New England

Off to a bad start, Brady and the Patriots will have trouble in the NFL postseason

Tom Brady and the Patriots are off to an uncharacteristically bad start.

The team is 2-2 and is coming off one of the worst losses in the Belichick-Brady era losing to the Kansas City Chiefs 41-14 on Monday Night Football. The Patriot’s struggles were also shown in Week 3 as they barely defeated the winless Oakland Raiders 16-9 at home.

Though, there are no reasons for Patriot’s fans to worry about making the playoffs since the Patriots have easily won their division 11 times in the past 13 years and the rest of the teams in the AFC East are also struggling this season. However, there is reason to believe the Patriots will not perform well in the playoffs.

On Monday Night, Brady was just 14 for 23 against the Chiefs with two fumbles, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and only 159 passing yards. Brady was also 1-7 on passes down field and was sacked twice.

Brady’s performance indicated that the New England offense needs a lot of help in order to compete in the AFC. However, Brady’s performance cannot be the entire blame on the outcome of the game or on the season. He needs help.

The Patriot’s offensive line has struggled ever since they traded away Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After losing a veteran in Mankins, the offensive line has become very inexperienced with two starting rookies-- Brian Stork at center and Cameron Fleming at right guard. The inexperience can be seen week in and week out due to a collapsing pocket that doesn’t give Brady a lot of time to make a decision. The offensive line has also affected the running game as all three New England running backs rushed for a combined 75 yards on Monday.

Brady also doesn’t have the weapons he needs for the Patriot’s to become a serious threat in the AFC. Tight End Rob Gronkowski isn’t his old explosive self due to injuries the past two seasons and has a drop percentage of 7.4% this season, the worst of his career. Wide receivers Brandon Lafell and Danny Ammendola have been extremely unsuccessful at getting open all season. Only wide receiver Julian Edelman has proved to be Brady’s dependable option but Brady needs more than Edelman.

Some skeptics believe that the Brady era in New England is over. When asked about a possible quarterback change, Belichick gave a blank stare of idiocy to the crowd of journalists.

At the end of the day, Tom Brady is Tom Brady. He still knows how to win football games. He is a future Hall of Fame quarterback and can make average players into good players even at age 37. That being said, he is 37 and is nearing the end of his career. Tom Brady has done all that he can to help improve this team even by taking a big pay cut to allow the Patriots to make key acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball by signing defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and star corner back Darrelle Revis. But he still needs help from the offensive line and the receivers in order for the Patriots to reach their full potential.

Denver defeats Patriots 26-16; Advance to Super Bowl XLVIII

Late in the third quarter, down 20-3 to the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots had a decision to make-- go for it on a fourth and two at the Denver 30 or kick a 47-yard field goal down.

The Patriots rolled the dice and came up empty as Denver sent a well-timed blitz and sacked Tom Brady.

Whether New England wants to admit it or not, the game had been long decided before that moment. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense carved through the Patriots defense which lead to a 26-16 Broncos victory.

Manning outshined rival quarterback Tom Brady throwing for 400 yards and two touchdowns. Manning played a well-crafted game, completing an AFC championship game record tying 32 passes.

“It's very rewarding when you put a lot of hard work into the offseason and the regular season,” Manning said. “It pays dividends with a huge win.”

Meanwhile, New England was held in check for most of the game. It took the Patriots over 50 minutes to find the end zone by the time they scored it was already too late.

New England was able to score 13 points in the final ten minutes but fell short when they were unable to punch in a two-point conversion to make it a one possession game.

With the win, Denver will make their first super bowl appearance since 1998. For Manning, it will be his third appearance in the super bowl, his first with the Broncos.

“We kept our nose to the grindstone, kept persevering,” Manning said. “It’s gratifying to get this win today.”

Denver will matchup against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium on February 2, 2014.

 

Late turnovers sink 49ers; Seahawks advance to Super Bowl XLVII with 23-17 win

49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick launched a pass in to the end zone intended for Michael Crabtree, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman tipped the pass and it landed in the hands of linebacker Malcolm Smith.

The interception sealed a 23-17 victory for Seattle and a trip to the super bowl.

“I’m the best corner in the game,” exclaimed Sherman in a post-game interview with FOX’s Erin Andrews. In another interview, Sherman said that he “knew it would come down to (the defense) in the back end to win this thing.”

The game was a classic heavyweight fight, each team delivering and taking shots. The 49ers were first to strike with a strip-fumble on the first play of the game.

Kaepernick was key to the 49ers offense, he lead the 49ers with 130 rushing yards. But the Seahawks were able to take advantage of Kaepernick’s mistakes, he turned the ball over three times in the second half.

For the Seattle offense, momentum swung their way when Marshawn Lynch scored on a 40 yard run. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson managed the game with 215 yards passing and one touchdown.

The NFC championship game was defined by the defensive play by both teams. The 49ers made two fourth down stops and forced a turnover. But it was the Seattle that landed the last punch with three forced turnovers in the second half.

