RGIII injury closes the curtain on ugly Wild-Card Weekend
Before we examine the final Ray Day in Baltimore and the Shanahan-RGIII race to blame in Washington (and elsewhere) and what in the world got into Chip Kelly, this observation about Wild-Card Weekend: That was some lousy football. It got me to thinking about the expanded playoff format (from 12 to either 14 or 16 teams) in the back of the league's mind, which is where I hope it stays.
So what would a 16-team playoff system have looked like this year?
TV question: How would you play eight playoff games in one weekend? Or would you? One league source told me a couple of weeks ago there's a chance an eight-game first round would be spread over two weekends, if it ever happens. Or maybe three per day on Saturday and Sunday, with two of the games pushed to Monday night, a la the first weekend of the season on ESPN.
It's all extremely speculative, of course. It's also an extremely bad idea.
Now for the news of the weekend:
It's been a dream season for young quarterbacks, enough of one almost to make you forget about the real dangers of playing this sport. I remember last spring watching tape on Griffin and Andrew Luck and, just from the tape, thinking the rocket-armed and mobile Griffin was better -- but I thought I'd rather have Luck as a quarterback to build around. Simple reason: the injury factor. I worried about the 218-pound Griffin, as exposed as he made himself, getting hurt. And I thought Luck would have a better chance to play a 16-game season than Griffin over time. I recall asking Bill Polian, who studied both men thinking he might draft one in Indy before being fired, who he'd take. "I'd probably pick Luck,'' Polian said. "When you boil it all down, you worry a little about running quarterbacks getting hurt. But it's close. Very close.''
So now we come to Washington's first playoff game with Griffin at the controls, Sunday at home against Seattle. He was already playing with a sprain of the lateral collateral ligament, and, after getting banged around a couple of times early in the game, it became apparent he wasn't healthy. In fact, on a jog out of bounds shy of a first down, it was clear he was severely limited and unable to run at anything close to a sprint. Coach Mike Shanahan asked Griffin then, and again at halftime, about his knee, and both times Griffin insisted he was okay. "I guarantee I'm not injured,'' Griffin told Shanahan at the half. But in the fourth quarter, bending to get an errant snap, Griffin crumbled to the ground, and his wounded knee hyperextended awkwardly. He was done. He'll have an MRI today, and his future is cloudy.
"It's a tough decision,'' said Shanahan, "and you've got to go with your gut. I'm not saying my gut was right. I'll probably second-guess myself."
A quarterback, Griffin said, has to lead his team and sometimes play while hurt. That's what a leader does.
? Griffin was so obviously not himself, and so tentative moving around, and the Redskins and their medical staff should have seen this. Griffin clearly has a they'll-have-to-drag-me-off-the-field mentality and needs to be protected from himself. Shanahan should know this. I believe he should have pulled Griffin out of the game before the half, for good.
? Washington's Griffin-led drives after its first two scores went 8, 3, 23, 4, 17 and minus-12 yards. In 41 minutes after his team went up 14-0, Griffin generated four first downs. In the game Washington had to play without Griffin, fellow rookie Kirk Cousins led a 38-21 rout at Cleveland Dec. 16. By the middle of the second quarter, it was obvious to anyone watching that a healthy Cousins would have been a better option than a limping Griffin.
I do not -- do not -- blame Shanahan entirely here. Even if there's a frosty relationship between noted team orthopedist James Andrews and Shanahan, Andrews is on the staff, at least in part, because he's the foremost expert on knees in the country. He should have the power to speak up when he sees something obviously wrong with the franchise quarterback. And Griffin is not blameless here either. He's an adult. If he swears over and over he's fine, the coach has to listen to that and take that into account. "I wasn't lying,'' said Griffin. "I was able to go out and play, period."
So I'm not putting the black hat on one man. It's unfair. But let this be a lesson to this team, and every other one in the league: It's best to put safeguards in place before something like this threatens the short-term future of the starting quarterback in the heat of a playoff game.
Think of the Baltimore Ravens. Think of the name of the team. The Ravens are much more a part of the sporting lexicon than the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Memphis Grizzlies and Carolina Hurricanes. And you know all those. But when Ray Lewis was drafted by Baltimore, the team wasn't the Ravens. It wasn't anything yet.
