|Russell Wilson looks back on game against Patriots that started it all for Seattle||01.21.15 at 9:44 pm ET|
The Seahawks were just over nine minutes away from falling to 3-3 on the 2012 season. They trailed the Patriots 23-10 on their home turf.
Things didn’t look good for Seattle or rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
Then he completed a touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards to make it close down the stretch. Still, Seattle trailed 23-17 and had the ball at their own 43 with 2:38 left in the fourth.
Wilson, a rookie out of Wisconsin was still learning the NFL game. That was the season that many Seahawks fans wondered why the rookie was getting the call at quarterback over recently signed free agent Matt Flynn and 2011 starter Tarvaris Jackson. With one deep pass to Sydney Rice over the Patriots secondary, Wilson validated the decision of head coach Pete Carroll.
The perfectly-placed 46-yarder resulted in a touchdown and gave the Seahawks a 24-23 win. The win improved Seattle to 4-2 but more importantly, established confidence in the locker room in the young kid and Seattle finished 11-5. The next season, Seattle overcame the 49ers in the NFC championship and won Super Bowl XLVIII.
Last week, Wilson did it again, overcoming a 19-7 hole in the final three minutes to post a heart-pounding 28-22 win in overtime to punch Seattle’s second straight ticket to the Super Bowl, and sent Wilson into tears.
“I’m not a very good crier,” Wilson joked. “I was ugly when I cry. No, it’s just a blessing to be on this football team. Just thinking about all the things we’ve been through this year and all the fight and one of the greatest come backs in my opinion. Especially with the circumstances with three minutes or so to go and score two touchdowns, then get the ball in overtime and win the game and go to the Super Bowl. I just think about my teammates. I think about all the hard work we’ve put in and it’s just been a blessing to come a mighty long way.”
On Wednesday, Wilson pointed back to that game on Oct. 14, 2012 as the turning point for him and the franchise.
“To go back to my rookie season, it seems like forever ago. But to go back to my rookie season, and to play the Patriots, I truly think that was one of the biggest games for me personally just to be able to come back against a great team and to take the lead throwing the ball to Sidney Rice. Tremendous receiver makes a big time play for us to win the game with about a minute and a half left. That was a huge comeback for us.
“I think that was kind of the momentum starter for the past three years really, to be honest with you. I think Chicago (23-17 OT win) was another big game for our offense and for me personally. So, I think back to those games and just remember the experience, the grit that it takes to win, especially against a big time quarterback like Tom Brady and their football team and what they do so well. They’re always on it, they’re always ready to go, and so we’re going to have to play our best football that’s for sure.”
What is the biggest difference playing the Patriots now as opposed to 2012?
“I think the biggest difference between me in my rookie year against the Patriots and now, I just think the experience, the composure, all the reps that I’ve had, all the practices, all the games, all the big games, and quote on quote, ‘big games’. I try not to look at them as big games, I just try to look at them as great moments and you just try to add up those moments and more great moments than bad moments,” Wilson said. “You just trust the guys you have around you. For me, just the development of our offense and what we can really do and the versatility of our offense and how we can quickly score and all the things that we can do.
|Bill Belichick compares Russell Wilson to the Roger Staubach ‘Houdini’ act||01.20.15 at 1:28 pm ET|
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback pulled off an escape act Sunday unlike any other in NFC championship lore. While Wilson was running around the field, especially on the critical two-point conversion in the final two minutes of regulation, Belichick thought back to someone else doing likewise.
“He just knows where people are,” Belichick said. “It looks like he’s going to get tackled and he doesn’t. It kind of reminds of watching [Roger] Staubach. You think he doesn’t see them, but he sees them or somehow he just knows they’re there. He’s got an uncanny sense of awareness of what’s around him ‘ good or bad. I don’t know how you ‘ I can’t really define it. I don’t know how you coach it; it’s just an awareness that all great players have it. All good players have it. I think he just has it at a higher level. It’s really impressive.”
Belichick’s answer was actually sparked by a question comparing Wilson’s mobility to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
“They’re both pretty strong runners. There’s just something, I can’t really put it into words. Wilson’s just got an instinctiveness,” Belichick said.
Staubach’s elusiveness as a runner initially drew criticism from his head coach Tom Landry in 1971, as he was fighting for the starting job with Craig Morton. It also earned him the “Roger the Dodger” nickname.
