Sports Archives - Page 5 of 297 - SaintPetersBlog

Patriots’ Tom Brady is immortal after winning his fifth Super Bowl

The drive of the ages.

The comeback of the ages.

The quarterback of the ages.

Now, does anyone want to talk about anyone else but Tom Brady?

Brady’s fifth Super Bowl – more than anyone else has ever won – came in a classic style Sunday night. He overcame a record 25-point deficit. He endured the first-ever overtime at a Super Bowl. And he led the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl victory.

“You know, we all brought each other back,” Brady said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle. They have a great team. I give them a lot of credit. We just made a few more plays than them.”

The Patriots came from behind – 21-0 and 28-3 – to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28. The Patriots scored the last 31 points in a row to beat Atlanta.

Brady threw the ball an amazing 62 times, completing 43 for 466 yards in the comeback.

It was a complete reversal from the first half, when the Falcons seemed on the verge of a blowout. Matt Ryan threw for 266 yards and two scores, but he couldn’t get enough going in the second half.

The Falcons took a 21-0 lead on a five-yard run by Devonta Freeman, a 19-yard pass from Ryan to Austin Hooper and a 82-yard interception return by Robert Alford. After a Patriots field goal at the end of the first half, the Falcons went up 28-3 on a six-yard pass from Ryan to Tevin Coleman early in the third quarter.

But with just over two minutes to go in the third period, the Patriots began to show life. Brady hit James White for a five-yard score to make it 28-9 (Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point).

In the fourth period, Gostkowski hit a 33-yard field goal, Danny Amendola caught a six-yard touchdown from Brady and White scored a one-yard touchdown. The Patriots scored  two two-point conversions to tie the game.

In overtime, Brady led his team on an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. White scored the winning touchdown on a two-yard run.

White caught 14 passes for 110 yards in the victory.

Atlanta kept the ball for only 23 minutes and 27 seconds. The Patriots had it for more than 40 minutes. Part of the reason was the Falcons converted only one of eight third downs.

The Falcons had a chance to lock up the game in the third period. After Julio Jones made a nice catch, all the Falcons had to do was run the ball three times to make the Pats use time-outs and then kick a field goal for an 11-point lead. Instead, Ryan was sacked and the Falcons ended up punting.

In the post-game, commissioner Roger Goodell presented the Lombardi Trophy to Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, who he had clashed with after suspending Brady for four games.

“Two years ago, we won our fourth Super Bowl down in Arizona,” Kraft said after receiving the Vince Lombardi Trophy from  Goodell. “I told our fans that was the sweetest one of all. But a lot has transpired during the last two years. I don’t think that needs any explanation. But I want to say to our fans, our brilliant coaching staff, our amazing players who are so spectacular, this is unequivocally the sweetest. I’m proud to say, for the fifth time, we are all Patriots.”

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Does Tom Brady need a 5th ring to be declared best ever?

He may not have the precision of Joe Montana, the arm of Terry Bradshaw, the grit of John Elway or the mind of Peyton Manning.

What Tom Brady does have are the numbers. And, win or lose in the Super Bowl on Sunday, he has built as strong a case as anyone that he is the greatest quarterback ever.

A Patriots victory would give Brady his fifth Super Bowl ring, and put him one notch ahead of Montana and Bradshaw for the most ever for a quarterback. But the “Greatest” debate was, in many minds, resolved even before kickoff because of these two numbers: seven Super Bowl appearances and 22 playoff wins, both records that will be difficult for anyone to catch.

“In my mind, it’s already set,” Kurt Warner said earlier in the week, before being elected to the Hall of Fame, where Brady will join him someday. “We all have different takes and different things that say someone’s the greatest. At the end of the day, he’s going to have more of these (Super Bowls) than anyone else. The fact you play in seven Super Bowls, it’s ridiculous.”

The postseason success not only represents Brady’s ability to perform when the stakes are highest, it reflects his ability to keep the Patriots in the mix during their best years, and even the seasons that aren’t so good.

