Steph Curry Ready for Superstardom?

A still shot of Curry’s Mark Jackson impression.

Last night, February 27, Steph Curry dazzled more than just Spike Lee when he exploded and torched the New York Knicks for 54 points.

It’s unclear which part of his stellar play was most impressive. In addition to shooting 11-13 from three point range, Curry added six rebounds, and seven assists. The stat line doesn’t show how hard he had to work to score. Regardless of some open looks in the second quarter, as the game wore on, the Knicks made adjustments to double-team and trap Curry. Crafty ball handling helped Curry navigate to open space, and timely passes found teammates in scoring position. After such a complete game, fans can’t help but wonder is Curry ready to burden the weight of superstardom?

Many of the league’s best players have erupted for high scoring games in Madison Square Garden: Kobe Bryant tallied 61 points in 2009, and LeBron shadowed those efforts scoring 52 points just two days later.

“It is the best place on Earth to play an NBA basketball game. I’m mean it’s the Mecca. Everyone that plays loves playing in the Garden,” said former San Antonio Spur, Bruce Bowen, in a post-game analysis.

Both Kobe and LeBron led their teams to victory on their respective nights, but Curry’s efforts resulted in a loss.Yet, losing only diminished Curry’s efforts in the team’s win-loss column.

Curry’s unconscious shooting captured the attention of many NBA aficionados, while garnering newfound respect from opposing players and even coaches that may have slighted him of his first all-star appearance. After all, how often does a crowd cheer somebody on when they’re dropping buckets on their beloved home team?

Curry is no stranger to carrying a team. He catapulted the Davidson Wildcat’s Cinderella title run leading his team in scoring to the tune of 28.6 points per game. Keep in mind that a college game lasts 40 minutes, which is eight minutes less than an NBA game.

Nobody know’s what had Curry so fired up. Maybe he knew his team needed his aggressive scoring mentality and leadership in the midst of David Lee’s suspension, or maybe because his pockets were $35,000 lighter from a fine passed down by the league office for his minor role in a skirmish with the Pacers. Nevertheless, Curry was on fire.

Granted Curry’s ankles might not support the weight of superstardom,  his shoulders demonstrate a pure shooting stroke, leadership, and fearless play  that  foreshadows a boundless future.

Ironically, Curry penned “I can do all things” on the toe of his flamboyant, electric blue and gold shoes. He scored 54 points, kept his teammates involved and entertained the audience by showing a portion of his personality as he shimmied down the court in celebratory ode to coach Mark Jackson. Last night Curry may have become an NBA superstar, and he did do “all things” – except win.

I can do all things.

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NFL Week 9 Review: The Good

Normally disappointment litters the NFL each week, but after thorough search, I didn’t find many stories to fit the bad and ugly categories. So, this edition of my NFL weekly review will focus on breakout performances and achievements.

The Good:

Doug-ie Martin/There’s no place like home

Cruz has the Salsa, I have the Dougie

Last week I alerted NFL fans to pay particular attention to Doug Martin after 214 yards of total offense against the Vikings.  As expected, this week Martin taxed the Raiders’ defense for a career-high and  franchise-record 251 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Martin scored TD runs of 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to record three TD runs of at least 45 yards in a game. His 24 direct points exceeded 17 teams point output, and his 220 yards in the second half crushes his previous rushing records. Ironically enough, last week, I jokingly asked Martin to teach us how to Dougie, so he did after a big touchdown run this week. This performance was a classic homecoming story as Martin roots stem from Oakland and he returned to California with people present. He reportedly had  more than 60 family members and friends in attendance witnessing him singlehandedly dismantle a defense. Final Score: Doug Martin and the Buccs 42, Raiders32.

Charles Tillman and the Bears Defense

Taking candy from a baby

One Chicago Bears player forced four fumbles this week. I bet if you had a guess your first, and most fitting, vote would go to Brian Urlacher. Surprisingly cornerback Charles Tillman was the culprit responsible for continuously separating offensive players from the football, including a strip on the Titans first offensive play from scrimmage. Yet, impressive defense didn’t stop there. Urlacher housed a 46-yard interception, giving the Bears defense a TD in 3 consecutive weeks raising their total to 5. The special teams unit followed suit by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown. Their defense was impeccable and made the Titans appear small. A gargantuan defensive efforts almost makes a person forget the Bears scored 51 points this week. Final Score: Bears 51, Titans 20.

