But with that said, I have some catching up to do. Between my shuttling around between Cape Cod and the southern tier of New York state as well as waiting out the blizzard this week, I was able to follow some of the NFL action on the radio (not so much the NHL, NBA or many of the Bowl games).
NFL: To hardly anybody's surprise, the Patriots came into Sunday's game at Orchard Park and routed the Buffalo Bills. The 34-3 win came thanks in part to two TD receptions by Buffalo native son and Pats TE Ron Gronkowski. New England was helped considerably by seven Bills turnovers, including five from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brady was 15 for 27 with 3 TDs on the day while Gronkowski had 54 yards on 4 receptions, including two TDs.
New England will close out the regular season with a home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at 1PM ET.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NFL: The NFL commissioner decided to postpone Sunday night's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings at Philly's Lincoln Financial Field as the region was in the teeth of a massive snowstorm.
The game was rescheduled to Tuesday night as many cities across the Northeast were digging themselves out from the
global warming blizzard [OK...what is it about the Vikings- an indoor team, no less- and snowfall this season? You know those cartoon characters that are sometimes walking around with a rain cloud over their head? Substitute the solitary cloud for a blizzard dumping 3 feet of snow overnight and that would be the 2010 Vikings- NANESB!].
Last week's Sunday night game featured the nationally televised Sunday Night debut of one surprising NFC North QB in Green Bay's Matt Flynn. But there would be no Sunday Night game. There would be no Brett Favre on Tuesday.....or Tavares Jackson for that matter. Instead, the Vikings 6th round draft pick from the University of Alabama-Birmingham- Joe Webb- got the start for the beleaguered and depleted Vikings on Tuesday.
You'd think that even with most of their starters healthy, the Vikings wouldn't have stood a chance against the NFC East leading Eagles. Lord knows I did, but I watched anyways. As it turns out, I was glad I did as Minnesota staged a stunning come-from behind rally thanks to RB Adrian Peterson and the rookie Joe Webb.
The Eagles got out to the early 7-0 lead, but with less than a minute to go before halftime, Philly QB Micheal Vick fumbled as he was sacked by Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield. Winifield then scooped up the loose ball and returned it 45 yards to paydirt to tie the game at 7-7. The Vikings would then score on their first 2 posessions of the 2nd half, getting a FG off the foot of Ryan Longwell and a rushing TD from Joe Webb to take a 17-7 lead. The Eagles would take about five minutes to march down from their own 47 to score a TD of their own and close the gap to 14-17. But that would be it for the Eagles while the Vikings got another TD from Adrian Peterson to put them up 24-14, in what could only be described as a stunning upset given the way how easily the Eagles handled other (and better) NFC teams this season.
That would be the final from a snowy Philadelphia, and as the Brett Favre era no doubt comes to an end in Minnesota, I'm sure the Vikings fans had to have liked what they saw in QB Joe Webb who went 17-26 with 195 yards (as well as 6 rushes for 31 yards and a TD)
NCAA HOOPS: I normally leave the NCAA Basketball coverage to others, but I couldn't let the UConn Women's Basketball team breaking the all-time NCAA Hoops record for regular consecutive wins (either men's or women's) set by the late John Wooden's UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball between 1971-74 pass without mention. The Huskies 89th straight win came against #22 Florida State on December 21st at Hartford's XL Center, with UConn downing the Gators by a 93-62 final to break the 88 straight win mark set by Wooden's Bruins (Wooden's Grandson was present at the game).
The Huskies women's team is in the midst of a west coast road trip where they handled the University of the Pacific Tigers for win #90 by an 85-42 margin in Stockton, CA. Their next game will be a rematch of the 2010 NCAA Women's Championship between UConn and the #8 Stanford Cardinals on Thursday night. Stanford's lady Cardinals currently have a streak of their own going- 51 straight home wins- and was actually the last team to defeat UConn- an 82-73 win in the NCAA semifinals in April 2008.
NHL: Well, while I was away the Boston Bruins clawed their way back to the top of the Northeast Division and are working on a win streak of their own. Apparently getting out of town ahead of blizzard and heading to Florida was just what the B's needed (although they have been burned by Southeast Division opponents before).