“I don’t know. It’s just the way I remember a lot of Staubach’s spectacular running plays where it looked like he was about to get tackled by three or four guys and he would Houdini it out of there somehow,” Belichick said. “Wilson did some of the same things.”
As far as Houdini acts, Sunday’s in Seattle ranks up there with legendary performances in NFL playoff history, right alongside the “Hail Mary” Staubach threw to Drew Pearson in 1975 at the end of a playoff win in Minnesota. Belichick doesn’t have to go back that far for a similar – and unpleasant – personal recollection of Wilson’s escape ability. On Oct. 14, 2012, Belichick’s Patriots led Wilson’s Seahawks, 23-10 with under 10 minutes left. Wilson connected with Braylon Edwards on a touchdown pass with seven minutes left and then hit a fly pattern to Sydney Rice with 1:18 left to post a 24-23 win in Seattle. Will film of that game help?
“Yeah sure, I think there’s some value to it,” Belichick said. “We’ll definitely look at that game, as I’m sure they will. Some things are similar, but it’s a couple years ago and there are a lot of things that have changed. It will be one piece of a big puzzle. We’ll just try to put it all together and see what we can come up with. But yeah, no, we’ll definitely look at that. It’s relevant.”
|Rodney Harrison on MFB: ‘There are Patriots haters across the country, that is just what it is’||at 12:13 pm ET|
NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss Deflategate and to look ahead to the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
With the Colts reportedly notifying the league that they suspected the Patriots were playing with a deflated football, Harrison said a lot of that comes from the Patriots’ past success and people finding ways to detract from them constantly winning.
“There are Patriots haters across the country, that is just what it is,” Harrison said. “When you’ve had the level of success that the Patriots have had you get used to everywhere you go and people hate you — ‘I hate the Patriots.’ You have to have a lot of respect for the Patriots for what they have accomplished year in and year out. The Patriots are unlike a lot of organizations. You look at the Giants and the two Super Bowl wins that they have had — the Giants have been an organization that has been fluctuating up and down, you don’t know if they are going to win the Super Bowl one year or end up 4-12. The Patriots have been a pillar of consistency and I think they are the model franchise. Everyone talks about the Dallas Cowboys being America’s team — you can have popularity, the Patriots want victories. That is what the whole model around the Patriots is.
“Deflating balls and all that stuff, Indianapolis got their butts kicked. Flat out up and down the field. They didn’t even believe they could come in and beat the Patriots. They don’t believe they can come in [to Gillette Stadium] and win. They got blown out. Just relax, all the haters, we’ll see what happens in Arizona. It should be fun and it’s a great opportunity to prove everyone wrong. Once again, you cannot not credit Bill Belichick and what he’s done for the organization and the consistency they’ve had.”
With Spygate allegations surrounding Harrison’s Super Bowl wins when he played in New England, he said he never even thinks about that, or cares for that matter.
“I don’t give a damn. I don’t give a damn with what people say when it comes to that,” he said. “My Super Bowl rings, they are in a safe somewhere, they are put up. You cannot take away what we accomplished. I don’t care what people say, I don’t care how much they hate, how much negativity they bring. The Patriots have been a pillar of consistency, they continue to win and people, instead of hating on the Patriots, figure out what you’re doing and maybe you can be apart of it.”
|Seahawks pull off miracle, shock Packers to head back to Super Bowl||01.18.15 at 6:34 pm ET|
In one of the most shocking endings in NFL postseason history, the Seattle Seahawks punched their return ticket to the Super Bowl in miraculous fashion. Russell Wilson, who had struggled badly throughout the game, connected with Jermaine Kearse from 35 yards out just over three minutes into overtime to give Seattle a 28-22 win over Green Bay in a monumentally classic NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field.
Trailing 19-7 in the final three minutes, the Seahawks scored twice, executed a perfect onside kick and converted a miraculous two-point conversion to forge a 22-19 lead with 1:25 left. Then a hurting and hobbled Aaron Rodgers engineered a scoring drive that ended with Mason Crosby’s fifth field goal of the day, a 48-yarder, that forced overtime and prompted huge cheers from the crowd watching inside Gillette Stadium.
The overtime pushed the start time of the Patriots-Colts AFC championship back 10 minutes.
For the first 57 minutes, it appeared for all the world that Green Bay would be headed to Glendale.
The game was a sloppy affair in the first half, as the two teams combined for five turnovers.