After his final game in downtown Baltimore, Lewis stood in front of his team, coaches, longtime GM Ozzie Newsome and other club officials and said, "On draft day , Ozzie called me and said, 'Hey, we're gonna draft you.' Ozzie, you remember this?''
"Yes, I do,'' Newsome said.
"And I said, 'That's great, Ozzie. But what's our team name gonna be?' ''
"Ravens,'' from the Edgar Allen Poe (he was from Baltimore) poem "The Raven,'' was the choice of a fan contest. And from that year, 1996, to Sunday, Lewis was the center of the Baltimore defense, starting the first game against Billy Joe Hobert (Lewis had an interception) and the Oakland Raiders in old Memorial Stadium. And though he's a Floridian and likely will live there now that his son will start his football career and college life this fall at the University Miami, Lewis will always keep a home in Baltimore. The locals have loved his style of play, and didn't abandon him when he was a focus of a double-murder probe in 2000 (he was convicted of obstruction of justice and served 12 months' probation); the Ravens won the Super Bowl the next year, Lewis was the MVP of the game, and his legend has grown from there. At 37, after 17 seasons, he played his last game in the city Sunday. After the 24-9 win over Indianapolis, the Ravens now can play only on the road for the rest of the playoffs, beginning Saturday at top-seeded Denver.
Lewis has been emotional before during games, but friends say they've never seen him with tears streaming down his face. He cried while hugging family members before the game, and he was nearly as emotional afterward, doing a Ripken-like lap of the stadium to greet the fans who stayed afterward.
"We wanted to make the day memorable for him,'' said wideout Anquan Boldin afterward. "It was an emotional day, not just for Ray, but for everyone in the stadium, and we all wanted to send him off right.''
Boldin helped, winning a grabfest with Colts cornerback Darius Butler in the end zone to secure an 18-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco. "I was going to come down with that ball if I had to pull his [Butler's] arm out of the socket to catch it,'' said Boldin. "That ball was never coming out.''
That's the kind of determination that's rubbed off on Lewis' teammates. Now they'll see if they can give him one final going-away gift -- at least -- against the top-seeded Broncos Saturday.
There's no call to be angry at the Oregon coach for still being the Oregon coach today, as Adam Schefter and the
They thought wrong. And you know what? That's good. The last thing you want to do when hiring a coach is get a guy who has one foot in but you never really know if he's married to the job. Nick Saban in Miami, for instance. Or, worse, Bobby Petrino in Atlanta.
Until told otherwise, I'll believe this was about Kelly's trepidation about the difficulty of building a consistent winner in Cleveland (which is on the verge of hiring its seventh coach in 13 years), or rebuilding one in Philadelphia. We'll see. But good for Kelly in not taking the $6 million a year (or more) in Cleveland or Buffalo if his heart wasn't in it. That's an honest decision to make now.
And as for those who believe Kelly has blown his last shot to coach in the NFL, that's ridiculous. Sure, he's going to have to convince an owner and GM, someday, he finally wants the gig and is all-in. But he's 49, he's the most intelligent offensive innovator in the college game, and smart people like Tony Dungy (who has a son in the Oregon program) swear by him. "The level of detail in their program is incredible,'' Dungy said over the weekend, "and his teams will out-pace, out-hustle and out-think you." When Kelly's ready, the NFL will be. And if he never is, God bless him.
I barely know Marrone, but I like the move. Bill Parcells trusts him; Sean Payton valued him. Marrone's a detail freak who knows he doesn't know everything, who's open to football analytics but certain to not be a slave to them. He designed blocking schemes for Curtis Martin as a Jets offensive line coach. He was Payton's offensive coordinator for the first three Saint seasons, helping keep Drew Brees clean. Syracuse won 10 games in the four years before Marrone arrived in 2009; he was 25-25 in his four years as Syracuse coach.
Marrone got to be the hot guy in the coaching derby last week -- four days, four interviews, with a fifth (Philadelphia) canceled when the Bills tabbed him Sunday morning -- because of his offensive imagination and his toughness. I know one team, not Buffalo, that had eyes for Marrone was interested as much for his ability to walk in and handle and discipline underachieving pro players as how smart he was. I remember Payton once saying, early in his New Orleans tenure, that he liked Marrone because of his honesty, no matter who might get offended.
