BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
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For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
ARIZONA (- 1 ½) IS THURSDAY’S “BEST BET”
SUNDAY WAS A SAD AFTERNOON FOR CHANNEL SURFING
ONE OF THE MOST DEMORALIZING BILLS’ LOSSES EVER
WHEN WILL THE HOUSTON TEXANS CLINCH THE AFC SOUTH?
FOURTEEN 300-YARD PASSERS IN NFL WEEEK 4
Are the Arizona Cardinals a fluke or a legitimate 4-0 team?
We’ll get a rare chance to see them in this week’s Thursday ‘s national prime-time game.
I’m not sold on quarterback Kevin Kolb, but Arizona has arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and the defensive unit is underrated. And what NFL team has the best record in its last 13 games? Arizona at 11-2.
The Cardinals are favored by only 1 ½ points at St. Louis and this week’s “Best Bet’: Arizona 27, St. Louis 17.
WHICH COLLAPSE WAS WORSE – BILLS OR U.S. RYDER CUP TEAM?
If you were channel surfing between the two sports disasters, it was a tough afternoon. Raking leaves might have been more fun.
All things considered, the humiliating 52-28 home loss to New England ranks high on the list of all-time disappointing losses for the Buffalo Bills. And that’s saying something.
Europe’s unthinkable 8 ½ to 3 ½ romp in singles – usually the U.S. strength – gave it a well-earned 14 ½ to 13 ½ victory on U.S. soil.
So much was riding on the New England at Buffalo game. The Bills had a chance to take the lead in the AFC East at 3-1 and drop the Patriots to 1-3.
The time appeared ripe for a changing of the guard in the division. Buffalo would’ve been in good shape to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and win the AFC East for the first time since 1995.
The Bills were up 14-7 and appeared on the verge of going up 21-7 late in the second quarter. With the crows going wild with the ball on the 7-yard line, first-and-goal, C. J. Spiller ran up the middle. Lost fumble. Huge emotional boost for the Patriots. Huge downer for Buffalo.
I’m not going to knock Spiller, who showed plenty of guts simply to suit up with a sprained shoulder. But why was he carrying the ball and running at Patriots star Vince Wilfork, one of the NFL’s very best and most punishing run stuffers? Better choices would’ve been Fred Jackson or – appropriately-named – Tashard Choice.
The second half was a disaster of epic proportions. Buffalo scored on its first possession of the third quarter to build the lead to 21-7. What happened in the next 26 minutes of play nearly defies description. New England outscored Buffalo 45-7. It looked like the varsity vs. the jayvees. Men against boys. The team that still is against the team that still hopes to be.
New England crushed the Bills on the scoreboard and beat them up in the process.
Did Buffalo’s defense give up in the fourth quarter? It sure looked like it.In fact, don’t you sort of hope so. It can’t be as lousy as it appeared.
If putting pressure on Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was the primary motivation in adding pass rushers Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, Sunday was an extremely expensive flop. Brady, not the most mobile QB in the league, was sacked once and usually had plenty of time to throw.
Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams, two of the NFL’s best run stuffers, imitated turnstiles on Sunday. They made Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley – New England’s latest finds at running back -- look like Pro Bowlers.
Before Spiller’s fumble, the Bills looked like the real deal and the new team to beat in the AFC East.
Now Buffalo faces the toughest possible assignment coming off a potential season-turning defeat: at San Francisco on Sunday. Then at Arizona Oct. 14 and home to Tennessee Oct. 21. The schedule appears much softer after the bye week Oct. 28. But with a 2-5 or 3-4 start it might not better.
A 13th straight season without a trip to the playoffs appeared very likely on Sunday at around 2 p.m. It is much more iffy now.
A few more thoughts on the game:
History says Sunday’s result was very significant in terms of Buffalo making the playoffs. Since 1990, 64.8 percent of teams starting 3-1 have made the playoffs. Teams starting 2-2 have made the playoffs 35.3 percent of the time (71x201). Teams starting 1-3 (New England avoided that with Sunday’s victory) have made the playoffs only 14.7 percent of the time (22x150). Teams starting 4-0 have made the playoffs 82.5 percent of the time (52x63).
Most AFC East observers believe New England will rule the division as long as Tom Brady is the team’s quarterback. Sunday did nothing to change that theory.
