- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner21 hrs ago
We call this game "football," but in truth, foot rarely meets ball, and in most cases, it's when the hands and legs have failed in their duties. Sunday's 38-17 Packers victory over Chicago featured exactly zero punts, only the second time in NFL history that's happened. (The first: Buffalo-San Francisco in September 1992, but you knew that.) The game featured more than 850 yards of total offense and nine scores of various types, mostly by Green Bay. Next up: we want to see an NFL game with nothing but punts .
The no-punt tale leads off this week's NFL in :90, where we take you through the biggest stories of Sunday. Check it out for details on Steve Smith's triumphant Carolina battle, the miserable Miami-Oakland game in London, and San Francisco's performance in its first statement game.
Here's more of the best of Sunday in Shutdown Corner:
• Did a 49ers fan prank the Eagles with a fire alarm at the team hotel?
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
The culture of New Orleans is sublime, a melange of music and food and drink and soul unlike anywhere else in the world. The New Orleans Saints of the mid-2000s were the physical embodiment of that culture, relentless and fascinating, (allegedly) a bit sinister but always a must-watch.
These Saints? These Saints are the Bourbon Chicken at your mall food court, a sickly imitation fit only for those who've never experienced the original.
These Saints suffered their third loss of the year, their first that can't be explained away with a bad-breaks excuse. And they didn't just lose 38-17 to Dallas; no, they got hammered , and whatever meager hope New Orleans might have had, they gave away with ill-advised playcalling. New Orleans is now 1-3, buried deep in the pack and already in serious danger of missing the playoffs.Sun, Sep 28New Orleans17 - 38DallasGame Recap
- Jay Busbee at Shutdown Corner1 day ago
You'd figure that with the NFL's emphasis on safety, any time you see a helmet on the field a flag is sure to follow. But there's a bit of personal responsibility involved, too.
Late in the first half of the San Francisco 49ers' victory against the Philadelphia Eagles, receiver Michael Crabtree made a move on Cary Williams, and suddenly found himself without his helmet. But there was no penalty, because as it turns out, pulling off a guy's helmet without facemasking him isn't technically illegal.
Crabtree bears responsibility too here for not buckling his chin strap tight enough. Fortunately, he didn't take any hits to the unprotected skull, as the play was immediately blown dead.
Remember, players: dress for the tackle you expect to get, not the one you wish you'd dodge.Sun, Sep 28Philadelphia21 - 26San FranciscoGame Recap
The Ryder Cup is over and done with, pencils down. Some players (and captains) performed well under pressure, and some, well, didn't. Let's take a look at each team and size up their performance at this year's Ryder Cup.
Paul McGinley (captain): He won the Ryder Cup, so that's an A right there. But the way he structured this team over the last two years, outlining expectations and containing dissent, he set a model for European captains for years to come. His captain's picks didn't work out, but they didn't need to. GRADE: A.
Thomas Bjorn (0-2-1): He didn't play particularly well in either the fourball or singles matches. But when you've got such an arsenal around you, you can afford to have a letdown. GRADE: D+.
Jamie Donaldson (3-1-0): Great success story, playing his way onto the European team despite setbacks in both personal and professional life. His reward? Striking the winning stroke for Europe. GRADE: A.
Victor Dubuisson (2-0-1): Quality performance out of the French rookie, who's just 24 and likely to be around for many more of these. This is exactly the way to build a strong Ryder resume. GRADE: A-.
Phil Mickelson will be a Ryder Cup captain one day, perhaps one day very soon, and he'll take plenty of lessons from this year's tournament.
Mickelson certainly wasn't pleased to be sitting all day Saturday, but he rallied and managed a 3&1 win over rookie Stephen Gallacher, who hadn't played since Friday.
Gallacher got out to a slight lead, but Mickelson kept pace, reversing a 1-up deficit into a 1-up USA lead in the space of three holes from 4 to 6. Mickelson couldn't post a lead that held up until the 15th, and from there, it was an avalanche. By 17, Mickelson was up 3&1, and that was enough.
