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LAst Night's Action: The Return of the NFL

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They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and holy shitballs is my heart fonder of the NFL right now.

The NFL schedulers were geniuses in scheduling the New Orleans Saints to visit the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers. After the threat of a lost season, people don’t want to see 3-2 defensive quagmires. They want to see offense, offense and more offense. With the Packers beating the Saints 42-34, this game delivered.

Of course the game came down to the final second with Drew Brees driving the Saints methodically down the field. On the Green Bay nine-yard line with three seconds left, Brees’ pass to running back Darren Sproles in the end zone fell to the ground. Game over.

But the charity of a phantom pass interference call gave the Saints an untimed down with the ball on the one-yard line. Despite Brees having gone 5-for-6 that included a spike to stop the clock, the Saints opted to give the ball to rookie running back Mark Ingram who got stopped right at the line.

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This brought up a play from the third quarter where the Saints had third- and fourth-and-inches at the Green Bay seven-yard line down 35-27. On third down, they sent Ingram on through for no gain.

On fourth down instead of going for a quarterback sneak, the Saints opted for a play-action play that had Brees drop back to the 20-yard line. Brees made a desperation throw to avoid the sack that was ruled incomplete. Turnover on downs.

Either the Saints are too cute for their britches or they’re chickenshit from running a power game.

The Packers just seemed to pick up where they left off in the Super Bowl. Which brings up a certain question.

Does being great require one to win a championship first?

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In the first quarter, Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers attempted 14 passes only one of which ended up spinning harmlessly on the turf. Three of those passes ended up in the arms of three different receivers in the end zone.

Granted Rodgers only made two passes more than 20 yards - nothing superlative in that regard. But the way he picked through the New Orleans Saints defense was transcendent. The normally emotional player had the look of a Zen master. Rodgers’ calm demeanor was something of a revelation. His saucer-like eyes looked towards the sideline at the completion of each play awaiting for the next call. And play after play, he was executing those plays.

Since the Packers’ playoff run last season, Rodgers has emerged from the field of potential best in the game currently to actually being one of the best in the game currently. That’s not to be disparaging of his play before his playoff run. In his three seasons as starter Rodgers amassed a 64.6% completion rate for a total of 12,394 yards of offense with 86 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. That translates to a 99.4 passer rating.

In last season’s playoff run including the egg he laid against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game: 90-of-132 for 1,094 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions with a passer rating of 109.84.

So did winning the Super Bowl trigger an epiphany in Rodgers that unlocked his potential? Or was he great before the Super Bowl run but we just didn’t know it?

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Rodgers eventually came back down to earth and ended the game with a passer rating of 132.1 going 27-of-35 for 312 yards and those three touchdowns. Brees wasn’t shabby either going 32-of-49 for 419 yards and three touchdowns.

And in the end everyone across America (sans San Diego and South Orange County. Sorry!) who watched the game had smiles across their faces realizing that the NFL was indeed back.

LA Dodgers defeat Washington Nationals 7-4. In game 1 of the doubleheader, Chien-Ming Wang did start for the Nationals. However Chad Billingsley, originally the starter for the second game, replaced Dana Eveland as the starter. The Dodgers scored four early runs off of Wang. Billingsley blew the lead in the four-run fourth inning. Tony Gwynn’s double in the ninth inning gave the Dodgers the lead, and Javy Guerra pitched a perfect ninth for the save.

The second game was rained out and eventually cancelled. It will not be made up since neither team will have any playoff scenarios hinging on the game. So the Dodgers will end the season having played 161 games. Weird.

Oh and the guy with the bum knee is out for the rest of the season with a bum knee.

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TONIGHT’S ACTION

New York Yankees at LA Angels. 7:05 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

LA Dodgers at San Francisco Giants. 7:15 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.

Colorado Rapids at LA Galaxy. 8:00 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes, AM 1330 KWKW.