Sheed Does the Deed

It’s been reported by multiple sources that Boston Celtics’ Rasheed Wallace has been fined $30,000 for calling out the officials after their game against Toronto. He called Toronto Raptor Hedo Turkoglu a flopper and said the refs were overly officiating because players were intentionally hitting the deck. This fine comes on the heels of several other fines of similar amounts issued against players in the NBA. The trend is clear: the NBA won’t tolerate criticism of its officials in any public forum, either on television or through a blog.

Targeting Wallace

Rasheed Wallace is a vocal player, to be sure. He has already picked up 7 technical fouls this season, part of the 297 (NBA career leader) he has in his career. He has picked up a reputation as a player who likes to pick fights with referees. The NBA usually lets it go with just the technical or the occasional ejection (29). But this time it is clear that the NBA thought Wallace went too far. It is one thing to talk to a referee during a game, but jawing off against the officiating in general seems to have crossed a line. And because of Wallace’s history, it seems to me that the NBA chose to make a small example of him. Of all the fines levied against players for this offense in recent days, his was the highest. And looking at his exact words, it didn’t seem like he even really called the officiating poor. He called the situation “garbage,” but his focus was on referees giving too much credit too players who flop around. This seems to be more an indictment of players in the NBA, not referees. Levying such a fine against Wallace sends a message to other players: we will come after you if you come after us.

Was Wallace Right?

It is the opinion of this writer that flopping is a real problem in the NBA. Players have begun to copy the overacting so prevalent in professional soccer, and it is “watering down the game,” as Rasheed Wallace said. It is only recently that basketball offense became all about drawing the foul and getting to the free throw line. This has been a change for the worse in the way basketball is played. Look at the Celtics of the 80s, the golden age of the Celtics. Those teams’ offenses were not known for driving to the basket with reckless abandon, sticking out every extremity in the hopes of drawing a foul, then overplaying it to the point that the ref has to call it. Those offenses were based around passing and good strong perimeter shooting. The Celtics of today try to that (they do record plenty of assists each game), but they are just as guilty of aggrandizing injury as every other team. Paul Pierce is one of the worst when it comes to flopping and intentionally trying to draw a foul. Flopping is a new problem in the NBA, and I think it really makes the game weaker.

Should Players Call Out Officials?

Every person has the right to say whatever he or she chooses to say, according to the Bill of Rights. However, the problem is that players sign contracts, making them employees of the NBA. If you speak out against your boss, there is going to be consequences. Personally, I think the quality of officiating in the NBA has been poor this season. So I have sympathy for the players who get so frustrated that they need to lash out verbally against what is a real problem in the NBA. However, the proper forum for this is through their players’ union, the organization hired to represent them to their bosses. Calling an official out through a blog or a post-game interview is a meaningless act that will do nothing to cause real change in the NBA.

Celtics Returning to Old Form

Celtics 116, Raptors 103. Finally. Finally we have a game with a scoring difference of more than 5 points. Finally we have a game where the Celtics blew out another team, allowing them to rest some of their starters towards the end. Most importantly, finally we have a game where Boston showed some energy and rhythm in its offense and some intensity in its defense. This was a game in which the Celtics played like the Celtics of old, be it from two years ago or maybe just a month ago.

Offensively, there were two factors that showed that maybe Boston was finding its talent and swagger again:

1) Scoring. 6 players scored in double digits against Toronto: all five starters, plus Rasheed Wallace. The low scorers, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo (12 apiece), cannot be said to have not contributed though. Garnett was perfect from the field, nailing all six shots he took. He also chipped in with seven rebounds, which led the team. Rondo, meanwhile, achieved yet another double-double, adding 11 assists to his 12 points. He also played great defense, but we’ll get to that later. Boston also shot 41.7% from the three-point line, nailing 7 out of 17 from beyond the arc. Rasheed and Ray Allen were the big scorers in this respect, both nailing three 3-pointers and shooting 50% or better (Allen was 3-4, Wallace 3-6). Seeing both of these guys shooting from the perimeter so well, not to mention KG draining his 17-footer with relative ease, makes me think this team is starting to heat up offensively.