Mickelson ended the weekend 2-1-0, a respectable record for the USA side. Gallacher, meanwhile, was 0-2-0, and never really had the opportunity to get started for Europe. Not that it mattered very much.
It was almost an academic exercise, but it was necessary nonetheless: Matt Kuchar topped Thomas Bjorn in their Ryder Cup singles match in one of the few matches never really in doubt.
Kuchar first took the lead on the second hole, then grabbed it again on the fifth and never relinquished it. He ended up winning 4&3, closing it out by the 15th hole.
The win marked a much-needed victory for Kuchar, who had lost his three previous matches. Bjorn, meanwhile, was one of the few faltering European players, going 0-2-1 on the weekend.
That didn't much matter, though, as this match was being played in the midst of a European onslaught. Kuchar's win held off the inevitable by a few minutes, but not much more than that.
Jordan Spieth had him. He had Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, on the ropes.
Spieth had gone out first on Sunday during the singles matches at the Ryder Cup, a high honor for a rookie but one that Spieth had absolutely earned over the course of this Ryder Cup. And for nine holes, it seemed the future of American golf had already arrived.
And then, like a teenager's car, Spieth flat-out ran out of gas. From the 10th hole to the 15th, Spieth rattled, shuddered, and faltered, going from three up to two down. Two holes later and it was over, McDowell winning 2&1 and securing Europe's second point on the day and 12th of the tournament.
"It was my wedding anniversary, and so I want to say sorry to my wife for not being home," McDowell said. "We were saying as a team, it doesn't matter if you're four up or four down, try to win the next hole, send a message."
Rickie Fowler once again finished runner-up on one of golf's biggest stages. But while that's more than respectable when we're talking about majors, when it's a Sunday singles match at the Ryder Cup, well ... it's not quite as impressive.
What was impressive was the way Rory McIlroy, the best golfer in the world with no close second, took care of Fowler and firmly set the tone for Europe in its bid to hold off any Sunday USA charge.
"I was obviously excited to play Rickie," McIlroy said after the round. "We've become pals this year, and I was happy to get on the right side of this one."
He was on the right side from the very first hole, birdieing five of the first six and establishing a 5-up lead by the sixth hole. Fowler would never get closer than 4 down, and by the 14th hole, it was all over, the first match to end even though it was the third to begin.
McIlroy went 2-1-2 in his five matches, a reliable and solid partner across the board and money in the bank while on his own. Fowler, meanwhile, continued a hard-luck streak that left him 0-2-3 even though he was one of the United States' strongest players.
Hey, if nobody else is going to splash some America on Scottish shores, Patrick Reed might as well.
Reed and the rest of Team USA are having a brutal time at the Ryder Cup. In order to win the cup, the Americans will need to stage a historic comeback against Europe, all the while playing in front of a crowd so partisan even SEC fans would say they take it a little too far.
The crowds at Gleneagles had already gotten under Reed's skin on the first tee by asking him to dance, then booing him when he declined. On the 7th, Reed's opponent, Henrik Stenson, had made a long birdie putt and appeared ready to take a one-hole lead. The Scottish crowd erupted in delirium.
So when Reed poured in a putt atop Henrik Stenson's to halve the hole, Reed did what any good red-blooded American fan would do: he pulled a wrestling heel move, shushing the crowd. One hole later, he won the hole and took the lead in the match. U-S-A! U-S-A!
- Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf2 days ago
At long last, Ian Poulter remembered that this is a Ryder Cup.
Europe's consummate Ryder Cupper finally came alive after a round and a half of unspectacular play, and he did so in dramatic fashion: with a gargantuan hole-out pitch that helped keep Europe in its match against Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker.
Poulter and teammate Rory McIlroy, energized by the momentum swing on 15, were able to hold the United States to a half-point in the morning's final match, and in so doing managed to keep Europe a full point ahead.
"We've been playing well," Fowler said afterward. "It was nice to make more birdies. Obviously, we needed to against those guys."
As for how to get past the disappointment of not taking a full point, Walker said, "We do this every night [at a tournament]. You gotta flip the switch, flush the day, and go back after it."
Fowler and Walker would play again on Saturday afternoon, the only pairing to remain together for all four matches, and have now managed three halves.