« Week 13 Semi-Finals »

Syracuse Posed Standee, November 9, 2008
Last Second Jones TD Lifts Crush Over Albany, 27-24
6-Yard Huard Scoring Pass Caps 40-Yard Drive in Last 1:45
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Washington Postage Stamp, November 9, 2008
Jackson, Capitols Edge Baltimore, 34-27, to Take Division
Will Host Connecticut Saturday in Semi-Final
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Richmond Timed Distant, November 9, 2008
Rebels Benefit from Charleston Miscues, Win 27-20
18-Point Lead Early in 3rd Quarter Holds Up
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Providence Kernel, November 9, 2008
Steam Roller Nip Connecticut, 16-15, on Johnson Plunge
Close Lackluster Campaign With 2nd Win in a Row
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, November 9, 2008
Cherries Run Through and Around New York, 27-13
Tomlinson, Turner Provide One-Two Punch
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Philadelphia Ink Crier, November 9, 2008
Favre, Jacobs Star as Lakers Pound Hershey, 33-7
Defense Allows Just 90 Yards Passing to Boller
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, November 9, 2008

Rip Snorter

Cherries Find Few Land Mines in New York

Surprisingly often the first play from scrimmage of a football game sets the tone — or even establishes the theme — for the remainder of the game.

Last night in New York was such a play.

LaDainian Tomlinson burst 23 yards off left tackle through an opening created by Jason Brown and Chris Samuels. Tomlinson would carry the ball 9 more times on that drive. By the end of the first quarter he had 13 carries for 98 yards, and the Cherries had a 7‑0 lead.

He would carry the ball only one more time, but it was significant for a couple of reasons:

Besides, his understudy, Michael Turner, had already proved himself to be on his game, blasting 36 yards up the middle for a touchdown earlier in the quarter.

Turner would make the most of his opportunity for more playing time, flashing the form of last season, his best for Delaware thus far. His 12 carries last night were good for 133 yards, with gains of 22 and 46 in addition to the touchdown.

Add to that Tomlinson’s 139 yards on 14 carries and Priest Holmes’ 17 on 7, and the Cherries’ land rush over the course of the evening acquired an impressive 289 yards. Philip Rivers had the luxury of picking his spots, usually catching the New York defense off balance. For the night he was 15-for-21 for 130 yards and a pair of scores, the one to Miller and before that a pretty 23-yard hook-up with Lee Evans.

The win was the Cherries’ most impressive of the season, not only subjectively speaking, but also by the objective metric of margin of victory. The 14-point margin exceeded by one the margin of the 32‑19 beating they administered September 6 to Hershey.

But it wasn’t just the offense that was dominant. The 13 points given up by the defense was their stingiest yield of the season, one less than the 14 they allowed to Syracuse September 27.

Ahh, Matt Moore … the rookie from Oregon State is definitely a work-in-progress. Wouldn’t the Cherries like to see him behind center for New York when the two teams face off in the playoffs next Sunday morning? I’ll bet they would!

But they probably won’t see Moore.

Emps coach Roman Gotham said after the game that Chad Pennington had rejoined his team and would likely get the starting nod.

The Emps enjoyed much success with Pennington, who was acquired in the off-season from Pittsburgh (now Charleston). New York won 6 of the 8 games Pennington started. He threw for 1,863 yards and 13 touchdowns, completing 66.1 percent of his passes. He also shined on opening night in relief of Jake Delhomme, throwing for 257 yards as the Emps crushed Baltimore, 54‑24, in what would turn out to be the game deciding the wildcard playoff berth in the Emps’ favor.

Yesterday the Cherries gambled on defense more than usual, as Brian Dawkins lined up noticeably closer, in general, to the line of scrimmage. The strategy paid off. Moore tried to go deep about 10 times but each time came up empty, with most of his throws wildly off the mark.

Brams might want to reconsider that strategy should Pennington be the starter next Sunday. Pennington’s arm isnt’t that strong, but his accuracy and ability to read defenses more than make up for that. The Cherries would have their hands full.