Adrian Peterson just capped one of the greatest seasons in NFL history.
The Minnesota Vikings running back rushed for 2,097 yards, just a few feet short of Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 set in 1984.
Oh, he did it less than a year after a gruesome knee injury.
Yet it's not a lock for him to win the league's MVP award.
Some guy named Peyton Manning is getting a lot of the love.
Manning finished the season with 4,659 yards and 37 touchdown passes with the Denver Broncos after missing the 2011 season with a career-threatening neck injury.
Pretty impressive numbers, but A.P. is my pick, and it's not even close.
Manning took over for a Broncos' team that made the playoffs in 2011. He has two high-end wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. They have a solid running game with Knowshon Moreno and, before him, Willis McGahee.
He was the Vikings' offense.
The Vikes lost their top receiver, Percy Harvin, and had no one else. Their quarterback, C…
It's been a long college football bowl season, with games starting Dec. 15, but things really get interesting with a trifecta today: the Independence Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Independence Bowl features Ohio against Louisiana-Monroe, with ULM favored by 6, according to Sportsbetting.ag.
Don't let the names fool you, ULM beat then-No. 8 Arkansas and earned a bowl trip. Ohio has a 1,500-yard rusher in Beau Blankenship.
Saturday, my favorite game out of the five scheduled is the Pinstripe Bowl, featuring high-powered West Virginia.
We get an off day for NFL on Sunday, but the bowl games get better on Monday.
New Year's Eve has four prime games, including LSU vs. Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
On New Year's Day, there are six games to watch, the perfect way to nurse a hangover from partying your way into 2013.
I'm looking forward to the Orange Bowl to see if Northern Illinois can hang with Florida State. I also want to see Geo…
Just when you thought it was safe to celebrate another Pitt football bowl berth in the BBVA bowl, signs are pointing in the direction of a coaching change.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema resigned as coach of Wisconsin to take the job at Arkansas. So there were immediate links of Pitt coach Paul Chryst leaving for Wisconsin before you could even finish the thought, why would Bielema leave Wisconsin for Arkansas? (Probably money and the allure of the SEC.)
Chryst was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin and he played for the Badgers, so, naturally, everyone began connecting the dots.
I think Pitt and Chryst tried to sever some connections with this statement, but I'm not so sure:
I understand the speculation surrounding my name given today’s developments. I am committed to the Pitt football program and the University of Pittsburgh. I am focusing all my time and energy on our team’s bowl game preparation and recruiting a great group of young men to join our program and this outstandi…
The Pitt football team still has a shot at a bowl game.
While I'm not sure if that's a good sign or not, I'm pretty sure it's a sign of how watered-down the bowls have become.
But, if the Panthers (5-6 overall, 2-4 in the Big East) beat South Florida (3-8, 1-5) on Saturday, they should be on their way to the prestigious BBVA Bowl or the granddaddy of them all, the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl.
It's a game Pitt should win.
Which means it's very likely they'll lose.
I'm not sure how a losing record in the Big East should qualify any team for a bowl berth, but it does.
But I guess we should look at the bright side: a season that started with an embarrassing loss to Youngstown State could end up with a bowl trip, no matter what bowl it is.
At least that's some momentum to bring into the ACC.
I never understood the Steelers' fascination with their backup quarterbacks.
They've had either Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich for what seems like ages now.
And when the Steelers really needed a backup, Leftwich couldn't deliver.
Leftwich rambled 31 yards for a touchdown Sunday against the Ravens, but other than that burst, the Steelers couldn't do anything on offense in a 13-10 loss that puts them in a bad position in the AFC North.
Leftwich, with his long delivery, looks better suited for the Pirates' bullpen than behind center.
He went 18-for-39 passing for 201 yards, but couldn't help a Steelers' offense that looks lost right now.
The Ravens came into the game with a weak defense. The thought was Leftwich could manage the game, the Steelers could find a running back to rely on and they'd escape with a win.
It didn't work out that way.
And it looks like we could see Batch at QB this week -- or someone else.
The Pitt football season started with an ugly loss to Youngstown State.