“This is as sweet as it gets,” Sherman said.

“This is really special,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll added, “It would really be a mistake to not remember the connection and the relationship between this football team and the 12th Man and these fans. It's unbelievable."

Seattle will meet the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at Metlife Stadium on February 2, 2014.

Deb Hanley, left, and Frank McGuire dig about three feet of snow from around their car outside their home in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. The Boston area received about two feet of snow from a winter storm. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

BOSTON — A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity.

At least three deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the wind-whipped snowstorm, including that of a New York man killed when the tractor he was using to plow his driveway ran off the edge of the road.

More than 38 inches of snow fell in Milford, Conn., and an 82 mph gust was recorded in nearby Westport. Areas of southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire got at least 2 feet of snow, with more falling. Portland, Maine, received 29.3 inches, breaking the record set in 1979.

Roads in many places were impassable. Across much of New England, snowed-over cars looked like white blobs. Streets were mostly deserted save for snowplow crews and a few hardy souls walking dogs or venturing out to take pictures. In Boston's Financial District, the only sound was an army of snowblowers clearing sidewalks.

The digging-out went more smoothly in some places than in others.

A little more than 11 inches fell in New York, but the city "dodged a bullet" and was "in great shape," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, predicting streets would be cleared by the end of the day. The New York region's three major airports — LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark, N.J. — were up and running again by late morning after shutting down the evening before.

But hundreds of motorists abandoned their vehicles on New York's Long Island, which got 2½ feet of snow, and even snowplows were getting stuck. Emergency workers used snowmobiles to try to reach stranded motorists, some of whom spent the night in their cars.

Richard Ebbrecht, a chiropractor, left his office in Brooklyn at 3 p.m. on Friday and head for his home in Middle Island, N.Y., but got stuck six or seven times on the Long Island Expressway and other roads.

"There was a bunch of us Long Islanders. We were all helping each other, shoveling, pushing," he said. He finally gave up and settled in for the night in his car just two miles from his destination. At 8 a.m., when it was light out, he walked home.

"I could run my car and keep the heat on and listen to the radio a little bit," he said. "It was very icy under my car. That's why my car is still there."

Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut closed roads to all but essential traffic.

The Interstate 95 corridor from the New York metropolitan area to Boston, with a population of roughly 25 million, appeared to take the brunt of the storm. One of hardest-hit places was Connecticut, where even emergency responders found themselves stuck on highways all night. In Fairfield, police and firefighters could not come in to work, so the overnight shift stayed on.

Several state police cars were also stuck in deep snow in Maine, where stranded drivers were warned to expect long waits for tow trucks.

Nearly 22 inches of snow fell in Boston and more was expected, closing in on the 2003 record of 27.6 inches. The archdiocese in the heavily Roman Catholic city reminded parishioners that under church law, the requirement to attend Sunday Mass "does not apply when there is grave difficulty in fulfilling this obligation." Logan Airport was not expected to resume operations until late Saturday night.

Flooding fears along the Massachusetts coast led to the evacuation of two neighborhoods in Quincy, south of Boston, and of 20 to 30 people in oceanfront homes in Salisbury.

But around the New York metropolitan area, many victims of Superstorm Sandy were mercifully spared another round of flooding, property damage and power failures.

"I was very lucky and I never even lost power," said Susan Kelly of Bayville on Long Island. "We were dry as anything. My new roof was fantastic. Other than digging out, this storm was a nice storm." As for the shoveling, "I got two hours of exercise."

The Postal Service closed post offices and suspended mail delivery Saturday in New England.

"This is crazy. I mean it's just nuts," Eileen O'Brien said in blacked-out Sagamore Beach, Mass., as she cleared heavy snow from her deck for fear it might collapse.

As the pirate flag outside her door snapped and popped in gale-force winds Saturday, she said: "My thermostat keeps dropping. Right now it's 54 inside, and I don't have any wood. There's nothing I can do to keep warm except maybe start the grill and make some coffee."

In South Windsor, Conn., Bill Tsoronis used a snowblower to carve paths through huge snowdrifts in his neighborhood.

"I thought we might have 18 or 20 inches, but in some places it's up to my waist. It's more than I expected," he said. Still, he said the storm was not much more than a nuisance, since the neighborhood still had power, and he said he might gather with neighbors for cocktails later in the day.

His neighbor Mike Schroder said as he brushed snow off cars in his driveway that the storm lived up to the hype.

"This is finally one they got right," he said. He said the cleanup will take some time: 

AFC Championship Features Rematch Between Hated Foes

In game that few people expected them to be a part of, the Baltimore Ravens enter Sunday as nine-point underdogs to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  However, the Ravens and fifth-year Quarterback Joe Flacco weren’t phased by similar circumstance last week, when they went into Denver and pulled out a double overtime victory over the Broncos.  Can they do it again?  Here are a few storylines to follow heading into Sunday’s AFC showdown:

1) Oh, You Again

The Pats and Ravens are very familiar with each other, as Sunday’s game will make it their second straight meeting in the AFC Championship game and third playoff contest in the past four years.  Although New England is virtually unbeatable at home in the playoffs, Baltimore blew them out 33-14 in 2009 and narrowly lost 20-23 after Billy Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds.  Clearly, the Ravens aren’t afraid of heading into Foxborough.

