In case you were busy being thankful for Moises Alou's Hall of Fame candidacy, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Jordan Lynch broke his own FBS single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 321, as Northern Illinois finished its regular season undefeated with a 33-14 win over Western Michigan. "No! My record is gone," Lynch said after the game. When told he still had the record, Lynch shook his head and said, "Sure, but it's not the same. I loved that old record like a son. This one I'll never tell it how much I love it. I'm just gonna put a ton of pressure on it to make up for my lost relationship with the old record. Even if it means this new one is gonna grow up to be all weird and maladjusted." Lynch then looked at a picture of himself setting the original rushing record and let a single tear trickle down his cheek before yelling, "You're nothing to me!" at a TV playing a highlight reel of Tuesday's game.
Despite being down Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, Golden State held on late to edge the Pelicans, 102-101, in New Orleans. "I didn't want to play either," Warriors guard Klay Thompson said after the game. "I mean, have you seen that Pelican mascot? Pure intimidation. But with those two out I knew I'd have to fight through it, no matter how many nightmares I'm sure to have tonight."
In case you were rocking a CFL jersey in court, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts once again used their comeback magic to eke out a 30-27 win over the Tennessee Titans. "Wow, we were pretty fortunate to get that win," Luck said after the game. When asked by reporters to phrase his comments another way, Luck replied, "It was a hell of a fortuitous outcome, that's for sure. Chance favored us, as we were blessed with kismet." When asked again to phrase what he was saying in perhaps a simpler and more headline-friendly way, Luck said, "Oh, I see. Well, I would say we struck gold with this team. I would say the win was in the cards. Some may say we caught the breaks, that our run has been a fluke, that the gods were smiling upon us, that victory and my team were joined by serendipity. I mean, we got horseshoes on our helmets and clovers in our pockets, so what would you expect?" Luck then glared at the assembled media and added, "Suck it, for me."
Andre Iguodala's buzzer-beater was the difference as the Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-115, in a riveting Western Conference battle. "Another tough loss, but we're so close," an optimistic Kevin Durant said at the postgame press conference. "I mean, we're just one player away from being really good. And it's no one's fault that we don't have that guy. This front office and ownership group has only made smart decisions." Durant then went to take a sip of water, when things went horribly awry. Durant started shooting sparks out of his mouth, and saying in a horrific robotic voice, "FAILURE, ROBOTIC FAILURE, MUST POWER DOWN, WHY WOULD YOU PROGRAM ME TO FEEL PAIN?" before collapsing to the ground and bursting into flames. Suddenly, a human Durant burst into the room yelling, "They drugged me! They didn't want me to talk," before looking at his robotic double dying on the ground at his feet. "You tried to play God, you monsters!" Durant yelled, as he held his robot double's head in his hands. "All to save a couple million bucks on the Harden deal. This robot must have cost that much. Curse you, Clay Bennett! Curse you!"
Andrew Luck may be the future of the NFL, but on Sunday afternoon, he didn't look the part. He was a losing quarterback, with sweat-drenched hair glued to his forehead and a scraggly, mustache-less beard barely clinging to his chin. The Rams had just hammered the Colts 38-8. Luck was the worst he’d been all year. His three interceptions matched a career high, and overthrown passes sailed over receivers all afternoon. But even on a day when his right arm failed him, the other feature that has always set Luck apart — his mind — was sharp. “It’s tough when you can’t run the ball,” he says, “but did I have a sense of foreboding when we couldn’t? No.”
The Colts have spent this season mixing staggering wins (San Francisco, Seattle, Denver) with confounding losses (Miami, San Diego, St. Louis), but before Sunday, the one certainty had been Luck, in just his second season. If an 11-win rookie year could be underwhelming, Luck’s was. The Colts made the playoffs, thanks to a series of improbable fourth-quarter wins and a healthy dose of overachieving, but among the Big Four young quarterbacks, it's arguable that Luck’s first season as a starter was the least impressive. This year, Russell Wilson’s Seahawks sit at 9-1, but individually, Luck has begun to put some distance between himself and the rest of his class. His knack for late-game heroics has carried over from his rookie year, and in every other way, he has improved from the player he was a year ago — to the point that the Colts’ insistence on sticking with their DOA running game has become maddening.