Another popular opinion: Ryan Fitzpatrick would be a very good back-up QB for any team in the NFL and might be a starting QB for a .500-type team. But is he good enough to start and win a playoff game?
That remains to be seen and Bills coach Chan Gailey and GM Buddy Nix seem determined and committed to find out.
THOUGHTS, STATS AND FACTS ON THE NFL
I wonder when the Houston Texans will clinch the AFC South. They’re 4-0 and looking like the NFL’s most-balanced team. The rest of the division is a combined 3-8 (Indianapolis 1-2, Jacksonville 1-3, Tennessee 1-3)and no team appears likely to finish .500…There were 14 300-yard passers in Week 14. Their teams were 7-7…Atlanta is 4-0 for the third time in team history (also in 1986 and 2004). They’ll try to start 5-0 for the first time at Washington this Sunday…Houston is 4-0 for the first time in the city’s NFL history (Oilers and Texans)…Houston entered Sunday as the only NFL team with more running plays (53.7 percent) than pass plays (46.3 percent) through the first three weeks of this season. The Texans had 31 runs and 28 passes on Sunday…Minnesota ended an 11-game losing streak against NFC North rivals with a 20-13 victory in Detroit…The Lions (according to Elias Sports Bureau) became the first team to allow TD and punt returns for TDs in two consecutive games…Seattle was 13-1 in its last 14 games against St. Louis before Sunday’s 19-13 home victory…St. Louis entered Sunday with 4-26 record vs. NFC West foes since 2007…New England is 22-2 in its last 24 games against Buffalo… Dallas now is 43-31 on MNF and Chicago is 24-34…Joe Flacco (Baltimore) is 30-5 in his career at home. Since he began his NFL career in 2009, no other NFL QB has more home wins….Baltimore has won 13 straight home games, the longest active streak in the NFL. The Ravens are an NFL-best 18-1 at home since the start of the 2008 season…Flacco is 9-0 vs. Cleveland.
New Orleans QB Drew Brees – The Saints are 0-4 but it isn’t his fault. He was 35x54 for 446 yards, with 3 TD passes and 0 INTs in a 28-27 road loss to Green Bay. He tied Johnny Unitas’ NFL record with a TD pass in his 47th consecutive game and can break the record this week home against San Diego…New England RBs Brandon Belden and Stevan Ridley – They combined for 243 yards and 3 TD runs on 38 carries in a 52-28 romp over Buffalo.
Minnesota kick returner Percy Harvin and RB Adrian Peterson– Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards to spark the Vikings to a 20-13 upset win in Detroit….Peterson had 102 yards on 21 carries as the Vikings improved to 3-1. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since Oct. 23, 2011. He’s coming off knee surgery.
St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein – The rookie was 4x4 in field goals, including two setting new team records (from 58- and then 60 yards) in a 19-13 home win over Seattle. He’s 12x12 this season.
Tennessee RB Chris Johnson – Arguably the NFL’s most disappointing players through three weeks of this season finally woke up with 25 carries for 141 yards and 2 catches for 16 yards in a 38-14 loss at Houston.
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill and WR Brian Hartline – Rookie Tannehill was 46x41 for 431 yards and Hartline had 12 catches for 253 yards (21.2-yard average) and 1 TD in a 24-41 road loss to Arizona.
Washington QB Robert Griffin III – What a rookie! He was 26x35 for 323 yards and 7 carries for 43 yards and a TD in a last-drive 24-22 road win over Tampa Bay.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers – He bounced back from a poke in the eye that probably cost the Packers a TD to outlast visiting New Orleans 28-27. He was 31x41 for 319 yards, with 4 TD passes.
Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy had 23 carries for 123 yards in a 19-17 home victory over the New York Giants.
Chicago WR Brandon Marshall – He embarrassed Dallas’ secondary, catching 7 passes for 138 yards and a TD in a 34-18 road victory.
New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez – The bad version of Sanchez was on display Sunday: 13x29 for 103 yards (3.6-yard average per attempt), with 0 TD passes, an interception and 3 sacks.
Kansas City QB Matt Cassel and RB Jamaal Charles – Cassel threw three INTs in the first half and Charles lost two fumbles as the Chiefs had six giveaways in a 37-20 home loss to San Diego.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson – The rookie threw three INTs and was sacked twice in a 19-13 road loss to St. Louis.
