Super Bowl Anthology: Super Bowl X

By Nick Shook
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Lynn Swann’s Pittsburgh Steelers sat atop professional football’s throne in America’s 200th year of existence, 1976. Coming off a 16-6 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, the Steelers were the defending champions and one of football’s two most-popular franchises. Along with wide receiver John Stallworth, Swann was the star of a passing attack led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Pittsburgh took the Miami Orange Bowl turf prepared to win a second straight world championship. At the other end of the field stood America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. After three quarters, Dallas looked poised to take home the title.

An unseating of the reigning champions wasn’t going to come easy.

After kicking a 36-yard field goal to grab a slim 12-10 lead, Pittsburgh took the field with 4:25 left to play. The Steelers faced a third and 6 from their 36-yard line when Bradshaw dropped back and heaved a deep pass to Swann. The acrobatic receiver caught the ball at the 5-yard line as defensive back Mark Washington fell in a vain attempt at a tackle and Swann trotted into the end zone, tossing the ball over his shoulder and raising his arms in celebration.

Swann finished the game with 161 receiving yards and a touchdown, good for Super Bowl X Most Valuable Player.

Swann recalled the Steelers’ second world championship to Nick Shook at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

‘Well for us, it was staying in the routine. We had learned that from the first Super Bowl, that having a good routine helps youin your preparation. You don’t really have to think about a lot. You just stick to the routine, stick to the plan, and things will take care of themselves.’

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Nick Shook on fantasy football: Pass on Landry Jones but pluck Martavis Bryant out of the air if you can

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
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Mike Vick was a hero in the fourth quarter in San Diego in Week 5, but let’s be honest — he was handcuffing the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense.

As soon as the veteran went down with a concuss — I mean, dirt in his eye (and later a hamstring injury), Landry Jones again showed America what it looks like when a traditional quarterback with eyes downfield can do with the Steelers’ skilled guys. The results? 8-for-12, 168 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 149.3. Steelers 25, Cardinals 13. Continue reading

Nick Shook on Fantasy Football: Ignore the preseason games at your own risk; there are gems to be mined

By Nick Shook
Beacon Journal copy editor
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The NFL season is fast approaching. More importantly, fantasy football is coming, the time of year fantasy sports players have been anxiously awaiting.

Fantasy football magazines have been sitting on shelves for more than a month. Draft kits have been ordered and are sitting in the backs of UPS trucks nationwide. It’s time to start building that big board. Continue reading

Joe Flacco helps Ravens top Steelers in Wild Card

By Nick Shook |
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NFL teams spend all season battling for the right to go to the postseason. Once a berth is locked up, the prime objective through Week 17 is to secure the best possible seed. Why?

Because the highest seed gets home-field advantage in the playoffs, and there’s no better place to play postseason football than at home. Crowds are raucous, stakes are high and historical records are in the favor of those wearing the home uniforms.

Postseason football on the road is often the most difficult, a fact proven by Wild Card weekend. Visiting teams went 1-3, and only one game was a one-possession contest inside two minutes.

That matchup — Cowboys vs. Lions — and its controversial end will likely be debated for days, before the collective attention of fans and media alike turns to Packers/Cowboys. The clock is ticking on that one.

But despite the loss, Detroit still featured at least a couple commendable performances. We’ll get to those later.

In the meantime, since we’ve reached the postseason and Baltimore is in said postseason, that one E word is going creep into consciousness.

But I have one pressing question: Is this column elite?

Here are Wild Card weekend’s greatest on the road:

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A.J. Green enters NFL’s concussion protocol

By Nick Shook |
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The Bengals lost their shot at the AFC North division crown on Sunday night, but that might not be all.

A.J. Green has entered the league’s concussion protocol, NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reported Sunday night, after sustaining a blow to the head from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell late in the fourth quarter of the Bengals27-17 loss.

