Saturday, December 24, 2005

So Long, San Diego

One of the worst ironies of the NFL season is going to be the San Diego Chargers beating arguably the two best teams in the NFL on the road yet still not making the playoffs. Not one for those screeching, preaching calls for reformation of the NFL postseason, I see more irony in the fact that although the Chargers were able to beat the Pats and Colts but lost AT HOME to the Dolphins. What it shows is that you can’t afford to have let downs in the NFL on any given Sunday. (or Saturday, or Thursday or Monday, as the case may be.) – now the Chargers have to rely on at least the Steelers losing to either against Cleveland or at Detroit.

The Colts perfect-season-ending loss to the Chargers at home proves that this isn’t 1972 after all and the postseason isn’t going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a fist fight in any alley.

The Pats still might have some magic left against the deer-in-the-headlights Colts and are on a roll. The Bengals wouldn’t pose much opposition, nor do the Steelers, at least not until they’ve confirmed a postseason slot. That leaves the Broncos who are likely to be upset in their first match considering the play of Jake of Late. Jacksonville are also there to be steamrolled, another sacrificial lamb like the Bengals. But the Pats, oh the Pats and the magical Tom Brady, the Einstein of Football, Belichick. The Pats are their schoolyard bully.

I hate to say this but the death in the family for Colts head coach Tony Dungy makes the Colts a virtual lock for the Super Bowl championship now. Inspiration is what drives team that hair’s whisper above their opponents.

This season is a good one to bring up the auld IntraConference playoff scheme whereby the regular season is shortened back to 14 games and the top ranked AFC team plays at home against the lowest-ranked NFC team out of the four division winners in each Conference. This would necessitate killing the wildcard scheme altogether – why should finishing lower than first in any division merit a postseason spot? Plus we wouldn’t need astrophysicists to explain the different tie-breaking scenarios.

There hasn’t been a Giants-Redskins game this important since the Gibbs-Parcells, LT v Jay Schroeder mismatch in the NFC Title Game in an artic and windy Giants Stadium almost a generation ago.

And let’s face it, the pasting the Giants gave the Redskins earlier this season was with the spirit of Mr Mara on their side as an inspirational momentum. It’s going to be a little different this time around but there’s still no guarantee that the Skins won’t self-destruct as they have already this season on the heels of a big victory.

I hope Joe Gibbs makes it to the playoffs this season and the only way that’s going to happen is if they beat the Giants 17-13 today. This may well be the highlight of the Danny Boy Franchise to date.

QB Rex, Mister Grossman returning the Bears adds an offensive element that makes the Bears a little more dangerous for the postseason. Kyle Orton, the poor man’s Ben Roethlisberger of 2005/06, wasn’t fooling anybody. Orton was like a struggling Cub pitcher on a wind-blown afternoon in Wrigley Field. Still, they’ve got to beat the Vikings in Minnesota to have any reasonable hope for a successful post season. Grossman’s xmas present this year is the starting job in Green Bay, Christmas Day. Not bad.

Reggie Bush. Reggie Bush. Am I the only one who finds it odd that the Heisman Trophy winner, the best college back in the country, has the same surname as the President of the United States, the former President of the United States and the Governor of Florida?

Or, worse still, an NFL team with a “Saints” nickname, gets nearly wiped off the map by Mother Nature, Act of God, Hand of Maradona? I mean, it might seem appropriate for a team called The Jets to have fallen apart after planes flew into the WTC, even if their “home” games were played in New Jersey former swamplands.


College Bowl games appear meaningless by nature. Sure, you’ve got the massive Rose Bowl this season, a potential 1972 Nebraska-Oklahoma sort of showdown without the in-bred rivalry, but you’ve also got well over a dozen bowl games that have nothing to do with anything, like Fort Worth Bowl featuring Houston (6-5) v. Kansas (6-5). The Dreaded Motor City Bowl death match of Akron (7-5) at Memphis (6-5), to name but a few of the guilty parties.


For a baseball update, Archie Bunker's Army fawns in a pre-dawn Christmas Eve, over the offseason moves of Omar the Magician.


Here in England, we’ve seen the heroes of the historic cricket victory of the summer get pasted in Pakistan, the national rugby side fall into a seemingly irreparable tail spin, winning the right to host the Olympics in London only to suffer a terrorist attack shortly thereafter, and the national football team provide us with enough hope to harbour delusions of a World Cup title this July in Germany.

Manchester United, the New York Yankees of the English Premier League, have finally eclipsed those same Yankees for highest average number of franchise melodramas per week, All-Time. Between injuries, the always-controversial Rio Ferdinand, Roy Keane’s infamous public aneurism over the play of teammates and the coaching ability of subcommandante Carlos, routed out of the Champions League in a humiliating display best characterised by the King Of The Useless Stepovers, who gave the bird to his countrymen on exiting, rather than the more English two-fingers, which is cooler anyway.

I don’t know of any manager since say, Billy Martin, to have been as off the rails as Jose Mourinho for Chelsea. Every professional sport needs a Jose Mourinho-type as one of its managers/coaches. Dapper yet controversial. Highly successful. He’s everything rolled into one.

Still, Newcastle’s my team and now that they’re on the tiniest and most fragile rolls only weeks after Souness was nearly in the hangman’s noose, it’s still safe to say there’s nothing quite as interesting as a Souness facial expression. He looks like he could kick the chair out from underneath himself at any moment. Those post-match interviews are demonstrations of exquisite pain in a man whose inner suffering is worn like a day glow armband on his sleeve.

The Boxing Day match against Liverpool at Anfield, Michael Owen’s homecoming, will be the highlight of the Newcastle season to date if Owen has his way. That’s no easy thing to do against a Liverpool defence that is virtually impenetrable but Owen is arguably England’s best goal scoring machine and if anyone could find a way to do it, it’d be an emotionally high Michael Owen playing at Anfield for the first time since he left.


Happy Christmas, readers.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Snow And The NFL Playoff Runs

I can't get enough of these images, snow starved as I am in England.

Believe it or not, even that disasterous Seahawks/Eagles debaucherie kept me watching simply for the flakes.

Gawd how I miss them:

And yea, it probably wasn't just Chicago and Pittsburgh but if two teams are synonymous with smash-mouth football and snow and cold, Da Bears and Da Steelers would be near the top.

Nevermind that the Steelers let the Bears marvelous winning streak tumble and fall. After all, Joe Orton is the Roethlisberger of 2006, low-talent, win-streak-totin rookie QB wondering where it all went right.

All yesterday proved, along with the fatality of the Carolina Panthers to the Tampa Bucs at home, is that there is one team, one favourite, one meeting scheduled with destiny and that would be the 13-0 Colts who now must try and avoid not only losing any of the last three games but any of the games in the post-season thereafter lest they cruise through an undefeated regular season only to choke on it hosting the Pats or the Broncos or something equally absurd.

Any chance Manning and the Colts will fall prey to the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately swoon?

Guessing here they run the gauntlet. Too late for any other outcome.

And let's face it - there really isn't any quality competition out there anymore. Certainly not from the NFC - Giants, Panthers and Bears, oh my? Of course, with such a fantastic record, the dreaded Seahawks might just make it all the way but here's hoping they don't. Seattle is too dreary, too much of a non-football culture with a fat,boring coach and a lousy NFL QB, albeit one of the better running backs in the league.