Since taking over the starting position in 2001, Brady’s teams have missed the playoffs only once, in 2002 (they also missed in 2008, when Brady was injured). Since then, they have strung together double-digit-win seasons and playoff appearances every year. Brady has made mediocre rosters good, good rosters great and helped lift the great rosters to championships.

Some say he should have six rings. Brady got outplayed in two Super Bowl losses to the Giants, including in 2008, when New England was trying to close out a perfect season.

Mere quibbles in this discussion.

“As much as I love John, it’s hard to say Brady is not the greatest,” said former Broncos running back Terrell Davis, also a newly announced Hall of Famer, who teamed with Elway for two titles. “Let’s be honest there. What we’ve seen him do with rosters that other teams would’ve gone 2-14 or 3-13 with, this man has taken to championships. You can’t ignore that fact.”

Brady’s 28 touchdowns and two interceptions since he returned from his season-opening four-game suspension for “Deflategate” set the record for best TD-interception ratio in a season. He has 61,582 passing yards, which ranks him fourth all-time. He has never had a completion percentage under 60 in any season.

Though Manning won the two most recent big games between them – the 2014 and 2016 AFC title games – before heading into retirement, Brady got the best of his main rival throughout their long side-by-side careers. He won the overall series 11-6. Manning won five MVP awards to only two for Brady, but in the Super Bowl, Brady captured three of those to one for Manning. Manning closed his career with two titles; Brady’s final total: TBD.

“I’m a little biased, I had a guy for 11 years,” said Reggie Wayne, one of Manning’s favorite targets in Indianapolis. “But if Tom Brady wins this one, it’s kind of hard not to say he’s the best quarterback of all time.”

It seems like a foregone conclusion, in large part because Brady is showing no signs of wanting to step down. He turns 40 in August and has talked about wanting to play until he’s 45, or longer. He takes meticulous care of himself and, in many ways, finds that easier to do now than when he was younger.

“It gets easier because you have priorities,” he said. “If one of my priorities is to be a great quarterback, everything else falls in line.”

Willie McGinest, a teammate of Brady’s when the quarterback took over the starting job for Drew Bledsoe in 2001 – the first Super Bowl season – said Brady was prepared from Day One.

“You see guys get injured and the guy who comes in doesn’t do so well,” McGinest said. “It’s tough to do that and win football games, let alone be the best in the game from the time he took over until now.”

For years, a debate has percolated about whether Brady would be what he is without his coach, Bill Belichick, and vice versa.

Doesn’t matter, Warner says. The former Rams and Cardinals quarterback says that more than any specific throw, any single run to the championship or any one statistic Brady has compiled, he is great because he’s been great year after year, regardless of the players or sometimes-challenging circumstances surrounding him.

“We’d all love to be in one place, stay healthy and see what we could do, but we all don’t get that opportunity,” Warner said. “For him to have that opportunity and take advantage of it the way he has, you admire it. Especially when you know it’s the most difficult position in sports to play.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

A $1.1 million bet, and a lot of happy bookies in Vegas

A bettor using his phone app put $1.1 million on the Atlanta Falcons plus 3 points in the Super Bowl, part of an influx of money that could make Sunday a record day in Las Vegas sports books.

Sports books around the city said betting was strong leading up to the game, with a good chance the action will top the record $132.5 million wagered on last year’s game between Denver and Carolina.

“I wouldn’t bet against it,” said Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the Westgate Las Vegas. “It will be close, but I think we could easily set another record.”

The unidentified bettor who wagered the $1.1 million was a customer of CG Technology, which operates a string of sports books in the city. The bettor will get $2.1 million back if the Falcons win the game or lose by 1 or 2 points.

“For a Super Bowl a bet of that size is not all that unusual,” said Jason Simbal, vice president of risk for CG Technology. “Historically we’ll generally take a bet of $500,000 and up on the Super Bowl.”

Simbal said the line at his company’s books did not move on the big bet, largely because of a number of smaller bets made on the New England Patriots. He and other bookmakers said there was such strong action on both teams that the line hasn’t moved off 3 points since it was first set nearly two weeks ago.

