Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson gave the Detroit Lions, and their fans, something to feel good about in a sour season. In yet another loss, he had a record-breaking night.
“Megatron” surpassed Jerry Rice‘s NFL single-season yards receiving mark Saturday night. He didn’t stop there. Johnson also became the only player with 100 yards receiving in eight straight games and the first with 10 receptions in four games in a row in league history. He had 11 receptions for 225 yards, giving him 1,892 this season with one game left. Rice had 1,848 for San Francisco in 1995,
Johnson surpassed one of Rice’s records with his 10th catch in the fourth quarter, which put him over the 200-yard mark in the game. He needed 182 to surpass Rice’s mark.
He had more than 100 yards receiving for an eighth straight game, breaking an NFL record set by Charley Hennigan in 1961 and matched by Michael Irvin in 1995. It was Johnson’s 11th game with 100 yards receiving this season, tying Irvin’s league mark. In the first quarter, Johnson surpassed Herman Moore‘s single-season franchise record of 1,686 yards.
Happy New Year to all of my readers! 2012 is finally here and so is the NFL Playoffs! With each playoff team having no perfect formula to winning the Super Bowl just yet, we shall see how much the bye week helps out the number one and two seeded teams in both the AFC and NFC. Let’s kick off the blog!
Here are my Top Three Performances from NFL Week 17:
1. Quarterback Matt Flynn (Green Bay Packers): Before we talk about his performance in the Green Bay Packers 45-41 home win against the Detroit Lions, one thing must be said about Packers backup quarterback, Matt Flynn. Flynn is ready to be a starter, obviously not for the Packers, but if his team doesn’t get offers the way Matt Schaub did when he played as a solid backup for the Atlanta Falcons, then the teams in the NFL in need of a quarterback are missing out. Flynn has been solid everytime he has been out in the field but who knew in the last game of the season he would set Green Bay passing records? Flynn went on to complete 31 of 44 (70%) of his passes for 480 yards and six passing touchdowns, both which are now newly set Packers single game passing records.
2. Running Back Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens): If there is one thing that still rings true, it is the fact of the matter that the Baltimore Ravens need production from their running back Ray Rice in order to get far into the NFL postseason. For the second time in his young NFL career, Rice has accumulated for over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, making him a valuable asset to the Ravens organization. The Ravens in need of a win in order to clinch the AFC North title and a bye week, traveled to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the young but hungry Cincinnati Bengals. Rice didn’t disappoint in this game, as he ran over the Bengals on 24 carries for 191 yards and two long rushing touchdowns (70, 51), in a 24-16 Ravens road victory.
3. Wide Receiver Victor Cruz (New York Giants): The Dallas Cowboys flew to New Jersey knowing how much a win for the NFC East title was needed against the host New York Giants. With Cowboys owner Jerry Jones observing the game from his skybox, Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz wanted to make sure Mr. Jones’ visit to Metlife Stadium was bittersweet and disappointing. Cruz would catch six receptions for 178 yards and one touchdown, a 74 yard score, to help the Giants beat the Cowboys in a 31-14 home victory. The Giants won their first NFC East title since 2008 while the Cowboys traveled back to Dallas with an irate Jerry Jones.
Today was the NFL’s version of “Black Monday”. Unfortunately, there were no deals on NFL apparel and merchandise, only firings of head coaches and front office staff. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired their head coach Raheem Morris while the St. Louis Rams parted ways with their head coach, Steve Spagnuolo. And after a disappointing year for the 2-14 Indianapolis Colts, the Colts front office parted ways with their vice chairman Bill Polian and his son Chris Polian, who was the general manager.
Here are my Top Dog Awards for the best players and coaches in the National Football League:
NFL Most Valuable Player: New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, for his stellar record breaking year in which he threw for 5,476 passing yards and 46 touchdowns, while leading the NFC South champion Saints to a 13-3 record.
NFL Offensive Player Of The Year: Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, for having a career year with 96 receptions, 1,681 yards, and sixteen touchdowns, which helped the Lions make their first postseason appearance since 1999.
