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For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
BILLS: 2 WINS AND THREE HORRIBLE LOSSES
BUFFALO SHOULD TARGET GENO SMITH: TOO LATE FOR RGIII
NFC BUILDS LEAD TO 14-7 OVER AFC
HOUSTON, ATLANTA 1-2, BILLS 23RD IN BOB’S RATINGS
TO GIRARDI: PLEASE BAT A-ROD LOWER IN THE LINEUP
HOW THE ORIOLES WERE BUILT
Picking on the Bills today would be like beating a dead Buffalo.
But we’re angry because we care. Probably too much.
Here’s the fundamental truth and biggest problem regarding western New York’s (plus southern Ontario and Syracuse, so they remind us): The only one of the 32 NFL tam’s not to make the playoffs in 12 seasons (going on 13?) is the same team with the worst quarterback situation (the best No. 2 QB in the league in Ryan Fitzpatrick plus two backups so bad that the fans and media can’t call for them to replace him).
The sad truth is that the Bills have to be in the running for the worst 2-3 team in NFL history.
Their three losses were by a combined 145-49 (-96).
Their two wins were over teams that are a combined 1-9 (Kansas City and Cleveland).
After coach Chan Gailey spent a week harping on the need for mental toughness, many of the Bills played like harpists on Sunday in San Francisco. No offense to harpists, but they don’t make their living being physic ally tough.
San Francisco did nothing to run up the score. The 49ers ran the ball right up the middle for most of the second half, trying to be merciful. But the Bills couldn’t stop them. It looked like Buffalo’s defense thought it was playing flag football.
The disgusting numbers: Buffalo was outgained 621 to 204 (-4571 yards); outrushed 311-89 (-222 yards); allowed 9.9 yards per play.
I thought the two greatest strengths of the Bills entering the season were the 1-2 punches at running back ( I still have high hopes) and defensive tackle (what’s going on here?). On Sunday, Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller combined for 53 yards on 16 carries and there is scant evidence that Mario Williams and Kyle Williams showed up 5 total tackles and 0 sacks).
Lst week, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King wrote: “I think I have two words to two words for that vaunted, expensive Buffalo defense – “Fool’s gold.”…And that was BEFORE Sunday.
More disgusting numbers; Buffalo ranks 31st in total defense (allowing 449.4 yards per game), 31st in scoring defense (allowing 35.2 points per game); and 30th in rush defense (171.8 yards per game)…The offense is doing better: 17th in total offense(351.0 yards per game)and 15th in scoring offense (23.6 points per game).
The best break for the Bills is staying out West to prepare for Sunday’s game against Arizona. It might have been a tough week had they returned to Buffalo after atrocious efforts in lopsided losses to New England and San Francisco – two opponents that are so superior to the Bills that it is sad to contemplate.
So what’s the solution? Assuming Cleveland (0-5 and counting) finishes with the worst record in the NFL this season, the Bills should give up whatever it takes to trade with the Browns for the rights to the No. 1 overall pick. I’m not as sold on West Virginia’s Geno Smith as I was on Robert Griffin III last season, when St. Louis was shopping the No. 1 pick and Washington happily submitted the winning bid. I thought Buffalo should’ve offered whatever it took to get RGIII and I still do,
Washington made a bold move that should pay off for a decade. Buffalo’s two latest spectacular personnel moves were signing Ryan Fitzpatrick for around $60 million and Mario Williams for around $100 million. Maybe those investments will play off. What do you think?
The biggest hope for the playoffs for these Bills is that the NFC is so much better than the AFC that a 9-7 record or even 8-8 might be good enough for an AFC team or two to sneak in. There were 7 interconference games Week 5 and the NFC won 5 of them. The NFC leads the AFC 15-6 head-to-head this season.
Give me a call Monday night, 6 to 8 p.m., on WHAM 1180. It should be interesting.
NFL WEEK 5 HEROES
San Diego QB Drew Brees and WR Marques Colston – Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ record with a TD pass for the 48th consecutive game. He was 29x45 for 370 yards, with 4 TD passes, in a 31-24 home victory over San Diego. Colston had 3 TDs and 131 yards on 9 catches.