Wilson, who finished just 14-of-29 for 209 yards and four interceptions, seemed particularly affected by the early heavy rains that gave way to sun showers. The Seahawks quarterback had just eight yards passing while being victimized twice by Clinton-Dix, Green Bay’s first-round pick last year.
But the Packers kept the Seahawks in the game by settling for field goals on two early turnovers in the first quarter. Rodgers made it 13-0 Packers when he connected with Randall Cobb for 13 yards before the second quarter began. Mason Crosby hit his third field goal of the game in the second quarter to give Green Bay a 16-0 halftime lead.
The Seahawks generated some life late in the third quarter when they converted a fake field goal into a touchdown, as hold Jon Ryan found tackle Gary Gillam in the end zone. The Seahawks trailed 16-6 and instead of going for two points, making it a one possession game, they settled for the extra point.
The Packers came down the field and made it 19-7 on Crosby’s fourth field goal. The Seahawks couldn’t generate much offense in the final quarter until Marshawn Lynch‘s tightrope act on the right sidelines on a flare route gave Seahawks first-and-goal. Wilson’s run into the end zone with 2:09 left made it 19-14 Green Bay.
Stephen Hauschka then executed an onside kick that Brandon Bostick muffed while leaping. The Seahawks then marched 50 yards in 44 yards, capped by a 24-yard Lynch touchdown run. The Seahawks went for two and Russell Wilson appeared ready to give up when he faded back to his 25. He lobbed a pass to tight end Luke Willson, who caught it at the 1 and reached over for the two points. That conversion would prove critical as Rodgers drove the Packers into position for Crosby’s 48-yarder with 14 seconds left that tied the game, instead of giving the Packers the win.
|Fantasy Football: Championship round daily leagues||01.16.15 at 10:30 am ET|
I hope some of you had success with last week’s DraftKings lineups. I know I did and I stuck pretty closely to last week’s recommendations. This week is an even tougher week for getting original lineups because the choices are so incredibly limited with only two games from which to choose talent.
As usual, I’ll do my best to explain my thought process as I construct my weekly lineup, and I’ll have a completed roster by the time we’re done. If you are looking for more information on players not listed in this space, head over to Rotobahn this afternoon. I’ll have my full lineup rankings posted by then.
Last week, I was pretty clear about which quarterbacks I wanted you to play. As it turned out I was right, but I also was wrong. That’s because all of the quarterbacks stepped up and posted significant numbers. Even those who chose Peyton Manning had a chance if they played the other positions well enough.
This week is a little different. With the exception of Aaron Rodgers, I like all the options at quarterback, and even Rodgers has some merit — particularly if you want a contrarian move to differentiate your lineup a bit.
One thing that could end being a plus for Rodgers is the weather. While it’s potentially going to be wet in both Foxboro and in Seattle, it is not expected to be very cold, and that is a plus for a guy who is playing with a significant muscle pull in his calf. Rodgers may be able to get loose this week. We’ll see. Having said all that, my personal choice for quarterback is the same as last week: Tom Brady.
I’m going with Brady because I think he matches up well against the Colts, who don’t do the things that you need to do to knock Brady off of his game. I know people will be talking about the running game and how badly the Patriots have gashed the Colts in recent games. I am seeing things differently. The two reasons for this are as follows. Yes, the Patriots ran all over the Colts earlier this season, but they also demolished them from head to toe. I also think you need to consider that last year’s playoff game was a very different matchup. In 2014, the Patriots were a different offense. There was some concern about a shootout with the Colts. I don’t think those same concerns hold true with the 2014 Patriots — who probably would win a shootout with Indianapolis, and by a solid margin.
Chuck Pagano is a good coach, and I think the Colts will be ready for the ground game this week. At least they’ll be more ready than they were back in Week 11. I also think Belichick will be more aggressive with his passing game — because he can be, for two reasons. First, he has a defense than can make stops. Second, he has an offense with a healthy Rob Gronkowski. To me, for the Patriots to slow this game down is to play into Indianapolis’ hands. As the clearly better team, the Patriots should not be looking to shorten the game by simply possessing the ball.
For these reasons, I am liking Tom Brady at 8,500 units. Here are the four quarterbacks, just so you know the relative costs.