A degree from a top-flight school isn't the only factor in NFL success — just ask Ryan Fitzpatrick — and even while looking haggard in defeat, Luck, in a blue Nike undershirt, looked every bit the once-in-a-generation specimen he was at Stanford. Nothing about his athleticism is “sneaky” anymore, but his imposing stature still goes unmentioned too often. Luck gets hit more than any quarterback in football — one possible explanation for the Colts’ dedication to that woeful running game. In the second half against St. Louis, while scrambling toward the end zone on fourth down, Luck took a shot from James Laurinaitis that echoed through Lucas Oil Stadium. He was off the turf a second later. Close up, his forearm looks like the barrel of a Louisville Slugger.
But what stands out about Luck, over and over, is the way he talks. Not how he sounds — the deep rumble of his voice has always been more Andre the Giant than Andrew the Genius — but the phrasing, which feels anything but forced. When arguing that the Colts don’t want to fall behind only to catch up, he actually catches himself before finishing the phrase “modus operandi.” These are just glimpses of Luck's intelligence; he has been a voracious reader since childhood. But the uniqueness of Luck’s mind has more to do with how it works than with what he has learned. Ask those familiar with Luck’s pursuits away from football, and you hear stories about a restless thinker bent on what’s next. In the NFL, the answer to that is easy. He is.
Week 10 produced several WTF? fantasy moments, but the St. Louis Rams took the cake. More accurately, the Rams broke into the bakery, graffitied “LES SNEAD’S HAIR 4 LIFE” on the wall, held an impromptu dance party, and then took the cake, all before law enforcement could arrive.
It was basically three hours of this, unabated by chaperones or tackling:
That's Tavon Austin paying homage to Cousin Terio, a short, pudgy 6-year-old who's become a Vine sensation. Like most kids, Cousin Terio is not quite big enough to play in the NFL, but his low-to-the-ground rushing style would probably allow him to wreak havoc on the Rams’ struggling run defense. At the very least, he’d be able to outgain the Colts’ entire backfield.
So, yeah, I’m deeply sorry for recommending Trent Richardson’s services, because no one deserves to suffer like that, especially not you. Still, Indy’s feeble rushing attack was merely the 382nd-most surprising development of Rams-Colts. This game was totally bonkers, and requires a semi-comprehensive breakdown, so here are some of the highlights from reasons no. 1-381, with only a few omissions.
In case you were busy trying to solve the Heat's chemistry issues using stoichiometry, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
It was a weekend of big comebacks in the NFL as contenders Seattle and Indianapolis mounted stunning symmetrical rallies behind their Pro Bowl second-year quarterbacks to beat Tampa Bay and Houston, respectively, 27-24. When asked if they were disappointed to have fallen behind relatively poor opposition, both Seattle's Russell Wilson and the Colts' Andrew Luck replied, "It's easy to look at records and dismiss an opponent, but every team in the league is good." Then both men said, "There are no excuses in this league. Sure, we lost a top receiver to an ACL injury last week, but every team deals with injuries, and it's on me to avoid mistakes," before both said, "But what's special with this team is its belief and resolve." When asked if they were considering a presidential run after their careers were over, both men laughed and replied, "Well, I don't want to get ahead of myself but who knows?" Then both men pointed directly at the camera and said, "But I do know this: There's only one man standing in my way. And he knows who he is. And I will stop at nothing until I am the most powerful man in the world." Then both men let out uncharacteristically evil maniacal laughs, before clearing their throats and adding, "Go Hawks," and, "Go Colts."
In a battle of ACC unbeatens, Florida State throttled Miami 41-14 as they narrowly moved back to no. 2 in the BCS standings. "Don't worry, folks," said Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher after the game, "we're not gonna run up the score for no BCS computer. No siree, Bob." Fisher then pulled his sunglasses down to the tip of his nose, peered out over them, and said, "We're gonna run up the score because scoring lots of points is real fun."
In case you were busy pouring one out for the Dawgfather, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
After a controversial unsportsmanlike conduct penalty call went against New England, Jets kicker Nick Folk hit a 42-yard field goal in overtime to give New York a come-from-behind 30-27 win. Jets head coach Rex Ryan defended the officials when asked about the penalty after the game, saying, "Look, it was a new rule, and besides, we all got to see some more kicking out there as a result. So how is that not a win for everybody? I know I just love the kicking game; it's absolutely at the core of why I love football. Gotta love the kicking of the football." Ryan then adjusted himself and added, "Now if ya'll excuse me, I have to contrive a reason to leave right now."
