New York Giants: One year has passed since Eli Manning’s retirement

New York Giants, Eli Manning

After the turbulent 2020 season, it might seem like it’s been longer than it has. But it’s only been one year since New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning walked away from the NFL. Some thought at the time that Manning would end up playing for another team. Names like New Orleans were thrown around in the conversation, but Manning made the choice to remain “only a Giant” and retire for good with the franchise he spent his whole career with.

He walked away having done everything there was to do, of course. He never missed a game because of an injury, has numerous franchise records, and started 210 consecutive games before his streak was ended controversially in a decision that was widely panned by Giants fans. And of course, he was a two time Super Bowl champion and two time Super Bowl MVP.

Manning slipped out of the spotlight without drama for the Giants when he was replaced by Daniel Jones a couple of games into his final season. But that just fits with the rest of his career, considering his reputation for staying out of off the field drama.

These days, Manning has talked about his plans to move into TV with ESPN and has also said he could do some more things with the Giants in the near future. What those things are remains to be seen, but there’s various possibilities opened up by his work with ESPN.

And as for the Giants, it also remains to be seen if they’ve found their real replacement for Manning. It’s unlikely there will be another Eli Manning for the Giants, but the front office is hoping in the success of Daniel Jones. For the 2021 season, we may just find out a lot more about whether Jones can fill Manning’s shadow.

New York Rangers fall on late Pittsburgh Penguins goal

After taking another lead into the third period, the New York Rangers surrendered two goals in the third to fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Jake Guentzel scored the game-winner with just 1:31 left in the game. It was the 100th goal of Guentzel’s career.

Colin Blackwell started the scoring for the Blueshirts by redirecting an Adam Fox shot past Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry at 16:36 of the first period. Blackwell was promoted to the active roster from the taxi squad for this game. The 27-year-old played 27 games with the Nashville Predators last season, recording 10 points and 31 shots on goal.

After a Bryan Rust goal tied it up for Pittsburgh in the second period, Ryan Strome chipped in a shot later in the second period to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Jacob Trouba put the initial shot on goal from the slot, and Strome flipped the rebound over Jarry from the top of the crease. Artemi Panarin also had an assist on the goal and has points in four consecutive games.

After the game, Mika Zibanejad addressed in the post-game Zoom conference the issue of not being able to hold on to third-period leads by saying that “It’s happened two games in a row where we have a lead and can’t close it out. I think it’s a mix of things that we have to do better, to learn from, and to do it quick.”

A disappointed head coach David Quinn said in his post-game Zoom conference that “You have to find ways to win. A guy can’t get a shot from that area with a minute and thirty to go. You have to have an urgency, you have to know who is dangerous. To come in here and play some good hockey and get just one point is really disappointing.”

Quinn also addressed the fact that while some of the younger players are doing well, some of the veterans need to step up. “The veterans know that they have got to be better. We have talked to them privately, and they know it. The good news is that these guys are established players in this league.”

Filip Chytil left the game after a collision with the Penguins Evan Rodrigues. Quinn said that he is being evaluated and that they would know more on Monday.

The Rangers now head to Buffalo for two games on Tuesday and Thursday. The Rangers will host Pittsburgh for a two-game set on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 at Madison Square Garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Bills: Super Bowl run ends in Kansas City heartbreak (Highlights)

The Buffalo Bills’ couldn’t stop the Kansas City Chiefs’ run to a repeat, losing a two-possession lead in the AFC Championship Game.

The Buffalo Bills’ magic seasons came to an end on Sunday evening in Kansas City, as they fell in the AFC Championship Game to the Kansas City Chiefs by a 38-24 final. Josh Allen put up 375 total yards in his first visit to the conference title game, with Dawson Knox (6 receptions, 42 yards, 1 touchdown), Stefon Diggs (6 receptions, 77 yards), and Cole Beasley (7 receptions, 88 yards) serving as his top receivers.

