Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Sports, Super Bowl
Well, at least I got the “close game” part right.
What a wildly entertaining Super Bowl XLV it was. After a week which didn’t give the media much to work with, Sunday took America by storm, reeling in the football masses.
What unfolded after a botched National Anthem by the aging Christina Aguilera was a football game which could only be defined as a “classic.” What transpired between 90 second blocks of horrendous commercials could only be described as the two toughest football teams left with trading blows for a full 60 minutes.
While the Steelers bid for a comeback ultimately fell short, they made a quite a game out of it. Pittsburgh was able to persevere through multiple Ben Roethlisberger gaffes early in the game to give the first half some semblance and nearly pulled off a patented Steelers comeback.
But it was not to be. Why, you may ask?
Aaron Rodgers grew up. And he grew up with the entire city of Green Bay on his back.
I’ve been especially critical of Rodgers, noting his inability to play a full 60 minutes when it matters most. And while by no means was his game perfect on Sunday,(the 3rd Quarter had the Packer faithful trembling)Rodgers didn’t allow himself to become flustered.
He didn’t allow Philadelphia to happen. He didn’t allow Chicago to happen.
What we saw was a quarterback who witnessed all of the pressure, criticism, and expectations from the Titletown USA faithful, pass him by.
What we saw was a quarterback who relished in the glory the Super Bowl brought, and would not let his Packers team return to the frozen tundra without a trophy which endures the utmost respect in Green Bay.From Vince Lombardi, to Bart Starr, to Brett Favre, the Packers are built with franchise names as their cornerstone. Someone needs to make room for Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers undoubtedly faced adversity which would be difficult for many QB’s to overcome. His security blanket Donald Driver, done after 1 quarter. The best cornerback in the league Charles Woodson(sorry Mr. Revis) left after one half with a broken collarbone. Sam Shields and Nick Collins went down as well, decimating the Packers defense and morale. Rodgers was the victim of 4 drops, 1 in the end zone, and 3 by Jordy Nelson.
He had to stare across the field during the third quarter as the Steelers captured momentum and looked to complete a comeback. The pressure of a true “winner” in Ben Roethlisberger looming over him.
And he didn’t budge.
Instead, Rodgers commanded a 4th quarter which attacked the best defense in the league, beating them through the air on two separate drives. Rodgers made the AP Defensive Player of the Year, Troy Polamalu, look absolutely abysmal in coverage. He negated his playmaking ability by shaking him off on multiple occasions, including the instrumental 8 yard TD pass to Greg Jennings.
Rodgers created magic again later in the quarter, when Green Bay needed to kill roughly 7 minutes. He completed passes of 31 and 21 yards to Jennings and James Jones respectively, moving Green Bay into field goal territory. By the time Pittsburgh got the ball back, they had 1 timeout and 119 seconds to go 87 yards, a task Roethlisberger was not fit to achieve.
What Rodgers and the Packers did was essentially spit in the face of critics, disprove the claim adversity kills. The team fought through key injuries from preseason to the final half of the game. They fought through the twittergate of Super Bowl XLV. Rodgers had to deal with the universal truth that he could simply not win the Super Bowl against Roethlisberger because of “experience.”
Well Rodgers and the rest of Green Bay gave experience the cold shoulder Sunday night. While Pittsburgh may own 6 rings, and Roethlisberger may “know how to win,” he didn’t “experience” a win Sunday. He can’t add a Super Bowl MVP trophy to his arsenal.
Rodgers did, and Rodgers has.
And something tells me that this won’t be his last time on the grandest stage either.
Filed under: NFL | Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, NFL, Packers, Sports, Steelers, Super Bowl Preview
Dare I say, our beloved Super Bowl week has been boring?
No, not the Super Bowl. It’s the giant spectacle capturing the attention of the entire world. And while I’m as excited as the next guy for Sunday, the week of hype has been a polar opposite. The two biggest stories have been the weather(the game is being played in a dome), and when the Packers would take their team photo. Media day was essentially a bore, the most exciting aspect possibly being the unintentional comedy created during every James Harrison interview.
But behind the relative lull, the “eye before the storm,” is a game which could very easily go down as one of the timeless Super Bowl classics. The Super Bowl has become a 2 week celebration, a spectacle that’s become lost even within itself at times. While we may not have A-List parties, we will have an A-List performance tomorrow night.
Super Bowl XLV matches Pittsburgh’s 2nd ranked defense against Green Bay’s 5th ranked defense. Pittsburgh allowed 14.5 points per game in the regular season, Green Bay was hot on their heels with 15.It comes as no surprise that Pittsburgh and Green Bay possess the two best defenses in the league to date, and they’ll face off in Dallas.
