<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Tue, 24 Nov 2015 23:16:04 -0500 Tue, 24 Nov 2015 23:16:04 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Diaco Expected to be Bowl Eligible in Year Two]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 23:07:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/diaco112415.jpg The UConn football team is bowl eligible with six wins and their head coach is not surprised by his team's improvements.]]> <![CDATA[Hartford Wildcats Need Your Help to Go to National Championship]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:03:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/football-field-generic.jpg

There was no practice at Colt Park Monday for the Hartford Wildcats, two days after the 12-and-under youth football team won the regional championship.

But now some real work has begun, as boosters try to raise $35,000 so the players can pursue the national championship next month in Kissimmee, Florida.

"Any size donations, no donation is too small," said their coach, Von Allen.

Some of the players have been Wildcats since second or third grade. Running back/linebacker Bernard Lee is one of them.

"Through all the years it's been tough, with all the cold weather, but we worked hard through it, come to practice every day, making it happen, working hard," he said.

Saturday, the Wildcats beat Leominster, Massachusetts 51-7 to win Nee England title. They've never won regionals before and many of the players have never been to Florida before.

" I'm really excited," said center Devon Gay. "We work so hard and it just feels good to playoff."

They've won the right but not the fight yet as organizers try to raise up to $35,000 for the trip. They only have til Dec. 5 to raise the money and take their shot at the national title.

Coach Allen said,"That's all they want to do. At the end of the day there's only one happy team.
That's the team who wins nationals."

Click here to make a donation to the Hartford Wildcats on their gofundme.com page.

<![CDATA[After Flying High Early, Jets Are a Wreck]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:35:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/196*120/112215jets.jpg

When Bilal Powell is your biggest threat in the passing game and Ryan Fitzpatrick your most dangerous runner, chances are you’re not a very good team.

Ditto for when a guy named Cecil Shorts III puts on a triple-threat performance not seen since the days of Red Grange against you. And, of course, double-ditto for when the best player in your team’s history gets burned like a ruined Thanksgiving dinner before being knocked out of the game by a knee to the head. Finally, can’t ditto this one enough: if your head coach is talking about turning to Geno Smith to get things going … well, you get the point.

The Jets aren’t a very good team, as they proved yet again in Sunday's 24-17 loss at Houston. In fact, at 5-5, they’re the very definition of average -- although they’d have a tough time convincing anyone that they’re even approaching ordinary based on their play over the past few weeks.

In short, Gang Green can’t pass very well. They can’t run any better, especially when they’re playing almost exclusively out of the shotgun because of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injured left thumb. They’re suspect on defense, having not held an opponent under 20 since Week 4. While we’re at it, they’re not much on special teams. And they’re unlucky. After racking up +8 in turnover differential in the season’s first two games, they’ve since posted a -6.

On the positive side, after three TDs on three passes in his pro career, the Jets prevented J.J. Watt from ringing up a fourth score after the just-returned Calvin Pryor broke up a throw in the end zone in the first quarter. Other positives, anyone? Don’t all speak at once!

It was basically the only time all day that the visitors thwarted Watt, who was somehow even better than usual on Sunday. The All-Pro DE had 5 five tackles for loss, two sacks and five hits in all on Fitzpatrick. I’m old enough to have watched Lawrence Taylor play his entire career here, and I feel confident saying this: Watt, not LT, is the best defensive player I’ve ever seen.

Ten games in, the Jets are now looking at a steep climb back into postseason contention. Their last two opponents, Buffalo and Houston, have passed them in the Wild Card race, and the roster is starting to resemble a supersized IR list. Sheldon Richardson sat out the Texans game with an ailing hamstring. Nick Mangold, back in Sunday despite a neck injury, had to leave the game after a laceration required stitches on his right (snapping) hand. In next week’s game against Miami, the Pro Bowl center is expected to roll the ball to his effectively one-handed quarterback.

Darrelle Revis, who looked infirm trying to cover Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins even when healthy, suffered a concussion -- and Fitzpatrick had his bell nearly broken in his fourth-quarter TD scramble. He followed that up with two INTs to seal the loss in the game’s closing minutes.

After flying so high to kick off the season, the Jets are, quite simply, a wreck. 

