Hawks grab first of Home and Home from Avs 3-1


DENVER—Patrick Sharp broke a tie early in the third period and the Blackhawks went on to beat Colorado 3-1 on Thursday, snapping the Avalanche’s winning streak at five.Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa also scored and Corey Crawford made 30 saves to help the Blackhawks sweep a two-game trip that started in Phoenix on Tuesday night. Ryan O’Byrne had a goal and Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots for Colorado. The Avalanche’s winning streak came on the road. They’ve lost both home games this season. Sharp made it 2-1 with 13:40 left. Andrew Brunette put a hard shot on Varlamov from the slot and the rebound went to Sharp along the boards. Sharp skated into the right circle and beat Varlamov over his right shoulder for his second goal of the season. Colorado had a chance to tie it when Brent Seabrook drew a minor for tripping with 2:12 left. The Avalanche pulled Varmalov with 1:28 left, but Hossa scored into an empty net with 1:10 left.The Blackhawks opened the scoring in the second period after being outshot 13-6 in the first 20 minutes. Toews lifted a backhander over Varlamov’s right shoulder with 3:58 left in the period, his third goal of the season.O’Byrne tied it at 1 with his first goal of the season. The defenseman pinched down and deflected Matt Duchene’s shot past Crawford with 4:37 left in the first. The goal stood after a video review.Colorado’s best chance to score in the first came with 6:49 left when Ryan O’Reilly broke through the defense, but Crawford stopped him.

NOTES—Avalanche C Peter Mueller (head) missed his fourth straight game. Mueller missed all of last season after sustaining a concussion late in the 2009-10 season. … O’Byrne’s goal was Colorado’s first at home this season. The Avalanche were shutout in their opener and needed 95:27 to get their first goal at Pepsi Center. … The teams will play again Saturday night at the United Center as statues for Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita are unvield.

Hawks shut down punchless Coyotes 5-2


GLENDALE—Dave Bolland scored one third-period goal and had an assist on the other to help the Blackhawks pull away to a 5-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.Bolland’s steal and shorthanded goal gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead 2:27 into the third period. His assist helped set up Bryan Bickell’s score that made it 5-2 6 1/2 minutes later as the Blackhawks outshot Phoenix 35-16.Marian Hossa, back after missing a game with an upper-body injury, scored the first goal when his team had a two-man advantage in the first period.Jonathan Toews, Jamal Mayers and Bryan Bickell also scored for Hawks who complete the two game road trip against Colorado in Denver Thursday night before hosting the Avalanche at the United Center Saturday evening when statues of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita are unveiled.Taylor Pyatt and Ray Whitney scored for Phoenix.






 ***You know Lovie Smith doesn’t want to hear this, but did the Bears blow out Minnesota because they were reallt that good? Or were(and are)the Vikings that bad? Both to be sure,but Leslie Frazier’s club is just plain awful! There’s nothing more to say about this.

 ***Devin Hester’s 98 yard kickoff return for a score in the third quarter was the most exciting play of the night. The Bears are now 1-2 in Division games,but still five games behind Green Bay and now four in back of Detroit.

 ***No doubt, Chris Harris was demoted from the starting lineup because he and Brandon Meriweather both had awful games in Detroit last week. BUT, but Harris inactive because he tweeted that everyone “should be treated the same” and did Lovie punish him for that. The reason given was that Harris is not a special teams player. Same thing said by Mike Martz about Dez Clark last year, but nobody was buying that line.

 ***Jay Cutler’s passer rating was 115.9 last night while Donovan McNabb’s was 97.4. Cutler was sacked just once while McNabb was nailed five times.

 ***Oh, and BTW, Texas Rangers to beat the St.Louis Cardinals in six games. Remember,the National League won the All Star game for the second straight year,so the Cards have home field advantage.



Bears blow away pitiful looking Vikings 39-10 as Hester returns a kickoff for a TD


Well this one started out way too easy.The Bears parlayed it into a 39-10 blowout victory over the Minnesota Vikings in their final game Stateside for three weeks,and their last at Soldier Field for a month. The Bears stopped the Vikings three and out,got a 48 yard TD bomb from Jay Cutler to Devin Hester, Stephen Paea tackled Donovan McNabb in the end zone(first safety Vikings have given up since 1975 when Fran Tarkenton was the victim),and then a drive to the 3 from where Marion Barber scored. Either the VIKES looked brutal OR the Bears were just better with Chris Harris inactive and Brandon Meriweather on the sideline-which, or both? The first quarter ended 16-0 Bears. After Ryan Longwell’s 37 yard field goal got Minnesota on the board,Cutler threw a 13 yard TD pass to Dane Sanzenbacher and Robbie Gould kicked his first of three field goals on the night, a 51 yarder that had plenty to spare. The Bears halftime lead was 26-3 and this one was pretty much over.