Kansas City will advance to the Super Bowl for the second straight season, as they’ll take on the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the game’s 55th edition in two weeks (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS). The Chiefs are the defending champions are their triumph over San Francisco last year, but will face a Buccaneers team not only headlined by Tom Brady’s 10th appearance in the game but will also be serving as the first “home” Super Bowl squad with Raymond James Stadium hosting.

The Bills jumped out to a 9-0 lead after the first quarter, opening things up with a 10-play, 42-yard drive that was capped off by a Tyler Bass field goal. His 51-yarder made history, as it was the longest in the playoff history of Arrowhead Stadium. More special teams magic awaited the Bills after Kansas City got the ball back, as Taiwan Jones recovered a punt muffed by Mecole Hardman three yards away from the end zone. It took Allen and company a single play to capitalize, as he found Knox for a three-yard tally. Bass missed the extra point, but the Bills still owned a two-possession lead at 9-0.

But the Chiefs, mirroring their propensity for erasing large deficits during their last Super Bowl run, went on to score on each of their six full possessions, interrupted only by the end of the first half. It began with a tale of redemption for Hardman, who not only got the Chiefs on the board with a three-yard score but also set up Darrel Williams’ touchdown on the next drive with a big gain on the ground. Tyreek Hill proved unstoppable for the Bills, as he put up 172 yards on nine receptions, while Travis Kelce had two scores and 118 yards.

While the game remained close, Buffalo did manage to make their way into Kansas City territory, but questionable went for field goals in the Kansas City red zone in short-yardage situations. To his credit, Bass converted all four of his triple attempts, but they did little to chip away at the Chiefs’ growing lead. After a 27-yard field goal made 24-15 midway through the third, the Chiefs unofficially put the game away when Hill cut loose for a 71-yard gain before Kelce earned a one-yard score to make it 31-15. Chippiness ensued from there one out, with the two teams exchanging unnecessary roughness penalties for the remainder of the contest. Allen managed to find Isaiah McKenzie for a six-yard score before time let out, scoring the Bills’ final touchdown of the year.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Buffalo Bills: Halftime takeaways from the AFC title game

The Buffalo Bills’ early endeavors in the AFC title game featured a rediscovered rushing game and a little bit of championship luck.

At halftime of the AFC Championship Game, the Kansas City Chiefs lead the Buffalo Bills 21-12.

ESM has three takeaways from an exciting first half of football…

-Chief Concern

If the Bills have had a consistent struggle, it’s been their defense’s issues covering opposing tight ends. Kansas City, of course, is armed with the ultimate weapon in that regard in Travis Kelce, and they’re taking full advantage of that flaw in the early going. They did so in the first 2020 meeting when Kelce had two touchdowns back in October, and now he’s running absolutely wild to the tune of 92 yards on nine receptions. Buffalo needs to strengthen their defense in the middle if they’re going to muster a comeback in the second half. Buffalo, to their credit, is taking advantage of their own tight end’s talents, as Knox has not only scored the Bills’ only touchdown but his other two receptions picked up crucial first downs (including one on a fourth down that kept Buffalo’s opening drive alive).

-Bold Rush

Devin Singletary appeared to be the odd man out in the Bills offense during their Divisional tilt last weekend, as it took nearly two full quarters for him to get a carry against the Ravens despite the loss of rookie Zack Moss in the Wild Card stage. But the Bills got him far more involved in the early going at Arrowhead, even granting him carries on two of the first three plays. Singletary also picked up a reception in the first half, though another drop could loom large later on if Buffalo fails to score again. Buffalo is 11-3, including playoffs, in games where Singletary has at least 14 touches. He’s not the only Bills rusher getting involved on a larger basis. T.J. Yeldon earned his first receptions since October 13 against Tennessee, including two huge first down touches through both the air and ground on the drive that narrowed the gap. Additionally, Taiwan Jones has had a strong game as a punt gunner, recovering Mecole Hardman’s muff at the three-yard-line (setting up Knox’s score) and doing another Corey Bojorquez punt inside the opponents’ 20.

