What a difference a year makes. Last season, Washington’s nationally televised Thanksgiving-week game was an exhibition for the league’s most exciting new offense — a 38-31 win in Dallas that was never actually that close and saw Robert Griffin III throw what is still a career-high four touchdowns. With the late-November stage again last night, the results couldn’t have been more different. The win over the Cowboys was the second in a run of seven straight toward the playoffs. Yesterday’s sputtering, almost pitiful performance against the 49ers was Washington’s third loss in a row, and Griffin’s four touchdowns were replaced with numbers like this:
In case you were busy trying to figure out if the Xbox One is a prequel to the original Xbox, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
LeBron James scored an extraordinarily efficient 35 points on 14 shots as the Miami Heat beat the Phoenix Suns 107-92. He did so despite a strange moment when James called over an official and yelled, "Xbox! Turn the difficulty up!" before realizing he was actually playing basketball and not a next-gen copy of NBA 2K14.
Colin Kaepernick and San Francisco's offense finally got rolling in the 49ers' 27-6 win over Washington. "They dared me to throw the ball," Kaepernick explained after the game. "And at first I was all like, 'Nuh-uh,' and they were all like, 'Double dare,' and I was all like, 'Nuh-uh,' and then they were all like, 'Double dog dare,' and I was all like, 'No way,' and they were all like, 'Triple dog dare,' and that was unorthodox 'cause they totally skipped triple dare, and also they start Josh Wilson in their secondary, so I don't know why they were daring me to throw at all."
In case you were out realizing the road less traveled is less traveled because it goes to Buffalo, here's what you missed in sports on Thursday:
Baylor's speed was too much for Oklahoma as the Bears throttled the Sooners, 41-12, in Waco. "They say speed kills, and it did a number on us here tonight," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said after the game. "But I'm still alive." Stoops then looked around him; how did he get to this nondescript waiting room? Why was he talking to Bo Pelini? And what was the number "41” in his hand in reference to? "41," the talking skeleton behind the desk called. Stoops raised his hand. "Come on up, Bob," the skeleton said. "Welcome to limbo, Bob." Stoops looked around him, and saw the faces of Will Muschamp, Steve Sarkisian, and Mack Brown. "Limbo?" Stoops asked. "Limbo," the skeleton replied. "Now you can wait here for your second-tier bowl berth." Stoops raised his hand and said, "Now wait a minute, we're still alive for— " but the skeleton cut him off and said, "Limbo, Bob. Welcome to limbo."
As the days grow shorter, my fantasy team’s playoff hopes grow slimmer. The trade deadline is a week from tomorrow, and as I begin to accept my squad’s doomed fate, I'm faced with an ethical dilemma for the ages. Do I unload my few remaining healthy studs — Cam Newton, Matt Forte, and Josh Gordon — to my leaguemates for next to nothing and money on the side, or is my dignity more important? I’m leaning toward the former, but only because I really don’t want the dude currently in first place to win our league. That makes it OK, right? Good.
As I continue to ponder this question, here is your definitive Week 10 preview.
We're halfway through another NFL season, and this week the trade deadline came and went without any big news, because this is pro football. The only trade that happened involved some guy named Isaac Sopoaga. NFL teams never shake things up at the trade deadline. Bill Barnwell already covered the trades that should've happened, but now it's time to think bigger. Let's talk about the guys who deserve a new life, for their sake, our sake, and the game's sake. The great players on bad teams who deserve better.
In case you were busy polishing the screenplay for your gritty new take on Entourage, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Jon Lester and Koji Uehara were too much for the Cardinals as the Boston Red Sox now stand one win away from their third World Series title in a decade after beating St. Louis 3-1. "Dus-tone," Red Sox infielder Mike Napoli called across the locker room to his teammate Dustin Pedroia after the game. "This beard thing has really worked out, huh?" Pedroia smiled and said, "Yeah, yeah man, sure has. Can't wait to win this ring and shave this bad boy off." "What?" a stunned Napoli replied. "Shave it? Nah, man, you can't. You're the Mighty Mighty Dus-tone, and I am Mike Skapoli and together we're beard bros forever." Pedroia looked away from his teammate and said, "It's my wife. She's serious. No offseason beards." Napoli nodded at his teammate, but his eyes betrayed his disappointment. "It's for the best," Pedroia assured him, but it took all of Napoli's nerve to force an awkward smile.
I found out about the Trent Richardson trade as I was driving home last week, and I responded the same way I think a lot of people did: “Holy shit.” That’s exactly what I said, loudly, happy to be in the privacy of my own car. The news triggered a series of texts and tweets that no NFL news has in a long time, and through it all, it was clear that as popular as football is, moves like that one are just too rare. We love trades, and we want more of them.
There’s a reason, though, that NFL trades never happen. Well, there are several. One is that NFL GMs seem to love their draft picks as much or more than they love their children. The draft is the cheapest, most efficient way to improve, and mortgaging that opportunity is a risk — one that rarely works out. Another hurdle is that football is not baseball, or even basketball. The difference in schemes, terminology, and even the subtlest difference between positions means that sticking with in-house players feels like the safer choice. There’s also the issue of parity. The league’s deadline is still too early for teams to know if they have a shot at the playoffs, and too many times turnarounds come in just a couple years. The 2-14 Chiefs were probably right in not having a fire sale last season.
