Manning was outstanding, but so too was Dallas Clark. Clark took full advantage of the weak Patriot linebacking and safety corps for 134 yards, including a huge 52 yard catch late in the ballgame. Harrison and Wayne were ordinary, but Clark was immense.
The Patriots cost-cutting at WR finally came back to haunt them as Reche Caldwell had a BRUTAL second half. Most embarrassing was the play in which he was left completely, totally uncovered, then dropped the ball with no one around him. You'd think with eyes as big as his, he'd be able to see the ball. He straps two tires together to use as glasses.
On the other side, the Bears' defense was opportunistic yet again. Not spectacular, but they were very aggressive and took advantage of a careless Saints team. When it was 16-14 Bears, and the Saints had the ball and were driving in the 3rd quarter, the Saints lost all the momentum. They got nothing out of a drive that looked to merit them at least a field goal (and the lead in the game). After that FG miss, the Bears got a ridiculous safety from Drew Brees, a great drive out of Rex Grossman (who still looks out of his league at times), and a trifecta (sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery) from Wally Ogunleye, and that was that.
Early line is Colts -7. Seems about right to me. Rex Grossman still isn't very good. However, Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson ran very well in the NFC Championship game and face a potentially porous Colt rush D. But Manning will play this one without the pressure we've seen in the postseason so far -- he's got the monkey off his back -- and the Colts will score a lot of points.
Ron Tillery confirmed the Pau Gasol trade request this morning. Here are the salient quotes from today's Commercial Appeal:
Grizzlies center Pau Gasol won't say as much but his actions and agent have delivered the message.
The 7-footer wants out of Memphis.
Given Gasol's play and the feelers his agent, Arn Tellem, have lobbed around the NBA recently, the Grizzlies are suddenly forced to consider their future without someone they've deemed the franchise player.
Gasol made trade overtures before and after Mike Fratello was fired, according to team insiders. The Spaniard dodged the question when asked Sunday if he's demanded a trade at any point this season.
"I don't want to comment on that right now because I don't want it to be a distraction to me or the team," Gasol said. "It's not beneficial to anybody. Whatever happens is yet to be seen."
Yeah, uh, about that distraction thing. Too late, big boy. Jerry West is quoted as saying that Pau is tradeable, but he won't be given away. Michael Heisley agrees. Good. Fine. The problem with this whole scenario is that the minute a trade request becomes public, the value of a player drops. Interested teams know that the Grizzlies are being more or less forced to seriously shop Pau Gasol, and in that situation, the Grizzlies are on the defensive.
Pau's being ridiculous, by the way. Not that you need me to say that. I've always been one of Pau's biggest supporters, but his play this year has been indefensible. This franchise traded away Shareef Abdur-Rahim, a sure 20/10 guy at that time, to get a chance at Pau Gasol. This franchise traded away player after player (Bonzi, J-Will, Posey) that didn't believe in Pau as the nuclues of the team. This franchise sacrificed its commercial leader and public face (Shane Battier) to take a chance on a second star to pair alongside Pau. This franchise maxed out Pau contractually when many people said it was too much money. This franchise publicly supported Pau during his rehab. This franchise didn't stand in his way when he wanted to fulfill his dream and win a World Championship with Spain. After all of that, Pau wants out. Brilliant.
I'll say this -- if he's not traded by Saturday, his reception at the Forum should be interesting. And by interesting, I mean, "BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! GO TO HELL!!! YOU SUCK!!! GO BACK TO SPAIN!!!" And so on. It's not like Pau has been Señor Memphis to begin with. In the best of times, he's likely to be booed after a few bad plays. Now, he's Most Hated Numero Uno.
1. Chicago sends Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and P.J. Brown for Pau Gasol.
As I wrote yesterday, this is apparently close to an actual starting point in negotiations between Chicago and Memphis. This would be a good return for Pau, although I'm not as wild about Deng as some people are. Brown's 8.5 million dollar expiring would be nice, as well. I'd like to add Brian Cardinal's deal to this trade (it would still work under the salary cap that way). Chicago might ask for a bit more in the deal since Cardinal's deal is so bad, but that would certainly be worth it.
2. Utah sends Andrei Kirilenko and Gordan Giricek for Pau/Cardinal.
This is where we get into the realm of the theoretical. Utah isn't happy with Kirilenko's effort and performance this season (see Jazz owner Larry Miller ripping AK47 in this Salt Lake Tribune article) and Pau would fit in beautifully alongside Carlos Boozer. Kirilenko is a big-time player, no doubt, and while his numbers aren't good this year, he's capable of putting up 5X5's every night (5X5's are stat lines with at least 5 points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks). Not many can do that. Giricek is in just to balance out the salaries.
3. Boston sends Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, and Theo Ratliff for Gasol/Cardinal.
This deal would be a big, big risk. Pau may be a girl, but he's a productive NBA player. Green and Jefferson could turn into two very good players -- Jefferson is already a very solid rebounder, and Green has shown flashes of brilliance. Ratliff would be Eddie Jones in this deal...a mostly useless veteran whose contract expires after two seasons.
4. L.A. Lakers send Andrew Bynum, Vladimir Radmanovic, Chris Mihm, Shammond Williams, and Maurice Evans for Gasol/Cardinal.
Tyler likes this move. Obviously you get Bynum and a whole lot of crap back, but if Bynum turns into a huge megastar, this is a win. What if you were to do this deal and when get the first overall pick? Do you still draft Oden?
5. Toronto sends Chris Bosh for Pau.
My dream move. Please let Pau play with his Spanish teammates Calderon and Garbajosa.
Bill Parcells is retiring. Probably should have happened after last year. He's a legend, without question, but like Joe Gibbs, his time is up. Could Nick Saban pull a Franchione on Alabama? Please, Jerry Jones, offer him a jillion dollars -- let's see what happens.
RIP Bam Bam Bigelow. Here's Bam Bam in action against legendary grappler Barry Horowitz.