A Black (Midnight) Mass in Oakland


A great Christmas Eve game in Oakland tonight, with the Oakland Raiders winning 23-20 in overtime against the San Diego Chargers; possibly in the final game played by the franchise in Oakland at the Coliseum.

Things really looked in doubt for a while. But I knew in my heart that the scene would play out with the Raiders sending the legend Charles Woodson out a winner.

With the Chargers up 17-12 and the Raiders completely stagnant, linebacker Malcom Smith forced a fumble; about as I was ready to turn this game off and give up. The Raiders then scored on the first play with a Derek Carr touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree. The Raiders hit the two-point conversion to make it 20-17. In overtime, they took it down the field and got a true field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders defense held and the Raiders were Christmas winners just after midnight.

And Santa has visited my parents home.

Screen Shot 2015-12-25 at 12.54.42 AM

My first real Christmas with my kid was absolutely amazing.

Charles Woodson closes out his Oakland career tonight in the Black Hole – Christmas Eve


Charles Woodson plays his final game in Oakland this evening, a game I’m really pulling for the Raiders to send him out a winner. And I believe that they will. Woodson announced his retirement earlier in the week so that people would know this was the last time they would see him as a Raider in The Black Hole.

In my opinion; (and looking back on his statistics) he’s the greatest defensive back of my lifetime.

Woodson isn’t the only one to watch tonight on NFL Network at 8:25 ET. Derek Carr has 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and 3,589. It’s always nice to have football on Christmas Eve.

I think back to some classic battles on Christmas Eve:

Pittsburgh at Green Bay in 1995
Cincinnati at Denver in 2006
Denver at San Diego in 2007

I’ll update tonight. Merry Christmas.

Colts lost in Disappointing fashion 19-9 to Chargers on Monday Night Football


[Game Book]

[NFL.com] [Indy Star]

I was disappointed with Indianapolis’ efforts on Monday Night Football. The Chargers employed a really nice gameplan against them: run the ball, sit on the ball, be safe with the ball, keep the ball out of Andrew Luck’s hands.

Luck and the Colts began with the football, and from there they opened up a game with a flea-flicker to Reggie Wayne that would be their longest gain of the evening. After that play I was thinking that it was perfect conditions for a huge game out of Andrew Luck, the first giant statistical game out of his season; but it would not come to fruition.


  • Jerrell Freeman left the game shortly after half-time with a concussion. And that’s a shame because he was everywhere on the field in the first half, amassing 8 tackles.
  • Andrew Luck finished 18 of 30 for 202 yards and an interception in desperation time. No touchdowns for Luck.
  • Trent Richardson had another Richardson-esque game. 10 carries, 40 yards, and he did show some spark on a few runs to get his average to 4.0 yards per carry. He had 1 catch for 13 yards and a critical drop late in the game deep in Colts territory.
  • Reggie Wayne went over the 1,000 mark in career receptions. He had five catches for 88 yards, and after a quick start the gameplan seemed to overall go away from him.
  • Adam Vinatieri hit two kicks of over 50 yards, very impressive.

Not a whole lot else to say. It was a flat game. The defense couldn’t get a stop or get off the field. This is not a good look for a team that has Denver coming to town in the biggest regular season game in a number of years.

It’s Andrew Luck’s Monday Night Football Debut Tonight

This was the best I could do for finding the logo.
This was the best I could do for finding the logo.

Tonight is the night. Andrew Luck and the Colts are out west again to do battle with the Chargers for the first time in Luck’s career on Monday night’s stage.

The game features the two highest-rated QBR Quarterbacks in football with Philip Rivers (78.5) and Luck (77.1). The O/U of the game is set at 50 – and I need the total to be under to win money. I also need a huge game out of Andrew Luck, Jerrell Freeman, Trent Richardson, Robert Mathis, and Reggie Wayne for fantasy purposes. Wayne is four catches from the 1,000 mark.

