Seahawks Looking for Revenge

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The only misstep the Seattle Seahawks suffered at home during their romp to a Super Bowl title last season came against the Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks now get a rematch at CenturyLink Field on Sunday with far more than just redemption or bragging rights on the line.

Arizona handed the Seahawks their only home loss in 2013, winning 17-10 on Dec. 22 to end Seattle’s 14-game home win streak and move within striking distance of the franchise’s first postseason berth since 2009. However, the 10-6 Cardinals eventually missed out.

This time around, with the roles of front-runner and underdog flipped, Arizona looks to further cement itself as the team to beat in the NFC.

“The belief system that everything that we’re doing is working solidified itself up there last year,” coach Bruce Arians said about last year’s matchup in Seattle. “You have to build that camaraderie and what it takes as a team. Each team doesn’t buy into that always, and some guys don’t buy into it. This one has.”

The Cardinals (9-1) own the NFL’s best record, and since losing at Denver in Week 5, have won six straight – their longest streak since stringing seven together in 1974.

Arizona has continued to find success despite a tumultuous stretch of offensive health issues highlighted by the season-ending knee injury to Carson Palmer in Week 10. Filling in for Palmer has been Drew Stanton, who is now 3-1 as a starter this season after posting a career-best 306 passing yards in Sunday’s 14-6 win over Detroit.

“Drew did what we expected from Drew,” receiver Larry Fitzgerald said of Stanton, who finished the day 21 of 32 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. “There was no question he was going to go out there and play well.”

Andre Ellington has been limited by a foot injury all season, and Fitzgerald suffered a sprained MCL on Sunday. Ellington has 624 yards rushing, 356 receiving and five total touchdowns, while Fitzgerald leads the team with 46 receptions for 658 yards.

Both players had been expected to play, but Fitzgerald sat out practice Wednesday and Arians said he was “iffy” for Sunday.

More crucial to Arizona’s success than its offense, which sits close to the league average at 23.7 points per game, is a stout defense led by cornerback Patrick Peterson.

“We’re definitely one of the best in the game,” Peterson said. “I believe we have caught our stride. The last two games, we didn’t give up over 200 yards passing with three or four interceptions. That’s something we’re hoping for the rest of the season.”

The Cardinals rank near the top of the NFL with only 17.6 points allowed per game, and in their past five contests, they’ve allowed fewer than 270 yards four times.

Peterson, who in the last three weeks has held Dallas receiver Dez Bryant and Detroit’s Calvin Johnson to a combined 74 yards, promises to be a challenge for the Seahawks’ less-than-stellar passing attack.

Seattle (6-4) has thrown for more than 200 yards only twice this season, instead depending on the rushing abilities of Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson, who has run for a career-high 571 yards. Lynch is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has nine rushing touchdowns – three shy of tying his career best.

The Seahawks’ reliance on the run, which has proved both consistent and effective with Wilson under center, may be forcibly lessened Sunday by Arizona’s front seven. The Cardinals have allowed just one team to rush for more than 100 yards, something Seattle has accomplished nine times.

“These guys are flying high and we have to see if we can find a way to stop them and score on these guys and then we’ll take it to the next one,” coach Pete Carroll said about Arizona. “I’m really excited about the way this thing sets up and I think most people should be with all of the drama still out there about the division.”

Seattle’s rushing attack will be without Max Unger for three to four weeks after the center suffered a high ankle sprain in a 24-20 loss to Kansas City last Sunday.

The Cardinals lead the Seahawks in the NFC West by three games. They have four divisional contests remaining after Sunday, including at home against Seattle on Dec. 21.

“There’s nothing that’s won yet,” Arians said. “You still have to come to work Wednesday or it’s all going to be gone. The only thing it does is it ratchets it up even more because each game’s bigger now.”

The Seahawks are 19-2 at home since 2012 and 14-16 against Arizona all-time.