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan – An early candidate for league MVP, he was 34x52 for 345 yards and 2 TDs in a come-from behind 24-17 road victory Sunday over Washington.
New York Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw – Short on front-line wide receivers? No problem. Hand off to Bradshaw 30 times for 200 yards in a 41-27 home win over Cleveland.
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck – In a fairly impressive feat for a rookie, he outdueled defending league MVP Aaron Rodgers in a 30-27 home victory over Green Bay. He was 31x55 for 362 yards and 2 TDs, including a 4-yard pass to Reggie Wayne with 0:35 to play. Teammate Reggie Wayne had 13 catches for 212 yards.
Pittsburgh RB Rashard Mendenhall –In his first game coming off knee surgery, he gave his team a boost Sunday with 14 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, and caught 2 passes for 20 yards in a 16-14 home win over Philadelphia.
Chicago WR Brandon Marshall – He had 12 catches for 144 yards and 1 TYD in a 41-3 road romp over Jacksonville. Not a bad trade by the Bears: obtained Marshall from Miami March 14 for a third-round pick in 2012 and an unannounced future selection.
New England RB Stevan Ridley – He had 28 carries for 151 yards as the Patriots beat visiting Denver 31-21.
St. Louis Rams defense – The underrated unit sacked Arizona QB Kevin Kolb 9 times and held the Cardinals to 43 yards rushing in a 17-3 home win last Thursday.
NFL WEEK 5 GOATS
Philadelphia QB Michael Vick – His giveaway woes continued with two lost fumbles in the first quarter of a 16-14 road loss to Pittsburgh. The first fumble came on Pittsburgh’s 1-yard line.
Kansas City QB Matt Casell – He was on the hot seat entering the home game against Baltimore and threw two interceptions before being injured in a 9-6 loss. He figures to be watching Brady Quinn start Sunday at Tampa Bay.
Kansas City’s fans – When the struggling Cassel was knocked out the game with a head injury, the majority of home fans cheered. Low class. Everyone in Kansas City should be embarrassed.
Washington QB Kirk Cousins – After replacing injured fellow rookie Robert Griffin III, he threw two interceptions in the final two minutes to help visiting Atlanta rally for a 24-17 victory.
Tennessee RB Chris Johnson – The mystery continues. What’s wrong with this guy? One week after returni9ng to form (25 carries for 141 yards), he had 15 carries for 24 yards in Sunday’s 30-7 road loss to Minnesota. Subtract Week 4’s “breakout” game and Johnson has 48 carries for 69 yards (1.4375-yard average) in four games.
Arizona’s offensive line – It can’t be as lousy as it looked last Thursday night. It allowed 9 sacks and the Cardinals had only 45 yards on 17 carries in a 17-3 road loss.
NFL STATS, FACTS AND OPINIONS
Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez had 13 catches for 123 yards and a TD Sunday in a 24-17 road win over Washington. At age 36 it looks like he has plenty left. He has the second-most receptions in NFL history (1,145 for 13,603 yards; behind only Jerry Rice’s 1,549 catches; Rice had 22,895 yards receiving)…Atlanta is 5-0 for the first time in franchise history…Since Matt Ryan (Atlanta) joined the NFL in 2008, no QB has more game-winning drives (17)…Washington has eight straight home losses…Cleveland is off to a 0-5 start for the first time since returning to the NFL in 1999. The Browns have lost 11 straight games, tying the team record. They’re 14-38 in their last 52 games………Miami is 10-3 in its last 13 games against Cincinnati…Eli Manning (Giants) 200+ yards passing in 24 consecutive games…Cleveland has 10 straight road losses…Jacksonville has only total points at halftime in its first five games…Willis McGahee (Denver) leads active NFL running backs with 32 career 100-yard rushing games…The New York Giants are 9-0 in games Ahmad Bradshaw runs for at least 100 yards…The Giants again showed their depth as back-up wide receivers Rueben Randle and Domenik Hixon combined for 11 catches for 137 yards…Eli Manning (Giants) has won eight straight games vs. AFC teams…The best thing owner Jerry Jones could for his Dallas Cowboys would be to fire general manager Jerry Jones…Kansas City has 19 giveaways through 5 games…Miami hasn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher in 19 consecutive games…Tennessee is 21-8 when Chris Johnson runs for 100+ yards, which hasn’t been often lately…Philadelphia is 7-2 when QB Michael Vick has no giveaways and 11-10 when he has at least one giveaway…Since starting last season 5-0, Detroit is 6-10…The St. Louis Rams are 2-0 vs. NFC West rivals (4-26 from 2007-2011)…Regular-season records since Philip Rivers replaced Drew Brees as San Diego’s starting QB in 2006: Rivers 66-34; Brees 63-37…Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) enters Monday night against Houston with 44x101 (43.5 percent) with 547 yards passing in his last three games since looking like Joe Namath against Buffalo Week 1. If his starting job is on the line, he couldn’t have picked a tougher opponent to face than the Texans.