I heard Saturday that the Bills really like Lovie Smith, and I believe if Ralph Wilson were running this search, or least tuned into it hourly, he'd have pushed for an established pro coach. But I don't think new CEO Russ Brandon was as interested in a name. As for the "risk'' involved, tell me: Who's not risky? In this business, you have to hire the man you believe in, not the one who's going to win the press conference.
This is what I loved about what Russell Wilson did in his first playoff game Sunday: His best play was a busted play. Seattle trailed 14-13 with 8:50 left in the game. Time was Seattle's enemy. It was 3rd-and-10 at the Seattle 46, and Washington sent a blitz, an extra linebacker and extra defensive back, and Wilson had three receivers out in the route as he faced heavy pressure. He stepped up in the pocket, and tight end Zach Miller, the hot guy if Wilson got blitzed, leaked out of the mass of bodies. Wilson tossed it to Miller, who, uncovered, ran down the left flank for 22 yards. Marshawn Lynch finished the drive with a 27-yard touchdown run -- with Wilson throwing a block 23 yards downfield to help -- and Wilson made it a seven-point difference with his first two-point conversion pass as an NFL quarterback. That was it. After falling behind 14-0, Seattle, and Wilson, dominated the final three quarters against the hobbled Robert Griffin III to win 24-14.
"When we got down 14-0, and this might sound strange, it didn't matter,'' said Bevell, who's been a good and malleable play-caller for a versatile quarterback like Wilson. "Pete [Carroll] has been telling the guys all year it's a 60-minute game, and I know how that sounds -- but the guys have bought into it. So if they get behind, nobody worries. When we did get behind, I saw Russell be even more positive than he usually is. 'Not how you start, it's how you finish ... It's a 60-minute game ... " He's saying all that to the team. They've all bought in.''
So the Seahawks go from Seattle to Baltimore (Baltimore-Washington International Airport) Friday, Baltimore to Seattle Sunday night, then Seattle to Atlanta Friday, and Atlanta back to Seattle Sunday. That's four six-hour flights (give or take a half-hour) in nine days. Add round trips to Miami, Chicago and Toronto (to play Buffalo) since Thanksgiving, and you've got a road-tested bunch.
"When you're up in the great Northwest,'' Bevell said, "everything is a long trip. Pete never allows it to become an issue. We don't let it. So it isn't."
Seattle at Atlanta, 1 p.m. Sunday. The Russell Wilson Traveling Salvation Show makes its next stop.
The Browns, as of this morning, have $47 million in cap room in 2013. That's an astounding among of space to help build a competitive team quickly, both through the draft and in free agency. Sure you don't want to reconsider?
So what's Andy Reid thinking about his staff in Philadelphia? I'm hearing he's leaning toward bypassing Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator and naming his Eagles quarterback coach, Doug Pederson, as coordinator. Had he not been kept as Carolina head coach, Ron Rivera would have been in play with Monte Kiffin for defensive coordinator ...
New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will tell suitors -- if there are any -- after the Patriots' season he's staying in New England. McDaniels and his wife just had their fourth child in December, and he's happy with the Patriots, and he absolutely doesn't want to move his family for the third straight year (Denver to St. Louis to the Boston 'burbs), even if it meant he'd have a chance to coach his hometown Browns. He loves his lot in life now, coaching Tom Brady and coaching under Bill Belichick; why leave? I also think McDaniels understands the most important thing about the situation he's in: After being run out of Denver, he may get only one more chance at being a head coach, and so he wants to be sure the next time (if there is a next time) he steps into a place he knows he has a good chance to win ...
The Jags will allow their next GM -- either Steve Keim of Arizona or David Caldwell of Atlanta -- to decide if coach Mike Mularkey stays. Not a good sign, as I said on NBC Saturday, that all the Jag assistants have been told they can take other jobs. Keim, if offered the job by Shad Khan, will have to choose between raising Arizona or Jacksonville ... Good for Chicago GM Phil Emery, interviewing at least seven assistants, and maybe more, so far. Why wouldn't you want to pick the brain of smart people like Jay Gruden? Indy offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who handled strong-willed Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, might be the best man for Jay Cutler ... Hottest personnel guys: Keim, Caldwell, Indy's Tom Telesco, San Francisco's Tom Gamble, Marc Ross of the Giants.
