What Happened Last Night: The Redskins Made The Playoffs, And The Clippers Kept Right On Winning
We started with a Romo-inspired detour this morning, but fear not - your overall roundup of the sports scene is here to stay. Let's start with the same Sunday Night Football game - from a much happier perspective.
The Redskins are playoff-bound.
Thinking about this now - has this story gotten enough attention? Through nine games, the Redskins were 3-6 and their coach was all but giving up on the rest of 2012. They never lost again, and now they're playoff-bound. They clinched that berth with a 28-18 victory over the Cowboys, and yes, while that win was aided by a classic Romo misfire, the Redskins had to earn it, and they did - thanks to the play of that offensive rookie sensation. You know the one.
That's right: running back Alfred Morris was superb. Well, he was superb all season, really, finishing with 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground, but last night - 33 carries, 200 yards, three scores - was the high point. Morris did what he's done all year - churn out solid gain after solid gain. There were no dazzling Adrian Peterson/Jamaal Charles-style 80-yard sprints - his longest gain all year went for 39 - but there were consistent, positive gains. Those things add up.
And he did it all year - check his game-by-game stats. Hardly a dud in the bunch. Seven 100-plus-yard efforts. Four or more yards per carry in 12 of 16 games. Robert Griffin III deservedly got headlines, and based on his six rushes for 63 yards and a score of his own last night, that knee is doing much better, but the Skins wouldn't be where they are without Morris, either. Morris, a sixth-round pick, is living proof of why it's so much more rare to take a running back at the top of the NFL draft now If you can get a talent like that so late, why bother betting the future of your franchise on one in the first round? Between Griffin and Morris, the Redskins had an okay 2012 draft, we think.
We've ben saying "The Clippers can't lose" a lot. We meant it figuratively. Now, we're not so sure. Last night's 107-96 L.A. win against the Jazz - their second game against Utah in three days - pushed the Clips' win streak to 17 games, and served as another demonstration of just how many players the Clippers have who can beat you. Sure, Chris Paul was his usual brilliant self, with 19 points, nine assists, and five steals. Sure, Jamal Crawford had 19 more off the bench. These guys have been coming up big all season.
But the guy who really did the Jazz in last night? That'd be Caron Butler. Butler's barely averaging double figures in scoring this season, but last night he scored 29 (in just 25 minutes), shooting 10-for-14 and a perfect 6-for-6 on threes. No, he won't usually play anywhere near that well, and no, that's not the point. The point is that he's a solid player, occasionally he'll play out of his mind, and the Clippers' roster is packed with guys like that. When Butler doesn't shoot the lights out, someone like Crawford, or Grant Hill or Chauncey Billups when they return from injury, might instead.
And if no one does? Well, Paul's still running the show, so good things will happen more often than not. Charles Barkley might not be a believer yet, and it's true that in examining the list of the teams the Clippers have beaten during this 17-game tear, you find a dearth of elite opposition. Still, 17 in a row? The Clippers are serious contenders in the West - doubly so if they can figure out a way to juggle everyone's minutes when Hill and Billups get back. Between the Redskins' big win and the Clippers' ongoing rampage through the league, last night was a great one for loathsome owners.
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Speaking of contenders in the West, the Spurs made quick work of the Mavericks, prevailing 111-86. The Big Three was the Big Three (59 combined points in just 87 combined minutes). None of them will ever age. And as far as non-contenders in the West go, the Kings got themselves a nice win, routing the reeling Celtics 118-96. Isaiah Thomas had 27 points, which is amazing considering the guy has to be what, in his 50s now? What's that? He's a different guy? And his name's not even spelled exactly the same way? Wonders never cease, am I right? Oh, and the Pistons beat the Bucks 96-94 in a tense Battle of the Teams Who've Recently Beaten the Sleepwalking Heat."
Last chance to make something of 2012.
DON'T BLOW IT. Eh, just kiddin', there's always 2013.