“We’re pretty balanced, with 53 percent of the money on the Falcons,” Simbal said. “It seems like everybody else is in a similar position, too.”

At the Westgate, Kornegay said the betting line was 80 deep Saturday afternoon as bettors who had been studying the line for the last 12 days began putting money on their favorite. Kornegay said bookies were getting such good two-way action that there is almost no risk of losing money on the biggest bet game of the year.

“It’s a very comfortable booking game for us,” Kornegay said. “We pretty much know what we need to do and it’s very easy to position yourself there with not much effort.”

The situation was similar at the South Point hotel-casino, where veteran oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro was enjoying a relatively relaxing day Saturday.

“This is a bookmaker’s delight,” Vaccaro said. “We haven’t had to move one number, one side, one total or the money line.”

Nevada sports books made $13.3 million on last year’s game, which drew a record handle. That was in line with the 10 percent books charge bettors as the vigorish or “vig” as it’s known in the industry.

Bettors can wager on hundreds of so-called “props,” or proposition bets at most books that include everything from who will win the coin flip to whether the game will go to overtime. The props have taken on a life of their own in recent years, with books trying to outdo each other with new offerings.

At the William Hill string of books, one bettor wagered $500 that the Patriots would score exactly 46 points. The odds against it were 150-1, meaning the ticket would cash for $75,000 if it hit.

Another wager was $100 someone put on there being no touchdowns in the game at 500-1 odds, which would pay off $50,000.

Vaccaro, who has been running sports books in Las Vegas since the late 1970s, said he can’t remember a Super Bowl where there was almost no movement on any of the lines.

“This is as good as it gets for us,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Patriots motivated by hope of humiliating Commissioner Roger Goodell

Several storylines surround Sunday’s Super Bowl LI between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are going for their fifth Lombardi Trophy while an Atlanta victory will give them their first.

After the commercials, the halftime and, of course, the game, even more intrigue possibly awaits viewers still sober enough to care. Just the mere ritual of handing off the trophy could be yet another contest.

If the Falcons prevail, Commissioner Roger Goodell and owner Arthur Blank will have a photo op full of smiles showing natural elation for Blank and relief for Goodell. If it’s the Patriots, owner Robert Kraft will surely exult in taking the trophy from the man who prosecuted the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady through the Deflategate controversy.

New England fans may want this trophy more than the other four. They believe, as does Kraft, that the team and Brady did nothing wrong and were unfairly punished.

They want to see Goodell squirm as he hands off the expensive hardware before hundreds of millions of viewers around the globe. This presentation is usually between the Commissioner, the owner, and the coach, but no one will be surprised if Kraft brings Brady to the ceremony should New England prevail.

There is precedent. In the 1980s, Raiders’ owner Al Davis and then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle grew to loathe one another.

Davis wished to move his team from Oakland to Los Angeles, but Rozelle and fellow owners blocked the move. Davis sued the NFL, but despite losing the lawsuit, wound up in LA a few years later.

While the Kraft/Goodell disagreement abides by the Marquis of Queensbury rules, Davis and Goodell feuded in public.

As the 1981 Super Bowl between the Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles approached, Oakland players were obsessed with seeing Rozelle in their locker room handing over the trophy to Davis.

“I want to see Rozelle in this locker room,” said Hall of Fame lineman Gene Upshaw. “I guarantee when he walks in our locker room, he’s going to get booed. And I will lead it.”

The Raiders swamped the Eagles 27-10 leading to the iconic Associated Press photo of Rozelle doing what he did not wish to do. Davis can be seen with a clenched fist totally relishing the moment.

New England is not only thinking about the post-game locker room, they have next year’s season opener on their mind. They want to force Goodell to attend their season opener to be played on a Thursday night in Foxborough, Mass. The Commissioner traditionally attends the Super Bowl Champion’s first game the following season.

If Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and company do their thing, all of this will be moot. As for the Patriots, winning another ring is solid motivation, but they will be playing for that extra motivation of seeing Roger Goodell in their locker room after the game.