<![CDATA[Top NFL Photos: Week 11]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:17:01 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_386456190580.jpg Get an up-close look at all the best NFL plays and players from Week 11.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Security Increased for Yale-Harvard Football Game]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2015 18:34:31 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Yale+Security+1200.jpg

There was a show of force in New Haven as extra security was brought out for the 132nd playing of “The Game” on Saturday.

In the end, Harvard beat Yale 38-19 in the Yale Bowl. New Haven police reported no major problems.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to show up and watch the Yale-Harvard football rivalry.

About 130 officers kept a watchful eye on the crowd.

More than 60,000 fans were expected to pack the Bowl to watch the Game.

But first they had to pass through what was called enhanced security measures.

“It makes a lot of people feel better knowing there’s a lot of security here for precautionary measures, have it be the terrorist attacks that happened in Paris or you know issues that have been happening on Yale’s campus over the last couple weeks,” says John Carideo of New Milford.

Fans had been told to arrive as early as two hours before kickoff and to be prepared for long security lines.

They were warned not to bring bags.

While the governor said there was no known threat, police and Yale said the extra security was all in an effort to provide comfort and ensure the safety of everyone.

“I believe they’re taking every precaution given the events that are taking place around the world and I understand it. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience but for the safety of all of us it’s important,” Darrin Steinmann, of Cincinnati, Ohio, said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Jets Have Good Chance to Get Well in Houston]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:44:02 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/488073794.jpg

The Jets are going to Houston to play a first-place team this weekend, albeit one with a losing record. The season has been a roller coaster for the Texans, who started off badly, with losses in four of their first five games, then came on strong, winning three of the last four.

Yes, it’s easy to get well when you’re facing off against the likes of Jacksonville, Miami and Tennessee, as Houston did in weeks 6 through 8. However, last Monday night, the Texans took down the previously-undefeated Bengals, proving that they can play -- and that, for all the talk that Andy Dalton has suddenly become Aaron Rodgers (and, of course, that Rodgers has suddenly regressed into Dalton), we might not want to get him fitted for a yellow blazer just yet.

If Houston is a much-improved squad, though, they’re also a much-injured one. QB Brian Hoyer, who coach Bill O’Brien kept on a yo-yo through the first half of the season, continuing to hope against hope that Ryan Mallett would stop acting like a 7-year-old (and a particularly immature one at that), is out this week after suffering a concussion in the Cincy contest. Like the Jets’ own Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2014, Hoyer seems to have found new life in Texas, cutting down on INTs and making smart plays. Without him, though, and with Mallett cut from the team and apparently taking a timeout in his room, O’Brien is turning to fifth-year pro T.J. Yates.

Yates, who, it’s been reported, has been in witness protection since injuries forced him into the starting lineup for the Texans’ postseason run during his rookie year, is the epitome of nothing special. If Hoyer is a game manager, Yates is a game intern. And unfortunately for him, several key co-workers have called in sick. Arian Foster, one of the NFL’s best running backs over the past decade, is out for the rest of the campaign with a torn Achilles. WR DeAndre Hopkins, who’s merely been phenomenal this year, is expected to play on Sunday, but has been sidelined this week with an ailing knee. Hopkins has 71 catches through nine games. No other Texans receiver has even 30.

Unfortunately for Gang Green, J.J. Watt is alive and well. The defensive lineman/cyborg leads a unit that has clamped down over the past few weeks after essentially playing like Watt and 10 other guys who expected him to make every play (he nearly did). Houston surrendered 28 points a game through their first seven, but only a total of 12 in the past two weeks.

And while the Jets have already ceded their division to the Pats, the Texans are looking at a pathetic AFC South as theirs for the taking. They’ve got plenty to play for.

The visitors, meanwhile, are sorely in need of the type of invigoration Houston has experienced - especially on D. Lining up against Yates, a Foster-less run game and a banged-up Hopkins, if this isn’t the time for it, then what is? 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2020 Olympic Vision]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 23:17:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ceana_rodriguez_1200x675_569535043685.jpg 16-year-old Ceana Rodriguez from New Britain has her sights set on making the 2020 Olympics in Taekwondo. Sports Director Kevin Nathan has her story in this week's More Than the Score. ]]> <![CDATA[NFL's Doug Flutie Loses Both Parents on Same Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 17:02:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/flutie-AP_05060901526.jpg

Legendary Boston College quarterback and longtime NFL player Doug Flutie lost both his parents Wednesday morning.

