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The New England Patriots overcome two 14-point deficits to beat Ravens late – Recap

By Cain Cawthon

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The Baltimore Ravens were brilliant on fourth downs, but the New England Patriots won the fourth quarter.

In a classic game, the Ravens and Patriots traded shots all day, but in the end it was the AFC’s top-seeded Patriots who survived a pair of 14-point Ravens leads — the first team in postseason history to do so — to win 35-31.


Joe Flacco, whose second interception of the game inside of the final two moments ended Baltimore’s best chance of late-game heroics, was on fire early. He finished the game 28-of-45 passing for 292 yards and four touchdowns. Tom Brady overcame a slow start to complete 33 of 50 passes for 367 yards with three touchdowns (plus a rushing score) and an interception.

But he had help from Julian Edelman, who threw his first career touchdown pass on a trick play, and — in his finest game as a Patriot — Danny Amendola, who caught two touchdown passes in the game after catching only one all regular season.

The Patriots will host the AFC championship game next week in Foxborough against the winner of the Indianapolis Colts-Denver Broncos game on Sunday. The victory was the 20th for Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, passing Don Shula and tying him with Tom Landry for the most in NFL postseason history.

The Ravens wasted little time getting going. The Patriots sat back in a zone early and were shredded by  Flacco, who hit on his first eight passes (to six different receivers) and 9 of 10 with two touchdown passes.

On the first surgical drive, Flacco found Kamar Aiken for a 19-yard catch and run for a fast 7-0 lead. Then, after a Patriots three-and-out, Ravens receiver Steve Smith — a longtime playoff assassin — caught three passes for 44 yards combined on the first two drives, including a 9-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a 14-0 lead.

The Patriots responded quickly. Brady went to work with three big passes — two to Rob Gronkowskifor first downs, and one to Edelman to put the ball at the Baltimore 1-yard line. After a first-and-goal loss of 4 yards and a drop by Edelman, Brady scrambled into the end zone to cut the Ravens’ lead in half.

Things got chippy after that, serving as a reminder that these two teams aren’t exactly on the friendliest terms. Ravens receiver Torrey Smith was flagged for an after-the-play unsportsmanlike conduct flag, and then Patriots special teamer Chris White followed that with an equally boneheaded taunting call a few plays later.

The Patriots chipped away with short, rhythm passes on their next drive, surviving shaky blocking up front and the loss of center Bryan Stork with a knee injury. During the drive, Brady set a new NFL record for career postseason pass yards, and he capped it off with a TD pass to Amendola, who made Ravens safety Matt Elam miss a tackle en route to the end zone.

Dont'a Hightower (54), Devin McCourty (32) and Logan Ryan (26), celebrate after a final Hail Mary by the Ravens was turned aside. - Image credit: Jim Davis/Global

With the game tied, the Ravens lost momentum. On a curious 3rd-and-1 call, the Ravens were stopped short of a first down when they forwent a handoff to Justin Forsett, who had rushed 10 times for 78 yards to that point, for an end-around to rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who was cut down for no gain.

Brady got the ball back and had a chance to do what he has done so well most of the season: lead a two-minute scoring drive. But after connecting on a few passes, Brady threw a bad interception — his eighth in four playoff games against the Ravens — to linebacker Daryl Smith.

Then Patriots corner Darrelle Revis was flagged for a huge pass interference — the first against him all season — while covering Steve Smith, who got the better of Revis on this day, setting up the Ravens in business with the 20-yard call.

Stay in-the-know about the latest Sports, Life, Money, Tech, and Travel stories. You'll get your first 2 months of USA TODAY for $25 (charged monthly). All print subscribers receive the e-Newspaper included with their subscription.Flacco got hot again, finally connecting with Owen Daniels for a back-shoulder pass to the seam in the back of the end zone for a brilliant score and a 21-14 Ravens lead with 10 seconds remaining in the half.

The Patriots took a knee, leaving the field to boos at the half.

They got the ball first to start the second half but were stopped; a missed pass-interference call against Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, who clearly grabbed Gronkowski early, didn’t help matters.

