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Thursday, 01 November 2012 01:31


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So those reports of Alex Smith losing his confidence were unnecessarily hyped and quickly put to rest as the 49ers QB completed 14 of 15 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns in just the first half of Monday night's 24-3 demolishing of the Arizona Cardinals.

"I was kind of in a good rhythm, the whole offense was." Smith said.

Alex finished his amazing day in Arizona 18 of 19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

"Eighteen of nineteen, I have never seen that." coach Jim Harbaugh said. "How important is it for your quarterback to play well? It is very important and I don't know how you play much better. It was a fantastic game by him."

What did Smith have to say about the so called "lost confidence in himself" rumors that have been floating around the past couple of weeks? He jokingly said, "It was in my closet, I found it."

49ers receiver Michael Crabtree was the recipient of two of Smith's TD passes and veteran Randy Moss caught the other. Crabtree finished the game pulling in 5 catches for 72 yards while Moss' lone catch was a 47 yard score.

The Niners defense nearly matched Smith's perfection, allowing a miniscule 7 yards rushing for the entire game. A Jay Feely field goal is all that stood between the Niners completely shutting out Arizona.

San Francisco strolls into the bye week with a 6-2 record, a full 2 games up on Seattle (4-4) and Arizona (4-4). The St. Louis Rams are 3 games back (3-5) in the NFC West. The team will spend the bye week rejuvenating themselves and getting ready for a tough second half of the season in which they will face the likes of Chicago, New Orleans, and New England.

The struggling Chiefs fall to 1-6 on the season as the Oakland Raiders came into town and manhandled Kansas City 26-16. This would be the 6th straight game within the confines of  Arrowhead Stadium in which the Raiders would walk out victorious. The Raiders, now 3-4 on the season, dominated on both sides of the ball. QB Carson Palmer managed the game well passing for 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Darren McFadden ran hard, amassing 114 yards on 29 carries while chipping in 4 catches for 23 yards.

"It took us a while to get it going, but once it finally got going, we finished the game out well," McFadden said. "We feel like with our offense, you just have to stick with it."

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey had just 1 catch but made it count as it was a 32 yard touchdown grab in the 3rd quarter. WR Denarius Moore continued his rise as an NFL elite receiver as he pulled in 5 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Sebastion Janikowski hit on all four of his field goal attempts, he's now hit on 18 of 19 for the season.

The Raiders Defense looked strong all day holding the Chiefs most dangerous weapon , RB Jamaal Charles, to just 10 yards from scrimmage, and also forcing 4 turnovers and 3 sacks of QB Matt Cassel.

The win marked the first road victory for the Raiders since beating Kansas City last December. Sitting at 3-4, Oakland pulled into a tie with the San Diego Chargers. Both teams sit 1 game back of the Denver Broncos (4-3) in the AFC West. The Raiders will attempt to win their 3rd in a row next week as Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) travel to the Black Hole.

Madison Bumgarner stepped on the mound Thursday night at AT&T Park and to be quite honest I don't think Bay Area and Central Valley fans knew what to expect. He returned to action in the World Series after being bumped from the NLCS rotation after two horrendous starts. Fans and teammates were greeted with the Mad Bum we have all grown to love. Bumgarner looked extremely sharp throughout his 7 innings of work allowing just 2 hits, no runs, and striking out 8 Detroit batters. The 8 strikeouts were a new postseason high. Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo pitched perfect 8th and 9th innings as the Giants completely shutdown Detroit's arsenal of bats and took game two 2-0. The Giants who had to come from behind in both the NLDS and NLCS, have put themselves in a great position as they hit the road for Detroit with a 2-0 series lead.

"It definitely feels a whole lot better than having our backs against the wall," Bumgarner said. "But you can't relax. We've got to keep pushing."

After what was an explosion of sorts by the Giants and  a Panda Bear in particular during game one, game two would be much more mundane as the Gmen would use small ball to get the job done and earn the victory. Gregor Blanco's infield single stayed fair by just inches setting up Brandon Crawford's run-scoring double-play ground ball in the seventh. Hunter Pence added a sacrifice fly in the eighth scoring Angel Pagan from third.