2) Unselfishness. I already mentioned Rondo’s 11 assists. Overall, the Celtics had 33 assists, as compared to Toronto’s meager 15. The Celtics moved the ball around the court far better than their opponents did, consistently finding the open man, be he in the paint (where Boston more than doubled Toronto) or along the perimeter. When the C’s are passing well, defenses break down and people get open. As long as the shooting doesn’t go cold (as it had for the past week and a half), this means trouble for any opposition.

Defensively, there were also two signs that the old Celtics are back:

1) Turnovers. Boston forced 25 Toronto turnovers while limiting their own turnovers to just 16. The defense stepped up in a big way, clamping down and tightening up, forcing steals, blocks, and errant passes from a Toronto team not expecting a defensive performance of this caliber from Boston, especially in the second half. Wallace and Rondo were the defensive stars of the night, each one stealing the ball four times. Rasheed also chipped in with a block, the only one the Celtics recorded all night.

2) Three-pointers. Allowing the three-point shot was a consistent problem for Boston in its last few games and especially in all of its losses. No matter how well they played, the C’s just couldn’t seem to defend the trey with any real success. They were consistently allowing double digit three-point shots, often because they were getting crossed up on defense, leaving shooters open on the perimeter. When teams play Boston, they tend to step it up, shooting-wise. Up until this game, Boston was not stepping up in response. But against Toronto Boston played better, allowing only 7 3-point shots on 14 attempts, the same number of successes and 3 fewer attempts than Boston had. And most of the treys came by way of Hedo Turkoglu, who is an incredibly shooter no matter who he plays.

Overall, Boston held a team that averages 108 points a game to just 103 and scored 116 against a team that allows 111. So there was a 10 point difference between the real score and the average score for the Raptors. This meant they played better offensively and defensively. Hopefully Boston can keep this going as they hit the road next week. They have some tough opponents coming, and they will have to play this well or better if they want to be successful.

Warriors Come Out to Play-i-ay

Break out the Coke bottles. The Brookline High School (my alma mater) Warriors faced off against the Newton North (rival) Tigers Thanksgiving morning. It was a typical high school football game in that it was mostly defined by the run, especially via the quarterback keeper. Atypical was the sheer number of penalties called, especially against the Tigers. Without a doubt this helped the Warriors, who won for the first time this season, 18-6.

Offensively, the star of the game was definitely Irvin Scott, one of the Brookline quarterbacks. As the primary running quarterback for the Warriors, he started off a little slowly. However, as the game wore on and the Tigers defense began to tire, he got stronger and stronger. By the fourth quarter he was breaking off double-digit runs with relative ease. He also played defensive back on the other end of the field, where he made a number of strong plays.

When the Warriors wanted to pass, they tended to use Arthur Azatyants more than Irvin Scott. He also had a relatively good game, throwing for a touchdown pass and generally managing the game in the early goings. Once Brookline built a lead, they used him a little less frequently than they did early on.

All in all, Brookline did a pretty good job of managing the clock late in the game. They strung together a couple of good, long offensive drives, that took time off the clock. Later on, they used Scott and his running ability to grind down the Tigers defense and continue to run the clock down. Late in the fourth, they forced Newton North to burn all of their timeouts in one drive. Down two possessions, this left them with little time to run their offense and score.

Defensively, Brookline could best be described as bending but not breaking. They had plenty of trouble with Tigers running back Troy Peterson, although he left the game in the third with an injury and was not the same player upon the return. While the Warriors did not get a ton of pressure on Newton North’s quarterback, their secondary did a decent job of coverage downfield. They allowed only one long throw, but that came during a drive in which the Tigers needed over 30 yards for a first down. They did not get them, and turned the ball over on downs.

Newton North went the entire game without punting, and yet Brookline did an excellent job of stuffing the Tigers on fourth down conversions. They allowed just one conversion, getting caught off sides deep in their own territory. However, they buckled down and once again did not allow Newton North to get into the end zone. After allowing a touchdown early in the first quarter, Brookline did a terrific job of keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, holding them scoreless for the final three quarters.