I read Peter King’s MMQB column while eating lunch at my desk today. Here is what he had to say about tonight’s game, and a nice quote about Reggie, my favorite NFL receiver in the last ten years:

Indianapolis 27, San Diego 23. The focus will be on two high-pick quarterbacks, which is understandable given the Monday night stage. But I hope you take time tonight to appreciate a quiet one, Indy wideout Reggie Wayne, who is four catches from 1,000. This is how Chuck Pagano praised him Saturday: “He takes a beginner’s mentality every year that he shows up to training camp. All the great ones do that. Phil Jackson, coming off winning six championships, right? You read his book, all he ever talked about with his players every year, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, whoever: take a beginner’s mentality. This is your rookie season. And that’s what he’s done. Every year he comes in, it’s like starting over. He’s got his iPad out, he’s got his notepad and he treats it like his rookie year.”

*Because he’s the best on the radio in sports, Colin Cowherd (3:00 mark) was talking Andrew Luck with Trent Dilfer. Dilfer said “he’s just that much better than the rest of them (the young QB stable in the NFL). He’s so much more complete. It doesn’t always show, because he’s making up for a lot of youth and a lack of talent around him. There’s so many dimensions that he has. If you went through the 30 layers or traits it takes to be a great QB, you couldn’t grade him below a ‘7’ in any of those traits. I’ve never seen that with anyone. Steve Young says Andrew does stuff that 10 or 12 year Hall of Famers didn’t do. He’s the most completely QB I’ve ever seen, and his ceiling is the highest of anyone I’ve ever seen.”


I will be back with a full wrap-up of the game either late night or after it is completed.

Goodbye, Junior Seau


The greatest Samoan of them all is gone.

It’s hard for me to believe that Junior Seau killed himself. That he’s really gone.

It was probably around 1993 or 1994. I was just a 12-year old awkward kid. I just began to like defensive players. I liked Seth Joyner. But I really liked that 55 on the Chargers. There was just something different about him. When he was on the television set, he made things happen. All of those late Sunday games on CBS against the Broncos.

I’ll never forget my uncle and I talking about how awesome he was. My uncle said that ‘when he hits you, you ‘Say-Ow’. He was a special kind of talent that spanned across two decades.

This is the side of sports that just doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to digest.

Junior Seau, gone too soon. Thanks for the memories and I hope you’ve found peace.

Detroit Lions Clinchmas on Christmas Eve

As the Lions superstar QB tweeted this morning, Christmas came a few hours early in Detroit.

The Lions are going back to the playoffs. Matthew Stafford went 29 of 36 for 373 yards and 3 TD’s. He simply would not let this slip away from the Lions and was nearly perfect from the opening gun. The Lions offense was all over the red hot San Diego Chargers and when the Chargers tried to climb back into this one, the Lions put their stamp on the game and headed for an all-out rout. 

As I was getting ready for Christmas Eve service here in Ohio yesterday, I couldn’t help but think about this. In that city of ruin that was not long ago left for little hope a brighter day would lay just ahead for those that held on until Christmas Eve 2011.

I thought about all those who never left Detroit heading home to their families last night probably feeling like they’re on cloud nine. The scary part is this Lions team could be a real force heading into the playoffs and I feel like they match up pretty well with any team in the NFC outside of maybe the Saints–whom they were just a few penalties away from defeating or being right with until the end.

The story of the day really was Stafford. He put this team on his back, he lifted them into the playoffs. He was absolutely unstoppable the last two weeks. And as he tweeted, he gave the entire city of Detroit an early Christmas present.

Raiders & Carson Palmer the story on Thursday Night opener

Last night the Raiders beat the Chargers 24-17 on my 29th birthday in San Diego.

I have to say, Carson Palmer surprised me. His movement in the pocket, his willingness to throw the ball down the field and his accuracy when doing so. Denarius Moore had a really nice game for the Raiders and Kamerion Wimbley was an absolute force in getting to the quarterback.

The balance of power in the AFC West didn’t so much shift, but I expected the Chargers to find a way to win this game and they didn’t. They’re not the lock pick to beat up on the other AFC West teams that they once were. The Raiders have now won three straight games over San Diego and last night they did it by pounding Micheal Bush 30 times for around 160 yards.

It was an exciting debut of Thursday Night Football.