"That's the way baseball is. When things are going well, things are bouncing your way," Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro said. "If things aren't going well, you just keep battling and playing hard. No one is taking anything for granted."

Detroit batters looked out-of-sorts and rusty at the plate Thursday night. Coming off a 5 game layoff after sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS may have something to do with it, as Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young (the heart of the Tigers lineup) had just 1 hit between them. The Tigers will look to bounce back on Saturday as game three transitions to Detroit, Michigan and Comerica Park. Giants will send Ryan Vogelsong out to match wits with Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez. The AL designator hitter will be in effect, so it will be interesting to see what skipper Bruce Bochy has in store as he will once again dip into his bag of magic tricks and most likely astound fans once again.

Thursday, 25 October 2012 03:14

Raiders Rally to Beat Jaguars in Overtime

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It was a sloppy day in Oakland as the Raiders (2-4) would not only have to overcome 3 turnovers, but also a 14 point deficit to beat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5).

"An ugly win is better than a pretty loss," QB Carson Palmer said "I know that. I'm just proud of the way we fought because it wasn't pretty."

"We did not play up to our standard and play the way we're coached. But we hung in there and defense played great giving us the ball back. It's just good to get out of here with a win." Palmer added.

The Jags lost star running back Maurice Jones-Drew on the opening drive to a left foot injury. In the second quarter QB Blaine Gabbert would leave with a shoulder injury to his non-throwing arm. Back up QB Chad Henne and the rest of the Jags offense would only have two first downs after half-time  as the Raider defense stepped their game up.

"We're definitely very fortunate to come out with a win," said defensive tackle Richard Seymour. "We're not satisfied. We understand that we have to play better, that we have to get better as a team. We can't play that brand of ball against good football teams and expect to win. We understand that we have to play better. We'll take the win, we'll take any win in this league. In my book there's no such thing as an ugly win. Any time you get a win in this league it's a big deal."

Carson Palmer would finish the game 26 of 46 with 2 TD's (1 rushing) and an interception. Running Back Darren McFadden was held in check by the Jags D managing just 53 yards on 19 carries. Wide Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey led Oakland's air attack hauling in 4 catches for 85 yards.

Although the Raiders play has been rather underwhelming so far this year, there is a silver lining and it comes in the form of the AFC West  which is considered by most the worst division in football. With just 2 wins the raiders sit just a game back of both the San Diego Chargers (3-3) and the Denver Broncos (3-3). Oakland's upcoming schedule will include some very winnable games with the likes of Kansas City twice, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Carolina, and San Diego. My guess is that the winner of the West will likely be somewhere around 8-8 by seasons end, something the raiders are definitely capable of pulling off.

The city was alive with the sound of  Pablo Sandoval's sweet music Wednesday night. He became only the fourth man in Major League baseball history to hit three homeruns in a World Series game. Sandoval joins Babe Ruth (1926 & 1928), Reggie Jackson (1977), and Albert Pujols (2011) to accomplish the amazing feet. Not bad company for the big Panda. Two of Sandoval's homeruns would come off of last years Cy Young Award winner and AL MVP Justin Verlander, who would leave the game after just four innings of work in which he gave up five earned runs.

"Man, I still can't believe it," Sandoval would say of his incredible night. "When you're a little kid , you dream of being in the World Series, but I was thinking of being in this situation, three homers in one game."

"We played our last game only two days ago," Sandoval also said. "We're still hot. We just came here and played our game."

Barry Zito who was left off of the 2010 Worlds Series squad would once again look extremely strong as he gave the Giants 5.2 innings while surrendering just one run. Zito clearly out-pitched Verlander and continued to have a momentous career revitalizing 2012 postseason. Tim Lincecum would also pitch a perfect 2.1 innings allowing no hits and striking out five.