A final factor in Brookline’s victory was its special teams. While neither team featured a strong place kicker, Brookline was better at pinning Newton North deeper in its own territory on kickoffs. They mainly used squib kicks, but Brookline pushed them deeper into enemy territory than Newton could on its two kickoffs. Brookline also did a good job of executing punts, nailing three of four, to force Newton to start many of its drives at their 35 yard line or deeper. In a game where time is against you, as it was for most of Newton North’s game, bad field position can really work against you. It’s hard to move the ball quickly in high school ball, and Newton consistently had to cover more ground than the Warriors did.

Overall, I immensely enjoyed watching Brookline win its first game this season. The crowd got into it, the players were far more fired up than Newton North’s were, and the Tigers looked rattled all game, incurring multiple penalties. Unsportsmanlike conduct and illegal substitution were the most common, which are always signs of mental fatigue and frustration. It was a great way to start the holiday.

That’s all for now. To all my readers: Happy Thanksgiving!

Pierce’s 27 Helps Power C’s Past 76ers

The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers met up Wednesday night in a clash of Atlantic Division rivals. Boston was coming off of a dramatic overtime victory in New York against the Knicks, where Kevin Garnett drained a last second bucket to win the game. Tonight was another high-scoring affair, with both teams in foul trouble early in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, the Celtics held on to their slim lead through the last few seconds of the game and won, 113-110.

Celtics on Offense

The player of the game tonight was Paul Pierce. He led all scorers with 27 points, to go along with his 6 rebounds and 6 assists, not to mention a block and a steal. As the game went on, Paul Pierce’s game got stronger, as he continued to penetrate, shoot the three, and play effective defense. This is not to downplay the performances of any other of the Celtics’ starting five. Every starter, plus Eddie House, scored in double digits against Philadelphia. The C’s were especially good at getting to the free-throw line tonight, getting to the line 13 more times than the 76ers (39 vs 26).

Generally, despite all this the offense never seemed to get into a rhythm until the fourth quarter. The first three quarters were marked by cold shooting and inconsistent offense. The Boston bench, once heralded for its depth, was no help at all, getting almost doubled by the limited Philadelphia bench and generally raising more questions than answering them. What is wrong with Rasheed Wallace? Is he a big man or just a cold perimeter shooter? And when will Eddie House‘s shot return? Thankfully, a strong 8-0 run by the Celtics midway through the third kept them in the game until their offense was able to wear down Philadelphia’s defense in the fourth.

Celtics on Defense

Obviously the Celtics defense has seen better nights, allowing 110 points against a not usually strong shooting team in Philadelphia. While they did a good job blocking out inside, this left them incredibly vulnerable to the three point shot. And Philadelphia kept itself in the game by way of the three, shooting 65% from beyond the arc (13-20). Every time the Celtics would open up a lead, the 76ers would respond with another three-point shot to keep the game close. Difficulty with defending the three is becoming a consistent issue, especially when comparing Celtics losses. Their loss to Phoenix was also marked by an inability to defend the perimeter. The Celtics are strong inside, but they must have the speed to cover the perimeter as well, otherwise good shooting teams will eat them alive.

Moving Forward

The Celtics have now squeaked by two easily beatable teams, and they have not looked good in the process. This is a team that is consistently underachieving defensively and is shooting cold on offense. Only Paul Pierce, who is having a career year, stands out on the offense. Otherwise, this team is a far cry from where it was only a month ago. Maybe it’s age, but with as much rest as the Celtics are getting between games, that excuse is starting to wear thin. The Celtics must improve their game, and fast, or they will quickly find themselves dropping further and further in the playoff seedings.

Strong Defense Leads Patriots Past Jets

The Patriots and Jets met up Sunday in Foxboro for the next round in their divisional rivalry. The Patriots were coming off of a devastating loss to the Indianapolis Colts last week and were itching for some revenge from not only that game, but also their earlier-in-the-season loss to the New York Jets on the road. And exact their revenge they did, winning the game 31-14 while forcing 5 New York turnovers, including 4 interceptions, 3 by cornerback Leigh Bodden.