I guess you could say my enthusiasm for the season left before the Panthers left the field that night.
I think Paul Chryst can be a good coach and I think the move next season to the ACC should be good for the program.
I'm not sure Tino Sunseri is good for the program, however.
After nearly pulling off the upset against Notre Dame last week, Sunseri threw kicker Kevin Harper under the bus, backed up, drove over him again and tossed him in the garbage.
Harper, you see, missed a field goal that would have won the game.
"We missed a field goal; that's why we lost the game," Sunseri said after the game. "It came down to a special teams play, we didn't make the play.
Give credit to Notre Dame for being able to finish it off."
Maybe I'm being too harsh.
I don't think so. I'm pretty sure Sunseri has cost the Panthers a game or two in his career.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have their power-hitting outfielder.
The question is: Will it pay off this year for them?
The Bucs picked up Travis Snider from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher Brad Lincoln.
On the surface, it appears the Pirates got a minor league player for a successful reliever.
This trade should be better than that.
Snider provides a power-hitting threat needed. He's also under control for at least three seasons, meaning the Bucs should have an outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Snider for a few years.
That should be a very good outfield.
I'm not sold on Lincoln as a starting pitcher in the future. I think he could be a future closer, which always is appealing.
However, relievers aren't as difficult to find. Plus, they can bottom out really fast. Remember Evan Meek, the former All-Star for the Pirates?
This also reminds me of the deal that sent Ricardo Rincon to the Indians for Brian Giles.
After several days of recharging at Allegany State Park near Salamanca, N.Y., I get back to reality with some big news.
The biggest has been the punishment handed down by the NCAA to Penn State.
It's quite a lot to take in: $60 million fineNo bowl appearances for four yearsLoss of scholarshipsLoss of all wins dating to 1998Players can freely transfer
Now, Penn State starts to rebuild.
Coach Bill O'Brien has rolled up his sleeves to keep the team together.
Quarterback Matt McGloin and others are saying that they'll stay with the team.
That should be the least of O'Brien's worries. In fact, I think he'll be able to keep everyone on the team. He'll be able to rally the players and fans to support the team through this four-year postseason ban. The Us. Vs. The World cry will win over the players already on the team.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is the loss of scholarships. We won't know the full effect of that for years.
The guy retired from baseball after winning the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals last year.
But he won't go quietly into the sunset. He's back for the All-Star Game and he's ticking off some people.
The Reds and Brewers aren't happy with La Russa's picks. Milwaukee thinks Zack Greinke (9-2, 2.82 ERA) should be on the team, while Cincy says Brandon Phillips (.285-10-46) and Johnny Cueto (9-4, 2.26 ERA) should be, too.
It's hard to argue.
The fact is, La Russa is the one who shouldn't be there. Commissioner Bud Selig asked him and La Russa accepted.
Mike Matheny, the current Cards manager, should be the one making the picks, not La Russa.
And Matheny should be the one getting the criticism for the picks.
I'm not sure anyone from the Chicago Cubs deserves to be at the game, but LaHair was named as the guy to represent the Cubs, so it's his name that gets the attention.
LaHair is having a respectable season, hitting .284 with 13 home runs and 28 RBIs, but it's not All-Star worthy.
And when you look a little deeper and see that LaHair hit .390 in April but followed that month up with averages of .253 and .231 in May and June, and you see something that got a nice little bonus living off that one hot month.
But this isn't about one player. This is about ending one bad rule.
The game of poker has received a bad rap for years for being too boring. Due to longperiods of inactivity in a game, players tend to tune out of the game. The funny thing
is, Baseball is also one that many of these same people happen to like even though
sometimes it also has has similar long periods of inactivity, even if those long periods are
not shown on TV.
In big poker tournaments, such as the highlights we see in the World Series of Poker, has
skewed the reality of how long of a process that the game can really be. Sometimes even
in baseball, during the World Series there are long period of innings where there isn’t
much going on, like in poker except one person raising and others folding.
