Sacramento, Ca. - Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins combined for 48 points as the Kings (5-12) defeated the Toronto Raptors (4-15) 107-100. The Kings had lost 9 of their last 11 games and were embarrassed last Sunday as the Clippers beat them by 35 points.
With the game tied at 95, Tyreke put the Kings on top for good with a 3-pointer, then connected on another one from the same spot 30 seconds later, giving Sacramento a 101-95 lead with 1:43 remaining. Evans had missed the two previous games with a knee injury but looked fully healthy playing into the 4th quarter.
"Tyreke made two huge 3s and pretty much put the game away," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "He's just coming off an injury, so I know he's not 100 percent. But those 3s showed how he is a big-time competitor. And Cousins is just a bull. He's very talented and everyone knows that."
Having Evans and Cousins both contributing in big ways is the key for this Kings team. When both players are on it's tough to stop them. It's just been rare that both players have played up to their potential on the same night.
"That's very important. I think it starts with us two. DeMarcus in the post and me in the pick-and-rolls getting into the paint," Evans said. "That's one of the things I wanted to do tonight, drive the ball and get fouled."
The Kings will host the Orlando Magic on Friday and look to keep their momentum going.
Oakland, Ca. - Well the Raiders (3-9) woes have reached a season low as what could have been a winnable game against the Cleveland Browns (4-8) turned into Oakland's 5th straight loss. Brown's rookie QB Brandon Weeden picked apart the Raiders secondary throwing for a career high 364 yards while connecting with Cleveland's WR Josh Gordon on a 44 yard Td pass.
That was kind of a statement," Weeden said. "We strung together a lot of really good plays. That shows the potential we have as an offense, and that's encouraging. We had a lot of guys make different plays."
The Raiders have now been officially eliminated from Playoff contention for the 10th straight year. YES, you read that right, 10 STRAIGHT YEARS.
Oakland coach Dennis Allen would leave directly after the game flying to the Dallas area to be with his father, former NFL linebacker Grady Allen, who has a serious health issue. Coach Allen is expected to rejoin the team Wednesday night, a day before the Raiders host Denver and try and play spoiler to a tremendously hot Broncos team.
Both the offense and to a greater extent the defense continue to struggle with no let up in sight. If this team wants to gain any respect from the league and from it's fans they need to suck it up and play for some Raider pride. The team realizes that coming into this season there was a real possibility of contending for an AFC west title but those hopes have been squashed.
"We can't stop the run, we can't stop the pass," Raiders cornerback Michael Huff said. "Things just aren't going well on defense. Right now I guess we're just a bad defense. We can't really hide it. At this point, the numbers don't really allow it. We're just bad right now."
Thursday night will see likely comeback player of the year and MVP candidate Peyton Manning along with his 9-3 Broncos come to Oakland. The teams met in week 4 and the Raiders were embarrassed 37-6. I say let's see what back up QB Terrelle Pryor can bring to the table. It's time to see what this Raiders team actually has on its squad, and possibly start getting excited for next year.
St Louis - Colin Kaepernick received the starting nod from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh earlier in the week, and was able to practice with the first team exclusively for an extended period for the first time even with Alex Smith healthy. Although Kaepernick played okay it was no where up to the level of greatness he has shown the two previous weeks. On paper a game between the Niners (8-3-1) and Rams (5-6-1) seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of San Fran, but we all know the NFL can be as unpredictable as a David Akers field goal attempt is these days. For the second time this season the two teams would enter into an extra period and almost end in a tie. Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein would boot a 54 yard field goal with just 26 seconds left to beat the Niners 16-13.
"I was just trying to make the kick and not think about anything," Zuerlein said. "I was pretty relieved, you know."
Kaepernick made two big errors that were huge in the outcome of the game. In the third quarter he would be penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone while under pressure. This made the score 10-2 with the Niners in front. His second error came in the fourth quarter when an errant pitch out would be picked up by Rams rookie Janoris Jenkins and returned for a TD. St. Louis converted the two-point conversion to tie the game at 10. Both teams would then exchange field to lead them into OT.
Our defense played a great game," Kaepernick said "I gave up those points that were on the scoreboard for the Rams so that's 100 percent my fault."
With just over five minutes left in OT David Akers missed a 51 yard field goal that would have ended the game. Akers, after having one of the best all-time season by a kicker in NFL history last year, has struggled this year going just 7 for 15 on field goals over 40 yards.
"I probably missed it by 3-4 inches to the right," Akers said. "I just feel horrible for letting my teammates, the organization and the fans down."
The 49ers will have a couple big decisions to make over the next week. 1) Do you stick with Kaepernick or go back to Alex Smith against the Miami Dolphins. 2) The Niners have already tried out a few kickers and I have no doubt they will be inviting a few more into camp. I would not be surprised if we see a new kicker starting within the next week or two in a San Francisco uniform.