Flutie said his father, Dick, died of a heart attack in the hospital following an illness. Less than an hour later, his mother, Joan, also suffered a heart attack, Flutie wrote in a social media post Wednesday.

"They say you can die from a broken heart and I believe it," Flutie said on Facebook. "The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children. They were incredible parents and grandparents and my family and I will miss them both."

Flutie's NFL career was sporadic, withhin playing 92 games and starting 66 between 1986 and 2005. During that time, he played with the Bears, Patriots, Bills and, finally, the Chargers, from 2001 through 2004. During a long NFL hiatus, he played in the Canadian Football League from 1990-97, being inducted into both the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

The quarterback is best known for his time at Boston College, during which he received the Heisman Trophy and other accolades. He threw for an astounding 10,759 yard sand 70 touchdowns in four years.

Photo Credit: AP/File
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<![CDATA[Doug Flutie's Parents Die on Same Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 21:51:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Doug+Flutie+and+Parents.jpg

Legendary Boston College quarterback and longtime NFL player Doug Flutie lost both his parents Wednesday morning.

Flutie said his father, Dick, died of a heart attack in the hospital following an illness. Less than an hour later, his mother, Joan, also suffered a heart attack, Flutie said.

"They say you can die from a broken heart and I believe it," Flutie said in a statement. "The most important part of their 56 years of marriage was providing opportunities to their children. They were incredible parents and grandparents and my family and I will miss them both."

"They have been together for so long that I think the shock of it all when he passed - I'd assume that that's where she wants to be, too," said Jill Cukier Pappalardo, who was a high school classmate with Doug Flutie.

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Most of the Flutie family, including Doug, has moved down to Florida, but the family's legacy remains strong in Natick, Massachusetts, where they lived for many years.

"It was sad, shocking," said one Natick resident.

"I used to see them around the local restaurants," said another. "Mostly Doug."

There were nothing but kind words for the family, including at Agostino's Restaurant, where the family were regulars.

"They were very nice, great family," said one long-time waitress.

The announcement went viral on social media with messages of condolences.

"our hearts go out to the Flutie family, all of whom are in our prayers," Boston College announced in a statement.

The New England Patriots also responded.

"Sending thoughts and prayers to former Patriots QB and New England football icon," the team stated.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft released his own statement.

“My heart breaks for Doug Flutie and the entire Flutie family," he wrote. "It is hard enough to cope with the loss of one parent. I can’t imagine losing both parents on the same day. I know that the Flutie family will be in the thoughts and prayers of their many fans throughout the country, especially all of those here in New England."

Flutie's NFL career was sporadic, withhin playing 92 games and starting 66 between 1986 and 2005. During that time, he played with the Bears, Patriots, Bills and Chargers. During a long NFL hiatus, he played in the Canadian Football League from 1990-97, being inducted into both the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

The quarterback is best known for his time at Boston College, during which he received the Heisman Trophy and other accolades. He threw for an astounding 10,759 yards and 70 touchdowns in four years.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Doug Flutie, Getty Images
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<![CDATA['Big Papi' Plans to Retire]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:04:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/TLMD-Boston-medias-rojas-david-ortiz-red-sox-getty-images-470371776.jpg

One of Boston's most beloved athletes has announced he will be retiring after the 2016 season.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, on his 40th birthday, confirmed what many people were already talking about in a video posted to YouTube Wednesday, courtesy of The Players' Tribune.

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"I thought a lot about it and, you know, for every single one of us, athletes-wise... we run out of time at some point and life is based on different chapter and I think I'm ready to experience the next one in my life," Ortiz said in the video. "I picked this day to announce that after the next season, I'm going to be done with my career."

Nicknamed "Big Papi," Ortiz will leave the game a three-time World Series champion, at least, and holder of the Red Sox single-season record for home runs. The Red Sox designated hitter is also a nine-time All-Star.

"I would like people to remember me as a guy that was just part of the family, you know?" he said. "A guy that was trying to do the best, not only on the field, but with everyone around him."

