NFL Nation: Myron Pryor

Jets scratch Brad Smith; Hernandez to play

January, 16, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New York Jets have scratched Brad Smith for Sunday's playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Smith was the Jets' top kickoff returner, bringing back two for touchdowns in the regular season. He also is a potent weapon in the run game as an option quarterback in their Wildcat-style offense.

Newsworthy for the Patriots is that tight end Aaron Hernandez is active after missing the last two regular-season games with a hip injury.

Here are the rest of Sunday's scratches:

New York Jets

New England Patriots

Seasons greetings from Orchard Park, N.Y.

December, 26, 2010
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Cold, gray and windy is the forecast for Sunday's matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills here at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Temperature at kickoff will be about 23 degrees, but it will feel like 9 degrees, with winds gusting up to 23 mph. The chance of snow is 50 percent.

New England could clinch the AFC East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, while a victory over the Patriots would make Buffalo's season. The Bills have won four out of their past six games, including an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Buffalo has lost 14 straight games to New England and 19 out of 20 in the series.

The inactives:

New England Patriots
Buffalo Bills
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Part of me wants to be suitably impressed that Brett Favre would even consider playing Sunday with a sprained SC joint near his right shoulder. On top of two still-healing fractures in his left foot. On top of elbow tendinitis and with a 10-stitch scar on his chin as a reminder of one of the many brutal hits he has absorbed this season.

The rest of me wants to exclaim: What in the name of Y.A. Tittle are you doing to yourself?

Some of you historians might remember Tittle as a Hall of Fame quarterback who played his last four seasons with the New York Giants. He was also the subject of an iconic 1964 photograph. The shot depicts Tittle, 38, as bloodied, dazed and sitting on his knees after a hit that cracked his sternum and gave him a concussion.

[+] EnlargeY.A. Tittle
AP Photo/Dozier MobleyY.A. Tittle took a pounding during the final year of his playing career.
Tittle, of course, played out the rest of the season as the Giants finished 2-10-2, throwing 10 touchdown passes against 22 interceptions before announcing his retirement. The photograph became a paradigm for the unceremonious end to a Hall of Fame career.

I couldn't stop thinking about it Wednesday as Favre, for what seems to be the 14th week this season, detailed how he hoped to navigate his injury and somehow start Sunday's game against the Giants. At some point you have to wonder: When will enough be enough? Is all of this really necessary?

Is there no point where you set aside toughness and accept your football mortality? How many times must you be helped off the field before you realize the impact of the beating you've taken on your long-term health?

That's the question I was most curious about when Favre took the podium Wednesday. We all know why he is trying to play. It's what he has always done. But I think we can all agree that Favre has taken some of the most brutal hits of his career this season. Two that come to mind: Getting planted last Sunday by Buffalo Bills linebacker Arthur Moats and the Oct. 31 chin shot from New England Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor.

Does a 41-year-old man, and new grandfather, worry about subjecting himself to such abuse? Does he think his age, combined with his now-limited mobility, have played a role in the punishment?

Favre said he has been thinking about that "for the last few years" and that it's "crossed my mind once or twice" this season.

"I think had I not played this year, I was still going to feel the 19 years I've played for many years to come," he said. "I probably haven't helped myself too much this year. But you know, I chose to play. It's part of it. As an older player, you find it harder, as we all do, to recover from certain injuries. But that's the price you pay."

And that's the bottom line, I guess. If you decide to play football at age 41 -- and earn $16 million doing so -- you might take a pounding. It's part of the gig. But golly, we're starting to get to Y. A. Tittle territory here -- beaten, bloodied and refusing to accept it.

Jets at Patriots inactives

December, 6, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are the inactives for Monday night's game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium.

New York Jets
New England Patriots

Colts at Patriots inactives

November, 21, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are the scratches for Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium:

Indianapolis Colts

New England Patriots

It's Looney Time for the Vikings

October, 31, 2010
Brett FavreAP Photo/Michael DwyerBrett Favre had to be helped off the field after taking a hit that would require eight stitches.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's official. There is no debate. The Minnesota Vikings, who produced some pretty fine Masterpiece Theatre last week, have taken it up a notch. (Or down, depending on your perspective.)

It's still Theatre ... but of the Absurd.