First Quarter: Coming Out Strong

New England received the opening kickoff and took it out to their 27-yard line. Unfortunately, they went three-and-out on their opening drive, and New York received the punt at their 24-yard line. Then the defense took over. This was definitely the theme of this game, as the Patriots were able to assert themselves over and over again on defense. New York was forced to punt, and New England took over once again on the 29-yard line. They made a few nice plays, including a converted 4th-and-1 and a decent pass to Kevin Faulk, but a Laurence Maroney fumble ended what looked to be a promising drive. Luckily, on the ensuing drive Leigh Bodden recorded his first interception, which he returned 56 yards for a touchdown. The quarter continued with another Jets 3-and-out, which was followed by a Patriots drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Randy Moss. This drive also began the day for Wes Welker, who finished the day with 15 catches for 192 yards, the most receptions in a single game by a wide receiver in the league up until this point. During that drive, Welker caught for 62 yards.

Second Quarter: Strong on D, Not So Much on Special Teams

A Tully Banta-Cain sack ended the Jets first drive of the second quarter, forcing a punt that the Patriots received at their 41-yard line. Brady continued to hit Wes Welker, finding him for a nice 43-yard strike down the middle of the field. The drive ended with a solid Laurence Maroney touchdown run, the first of two for the New England running back. The next Jets drive was halted by Bodden’s second interception of the game, which after some big hits from the offensive line led to a Patriots field goal that put them up 24-0 midway through the second quarter. The next Jets drive was also a three-and-out, with the Patriots sniffing out and stopping a third down option play from the Jets. This time, however, the Jets responded, blocking a punt and a returning it for a touchdown. The half ended with more passes to Welker, but unfortunately Stephen Gostkowski missed the field goal and the score at half was 24-7. The half ended with Wes Welker racking up 139 yards, whereas Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez could only pass for 6 yards on 2 total completions.

Third Quarter: Here Come the Jets

The third quarter began with a solid drive by the New York Jets. They converted a 4th down play, picked up multiple first downs, and in the end Mark Sanchez connected with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone. The Pats got the ball back at the 11, picked up a few first downs, and then a Tom Brady (28 completions, 310 yards, 1 touchdown) sack stalled the drive out midfield. Overall, the Jets came out of halftime with more energy than the Patriots did and got themselves back into the game during this quarter.

Fourth Quarter: Can the Patriots Close Games?

The fourth quarter began with another Patriots punt, but it led to another Patriots interception, once again by Leigh Bodden. The Patriots got some good running out of Laurence Maroney, but a couple of delay of game penalties contributed to yet another drive dying at midfield. The Patriots punted once again, and then picked off Mark Sanchez once again. This time, the interception came at the hands of Brandon Meriweather. And this time, the drive did not stall at midfield. More Maroney running led to a touchdown that put the Patriots up 31-14. This essentially sealed the game, as it put New England up by three possessions with just over five minutes to play. The Jets got the ball back, but Banta-Cain stripped Mark Sanchez and the Jets turned the ball over once again. After that, Brady completed a key pass to Welker for a first down that ran the clock down to 0:25. New York got the ball back once more, but Sanchez’s final throw fell incomplete and the victory went to the Patriots.

The Game in Review

Today we saw the Patriots respond to a bad loss with poise and ability. They showed that they can respond to the trials and tribulations of the regular season and keep a level head about it. Simply put, they outplayed the Jets today. While the third quarter left everyone wondering if the Patriots would cough up another lead, they proved in the fourth quarter that with the game on the line, they are still capable of getting it done. Next week they face a Monday night game against the undefeated New Orleans Saints. This will be a far harder battle than their game against the Jets. Hopefully, they will respond to the challenge with the same control and enthusiasm with which they played New York.

Badgers Just Can’t Get it Done

The Badgers faced off against the Northwestern Wildcats today. While their chance to tie for the Big-10 Championship disappeared with victories by other teams, there was still the matter of which bowl game Wisconsin would play for. And unfortunately, the Badgers lost, 33-31, dropping them in the standings and likely diminishing the prestige of whatever bowl game they wind up playing for (probably the Capital One or Outback bowl… same as always).

