Make no mistake – the officiating in the Browns/Patriots tilt was atrocious. How many times during the course of a game do coaches issue 3 challenges and have them all upheld? That’s not to mention the calls that cannot be challenged. It turns out the average coach in 2011 issued about 6 challenges all year – put another way that’s about one challenge every 2.5 games. That season, the success rate was 51%. Coach Chud and Coach Belichick issued three and were successful on all three, Chud throwing 2 flags. Interestingly enough, Coach Bill was written up on NBC Sports earlier in the week asking why coaches shouldn’t be allowed to challenge everything. I like that idea, by the way.
What would be interesting would be to see challenges by officiating team – my theory is that the number of challenges over a season, and furthermore successful challenges, would give some indication of how well an officiating team handles itself. To be sure, the NFL evaluates the officials but we the fans never see those evaluations, so we’re left with our own analysis with the NFL sponsored talking heads to prop up the official calls.
I’d love to see the official evaluation of the officiating in the last minute or so of the Browns/Pats game. Jordan Poyer gets called for unnecessary roughness on the touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. Somewhat questionable, even to this Patriots loyalist. Then, the officials got the penalty wrong, quickly correcting themselves to imposing 15 yards on the kickoff. Now what makes that call important was that it was clear the Pats would on-side kick, and they would be doing it from the 50 instead of the 35.
When the Pats remarkably collected up the kick, on the second play (:30 seconds or so showing on the clock) Brady’s pass to Josh Boyce in the endzone gets batted away…on what was called Pass Interference. This was a far more suspect call for sure.
For sure, there was a lot of opportunity for the Browns to win this game – even with the suspect calls. You HAVE to recover the onside kick. Have to. The Pats moved the ball some 80 yards over the course of the last 2 minutes of the game and scored two touchdowns. You HAVE to stop that. But like most things in life, mistakes compound each other, and in the end that compounding effect lost the game for the Brownies. The officials questionable calls certainly didn’t help, but in the end analysis it was adversity to be overcome. The PI was the icing on the cake, but take care of what you have to take care of and we don’t get to PI. I wonder if that call was a bit of a gift – had that call not been made, Brady would have taken more time off the clock and may have scored anyway. At least Campbell got one last bite of the apple to get to FG territory – and he almost did.
A LOT of things had to happen in the Pats favor – and it worked out that way. The Pats had to execute, and they did. The Browns had to stop the execution, and they didn’t. The Brownies got no favors for sure, but they didn’t do what they had to.
Now this is a Patriots team I can figure out. They sit at 10-3. They could easily be 12-1. They could easily be 8-5. Think about how the Denver game ended – ball bounces off a Denver player and the Pats recover…and take the FG. What’s the likelihood Manning doesn’t move that ball 50 yards for a FG attempt?
Their last game with the Jets ended when they were called for a penalty that hadn’t been called all year, and hasn’t been made since. With another bite of the apple, Jets win. As it turns out, it was the same ref for both the Browns and Jets games. Looks like both teams have been "Bogered" this season. They could’ve easily lost to the Texans…and the Browns.
They could easily have lost to the Bills in the first game of the season. It’s an interesting team to watch, because they’re good but not dominant. You just don’t know what team is going to show up. Of their 10 wins, they’ve beaten the snot out of the Bucs and the Steelers; beat the Dolphins convincingly and the Falcons by 7. The rest are all victories of 3 points or less.
Other notes: We put up our Christmas tree this weekend. It’s one of the few places, the Vikings and Packers live in harmony. I’m actually kind of embarrassed about the number of sports ornaments on the tree. All 4 Boston teams. Many Patriots and Red Sox. Complete homer tree. The only thing that keeps it out of the trailer park is that they’re reasonably high quality, expensive ones. But lets face it, the upper crust don’t have sports ornaments on their tree.
