We probably aren’t going to have weekly wrapups this season, but I am kicking myself for forgetting to post this 2016 NFL season introduction. Even though Week 1’s already in the books (go Lions), this is too good not to share:
Last night, the Detroit Lions opened NFL preseason action by stomping– when the Dan Orlovsky scores on you, that qualifies as a “stomping”– the New York Jets, 23-3. Before Lions fans run off to soil their newspaper pages, web logs, Twitter feeds, and MLive.com comment sections with flowery projections of now and present greatness, some perspective may be helpful, and I’m not even talking about the manual/surgical realignment of Gino Smith’s jaw. We all hope the Lions have a good season and make a good showing on Thanksgiving Day, but if you are a fan of these or any other Detroit Lions, it will benefit your sanity to recall that a win (or four) in the preseason is but a nugget of fool’s gold.
Here, then, to cut through your Honolulu Blue hangover of victory is a selection from fairly deep in the ALDLAND Vault, such as it exists, that seems as likely as anything else we’ve published to be of perennial import. -Ed.
The NFL’s as-yet-unabridged preseason finished up last weekend, and the Detroit Lions turned in another dominant performance, posting a 4-0 record and notching an especially impressive win over the New England Patriots. Analysts and commentators repeat the common mantra that the preseason doesn’t mean a lot, but in the same breath, many of them are pointing to this year’s Lions as a team that could be a surprise success. . . . Read the rest . . .
ALDLAND’s weekly football roundup is back, taking a look at all the highs and lows of the latest round of football action.
- Last week, I highlighted LSU-UGA as the game of the week, and ESPN agreed with me, siting College Gameday in Athens. I wasn’t able to watch, but their prediction segment featured two special guests, UGA graduate Bubba Watson and Louisiana native Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame. (The Robertsons have legitimate football qualifications: Willie’s father, Phil, started at quarterback ahead of Terry Bradshaw at Louisiana Tech.)
- In anticipation of the LSU-UGA game, a secret-recipe cheesy bean dip was made. So much was made, in fact, that it lasted much longer than the game, although not quite as long as Georgia coach Mark Richt spent kissing his wife following a win over Kentucky.
- LSU-Georgia was a thriller. Georgia continues to lose important players to injury, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down. This week, star running back Todd Gurley sprained his ankle in the second quarter, but backup Keith Marshall filled in and had a career day. In the end, the Dwags outgunned the Tigers 44-41 and are in the driver’s seat on the road to the SEC championship game in Atlanta.
- I also thought Ole Miss-Alabama would be a good game, but it was not. The Rebels limited Alabama’s scoring early, but they were unable to do any scoring of their own, which is an easy-bake recipe for a loss. Ole Miss 0, Alabama 25. Continue reading
As noted, last Saturday’s college football games featured a number of games between top-ranked teams. As discussed in this space before, every game generally is going to end with one team on the winning side and one team on the losing side, games being athletic events between two teams. This means that a bunch of ranked teams lost this week, and boy did they.
A person familiar with the situation says New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes has a Lisfranc injury to his left foot, meaning the team’s struggling offense probably will be without its top playmaker for the rest of the season.
Holmes went down on the first play of the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after catching a pass. X-rays on the foot were negative, but subsequent MRI exam results were sent to a foot specialist in North Carolina. The Jets’ fears were then confirmed, according to the person who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the team had not announced the severity of the injury.
Holmes was the best player left on a team that had already lost its best player, Derrelle Revis. That leaves only Mark Sanchez, Antonio Cromartie, and Timothy Richard Tebow as active Jets anyone’s possibly heard of, and they haven’t necessarily heard of those guys for the best reasons.
There’s little argument that Holmes’ departure seals the fate of a team already showing signs of being dead in the water. With their current 2-2 record, the Jets can’t be historically bad, but there’s absolutely nothing keeping them from being epically bad, and they’ve taken more than a few bounding steps down that path. The problem is that the pump arguably was primed for that destiny before the season began, before Revis and Holmes got injured, before Sanchez and Tebow gave us evidence of their stunted development as professionals, before Cromartie donned 2011 Holmes’ locker-room-killing mantle. Now we’ll never know for sure whether this Jets team, fully healthy, still would have been capable of the type of losing they’re in for. Not only does Holmes’ season-ending injury leave us irretrievably in this alternate-1985 reality, though. The real lament is that history will note the injury as an explanation, a rationalization, even a partial justification of what is sure to be a disastrous Jets season when these Jets were capable of such beautiful losing all along.
Excepting the above-depicted forty gambler-point swing victory by Middle Tennessee State University, the Volunteer State’s biggest school, over Georgia Tech, there were a lot of close college football games on Saturday. Michigan State lost by one to Ohio State. Although the internet’s had a lot to say about that game in the way of eye-gouging, taunting, and the pregame game tape exchange, there’s not much to say about the game itself beyond the observation that OSU’s Braxton Miller is pretty good. Even though it was high scoring, West Virginia only beat Baylor by a touchdown in Morgantown. Of course, it was really high scoring. Like 70-63. Big Ten basketball territory. Other top-25 games, though not quite as close, probably were closer than the winning team would’ve preferred. Alabama beat Ole Miss 33-14 in a game that was in reach for the underdogs (underbears?) in the fourth quarter. Washington State put up 26 against Oregon, which is 26 more than Arizona could do. Texas and Oklahoma State went to the wire, and UGA-UT was a one-score game as well. Clemson got back to its winning ways with a 45-31 win over woeful Boston College.
The pros sang a different tune on Sunday, though, at least in part, when Denver found its legs against Oakland (38-6), New England posted 52 on Buffalo, and San Francisco bounced back with a 34-0 shutout of the dead-in-the-water-not-walking-on-water J-e-t-s. There were some close games in the NFL too, as the Cardinals won by three in overtime to inexplicably stay undefeated, and the Saints lost by one to stay defeated.
On the topic of defeats, the U.S. team absolutely melted down on the last day of the Ryder Cup, surrendering a supposedly insurmountable lead. We now return to our regular golf coverage, which, absent Jungle Bird, is nonexistent.
College football’s second week portended less excitement than its opening week, and yet there seemed to be more surprising results this week than last. In particular, two teams with a lot of preseason promise took big hits on Saturday. The Wisconsin Badgers fell out of the Top 25 and fired their offensive line coach after a loss to Oregon State in which the traditional running power generated only thirty-five yards on the ground. Arkansas’ drop from the rankings was even more precipitous, as the Razorbacks lost to Louisiana-Monroe. Michigan, fresh off a no-show against Alabama, nearly lost their home-opener to Air Force, while Clemson nearly doubled up Ball State to stay undefeated, a status they’re likely to carry into their meeting with #5 Florida State in two weeks after facing in-state lightweight Furman this weekend. Michigan State also stayed undefeated with an easy win over Central Michigan, while Vanderbilt fell to 0-2 at Northwestern in a game I attended and more about which I
will writehave written.
Robert Griffin III was the star of the NFL’s first Sunday of 2012, while Andrew Luck found himself grouped with more pedestrian rookie QB starters Brandon Weeden and Ryan Tannehill. The always-overhyped Jets turned in the surprise team performance of the day, a 48-28 win over Buffalo. The Lions, who have an official drum line, came from behind to beat the Rams in the last ten seconds of the game, and Peyton Manning returned to form in an ultimately convincing win over Pittsburgh.
Outside of the football world, Serena Williams gutted out a win at the U.S. Open, her fifteenth Grand Slam title, and Jeff Gordon announced that his “absurdly comical mustache” for the NASCAR Chase (i.e., playoffs), which begins this weekend in Chicago.