Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, December 12, 2011 at 9:14 AM
It's a funny thing: If your name happens to be Robert Griffin III, than this past weekend was absolutely terrific. Not so much if your name happens to be Marion Barber III, however.
On a just-completed sports weekend where two chaps go by their third generation name there was jubilation for Griffin family/friends after Saturday night's midtown Manhattan announcement that the mega-star Baylor quarterback was this year's Heisman Trophy winner but you talk about the depths of despair for Barber III. Okay, so the veteran NFL running back might have finished with 108 yards rushing as the major fill-in for an injured RB Matt Forte but it was a case of everything that could go wrong for him late did go wrong for him in Chicago's inexplicable 13-10 overtime loss at Denver.
And you thought Chicago's biggest sports villain still was Steve Bartman!
The Bears (7-6) took a huge step backwards in their pursuit of a playoff spot but - just so they know there was company in the misery department than all one has to shout today is this... How 'bout them Cowboys!
Yes, Chicago's gridiron loss was tough to swallow but at least the Bears and the rest of the NFL knows by now that this 2011 Dallas team has "perfected" blowing fourth-quarter leads:
How about the NBC-TV stat following last night's wild 37-34 win by the New York Giants that stated the Cowboys went 51 seasons (that's 1960-through-2010) and only twice blew fourth-quarter leads of 12-or-more points and now this year alone they've blown 12-point-or-larger leads three times in their first 13 games. Ka-boom!
We'll dig into the Bears, 'Boys and all things Tim Tebow in just a moment - plus we tell you why the Heisman Trophy voters "blew it" this year (and not just because we believed all along that Stanford QB Andrew Luck would win the bronze statue) - in just a moment but first this key reminder:
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers continue to win big-time in NFL Week 14 action concluding with tonight's MNF divisional clash between the St. Louis Rams at the Seattle Seahawks and don't forget the College Football Bowl Games (all 35 of 'em!) get revved up this Saturday with three tilts all on ESPN: The New Mexico Bowl, the Idaho Potato Bowl and the New Orleans Bowl. Plus, there's plenty of College Basketball winners and the NBA gets tipped off on Christmas Day - so make sure you're part of all the winning action straight through the New Year! And make sure you get all the Football and Basketball winners at our toll-free # of 1-800-323-4453 or else get it online right here online as America's #1 Handicapper keeps up the winning beat!
NFL WEEK 14 NEWS & NOTES
Let's zip 'round the league and give you some quick-hitter comments/observations/opinions. Here goes...
The Cowboys' aforementioned home loss on Sunday Night versus the 4 ½-point underdog NY Giants (7-6) had a little bit of everything tossed into the mix but ask any hard-core Dallas fan what stands out most and he/she will probably tell you that missed pass play from QB Tony Romo to WR Miles Austin with 2:21 left in the final quarter and with the Cowboys ready to deliver the KO blow (already led 34-29).
On a night when Romo threw for 321 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs it was that overthrown pass to a wide-open WR Miles Austin that really stood out because it either would have gone the distance for a long TD pass or at least gotten the 'Boys (7-6) a first down and thus forced the Jints to burn their two remaining time outs.
Now that Romo has been at least partly (or more than partly) responsible for meltdown losses this year against the New York Jets, Detroit Lions and NY Giants, you could say Romo's the face of both good and evil in Cowboys Nation - can he save the year still and might it take a run-the-table approach these final three weeks to do so?
Meanwhile, the Barber Saga in Denver has been already told in so many words - why did he run out of bounds and how could he have coughed up that fumble in overtime? - but the possibility exists that Barber and others simply are under the Tim Tebow Spell. After all, how does one rightfully explain how the Denver Broncos quarterback had three completions upon entering the fourth quarter on Sunday and yet the AFC West leaders (the Broncos are 8-5) rallied behind Tebow to score 10 points in the final 2:08 of regulation with a 59-yard Matt Prater FG sending the game into OT and than a Prater 51-yard FG winning it with 8:34 remaining in OT.
If you're keeping track, that's now six game-winning drives in either the fourth quarter or overtime in 11 starts for Tebow...
Can someone please tell us why Oakland Raiders' starting QB Carson Palmer was still in the game late in the fourth quarter of his team's ugly 46-16 loss in Green Bay? Palmer - who threw four INTs and finished with a QB rating of 42.4 - might want to ask head coach (and long-time buddy) Hue Jackson the same thing...
The much-ballyhooed sideline spat between New England Patriots QB Tom Brady and his club's offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien might be a YouTube favorite for a while and consider that Brady "went off" on a day when he threw for 357 yards with three TDs in a hang-on-for-dear-life 34-27 win at Washington. P.S., count us among the folks that would vote Pats TE Rob Gronkowski (15 TDs this year to set a tight end record for scoring) somewhere in our top five if the league MVP vote was before us today.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW
ST. LOUIS (2-10) at SEATTLE (5-7) - 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN
We'll pardon ESPN play-by-play man Mike Tirico for his promo spots on this game - he said the Seahawks would be trying to get back in the playoff picture (really!) - but we will say Pete Carroll's club have not folded their tents with Seattle snagging three wins the past four weeks while "Skittles"-chewing RB Marshawn Lynch (854 yards rushing and 8 TDs) doing some real damage to enemy defenses. Can Lynch keep it up here against a Rams team that is yielding nearly 25 points a game this year?
Spread Notes - Seattle enters this MNF clash 8-4 ATS (against the spread) overall this season and the Seahawks have covered eight of their last nine head-to-head matchups against St. Louis. Note the Rams are a dreary 2-10 versus the vig this season.
THE FINAL HEISMAN TROPHY REPORT
Can we say something here about the aforementioned 2011 Heisman Trophy winner?
The guy they call "RG3" surely comes off one of the most exciting seasons in memory for a Baylor team that could win 10 games providing it beats Washington in the Alamo Bowl later this month but here's the real lowdown on this year's award:
As it turned out, those so-called experts who claimed the fact Griffin played a game on the first weekend of December (a 48-24 triumph over Texas) while the likes of Stanford's Luck and Alabama RB Trent Richardson were not in action that weekend did indeed factor into the balloting and that's simply not right - was it Luck's fault or Richardson's fault that their teams were idle while Baylor finished up with an otherwise meaningless regular-season home game?
Yet, Griffin - from all reports - snagged most of his first-place votes (he finished with 405 first-place votes in all while Luck finished with 247 first-place votes and Richardson with 138 first-place votes) with the late balloteers and that's akin to asking an infant what he or she just saw and they tell you the very last thing that they just witnessed.
What... did Luck's 11-win season hold less meaning because he didn't get to show what he had in early December?
And, truthfully, shouldn't Griffin have been penalized a wee bit more for the fact his Bears lost regular-season games at Texas A&M and at Oklahoma State by 27 and 35 points, respectively?
Hey, we truly loved the guy's "Superman" socks that actually had a little red cape on 'em (showed off during the Heisman Trophy show the other night) but he should have finished behind Luck and Richardson this year. It happens - sometimes the Heisman Trophy voters "blow it" - and that's too bad.
NOTE: Lots of College Basketball goodies in the next edition of Jim Sez.