Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The 1976 Buccaneers, the 2008 Detroit Lions. Both came into the Superdome in New Orleans winless, among the most embarrassing teams in NFL history. The Buccaneers needed nearly 2 whole seasons to get their first win in franchise history, the Lions went from the days of Barry Sanders to the days of Dan Orlovsky. One of them left the Big Easy with their first, and only win in front of a crowd of about 1700. It’s the Buccaneers against the Lions using Whatifsports.com’s simulator, read on!
Narrated by John Facenda:
Tampa Bay kicked off to Detroit to start the game. I have no introduction because we’re talking about 2 teams that are remarkably, historically, inconceivably awful, and I don’t want to waste my breath doing an intro. Dan Orlovsky drove the Lions down the field against that inept Buccaneers defense. A 10 play, 75 yard drive took 6:16 off the clock. Sadly, we’ve got two winless teams, and Orlovsky could not hit Sean MacDonald in the end zone and they had to settle for a field goal made by Jason Hanson. 3-0 Lions
Tampa Bay, led by Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier, responded with a bang. A combination of an aerial assault with John McKay and Morris Owens with the running attack featuring Louis Carter and Ed Williams took the Bucs all the way down to the 29 yard line of Detroit. Spurrier cleaned up the rest with a touchdown pass on the next play to John McKay, giving the Bucs a stunning 7-3 lead.
Back came Detroit, neither defense could stop each other it seemed, until Bert Cooper piledrived Orlovsky into the ground when Detroit was driving. The Lions would go into the next quarter facing a 3rd and 19 at the Tampa Bay 27.
A daunting task for the 0-16 Lions, a 3rd and 19 just when they were ready to pick apart the Bucs for more points. Orlovsky would not be denied, finding Michael Gaines, shedding a tackle and getting into the end zone. Lions 10 Buccaneers 7
Spurrier replied by playing pitch and catch with Morris Owens, all the way to the Detroit 29. The Lions defense stepped up though, and forced the first major mistake of the game. Jared DeVries pressure Spurrier, resulting in a sack and a fumble, which the Lions wouls recover at their own 34. The first turnover of the game meant the Lions had a chance to take a two possession lead.
Once again, a determined Lions offense beat up Tampa Bay, with Orlovsky completing 5 of his 8 passes in a 10 play drive. The 3rd down pass from the 5 hit Calvin Johnson, who scored his first touchdown of the game. The Lions capitalized, and took a 17-7 lead.
Late in the first half Hanson tacked on another short field goal, already Detroit’s 3rd red zone drive, but twice it ended in a field goal. Detroit was suffocating the Bucs, and went into the locker room with a 20-7 lead.
Lions coach Rod Marinelli only said to his team to do their best, while Tampa Bay coach John McKay (yes, there were two John McKays on the team, a coach and a player) reminded them that they couldn’t stop the Detroit Lions on defense, otherwise they were doing well. Whatever else was said obviously worked for Tampa Bay, because the Lions showed once again why they were winless, getting only 1 first down in the 3rd quarter and punting it 4 times. However, Tampa Bay did even worse, and didn’t get a first down until the final play of the quarter. Running back Rod McNeill picked up 34 yards on a draw play, rumbling to the Detroit 30. Heading into the 4th, the Lions were in the lead, but Tampa Bay had a chance to close that lead. Lions 20 Buccaneers 7
The very first play of the 4th quarter would be a touchdown for the 1976 Buccaneers. Spurrier, who finished the game completing less than half of his passes, hit Bob Moore, who outran the Lions defense for a 30 yard touchdown. Back in the game, down just 20-14.
Back came Detroit with a 10 play, 70 yard drive of their own. It was another drive dominated by the passing of Dan Orlovsky, but once again in the red zone they faltered, settling for another Hanson field goal. 23-14 Lions with 8:57 left in the game. For Detroit, 4 red zone posessions, only 1 touchdown to show for it.
Tampa Bay replied with an 8 play, 73 yard drive in just 3:07, huge considering time was running out, and Spurrier threw his 3rd touchdown pass, this one to Morris Owens for 14 yards. However, it wouldn’t be a battle of winless teams without a simple goof-up. Kicker Dave Green missed the extra point, and the Lions lead was 23-20 with 5:41 to go. A field goal would only tie, and not win the game thanks to that crucial screw up.
Don’t worry, the Lions would make a game-changing play. Orlovsky was replaced by Jon Kitna, trying to prove he can still play in the league. Kitna was 1-3 in his only series, the revived Bucs defense would not be fooled by Marinelli’s surprise, and Ken Stone picked off Kitna and returned it to the Lions 34 yard line with 3:55 to go.