Should that happen, much more commentary will come from that exchange instead of any of the Doritos or Budweiser commericals.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Edge in experience could be telling in Super Bowl

There’s no hiding it. One edge the New England Patriots have over the Atlanta Falcons in Sunday’s Super Bowl can’t be denied: experience.

It’s a factor never to be scoffed at when the AFC and NFC champions meet for the league title.

Sure, New England (16-2) has a bunch of young players – 16 with four years or less in the NFL – and the Falcons (13-5) actually have four guys who have played in a Super Bowl: Dwight Freeney, Courtney Upshaw, Dashon Goldson and Philip Wheeler. Don’t let that mislead you.

When a team has a quarterback and a coach in their seventh Super Bowl together, along with a slew of players who helped it win the championship just two years ago, well, that’s the kind of experience that can be key.

Just ask Tom Brady.

“I’ve got a good regulation of my emotions and I know when I need to get amped up and I know when I need to relax a little bit, and I think you learn those things,” said Brady, a three-time Super Bowl MVP who’s 4-2 in the game.

“You kind of have to be right on the edge. It’s such an emotional game. You don’t want to be out of control, but you can’t play with no emotion. You strike different chords for different emotions at different times.”

That might sound strange coming from a player who rarely hides his feelings on the field. Just think back to his return game in Cleveland after his four-game “Deflategate” suspension, when Brady was pumping up Patriots fans on hand during warmups.

Yet he insists Super Bowl Sunday calls for moderation in approach.

“It’s a long day,” Brady said. “I mean it’s a long day because it’s been a long week because there’s a lot of things you’re doing. You’re doing a lot more things this week than you normally do for a game week. Just to get to the game, it ends up being … a four-hour game? A longer pregame and a longer halftime, so … it ends up being 4½ to five hours.

“You’ve got to be able to have something left at the end of the game. You can’t waste it all early in the third quarter.”

A quick look back to New England’s victory over Seattle in the 2015 Super Bowl shows that Brady and the Patriots had plenty left. They rallied from a 10-point hole to win.

The Falcons aren’t discounting the edge of having been down this path. Freeney, who won a ring with Indianapolis at the 2007 game, believes the mental approach is critical.

“I was 24 or 25 or whatever I was,” he said of playing in the Colts’ victory against Chicago. “My body and everything was just on a whole different level, which is to be expected at that age.

“I think that from a mental standpoint, it’s appreciating the moment. Now it’s a little bit better, because now I realized through time it’s not something that you get to all the time.

“You have to treasure these moments, really treasure these moments and try to take a moment to take it all in. I think I can look at it from a different perspective now, which I’m not going to say means more, but in a sense it’s a little more special in a way.

“The first one is always the special one and I don’t know if this is the last one or what, but this also is special because I can look at it differently.”

There’s no looking at the stats differently, though.

Atlanta has never won an NFL crown, is in only its second Super Bowl in 51 seasons of life – a decisive loss to Denver came in 1999 – and rarely has been a contender to get this far.

Since Brady became New England’s starter, he ranks first in postseason wins (24), passing attempts (1,263), completions (788), yards (8,628) and touchdowns (61). He has the most multi-touchdown games (19) and most career 300-yard games (11) in NFL playoff history. He will also become the first player to appear in seven Super Bowls, and with a victory would have the most rings, tied with Charles Haley.

Quite the resume. Plus, his surrounding cast includes some major contributors in other Super Bowls: Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, Rob Ninkovich, Devin McCourty, Stephen Gostkowski … shall we go on?

“Our role always changes,” Brady said, “and still as a leader and as a veteran I still can express things to my younger teammates and see the things that they’re going through, and try to help them through those things because I’ve been through those things.

“I’m so on them about maximizing their potential and actualizing the things that they want to achieve because I’ve had people that really mentored me. And if I can do that for other players, I love that.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

After up and down season, Pats’ Stephen Gostkowski remains confident

Being a kicker in the NFL is hard enough.