It's hard to believe, but in a couple days we'll be halfway through fantasy football's regular season. Are you livin' on a prayer? God knows I am. Tom Brady and Ray Rice have sunk my dynasty league team's ship to an unthinkable 1-5, and unless things turn around this weekend (SPOILER ALERT: they won't), the fire sale begins on Monday. Meanwhile, some asshole sits comfortably atop the standings thanks to Peyton Manning AND Adrian Peterson.
So this post goes out to all my fellow cellar dwellers, the hardy souls who'd do just about anything for a win at this point. You had good reasons — VERY good reasons — for taking Colin Kaepernick or C.J. Spiller or Tavon Austin where you did. But sometimes a great process leads to not-so-great results. It's a fact of life, and a fact of fantasy football. So, best of luck with Nick Foles.
In case you were busy bringing the ol' Rally Bear out of hibernation, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Philip Rivers and a surprisingly effective San Diego rushing attack led the Chargers to a 19-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts. "Oh, I hope Ryan Mathews is still on waivers," said world's saddest man Gary Pittson after seeing that the perpetually inconsistent Chargers running back had his first 100-yard rushing game of the year. Pittson, who was checking his fantasy league from the cab of a tow truck after his Datsun 120Y finally gave out on him halfway home from his new job as the late-night fry cook at the Hardee's in Dover, then muttered to himself, "I knew I shouldn't have cut him after one bad game." The good news for Pittson was that Mathews was still available as a free agent in his league. The bad news for Pittson was that his cell phone was about to die, and Clem the tow truck driver had no intention of stopping his truck to let Pittson retrieve his charger. The worse news for Pittson is that in the time it would take him and Clem to reach his auto repair shop in Wilmington, where they would finally notice that the Datsun was actually on fire, world-class bassist and league commissioner Teddy Jackson would both pick up Mathews and offer him to Pittson in exchange for his first pick in next year's draft.
Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu threw seven scoreless innings and Yasiel Puig broke out of a slump with a huge RBI triple as the Los Angeles Dodgers closed the gap in the NLCS with a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. "You know I'd K'd five times in a row before that triple," Puig said after the game as he hung out with his entourage at the Chateau Marmont. "That's L.A., baby," said Puig's second cousin, Terry "Tortoise" Puig. "Travolta in Pulp Fiction, Rourke in The Wrestler, NPH in Starship Troopers. This town loves a comeback." Just then, a hand reached out from the darkness and tapped Puig on the shoulder. "You boys talking comebacks?" asked a deep voice from the darkness, "because I know something about coming back." Puig turned and looked up: the distinctive red hair, the pale face, the black suit. "Holy shit, David Caruso!" exclaimed Puig. "I'm a huge fan. CSI: Miami, Jade, NYPD Blue um, CSI: Miami." Caruso smiled, nodded, and said, "I've always been a fan of the Dodgers," before putting on a pair of sunglasses and adding, "but now it seems the Dodgers are a fan of me," while walking away. "Where else does something like that happen?" asked a starstruck Puig before exclaiming, "I love this town!"
So, this is happening. It doesn’t get much better than the NFL’s best defensive lineman against the NFL’s best offensive line. I’m putting this game right up there with Gravity in terms of making me think about the vastness of the universe and mankind’s place within it.
The Niners’ line played its best game of the season last week against St. Louis as San Francisco seemed intent on committing to its running game. Frank Gore’s were the most he’s had in a game since Week 14 of the 2009 season, and his 7.65 yards per carry was the 10th best mark of his career.
Watt will spend most of the day dealing with guards Mike Iupati and Alex Boone, both of whom were Pro Bowl–level players a year ago (Iupati went; Boone did not). Boone was one of the better run blockers in the entire league last season. He’s a massive 6-foot-8 mauler, but he occasionally struggles in pass protection. Watt doesn't struggle with anything.
The Thank You for Not Coaching docket was pretty much all booked up by the time the 1 p.m. games were over on Sunday. Bouncers weren't letting any silly timeouts or fourth-down blunders into the column unless they had showed up for the early session. Plays that would normally be locks couldn't find a table unless they slipped somebody a 20. Pete Carroll calling for a spot challenge against the Jaguars? Nope. Mike McCoy's pair of fourth-and-1 punts inside Titans territory? Not this week. Rex Ryan's pair of spot challenges on consecutive plays? Believe it or not, we're all full up. It's a full #TYFNC slate for Week 3.