The second half was played because rules say they had too, and also to determine the final score. Adrian Peterson got the Vikings into the end zone with a 4 yard run,but Devin Hester, who last December 20th returned a punt for a score at the U.of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, took the Longwell kickoff 98 yards to extend his NFL record for most kicks returned for a score. Gould later added a 26 yarder to make it 36-10 after the third quarter and a 22 yard chip shot just ten seconds into the third quarter.


NOTES—The Bears will leave for London Thursday and face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday at Noon Chicago time at Wembley Stadium….Hester left for a chest injury early in the fourth quarter.




Hawks get point,but fall in shootout to Bruins


Tyler Seguin scored the only goal in a shootout and Boston beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Saturday night in the only regular-season matchup between the last two Stanley Cup Champions.Chris Kelly and Nathan Horton scored in regulation for Boston, which snapped a two-game skid to give coach Claude Julien his 300th NHL win. Nathan’s tying goal at 7:56 of the third sent the game to overtime.Boston goalie Tim Thomas stopped 27 shots through overtime, then was perfect against Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp in the shootout. Defending champion Boston came on strong late and improved to 2-3. But the Bruins have scored just 10 goals in five games and are 0 for 20 on the power play since converting their first chance of the season. Kane and Bryan Bickell scored in regulation for the Blackhawks, who got 35 saves from Corey Crawford.The Blackhawks came out flying, but ran out of gas late in the game and fell to 2-1-1.

“It was an amazing pace. That first period was the best period we’ve been involved in all year,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Both teams were dangerous. Both goalies had to be sharp in the first period, and had to be sharp all game.”

The Hawks couldn’t preserve a 2-1 lead in the third. The Bruins dominated the final frame and had several prime chances — including a shot by Dennis Seidenberg that clanked off the post in the final minute.Boston’s Rich Peverley then missed on a breakaway midway through overtime. He skated in alone on Crawford from the Boston blue line after a turnover by Kane, but fired a backhand shot high and wide.

“I think for whatever the reason, we didn’t really play the way we wanted to in the third,” Kane said. “It’s tough to give up a goal, especially when you’re up 2-1, but it kind of seemed like we were playing back a little bit and not really pushing the pace.”

Both teams had excellent scoring chances in a wide-open first period. Kane was flying, but was stopped by Thomas on two highlight-reel attempts. Bickell finally broke through with the only goal of the first with 3:39 left in the period. He picked off a pass by Boston defenseman Andrew Ference at center ice, barreled down the slot and beat Thomas with a low shot.Kelly scored a short-handed goal, completing a 2-on-1 with Peverley, 1:33 into the second to tie it at 1. Kelly took Peverley’s pass and whipped a high shot past Crawford from the slot.Kane put the Hawks ahead 2-1 just 1:18 later — and seconds after a Blackhawks power play expired — on a shot from the left circle that slipped between Thomas’ legs.Boston dominated in the third, and Horton tied it 2-all at 7:56. He beat Crawford from the left circle after taking Johnny Boychuk’s pass from behind the net.

NOTES—Marian Hossa (upper body) missed the game and is day to day….Viktor Stalberg returned to the lineup after missing the Blackhawks’ first three games with a knee injury….Ben Smith (concussion) sat out his fourth game.






NU season(and defense) sinking as Iowa takes care of key turnovers for 41-31 win.

IOWA CITY—Northwestern chances of going to a Bowl Game this season are fading,mostly since the Wildcats defense has failed in key spots against Army,Illinois and now Iowa. NU had plenty of offense, but its defense couldn’t stop Iowa when it mattered most Saturday.James Vandenberg threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns as the Hawkeyes beat Northwestern 41-31, snapping a three-game losing streak to the Wildcats.Marcus Coker added 124 yards rushing and two TDs for the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-1 Big Ten), who won despite allowing 495 yards and 29 first downs to Northwestern.Iowa blew a 17-0 second-quarter lead, then pulled ahead 24-17 on Coker’s 1-yard TD run with 13:55 left. Vandenberg pushed the lead to 31-17 on a 35-yard TD pass to Marvin McNutt, and Coker’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:56 to go sealed just Iowa’s second win over the Wildcats in seven tries. Northwestern (2-4, 0-3) has now allowed 121 points in Big Ten play. Worse yet, Iowa scored 41 points despite holding the ball for less than 22 minutes and running just 50 plays.The Wildcats allowed 24 points in the fourth quarter alone – which is more than Iowa scored against them in each of their previous three meetings.

