Philly’s Dream Team a Nightmare for Ryan’s Jets



Entering Sunday’s contest against New York, the Philadelphia Eagles were hands-down the NFL’s biggest disappointment this season.
With their playoff hopes hanging by a thread, the Eagles played like a team in complete desperation mode—hungry to keep their slim postseason dreams alive.

Philadelphia wasted little time in burying the Jets as they jumped out to a 28-0 lead—winning going away. Rex Ryan’s crew committed four turnovers, (two lost fumbles and two interceptions) the most crippling miscue occurring on New York’s first offensive possession as wide out Santonio Holmes coughed up the ball and Philadelphia’s Juqua Parker returned the fumble 47 yards for an Eagles touchdown.

Despite falling behind by 28 points early, New York closed the deficit to 28-13 at halftime. The Jets began the second half with offensive possession, but the opening drive stalled at Philadelphia’s 39-yard line and Ryan reluctantly sent his punt team on the field.

On the second play of the Eagles ensuing drive—a 2nd-and-11 from their own 11 yard-line—Vick found tight end Brent Celek for a 73-yard catch and run down to New York’s one-yard line. Two plays later, Philadelphia tailback LeSean McCoy burst through for his 18th touchdown of the year and in doing so tied former running back Steve Van Buren for the most rushing touchdowns by an Eagles player in a single season.

In the early stages of the fourth quarter, McCoy would break the franchise’s single-season rushing touchdown record as his 33-yard scamper all but sealed the Eagles victory.

Philadelphia played far from mistake-free football committing four turnovers of its own, losing three fumbles while quarterback Michael Vick tossed an interception on a Hailmary attempt to end the first half.
Gang Green failed to capitalize on Philadelphia’s mistakes, while the Eagles score 21 points off Jets turnovers. This holiday season both squads appeared to be in the spirit of giving.

Philadelphia continued its dominance over the New York Jets as they have now won all nine meetings in the history of the rivalry.

The Jets (8-6), locked into the sixth and final AFC wildcard spot (by virtue of a common games tiebreaker over Cincinnati), return to Metlife Stadium on Christmas Eve to face the New York Giants.

During next Saturday afternoon’s Big Apple Bash not only will bragging rights hang in the balance, but the losing team may very well be on the brink of postseason elimination.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

No More Hoopla Just Hoops: NBA Players and Owners Agree to a Tentative Deal



After all the hoopla surrounding the NBA’s labor dispute, the official end to the lockout appears to be in sight. Following 149 days littered with squabbling between NBA commissioner David Stern and Players Union chief Billy Hunter over Basketball Related Income (BRI), chief among the major labor concerns, the two sides seem to have found a happy medium. The NBA players strike more than doubled the length of Nets forward Kris Humphries and model/television star Kim Kardashian's glamorous but doomed 72-day marriage.

Unlike Humphries and Kardashian, players and owners were able to reconcile their differences at the negotiating table as they eyed Christmas Day as the ideal date for the commencement of the 2011-2012 NBA season. The players union is expected to recertify by Thursday with a new CBA likely ratified by the week’s end. Owners, players, media members and fans are rejoicing at the anticipated return of NBA basketball this season (66 games), a season that merely a week ago appeared to be in serious peril.

With a slate of five games scheduled for Christmas Day, the league is making up for lost times by spreading basketball joy this holiday season.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

D.Will to Big D in 2012?



Ken Berger of CBS Sports reports the Dallas Mavericks are saving up cap space with every intention of making a run at Nets free agent point man Deron Williams in the summer of 2012. With an aged Jason Kidd entering the final year of his contract and free agent Jose Barea’s future uncertain in Dallas, the Mavericks may be in dire need of a point guard next season.

Williams, a Dallas native, would have the opportunity to carry on Kidd’s winning tradition—not in the "Garden State"—but instead in the "Lone Star State." Speaking of lone stars, Dirk Nowitzki may be the Maverick’s only all-star around next summer with current free agents Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler likely playing elsewhere this upcoming season while Jason Terry and Kidd will be off Dallas’ payroll in 2012.