Lucky or good?

Loading up

Adding the highly touted number one draft pick, Andrew Luck, didn’t raise Colts’ expectations entering this season while beginning the post Manning era. Yet, the performance of Andrew Luck has the Colts comfortably sitting at 5-3, actively chasing a playoff berth. Luck led the Colts to victory throwing for a rookie-record 433 passing yards, barely breaking Cam Newton’s record of 432 yards from last season. Luck’s poise and ability to command the pocket confirms that he’ more about skill than luck. I almost mistook Luck as Manning running the Colts’ offense. Check their numbers, you’ll be surprised. Both Luck and Manning have 2,404 passing yards on the season. Final Score: Colts 23, Dolphins 20.

Fire Marshall

Sit down kid

Statistically speaking, two receivers had more yards than Bears wide out Brandon Marshall in week 9, but neither of those receivers hauled in a TD pass, let alone 3. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s chemistry hasn’t digressed from their Bronco days. In essence, Marshall classifies as a poor man’s Calvin Johnson. Marshall capabilities extend to every intangible Johnson has, but he may not be as fast or jump as high. Yet I’d argue that he’s just a strong, may be more physical, and his hands are just as sure. He helped complete a franchise day in Bears history, catching Chicago’s fourth TD of the first quarter for 28 points.

Adrian Peterson returns to form

Drink more of that and you’ll be good.

The NFL’s most physical runner appears to have gotten his mojo back after a 2011 MCL tear. Everybody knows AP is the most violent runner the league has to offer. His game-breaking speed and agility coupled with ferocious strength makes AP one of the league’s most formidable opponents. Seattle came in as one of the most physical and stingiest rush defenses in the NFL, and AP has struggled to tally consistent numbers Sunday, none of that mattered as AP totaled two TDs and 182 yards, averaging 10.7 yards a carry. His longest run of the day came on a 74 yard sideline sprint, where AP suddenly cut inside, between two defenders, and was walked down inside the 5-yard line. It’s clear to see AP’s leg strength and agility has returned. Stay watchful for improvements in his conditioning. Once it returns, he will resume duties as a game-breaking force. Seahawks 30, Vikings 20.

NFL Week 8 Review: The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good:

Falcons fly high

Where’s the defense?

Atlanta remains as the only unbeaten team, and had to beat the odds to do so. Philly’s coach, Andy Reid, had never lost coming off of a bye week since he took leadership 1999. Many thought that a well-rested Eagles team might sneak up and deliver Atlanta their first loss of the season, especially since they were the Falcon’s first opponent with a winning record, but that didn’t happen. Atlanta broke out the gates early and never slowed their pace. Matty Ice delivered one of his most impressive games this season, completing 76% of his passes for 262 yards and three TDs. He displayed great pocket presence and linked up with Julio Jones on a 63-yard bomb. Overall the Falcons offense looked completely synced as their aerial attack led to scores on their first six drives. Final score: Falcons 30, Eagles 17

Teach me how to Dougie

“These Ninjas can’t hold me back!”

Doug Martin, running back for Tampa Bay, absolutely danced on the Vikings defense and totaled the best numbers of his short, rookie career. Martin found holes in the Vikings defense, and when there weren’t holes he shifted to create them. In total, Martin tallied 214 total yards, 135 of which were rushing. He displayed patience, balance and speed as he accounted for the majority of Tampa Bay’s offense and statistically lead in rushing and receiving. Watch out for him in future because this didn’t appear to be a fluke game. Final Score: Buccs 36, Vikings 17

Lone star

“The Redskins could have used me.”

Dallas didn’t have much to cheer about after an extremely painful loss to the Giants, but there was one bright spot. Overall, Dallas’ offense failed to produce, as expected under Romo’s leadership, but Jason Witten consistently performed. Hauling in 18 receptions, Witten set a NFL record for tight ends and broke the Cowboys team record he previously set. Those 18 receptions led to 167 yards. Witten continues to solidify his position as the best TE in Cowboys history, and a game of this magnitude was highly unexpected considering the many drops he had while returning from injury earlier this season.

The Bad 

St. Louis gets rammed in England

“We came all the way to London for this?”