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"It is difficult to adequately convey what David Ortiz has meant to the Boston Red Sox," says Principal Owner John Henry. 

"David's first home run in a Red Sox uniform set the tone for the rest of his career," says Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. It was a go-ahead pinch-hit home run in the top of the 14th inning against the Angels. In that summer of 2003, David became the best slugger in all of baseball and carried the team on his back for the last three months of the season - a trend we would come to see time and again throughout his career. He has been in a Red Sox uniform nearly as long as we have been here, and he has been integral in all of the successes that we have all experienced."

"David Ortiz transcends numbers, home runs, and wins," says Red Sox President Sam Kennedy. He is one of the game's greatest players - and greatest champions - and he has been there for the city of Boston through thick and thin every step of the way. He has been a pillar of our team and a pillar of our city."

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Even After Ugly Stretch, Things Look Good for Jets]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 11:29:33 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Uniformes-unicolores-de-Nike-confunden-a-espectadores-de-la-NFL-con-daltonismo-juego-Bills-Jets.jpg

It all depends on how you look at things.

If you’re a glass-half-full type, you’d probably note that, just nine games into the season, the Jets have already won more games than they did in all of 2014, and are very much in the hunt for an AFC Wild Card spot, with five very winnable games ahead of them before the Pats come to town just after Christmas.

If you’re glass is half-empty, you’d likely mention that, after a very impressive start, the Jets have been plain awful over three weeks, with only the fact that they were playing the Jaguars preventing three straight defeats. And, of course, if they continue to play this way, they’ve got about as good a shot at the playoffs as the Bengals do of going undefeated (yes, I know, Cincy lost a few days ago).

Well, my glass is now fully empty, because I drank its contents while writing this. But I’m an optimist by nature -- which is the only thing that’s kept me semi-sane after more than three decades of watching Jets football -- and I think things are looking good for Gang Green.

No doubt, after putting in a solid effort vs. New England in late October, the Jets have fallen off a cliff. Ten-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick is making rookie mistakes. Chris Ivory was so bad for a stretch that New York fans were longing for a return of Chris Johnson, who seemed to run on eggshells last year (by the way, a revitalized CJ performed exceptionally well while playing in Arizona in 2015). The defense, which was so formidable earlier in the season, has apparently decided that tackling isn’t an integral part of the job. Oh yeah, and special teams isn’t anything to text home about, either.

But, after all that, the Jets are still right in the thick of the postseason race. Fitzpatrick, who should be OK for Sunday’s game in Houston following a 10-day layoff, has been very good even as the rest of the team slipped, although he had a rough night last Thursday vs. Buffalo. In that debacle, Ivory again shone, running like his old self in the second half. As for the Jets D, well, there’s simply too much talent for the unit to be as ineffective as it’s been in recent weeks.

Still feeling half-empty? Fill up on this: Houston, Miami, the Giants, Tennessee and Dallas. The Jets should do just that against their next five opponents. Win four of those, and playoffs are a very good bet.

Not too long ago, the Jets looked like an elite team. Then, they looked terrible. Now, they look like a 5-4 team with a decent chance to win 10 games. However you look at things, that’s gotta look pretty good. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[German Stadium Evacuated After Bomb Threat]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 21:59:45 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP_554879857092.jpg

A soccer stadium in Germany packed with thousands of fans was abruptly evacuated Tuesday night because of a "potential threat to spectators," police said, NBC News reported.

Authorities, however, cautioned that no explosives were found and no arrests were made as people streamed out of a Germany vs. Netherlands match — the setting of the latest scare to grip Europe following Friday's wave of attacks in Paris.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declined to detail the threat during a news conference, adding that police "had good reasons" in shutting down the friendly game in the northern German city of Hanover.

"It would have been irresponsible to let the game proceed," added Boris Pistorius, the interior minister of the German state of Lower Saxony.

Earlier, Germany's Lower Saxony Police Chief Volker Kluwe told the nation's public broadcaster that there was "concrete evidence" that someone planned to set off explosives at the game.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report: David Ortiz Will Retire After 2016 Season]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 17:34:59 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-4897136341.jpg

Big Papi is getting ready to say goodbye to baseball. 