Today’s loss can’t be put on the offense, much as I would like to put it on them. They put up 31 points against a defense that was good enough to beat Iowa. Scott Tolzien threw for 235 yards and John Clay rushed for 102 more. The offense did it’s job. It was the defense that couldn’t get it done today. O’Brien Schofield had a terrible game, recording zero sacks through the entire game. JJ Watt played a little better, but all in all I saw a defensive line that could do virtually nothing against the Wildcat Offensive line. Additionally, the cornerbacks just could not hang with the Northwestern wide receivers. There were too many instances of Wildcat receivers being open for ten yard, twenty yard gains. Andrew Brewer had a ridiculous game, catching 102 yards worth while scoring 2 touchdowns. His second TD catch put the Wildcats in the lead in the second quarter, and they never relinquished it. Every time Wisconsin would get close, would get within 1 possession, the Wildcats would do just enough to put the game a little more out of reach. Stefan Demos, the Northwestern place kicker, had a monster game, going 4/4 for field goals and 3/3 for extra points. While his kickoffs left something to be desired, he did his fair share in keeping the game just beyond the Badgers’ grasp.

Scott Tolzien had an ok game for the Badgers today. On the one hand, he had two touchdown passes. But on the other hand, he threw an interception in his final play from scrimmage. I’ve questioned over and over again whether Scott Tolzien can lead a team to victory. Well, one week after his career-best game, he floundered once again. His passing was on for most of the game, but for the one play where it mattered most, he choked and overthrew his receiver, putting the ball into the hands of the opposition. If he wants to go pro, he needs to improve his composure, because as a quarterback he will be called on to lead his team over and over again. When the running game isn’t working- and it wasn’t today, it just wasn’t- the quarterback has to step up and make plays. And while he gets a small pass due to the number of dropped balls by his wide receivers, the fact remains that with the game on the line, he just couldn’t do it.

Wisconsin lost for the third time this season today. Since Bret Bielema’s takeover of the team, the Badgers are just 5-10 on the road. While I don’t believe they were ever going to beat Iowa or Ohio State, this was a game that should have been theirs. But they came out with lackluster energy and enthusiasm, and they got beat by a Wildcats team that was far more fired up for Senior Day than Wisconsin could match. They have one more game against Hawaii, but this was a disappointing way to end their Big-10 season, no doubt about it. Oh well, at least my friend got her first guitar today, so that’s nice.

Nothing Left But Questions

Last night’s game was like a punch in the gut to Patriots fans everywhere. We led the entire game except for the last few moments, which are the only moments that matter. We were all prepared to move into second place in the AFC, just a game behind the Colts, and with the tiebreaker to boot. But it never happened. Peyton Manning did it again. The Pats lost. And all that we’re left with are questions. Why did the Patriots blow two timeouts on their last drive? Why did they go for it on fourth and two when they were only on their 30-yard line? Most importantly: how did we lose that game?

I don’t have answers for you, I’m just a blogger with journalistic aspirations. But I do have some questions of my own that may help to ease the pain. The first one is: who do you trust? Who on the Patriots do you put your faith in to win the game for you? The first answer had better be Bill Belichick. The man has done WAY too much for the New England Patriots to not have earned that respect and trust. He brought us 3 Super Bowl titles. He brought us the perfect regular season, which featured the most prolific passing game EVER. And he turned the Patriots around from a train-wreck of a team to the model by which other teams construct themselves (and no one has managed to do it so far). You have to trust in the decisions your head coach makes, especially if he’s good as Bill Belichick. You have to assume that he saw the Patriots’ best chance at winning coming at the hands of its offense, not its defense. And I don’t blame him for that decision. The offense had already scored 34 points. The defense had given up 28. In that situation, you  go with the more successful team. The field position made it a dangerous play, to be sure, but I think it might still have been the right decision because I trust our head coach.

Here’s a second question: if you had to pick one player on the Patriots to make the big play for you, who would it be? Your answer had better be Tom Brady. Who else on the team is as big a playmaker? Who else has been a super bowl and league MVP? Certainly no one on the defense can be said to be bigger than Brady. I’ve commented before that I think the team’s defense is above-average at best, lacking the big-time playmakers they make up championship defense. With Jarvis Green hurt, the front lacks a lot of its forward push. This makes it hard to get pressure on the quarterback. And with average cornerbacks, giving a quarterback that much time will most certainly kill you. With the game on the line, you give it to your offense, not your defense, especially when you KNOW the defense is tired.