What we are left with is what is likely to be a rather anti-climactic outcome by season's end, a brilliant and historical run by the Colts but about as exciting as the Dolphins methodical culmination to their own 1972 run was to watch.


Certainly England are happy.

However, the United States, Italy, Czech Republic, Argentina, Holland, Cote D'Ivoire and Ghana are not.

Spain and France were practically handed a spot in the quarterfinals. Here's to hoping they don't make it out of their own groups!

More insightful analysis to come, haha.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

MLB Post Season Awards

First of all, due applause on a surprising, amazing and unexpected season for the Chicago White Sox who have finally given the Second City something to be happy and proud of when baseball is mentioned. Think those lousy Cubs didn’t enjoy having their noses rubbed in it? Like the Red Sox, the Cubs have masochistic supporters who seem to derive some sort of perverse pleasure in being disappointed season after season. Oddly, White Sox fans never really figured in the equation, even though they hadn’t won anything since the Black Sox. But they’ve got their due, they can now mock the Cubs fans with puffy chests and their World Champions banner and the Cubs can go back to dreaming what it might be like.

MVP NL: With the Astros the top team in the NL this season it’s difficult to finger a particular every day player they couldn’t have done clinched without. So there is no obvious choice. So the second tier boils down to who wouldn’t have made the playoffs that did without a particular someone:

Braves (anyone want to argue Andruw Jones just because he hit over 50 homeruns? Nah, didn’t think so) –
Cardinals may or may not have made it without Pujols as they did without Rolen and so many others this season blanking out or getting injured.
The Padres of course, didn’t deserve to be in the playoffs to begin with so who possibly could have most valuable on a least valuable team?

It’s a tough choice but what it boils down to is there wasn’t a real standout player who made the difference in the NL this season. And let’s not have any fireside chats about Cubbie Mr Lee - let’s face it, with or without him, they would have sucked and disappointed just as well. Nominate him for player of the year if you like, but MVP? No chance.

Therefore Sports Amnesia’s NL MVP is: Andy Pettitte if for no other reason than if Andy Pettitte didn't move to Houston, Roger Clemens would have never unretired and two thirds of a brilliant starting rotation would be gone along with any prayer the Astros ever had of winning. Don't forget, this World Series was engineered two years ago and if Pettitte hadn't spend most of last season hurt, they'd have done it two years running.

AL MVP: Oh the hindsight of the postseason would make this rather simple if it weren’t for the fact the postseason isn’t supposed to come into play when considering.

So again, we look to the teams that made the playoffs and who they most needed to get there. The Yankees’ obvious candidate is A-Sod who put up steady numbers this season but choked when it mattered (v Red Sox and in post-season).

The Red Sox were fired offensively by both Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz but if you discount Manny for his crap clubhouse attitude, Ortiz is the man they needed most. (Not to discount the effect Damon has had at the top of the order but he just didn’t win as many games for them as did Ortiz)

The White Sox of course, were led more by solid pitching and ticky tack hitting all season than a big power guy with impressive numbers although Paul Konerko certainly merits attention and will likely be the most sought-after free agent should the Sox not re-sign him.

Vladimir Guerrero, the man the Mets didn’t sign and the Angels did, left an impressive resumé for the season.

The winner is: David Ortiz.

AL Cy Young: These are far more easier awards to calculate the winners for. Sheer numbers and domination are all that matters. The winner is Randy Johnson because he was robbed last year. Doesn't matter that his inaugural season in pinstripes was a yip, he deserved last season's award and since he didn't get it then, he should get it now because the AL didn't really produce a gaudy starting pitcher worthy of the Cy Young this season.

NL Cy Young: The strongest pitching staff in the National League won the NL title for the Astros. Pettitte, Clemens and Oswalt were all strong, dominate pitchers for the second half of the season and it’s arguable that the Astros never would have made it to the World Series without them. Andy Pettitte is the winner.

NL Manager of the Year: I’ve always thought this was just as important an award as the MVP award as in some cases, the manager is the most valuable person on a successful team even though he isn’t playing.

In the case of playoff teams (again, we emphasise teams that make the playoffs because otherwise, a season cannot truly be deemed a success.) – Phil Garner managed to bring the Astros back from the dead for the second season running although he was clearly at a managerial disadvantage in the World Series.

Hating the Braves as I do it’s difficult for Sports Amnesia to consider Bobby Cox for anything other than most contemptible but frankly, with so many question marks this season, so many injuries and so leaving what was arguably the toughest division in the NL in the dust for the better part of the season cemented the fact that the Braves will never actually lose the NL East again and will continue to play like muppets once the regular season is over.

Tony La Russa managed the best team in the NL but even though I don’t hate the Cardinals, there isn’t a more despicable manager out there. La Russa is the classic over-manager, the classic over-thinker and frankly, as far as a post-season flopper, really gives Cox a run for his money considering his team was swept in the World Series last season and then knocked out of the NLCS this season.

So the question is would the Astros have made the World Series without Garner? Well, the only real answer is that the Astros made it in on hot players the last two seasons running and Garner was so over-matched in Game 3 of the World Series and his meltdown, blaming his players afterwards was indicative of a questionable character as manager. Yes, Cox’s teams meltdown every season but after every miserable season the Braves stand atop the NL East, regardless of their personnel situation, and Cox is a primary reason. Now that the human rocking chair pitching coach Leo Mazzone has fled for Peter Angelos in Baltimore, we will see just how much Cox and the Braves GM have mattered over the years. For now, Bobby Cox was the NL Manager of the year.

AL Manager of the Year: Is there anyone who hasn’t yet embraced the concept of Ozzie Guillen? The Sox changed from sluggers to small ball, held the best record in the AL most of the season, survived a nearly cataclysmic collapse and an almost allowed an unforgivable survival of the Cleveland Indians only to turn it all around, win the AL Central, sweep the defending World Champion Red Sox and then virtually sweep the Anaheim Angels before sweeping the Astros in the World Series. 11-1 in the post season is impressive. Dominating. You can’t put the White Sox in the category of best for the last 10 years even considering the roll of luck and bad umpiring calls that got them there (we could be talking about the World Champion Angels were it not for a particular blown call in Game Two of the ALCS).

Nonetheless, no one was more entertaining than Ozzie Guillen all season and considering he managed the best team in the AL, the award should go to him, hands down.

We’ve read whingeing little couplets about Joe Torre meriting consideration but frankly, with a 200 million dollar budget, the Yankees had no excuse for not winning the World Series this season. True that without him, the Yankees would have been even more miserable than they were but a good manager should have been expected to make the postseason and so what Torre did was not so earth-shattering in retrospect.

A good argument might be made for the Cleveland Indians manager, if anyone outside of Cleveland could remember his name but the fact is, regardless of how hot the Indians got in the second half, when it came down to doing the business, the team choked miserably.

****** NFL*****

Alas, we’ve missed more than a month of the season and with Sky knocked out for the foreseeable future, the chances of watching live NFL games in England for Sports Amnesia are the post-midnight games on Sunday and Monday nights.

