|Articles||Go Fund Me||All-Species List||Hot Spots||Go Fund Me|
|Web Epoch NJ Web Design | (c) Copyright 2016 StocksandNews.com, LLC.|
Alabama Wins Again
[Posted early Tuesday p.m.]
Buffalo Bills Playoff Quiz: The only titles the Bills have won were the 1964 and ’65 AFL championships. Jack Kemp was the quarterback in both. 1) Who was Kemp’s backup both seasons. He went on to brief stardom with another team in the league. 2) Name two running backs and one receiver from those two teams. Answers below.
--Yes, Alabama’s three-headed monster led the Crimson Tide to their sixth national title since 2009, all with Nick Saban at the helm, 52-24 over Ohio State, thus completing a perfect 13-0 campaign.
It was 21-17 ‘Bama with 5:00 left to play in the first half, and then Mac Jones and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith hooked up for two touchdowns to make it 35-17 at the intermission and it was game over.
Smith had 12 receptions for 215 yards and three TDs at the half in one of the great performances of all time, and then left early in the second half with a dislocated finger, while Mac Jones was spectacular again, 36/45, 464, 5-0, and Najee Harris rushed for 79 yards and caught seven passes for another 79, scoring three times…as the Big Three now enters the NFL, legacy secured.
For the Buckeyes, who finish 7-1, it was a real shame that stud running back, Trey Sermon, left after the opening play with an apparent collarbone injury after being tackled by multiple ‘Bama players, and that quarterback Justin Fields clearly wasn’t 100 percent after the hit to the ribs in the Clemson game, but it’s highly unlikely these two at full strength would have made much of a difference. The Ohio State defense just didn’t have any answers for the Alabama juggernaut, as the Tide rolled up 621 yards of offense.
Meanwhile, for the second straight week, Jets fans had their eyes opened up to the possibility now of taking DeVonta Smith at No. 2. It’s all going to depend on who the Jets select to be their next head coach, and what that person thinks about Sam Darnold, but if he thinks Darnold can still be a star, hell, you take Smith. There’s no debate. [I hasten to add I don’t think Darnold will ever be a star.]
As for Mac Jones, how good is he? Doesn’t he deserve to be in the same conversation with Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, right behind Trevor Lawrence? All Jones did was toss 41 touchdowns and complete 77% of his throws this season, with only four interceptions in 402 attempts. As Ronald Reagan would have told Nancy while reading the Tuesday morning sports pages, Nancy fixing him Cream of Wheat, ‘Not bad…not bad at all.’
Chuck Culpepper and Des Bieler / Washington Post
“As a jalopy of a college football season in a pandemic managed to lumber to a finish Monday night, it also managed to showcase a player so dazzling and precise he looks like he never spent a moment lumbering, not even in practice – no, especially not in practice.
“Somehow, with the football kingdom of Alabama claiming a sixth national championship in the past 12 seasons by 52-24 over Ohio State, and with Coach Nick Saban claiming a record seventh within the same lifetime [Ed. the other at LSU], one player shined. Somehow, with Alabamian excellence stretching as usual from the players to the coordinators to probably the water staff and surely back to the coach, one slender marvel of a 175-pound player radiated.
“Wide receiver DeVonta Smith didn’t act alone in the Alabama symphony at Hard Rock Stadium in the College Football Playoff national championship game before a scattered 14,926, but he did epitomize a mastery of detail and standard that helps mark the Saban era. The first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in 29 years did run his clever, pinpoint routes and flash his frightening speed as the Crimson Tide proved confounding to the Ohio State defense and to anyone trying to keep stats.
“Smith kept lining up on his side of the line or that side, turning up on this side of the field or that side. It began to look like there might be three of him.”
--Final AP Top 25 Poll
1. Alabama 13-0 (61)
2. Ohio State 7-1
3. Clemson 10-2
4. Texas A&M 9-1
5. Notre Dame 10-2
6. Oklahoma 9-2
7. Georgia 8-2
8. Cincinnati 9-1
9. Iowa State 9-3
10. Northwestern 7-2
11. BYU 11-1
12. Indiana 6-2
13. Florida 8-4
14. Coastal Carolina 11-1
15. Louisiana 10-1
16. Iowa 6-2
17. Liberty 10-1
18. North Carolina 8-4
23. Ball State 7-1
24. San Jose State 7-1
25. Buffalo 6-1…good for them
For Buffalo, or Ball State, or San Jose State, this is a Big Deal…forever on Football-Reference.com (actually, for college football, Sports-Reference.com/cfb/, to be anal about it) they will have this Top 25 final poll in their history. It’s a first for Ball State and Buffalo, and a second time for San Jose State.
--Divisional Playoff Round….
Sadly, no snow in the forecast in Buffalo, Green Bay or Kansas City. Drat.