Rapid rise in NFL popularity lead to international games played in London for the past few years. Fans in London appreciate the games, but I’m not so sure they’re satisfied with the product they received this year. New England felt right at home and blasted the Rams in epic fashion. From the Rams standpoint, how do you fold and give up 45 points? At some point integrity should kick in and lead to better play, yet they were just going through the motions. How can they help further the NFL brand when their product was equivalent to a flag football team? Final Score: Patriots 45, Rams 7

Butterfingers

RG3 had every right to be the most frustrated player this week. His Redskins were over-matched by a tough Steelers team and played like they believed it. Griffin stayed in the pocket and delivered several passes to his receiver’s hands, yet many passes fell to the turf. RG3 completed 16 of 34 passes, which is definitely something to frown upon, but his receivers dropped 10 passes. Consider the difference these drops could have made in potential scoring drives or maintaining offensive momentum. The Skins apparently had a popcorn party before the game. Everybody arrived with butterfingers.  I think its permissible to allow their receivers to wear Stick Em. Final Score: Steelers 27, Redskins 12

The Ugly

Retros

Pittsburgh decided to sport a vintage look… and it failed miserably. There aren’t enough words to describe how appalling their jersey’s looked. They were the 1934 edition for a reason and should have been left in the past. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a bumblebee documentary or watching convicts form a modern version of the gridiron gang.

NFL Week 4 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Return of the refs

Who ever would have thought refs would be applauded?

Finally, the much awaited return of official referees arrived. Fans had to endure 3 weeks of replacement refs’ horrendous officiating: extra timeouts, free touchdowns, excessive defensive pass interference calls, phantom holding calls, etc– the list goes on. Fortunately, for fans’ sake, the Packers served as martyrs protecting the games’ integrity. Fans greeted regular officials with an explosion of cheers and a generous standing ovation upon returning during Thursday night’s football game. Final outcome: Better officiating, although not by much.

Last week: flat line, this week: Hartline and Tannehill revived in a Dolphins’ loss

Diving for every yard: The difference between 250 and 253.

Who is Brian Hartline? Since I’m sure you don’t know, he is the Miami Dolphins receiver that absolutely exploded in week 4. Hartline snagged 12 receptions for a Dolphins record of 253 yards and a touchdown. Yes, 253 yards, and that wasn’t a typo. In weeks 1-3 Hartline totaled 202 yards and no TDs, so he more than doubled his season’s production. If he’s available in your fantasy league, pick him up! He might be the perfect addition to fit your flex position until we’re sure he can produce consistently.

Hartline helped springboard his QB, Ryan Tannehill, to a record-setting day in his young, rookie career. Tannehill accrued 431 passing yards, although the effort came in a tough, overtime loss to ball hawking Arizona Cardinals. The confidence Tannehill gained will be helpful going forward, although he threw twice as many interceptions as TDs (2-1). Final Score: Cardinals 24, Dolphins 21.

Patriots go Buffalo hunting

Everybody’s involved.

New England appeared doomed by stagnant offense as the Buffalo Bills took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. It seemed like they would lose to another middling team and drop to 1-3 for the season. Then, they mounted up, grabbed their muskets and went Buffalo hunting. New England abused Jacksonville’s defense, running off 42 unanswered points. If any team struggles to play offense, they should watch this game’s tape. Players contributed from all positions. Two running backs, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, rushed for over 100 yards and combined for 3 TDs. Wide receiver, Welker, and tight end, Gronkowski, also added 100 yard games. It looked like a practice scrimmage at game speed because tackles weren’t made. Buffalo’s lackluster players insinuated a quitter’s mentality,which just may have led to New England finding their mojo. Final Score: New England 52, Bills 28

The bad & Ugly Combined:

Oh no! Romo

#47’s Reaction insinuates this was one of the housed interceptions.

The only people not saying “oh no” when Romo recklessly flung the ball was Chicago’s defense, who eagerly awaited every opportunity. Romo threw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 INTs, tying the most in his career. Although Romo sported a Cowboys uniform, he was the Bears’ best player. Two of his interceptions were housed. Dallas scored 18 points, so Chicago technically needed one offensive touchdown to win. Romo’s questionable decision-making unraveled any chance Dallas had of winning. Usually Tony “No Show” has the patience to wait and save his awful games for playoff stretches, but why wait? Why not come out and stink it up on Monday Night Football when everybody is watching? Final Score: Cowboys 18, Romo and the Bears 34.

Grounded Jets couldn’t take flight

Another grounded “Jet” that couldn’t fly.

