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The Defense Is 'Just Playing For Each Other', As Shown By One Play

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2010 – 4:29 pm

The description of the play in the official gamebook is pretty unassuming:

3-2-DAL 41 (6:58):

23-T.Choice left end to DAL 38 for -3 yards (59-L.Fletcher, 30-L.Landry).

That is, on third and 2 from their own 41 yard line with 6:58 remaining in the game, Dallas running back Tashard Choice ran around left end — or tried to, until he was tackled by London Fletcher and LaRon Landry for a three yard loss.

It doesn’t look like a turning point in the game — and maybe it wasn’t, given how the final drive went — but it could’ve been. This was the play that gave the ball back to the Redskins and let their offense burn a chunk of the final quarter off the clock.

Fletcher and Landry get credit for the tackle, but as soon as the play happened John Keim of the Washington Examiner tweeted that “Byron Westbrook made that play with good run support, forced hesitation and others cleaned up.” And just a few seconds later, Sam Chamberlain of noted, “Great play by Brian Orakpo to force Choice out wide on that 3rd-and-2 carry.”

So in the postgame locker room I went to those four guys — Fletcher, Landry, Westbrook, and Orakpo — and got them each to take me through the play from their point of view. Read more »

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Latest Madden 11 Update Should Make DeAngelo Hall Happy

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2010 – 2:22 pm

One of the advantages of the modern incarnations of Madden NFL football (as compared to the stone age versions I grew up with, which we played by painting on the walls of our caves) is that roster and rating updates are regularly pushed out via internet. So players dissatisfied with their ratings have hope throughout the year, and players who don’t play up to their potential can be suitably adjusted. Gone are the days when a great preseason or previous year’s finish were enough to artificially inflate rankings.

News of the first such post-regular-season-game update was released today, and it’s remarkable how specific these things have gotten. Check out this change, with its reasoning:

New York Jets TE Dustin Keller awareness decreased from a 76 to a 72 after he failed to shift the football to his left hand on a decisive 4th down play near the end of the Jets/Ravens game stalling the Jets drive and ending any chance of a comeback.

I mean, that’s just ridiculously specific.

Anyhow, the Redskins updates: Read more »

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Brian Orakpo's Workout Is Predictably Impressive

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2010 – 1:31 pm

Linebacker Brian Orakpo recently launched a website, It’s still a bit of a work in progress (as these things tend to be at launch), but there’s at least one interesting tidbit of information in the first post on the Blogs section: the workout that Orakpo credits with powering his stellar rookie year.

It is, needless to say, not something that I’d be able to do routinely. Or at all. Check it out: Read more »

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Number 28 Is Number 75

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2010 – 9:42 am

While I’m singing the praises of the NFL Network, let me note another bit of awesomeness they’re currently indulging in: counting down the top 100 players in the NFL, and having each one presented by a person of some significant interest. Clocking in at number 75 is Darrell Green, presented by nine-time Olympic gold medalist Carl Lewis.

(Again, there’s a 0:20 commercial at the start of the piece.)

“I was the fastest kid in my neighborhood,” Green says. “I was the fastest kid in my elementary school, I was the fastest kid in my college, the fastest kid in my conference, the fastest for the Redskins.” And watching him chase down Tony Dorsett and Eric Dickerson from behind, there’s really very little doubt.

It’s also interesting to see some fierce hits from Green, who was never known as a hard-hitting cornerback. “If you have a hard punch from a small guy that’s quick,” Lewis explains, “that’s the same kinda force you get from a big guy that’s moving slower.” (Which sounds kind of like meaningless cliched sports rhetoric, until you realize that it’s just Newton’s second Law of Motion in action.)

The high point of the piece, though, is the legendary punt return from the 1987 NFC Divisional Playoff game.

Here’s how Carl Lewis describes it in the piece: “I just saw that as an amazing play, for many reasons. Number one, he didn’t always return punts. He actually leaped over a guy — he hurts his rib. You saw when he got hurt ’cause he started holding his side. And the reason he could do that is because he blocked his mind out and just run. And he made it look easy. It did not look difficult. It was like, the other players on the team just kinda laid down and let him run through it. And that one play turned the whole game. That’s what the great players do: they make it look easy, and Darrell was one of those.”

It turned the game enough to make the lead of the AP story at the time: “Darrell Green returned a punt 52 yards for the deciding touchdown as the Washington Redskins rallied from an early 14-point deficit and upset the Chicago Bears 21-17 Sunday to reach the NFC title game for the second straight year.”

And here’s how the Christine Brennan and Tom Friend of The Washington Post described it then:
Read more »

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Mike Shanahan SFX From The Sidelines Of The Dallas Game

Posted by Matt Terl on September 16, 2010 – 9:08 am

There are a lot of things to like about the NFL Network, but possibly my favorite is the increased availability of gameday sideline audio. They use it in their Sound FX show (which only seems to be on at the oddest times) and cut throughout their enhanced-and-condense game replays, and every time I watch it I feel like I understand the people around the game a little better.

Take this installment, from this week’s Redskins/Dallas game: this is a much different, much more fiery Mike Shanahan than we’ve seen; it’s also our first chance to actually see his interaction with son/offensive coordinator Kyle on the sidelines, to see him work the officials, and to see him address the team in the postgame locker room.

In short, it’s worth watching. (The one downside is a 0:20 commercial. Just be patient.)

Dan Steinberg transcribes things at a speed that few humans can match, so he’s already got the text version up at the DC Sports Bog. You should go read it there, but I did want to repeat and amplify one point that he makes: Read more »

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