So all in all, Belichick’s decision was a defensible one. He picked the best player on his team and said “win the game.” More times than not, Tom Brady has risen to his coaches challenges. Yesterday he did not. But that doesn’t make the decision to go for it on fourth-and-two such a bad one. Still, this loss stings, and will for awhile.

Worst… Game… Ever

Well, not really. But this was an ugly, sloppy game, no doubt about it. Green Bay beat Dallas, 17-7, but neither team looked good today. There were 22 total penalties committed during this game. Green Bay committed twelve penalties, giving up 100 yards in the process. That’s a touchdown, for God’s sake! And it’s not as if they played particularly well on either side of the ball, either, especially during the first half.

The first half was as boring a half of football as I’ve ever seen. No one scored until two seconds were left in the half, when Mason Crosby connected for a field goal. Up until that point, the only other near-scoring drives ended with missed field goals. More than anything else, penalties and turnovers dictated the pace of this game. While the box score would suggest differently, due to low total yardage, neither side played good defense as far as I was concerned. It was more like each team was beating itself, and the game came down to who could beat themselves less. Every drive would stall out due to some kind of incompetence by the offense. If they weren’t turning the ball over (3 by the Cowboys), they were committing penalties or taking sacks (5 sacks against Tony Romo, 4 against Aaron Rodgers). It was a slow, boring first half that took forever to end. The second half went faster, with three touchdowns being scored, but it was definitely more of the same issues: turnovers, penalties, and sacks.

To be fair, Green Bay outplayed Dallas and deserved to win… but barely. The Packers had more success stopping the run than the Cowboys did (61 yards on the ground vs. 105 for the Packers), which forced Dallas into a more one-dimensional offense. This allowed the Packers to blitz more freely, especially off the blind side, and it worked pretty well. I was especially impressed with Charles Woodson, who notched 9 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception in the end zone that all but sealed the Packers’ victory. If the defense plays at this level, I think Green Bay will be able to make it to the playoffs, especially considering their next two opponents are San Francisco and Detroit.

Offensively, I don’t think Green Bay improved particularly in regards to their biggest liability: their offensive line. Aaron Rodgers was still sacked multiple times. They still had trouble establishing a passing game because Rodgers could never get settled in the pocket (only 178 yard of passing offense, as compared with Dallas’s 217). And despite a decent running game, especially from Ryan Grant (105 total rushing yards, 79 for Grant), it never felt like the offense was really gelling and working as a unit. It took them nearly three quarters of the game before they were finally able to punch it in for a touchdown.

The important thing, the only thing people will remember tomorrow, is that Green Bay won and Dallas lost. If it comes to a tie for playoff seeding, Green Bay now has the tiebreaker. But Green Bay is skating on thin ice playing like this. They have to tighten up offensively, protect Aaron Rodgers MUCH better, and stop committing so many dumb penalties if they want to go anywhere come January.

Harvard Washed Out by Penn

Harvard and Penn squared off today at Harvard Stadium amidst wind, rain, and cold. Coming into the game, both the Quakers and the Crimson were tied for the Ivy League lead with two games to go. Both were unbeaten in the Ivy League. A win today would guarantee at least a tie for first place in the Ivy League. The day went to Penn, however, who beat Harvard 17-7.

Harvard on Offense

Dealing with weather conditions such as today’s never makes it easy to establish an offense, and this was on display today. Neither the passing game nor the running game ever got itself going. Overall, the Crimson were only able to muster 250 total yards of offense. It was a pretty balanced failure, too, as the Crimson got 135 yards through the air and 115 yards on the ground. They had lots of trouble converting third downs, and turned the ball over on two consecutive drives in the third quarter that looked promising at inception. The only play that seemed to work was the quarterback keeper. In fact, Harvard QB Collier Winters led the team in terms of total carries (18), total yards (57), and single longest run (15 yards). That their longest run was only 15 yards really speaks to the lack of success they had on the ground. Unfortunately, they weren’t really able to get anything through the air. Winters overthrew or underthrew several of his receivers, plus took two sacks and threw the ball away several more times to avoid sacks. Offensively, it was all about Collier Winters. When he played well, the team did all right. When he played badly, the team did poorly. It was as simple as that. He did have a nice 45 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Lorditch in the third quarter which brought the game to within 10, but that was as close as they would ever come. In the fourth they moved the ball to the Quakers 1-yard line, but they failed to punch it in on fourth down and turned the ball over. This was their last shot at scoring, and Penn held on, ran out most of the clock, and came away with the win.