Have you ever gotten a “whuppin” for doing something you weren’t supposed to? Apparently the Jets are familiar with this feeling. Jets were created to fly, but their parents, the 49ers, grounded them and never allowed them to take flight. Was this great defense, or bad offense? Good defense leads to bad offense, so let’s assume both took place. Bottom line, New York couldn’t muster a single point – Zero, zilch, nada! After all, they only generated 145 yards of total offense, so at best they were in scoring position one time. One more week of this and the New York Fans will be chanting “TEBOW, TEBOW, TEBOW!” The prodigal return of the Jesus Quarterback is inevitable. Final Score: Jets 0, 49ers 34

Once again, the Raiders

That expression says it all.

I’m kinda tired of the Raiders landing here every week. One week after giving them praise, I’m back to blasting them again. Whats wrong in Oakland? Who’s to blame for their lack of competing? Injuries can’t excuse playing this poorly. The Denver Broncos hadn’t scored a first quarter TD this season until playing Oakland, who relinquished 10 first quarter points. Oakland lacked everything necessary to compete: confidence, tenacity and energy. Denver limited star running back, Darren McFadden (Run DMC), to 34 yards on 13 carries. Simple math confirms that’s less than three yards per carry. McFadden is supposed to break or allude tackles, not make tackles. Oakland’s sloppy arm tackling allows opponents to stretch five yard plays to 25+ yards. Big play threats always loom. The coaching staff must assume onus for this. We know they aren’t supposed to make tackles, but they are responsible for coaching discipline and fundamental principles like wrapping up. I have more to say, but I’m sure they will give me an opportunity to do so next week, so I’ll close with a quote from Carson Palmer, “It was nothing more than a good, old-fashioned butt-whupping.” Final Score: Raiders 6, Broncos 37.

NFL Week 3 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Win now, cry later

An emotional Torrey Smith celebrating TD

Torrey Smith’s emotionally infused play lifted his team to victory. After an early morning call informed Smith that his 19-year-old brother, Tevin, had been killed in a motorcycle accident, Torrey opted to stick with the team for Sunday Night Football against the Patriots. Tears rolled down Smith’s face early in the game as football didn’t distract him from his brother’s death. Instead, Smith managed to channel that emotion into fierce football play. Smith grabbed everything that was thrown his direction: snatching six receptions, 120 yards and two TDs, contributing to Baltimore edging New England with a game winning field goal. Final Score: Ravens 31, Patriots 30.

Jamaal Charles shows that once again the Saints ain’t play defense

sAint tackling me!

If you didn’t notice Jamaal Charles’ name has an extra “A,” why, because he’s just that awesome. Last season Charles injured his ACL in week one and sat out the entire season. A slow start had many Charles supporters questioning if he could manifest the potential displayed in previous seasons because he’s struggled to find rhythm totaling 90 yards on 24 carries in the first two weeks of this season. Right when people began to write him off, Charles taxed the Saints’ atrocious run defense for 233 yards and a TD. There isn’t a need for statistical backing to illustrate how terrible the Saints have been, but to make it quick: 2 Quarterbacks, not running backs, achieved career-high rushing yardage this year vs. the Saints, and they’ve given up over 100 points in three weeks. Final Score: Chiefs 27, Saints 24.

80 yards to victory

Shorts stretching to break the plane

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the NFL’s doormats in recent years, but this wasn’t the case on Sunday. Andrew Luck had just led the Colts down the field for a Vinatieri field goal that seemingly doomed Jacksonville to a fate they’re all too familiar with– losing. Everybody believed the Jags would lose except for quarterback Blaine Gabbert who said, “I told the guys going out onto the field, We’re going to win. Right here, right now.” The following play Gabbert connected with Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard TD catch and run that sealed the game. Final Score: Jaguars 22, Colts 17.

Raider’s steal one from Steelers

Janikowski celebrating game winning FG

Last week I jokingly stated that the disorganized Raiders risked compiling an 0-16 record. This week, I have no problem eating those words. It appeared that my prophecy might remain on track, but Oakland dug deep, took a page from Pittsburg’s book, and racked off 13 unanswered fourth quarter points to seize the game as time expired. Beating the Steelers, one of the NFL’s elite teams, might be exactly what Oakland needed to separate from their losing ways and jumpstart their season, especially since Roethlisberger threw for 384 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Final Score: Raiders 34, Steelers 31.