WEEK 5 STAT PACK (entering Monday night’s Houston at New York Jets game)
Teams scoring first are 8-5 outright (47-29 this season) and 8-5 against the Las Vegas point spread (36-38-2)
Las Vegas favorites are 9-4 outright (46-30) and 7-6 against the spread (30-44-2)
The first team to score is 8-5 (48-28)…The team leading after the first quarter is 7-3 (40-15)…The team leading at halftime is 8-2 (58-14)…The team leading entering the fourth quarter is 10-3 (62-10)
The team winning the turnover battle is 9-1 (47-15)
The team leading in time of possession is 9-4 (51-25)
The team with the most rushing yards is 8-5 (51-25)…the team with the most passing yards is 9-4 (45-31)
The team with the fewest penalty yards is 5-8 (41-34)
The team entering the game with the better record is 6-5 (18-16)
The NFC was 5-2 in interconference games Week 5 and leads this season’s series 15-6.
There have been 525 points in 13 games so far Week 5 (40.38-point average).
WEEK 5 TOP PERFORMERS
BOB’s NFL POWER RANKINGS (entering Houston at Jets Monday night)
1 Houston…2 Atlanta…3 San Francisco…4 Baltimore…5 New England…6 Chicaho…7 New York Giants…8 Minnesota…9 Pittsburgh…10 Arizona…11 Philadelphia…12 San Diego…13 Seattle…14 Green Bay…15 Cincinnati…16 Denver…17 St. Louis…18 Dallas…19 Miami…20 Washington…21 New Orleans…22 Indianapolis…23 Buffalo…24 New York Jets…25 Detroit…26 Tampa Bay…27 Oakland…28 Carolina…29 Kansas City…30 Jacksonville…31 Cleveland…32 Tennessee.
300-yard passers – Drew Brees (New Orleans) 370 yards…Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) 362…Philip Rivers (San Diego) 354…Peyton Manning (Denver) 345…Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 345…Alex Smith (San Francisco) 303.
100-yard rushers – Ahmad Bradshaw (New York Giants) 200 yards…Stevan Ridley (New England) 151…Jamaal Charles (Kansas City) 140…Alfred Morris (Washington)…Matt Forte (Chicago) 107…Frank Gore (San Francisco) 106…Ray Rice Baltimore (102).
100-yard receivers – Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) 212 yards…Demaryius Thomas (Denver) 188…Brandon Marshall (Chicago) 144…Marques Colston (New Orleans) 131…Tony Gonzales (Kansas City) 123…Devery Henderson (New Orleans) 123…Michael Crabtree (San Francisco) 113…Malcolm Floyd (San Diego) 108…Percy Harvin (Minnesota) 108…Vernon Davis (San Francisco) 106…Wes Welker (New England) 104
WEEK 6 KEY GAMES
Dallas at Baltimore – Poor Tony Romo. His porous OL gets to try to protect him from ravenous Ravens.
Indianapolis at New York Jets – Sanchez or Romo? Does it matter – even against theColts with their rookie QB?