Offensively, could you think of a better quarterback match-up? Quarterbacks make the NFL’s money, there’s no way around it. Already in the green thanks to the Super Bowl, the NFL lucked out, with Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger leading their respective teams. On one end, you have the winner. Roethsliberger follows a Pittsburgh QB tradition, simply winning Super Bowls. If he wins his third, will he finally get the same respect Tom Brady receives?
Aaron Rodgers, despite not owning any hardware, is the upcoming poster boy of the NFL. He’s the next wave of prolific NFL QB’s. While Roethlisberger is every bit the grit and determination that comprises the NFL phenomenon, Rodgers is the aerial highlight reel. But can his fantasy football-esque numbers translate into success on football’s biggest stage?
There are two major obstacles holding Green Bay back from a shoe-in victory. Their lack of experience in the Super Bowl, and their inconsistency down the stretch in games of high magnitude.
Mike McCarthy. Aaron Rodgers. James Starks. Greg Jennings. Donald Driver. Clay Matthews. B.J Raji. Tramon Williams. All big names for Green Bay, all Super Bowl rookies. Will the bright lights of Dallas blind them? Will the pressure of a Pittsburgh team which knows they have the mental upper hand over Green Bay get to the Packers youngsters?
If recent Super Bowl’s are any indication, the answer is no. The Saints were about as wide-eyed as you could be heading into the Super Bowl. The New York Giants topped an experienced New England team in 2007. Just a year before that, the Indianapolis Colts won their first Super Bowl with that roster.
So if experience doesn’t count Green Bay out, what will? Could it be Aaron Rodgers?
Aaron Rodgers? But he’s received so many accolades leading up to “the big one!”
He’s also struggled mightily at the most inopportune times. Against Chicago just 2 weeks ago, Rodgers sputtered for the last 3 quarters. Against the Eagles, he was unable to put them away and almost allowed Michael Vick the time of day to lead another comeback. Against the Bears in week 17, a Bears team who really had nothing to play for, Rodgers only put up a whopping 10 points.
My confidence in him is not extraordinarily high. I know what Dick Lebeau can do with 2 weeks of preparation. I know that the Steelers defense is talented enough to stop anybody who gets in their way, and the playoffs are where this team shines.
But my gut feeling on this game is that it will not be Pittsburgh who determines who wins. Rather, it will be Green Bay who heavily influences the outcome of this game. Green Bay has all the tools. Talent wise, they are probably better than Pittsburgh all around. But Rodgers has shown a tendency to freeze up when the spotlight is on, making this game nearly impossible to pick.
While the gist of the article may have seemed pro-Green Bay, you may be surprised with the direction of my pick. While my heart loves cheese, my head is a hard-nosed steelworker. I trust Roethsliberger, I think their defense can successfully turn the Packers into a one dimensional passing attack. We all know one dimensional won’t win you games in real life, no matter how hard Madden’s video game predictions may tell you otherwise. Pittsburgh wins this in a close one.
Filed under: NFL | Tags: Curtis Martin, Hall of Fame, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, Sports
Ok in my first article written it is time to tell the Sports Blast faithful why Curtis Martin is a first ballot Hall of Famer, no doubt about it. The fact that we are having this conversation is a little ludicrous. But that’s what opinions are for right? Me personally, I might be the biggest Jet fan of all. Definitely the biggest jet fan living in patriot territory just listen to the Sports Blast every day at 4:00 at blogtalkradio.com/sportsblast.
But anyway, I grew up watching the “Boy Wonder” Curtis Martin as Bill Parcells liked to call him. His numbers speak for themselves, can you find me a more consistent tail back then Curtis Martin? Here is what it comes down to, Curtis Martin got the job done. He was not flashy, he did not have a big mouth, he went in year in and year out and got the job done simply because he is consistent. In my opinion, that’s what makes you the best. Just look at this guys numbers. He is the most consistent back in NFL history outside of Barry Sanders.
Now the biggest eye popping stat you see is the fact that the “Boy Wonder” in 11 years ran for over 1,000 yards ten out of eleven years. Wait let that sink in for a second, ten out eleven years he ran for over 1,000 yards and he is not a first ballot hall of famer just off of that number alone? Like I said consistency is key and he and Barry Sanders are the only players to accomplish this. Oh not to mention he is fourth on the all time rushing list ( more rushing yards then Marshall Faulk). Not just Marshall Faulk, these are all the Hall of Fame running backs he has more yards total then.
