Top teams tumble in weekend football action
There always seems to be a weekend when several football teams who have been winning games on a regular weekly basis get touched simultaneously by Ol’ Man Upset.
Last weekend apparently was that specific one in which both college and pro football had their best representative stunned by an aggressive opponent that refused to let the undefeated team stage one of their patented comebacks.
Of course, we’re referring to the twin demise of the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Atlanta Falcons, who both saw their dreams of an undefeated season fall with a thud on the wayside.
And the culprits who upset both apple carts are stationed less than 200 miles from Orange.
On Saturday, the team which hastily withdrew from the Big 12 Conference with the gigantic dream of wanting to play against the best teams in the nation did just that when Texas A&M traveled to Tuscaloosa and put the hurt on the defending National Champions 29-24 before more than 100,000 stunned fans.
And less than 24 hours later at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, the Saints put the Kibosh on the Falcons dreams of cruising through the 2012 National Football League schedule unscathed by hanging on for a 31-27 upset victory.
And these weren’t the only surprises that occurred last weekend to top-flighted football teams as undefeated Louisville lost to Syracuse 45-26 leaving only the first three teams in this week’s Associated Press College Football Poll—Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame—plus No. 6 Ohio State as the nation’s only unbeaten college football teams.
There was a little different scenario that occurred in the NFL last weekend besides the only undefeated team finally falling. The four division leaders in the National Football Conference all failed to win while the four division leaders in the AFC were victorious, which is a rather strange phenomenon.
Atlanta lost in the NFC South, the New York Giants were ambushed in Cincinnati by the Bengals 31-13, NFC West division-leading San Francisco played to a 24-24 overtime tie with the lowly St. Louis Rams while the Chicago Bears, leader in the NFC Central, were “out-defensed” by our Houston Texans, 13-6 at Soldier Field.
Things were much different with the other three AFC division leaders who all scored plenty of points to post their victories.
The New England Patriots, who lead the AFC East, outscored the Buffalo Bills 37-31, the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens ravished Oakland 55-20 while the surprising Denver Broncos padded their lead in the AFC West with a convincing 36-14 road win over Carolina.
But the biggest headline grabbers were the Aggies big upset over Alabama, the Atlanta Falcons falling in New Orleans and the Houston Texans win over the Chicago Bears.
The Texas Aggies wasted little time being in awe of big-time college football at Alabama as they scored 20 points in the first quarter behind the leadership of red-shirt freshman Johnny Manziel, who not only passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns, but tied as the game’s leading rusher with 92 yards on 18 carries.
And the Aggies’ defense, which had given up 57 points to Louisiana Tech a few weeks earlier, picked off Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron twice, the last one on the goal line with 1:36 left in the game as Alabama was driving for the winning touchdown. McCarron had not suffered an interception since mid-way in the 2011 season.
Another team whose defense has been questionable this season– the New Orleans Saints– stopped Atlanta’s plunge from the one-yard line inside the final two minutes of the game to preserve the victory.
And the Houston Texans played in the Soldier Field slop like they’ve been doing it all their lives as they fought through the rain, wind and cold to out-perform the Chicago Bears at their own game—defense.
Houston entered the game as an underdog for the first time this season in this nationally-televised contest and forced four turnovers in the first half, but only led 10-3 at halftime.
The game was right down the alley for the fan that likes defensive football at its finest. It was probably boring for those fans who like high-scoring offensive action.
The Windy City media was comparing this year’s Chicago Bears’ defense to the 1985 Bears that set defensive records en route to winning the Super Bowl.
Monday’s edition of the Houston Chronicle wrote that the Texans showed the Bears and the nation that they are a bona fide threat to win the Super Bowl.
This Korner watched the entire game and must agree with the newspaper’s assessment. But when reality sets in, there also is the matter of the seven remaining games that must be played as well as the one Sunday night at Soldier Field.
KWICKIES…Sunday was one of the few times when both the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys came up with sterling defensive performances that resulted in victories that weren’t supposed to happen. The Cowboys were an early underdog to the Eagles in Philadelphia, but put up 21 points in the final period on a 78-yard punt return by Dwayne Harris, a 47-yard interception return by newcomer Brandon Carr and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Jason Hatcher to win 38-23 to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Texans were an early 1½-point underdog in their 13-6 upset of the Chicago Bears. It was some kind of coincidence that in both victories the starting quarterbacks—Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Philadelphia’s Michael Vick– were knocked out of the game in the first half with possible concussions.
The Texas Longhorns used the Wishbone formation on the first play of their game Saturday against Iowa State in Austin in honor of the offensive formation’s inventor former coach Darrell K. Royal who died earlier last week. The ‘Horns went on to crush the Cyclones 33-7 as quarterback David Ash threw for a career-high 364 yards, two touchdowns and completed 25 of 31 passes.
Orange’s Earl Thomas and his cohorts put on a defensive clinic and held the once-highly-regarded New York Jets to a single touchdown as the Seattle Seahawks won for the fifth straight time at home Sunday 28-7. The victory gives the Seahawks a 6-4 record as they enter their bye week.
A recent article appearing in the Wall Street Journal asked the question “Is old Peyton Manning like young Peyton Manning?’’ The writer answers “Kinda! Lot of doubt about his health entering 2012, but nobody wants to face that geezer in the fourth quarter. Denver looks like an ideal fit.”
JUST BETWEEN US…Now that the high school regular season is completed, this Korner would like to congratulate the local teams who will be playing in the state playoffs. The undefeated and rarely-scored-upon West Orange-Stark Mustangs (10-0) will meet Cleveland (7-3) 7 p.m. Friday at the Beaumont ISD Butch Thomas Center, Bridge City (5-5) will clash with Coldspring (8-2) 7:30 p.m. Friday at Ray Maddry Memorial Stadium in Channelview, Vidor (9-1) will take on Humble Summer Creek (10-0) 7 p.m. Friday at Clyde Abshier Stadium in Deer Park while Deweyville (8-2) will enjoy a first-round bye. On the Six-Man scene Orange Community Christian won their final regular-season game 78-19 over Magnolia Legacy Prep last weekend putting them in a three-way tie for the district championship. Head Coach and Athletic Director Ben Yurcho said the district committee had to go to the second tie-breaker which was point differential in common games and the Lions (8-2) emerged as the top team and earned the home field for their TAPPS playoff game Saturday at 2 p.m. against San Antonio Castle Hills First Baptist (5-5).