That can change quickly and sometimes just as dramatically as a big solo shot homer. A
player can make a raise, followed by a three-bet from another player. The original raiser
then moves all-in and gets called. Now, all the people watching the event are on their
feet cheering and screaming fo…
Shocking score in quite an entertaining series. It likely would be more entertaining if the Penguins were leading or even tied in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Unfortunately, they trail 3-1 after shellacking the Flyers 10-3 in Game 4.
Evgeni Malkin scored twice, Jordan Staal had a hat trick and the Penguins exploded on offense.
Marc-Andre Fleury played well in net, too -- at least after the first period.
It's just too bad this win, the first in the series if you haven't been paying attention, came in Game 4.
If this had happened in the first three games, then I'd give the Pens a shot to rally from 3-1 down.
It's nice they get to return home for Game 5. It'd be even better if they won it.
A nice 5-1 win, or even better, a shutout, would do wonders after a laugher like Wednesday.
At least the Pens aren't going down without a fight.
I had a little more rooting interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins this year than I have in the past.
It was nothing special, but for me it was added incentive to follow them in the playoffs this spring.
I got to the Consol Energy Center for the first time about a month ago and had excellent seats, just four rows from the ice.
Like I said, nothing special, but it felt like I had more of an interest in this year's squad. There was something special about seeing them in person.
The Penguins beat the Coyotes that night, playing wonderful defense and getting great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury.
Today, just a day away from Game 4 of the Penguins' series against the Philadelphia Flyers, I wonder what the heck happened to that team I saw a few weeks ago. The team I saw then wouldn't be trailing the Flyers 3-0 and be a good bet to book tee times as soon as Thursday.
I was fired up about the postseason. I thought they were a threat, but I wasn't as blinded by loyalty to pick…
That was the hammer coming down on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty program.
Coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year, former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, and the team will lose a second-round pick in 2012 and 2013.
That's what happens when commissioner Roger Goodell stresses player safety and Bountygate breaks out.
The Saints got what they deserved.
Goodell needed to send a message.
I'm sure the rest of the league heard.
I just can't help but think this won't put an end to it. The players will be much more secretive in the future.
I look at the Denver Broncos' pursuit of Peyton Manning and I see an intricate storyline.
It's almost like AMC's "The Killing," where multiple plots are weaved together. If you missed "The Killing" or are boycotting the show because of its Season 1 ending, try a more popular example, "Seinfeld," where two plots meet at the end.
First, there's Manning's search for a new home after the Indianapolis Colts decided to go in a different direction.
While there are plenty of people hailing the Broncos as Super Bowl contenders with Manning as quarterback, let's not crown them -- or Manning -- just yet.
Manning missed the entire season with multiple neck surgeries. He's also 36. Those are two big strikes against him.
He'll also be without All-Pro receivers like Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne. Manning's top running back, Willis McGahee, will hit an over-the-hill-for-a-running-back 31 during the 2012 season.
There are many ways to pick an NCAA tournament champion.
Some might pick their alma mater, others could go for a long-time favorite team while some could pull a name out of a hat.
Me? I have a pretty good formula going. It's called Bracket Racket. The success is uncanny.
Here's how we go from 68 to 1:
First things first, first-round games are a joke: Seriously, the NCAA wants us to think the eight teams playing "first-round" games have a chance while 60 others get a bye into the second round? Missouri Valley State, Western Kentucky, BYU, Iona, Lamar, Vermont, Cal and South Florida all are eliminated.
It's not sweet being a 16: Don't be a hero, scratch off the No. 16 seeds remaining.
Capital losses: Teams that go by capital letters are outta here: VCU, UNLV, WVU (go home, Mountaineers).
Wrong statement: I hate to break it to you, but schools with state in its name won't win it all this year. That means Iowa State, Wichita State, New Mexico State, South Dakota…
Robert Griffin III a Redskin? Mark Sanchez an extension by the Jets? Peyton Manning could be a Bronco?
The biggest, boldest move was the deal reported by FoxSports.com, where the Redskins will trade up to get the Rams' No. 2 pick. The deal, everyone is assuming, was made to get RG3, the Heisman Trophy winning QB from Baylor.
It's quite a move, which could set up the Redskins or doom it.