Tampa Bay had a chance to win it in regulation, slowly pounding the football and just killing time off the clock. With just 1:32 to go, the Bucs were inside the 5 facing a 2nd and goal. The only thing stopping Tampa Bay from a comeback victory, was Detroit’s tiring defense, and sheer incompetence. Spurrier’s pass for Williams was incomplete, 3rd and goal. Only 1 more stand needed, and they would get it.
SLAM!!!!! Down went Spurrier at the 9 yard line, former Seattle Seahawk, Chuck Darby came up huge and sacked the quarterback to force Tampa Bay to kick the field goal to force overtime. It was now or never, Green already missed an extra point, and if he missed this chipshot field goal, the Lions would leave the already emptying out Superdome with a win. The snap was down, the kick was perfect, and with :39 left, overtime was imminent. Not only did Kitna’s interception give Tampa Bay life, it proved costly. Detroit’s attempt to win it with little time failed, overtime with the score tied at 23-23.
Detroit won the coin toss and elected to receive. They were devastated, already blowing a 13 point lead in the final quarter, knowing a missed extra point prevented this game from going into overtime. It was a disaster, Kevin Smith lost 4 yards on 1st down, Orlovsky scrambled for 6 yards on 2nd and 14. For some reason, Marinelli called a running play on 3rd and 8, and they got no yards. Just like that, Tampa Bay got the ball back.
The Buccaneers’ ground game gained 54 yards on their drive which started at their own 31, Spurrier threw just 1 pass, a completion to Owens for 15 to the Lions 35. Carter, Williams, McNeill, and Essex Johnson pounded the rock, wore down the Lions defense. Then, with the ball at the 7 yard line, went for the kill:
“Handoff to MacNeill, left side with a big hole!! TOUCHDOWN TAMPA BAY!!! TOUCHDOWN TAMPA BAY!!!! BUCS WIN!!! AT LONG LAST!!! WE HAVE A WIN BABY!!! TOUCHDOWN!!!!”
The drought was over. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Detroit Lions in a thrilling comeback win, and the 1976 team got their win after all, while the Lions went frustratingly into their locker room cementing themselves as the worst NFL team of all time. Coach McKay was showered in Champagne, Coach Marinelli congratulated his guys for trying.
Steve Spurrier won the MVP award for the game, completing 11-24 for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions.
A game in which both teams made many mistakes as expected, the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were victorious.
* What I, myself think.
* What Madden 09 (for XBOX 360) says.
and, of course...
* What 'Whatifsports.com' says (FYI: WIS just recently released the 2008 rosters).
Baltimore Ravens @ Tennessee Titans
Saturday, January 10th, 2009 at 4:30 PM ET
ME: BAL 21, TEN 24
Like most playoff games nowadays, this game will be close and will come down to the team that makes the least mistakes. With DE's Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch back in the lineup, Tennessee will get plenty of pressure on rookie QB Joe Flacco, sacking him many times and forcing multiple turnovers. With their elite RB's--Lendale White and rookie Chris Johnson--in the backfield, Tennessee will have no trouble controlling the clock. I actually believe if QB Kerry Collins can limit mistakes on offense and maybe score two or three times, they should be able to control the tempo and dominate both sides of the ball. Collins keeps the ball away from Ed Reed and Chris Johnson rolls for 120+ as Tennessee advances.
Madden '09: BAL 19, TEN 13
Turns out Baltimore's defense is very good, though I'm sure you already figured that out for yourself. The Ray Lewis-led squad dominated Kerry Collins and Tennessee in this Madden matchup by sacking him four times (two of which went to Lewis, himself), plus a Terrell Suggs INT. The bright moment for Tennessee was Chris Johnson's 56-yard run early in the third quarter, which gave Tennessee the 13-12 lead. But, the rookie Flacco managed a late scoring drive which was capped by a three-yard TD which he ran in himself. The Matt Stover extra point gave Baltimore the 19-13 lead with just over a minute to play. Ray Lewis sealed the win with a late sack of Kerry Collins as time expired. Could Baltimore match their 2000 Super Bowl season? Their defense just may be good enough.
