So, we’re back. Sorry about the extended Christmas break. Let’s jump right into the action of the past weekend, mainly with NFL football.
There have been a couple of absolutely amazing stories this season which will now be continued into the play-offs.
The Miami Dolphins knocked off the New York Jets 24-17 to complete the best-ever one season turn-around in NFL history, going from a 1-15 team to 11-5 champions of the AFC East and a showdown against the Baltimore Ravens. GM Bill Parcells again has worked his magic in his first season in Miami and Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington got back at the team which let him go in the off-season to take on Brett Farve, who now faces an MRI and retirement (again).
The Atlanta Falcons late last season were a mess, with a coach who jumped ship before the end of the season and a franchise quarterback in jail. And now rookie Matt Ryan has the Falcons in the wild card play-offs against the Arizona Cardinals after an 11-5 record.
The Super Bowl losers from last season, the New England Patriots were another great story, posting an 11-5 record after superstar quarterback Tom Brady went down in Week One. Matt Cassel’s final game of the season will be a 13-0 victory over the Buffalo Bills as the Patriots will watch the play-offs from home following Miami’s win over the Jets.
Back to the play-offs, the Denver Broncos failed in their final four chances to reach the play-offs – the last loss coming at the San Diego Chargers in a 52-21 drubbing which allowed the Chargers to become the first team in NFL history to make the post-season after a 4-8 start. San Diego will be facing a tough challenge to continue their run against the Indianapolis Colts.
The other wild card play-off has the Philadelphia Eagles – who bounced the Dallas Cowboys on the final day of the season – against the Minnesota Vikings, who needed a 50-yard, game-winning field goal by Ryan Longwell to beat the New York Giants 20-19 and reach the post-season.
Another NFL story to be addressed was the sorry tale of the Detroit Lions, who became the first ever team to go 0-16. Man, what Lions fans wouldn’t do to get Parcells to come to Motor City.
And sticking with the NFL for just one more story, the San Francisco 49ers definitely made the right decision by hiring Mike Singletary as head coach on a four-year deal. The former Chicago Bears linebacker great helped the 49ers to a 5-4 finish after taking over midseason, including four wins in the last five games.
Getting away from the NFL now for a couple items…
Talk about rebounding from a two-game losing streak! The reigning NBA champions Boston Celtics thrashed the Sacramento Kings 108-63 to get back to their winning ways.
Here is an interview with Ricky Rubio looking ahead to the 2014 World Championships – which could take place in Spain.
In European football/soccer, here is a great item on Ronaldo’s return to Brazil.
And finishing off on the soccer pitch, Real Madrid management are hoping that UEFA President Michel Platini will intervene to allow both new signings Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarrà to play for them in the Champions League. Real were bashed in media around the world for not realising that UEFA regulations would permit just one of the players to line up.