The Bad & Ugly Combined:

Its official, the replacement officials are terrible

Ref on left: touchback. Ref on right: touchdown

Week after week the replacement refs’ terrible calls catastrophically affect the outcome of games. This week has been no different. There’s an array of available examples to illustrate this point, but none will cause more upheaval than the last second jump ball of the Seahawks-Packers game. First, the officials missed Golden Tate’s blatant offensive pass interference when he pushed Sam Shields down. Secondly, it’s clear that the Packers defender possessed the ball before what some believed was a simultaneous catch. Tate, the receiver on the play, appeared to have only one hand/arm on the ball as the defender came to the ground. One official signaled touchdown, and another signaled touchback. Green Bay had this game taken from them, and before the lockout ends, the playoff picture will be greatly skewed. If the referee lockout doesn’t end this week, don’t be surprised when the replacement refs appear on the “ugly” list next week. Final Score: Seahawks 14, Packers 12.

Eagles’ offensive line has been defenses best friend

Need i say more?

Mike Vick has possibly been criticized more than any player in the NFL this year, but it’s becoming clear that more of his criticism should be shared with a few teammates. Vick’s offensive line refuses to give him time to drop back and survey the field before a defender breaks through and threatens to bruise his ribs again. It’s incomprehensible how the same linemen can zone block and create holes for a running back, but can’t give their quarterback more than 2 seconds before he’s forced to break containment, or is simply knocked on his ass. Their lack of protection ensure it’s only a matter of time before Vick sustains another injury from hanging in the pocket and getting blasted by a 300-pound lineman. Final Score: Cardinals 27, Eagles 6.

Superman Cam encounters kryptonite coated Giants

Sideline behavior

Dejected, frustrated and battered; what do these words have in common other than ending with –ed? They’re all adjectives to describe Cam Newton’s sideline demeanor/composure as he helplessly watched New York’s bench players, Ramses Barden and Andre Brown, dismantle his defense. Yet, each time Cam took the field, disaster struck. The Giants arguably have the best defensive line in football, and their relentless pressure forced Cam to throw three INTs. If Cam is Superman, then the Giants’ defense is an oversized barrel of kryptonite. Final Score: Giants 36, Panthers 7.

This poll was a no brainer

NFL Week 2 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Gigantic trio

Dancing on the defense.

Following a turnover ridden first half, The Giants offense exploded with an outpour of epic proportions. Tampa Bay frustrated Eli Manning into three first half interceptions, which translated into an 11-point halftime lead. Then, magic took place. Manning passed for 295 yards and 3 TDs, in the second half alone, which represented a portion of his career-high 510 passing yards. Victor Cruz torched Tampa Bay for 11 receptions, 179 yards and a TD, and Hakeem Nicks’ sure hands hauled in 10 catches, 199 yards and a TD. Overall, New York amassed 604 total yards, which can’t bode well for Tampa Bay’s team defense stats. The Giants’ wide receivers literally danced all over the Bucs’ defense as Cruz displayed his signature Salsa, after grabbing an 80-yard bomb. Final Score: Giants 41, Buccaneers 34.

Green Bay’s “bar-Bear-ic” defense

Tramon Williams #38, Clay Matthews #52

Last week Chicago scored 41 points, but that was against an invisible Colts defense, not the Green Bay Packers. A stingy Packers defense frustrated Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler, to no end sacking him seven times (hit many more), and forcing four interceptions. Linebacker Clay Mattews had 3.5 sacks, and cornerback Tramon Williams was responsible for two INTs. Cutler’s body language was obviously negative, and he barked at a teammate for missing blocks. Regardless, the Bears only generated 168 yards of total offense as the Pack’ swarmed to the ball all night. In fact, the Bears didn’t score their first TD until the fourth quarter when the Packers had clearly secured the game. Final score: Packers 23, Bears 10

The Bad:

New Orleans’ broken levee defense

Newton: Saints (s)Aint play no defense

New Orleans’ defense has been extremely porous this season conceding 75 points and 924 yards of total offense in two games. One week after tying a franchise low, 10 yards to Tampa Bay, the Carolina Panthers poured in 219 rushing yards against a permeable Saints defense. Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for a career-high 71 yards on 13 attempts complemented by 148 yards from the remaining rushing core: mainly DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Even if the Saints revived the bounty system they had going last season, it wouldn’t be enough to spark their problematic defense. Bigger problems loom if the 0-2 Saints can’t defeat mediocre teams (Redskins and Panthers), because the offensively potent Falcons appear ready to take the NFC South division title. Final Score: Panthers 35, Saints 27.