The Dog: He’s hanging in there, but he took a bad turn this weekend. He’s not doing well. It’s been such a roller coaster for us: seems to be doing better, seems to be failing. Up. Down. It’s so hard to know what to do with our little guy, so we’re just doing our best to enjoy his company .
Be well. Enjoy your loved ones. And my the best team win.
So Monday is here again...Wow, that went fast...Before I get into all the College Football madness, and my own personal madness, I have to talk about the Cleveland Browns game in New England...I was busy all day Sunday, but I kept checking into the game...Each time I was shocked to see the Browns in the lead...The lead was never too big...That will happen when you settle for field goals instead of punching it into the end zone...
Late in the 4th quarter the Browns were still up, but Tom Brady gets the ball back with over two minutes left...TD, Onside Kick, Bad Pass Interference Call, TD, Game Over...Patriots win...The Browns snatch defeat from the Jaws of victory...BRUTAL!
I was reminded of why I gave up my Browns Fan Card...Games like this...Like most of the games they've played this year...
My numerous Ohio State fans had a rough go at it this weekend, and Michigan State's defense handled Braxton Miller and company...And the MSU offense seemed to surprise the hapless Buckeyes defense...The Spartans took down the #2 Buckeyes 34-24, and every Auburn player, coach and fan rejoiced...And all of the SEC had another chance to laugh at Ohio State...
Earlier in the Day Auburn won the SEC title in a no defense allowed battle with Missouri, winning 59-42...Florida State rolled Duke 45-7 in the ACC title game...So it's set...#1 FSU will take on Auburn in the National Championship Game...So how did the other bowls shake out?
I was hoping they would have matched Urban Meyer and Nick Saban's egos in a battle...But instead Saban's Tide will face Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl...Ohio State will take on Clemson in the Orange Bowl...Or the battle of two highly touted teams that fell on their faces!
The Fiesta Bowl will be Baylor and UCF...Oklahoma State and Missouri will play the Cotton Bowl...And in what could be the most fun game to watch, the Rose Bowl, Stanford will face Michigan State...Two hard-nosed teams that like to pound the ball and play defense...Defense! What's that!?! A rarity these days!
My Irish will play Dec. 28th against Rutgers, in the Pinstripe Bow at Yankee Stadium...The Irish better win! That's all I have on that.
As for my life this weekend...Friday night I took the kids skating...My wife and I were suppose to go out to a Christmas party, but our sitter got seriously sick, and our evening out was screwed...
Saturday we took the kids with friends to lunch with Santa...The saw the fat man...Asked him for a specific thing or two...(already have them...Santa already has his shopping done!) Here's Little Beeze thinking hard about exactly what he wants...
Afterwards we took the kids for ice cream...Then back to our friends home...My buddy and I ditched the kids and ladies for a couple hours, grabbed a couple beers, a burger, and watched some football...Lunch with Santa wasn't that good, or filling...
Sunday was work...Lots of work...We did a big switch in the Beeze house...We moved the girls upstairs to our room...and moved us down to their room...Fuck I forgot how heavy that King size bed was...And those sweet bunk beds I put together months ago...I had to take them apart to get them through the doorways, and up the stairs...It was ton of work, cleaning, lifting...Good exercise too...Which will go well with our change in diet...We've gone with organic meat, fruits, and veggies...And we've been juicing in place of one meal a day...We've both felt better and lost some weight in just a week since we got the juicer...
The weekend went fast, and somehow felt long...
Now for this week's Christmas song...It's more of a anti-Christmas song, but I like it...Daniel Mustard's "Since Santa Ain't Coming"
The last two weeks of this CFB season made up for a lot, and there’s at least one final regular season game, Army/Navy. Now this is gonna sound a bit arrogant, but I believe that when you talk about student-athletes, you have to use these young men (as well as Air Force) as role models.
Color me a happy B.O.B. today as Ohio State lost.
Northern Illinois blew it, and it hurts the MAC’s chances going forward of ever getting props.
How weird is it that the 2nd best CFB in the State of Florida is Central Florida?
