Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, October 8, 2006 10:46 pm

Panthers 20, Browns 12

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 10:46 pm

I’ve seen uglier wins, but this one ain’t taking home any tiaras.

Even when all the Browns’ starters are healthy, the team just isn’t that good (yet; they’ve got some good young players who may well be stars in a year or two). Carolina’s win should have been a lot more comfortable than it was.

This was not the defense’s fault. They had an outstanding game, particularly Peppers, for whom the Browns simply had no answer. He had four tackles and a sack, and he also forced and recovered a fumble. Also playing well was Ken Lucas with six tackles — he has been bothered with a lingering neck injury and relegated to the nickel package for most of this season to avoid aggravating it, but I bet he starts next week. Also lookin’ good: rookie Richard Marshall, who intercepted Charlie Frye early and ran it back for six. The front seven held Reuben Droughns, who made Carolina look bad when he played for Denver last year, to 65 yards on 18 carries.

No, the issues were primarily on the offensive side of the ball, and give the patched-up, makeshift O-line credit. They made sure DeShaun Foster had a 100-yard day although he didn’t earn one, and Delhomme was sacked only once, by Willie McGinest. Keyshawn Johnson had another excellent game, and Steve Smith, although he still can’t make people miss on those quick-outs yet the way he did last year, showed excellent speed and quickness later in the game.
But Foster had about the grimmest 100-yard game I’ve seen a back have in a while — just over 4 yards a carry, with his longest run of the day coming on just his third touch after the half. Yes, Cleveland’s nose tackle is listed at 360 pounds (and probably is closer to 380), but the only time all day Foster moved the pile was with about 7 minutes left in the game. He’s not as bad as he used to be about hesitating before he hits the hole, but I saw him get a case of happy feet a couple of times today that reminded me of Tshimanga Biakabutuka, and not in a good way. (And then DeAngelo Williams got hurt with about 4:30 left in the half. I didn’t hear an announcement about his condition, but the Web site says it’s a sprained ankle. If he is seriously injured, the Panthers’ running game, and their season, are in serious trouble.)

Where the Panthers were worst, however, was third downs: They converted 0 of 12 opportunities (they benefited from a penalty on a 13th), and almost all were relatively short yardage — 6 yards or less. That has been a problem all year, and you would think that it wouldn’t be the kind of problem that a team that starts Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith and Keyshawn Johnson would have even with a corpse at tailback. But it is, and the third-down performance was the main reason Cleveland stayed in a game it should not have been in after the third quarter.

When the Browns can hold you all day without a third-down conversion, you’ve got problems. Because when four of the next five opponents on your schedule are a combined 13-4, you’re going to need to make some third downs to keep drives alive and keep the defense rested.

Next week the Panthers are at Baltimore, which is 4-0 pending its game Monday night. Baltimore’s defense is second overall in the league and tops against the run, giving up only 2.6 yards per carry. If the Panthers in general, and DeShaun Foster in particular, cannot move the ball on third down, it will be a long, long afternoon.

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Saturday, October 7, 2006 12:12 pm

Happy Birthday, TP

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 12:12 pm

Great things that have happened on Oct. 7 through history:

1471: The Dutch riot over excessive taxes on beer.

1780: Patriots defeat Loyalist militia at the Battle of Kings Mountain (my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather,  Maj. John Alexander, led the Tyger Irish battalion at that battle, a crucial win for the good guys).

1885: Danish physicist Niels Bohr is born.

1960: Tony Plutonium is born!

Happy Birthday, my friend.

Friday, October 6, 2006 8:10 pm

Friday Random 10

Filed under: Friday Random 10 — Lex @ 8:10 pm

Devils and Dust — Bruce Springsteen
Woman from Tokyo — Deep Purple
To Be Alone With You — Bob Dylan
Four Sticks — Led Zeppelin
Russian Roulette — Van Morrison
Shine — Collective Soul
My Love’s Strong — Graham Parker
Cast Iron Arm — Flat Duo Jets
Young Man — The Drapels
Drift Away — Dobie Gray

lagniappe: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On — Jerry Lee Lewis

Thursday, October 5, 2006 8:32 am

Bringin’ the funny

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:32 am

Oh. My God. You have to have lived through the late 1970s to truly appreciate this, but if you did, prepare for strained abdominal muscles. (Some language NSFW)

“… kynde of lyk Keira Knightly ycrossid with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but in a good way.”

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 6:24 am

Geoffrey Chaucer attends the opening of Parliament. Hilarity, and deception, ensue.

Sunday, October 1, 2006 9:55 pm

Panthers 21, Saints 18

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:55 pm

The Panthers got a win they had to have to keep the division race close, and they looked pretty good doing it. The Saints looked good, too. In fact, both teams’ defenses had excellent days. The difference was that the Saints weren’t able to take advantage of some of the opportunities they got, and the Panthers were.

Both DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams had good days for Carolina, but Foster’s 43-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter iced the game. I wasn’t able to see how Foster got so free after breaking the initial grabs, but I’m guessing that the secondary all pivoted toward him and then let up just a little, thinking that Foster was going to be tackled or pushed out of bounds around the 30. Only neither of those things happened, and at that point he probably was even with most of them, so they had no hope of catching him once he broke free.

There was a lot to like in the Panthers’ performance. Perhaps the most encouraging thing was that although the makeshift, patchwork offensive line lost left guard Ken Wahl, the only person left playing in his current position since the start of the season, Will Montgomery stepped in and the line did well, holding the Saints to one sack. Steve Smith still isn’t 100%, but where that’s affecting him is yards after the catch — he can still make fantastic catches. Keyshawn Johnson continues to complement Smith, and at this point anyone in the league who thinks they can try to double- or triple-team Smith and leave Keyshawn open will be left waving forlornly as No. 19 waltzes into the Land of Six.

The defense also played well, holding first-round draft pick Reggie Bush and perennial big-play threat Deuce McAllister to a combined 61 rushing yards. The pass defense was a bit more porous on paper, but aside from the 83-yard Brees-to-Colston TD in garbage time, it actually held up well, giving up roughly 260 yards and no scores except a late 2-point conversion. The score wouldn’t have been close except for a bogus pass-interference call against Thomas Davis late in the third quarter on a 4th-and-1 play that kept a Saints drive alive for what would ultimately a McAllister TD.

The Panthers are home again Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, who came from behind against a very bad Oakland team to get their first win today. Atlanta’s idle next Sunday and the Saints host the Bucs, who were idle today.

One other thing. Memo to Scott Fujita: The refs didn’t see your cheap shot on the back of Steve Smith’s legs, but everybody else in the stadium did.

UPDATE: One last thing: Actually, I can find something bad to say about the Panthers’ performance today. And it is: This sucks.

Tigers 0, Jellybeans (?) 5

Filed under: Tigers — Lex @ 9:32 pm

Oy.

Not much good here. Once again, our strikers tended to cluster around the ball rather than giving one another passing targets, and as a result, the Tigers spent all but about 2 1/2 minutes of the first half playing defense.

The third quarter wasn’t much better, but in the fourth quarter it seemed as if the Tigers started remembering how to position themselves for passes, how to anticipate one another’s moves and how to block opponents’ passing lanes. They got their best shots all day in the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite get them to go in, and even if they had, it would have been too little, too late.

No games next weekend because of the tourney.

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