Patriots lose to clipped, winged Cardinals

Gostkowski lays in agony, Cards celebrate

I’d like to say that the Cardinals beat the Patriots, but that simply isn’t true because the Patriots beat themselves. The Cardinals literally fumbled a win into New England’s possession, and the Pats’ couldn’t capitalize. Ryan Williams fumbled at the Cardinals 30-yard line, and Vince Wilfork recovered, which put the Pats’ in instant scoring position. The Pats’ gained six yards setting up a 42-yard field goal after a TD was called back for holding. Stephen Gostkowski, shanked the kick so far left that it completely missed the retention net. Despite the Patriot’s sloppy play, they could have, and should have, beat the low flying Cardinals operating under their backup quarterback. Final Score: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18.

The Ugly:

The Raiders…enough said

Bush eludes Raider’s tackler

The Raiders managed to avoid the “ugly” list last week because they were apart of Monday Night Football, but this week they weren’t so lucky. Oakland alone has been responsible for at least 50% of head-scratching moments this season. An atrocious special team, nonexistent offense and pervious defense have pretty much ensured that the Raiders have the potential of going 0-16 this year, especially since their offense relies very heavily on an injury riddled Darren McFadden. Let’s look at the facts. Miami, yes the Dolphins, out rushed Oakland 263-23 led by Reggie Bush’s 172 yards accumulated by a combination of shifty moves and poor tackling. Secondly, the Raiders managed to convert a menial 1-12 on third down conversions. Lastly, they didn’t force any turnovers. The first turnover they might force is one of their head coach’s job. At this rate, they might make the ugly list every week.

Josh Morgan’s literally throws away chance to win

New definition of “throwing the game”

Josh Morgan made a boneheaded decision late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins-Rams game by throwing the ball at an opposing player. As Washington was driving down the field attempting to tie or take the lead, Morgan caught a pass and valiantly attempted to fight his way out of bounds on third down. After rising from the tackle, Cortland Finnegan, whose reputation as a dirty player precedes him, shoved Morgan’s helmet. Morgan, emotional and frustrated, retaliated by throwing the football at Finnegan prompting a 15-yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty, which moved the ensuing 37-yard field goal attempt to 62 yards. Cundiff missed the kick, as expected. It’s shameful that a reckless disregard may have caused the Redskins their first loss of the season. Final score: Rams 31, Redskins 28.

NFL Week 1 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Robert Griffin’s stellar debut rookie performance

RG3 watches 1st TD from best “seat” in stadium.

RG3 instantly proved why Washington made the correct selection with the second overall pick of the draft. Debuting versus the New Orleans Saints, Griffin threw two touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 19 of 26 passes for 320 yards, which ranks fourth in NFL history for rookie debut performances. Griffin led the NFL with a 139.9 passer rating and catalyzed the Redskins offense by completing his first eight passing attempts, including an 88-yard TD strike to Pierre Garcon completing Griffin’s first career TD pass.

Peyton Manning returns to football, hits milestone

Manning as a Bronco

611 days have passed since Manning last appeared in a NFL game, but it seemed like he never missed a game. After a slow start in the first half, Manning paralleled prime, Colts form and delivered a 71-yard TD pass to Demaryius Thomas. One pass served two purposes; Manning’s first TD pass as a member of the Denver Broncos, and the 400th TD pass of his career. Peyton reached the 400 TD milestone in 208 career games, which is faster than Dan Marino (227), and Brett Favre (228).

Offensive explosions

Five teams (Jets, Ravens, Bears, Falcons, and Redskins) set scoreboards ablaze this week scoring 40 or more points. There’s not a single NFL analyst that would have predicted any of those teams to explode in such dramatic fashion. Only the Saints or Patriots offer any promise with their highly potent offenses, and both teams landed in the 30 point range. In addition to the Saints and Patriots, three other organizations (Texans, 49ers, and Broncos)  scored a minimum of 30 points.

Football began midweek

Kevin Ogletree #85

Football beginning midweek appeased many fans. Why, because fans didn’t have to impatiently suffer through another  workweek while simultaneously awaiting football’s return. Not only did football’s start move forward to Wednesday from traditional Thursday, but a highly competitive game took place. America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys, edged the reigning Superbowl champion New York Giants 24-17, behind a well-balanced attacked headlined by Kevin Ogletree. If you don’t know who he is, you’re sure to find out when he plays your favorite team.