NFL Week 12

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Sunday, Nov. 23
Game Time/Score TV Location/Tickets
Tampa Bay at Chicago 10:00am FOX Soldier Field -
Detroit at New England 10:00 am FOX Gillette Stadium -
Cleveland at Atlanta 10:00 am CBS Georgia Dome -
Green Bay at Minnesota 10:00 am FOX TCF Bank Stadium -
Jacksonville at Indianapolis 10:00 am CBS Lucas Oil Stadium -
Tennessee at Philadelphia 10:00 am CBS Lincoln Financial Field -
Cincinnati at Houston 10:00 am CBS NRG Stadium -
Arizona at Seattle 1:05 pm FOX CenturyLink Field -
St. Louis at San Diego 1:05 pm FOX Qualcomm Stadium -
Miami at Denver 1:25 pm CBS Sports Authority Field -
Washington at San Francisco 1:25 pm CBS Levi’s Stadium -
Dallas at N.Y. Giants 5:30 pm NBC MetLife Stadium -
Monday, Nov. 24
Game Time/Score TV Location/Tickets
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo 4:00 pm CBS Ford Field -
Baltimore at New Orleans 5:30 pm ESPN Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Kentucky to Kansas….You Got Knocked the _____ Out!!!!

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By the time the dust (and tremors) settled Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the final tally read like this: Kentucky starters 38, Kentucky bench 34, Kansas 40. Add it all up, and the top-ranked Wildcats had handed the fifth-ranked Jayhawks a 72-40 loss — the worst, margin-wise, of the Self Era.

It started wonky, went south quickly, and by midway through the first half an old-fashioned, behind-the-woodshed beating was well underway. KU (1-1) missed on 22 of its first 26 attempts and had as many shots blocked (eight) in the first 20 minutes as it had field goals.

Kentucky features 10 players 6-foot-6 or taller, including Big Blue’s two primary ballhandlers, the Harrison twins. The guards Self trusts most right now, Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason, stand 6-5 and 5-11, respectively.

So Kansas got a weird, awkward, uncomfortable dose of its own medicine at the State Farm Champions Classic — the sort of medicine that usually had been dished out via swats from ex-Jayhawk centers Jeff Withey and Joel Embiid in recent years, the psychological terror of knowing what was waiting for you if you crashed the lane.

Kentucky coach John Calipari knows what Self’s great Kansas teams have shown the world for years: It’s no fun trying to shoot over a sequoia.

That KU came up short was neither a surprise nor cause for mass panic; Self’s lineup is trending small (Perry Ellis, Jabari Traylor and Cliff Alexander each check in at 6-8), and Kentucky, last year’s NCAA tourney runner-up, is a matchup nightmare. This also might be Cal’s best team among a plethora of outstanding teams in Lexington, one so stacked with McDonald’s All-Americans that he decided the best solution was to simply sub them in as entire lineups (or “platoons,” as he calls them), five at a time. Andrew and Aaron Harrison don’t have Andrew Wiggins’ hops but offer up Wiggins-like wingspans that are a beast to shoot over, and forwards Karl-Anthony Towns (6-11) and Olathe, Kan., native Willie Cauley-Stein (7-foot) take turns blotting out the sun (five blocks combined).

The rub is that the ‘Cats, and their roster with enough talent to account for two No. 1 seeds, made the Jayhawks look like a plucky 15 from the MEAC. KU didn’t score in the second period until the 14:39 mark, on an Alexander free throw that cut the Big Blue lead to 44-29. With three minutes to go in the contest, Kentucky had 11 field goals for the half — as many as the Jayhawks had the entire game.

Anytime KU would raise its head a little off the mat, Calipari would roll another platoon at the Jayhawks. Ten ‘Cats played at least 17 minutes, and a dozen scored.

“It’s like tanks coming over the hill,” the Wildcats’ coach told ESPN on the court after the game.

Uh-uh, Coach. More like Godzillas.

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Going inside the Grizzlies’ …..10-1

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 Going inside the Grizzlies’ 119-93 win against the Rockets. In a matchup of 9-1 teams, Memphis exploded against the NBA’s top-rated defense to take sole possession of the league’s best record, a franchise-best 10-1 start.

THREE-POINT TAKE

1. GRIZZLIES DEFENSE TOPPLES TOP DEFENSE

It looks like an offensive explosion and looking at 119 points, it’s tough to argue that. But in Memphis’ most complete game of the season, it started with defense. Houston, on the second night of a back-to-back entered Monday’s game as the league’s best defense. But it was Memphis finishing with 21 forced turnovers, leading to 31 points.

