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1. What a crazy game last night. One thing we’ve noticed about when the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens play each other, it rarely goes as expected. Patriots offense struggled in Arizona last week, then they’ll have a hell of a time moving the ball in Baltimore. Tom Brady had a big day, but Joe Flacco had more yards and more touchdowns. Ray Rice had 100 yards too, but it all came down to the final drive. And this is where things changed up.
Billy Cundiff didn’t return this season with the Baltimore Ravens. He missed the field goal that would have sent the AFC Championship Game to overtime. Instead, they trotted out former Texas Longhorns kicker and undrafted rookie Justin Tucker. Tucker is certainly no stranger to pressure. He kicked one of the biggest game-winning field goals in Texas history. So big that it makes for an appropriate finish to the video that precedes the Longhorns running onto the field at home games in Austin.
With just two seconds left on the clock, the Patriots, of course, stopped the clock with a timeout. There was plenty of time between the whistle and when the ball was snapped, and yet the Ravens long snapper snapped the ball and Tucker kicked the ball through the uprights. I thought this was a bad omen. I honestly can’t remember a time when icing the kicker actually worked… outside of the time Jason Garrett did it to his own team. It just seemed ominous that Tucker did it and made it look so easy. Now, he’s got to do it again. After going through the motions, now he may be over-thinking the situation and something could go wrong on his part. When the actual field goal attempt was kicked, it looked like it was another Ravens disaster. It went straight for the right upright.
He made it.
The Ravens won 31-30. A lot of attention is on Torrey Smith today, and rightly so. Losing a family member and then stepping up with an MVP performance for a win is something that doesn’t happen often. It’s straight out of Hollywood, it’s such a feel-good story. But this was a big win and a big kick for Justin Tucker, too. And now that he’s added a clutch, game-winning field goal to his already impressive early resume that features several long kicks made in a single game, Tucker’s future looks bright in Baltimore. The Ravens may have a solid kicker for the long-term future.
Photo courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images
2. Justin Tucker wasn’t the only Longhorn that had a big day. Jamaal Charles ran wild over the Saints in the Kansas City Chiefs 27-24 overtime win as New Orleans sank further toward the bottom of the league. Charles finished with 33 carries for 233 yards and a touchdown. He caught another six balls for 55 yards.
That’s a lot of touches. Charles doesn’t normally total 39 touches. Even if you take away his seven OT touches, 32 is still a lot. This was likely influenced by the fact that Shaun Draughn wasn’t as effective as we’ve seen earlier this season and that Dexter McCluster was injured on the first play of the 2nd half. Charles had two big plays: a 40-yard dash and a 91-yard touchdown run. Take those two plays away and Charles still ran for a nice 4.2 yards per carry.
If Charles becomes a guy that can handle 20+ touches per game and be a big play guy that also averages good yards and can catch the ball out of the backfield as well… he’ll be the best running back in the NFL. Hand down.
Photo courtesy Larry French/Getty Images
3. Wrapping up our NFL coverage in today’s DSS are two Lone Star State quarterbacks that squared off in our nation’s capital as TCU’s Andy Dalton visited Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. The Cincinnati Bengals won the game 38-31 in Washington, spoiling the Redskins 2012 home opener.
Dalton got the win, but he was overshadowed by his teammates. The “Red Rocket” threw for 328 yards on 19-27 passing with three touchdown and an interception. However, the pass everyone is talking about is the one that Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu therw to AJ Green. First play from scrimmage and they couldn’t top it the rest of the game.
As for Robert Griffin III, his numbers don’t tell the whole story either. Yes, he finished with 305 total yards and two touchdowns, but he made some costly mistakes in this game. Rookie stuff. Deep in Cincy territory, RG3 fumbled on a read option play when he tried to pitch the ball backwards while he was already in the grasp of a defender. Two plays later, the Bengals punched the ball in for a touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
His last mistake was his worst, though. He put together an impressive drive to get the Redskins into the red zone for a possible game-tying touchdown (or game-winning touchdown with a two-point conversion). But on that snap, Griffin tried to do too much. After escaping the clutches of a defender, rather than throw the ball away and continue the drive, he tried to keep the play alive and took a sack for a loss of 15 yards. Two plays later, the Redskins took two more penalties and Griffin was so far away that he couldn’t get a Hail Mary to the endzone.
