the Monday night game was moved to TCF Bank Stadium. Yes, the NFL decided to keep Minnesota’s game local instead of moving them to a neutral field like they did last week.

Even though the game will be a quasi-home game for the Vikings, there still have been some problems. In addition to beer not being available for fans at the college stadium, the stadium had become “winterized,” meaning it was covered in snow. It took tons of work to get the field ready for a game on short notice but that doesn’t mean the conditions will be safe.

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe went through a walk-through at the stadium with his team and had immediate concerns about the playing field. He tweeted “Serious time – All respect to the people that cleared the field and got it ready, you did an amazing job. That being said, it’s unplayable. The field is as hard as concrete an hour and a half after they took the tarp off, and anyone that hits their head is getting a concussion. I find it interesting that the NFL can claim an emphasis on player safety, and then tell us the field is fine. It’s beyond hypocritical.”

The NFL says they’ve been informed by the grounds crew that the field is in good condition. As bad as the conditions have been around the NFL for most games the past two weeks, the playing field in Minnesota has the potential to be the worst. TCF Bank Stadium does not have field heaters unlike many other stadiums, and the weather is expected to be in the 20s with snow. That’s a recipe for disaster if you ask me, not to mention Kluwe.

(Pictured: TCF Bank Stadium ground courtesy of Visanthe Shiancoe)

Colts’ Ninth Straight Playoff Appearance on the Line

The Indianapolis Colts have missed the playoffs just twice with Peyton Manning as their quarterback — in his rookie season of 1998 and in 2001.  They are currently riding a streak of eight straight playoff appearances, but that streak is in serious jeopardy today as they face the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts lost a heartbreaker to the Jags in Week 4 on a Josh Scobee field goal as time expired.

Sundays game is a must-win for the Colts. If they lose, their playoff hopes will be shot, and contract negotiations with Manning may have to start a little sooner. If they beat the Jags, the two teams will have identical overall winning percentages and divisional winning percentages — the first two NFL playoff tie-breakers. The third tie-breaker — winning percentage in common games — would give the edge to the Colts. Each team has one game remaining against an opponent the other has already beaten, so as long as the Colts win out the Jags can’t catch them. After today’s game, neither team has a game remaining against a playoff contender.

The Colts have already seen their streak of seven consecutive 12-win seasons snapped, and surely don’t want to lose this one too. They may not win out, but I can’t imagine they will lose today — at home, with their playoff lives on the line — though Manning has been less-than-spectacular in playoff games. That’s what this game today is for the Colts. Win and your still alive. Lose and we’ll see you next year.

Jason Witten is Very Sensitive About His Bald Spot

Make fun of Jason Witten’s bald spot and you might find yourself shopping for a new car. Just ask Stephen McGee. When McGee made fun of Witten for his thinning hair during OTAs, Witten arranged for McGee’s sports car to be buried in dirt and crap — literally. No seriously, cow manure.

The second year quarterback told his tale as follows:

After the practice facility fell down they were re-doing our fields at the time. It was my first OTAs and I had commented on Jason Witten’s bald spot… When we got back from practice my car was gone. They had these big piles of dirt and debris and all kind of stuff. And they had filled in dirt piles around my car back where the old shed is…he told me, ‘Don’t talk about my bald spot,’ or something. … They were re-sodding the fields and they had sand and manure. There were several piles of stuff that they had been using to work on the field. They pulled it in there and dumped a pile of sand, a pile of the manure stuff, it stunk terrible. I couldn’t get my car out. I ended up driving through the sand. I had a little sports car. It wasn’t made to go through sand piles.”

I can’t exactly tell what McGee’s tone was as he was explaining the incident, but I know I would be pissed.  He’s a backup quarterback, so it’s not like he’s making big bucks.  Make fun of my hair and I ruin your car?  At least the Cowboys players know who they shouldn’t be screwing with.

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