Friday, December 7, 2007

Rodney Harrison Fined For Taunting

Patriots S Rodney Harrison was fined $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct in Monday night's win over the Ravens.

The NFL Network first reported the fine for Harrison.

The fine was levied because Harrison was deemed to have unncessarily taunted the opponent's coach on an interception return.

Polamalu unlikely to play against Pats

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is likely to miss Pittsburgh's game Sunday at New England after sitting out practice for the second day in a row Friday because of a sprained knee.

Polamalu, who has missed the Steelers' last two games, aggravated the injury during practice Wednesday and has been unable to practice since. He is listed as doubtful, meaning he has a 25 percent chance of playing.

Polamalu, a Pro Bowl safety the last three seasons and the team's highest-paid player, injured the knee Nov. 18 against the New York Jets. He is not having a big year statistically -- he doesn't have a sack or an interception -- but his versatility is a key to Pittsburgh's zone blitz defense.

The Steelers almost never allow players to play in a game when they are physically unable to practice on Friday -- one reason why wide receiver Santonio Holmes struggled through the team's workout on a sprained right ankle.

Holmes, also out for two games, continues to have pain in the ankle and was urged earlier this week to sit out another game. Holmes said the game against New England (12-0) is too important to the Steelers (9-3) to miss and he plans to play.

Holmes has averaged 17 yards per reception on 39 catches. He leads the Steelers with seven touchdown catches.

Patriots Game Rated Highest Television Audience

The New England Patriots’ 27-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on ESPN on Monday night was seen by 17,522,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the most-watched program in cable television history. The number of viewers for the game surpassed the 17,241,000 viewers who watched High School Musical 2 on the Disney Channel on Aug. 17, 2007. That program held the previous record for the largest cable television audience.

As of today, Patriots games are also the two highest-rated programs of any kind since the 2007-08 television season began on Sept. 24. New England’s 24-20 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Nov. 4 earned a 20.1 rating on CBS, which is the highest of any television program of any kind on any channel this season. The second highest-rated program of the 2007-08 television season is the Patriots’ 48-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 14, a telecast that earned an 18.0 national rating on CBS.

At any given point during the Patriots-Colts game on Nov. 4, 33.8 million viewers were watching, making it the largest audience for a Sunday afternoon regular-season NFL game since CBS began keeping records in 1987. In all, 66.4 million people watched at least six minutes of the Patriots-Colts game.

The Patriots-Cowboys also earned a historically high rating, although its records were eclipsed by the Patriots-Colts game the next month. The 18.0 rating earned by the Patriots-Cowboys game was at the time the highest-rated regular-season NFL game on CBS since the network resumed televising NFL games in 1998.

The Patriots-Ravens game this past Monday night earned an 11.1 rating, making it the highest-rated Monday Night Football game on ESPN and the highest-rated NFL game on ESPN in 12 years. The Patriots-Ravens game broke the previous ESPN Monday night record (10.6 rating) achieved by the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game on Oct. 23, 2006. The 11.1 rating for the Patriots-Ravens game was the highest-rated NFL game on ESPN since Dec. 3, 1995, when a Buffalo-San Francisco game garnered a 12.8 rating.

Moss Wins Offensive Player of the Month (November)

Wide receiver Randy Moss of the New England Patriots, linebacker James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and kick returner Joshua Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns are the AFC Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Month for November, the NFL announced today.

Moss, the NFL's leader in touchdown receptions (17), finished November with 24 receptions for 316 yards (13.2 average) and five touchdowns as New England clinched its fifth consecutive AFC East title and posted a 3-0 record for the month. He averaged 105.3 receiving yards-per-game in November and had two games with at least 125 receiving yards. In a match-up against the Colts on Nov. 4, Moss posted nine receptions for 145 yards (16.1 average) with one touchdown. Against Buffalo on Nov. 18, the veteran receiver was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after recording 10 receptions for 128 yards (12.8 average) with a career and franchise-high four touchdowns. All four TD receptions came in the first half, tying the all-time NFL record for most touchdown receptions before halftime. In the same game, Moss became the Patriots' single-season touchdown reception leader, surpassing STANLEY MORGAN (12 in 1979).

