Pittsburgh/Green bay shootout lives up to the billing

What a ballgame this was. Somehow I knew this would be a classic just like the game that took place back in 1995 between these two teams on Christmas Eve was. I had no idea that it would have such a dramatic finish and be such a showcase of two great young QB’s slinging the ball all over the yard until the final gun ended with Roethlisberger firing a touchdown pass and the Steelers rising to victory 37-36.
Aaron Rodgers finished with 3 TD, no interceptions and 383 yards. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 503 yards against the second ranked pass defense and got the ball last. It was one of those games that the team who gets the ball last ends up getting the win. And Ben Roethlisberger looked the part of future Hall of Famer against the 2nd ranked pass defense in the NFL.
Many questioned why Mike Tomlin would kick onside with his team up only 2 points and a Packers offense waiting to take over for the win. It’s the type of move that if it fails; and it looked for a moment that it did, Tomlin is second guessed all offseason. But Tomlin’s move looked genius after Roethlisberger and the Steelers methodically drove down field with less than two minutes to go for the win. Tomlin claimed that he knew the Packers would score and that his defense wouldn’t have been able to hold up anyways. The difference in kicking onsides was that it left the Steelers one more bullett to fire and time to win the game.
Ultimately, only Green Bay is probably a playoff team. They came in as one of the hottest teams in the NFL and looked like they were going to keep rolling, but Pittsburgh knocked them off and ruined their chances at a 12 win season.
This will go down in history as a game that probably ends up on NFL classic in a decade or so, and both of these Quarterbacks are at the top of their game. Time and again the throws that both Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger made were just throws that show you how far behind some of the other QB in the NFL really are.
I can’t wait to see Green Bay get their crack at some other NFC teams in the playoffs.

It’s Sunday

There’s some bad weather games arriving here the weekend before Christmas. Let’s hope that in Kansas City a certain #10 plays like Johnny Unitas. There’s also a big game in Pittsburgh at 4:00 PM with the Packers and Steelers going throwback. We’ll be at the sports bar to catch the Browns game in early action then possibly to the fam’s for the 4:00 games.

Should be one of those classic Sundays that ends too quickly.

Game Preview: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

This one should be an entertaining and close game between a 2-11 team and a 3-10 team. The Browns are coming off what might have been a season highlight in a win over their rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Chiefs are really struggling in every phase of the game and the one bright spot for them is that the Browns have not won a game at Arrowhead Stadium since 1988.

The Browns are toying with the idea of lining Joshua Cribbs up at halfback this week. Look for Brady Quinn to spread about 20 attempts between Evan Moore, Mohammed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, and Jerome Harrison. Greg Jennings got 20 carries against Pittsburgh and yielded 73 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully he and Harrison can average over 4 yards per carry in this one and pick up some tough yards.

The Chiefs are allowing opposing QB’s over a 90 QB rating this season. Both Matt Casselland Brady Quinn come in very similarly in terms of QB rating and the fact that both will be facing terrible pass defenses tomorrow. Look for both teams to have a lot of drops and errant passes (Cassel threw four INT last week alone against Buffalo) and keep the score down based on that.

A huge ‘X’ factor in this game will be Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. I thought when this guy was drafted he had superstar written all over him coming out of Texas, and he’s making that guy feeling look a little bit like a realistic possibility. He’s having a season a little bit like William Green had in his rookie year with the Browns when he was on fire down the stretch and finished with 889 yards.
Charles could be at that total by the end of Sunday’s contest if things don’t go well for the Browns. Cleveland might be missing Robaire Smith and Kenyon Coleman for this game.
At the end of the day, it will be a close game that both teams want pretty badly. This is a very tough game to pick but my gut tells me that the Browns will somehow get the managed victory in this one. When I say managed, I think that it’s a very conservative game with a few inches deciding between loss and win for either side. If you like offense, expect the Browns to go conservative in this one.
Prediction: Browns 17 Chiefs 16

Mike Holmgren Interview recap

Mike Holmgren was interviewed today. Here’s a quick recap in case you missed it:

* Got in Mon. Spent Tues with Lerner. Checked out houses and different things on Tuesday. Flew back to Arizona on Wednesday. No money talk. Getting to know each other better. Great people, great owner, great trip. Lot of work to do but gained a lot of info.
* Pretty good feeling when left. Lot of dealings w/ Lerner, honest man and good guy. Liked everything he heard. Real good chance there.
* (in regards to what position he’d hold) Would be “any and all” situation. Thinking about current set-up. Time table working on. Wanted time to think about it and talk to some people.
* (timetable for decision) Sooner than later. Fairness to Browns you have to that. If they approached you and have had these talks, earlier than most, in fairness have to make decision and let them know. Exactly is unkown but sooner than later.
* (about Mangini) Unfair to talk too much about Mangini. Good coach, bright guy, works hard. Have to see. When responsible for HC, in fairness to everybody you better give everyone a chance. There are situations when you make after one year but having been a coach that’s not fair to judge on one year. But those type of decisions are not fair and are tough and sometimes you have to make them.
* Lerner deserves an answer quick. Feels it would be right thing to do. Wonderful opp. as good of a job situation you could ask for.
* Never analyzed what is in place, salary cap, roster, etc.. Looks at who wants him. If it needs fixing then will do it. Rebuilding is in blood. Will look at jobs different then someone else. Biggest attract for CLE so far is ownership. Lerner would like his team to succeed for the city. Genuine guy and very impressed by talking to him. QBs, other stuff, would like a little better when work but they really are distance second, thirds and fourths. Good job with a lot of resp. and no layers between him and Lerner. Really appealing to him in that aspect.
* Haven’t watched Quinn much. Browns think the world of him. DA had really good game couple years ago against SEA. If you have two guys, then it becomes hard for QBs and for team. Not what’s right for team and that’s what we’ve done. By third year if a guy has played and played in one system then you know what you have. BQ hasn’t even come close to this point. He would have to learn a lot more and study to make any good answer.
* Really talking about how this impacts his family. He will make decision but has to involved his wife. She realizes he wants to work again.

Five Pick Friday: Twas the Week before Christmas

We’ve arrived at that very special point in the season where it’s the week before Christmas group of games. All of the games this weekend will show the NFL taking full advantage of your holiday spirit and the graphic “Happy Holidays” will be posted along the bottom of every game to welcome you back from commercial breaks. You see, this will be the last time that we see the NFL before Santa and his reindeer come.

Dallas and New Orleans hook up for the Saturday before Christmas spectacular. Remember when the NFL was cool and you were younger and there were two or three games on that Saturday? Not anymore. This should make for an excellent game and I expect the Cowboys to give New Orleans the fight of their lives. It’s in the Big Easy. I think New Orleans will get the victory at home and stay undefeated. Cowboys will put up some points.

The Steelers and Packers have hooked up for a game before Christmas before in my lifetime. It was a 24-19 epic in Green Bay on Christmas eve in 1995. I think this game coming up Sunday in Pittsburgh will be equally as entertaining. You don’t want to miss it. I expect a shootout that comes down to the wire. Aaron Rodgers vs. Big Ben. The Steelers will show their character in this one. I like Pittsburgh to get the upset and knock off the Packers later.

I shy away from picking the Browns games. It’s bad luck, and they always go the other way. I honestly don’t see them winning two in a row, especially in a tough place like Kansas City where they haven’t won since 1988. It’ll be some kind of low scoring affair with lots of miscues. Chiefs get the “W”.

Atlanta takes on the New York Jets. Someone’s season ends there at the Meadowlands. Matt Ryan is still questionable to play. Atlanta has no chance with him. Rex Ryan will find a way to keep his team alive for one more week. It’s just not in the cards for the Falcons this year. The Jets get the victory.

UPSET PICK: Cincinnati goes to San Diego in the wake of losing their teammate Chris Henry. I’d like to see the Bengals win this game. It should also be a pretty good contest filled with a lot of drama. The Chargers are rolling, and until someone knocks them off…… you know what? I’m going with the Bengals in what the national media will latch onto as one of the best feel good stories of the season.

Last Week: 4-1
Season: 22-16

Chris Henry 1983-2009

Tragic news this morning out of Charlotte. Bengals Wide Receiver Chris Henry has died.

Henry suffered injuries after he “came out” the back of a pickup truck following a domestic situation with his fiance. The incident occurred after the couple had purchased engagement rings, adding to the confusing situation.

I worked for the Bengals in 2005, the first summer that Chris Henry was a member of the Bengals.

He got into all kinds of trouble, but the one thing that really kept shining through about Henry was that for all the trouble he got into off the field he was a guy who was bailed out time and again by immense talent. If he could have put it all together; something that many in the organization had thought he was doing currently, he could have been a star in the NFL.

He had size, speed, good hands, and the ability to get open. It was never a wonder to me why he got chance after chance while other guys got cut. Marvin Lewis knew this guy was talented.

By many accounts, Henry was a good guy who struggled to stay good. His star shined bright at moments and after seeing that glimmer he’d slowly disappear. It is not surprising that his life ends in this manner.

Heavy hearts this holiday season for his children, and prayers to his loved ones. This is unfortunate.

Interview transcript from yesterday’s open locker room. “I don’t know. How I’ve always processed myself is more of a week-to-week thing. I am not really looking at the whole season or my whole time while playing. I am worrying about Kansas City right now and preparing for them and all of that technical stuff is something that we will work on in the offseason.” [The OBR]