I don't know how else to describe what happened during and after the Vikings' 28-18 loss Sunday to the New England Patriots. In the span of about four hours, you had:

  • Quarterback Brett Favre playing perhaps his best game of the season despite two fractures in his left foot, only to be felled by a brutal fourth-quarter hit under the chin that left him woozy and needing a cart to get off the field.
  • Coach Brad Childress describing Favre's face as "a pretty good shade of white" after the play, and Favre appearing nearly unconscious as he lay on the cart. But after taking eight stitches to close the wound and a dose of numbing agent -- while apparently also making a quick trip to the Fountain of Youth -- Favre dragged himself in front of reporters and made clear he would play next Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. In his affected state, perhaps Favre thought the Metrodome was hosting open casting calls for the Bionic Man. In all seriousness, it was stunning to see him standing upright and answering questions after the hit he took from defensive lineman Myron Pryor.
  • Finally, you had receiver Randy Moss offering a nearly five-minute statement in which he took oblique shots at Childress and the entire team while suggesting he wished he had not sulked his way out of New England earlier this month.

The only thing missing was a car full of clowns speeding through the locker room. Or maybe I just missed that one.

Favre said afterward that "hopefully our guys don't go south" after losing for the fifth time in seven games this season, leaving them tied with the Detroit Lions for the worst record in the NFC North. I really don't know if Moss became the first player to bag the season, or if his episode reflected a man so far off the deep end that his thoughts can't stand for those of the entire franchise.

Hopefully you read the entire transcript of Moss' statement, which he said would be his new way of interacting with the media following the NFL's decision to fine him $25,000 last week. (In true Theatre of the Absurd fashion, Moss said the only questions he would answer this season would be the ones he posed to himself.)

Of particular concern Sunday, however, were two of his sentiments: That Childress erred by not taking a short field goal just before the half, and that the Vikings didn't value his insight into the Patriots' schemes and tendencies.

With the score tied 7-7 late in the second quarter, Childress elected to run tailback Adrian Peterson on fourth-and-goal from the Patriots' 1-yard line. The play lost 2 yards, and ultimately the second half might have played out differently had the margin been three points closer. I think you could debate the decision reasonably on both sides, but it's not often that you hear a veteran player say what Moss uttered.

"I wish we could have had that three at the end of the half," he said. "Maybe it could have been different. Maybe not."

(Moss also referred to Patriots coach Bill Belichick as "the best coach in football history," leaving Childress no better than No. 2 on that list.)

For his part, Childress said he wanted to "just be aggressive" and added: "We were going to need seven points there, we thought, as opposed to those threes."

More notable, however, was Moss' "disappointment" that players and coaches didn't heed the information he provided during the week, a contribution Childress noted publicly several times.

"Tried to prepare, tried to talk to the players and coaches about how this game was going to be played," Moss said. "[A] couple tendencies here and a couple tendencies here. The bad part about it, is you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over and say, 'Dag Moss, I guess you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.'

"And it hurts as a player, that you put a lot of hard work in during the week, and at the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge ... the hard work that you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment."

The Vikings actually controlled the game for much of the first half, utilizing Peterson to consume the clock for nearly 20 of the first 30 minutes. They took a 10-7 lead with 9 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter but couldn't regain the lead after Tom Brady's acrobatic 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon Tate.

But Moss' decision to lash out at least calls into question whether Childress still has the attention of a locker room filled with talented veterans who believe they know what it takes to win. Moss was targeted only twice and caught one pass for 8 yards in the game. Afterward, Childress referred to him as a "decoy" and Favre suggested there might be avenues to utilize Moss more frequently.

Favre noted that the Patriots, like the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys before them, had played a safety over top of him for most of the game. But, Favre added, there are ways to get around that.

"Now, maybe we can scheme up ways to move him around," Favre said, "or maybe even when it's two-deep coverage you buy enough time in protection by some type of play-action. I don't know."

In any event, this team sure looked on the brink of collapse as it departed Gillette Stadium. Favre admitted that, as he rode off the field a bloody mess, a dark thought briefly crossed his mind. "What in the world am I doing?" Favre said he was thinking at the moment.

But Favre insisted that "I'm in it to win it," and here is the reality: Even with two teams at 2-5, the NFC North remains a four-team race. But I was struck, and even felt a pang of sympathy, as Favre closed out his news conference.

"There have been plenty of times I should have been knocked out," Favre said. "But I wasn't. I think I'm all right."

A member of the Vikings' public relations staff called an end to the interview, but Favre wouldn't leave the podium. As the numbing agent caused him to slur a bit, Favre continued. Even now, he was still in character.