Rice is the C-USA Champ?
For as much bashing as I do to the SEC, that game yesterday was good. Didn’t go down the way I would have liked, but it was still good.
I honestly thought Arizona State was gonna give Stanford a bit of a challenge.
How in the hell did Oklahoma State blow that game against Oklahoma? They came in way too flat.
Fresno State has had a pretty good run this season. Too bad that because they are the champs of the Mountain West that they didn’t get more respect. But I will say that CBS putting that game on their channel was pretty cool.
Who got the better coaching deal, USC or Washington? I say Washington. But out of all of that UCLA will win the recruiting wars.
What does losing Peterson mean for Boise State?
I wanna give props to Texas. They may not have achieved the normal level of expectation in Austin, but they didn't shrivel up and fade away either.
My Bowl Picks. Holy Crap, did the BCS get lucky. After all the craziness shook out yesterday, the Orange Bowl went from looking at a potential Duke/UCF matchup to Clemson/Ohio State. Uh, I'd say they were the big winners down in Miami. The Fiesta Bowl got screwed, and if I'm the folks in Phoenix, do I really want to buy a ticket to a Big 12/Big Least game?
NC Game: Florida State/Auburn
Rose: Stanford/Michigan State
Orange: Clemson/Ohio State. The big bowl winner here.
Fiesta: Baylor/UCF. No disrespect, but the biggest bowl loser here. This game will get ignored.
Cotton: Missouri/Oklahoma State
My CFB Top 25. As you know I am a Florida State fan, but there is no joy in my heart about this NC Game. Their schedule was PATHETIC, their leader put himself in the middle of a felony charge, and now they potentially are the sacrificial lamb being led to the SEC slaughter. There's one thing we don't know about the Seminoles: How will they play when they face a challenge? How will they respond if Auburn jumps out to a lead? They don't know how to respond to adversity.
Auburn (12-1) (1, Won vs. Missouri 59-42). SEC Champions & NC Championship Game vs. Florida State?
Florida State (13-0) (2, Won vs. Duke 45-7). ACC Champions & NC Championship Game vs. Auburn?
Alabama (11-1) (5, Lost @ Auburn 34-28). Sugar Bowl vs. Oklahoma? Not to their standards, but not bad consolation.
Michigan State (12-1) (7, won vs. Ohio State 34-24). Big 10 Champions & Rose Bowl vs. Stanford.
Ohio State (12-1) (6, Lost vs. Michigan State 34-24). This has to be the luckies program out there. A trip to Miami in the Orange Bowl vs. Clemson?
Baylor (11-1) (8, Won vs. Texas 30-10). Big 12 Champions. Fiesta Bowl bound vs. UCF?
Stanford (11-2) (9, Won @ Arizona State 38-14). PAC 12 Champions and Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State. Physical game.
Oklahoma (10-2) (13, Won @ Oklahoma State 33-24). Inconsistent team, yet they draw a Sugar Bowl bid vs. Alabama?
Missouri (11-2) (3, Lost to Auburn 59-42). Hell of a run. Hope the Tigers get a Cotton Bowl bid.
Arizona State (10-3) (10, Lost vs. Arizona 38-14). There's something about these guys I really like.
Oklahoma State (10-2) (4, Lost vs. Oklahoma 33-24). They’ve got to be sick after this loss.
Oregon (10-2) (12, Won vs. Oregon State 36-35).
Fresno State (11-1) (15, Beat Utah State 24-17). MWC Champs. I hope they get rewarded w/a good bowl.
Duke (10-2) (12, Lost to Florida State 45-7). Peach Bowl bound?
South Carolina (10-2) (21, Won vs. Clemson 31-17).
LSU (8-3) (17, Won vs. Arkansas 31-27).
Clemson (10-2) (7, Lost @ South Carolina 31-17).
UCF (11-1) (19, Won @ SMU 17-13). Big Least Champs. Congratulations - you got a Fiesta Bowl bid against Baylor.