Harvard on Defense

The Crimson started slowly on defense, giving up a touchdown just four plays into the game. They gave up all 17 points the Quakers scored in the first half, digging themselves into a hole that they just couldn’t pull themselves out of. While they had good success at stopping the run, giving up just 82 yards, they were not nearly as strong against the pass. They gave up 20 receptions to 7 different receivers for a total of 181 passing yards. The Penn quarterbacks, Kyle Olson and Keiffer Garton had a pretty easy time of picking apart the Crimson secondary. They did not show nearly as many problems with the weather as Collier Winters did, with more of their passes on target and more pure spiral throws. If anything, their stats should have been higher, but Penn dropped several passes, including one in the third quarter that would have put six more points on the board.

The View from the Stands

Harvard Stadium is a fun place to watch a football game. It’s the oldest football stadium in continuous use, and its simple stone U-shape gives the games a classical feel. However, in conditions like this, with everyone huddled at the top of the stadium where the seats are covered, there never seemed to be much of a home-field advantage.

Harvard got outplayed, pure and simple. They could not stop Penn, they couldn’t move the ball with any real efficiency, and several of their more promising drives were nullified by turnovers or stalled due to penalty. Harvard didn’t play well, they didn’t deserve to win, and they didn’t deserve to win the Ivy League.

Analyzing Ochocinco

I was not shocked when I read today that Cincinatti Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined for his actions in Sunday’s football game. For those who didn’t hear about this, Ochocinco (God I hate writing that) walked up to a ref while a play was being reviewed and offered him a single dollar bill to call the pass in to help pad Chad’s stats. Roger Goodell responded to this with a $20,000 fine for violation of laws concerning abuse of officials and possession of extraneous objects on the field of play.

Now, this incident will hopefully teach a lesson to Chad Ochocinco: it is possible to go too far, at which point there are very serious consequences to one’s actions. A line should probably be drawn somewhere, and in this case it was drawn with bribery, even if it was goofy and well-intentioned bribery at best. Chad can learn from this and use it as a way to temper himself a little bit. Ochocinco’s act in the past has gotten old, especially when he was on failing Bengals teams like those of the last few years. Now that the Bengals are winning we are willing to put up with his act a little bit more. But maybe this will reset his focus. Now that the Bengals ARE winning, he shouldn’t be wasting energy coming up with silly stunts to pull during games; he should be focusing on being as effective a wide receiver as he can possibly be. His half-assed plea to the commissioner after the game to not get him in trouble shows he doesn’t take the game seriously enough, and maybe this fine will wake him up a bit and make him respect the game that has made him a star.

By the letter of the law, this is without doubt a violation that should result in a fine. But we have to ask ourselves: did Chad really hurt anybody by his actions? Replays of the incident show the ref wasn’t even paying any attention to Ochocinco while he was doing this. And can any intelligent person really see the offering of a single dollar bill as a legitimate attempt to bribe an official? Of course not. Ochocinco was clearly just messing around, as he is prone to do. His football career is rife with humorous incidents, both on and off the field. Analysis of this incident should prove it to be nothing more than “Chad being Chad.”

Despite the validity of the fine, I feel like the NFL could be doing better things with its time. There are at least three major issues I see in the NFL: the overprotective quarterback rules, the prevalence in recent games of violent outbreaks, and the long-term toll playing football takes on players’ bodies and brains (just look at Ted Johnson! Dude’s a mess!). All of these are real issues that are damaging the sanctity of football (which in the past I’ve called a balance between perfection and destruction), and until they are addressed, why waste time sending the class clown to the corner and making him where the dunce cap? Everyone knows the best way to deal with clowns is just to ignore them.