The Ravens went to work quickly. Campanaro caught a 14-yard pass, helped by a huge Steve Smith block on Patriots corner Kyle Arrington. Then the Ravens — after a wasted timeout — went for it on 4th and 6 from the New England 36. It turned out to be a great call. Torrey Smith caught a fade pass on the 1, despite being interfered with by Brandon Browner.

Smith’s 15-yard taunting penalty moved the ball back from the doorstep of the end zone, but a swing pass to a wide-open Forsett — Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins was the guilty defender — allowed him to walk into the end zone, stunning the Gillette Stadium crowd with the score 28-14 Ravens.

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‎With the Patriots’ offensive line looking vulnerable, New England went into a quick passing game and essentially used four offensive linemen and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui on the line with success. John Harbaugh ran on the field to protest a catch by Hoomanawanui in the red zone because he had lined up at left tackle. But what Harbaugh — who was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for his protest — didn’t realize was that Shane Vereen lined up on the line but declared himself ineligible. Brilliant coaching here from Belichick.

A nine-play drive — all throws — ended in Gronkowski barreling in for a 5-yard score and the Ravens’ lead cut to 28-21. Gronkowski would finish with seven catches for 108 yards — his second career postseason 100-yard game.

After a Ravens three-and-out, Edelman unleashed his first career NFL pass — a 51-yard score and a stunning play that would tie the game.

Flacco then was picked off by Patriots safety Devin McCourty three plays later, ending his interception-less streak at 197 passes — the second-longest in NFL history behind Drew Brees’ 226.

The Patriots couldn’t capitalize on the momentum, however. They went three-and-out on the ensuing possession but appeared to make another game-changing play on defense, as Flacco took a coverage sack and fumbled backward, which was recovered by Collins at the Baltimore 4-yard line. That stunning play, however, was wiped out because Revis again was penalized against Steve Smith — for defensive holding, which was a backbreaking call but a good one.

The Ravens took advantage, engineering a systematic, 16-play drive covering 73 yards and ending in a Justin Tucker 25-yard field goal and a 31-28 edge early in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots were not done. They survived a Vereen fumble (which was overturned properly on replay), used a Brady sneak to convert a first down (their first run of the second half after more than 20 straight pass plays) and converted a huge third down when Amendola reached past the sticks on a catch and run.

For the game, the Patriots rushed 13 times for 14 yards — a shocking 1.1-yard average.

The drive ended when Brady threw a gorgeous fade pass to Brandon LaFell from 23 yards out — the Patriots’ first lead of the game — with 5:13 remaining in the game. With that pass, Brady passed his boyhood idol Joe Montana for the all-time lead with 46 postseason touchdown passes.

That put the game in the hands of the Patriots’ defense, which — despite a few big plays — had come up mostly small to this point.

Flacco faced a 4th-and-3 with 2:14 left, and after a timeout to get the play call in order, he hit Daniels on a thread for 17 massive yards. In a game in which the Ravens were a mere 1-for-9 on third down, they were a miraculous 3-for-3 on fourth downs.

But just when it looked like Flacco and the Ravens might sink the Patriots, he was intercepted on a deep shot into the end zone when it looked like Torrey Smith gave up on a ball that ended up in the hands of Patriots safety Duron Harmon.

After the Ravens stopped the clock and got the ball back one more time, their final gasp — a Flacco heave into the end zone — fell incomplete as Steve Smith couldn’t come up with the game-ending pass.

News Source: YAHOO Sports

Chicago Bears Report – NFL Updates

By: Cain Cawthon

CHICAGO – Another talented Chicago Bears team is in the midst of another disappointing season. With the exception of the vaunted ’85 squad and a handful of other deep playoff runs, disappointment is often the norm in the Windy City.

(Photo: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images)

Just ask Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, Hall of Fame Bears who never once played in the postseason despite legendary careers that ran concurrently.

“Butkus and Sayers were cheated. They were cheated,” their former Chicago teammate, linebacker Doug Buffone, says in A Football Life: Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. “They were cheated because they (did) not put ballplayers around them. They expected Butkus and Sayers to take ‘em to the championship. You can’t do that. Shame on the Chicago Bears. Shame on them.”