The top and middle of the Giants order was red hot, with Angel Pagan, Buster Posey, and NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro each contributing two hits each. The Giants showed no signs of a let down or fatigue after coming off a seven game NLCS series with the Cardinals. The AT&T crowd of 42,855 decked out in black and orange was treated to what was an almost perfect game by the entire Giants squad. This was truly a game to remember  for players and fans alike in the Bay Area and Central Valley.

Game two will be played Thursday at 5:00 PM and will see pitcher Madison Bumgarner return to the mound for the Giants to face Tigers pitcher Doug Fister. Giants fans will once again proudly don the team colors and can only hope to be rewarded like they were in game one.

Ryan Vogelsong had never struck out more then 7 batters in his entire major league career, that is until Sunday night in front of a raucous AT&T crowd in what was the most important game of his life, he whiffed 9 Cardinal batters and controlled game 6 like a Hall of Famer who had done it time and time again. Vogelsong hit almost every pitch Catcher Buster Posey called for and kept Cardinals batters scratching their head's one after another as they walked back to the dug-out. Vogelsong would finish the game tossing 7.0 innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 run to go along with his 9 k's. Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla would pitch the 8th and Sergio Romo who has been brilliant as the Giants closer would slam the door in the 9th giving the Giants a 6-1 victory and a date with the Cards for Monday night.

Once again Marco Scutaro would reprise his roll as Giants post season MVP as he would contribute 2 hits, 2 RBI's and 2 runs. Scutaro is now hitting . 318 with 14 hits, 5 RBI's and 7 runs in the postseason while continuing to be electric with his defensive glove work in the field. Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt would also contribute 2 hits each as the Giants would knock starting pitcher Chris Carpenter from the game after just 4 innings of work in which he gave up 5 runs (3 unearned). "The bottom line is," Carpenter would say, "I'm not giving my team a chance to win."

The Giants will look to Ace Matt Cain once again in front of what is sure to be one of the loudest AT&T crowds of all time for game 7. The Cardinals will counter with Kyle Lohse, in what will be a rematch of the rain delayed game 3 which the Giants would lose 3-1 in St. Louis. That game seems like it was played 100 years ago as the momentum has clearly switched from a Cards team that could smell its' second World Series trip in as many years to a fun loving, exuberent Giants squad who will look to repeat their own World Series showing and victory of 2010. Lights, Camera, Action! Who's ready for a little game 7 magic?

Just 5 days after an embarrassing 23-3 loss to the New York Giants, the 49ers passing game would once again struggle. Luckily the defense and some old school hard nose running by Frank Gore would be enough to defeat the Seattle Seahawks and take over sole possession of the NFC West. Gore who rushed for a season high 131 yards dominated Seattle's defense all day. "I just got in rhythm, and once I get in that rhythm I feel I can't be stopped," Gore would say.

Last years NFL coach of the year, Niners coach Jim Harbaugh would improve his record to 3-0 versus Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. The two faced off previously at the collegiate level when Harbaugh was with Stanford and Carroll with USC. Harbaugh would also improve to 5-0 after a regular-season defeat. "We found ourselves in a real slugfest here today," Carroll said. "I'm not surprised it could have gone that way with two good defenses and two teams committed to running the ball."

49ers quarterback Alex Smith would have his second sub-par game in a row posting awful numbers that in most Fantasy Football circles would make him nothing more then waiver wire fodder. Smith would go 14 for 23, 140 yards, 1 int., and would throw a 12 yard TD pass in the third quarter to TE Delanie Walker.

The NFC rushing leader and Bay Area native Marshawn Lynch would rush for 103 yards on 19 carries while rookie QB Russell Wilson went just 9 of 23 for 122 yards, 1 int., and was sacked twice.

The Niners now sit at 5-2 and look toward next Monday night where the prime-time spotlight will cast itself as they travel to Arizona to face the division rival Cardinals (4-2). Alex Smith will look to get back on track and the defense will surely be licking its lips as they face former starter John Skelton who takes over for injured Cards QB Kevin Kolb.

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