In his 10th season from Marshall, this is Moss' first career Player of the Month Award. Moss is the second Patriot to win the award this season (TOM BRADY in September and October).

DEFENSE: LB JAMES HARRISON, PITTSBURGH STEELERS

A key factor for the NFL's top ranked defense, Harrison recorded 19 tackles, 5.5 sacks, one interception, five forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed in November. Harrison's 5.5 sacks led the AFC for the month, and his team-high 8.5 sacks are tied for fourth in the AFC. He posted his best performance in a Monday night affair on Nov. 5 against the Ravens. Harrison earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, recording nine tackles, a career-high 3.5 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

In his fourth year from Kent State, this is Harrison's first Player of the Month Award.

SPECIAL TEAMS: KR-PR JOSHUA CRIBBS, CLEVELAND BROWNS

Leading all NFL kick returners by more than 200 yards in the month, Cribbs was a major contributor on the Browns' special team units with 664 yards on 19 kick returns (34.9 average, league-high), including a career-long 100-yard KR-TD. Cribbs also returned 11 punts for 119 yards (10.8 average), registered six special teams tackles and one forced fumble as Cleveland posted a 3-1 record in November. In Week 11, Cribbs combined for 306 return yards (245 KR, 61 PR) and became only the third player in history to total 300 or more return yards in a game. Through Week 13, the third-year returner leads the NFL with a 31.2 kick return average.

In his third year from Kent State, this is Cribbs' second career Player of the Month Award. Cribbs is the first Browns player to win Player of the Month twice in a season.

Patriots Visit Pine Street Inn

There is not a single New England resident that is a stranger to the region's bitter winters, complete with its freezing temperatures and seemingly weekly snowstorms. While most of us escape the frigid winter months by staying inside by the fire, there are more than 6,000 men, women and children in the city of Boston who do not have a place to call home and have found themselves without shelter.

The Pine Street Inn in Boston, Mass. is a not-for-profit organization that is committed to providing both shelter and hot meals to hundreds of the city's homeless individuals each and every day. On Tuesday, December 4, just hours after returning in the middle of the night from the Patriots Monday Night Football game in Baltimore, several Patriots players took time out of their day to visit the Pine Street Inn to serve dinner to over 350 of the Inn's homeless guests. Running back Laurence Maroney, wide receiver Chad Jackson, special teams captain Larry Izzo and Patriots Hall of Famer Andre Tippett teamed up with student athletes from Boston English High School for the community service project.

While at the Pine Street Inn, Izzo and Maroney were stationed on the men's side where, in addition to serving a piping hot meal, they discovered that they had quite a few fans.
Many of the guests had watched the Patriots-Ravens game the night before while staying at the shelter and were thrilled to talk about the game. Jackson and Tippett served dinner on the women's side before going to the Inn's main kitchen to prepare and package sandwiches to later be distributed throughout the city via the Pine Street Inn Outreach Van.

"We want to be out in our community making an impact", Jackson said. "We want to show people that we are more than just football players and that there are people in the city that need our support".

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Series Breakdown For Patriots and Steelers Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost the last two games against the New England Patriots. Here's a look at the game notes for Sunday's match-up: Series History: Series began in 1972
Overall: Pittsburgh leads 13-9
At Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh leads 9-8
At New England: Pittsburgh leads 3-2
Last Meeting: Sept. 25, 2005 (in Pittsburgh) New England 23, Pittsburgh 20
Postseason Series: New England leads 3-1

Pittsburgh owns a 13-9 all-time record against the New England Patriots, including the postseason.

The Steelers are 12-6 in the regular season, including a 3-2 mark in New England.

Pittsburgh has not won in New England since a 24-21 overtime victory in 1997.

The Steelers snapped the Patriots’ NFL-record 18-game regular-season winning streak in 2004 with a 34-20 victory at Heinz Field on October 31.

New England has won five of the past six games in the series, including victories in the 2001 and 2004 AFC Championship games, both in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are 9-8 overall against the Patriots at home.

Pittsburgh and New England have met four times in the postseason and the Steelers are 1-3 in those games, including a 1-2 record at home.

The Steelers defeated the Patriots, 7-6, on January 3, 1998, in the AFC Divisional Playoffs.
Pittsburgh lost, 24-17, to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game January 27, 2002, and 41-27 in the 2004 AFC Championship Game.