2) Matchup to Watch: Aqib Talib vs. Torrey Smith

Plenty will be made of the chess match between QB Tom Brady and LB Ray Lewis in this game, and rightfully so.  However, a matchup that may be more intriguing will be between Pats’ corner Aqib Talif and Ravens’ wide receiver Torrey Smith.  Smith burnt New England for 126 yards and two touchdowns when the two teams met earlier this season, and hauled in another two last week with veteran corner Champ Bailey covering him.  However, Talib, who New England acquired from Tampa Bay midseason, has brought some swagger to the Patriot defense with his fiery attitude and physical style of play.  Can he contain Smith?  The answer to that may determine this game’s outcome.

3) Can Joe Flacco Win the Big One?

Flacco’s been heavily critiqued over the past several years, as many people in the sports world have begun to wonder whether or not he has what it takes to win a championship, despite the fact that he is the only quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons.  After last week’s victory in Denver in which Flacco threw three touchdowns and outplayed four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning, people had better start acknowledging his abilities.  However, out-dueling Tom Brady in Foxborough is never easy, even if Flacco has done it before.

Prediction:

Although Baltimore is no pushover and will give the Pats all they can handle, New England just has too many weapons on the offensive side, even with Rob Gronkowski out with a broken forearm.  With Tom Brady playing like well, Tom Brady, and their defense playing its best football of the year, New England will make enough plays to defeat Joe Flacco and the Ravens.

Score: 31-24

Daily Texan Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts — Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

When comparing Luck to Griffin Robert Griffin III, it’s easy to overlook Luck’s athleticism. But the Stanford product ran the fourth-best 40-yard-dash among quarterbacks, turned in the fifth-best vertical leap and had the furthest broad jump. He’s much, much more athletic than Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Luck’s arm and touch could eventually put him in that upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks, though: he ranked seventh in the NCAA with a 71.3 completion percentage, sixth with 8.7 yards per attempt and tied for fifth with a touchdown percentage of 9.2 — meaning for every 100 passes he attempted, roughly 10 of them were for touchdowns. But will he have anybody besides Reggie Wayne to throw to in Indy?

2. Washington Redskins (from the Rams) — Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Bear with me here, but I like the Heisman Winner from Baylor better than I do Luck. In those aforementioned passing metrics, RG3 ranks better than Luck — third in completion percentage, first in yards per attempt, a tie with Luck in touchdown percentage and also a interception percentage that ranked among the best in the country (1.5, good for 12th). Luck, on the other hand, threw an interception 2.5 percent of the time he put the ball in the air — 46th in the country.

It really is arguable that Griffin III is a better passing prospect than Luck. It’s unarguable that he’s a better athlete (best 40 time of any QB, best vertical leap), one who put up whopping rushing numbers in college with 2,943 total yards and 10 games of triple-digit yardage in essentially three seasons.

One last stat: his passer-efficiency rating in 2011 was the second best ever.

3. Minnesota Vikings — Morris Claiborne, CB, Louisiana State

USC tackle Matt Kalil has been penciled in at this spot since the combine, but it won’t be too surprising if the Vikings elect to go with this year’s best cornerback. In a division where you’re facing Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler (not to mention, Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and Brandon Marshall) twice a year, you need to be able to stop the pass.

Offensive tackles aren't full-proof options, either. Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe and Trent Williams are recent examples of top-10 tackles whose teams (St. Louis, Jacksonville and Washington, respectively) rank among the worst in the league (32nd, 28th, 26th, also respectively). Take Claiborne and give yourself a secondary to build on.

4. Cleveland Browns — Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

Montario Hardesty, Greg Little, Ben Watson, Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Chris Ogbonnaya…I don’t care who your quarterback is, or who you’ve got on the offensive line; you’re not winning many games with that core of skill players. That’s why the Browns have to get the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Cleveland traded down last year (and drafted a defensive tackle, Phil Taylor, at 21) in order to stockpile picks. Those picks need to be used to help give a quarterback — for now it’s Colt McCoy — a prayer at winning games in the AFC North. Richardson steps in and starts from day one.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

With Claiborne and Richardson off the board, the Bucs have to reach a bit here to get a cornerback, but it’s a major position of need. Ronde Barber has very little left in the tank and the troubled Aqib Talib is being shopped.

6. St. Louis Rams — Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

From 2010 to 2011, Blackmon scored 38 touchdowns and hauled in 232 passes. His 3,304 receiving yards might be a byproduct of a system, but that’s insane no matter how you slice it (as is his ypc average of 14.6). He’s neither the fastest nor the tallest receiver in this draft, yet he is far and away the most productive and should immediately become Sam Bradford’s top target.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars — Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California

Since 2008, the Jags have chosen in the top 10 every year. And with little results to show for it: Derrick Harvey busted, Monroe has provided little semblance of a building block, Blaine Gabbert could be a disaster. The pick of defensive tackle Tyson Alualu is actually the best so far — and even that is saying something. So this pick needs to be right, and when you’re facing that kind of pressure, you take the best player available, regardless of need. Kalil, a potential franchise left tackle, is just that.

