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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


NFL Roundup: NFL, fans pause to remember 9/11

Cleveland Browns’ Benjamin Watson races on to the field before the start of an NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Cleveland Browns, 27-17, at Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, on Sunday, September 11, 2011. (Phil Masturzo/Akron Beacon Journal/MCT)

CLEVELAND — On Sunday, a sacred day of mourning and remembrance, Ben Watson was almost as popular as Peyton Hillis; red, white and blue complemented brown and orange quite nicely; and some Bengals fans were even welcomed in Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Jim Weidus was one of them. He grew up a Browns fan but converted in 1968 when the Bengals were an expansion team. Now he’s a firefighter in Cincinnati and attended the game Sunday wearing a Bengals shirt and fireman’s hat painted in America’s colors.

One Browns fan spotted the helmet and came over to shake his hand, then he saw the Bengals’ T-shirt.

“Love ya,” the fan said. “Even though you’re from Cincinnati.”

Weidus smiled.

“It’s all good fun,” he said. “The helmet saves me.”

The Browns joined the NFL on Sunday in commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11 before the season opener against the Bengals. Watson ran onto the field during pregame introductions through a tunnel of military personnel with an American flag draped over his shoulders, eliciting an eruption from the crowd surpassed only by Hillis’ introduction.

All NFL games across the country featured a video of a taps performance in Shanksville, Pa., where United Airlines flight 93 crashed to the ground. A moment of silence was planned for all the stadiums following taps, but Browns fans couldn’t stay quiet long enough, as chants of “USA! USA!” rolled through the seats.

Those same chants filled the gates as fans entered the stadium and were handed miniature American flags. The chants alternated with the more traditional woofing from Browns fans, creating a strangely patriotic scene with a Browns twist in the concourse.

Sal Paratore walked to his seat with a flag draped over his shoulders like Watson. Four women sat in their seats before kickoff displaying a special Sept. 11 flag listing all of the names of those killed. One of the women, Diane Wickham, has a son in the Air Force in Kuwait on a mission to Iraq.

American flags dotted Browns Stadium on Sunday. Full-size flags hung from walls, waved in the air and were even worn as jackets.

Tom Richey is a burly 42-year-old bakery owner with a shaved head. He lives in Dayton and made the drive up with his wife Sunday to root for his Bengals. He wore a jacket with an American flag print on it and described himself as extremely patriotic, even before Sept. 11.

His grandfather was a Marine. His son is in the Army. Richey wanted to enlist in the military, but he was ineligible because he is deaf in his right ear.

“I just love America,” he said, recalling a story from a few days ago, when he was driving in his car thinking of this day, this game and these tributes. With the radio off, Richey began singing the national anthem.

“I got so emotional, I just started crying,” he said.

Eagles get the start they’d pictured from defensive line

ST. LOUIS — This is how the Eagles pictured it.

Their defensive line was in attack mode all Sunday, storming into the Rams backfield and making life miserable for quarterback Sam Bradford.

They sacked Bradford four times, three in the second half, and registered a bruising 11 quarterback hits. The line even produced the Eagles’ winning points when Darryl Tapp stripped Bradford on a run play, and Juqua Parker scooped the ball and rumbled 56 yards to put the Eagles up 14-7.

“That was the turning point right there,” said defensive end Trent Cole. “After that it was full steam ahead.”

The design of the Eagles defense has the linemen going full steam ahead every play. Run or pass, with the lead or from behind, their one job in the scheme installed by line coach Jim Washburn is to get into the backfield.

With an influx of talent, including defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, the line executed that plan in impressive fashion while Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel blanketed receivers.

“You put teams in a situation of make ‘em pass,” Trent Cole said, chuckling at the thought. “That’s what we want as a D-line.”
“We’re not hoping to get to the quarterback. We’re expecting it,” Jenkins said.

