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Aaron Rodgers reminds everyone that he’s still Aaron Rodgers

Much will be said, written and just about everything else, about the Green Bay Packers’ 26-25 NCF Divisional-Playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in front of a raucous sellout crowd on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

Most of the attention will no-doubt go, not to the victors, but to a controversial call — or rule — depending on how you look at it, on a breathtaking, highlight-reel catch then no-catch by Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant on a fourth-down throw by long maligned Dallas quarterback Tony Romo.

Romo, by chance, is an appropriate place to start when we get to the heart of what the lingering legacy of the game dubbed “The Ice Bowl II” should actually be.

The Cowboys’ 11th-year man out of Eastern Illinois has put up Pro-Bowl numbers for the better part of his career under center for Dallas, but it’s what Romo hasn’t done that’s had fans and media questioning the signal-caller for most of that time. Until this season it was Romo’s inability to take Big-D to the playoffs. After getting that monkey off his back this season, Romo and the Cowboys took it a step further last weekend with a 24-20 win over Detroit in the Wildcard round.

Romo was good Sunday as well. The hobbled quarterback went 15-of-19 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns as Dallas leaned heavily on workhorse running back Demarco Murray against the Packers defense and the 24-degree game-time temperature. He was an inch, maybe even a second-opinion away from another good chunk of yards and most likely another game winning drive if the Bryant pass would have gone Dallas’ way.

But it didn’t. More importantly, on this day, Romo wasn’t Aaron Rodgers.

The same Aaron Rodgers who leads all active NFL quarterbacks in career passer rating, while posting the league’s top mark in the statistic in two of the last three full seasons he’s played — Romo’s 113.2 nipped Rodgers’ 112.2 this season. Rodgers’ 122.5 rating in 2011 is the greatest of all time. He’s the California kid who coolly goes about tearing up opposing defenses as one new name after another creeps into the discussion of just who is the best quarterback in the NFL.

He’s been so good that despite winning an MVP, a Super Bowl, and making stars out of receivers like Greg Jennings — now with Minnesota — and Jordy Nelson, Rodgers has had relatively little opportunity for late-game heroics. Though ranking 4th in quarterback wins since 2008, the first year he took over full-time for Brett Favre, ranks No. 34 behind such names as Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel in fourth-quarter comebacks.

That changed Sunday, even after it was questionable that Rodgers would even play until the middle of the week after aggravating a left-calf strain following a run in with Detroit defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh’s foot in the final week of the regular season.

From the 1:12 mark of the third quarter through the end of the game Rodgers was perfect. He went 10-of-10 for 162 yards passing and the two most important touchdowns since at least that 2011 Super Bowl run.

It started with a 3rd-and-15 strike from near midfield, over the middle to rookie Davante Adams, who changed direction before outracing Dallas defenders to the pylon to draw the Packers to within one heading into the fourth quarter.

After a Cowboys three-and-out Rodgers went to work again.

The one-legged quarterback escaped a sack before shoveling a pass to Andrew Quarless for 13 yards to the Green Bay 33-yard line. After a two-yard run by receiver Randall Cobb, who was lined up as a running back, it was back to Adams on the left side. The rookie broke a tackle, streaking up the sideline 18 yards into Dallas territory. Rodgers found Randall Cobb on back-to-back snaps to move it to the Dallas 27-yard-line. He dumped a quick out and then a shovel-pass off to Quarless for six and eight yards respectively to the Dallas 13-yard line.

On first and ten, Rodgers, whose way of keeping his hands in his removable pocket until just the last moment before the snap leaves the impression of a man unfazed, almost nonchalant about the gravity of the moment, called out the signals, took a shot-gun snap with the pocket quickly collapsing around him, looked left … nothing, thing right … nothing, before and escaping back and to the left. On a regular day Rodgers, a capable runner, would have likely taken off, but on this day the quarterback pulled up from just inside the 20-yard line and fired a laser between Cowboys’ defenders Sterling Moore and J.J Wilcox, just as they converged on Richard Rodgers who’d been streaking along the backside of the end zone.

It was a play — and a pass — worthy of being shown from all angles, and it was, though perhaps not as many as Bryant’s effort on the catch that wasn’t just moments earlier.

Rodgers connected with four different receivers — none of them leading receiver Nelson, who was hounded by the Dallas secondary for 22 yards on two receptions — for a total of eight-straight completions and two touchdowns to over come an eight-point deficit. He would complete two more passes to seal the win on Green Bay’s ensuing drive.