NFL Defensive Player Of The Year: Baltimore Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, for providing the Ravens defense with the best statistical year of his career, piling up a career high fourteen sacks and forcing seven fumbles for the third best defense in the National Football League.
NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, for being the only reason to watch a Panthers game plus breaking the rookie passing yards record with 4,051 yards, twenty passing touchdowns, and fourteen QB rushing touchdowns.
NFL Defensive Rookie Of The Year: San Francisco 49ers LB Aldon Smith, for being an integral part of the 49ers success on defense, notching fourteen sacks in his first full season in the NFL.
NFL Head Coach Of The Year: Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis, for having faith in both rookie QB Andy Dalton and rookie WR A.J. Green to lead the Bengals on offense, which paid off as the Bengals finish the season 9-7, and are the sixth seed in the AFC Playoff picture.
Baylor quarterback and 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was certainly impressive in his team’s Alamo Bowl win against Washington, which saw both teams set new bowl records in yards and scoring. Griffin III has recently announced that he has not made up his mind yet in regards to entering the 2012 NFL Draft, as many scouts who watched the Alamo Bowl truly believe that the Baylor QB is ready to play in the NFL. Over the next couple of days, there will be other highly touted quarterback prospects that will be observed in the upcoming bowl games. Stanford QB (and the projected number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft) Andrew Luck will be playing against Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl tonight while Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson plays against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl tomorrow night.
Despite off the court problems with former assistant coach Bernie Fine, the Syracuse Mens Basketball team is still the best in the nation, leading the coaches USA Today poll at number one, and a 15-0 record. Unfortunately, as it always is in college basketball, the number one spot always changes. John Boheim’s Syracuse team could be tested this Saturday as they play against #20 Marquette. Or they just may suffer their first loss near the middle of February when they host #9 Georgetown, #8 UConn, and play #10 Louisville on the road.
Thank you for reading my blog this week! Next week, we will be gearing up for the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs, and we will also discuss the possible resurgence of golfer Tiger Woods in 2012. Be sure to check me out on Facebook (Joshua Collins Hall), follow me on Twitter (@MadDogSportz), or e-mail me at email@example.com for any questions regarding my blog and future projects. Enjoy your Monday night, I am out.
Can you believe it’s Thanksgiving?
Maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather, or the absence of NBA games that were supposed to have already started, or that I haven’t heard a whole lot about this year’s Black Friday mega-deals, but it sure seems like Turkey Day snuck up on me this year.
Of course, you are probably almost as excited about watching an entire day of football as you are enjoying the best (and likely biggest) meal of the whole year and the company of loved ones.
Like cooking out and baseball on July 4th, and college football (and hopefully not too much of a hangover) on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and NFL football combine to make one of the greatest days of the year for sports fans.
This might be the best Thanksgiving football schedule that I can remember.
Packers @ Lions 12:30p.m. TV: Fox
NFL football on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit is a tradition that goes all the way back to the 1930s, but over the last decade the Lions have been out of the postseason race by Turkey Day.
This year is a little different.
The much-improved Detroit Lions will take on the red-hot Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the first of three exciting games scheduled on Thanksgiving Day.
Adding to the excitement of this game, the Packers come to Detroit as NFL’s only undefeated team left in the 2011 season, and they are the first unbeaten team to play on Thanksgiving in 50 years.
But this game will be no cake walk for the Pack.
This game is one of the most anticipated games in Detroit Lions football history in almost a decade, and the Lions come into this big Week 12 game with confidence.
Last year the Lions beat the Packers at Ford Field, after knocking QB Aaron Rodgers out of the game early. You can bet Lions DT Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit defense will be up for the challenge.
The pick: Lions in a shootout 37-34
Dolphins @ Cowboys 4:15p.m. TV: CBS
Just a few weeks ago, this game might have seemed like a dud, but the Dolphins have surged to 3 straight victories, including this past week’s 35-8 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills.
Once considered the frontrunners in the “Suck for Luck” sweepstakes, the Dolphins are showing signs of life and competing every week behind quarterback Matt Moore and Reggie Bush, who is starting to resemble the Reggie Bush of years past.
