The NFL just announced the 2012 Pro Bowl roster, which means that NFL fans and writers will declare that certain players were snubbed, as surely as the sun will set in the west. While I agree that there is merit to many of these assertions, the biggest problem I have with these knee-jerk routines is that they very seldom profess what player should be removed to make room for the snub. The same holds in reverse when folks say that so-and-so does not deserve the Pro Bowl honor – it’s just that ‘I don’t like this guy, he doesn’t belong’.

For example, I have seen and heard about how Vincent Jackson, Roddy White, Doug Martin and others belong. Okay, if that’s what you believe then who do they replace – and why. Same holds even truer when I hear about how Ronde Barber deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. Huh? What, as a slot corner? For a Lifetime Achievement Award?

That being said, here are a few changes that I would make – and others I would keep – if the decision making was left solely up to me.

This is actually a prime example of the second scenario pointed out above. Okay, you don’t want Matt Schaub on the Pro Bowl: who takes his place? Andrew Luck, and his NFL-leading 18 interceptions? The award is based on 2012, not what might be in three years. Ben Roethlisberger? He’s 20th in the league in passing yards, behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. The closest prospect is Andy Dalton, but Schaub had a better season across the board. Bottom line is no other AFC QB has had a better season; Schaub deserves to go.

While Stevan Ridley has had a good season, he has been too inconsistent in comparison to Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice. Ridley does have 61 more yards rushing than Rice, but Rice has over 400 more yards from scrimmage. I heard one person say Charles doesn’t deserve to go because of the Chiefs’ record. That’s ridiculous; this is a personal reward, so why should a team’s bad year eliminate you from personal recognition? C.J. Spiller is another possibility that deserves consideration, but how do you give this to a player that gets so few carries?

Again, who do you kick off the island? Andre Johnson, who led the AFC in receiving yardage? Wes Welker, who led the conference in receptions? A.J. Green and Reggie Wayne both have more receptions and yardage as well; Demaryius Thomas has had a great season, but there’s just no room.

At first I figured Rob Gronkowski may not be deserving based on the amount of time that he’s missed, but guess what – he’s done more in ten games than others have done in fifteen. Perhaps some of the whispers about him not deserving to go come from fantasy football owners who drafted him in the first round, expecting a repeat of his 2011 stats. Same holds true for the backup TE, Heath Miller.

AFC Offensive Line
Here is an area where some changes are merited. Houston C Chris Myers should be replaced with Miami’s Mike Pouncey. Logan Mankins should not be on the roster, and perhaps neither should Houston’s Wade Smith. Off the top of my head I think Buffalo’s Andy Levitre and Cincinnati’s Kevin Zeitler are better.

Take Kansas City’s Tamba Hali off the squad, and replace him with teammate Justin Houston; Denver’s Wesley Woodyard is another player that is more deserving.

Does Brian Cushing deserve a Pro Bowl spot? That’s a tough one, considering how much time he missed – but the Texans’ defense was not the same at all without him. I think I’d put him on the squad, in place of the Chiefs’ Derrick Johnson.

Another tough call here, but I would at least consider Tennessee’s Jason McCourty over Champ Bailey, and make Antonio Cromartie of the Jets a starter over either one of them.

Neither Eric Berry nor LaRon Landry come remotely close to deserving to being on the roster, and as for this season – which is what this is all about – I think I’d leave Ed Reed off the team as well. San Diego’s Eric Weddle and Buffalo’s Jairus Byrd would be my top choices, along with Dawan Landry of Jacksonville.

To the Indy fan that tried to persuade me that Pat McAfee was the biggest snub of the entire Pro Bowl – um, no. McAfee landed 24 punts inside the 20; Dustin Colquitt planted 42 punts inside the 20. That more than makes up for the 1.5 yard per punt difference between those two.

I don’t watch as much of the NFC as I do the AFC, but there were a few names that stood out to me.

QB – No, Drew Brees does not deserve to go this year (yes, I have heard that more than once).
RB – Alfred Morris over Frank Gore
WR – Dez Bryant and Vincent Jackson over Victor Cruz and Julio Jones
C – Max Unger or John Sullivan or Jonathan Goodwin over Jeff Saturday
G – Evan Mathis over Chris Snee
DE – Calais Campbell over Jared Allen
ILB – Daryl Washington over NaVorro Bowman, though that’s a close call
CB – Richard Sherman over Tim Jennings

One last thing: why has the decision been announced now? What if there were two equal players, and one has a monster game in Week 17 while the other is abysmal? Why the rush to make the announcement? Doesn’t it make more sense to wait until all of the regular season games have been played before making a decision?



This Day In Patriots History


December 27, 1992:
Miami Dolphins 16, New England Patriots 13 in OT at Foxboro

The 10-5 Dolphins needed a win against the 2-13 Pats to get in the playoffs, and with a little help could get a first round bye as well. On a cold, gray day that marked the final time Dick MacPherson would be head coach in Foxboro, Jeff Carlson got his second straight start at quarterback … in what would be the final game of his NFL career.

Despite the fact that the Pats would have lost out on having the first overall pick in that spring’s draft – the following year Bill Parcells was the team’s head coach and Drew Bledsoe was the quarterback – the Patriots put forth a very strong effort, and led 13-3 at halftime on a Sam Gash touchdown run and two Charlie Baumann field goals.