WIS: BAL 6, TEN 12
Kerry Collins was't near as affective as he should've been (7 for 18, 44 passing yards), but he was able to get the job done, nonetheless. As I expected, defense is what won the game. Tennessee shut Flacco down, sacking him three times and limiting him to just 115 yards through the air. Chris Johnson led the team in rushing yards, with 75, as Tennessee picked up 155 on 35 carries. Four Rob Bironas FG's and three Matt Stover FG's were the only points of the game. So, I guess in a way, it was the special teams that made the difference. Anyway, Tennessee moves on, according to WIS.com.
Overall: TEN (2-1)
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
Saturday, January 10th, 2009 at 8:15 PM ET
ME: ARI 35, CAR 31
Ah, yes. The big, head-scratching prediction. I have been praising the Panthers' running game and calling Jake Delhomme the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year all season long, but I'm going to have to pick against the mighty Panthers this week. I like the matchup of Kurt Warner and Pro Bowl WR's Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin v.s. Carolina's 16th ranked pass defense. Arizona limited Atlanta's sixth ranked offense to 250 total yards and the game's second-leading rusher, Michael Turner, to just 42 yards (forced a Turner fumble, too). Not to mention the three turnovers they forced, including two Matt Ryan INT's. Arizona has as much of a chance at stopping the Panthers elite running game as anyone.
Madden '09: ARI 17, CAR 33
So, it appears as though John Madden and his crew don't agree with my upset pick, at all. He has Carolina playing mistake-free, T.O.P. domination. In this game, the killer duo of DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart combining for 165 yards and 2 TD's (one each). Jake Delhomme went 18 of 26 for 261 yards and a late second quarter TD pass to All-Pro WR Steve Smith, which gave Carolina a 17-0 advantage. A late scoring spree for Kurt Warner and his Cards wasn't enough as the second seeded Panthers advanced to the NFC Conference Championship game.
WIS: ARI 38, CAR 24
Wow, this result really surprised me. Not only did Arizona beat Carolina by two TD's, but Kurt Warner threw for 269 yards and three TD's while Arizona stopped the DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart-led Carolina run game to 116 yards on 34 carries. Larry Fitzgerald was Arizona's leading receiver with 5 catches for 93 yards and two of Warner's three passing TD's. Arizona's defense also sacked Delhomme (14 for 22 for 182 yards) twice and picked him off once more, which happened to be returned 61 yards for a TD by former Steelers LB Clark Haggans in the second quarter.
Overall: ARI (2-1)
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
Sunday, January 11th, 2009 at 1 PM ET
ME: PHI 17, NYG 31
I'm not buying into the whole "Eagles are untouchable" talk I keep hearing. Yes, they may have beaten the Giants earlier in the season, but I guess you haven't learned your lesson yet: don't doubt Eli Manning in the playoffs. He WILL prove you wrong, he's done it before. ESPN's poll showed that about 54% of people out there believed Philly would win. Philly's D gave up 83 rushing yards and two TD's to Adrian Peterson last week. What do you think the trio of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw are going to do to this defense? If Philly can't get Brian Westbrook going early, it could be a long day for this Philly offense going up against the NFL's fifth best defense, led by DE Justin Tuck.
Madden '09: PHI 18, NYG 17
Philadelphia advanced with the slimest of margins thanks to 247 passing yards and a late TD pass to the rookie DeSean Jackson--who broke out for five catches, 102 yards and the TD catch. But, the Eagles pulled off the miraculous 14-point comeback thanks to four kicks booted through the uprights by veteran David Akers. Eli Manning and the G-Men took the 14-0 lead after a McNabb fumble was returned for a TD and Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball in from two yards out. Akers hit three of his four FG's in the second half as McNabb's Eagles outscored New York 12-0 in the fourth quarter and 15-3 in the second half. Philly can thank Manning's two second-half INT's, which were both intercepted by Philly's Quintin Mikell. Brandon Jacobs' 133 rushing yards ended up making little impact on the outcome.
WIS: PHI 23, NYG 21
Donovan McNabb and the Eagles' D proved me wrong as Philly pulled off a two-point upset. Eli Manning was nothing compared to the red-hot Eagle defense. In fact, Manning went just 14 for 25 for 172 yards (0 TD, 0 INT). It was New York's running game that kept the Giants' hopes alive with 214 yards on 28 carries, scoring all three of the team's TD's (2 Ward, 1 Jacobs). Head coach Andy Reid did, in fact, get the running game going early and often for Philadelphia as Brian Westbrook scored his lone TD from 20-yards out just five minutes into the game. Westbrook finished with 129 yards on the ground and 46 through the air en route to a 23-21 win.