8. Miami Dolphins — Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

Here’s what I don’t like about Tannehill: He has only 20 games at quarterback under his belt and he was perhaps the main culprit in A&M’s choke job of 2011.

Here’s what I do like: He’s a confident, stand-up type of guy with an above-average arm.

Here’s what I hate: His 61.6 completion percentage last season, his seven yards per attempt, his 2.8 interception percentage.

And here’s what I love: He was sacked only nine times last year, so I know the former wide receiver can avoid the pressures of the Jets, Patriots and the newly-revamped pass rush of the Bills in the AFC East, and he can throw on the run. When a play breaks down, or when a receiver just can’t get open — with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, this could happen quite often — Tannehill can make things happen with his feet.

Look, Tannehill is the ultimate project quarterback. But the Dolphins can afford to be patient. Matt Moore is a serviceable option and it’s not like the team is about to challenge New England or New York for the division. He’s worth the risk here at 8.

9. Carolina Panthers — Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

With Cam Newton and Steve Smith doing their thing on offense, it’s time for Carolina to shore up things on the other side of the ball. The NFL’s seventh-worst rushing defense would be buoyed by the addition of Cox, who had five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss last season.

10. Buffalo Bills — Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

Despite the offseason signing of Mario Williams, there’s still work to be done to improve Buffalo’s D, which ranked 28th in total defense and 30th in run defense. Kuechly, who led the NCAA in tackles last season, gives the Bills one of the best front sevens in the league. Offensive help — mainly, receiver — can come in the later rounds.

11. Kansas City Chiefs — Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina

Another pass-rush option to pair opposite Tamba Hali. Got to be able to get to the quarterback in a division where you face Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers twice a season.

12. Seattle Seahawks — Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

Probably a reach here. Then again, they said the same thing about Jason Pierre-Paul at No. 15 a few seasons ago. The Seahawks put up pedestrian sack numbers in 2011 (33, for a sack percentage of 5.7). Coples never put up huge numbers at UNC, but it’s his potential — a 4.7 40 time at 6-foot-6 and 284 lbs. — that has Seattle pulling the trigger.

13. Arizona Cardinals — Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

The smart pick might be an offensive lineman like David DeCastro or Riley Reiff, but Larry Fitzgerald has been begging for somebody to take double-team pressure off of him for the longest time.

14. Dallas Cowboys — Mark Barron, S, Alabama

The Cowboys have taken three defensive backs in the first round the last decade — safety Roy Williams in 2002 and cornerbacks Terence Newman in 2003 and Mike Jenkins in 2008. Barron becomes No. 4 here and it’s easy to believe he could be better than any of the three.

15. Philadelphia Eagles — Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

Philly chose a guard with its first-round pick a year ago, but it’s been a long time since it used such a high pick on an offensive tackle — 1998 ,to be exact. With left tackle Jason Peters possibly out for the season, now seems as good a time as any to break the streak.

16. New York Jets — Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

For a team that’s made the AFC Championship game two of the last three years, the Jets sure do have a lot of holes. The “ground and pound” offense hasn’t gone anywhere behind Shonn Greene (22nd in team rushing last season), the passing game is in a state of disillusion (21st) and the Jets finished in the red in takeaways. But dangling Poe in front of Rex Ryan — who loves taking on defensive projects — is just too tantalizing.

17. Cincinnati Bengals — David DeCastro, OG, Stanford

With a boatload of draft picks after dealing Carson Palmer to the Raiders midseason, there’s plenty of time later on for the Bengals to make a sexier choice, possibly at corner or receiver. Take the draft’s best guard prospect off the boards.

18. San Diego Chargers — Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

What is it that has caused the Chargers to fall short so often? Among other things, the team failed to establish the run it its six-game losing streak in the middle of last year, posting a paltry 98 yards per game. You’ve got a capable runner in Ryan Mathews, now give him somebody to run behind.

19. Chicago Bears — Cordy Glenn, OT, Georgia

Unless the plan is to turn Jay Cutler into David Carr, it’s high time to improve the offensive line. Stick Glenn at right tackle and hope last year’s top pick, Gabe Carimi, is healthy enough to play a full season at left. Then bid adieu to J’Marcus Webb and Lance Louis, the weak links of a unit that allowed 49 sacks in 2011.

20. Tennessee Titans — Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama

In a division that will one day be run by Andrew Luck, it’s imperative to have somebody who can get after the passer. Upshaw (8.5 sacks last season) can put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 defensive set or play upright in a 3-4.

21. Cincinnati Bengals — Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Here’s that cornerback pick I was telling you about. If it weren’t for a few character issues, Kirkpatrick might have been drafted higher. Really good value here for the big, physical Kirkpatrick.