That said, it’s still followed in these parts.

Most Surprising Team : So far you’d have to ask yourself, who would have thought Cincinnati Bengals would ever rise above mediocrity?

Most Disappointing Team: Minnesota and Green Bay, who have made a mockery of the traditional black and blue division, led by the disappointing Brett Favre and the disappointing Duante Culpepper (who is now, thankfully for him anyway, injured for what is like to be the duration of the season). Not that we’d wish the same on Favre but isn’t it time the Pack starting developing a future QB with Favre clearly on his last legs and the Pack going nowhere but down this season?
Running a close third are the Philadelphia Eagles, inexplicably abandoning the running game and looking weaker by the week.

NFL Top Ten

1. Denver Broncos (6-2) – Last season the Broncos were humiliated by the Colts in the playoffs but with the running game going, they are one of the hardest teams to stop.
2. Indianapolis Colts (7-0) – still unconvinced that someone won’t knock them from their stoop (like the Pats again once the postseason starts) and leave Colts fans disappointed yet again.
3. San Diego Chargers (4-4) – hard to top the combination of best running back in the league and best tight end in Mr Gates. Started slowly but have felt their way through the darkness and are now on their roll.
4. New England Patriots (4-3) – everyone including Sports Amnesia want to see this sham dynasty brought to its collective knees but it’s still too early to count them out even if they’ve been unimpressive all season. This weekend’s game against the Colts will be a truer test of their mettle but not the ultimate word, whether they win or lose, unless they do either in convincing fashion.
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) – barely capable of beating the miserable Ravens is no way to impress voters on the Steelers’ chances. Nonetheless, a powerful running game and a tough defence mean they still have a chance to make it to the Super Bowl.
6. Carolina Panthers (5-2) – with the Jets having fallen to the kerbside, the Panthers are the only team remaining of Sports Amnesia’s preseason Super Bowl picks. They’ve still got a dominating defence and the capability of taking it back to the Super Bowl, one season removed from their last impressive appearance.
7. NY Giants (5-2) – hard to know if they’re for real but they’ve got their dead owner Mara to keep them inspired in the low moments – still, their defence is their Achilles Heel and although they may yet win the NFC East, they won’t make it much further.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) – difficult to imagine how they could fall so far so quickly but this is a team which would appear, after three successive NFC Championship games, ready to call it an era and are fading fast. I’ve put them here on promise alone, certainly not their performance this season. Unless they too stomp on the Redskins like doormats, the Eagles shouldn’t be considered for much other than awards for disappointing most.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) – Is Carson Palmer more the new Peyton Manning or is Eli Manning the new Peyton Manning?
10. Jacksonville (4-3) – watch out for the Jags to catch fire in the second half of the season.

NB: The Chicago Bears are the San Diego Padres of the NFL this season and the NFC North is the NL West of the NFL. But watch it, the Bears and the Bucs are probably the two best defensive teams with the weakest offensive support in the NFL.

NCAA Top Ten

1. USC
2. Texas
3. Fuck everyone else.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Astros Not In Just Yet

although White Sox are.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Three Games To Go

Will anyone be this season's Bucky Dent?

Excitment thick enough to cut with a machete.

The weedy jungle of the regular season has nearly been hacked through and at the clearing sit several teams on the precipice.

New York @ Boston

Nothing much needs to be said about this series finale that bookends nicely with the season's opening series and all 156 games in between. For all those games, the Yankees hold a fragile one game lead.

One of these teams will take two out of three at Fenway. If it's the Yankees, they will win the AL East and gloat into the playoffs. If it's the Red Sox, a playoff for the AL East title will follow.

Making matters even more tense is the possibility that one of these teams might not make it into the post season at all, should the Indians continue to roll against the White Sox, who have already clinched the AL Central and their birth in the playoffs.

"I wish good luck to our pitching, because let me tell you, (the Yankees) are hitting the (expletive) out of the ball," Sox hero Papi Ortiz warned. "If you don't come and throw some good games against them, you have no chance.

"They're hitting right now, they're hitting good. All of them. Every one of them. You're going to have to bring your best stuff, to every hitter. It's hard to do it, but you have to."

Game One will feature the unexpected Chien Ming Wang taking the mound against former Yankee headache and sometime saviour David Wells. At Fenway Park this year, Wells is 7-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 11 starts.

Game Two will see the man the Yankees coveted specifically for this sort of situation, Randy Johnson, facing knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. The Big Unit is 4-0 against the Red Sox and he's held their league-leading offense to a .230 batting average this season. Precisely what he's been paid to do and he will have to do it at least once more this season against the Sox.

The Final Game which will be the biggest game of the year unless the Yankees take the first two, will feature Mike Mussina against Curt Schilling. Little more needs to be said.

Who Is The Real Number One?

Will this be the Year for A-Rod finally after last season's scorn and derision? He is 9 for his last 23 at-bats with a pair of homers and 8 RBIs. He has alot to pay the Red Sox back for.

Or Will Papi Rock Fenway like he rocked the Yankees last season?

As Newsday's Shawn Powell wrote, this is the perfect finish for an endless rivalry.

White Sox @ Indians

Some of the sparkle was taken off of this season finale when the White Sox avoided one of the more infamous collapses in baseball history and clinched their AL Central title already.

However, the Indians are still tied with the Red Sox for the AL Wildcard lead and winning two out of three against the White Sox will almost assure their place in the postseason.

Tonight, AL ERA leader Kevin Millwood takes the mound for the Tribe. Millwood, just 3-7 at home this season, has made all four of his career starts against the White Sox in 2005 and is 0-2, despite giving up only four earned runs in 27 frames (1.33 ERA).

He will face Mark Buehrle, (16-8, 3.19).

Five days earlier versus Cleveland, Buehrle escaped with a no-decision after surrendering four runs on seven hits, including three homers, in six innings.

He is 7-7 in his career versus the Indians with a 4.36 ERA in 19 games, including 18 starts. Buehrle has faced Cleveland four times in 2005 and is 2-0 with a 2.96 earned run average.

Chicago leads the season series, 11-5, and is 6-1 at Jacobs Field this season.

Game Two will feature Jake Westbrook (15-14, 4.46) vs. Jon Garland (17-10, 3.53) Saturday afternoon.

Game Three will see Scott Elarton (11-8, 4.51) go for the Indians vs. Brandon McCarthy (2-2, 4.21) Sunday afternoon.


Cleveland will lose two out of three and the Red Sox will take two out of three from the Yankees.

That means the Yankees will win the AL East by virtue of the better head-to-head record against the Sox and the Sox will make it in as the AL Wildcard. The Indians will do a quick fade and settle for happiness at having come so close out of nowhere.

Red Sox @ White Sox - Soxtober won't last forever
Angels @ Yankees - Exhausted by their final push, Yankees suffer repeat of their 2003 AL playoff meltdown.

Hmmm? Red Sox @ Angels in ALCS.



Significantly less exciting. We already know the Cardinals, Braves and Padres are in and frankly, barring a historic collapse, the Astros will make it in as the NL Wildcard meaning the playoffs pan out like this:

Astros @ Braves
Padres @ Cardinals

Hmmm? Braves @ Cardinals in NLCS


World Series Rematch:

Cardinals v. Red Sox.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Still Tied At The Top

Yankees rookie Robinson Cano hits a 7th inning homer


dressed up like a cheerleader in a kinky Yankee rookie hazing "tradition"

The Yankees and Red Sox both won their games yesterday to leave the AL East knotted going into baseball's final regular season week.

