Thursday, December 31, 2009
Around the NFC West: Mora's laments
By Mike Sando
Jim Moore of seattlepi.com checks in with Seahawks coach Jim Mora, who says players have not quit. Mora: "I feel pretty certain. No one's quitting. It's a violent sport. If you go out and quit, you're taking a humongous risk with your health. And a lot of these guys have overcome obstacles. If these guys were quitters, they never would have gotten to this point. At points in games, we have a tendency to go: 'Here we go again.' It's discouragement. But quit? No. It's not part of their mental makeup." The story repeats an oft-cited stat suggesting Mora's teams have never won a game they trailed after three quarters. Someone asked me about the stat last week. I thought it sounded unlikely. The first close game I checked -- San Diego at Atlanta on Oct. 17, 2004 -- showed the Falcons rallying for a 21-20 victory after trailing 17-7 after three quarters.
Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune follows up with T.J. Houshmandzadeh regarding the recent radio conversation featuring Seattle receivers and analyst Hugh Millen. Houshmandzadeh and Millen spoke at length after practice. Houshmandzadeh: "We were just talking about certain plays in the game. And I saw his point, and told him my point, period. I don’t dislike him because I don’t know him to dislike him. But he told me what he saw with his points and I told him why I did what I did."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks need to score 13 points Sunday to avoid their lowest-scoring season since the historically inept 1992 offense. O'Neil: "Four of the team's interceptions these past two weeks came in the second half with Seattle trailing by more than 20 points. At that point, the Seahawks offense has been reduced to heaving the ball deep downfield in hopes someone will make a play. Instead, it has often been a defensive back making the play."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with guard Trevor Canfield, signed off the Cardinals' practice squad.
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals will worry about the Packers -- and scoreboards from other games -- in Week 17. McManaman: "If the Vikings win, however, it's pretty much a moot point. Of the eight possible playoff scenarios involving the NFC West champion Cardinals, six include them having to turn around and face the Packers again at home in the NFC wild-card round. Should that be the case, the Cardinals probably would save some of their best game-planning for a rematch, and they might even consider resting some regulars, including Warner."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who played junior college ball in Scottsdale and might be revisiting the area over the next couple of weekends.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com sizes up an improved Arizona running game. Larry Fitzgerald: "I was 2 minutes and 40 seconds away from being a Super Bowl champion last year. Whatever it would take to get back there and hoist that trophy, I could care less if we run it 50 times a game."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals expect to play the Packers again in the wild-card round. How should they approach the Week 17 game between the teams?
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says 49ers receiver Isaac Bruce wasn't expecting coach Mike Singletary to let him play against the Rams in what will be his final game. The other receivers lobbied Singletary to make Bruce active. Bruce: "I was kind of surprised, but if it had been me, I don't think I would have done it. I'm a football player. I believe in players earning the right to play. I believe that if one player is better than another, the best player should play." Tell me that isn't refreshing. Singletary: "I had asked him earlier what his thoughts were on playing in the game. He said probably not. Then when I told him about his teammates asking me, I think it shocked him to hear. It was a matter of these guys he mentored, about what it is to be a pro. That group of guys made it known that they would like to see him play."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Josh Morgan offered his starting spot to Bruce against the Rams.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Alex Smith can remove doubts with a strong performance against the Rams. Singletary: "It's just going to be a matter of him continuing to mature and at some point in time, hopefully it’s this Sunday, he’s going to know, and everybody else will know, that he’s the guy that can take us where we need to go. He has done enough for me at this point to say that, going forward, I don’t see why I would doubt it."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says about 8,000 tickets to the 49ers-Rams game remained unsold early in the week, making it likely Bruce's final game will not be shown locally in St. Louis. Bruce says he is 75 percent sure about retiring.
Also from Thomas: Bruce is excited about returning to St. Louis. Bruce: "I'm always excited to go back to St. Louis. To go back to the dome. Be on that turf again. The fans. And see the employees that work for the Rams right now, that run that building. Just being in that atmosphere again. Seeing the banners that hang from the rafters, that's always exciting to me."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kyle Boller would like to return to the Rams in 2010. Boller: "Any time you have an injury or an illness and you’re taken out of the position, somebody else has an opportunity to get in there. It’s unfortunate that that happened to me. I’m going to have to deal with that, and hopefully work my way back."
Also from Coats: Jason Smith's return to practice Wednesday came as a surprise. Smith finally passed concussion-related testing. Smith: "It was a great relief to, No. 1, pass the best and then to be able to be around the team, be at practice and be able to do something. We took the test a couple of days ago, and I was able to pass it. We started taking it one day at a time from there, doing light workouts and seeing how the head reacts."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat offers comments from Leonard Little, among others, regarding Bruce's return to the Edward Jone Dome. This might also be Little's final game with the Rams. Little: "He was the ultimate competitor. He always prepared like it was the last game of his career. Always. That's the way he is. He was a great teammate and an inspiration to young guys. He was an inspiration to me when I was young. He takes young guys under his wing and tries to teach them the best way he can to be a pro and do things the right way. He will go down as one of the greatest receivers of all time. He’s a Hall-of-Fame player. He’s proven that over the years. If this is his last game, he deserves the chance to be around the fans who were with him most of his career."
Also from Balzer: Steven Jackson says he hopes to play in the Pro Bowl, but he will not put himself at undue risk.