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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Weekend musings

By Marla Published: January 17, 2011

1. If there can be a case of singing for your supper in the NFL, Jets receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes might as well have been Pavarotti in Sunday's 28-21 victory over the New England Patriots.

Neither Edwards nor Holmes are signed for 2011. Edwards faces a March 7 court date for his Sept. 21 DWI arrest in New York.  Holmes was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season for violation of the league's substance abuse policy.

Holmes helps his cause with a 7-yard TD catch early in the fourth quarter that answered a Pats' touchdown. It was a replay of the reception that earned Holmes the MVP award of Super Bowl XLIII in Pittsburgh's 27-23 triumph over Arizona.

Say what you will about Holmes' apparent affinity for illegal substances, but he's a master of getting both feet -- or in this case a knee and a foot -- inbounds.

Edwards appears to be developing a chemistry with quarterback Mark Sanchez that could rival his with Browns quarterback Derek Anderson. Sanchez motioned to Edwards on a play that set up the Jets' first TD and Edwards made a 37-yard grab on the left sideline to the New England 8-yard-line.

Edwards caught a 15-yard scoring pass,  carrying two Pro Bowlers into the end zone with 33 seconds left before halftime to give the Jets a 14-3 lead. His biggest gaffe came in the second quarter, when he went high and tipped away a pass that looked intended for Holmes, a few yards past Edwards.

Edwards caught two passes for 52 yards, Holmes three for 20. In the divisional round against Indianapolis, Edwards and Sanchez improvised on a 18-yard reception that set up the game-winning field goal.

Edwards truly seems to appreciate playing with Holmes. Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum faces an interesting decision on the pair when free agency begins.

2. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's NFL-record streak of attempts without an interception was snapped at 340 (which broke the mark of Cleveland's Bernie Kosar) on the first series. But why wasn't linebacker David Harris, who turns 27 Friday, sprinting for the end zone as he returned the pick? Guess he has no jets. When the Jets missed the ensuing field goal, I thought their momentum was gone. It turned out the play set the tone for the game as Brady struggled throughout.

3. I wondered why Patriots receiver Deion Branch left his feet on a fourth and 13  incompletion with 5:15 left. It appeared he would have had a better chance at the ball if he hadn't.

4. The excessive celebration penalty on Shonn Greene's game-clinching 16-yard  TD run with 1:41 to go was classic Jets, even though the penalty would have been huge in a closer game. Surprisingly, the Jets weren't bashed by CBS analyst Phil Simms. "If there was a time to celebrate, that was it," Simms said.

5. Last week I thought Rex Ryan was an idiot for stirring up what one of the New York tabloids called Word War III. Now he's looking crazy like a fox. Guess trash-talking is not so outrageous when you've got twin brother Rob's script on how to confuse Brady with chaos -- not letting him see the same look twice.

6. Watching Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's performance against the Seahawks made me think at least the Browns aren't the only team that has made bad decisions in the past few years. The Denver Broncos are in the Browns' league: Firing coach Mike Shanahan, trading Cutler and shipping running back Peyton Hillis to the Browns for quarterback Brady Quinn.

Cutler may not play like that against a tougher Green Bay defense. But the Broncos' moves are looking like the holy grail of gaffes.

7. The ultimate remote challenge Saturday night: OSU-Penn State basketball and Steelers-Ravens.

8. Great strategy by Ohio State coach Thad Matta, going to his horse Jared Sullinger on back-to-back possessions in the final minute. The freshman responded with two three-point plays in the 69-66 victory. Sullinger was coming off a rough night against Michigan.

Fans also saw freshman point guard Aaron Craft come of age. Craft scored a career-high 19 and smothered PSU's go-to-guy Talor Battle on the final shot.

9. If only the Buckeyes could shoot free throws. Making 9 of 13 against Penn State looks pretty good until you see the Nittany Lions' 12 of 13. Will that be the Buckeyes' Achilles heel in the NCAA tournament?

10. I thought sure when the Steelers missed a field goal at the end of the first half that the Ravens had all the momentum. Then it swung big-time on running back Ray Rice's fumble. It was a stunning second-half debacle for the Ravens.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco didn't get any help from his receivers. His last throw should have been caught for a first down by T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Anquan Boldin dropped the ball on TD pass that would have given the Ravens the lead with 3:58 left.

11. From the 'I still believe Courtney Brown should have been a linebacker' department: Ravens final play with 1:09 to go, down 31-24. Considering the pressure Flacco was facing, I might have used nose tackle Haloti Ngata for pass protection. Teams use defensive linemen on offense to block on the goal line. What's the difference?

12. Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff will represent the AFC in the Pro Bowl. He's a free agent in 2011. Will the Browns go after him if they elect not to re-sign Phil Dawson? Presumably Cundiff, who restarted his career with the Browns in 2009 when Dawson was injured, will cost significantly less. Id still bring back Dawson.

13. The best sight during this weekend's action: Jets co-captains LaDainian Tomlinson and James Ihedigbo carrying a No. 90 Dennis Byrd jersey to midfield for the coin toss.

 The defensive lineman who suffered a broken neck and was temporarily paralyzed in a collision with a teammate against Kansas City in 1992 spoke to the Jets at their team hotel Saturday night. On Twitter, Edwards called it "the most inspirational message of my life." Byrd, 44 and living in Oklahoma, sent Ryan the jersey that was cut off him when he was injured.

14. Least favorite TV commercial during a big sports weekend: Mayhem. Guess it's a guy thing.

Favorite: Kia's rappin' hamsters. I know not everyone is a big fan of this hip hop spot. It can drive you crazy if you're not watching the rodents' antics.

15. Totally torn on whether to root for the Steelers or Jets in the AFC Championship. The loud-mouthed Jets have three of my favorite ex-Buckeyes, center Nick Mangold, tight end Ben Hartsock and Holmes. The Steelers represent the AFC North, but have Ohio-dissing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. This may be a game-time decision.



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