By: Bob George/
January 15, 2008

NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill
Patriots center David Andrews excited with his new Georgia Bulldog teammates
Patriots notebook: Patriots hold bonding time at Children’s Hospital
Guregian: Patriots Hall of Famer Matt Light says there’s more to being a successful offensive lineman than the measurables

Ray Wersching earned two Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers. He kicked for the Niners for the final 11 of his 15 career seasons in the NFL, and became known as a kicker who never looked at the goal posts until after toe met ball (might he be the Hideki Okajima of kickers?). You may not know that Wersching began his career in 1973 with the Chargers, taking over for long time kicker Dennis Partee. In his Charger career he was only 28 out of 60 in field goals and missed three extra points in the process. Partee hung on as the punter for a few seasons and also helped out on conversions, but by 1977 both Wersching and Partee were gone, yielding to a rookie named Rolf Benirschke. Wersching booms one to about the six-yard line, and we're under way.

Tom Brady could darn well have been 28 of 28. Both incompletions were drops.

In the third quarter, Ben Watson tried to make a leaping grab but the ball went right through his hands. Would have been a tough catch but it was a grab he could have made.

Wes Welker's drop was a real jaw-dropper, but he had a defender bearing down on him and Welker simply turned too early. It's called "hearing footsteps".

That's how close Brady came to 28 of 28.

So, how does Jacksonville get into the very top echelon of NFL teams? Simple. Start beating the Colts twice a year and go from there. At some point, the Jaguars have to learn how to win their division.

If you thought the field goal miss fazed Stephen Gostkowski, the next attempt should assuage such fears. Nailed right down the middle from the same distance. And still no missed extra points this season.

We talked about this last year. Based on all the interviews he gave, the guy is no shrinking violet. Gostkowski could perhaps pull a Tom Brady and take a nap in the locker room the afternoon of the Super Bowl. That's what cloth he is cut from.

Geeks of the week: Boy, those sure were classy Indianapolis fans, booing the 15-year-old girls champion of the Punt Pass & Kick competition. Poor Anna Grant of Stratham, New Hampshire had to stand there with her trophy and listen to a cascade of boos from the ill-mannered RCA Dome crowd just because she wore a Patriots jersey. Hold your head up, Anna, your team is still playing, and their team isn't. You're a winner in more ways than one.

Looking forward to the new Colts home? Lucas Oil Stadium figures to be louder than the RCA Dome.

Why? It was built with Qwest Field in mind. Upper concourses that are practically on top of the field. That and the fact that it is indoors with a retractable roof.

It may not matter. The Colts may continue to stink it out in the playoffs.

I mean, how do the Colts not close the deal at home with Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson on the bench and Antonio Gates nowhere near full strength?

Most Tennessee Titan fans won't remember Billy Volek. All Charger fans sure will.

If you are a Patriot fan, you hate the Colts because they are becoming more like the Yankees, more than the rest of the country thinks the Patriots are.

Submit for your approval: Peyton Manning is Alex Rodriguez. Marvin Harrison is Derek Jeter. Reggie Wayne is Jorge Posada. Dallas Clark is Hideki Matsui. Joseph Addai is Robinson Cano. Dwight Freeney is Andy Pettitte. Bob Sanders is Chien-Ming Wang. Robert Mathis is Joba Chamberlain. Adam Vinatieri is Mariano Rivera.

And Tony Dungy is Joe Torre (pre-Dodgers). If this is it for Dungy, our best wishes to him. Like Torre, he is the one enemy you have to love and admire.

Back to school: If Pete Carroll takes the Atlanta job, he is nuts. He can't possibly want a new challenge that bad. If Carroll stays at USC, he is not far away from surpassing John McKay in stature, if he hasn't already. And he could someday also blow away Howard Jones if he is so inclined, that's how well he is doing at Vermont and Exposition Boulevards.

I wonder if Drew Rosenhaus had Terrell Owens brainwashed. Or deprogrammed.

My goodness. Weeping for Tony Romo? Begging for leniency on him? Emphasizing that the loss was a team loss? Saying that any negative press towards Romo is unfair?

Simply stated, it was the best press conference of Owens' career.

That said, Romo is great, but is not top shelf. Yet. And no, he doesn't need to break up with Jessica Simpson to become top shelf.

Meanwhile, Eli Manning put smiles back on the faces of Archie and Olivia after Peyton drove both of them to tears earlier in the day.

And bully for Tom Coughlin and his Giants. No one is complaining about his playing the Patriots tough any more. And a rematch in Arizona is not out of the question. Start sweating, Mr. Belichick.

Has the screaming and yelling and partying died down in Green Bay yet? Good, now get busy and get all that snow off your field.

Because Brett Favre and crew just picked up another home game.

If I were a Seattle fan, I think I would have a little bit of a problem with Matt Hasselbeck proclaiming how really happy he was for his former teammates. It's one thing to be gracious, but Hasselbeck went a bit too far for my taste.

Remember him: Before getting knocked silly by Mike Jones of the Patriots in 1996, Stan Humphries was perhaps the highest achieving quarterback in Charger history. That is saying a lot, given the history of quarterbacks on the team (Tobin Rote, John Hadl, Dan Fouts, Drew Brees). Humphries was the only Super Bowl quarterback in Charger history, plain and simple. In all the years Fouts was expected to take the Bolts to the Promised Land and never did (Fouts never had to play defense, remember), Humphries was finally able to in 1994, the only other time San Diego has been in the conference title game since the merger. In that hallowed season of '94, Humphries completed 58.3 percent of his passes, had 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 453 attempts, and had a passer rating of 81.6. He was able to lead the Chargers to playoff wins at home against Miami (22-21) and at Three Rivers Stadium over Pittsburgh (17-13), but his Chargers were riddled by Steve Young's six touchdown passes in Super Bowl XXIX, losing to the 49ers, 49-26. Following the massive hit in the 1996 Sunday night loss to the Patriots which left him with a sickening dazed look on his face, he came back in 1997 to play eight games before retiring. The Chargers owe a great debt of gratitude to Humphries, a guy who was smart and did not allow one concussion too many to ruin his life.

It's time for our conference championship rhyming picks. We did a little better this past week, blemished only by a crapout thanks to Peyton Manning's Dolts. Enjoy, and have fun next Sunday.

A Giant win happened in Big D

Herr Kommandant and his gang are filled with glee

It's off to the tundra to take on the Pack

Instead of on to Arizona, it's to Gotham they head back.

The Super Bowl champs a Charger team defeated

A miracle considering how badly they were depleted

In Foxborough the home team figures to have lots of fun

Two weeks before a rematch of Super Bowl Thirty-One.