"I'll be ready to play next week," he said quietly, staring at the ground.

On this day, however, it hardly mattered. There are no roles for a Bionic Man in this show. We've moved from standard drama to The Endgame.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Vikings 18

October, 31, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots knocked Brett Favre out of the game, held Randy Moss to a single catch and beat the Minnesota Vikings 28-18 in Gillette Stadium.

What it means: With the New York Jets losing earlier Sunday, the Patriots assumed sole possession of first place at 6-1.

Pryor scores the knockout: No, not Aaron Pryor. Patriots defensive lineman Myron Pryor delivered the blow that sent Favre to the locker room with 7:31 left in the game. Pryor's helmet nailed Favre in the chin, opening a nasty cut and making Favre wobbly.

Moss not a factor: Moss was quiet in his return to Gillette Stadium. He had one catch for 8 yards and no touchdowns, but he could have had an easy one. After drawing a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter, he gave up on a play, allowing the ball to land nearby at the goal line for an incompletion. Favre threw at him once in the first half.

Law Firm closes the deal: With 35 minutes gone, Danny Woodhead was New England's leading rusher with 7 yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis (aka The Law Firm) pounded out the victory with 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters.

Big man Tate: Patriots receiver Brandon Tate scored his first NFL receiving touchdown on an improvised route with Tom Brady scrambling. Tate turned up the left sideline. Brady found him wide open, and Tate ran diagonally across the field for 65 yards.

What's next: Bill Belichick gets to shake hands with old pal Eric Mangini next week, when the Patriots visit the Cleveland Browns.

How I See It: AFC East Stock Watch

December, 22, 2009
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


1. Rex Ryan, Jets coach: Everybody in the stadium knew Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez was the target on that fateful fourth-and-goal play with 1:38 left, but Ryan's defense still couldn't stop it. Moments later, Ryan blew up at referee Ron Winter, then walked into his postgame news conference and declared his team has been eliminated from the playoff hunt. Except they haven't been.

2. Chad Henne, Dolphins quarterback: Henne threw for a career-high 349 yards and guided the Dolphins to a 15-point, fourth-quarter rally and forced overtime in Nashville. But he threw the last of his three interceptions three plays into sudden death, frittering the hallowed first possession. The Titans kicked the winning field goal four plays later.

3. Mark Sanchez, Jets quarterback: A game away because of a knee injury didn't seem to help Sanchez settle down. The rookie came back Sunday and threw three interceptions, his fourth game with at least three in 13 NFL starts. His 20 interceptions are second in the league. He ranks 29th in passer rating.


AP Photo/David DupreyNew England's Randy Moss rebounded with a strong game against Buffalo.
1. Randy Moss, Patriots receiver: Under fire for perceived lollygagging, Moss had a strong game against the Bills. Tom Brady threw for just 115 yards, but Moss generated 113 yards and scored a touchdown. He finished with a game-high five receptions for 70 yards and drew another 43 yards on a Bills pass interference near the goal line.

2. Patriots pass rush: Without nose tackle Vince Wilfork and defensive ends Ty Warren and Myron Pryor, the Patriots rung up a season-high six sacks. Outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain recorded three of them. Bills quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards both suffered ankle injuries.

3. Fred Jackson, Bills running back: Jackson, the supposed backup to Pro Bowler Marshawn Lynch, is 189 yards from the coveted 1,000-yard milestone. Not bad for an undrafted Division III player who came up through the arena bush leagues. Jackson rushed 15 times for 80 yards against the Patriots. He also caught four passes for 32 yards and returned four kickoffs for 108 yards.

Greetings from The Ralph

December, 20, 2009
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium are cold and gray for Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills.

But at least the snow that has socked in the rest of the Northeast has stayed away.

In watching the doppler Saturday night, I found it amusing how this gargantuan white sheet was covering five states, but as it approached Buffalo, some mystical force field on the eastern rim of Lake Erie seemed to be batting it away with ease.

So no snow here, folks. Based on the flags atop the stadium and the streamers on the goal posts, the wind seems tolerable for now.

The Patriots already announced all the surprises from their inactive list Saturday night.

Particularly noteworthy about the Bills' inactive list is that receiver Terrell Owens isn't on it. Owens missed practice Thursday and Friday with an illness.

The complete rundown of scratches reads thusly:

New England Patriots

Buffalo Bills