The Yankees won their final regular season game 8-4 as Chien Ming-Wang won his 8th game of the season behind Cano's two-run homer in the 7th and Gary Sheffield's three-run homer in the 8th. It was their 12th win in their last 14 games and they finished 53-28 in the Bronx.


Jason Varitek scores in easy win

Meanwhile the Red Sox completed their three game sweep of the Orioles with an easy 9-3 victory yesterday.

Unlike the Yankees, who have played their last game of the home season, the Red Sox have played their last road game of the regular season.

The Red Sox will play host to Toronto for four games starting Monday. Then they welcome the Yankees on Friday.


Royals celebrate their unexpected victory

The Indians finally gagged on a game, losing to the lowly Kansas City Royals yesterday as Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore lost Paul Phillips' ninth-inning double in the sun, allowing Angel Berroa to score the winning run for the Royals in a 5-4 victory in Kansas City.

The loss dropped the Indians AL Wildcard lead to a half game over both the Yankees and Red Sox and, coupled with the White Sox third consecutive victory, now drops them two and a half games behind for the AL Central lead.


Jimmy Rollins maintains a 30-game hitting streak in the middle of a wildcard race.

In the National League, the Phillies kept charging, defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 which, coupled with the Astros 3-2 loss to the Cubs, moved the Phillies to within a game of the Astros. Both teams have 6 games remaining.

Chase Utley added his first career inside-the-park homer and Cory Lidle turned in his longest outing in seven starts as the Phillies improved to 39-39 on the road this season, including 6-3 on the trip that ended Sunday.

The Astros have two at St Louis to face the Cardinals and then move home for the final four games of the regular season against the Chicago Cubs.

The Phillies will now host the Mets for three games and then travel to DC to close out their season against the Nats.


Jets Lose Game And Both QBs

If this guy is Joe Montana, he's Joe Montana playing for the Chiefs, not the 49ers.

Well, you can pack up the welcome wagon and send those horses running off in all directions. The Jets season is over and we might as well start looking for a new head coach now.

Bad enough to start a season full of hope with a pathetic one win in three games. The Jacksonville Jags did us one better, they knocked starting QB Chad Pennington out of the game with YET ANOTHER right shoulder injury and then for good measure, knocked backup Jay Fiedler out of the game as well which necessitated Pennington coming back in, injured wing and all, to go 3 for 8 for 15 yards to close out the game.

Some offence this Heimerdinger lad's got us running.

Oh yeah, the Jets lost, 26-20 in overtime.

Bengals Believers

Chad Johnson, scoring one of two of his TDs on the day

Cincinnati, which entered the game with a league-leading 10 takeaways, picked off Bears quarterback Kyle Orton five times and the Bengals became the first NFL team in 34 years to intercept five passes in consecutive games. Let us not forget they are coached by Marvin Lewis, architect of the Ravens World Championship defence a few years ago.

The Bengals, now 3-0, defeated the Chicago Bears by a comfortable 24-7 margin

QB Carson Palmer was 16-of-23 for 169 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to Chad Johnson, and did not throw an interception against a Bears defense that picked off Detroit's Joey Harrington five times the previous week.

The Bengals offense, which averaged 462 yards over the first two weeks, finished with 244.

Pack Is Sacked Again

Shelton Quarles gets a blow

If you're looking for a team more pathetic than the Jets, try the Green Bay Packers who not only lost at home to drop to 0-3 on the season, but had their 13-game home victory streak against the Bucs snapped. This is the worst start for the Pack since 1988, when Miracle Boy Brett Favre was still a sophomore back at Southern Miss.

The Buccaneers, 3-0 for the first time since 2000, got two touchdown receptions from Joey Galloway and two interceptions from safety Will Allen in winning at Lambeau Field for the first time since Sept 10, 1989.

Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, the first NFL rookie to start his career with three straight 100-yard games, rushed for 158 yards on a sprained foot and has 434 yards rushing so far, besting Ameche's mark of 410 set in 1955 for the Baltimore Colts.

Pats Top Steelers, Again

They didn't humiliate them with the same flair as they did last time these two teams met but the New England Patriots got the job done anyway with a last-second Vinatieri field goal to win 23-20.

The Patriots, badly depleted by injuries, withstood the longest scoring pass play against them in 15 years and two turnovers inside the Pittsburgh 10 to rally in the fourth quarter behind Brady, beating the Steelers 23-20 Sunday on Vinatieri's 43-yard field goal with one second remaining.

The Patriots won in the same stadium where their own record 18-game regular season streak ended last season with a 34-20 loss on Oct. 31. They came back 2½ months later and manhandled the Steelers 41-27 in the AFC championship game, the second time in four seasons their road to a Super Bowl title ran through Heinz Field.

Just as in that game, the Patriots (2-1) all but took away Pittsburgh's running game -- Willie Parker, coming off consecutive 100-yard games, was held to 55 yards - and forced Roethlisberger to try and beat them.

Roethlisberger, who hasn't lost to any other team in 18 NFL starts, counting the postseason, wasn't much better than he was in that AFC title game loss, when he threw three interceptions. Under a heavy rush, he went 12 of 28 for 216 yards in his first loss in 16 regular-season starts, despite going against a badly depleted Patriots defense.

So that makes two QBs, Roethlisberger and Indy's Peyton Manning, who only lose to the Patriots.

Colts Still Unbeaten, then again They Haven't Faced The Pats

Robert Mathis celebrates a sack of Cleveland's Trent Dilfer. The Colts defense led Indianapolis to a 13-6 win.

Peyton Manning was 19-of-23 for 228 yards with one interception against his old nemesis, Crennel, who had won six straight against Manning since 2001 as Patriots defensive coordinator.

Still, Manning did enough to become the second-fastest quarterback to top 30,000 yards passing in his 115th game. Miami's Dan Marino did it in 114 games.

A tough defence and a feeble offence. Looks like Tony Dungy has finally succeeded in turning the league's most potent offensive juggernaut into a version of the auld Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Fish Shock Again

Delhomme gets roughed up in the Florida Marlins infield

Maybe it wasn't so shocking. After all, the Carolina Panthers were a week removed from shocking the NFL with it's relatively simple defeat of the New England Patriots and were probably still in the clouds by the time they had to play the Dolphins.

Dolphins Safety Lance Schulters intercepted Panther QB Jake Delhomme with 2 minutes left to set up Olindo Mare 's game-winning field goal, and Miami won 27-24.

Rookie Ronnie Brown rushed for 132 yards for Miami, while Carolina lost despite Smith's 11 catches for 170 yards and three scores, including a 53-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 24.

Sunny, 85-degree weather likely helped the Dolphins, who are accustomed to the sweltering subtropical climate. They improved to 43-8 at home in August and September since the NFL merger in 1970.


Other significant news: The Chargers won their first game of the season and the Giants lost their first, all in the same game, the Eli Manning Bowl.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Yankees Relinquish Sole Share of First

Don't look now but are those the Red Sox gaining in the rear view mirror?