Buffalo’s defensive line – We know they’re one of the NFL’s best OLs, but they didn’t look like it in Sunday’s 52- 28 home loss to New England. The Patriots had 247 yards on 40 carries and Brady was sacked once.
Dallas QB Tony Romo – They weren’t all his fault, but 5 INTs is 5 INTs.
WEEK 4 STAT PACK
Home teams were 8-7 outright (39-24 this season) and 3-12 against the Las Vegas point spread (28-33-2)
Las Vegas favorites were 11-4 outright (37-26) and 6-9 against the spread (23-38-2)
The first team to score was 11-4 (40-23)…The team leading after the first quarter was 7-1 (33-12)…The team leading at halftime was 14-1, unfortunately the Bills are the only exception (50-12)…The team leading after three quarters was 14-1 (52-7)
The team winning the turnover battle was 11-2 (38-14)
The team leading in time of possession was 11-4 (42-21)
The team with the most yards rushing was 10-5 (43-20)…The team with the most yards passing was 8-7 (36-27)
The team with the fewest yards penalized was 9-6 (36-26)
The team with the better record entering the game was 8-2 (12-11)
The NFC and AFC split two games and the NFC leads this season’s series 9-5
There were 699 points in 15 games (46.62-point average)…There have been 2986 points in 63 games this season (47.4-point average).
TOP NFL PERFORMERS WEEK 4:
300-yard passers: Drew Brees (New Orleans ) 446…Ryan Tannehill (Miami) 431…Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 369 yards,,,Joe Flacco (Baltimore) 356…Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo) 350…Tom Brady (New England) 340…Peyton Manning (Denver) 336…Kevin Kolb (Arizona) 324…Robert Griffin III (Washington) 323…Brandon Weeden (Cleveland) 320…Aaron Rodgers(Green Bay) 319…Matthew Stafford (Detroit) 319…Eli Manning (New York Giants) 309…Tony Romo (Dallas) 307
100-yard receivers: Brian Hartline (Miami) 253…Roddy White (Atlanta) 169 yards…Marques Colson (New Orleans) 153…Brandon Marshall (Chicago) 138…Anquan Boldin (Baltimore) 131…Wes Welker (New England) 129…Davone Bess (Miami) 123…A.J. Green (Cincinnati) 117…Mike Wiiliams (Tampa Bay) 115…Andre Roberts (Arizona) 115…Domenik Hixon (New York Giants) 114…Jason Witten (Dallas) 112…Victor Cruz (New York Giants) 109…Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) 108…Dez Bryant (Dallas) 105…Ron Gronkowski (New England) 104…DeMaryius Thomas (Denver) 103…Vincent Jackson (Denver) 100.
100-yard rushers: Chris Johnson (Tennessee) 141…Brandon Bolden (New England) 137…LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia) 123…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 118…Alfred Morris (Washington) 113…Willis McGahee (Denver) 112…Steven Ridley (New England) 106…Michael Turner (Atlanta) 103…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 102
BOB’S NFL POWER RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 5
1-Houston…2-Atlanta…3 -San Francisco…4 Baltimore…5 Arizona…6 San Diego…7 Minnesota…8 Cincinnati…9 Green Bay…10…New England…11 Chicago…12 Philadelphia…13 Pittsburgh…14 New York Giants…15 -Dallas…16-Washington…17 Denver…18- Seattle…19- St. Louis…20-Buffalo…21-New York Jets…22-Detroit…23-Carolina…24-Miami…25-Tampa Bay…26-New Orleans…27-Indianapolis…28- Oakland…29-Tennessee…30-Jacksonville…31-Kansas City…32-Cleveland
DON’T HAND HEISMAN TROPHY TO GENO SMITH YET
West Virginia’s Geno Smith played one of the all-time greatest games (stats-wise) in college football history last Saturday afternoon in a 70-63 home victory over Baylor.
Smith was 45x51 for 656 yards, with 8 TD passes no 0 interceptions. He played the entire game because the Mountaineers were trading scores with Baylor all afternoon.