Dallas comes in at 6-4 and tied for the NFC East lead. Say what you will about the Cowboys’ postseason failures and Tony Romo’s lack of clutch play, the fact is that Romo and his team are dominant in November. In November, as a starter, Romo is 18-2 with 49 touchdown passes against only 12 interceptions in his career.
The Dolphins are going to come back to earth sometime, and I expect that to be now. On a short week, traveling to Dallas, Miami will struggle in all phases, and I see Dallas rolling over them and staying atop the NFC East.
The pick: Cowboys 27-16
49ers @ Ravens 8:20p.m. TV:NFL Network
Yours truly will have a first-hand front row seat for this one. The Brothers Harbaugh square off against one another for the first time as NFL head coaches, with Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers, a surprising 9-1 and the runaway leader of the NFC West traveling to face John Harbaugh’s Ravens, who are tied for the AFC North lead after beating the Cincinnati Bengals last week.
These teams are built similarly, with punishing defenses (the 49ers are 1st against the run, the Ravens are 3rd) and elite, multi-purpose running backs (Frank Gore and Ray Rice). The winner of this game will likely be the team who is able to have more success running against the other’s front 7.
Of concern for the Ravens is getting Rice consistent touches. This season, Rice has averaged just over 14 carries per game, which for a star back is not nearly enough. He is a valuable part of the receiving game too, with 51 receptions, but the Ravens need to find a way to establish Rice early and often.
The Ravens’ game plan lately has been a pass-heavy attack, but Joe Flacco is not Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees; he is not the type of quarterback who can give his team the best chance to win by consistently throwing over 35 times per game.
I think the 49ers will be able to run on Baltimore, especially if Ray Lewis were to miss the game (he is questionable currently with a toe injury that forced him to miss the Cincinnati game). As long as Alex Smith is able to play conservative, mistake-free football like he has done in the first 10 games this year, I think the 49ers win.
However, I’m having a hard time convincing myself that Alex Smith will be able to play conservative, mistake-free football for four quarters against the Ravens defense. Ray Lewis’ playing status changes things, but it doesn’t change the fact that Alex Smith must avoid the big mistake. I think the 49ers will give the Ravens all they can handle but in the end, it’s the Raven defense that makes the big play to gain victory.
The pick: 17-13 Ravens
Yesterday, I examined the winners and losers of round 1 of the NFL Draft. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.
This morning I am going to take a look at the winners and losers from day two of the draft. Some teams just seemed to fumble their picks away in a stunning manner, while other teams (New England), took full advantage of day two. Yesterday wasn’t anywhere near as surprising as day one, however, there were a lot of eye opening picks and trades.
New England Patriots - Some teams just don’t change, and New England continues to be one of these teams. Year after year they find a way to compile multiple early round picks. The Patriots were able to acquire a 1st and 2nd round selection in 2012, while still getting playmakers where they needed them. Ras-I Dawlking probably wouldn’t have been my first pick on the 2nd round, that honor would have gone to Aaron Williams; however, who am I to question their logic? Devin McCourty is a perfect example of this from last year’s draft.
Following the pick of the Virginia corner, New England drafted a player that I think is going to be an all-pro performer in the NFL, Shane Vereen. He really does have what it takes to become a superstar in the league. Steven Ridley was a nice change of pace back, and should contribute immediately for the Patriots. Following that selection they took probably the most talented QB in the NFL draft in the enigma that is Ryan Mallett. I am not sure that he is going to pan out, but he couldn’t ask for more than to sit behind Tom Brady for the next couple of seasons.
Additionally, the New England Patriots worked out another amazing trade, this time with the clueless Oakland Raiders. New England sent their 3rd round, 92nd overall (OT- Joseph Barksdale) to the Oakland Raiders for their 2nd round selection in 2011 and a 7th round pick this draft.
Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals got value and need with both of their day two picks. Andy Dalton at the start of the 2nd round is great value. I really thought some team was going to have to trade up to the end of the first no nab him. Instead, the Bengals were able to sit back and acquire the ultra-intelligent Dalton.