Yankees starter Jared Wright shows Red Sox how to get on all fours and bark like a dog.

The New York Yankees have a simple task in front of them: win more games than the Red Sox for the next week.

Last night, facing the Blue Jays, they stumbled early on, well early on as in Jared Wright never making it out of the second inning early on.

Not only that but Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano couldn't catch the ball, leading to four unearned runs.

The offense couldn't get the big hit with the Yankees down three runs, and the middle of the order couldn't touch closer Miguel Batista, who struck out the final four batters, including Jason Giambi with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.

"Basically, I suck," Matsui said through an interpreter who was probably a little more liberal with his translation than necessary. "There's no other way to explain it." Matsui said of his fielding gaffe.

Chien Ming-Wang will take the mound for the Yankees today facing Josh Towers who has made 12 straight quality starts and is 12-11 this season with a 3.78 ERA.


Edgar Renteria's bases loaded single proved to drive in the winning runs for the Sox.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox seized their first chance to move back into a tie for first by beating the Baltimore Orioles 4-3, a team ravaged by Palmeiro's steroid scandal and subsequent bullshit accusation landed on teammate Miguel Tejada. Can you believe what a prick move it was of Palmeiro to try and rope Tejada down with him? All time gutless and classless move and if ever there were a case for Palmeiro NEVER to make the Hall of Fame ballot, here it is, in technicolor for you.

Two Massive Steroid Douchebags Discuss In Secret Who Else's Name They Can Drag Through The Mud

In any event, the Red Sox victory, coupled of course with the Yankee loss means that the AL East is tied yet again, less than 72 hours after the Yankees had taken the lead. By the time the Red Sox had taken the field last night, after the Yankees loss, their deficit in the American League East was down to a half-game.

Today, Fat Man David Wells faces John Maine of the Orioles. Wells has struggled on the road this season, going 6-6 with a 5.66 ERA. He is 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts against the Orioles in 2005.


In the Central, the Indians continued their improbable roll towards infamy with an 11-4 pasting of the KC Royals.

Peralta demonstrates his home run trot

Jhonny Peralta's two-run home run gave Kevin Millwood an early lead, and he took advantage as the Tribe won No. 17 of its last 19. Ronnie Belliard, Grady Sizemore and Coco Crisp homered; birthday boy Ben Broussard had three doubles.


The White Sox beat the Twins 8-1 Saturday night to lower their magic number to seven, but their biggest victory may have been over themselves.

Freddy Garcia allowed only five baserunners in eight innings in winning for just the second time in 10 starts.

The confidence was back in the clubhouse as the Sox took magic matters into their own hands with their first back-to-back victories since Sept. 6-7 and their biggest offensive outburst in a victory since Sept. 2.

The Sox have five games left—one against Minnesota and four at Detroit—before what could be the showdown series in Cleveland next weekend


Hokies Swarmed Over Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech, 51-7

"I think this is a football team that is relentless, that's a word I like," said Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer, whose team has outscored its last three opponents 141-7. "I think they keep the pressure on you."

USC shocked no one in whooping up on the previously undefeated Oregon by a 45-13 margin. Southern California (3-0, 1-0 Pac-10) has outscored its opponents 178-47 this season.

Defending Heisman winner Matt Leinart threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns whilst Reggie Bush had another big game with 165 yards from scrimmage and two TDs.

Brady Quinn, look at the arms on this guy for a QB, are you kidding me?

The Fighting Irish showed what a difference it makes NOT having Ty Willingham coaching your side as the Charlie Weiss-coached Notre Dame side humiliated Washington, 36-17.

Quinn had just one touchdown pass, but still compiled 327 yards passing in the win.

Weis facetiously dubbed this game "The Ty Bowl" because of all the attention on Willingham's three years with the Irish, which ended with his firing mid-contract last December, and his move to Washington.

Irish sophomore halfback Darius Walker rushed for a career-high 128 yards on 21 carries and became the first running back in Notre Dame history to rush for more than 100 yards in each of his first four games.

Sports Amnesia Top Ten

1. USC (4-0) trampled Oregon 45-13.
2. Florida State (2-0) idle.
3. Texas (3-0) idle.
4. VA Tech (4-0) defeated GA Tech 51-7.
5. Miami (2-1) defeated Colorado 23-3.
6. Florida (4-0) defeated Kentucky 49-28.
7. Ohio State (3-1) defeated Iowa 31-6.
8. UCLA (3-0) idle.
9. Cal (4-0) defeated New Mexico St. 41-13.
10. Michigan State (4-0) defeated Illinois 61-14.
Honourable Mention:
Notre Dame (3-1) defeated Washington 36-17
Virginia (3-0) defeated Duke 38-7
Alabama (4-0) defeated Arkansas 24-13.
Wisconsin (4-0) defeated Michigan 23-20.
Georgia (4-0) defeated Miss State 23-10.
Within Two Games

Jeter scores all the runs they needed last night in beating the Jays, 5-0.

After last night's efforts, the Red Sox, who beat the Orioles, remained a game behind the Yankees, who beat the Blue Jays in the AL East.

Manny pastes number 40 on the year as the Sox beat the Orioles, 6-3.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox won a coin toss that would give them a home game against the Indians if the teams tie for the wild card.

The Indians, who beat the Royals, remained 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox, who beat the Twins, for the AL Central, but are still 1 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox for the AL Wildcard.

Travis Hafner hit a homer in his 6th consecutive game and the Indians won for the 9th time in 10 games.

What does it all mean in these confusing times?

It still comes down to this:

The Yankees still have to play the Red Sox at Fenway three more times and their lead is "only" one game. If all things remain the same until then and the Sox take two out of three at Fenway, the two teams would finish the season tied for first. In a playoff to win the AL East, the Red Sox would meet the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

On the other hand, the Indians will still close out their season facing the White Sox at home for the final three games of the season. However, the Indians played one more game than the White Sox, so one White Sox victory could mean they'd be a game and a half ahead going into that season finale, meaning the Indians would have to take two out of three to win the AL Central but only three of their other seven games to win the AL Wildcard. (or something like that -)

Let's say the Red Sox take 4 of their 6 non-Yankee games and the Yankees do the same. They'd both finish with 95 victories.

If the Indians take 2 of three from the Sox but all 5 of their non-White Sox games, they'd finish with 95 victories. If the Sox lost four of their six non-Indians games, they too would finish with 95 victories.

Imagine the White Sox at Indians and Red Sox at Yankees on the day-after-the-last-day of the season, winners take all then necessitating a loser-take-all game what, the following day to determine the AL Wildcard.

How crazy would that be?


Meanwhile, for the second weekend night in a row, the Phillies stormed back from a deficit to gain a massive come-from-behind victory.

David Bell his the winnah, a two-run bomb

Last night they trailed the Reds by four before erupting for five ninth inning runs to beat the Reds 11-10 nearly one week after scoring 10 runs in the 9th to beat the Marlins.