Hard to believe that such a pair of luminary talents who played together for seven years only finished above .500 twice with their 9-5 rookie campaign the zenith of the Bears’ collective success with Butkus and Sayers.

Landing two Canton-bound players in one draft — Butkus went third overall in 1965 and Sayers came off the board one pick later — usually translates to Super Bowl success as the Pittsburgh Steelers (four Hall of Famers in 1974 draft), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks in 1995 draft) and Baltimore Ravens (Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden in 1996) can attest.

But maybe Chicago’s struggles only serve to illustrate the greatness of its famed dynamic duo. In 1969, the Bears’ 1-13 record was tied for the worst in the NFL. Yet Butkus was honored as the defensive player of the year while Sayers, who was coming back from his first major knee injury, won the rushing title with 1,032 yards.

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As it typically does, A Football Life does a nice job adding new layers to well-known NFL legends.

Butkus, known as one of the league’s most ferocious players in his day — the late Deacon Jones called him an “animal” and “stone maniac” — squirms when asked about some of the stories that have followed him.

Question from NFL Films producer: “Did you ever hit a guy out of bounds?”

Butkus: “Maybe.”

Q: “Did you ever give a guy a little extra (on a tackle)?”

Butkus: “Yep.”

Q: “Did you ever spit on (Vikings center) Mick Tingelhoff’s hands?”

Butkus: “No way. I spit on the ball.”

Q: “Did you ever bite an opposing player?”

Butkus: “I think it’s just another one of those stories, grows after the years. … I had a ball.”

Sayers did for a while, too. His 22 touchdowns in 1965 remain a record for rookies. But his career is as noteworthy for the knee injuries that derailed it prematurely — Sayers only played four full seasons — as it is for his slithery moves and breakaway speed.

Sayers blew out his right knee for the first time on Nov. 10, 1968. The emotional scars remains.

“Sometimes I cry about it because I didn’t get a chance to play the game,” said Sayers, his voice still dripping with pain and emotion.

“I wish they had better doctors back then.”

Sayers was forced to retire after the 1971 season while Butkus was done in by his own creaky knees two years later.

Yet four decades later, these close friends remain the standard bearers subsequent Bears are measured against.

A Football Life: Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers premieres Friday night on NFL Network at 10 p.m. ET.

News Source: USA Today

New York Jets force four turnovers, stymie Ben Roethlisberger to snap skid

Published by EOTM News Editor on November 9th, 2014 - in EOTM Sports News, NFL, Sports News

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — On a rare day for Rex Ryan, the embattled coach of the struggling New York Jets was able to smile after a game for the first time since Week 1.

The Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger being tackled by Quinton Coples (98) and Dawan Landry. After throwing 12 touchdown passes in two games, Roethlisberger had one on Sunday. - Image Credit: Barton Silverman/The New York Times

It’s been that long since the Jets had won, so the relieved Ryan was feeling pretty good after a stunning 20-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

“All right!” Ryan exclaimed. “Finally!”

After record-setting back-to-back victories, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was humbled Sunday in a sloppy performance, Scott Brown writes. Story

Finally, indeed. Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes and the Jets (2-8) forced four turnovers, including two interceptions by Jaiquawn Jarrett, while shutting down Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers (6-4) and ending an eight-game losing streak.

“This team deserved to win, man,” Ryan said.

Roethlisberger threw six touchdown passes in each of his last two games, and was playing in front of a MetLife Stadium crowd that appeared nearly half-filled with Terrible Towel-waving Steelers fans. But the Jets wouldn’t allow Roethlisberger to get into much of a rhythm.

“There’s nothing mystical about the outcome of that football game,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We talked all week about why that team struggled: because they were minus in the turnover ratio. … Well, they weren’t today. They were plus-4.

“You’re going to lose football games when you’re minus-4 in the turnover ratio, and we did today.”