The Bad:

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns

This game was absolutely atrocious. Nine turnovers occurred during the exhibition, eight interceptions and one fumble lost. Yet, this wasn’t entirely due to good defense.  Sloppy offensive play brought more yawns and disinterest than cheers and excitement. Combined, both teams offered a meager 10 of 23 on third conversions, which subtracted fluidity from the game. Neither quarterback completed 55% of their passes, and that’s not asking much. Vick completed roughly 52% of his passes, and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden converted 34% of his passes. Weeden recorded an abysmal  5.1 quarterback rating. At best 5.1 would classify as intermediate on the Richter Scale, but in football that’s equivalent to not showing up. The game was just awful.

Multiple quarterbacks threw multiple interceptions

Nine quarterbacks threw two or more interceptions in week 1. Some of the league’s best quarterbacks were better fit delivering the ball to opposing teams. Matthew Stafford (3), Drew Brees (2),  Cam Newton (2), and promising, potential possessing Andrew Luck (3), headlined a list of quarterbacks who just couldn’t control the ball.

Saints lost to Redskins

Simply put, New Orleans was supposed to beat the Redskins. From top to bottom, the Saints roster and talent level greatly exceeds the Redskins’, even with RG3’s stellar performance. New Orleans desperately needed a win to keep last season’s bounty scandal in the past. Critics promptly began commenting on the immediate ramifications of Sean Payton’s year-long suspension and questioned locker room cohesion.

Replacement Referees

Free timeouts awarded

Negotiations between the NFL and officials continues stalemating, so the NFL began week 1 with replacement referees officiating. Replacement refs made huge bobbles at critical times. In the Giants-Cowboys season opener, the refs missed a blatant hold by Orlando Scandrick that prevented New York from scoring a touchdown. Had the proper call been made, the Giants would have received four more downs to score a touchdown while at the goal line. Also,  in the Cardinals-Seahawks’ 4th quarter, the refs awarded Seattle a fourth timeout in the final two minutes. Lastly, in Monday Night’s game, the refs ruled a touchdown on Anquan Boldin’s deep catch where he didn’t control the ball “through the ground.”  We need primary officiating back, but sadly enough, the NFL has scheduled replacement officials through week five.

The Ugly:

Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden’s hosted an interception fest.

That was probably an interception.

At times it seemed like Vick and Weeden tried to outdo each other and prematurely lead the NFL in interceptions. Poor judgement littered both quarterbacks’ play. It’s never a good idea to attempt squeezing throws between double or triple coverage, yet both quarterbacks insisted on doing so. Weeden has an excuse. Fans tolerate rookies struggling to adjust to NFL game speed, especially in week 1, but what’s Vick’s excuse? He’s a Pro Bowl quarterback with a $100M contract who fumbled twice in addition to his four pics. There’s no excuse for that. I bet if he lost $100,000 for every subsequent turnover, Vick would display better judgement and secure the tightly while scrambling.

Cincinnati’s Monday Night Performance

Bengals 13, Ravens 44

Fortunately, the NFL scheduled two Monday night games this past week, because the first didn’t offer any competition. The Bengals came out and got their stripes stripped by the soaring Baltimore Ravens. Last season the Bengals had one of the top rated defenses, but that’s easily forgotten when the Raven’s complete a 52-yard bomb on their first play from scrimmage.  A poor, almost cowardly performance, was all the Bengals offered. Just like fans watching from home, the Bengals couldn’t wait for the clock to show triple zeros.

Falcons lost Brent Grimes for season

Brent Grimes #20

In the midst of routing the Kansas City Chiefs, the Falcons lost Pro Bowl, cover corner Brent Grimes to a season-ending injury. Grimes sustained a devastating achilles tendon tear that requires surgery, sidelining him for the remainder of the season. This is a huge hit to the Superbowl hopeful Falcons.

Chad Johnson released by Dolphins

Chad Johnson

Less than 24 hours after arrested on domestic violence charges, the Miami Dolphins released Chad Johnson

Apparently Johnson’s roster spot wasn’t secure.

First-year head coach Joe Philbin said Johnson’s roster spot could be in jeopardy if he didn’t moderate his erratic behavior. Coach Philbin disliked how Johnson used profanity while speaking with reporters.

Johnson, released on $2,500 bond, was charged with a misdemeanor for simple domestic battery. So far, only a no contact order has been issued, according to defense attorney Adam Swickle.