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will retire after the 2016 season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Ortiz is a nine-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion and he holds the Red Sox single-season record for home runs.

On Jan. 22, 2003, Ortiz signed a free agent contract with the Red Sox.

Ortiz has been a fan favorite in New England since his start with the team.

"People love Big Papi, even if someone knows nothing about the Red Sox they've heard of David Ortiz," says Theo Matt, a manager at the Red Sox Team store.

Based on the reaction of Mets Fan Rich Rivera, Matt is right. "Oh man the guy can hit the ball, clutch in World Series playoffs we definitely could have used him this year against the Royals that's for sure," says Matt.

Right now there's nothing public from Big Papi himself.

The Red Sox organization tells us they'll only comment if and when he makes an announcement.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Son of Patriots Player Has Cancer]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:22:26 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/461911932.jpg

New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder shared the sad news Monday that his infant son is battling kidney cancer.

Solder, himself a cancer survivor, made the announcement Monday night while speaking at the Above & Beyond the Gratitude Gala benefitting the Joe Andruzzi Foundation, according to the Boston Herald. The foundation is named for a Patriots player who died of non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt’s lymphoma in 2007.

Solder's son, Hudson, who was born in July, was diagnosed with a kidney tumor last month and has already begun chemotherapy, the Herald reports.

Solder thanked fans on Twitter Monday night and asked them to support the Joe Andruzzi Foundation.

Solder himself beat testicular cancer in 2014 and remains on injured reserve. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Fantasy Sports Conflict Continues]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 15:19:25 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/draftkings-AP_312823411334.jpg

Fantasy sports site DraftKings has filed a motion seeking a temporary restraining order preventing New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from enforcing the order to shut down because he said its operations constituted illegal gambling.

The cease-and-desist letter was also sent to FanDuel, another major daily fantasy sports site.

In a statement Monday, DraftKings said it believes the temporary restraining order is necessary "and warranted to protect DraftKings' business while we pursue our legal action to prevent the New York Attorney General from denying New Yorkers the right to continue playing the daily fantasy sports games they love."

The move comes days after DraftKings and FanDuel filed court papers in state Supreme Court in Manhattan askiing a judge to rule on the legality of their businesses.

Earlier this month, Schneiderman ordered the fantasy sites to stop taking bets in New York, calling the companies illegal gambling sites.

But in court papers, both companies argue the opposite. They say daily fantasy sports are actually more skill-based than season-long fantasy sports, which are legal in New York. They also claim Schneiderman threatened their business partners and payment processors.

DraftKings' suit calls the cease-and-desist order "unconstitutional" and alleges Schneiderman is "misreading" New York's gambling laws, and attempting to "bully" DraftKings and its vendors into immediately shutting down its New York operations before it has a chance to defend itself.

The company says New York is home to more than 7 percent of its customers.

"The Attorney General's actions constitute a shocking overreach," the suit reads. "He has unleashed an irresponsible, irrational, and illegal campaign to destroy a legitimate industry, intending to deprive hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers of the use and enjoyment of these services."

Schneiderman's office didn't immediately respond to an email request for comment on the temporary restraining order motion filed Monday. Previously, a spokesman said the companies are operating illegally.

Fantasy sports has been a popular U.S. pastime for years, but daily contests, where winners and losers are decided in one night, rather than over the course of a season, have exploded in popularity recently. DraftKings and FanDuel have advertised heavily on the Internet and TV ahead of and during the 2015 NFL season.

The sites have come under increased scrutiny since it was revealed last month that a midlevel DraftKings employee playing fantasy football beat more than 200,000 other players, winning $350,000 on rival FanDuel. The case raised questions about insider trading after game data not publicly accessible was inadvertently posted online.

NBC's parent company, Comcast Corp., and NBC Sports are among the investors in FanDuel.

Photo Credit: AP/File]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Lose to Pats in Season's Best Game to Date]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:33:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/beckham8.jpg

If you’re a fan of great football, what more could you want from the Patriots’ 27-26 victory over the Giants? Sure, it would have been even better to see New York hold on to win (especially if you’re a Giants fan or, like, me a Patriots-hater).