As much as Cincinnati’s pick of A.J. Green in the 1st round may have been an attempt to appease Carson Palmer they needed to look to the future, and Dalton is the man that could take the helm sooner rather than later.
Dontay Moch has been an interesting prospect all off-season long and I have been a major proponent of his. Moch may be extremely raw, but his upside is just crazy. In the Bengals 4-3 defense he may be asked to be a purse speed rusher off of the end, but I could easily see him making a solid transition to the OLB spot in either the 4-3 or the 3-4.
The Bengals sat back, didn’t make any hasty trades and it paid off.
Detroit Lions - The pick of Nick Fairley aside this has been another great draft for the Detroit Lions. After addressing defense on day one, the Lions were able to get more “toys” for their offense.
I thought Titus Young ranked as the 3rd best WR in the draft behind Green and Jones, Detroit was able to get him in the 2nd round; and absolute steal. Young should come in and be a great complement to Calvin Johnson in the passing game and an immediate upgrade from Nate Burleson.
Detroit did trade away 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th round selections in order to move back up into the 2nd round, but they were able to get a real nice player in Leshoure. Jahvid Best and Mikell Leshoure should make a great backfield tandem for the next five seasons or so. It also must be noted that the Lions received Seattle’s 5th and 7th round picks in that deal.
Indianapolis Colts - The Indianapolis Colts traded up four spots in the 2nd round with the Washington Redskins and surrendered a 5th rounder in order to get the Villanova lineman. Considering that I thought Ijalana was going late in the 1st round, this was a great decision for Indianapolis. The Colts needed to get some more protection for Peyton Manning and Anthony Castanzo (1st round) along with Ijalana really helps that.
Drake Nevis is going to be an extremely solid linemen in the NFL; I really like the way he plays football. He gives the Colts another stout body up front to rotate into the game on a regular basis. The Colts and Patriots are perfect examples of how to build through the draft.
Arizona Cardinals - The San Francisco 49ers may have upset the Cardinals’ plans by trading up for Kaepernick. I think it left them completely off-guard because Ryan Williams should not have been the pick near the top of the 2nd round. I thought Shane Vereen, DeMarco Murray, Kendall Hunter and Daniel Thomas all should have ranked ahead of the former Virginia Tech Hokie RB.
Rob Housler? Really? Besides the fact that CBS Sports Line had him ranked as the 106th best prospect in the draft, I find it more intriguing because of who they passed up with this pick. Justin Houston and Ryan Mallett would have fit both the best player available and need category than Housler in this spot.
I really don’t care if the Cardinals are going to sign Marc Bulger in the off-season (when it starts), because they have absolutely no hope both short and long term at that position. It was an area that needed to address in this draft and have failed in doing so thus far.
Oakland Raiders - I have absolutely nothing against their offensive line picks. I really do believe that both Wisniewski and Barksdale may end up being solid player in the NFL, but… what is the point of giving up a future 2nd round pick to trade into the end of the 3rd round? As well all know 2nd rounders hold a lot more in terms of trade value than 3rd rounders do. Additionally, how many of us expect the Raiders to be picking in the last half of the 2nd round in 2012? Not me!
Oh, and the Raiders reached for Van Dyke with the 81st pick in the draft. CBS Sports Line had him as the 17th best corner in the draft. Oakland has a way of reaching for picks that leave the rest of the NFL in complete shock. They could have easily traded down a round or two and picked up Van Dyke there.
Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys refused to address their largest need on day two, the secondary. Instead, they went with another OLB project in an attempt to team up with DeMarcus Ware. It really makes no sense to me as I am not a big fan of Carter’s, especially in the first part of the 2nd round.
Then the Cowboys decided to draft another RB when they already have three solid ones on their roster. Say what? I understand that they are looking to move Marion Barber, but considering the lockout issue won’t be able to. And, when they are, the value will only be picks for next year’s draft. I like Murray as a complementary RB, but there was no reason to select him in the 3rd round.
As always, you can get a pick-by-pick review of your favorite team by clicking here.