Griffin’s got the numbers and is certainly exciting to watch, but his decision-making cost the Redskins the game. It’ll come with time, but hopefully he learned some important lessons on Sunday.
4. The Rangers are really missing Josh Hamilton. The Texas star and offensive leader hasn’t made a plate appearance in nearly a week. And it’s been more than a week since he started a game. Texas lost their weekend series to the Seattle Mariners are are struggling offensively. Shut out once and scoring three runs in each of the other two games, the Rangers were lucky they weren’t swept.
Texas wasted some great pitching performances over the weekend. Martin Perez wasn’t allowed to pitch more than four innings as he gave up three earned runs on Friday, but Scott Feldman pitched three innings of scoreless relief. Matt Harrison took a loss on Saturday despite throwing eight innings of one-run ball. Texas was shut out, so those eight innings served as a complete game.
David Murphy is the only guy that hit well over the weekend, going 6-11 with three RBI’s, a home run, and two runs scored.
Texas maintained their four game lead over the Oakland A’s in the division standings, but New York and Baltimore are inching closer. The Yankees are two games back for home field in the playoffs while the Orioles are just three games back. Today actually starts an important stretch that will determine whether Texas makes the playoffs or not and how they’ll go into the 2012 postseason. Remember, even with an extra playoff spot and one-game first round, a weak finish could mean that Texas watches from home, especially with a four game home series against the A’s starting tonight.
5. As for the Houston Astros, they nearly pulled off a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend but came up shorts as they lost yesterday. Still, they won the series and are now 50-103 on the season with nine games left. I don’t want to sound overly optimistic, but I honestly think that 110 losses is out of reach for this Houston team.
Sadly, not losing 110 games is as close to optimism as you’ll get for the Astros this season.
Houston would have to finish 2-7 to lose 110 games and with a 10-11 record this month, they might even be able to pull off a 6-3 finish to match last season’s record. That would be quite a feat considering their mid-season fire sale and the fact that every good player they had was either traded or hurt this year.
Houston starts their final home series of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s a shame Dallas Keuchel won’t get to pitch at home one more time. He had a great start on Saturday in which he gave up just one run in seven innings for his 3rd win of the season.
Offensively though, Scott Moore has the hottest bat. Of all the players in the major leagues that have at least 25 at-bats this month, Moore has the highest OPS with 1.348.
1) Amy Poehler’s dress.
Wow. I mean, it’s easy to fall in love with Poehler because of how brilliantly she plays Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation. But oh man did she look good. Everyone was talking about it on social media last night. The most common joke was that she was working her “newly single cleavage” because of recent reports that she and husband Will Arnett split up.
2) Jimmy Kimmel as host.
For award shows like this one, I’m often content to just look up who won the awards later and catch the highlights online. But Kimmel is my favorite late night talk show host so I wasn’t going to miss this one. And I’m glad I didn’t because I think he killed it as the host. My favorite bit was the one that he did with the Modern Familiy cast.
3) Ricky Gervais as a presenter.
Gervais makes everything better and funnier. He presented two awards and couldn’t help mocking the awards themselves and the nominees. He had several unscripted lines that were hilarious, but his best jokes were about Louis CK, the 2nd best comedian in the world.
4) Tina Fey and Jon Hamm as presenters.
Tina Fey is pretty much the coolest and most beautiful woman in Hollywood… maybe ever. I don’t know. I’m not even 30 yet. But she’s always good for a laugh, like when she presented an award with Jon Hamm and couldn’t read the teleprompter because she forgot her glasses. So simple. So funny.
5) The director playing himself off.
Was this the most meta moment in Emmy history? Probably.
The director of the telecast won an award and, as his speech went a little long, cued the music to play himself out. Brilliant.