-Cole Pursuit

Cole Beasley has proven himself to be a man of many talents this season. He has posted career-best receiving numbers and has even been shown to have a hankering for throwing. But if the Bills come back and win a nailbiter, remember Beasley’s big defensive play at the end of their first drive (shortly before Tyler Bass’ foot opened scoring). An errant Josh Allen pass seemed destined for the arms of Juan Thornhill, but Beasley was able to wrestle the ball away from the defender to preserve an incomplete pass and allow a good drive to earn a little reward.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

VIDEO: Buffalo Bills lead after 1st quarter after Dawson Knox TD

The Buffalo Bills took an early lead on Kansas City in the AFC Championship Game thanks to a short score for Dawson Knox and a field goal.

After one quarter of play at Arrowhead Stadium, the Buffalo Bills own a 9-0 lead on the Kansas Chiefs in the AFC Championship. Buffalo’s scoring came through a 51-yard Tyler Bass field goal and a three-yard scoring hookup between Josh Allen and Dawson Knox.

The Bills scored on their opening drive, going 42 yards on 10 plays to set up Bass’ long boot. Knox came up big prior to his score, as his eight-yard reception at circa midfield kept the driver going. Bass’ kick made a bit of history, as it was the longest field goal in Arrowhead Stadium’s playoff history, dating back to 1972.

Buffalo failed to keep the momentum alive on their next possession and were forced into a Corey Bojorquez punt. But they caught a big break when the ensuing launch was mishandled by Mecole Hardman. The muff was recovered by reserve running back Taiwan Jones, who couldn’t advance it past the Kansas City three-yard-line, but set up the Bills in prime position to grow their lead. Allen wasted no time in capitalizing, find Knox for the score. It was Knox’s second touchdown of the postseason. Bass missed the extra point, but the Bills held a two-possession lead at 9-0.

Though Buffalo owns a two-possession lead, Kansas City may have them right where they want them. En route to Super Bowl LIV, the Chiefs made up several sizable deficits in their playoff home games, including a 21-0 hole during the AFC Divisional playoffs against Houston.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL: NJ native Greg Olsen announces retirement, joins Fox Sports

NFL, Football

The North Jersey native partook in 14 NFL seasons, mostly with Carolina. He will take up analyst duties with Fox Sports full-time.

New Jersey native and NFL tight end Greg Olsen announced his retirement from on-field endeavors on Sunday. Olsen made the announcement during Fox’s pregame show prior to the NFC Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His NFL career ends with 8,683 yards on 742 receptions, 60 of which went for touchdowns.

Olsen, 35, was born in Paterson and raised in Wayne. He gained national recognition at Wayne Hills High School, playing under his father Chris before embarking on a three-year career at Miami. During his career in Coral Gables, Olsen starred alongside fellow future NFL stars like Frank Gore, Devin Hester, and Calais Campbell.

The Chicago Bears chose Olsen with the 31st overall pick on the 2007 NFL Draft. Olsen made an immediate impact, winning the team’s Brian Piccolo Award bestowed to a rookie and veteran who “best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, and sense of humor of the late Bears running back”.

Olsen was dealt to the Carolina Panthers in 2011. He would spend a majority of his career in Charlotte, earning strong reviews for both his receiving and blocking, His Carolina career closed in 2019 upon his release. He currently ranks third in Panthers history in receptions (524) and yardage (6,463), both of which are the best tallies for a tight end in team history. Olsen was nominated for three Pro Bowls (2014-16) and a pair of All-Pro honors (2015-16). After the 2015 season, Olsen partook in the Panthers’ run to Super Bowl 50. He notably earned a team-best 113 yards on six receptions in the Panthers’ 49-15 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title game. For his efforts with the Panthers, Pro Football Focus also named Olsen to its all-2010s team.

Following his release from the Panthers, Olsen partook in one final season with Seattle, earning 239 yards on 24 receptions this season. Over the most recent offseason, Olsen called XFL games for Fox Sports, having previously signed a deal to join the network upon his retirement.