Roethlisberger finished 30 of 43 for 343 yards and connected with Martavis Bryant for an 80-yard TD with 1:16 left. The Steelers attempted an onside kick, but Eric Decker recovered to seal it for the Jets — who avoided setting a franchise mark for consecutive losses.

“You can’t turn the ball over, and we did it too much,” Roethlisberger said. “This stings.”

The Jets weren’t happy, though, that Mike Mitchell tried to break up their victory formation, leaping over the top of center Nick Mangold, who slammed the Steelers safety to the ground, causing a brief shoving match.

“It’s a dirty play,” Mangold said.

But the Jets won by playing mostly a clean game Sunday, successful for the first time since beating Oakland on opening day.

“Today,” Vick said, “was going to be our day.”

Vick, who became the first quarterback in NFL history to run for 6,000 career yards, threw touchdown passes to T.J. Graham and Jace Amaro. Vick was 10 of 18 for 132 yards and ran eight times for 39 yards, and Ryan announced that the veteran will start again against Buffalo after the bye week.

The victory might help temper frustrations of Jets fans, one of whom had a banner-toting plane urging the team to fire general manager John Idzik circle the practice field early in the week. There was another one circling the stadium Sunday, which read: “JETS REBUILDING SINCE 1969.”

But, heading into the bye, Ryan’s job, as well as Idzik’s, appears safe — for now.

The Jets looked good on their first possession, but the 14-play drive stalled at the Steelers 5 and New York Nick Folk made a 23-yard field goal.

After Jarrett sacked Roethlisberger on third-and-15 to force a punt, the Jets got right back on the scoreboard. Vick had plenty of time and zipped a perfectly placed pass into the hands of a sprinting Graham, who ran it into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown.

The Jets got the ball right back when Muhammad Wilkerson forced a fumble by Antonio Brown and Jarrett recovered. Jarrett finished with two interceptions, a sack and a fumble recovery after drawing the late start after first-round pick Calvin Pryor was benched.

After a sack on first down, Vick scrambled for 18 yards, including a shake-and-bake move that buckled Steelers cornerback Brice McCain’s knees. Three plays later, Vick found Amaro and made it 17-0 with 19 seconds left in the opening quarter.

“That’s what happens when you turn the ball over,” Roethlisberger said. “You dig yourself a hole.”

Pittsburgh appeared on its way to its first score with a long drive in the second quarter helped by a personal foul penalty on New York’s Jason Babin. But at the Jets 10, Roethlisberger had his short pass attempt tipped by Marcus Williams right into Jarrett’s hands.

The Jets, who came in with three takeaways all season, got their third of the first half when Brown muffed Ryan Quigley’s punt and Graham recovered. But Folk was wide left on a 45-yard attempt.

In the final quarter, Pittsburgh had first-and-goal from the 1, but was stuffed on four straight plays — including a penalty on the Jets and LeGarrette Blount losing 8 yards on a run. Shaun Suisham’s 27-yarder made it 20-6 with 7:21 left.

“It’s a team we should beat,” Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. “But this is the NFL. You have to go in their house and you can’t go in here and win if you have four turnovers and none on defense.”

Game notes

Suisham hooked a 23-yard attempt wide left on the first play of the fourth quarter. … Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell had eight catches for 33 yards, giving him 55 receptions for the season, surpassing John L. Williams (51 in 1994) for the most in team history by a running back. … Brown was held to 74 yards receiving, the first time this season he failed to get 80 or more.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

49ers vs. Rams final score – Rookies step up

Published by EOTM News Editor on October 14th, 2014 - in EOTM Sports News, NFL, Sports News

By Cain Cawthon

(SB Nation) — The San Francisco 49ers (4-2) went down 14-0 in the first quarter Monday night, but stormed back against the St. Louis Rams (1-4) for a 31-17 win. Things were looking pretty good for the Rams until late in the first half, when Colin Kaepernick connected with Brandon Lloyd for a huge 80-yard touchdown to cut it to 14-10.

Getty image

From there it was all 49ers. San Francisco scored 24 unanswered points to put the game out of the reach of a St. Louis offense that finished cold after starting hot.