Buffalo at Arizona – Remember when most Bills 11-5/10-6 fans figured this was a gimme win?
New York Giants at San Francisco – The 49ers haven’t forgotten last season’s 20-17 overtime home loss to the Giants
Green Bay at Houston – A tough season for the Packers doesn’t get any easier here
Denver at San Diego – Peyton Manning vs. Philip Rivers in a key AFC West showdown on Monday night.
WEEK 6 EARLY LAS VEGAS LINE
Pittsburgh at Tennessee +4 Thursday night
Indianapolis at New York Jets -5 Sunday
St. Louis at Miami -5
Cincinnati at Cleveland +4
Dallas at Baltimore -6
Kansas City at Tampa Bay -3
Detroit at Philadelphia -7
Oakland at Atlanta -11
Buffalo at Arizona -4
New England at Seattle +5
Minnesota at Washington -2
New England at Seattle +5
Green Bay at Houston -5 Sunday night
Denver at San Diego -2 Monday night.
GENO SMITH ADDS TO HEISMAN TROPHY PORTFOLIO
West Virginia senior quarterback Geno Smith didn’t hurt his case as the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy or chances of being the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NFL college draft with his performance last Saturday at Texas: 25x35 for 268 yards, with 4 TD passes and 0 intercepted passes in a 48-45 victory.
Smith’s spectacular 2012 performance line: 166x204 (81.4 percent) for 1,996 yards), with 24 TDs and 0 INTs in five games.
The 5-0 Mountaineers will next play at Texas Tech (4-1 record) Saturday, followed by home games home against Kansas State (5-0) on Oct. 20 and against TCU (5-0) on Nov. 3.
HOW THE AMAZING ORIOLES WERE BUILT
The Baltimore Orioles are an amazing team. I don’t think they rank in the top 10 teams in baseball in overall talent, but they led the majors in grit this season and obviously have a rare chemistry.
These key Orioles are among the players acquired via wise trades and solid high draft picks:
CF Adam Jones – obtained via trade with Seattle Feb. 8, 2008 as the key man i8n a six-player package for pitcher Erik Bedard.
C Matt Wieters -- No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft.
OF Nick Markakis – No. 7 overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft.
3B Manny Machado – No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft.
SS J.J. Hardy – obtained via trade from Minnesota Dec. 9, 2010 for pitchers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey.
RF-1B Matt Reynolds – obtained from Arizona Dec. 7, 2010 for pitchers Kam Mickolio and David Hernandez.
RF-1B Chris Davis – obtained from Texas with pitcher Tony Hunter for pitcher Koji Uehara and cash June 30, 2011.
DH Jim Thome – obtained from Philadelphia June 20, 2012 for catcher Gabriel Lino and pitcher Kyle Simon.
OF Nate McClouth – signed as free agnnt June 5, 2012 after being released by Pittsburgh May 31, 2012.
Starting pitcher Wei-Yen Chen – signed as free agent out of Japan Jan. 10, 2012.
Starting pitcher Jason Hammel – obtained with pitcher Matt Lindstrom from Colorado for pitcher Jeremy Guthriw Feb. 6, 2012.
Starting pitcher – Miguel Gonzales – signed as free agent March 4, 2012.
Starting pitcher Joe Sanders – obtained from Arizona Aug. 26 for pitcher Matt Lindstrom.
Relief pitcher Pedro Strop – obtained from Texas Sept. 1, 2011 for pitcher Mike Gonzalez.
Relief pitcher Brian Matusz – No. 4 overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft.
Bullpen closer Jim Johnson – drafted in the fifth round of the 2001 amateur draft.
GIRADI SHOULD BAT A-ROD LOWER IN THE KINEUP…BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
The New York Yankees beat host Baltimore 7-2 Sunday night in Game 1 of the best-of-five ALDS.
Alex Rodriguez batted third and was 0x4 with 3 strikeouts.
Manager Joe Girardi has stubbornly refused to drop A-Rod in the lineup. It cost the Yankees dearly before their season ends.