Olsen was the second player from Wayne Hills to partake in NFL football, joining former defensive end Ryan Neill, who played four seasons in Buffalo, St. Louis, and San Diego.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Breaking New York Yankees: Yankees trade for 29 year-old Jemeson Taillon

Jameson Taillon, New York Yankees

Today “Jamo” is the newest member of the New York Yankee’s pitching staff. Sources say that the Yankees have traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates for starting pitcher Jameson Taillon. Taillon is a solid mid-level rotation pitcher with a huge upside. Taillon is in the prime of his career after coming back from this second Tommy John surgery. He did not pitch during the 2020 season while rehabbing. The Yankees had to give up Miguel Yajure, Roansy Contreras, Miakel Escotto, and Caanan Smith to land Taillon in the Bronx. The deal was announced by ESPN.

The dual Canadian U.S. citizen born in Lakeland, Florida, signed a letter of intent to attend Rice University but instead accepted a $6.5 million signing bonus to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He worked his way through the minors, where he succumbed to his first Tommy John surgery. He made his Major League debut in 2016 and made the starting rotation for the Pirates in 2017. He has a career record of 29-24 with an ERA of 3.67 in 82 starts with 419 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.247.

He pitched the entire 2018 season uninjured with a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts. His 2019 season was cut short when he required his second Tommy John surgery. His surgery went well. He did not pitch in 2020 while rehabbing.

At just 29 years old, Taillon is a 6-foot-5, 230-pound pitcher. He primarily utilizes a fastball that can top out at 98 mph, sinker, slider, and a circle curveball. He gets an impressive 50% ground ball rate, which plays well at Yankee Stadium. The acquisition of Taillon will likely conclude the search for starting pitching. He will add $2.25 million to the New York Yankee’s payroll and become a free agent after the 2021 season.

Yankee ace Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon were teammates during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when both were with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After knocking out Conor McGregor at UFC 257, what’s next for Dustin Poirier?

For six years Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) has wanted to get back his loss to Conor McGregor (22-5). He finally got his chance at UFC 257. McGregor and Poirier headlined last night’s PPV in an event that was pivotal for the lightweight division.

There is no doubting the fact that Dustin Poirier is way better than he was at UFC 178. The questions were whether or not he’s been able to catch up to Conor McGregor or surpass him during that time. Last night, we emphatically got our answer.

Poirier is known for being a slow starter and he did lose the first round at UFC 257. He did have his moments, but McGregor seemed to get the better of the striking exchanges and even landed some of his shoulder strikes.

However, Poirier was still there after the thirst. In the post-fight press conference, Poirier admitted that McGregor really stunned him with a shot in the first. He said that if McGregor would have pushed forward, he thinks he’d have been in a lot of trouble.

However, McGregor didn’t push forward. During these exchanges, Poirier was racking up the leg kicks. By the second round at UFC 257, they had really done a lot of damage. One really wobbled McGregor and Poirier pounced. He transitioned to power shots from that and put McGregor to sleep.

What’s next after UFC 257?

I was truly blown away by the performance of Dustin Poirier last night at UFC 257. He took some really good shots, but he stayed composed and did what was needed to get the job done against Conor McGregor.

There is no questioning the fact that Dustin Poirier should be fighting for the UFC lightweight title next. The question is more around who he will fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) retiring.

Dana White said that the UFC wants to book Poirier against Michael Chandler (22-5) for the lightweight title. However, Poirier said in the post-fight press conference that he doesn’t have any interest in fighting Chandler.

Poirier said that the only UFC fights he’s interested in is the trilogy fight with McGregor or fighting Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz and Poirier were supposed to fight a couple of years ago before Poirier got injured.

Time will tell what will happen, but The Diamond should be getting a title shot no matter who he fights. One thing for sure is that Poirier made it clear that he’s the UFC’s best lightweight not named Khabib last night.

New York Rangers: Filip Chytil Deserves More Praise

Filip Chytil, New York Rangers

The New York Rangers have one of the most talented, young teams in the National Hockey League. Big-name players such as Igor Shesterkin, Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox, and Alexis Lafrenière have garnered more media coverage than most veterans – and rightfully so. Shesterkin was outstanding in the first NHL games of his career last season, sporting a 10-2 record and a .932 save percentage. Kakko was the No. 2 overall pick in 2019, and in his rookie year, he tallied 23 points. Fox racked up 42 points last season, tied for the fourth-most among rookies. Lafrenière, to put it simply, is the most highly touted prospect in years. Each of them are huge pieces of the Rangers’ future, but there’s another young guy who hasn’t gotten the attention he deserves – 2017 first-round pick Filip Chytil.