Ravens Say Late Game Calls Favor Patriots

Controversy seems to follow the New England Patriots wherever they go, and their victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night was no exception. A furor has ignited over the conduct of the officiating crew during the game-winning touchdown drive that saved the Patriots’ perfect season.

The N.F.L. said yesterday that it was looking into allegations made by Ravens players that the head linesman Phil McKinnely called Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle “boy” during that drive, which angered Rolle and his teammates.

The Ravens were also upset about a series of calls that they felt favored the Patriots and made their comeback possible. Rolle said his exchange with McKinnely began after Rolle questioned whether McKinnely had ever played football.

McKinnely, who played offensive tackle for the Falcons, the Rams and the Bears, replied by repeatedly calling him “boy,” Rolle said. “I have a wife and three kids, don’t call me a boy,” Rolle said. “Don’t call me a boy on the field during a game because I said, ‘You’ve never played football before.’”

Rolle and McKinnely are black.

Rolle’s exchange with McKinnely was only part of the Ravens’ late-game meltdown. The Patriots’ drive took only 2 minutes 46 seconds but it seemed to last an eternity, in large part because the Ravens kept drawing the attention of the officials.

With the Patriots facing fourth-and-1 from the Ravens’ 30-yard line with 1:48 remaining, the Ravens appeared to have stuffed Tom Brady on a quarterback sneak. But the defensive coordinator Rex Ryan had signaled for a timeout just before the snap. The players were apparently unaware of the timeout, although Brady said after the game that he heard the whistle.

Assistant coaches do not typically call timeouts, but game officials are instructed to grant a last-second timeout from the bench area, which includes the head coach, assistants and players.

The Ravens’ defensive players looked unhappy with the coaches when they realized what had happened, and defensive end Terrell Suggs seemed to sum up their feelings when he said: “You only get a few times to really get the N.F.L.’s poster boy in that type of situation. It looked like all 22 men on the field played as if no timeout was called.”

Ravens Coach Brian Billick said the timeout was called because his staff did not think the defense was in the right configuration to stop a sneak.

Several Ravens said no whistle was blown. “I didn’t hear a timeout,” Bart Scott said. “That was very convenient.”

The Ravens’ comments will certainly provide fodder for those who believe that the Patriots are getting plenty of breaks from the officials. Suggs said he thinks everybody is cheering for New England to go undefeated and break all the records, something the Patriots might find surprising, considering the amount of vitriol they have received from those who are still talking about the video scandal that engulfed the start of the season.

“It’s hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time,” Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister said. “They put the crown on top and they want them to win.”

As the game entered its final two minutes, the Ravens went into a full-scale implosion. On fourth-and-5 from the Ravens’ 13, Brady threw an incomplete pass intended for Benjamin Watson. But defensive back Jamaine Winborne was called for holding to give the Patriots a first down.

Rolle was outraged that a holding penalty was called in such a critical situation, saying that the players should be allowed to decide the outcome of the game. The league reviewed the play and determined it was the correct call.”

The Patriots did not waste the call. On the next play, Brady passed to Jabar Gaffney in the back left corner of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. But did Gaffney have control of the ball as he went out of bounds? The replay was unclear, although the league said Gaffney’s hand never came off the ball, which would have indicated that he was not bobbling it.

In the end, the replay was too close to overturn the initial call.

In the meantime, Scott was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and was so infuriated by the call that he picked up the official’s yellow flag and hurled it into the stands. That meant another unsportsmanlike penalty. And will probably result in a fine.

“They called it a touchdown and he had bobbled it,” Scott said. “We outplayed them for 60 minutes. We made the play to end the game.”

The Ravens can take small solace in one thing. The Patriots were not thrilled about the officiating either. The Boston Herald reported that linebacker Mike Vrabel was screaming at the officials as he made his way off the field. And Brady was clearly unhappy that the Ravens were not being called for more holding penalties.

“I was really still confident in what we were doing and then the flags came out and they started seeing the game,” Patriots receiver Randy Moss said. “They were holding for three quarters and now they want to throw the flags in the fourth quarter. It was a good thing to see that they called the game right.”

That, the Ravens would attest, depends on your perspective.