22. Cleveland Browns — Reuben Randle, WR, LSU

Randle is just the kind of deep threat the Browns need to stretch the field, and clear out the box for fellow rookie Trent Richardson. His 17.3 yards per reception ranked among the top 20 in the nation a year ago.

23. Detroit Lions — Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama

Character issues, schmaracter issues. When you can get this kind of talent this late in the first round, and fill a need while doing it, you take a risk. (Jenkins was dismissed by the Florida Gators after a myriad of drug problems and he’s fathered four children with three different women.) If Jenkins can stay out of trouble — granted, a big if — he can help the Lions.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers — Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin

It has been a game of musical chairs at the right guard position for Steelers, where Darnell Stapleton, Ramon Foster and Trai Essex have been used as temporary replacements until a franchise-type player comes along. In the rugged AFC North, with Ben Roethlisberger feeling the heat, here’s the opportunity to grab a long-term starter.

25. Denver Broncos — Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

Those who didn’t flip the channel in between Tim Tebow’s series on offense most likely noticed Denver’s glaring weakness. In eight losses, the Broncos gave up an average of 150 rushing yards a game. Peyton Manning won’t be nearly as effective if he’s sitting on the sidelines watching the opposition run at will.

26. Houston Texans — Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

It’s a choice here between Wright or Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech. Because Houston needs somebody to step in opposite Andre Johnson immediately, the best bet is it’s the uber-productive Wright (one touchdown in every seven catches last season) over a raw talent like Hill.

27. New England Patriots — Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois

Last year’s sack leader (16) winds up on a team that has twice seen, firsthand, what an effective pass rush can really do (the New York Giants of 2007, 2011). There's a hole to fill, too, with Mark Anderson signing with the Bills.

28. Green Bay Packers — Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State

Like Clay Matthews, McClellin is a bit of a late-bloomer who’s just now starting to pick up steam. Funny timing. Green Bay is in desperate need of a pass-rushing ‘backer to draw some attention away from Mr. Matthews.

29. Baltimore Ravens — Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

A receiver is tempting, but Adams can either replace the aging Bryant McKinnie or the departed Ben Grubbs.

30. San Francisco 49ers — Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

Call it a reward for quarterback Alex Smith who, ahem, faithfully came back to San Fran after flirting with the Dolphins in the offseason. Michael Crabtree looks like a flop, anyways.

31. New England Patriots — Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State

This pick might fall into the hands of a team trying to trade up for Brandon Weeden. Among the contenders, Cleveland has the most to offer in terms of draft picks (Nos. 37 and 67). If not, Patriots should go defense again.

32. New York Giants — Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

One minor cost of the Giants winning the Super Bowl in Feb. was that two of their tight ends, Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum, suffered knee injuries that could cause them to miss the entire 2012 season. Fleener averaged about 20 yards a catch in his final year at Stanford and also hauled in 10 touchdowns.

Super Bowl: A Closer Look at the Numbers

This is the first time that the Super Bowl is a rematch of a regular season game since the 2007 season, in which these same Giants and Patriots played each other in the regular season finale, with the Patriots finishing their perfect regular season. In the 45 year history of the Super Bowl, there have only been 12 rematches of regular season games. It’s difficult to beat an NFL team twice in a season, as is evident by the results of those games, in which the loser of the regular season matchup came back to win the Super Bowl seven times, including three of the last four.

The Patriots had one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this season, averaging 32 points per game this season, good for third in the league. They have been held under 30 points five times this season, and were held under 20 points in one game against the Steelers. In the Patriots losses and lowest offensive outputs, New England was done in by turnovers. The Patriots turned the ball over 15 times, with Brady throwing 8 interceptions. Against the Giants, Brady threw for over 330 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions and fumbled, which the Giants turned into 10 points.

This will be the third rematch in this postseason for New York. After the Giants beat the Patriots in week nine, they lost four consecutive games. Two of those losses came to San Francisco, and Green Bay. The Giants exacted revenge against the Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs by dismantling them at home to the tune of a 17 point win. The Giants followed that win up by beating the 49er’s in a rematch game in the NFC Championship game. That trend carried the Giants this far, but may aid the Patriots more considering that they lost to the Giants at home in the middle of the season.

The New York Giants have the best scoring defense this postseason, allowing only 13 points per game , including shutting out the Atlanta offense (the Falcons defense forced a safety against the Giants). New England, has the second best scoring offense in the playoffs, scoring 34 points per game, with a demolishing of Denver in the divisional round of the playoffs. It would be obvious to say that this game comes down to the New England offense against the New York defense, but the Patriot defense allowed 21 points per game in the regular season, while the Giants allowed 25. While the New England offense was expected to be explosive, the New York offense was also top ten in scoring this season, scoring 24 points per game in the regular season. And those stats are right, the Giants are the statistical quirk of this Super Bowl, having scored 394 points in the regular season, while giving up 400 points.