Ravens-Bills is a terrific matchup, and Bucs-Saints will be fascinating; two ancient gunslingers, one, Brees, no doubt in his final season.
--Sunday night, after I posted, Cleveland won its first playoff game since 1995, and they did so in rather impressive fashion, blitzing the Steelers in Pittsburgh 48-37, the final score deceptive as the Browns raced off to a record 28-0 first-quarter lead, up 35-10 at half, and then easily held off a spunky Pittsburgh offense in the second half.
The Steelers had five turnovers in all, including two interceptions thrown by Ben Roethlisberger and a fumble recovery for a touchdown just in the first quarter, leaving legions of Pittsburgh fans in a total state of shock.
The 35 points the Browns scored in the first half was the most ever scored on the road in an NFL playoff game.
Roethlisberger ended up with the most deceiving, and useless, 501 yards passing in history, getting picked off four times in all.
Baker Mayfield, on the other hand, continued to play superbly, 21/34, 263, 3-0, 115.2. Running back Nick Chubb had 76 yards rushing and another 69 on four receptions.
Mayfield, better known as “Barker” in his Progressive commercials, has been terrific. In his last ten games, just one interception. He also wasn’t sacked, and this was against a Steelers defense that had led the league in sacks.
He will need another such performance if the Browns are to pull off the upset in Kansas City this Sunday.
As for Pittsburgh, which started the season 11-0 and then lost five of its last six, there is a lot of soul-searching going on in the organization.
--The Eagles fired coach Doug Pederson Monday following a 4-11-1 season, just three seasons removed from guiding the team to the Super Bowl.
Pederson garnered plenty of attention for his moves in Week 17, first by scratching Carson Wentz, and then replacing rookie starter Jalen Hurts with journeyman Nate Sudfeld, in a game the Eagles lost 20-14, thus giving the NFC East to Washington, the Giants losing out.
Pederson said after being canned that he was “sick of people telling him what to do.”
So the Eagles join six other teams – the Chargers, Falcons, Lions, Jaguars, Jets and Texans – in the hunt for a new coach so far this offseason.
--The Chicago Bears entered Sunday’s wild-card playoff game against New Orleans as 11.5 or 11-point underdogs in some places.
So when they scored a TD with no time left to make it a 12-point game, it appeared that out of nowhere they had covered.
But then they didn’t attempt the extra point, and the teams ran off the field, and fans betting on the game couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Final score, 21-9, not 21-10.
--Nancy Armour / USA TODAY
“There are some calls that are obvious. That doesn’t make them any less significant.
“Citing the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week that left five people dead and our democracy shaken, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick announced Monday that he will not accept the Medal of Freedom. While putting country first might not seem particularly noble, it’s more than NFL owners and the league have done.
“A lot of members of Congress, too.
“ ‘I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy,’ Belichick said in a statement, reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“Belichick is one of the shrewdest coaches there is, with six Super Bowl titles to prove it. (He has another two from his days as a defensive coordinator with the New York Giants.) He had to know both that President Donald Trump was trying to use the Medal of Freedom presentation as a smokescreen, and that his reputation would never recover if he went along with it.
“Imagine trying to explain myself to his players, about 70% of whom are Black. Belichick would never again be able to command the respect of his locker room, and the tight-fisted control he has wielded so successfully for more than two decades would evaporate.
“This isn’t simply a matter of differing opinions. Athletes and coaches navigate those all the time, and Belichick’s past support of Trump is hardly a secret. Nor is the fact some NFL owners have been among Trump’s most ardent backers – which might explain the deafening silence of both the league and team owners.
“But this is no longer about politics. The invasion of the Capitol on Wednesday, and the reluctance of some of our leaders to condemn it, has damaged the very foundation of this country.
“The images of mostly white Trump supporters vandalizing the Capitol, beating a police officer as he lay face-down and threatening to kill Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are horrifying. That it was incited by the president, because he simply cannot bear the idea that he lost the election, is appalling.
“A majority of Americans want Trump removed from office, even if there are only a few more days until Joe Biden is inaugurated. Corporations are rushing to distance themselves both from Trump and the toadies still doing his bidding. It is not a time for smiling photo ops.
“The Medal of Freedom is this country’s highest civilian honor, previously awarded to American icons such as Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan. No doubt Belichick would have been proud to accept it under different circumstances.
“But to do so now would be seen as an expression of support for Trump and his monstrous actions, and that association would taint Belichick forever. It also would make a farce of the NFL’s social justice efforts, including the $95 million in grants the league awarded just last week – a point not lost on Belichick.
“ ‘One of the most rewarding things in my professional career took place in 2020 when, through the great leadership within our team, conversations about social justice, equality and human rights moved to the forefront and became actions,’ he said in his statement. ‘Continuing those efforts while remaining true to the people, team and country I love outweighs the benefits on any individual award.’