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
Robert Mays: Typically when I watch football, I try to watch the line. That isn’t an attempt at snobbery. It’s just what I enjoy. Watching massive men fight for three feet of space, all with a combination of brutality and a criminally understated amount of grace, is my favorite part of the game.
Last night presented its share of opportunities for that. The 49ers have probably the best — and definitely the most imposing — offensive line in football, and Seattle’s rotating group of pass-rushing, run-stopping terrors is one of the better tests that San Francisco group will get all year. And while I did see plenty of that, the best battle at the line of scrimmage yesterday didn’t involve any linemen.
All day Monday, people were trying to prepare me for reality.
“You know they’re going to lose right?”
“You know they’re playing the Washington NFL team, not Washington State, right?”
“The Eagles might score 50, but the Redskins will score 52.”
"RG3 is back."
“Riley Cooper is going to run across the middle and four Redskins players are going to hit him in the spleen at once and he’s going to explode.”
“P.S. One of those Redskins players will be Cary Williams wearing a Washington uniform over his Philly uniform and then he will tear off the Washington uniform and scream, ‘Are you not entertained!?’”
“There’s no way this Chip Kelly offense is going to look like the football version of the light cycle race from Tron. Stop thinking in terms of Tron. This isn’t the 2010 Oregon Ducks and they aren’t being led by 2004 Michael Vick. You need to be realistic.”
I am an Eagles fan in 2013. I have no use for reality. Now lets go light cycle racing.
In case you were busy revamping your intimidation-based game plan, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
The Houston Texans stormed back from 21 points down to beat the San Diego Chargers, 31-28. "I'm in Cleveland now," yelled former San Diego head coach Norv Turner preemptively when picking up a phone call from a restricted number after the game. "God-forsaken Cleveland, OK? I used to be the head coach in San Diego, and now I'm here. Maybe it wasn't all my fault, huh? Are you happy? 'Cause I'm not," before profusely apologizing to his new pastor when he realized the mistake he had made.
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
I said I wouldn’t do this. As someone who knows all about the uncertainty that comes with rooting for stars returning from major knee injuries, I didn’t want to be among those jinxing Robert Griffin’s season before it even began. Then two things happened.
First, I realized that 114 days is a lot of days, and now that we’re a week away, the topics have become pretty scarce. The second is that as of yesterday, RG3 has reportedly been cleared to play in Week 1. Sooo … sorry, Redskins fans.
In case you were busy talking yourself into Marcedes Lewis's fantasy bounce-back potential, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday:
Clayton Kershaw was outpitched by Cubs starter Travis Wood, and the Dodgers were unable to finish a late rally, falling 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs. Kershaw, whose inefficiency forced him out of the game in the sixth inning despite giving up only one earned run, stared at his left arm with a furrowed brow after the game, saying, "The Cubs? Really, buddy? Come on. You're better than that. We're better than that. Yeah? Yeah? You agree. Nod if you agree." Kershaw then waved his arm around in agreement before saying, "OK, now what do you say we go grab a bag of ice and a pizza and put this whole thing behind us, eh?"
Mariners closer Danny Farquhar's 10th-inning balk proved decisive as the Texas Rangers topped Seattle 4-3. Seattle manager Eric Wedge was heated after the game, yelling at the gathered press, "No, the most Mariners way to lose a game is not to balk in the winning run you idiots. It's to somehow leave the bases loaded in four separate innings without scoring a single run. Also, Felix Hernandez is on the hill and only allows a single run when a Raul Ibanez defensive miscue makes what should have been an easy flyout become an inside-the-park home run. That's a real Mariners loss. This? This was an old-school Indians loss."
What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next few weeks providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
That’s London Fletcher, following the Redskins’ preseason win over the Steelers last night. This quote is good for about 50 reasons, but we’re going to stick to two. The first is the reminder that London Fletcher started his NFL career around when Bill Russell started playing basketball. This is Fletcher’s 16th season. He has played in 240 straight games.
In case you were out becoming more mosquito bite than man, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Miami Marlins starter Jose Fernandez shut down fellow NL Rookie of the Year candidate Yasiel Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 6-2 victory. "Miami, so close to home yet a million miles away," Puig said to himself after the game, as he took a limousine down the streets of South Beach. "Everybody here is dressed like they have something to prove. I guess I still have something to prove. I guess we all always have something to prove." Puig looked down at himself and muttered, "How am I both underdressed and overdressed? It's like I'm not at home anywhere," before he yelled up to his driver, "Hey, does good pitching always beat good hitting?" When the driver shook his head and said, "Not you big Yas. You the man!" Puig had him stop the car. The Dodgers slugger then paid the driver and said, "It's not kind to lie to a man's face," before disappearing into the Miami night.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to look shaky, as they were beat by Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins, 24-13, in a preseason clash. When asked about Grossman's performance in relief of the injured Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan scrunched up his face and said, "That doesn't sound right. Grossman was Rex Grossman? Really? No. Unless I woke up on the wrong side of a time nap. What year is this?" When told it was 2013, Shanahan snapped his fingers and said, "Damn, I was really hoping time naps were a thing."