Don't get excited, Chiefs or Jags fans. The earliest Manziel could be eligible for the NFL Draft is April 2014. Even though he's only 20, and just 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he had a Cotton Bowl Friday night that veteran conscience-of-the-NFL Gil Brandt told me was "the best game I've ever seen a player play in college football." Considering that the 79-year-old Brandt has been scouting college players for 52 years, that's quite a statement. Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, rushed for 229 yards and two scores, and threw for 287 yards and two scores, as Texas A&M beat Oklahoma 41-13. "It's the best individual effort I've seen,'' Brandt said. "The players we got in the game on defense now are a lot faster than ever before. I don't know how you describe this guy. He is so unique. He's just got unbelievable quickness and such great change of direction -- and remember, he didn't do this against a bad team. He played one of the better teams in college football, and he was a man among boys.'' As for Manziel's NFL prospects, Brandt said: "The game is changing a little bit in the NFL, and quarterbacks are running a lot now. He is not a great passer, but he is a more-than-accurate passer. I think he will translate to the pro game well. The only thing that worries me about him is he's a slightly built, I shouldn't say that, but not that well-built a guy for the NFL.
"I don't know if he can run the option without getting hurt. In saying that, did we think Wilson and Griffin would be like they are? No.''
Sounds like he'll be the ultimate debatable player when he comes out.
Yes, it was inevitable that the Chiefs fired Scott Pioli, whose top three decisions in a four-year Chiefs run (hiring Todd Haley, trading for Matt Cassel, hiring Romeo Crennel) all turned out to be wrong. He trusted Cassel a long time, and by the time he knew he needed to get a quarterback, it was too late. He passed on some good prospects, as did many teams (Andy Dalton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson); maybe he didn't think outside the box enough at the game's most important position.
And Pioli was too private for his own good in what has become an increasingly public job. When Haley last year implied that Pioli wiretapped his phones, an outrageous and baseless allegation, Pioli let a team statement stand for his response instead of coming out swinging. But the vitriol chasing him out the door was over the top. He's a good man who didn't win enough. The personal attacks I just don't get.
I know Pioli well, and many of you will say, "He's just sticking up for Pioli because he likes him." Well, I have known Pioli for a long time, and yes, I do like him. I like a lot of people I cover. I can see when a man's getting kicked too much, and this is one of those times. Final point for those who believe Pioli left the cupboard bare: Think there's a reason the hottest ex-head coach on the market, Andy Reid, didn't consider any other jobs after he was offered the Kansas City deal?
Bring your protest signs, and send me emails and Tweets (@SI_PeterKing), and I'll address your problems with my team in Tuesday's column.
And for an explanation of these, see this column:
In his case, Walsh burned out on soccer -- he was in the highly competitive Olympic Development Program -- by the time he was beginning high school, and as a sophomore, he got a football kicking coach, former Penn State kicker Nick Gancitano. His coach believed in training the body through practice and the mind through meditation, and by the time he signed his college scholarship, Walsh knew he wanted to be an NFL kicker, and his monster leg at Georgia landed him a spot in the sixth round with Minnesota. The rest, for now, is rookie kicking history. I asked him how he's adapted so quickly, with apparently no nerves about the high-pressure gig. "You'd be surprised how much the snapper and holder can help,'' he said. "[Snapper] Cullen Loeffler and [holder] Chris Kluwe have been doing it together for, like, eight years. They've seen it all -- the noise, the weather, the different rushes we face. They approach every kick the same, and help me relax.'' Quite a team so far.
Spiller got better in 2012, he said, because he learned how to be more of a scientific runner. He said he learned how to set up the defense, rather than have them dictate where he would run. "I used to always take the first option, the first little hole,'' he said. "This year, I learned to be more patient. You can't believe how much that helps you as a back, to let your hole and the blocking develop.'' He thinks his 62-yard run in Week 16 against Miami might have been a very short one had he not waited for his blocks to develop. Moral of the story: "You can definitely learn to be a better back, and I'm not done learning."
The Deep End
It may have taken the Packers three tries, but they eventually figured out how to slow Peterson. In the context of this game, although 99 yards at 4.5 yards per carry is pretty good in most circumstances, you could almost say "shut down" as opposed to "slowed down." It was an indictment of just how limited Joe Webb was that more than half those yards came after the Vikings fell behind 24-3 early in the third quarter. So how did they make the man look mortal?
When you study where and how well Peterson runs, the figures show clearly his favorite hole is outside the right tackle (and outside any tight end on the right side). During the regular season, in that area, he ran for 555 yards, or 26 percent of his rushing yardage, for 11.3 yards per carry. His next favorite hole, the A-gap between center and right guard, produced 403 Peterson yards.
He loves to cut right and outside, square his shoulders and run over or around anyone in the vicinity. In the two regular season encounters, over right end, he picked up 207 of his 409 yards running wide right -- at 15.9 yards per rush. So the evidence was clear: Stop Peterson getting outside to his right and you make him merely a great running back.
The Pack deployed their left outside linebacker on a reasonably wide split with a single mission -- do not let Peterson get outside. Time and again Dezman Moses and Erik Walden simply funneled Peterson inside. Good example: On the Vikings' first play of the third quarter, Walden was waiting, wouldn't let Peterson get wide, and put him down for a four-yard loss. Peterson did have an 18-yard run around end, but he finished with only 25 yards, 97 yards less than he gained there a week ago.
It's obvious the Packers have learned their lesson. Was everyone else watching?
The Awards Section
Capers designed a scheme to clog the end-to-end area and prevent him from getting around the right end, which is his favorite place to run. The men at left end and left outside linebacker -- often Ryan Pickett and Erik Walden -- did a good job preventing Peterson from making it outside, and when he turned upfield inside the end, there was always a convoy of Packers to greet him.
Dalton's been a good player in getting the Bengals to the playoffs in his first two seasons. But for the second straight year the Bengals looked like the lone JV team in the 12-team playoff dance. Dalton has to play better in big moments. He sure didn't Saturday afternoon in Houston.
Quote of the Week I
"I love y'all to death! I love y'all to death!"
Quote of the Week II
"I've been a nervous wreck letting him come back as quick as he has. He's doing a lot better this week, but he's still recovering and I'm holding my breath because of it. He passed all the tests and all the functional things we do, but it's been a trying moment for me, to be honest with you."
Quote of the Week III
"No, I wouldn't listen. I'm done with football."
Quote of the Week IV
"I better get my hind parts moving."
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Bumper sticker spotted on a car seen on I-95 near Stamford, Conn., about 40 miles south of Newtown, Conn., on Friday: "VICTORIA SOTO IS MY HERO."
Soto, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was murdered in the mass shooting last month trying to shield her students from mad gunman Adam Lanza.
Stat of the Week
After a trip to Falcons training camp in August, I wrote this for the
He wasn't. He was 39th.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, which measures all things NFL except for the height of grass at each stadium, Jones' average depth of target fell from 13.2 yards downfield in 2011 to 12.8 yards this season. But it doesn't mean Matt Ryan just dinked-and-dunked with Jones. It means the Falcons threw a lot more screen passes to running backs and wide receivers this year -- something Koetter also emphasized more than his predecessor, Mike Mularkey.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
In 1986, Harry Gamble was team president of the Philadelphia Eagles, who hired Buddy Ryan as their coach that year.
This week, the New York Jets will strongly consider hiring Tom Gamble, son of Harry, as general manager, to assist head coach Rex Ryan, son of Buddy.
The Gamble and Ryan families once owned a thoroughbred horse together.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II
The backup quarterback for the Vikings Saturday night was McLeod John Baltazar Bethel-Thompson, who played 12 games in three seasons as a part-time player for the Sacramento (Calif.) State Hornets.
Tweet of the Week I
"Least mode ...''
Tweet of the Week II
"Hail to the (racist name deleted)! Hail vic-to-ry. (Racist name deleted) on the (racial stereotype deleted)! Fight for all Dee Ceee!"
Tweet of the Week III
"Why are players apologizing to fans for a 48-game season? Except for NFL, all pro seasons are too long. This is a gift to NHL fans''
Couldn't agree more.
Tweet of the Week IV
"Ah, 5 hour energy for a 230 am snack. It's like that sometimes @NFL_AM. #Livinthedream"
How about Steve Wyche. The man, with his crew, worked Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Ten Things I Think I Think
b. Carlos Dunlap saved four points on Houston's third field goal drive late in the first half. His pressure made Matt Schaub hurry a throw to Andre Johnson, who was open in the end zone. Don't blame Schaub for a lousy throw. Credit Dunlap for rushing Schaub into an errant throw, which turned a would-be touchdown into a field goal.
c. Great hands, Owen Daniels.
d. The Pack ran the ball better than I thought they would. Doesn't look like a big Achilles to me.
h. Adam Schefter, with the Doug Marrone-to-Buffalo scoop.
i. What a story on the ESPN pregame show Sunday about ALS patient O.J. Brigance, the former Ravens player and current senior adviser of player development. Everyone who's met him knows what an inspiration he is. Now America does too.
j. Vick Ballard picking up blitzing linebackers. Good blocker.
k. Very hard not to like Ballard, 170th pick in the draft. Strong runner. Drives through tacklers.
l. What a drive by Andrew Luck on his second playoff possession ...
m. ... Until that strip by Paul Kruger.
n. Great stat by Jim Nantz: Ray Lewis' first career sack, in 1996, came against Jim Harbaugh.
q. What a tackle by Andrew Luck on that interception return.
r. Bernard Pierce, the forgotten third-round pick from Temple, with a 100-yard rushing game (103, actually) in his first playoff appearance.
s. Troy Aikman, on FOX, on the NFL's practice of mixing officiating crews in the playoffs -- making zebras who have never worked together work together in the biggest games of the year: "Seems a little counterintuitive, doesn't it?" Couldn't have said it better, Troy.
a Jermaine Gresham's hands. Had a chance to begin taking the crowd out of the game on Cincinnati's first series at Reliant Stadium, and a perfect Andy Dalton first-down-conversion pass slipped right through his hands. Punt.
b. Mike Zimmer's inactivity in the coaching derby. Excellent job by Mike Mayock, pointing out the folly of Zimmer, the Cincinnati defensive coordinator, not having an interview scheduled.
c. A.J. Green not being targeted a single time in the first half. As Boomer Esiason would say, "That's Bengaldom for you."
d. Joe Webb. I mean, tough spot. And he ran it pretty well a few times. But those two idiotic hot-potato throwaways when pressured ... crazy.
e. Webb, for the first 40 minutes of the game. Amazing to me Webb was an NFL backup quarterback. I realize he hadn't played all season, but sheesh. He's got to have more poise than that.
f. Ray Rice, who will be the first one to beat himself up for fumbling twice in a playoff game.
g. Call the facemask, please, Mike Carey's crew.
h. Don't drop picks in plus territory, Vontae Davis.
I. Holy cow. Speaking of dropped picks, Ray Lewis had the gem of the weekend.
a. Hey, Michael Kay! Congrats to you and bride Jodi on the birth of your little girl. Enjoy Daddom.
b. Does Eddie Money think the Geico commercial is going to, like, rejuvenate his career? Not helping yourself, Eduardo. Eddie's playing Quapaw, Okla., on Friday night, and two tickets to paradise will cost you $40. Total.
c. This from Friday's
e. You go, P.J. Carlesimo.
f. Whoever was responsible, thanks for the return of hockey. Now for the only three words in the world that I share in common with David Puddy: "Let's go Devils!"
g. You guys up in Alaska OK after that earthquake?
h. The "no" voters on the Sandy relief package in Congress included a couple of legislators from Mississippi and Louisiana. That, I find amazing.
i. Coffeenerdness: I don't imagine this will ever happen, but if I ruled the world, I'd gather all Manhattan baristas and teach them how to pull espresso shots -- so that they wouldn't be so inconsistent, bitter some days, watery the others.
j. Beernerdness: You make a nice IPA, Goose Island. And I don't say that just because you've got the greatest tap in all of brewing.
k. You still being held hostage, Mike Napoli?
l. Six weeks until pitchers and catchers, and this question to Red Sox GM Ben Cherington: "Are you really paying Shane Victorino $13 million a year?"
m. Alabama 20, Notre Dame 14. Should be a fun game.
The Adieu Haiku
Ray Lewis, postgame: Dancing, hugging, loving. Hoarse. Ripken ballpark lap.