But from an entertainment standpoint, this regular-season contest had it all, including numerous lead changes, devastating injuries, terrific plays, stupid plays, missed plays, over-officiating, under-officiating, overturned plays and -- this being a Giants game -- a fourth-quarter meltdown that hinged upon woeful clock management.

Because it was a close game that ended as time expired, everyone will tend to focus on the plays that happened from 2:01 on down, i.e., after Odell Beckham Jr.’s touchdown catch was overturned. If you do that, you’ll miss all the great back and forth in a game that seemed to be a mismatch on paper.

Endings are great and all, but an ending is only memorable if the lead-up allows it to be. Here’s what the lead-up included:

1. The Giants win the coin toss and elect to defer. Anyone who watches the Patriots knows this must have burned Belichick’s britches, as the Patriots coach loves to defer himself when he wins the toss. Why? Because usually it allows his team to have back-to-back possessions bridging halftime. The ever humorless Phil Simms said it was crazy to give the ball to Tom Brady first, with Simms providing his ever-nuanced opinion that if he were the opposing team he would never want to see Tom Brady on the field. Yes, Phil Simms is the kid who used to take his ball and go home.

2. The Patriots’ opening drive lasted more than eight minutes and involved several third-down conversions by New England. As soon as Brady found Scott Chandler for the touchdown to complete a seemingly perfect drive, I thought to myself, “That’s the kind of opening drive you’d see in a classic Super Bowl.”

3. Unlike the slow and methodical Patriots, whose best deep threat is a tight end, the Giants wasted no time tying up the score when Odell Beckham Jr. caught a ball behind Malcolm Butler and streaked past the bad-angling Pats safety Devin McCourty to tie the score 7-7. This, in a nutshell, is why the Patriots are susceptible to quick-strike teams like the Giants and the Steelers. New England’s best deep threat wide receiver is Brandon LaFell, who is only a deep threat when players like Jayron Housley try to intercept passes by putting their arms out like they’re bear-hugging a sequoia.

4. The importance of the loss of Julian Edelman can’t be overstated. The guy is an All-Pro gnat and Brady’s favorite safety valve, and it’s no coincidence that the Patriots’ offense sputtered after he went down near the end of the first quarter with a broken bone in his foot. Early reports indicate he might be back in time for the rematch between these two teams. See below.

5. People on social media were killing the Giants for their late-game clock management, but let’s also give them credit for consistently being aggressive on offense, including the fade route touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris (who dragged his second foot successfully) at the end of the first half to put the Giants up 17-10. Harris was once again right in the middle of the good, bad and ugly in this game, and has been a vital difference-maker as a free-agent pickup from the Cowboys.

6. Up 20-10 with 3:29 left in the third quarter, the Giants punted, with Brad Wing booming a ball all the way back to the Patriots’ 11-yard line -- where New England punt returner Danny Amendola either called for a fair catch that wasn’t recognized by officials or was using the age-old trick of waving his arm to keep himself from falling off an imaginary cliff. Harris, a special teams ace, too, seemed to think he had called for a fair catch, as he went past Amendola to try to down any ball that potentially hit the ground and rolled toward the Pats’ end zone. Instead Amendola ran it back and -- thanks to several de-cleating blocks by the Patriots’ return team – almost brought it to the house before he was tripped up by his own player. That trip could have been more memorable, but the Patriots ended up scoring a touchdown, so it’s largely an afterthought.

7. Up 23-17 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Giants’ pass rush -- yes, they actually have one now, thanks in large part to the return of Jason Pierre-Paul -- sacked Brady, forced a fumble and recovered the ball at the Patriots’ 30-yard line. The Giants are now already in field goal position for Josh Brown, who might have been the lone Giant to play an unblemished game. Instead the drive goes backward due in part to a sack of Manning and the Giants have to punt. That’s just brutal -- to have the ball and the potential to go ahead by two scores in the fourth quarter and come away with nothing.

8. Again, the Patriots’ downfield passing game basically involves throwing to Gronk along the seams, which everyone knows. Somehow that doesn’t keep Giants’ safety Craig Dahl from taking a bad angle and letting Gronkowski, who is more or less the size of Battery Park, slip past him for the go-ahead touchdown on the Patriots’ ensuing drive.