It also allows the Rams to beef up their roster. They'll get two future first-round picks and a second-round pick from the Redskins.
The move I don't like is the three-year extension of Sanchez by the Jets. Sanchez has been overrated and overhyped by the New York media. Clearly Manning wasn't interested in the Jets or this move wouldn't have taken place.
I'm still not sure what to make of Manning's visit to the Broncos. I don't think Tim Tebow is the answer for Denver, but I don't think Manning makes them an instant Super Bowl favorite.
The Pittsburgh Steelers put on a solid front in their introduction of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley on Thursday.
Mike Tomlin introduced Haley and made it a point to say that he was the one doing the interviews to find a replacement for Bruce Arians. Tomlin was trying to show he still was the one in charge, although if you read some accounts, it makes it look like he's going along for the ride.
Tomlin said the right things and hit on the right topics.
Haley, too, said all the right things. He made it a point to say he'll do anything to win, run or pass.
So far, so good, in smoothing the transition.
Then the media found Ben Roethlisberger.
You can tell he's still miffed at losing Arians.
It's understandable, but he shouldn't go public about it.
"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the
league, both good and bad about him," Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. "Everybody has an opinion,
as we all know, and the…
Call me indifferent on the hiring of Todd Haley as the Pittsburgh Steelers' new offensive coordinator.
I don't fall into the camp where Haley has lost his mind and is worried about people bugging his office.
And I don't fall into the camp where anyone will be an improvement over former coordinator Bruce Arians.
Now, I was happy that Arians was relieved of his duties. I did not like how he called games and I thought his relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was too chummy for a coach-player relationship.
It might seem wishy-washy to be indifferent on Haley, the former Chiefs head coach and Cardinals offensive coordinator, but let me explain.
For all of Arians' shortcomings, the Steelers did win the Super Bowl with him and made another. I think only the truly excellent offensive coordinators can elevate a team and the truly poor ones can sink a team.
For most coordinators, I think they are as good as the players they have.
I've seen one too many writers claim that if it weren't for a safety by the Giants at the beginning of Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots would have been able to kick a field goal to win the game at the end.
The theory, I gather, is since the Giants won 21-17, you would subtract two points for the safety, making it 19-17. Thus, a field goal wins the game.
I say it takes a simple mind to adopt that view.
Let's take away the safety, for argument's sake, making it 19-17.
Think back to the Giants' last touchdown. They went for two, to make it a six-point game. I guarantee you that there is no way -- none -- that the Giants would go for two if the game was 19-17. They kick the extra point to make it 20-17.
The Patriots don't get a chance to kick a field goal to win the game. The best a Patriots' field goal would do is tie the game.
There's one other point I'd like to make.
I'll even concede the Giants trying to covert two after their touchdown. I'll g…
The Steelers' loss to the Broncos in the playoffs still is fresh in my head, even though in was way back in wild-card weekend.
Also notable from that loss was a comment made by Hines Ward after the Steelers' surprising loss 29-23 loss:
"This will stick with (us) a lot as one of the worst games we ever lost."
Yeah, that was a tough loss to take, but I'm not sure it cracks this list: Steelers lose 24-7 to the Raiders in the 1976 AFC Championship Game. The Raiders beat a Steelers team without Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. This was probably the best Steelers team of all time and the injuries prevented the Steelers from winning three straight Super Bowls.Steelers lose to Cowboys 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX. Neil O'Donnell makes Larry Brown the Super Bowl MVP. Steelers lose to Patriots 24-21 in AFC Championship Game in January 2002. Troy Brown returns a punt for a TD.Steelers lose to Chargers 17-13 in AFC Championship Game in 1995. Ugly loss to a team the Steelers sh…
After watching the two championship games Sunday night, one thing became clear.
An argument can be made that the Ravens and 49ers both lost the games instead of the Patriots and Giants winning.
That being said, which goat from the two games would you rather be Billy Cundiff, the Ravens kicker who missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the AFC Championship Game into overtimeKyle Williams, the 49ers punt returner who had to bad miscues, the last set up the Giants' game-winning kick in overtime
I think I'd rather be Cundiff. And I made that decision before reports surfaced that Williams was receiving death threats.