Jim Brown (wow)
Now look at those names and tell me Curtis Martin should not make the hall right off the first ballot. No matter who he is up against, his numbers do not lie. 10/11 1,000 yards exactly like Barry Sanders. More rushing yards then all those Hall of Fame backs. His off the field attitude is as good as his on the field with his charity work and helping out the community. That counts big time when you look at today’s characters in the NFL. Its not the point that he will “eventually” get in, he deserves to be in the special class of getting in on a first ballot. I believe if all is right in the NFL hall of fame voters mind, the “Boy Wonder”Curtis Martin will be inducted come Saturday night.
- Brandon Dowling
Filed under: College Sports, NBA, NFL, Uncategorized | Tags: Basketball, Football, Golf, Hockey, NBA, NFL, NHL, Sports, TV, X-Games
Even though the Super Bowl is a week away, the present weekend at hand offers sports fans galore a plethora of viewing choices. 3 of the 4 major professional sports command your attention, college basketball is in full swing, golf has started up again, and extreme sports blesses us with its greatest spectacle. Without further ado, here’s what’s on tap for Sports fans this weekend.
Saturday, January 29
College Basketball: Many will just be getting into their day as Georgetown and Villanova take the air at noon ET. The Big East has displayed the highest level of men’s basketball this season, and this game figures to live up to the billing. Rivalries are our theme here on the Sports Blast, as North Carolina squares off against NC State following GU/NOVA. Both are televised on ESPN, with the battle of 2 Carolina’s at 2pm ET. One of the most intense rivalries in all of college sports tips off at 7 with Kansas State visiting Kansas. Kansas boasts one of the strongest home court advantages in the nation, but Frank Martin and Jacob Pullen look to overcome the KU backdrop. Our college hoops rating on Saturday? 4.5/5
College Football: College Football? The National Championship was almost 3 weeks ago! Don’t fret football fans, the draft nerds are here. And with them they bring the Senior Bowl, based out of Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl pits the top seniors in the country against each other, as pro franchises generate scouting material heading into the April draft. The game kicks off at 4 on the NFL Network. 3.5/5
Action Sports: The Winter X-Games are back for a 16th season, and they’ll be on the ESPN family of networks all weekend. You can catch the X-Games at 4 on ESPN 2, and at 9 on ESPN. While the extreme sport activists will love this, I question if the X-Games can get any air-time from me on a busy weekend. 3/5
NHL: The SuperSkills Competition will take place in Carolina, featuring the bright young guns in the NHL. While it may not be the most popular of sports, true NHL fans relish this weekend, and more “regular joes” should as well. Many new faces who will soon dominate the NHL spotlight will compete with current stars. You can catch this on Versus at 7. 3.5/5
Notables: Strikeforce MMA will square off at 10 on Showtime, featuring Diaz vs. Cyborg. 3rd Round of the Farmer’s Insurance Open takes place, featuring Tiger Woods amongst others. Devon Alexander vs. Timothy Bradley in a welterweight championship bout, pay-per-view.
Sunday, January 30
Action Sports: The Winter X-Games are back for day 2. They will air on ESPN at the 12:30, 7, and 11 time slots. All are Eastern Time.
Golf: The final round of the Farmers Insurance Open will air at 3PM on CBS. As a huge golf fan, I’m excited for the season’s infant stages and expect big things in 2011. Watch for Tiger Woods to be in contention. 3.5/5
NBA: The best of the best square off on Sunday in a double-header. Miami takes on Oklahoma City in a match up of young, evolving stars. LeBron James, D-Wade, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook headline this 1PM start. At 3:30, the best rivalry in the NBA(maybe even sports) takes center stage with their first meeting since an epic 7 game Finals just a year ago. Yes basketball fans, it’s the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Boston will return to the scene of the crime, hoping for a better result than game 7. Both games will air on ABC. 5/5
NFL: Done with all of that? Perfect, because the Pro Bowl is on. While the Pro Bowl has been the butt-end of a lot of football jokes, it still displays many of the top stars in the NFL. This will serve as many fans football fix, and offers a unique mic’d up style atmosphere. Many fans will get to observe Bill Belichick up close. I’ll try to hold my attention through the game, I can’t make any bets. 3/5
NHL: Unlike the NFL, the NHL’s All-Star Game is often one of the most exciting games of the year. This years class is LOADED with firepower despite not having Sidney Crosby or Jerome Iginla. The teams will duke it out, matched up thanks to the All-Star Player Draft, held Friday night. Expect a lot of offense as well as true magnificence. You can catch the game at 4, on Versus. 4.5/5
While it may not dominate Sportscenter, this weekend’s crop of sporting events figures to be very interesting. On Saturday, I’ll focus most of my attention on the College Hoops and the Senior Bowl, looking to get a read on some of the top draft prospects. On Sunday, I’ll be backing my beloved Celtics at 3:30, while catching as much of the NHL All-Star Game as possible. I’ll get my football/golf fix in as well. Sunday should be great!