1) These just aren’t the same 49ers, but no one seems to be telling them. Even with a depleted defense and rumors swirling about some alleged locker room turmoil (who doesn’t love a good manufactured story line?), San Francisco just keeps rolling along. The 49ers looked out of sync to start, but when they put together bursts of 49er-esque football — as they did in the second half Monday — they looked great. Kaepernick led the way, throwing for 343 yards and three touchdowns.

The 49ers are dealing with big-time injuries on both sides of the ball, but they were able to keep pace in the crowded NFC West. For now, that’s all that matters.

2) The Rams do still have something in Austin Davis. The third-string quarterback led St. Louis down the field on the team’s opening drive and looked impressive for the entire first half. The 49ers made his life miserable in the second half, though, as Davis and the offense couldn’t do anything. How bad was it? Davis didn’t even complete a fourth-quarter pass until there was 4:19 left and San Francisco had let off the gas.

But the Rams do still have an intriguing quarterback in Davis. It’s obvious that he is capable of handling the offense well and can make the big throws. For example, here he is connecting with Lance Kendricks for a touchdown in the first quarter:

Now, if Davis and the Rams offense can just put together two halves of solid football, they might actually start winning games.

3) The Rams just couldn’t get out of their own way. Whether it was the 49ers picking Janoris Jenkins apart or a number of (albeit sometimes questionable) penalties or just generally bad football, St. Louis fell apart after its great start. Once Lloyd streaked down the field for his 80-yard score, the Rams just couldn’t figure out how to replicate their success.

It certainly has something to do with overall talent, but the Rams were dominating the 49ers early. They looked capable of hanging with San Francisco, but Lloyd’s touchdown really seemed to deflate St. Louis. The defense showed some signs of life by stopping the 49ers on two fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter and the Rams scored a late field goal, but Davis’ pick-six in the last possession sealed the loss.

Linebacker Patrick Willis left in the third quarter with a toe injury. Safety Jimmie Ward (quad) and offensive lineman Mike Iupati (head) also left the game. Stevie Johnson (hip) was shaken up while recovering an onside kick in the fourth. So … want to play for the 49ers? They might have some openings these days. Give their offices a call or something.

Source: SB Nation

Seattle Seahawks’ new nickelback Marcus Burley tested by Chargers

Published by EOTM News Editor on September 14th, 2014 - in Breaking News, EOTM Sports News, NFL, Sports News


In every game, at every level he has played, Marcus Burley’s expectation has been the same.

The Seahawks’ Marcus Burley breaks up a pass intended for Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb. -- Image credit: John Lok / The Seattle Times

“You always have to go out there and every play think that the ball is coming to you,’’ said Burley, a Seahawks cornerback.

That could be truer than ever Sunday when the Seahawks play the San Diego Chargers in a 1:05 p.m. game at Qualcomm Stadium.

The Seahawks enter the game off a 36-16 win over the Green Bay Packers a week ago Thursday that reinforced their standing as a team that might have the best chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions since the 2004 New England Patriots.

About the only reason for worry as Seattle left CenturyLink Field that night was the status of the nickelback spot — the extra defensive back who comes in for obvious passing situations — with Jeremy Lane leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury.

That’s where Burley enters the story.

Burley, who had been with the team for just five days — acquired in a trade from Indianapolis for a sixth-round draft pick in 2015 — played the final 25 snaps of his first NFL game in relief of Lane.

A few days later, the team placed Lane on injured reserve with a designation to return. That means Lane can return in eight weeks.

It also means that, for now, Burley is the nickelback.

“We’re looking for Marcus to do a real nice job and take that spot over,’’ coach Pete Carroll said.

Burley was not drafted in 2013 after playing for FCS power Delaware.

The native of Richmond, Va., started 31 games at Delaware, where his biggest honor was being named All-Colonial Athletic Association as a junior.

He possessed one trait that enticed NFL scouts, though.

“He had that one thing you can’t really coach or teach, which is speed,’’ said Henry Baker, Burley’s position coach at Delaware his last two years. “The one thing I told him is, ‘As long as you can run, someone will find you.’ ’’

A 4.34 time in the 40 at his Pro Day got him on the NFL’s radar, and Burley last season had stints on practice squads with Jacksonville, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Baker says Burley took what he could out of each experience last season.