The hit came less than a second after Green hauled in a 17-yard pass and was wrestled down toward the ground by Antwon Blake, forcing a fumble. The result was a pivotal recovery by the Steelers, ending the Bengals‘ drive. Continue reading

Bengals’ Jeremy Hill steamrolls Browns in road victory

By Nick Shook |
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It’s that time of the year. It’s that time when we all start to tire of holiday advertisements, get paper cuts from overpriced wrapping paper and develop a serious disdain for Scotch tape. It’s that time when bad football teams face equally awful football teams and they call it the “Top College Football Player X Bowl.” But most importantly, it’s that time when late-season divisional games populate the schedule, and suddenly, we have very, very important football on deck.

Such was the case across the league on Sunday. Indianapolis clinched the AFC South with a win over division rival Houston, Denver did the same to claim the AFC West crown against San Diego, Buffalo kept its playoff hopes alive in a stunning win over Green Bay, and Carolina somehow gained control of its previously unlikely playoff aspirations. Oh, and the Jets managed to win the Marcus Mariota Bowl in Tennessee, prompting Rex Ryan to tell reporters he doesn’t give a you-know-what about the Heisman Trophy winner or the No. 1 pick.

Meaningful football typically brings the best — and sometimes, the worst — out of players on all levels. You know the saying: Big-time players make big-time plays.

Here are this week’s best big time players on the road.

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Cam Newton breaks slump, helps Panthers pound Saints

By Nick Shook |
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The word of Week 14 is “mobility.”

Mobile quarterbacks put on impressive road performances, and a certain running back (whom we’ll mention later) used his mobility to become the first since Walter Payton to post 200-plus yards from scrimmage in three straight games.

Week 14 was also a great week for mobile teams — those playing away from home — which won 10 of 15 road games.

Mobile quarterback Teddy Bridgewater posted his fifth win as a starter, a total greater than the rest of the rookie quarterbacks combined this season.

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck used his mobility to score a rushing touchdown in a hotly contested game that produced a road victory for the Colts. Speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton wasn’t too shabby, either, scoring the game-winning touchdown in the final minute and posting a final stat line of 10 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. That man canmove.

Here are this week’s most magnificent men of mobility. Continue reading

Better version of Philip Rivers leads Chargers to road win

By Nick Shook |
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Do you feel bloated?

Are you confused because you stopped eating Thanksgiving leftovers two days ago, you’ve traversed nearly five miles worth of department store aisles, spinning around and stiff-arming fellow shoppers like Earl Campbell, and yet the feeling won’t pass?

Well don’t fret, because that isn’t excess calories testing the limits of your waistband — it’s the fulfilling slate of redemption games upon which we just feasted.

That’s right, this week is all about that R word. Mark Sanchez carried the ball on Thanksgiving without fumbling or running into the rear end of his teammate. In fact, he scored! Two years after the butt fumble, Sanchez reversed his fortunes. We did it, America.

Our winner and one of two considered each filled the profile of a player who at the very least got his own 30-second debate segment centered around “What’s wrong with Player/Team X this season?” Some of these segments became so frequent, players addressed them in press conferences multiple times. But they won’t have to hear about it this week!

Here are Week 13’s Greatest on the Road — to redemption.

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Mike Glennon leads Buccaneers to stunning win

By Nick Shook |
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It was a tough go for road teams in Week 4. Squads away from home won just four of 11 games if we include Miami’s triumph across the pond over Oakland — a home game for the Raiders, according to the league schedule.

But those road victors included a resonating divisional win, and a very unlikely, thrilling conquest in a hostile environment, led by a quarterback with minimal experience. Here are Week 4’s heroes staying in hotels.

Greatest on the road…

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Going into Week 4, it was a dead heat between the Oakland Raiders and the Buccaneers for worst team in the league. Tampa Bay was thrashed on national TV against Atlanta in Week 3, and an injury to starting quarterback Josh McCown forced the Buccaneers to go with the backup.

Enter Mike Glennon.

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