The Astros meanwhile, lost to the Cubs. Trailing 5-1 after four innings, the Astros rallied tied it on an RBI double by Craig Biggio, an RBI single by Lance Berkman, an error by center fielder Corey Patterson that let a run score and Jeff Bagwell's RBI when he was hit with a pitch with the bases loaded. But it wasn't enough as they ended up falling anwyay, 5-4 to see their NL Wildcard lead over the Phillies drop to a single game.

The Astros will play no one but the Cubs and Cardinals the rest of the season.

The Phillies still have to face two more against the Reds, three at home versus the Mets and then close out the season at the Washington Nats.

In the event the Phillies and Astros finished tied for the NL Wildcard, the Phillies will host the Astros in what would likely be the biggest baseball game in Philadelphia since winning Game 5 of the 1993 World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. Curt Schilling got that win for the Phillies by the way, a five-hitter that kept their hopes alive for one more game before Joe Carter's infamous homerun.

11 years before the Bloody Sox Game


Sports Amnesia Top Ten

1. USC (2-0) at Oregon (3-0)
2. Florida State (2-0) idle.
3. Texas (3-0) idle.
4. Florida (3-0) at Kentucky (1-2)
5. Miami (1-1) host Colorado (2-0)
6. Georgia Tech (3-0) at #7 VA Tech (3-0)
7. VA Tech (3-0) see above
8. Ohio State (2-1) host Iowa (2-1)
9. Michigan (2-1) at Wisconsin (3-0)
10. UCLA (3-0) idle.

Notable: California (4-0) defeated New Mexico State 41-13, Notre Dame (2-1) at Washington (1-2), Alabama (3-0) host Arkansas, Michigan State (3-0) at Illinois (2-1).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Christ, you'd think they won the World Series...

Bubby Crosby's game-winning blast leading off the bottom of the ninth inning last night was perhaps the biggest hit the $200 million Yanks have received to date. It lifted them to an exhilarating 3-2 victory over Baltimore - and, more importantly, within a half-game of first-place Boston in the AL East.

Of course, as dramatic as the victory was, it doesn't ensure even a playoff spot yet. Thirteen days and twelve games to go and the Yankees will close out the season with a three game series in Boston.

The Yankees so far have still only spent two days of the whole season alone in first place in the American League East. Opening Night against the Red Sox. Then July 18. So far, that is it. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Yankee team in history has ever spent so little time in first place during the regular season and still finished in first place at the end.


Former Jet Santana Moss takes it home on a 70 yard TD with 2:44 left.

Meanwhile, a little further south and in another sport, the Washington Redskins stunned the Dallas Cowboys last night with a sudden and unexpected comeback for a 14-13 victory.

Washington had not scored a touchdown for the first 116 minutes of the season, then, shockingly, produced two huge strikes in 71 seconds. After losing 14 of their last 15 against the Cowboys, the Redskins (2-0) had finally snatched a victory from Dallas.

How psyched was Joe Gibbs about this unexpected turn of events?

"That's one of the great moments for me," he stammered. "I can tell you that."

Hmmm. How bad is it when the man who has won three Super Bowls and two NASCAR championships, when this little game, only the second of the season, has him spinning with joy?

No, it's not the Super Bowl but Gibbs will take a Gatorade shower happily

Of course, even at 2-0, it's only the beginning - there's likely alot less joy down the road for the Redskins because even this victory can't hide the impotence of their offence.

Choking Sox

Do I mean the White Sox of Chicago or the Red Sox of Boston?

Well let's see, the Red Sox, having lost seven of 12 as they come down to the nitty gritty games of September, have seen their once majestic lead of 5 1/2 games dwindle, dwindle, dwindle as the pressure mounts.

This is the team who have been in first place in the American League East for 62 straight days and 86 out of the last 87, every day but one since June 24 and now they are just barely hanging on. And as if last year never happened (well, there isn't a Curse of Ruth hanging over their heads any more), the Red Sox are once again being accused of choking down the stretch.

The Fat Man Sweats Out Another Loss

Wells, only slightly more effective than Matt Clement a day earlier, lasted a mere 2 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs on 10 hits in a crushing 8-7 loss to the Devil Rays last night. The issue? An inflamed right knee that is likely to be injected with cortisone between now and Wells's next start, Sunday at Baltimore.


Safe Even Away From Home!

Over in Chicago, the choking is more like gagging.

Last night, facing the suddenly invincible Cleveland Indians, the White Sox blinked and Cleveland rallied in the eighth inning on a two-run single by Aaron Boone and won Game 1 against the Sox 7-5 in a battle that ultimately could decide who wins the American League Central.

Just four outs from pushing their lead to 41/2 games and their magic number to nine, the Sox now lead by 2-1/2 with five games remaining against the Indians. The Sox' lead is the lowest it has been since May 1.

The Indians trailed the White Sox by 15 games after Chicago swept a four-game series at Jacobs Field from July 14-17, and were still 14 behind in early August.

The Indians have now won six consecutive games and 14 of their last 15. They are 41-21 since the All-Star break and 76-44 over their last 120 games.

The White Sox meanwhile, have lost 8 of their last 11.

Jay Mariotti calls it Choke Job Theatre

Chances are, these whoops of joy will turn to tears before this series is over.

Chicago Tribune writer Mike Downey said it best:

...Nevertheless, the collective psyche of South Side fans has taken a beating of late. And for a few rocky innings Monday night at U.S. Cellular Field, things got so quiet you could hear a pennant drop."

And you want to hear a guy talking out loud in a dark room, afraid of monsters?

""If you're going to be nervous, all of a sudden you're going to lose what you have," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said as he stands aboard this rapidly sinking ship.

A good review of homestretch chokes in baseball.

Tonights matchups which COULD see the Yankees regain first and the Indians move inches closer to the White Sox:

Aaron Small (8-0 3.28) takes the mound for the Yankees against the Orioles' John Maine (2-1 3.27).

Curt Schilling goes for the Sox against the Devil Rays tonight - you'd think this would be a gimme almost as the Devil Rays will toss out Seth McClung (6-10 6.61). At home, McClung is 3-7 with a 5.53 this season.

And finally, Jake Westbrook (15-14 4.56) will take pitch for the Indians against former White Sox ace Mark Buehrle, LHP (15-8, 3.21), whose fall from grace almost mirrors that of his team. After appearing to be one of the frontrunners in the American League Cy Young race, Buehrle has lost four of his last six decisions. The left-hander has allowed 19 hits and nine earned runs over his last 12 1/3 innings against the Angels and the Royals. Buehrle stands at 7-7 with a 4.28 ERA against the Indians lifetime and has a 2-0 record with a 2.11 ERA in 2005 when facing the Indians.

However, beware: Buehrle is a far better pitcher at U.S. Cellular Field, with a 9-2 record and 2.41 ERA over 15 starts.

NL Wildcard Race All But Forgotten

Oh yeah, we've nearly forgotten to mention the other league where the Houston Astros cling to a game's lead over the Phillies, two over the Marlins and four over the Nats.