“He wasn’t a guy to hang out or do those types of things,’’ Baker said. “He was a guy who was always studying, trying to perfect his craft.’’

So Baker wasn’t surprised that Burley had a breakthrough in camp with the Colts, which led to the trade to the Seahawks, who were looking for options at nickelback behind Lane after failing to find any during their own training camp.

Carroll said he has been most impressed that Burley hasn’t seemed fazed by playing alongside Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.

“As we’ve learned more about him, we realized that he’s a real serious competitor, a real bright kid that wants to learn,’’ Carroll said.

Seattle was in the nickel for 57 of 62 snaps against the Packers. The Seahawks might not go to the defense as often against San Diego, but Burley should still be tested plenty by the Chargers. Led by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers, San Diego averaged 270 passing yards in 2013, fifth in the league.

The Chargers got off to a rough start Monday with an 18-17 loss at Arizona in which Rivers was just 21 of 36 for 238 yards.

Rivers said he won’t copy the lead of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and try to avoid Sherman. But with an offense predicated on spreading the ball around, Rivers figures to look more often toward Byron Maxwell, and to Burley when he’s on the field.

As Carroll put it this week, Seattle is “challenged” in depth at the cornerback spot. Also out is Tharold Simon, sidelined at least another few weeks after having minor knee surgery.

To help out, Seattle this week also signed cornerback Josh Thomas, who played for Carolina the past three years. Thomas, though, was signed to play as an outside corner primarily, and also isn’t yet acclimated to Seattle’s defense. Backup safety DeShawn Shead can also play corner but also is more experienced outside.

So for now, the nickelback job is Burley’s. And if it’s speed that got him to this point, he’s hoping to take this job and run with it.

“I feel like it’s a great opportunity,’’ he said. “I’ve just got to keep my head in the playbook and take full advantage of it.’’


49ers-Cowboys final score: Dallas down, San Francisco handles business

Published by EOTM News Editor on September 7th, 2014 - in EOTM Sports News, NFL, Sports News

By Cain Cawthon

Follow us: @EOTMOnline on Twitter | EOTM.Media on Facebook

(ESPN) – A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 28-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at AT&T Stadium:

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

What it means: Simply disastrous. The Cowboys know the defense will be limited but the offense can’t simply give away games. That’s what they did against the 49ers. On the first play of the game, Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith had a false start on his way to a poor outing. On the second snap, Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray had a fumble returned 29 yards for a touchdown. Two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo was intercepted three times in the first half. All of it led to a 28-3 halftime deficit and effectively sapped the energy out of the home opener. The Cowboys, coming off three straight 8-8 seasons and with expectations extremely low, could not have looked more incompetent.

Stock watch: On more than one occasion in the offseason — training camp and preseason — Romo said he believed he would be a better player after undergoing his second back surgery in less than a year. Maybe things will change in the final 15 games, but Sunday was one of Romo’s worst. Romo has long felt he needed practice to be at his best, but he was limited in the spring, never practiced more than three straight days in camp and played only 50 official snaps in two preseason games. He was out of sync the entire day and took big hits as well, getting sacked three times. It was the seventh time he has been picked off three times in a half in his career and the first since Week 8 in 2012.


Image Credit: USA Today

Red-zone woes: When the Cowboys had a chance to keep it close in the first half they imploded in the red zone. On the drive after Murray’s fumble, Romo appeared to check out of a running play at the San Francisco 2 and was dropped for a 9-yard sack. The Cowboys settled for a field goal on the drive. On first-and-goal from the 5 in the second quarter, Romo was intercepted in the end zone when he forced a throw to Jason Witten. It wasn’t until the second half that the Cowboys ran it inside the 5 and they waited until fourth down to give the ball to Murray, who scored on a 2-yard run with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.

