Sports Today: Takeaways from a classic Super Bowl

Published: Monday, February 05, 2018 @ 10:09 AM

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04:  Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks to the media after his teams 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles speaks to the media after his teams 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)(Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Big thanks to the Eagles and Patriots for putting on a great Super Bowl, eh? 

I predicted a Philadelphia win, but I think that’s the only part I got right. 

I thought it would be more of a defensive slugfest like the games the Pats lost to the Giants, but Nick Foles and New England’s offensive line outperformed expectations. 

RELATED: Local connections on the Super Bowl champion Eagles

Philly finally got to Tom Brady in the end, though, and Brandon Graham’s strip-sack on his fellow Michigan Man proved to be one of the decisive plays. 

The numbers from this one are pretty mind-boggling. 

The Patriots had a 500-yard passer, three 100-yard receivers and averaged over five yards per carry and lost. 

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes but had a crucial fumble. 

Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes and caught another. The interception on his record was a pass deflected into the air by his receiver. This was no game of rope-a-dope. The Eagles gave him the keys and let him go. 

Malcolm Jenkins was not the MVP as I predicted, but he had four tackles and broke up a pass. He also helped prevent James White repeat his huger Super Bowl LI performance, although everyone else seemed to be open most of the time. 

 

The Eagles had a great plan, great roster and great poise. 

Lots of people seemed to think going in that Philadelphia would have an advantage physically. I thought the Patriots’ game plan in the first half was an indication they agreed. Lots of misdirection from New England’s offense, something perhaps Philadelphia prepared for. 

In the second half, Brady just went after various matchups and put his team back on top, but the defense that stunk to start the year before righting itself couldn’t hold on. 

  

Remember before the season how the Patriots were a trendy pick to not just win the Super Bowl but go undefeated? 

That seems pretty baffling now, doesn’t it? I was buying into the hype, but I have to admit since I cover a variety of topics and sports, I was no expert on their roster last summer. 

Upon closer inspection, it’s not that inspiring. 

As great as Brady is, he can’t do it himself — and you really can’t fake it with inferior talent on defense. 

A side effect of the NFL’s overwhelming popularity seems to be a lot of media people who want to talk about the game don’t know much about it I guess, at least when it comes to actual Xs and Os and talent evaluation. 

Anyway, I guess that helps fuel upsets? 

Of course, Vegas installed the Pats as a favorite, but that was probably heavily influenced by the belief Brady would simply overcome any and all adversity. Or it was a sucker bet. 

Nonetheless, this game was far more won by the Eagles than lost by the Patriots. 

That much is evident by the general lack of mistakes by either side (kicking game notwithstanding) . 

Philadelphia was rewarded for having a great roster, using it optimally and staying aggressive from start to finish. 

Doug Pederson was masterful other than an ill-fated decision to go for two way too early in the game, one that was more than made up for by his fourth down trick play for a touchdown late in the second quarter. 

So, the obvious question around here is… what can we learn about all this that can be applied to the Cincinnati Bengals? 

Well, start with the coach-quarterback combo. 

We’ve looked into this before, but there’s not a lot of difference between Nick Foles and Andy Dalton

They’re both good enough to beat you or good enough to break your heart if you’re rooting for them. 

They have to be used correctly, too, because both their accuracy and their decision-making can run hot and cold. 

That takes us back to the coaches. 

Marvin Lewis rarely, if ever, coaches with the aggressiveness Pederson showed in the Super Bowl. Are we to expect that to ever change? 

I don’t think so.

 

Pederson’s approach not only paid off with some successful gambles but also seemed to infuse his team with confidence. That probably played no small role in the team’s ability to recover after losing the lead to the Patriots in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. 

There have been seasons the Bengals had an offense as diverse and well-constructed as Philadelphia’s, but the guy who put it together is in Cleveland, so the offense is a wild card heading into this season. 

Bill Lazor has a year to figure out what his guys do well and how to put them in position to succeed. 

He does not have the luxury of an offensive line nearly as good as Philadelphia’s, but again at least there’s a chance it gets better with a new mentor for that group and presumably some new players in the room when they begin OTAs. 

RELATED: NFL draft could offer exactly what Cincinnati needs

Bottom line: The Eagles victory proves a team can win with a great roster and an average quarterback. 

That’s pretty much been the plan for the Bengals since drafting Dalton, and by far the best chance for it to succeed was torpedoed by his injury in 2015. 

Except they came closer to winning a playoff game that year than the ones when Dalton was healthy, and these Eagles also lost their starting quarterback late in this season and went on to win it all. 

What was it we were saying about the coach? 

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Mike Leach believes Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold should’ve stayed in school

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 12:16 PM

Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold both decided to leave college early to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft. Washington State coach Mike Leach, who coached against both quarterbacks, disagrees with their decision to turn pro.

“I thought they both should have stayed,” Leach said, per  SiriusXMNFL Radio. “I think that Rosen measures out better in some areas, the ball he throws is real pretty, but to me it seems like Darnold elevates his team and I think those guys play around him a little better.”

Most people around football believe Rosen made the right decision to declare for the draft. However, there are mixed reviews on Darnold. Some scouts and analysts think the USC quarterback could’ve benefitted by playing one more season with the Trojans.

Game film illustrates that Rosen is the more polished quarterback right now. Although, some believe Darnold has the biggest upside between the two.

Only time will tell. What we do know is both will be selected early in this year’s draft.

As for Leach’s comments, it’s a safe bet that Washington State fans differ from him. Cougars fans are more than likely happy the team won’t have to face Rosen and Darnold any longer.

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What Tom Izzo said after Michigan State’s 65-60 victory over Northwestern

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 12:03 PM

The No. 2 Michigan State Spartans trailed at one point by 27 points during their game at Northwestern on Saturday, but the favored bunch mounted a comeback in the second half to go on and win, 65-60.

In the second half — after a 49-27 deficit at halftime — the Spartans held the Wildcats to 11 points entirely. Cassius Winston led the team with 17 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists.

With the win, Michigan State is on top of the Big Ten conference with a 14-2 record and two games remaining in the regular season.

What Tom Izzo said after Michigan State’s win over Northwestern

 

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Former South Carolina basketball star P.J. Dozier returns to Columbia

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 11:56 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former South Carolina basketball star P.J. Dozier returned to Columbia on Saturday for the annual Legends Weekend.

Dozier, who’s made two appearances for the Oklahoma City Thunder, has spent most of his rookie season in the G-League. For the Oklahoma City Blue squad, he averages 12.5 points and 2.6 assists per game.

In the video above, Dozier talks about his transition from college to the pros.

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Springfield quickly rebounds from loss at Trotwood-Madison

Published: Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 4:56 PM


            Springfield’s Derrick Robinson-Verse (24) and Leonard Taylor (front) battle Trotwood’s Justin Stephens (middle) and Carl Blanton for a rebound. Trotwood-Madison defeated visiting Springfield 79-72 in boys high school basketball on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
            MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Springfield’s Derrick Robinson-Verse (24) and Leonard Taylor (front) battle Trotwood’s Justin Stephens (middle) and Carl Blanton for a rebound. Trotwood-Madison defeated visiting Springfield 79-72 in boys high school basketball on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(MARC PENDLETON / STAFF)

It didn’t take long for Springfield senior guard Michael Wallace to rebound from Friday’s stinging 79-72 loss at mighty Trotwood-Madison. Not with the end of the regular season in sight and the postseason on deck.

“We can’t wait,” Wallace said. “We’ve got to get this last game over with and then get ready for the tournament.”

Wallace matched his season high with 17 points and Raheim Moss also scored 17 but the Wildcats didn’t quite have their “A” game against the Rams and that would be costly in the Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover game before a capacity crowd. Springfield was scheduled to end the regular season with a non-conference game against visiting Middletown on Saturday. The Middies are coached by one-time Springfield coach Darnell Hoskins.

Springfield landed a No. 2 seed in the Division I, Dayton 2 sectional. The Wildcats have a first-round bye and will play the Piqua-Springboro winner at 6 p.m. on Feb. 27 at Centerville.

Top-seeded Trotwood will take a 12-game win streak into the D-II sectional at Springfield High School. The Rams were the D-II state runners-up last season.

Springfield (17-4), Trotwood (19-3) and D-I top seed Wayne (20-1) have had marquee matchups this season. Springfield split two games with Wayne, which was No. 1 in the state in D-I for much of the season before losing at Springfield last week. Wayne defeated Trotwood in double-overtime in late December. All three GWOC reps are expected to make deep postseason runs.

Springfield (10-2) finished runner-up to Wayne (11-1) in the GWOC National East. Springfield also lost at Centerville in divisional play. Springfield started the season at 13-0, but entered the Middletown game on a late-season 2-3 slide.

Springfield pulled within 65-64 early in the fourth quarter on Derrick Robinson-Verse’s two free throws. But seconds later Moss fouled out. Springfield’s Leonard Taylor also sat out crucial minutes in the second half with four fouls. That foul trouble was compounded by the loss of top sub Larry Stephens, a sophomore guard who tweaked a knee in practice on Thursday and didn’t play.

Trotwood answered with a game-ending 14-7 run.

“It seems to be the same old song every time we play those guys,” Springfield coach Isaiah Carson said. “Trotwood’s a good basketball team. I like what (coach) Rocky (Rockhold) has done.”

Taylor added 12 points for the Wildcats and Jordan Howard 9.

Rockhold previously also coached at Greeneview, where he also was a standout player. The teams have played six times in the last seven seasons, with Trotwood holding a 4-2 advantage. Trotwood also defeated Springfield 88-73 to end the previous regular season.

Trotwood backcourt standouts Myles Belyeu and Amari Davis each scored 23 points. Trotwood had hit triple-digits in four of its last five games.

“We loved the pace of the game,” Rockhold said. “We felt if we got it out of the 60s we had a chance.”

Jonathan Alder 56, Kenton Ridge 55: Alder (18-4, 12-1) had already clinched a Kenton Trail title and has the best overall record in his first season of Central Buckeye Conference play. The Cougars (15-6, 9-4) ended the regular season by hosting Southeastern on Saturday. A No. 2 seed, Kenton Ridge opens the D-II sectional at Springfield High School against Graham on Saturday.

Dayton Christian 64, Emmanuel Christian 53: Adonis Davis scored 27 for the host Lions (8-14, 5-9) in their final Metro Buckeye Conference game to end the regular season. Emmanuel is a No. 7 seed in the D-IV sectional at Troy and will play the Southeastern/Franklin Monroe winner on Feb. 27. DC (16-5, 12-2) finished runner-up to Troy Christian (19-2, 13-1) in the MBC.

West Liberty-Salem 72, Mechanicsburg 49: Trevor Burden scored 22 points and the host Tigers (14-7, 11-4) clinched a tie with West Jefferson for the Ohio Heritage Conference North title. WL-Salem is a No. 9 seed in the D-III sectional at Northmont and will play Arcanum in the first round on Friday. Mechanicsburg (1-19) plays top-seeded Fort Loramie in the D-IV sectional at Piqua on Saturday.

Madison Plains 50, Greenon 46: Logan Coppock scored 15 points for host Greenon (10-12, 9-7) in another OHC game. Greenon opens D-III sectional play at Northmont against Miami East also on Saturday.

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