North Dakota State (12-0) (20, vs. Furman). Second Round FCS Playoffs.
Louisville (11-1) (22, Won @ Cincinnati 31-24). Meh…
Bowling Green (10-3). MAC Champions.
Northern Illinois (12-1) (12, Lost vs. Bowling Green 47-27). Damn. At home? Lost a whole bunch of chedda on that choke job.
Miami, FL (9-3). (24).
Ball State (10-2) (NR).
Biggest Winner yesterday: Michigan State.
Biggest Losers yesterday: Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Northern Illinois. These guys have to be absolutely sick at what they lost considering prestige and money involved.
While heading off to see the Boston College women's basketball team play this afternoon...
BOSTON RED SOX
The hot stove season kicks things off this week thanks to a trio of moves involving the Red Sox.
Times flies when you are basking in the glow of a World Series championship don't it? Almost from the minute the final out was recorded, the planning for next season began and it was with the knowledge that more than a few players that helped bring the unlikely title to Boston would not be returning.
The biggest name involved was outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. His departure was not unexpected. In fact it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that he would be leaving the Red Sox. He was looking a huge deal and with the Red Sox being burned once by that 7 year $142 million dollar deal that they gave to Carl Crawford, there was no way they would go down that road again with the sadly oft-injured Ellsbury.
I'm all for players getting as much money as they can in a deal and while I'm disappointed and yes a little mad when players spurn the Boston area teams, I usually handle the disappointment fine. But after signing a 7 year $153 million dollar deal with the freaking Yankees I'm just a big beyond the "irritated" marker on the chart.
The Yankees? The FREAKING Yankees? While most of the people I know via Facebook were chanting that they hope he gets hurt, I dealt with this "betrayal" by Ellsbury not with wishing him physical harm (because that's flat out wrong), but rather a miserable year at the plate.
Another cog in the title team left this week as well. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia agreed to join the major league baseball verson of Dante's Inferno (aka the Miami Marlins) with a 3 year 21 million dollar deal. While is decision making ability might be in question going from a title winner to a team that makes licking the butt crack of a dead rhinoceros look favorable by comparison, it is sad to see him go.
But the news isn't all about watching players leave Boston. The Red Sox signed reliever Edward Mujica to a 2 year deal. He looks to be used as a set up man after spending most of last season as the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He had 37 saves but lost the closer's job in September and didn't so much as step on the field of play during the World Series.
Then came last night's news...Mike Napoli is back! The hirsute one signed a 2 year 32 million dollar deal to come back to Boston. This is good news because I figure you need to try to hold on to at least some of the people who made last year both successful and fun.
The town Pop Warner football team, the Wareham Tigers, are currently in Florida as the B Squad is competing for the Pop Warner Super Bowl title. It is only the second time in the history of the Tigers they've qualified for the trip to Disney World, but the very first time they were able to raise the money necessary to make the trip. Through a myriad of donations, including one from Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots, they raised the money in about 3 days and were on their way.
Their first game was yesterday afternoon against the Gilroy Browns from California. Wareham led 14-12 at halftime and 20-12 in the third quarter. But the Browns rallied back and ended up winning the game 28-20.
The Celtics started the past week with a 92-85 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a bit of a depressing loss in that the Bucks had lost 11 games in a row heading into the matchup with the Celtics. The loss came despite a huge game from Jared Sullinger (21 points, 14 boards). Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green each finished with 18 points.
But things turned around for Boston in the back end of the home and home series with the Bucks. They took that second game 108-100 behind 25 points from Crawford. Green scored 18 points and Brandon Bass had 16 points and 9 boards. Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee all finished in double figures as well.
The most amazing thing about the win was it gave the Celtics the lead in the Atlantic Division. In terms of the quality of the teams in the Eastern Conference, it is a bit of an embarrassment that a team with an 8-12 record at this point is your division leader but for Celtics fan, first place is first place.