Smith’s numbers through four games are spectacular – 141x169 (.834) for 1,728 yards, with 20 TD passes and 0 INTs; 20 carries for 99 net yards. No wonder he is in the early conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
Some TV analysts who should know better all but handed the Heisman to Smith. Not so fast. Not after four games (the Mountaineers are 4-0 – all at home -- against Marshall, James Madison, Maryland and Baylor) and with eight games left to play (at Texas Saturday, at Texas Tech Oct. 13, home against Kansas State Oct. 20, home against TU Nov. 3, at Oklahoma State Nov. 10, at Oklahoma Nov. 17, at Iowa State Nov. 23, home against Kansas Dec. 1).
Smith will be facing tougher competition in the remaining 8 games and four will be on the road. The next four opponents are a combined 16-0 and play better defense than Baylor (last among the 120 Division ! teams). The remaining 8 opponents are a combined 24-7.
I understand why he’s the early frontrunner for the Heisman, but it is way too early to call him the prohibitive favorite.
BASEBALL THOUGHTS, STATS AND FACTS
The team with the saddest fans in Major League Baseball today has to be the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates on Aug. 6 appeared to be a lock to end their MLB-record 19 year losing streak. They were 62-46 and had outscored opponents 445-405 (+40). They were 3 ½ games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. Pittsburgh is 15-37 since and has been outscored 268-204 (-64). They’ve clinched 20th straight losing season.
Some interesting baseball team player payrolls to start the 2012 season (rounded off to nearest million):
1—Yankees $198 million
2—Phillies $175 M
3—Red Sox $173 M
4—Angels $154 M
5—Tigers $132 M
9—Cardinals $110 M
14—Mets $93 M
15—Cubs $88 M
19—Orioles $81 M
20—Nationals $81 M
26—Pirates $63 M
29—A’s $55M (Moneyball strikes again)
30—Padres $55 M
MIGUEL CABRERA HAD A SPECTACULR SEASON
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera figures to wrap up the first Triple Crown since 1967. Sensational Los Angeles Angels rookie Mike Trout put up a good fight most of the season, but Cabrera pulled away the last two weeks and figures to be voted American League MVP in a runaway. My guess: Cabrera 25 first-place votes…Trout 3 votes.
Here’s how Cabrera stood in the Triple Crown categories entering Wednesday, the final scheduled day of the regular season:
Batting average – .331 1st (Mike Trout 2nd .324)
HRs – 44 1st (Josh Hamilton 2nd 43; Edwin Encaracion 3rd 42)
RBI – 139 1st (Josh Hamilton 2nd 128)
NO SURPRISE…LeBRON JAMES, KEVIN DURANT 1-2 IN NBA PLAYER RANKINGS
ESPN.com recently polled 104 experts to rank the NBA players from 1 to 500.
No. 500 was less predictable than No. 1 – center Eddy Curry, who is looking for a job. These rankings won’t help his cause.
LeBron James is No. 1 and buddy Kevin Durant is No. 2…The rest of the top 10: Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams.
Nos. 11-to-20: Dirk Nowitzki, Rajon Rondo, Andrew Bynum, Blakes Griffin (overrated in my book), Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Steve Nash, LaMarcus Aldridge..
No. 21 to 30: Kevin Garnett, Kyrie Irving, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobili, James Harden, Tim Duncan, Andre Iguodala, Paul Pierce, Al Horford.
A few other ratings of note: Serge Ibaka (41), Amare Stoudemire (43), John Wall (55), Ray Allen (64), Jeremy Lin (78), Grant Hill (114), Marcus Camby (127…really), Metta World Peace (137), Jason Kidd (157), Derek Fisher (288), Dion Waiters (293), Wesley Johnson (322), Andrew Nicholson (378), Jonny Flynn (386), Fab Melo (389).
A USA Today/Gallup poll last week was poor timing for Roger Goodell. The question and results: Which of the commissioners of the four North American pro sports do you dislike the most?... Roger Goodell (NFL) 38 percent…David Stern (NBA) 21 percent…Gary Bettman (NHL) 20 npercent…Bud Selig(MLB) 16 percent…all equally 5 percent.
Many years ago, when the U.S. was dominating the World Cup over England (12-0-1 from 1959 through 1983), I suggested that the U.S. vs. the rest of the world would be a more competitive format…Adding Europeans in 1979 has proved to be a much better idea. Europe is 9-7-1 since 1979…Europe has won six of the last eight Ryder Cups, starting at Oak Hill in 1995…Maybe Europe vs. the rest of the world would be the best of all options.