A number that will be shoved down our throats leading up to the Super Bowl is that the Giants got 48 sacks this season. The maligned Patriots defense wasn’t far behind, registering 40 in the regular season. Even into the postseason, the Giants have nine sacks in three games, while the Patriots registered eight in just two. New York has the more celebrated pass rush, which will be a major factor in the game, but the more important one may be the Patriots pressure on Manning, which won’t be a major headline anywhere you look.

There were two 99 yard touchdowns this season. The first came in week one, where Brady hit Wes Welker for a 99 yard touchdown against the Dolphins. The other came in week 16 where Manning hit Victor Cruz for a 99 yard score against the Jets. Welker had the number one statistical season in 2011, somewhat forgotten behind the tight end play. Cruz was the fifth best receiver during the regular season. Cruz was also second in the league in 40+ yard catches with nine during the regular season. Despite splitting catches, Cruz and teammate Hakeem Nicks are the top two receivers this postseason, with six 20+ yard catches, and two 40+ yard catches from Nicks.

Clothing styled by Feathers Boutique in the fashion of Orchid Grey blogger, Julie O’Boyle.

Photo Credit: Shila Farahani | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: This is the second of two profiles on fashion bloggers who will be part of this weekend’s Texas Style Council conference.

It is hard not to take notice of Julie O’Boyle. The fashion blogger has long locks that would make Rapunzel envious, but O’Boyle has more to offer than her looks.

“My husband has described me as ‘Liz Lemon Lite,’ a rather charming cocktail of extrovert, introvert, awkwardness and the propensity to eat messy food in public settings,” O’Boyle said.

The face behind the style blog Orchid Grey certainly knows how to dress, and she will be talking about fashion and blogging at Texas Style Council, taking place March 9-11.

After graduating from Montserrat College of Art with a degree in photography, O’Boyle started working in the school’s college admissions department, but she was not satisfied.

“I started Orchid Grey as a way to be more outgoing with my clothing choices and to connect with other people who had similar interests as myself,” O’Boyle said. “At the time, I was working as a college admissions counselor at my alma mater but was dreaming of a more creative, more fashion-oriented career. My blog helped me realize that I could take the leap and pursue what I am passionate about.”

Last October, O’Boyle landed a job with online retailer ModCloth.com, and moved to Philadelphia. She’s been taking the city over with her unique style, which she describes as ’60s- and ’70s-inspired with a hint of New England prep.

O’Boyle finds most of her clothes in thrift shops. She calls thrifting an addiction of hers because she loves the idea that she can purchase new styles without breaking the bank. At the moment, O’Boyle counts high-waisted skirts, ’70s-inspired maxi dresses and men’s button-up shirts as her favorite thrifted finds.

Fellow Texas Style Council panelist Tolly Moseley is inspired by O’Boyle’s fearless look and fun personality.

“Julie from Orchid Grey has always seemed like the type of girl I’d love to hang out with in real life,” Moseley said. “Her style is quirky — almost like a boho princess got together with the school librarian and they had a clothing swap.”

O’Boyle will be talking to Texas Style Council attendees about avoiding “blogger burnout,” as well as balancing your blog with busy schedules. She certainly has had her own struggles with these issues.

“It’s a constant struggle for me to find balance between family, work and blogging,” O’Boyle said. “I have to remind myself that in the end you have to learn to let go a little. The world won’t end if you miss a post.”

But blogging is not all bad for O’Boyle. She has met many of her closest friends through Orchid Grey. And it serves as a creative outlet that connects her to people she would not otherwise be able to have access to.

Texas Style Council event organizer Indiana Adams considers O’Boyle a friend after meeting her last year on vacation.

“Julie is the real deal. I’ve been disheartened to meet bloggers who are nothing like their online writing voice, but that’s not at all the case with Orchid Grey,” Adams said. “She’s every bit as stylish, beautiful, funny, creative and smart as she is online. Plus, she has the most envied head of hair her side of the Mississippi.”

O’Boyle will be crossing the Mississippi soon to get to Texas, and she has Austin on her mind.

“I can’t wait for Texas. Austin is one of my all time favorite cities,” O’Boyle said. “My husband is traveling with me, and we’re both looking forward to seeing our New England friends. I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with blogger friends that I rarely get to see in person.”

Printed on Thursday, March 8, 2012 as: Rapunzel-haired blogger livens up fashion

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning reacts in the closing minutes of Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Take that, Brady. You too, Peyton.

Eli Manning is the big man in the NFL after one-upping Tom Brady and leading the New York Giants to a 21-17 victory over the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl — in older brother Peyton's house, at that.

Just as Manning did four years ago when the Giants ruined New England's perfect season, he guided them 88 yards to the decisive touchdown, which the Patriots didn't contest as Ahmad Bradshaw ran 6 yards with 57 seconds left.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick reasoned the Giants would run the clock down and kick a short field goal, so he gambled by allowing the six points.

The gamble failed.