Doing it for a New England Patriots franchise that has enjoyed some of the most clutch kicking performances in NFL playoff history is something entirely different.

Such is the position Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is in as New England prepares for what could be a close Super Bowl matchup between its No. 1 ranked offense and Atlanta’s No. 1 defense.

The Patriots have won their four Super Bowls by a total of just 13 points, and are favored by just three over the Falcons. In such a game it could come down to which team has the best kicker.

The successor to Adam Vinatieri, who was responsible for game-winning kicks in each of the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins in 2002 and 2004, Gostkowski has been a steadying force since Bill Belichick used a fourth-round pick on him in 2006.

But this season has brought uncharacteristic accuracy issues for the 33-year-old. Gostkowski missed three field goals and two extra-points in the Patriots first seven games of 2016 — his most missed field goals since 2012. The extra-point misses were also his first since his rookie season. He has eight game-winning kicks in his career, but just one in the playoffs — back in 2007. But he says his confidence is high heading into his fourth Super Bowl.

“You know the pressures of the game and you want it so bad, but it’s easy to compartmentalize and focus on doing your job instead of all the craziness around it,” he said. “If that will help me play better, good. I hope so.”

That approach has certainly worked for him over the latter part of the season. He’s missed just two field goals over the last 11 games.

In New England’s AFC championship win over Pittsburgh, Gostkowski hit three field goals to pass Vinatieri and become the franchise’s all-time leader in made playoff field goals. So no matter what happens Sunday, Gostkowski’s place in Patriots’ history is secure.

Special teams captain Matt Slater said even when his kicker was struggling early, he never worried about him getting back on track.

“I don’t think much needs to be said between Stephen and I,” Slater said. “We’ve had several conversations over the years about these types of situations and it is what it is. It’s football and things like this are going to happen.”

Even still, Gostkowski has taken the bitter with the sweet this season.

Though he’s been in several high-pressure moments since the first time he walked on an NFL field 11 years ago, there’s also still a feeling of newness.

“I’d say it’s more enjoyable,” Gostkowski said. “Because the first Super Bowl we had the whole undefeated thing going on, so it was even crazier. …My first time I wasn’t married, I had no kids. This was all I had. It was a lot harder to turn off.”

Having a wife and three kids since then served as a nice buffer much of the pageantry and deluge of media that follows a team throughout Super Bowl week.

“Now we’ve been to a couple, we’ve won one,” he said. “It’s easier to take this stuff and concentrate on the game.”

That’s the case even as the noise level may be as high as it’s ever been this time around.

Along with the usual spotlight that shines on the Patriots, they’re preparing for a Falcons’ team that is 12-0 this season when scoring 31 or more points.

The most important marker for Gostkowski entering this week, though, is that he is back to full strength of sitting a day of practice during the Patriots’ open week following the conference championship win.

“It took a while to get to feeling strong again,” he said. “Luckily all I gotta do is kick a ball.”

The Patriots are 4-1 in games decided by seven or fewer points this season. But they haven’t needed Gostkowski’s leg to pull out many of their wins.

Only one of New England’s games during the 2016 season have been decided by three points or fewer, its 23-21 season-opening win over Arizona. In that game Gostkowski connected on what proved to be the deciding 32-yard field goal with 3:44 to play in the game.

Though he thinks experience will be on his side if his number is called with the game on the line Sunday, he’s not trying to think about what might happen.

“I don’t know if you ever get comfortable. This team is just focused on playing and winning,” he said. “It all starts with coach Belichick keeping our focus on the game and our task at hand…When you do that, you simplify everything.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

At 41, Atlanta’s Matt Bryant finally makes it to Super Bowl

When Matt Bryant trots on the field to attempt a field goal, often with the game on the line, he wants his mind to be filled with nothing but positive vibes.

Sometimes, he’ll imagine he’s sitting on the floor, playing with his seven children.

“When you’re with your kids, there are no negative thoughts,” Bryant said with a wistful look. “It kind of takes the edge off the moment.”