“We are going to find a way to create a plan for our guys, come back home (next week against Penn State) and find a way to get a win,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Dan Persa threw for 246 yards on 31 of 40 passing for the Wildcats, who dropped their fourth straight game.NU dominated the box score – but it let Iowa make the most of its opportunities.And the Cats are not making plays on defense.Northwestern trailed by 10 at the break despite leading the Hawkeyes in nearly every statistical category. The Wildcats continued to rack up yards at the start of the second half though, pulling within 17-14 on Adonis Smith’s 4-yard run and tying the game on Jeff Budzien’s 47-yard field goal with 4:19 left in the third quarter.Though the Hawkeyes could barely stop Northwestern on third down – the Wildcats converted a staggering 16 of them in 22 tries – they made it count when they did.The Wildcats trailed 24-17 when they drove to Iowa’s 23-yard line with 10 minutes left. But Kain Colter, in at quarterback, got drilled as he threw a wayward backward pass on third-and-5.Budzien then missed from 47 yards, and three plays later Vandenberg found McNutt streaking down the middle of the field for a backbreaking touchdown.Northwestern’s shot at another rally fizzled after just two plays.Persa lost a fumble deep in Iowa territory, and Mike Meyer’s 40-yard field goal put Iowa ahead 34-17 with 6:49 left.

“This season has been a journey and right now we’re just facing a storm,” Colter said. “We just faced the worst part of the storm, and we could turn around and go back or we can keep pushing on.”

Northwestern responded with an 18-yard TD pass from Colter to Drake Dunsmore with 4:50 left. But McNutt, whose TD reception was a school record-tying 21st of his career, recovered an onside kick and brought it back deep into Wildcats territory.Persa’s creativity crushed the Hawkeyes in a 21-17 Northwestern victory in Evanston in 2010, using his arm and legs to keep a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives alive.But his game winning TD may have been the most costly in NU history since Persa torn his achilles on that play,causing him to miss the remaining games including a January 1st Bowl loss.In the opening quarter, Persa pushed his limits too far.On a first-and-goal from Iowa’s 7-yard line, Persa floated a pass to the middle of the field despite being harassed by a pair of Hawkeyes. The effort floated aimlessly into the thankful arms of Tanner Miller, who took it back for an easy 98-yard touchdown return.Miller’s interception return put Iowa ahead 10-0 with 4:08 left in the first quarter and tied the longest in school history.

“We got all the momentum and we’re going down on the drive to score and we turn it over and it’s a pick-six,” Fitzgerald said. “That was a big change in momentum on the road and it’s tough to overcome.”

The Hawkeyes made it 17-0 on a pair of long tosses from Vandenberg to a wide-open Davis.The first covered 31 yards and came over the top of Northwestern’s secondary. The second looked like the same play – but this time Davis cruised into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown with 9:34 left before halftime.Northwestern got one back on Persa’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Ebert with 3:54 to go. But after leading at the break in each of their first two Big Ten games, the Wildcats trailed 17-7.