Friday night's game against the Denver Nuggets saw the Celtics open up the game with a 14-0 run, score a season high 39 points in the first quarter and then nearly squander a 27 point lead before finally holding off Denver 106-98. They are now 9-12 on the season and continue to surprise with each game. They may have a losing record but this team isn't anywhere near as bad as most thought it would be.
Crawford had 22 points and 8 assists while the barely ever heard from Kris Humphries added 18 points and 7 boards. Avery Bradley added 18 points as well. Jeff Green finished with 15 points while Brandon Bass scored 14 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.
Meanwhile, the situation with the Brooklyn Nets grew worse this week. The losing continues apace and with the all but in name only firing of assistant coach Lawrence Frank, the hiring of Jason Kidd is looking worse and worse by the day. You can read my take on the situation here: http://www.yougabsports.com/pt/Are-you-Kidd-ing-me.12-4-2013/blog.htm
By the way, don't forget that next Saturday is the annual Army-Navy game. It's a game that is always worth they hype regardless of what the record for either team is heading into the game. Hell, it is the one football game I can guarantee that my mother will watch beginning to end each year.
As for this week's games, I pretty much skipped the action because there weren't any games I was truly interested in during the afternoon. The SEC title game went to Auburn and Oklahoma upset Oklahoma State (I did see the end of that one).
But the two biggest games of note took place last night after I put this edition to bed and got off the computer. But if Florida State and Ohio State both win, we'll know who will play in the BCS title game and then there really isn't much to write about.
Hartford - The Hawks dropped to 1-7 on the season with a 62-49 loss to Quinnipiac. How they managed to lose this game comes down to free throws. It had to be that because Hartford shot better from the field overall and from three point range. They also won the battle of the boards 44-39. But they shot 9-13 from the foul line while Quinnipiac was 19-24. It doesn't explain everything going wrong with the Hawks, but it certainly covers most of the final margin of victory.
Deanna Mayza led the team with 13 points while Shanise Bultron had 10 points and 7 boards.
I'll be seeing the team play at Boston College this afternoon so hopefully I will gather some in person insight into exactly what is going wrong with their season.
Missouri State - Things are spiraling downward for the Lady Bears as well. Their loss to #7 Louisville wasn't entirely unexpected but I don't think 91-49 as the final score was what anyone was hoping for. Kenzie Williams had 13 points to lead the team in scoring while Tyonna Snow added 12 points. Desiree Phillips (pictured below) finished with a career high 11 points.
Next came Eastern Kentucky and despite playing a much closer game, the Lady Bears lost 65-61, dropping their record to 1-6. Tyonna Snow led the team with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals. Williams added 18 points and Bry Snow scored 11 points to go with 7 rebounds.
I'm not real familiar with the team's in their conference but at 1-6 before conference play, things don't look good so far in the first season under coach Kellie Harper.
I split my two leagues this past week. Thus far I'm 7-6 in both. While one team is still in the regular season, the other league is headed to playoffs this week. I qualified for that despite being in 5th place overall.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
I'm still trying to juggle around the various schedules for the girls basketball teams with ex-players of mine on their rosters. Hopefully I'll get it all straightened out soon.
In the meantime, the area paper announced their selections for the 2013 Girls Volleyball All-Star team. My former player Erica got an Honorable Mention.
The cool thing about that was she didn't know. So when I sent her a congratulatory message, she was very surprised. Of course, the paper did screw things up by leaving the "a" off her first name so it looked like ERIC had gotten the mention.
That's the feel good portion of this section. Now let's get on to the stupid teenagers part.
Have you ever heard of the hand gesture "the shocker"? No? Well, don't feel bad, neither had I. But apparently it is the latest "fad" all the kids are doing these days. I had to look up what the gesture meant. It turns out I knew what it was but under a different name. (If you look it up, be aware that it is a NSFW possibility.)