And now Manning not only has stamped himself as the elite quarterback he claimed to be when the season began — in the same class as Brady — he’s beaten the Patriots in two thrilling Super Bowls. The Giants (13-7), who stood 7-7 in mid-December, now own the football world, and Manning owns two Super Bowl MVP awards — the same number as Brady.

“It's been a wild game, a wild season,” Manning said. “This isn't about one person. It's about one team, a team coming together.”

Manning led six comeback victories during the season and set an NFL record with 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. He showed that brilliance in the clutch on the winning drive. He completed five passes, including a sensational 38-yard sideline catch by Mario Manningham to open the drive.

On second down at the Patriots 6 and with only one timeout remaining, Belichick had his defense stand up as Bradshaw took the handoff. Bradshaw thought about stopping short of the end zone, then tumbled in untouched.

“I was yelling to him, ‘Don't score, don't score,’” Manning said. “He tried to stop, but he fell into the end zone.”

Brady couldn't answer in the final 57 seconds, although his desperation pass into the end zone on the final play fell just beyond the grasp of All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England (15-4), winner of 10 straight since a loss to the Giants in November, was done.

Brady headed off with his head bowed, holding his helmet, while around him was the wild celebration by the Giants, NFL champions for the eighth — and perhaps most unlikely — time.

“Great toughness, great faith, and great plays by a number of guys today,” Manning said, deflecting some of the attention. Still, he one-upped Brady. And Peyton.

“It just feels good to win a Super Bowl, it doesn't matter where you are,” Manning said.

Cowboy’s Jason Witten (82) runs into the end zone despite Patriot’s cornerback Devin McCourt’s attempt to stop him.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady got the offense going just in time to lead the New England Patriots to the winning touchdown in the final minute of a 20-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Brady threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds left, and the Patriots’ top-ranked offense overcame the Cowboys’ stingy defense.

Dan Bailey’s 26-yard field goal had broken a 13-13 tie with 5:13 left. Each team ran one series before the Patriots got the ball after a punt with 2:30 remaining. Brady then completed eight of nine passes for 78 yards on an 80-play drive capped by his pass to Hernandez in the middle of the end zone.

New England (5-1) won despite its first two lost fumbles of the season and Brady’s two interceptions. He finished the game 27 of 41 for 289 yards with two touchdowns.

Dallas (2-3) ended a five-game road winning streak after a bye despite coming back from a 13-3 deficit midway through the second quarter. Tony Romo was 27 of 41 for 317 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Until the final drive, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was headed for his second straight strong game against the Patriots.

He held that job with Cleveland when the Browns beat the Patriots 34-14 last Nov. 7. Since then, the Patriots had scored at least 30 points in 13 consecutive games. That streak ended Sunday, but New England still won.

The regular-season win was Brady’s 20th straight at home, and the Patriots 31st in a row at Gillette Stadium.

They took a 3-0 lead on their first possession on a 31-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. It began when Kyle Arrington intercepted a pass that Dez Bryant failed to reach for on a medium-range slant pattern.

The Cowboys tied it on Bailey’s 48-yard field goal after Terence Newman intercepted a pass by Brady that was tipped by defensive end Kenyon Coleman.

New England turned the ball over again on the kickoff after the field goal when Gerald Sensabaugh recovered a fumble by Matthew Slater, the first fumble lost by the Patriots this season. But Dallas gave the ball right back five plays later when Tashard Choice fumbled and Gerard Warren recovered.

The Patriots capitalized with a 26-yard field goal by Gostkowski with 12:07 left in the half for a 6-3 lead. They made it 13-3 on their next possession on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Wes Welker. Officials ruled initially that Welker had gone out of bounds as he reached the ball out toward the goal line but that was overturned on video review.

That put Brady into eight place in NFL history with 276 touchdown passes, one more than Vinny Testaverde.

Dallas cut the lead to 13-10 at halftime, marching 93 yards on 11 plays to score on Romo’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Witten, the star tight end’s first catch of the game, with 33 seconds left.

The Cowboys tied it on Bailey’s 22-yard field goal with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.

Ethel O’Connor picks up supplies at an elementary school in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, Wednesday, in Killington, Vt. Running low on food and money, Vermont residents stranded by flooded roads relied upon provisions dropped by National Guard troops to get by.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

KILLINGTON, Vt. — Swollen rivers began falling Wednesday in much of the Northeast, allowing relief crews to reach the last of the tiny Vermont towns that had been entirely cut off from help by Hurricane Irene’s fast-moving floodwaters.

The receding water eased the flooding that had paralyzed parts of the region and revealed more damage to homes, farms and businesses across the flood-scarred landscape. Repair estimates indicated that the storm would almost certainly rank among the nation’s costliest natural disasters, despite packing a lighter punch than initially feared.

Of the 11 towns that had been severed from the outside world, the final one to be reached by rescuers was tiny Wardsboro, a village of 850 in the Green Mountains. The community is little more than a post office and some houses standing along Route 100, a highway popular in the fall with tourists searching out autumn colors.