OSU shuts down Jenkins, limits Scheelhaase. Illini lose for first time 17-7

CHAMPAIGN—Daniel Herron hadn’t played a down of football since the Sugar Bowl because of NCAA suspensions but ran for 114 yards and a touchdown in his return Saturday as Ohio State upset No. 16 Illinois 17-7. With true freshman Braxton Miller at quarterback Ohio State (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten), Ohio State counted on Herron against Illinois (6-1, 2-1). The Buckeyes didn’t throw a pass until late in the second quarter and didn’t complete one until Miller hit Jake Stoneburner for a 17-yard fourth-quarter touchdown that put Ohio State up 17-0. The Buckeyes’ defense, meanwhile, forced three turnovers — two of which the offense converted into touchdowns. Stoneburner’s touchdown was set up by an A.J. Jenkins fumble at the Illinois 37 and Herron’s 12-yard touchdown run followed an interception by Bradley Roby that he returned to the Illinois 12. Herron’s TD put Ohio State ahead 10-0 in the third quarter. A week after Miller lost the fumble that gave Nebraska a way to get back into the game — which the Cornhuskers turned into an epic win — Ohio State played the kind of keep-it-simple style that the young quarterback and a stiff defense could win. The Buckeyes didn’t throw their first pass until the 7:22 mark of the second quarter. Miller, in fact, threw a total of four balls and that first completion to Stoneburner came with 13:06 left in the game. No Ohio State team had gone through a game with just one completion since 1976, a 22-21 loss to Missouri with Rod Gerald under center.That Ohio State team was ranked No. 2, while this one was just trying to get its head above water, end a two-game losing streak and chalk up its first Big Ten win. Enter Herron, who had to sit out six games as a result of his role in a cash-for-memorablia scandal — the matter that cost ex-coach Jim Tressel his job – and then for taking too much money for a summer job. Interim coach Luke Fickell said during the week he wasn’t sure how much the senior tailback would play and he wasn’t listed as the starter.But Herron was in the backfield from the beginning, and carried the bulk of the load on the opening drive, one that on a day of gusty 20-plus mph winds delivered a 45-yard Drew Basil field goal. It was the only score of the half.The Ohio State defense, meanwhile, played big, holding an Illini offense that was averaging almost 450 yards and 34.7 points a game to 285 yards and, until the 6:22 mark of the fourth quarter, no points.Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was 20 of 34 for 169 yards, with two interceptions and a late 3-yard touchdown pass to Evan Wilson that finally put the Illini on the board. Illinois hasn’t been shutout since losing 30-0 two seasons ago at Ohio State.The Buckeyes also held Illinois other big weapon in check. Roby said during the week that Jenkins, who was averaging 135.8 yards a game, was “nothing special, a product of Illinois’ system. Jenkins, often covered by Roby, had 80 yards Saturday, but his eight catches didn’t amount to much. Illinois senior tailback Jason Ford left the game in the third quarter with an injured left shoulder after a big hit on a first-down carry. He finished with 30 yards on six carries. Scheelhaase was Illinois’ leading rusher with 16 carries for 49 yards.


– 7 – 2011



Carolina @ ATLANTA***

Indianapolis @ CINCINNATI***

Buffalo&*** @ NY GIANTS

Jacksonville @ PITTSBURGH***

Philadelphia @ WASHINGTON***

Houston @ BALTIMORE***

Cleveland @ OAKLAND***

Dallas @ NEW ENGLAND***

New Orleans*** @ TAMPA BAY

Miami @ NY JETS***(Mon Night)


San Francisco @ DETROIT***

St.Louis @ GREEN BAY***

Minnesota @ BEARS***(Sun Night)

Last week:5-8. TOTAL THROUGH 1st FIVE WEEKS: 54-23

(Teams with *** after them are those we pick to win.


Hawks spot Jets 2 quick goals,then take control in 4-3 win


Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists to help the Blackhawks overcome an early two-goal deficit in a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. Linemate Marian Hossa added a goal and an assist, and Andrew Brunette and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks. Jim Slater scored twice early in the first period for the Jets, and Kyle Wellwood added a goal late in the second. The Jets, who relocated from Atlanta in the offseason, dropped to 0-2. They lost their home opener to Montreal 5-1 on Sunday night. Backup Ray Emery made his first start since signing as a free agent in July and stopped 27 shots. Corey Crawford, was on the bench and available, although he has been nursing a lower-body injury.Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves for Winnipeg. The Jets outshot the Blackhawks 5-0 in the opening 7:29 and grabbed a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals Slater deflected in through Emery’s pads.Slater opened the scoring 4:24 in on a tip of Johnny Oduya’s shot from the left point following a failed clearing attempt. Just more than 3 minutes later, Slater redirected in Ron Hainsey’s shot. Joel Quenneville called a timeout after Slater’s second goal, and the move paid off. The Blackhawks dominated the rest of the period and into the second. Brunette knocked in a rebound from a scramble during a power play at 9:45 of the first to cut it to 2-1. Kane knotted it at 2 with 3:10 left in the period, firing in a one-timer from the right circle after taking Hossa’s cross-ice feed.Hossa gave his team a 3-2 lead just 33 seconds into the second on a screened shot from the top of the right circle. Bolland made it 4-2 at 6:45 by beating Pavelec on the short side. Wellwood cut it to 4-3 on a goal-mouth scramble with 5:26 left in the second. With Emery down and out of position, Wellwood backhanded the puck between his own legs and into the net. Emery had to make a couple of tough saves to preserve the lead, but the Hawks had the better chances in the scoreless third.

