September 15, 2011
NFL News And Notes -- Week 1
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
If any of you out there have ever heard of George Blair, you're either sixty-something or you have no life. If you live in San Diego, you might be forgiven. Blair was the kicker for the 1963 AFL Champion San Diego Chargers. Against the Boston Patriots in the 1963 title game at Balboa Stadium, he kicked six extra points, and boomed an 11-yard field goal to boot (no pun intended). Take away his nine points and the Chargers still beat the Patriots by 32. Blair was the Charger kicker from 1961 to 1964, and would never make you think of Rolf Benirschke or Nate Kaeding. Move him up to the 35 now, and he just might make the goal line with his kick.
A real boot, one for the booksWhile all of you were watching your favorite Patriot post game show, you missed one whale of a nightcap out in Denver. You knew that one of these days, Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski was going to boom a really long one. On Monday night, at the end of the first half at Invesco Field in Denver, Janikowski nailed a 63-yard field goal, tying the NFL record set two previous times. Janikowski has been known to make very long attempts, and claims he can nail 70-yarders in practice.
There is a commonality between the three 63-yard field goals, that being all were made under unusual conditions. The first one, in 1970, won a game for the New Orleans Saints against the Detroit Lions, 19-17 on the final play of the game. But the kicker, Tom Dempsey, was born with half a right foot and wore a special shoe which had to be approved by the league. One could surmise that only a kicker with that kind of shoe could kick a ball that far, though Dempsey was quoted as saying that he wondered if he "could kick it straight and that far". He did, and the moment lives on as one of the craziest finishes to a game in league history.
Jason Elam tied the record in 1998, but he did it in the same city that Janikowski made his kick. This also assumes that if one has no physical deformities, one can only make a kick from beyond 60 yards in the city of Denver (Elam's kick was at old Mile High Stadium). The thin air at 5,280 feet altitude makes for less drag and resistance on the ball, and therefore making longer kicks more possible.
That said, if anyone has a chance to put up a 70-burger, Janikowski is the one.
As a footnote, Janikowski's holder, punter Shane Lechler, along with the kicker have both been with the Raiders seemingly forever. How long? They both played in the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule game. The Raiders actually have a third player who played in that game, but he played for the other team: Richard Seymour.
Oh, for the days of Jim SorgiDon't be ashamed to admit that you watched the Colts-Texans game on Sunday at great length. Despite the blowout win by Houston, it was the most entertaining game of the day.
Why? Without Peyton Manning, look at the Colts. It was an incredible expose on how important one man is to his team. And it is an expose on the utter and complete failure of the Colts front office to plan ahead for such a calamity. Tom Brady blows out his knee in 2008 and Matt Cassel leads his team to eleven wins. You see that happening to the Colts in 2011 if Manning misses the whole year? Not on your meat cutters of America.
This begs two questions. Where was Jim Sorgi, Manning's longtime backup, and why was Curtis Painter so untrustworthy that they had to bring in old and broken down Kerry Collins to become the sudden starter?
Sorgi was let go last season after a hamstring injury ended his 2009 season. He tried to make it with the Giants in 2010, but he suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason and is currently a man without a team.
Painter? Are the Colts still shellshocked over that loss to the Jets which blew up their perfect season in 2009?
So they bring in Collins, who has ties to both Jim Caldwell and GM Bill Polian. Collins is 38 and had hung it up. He reportedly was at a soccer game with his kids when the Colts called him up.
What the Colts really needed was Sorgi, who studied for years under Manning and was the real right man for the job. Sorgi is a free agent right now, but is perhaps still too hurt to play. Too bad, as he was the only man who could have come in and kept the status quo, or at least close to it, not the dilapidated Collins or the wide-eyed Painter.
Result: You the Patriot fan watched the Colts lose to Houston by 27, and loved every minute of it.
Run the ball? Packers hung on for dear lifeBack on Thursday night of last week, that was some season opener.
The Packers were killing the Saints all night long. The battle at the line of scrimmage was a complete domination by the Packers over the Saints. It was worse than the Giants over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Yet somehow Drew Brees, who has as many Super Bowl wins as Aaron Rodgers and cannot be excluded from the discussion as to who is among the best QBs in the league, managed to bring his team back to within one score late in the fourth quarter. And Brees led his team through a defense that was obviously tired one last time, driving to the one-yard line for a final untimed down following a pass interference penalty in the end zone on A.J. Hawk (a questionable call at best). One shot from the one to tie the game and force overtime.
Brees led that comeback with a passing attack that Green Bay could no longer solve. But on that final untimed play, Sean Payton called for a run, a right off-tackle run by rookie RB Mark Ingram. He was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, game over, Packers win. Ingram was known for his power running at Alabama, but in this game the Packers had completely shut down the run. Brees had the hot hand. Maybe the Saints guessed that the Packers would guess pass, but the Saints lined up in a tight run formation, giving the play away.
Sorry, Saints fans. Brees should have thrown and then you might have won it in OT.
But that was some game. Thank goodness they ended that lockout.
Plenty of nits to pick despite winI hope Bill Belichick spent plenty of time this week playing up what the Patriots didn't do on Monday night at Miami instead of gloating over what they did do.
Right now you can take those 517 passing yards from Tom Brady and wrap it with fish in yesterday's newspaper. It was fun to watch, especially the long one to Wes Welker. But that stuff won't happen on Sunday against a San Diego Charger team that hates the Patriots and hates the playoff losses in 2006 and 2007.
So, in a nutshell, here's probably how things were broken down.
Brady did miss some easy throws. How will the offensive line function without Dan Koppen? Chad Ochocinco was called out for being stupefied and not useful. Who will start at strong safety? How will Patrick Chung quarterback the secondary so that Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson don't kill them all afternoon with easy slant throws over the middle? Can Julian Edelman capitalize on a lousy Charger special teams unit with some game-altering returns?
The team will honor the late Myra Kraft, and everyone entering the game will get an "MHK" pin. But all the outpouring of love and support from the Patriot fans won't pass muster once the game begins. The Patriots have to play better than they did against Miami, on both sides of the ball.
Believe it. The Patriots gained 622 total yards on Monday night, and Brady accounted for 517 of those yards. And they have to play better.
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