Raiders coach Dennis Allen hinted Monday that the team has "discussed" using the third-string signal caller Terrelle Pryor in an expanded role, in what is considered a lost season for Oakland.
"Terrelle's working to get better and he's working to improve," Allen said of Pryor. "I've seen improvement in Terrelle. He's gotten better as a quarterback. He's continued to work. I don't think any of us feel like he's the finished product, including himself, but he has worked to improve."
Pryor remains third on the depth chart, behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, but with the Raiders offense struggling and scoring less then 20 points a game this might be the time to give the strong armed athletic QB a look.
The Raiders are 3-8, having lost four straight games as they head into a week 13 showdown with the Cleveland Browns.
Pryor would add another dimension to an offense that has seen injuries demolish their backfield, losing both starting RB Darren McFadden and back-up Mike Goodson for the last several weeks.
Allen was less clear on exactly what role Pryor could play for the Raiders. Replacing Palmer completely seems somewhat unlikely, but Pryor could be used in special packages designed to take advantage of his mobility and big arm.
San Francisco, Ca. - NLCS Most Valuable Player Marco Scutaro will once again don the Orange and Black as he and the Giants have agreed on a 3 year deal worth an estimated $20 million.
Vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said the sides had agreed to a deal, pending a physical.
In 61 games with SF Scutaro batted .362 with 44 RBI's and 3 homers.
Marco is a true professional and a great veteran to have both on the field but also in the locker room and dugout. Fans will welcome him back with open arms and cheers of joy as he takes his starting spot at second base come opening day in 2013.
Cincinnati, OH - Raiders QB Carson Palmer's return to Cincinnati was anything but a happy reunion. The Bengals defense didn't welcome him with open arms, instead laid out the QB several times during the 34-10 demolishing of the Oakland Raiders. The Cinci fans also let Palmer hear their dislike of their previous QB by booing him every chance they got.
"You obviously hear it," Palmer said of the boos. "You can't block things like that out. But I prepared myself for that."
Palmer finished just 19 of 34 for 146 yards, one TD, and threw a pic to go along with a fumble. It was an extremely forgettable game for the entire Raiders team.
"Not a lot went right, from start to finish," Palmer said.
The Bengals went up 24-0 in the first half and although the Raiders had a few glimmers of hope in the 3rd and 4th quarter, this game was over almost before it even started.
"I'm just really tired of losing," safety Mike Mitchell said. "It's going from anger to sadness to ... I don't know.
Oakland has now lost 4 games in a row and sit at 3-8 on the year. In what is considered an all but lost season the Raiders will look to be playing for respectability. Three of their next four games are winnable as they face Cleveland, Carolina, and KC with Denver sandwiched in. Any kind of playoff chance has all but disappeared, but ending the season on a positive note could be just what the Raiders need to look forward to next year.
New Orleans, LA - Colin Kaepernick got the starting nod and once again proved that he belongs in the ranks of NFL starters. Alex Smith was cleared to play but Niners coach Jim Harbaugh stuck with his gut feeling and played the hot hand. Kaepernick's second start may not have been as brilliant as his first, but was still very good and in my opinion earned him the right to continue being the 49ers number one signal caller.
Kaepernick finished the day 16 of 25 for 231 yards passing, a touchdown toss to Frank Gore and one Interception. He also added a 7 yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
"We got a win, so that's all that really matters," Kaepernick said.
Coach Harbaugh said he started Colin over Smith because he wanted to preserve Smith's long term health. Harbaugh has yet to make a decision on next weeks starter.
"The fact he had symptoms seven to eight days later, I'm not going to put a guy back out there," Harbaugh said of Smith. "He eventually got cleared. The plan was to rotate him back into the action (in practice), but not all the way to the front line. ... That would give him a chance to get cleared up completely."
The Niners defense was the real star of this game, shutting down (as much as can expected) a Saints offense that had been on fire the last 4 or 5 games.
Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returned interceptions for touchdowns, the Niners also sacked sacked Saint's QB Drew Brees five times, as San Francisco ended New Orleans' three-game winning streak, 31-21 on Sunday.
"They're a good defense," Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt said of San Francisco. "When you lose your right tackle and you've got to play with a young man who's been here four days, that's a tough challenge."
"We always want to be the best defense on the field, especially on the road," Whitner said. "When you play us, you are going to get hit. That's our identity: smart, hard-nose, physical football."
The 49 ers will travel to St. Louis to face the Rams next Sunday. Since losing to the New York Giants on October 14th they have gone 5-0-1 and now lead the NFC West by 2.5 games.
It will be very intriguing to see what coach Harbaugh decides on over the next few days and how he handles his "QB Controversy". Will he go back to the solid and sturdy Smith or ride the Kaepernick wave of excitement into the playoffs. Christmas is upon us we may just need to dub Colin "Saint 'Nick" at some point this magical NFL season.