I fell for that two years ago when it was reported Arians wasn't going to return.
I'll refrain from cheering until I hear it's official. I'll also refrain until I hear who replaces him.
Instead, I'll repeat my position on Arians.
If he is such a good coordinator, as some might say -- or, at the very least, his supporters say Arians doesn't deserve the criticism -- why is Arians never mentioned as a possible head coaching candidate?
Seriously. Why is Arians never on the short list of any vacancy in the NFL? I simply do not recall him getting any mentions as a head coach.
The Steelers have been to two Super Bowls recently, winning one of them. Usually coordinators on successful teams have teams beating down their doors for interviews.
With Arians? There's no such clamor.
The clamoring is from people asking for him to leave.
That's what they're saying in San Francisco after Saturday's thrilling 36-32 win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional playoffs.
It's a great win for San Francisco fans. And Davis' grab at the end of the game was one heck of a play. He took quite a hit in the end zone.
But let's not make them legends just yet. So excuse me while a rain on their parade.
Once Smith continues to perform at a level warranted of legends like Joe Montana, then throw him in that class.
San Francisco's defense deserves some credit, too, for picking off Saints quarterback Drew Brees twice and recovering two fumbles. The Niners offense, however, continued to look like it was allergic to the end zone until the end of the game.
So, San Fran fans, enjoy the win. It likely won't happen next week.
The 49ers still are flawed and I would pick against them in the NFC Champions…
I had a rough weekend picking the wild-card round.
I had too many outside influences on my choices.
Fantasy football leagues, home teams, allegiances all came into play.
I've eliminated all the outside factors this week.
It's time to bounce back.
Saints at 49ers:
Classic matchup between great offense and great defense. The Niners are at home and on grass, which should slow down the Saints, but I don't see how Alex Smith can lead San Fran past Drew Brees and the Saints.
If the Niners are to win, the defense will need some turnovers and probably score at least one touchdown.
The Saints are just too much.
Saints 27, 49ers 16
Giants at Packers:
Don't look now, but the Giants defense on a roll. They will face a serious test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, but they are peaking at the right time.
Will it be enough? I don't think so.
All season, Rodgers and Co. have come through, putting up the points when needed.
The Giants might shut down the Packers for a quarter …
The Pitt football team scored six points in its spring practice game Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.
The defense, however, gave up 28 points at Legion Field.
OK. It wasn't Pitt's spring practice. It easily could have been.
It was Pitt's BBVA Compass Bowl loss to SMU on Saturday, and it certainly wasn't any more entertaining than a spring practice.
The Panthers gave up 21 straight points before you knew it and had to go through the motions for three more quarters to secure a 6-7 record.
The highlights of the game included a blocked punt, a field-attempt hitting the post, a lost fumble by quarterback Tino Sunseri and a pass bounce off the helmet of one player and into an SMU player's hands.
Yep. It was that kind of a day for Pitt.
Actually, it was a fitting ending for a season that spiraled out of control, highlighted by former coach Todd Graham bolting before the bowl game.
Now the Panthers can look forward to the future with new coach Paul Chryst.
The NFL playoffs finally are here, and, if you're like me, you can't get enough of the stuff.
It looks like we should be headed for some high-scoring games, defensive struggles and some close calls this weekend.
Here's how I see the weekend unfolding:
Bengals at Texans:
The Bengals are lucky to be in the postseason, while the Texans are lucky to have a quarterback after going through about 16 during the regular season.
Arian Foster should get plenty of carries for the Texans, along with Ben Tate. The big question is whether quarterback T.J. Yates will be able to find Andre Johnson. If he can, it would go a long way for the Texans to win.
However, something tells me rookie QB Andy Dalton finds some way to win against a tough Texans defense. Maybe he hooks up with A.J. Green on a big play. Maybe the Bengals defense pressures Yates into a big mistake.
Bengals 20, Texans 17.
Lions at Saints:
This game should be fun to watch.
The Saints, powered by record-setting QB Drew Brees, s…