The National Guard continued to ferry supplies to mountain towns that had no electricity, no telephone service and limited transportation in or out. Eight helicopters were expected to arrive Wednesday with food, blankets, tarps and drinking water.

In the ski resort town of Killington, residents came to the elementary school for free hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob. Jason and Angela Heaslip picked up a bag filled with peanut butter, cereal and toilet paper for their three children and three others visiting from Long Island.

“Right now, they’re getting little portions because we’re trying to make the food last,” said Jason Heaslip, who only has a dollar in his bank account because the storm has kept him from getting paid by the resort where he works.

Don Fielder, a house painter in Gaysville, said the White River roared through his house, tearing the first floor off the foundation and filling a bathroom tub with mud. He was upbeat as he showed a visitor the damage, but said he’s reluctant to go into town for fear he will cry when people ask about the home he built himself 16 years ago.

Other losses include a 1957 Baldwin piano and a collection of 300 Beanie Babies amassed by his daughter, who does not live with him but has a bedroom at his house.

“I bet that’s in the river,” he said.

Irene has been blamed for at least 45 deaths in the continental U.S., plus one in Puerto Rico and seven more in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

If that death toll stands, it would be comparable to 1999’s Hurricane Floyd, which caused 57 deaths in the U.S. and the Bahamas when moved through the Caribbean and charged up the East Coast into New England. At the time, it was the deadliest U.S. hurricane in nearly 40 years but was later dwarfed by the 1,800 deaths caused by Katrina in 2005.

An estimate released immediately after Irene by the Kinetic Analysis Corp., a consulting firm that uses computer models to project storm losses, put the damage at $7.2 billion in eight states and Washington, D.C.

That would eclipse damage from Hurricane Bob, which caused $1 billion in damage in New England in 1991 or the equivalent of about $1.7 billion today, and Hurricane Gloria, which swept through the region in 1985 and left $900 million, or the equivalent of $1.9 billion today, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Even as rivers finally stopped rising in Vermont, New Jersey and Connecticut, many communities and farm areas remained flooded, and officials said complete damage figures were nowhere in sight.

Some New Jersey towns resembled large, soggy yard sales as residents dragged flood-damaged belongings out onto lawns and into streets still muddied with floodwaters.

Large sections of Wallington, N.J. remained underwater after a cruel one-two punch: The Passaic River flooded the heart-shaped hamlet Sunday and then receded, only to rise again late Tuesday, forcing a new round of evacuations.

“Sunday morning, the water was only up to here,” said Kevin O’Reilly, gesturing to where his front lawn used to meet the sidewalk. “My daughter and I took a walk around the block. We figured everything would be fine.”

Only hours later, waves were bouncing off the house, and the basement windows were shattered.

“It sounded like Niagara Falls,” O’Reilly said. “It just filled up immediately, and this is what we’ve been dealing with since then.”

The town is accustomed to moderate flooding because it sits atop a network of underground streams that form a water table already saturated by record August rainfall.

Neighbors had started mucking out flooded basements and piling water-logged furniture and ruined possessions on the sidewalks when the river rose again. The town rushed to place garbage bins on higher ground so debris wouldn’t be floating in the high water.

President Barack Obama planned to travel to the northern New Jersey town of Paterson on Sunday to survey damage.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimated the damage to his state alone at $1 billion during a visit to Prattsville, a Catskills community where 600 homes were damaged by heavy rains and floods that also shredded roads and washed out bridges.

“Upstate New York paid a terrible, terrible price for this storm,” Cuomo said.

Downstream from Vermont’s devastating floods, the Connecticut River hit levels not seen in 24 years, but Middletown Mayor Sebastian Giuliano said the situation was not much worse than annual spring floods caused by snowmelt.

In Simsbury, Conn., several farm fields were flooded along the Farmington River. Pumpkins and other produce could be seen floating away.

“Farmers lost a good amount of crops,” said First Selectwoman Mary Glassman.

After floods in 1955, New England states installed flood-control dams and basins that helped prevent a catastrophe along the lower Connecticut River, said Denise Ruzicka, director of inland water resources for Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Power outages persisted across the region, with some of the largest in Connecticut, where more than 360,000 homes and businesses were still in the dark, and Virginia, where 242,000 customers had no lights.

In Killington, residents were volunteering to use their lawn tractors to help remove mud and debris. People with electricity were letting neighbors without water use their showers. One question was whether the camaraderie would wear thin before things returned to normal.

Karen Dalury, who did not have power at her home, said she had been eating vegetables from her garden and storing some in a neighbor’s freezer.

“For now it’s fine,” she said. “But who knows how long this is going to continue.”

In North Carolina, where Irene blew ashore along the Outer Banks on Saturday before heading for New York and New England, Gov. Beverly Perdue said the hurricane destroyed more than 1,100 homes and caused at least $70 million in damage.

With Irene gone, scientists turned their attention to the open Atlantic Ocean, where Tropical Storm Katia was gaining strength and forecast to become a hurricane by early next week. Meteorologists said it was too soon to determine where it might go.