One night after Blake Wheeler scored the only shootout goal (and a flukey one at that) to beat the Florida Panthers by a 3-2 final, the B's travelled to Tampa to take on the Lightning. Tim Thomas turned aside 31 shots and the venerable Mark Recchi got the game-winning goal on a power play with 20 seconds remaining in the 3rd. Micheal Ryder, Brad Marchand and Steve Kampfer also tallied goals for Boston in Tuesday night's 4-3 win (Ryder's also coming on the power play).
The Bruins trip through the Southeast will continue Thursday night as they travel to Atlanta to play the Thrashers for the second time in a week- Boston beat Atlanta 4-1 on Dec 23rd at the TD Banknorth Garden.
ELSEWHERE IN THE NHL: Preparations have been well underway for the 2011 NHL Winter Classic at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on New Year's Day. There are some concerns about the integrity of the ice surface as the weather forecast for the Pittsburgh area is calling for temperatures in the high 40s/low 50s and rain showers for New Years Day.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to take on the Washington Capitals on Saturday at 1PM ET, although both the league and NBC has said they'd be willing to delay the start of the game.
NCAA FOOTBALL: I have some catching up to do as far as this is concerned. As I'm writing this, it looks as though the Army Black Knights are going to hold off a 2nd half rally by the Southern Methodist Mustangs to win by a 16-14 final for their first Bowl win since I was in the Army.
As disappointing as the first trio of Bowl games were, there were some good ones to follow those up. Interestingly, this included some of the bowl games whose corporate names lent themselves to easy ridicule and derision (i.e the Beef O'Brady Bowl, Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl).
Here are some of the finals:
12/21- Beef O'Brady Bowl:
Southern Mississippi 28- Louisville 31
12/22- MAACO Bowl:
#20 Utah 3- #10 Boise State 26
12/23- SD County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl:
Navy 14- San Diego State 35
12/24- Hawaii Bowl
#24 Hawaii 35- Tulsa 62
12/26- Little Cesar's Pizza Bowl
Florida International 34- Toledo 32
12/27 Independence Bowl
Air Force 14- Georgia Tech 7
12/28 Champs Sports Bowl
#22 West Virginia 7- North Carolina State 23
#14 Missouri 24- Iowa 27
12/29 Military Bowl
East Carolina 20- Maryland 51
Illinois 31- Baylor 14
#16 Oklahoma State 36- Arizona 10
12/30 Armed Forces Bowl
Army 16- Southern Methodist 14.
Kansas State 34- Syracuse 36
A couple of random notes- Thursday's win for the Black Knights was their first bowl appearence since 1996.
The Little Cesar Bowl was the first ever appearance (and win!) for Florida International.
The SDSU Aztecs appeared in their first bowl game since 1998 and the win over Navy was their first Bowl win since the 1969 Pasadena Bowl (against Boston University).
The rest of the games for Thursday include the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl (Kansas State vs Syracuse), the Music City Bowl (North Carolina vs Tennessee) and the Holiday Bowl (#17 Nebraska vs Washington).
Friday's slate of games include the Meineke Bowl (South Florida vs Clemson), the Sun Bowl (Notre Dame vs Miami-FL), the Liberty Bowl (Central Florida vs Georgia) and the Chick Fil-A Bowl (#19 South Carolina vs #23 Florida State).
NBA: Humbug! The Celtic's winning streak was snapped on Christmas day at Orlando by an 86-78 final. The C's then swung through the Midwest where they beat the Pacers 95-83 before losing to the Detroit Pistons by a 104-92 final.
OTHER CELTICS NEWS: GM Danny Ainge announced Thursday that Kevin Garnett could be out for up to two weeks with a strained right calf after undergoing an MRI.
Shaquille O'Neal was fined $35,000 by the NBA this week after comments questioning NBA officiating and calling the referees 'control freaks'.
Point Guard Rajon Rondo is listed as day-to-day with a sprained ankle and has been out since the December 15 game against the NY Knicks. Doc Rivers said there was some swelling on the ankle that would make his return to Friday night's home game against the New Orleans Hornets questionable.