- Mark Chiarelli
Filed under: College Sports, NFL | Tags: 2011, Draft, Mock, Mock Draft, NFL, Sports
While we haven’t touched on it much, as the NFL season winds down we look forward to all that the off-season brings. The most anticipated event of the off-season is undoubtedly the NFL Draft. Stretched to a 3 day process, the Draft can single-handedly alter the future of contenders and pretenders alike. While labor negotiations may cloud the future, we’ll save that argument for another day. Without further ado, The Sports Blast presents the first installment of our Mock Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
While I could make a case for A.J Green, where is football won? Down in the trenches. Where else can Carolina go here? There’s no sense in drafting a high profile receiver if you’re going to struggle to get him the ball anyways(Steve Smith). Carolina’s biggest need outside of the QB position is the line, so Fairley is the pick.
2. Denver Broncos: Daquan Bowers, DE, Clemson
With John Fox in town, we figured the Broncos will move back to the 4-3. With that move comes an intensified need for pressure, especially because Fox is working with a team that produced a league low 23 sacks this past season. With Bowers, a return from Dumervil, and hopeful improvement from Robert Ayers, Denver will look a lot better up front.
3. Buffalo Bills: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Is it too early? Definitely. While I firmly believe Buffalo trades down from the 3 spot, I (presumably) cannot predict the future. With the 2 defensive lineman off the board and A.J Green/Patrick Peterson not being true needs, Buffalo takes another stab at a future QB.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J Green, WR, Georgia
Chad Ochocinco has more future potential suitors in mind than he had touchdowns this past season. Terrell Owens is not the answer, didn’t provide victories, and is a general nuance. Carson Palmer is still there(for now) and will need new targets down the line. Green may be the best player in the draft and the Bengals nab him here.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
Peterson is arguably the best defensive talent in the draft, and draws comparisons to Eric Berry. Whether he’s at safety or cornerback is up to Ken Whisenhunt. What he does know is that he’s solving a need in the secondary which was nothing less than shaky this past year.
6. Cleveland Browns: Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama
The toughest pick so far(yes I know, all 5 deep), it was tough to decide between Dareus and Julio Jones. This is a deep receiver draft, so hopefully Cleveland will pick up a receiver in round 2. Moving to the 4-3, Dareus provides talent and versatility on a front line which features 32 year old Shaun Rogers.
7. San Francisco 49ers: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
Nate Clements. Shawntae Spencer. New head coach. All 3 of those factors work towards the drafting of Prince, who shows all the cover skills to be the next big shut down corner in the NFL. With new blood needed and no franchise QB available, Prince it is.
8. Tennessee Titans: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
Bud Adams’ clock is ticking, and he wants to make changes now. With both Jeff Fisher and Vince Young out, a new coach is on the horizon. New regime= New QB’s usually, so look for the Titans to reach on Newton here.
9. Dallas Cowboys: Cameron Jordan, DL, Cal
He’s had a great start to the Senior Bowl practices and has experience in the 3-4. Do I think this is a pick the Cowboys need to make? Not in the slightest. But without the ability to predict trade downs, this is the most value Dallas can get.
10. Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
With Newton off the board, Jones is the best player available. Washington has a poor receiving core, the lone bright spot being Santana Moss. Moss has been around forever, so new blood is needed to anchor the receiving corps.
11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC
Quinn did miss a whole year of games, but there is no denying the talent that Quinn has. A great off-season of workouts could easily restore Quinn’s stock. Throw in that Wade Phillips is now the defensive coordinator and needs to make improvements to the 3-4, and Quinn is your man.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
Our first offensive tackle off the board, Solder and BC Offensive Tackle Anthony Castonzo will battle it out to see who is the top tackle in the draft. While the most glaring need is QB, there simply is not a justifiable reason to draft Jake Locker at 12.
13. Detroit Lions: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
Smith will become one of the workout warriors of the off-season, but there may be more substance than usual here. Smith is big, really big, and displays great speed. He could mold into the CB of the future for Detroit, who severely lack at this position.
14. St. Louis Rams: Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
The Butkus Award winner, Miller is a freak of an athlete. While consistency may be called into question, he has all the skills to succeed at the next level.
15. Miami Dolphins: Mark Ingram, HB, Alabama
Ingram doesn’t possess next level talent, but man is he consistent. With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams presumably out of town, new blood is needed to carry the run game. Last year’s Heisman winner goes off the board here.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
Kerrigan has impressed so far at Senior Bowl practices, and will provide a steady talent at the defensive end position. The Jaguars need a solid QB, but that just will not come in this draft.
