Sunday, November 27, 2011
What's the difference between a Pac-12 South Champion and merely a division representative playing in the conference championship game?
Answer: 50 points.
USC has spent the last two years with an arm, a leg and 30 scholarships tied behind its back. Still the Trojans made sure that anyone under the illusion of a closer gap between the two Los Angeles schools was abruptly slammed back to reality. By the end of the night, I couldn't tell if the chants of "One more year!" were for Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley or for UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel. Either way, it would be good news for USC.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
It didn't have the ease of the wins over Buffalo or St. Louis. It wasn't as meaningful as another season-sweep of the Redskins. But tonight's Thanksgiving Day victory over the Miami Dolphins is the best possible springboard for a franchise that desperately needs to avoid another disappointing December.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
My, that was unpleasant.
As if the Metroplex sports fan hadn't had a rough enough time seeing the Texas Rangers come perilously close to a World Series championship, the Dallas Cowboys -- almost on cue -- played their worst game since last season's clunker in Green Bay that resulted in the team firing head coach Wade Phillips.
First year head coach Jason Garrett hadn't been on the wrong side of a blowout until Sunday night's 34-7 drubbing at the Linc, but in a game where Dallas could have buried Philadelphia for the season, instead the Cowboys found themselves six feet under before the second quarter arrived.
The Eagles took the opening drive 79 yards for an early 7-0 edge. Dallas found its foot stuck in a bucket on 1st and 20 on the Cowboys first possession. After a punt to the Eagles 10 yard line, Philly drove 90 yards for a 14-0 lead. Three plays later, Tony Romo's pass to Martellus Bennett was bobbled and batted into the air where Nnamdi Asomugha gladly opened his arms to receive an early Halloween treat.
The Eagles marched down the field yet again, this time a 61-yard drive to make it 21-0.
This loss was so ugly, I almost would have rather watched the David Freese walk-off home run from Game 6 of the World Series on a continuous loop instead of suffering through the second half of a game that had been decided long before intermission.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the loss is not that the Cowboys laid an egg under Jason Garrett. It was bound to happen. In fact, up until last week's blowout of the Rams, every single game under Garrett had been close (for better or worse). Every team throws up a clunker. Heck, the New Orleans Saints somehow lost to those same Rams just one week later. But the fact that it was this team that Dallas allowed to clobber them.
And the excuses only make it worse.
Philly was at home. Philly was desperate. A loss would virtually end the Eagles post-season hopes, a dagger to the heart of the dream team. They needed it more, and came out swinging. For lack of a better metaphor and with no pun intended regarding Michael Vick, if you corner a rabid dog, expect it to attack. And the Eagles did just that. That's what makes it so frustrating.
The Cowboys were in this spot a year ago. On the verge of being buried alive in a season that everyone hoped would end with a Super Bowl at the home stadium. Instead, the Cowboys suffered through an injury to the franchise quarterback and terrible loss after terrible loss, watching that dream turn into a nightmare. Dallas could have enacted that same nightmare on Philadelphia, the team that has virtually owned the division since Andy Reid took over. It didn't happen. Dallas came out flat, and now it's the Cowboys at 3-4 who have little chance to leapfrog both Philly and New York without getting on a strong hot streak in November.
Fortunately for Dallas, plenty more rams (and teams like the Rams) are available on the Cowboys' schedule for slaughter. If ever Dallas needed to take out its frustrations on a hapless organization just looking to get beaten, they've got Seattle coming to town this weekend.
And yet, it's hard not to think, just for a little bit, if any hangover from the defeat in Philly combined with a potential fast start from the Seahawks could result in another layer of dirt being tossed upon the Cowboys' 2011 season. Dallas cannot afford a loss to Seattle. Frankly, they couldn't afford a loss to the Eagles after letting games against the Jets and Lions slip away.
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan referred to the Eagles as the "All-Hype" team before the season, and the Eagles lived up to it against the Cowboys. It wasn't the offense that hung Dallas out to dry. But when an opponent scores on each of their first seven possessions, there's no offense this side of "The Greatest Show on Turf" that can keep up. Maybe if Martellus Bennett makes that catch in the first quarter, the bleeding can stop if Dallas finds the end zone. A 14-7 score is still anyone's ball game. So is 21-7. But the Cowboys couldn't keep up with Philadelphia. Ryan's defense was impotent trying to stop Michael Vick (21-28, 279, 2 TD) and running back LeSean McCoy (30-185, 2 TD).
The Cowboys need to unleash hell on Seattle this week to get back to .500 at the season's midway point. A win is a win, but a squeaker against Seattle should signify the end of another fruitless Cowboys season.