Why Filip Chytil Deserves More Praise:

His Hot Start to 2021:

Chytil has been on the third line for each of the Rangers’ four games this year, and with each of those games has come improvement. He’s currently riding a three-game point streak, including a goal in two straight. His goal on Friday night against Pittsburgh was nothing short of spectacular, as he flexed his magnificent stick-handling to tie the game at 1-1 in the second.

The Rangers should be ecstatic that the center on their third line is able to make a play like that. Depth is a vital aspect of a successful hockey team, and Chytil provides that.

His Chemistry With Kakko and Di Giuseppe:

Head Coach David Quinn has struggled mightily this season to find the best line combinations for his team. He is yet to send out an identical lineup card for two consecutive games. But luckily for him, it appears his third line is ready to be set in stone. In three games for the New York Rangers, the line of Phillip Di Giuseppe on the left, Chytil at center, and Kakko on the right has an impressive +4 scoring differential. That is the best plus/minus of any line combo on the team this year.

It’s clear that Chytil is benefitting from his new linemates, but just as impressively, Kakko is finally starting to look like the player he was supposed to be when he was drafted in June 2019. He looks significantly more confident on the ice now than when he was playing alongside Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome earlier this season. That’s not a knock on Panarin or Strome, but it’s clear as day.

The fluidity of the sequence above is beautiful. Chytil senses Di Gieuseppe to his right, and Kakko knows he’ll be getting a clean pass to try a one-timer. Textbook hockey. The chemistry between the three is striking.

His Continued Growth Over The Years:

Since playing his first game in 2018, Chytil has done nothing but develop. It took him 15 fewer games in 2019-2020 to notch the same number of points (23) he had in 2018-2019. His efficiency improved as well, scoring three more goals on 19 fewer shots. Now in his third full season on Broadway, the 21-year-old is playing the best hockey of his life – and he’s only going to get better. It’s time Filip Chytil gets the respect and praise he deserves.

 

The New York Knicks still lack one major factor to become a winning team

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

The New York Knicks have had an up-and-down season so far in 2021, but they’ve played above their weight class for a majority of their contests. They currently sit just one game below .500, with their most recent contest resulting in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. However, they strung together three consecutive victories prior to the defeat. In those three wins, they held the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic to 84 points or less and beat the Golden State Warriors by 15 points.

It has become clear to the Knicks are capable of being a quality team but still lack a few significant factors that separate good from great. It would be a bit optimistic to even consider the Knicks good right now, but they are hovering on the line of mediocrity.

One major factor that is holding the New York Knicks back:

Head coach Tom Thibodeau preaches this one factor routinely, and it is consistency. The Knicks often times take an early lead but fail to remain consistent throughout the game, missing open shots and playing spotty defense. However, they are currently the number one ranked defense in the NBA, which shows how far they’ve come in just one off-season. Their offense is their kryptonite, and whenever Julius Randle is forced to leave the court, it is noticeable.

“You’ve got to be ready to go from the start to finish,” Thibodeau said. “There’s different challenges each night whether it’s travel or back to back, you may be shorthanded, whatever it may be.

The NBA schedule is a grueling reality, as traveling and back-to-back games can be difficult. However, Thibodeau knows that preparation is key, and playing consistently during practice often translates to live-action.

“You want to build that consistency in terms of how you prepare, how hard you play, how smart you play and how together you play. It’s a team sport so you’re relying on everyone doing it together. If we fall short in one area that can impact the execution of either your offense or your defense, you want to learn from each situation and come back ready for the next one.”

Based simply on how the Knicks have performed this year so far, we can confidently say they have taken significant strides forward in their development not just as a team but individually. Thibodeau was a fantastic hire, and if the roster continues to grow at this rate, they could be a playoff-contending team sooner rather than later.