Game ball: DeMarco Murray finished with 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, but his fumble on the opening drive played too big of a part in the loss to earn this honor. Linebacker Rolando McClain, after two retirements and playing his first game since Nov. 25, 2012, when he was with the Oakland Raiders, finished with eight tackles. In a physical game, McClain was able to show up. So there’s that.

What’s next: The Cowboys travel to Nashville, Tennessee, next week to take on the Tennessee Titans (1-0). It will be the Cowboys’ first trip there since 2006. They won, 45-14.

Source: ESPN

Michael Sam down but not Out after St. Louis Rams cut

Published by EOTM News Editor on August 30th, 2014 - in Breaking News, EOTM Sports News, NFL, Sports News

By Cain Cawthon

Follow us: @eotmonline on Twitter |EOTM.Media on Facebook

If Michael Sam is going to be the first openly gay player to make an NFL regular-season roster, it won’t be with the St. Louis Rams.

DE Michael Sam was a seventh-round draft pick by the Rams.(Photo: Jeff Haynes, AP)

At least not right away.

Sam was among final four players released by the Rams on Saturday as the team finalized its 53-man roster.

He will now be subject to waivers and could be claimed by another team, meaning he would automatically make that club’s roster and find a new home by the end of the weekend. If he is unclaimed, Sam may still wind up on the Rams’ 10-man practice squad.

“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level,” Sam said via his Twitter account Saturday afternoon.

“I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career. The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known. The journey continues.”

St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher called Sam to inform him of the team’s decision around 3:30 ET. Sam, who was in Columbia, Mo., on Saturday to watch his former Missouri Tigers teammates open their season, will meet with Fisher in St. Louis on Sunday.

“I was pulling for him, and it just didn’t work out,” Fisher said.

Sam was one of hundreds of players released Saturday. But because of the cultural significance of his status as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, his release certainly generated the most intrigue.

But what made his preseason memorable was that for him and his teammates, it was about his status as a football player, not as a trailblazer.

“There was no distraction. If someone perceived or thought there might be a distraction, they weren’t in the building,” Fisher said.

“This was a football decision. Mike fit in very well. Fun to be around, a good teammate. There was no issue there.”

In some ways, St. Louis was the perfect spot for Sam to begin his NFL career. He was drafted by one of the NFL’s most respected head coaches in Jeff Fisher and joined a team with strong veteran leaders like fellow defensive end Chris Long. Sam also initially remained close to Columbia, Mo., where he had been open about his sexuality to his Missouri teammates and on campus for a year without issue.

But though Sam flashed the pass rush ability in the preseason that helped make him the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year in 2013 — he had three sacks in four games — the Rams determined he wasn’t one of the five best players at a position where the team was already loaded with talent.

The top four defensive ends were clear: starters Long and Robert Quinn and top reserves William Hayes and Eugene Sims. The emergence of undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks, who showed the ability to capably play all four defensive line positions, meant there was no room left for Sam.

“Mike played well, and he has the ability to play some place,” Fisher said. “It has to be right place, has to be a fit.”

To Wade Davis, a former NFL player and now the executive director of the You Can Play Project, the best spot for Sam would be back with the Rams as part of their 10-man practice squad.

RELATED:NFL Draft 2014: Michael Sam going undrafted ‘would’ve been seen as homophobic,’ report

Davis, who came out as gay after his playing career was over, told USA TODAY Sports that remaining in St. Louis would help Sam’s long-term development because of the coaching he would receive there.

“He’s proven he needs more snaps,” said Davis, who spent time with Fisher and St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead earlier this week.

“By drafting him, they showed a level of investment in him already.”

Read the full story via USA Today.

Does Josh Gordon’s punishment fit the crime?

By Cain Cawthon

Follow @EOTMSportsNews on Twitter

NFL Setting the Wrong Precedent By Upholding Josh Gordon Suspension

Today the NFL announced its decision to uphold the season-long suspension of the Cleveland Browns‘ star receiver Josh Gordon, a move that will further tarnish the billion dollar business’ image.

Getty Image

A 1-year suspension?

