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Matty Ice and a crazy weekend of football

The games aren’t even over yet, so we might get some more heroics and bizarre plays in the Pats/Texans game, but the Falcons and Seahawks seemed determined to come up with a game that was even more epic than Denver’s stunning collapse yesterday. Here’s some observations:

- Congrats to Matt Ryan. He sealed his “Matty Ice” nickname with two excellent passes starting at his own 31 yard line with 25 seconds left. All of this happened after what looked like a stunning Atlanta collapse that would have haunted Ryan for years. Instead, Seattle came up short after a great comeback. As a Cleveland fan, I know how Seattle fans feel.

- John Fox did his best Marty Schottenheimer impersonation, and the results were brutal for Denver fans, who had to watch their own version of “The Drive” against them engineered by Joe Flacco and the former Browns. Here’s Will Brinson regarding John Fox:

Remember when Fox decided on Saturday night that he shouldn’t give Peyton Manning a chance to win the game with two timeouts left, the Broncos on their own 20-yard line and 31 seconds left in the game? Yeah, he probably didn’t enjoy watching the Falcons take the ball at their own 31-yard line with 25 seconds and two timeouts and roll down for a score in about 15 seconds. It only emphasizes how bizarre his conservative coaching was against the Ravens.

Peyton Manning blew it in overtime with a rookie-type mistake, but he should have been given the chance to make 2 or 3 throws to get that last-second field goal in regulation. Also, before Flacco’s epic drive, Fox decided to run the ball on third down instead of letting Manning try to complete one pass that would have sealed the game. Brutal.

- Flacco was the hero and he made some awesome throws, but he also missed some open bombs and threw several passes that easily could have been intercepted. He made a ton of money for himself last night, but as a Cleveland fan I don’t mind seeing Baltimore eat up a ton of cap space for him.

- I was wrong about Russell Wilson. The kid can play and he was poised to be the hero, but Seattle left too many seconds on the clock for Atlanta after an epic comeback. That said, we saw today some of what we saw from Wilson in college. He’s at his best when his team is down and he can just try to create. In running a traditional pro offense he’s a little more limited. But, he had a hell of a rookie season and Pete Carroll made the right call starting him.

- Carroll did not make the right call trying to ice the kicker. Ouch!

- Atlanta did a good job playing the read-option today, and I think they’ll be ready for Colin Kaepernick. As for Kaepernick, people are focusing on the runs, and they certainly were huge in the win over Green Bay, but the guy has a rocket arm and he made the big throws that made the difference in that win. He’s still very raw on shorter throws and needs to shed the Derek Anderson approach of throwing short passes at 100 mph, but he’s a real weapon on offense. I’m not a fan of the read-option, and any team that uses it risks getting their quarterback beaten silly, but a team like San Francisco might sneak in a Super Bowl before that happens. The Shanahans weren’t so lucky with their irresponsible, high risk running strategy with RG3.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Already Knew

Let’s be honest: Sports bloggers know everything. Just ask us. As part of our 2010 Year-End Sports Review, our list of things we already knew this year includes Brad Childress’ biggest fail, Wade Phillips’ demise in Dallas and John Calipari’s troubles. We also knew Kevin Durant was the next great superstar (who didn’t see that coming?), Roger Clemens is the ultimate windbag and that “Matty Ice” knows fourth-quarter comebacks. We should have gone to medical school…

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

LeBron is a frontrunner.

We all were a little surprised that LeBron left Cleveland, but the writing was on the wall. Growing up, LeBron didn’t root for the local teams. He followed the Yankees, Bulls and Cowboys, which in the 1990s constituted the Holy Triumvirate of Frontrunning. He wore his Yankee cap to an Indians game and was seen hobnobbing on the Cowboy sidelines during a Browns game. He says he’s loyal, but he’s only loyal to winners…unless they only win in the regular season, of course.

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241974 Handout photo from ESPN showing LaBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Brad Childress’ biggest flaw cost him his job in the end.

There were many reasons why the Vikings decided to fire head coach Brad Childress roughly a year after they signed him to a contract extension. One of the reasons was because he lost with a talented roster. Another was because he never quite figured out how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, which is a sin given how talented AP is. But the main reason “Chilly” was ousted in Minnesota was because he didn’t know how to manage NFL-caliber personalities. He didn’t know how to handle Brett Favre, which led to blowups on the sidelines and multiple face-to-face confrontations. He also didn’t have a clue how to deal with Randy Moss’ crass attitude, so he released him just four weeks after the team acquired him in a trade from New England. Childress was hired in part to help clean up the mess in Minnesota after the whole “Love Boat” scandal. But the problem with a disciplinarian that hasn’t first earned respect is that his demands fall on deaf ears. In the end, Childress’ inability to command respect from his players cost him his job. You know, on top of the fact that he was losing with a talented roster, he didn’t know how to best utilize Adrian Peterson, he…

Love him or hate him, George Steinbrenner will forever be one of baseball’s icons.

You may have hated his brash attitude, the way he ran his team or the way he conducted his business. You may even feel that he ruined baseball. But regardless of how you may have felt about him, there’s little denying that George Steinbrenner will forever be one of Major League Baseball’s icons. Steinbrenner passed away in July of this year. He will forever be a man known for helping revolutionize the business side of baseball by being the first owner to sell TV cable rights to the MSG Network. When things eventually went south with MSG, he created the YES Network, which is currently the Yankees’ very own TV station that generates millions in revenue. During his tenure, he took the Yankees from a $10 million franchise to a $1.2 billion juggernaut. In 2005, the Yankees became the first professional sports franchise to be worth an estimated one billion dollars. While many baseball fans came to despise the way he ran his team (mainly because he purchased high priced free agents with reckless abandon due to the fact that he could and others couldn’t), don’t miss the message he often made year in and year out: The Yankees are here to win. He didn’t line his pockets with extra revenue (albeit he generated a lot of extra revenue for his club) – he dumped his money back into the on-field product. Losing wasn’t acceptable and if the Bombers came up short one year, you could bet that Steinbrenner would go after the best talent in the offseason, regardless of what others thought of the approach. How many Pirates and Royals fans wish they had an owner with the same appetite for victory?