Let's start, though, with some of the better decisions from last week's action before working our way down to the three worst calls.
THE THREE NIFTIEST DECISIONS FROM WEEK 3
3. The Packers go for it on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter.
How can a play that quite possibly cost Green Bay the game be a good choice? Well, because you have to evaluate the decision based upon the process that went into the call without evaluating it based upon its one outcome. And, in this case, the Packers were right to attempt a fourth-and-1 conversion: They were up 30-27 with 4:01 left and had the ball on Cincinnati's 30-yard line. They had been very effective running the ball in the second half with Johnathan Franklin, in for an injured James Starks, and had a chance to possibly seal the game by not handing the football back over to the Bengals.
In case you were busy clapping politely when you lost the best featured actress in a miniseries Emmy, here's what you missed in sports last weekend:
Trent Richardson scored on his first touch in a Colts uniform, and the San Francisco 49ers' early-season woes continued, as they fell 27-7 to Indianapolis at home. "So the master has become the teacher," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said to his former quarterback Andrew Luck after the game, before realizing his mistake and sputtering out, "I mean, shit, wait, no, let me try that again." But Luck was too embarrassed for his former coach and instead backed away from Harbaugh awkwardly, before exchanging an extended secret handshake with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano while Harbaugh looked on, fuming.
Despite giving up 30 straight points through the second and third quarters, Cincinnati's defense came up big late, returning a fumble for a touchdown and disrupting Green Bay's passing game as the Bengals came from behind to grab a 34-30 win over the Packers. When asked if he'd do anything differently were he to have the chance, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said, "well, I told the guys at halftime, whoever gets to thirty first wins this game." McCarthy shook his head and added, "I thought it was clear that I wasn't suggesting the rules of the game would change, but for some reason people seem to take what I say quite literally." McCarthy then looked directly at the media with an expressionless face and asked, "Am I not fun? I think of myself as being a fun guy. I enjoy fun things like pencils and reference books. I wish people saw me as I saw myself: a barrel of pencils."
Did you listen to my opening advice last week? I sure hope not. I told you all to stop trying to be so sexy, but now the Browns are showing us why that's a terrible message. Career third-stringer Brian Hoyer is now the starting quarterback, franchise running back Trent Richardson is now an Indianapolis Colt, and Maurice Clarett is requesting a tryout via Twitter. The really scary part? Giving Clarett a crack might not be a half-bad idea.
This week’s lead advice that you should absolutely, positively, under no circumstances abide comes from our greatest sage, Yogi Berra: “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.” Keep this in mind when considering the implications of the Richardson trade, fantasy running backs in general, and making deals of your own.
Ponder that. Revel in it. Then read about this week's games.
Well, I'm certainly not going to doubt Jim Irsay again. When the outspoken Colts owner went on Twitter yesterday and started with his big-news-is-coming tweets, my mind started racing through possible practice squad players and washed-up free agents; after all, the last time Irsay pulled that one out of the playbook, it was for Darrius Heyward-Bey. Instead, as you already know, Irsay might have been underselling the monumental nature of the trade general manager Ryan Grigson had consummated. By sending his 2014 first-round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson, Grigson locked up his team's running back of the future while recommitting to winning this year.
The Browns? They closed the door on another era of future Browns superstars and began yet another stage in their endless rebuilding project. And yet, I like this trade for Cleveland far more than I do for Indianapolis. It's a virtually unprecedented swap that raises all kinds of questions on both sides, which is man, I am so excited to talk about this trade. I gotta get started.
In case you were busy wishing you could just be a linebacker, and not the go-to name when someone gets tricked on the Internet, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday:
Chris Davis's 12th-inning single gave the Orioles a 5-3 win over Boston, leaving the Red Sox's magic number for clinching the AL East at three. "Yeah it is. Oh, three, is a magic number," Red Sox manager John Farrell sang after the game before leading his team in a Schoolhouse Rock sing-along that both raised team morale and clarified for second baseman Dustin Pedroia exactly how a bill becomes a law.
Desmond Jennings's walk-off single was the final blow in the Tampa Bay Rays' back-and-forth extra-inning 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers. "Even if we have a lot of kids and other team's rejects, we have a great team spirit that I think is going to bring us into the postseason," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was dressed as Oscar the Grouch in a strange bit of morale-draining one-upmanship. "Because we here in Tampa love trash. We love it because it's trash."