NOTES—Winnipeg LW Andrew Ladd and D Dustin Byfuglien played their first games in Chicago since winning the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010. Both were traded to the Atlanta Thrashers as part of a salary cap dump shortly after the Hawks won the championship. …Daniel Carcillo, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, played his first game with the Blackhawks. He skated on a line with Kane and Hossa, and picked up an assist. Carcillo was suspended for the first two games of the season. … The Hawks skated without LW Viktor Stalberg (knee) and RW Ben Smith (concussion). … Sean O’Donnell celebrated his 40th birthday. He’s the first Blackhawks player 40 or older since G Tony Esposito.

Brewers beat Cards 4-2 to tie up NLCS 2-2.

Milwaukee Brewers logo

ST. LOUIS—Randy Wolf outfoxed the St. Louis Cardinals for seven innings to earn his first postseason win at age 35 and the Milwaukee Brewers got two more hits from Ryan Braun in a 4-2 victory Thursday night that evened the NL championship series at 2. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig hit home runs for the Cardinals, representing their only runs in the past 16 innings. Francisco Rodriguez allowed a hit in the eighth and John Axford finished for his second save of the series and third this postseason. The Brewers ended an eight-game road losing streak in the postseason dating to the 1982 World Series opener at St. Louis. Jaime Garcia will face Zack Greinke for the second time in the series in Game 5 on Friday night. Either way, the NLCS will be decided back at Miller Park. Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled twice with an RBI and Wolf hit one of the Brewers’ five doubles. Braun is batting .471 (16 for 34) in the postseason with two home runs and nine RBI. The Cardinals needed more heavy duty from their bullpen, too, after Kyle Lohse, pitching on 12 days’ rest, failed to make it out of the fifth. Albert Pujols was a quiet 1 for 4 for St. Louis, which was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and is 0 for 15 after the first inning of Game 3. Wolf kept the Cardinals off-balance with soft tosses and retired 13 of his last 15 hitters in his fourth career postseason start. It was a huge improvement from Game 4 of the NL division series at Arizona in which he surrendered seven runs in three innings. Wolf also struggled in his last two regular season starts, allowing 10 runs in 11 2/3 innings.For the fourth consecutive game, the Cardinals had to lean heavily on their relievers. Lohse sailed through three innings and then allowed three doubles and three runs to his last eight hitters, and was charged with three runs in 4 1/3 innings. St. Louis relievers have worked 17 1/3 innings in the series. Two of Cardinals manager Tony La Russa’s moves paid off. Bumped down one spot to fifth, Holliday hit his first postseason home run and doubled. Craig started in place of Lance Berkman, who was 3 for 32 lifetime against Wolf and had a minor right thigh bruise from getting hit by a pitch in Game 3. Craig hit his first career postseason home run made it 2-0 in the third. The Brewers tied it in the fourth with their first runs since the third inning of Game 3 on doubles by Prince Fielder and Jerry Hairston Jr. and an RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Lohse was pulled after Nyjer Morgan doubled to start the fifth and advanced on a groundout, the heart of the order coming up. Braun’s single off Mitchell Boggs put the Brewers in front although second baseman Ryan Theriot’s sprawling stop transformed Fielder’s smash into an inning-ending double play. Rickie Weeks singled and Hairston doubled again to open the sixth, and the Brewers soon had a two-run cushion. George Kottaras hit a grounder against a drawn-in infield off Arthur Rhodes, and Theriot bobbled the ball on a short hop for an error.The Cardinals’ streak of scoring in the first inning ended at five games when they went down in order against Wolf, but they hurt the left-hander with opposite-field power the next two innings. Wolf fell behind the count to six of the first 14 hitters and the Cardinals were 4 for 5 with two home runs, a double, single and walk.

NOTES—Injured Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright caught the ceremonial first ball for the second straight game, this time from former Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds, accompanied by a young son who also made a throw. … Home plate umpire Mike Everitt got stung in the upper right arm area by a foul ball off the bat of Rafael Furcal but stayed in the game. … Mark Kotsay started in RF in place of Corey Hart, 2 for 17 against Lohse. … The longest of Wolf’s three previous preseason starts was 5 1-3 innings with the Dodgers on Oct. 19, 2009, at Philadelphia. … An Anheuser-Busch wagon pulled by Clydesdales and loaded with baseballs made a circuit around the warning track during the pregame ceremonies.