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I’m Just Saying: How bad could Matt Leinart have really been?

Arizona Cardinals starting quarterback Derek Anderson leaves the field after the Cards game with the St. Louis Rams at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ December 5,2010. Anderson was replaced in the second half as the Rams defeated the Cards 19-6. UPI/Art Foxall Photo via Newscom

I’m starting a new column and I’m calling it “I’m Just Saying.” Peter King has a column (Monday Morning Quarterback), so it only makes sense that a well-respected sports blogger like myself has a column as well.

What? I’m not well-respected? Who the hell is Anthony Stalter? Peter King is more established?

What-ev.

- Let’s hold off on the Giants-look-like-Super-Bowl-contenders-again talk after they beat a crap Redskins team. After their effort against the Eagles and Giants over the past few weeks, I’m fully convinced that Oregon could beat the Redskins on a neutral field.

- Hey Josh Freeman, I’d stay away from Brent Grimes the next time Atlanta comes to down. Dude is small but he’s often the most athletic player on the field.

- Lion fans are pissed about the unnecessary roughness penalty on Ndamukong Suh for the forearm shiver that he delivered to Jay Cutler’s back, but riddle me this, Batman: Was the play avoidable? Could Suh have chosen not to go GSP on Cutler and still gotten him down? What I’m asking is: Was it necessary roughness?

- I’m pretty sure I could think of two reasons not to start Brett Favre for every one reason that Leslie Fraizer comes up with. Let’s start with these: His touchdown to interception ratio this year is 10:17 and even after his effort on Sunday, one could make an argument that Ryan Fitzpatrick is better at this point in his career. That’s right – Ryan Fitzpatrick. So why not Tarvaris Jackson, Leslie?

- Is there any reason Marion Barber should get carries for the Cowboys with how good Felix Jones and Tashard Choice looked against the Colts? Sorry, is there any good reason I mean to write.

- You’re lucky the Colts wound up scoring anyway, Eric Foster.

- Hey Peyton: blue shirts, white helmets, my man.

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Derek Anderson goes off on a reporter in press conference

It wouldn’t be a Cardinals’ prime time television event without one of their coaches or players going off on the media following the game.

During the closing minutes of Arizona’s embarrassing 27-6 loss to the 49ers on Monday Night Football, television cameras showed quarterback Derek Anderson (who was atrocious…again) and guard Deuce Lutui sharing a laugh on the sidelines. When confronted about the moment in his post-game press conference, Anderson went off.

In some respects I feel for Anderson. We’ve all been there; things aren’t going your way so a friend tosses out a, “Hey, things could be worse – you could be Jake Delhomme” comments to make you laugh. It’s not that you feel any better about the situation, but you share a laugh and it helps breaks up the tension for that moment.

But I don’t blame fans for being upset. The prices of NFL tickets these days are absurd and to watch your team look as pathetic as the Cardinals did on Monday night is bad enough. You don’t want to see/hear that your quarterback was on the sidelines yucking it up with another teammate on top of having to endure the on-field product. It’s not fair, and in defense of the reporter, he gave Anderson the opportunity to explain himself and Anderson instead got defensive.

Either way, this situation won’t matter soon enough. Anderson isn’t a part of Arizona’s future and given how bad he looked last night, he may not be a part of their present either.

There’s the Derek Anderson we all know and love

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 10: Quarterback Derek Anderson  of the Arizona Cardinals on the sidelines during the NFL game against the New Orleans Saints at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Saints 30-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Only Derek Anderson would come in as a replacement, lead his team to a great comeback and stab them in the face with the opportunity for victory presented itself late in the game.

Let me explain.

Midway through the second quarter, Anderson replaced an ineffective Max Hall, who had just thrown a pick-6 to Aqib Talib to give Tampa a 21-14 lead. Anderson then took the Cardinals up the field on his first possession, but a pass attempt to Larry Fitzgerald fell incomplete on a 4th-and-2 from the Tampa Bay 3-yard line and the Bucs wound up kicking a field goal to take a 24-14 halftime lead.

After Tampa built a 31-14 lead midway through the third, Larod Stephens-Howling scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to cut the Bucs’ lead down to 31-21, then Arizona scored on a Gerald Hayes 21-yard fumble return to make the score 31-28. Early in the fourth, Anderson found Fitzgerald on a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Cardinals a 35-31 lead, although Tampa scored to make it 38-35 with just over five minutes remaining.

After an Anderson interception (not his fault – the receiver had it bounce off his hands and straight into the loving arms of a defender) and a bone-headed decision by Bucs’ head coach Raheem Morris to try a long field goal attempt, Anderson marched the Cards up the field and into the red zone. With just over two minutes remaining, Anderson had the Cardinals knocking on the door of a touchdown or at the very least, a game-tying field goal.

But Derek Anderson, in all of his Derek Anderson glory, threw a pass into quadruple coverage trying to get the ball to Fitzgerald and was promptly picked off by Talib.

Game. Set. Match. Derek Anderson. Bucs win 38-35.

Cardinals need a freaking quarterback.

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