Overall: PHI (2-1)
San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sunday, January 11th, 2009 at 4:45 PM ET
ME: SD 10, PIT 24
All bias aside, Pittsburgh will win this football game. The only thing I'm real worried about, at this point, is how Ben Roethlisberger will react after sustaining a concussion against the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago. The guy is a warrior and has been hit plenty before. If he can just manage the game--he really doesn't have to do anything special--Pittsburgh will be fine. Mike Tomlin will most likely get the run game going early and often. If Willie Parker can be affective on the ground, it's smooth sailing from there. On defense, they will need to stop the little man, Darren Sproles, since the 'Bolts will most likely be without Ladainian Tomlinson for a majority of the game, anyway. Score some points on the ground, limit mistakes and force a few turnovers is what Pittsburgh must--and will--do against the Chargers' on Sunday.
Madden '09: SD 17, PIT 24
Ben Roethlisberger played a real solid game, completing 18 of his 25 passes for 198 yards and two TD's. But, the talk of the night was Willie Parker and his 132 rushing yards and two TD runs. Pittsburgh lost two fumbles on offense, but Pittsburgh's two INT's and five sacks of Philip Rivers (three recorded by James Harrison) made up for the offensive turnovers. Tomlinson and Sproles combined for just 73 rushing yards as Pittsburgh held the ball for 36 of the possible 60 minutes.
WIS: SD 10, PIT 20
Again, Ben Roethlisberger had a solid game, going 15 for 22, 249 yards and a fourth quarter TD pass to Hines Ward. Darren Sproles and Ladainian Tomlinson combined for 101 of the Chargers' 122 yards on the ground, but a couple James Harrison sacks and a Troy Polamalu INT proved costly for Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers offense. Pittsburgh played usual Steeler defense and dominated the time of possession with their 338 total yards and zero turnovers on offense. Pittsburgh advances to play Tennessee in the Conference Championship, according to me and WIS.
Overall: PIT (3-0)
There is something wrong with Reggie Bush. Well, we have known since October that the onetime top pick of the New Orleans Saints has suffered from knee injuries the sidelined him for the bulk of the 2008 season. However, today our understanding of the extent of Reggie Bush’s knee injuries just became a little bit clearer, while our understanding of the future for the star tailback just become clouded.
The New Orleans Saints admitted today in a phone call that Reggie Bush underwent a microfracture surgery procedure on his left knee. The surgery took place in mid-December shortly after the Saints back was placed on injury reserve due to lingering problems in the knee. The microfracture surgery will sideline Bush for several months as he works to rehab the injured knee. Saints officials are hoping that Reggie Bush will be healthy enough to play come mini-camp in June.
However, the more interesting story behind all of this, is one has to examine the idea that Reggie Bush is a NFL bust? Just take a look at the stats, and see for yourself how effective the one time USC star has been since entering the NFL in 2006. Since entering the NFL in 2006 Reggie Bush has competed in all 16 games just once. Over the course of his three year career, Reggie Bush has rushed for 1550 yards, and he has 1599 yards receiving, that’s his combined total. Yes, Bush shares times one Pro-Bowler Deuce McAllister, but those numbers are flat out horrible for a player who was labeled as the savior for the franchise.
Reggie Bush has had his moments of stardom where he can take over a game with his big play ability, especially on special teams, where he is a threat to return a punt for a touchdown nearly every time he touches the ball. However, the sum of his overall body of work has to leave most wanting more from the top draft pick. In reality Reggie Bush’s impact on the Saint’s offense has been little more than the impact Devon Hester has had on the Chicago Bears offense.
Now with two years of limited action due to a bum knee, and the recent news of microfracture surgery, one has to seriously consider the overall effect of having Reggie Bush on the roster. His production on the field has been limited at best. He proved he cannot run between the tackles and therefore he is not an every down back. Not to mention, Bush seemed to pick up a bit of a fumbling problem this past season when he was in action. In addition one has to wonder just how seriously Reggie Bush takes his football career. He has plenty of distractions in his life now that he is dating tabloid headliner Kim Kardashian. Will he spend more time jetting between L.A. and Vegas than rehabbing? Hey, it is a legitimate question to ask, if Jessica Simpson is the antichrist for Tony Romo, who’s to say Kim Kardashian does not have the same affect on Bush.
Granted hind sight is 50/50 as Steve Spurrier would say, but one has to think the Houston Texans got it right, when they picked up Mario Williams with the first picked and passed on Reggie Bush. The injuries plus the lack of size, it’s just not possible for Bush to live up to expectations and he will never amount to much more than an above average special teams player.