“Belichick is not a man of many words. But with this principled stand, he spoke volumes. If only others – in the NFL, in Congress – had the courage to do the same.”
--The Brooklyn Nets are learning just how difficult it is to deal with Kyrie Irving. For all his spectacular play on the court, sometimes you just have to ask yourself, especially if you're Nets’ management, ‘Is this really worth it?’
Irving is missing his fourth straight game Tuesday night against Denver, as the story developed that the NBA is reviewing a video on social media of a maskless Irving at what appears to be a family birthday party.
At first his absence was attributed to personal reasons, and the initial rumor was that Irving was sitting it out because he was so upset over the events of Jan. 6 at The Capitol.
But if the video is found to be recent, it is most likely a breach of the league’s coronavirus protocols.
The league’s guidelines forbid players from going to clubs, bars and lounges. They also ban attending social gatherings of more than 15 people.
As I go to post, at least five games have been canceled this week as positive Covid tests and contact tracing quarantines mount.
--New AP Poll (Mon., records through Sunday)
1. Gonzaga (63) 12-0
2. Baylor (1) 11-0
3. Villanova 8-1
4. Texas 10-1
5. Iowa 11-2
6. Kansas 10-2
7. Michigan 10-0
8. Creighton 10-2
9. Wisconsin 10-2
10. Tennessee 9-1
12. Clemson 9-1…huh
18. Virginia 7-2
19. Duke 5-2
25. UConn 6-1…go Jeff B.!
Scores more games have been postponed or canceled due to Covid. The term that Chuck Culpepper used to describe the college football season, “jalopy,” can easily be applied as well to this college hoops campaign.
The new truncated 56-game season commences Wednesday, and hockey fans wish the NHL good luck. Because of the pandemic and the effort to limit travel, the NHL has four new divisions, including the ‘North’ division, which is comprised of the seven Canadian teams due to the severe quarantine restrictions in Canada for international travel. You only play teams within your division. The other three divisions have eight teams, and thus each team plays eight games against the others (7 Xs 8), so there will be quite a bit of familiarity for fans watching on television.
I love the East Division:
Washington, Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Rangers, Islanders, New Jersey.
These games will be intense, four from each division making the playoffs, the regular season running through May 8.
The NHL, like the NBA, and MLB, are desperate to get back to normal schedules for next fall, in terms of the first two.
To give you an idea of the density of the schedule, the Rangers play 15 games in both March and April. Depth will be key…and having two solid goaltenders, with a third option in the minors.
But the NHL is in deep s---. Commissioner Gary Bettman conceded the league and its clubs will lose billions of dollars to stage an abridged season, largely without fans, but he felt it was critical to play through the pandemic.
“Let me make something really clear: We’re coming back to play this season because we think it’s important for the game, because our fans and our players want us to, and it may give people – particularly in isolation, or where there are curfews – a sense of normalcy and something to do,” Bettman told reporters in a video call on Monday. “It would be cheaper for us to shut the doors and not play. We’re going to lose more money, at the club level and the league level, by playing than by not playing.”
Several of the owners had wanted to sit out the season, but Bettman convinced them that the league couldn’t afford to be out of sight and out of mind – especially with Seattle joining as the league’s 32nd team in 2021-22, the same season the league begins a new U.S. television deal. The league has had to loan some teams money, which Bettman stressed would need to be paid back.
As of this week, only Dallas, Florida and Arizona will open the season with a limited capacity of fans. Columbus and Pittsburgh hope to allow some fans soon.
Bettman said that gate revenue accounts for roughly 50% of league revenue.
--Ironically, I literally posted two hours before the PGA of America announced late Sunday night that it was cutting ties with Trump National Bedminster and was moving the 2022 PGA Championship.
I agreed with Eamon Lynch of Golfweek who said he didn’t think the PGA of America would act until Donald Trump was out of office, due to the fact he could retaliate by messing with the tax code on his way out. And for all we know, that could still happen.
Jim Richerson, the PGA of America President, did not explicitly reference events in Washington, D.C., in a statement announcing the move.
“It has become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand, it would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programs and sustain the longevity of our mission.
“Our board has thus made the decision to exercise our right to terminate the contract to hold the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster.”
As for where the PGA now goes, there are all kinds of options, such as going back to Valhalla in Louisville, where the PGA Championship has been held three times. Baltusrol, slated to host the 2029 championship, certainly has experience in putting a major together quickly, if the PGA wanted to keep the event in the New York metro area. [I don’t know if I want massive protests by Trump supporters in my backyard, though, and that would seem inevitable, and isn’t being mentioned, surprisingly.]
I kind of like the idea of going back to Harding Park, which held the PGA last August but couldn’t have fans.