Last night, in getting crushed 7-0 by the Pirates even with Roger Clemens on the mound, the Astros lost a game in the standings to the idle Phillies, Marlins and Nats. Not quite choking but even their relatively soft schedule doesn't help them at this point.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback

1. Which was more shocking, the Patriots looking enfeebled by the ferocious Carolina Panther defence or the Cincinnati Bengals ripping Minnesota a new one? The Patriots aren't likely to fall apart after this week's loss but the pain won't be eased at all going to face Pittsburgh. As for the Bengals, let's reserve judgement on their Super Bowl juggernaut for a few more weeks. Beating the Vikings, it is beginning to appear, is no big feat. Last year, QB Duante Culpepper had 11 interceptions. After throwing five in the loss to the Bengals, this year he already has eight. And let's not forget, the Bengals committed 17 penalties in that game which against a mightier foe, would have spellt disaster.

2. Did someone wipe the smirk off the faces of Fish fans? How badly are they rooting for a Ricky Williams return? Their ground game is pathetic and let's face it, Gus F is not anyone's answer.

3. Undefeated after two weeks: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, KC, NY Giants, Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay. Of these seven teams, Sports Amensia predicts only four will be around for the playoffs: Pittsburgh, Indy, KC and Tampa Bay.

4. Preseason hopefuls for the playoffs -- Arizona, Baltimore, Green Bay, Minnesota and San Diego -- are a combined 0-10.

5. Joining the Vikes in the Who Stinks More contest are the Green Bay Packers who did the unthinkable this week in getting humiliated by the Cleveland Browns, everyone's favourite pick for worst team in the NFL. In fact, the entire NFC North stinks and it's up to Da Bears to hold the old black and blue division up. Sports Amnesia's Upset Pick of the Week: Bears knock Bengals from the unbeatens.

6. Our preseason pick for the Super Bowl, Carolina Panthers, are ready to go on a roll after beating the Pats this week. Carolina's next four opponents are a combined 2-6, and its toughest game in that stretch is this week at Miami. Not so tough after all.

7. The other preseason pick for the Super Bowl, the Jets, have not proven they belong yet. The only way they are going to get anywhere this season is by playing the kind of perfect-sort-of mistake-free football that frankly, every team needs to contend. But let's face it, this isn't a fancy team, this isn't even really a loveable team.

8. Is there anyone outside of Baltimore who isn't secretly happy at the Ravens 0-2 start? Arrogant prick of a coach, two nearly-convicted felons starring on the defence and offence and the worst QB this side of Anthony Wright?

9. Clearly, the San Diego Chargers are the best 0-2 team in the league. This week they face the unbeaten Giants in the Peyton Manning Bowl. Guess here is that the Chargers win this one, 17-13.

10. Predictions:

Buffalo 20 Atlanta 14
Carolina 28 Miami 6
Chicago 19 Cincinnati 17
Indy 45 Cleveland 10
Jets 17 Jacksonville 13
Minnesota 31 New Orleans 20
Philly 34 Oakland 24
Green Bay 23 Tampa Bay 21
St Louis 28 Tennessee 24
Arizona 17 Seattle 16
Dallas 31 SF 16
NE 20 Pittsburgh 17
SanDiego 27 Giants 21
KC 21 Denver 17

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Patriots Finally Lose A Game

It's been a long time since you could say that. Longer still since you could say the Patriots didn't even look very good in doing so. But true enough, they were thrashed 27-17 by the Carolina Panthers, the very team they beat in the Super Bowl two years ago.

Patriots lost because of Tom Brady, who had two of New England's three turnovers and couldn't carry the offensive load when the running game stalled.

Super Boy takes a bit of a beating.

Brady finished 23 of 44 for 270 yards, one interception and one fumble. He did throw a 1-yard TD pass to Daniel Graham early in the first quarter, the 100th passing touchdown of his career, but struggled from there.

New England was also uncharacteristically sloppy, committing 12 penalties for 86 yards.

Panthers TE Kris Mangum and Patriots CB Asante Samuel have a go at it.

Although Panthers QB Jack Delhomme was less than tantalising, (11 of 26 for 146 yards), running back Stephen Davis scored three touchdowns whilst gaining 77 hard-earned yards. Davis became the first running back to score three TDs against the Patriots since Curtis Martin did it in 2000.

It can be said that a Patriot loss, indeed a Patriot failure to defend their championship was perhaps inevitable both because modern sports do not allow for this kind of dynasty, because they are now weak in the interior linebacking corps and because they lost their offensive and defensive coordinators making Bill Bellichick to it himself for a change.

Things won't get any better on the Patriot opponent Revenge tour as next week they travel to Pittsburgh to face the unbeaten Steelers.

Sports Amnesia predicts the Pats will win, 17-13.

Jets Return To Form

After last week's miserable 27-7 loss to the KC Chiefs made them look like they were starting their season a week early, the Jets defence managed to contain the upstart Miami Dolphins at home, 17-10.

So, the wheels haven't fallen off their Super Bowl run just yet although the offence is still struggling under the new Hummerdinger regime to score points.

In fact, after promising not to fumble at all after opening week's six fumble debacle, what does Chad Pennington do on the first play from scrimmage? Why, fumble the snap of course.

But the Jets defence held the Dolphins in check for most of the game and after the Dolphins scored to close it to withing 10-7 and making everyone jumpy in New York, Pennington put together a fantastic drive to save the game. On the drive, Pennington went 7 of 7 for 74 yards. He finished 19 of 30 for 190 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Jerard Sowell scores the winnah

The Jets played efficient, nearly-mistake-free football, the kind of disciplined performance necessary if they intend on making it through this season into the post season. They had no turnovers, ran for 98 yards, held Miami to 66 on the ground, and committed five penalties for 40 yards.

Vilma and Coleman gang up on Welker

But the Dolphins ganged up on themselves in a way as well. Following their impressive opening season victory over the Denver Broncos despite embarassing moments of undisciplined penalty-mongering, they had 10 penalties for 88 yards. And the Jets defence (or Dolphin offence - who is more at fault?) allowed the Dolphins to convert only 4 of 14 third-down opportunities. All the key ingredients to losing.

As if that weren't enough, everybody's hero last week, QB Gus Frerotte was off, finishing 20 of 43 for 177 yards with a touchdown and an interception and coming crashing back down to the real wold. The Dolphins also failed to muster much of a running attack. Rookie Ronnie Brown, who came into the game with a slight shoulder injury, had 35 yards on 12 carries.

But it isn't all to blame on the Dolphins. The Jets bounced back virulently, blue collar football, mistake-free football. January football.

Next week they host the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sports Amnesia is predicting a tough 10-9 victory for the Jets.


Meanwhile, another early season favourite to knock the Pats from their Perch has been the Indianapolis Colts.

Unhappy Jags leave the field with a hard-fought loss

Yesterday in a AFC South defensive battle that saw the Colts shutout in the first half and Peyton Manning looking out of sorts with wildly overthrown passes and an assorted of miscues, the Colts had the final say with a monsterously hard-fought 10-3 victory over their rival Jaguars.

Manning, looking out of sync as the Jaguars pressured him, finished 13-for-28 for ZERO touchdown passes and a career-low 122 yards passing with one interception and a passer rating of 44.0 -- his worst regular-season rating since December 2001.

Unfortunately for the Jags, the Colt defence, hyped often as improved, held the Jags at bay as well. Jags QB Byron Leftwich, sacked six times, was injured on the next-to-last series when Raheem Brock sacked him from behind and he was bent him over awkwardly. Leftwich lay on the ground reaching for his knee before limping off the field. He was X-rayed after the game inconclusively.

