Tuesday, September 23, 2014 08:00 AM
He may not be a Chicago Bear anymore, but Atlanta Falcons kick returner Devin Hester is still one of my favorite NFL players, and he made headlines this past week. Hester returned a punt for a touchdown in Atlanta's Thursday night blowout win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in doing so, he surpassed Deion Sanders and became the sole record-holder for most combined return touchdowns in NFL history.
Devin Hester returned his record-breaking 20th return for a touchdown Thursday against the Buccaneers.
Hester has been one of my favorite players since he burst onto the scene in Chicago in 2006. I was in college and starting to watch NFL football on a more regular basis (as opposed to just playing Madden), and Hester was one of the reasons that I started putting aside the time to actually watch Bears games. Any time Hester touched the ball, there was a chance for an exciting big play, and I wanted to be there for every one of them! I hoped for defensive stops (Brian Urlacher was another of my favorite players to watch) so that I could watch teams kick the ball to Hester.
Geez, he was fast! And it seemed that every week, he was returning another kick (or two) for a touchdown, single-handedly putting the struggling Bears back into games and making them playoff contenders.
I still vividly remember a Monday night game in Arizona the week after my birthday, in which Chicago came back from a 20-0 half-time deficit to win the game - without scoring a single offensive touchdown! In the second half, Brian Urlacher stripped the ball from Arizona's running back, and Charles Tillman returned it for a touchdown to put the Bears within one score of pulling off the comeback. The game was eventually decided by a fourth-quarter punt that Hester (then a rookie) returned 83 yards for a game-winning touchdown.
Cardinals head coach Dennis Green followed up the game with one of the best post game, press conference rants in football history... [More]
Sunday, September 7, 2014 07:20 AM
This weekend, I had the displeasure of sitting through one of the most disappointingly ugly football games that I've ever seen. UNLV squeked out a 13-12 victory over the Division II college football team Northern Colorado, in a game in which UNLV was favored by over 25 points. UNLV came into the season with high expectations after making it to a bowl game last year, but this weekend's game may have shattered those expectations for me.
I wasn't terribly worried after week 1's lopsided defeat at the hands of Arizona. UNLV was facing a tough PAC-12 foe that I didn't expect UNLV to seriously compete with. But this week's game against a Division II school was [for me] the benchmark for the season. If UNLV blew them out, then there season would seem to have potential. But if UNLV lost this game, then they would look like the same Rebels team that struggled to win 2 games in Hauck's first three years as head coach.
Losing his helmet was the least of quarterback Blake Decker's worries.
What I got instead was a very indecisive, nail-biting victory that has left me very unsure as a fan.
UNLV's offense looked abysmal all game long, as starting quarterback Blake Decker's poor decisions almost threw the game away. Fortunately, the defense played well enough to hold on, and Norther Colorado's special teams failed to make the plays that could have won them the game.
There was one play early in the game that stood out to me as a bad omen. Hauck called a reverse flea flicker gadget play while UNLV was up 7-0 in the first quarter. The pass was intercepted, and seemed to give Northern Colorado a burst of adrenaline ... [More]
16-year longsnapper Patrick Mannelly has retired.
The Chicago Bears have lost a lot of veteran leaders and stars this past couple seasons since Marc Trestman took over as head coach. I wasn't terribly surprised when Brian Urlacher became a free agent and retired, although I was extremely disappointed that he would not be back in a Bears' uniform. Earlier this offseason, return specialist Devin Hester was released and signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Hester was one of the most electric players in the league in his prime, and he was a huge factor in making me watch football (and specifically the Bears) on a more regular basis. These guys were probably my two favorite players, and neither of them is a Bear anymore.
And now, yet another elite veteran leader has departed from the team. 16-year veteran longsnapper Patrick Mannelly has retired.
Longsnappers are unheralded players. You won't find any action figures or jerseys for Mannelly in sporting goods stores, nor would you even find Mannelly in the rosters of some Madden NFL video game (that I can recall); although, I would always add him to my roster every year before starting a franchise. But whether he's a household name or not, Mannelly was a cornerstone of the Chicago Bears' special teams for 16 years! His precision has been a key factor to the success of the special teams unit, which has been widely considered an elite unit during Lovie Smith's era. In his 2006 Pro Bowl acceptance speech, kicker Robbie Gould praised Mannelly specifically for his role in Gould's kicking success (Gould is currently one of the most accurate field goal kickers in NFL history).
Patrick Mannelly practicing longsnapping with holder/punter Adam Podlesh and placekicker Robbie Gould.
Mannelly had suffered from injuries the past few seasons, but when he was playing, he was as good as perfect... [More]
Sunday, December 8, 2013 10:15 AM
The Freemont Cannon, properly painted red, is fired during the pre-game ceremonies of the UNLV vs. San Jose State.
Back in October, I expressed some doubt that UNLV's head coach, Bobby Hauck, would be able to retain his job despite a four-game winstreak. I also expressed doubt that UNLV would be able to attend a bowl this year. This team has been a disappointment for over a decade, so I've become quite used to keeping my hopes low.
But then UNLV went on to do all the things that I'd hoped they would do!
Since my last post, UNLV did beat rival Nevada and return the Freemont Cannon to its rightful place in Sam Boyd Stadium. UNLV did hit the 7-5 mark and achieve their first winning season in over a decade. And they did that by absolutely crushing San Diego state (one of the best teams in the league) in the season-closing game at Sam Boyd. As such, Hauck has been rewarded with a new three-year contract with UNLV. Congratulations, coach!
UNLV quarterback Caleb Herring celebrates with teammates after beating San Diego State.
Well, I was wrong. UNLV has been invited to a bowl. The Armed Forces Bowl decided to invite a non-Mountain West team (Tennessee State), and so the Heart of Dallas Bowl is inviting a Mountain West representative instead: and that Mountain West team is UNLV. UNLV will be playing the bowl against North Texas on January 1st, 2014 in their first bowl appearance since 2000. [More]
Jay Cutler can take as long as he wants to return from his groin injury. No rush.
Josh McCown is looking fantastic in Cutler's absence. He played very well against the Redskins, but the defense just couldn't stop them. He also played exceptionally well against the Packers, including managing a late game scoring drive that ate up almost a full 9 minutes of the fourth quarter clock to seal the win for the Bears.
In fact, McCown played a near perfect game against the Packers. Trestman's gameplan was very aggressive, and he put the game squarely in McCown's hands early on. He hardly missed any throws, and the few incompletions were usually the result of a receiver dropping the ball (Marshall had several drops). I only noticed two or three throws that looked significantly off the mark, and every one of them was a very safe miss. On top of that, McCown made several good plays under duress, including some scrambles for first downs and weaving around the pocket in order to sling the ball out to a receiver. And he did all of this without losing his chewing gum!
Josh McCown has looked exceptional as a replacement for Jay Cutler!