Another backup got the start at running back, Scott Lockwood. His career stat lines consisted of a kick return in week one, some more kick returns two weeks earlier, and five carries in the previous game. On this day Lockwood ran the ball 30 times for 123 yards, and added another 89 yards on four punt returns. As a team the Pats rushed for a season-high 177 yards against a Miami defense that was averaging just 95 yards per game, but couldn’t get anything going in the passing game (Carlson went 8-21 for 116 yards).

Pete Stoyanavich’s second field goal of the game cut the lead to 13-6 in the third quarter, and then Bobby Humphrey scored on a one-yard run late in the 4th quarter to tie the score. With 6:43 left in OT Stoyanavich connected on a 35-yard field goal for the win; combined with the Bills losing 27-3 to the Oilers the Dolphins won the AFC East, and a Pittsburgh loss at Cleveland also gave them a first round bye.

The hard fought loss meant the Pats had the number one draft pick and they made the right choice, going with Bledsoe over Rick Mirer. At the time draft experts were split on the two quarterbacks, and Parcells publicly floated the idea of trading the pick.


December 27, 1998:
New York Jets 31, New England Patriots 10 at Giants Stadium

With Drew Bledsoe and Terry Glenn sidelined due to injuries, but needing a victory in order to secure home field in next week’s wild card game the Pats came out flat, and were overrun by the Jets. The previous week the Jets had clinched their first division title in 29 years, and the win gave them a franchise single-season record 12 victories.

The pats had the ball for just three of the first twenty minutes, at which point they were down 17-0. Vinny Testaverde improved his season record to 12-1 as the starting QB and threw four touchdowns; for the Pats’ Scott Zolak was constantly under pressure and at a decided disadvantage once the team fell behind. With 91 seconds remaining Zolak hit Tony Simmons on a 44-yard bomb; the score did prevent the Jets from leading the league in fewest point allowed. Sedrick Shaw rushed for a career-high 81 yards thanks to a 71 yard run for the only other bright spot for the Pats, who finished in 4th place in the AFC East with a 9-7, and were the 6th seed in the AFC playoffs.


December 27, 2003:
New England Patriots 31, Buffalo Bills 0 at Gillette Stadium

In an ironic and fitting twist to how the season began the Pats defeated the Bills 31-0, the exact opposite of their week one score; there was no comment from Tom Jackson if he still believed with absolute certainty that the Patriots players hated their coach. The victory gave the Pats the NFL’s best record (and franchise best at that time) with a 14-2 mark, and number one seed in the AFC playoffs.

In the season opener the Pats lost 31-0 and were unable to score from the goal line as time expired; in this game the same happened in reverse, as Larry Izzo intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve the shutout.

The Pats dominated on both sides of the ball, against a Bills defense that was at that time considered to be one of the best in the league. The Pats went five wide in a no huddle on the opening drive and scored on a pass from Tom Brady to Daniel Graham.

On Buffalo’s first possession Tedy Bruschi got pressure on Drew Bledsoe and Mike Vrabel intercepted, setting the offense up at the Buffalo 34. Eight plays later the Pats scored again, on a Brady pass to Bethel Johnson. In the first half Brady was 15-18 for 90 yards and the two TDs.

Buffalo did have a couple of chances to score but the Pats D came up big every time. Brady was strip sacked once but the defense stuffed Buffalo’s offense and induced a delay of game penalty that knocked them out of field goal range; the Pats got the ball back and scored on a 19-yard TD pass to Troy Brown. Another drive was thwarted when Rodney Harrison sacked Bledsoe, and the ensuing field goal attempt went wide. After that the Pats went 70 yards in nine plays, ending with a 10-yard TD pass to David Givens.

The Pats at this point were up 28-0, but Buffalo took the 2nd half kickoff back to the 18-yard line. Once again the Pats D stepped up: Tully Banta-Cain sacked Bledsoe and the pats took the ball over when Drew’s 4th-down pass fell incomplete. The Pats drove into scoring position but the field goal attempt caromed off the upright. Buffalo got the ball back, but not for long, as Tedy Bruschi sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery gave the Pats possession once again. Adam Vinatieri connected on the field goal this time, and the game was for all intents and purposes over when another Buffalo drive ended with Tyrone Poole forcing a fumble that was recovered by Matt Chatham.

Antowain Smith led the Pats’ ground attack with 74 yards on 15 rushes, while David Givens led the receivers with 7 receptions for 80 yards and his touchdown. The victory marked the 22nd consecutive time that the Patriots won when they led at halftime.


December 27, 2009:
New England Patriots 35, Jacksonville Jaguars 7 at Gillette Stadium

Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes to Randy Moss as the Pats breezed to their 10th win of the season. Brady went 23-for-26 as the Pats won the AFC East title for the 7th time in nine years. It was the 2nd four-plus touchdown game of the season for Brady, as he set a club record for single-game completion percentage.

Wes Welker had 13 catches for 138 yards, and Sammy Morris rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Pats also got a rare contribution from Chris Baker; his 26-yard touchdown reception in the 2nd quarter gave the Pats a 14-0 lead.



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December 27, 1952:
David Knopfler was born in Glasgow; was the original rhythm guitar player for the Dire Straits

December 27, 1975:
The Faces officially split up. Rod Stewart went on to became a solo performer; Ronnie Wood replaced Mick Taylor on guitar for the Rolling Stones; bass player Ronnie Lane formed Slim Chance and also made the Rough Mix album with Pete Townshend; and drummer Kenny Jones replaced Keith Moon with The Who.

December 27, 1976:
Blues legend Freddie King died at the age of 42.




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