As for the Trump Organization, it said it would sue the PGA of America, claiming it had already spent $millions in preparation for the event.
--Going back to last Sunday, with the Tour’s 2021 debut at Kapalua and the Tournament of Champions, as I was posting I was frantically flipping around and caught Harris English with a sweet 268-yard 3-iron approach shot to the par-5 18th, needing a birdie to force a playoff with Joaquin Niemann, and he stuck it to 10 feet. He missed the eagle putt for the win but got the birdie and then took out Niemann on the first hole of sudden death for his third PGA Tour title, continuing a superb stretch of golf. English has three top-six finishes in his last three events.
In just two years, he has soared from No. 369 in the world golf rankings to No. 29.
--The Masters Tournament announced today that it intends to limit attendance at April’s tournament and institute similar health and safety standards to those in place when the event was won by Dustin Johnson in November without spectators…save for members.
The limited availability of tickets also applies to the practice rounds.
But just how many will be allowed in is unknown.
Back in November, all who were permitted on site were required to have one negative Covid test prior to entry for the week.
--The Chicago White Sox have sure been aggressive, a la San Diego, the past two offseasons, and Chicago just signed free-agent reliever Liam Hendriks to a record (for a reliever) three-year, $54 million deal, with an option in year four.
If anyone deserves a deal like this based on past performance it’s the Aussie Hendriks. In his last two seasons with Oakland, spanning 110 1/3 innings, Hendrix allowed just 75 hits, walked only 24, and struck out 161!
I’d love to see the White Sox do well. Cool team they’ve been assembling.
--The Premier League resumed play today with Manchester United staying hot, defeating Burnley 1-0, and Everton beating the Wolves 2-1.
But the Tottenham-Aston Villa match for Wednesday was postponed due to Villa’s Covid issues, as I spelled out last time.
However, it appears the Premier League showed its flexibility in quickly pitting Tottenham vs. Fulham.
--Ah, the world is filled with dirtballs, witness the story out of Virunga National Park in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Six park rangers were killed after an attack blamed on a militia group known as Mai-Mai, one of many that operate in the region.
The rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol inside the park, a spokesperson for the park told the BBC.
Staff working in the park, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas, often come under attack.
In April last year 13 rangers were killed in a rebel ambush.
Nearly 700 armed rangers work in Virunga – Africa’s oldest nature reserve – where at least 200 have been killed in attacks going back more than a decade, AFP news agency reports.
--Johnny Mac was among those reminding me what happened 52 years ago, today, Jan. 12, 1969. Joe Namath and the Jets won the Super Bowl, “starting the greatest 16-month run I could have imagined…Jets, moon landing in July, Woodstock, the Miracle Mets, and then in May 1970, the Willis Reed game,” Game 7 of Knicks-Lakers for the NBA title, noted J. Mac.
This last one among Knicks fans is really also the Clyde Frazier game. Talk about a clutch performance for the ages…36 points on 12 of 17 shooting from the field, 12 of 12 from the foul line, 7 rebounds and 19 assists! It really gets lost in the Reed drama, and understandably so, that being the greatest single moment in New York sports history…at least to moi.
Dave DeBusschere was also his usual terrific self…18 points and 17 rebounds.
Top 3 songs week of 1/13/68: #1 “Hello Goodbye” (The Beatles) #2 “Judy In Disguise” (John Fred & His Playboy Band) #3 “Daydream Believer” (The Monkees)…and…#4 “Woman, Woman” (The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett) #5 “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (Gladys Knight & The Pips) #6 “Chain Of Fools” (Aretha Franklin) #7 “Bend Me, Shape Me” (The American Breed) #8 “I Second That Emotion” (Smokey Robinson & The Miracles) #9 “Green Tambourine” (The Lemon Pipers) #10 “Skinny Legs And All” (Joe Tex…B+…not the best week for this year…)
Gonna skip back to 1964, next time, if I remember to do so, since we had a calendar issue earlier in the year.
Buffalo Bills Playoff Quiz Answers: 1) Daryle Lamonica was Jack Kemp’s backup in 1964-65. 2) Cookie Gilchrist rushed for 981 yards and six touchdowns in 1964, then went off to Denver. In ’65, the top back was Wray Carlton, who rushed for 592 yards. Billy Joe, one of my all-time favorite names who also played for the Jets, had 377 yards on the ground, and averaged 10 yards per reception on his 27 catches out of the backfield. As for the receivers, Elbert Dubenion had one of the great seasons of all time in 1964, 42 receptions for 1,139 yards, a 27.1 average, and 10 touchdowns. In ’65, the top receiver was Bo Roberson, a midseason trade acquisition who then hauled in 31 for 483 yards and 3 scores.
Bazooka Joe Asks: Where did Wray Carlton go to college? Answer: Duke
Next Bar Chat, Sunday p.m.