Since hitting his last home run Sept. 14, A-Rod is a feeble 15x71 (.211), with one extra-base hit (a double). He has 10 walks and 23 strikeouts over that 18-game span.
Most managers reserve the No. 3 spot for the team’s best all-around hitter. At this stage of his career, the apparently fading A-Rod should be batting 6th or 7th – at least until is bat shows signs of life. With runners on base, he has developed the nasty habit of striking out, popping out or hitting into a double play.
Is Girardi reluctant to embarrass A-Rod or hurt his feelings? Yankees fans should hope not.
Right now, Robinson Cano should be hitting third and nearly anyone except A-Rod should be hittinh clean-up.
STATS AND FACTS
NCAA Bowl Subdivision (120 teams in FBS) top three teams in total offense: Oklahoma State 659.0 yards per game, Baylor 601.5 and West Virginia 570.80. West Virginia already has beaten Baylor and will play at Oklahoma State Nov. 10.
--Here are the full-time jobs of the NFL’s part-time “real” zebras: Walt Anderson college officiating coordinator…Clate Blakeman attorney…Mike Carey owner skiing accessories store…Carl Cheffers sales manager…Walt Coleman manager dairy processor…Tony Corrente educator…Scott Green president government support services…Ed Hochuli attorney…Bill Leavy retired firefighter…Terry McAuley college officiating coordinator…Pete Morelli high school principal…John Parry financial advisor…Alberto Riveron sales commercial restaurant equipment…Gene Steratore co-owner supply company…Jeff Triplette restructuring consultant…Ron Winter university professor.
--Buffalo Bills vs. AFC East rival since start of the 2008 season:
vs. New England – 1-8 record (LLLLLLWLL)…outscored 279-160 (-119)
vs. New York Jets – 1-8 record (LLWLLLLLL)…outscored 268-157 (-111)
vs. Miami – 2-6 record (LLLWLWLL)…outscored 187-118 (-69).
--Harness racing driver Dan Noble, 29, posted his 3,000th career victory Saturday night at Batavia Downs. The Ohio native led the nation with 773 victories in 2011 (19 more than George Brennan). The year, Noble is tied for fifth with 446 wins. Dave Palone leads with 559 victories.
--The New York Yankees set a team record this season with 245 home runs. The 2009 Yankees had 244 HRs:
2009 Yankees – Curtis Granderson 43…Robinson Cano 33…Mark Teixeira 24…Nick Swisher 24…Russell Martin 21…Raul Ibanez 19…Alex Rodriguez 18…Eric Chavez 16…Derek Jeter 15…Andrew Jones 14…Ichiro Suzuki 5…Jayson Nix 4…Dewayne Wise 3…Chris Dickerson 2…Casey McGahee 1…Eduardo Nunez 1…Steve Pearce 1…Chris Stewart 1
2012 Yankees – Mark Teixeira 39…Alex Rodriguez 30…Nick Swisher 29…Hideki Matsui 28…Robinson Cano 25…Johnny Damon 24…Jorge Posada 22…Derek Jeter 18…Melky Cabrera 13…Eric Hinske 7…Brett Gardner 3…Jerry Hairston 2…Francisco Cervelli 1…Juan Miranda 1…Jose Molina 1…Raimro Pena 1.
I don’t think the New York Knicks know what they’re doing. I get wanting surround the core of the team (Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler with “veterans”, but this is like sort of a joke, isn’t it?: Jason Kidd (39), Kurt Thomas (39), Rasheed Wallace (38), Marcus Camby (38) and Pablo Prigioni (35).
Kobe Bryant says this is the “most talented” Los Angeles Lakers team he has been on. How can that be true minus Shaquille O’Neal in his prime?
I wonder why more college and NFL coaches of middle-f-the-road teams don’t go for it on fourth-and-short inside the opponents’ 50-yard line every single time.
Robinson Cano should bat third for the New York Yankees in every game. Until Alex Rodriguez shows something, he should bat sixth or seventh.
I think Buffalo Bills starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick could be the No. 2 QB for any team in the NFL.