9. So, time check -- there’s 11:33 left in the game, a full nine and a half minutes before the Beckham play, and it’s a one-point game. Even if you got called away on an emergency, you’ve seen a great game already. Sure, you’d miss the end of the game – when Harris inexplicably caught a pass from Manning with just over two minutes to play and ran out of bounds to stop the clock. And you’d miss Beckham not securing the go-ahead touchdown pass that would have given the Giants a 29-24 lead and the opportunity to go for two and be up a touchdown. And you would have missed Housley not intercepting that pass to LaFell. And you would have missed Landon Collins not clinching the game when he dropped an easy interception on the first down of the last drive. And you would have missed the Patriots converting a fourth-and-10 play to keep the drive alive, when Brady found another gnat, Amendola, right near the first-down marker. And you would have missed Amendola later catching a ball between the hash marks and turning up field to get the Patriots in range for Stephen Gostkowski’s 54-yard game-winning field goal.

10. Yeah, you would have missed all that if you checked out after Gronk’s go-ahead touchdown with 11:33 left. But you still would have seen a great game. Unfortunately you wouldn’t have seen the entirety of the greatest regular-season game so far this season -- and maybe, just maybe, a preview of Super Bowl 50.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Aaron Rodgers Condemns 'Prejudicial' Comment During Moment of Silence]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:21:15 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/packers-comment-prejudice.jpg

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke out against prejudice after hearing an inappropriate comment during a moment of silence held to honor the Paris terror attack victims at Sunday's NFL game.

In an interview with ESPN after the Packers' loss to Detroit, Rodgers said he heard a fan make a prejudiced comment and "was very disappointed with whoever the fan was."

There were several social media accounts of fans in Green Bay saying things like "Death to Muslims" and "Muslims suck," but it is unclear if those were the comments Rodgers heard.

"It’s that kind of prejudicial ideology that I think puts us in the position that we’re in today as a world," Rodgers told ESPN.

The remarks weren't the only disruptors during Sunday's game. One group of fans attempted to start a "Go Pack Go" chant during the moment of silence, prompting another fan to yell for them to "have some respect," NBC Sports reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jets Seeing Red After Month of Stumbles]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 09:57:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/BillsJets-GettyImages-496910086.jpg

It’s like Rex never left.

The Jets threw (and fumbled) away Thursday night’s game against the Bills, in a fashion eerily reminiscent of the way they played in 2014 -- Rex Ryan’s last season in the Big Apple.

This time, though, Rex was on the opposing sideline, coaching victorious Buffalo. The only thing worse for Jets fans than their team bumbling to a 22-17 defeat against their former coach was watching it happen while Ryan and his players were adorned like the new Starbucks holiday cups we keep hearing way too much about. No wonder the loss left Gang Green seeing red.

If, as Bill Parcells said, you are what your record says you are, his former team (OK, one of the many) isn’t very good after dropping three of their last four following a very strong start. In fact, at 5-4, they're exactly as good as the not-too-good Bills, although Buffalo’s win gave them the edge on the Jets in the AFC Wild Card race.

The Jets made it easy for the visitors at MetLife Stadium, offsetting an impressive effort by their defense -- which had slipped in the past few games after being the NFL’s best through the first quarter of the season -- with costly turnovers and boneheaded play-calling.

Despite a first half in which it appeared as though Ryan Fitzpatrick might have been better off throwing with his left hand -- injured thumb and all -- than his right, and Chris Ivory continued to run like he was in mud, the home team had a shot at pulling out the win in the closing minutes.

Down by five with five minutes left on the game clock, the Jets got a miracle worthy of the game’s absurd Christmas getups when Buffalo punter Colton Schmidt was unable to get a kick off, surrendering the ball deep in his own team’s territory.

Just 13 yards from the end zone, the Jets began the possession with promise, as Ivory -- who, like Fitzpatrick, came storming back in the second half -- took the ball to the 5-yard line. Then, within spitting distance of a TD and just two yards from a first down, Chan Gailey fumbled mentally.

A second-down run by Ivory got stuffed for a 1-yard loss. A third-down short pass play to Eric Decker went nowhere. OK, somewhere -- another 1-yard loss. Then, on fourth down, Fitzgerald’s throw to Kellen Davis sailed past the tight end, effectively ending the game.