Folks will talk about the Rodgers’ day for years to come, especially in Green Bay.

In a season that’s heard so much about the potential of another Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady matchup in the AFC Championship game, has been enamored with Romo’s first visit to the playoffs since 2009, Rodgers’ touchdown pass is the play that could ultimately lead him and the Packers to a second Super Bowl title in five seasons, and back to the forefront of discussions about the greatest quarterback in the most publicized generation of quarterbacks in NFL history.

With the defending-champion Seahawks and Russell Wilson waiting in Seattle next week, and either Brady or Andrew Luck in a potential Super Bowl, that conversation might just get a whole lot clearer.

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The final countdown.

It’s coming down to the wire for our MC 580 project. To my left Jason Beets is putting the finishing touches on our thrift-store owners profile, while Alex (on my right) and Achten and I have written the script and voiced the package featuring Ash and Erin, two people from different walks of life who share a common interest in second-hand goods.

The web story is up (I believe), and we’re pretty proud of the work we’ve put in as a group to get this done.

Saturday: I took a camera to T-La-Re and got additional b-roll at Misti’s store.

Sunday: Lance, Jason and I went to Fort Riley to conduct an interview with Ash, also know as Specialist Luther Washington. I locked my keys in my van holding up the interview for about a half hour and costing me $65 in the process.

Later in the afternoon Jason, Alex and I hit up Erin Bishop for an interview at her house. She’s also an active thrifter.

Monday: Jason got some extra b-roll footage at Grand Ol Trunk.

Tuesday: Cutting and editing the final videos.

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Wichita St. a No. 1 seed? They’ll have to prove that in March.

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What has Wichita State done this season to warrant a No. 1 seed?

Point is that what happened last season does not count. It may count in the polls (to some voters). But any computer, or aggregate of rankings dismisses last season’s accomplishments out of hand. Why? Because last season is just that last season.

It’s unfortunate for the Shockers that some of their marquee non-conference games featured opponents who probably weren’t as good as their original billing. It’s unfortunate that Creighton left the Valley for the Big East. It’s unfortunate that Valley foes like Northern Iowa and Missouri State aren’t up to par this season. All of that plays into the notion that there is no objective basis to put the Shockers on the No. 1 line. None.

You can look at:

Ken Pomeroy’s rankings – http://kenpom.com/.
The BPI – http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bpi.
The Massey Composite, which features basically every single ratings metric known to man – http://www.masseyratings.com/cb/compare.htm.
The (gasp) RPI, which is a terrible metric for ranking individual teams – http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/rpi.

None of these have the Shockers on the 1-line. None. And a majority have them clinging to a No. 2 seed. It isn’t about how good Wichita State it. It is about what, under the circumstances, they will never be able to do to prove how good they are.

They’ll probably get a No. 2 seed in the Midwest with Kansas as the No. 1 seed. Hell, K-State may get an 8 or 9 in the same region. One thing is for certain, come March none of the crowing either for or against the Wichita State will matter, only what happens on the court.

Note: This may qualify as a “hot sports take.” I sure hope not.

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Royals skipper can’t get out of his own way

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When Detroit catcher Alex Avila took Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie’s 0-1 delivery and lifted it just over the left-centerfield wall for a two-run, opposite-field homerun to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead early in the bottom of the second inning, Guthrie did what he has done time after time this season.

The lanky right hander hunkered down, scattering 11 Detroit hits, and finding a way to keep his pitch count low, as he battled inning-for-inning against Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer to give his Royals a chance to pull out a win and keep their October hopes alive.

Five-and-a-half innings later, when light-hitting shortstop Alcides Escobar doubled to left and stole third base before scoring the game-tying run on a wild pitch by Detroit reliever Drew Smyly, Guthrie had done his job.

He’d gotten out of multiple jams, most notably in the fifth when after a lead-off single by Miguel Cabrera and a double down the right-field line by Prince Fielder left Guthrie and the Royals facing runners on second and third with no outs.  The right-hander calmly coaxed weak ground ball outs to the right side off of the bats of lefties Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks.  Then routine grounder to Escobar killed the Tiger threat to end the inning.

Fast-forward back to that bottom of the eighth inning after Escobar nabbed the game-tying run and the scene is set for the type of thing that has been maddening, confusing, and undoubtedly making countless Royals fans pull their own hair out for the better part of the 2013 season.  A season that happens to be the first time that many of those fans have been a part of a real October hunt in their lifetimes.