The defense also allowed Jacksonville only 303 total yards and one field goal, and has yielded just 10 points in two games, the lowest two-game total by a Colts defense since 1992.

But in the second half the Colts wised up, abandoned the useless passing attack on a day Manning was looking less than stellar, and went instead to Edgerrin James who carried the offensive load, relentlessly and powerfully, and finished with 128 yards, his first 100-yard outing in his eighth start against the Jaguars’ stout defense.

With a 3-0 lead, the Jags looked poised to score the upset until James and Indianapolis used a 17-play drive that consumed nearly nine minutes before Carthon's late TD run finally gave the Colts the lead with 8:27 left.

Monster truck fullback Greg Jones feels the heat of the Indy defence

The Colts will host the Browns next week and should continue their unbeaten streak with an easy 34-10 victory over the Browns.


Vikings Take Another On The Chin

Well, so much for all that annoying hoo-haa, preseason rubbish about the Vikings mystical takeoff into the realm of the Super Bowl. They'll spend the rest of the week wondering if they are as bad as they have looked in going 0-2 in the first two weeks of the season, yesterday humiliated by the previously porous and pathetic Cincinnati Bengals by a shocking 38-7 margin.

Seven turnovers and a series of defensive miscues doomed the Vikings in a 37-8 debacle at Cincinnati, the second-worst defeat of coach Mike Tice's tenure and a humbling blow to those who considered last week's loss to Tampa Bay an anomaly - worse still, QB Daunte Culpepper continued to humiliate himself as though he'd forgotten how to play and threw a career-high five interceptions to join running back Michael Bennett, who fumbled twice in the first half as offensive stooges. The Vikings did not score until 3 minutes, 17 seconds remained in the game.

Someone please help me: Duante looks somewhere for help

And this defence of the Vikings which was supposed to be so new-and-improved and leading them to the Super Bowl, was absolutely abhorrent as they gave up 504 yards and 26 first downs to the Bengals. Free safety Darren Sharper suffered what might be a serious left knee injury, and frighteningly, the score could have been worse. The Bengals committed a team-record 17 penalties, wiping out one touchdown and two Culpepper fumbles deep in Vikings territory.

Bengals receiver Chad Johnson on the end of a 75 yard touchdown.

Carson Palmer completed his first nine passes against a dazed defense. Palmer went 27-for-40 for 337 yards overall with touchdown passes to three different receivers. The one to Johnson set the tone.

The Bengals will face a stiff test to keep their unbeaten season on the rails when they travel to Chicago next week. Prediction here is that the Bears will take them down where it hurts and beat the Bengals 17-13 to stop the bandwagon.

Meanwhile, the Vikings will host the New Orleans Saints and although the Saints are everybody's sweathearts at the moment, they will be on a short week following their necessary postponement to Monday night. Vikes 31 Saints 17.


Rams Regain Footing, Barely

A week after the humiliating, disturbing and confounding upset loss to the nobody 49ers, the St Louis Rams had alot to prove away in Arizona facing a team that had stumbled sourly against the NY Giants, a team no one is mistaking for playoff-bound.

Playing against the team with which he'd experienced all his former glory, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner nearly upended his former mates but fell a few yards shy, though, doomed by Adam Archuleta 's sack and a false start penalty as time ran out in the Rams' 17-12 victory Sunday.

Warner goes down

Warner, 28 for 41 for 327 yards in his first game against the St. Louis franchise he directed to two Super Bowls and one NFL crown, drove the Cardinals to the St. Louis 5 in the final seconds, all for naught.

The man who replaced Warner eventually at St Louis, Marc Bulger completed 18 of 29 passes for 216 yards, with one touchdown pass, one interception, and a passer rating of 82 but directed touchdown drives on St. Louis' first possession of each half and the Cardinals advanced inside the Rams 12 four times without a touchdown. Sacks spoiled three of the threats.

Jax on the move: Steven Jackson rushed for 93 yards on 18 carries, including a 7-yard TD that was the difference in the game.

The Cardinals fell to 0-2 whilst losing their home opener and next week they will travel to Seattle to face the dodgy Seahawks with no killer instinct. Look for the Cardinals to take this game 24-17.

And the Rams, spared an 0-2 start to their season will now finally get to play at home against Tennessee. The Rams might well lose this one as well but the home field advantage will be the difference, faster pitch, higher score. Prediction, St Louis 26 Tennessee 16.


Broncos Stop Slide, Prolong San Diego's

Small surprise that after getting bagged by the Dolphins last week the Denver Broncos were returning home with a bit of a chip on their shoulder when they faced the Chargers.

The Chargers are not a team to take 0-2 lightly of course and it took a come-from-behind victory by the Broncos to show they aren't going to take a slow start lightly either.

Elam nails the game-winner

The long and almost-forgotten ex-Giant Ron Dayne came off the bench and ran six times for 38 yards in the drive that set up Jason Elam's game-winning 41-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.

Bailey, meanwhile, opened the third quarter with a 25-yard interception return for a score that started the rally, cutting Denver's 11-point halftime deficit to 14-10.

"Champ Bailey won the game. Let's call it like it is," defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "It shows how one play can make such a big difference."

Champ is the real Champ of the Day


Chiefs Stay Unbeaten

Raider Family Roots Hard

In an effort to prove their beating of the Jets was no flash-in-the-pan sort of phony miracle, the KC Chiefs travelled to Oakland to face the damned and dooming Raiders in an AFC West battle.

Kansas City's defense came through for a second straight week, stopping Oakland at the 10-yard line in the final minutes of a 23-17 victory.

Trent Green offset Randy Moss' massive 64-yard touchdown catch early in the third quarter with two long field goal drives for the Chiefs (2-0) in the second half. Moss had only one catch after the touchdown and was nowhere to be found on Oakland's final drive.

Trent Green, rehearsing alone.

Moss was the last player introduced before the game and received the loudest cheers. He caught an 18-yard pass to set up Oakland's first score, a 1-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter by LaMont Jordan.

Moss got louder cheers when he appeared to catch a 6-yard touchdown throw early in the second quarter. But those quickly ended when the play was called back by a pass interference on Moss and Oakland settled for a 29-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski

Raiders QB and former Giant Kery Collins was 21-for-35 for 263 yards, but was booed frequently as he often threw the ball short on third downs.

This week it was a Chief in the Black Hole but next week, it might be Kerry Collins.

Most Suprising?

We can look at the idling bandwagons of the Cincinnati Bengals and perhaps even of the 2-0 Tampa Bay Bucs who trounced the Bills, but the Chiefs, after beating Oakland, are also 2-0 and looking to build up fan interest.

Next week, the Chiefs play a Monday Night game at Denver and the prediction is, they will not stay unbeaten for another week - Denver 23 KC 21 in a rare Monday night thriller.

The Bucs will travel to Green Bay to face the suddenly weak Packers but they too, are predicted to go down as the Pack won't start 0-3. Green Bay 20 Tampa Bay 10.

In fact, by the time the dust clears next week, mark this down, only the Indiapolis Colts and the Dallas Cowboys will be 3-0.