In a passing league, and in a conference with quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, the Eagles have made pressure a priority, particularly with just the front four. They also have a deep rotation of ends and tackles to keep cycling fresh legs into the game.

Jenkins, Cole and Tapp each had one sack. Babin added two. Parker was part of the harassment as well.

“We’ve got two freakin’ first and second waves of guys that could start,” Babin said.

“Coach Juan (Castillo) and Coach Washburn brought something in that allows us to play ball,” Tapp said. “That’s what we did.”

Ravens unleash impressive offensive attack, force 7 turnovers in 35-7 win over Pittsburgh

BALTIMORE — The new-look Ravens delivered a season-opening stomping of the Pittsburgh Steelers, an authoritative statement that rippled through the AFC North and the rest of the NFL.

Behind the big plays of Ray Rice and the powerful play of Haloti Ngata, the Ravens obliterated the recent dominance of the Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a 35-7 rout of their divisional rivals before an celebratory sellout crowd at M&T Bank Stadium.

With 20 new players on their 53-man roster, the Ravens looked stronger and faster than Pittsburgh, appearing to be a step ahead of the Super Bowl runners-up. From scoring a touchdown on the opening drive to forcing seven turnovers — including three in the third quarter — the Ravens grabbed the Steelers by the throat and never let go of their grip. The 28-point win was the Ravens’ largest margin of victory in rivalry.

Remember how Joe Flacco couldn’t beat Roethlisberger? Flacco beat Roethlisberger for the first time in seven meetings, throwing three touchdown passes in the first three quarters.

Remember how Rice couldn’t do anything against Pittsburgh last season? He gained more yards on his first carry (36) than he did in any of his three games against the Steelers last season and outgained Pittsburgh in the first half.

Remember how the Ravens let a 21-7 halftime lead slip away in the playoff loss eight months ago? Unlike the postseason game, when the Ravens turned the ball over three times in the third quarter, it was the Ravens who forced three turnovers in the third quarter.

The Ravens put the game away in the opening minutes of the third quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata leveled Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall and caused a fumble. On the Ravens’ first play after the turnover, Flacco hit tight end Ed Dickson for an 18-yard touchdown. Ravens punter Sam Koch, who is also the holder, took the snap on the extra point and ran it in untouched for the two-point conversion, putting the Ravens ahead, 29-7.

Lions open with road win over Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. — Matthew Stafford was exceptional, the defense might have been better and the Detroit Lions validated their sky-high expectations with a 27-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in today’s season opener.

Stafford overcame a bout of leg cramps on a sweltering Florida day to throw for 305 yards—the second 300-yard game of his career—and three touchdowns in his return from January shoulder surgery.

The third-year quarterback, who missed 13 games last year, completed 24 of 33 passes and had a quarterback rating of 118.9.

Calvin Johnson caught two touchdowns on Tampa cornerback Aqib Talib, beating him for a 36-yard score on a double move midway through the second quarter and outjumping him for a 1-yard pass on the goal line. Tony Scheffler scored on an 11-yard gain.

Johnson, who had 10 catches for 152 yards last year against the Bucs when Talib did not play because of a hip injury, finished with six catches for 88 yards today. He also recovered an on-side kick with 1:34 to play to help seal the victory.

Jahvid Best, who played sparingly in the preseason because of a concussion and was limited last year by turf-toe injuries, ran for 72 yards on 21 carries and had 42 yards receiving.

Tampa scored its first 10 points without the benefit of a first down—Sammie Stroughter returned a kick 78 yards to the Lions’ 21 to set up a Connor Barth’s 38-yard field goal and Talib returned a Stafford interception (off Will Heller’s fingertips) 28 yards for a touchdown. The Buccaneers had just 4 yards of offense in the first quarter.

The Lions amassed 324 yards in the first half, their most in the opening two quarters since a 339-yard first half against the Vikings in 1997, and outgained the Bucs 431-301 for the day.
Tampa did not have a first down in the first or third quarters.

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