Morning Links

Steve O Speak

New Orleans Proves The Falcons Can Lose At Home: The Falcons had been perfect in the Georgia Dome this season and 19-3 over the past three seasons. In fact it was only the 2nd loss ever for Matt Ryan at home. None of those records matted when the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees came into town. Brees didn’t have his best game and even threw a pick six early in the 4th quarter to give the Falcons the lead, but he came through when it counted. Brees led the Saints on a 90 yard scoring drive, capped by a 6 yard touchdown pass with 3:30 remaining. While it was a great defensive game on both sides, it was the Saints defense that really won this game. The Falcons came up with some big plays against Brees and Co. but they still allowed the Saints to move the ball more effectively. The Saints defense on the other hand only allowed 7 points and and really held the Falcons offensive stars in check all game. While the Falcons still hold the top spot in the NFC, it showed that they are a bit more vulnerable.

Pitt Knocks Off UConn: In an early Big East battle the Pitt Panthers knocked off the UConn Huskies in a statement win for Pitt. The Panthers should move up in the rankings with this win, and they proved once again how tough they are to beat at home. The Huskies Kemba Walker was the high scorer for the night with 31 points, but his output could only keep UConn within 15 points as the Panthers won 78-63. The Panthers never trailed in this game and played shutdown defense, holding the Huskies to 32% shooting. The Panthers were paced by Aston Gibbs with 21 points, but had 3 other players in double figures. Although it is a long Big East season, it was key to get a big win like that early. The Panthers are a good balance of veteran and young players, and really should challenge for the Big East title this season (and possibly more).

Chargers Announce That Norv Turner’s Job Is Safe: After an embarrassing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, that eliminated the Chargers from the playoff hunt a lot of speculation arose that Turner might be on the hot seat. Chargers president and owner Alex Spanos dispelled any notion of that by saying that both Turner and G.M. A.J. Smith would return next season. It was a very candid approach and the right move by the Chargers to dispel any rumors before they maybe hurt the Chargers locker room. Considering how good the Chargers have been of late I don’t think you can fire Turner after one average (albeit disappointing) season. Considering the massive injuries this team faced, in addition to an offseason filled with a number of holdouts (including two that lasted well into the regular season) I think Turner did a fairly good job. In fact if anyone deserves to go it probably should be A.J. Smith, who’s tough negotiating policies led to the holdouts and trade rumors swirling around this team. Smith also had one of his weaker draft classes this past season, that really set the Chargers back. Overall though it is a good move bringing both Turner and Smith back and giving them a shot to redeem themselves, in what is still a fairly weak AFC West.

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