Johnson’s wife, Lozada, confronted him in front of their home after finding a receipt for recently purchased condoms while unloading groceries from the trunk. A discussion followed and Johnson got upset and head-butted Lozada, according the affidavit. The document also reports a 3-inch cut on Lozada’s forehead. Johnson didn’t have any bruises.

After conducting interviews with both parties involved, the dispatched officer charged Johnson with simple domestic battery.

Worst case scenario, Johnson faces a maximum punishment of one year jail time coupled with a $1,000 fine. Minimum consequences entail community service, probation, anger management classes or a combination of the listed penalties.

Information from ESPN was used in this report.

Dwight Howard headed to Hollywood

Dwight Howard’s look as a Laker

ESPN’s Marc Stein confirms that Dwight Howard is heading to Los Angeles.

Late Thursday night, news broke that Howard will become a Laker by way of a four-team trade involving the Lakers, Magic, Nuggets and 76ers. The main stipulations are as follows: obviously the Lakers receive Dwight Howard, Denver gets Andre Igoudala, Philadelphia obtains the services of Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum, and finally, Orlando acquires Al Harrington, Aaron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and a protected future first-round pick from the other three teams (Lakers, 76ers, and Nuggets) involved.

A trade call has been scheduled Friday with the NBA league office to assure that deal goes official, according to Marc Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne.

Ironically enough, the Lakers managed to keep Pau Gasol on their active roster. His name repeatedly floated in and out of trade talks, and initial reports penciled his destination in Orlando.

On the other hand, the Lakers agreed to move Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia. The 76ers are willing to gamble with the possibility of Bynum opting out of his contract after the coming season. Bynum grew up approximately one hour outside of Philly in Plainsboro, New Jersey.

Throughout the offseason Bynum has maintained that he wouldn’t sign an extension with any team but the Lakers. Returning close to home may help sway his decision, but Bynum now has the option of signing a three-year, $60 million extension with the 76ers, or become a free agent and potentially ink a max, five-year deal worth $102 million.

The Howard saga has been an ongoing issue since last season when he wavered between desires of staying in Orland and requests of being traded. In recent weeks Howard steadily expressed that if he wasn’t traded he would test free agency.

Los Angeles has a potential dilemma similar to the Bynum situation in Philly. The Lakers have no assurance that Howard will agree to a new deal after this season, but have expressed beliefs that he (Howard) will stay upon experiencing a championship culture.

Although all parties involved agreed to the conditions, the deal won’t become official until the league office verifies. So, barring another intervention by Commissioner David Stern, the Dwight Howard episode will end with him sporting the Laker’s purple and gold next season alongside Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pau Gasol.

Terrell Owens agrees to deal with Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks and Terrell Owens agree to a one-year deal worth one million dollars.

Terrell Owens

Owens displayed impressive physical conditioning during a workout for the Seahawks yesterday, Monday, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds.

Although Owens didn’t play in the NFL last year, he produced impressive numbers while playing in the Indoor Football League where he recorded 420 yards, 10 touchdowns and 35 receptions in eight games. He was later released due to outlandish conduct, lack of focus, and being an overall distraction from the team.  Owens also failed to appear at a charity event, which seemed to be the final mishap before the Allen Wranglers relieved him of his services.

The current 38-year-old Owens produced 983 yards, 72 catches and nine touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2010-2011 season. He outshined teammate Chad Ochocinco before sustaining a leg injury (ACL), which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Owens age and one-year hiatus from NFL football raises a reg flag. Seattle hopes their risky move will pay off.

Braylon Edwards

Now, from a Seahawks perspective, Owens will hopefully generate production for a sub-par passing offense . He’s expected to relieve some of the workload placed on primary receiver Sydney Rice. Seattle also signed/added former 49er Braylon Edwards hoping  to bolster its passing attack. Edwards has also been a distraction for former teams and has subsequently bounced around the league previously playing for the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers.

Seattle’s receiving core will have a new look. Mike Williams and Antonio Bryant were released, and Golden Tate and Ben Obomanu have apparently been moved down the depth chart to make room for Owens and Edwards. Offensive juggernaut and head coach Pete Carroll loves an aeronautical attack and wanted to add another tall,  physical receiver to the team, especially since star running back Marshawn Lynch will begin the season suspended from an off-field arrest for DUI. Owens who stands  6-foot-3 and still possess big play capability should mesh nicely with the offense barring distractions.