Grizzlies forward Tony Allen was asked if Memphis wanted to make a statement.

“Most definitely. We see the standings every day,” Allen said. “We look at those guys as our opponents that we’ve got to watch out for, because they’re capable of making some noise.”

Memphis is now 2-0 in the Southwest. 

It started early. Houston turned it over 10 times in the first quarter, leading to 18 Memphis points. The Grizzlies scored 34 points in the first quarter and 31 in the second. A 26-5 spurt put it away early, a 41-20 lead in the stretch. Memphis’ largest lead was 36, the largest lead of the season for a team that usually reserves the fourth quarter for drama.

Memphis’ defense isn’t a slouch. The Grizzlies were second in the league, allowing 91.3 points per game. Houston did beat that by a couple of points, but allowed a whopping 30 points more than its 88.9 average.

Allen, bothered by early foul trouble, played his usual role in holding James Harden to eight points. He doesn’t feel the Grizzlies are put in the same defensive category, desire the proving numbers.

“We want people to talk about us like that,” Allen said.

2. THREE-POINTERS RAINED FOR THE OTHER TEAM

Memphis’ bench continued its surge, scoring 56 points. First off the bench to spell foul-troubled Allen was Quincy Pondexter, who coming in, hadn’t played more than 16 minutes in the last five games. He played 30 and hit a season-high 13 points.

“Yeah, we got a great win, right? It was a total team effort,” a reserved Pondexter said.

He can deflect the attention if he wants, but when he and Courtney Lee (15 points) produce points, this is a different Grizzlies team, some offensive gold to go along with the defensive grit. That grit is tough on opponents on no days rest, 11 straight home wins in that scenario.

While it was good for the Grizzlies to get Pondexter going, they flipped the script on Houston. The Rockets attempt nearly 33 3-pointers per game. Right on cue, they shot 34 Monday, but made only eight (23.5 percent compared to 36.1 percent coming in).

Memphis shot 17 of them, seven makes. Pondexter hit 3 of 8. Lee hit 3 of 4, back-to-back makes late in the third quarter that staved off a short-lived Houston run that never got the lead below 20.

3. MEMPHIS GREETS HOMETOWN STOKES TO WARM WELCOME

Jarnell Stokes is living his dream, the Memphis boy — and Tennessee Vols product — going from the cheap seats admiring Zach Randolph to sitting beside Zach Randolph. 

Monday, the second-round pick got his first action of the season. On a deep team playing the way the Grizzlies are, that should be relished. It was.

With 4:53 left in the game, Stokes went to his patented hook and scored his first NBA points. The 17,012 went nuts.

“I kind of went to my bread-and-butter,” Stokes said. “That was my first college points. I did that against Anthony Davis at Kentucky, keep it simple, running hook.”

His final line: 2-for-2 shooting, two rebounds in 6 minutes, 16 seconds.

Memphis shot 53 percent. Vince Carter had his first Grizzlies dunk. Mike Conley had a game-high 19 points and seven Grizzlies reached double figures, but Stokes’ points have the potential to never be forgotten. He did it with two Memphis guys on the court for the Rockets, Tarik Black and Joey Dorsey.

“It’s kind of storybook,” Stokes said.

STATS THAT MATTER

20: Memphis has won 20 straight games at FedExForum, 6-0 this season. The streak will be put on the line Friday against the Celtics.

27: That’s how many fast-break points Memphis had, fueled by Houston’s 21 turnovers. The Grizzlies turned the ball over 10 times, the same amount Houston did in the fist quarter.

STRAIGHT TALK

“They beat the heck out of us. I don’t know what numbers matter. They beat the heck out of us.”
– Rockets coach Kevin McHale

Adrian Peterson

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Please read the words that follow carefully. They are important words. They are vital words. The words are the most important thing in this horrible case of child abuse. And it is child abuse.   

The words are from Roger to Adrian Peterson. While Goodell has made mistakes in this and other cases, this moment—this particular moment—is his finest.

Goodell wrote:

First, the injury was inflicted on a child who was only four years old. The difference in size and strength between you and the child is significant, and your actions clearly caused physical injury to the child. While an adult may have a number of options when confronted with abuse—to flee, to fight back, or to seek help from law enforcement—none of those options is realistically available to a four-year old child. Further, the injury inflicted on your son includes the emotional and psychological trauma to a young child who suffers criminal physical abuse at the hands of his father.

