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"Now it is done. Now the story ends. And there is no way to tell it. The art of fiction is dead. Reality has strangled invention. Only the utterly impossible, the inexpressibly fantastic, can ever be plausible again." –Red Smith introducing his column about Bobby Thomson's home run in the 1951 National League playoff
What can I say? Say what I can, but the New England Patriots defeated the New York Giants, 38-35, on Saturday to become only the fourth team in the NFL's long history to go undefeated during the regular season. Tom Brady bested Peyton Manning's old single-season touchdown record (50) by throwing two scores, both of which found Randy Moss (who added on to Jerry Rice's TD reception record of 22 by one). As a team, the Pats scored 589 points and 75 touchdowns during the 2007 season. Will the Beli-cheats become only the second team to run the table, both regular season and playoffs? You'll have to wait till '08 to find out...
In other NFL news
Week 17 featured a handful of games with playoff implications; a review thereof follows:
- The Cleveland Browns couldn't clinch the last AFC playoff spot on their own merits last Sunday, so it was take two on the playoff chase. While the Browns did beat the visiting San Francisco 49ers, 20-7, they would have to wait until that night to see if they would be able to get in.
- However, the Tennessee Titans managed to bring heartbreak to the people of Northeast Ohio thanks to a 16-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While this game wasn't really much to write home about, the Titans lost starting quarterback Vince Young in the third quarter to an injury. If there was a silver lining to this dark cloud, it was that the Dawg Pound enjoyed an 11-5 record in '07, its best mark since 1994, when (surprise!) Bill Belichick was the head coach.
- The Washington Redskins also needed a win to snatch the last NFC berth and did so with a 27-6 thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys, who were held to just one yard rushing – ONE MEASLY YARD, JERRY!!!
- Devin Hester became a veritable jack of all trades on offense for the Chicago Bears on Sunday as he nabbed a 55-yard touchdown and took a punt return 64 yards for another score in a 33-25 knockout of the Saints as far as the playoffs were concerned. Also, Hester inched closer to Brian Mitchell's record for most kickoff/punt return TDs in a career; he now has as many of those during his NFL tenure as Moss has had this year alone.
CFB Bowl Mania reaches near fever pitch
- Matt Ryan capped a remarkable '07 campaign by throwing for three touchdowns and 249 yards in Boston College's 24-21 win over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl on Friday. Also that day, TCU edged host Houston 20-13 in the Texas Bowl while Oregon State copped the Emerald Bowl 21-14 over Maryland.
- Kevin Smith's quest for the record books came up a dime short on Saturday; the Central Florida running back was only able to amass 119 yards (totaling 2,607 yards this past season, coming short of Marcus Allen's mark) in the Knight's 10-3 loss to Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.
- Kudos to Joseph Vincent Paterno, who commemorated his 500th game with a 24-17 win over temp agency-coached Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl.
- Meanwhile, Wake Forest became a second-order college football powerhouse with a 24-10 win over Connecticut in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Yes, that IS name of the bowl game; don't think for a second that AGM has sold out to big corporations...
- Nick Saban concluded a rather successful first year at Alabama in guiding the Crimson Tide to a 30-24 win over Colorado in the Independence Bowl. John Parker Wilson aided the cause with three touchdowns in the game.
Across the Pond
- Dimitar Berbatov recently came out as saying that if another club gives him an offer that he feels matches his talent and ability, he'll walk from Tottenham seemingly in a heartbeat. Well, Spurs may want to consider keeping their prized striker after a four-goal outburst made all the difference in a 6-4 win over Reading.
- However, we have one last obituary to add to the long list from 2007: Phil O'Donnell, captain of Scottish club Motherwell. collapsed on the pitch and died on Saturday during the club's match against Dundee United. Out of respect for the 35-year-old O'Donnell, Motherwell have postponed their next two matches, and the same was said of the Old Firm match between Celtic and Rangers on Tuesday.
Lightening the mood with some hoops
- One year ago at this time, Allen Iverson was making himself welcome in Denver after a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. On Friday night, AI scored 39 points in the Denver Nuggets' 124-120 shootout win over the Golden State Warriors.
- Iverson's former team announced during the weekend that the Sixers had traded Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz; in exchange, Gordon Giricek heads to Philly.
- Robert Dozier socred 18 points as Memphis remained undefeated with a 76-63 win over Arizona. The Tiger, ranked #2 in the nation, have a current record of 11-0.
UFC 97: Nemesis
The year going out saw the rise of MMA into the mainstream, and the AWIR picked up on it and made it a regular feature. Well, the UFC's last big event of 2007 saw Georges St. Pierre defeat Matt Hughes for the welterweight title in what was to have been a battle of the Ultimate Fighter 6 coaches (the other coach, defending champ Matt Serra, pulled out due to injury). Also, "The Iceman" Chuck Lidell defeated Brazilian Wanderlei Silva in a light-heavyweight undercard match.
The last ones for '07
San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who won the NFL rushing title for the second year in a row. LT's numbers may not have been the eye-popping record breakers from 2006, but he still gained 1,418 yards and found paydirt 15 times this season. BTW, Tomlinson only 56 yards in the Chargers' 30-13 win over the Oakland Raiders.
- Honorable mention goes to Houston Texans kick returner Andre Davis (FROM...Niskayuna, New York): Davis got a combined 201 yards and two touchdowns on two seperate kickoff returns (97 and 104 yards, respectively) in a 42-28 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That kid from Texas A&M who made the joke about JoePa during that Aggie pep rally the other night; I'll wager that THAT came back to bite him in the YKW...
Thus endeth the AWIR for 2007
We thank all our readers for their support, and wish you all a happy, safe, and blessed New Year. See you in 2008!
And, as always, let's all be good sports...