The Mavericks are expected to be 21 million dollars under the cap entering a 2012 free agency period headlined by: Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has hardly been gun-shy to pull the trigger on blockbuster trades or reluctant to whip out the checkbook to recruit additional talent to surround the franchise’s prized seven-footer. With Nowitzki in the midst of his prime and the Mavericks ready to begin their title defense, the Mavericks could be a sleeping suitor for Williams’ services in 2012.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Jets Steamroll Chiefs Behind Sanchez’s Four Touchdowns



Sunday’s lopsided 37-10 win propelled the New York Jets back into the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture and may very well have restored Mark Sanchez’s shaky confidence. The third year quarterback became the first Jets player ever to score two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in a single game. In Sanchez’s last three games, not coincidentally all Jets wins, #6 has compiled nine touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing), only one interception and a superb 98.3 quarterback rating. In fact the last two weeks the Jets offense has scored touchdowns on their opening drives after struggling the entire season to jump out to early leads.

Against Kansas City, Gang Green stormed out of the gate, as Rex Ryan—in contrast to his defensive minded style—elected to receive to start the game. New York took full advantage of its first offensive possession marching 77 yards on 11 plays punctuated by Sanchez’s nifty quarterback keeper on third-and-goal from the three-yard line. The Jets defense finally inherited an early lead to nurture, a lead that would swell to 28-3 at halftime. Kansas City went quietly into the night as the Jets called off the horses in the fourth quarter subbing in 41-year old quarterback Mark Brunell to the delight of the Met-life stadium crowd.

In light of Cincinnati, Tennessee and Oakland all losing in Week 14, the Jets are in complete control of their playoff destiny. Next Sunday, New York shuttles down the Jersey Turnpike to battle a talented but underachieving Eagles squad. The Jets have never won a game in the city of Philadelphia but will have to set history in Week 15 if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive and well.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Sanchez Criticism just Hogwash: Late Comeback Propels Jets to 34-19 Victory




With its playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the New York Jets turned to its franchise quarterback to ignite yet another fourth quarter comeback. Trailing 16-13 with 7:52 remaining in the game—and very possibly Gang Green’s season—Mark Sanchez notched his tenth career come-from-behind victory.

The Jets capitalized on favorable field position--taking possession at the Redskins 49-yard line—thanks in large part to Washington placekicker Gram Gano’s short kickoff. On the fifth play of the ensuing drive—a second and five from the 30-yard line—Mark Sanchez pump faked in the direction of Santonio Holmes who hit a slant and go route, slipping behind cornerback Josh Wilson for the go-ahead touchdown.

Following the score, Jets coach Rex Ryan pulled aside linebacker Aaron Maybin and barked in his ear “fourth quarter sacks win football games.” New York’s defense marched onto the field— and with Maybin clearly inspired by Ryan’s plea—the Jets linebacker did his coach one better. On third and ten from the Redskins 20-yard line—Washington quarterback Rex Grossman dropped back in the pocket and was instantly engulfed by “Mayhem Maybin” as the ball was jarred loose and recovered by fellow Jets linebacker Calvin Pace at the 9-yard line. A jubilant Jets sideline swarmed Maybin in celebration as the second year castoff from Buffalo is making his bid for the league’s most improved player of the year honors.

With a four point cushion the Jets aimed to salt away the victory and Jets running back Shonn Greene was just the man for the mission. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Greene took the snap out of the Wildcat formation and slithered his way through the Redskins front and into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon. Greene would clinch a hat trick late in the final quarter as he lumbered for a 30-yard touchdown to put the finishing touches on the Jets 15 point victory.

In what looked to be yet another anxiety inducing game—the Jets managed to pull away in the final eight minutes of regulation—closing the game with a 21-3 spurt. The stands at FedEx Field were littered with green and white and J-E-T-S chants rained onto the field as the Jets exited to a warm reception from Firemen Ed and Gang Green die-hards. New York escaped the nation’s capital with a crucial win with the final four games of the season on the horizon.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

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