As I said earlier, you can do well with any of these passers, but I’m going with Brady. My concern with Rodgers is the injury. My worry with Wilson, and it’s a minor one, also is Rodgers’ injury. If Seattle can knock out Rodgers, which is far more likely than normal, the game essentially will be over and Wilson could have a light day as a winner because they won’t have him running if the game is in the bag.
As for Luck, he’ll produce, but I worry about what New England can take away from him. I have a feeling that we may see more zone and combo coverage from the Patriots than folks anticipate — their primary goal being to take T.Y. Hilton off the board to some extent and to force Luck to beat them with his secondary weapons.
|Fantasy Football: Postseason draft preparation||01.01.15 at 11:23 am ET|
Pat Riley used to say that nothing really happens in a NBA playoff series until a team loses on their home court. To me, NFL playoff leagues are similar. In NFL playoff pools, things don’t really get interesting until there’s an upset. Once that happens, or if that happens, all bets are off. When things play out as expected in the real games, the fantasy teams that draw high draft positions will usually be the winners. However, an upset or two can change everything. If you drew a late draft position, this is your potential saving grace, but you need to locate that low-seeded team that has the ability to make a run.
In this article I will look at two primary things. First, I’ll break down the 12 playoff teams and how far I see them going. This is my take, but if your’s differs, you should adjust the rankings accordingly. Second, I’ll break the top 75 players down into tiers. If you are in a hurry and are in need of full rankings and cheat sheets, go to Rotobahn and download ours for free. You can be ready to draft in about 60 seconds.
When preparing for a playoff draft, you need to answer a few essential questions. Because unlike regular-season drafts, you have the added element of players getting knocked out when they lose. The outcomes of the games themselves play a huge role in the outcome of your league, because when your player advances you get another game and the potential for more after that. This makes certain bits of player information crucial this week. For example, consider the massive impact of the Ndamukong Suh non-suspension. Suh’s presence in this week’s game has a huge impact on the value of Cowboys players and Lions players. If the suspension had been upheld, the Lions are almost a certain loser at Dallas. With Suh on the field, I give them a 30 or 40 percent shot at winning. The Cowboys go from an almost certain two-game team to a somewhat probable two-game team. That’s big. Players who are one-and-done are team killers, especially if you select them with a premium pick. Understanding this, you’ll want to answer the following questions. Your board depends on them.
Are there any teams that can realistically play four times, and who are they?
The only way this happens is if a team playing in the Wildcard round makes the Super Bowl. Look at this week’s matchups. Do you see any of these teams making runs at the big game? In the NFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at Seattle? In the AFC, is there a team playing this weekend that could win at New England? My answer to both is no, so I can’t see any teams playing more than three games. Remember, teams that have a bye max out at three games played. Only Wildcard teams can get that fourth game. This has made juggernauts out of teams like Arizona in 2008 and the Ravens in 2012 — the Giants did it in 2007 and 2011, so there’s plenty of precedence for it happening.
|Fantasy Football: Week 16 starts, sits||12.19.14 at 9:15 am ET|
It’s bowl week for most fantasy footballers, and we’re back with a fresh batch of starts and sits for your perusal. I’ve posted three starts for the four major positions and a player to avoid for each as well. As always, for information on players not listed in this article, I encourage you to check out my full lineup rankings at Rotobahn.
Don’t forget to tune in Sunday morning for another episode of the Fantasy Football Hour with my co-host Jim Hackett. If you have last-minute lineup concerns, you should check out my Sunday chat. It takes place right here at WEEI.com and it runs from 11 a.m. to noon.
If you want to keep track of all our fantasy football content, both here and at Rotobahn, follow me on Twitter. I send out links to all fresh articles and chats as well.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles at Washington
The top nine quarterbacks are pretty well locked in by my math. After that, I see Sanchez as a good option because he has a nice matchup and because of the weapons around him.
He’s a big-game player, and he’ll make enough plays to give you QB1 output. The Cardinals are not fully loaded on either side of the ball right now, so stick with Wilson unless you have a higher-ranked option.
The emergence of Odell Beckham has changed Manning’s fortunes for the better. He’s a viable quarterback this week in all leagues if you are in need. The Rams are tough, but I expect low-end QB1 output, so start him if you have the need.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. Chargers
There’s just too much going wrong in San Francisco to try him this week. The Harbaugh situation has gone from bad to worse, and it’s showing up on the field. You can do better on the average waiver wire. Check the Week 16 rankings for options.