The Royals, who have ridden run-saving defense, good starting pitching and the best bullpen in baseball — a bullpen that has remained one of the freshest in baseball all season — to within 3.5 games of the Wildcard, were right where they needed to be as the game headed into crunch time.

Only Ned Yost either didn’t see it, or even worse, he blatantly ignored it.

Rather than look to any one of his bullpen arms that have been so solid, Yost trotted Guthrie and his 12 hits allowed out to the hill one more time.

This move on its own, though questionable, isn’t the facepalm worthy call deemed just the latest “Yosting” that the Royals’ skipper has pulled off this season.  The Tigers led off the home half of the eighth with Omar Infante, a right handed hitter, who was 0-for3 up to that point and followed suit by striking out looking at Guthrie fastball.

If Royals fans weren’t ready for the bullpen to begin the inning, they were surely screaming at their televisions as the lefty Avila walked out to the plate for another opportunity to put the Tigers ahead.

Yost did nothing.

Three pitches later Guthrie left a slider out over the plate that Avila launched into the right-center field seats to give Detroit a 3-2 lead that they would hold for the win.  Guthrie recovered to retire the next two Tiger batters, but the damage was done.  Avila, who had already homered off of Guthrie earlier, had done it again and there really was no good reason for it to have happened.  You can’t blame him either.  He never should have been put in that position in the first place.

The man on whom the blame falls for that Avila homer — the one that dropped the Royals to 4-games back in the Wildcard race — is the man, Ned Yost, who was seen staring blankly ahead as Avila circled the bases after ripping the hearts out of countless Royals fans on a Sunday afternoon in the fall.

At a point in the season where every game, every inning, every at bat is magnified these “Yostings,” like this afternoon or Yost’s discombobulated management of the batting order in the top of the ninth inning in the Royals’ 3-4 loss at Cleveland last Monday, a team in a playoff hunt just cannot afford for these type of occurrences to happen.

Unfortunately for long-suffering fans in Kansas City, their best team in a generation is getting snake-bitten right out of the playoff picture by a manager who cannot get out of his own way.

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Thought provoking question: Put Dirk on the Heat, and switch James to the Mavs. Does either team win the championship?

Not a real lengthy post, just hoping for some comment feedback here maybe to get some discussion going.

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Wheelchair SHAWTY: Awesomely bad rap dance/song

Sometimes when I’m in da’ club I wonder how a parrapallegic might enjoy the dance-floor.  Well, now I know.

Augusta, Ga. natives D-Money n Smoove have recently released the track, “Wheelchair Shawty” to the masses.  If I cand have any thing to do with it this thing is about to go viral.

Wheelchair indeed.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: 11/11/2010

Week 10 saw former number ones — Oklahoma and Missouri — both suffer their second Big 12 loss of the season.  Baylor failed in its attempt to solidify itself as a Big 12 power-player, losing big to Oklahoma State.  Texas looks to have gone completely into the tank, after getting drubbed by Kansas State. But it might have been Kansas who provided the most excitement of anyone during week ten, in a dramatic comeback win over Colorado.  When the dust settled, Nebraska took its place atop the Big 12 mountain.

1. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers were the only Big 12 team able to pull off a road win during week 10 and they did so with QBs Taylor Martinez and Zac Lee watching from the sidelines.  Though the Husker offense was limited to just over 300 yards of total offense but the defense held Iowa St. in check long enough for a dramatic 31-30 overtime win.  NU faithful must really be shaking their heads at the Huskers loss to Texas earlier in the season.  That loss, to a Longhorn team that is now just 4-5 (2-4), is all that is separating Bo Pelini’s squad from a possible BCS title berth.

2. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys took a previously red-hot Baylor team behind the woodshed during week 10.  OSU amassed 725 yards of total offense in the 55-28 rout of the then BCS No. 21 Bears.  Head Coach Mike Gundy has had success at OSU but he has yet to beat either Oklahoma or Texas, and the Cowboys have yet to appear in the Big 12 title game.  It looks like the stars are aligning for that all to go down if the Cowboys can take care of business.

4a. Oklahoma – The Sooners fell to a resurgent Texas A&M team 33-18 in College station during week ten.  OU was held scoreless by the Aggies during the first half before coming back to cut the defecit to 19-17 late in the 3rd quarter.  they never managed to get over the hump though as A&M fulled away in the fourth quarter.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the BCS No. 16 Sooners.  Texas Tech team fresh off of an upset win over Missouri heads to Norman in week 11, before OU head to both Baylor and BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State for what is sure to be a raucous crowd in Stillwater to finish the regular season.