Seriously? Now I understand that it is outlined in the CBA between the players and teams that after a third failed drug test a player is to be suspended for the entirety of the upcoming season. However, with societal acceptance of marijuana growing everyday, and with the questionable two-game suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse looming over their heads already, this was the NFL’s chance to right some wrongs.

For starters, marijuana is a drug that in some states has been legalized for recreational use already. In a matter of years it will most likely be legal in more than half the states if not the entire country. So while I understand the NFL sticking to their guns and going by what is laid out in the CBA, I also think a year-long suspension is a bit harsh for something that is quickly becoming completely acceptable. I get it if the NFL still wants to keep their players clean of the drug, but it’s not like we’re talking about performance enhancing drugs here. It was weed.

SEE ALSO:Tony Dungy issues statement after saying he wouldn’t draft openly gay player Michael Sam

To make matters worse, you throw in Rice’s two-game suspension after an altercation with his wife, where he knocked her unconscious and dragged her out of an elevator, and all the sudden the NFL looks a little backwards in their thinking. What’s the saying in society, “the punishment should fit the crime?” Have you ever heard of that, Roger Goodell? Let’s keep Rice out for two weeks because oh, he’s a changed man, but Gordon is going to get a year for something I can go buy legally in several states. Give me a break.

I don’t care if Rice helped 100 old ladies cross the street or saved 25 babies from a house fire since then, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he still sucker punched his, at the time, fiancé, knocked her out cold and then continued to drag her around and act like nothing was wrong.

There was obviously an uproar already a few weeks back when the two-game suspension for Rice was announced and they stood by the decision since then. But this was a chance to maybe salvage some respect and realize that while Gordon’s third failed drug test is unacceptable in their eyes, Rice’s domestic abuse incident is unacceptable by the human race.

The NFL blew an opportunity to take a stand on a huge issue that faces not only the United States, but the world, and instead  shrugged it off and pretended it was no big deal, while they collect their billions of dollars. Well, I hope they enjoy collecting their billions of complaint letters over the next year. An organization that recognizable should be setting an example and making a difference.

They will protect players from getting their bell rung during a game, where the purpose is to hit each other as hard as you can, but when it happens in real life it’s not their problem. What a disappointing moment for the NFL.

Is the NFL setting the wrong precedent by upholding Josh Gordon suspension? Sound off below in the comments.


Tony Dungy issues statement after saying he wouldn’t draft openly gay player Michael Sam

By Cain Cawthon

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On Tuesday Michael Sam responded to Tony Dungy’s comment that he wouldn’t take the openly gay St. Louis Rams rookie in the draft because he would be a “distraction,” a comment that Dungy later clarified.

RELATED: NFL Draft 2014: Michael Sam going undrafted ‘would’ve been seen as homophobic,’ report

Sam, the first openly gay player the NFL has ever had said he was just glad that Dungy wasn’t the Rams coach.

Dungy’s statement in it’s entirety below.

On Monday afternoon while on vacation with my family, I was quite surprised to read excerpts from an interview I gave several weeks ago related to this year’s NFL Draft, and I feel compelled to clarify those remarks.

I was asked whether I would have drafted Michael Sam and I answered that I would not have drafted him.  I gave my honest answer, which is that I felt drafting him would bring much distraction to the team. At the time of my interview, the Oprah Winfrey reality show that was going to chronicle Michael’s first season had been announced.

I was not asked whether or not Michael Sam deserves an opportunity to play in the NFL.  He absolutely does.

I was not asked whether his sexual orientation should play a part in the evaluation process.  It should not.

I was not asked whether I would have a problem having Michael Sam on my team.  I would not.

I have been asked all of those questions several times in the last three months and have always answered them the same way—by saying that playing in the NFL is, and should be, about merit.

The best players make the team, and everyone should get the opportunity to prove whether they’re good enough to play.  That’s my opinion as a coach.  But those were not the questions I was asked.

What I was asked about was my philosophy of drafting, a philosophy that was developed over the years, which was to minimize distractions for my teams.

I do not believe Michael’s sexual orientation will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization.

I do, however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction.  Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction.

I wish Michael Sam nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.

My sincere hope is that we will be able to focus on his play and not on his sexual orientation.