Second, the repetitive use of a switch in this instance is the functional equivalent of a weapon, particularly in the hands of someone with the strength of an accomplished professional athlete.

A switch in the hands of a powerful man is not simply a piece of a tree. To a powerful adult, to a supreme athlete, that small branch becomes a weapon. If Peterson, or anyone else, can’t see this, then they are fools.

One of the elements of Goodell’s actions is to reestablish disciplinary control that was lost by errant NFL decisions in the recent past, particularly with the Ray Rice case. This is the NFL’s attempt to capture the high ground. It’s an attempt that has flaws and may fail but is noble.

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But there is an even larger lesson here, and it is responsibility. The responsibility of a man, of a father, of a human being for his actions—and in many ways, in every way, Peterson has failed in this regard. In many ways, in every way, Peterson has taken the coward’s way out.

Goodell continued:

Third, you have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not “eliminate whooping my kids” and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt “very confident with my actions because I know my intent.” These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.

From what we know of Peterson, the fact he beat his son—and the fact that I believe, as the NFL does, that he genuinely doesn’t feel bad about it, and may not change—is not surprising.

Because at the core of Peterson is the question of what kind of father is he? He lost a son, tragically, and you feel for that. But once, he was asked by an ESPN reporter a simple question: How many kids do you have? He refused to answer. “I know the truth,” he said. “And I’m comfortable with that knowledge.”

What kind of father won’t answer the question of how many kids he has?

The answer is one who has many different kids by many different women. No one knows exactly what the number is. It’s been reported that he fathered at least five kids, but it may be seven or more.

This is where part of the problem originates. I don’t think Peterson understands what true fatherhood is. How can someone who has that many kids with so many different women fully comprehend the complexities of fatherhood?

He can’t spend substantial time with his children, and apparently, in the case of at least one (and possibly two), during the little time he did spend with them—the abused four-year-old—he whipped one with a switch.

LeGarrette Blount Cut

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LeGarrette Blount wasn’t really a role model for Le’Veon Bell. Turns out, Blount also doesn’t have much of a role behind Bell, either — and wasn’t very happy about that fact on Monday night.

On Tuesday morning, Blount is a former Steeler after the team announced his outright release.

As the Steelers featured Bell for 33 carries and he ran for 204 yards in the27-24 comeback win at Tennessee, Blount was in the game for only two plays and didn’t touch the ball once.

According to multiple reports, that prompted Blount to leave the field early, head to the locker room, dress and get out of there before his teammates went there after the victory. That ended up costing him a roster spot.

Earlier in his first season in Pittsburgh, Blount was seeing regular time spelling Bell for a few series in every game, and in some goal-to-go situations. But as Bell has proved to be a versatile, durable workhorse, the Steelers just stuck with their red-hot hand through the coldest part of their schedule.

Blount shouldn’t have been expecting an equal timeshare with Bell when he signed a two-year, $3.85 million deal after not being re-signed by the Patriots. He’s pretty much a one-trick power back who’s overrated in short yardage, while Bell, thinner and sleeker this season, has run with both more explosiveness and toughness.

Blount’s Monday night stunt pushed him further into no-nonsense coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse, far from earning his wish of more carries. He now is free to pursue those carries with another team, if there would be one that still wants him after he was such a locker-room headache in Pittsburgh.

Consider Blount was arrested along with Bell for misdemeanor marijuana during a traffic stop in August. There was once a thought that Blount was serving as a good mentor to Bell. Blount’s most recent behavior on the field had to be very disturbing for Tomlin.

That’s not how a veteran setting a so-called exampleshould act, especially in a hard-fought, well-deservedteam victory. Instead of pouting, Blount should have been supportive of Bell’s big-time rushingperformance.

The Steelers cutBlount even though they don’t really have another No. 2 option who could handle a sizeable load if Bell were to go down in their final few games. Rookie Dri Archer is more of a change-of-pace speedster than a 25-to-30 touch back.

They must now explore their options among street free agents to find Blount’s replacement during their Week 12 bye.