17. New England Patriots: J.J Watt, DL, Wisconsin
Although this may surprise some people, Watt strikes me as a typical Belichick player. He’s a class act and will provide interior line talent, which the Patriots sorely need. Ty Warren isn’t getting any younger, Gerard Warren can only handle so many snaps, and Mike Wright is a rotational lineman at best. With Watt in place, the Patriots may have their next Richard Seymour.
18. San Diego Chargers: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
Shawne Merriman, well he’s a thing of the past. Whatever stop gap the Chargers put in place after him, well that didn’t work out either. While I could see them going off the chart here and picking a WR, I think Ayers is a sound bet at the OLB position in the 3-4.
19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
Coming from someone who attended every BC game personally, I kept a close eye on Castonzo. His best performances often came against the best quality talent, which bodes well in the NFL. William Beatty doesn’t look like has “it”, so the Giants will have to look elsewhere. Don’t look now, but there’s the Tom Coughlin/Boston College connection as well.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
Iowa, not the place you want to send your kid if you fear “character” concerns. Multiple different outbreaks in recent months have made it rocky times for Iowa. Adrian Clayborn knows this all too well, suffering from a tumultuous 2010 season. The Bucs need a DE badly, which may cause them to take a risky player like Clayborn.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Stefen Wisniewski, C/OG, Penn State
This is a classic Pioli pick. Not much flair, not much style, but he fits the scheme in Kansas City and is versatile in the interior of the offensive line. Kansas City is aging on the line, and could use this added youth.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
The Colts need this pick more than usual. While Polian often makes obscure selections, it’s tough to overlook the struggles that the Indianapolis offensive line displayed this season. Smith comes with a bit of a mean streak, which may be exactly what the Colts need.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Gabe Carimi, OL, Wisconsin
52 sacks. Michael Vick. Those are two glaring issues with Philadelphia. You simply cannot win deep in the playoffs allowing that many sacks, and you need to protect your most prized possessions. Most controversy surrounding Vick was the amount of hits he took late in the season. Carimi can soothe this problem.
24. New Orleans Saints: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
Do you think Marshawn Lynch is still fresh in the New Orleans Saints minds? Poor tackling and no strength up the middle was the weakness all along for the Saints, and a very solid talent in Paea will look to help Sedrick Ellis out.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Allen Bailey, DL, Miami
While the Seahawks had a nice end to the season, there are still plenty of holes to be filled on that roster. Start up front, which proved itself to be a huge question mark in their divisional playoff game against the Chicago Bears. Matt Forte ran for huge chunks at a time, something that will not happen as easily with the addition of Allen Bailey.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami
Harris has a world of talent, and the Ravens have a bit of a need at the cornerback position. Makeshift attempts like Josh Wilson are not sustainable.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
Sherrod is a another offensive line prospect in the draft worthy of a first. He’s great value at 27, I could see him going earlier.
28. New England Patriots: Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri
While I’m not sold on the Patriots taking a rush linebacker, simply because they never do it, the need is there as well as the value. With Tully Banta-Cain offering a sub-par performance this year, the Pats could use a high motor guy willing to come off the edge. Be weary though, Belichick loves Cunningham/Ninkovich.
29. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Baldwin is an athletic freak, something Chicago will love and also needs. The Bears have struggled to find Cutler a true #1 receiver, which needs to end in this off-season. While offensive line would be useful, there isn’t a worthwhile selection right here.
30. New York Jets: Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
Heyward would be great as a Jet. He’s your prototypical 5 technique defensive lineman who can still bust a lot of plays up in the backfield. Shaun Ellis is 34 and also a pending free agent. While a pass rusher could be used here, Heyward is the better pick. He’ll clog up defenders and do his fair share of damage in the backfield.
31. Green Bay Packers: Marvin Austin, DL, UNC
Green Bay really doesn’t have too much a problem with character concerns, which should ease the pain when selecting Marvin Austin. He’s one of the top defensive line talents when in shape and motivated, but do we know what we’re going to get out of Marvin Austin?
32. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida
His older brother has amazed the Steelers this season, competing at an ultra-high level at the center position. Insert younger brother Mike into the line and not only does the chemistry stay the same, but the Steelers revamp their aging trenches. Pouncey is more need than value at 32.
Notable players left off: Kyle Rudolph, Mikel Leshoure, Greg Jones, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet.
Have a differing of opinion? Don’t hesitate to tell me how badly I screwed up your teams selection in the comment section.
- Mark Chiarelli