That drive summed up the Jets’ rough night. The Bills didn’t need to do much, because the Jets were all too willing to beat themselves.

A few weeks ago, Gang Green looked like one of the best teams in football. Now, they look like 5-4, whatever uniforms they’re in.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[French Train Heroes Honored at Lakers Game]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 10:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/train-heroes.jpg

Lakers fans were on their feet Sunday night for three American heroes honored for foiling a terrorist attack on a train in Paris in August.

Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, all friends since childhood, made an appearance at Staples Center during Sunday's Laker game against the Detroit Pistons.

The crowd went wild for the three who stopped a suspected terrorist from carrying out an attack on a train headed from Amsterdam to Paris on Aug. 21. Spencer Stone was stabbed while he fought off the man who was armed with an AK-47.

"It was super obvious what he planned to do, so there wasn't a lot of thinking," Stone said. "I just got up and went, and we fought. Alek and Anthony helped me subdue him."

The celebration was preceded by a dark moment of silence before the game to honor those lost during Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.

"You have to be ready at all times because you never know when something life changing, for better or worse, is going to happen," Skarlatos said.

Friday's deadly terror attacks in Paris were not lost on anyone at the game, least of all the three men.

Sadler wore the same Lakers shirt that he wore the day he helped stop the attack.

"It feels very personal because of what we went through," Sadler said. "To see it happen again and the people we've connected with since, our hearts go out to France, and Paris specifically."

Fans also expressed gratitude for the bravery of the three men. 

"For them to do what they did speaks volumes to their character and they're absolutely heroes for what they've done for our country and the world," Henry Wang, Lakers fan at the game, said. 

Skarlatos is competing on "Dancing with the Stars."

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Ramping Up Security for Sunday's Games]]> Sat, 14 Nov 2015 16:24:41 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-464658897-%281%29.jpg

The NFL announced it will reinforce security tomorrow for all games after terrorist attacks in Paris left hundreds dead and wounded.

Games will be hosted in 13 cities including in California, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

America has been on high alert since extremist stormed Paris on Friday killing and injuring concert-goers, cafe diners and soccer fans in a series of orchestrated shootings and killings. 

The NFL is imposing a clear bag policy and urged that fans must bring a bag or keep items in transparent material. 

There is no known threat against the stadiums the NFL wrote in a statement noting they had been in communication with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. Security presence will be increased both inside and outside the stadium, the statement said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[6,000-Pound Boom Box Fish Tank]]> Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:25:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Butler+2.png

Jimmy Butler told Animal Planet’s “Tanked” crew he wanted an aquarium for his new River North, Illinois, pad that fish would be able to ‘bump’ in – and that’s exactly what he got.

The Chicago Bulls guard was featured on the popular show that tricks out tanks, and told the aquarium masters he loves music and wanted his new addition to reflect his off-the-court passion.

In the heart of River North, Butler just purchased the 10,000 square foot mansion for $4.3 million. It includes a 750-bottle wine cellar, 3-car garage, spacious deck, 'man cave' and billiards table – one thing it didn’t have is a super swanky fish tank, but luckily that’s now changed.

What Animal Planet’s Wayde King and Brett Raymer revealed to him was a 6,000-pound epic boom box aquarium that even has speakers inside so his new fish can hear the music too.

The two initially offered up a basketball-themed tank, which Butler immediately put the kibosh on.

“Terrible idea!” Butler said. “Terrible! The basketball idea is not the right idea for this situation.”

He went on to push them in the music direction, saying, “I’m a really big music guy.” What might be unexpected to some is that the Bulls star is big into country music.

Butler’s reaction to his new massive old-school boom box tank, which they surprised him with on his way back from Bulls practice, was nothing short of amazement.

“OH! This is beautiful man!” Butler said. “This is better than I could have ever imagined … This is big time.”

The team even put 50 fish inside the tank in honor of the Chicago Bulls' 50th anniversary.

The full "Tanked" episode airs on Animal Planet Friday, Nov. 13 at 9 p.m. CT.

Back in July, Butler reportedly signed a $90 million, 5-year-contract to stay with the team.

Photo Credit: Animal Planet
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