That might come in handy Sunday, when he’ll be kicking in the biggest game of his life.

At 41, Bryant finally made it to the Super Bowl with the Atlanta Falcons.

“It’s taken a little while,” he said, grinning. “But better late than never.”

Certainly, no one in the big game is more mindful of his good fortune than Bryant, who endured a long and trying journey filled with professional setbacks and personal tragedy to become one of the oldest players in Super Bowl history.

He didn’t even get a chance to kick in the pros until he was 27, so he worked at a pawn shop and as a personal trainer to make ends meet. He’s been cut by five NFL teams, not to mention the Arena Football League’s Iowa Barnstormers. His resume includes two entities that no longer exist: NFL Europe and the United Football League.

As discouraging as all that was, it paled in comparison to what happened at home. In 2008, his 3-month-old son, Tryson, died of sudden infant death syndrome.

“You appreciate things more, especially your own children,” Bryant said Wednesday.

On the field, he’s the ultimate late bloomer.

Bryant was selected for his first Pro Bowl this season after leading the league in scoring with 158 points. He connected on 34 of 37 field goals — six of them traveling at least 50 yards — and all but one of his 57 extra-point attempts.

“He deserves it. He has deserved it before,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He’s one of the guys that we rely on in critical situations. If you can just get the ball to the number that he talks about at end-of-game situations, you just know that he’s going to put it through the pipes.”

Of course, Bryant wasn’t able to play in last weekend’s all-star game.

He’s got a far more important game in Houston.

“When we found out that he was going to be going to his first Pro Bowl, I called him and asked, ‘Matt, have you ever been to the Pro Bowl?'” Falcons coach Dan Quinn recalled.

Bryant sounded underwhelmed.

“Do you want it?” Quinn asked, a bit incredulously. “And he said, ‘Only if we’re not in the Super Bowl.’ So, way back even in December, I knew where his mindset was at.”

Rest assured, Bryant never takes anything for granted.

He’s got a firm grasp on the precariousness of a kicker’s life.

“In three seconds, you can go from living in the penthouse to the outhouse,” he said. “There’s nothing in the middle in my world.”

Bryant has come up with all sorts of mental tricks to keep himself focused. He walks around the sideline with a towel draped over his head, explaining that “it blocks out a lot of things that are around me.” In addition to his children, he often thinks of his late father when attempting a kick, remembering what a huge impact he had on his son’s life.

He’s “standing behind me, like during a baseball game when I was in high school,” Bryant said. “Instead of swinging the bat easy and hitting through the ball, he’s yelling at me to go for it, to hit it over the fence.”

For the most part, Quinn and the coaching staff leave Bryant alone.

“He’s one of the more mentally tough competitors we have on our team,” Quinn said. “One of the things I admire most about him is he treats every kick the same. So, when you see Matt in practice, when you see him go through his routine, extra points, different spots along the field when we get into Wednesdays and Thursdays at practice, every kick’s the same, every routine’s the same.”

How strong is Bryant mentally?

One day after Tryson’s funeral, Bryant suited up for Tampa Bay and booted three field goals in a victory over Green Bay.

“People ask me, ‘Did you ever think about not playing in that game?'” Bryant said. “But at the end of the day, I know I would’ve taught him to just do your best no matter what. That’s how I was able to go out there and glorify his name.”

If Sunday’s game comes down to his right foot, Bryant will be ready.

After all that he’s been through, it’s just another kick.

“It’s part of the job requirement,” he said nonchalantly. “If you really get caught up in the moment, maybe it could change something. I don’t want anything to change. I want to stay the same. Keep my head down and kick through the ball.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Julio Jones: ‘I’m capable of anything’

Julio Jones is still hearing about that stiff-arm he threw in the NFC championship game.In his eyes, it was no big deal.

“Just spur of the moment,” the Atlanta Falcons All-Pro receiver said. “I will not be denied. That’s just the way I play.”

Jones finished nine catches for 180 yards and two scores in the Falcons’ 44-21 rout of the Green Bay Packers, but the play everyone remembers came early in the second half.