4b. Missouri – It seemed as though the Tigers had finally gotten over the hump.  Gary Pinkel’s team was fresh off of a win over then BCS No. 1 Oklahoma, and it looked like this might be the year for Mizzou to make it to the BCS, there was even talks of a title appearance.  MU couldn’t sustain the momentum though and the Tigers have now lost two in a row following a surprising 24-17 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock.  The Tigers seemed to have the game in control, leading 17-10 at halftime but they were shut-out by the Red Raiders in the second half.  QB Blaine Gabbert completed just 12 of 30 passes in the loss.

5. Texas A&M – It has been better late than never for the Aggies as they have now reeled off three straight victories following an impressive 33-18 win over then BCS No. 8 Oklahoma.  Mike Sherman and Co. were much maligned after three straight earlier losses against tough opponents Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri, but the negativity looks to have been unwarranted two of those games were very close and the Aggies have bounced back nicely.  The Aggies finish the season with another tough three game stretch heading to Baylor, then back home against Nebraska, and the season finale in Austin against the hated Longhorns.

6. ≡ Kansas State – Maybe Kansas State really does “own Texas?”  Or maybe the Longhorns just aren’t a very good football team.  It is probably a bit of both.  Still the Wildcats ran out to a 31-0 lead against UT before the Wildcats even completed a pass.  They extended that lead to 39-0 before Texas scored two   late in the game.  Bill Snyder’s squad is now looking 8-4 (4-4) squarely in the face.  If they can upset a reeling Mizzou team this week in Columbia KSU could have its first 9 win season in 7 years.

7. Baylor – The Bears were blown out by a quality opponent for the second time in week 10.  The 55-28 defeat at the hands of Oklahoma State showed that while vastly improved the Bears still haven’t quite reached that next level, especially on defense.  The Bears gave up 435 yards passing, and 290 yards rushing against the BCS No. 10 Cowboys.  The schedule doesn’t get any easier as Baylor hosts the resurgent, BCS No. 25 Texas A&M Aggies, before ending the season with a road-trip to BCS No. 16 Oklahoma.

8. Iowa State – The Cyclones lost a heart-breaker to BCS No. 8 Nebraska in week 10, but Paul Rhoads’ squad played with their characteristic heart and toughness in the 31-30 overtime defeat.  The Cyclones went for the win on a fake extra point, but the pass from holder Daniel Kuehl was intercepted by the Huskers to secure the NU win.  The Cyclones hope to earn bowl eligibility this week at Colorado, before hosting Missouri in the regular season finale.

9. Texas Tech – The Red Raiders pulled of an impressive come-from-behind upset over Missouri in week ten, shutting out the then BCS No. 12 Tigers in the second half of the 24-17 win.  First year head Coach Tommy Tuberville looks to have the Red Raiders 5-5 (3-4) going bowling with remaining games against Furman and Houston, but a win at BCS No. 16 Oklahoma will be required to avoid a losing Big 12 record.

10. ≡ Texas – The Longhorns have mailed it in.  Mack Brown would probably tell you otherwise but how else can you explain the absolute collapse of the UT football team this year.  We all know the Longhorns now 4-5 (2-4) are loaded with talent, and they did beat BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln earlier this year, home-losses to the likes of UCLA and Iowa State along with a 39-14 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State has the Longhorns on the outside looking in at bowl eligibility.  UT rounds out the season with BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and the finale against BCS No. 25 Texas A&M.

11. Kansas – Who would have thought Kansas would move out of the Big 12 cellar, especially when the Jayhawks trailed Colorado 45-17 early in the fourth quarter Saturday in Lawrence.  It looked like another blowout loss to the few fans remaining in Memorial Stadium, but Turner Gill’s team came back for an improbable 52-45 win.  The loss broke an 11 game Big 12 winless streak for the Jayhawks and led to the firing of former CU head coach Dan Hawkins.

12. Colorado – CU head coach was fired this week after the Buffaloes 52-45 loss at Kansas.  It doesn’t get any easier for the Buffaloes 3-6 (0-5) who host a tough Iowa State team, and BCS No. 25 Kansas State before ending a long-standing rivalry with BCS No. 8 Nebraska in Lincoln.

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