Three female high school players in Illinois got suspended after they made the hand gesture in their team photos. And the story took off from there...you gotta love social media, NOT.
Anyway, the thing that I have to wonder is why ANY female would be making this gesture as it really isn't all that complimentary towards a woman. I know that I'm a getting older every day guy and the mind of a teenage girl is something that I don't and don't want to fully understand but seriously, who thinks this is something worth doing?
Longtime readers of Sports Illustrated will remember the name Dr. Z. I'm sure. Paul Zimmerman was one of the premiere pro football writers for the magazine for a long time. But a series of strokes have effectively silenced him. This week, there was a nice thank you kind of article by SI.com writer Doug Farrar about Zimmerman. You can check it out here: http://nfl.si.com/2013/11/29/thank-you-dr-z-yours-truly-everybody/
Men's Hockey - The Eagles got back on the winning side of things when they took the first of a home and home series against New Hampshire 6-2. They ended up with a sweep of the two game set by knocking off UNH 2-1 last night.
Women's Hockey - Before heading off to a month long break, the women's hockey team faced off against Harvard on Saturday night. They skated to a 1-1 tie.
Football - While the team now sits and waits to see what bowl game they will be heading off to, the chances of Andre Williams winning the Heisman took an even bigger hit when Florida State QB Jameis Winston wasn't charge in that rape case he was mixed up in. Something seems fundamentally off when the fact you were EVER mixed up in a rape case doesn't disqualify you from winning the top award in college football, but I acknowledge that my opinion means absolutely nothing here.
As for seasonal awards, the Eagles were well represented when the All-ACC teams were announced this week. Williams, linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis and kicker Nate Freese made the 1st team. Tackle Matt Patchan made the 2nd team. Wide Receiver Alex Amidon, tackle Ian White, center Andy Gallick, defensive end Kasim Edebali and linebacker Steele Divitto all made the third team.
Men's Basketball - The Eagles got blown out by Purdue this week 88-67. The two teams were tied at 20 before the Boilermakers went on a 21-5 run that put the game firmly in their control. Ryan Anderson (pictured below) had 16 points while Olivier Hanlan had 15 points and 8 rebounds. Alex Dragicevich finished with 13 points as the Eagles fell to 3-5.
They face USC tonight.
Women's Basketball - The women's team had an early lead in their ACC/Big Ten Challenge game against Wisconsin but didn't have nearly enough to hold off the Badgers and lost 74-59. Katie Zenevitch led the team with 17 points and 10 boards while Kristen Doherty scored 14 points and grabbed nine boards. Nicole Boudreau added 14 points.
I'll be seeing the team square off against Hartford this afternoon as my ticket finally arrived in the mail on Thursday. I'm hoping that they'll get the win and that I'll be able to talk more in depth about both teams in next week's column.
TV - Just a note that last week's mid-season finale of The Walking Dead was FANTASTIC.
Books - I finished the most recent Janet Evanovich paperback Notorious Nineteen this week. It is the latest in her Stephanie Plum series. The book was entertaining enough and had a couple of really laugh out loud sections, but I don't think I really enjoyed it as much as past installments.
I picked up two new novels this week as well. The first was the Star Trek tie in novel The Fall #4 - The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow. The second book is a thriller called Pursuit and it is written by author (and Academy Award winning actor) Gene Hackman.
Movies - I watched Red 2 on Friday night via PPV. I loved the original comic series the two movies have been based upon. But the films have almost nothing to do with the comic book's plot. I didn't really like the first movie but the second one seemed like it was going to be better. It really wasn't. If you watched the first movie, you can see the second one a single time and then never have to watch it again. It isn't necessarily bad, just kind of watch and forget it.
Music - If you read last weeks's column, you saw my review of the Benedictum CD Obey. Well, the follow up to that review is kind of interesting. I sent the link to the band's Facebook page and actually got a thank you message back from the singer. She also sent me a friend request from her own personal FB account. Guess she liked the review.