After hauling in a pass over the middle from Matt Ryan, Jones cut down the sideline, broke one attempted tackled, and then defiantly swatted away Darmarious Randall with his left arm on the way to a 73-yard score.

“Anything can happen on the field,” Jones said. “I’m capable of anything.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Gators becoming state’s second basketball powerhouse

For the past month, talk of college basketball in the Sunshine State has been dominated by the Florida State Seminoles. Over the past two weeks, the Florida Gators have emphatically joined the conversation.

Saturday’s convincing 88-66 win over No. 8 Kentucky will lift a few eyebrows just a few weeks before March Madness begins. It is no exaggeration to say the Gators, ranked at No. 24 for now, overwhelmed the Wildcats in ways many thought not possible.

Kentucky came into the game averaging 91 points, but was held 25 points under that average by a swarming Gator defense. The Wildcats managed to shoot only 38 percent from the field and earned precious few second-chance points because they were outrebounded by Florida by a staggering 54-29 margin.

“Florida outplayed us, outcoached us, they did everything sideways and deserved to win,” said Kentucky Coach John Calipari.

Yes, they did, but they are far from alone. For what it’s worth, Kentucky came the closest to beating Florida during the last four games.

Since an inexplicable 68-66 home loss to Vanderbilt on January 21, Florida has beaten their last four opponents by a combined score of 371-243. Included are 35 and 32-point road wins over LSU and Oklahoma, respectively.

Following the Vanderbilt debacle, Florida’s second consecutive loss, Coach Mike White called a team meeting to lay everything on the table. At the end of what was described as a “long meeting,” White described it in positive terms.

“I think it was productive at this point,” White said. “We’ll see how much carryover it has.”

They committed to defense, but the only evidence White could provide was from practice. The proof would come, and continues to come, over the last four games that brought about complete dominance.

Kasey Hill is finally living up to the massive hype surrounding his recruitment to Florida four years ago. He has become a playmaker with a little scoring mixed in.

When Hill hits jumpers as he did on Saturday, the Gators are very dangerous. His marksmanship produced a less-than-humble response from Calipari.

“That happens against us. Guys have beer muscles,” said Calipari. “All of a sudden, they are better than they are.”

While Hill is making some outside shots, Florida would still be winning if he were shooting at 35 percent. The reason is because he is getting plenty of help from teammates at BOTH ENDS of the court.

Remember, the twin objectives of basketball is scoring and keeping the ball out of the other team’s basket. Over the past four games, the Gators are fulfilling those objectives in big ways.

Playing as hard and as well as they are makes them a threat to win the SEC regular season and tournament titles. They are now playing for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.

A huge test comes their way on Tuesday when they go to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs. In the first meeting in Gainesville on January 14, Florida came from behind to take an 80-76 win in overtime.

Florida is now tied for second place in the SEC with Kentucky at 8-2. South Carolina, who comes to Gainesville on February 21, leads with a 9-1 conference mark.

The Gators, now 18-5 overall, will finish the regular season at Kentucky on February 25.

If they are playing as well at the end of the season as they are now, they could be primed for a deep run into the Big Dance.

 

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us

Madden 17 picks Patriots

The New England Patriots will beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-24 in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

At least according to EA Sports Madden NFL 17.

A simulation run on popular game predicted the Patriots would secure the victory with a touchdown by Julian Edelman late in the fourth quarter and that Tom Brady would be named Super Bowl MVP for the fourth time.

The game also predicted both Atlanta running backs would score touchdowns in the first half, but the Patriots would hold their high-powered offense scoreless in the third quarter.

Madden has picked nine of 13 Super Bowl winners including the 2015 game, when it predicted the final score and the Patriots overcoming a 10-point, third-quarter deficit.

A game between Atlanta linebacker Vic Beasley and New England’s Martellus Bennett in Houston had a different outcome, though. Beasley’s Falcons routed Bennett’s Patriots 41-11.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Linkedin
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit
Share On Stumbleupon
Share On Youtube
Contact us
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons