Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

We didn't quite get the fast start we were hoping for from the Flyers, but they sure made up for it. They were booed off the ice after a lousy first period saw them down 2-0, and in the dressing room, Peter Laviolette probably gave it to them much worse. They responded with four unanswered goals in the second, headed off to a standing ovation, then came back out and continued to pile on.

Max Talbot played a huge role in turning the game around, and he has two more goals to add to his career high. Same goes for Wayne Simmonds, who also tallied a pair to give him 20 on the season. And they weren't even the Flyers' high scorers. With a small army of injured forwards, the Flyers scoring depth was on display.

Let's get a look at why so many Flyers will remember this one for years to come.

UGLY START
Already without Jaromir Jagr (flu) and JVR (concussion), the Flyers got a scare when Simmonds' face was cut during warmups. Simmonds don the full face shield, seemingly with no ill effects. But the Flyers looked to be in some serious trouble early, conceding the game's first two goals. Jason Pominville was as open as it gets on the back door when he slammed home a Tyler Myers pass that went through the crease. Thomas Vanek made Ilya Bryzgalov look shaky on a blazing slapshot, and the fans began to prepare the torches and pitchforks.

Even after having seen it all shake out, it's still kinda nuts to look back to that first period and think the Sabres wouldn't score again, while the Flyers scored at will and probably pushed Buffalo a little further into the "Sellers" column.

ALL OF THE GOALS
A lot of Flyers are going to remember this one, with some clear career highlights mixed into a seven-goal surge.

The top line was sans Jagr, and, nothing against the 40-year-old surgeon, but his linemates seemed to do OK without him. Claude Giroux was a silent killer, putting FIVE POINTS on the board, all on assists, getting him within two points of Evgeni Malkin's league-best 69. G's linemate Scott Hartnell also had a big night, scoring a goal and assisting three others. Talbot did some time with them, as did Jake Voracek, both of whom also scored.

Durrrty Second
Talbot reminded me of Mike Richards in some old games when the Flyers got off to a bad start. He got loud with his play, scoring, scrapping, and drawing ire. Every shift he took in the second period, you knew where he was on the ice. His deflection of a Braydon Coburn shot was very nice, and opened the scoring floodgates for the Flyers.

Simmonds got the next two, both on the power play and nearly mirror images of each other. You might think wearing the full face shield would mess with his ability to play puck at his feet, but both of Simmer's goals came from in tight, putting home juicy rebounds off the pads of Jhonas Enroth. He now has 20 goals, nine of which came on the man advantage. Kind of amazing that in 49 games as a King, Richards has six fewer goals than Simmonds does in 56.

Erik Gustafsson gets a puck with a ring of tape and some marker on it after potting his first NHL goal to close out the scoring in a four-goal Flyers second.

Give some props to Tom Sestito for kickstarting the second period with a nice fight against Zack Kassian. Sestito appeared to have the better of Kassian most of the way, but got turned around and popped a few times before they both fell to the ice. Something went wrong there for Tito, who left the game with a lower-body injury and would not return.

Murderous Third
Talbot scored again in the second, giving him 16 on the season. The goal looked a bit like the Sabres' first tally, with Eric Wellwood sending a long pass across the slot to a wide open shooter. Talbot went to one knee and buried the one-timer.

Jake Voracek became the 10th Flyer in double digits for goals, and Hartnell closed the night's account with his 27th, putting home an amazing saucer pass from Matt Read. Seven to freaking two.

CHASERS
In the teams' first meeting, Ryan Miller gave up three goals on 11 shots and was pulled for Enroth. Miller would give up five goals in the next meeting. Tonight, Enroth got the start, and despite none of the goals allowed really being on him (a deflection and two rebounds—all screened by the eventual scorer), was pulled for Miller. Who proceeded to give up four goals of his own…

DANNY DOWN
In the first period, everyone's favorite Buffalo Sabre (Patrick Kaleta) smeared Danny Briere along the boards and into the stanchion. Briere didn't seem terribly affected by it, taking a slashing penalty as revenge. But, after serving that out, Briere skated off the ice and would not return with a currently undisclosed upper-body injury. With his concussion earlier this season, gotta be a bit worried there. [video]

VIDEO RECAP

REMEDY
It's just one game after a handful of crappy ones, but the Flyers showed almost exactly what we needed to see. There was the lousy start, but really, who cares about that right now. No goals against on the penalty kill. Two power play goals. Career highs.

Just can't rest on any of those feelings. Huge game against Pittsburgh this Saturday.

Eagles-Redskins: 5 matchups to watch

Eagles-Redskins: 5 matchups to watch

The Eagles are coming off their third straight loss and have dropped five of their last six. 

The Redskins have dropped two straight, but are still very much in the playoff hunt at 6-5-1.

The Birds are looking for their first win against the NFC East this season. Here are five matchups to watch.

Eagles defensive line vs. Redskins offensive line
In the matchup in Washington, the Redskins' O-line owned the Eagles' D-line to the tune of 230 rushing yards and nearly 500 yards total. The Eagles also failed to record a sack. And that was at a time when their line was playing fairly well.

The Eagles' line has come under serious fire and for good reason. They've grossly underperformed for a unit that's supposed to be the team's strength. As for the Redskins, their line has been very good all season and they'll get All Pro Trent Williams back after the massive tackle served a four-game suspension.

DeSean Jackson vs. Eagles' corners
DeSean has been on a roll. The Eagles' corners have not. In his last three games, Jackson has nine catches for 228 yards (good for 25.3 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. 

Last week in Cincinnati, the Eagles were burned by the formidable trio of Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd and Cody Core for 11 catches for 219 yards. Each receiver had at least one reception of 29 yards plus. It could be a long day for Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin and Jalen Mills.

Carson Wentz vs. Joe Barry
It's no secret that Wentz has been struggling. In his last three, Wentz  has three touchdowns to six interceptions and has completed less than 60 percent of his passes. Equally as alarming is that Wentz is 83 of 141 over that span. That's a ridiculous 47 attempts per game. Yes, the Eagles have been behind in those games, but Doug Pederson still needs to find a way to give this offense balance.

Barry's unit hasn't exactly set the world on fire, ranking 23rd in yards per game and 20th in points allowed. They've let up 31 points in each of their last two games, but it is important to note that they've played the Cowboys and the Cardinals. The Eagles don't have playmakers like Ezekiel Elliot and Dez Bryant or David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

Ryan Kerrigan vs. Allen Barbre
Kerrigan looked unstoppable in the NFL debut of Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Kerrigan racked up 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hurries in the Redskins' win. Kerrigan has already reached double-digit sacks for the second time in his career and has notched a sack in each of his last three.

Barbre has performed admirably in the absence of both the suspended Lane Johnson and the injured Vaitai. It's also pretty clear that Barbre's best position is guard. It's going to be a stiff test for Barbre to contain Kerrigan. 

Jordan Matthews (maybe) vs. Josh Norman 
With Paul Turner performing well in the slot, it'll be interesting to see if Pederson decides to use Matthews on the outside more. Matthews is coming off an ankle injury that kept him out of the Eagles' loss to the Bengals and is listed as questionable on Sunday. Even if Matthews is 100 percent, it's not an ideal matchup for the Eagles.

Louisville's Lamar Jackson wins Heisman Trophy

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Louisville's Lamar Jackson wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK -- Lamar Jackson leapt over a loaded field of Heisman Trophy contenders early in the season and by the time he slowed down nobody could catch him.

The sensational sophomore quarterback became the first Louisville player to win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, beating out preseason favorite Deshaun Watson of Clemson despite some late-season struggles.

Baker Mayfield finished third and Oklahoma teammate and fellow finalist Dede Westbrook was fourth. Michigan's Jabrill Peppers was fifth.

Watson, who finished third in Heisman voting last year, led a stacked group of contenders entering this season that included five of the top seven vote-getters in 2015.

Jackson outdid them all in his first season as Louisville's full-time starter, accounting for 51 touchdowns and averaging 410 yards per game in total offense. He ultimately won going away, with 2,144 points to Watson's 1,524. By percentage of possible points received, Jackson's victory was the sixth largest in Heisman history, and he became the youngest winner at 19 years, 352 days.

Jackson is the first Heisman Trophy winner to play on a team that lost its last two games of the regular season since Tim Brown of Notre Dame in 1987. He's the first to enter the postseason without a chance to win the national title since Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M in 2012.

No matter. Jackson did so much before November it was difficult to deny him the award because of a couple of missteps at the end.

He provided a signature moment against Syracuse, hurdling a defender on his way into the end zone, and then played his best against Louisville's toughest competition.

In a romp over Florida State and a close loss at Clemson, Jackson threw for 511 yards, ran for 308 and accounted for eight touchdowns. After ripping apart Florida State in September, he earned the stamp of approval from his idol, former Virginia Tech and NFL star Mike Vick.

Jackson left that Oct. 1 game in Death Valley as a threat to run away with the Heisman, but losses to Houston and Kentucky, when he committed four turnovers, in late November provided an opportunity for others to sway voters.

Watson made the biggest surge, but ultimately fell short.

Jackson continues a recent trend of breakout stars winning the Heisman. He is the sixth player to win the award as either a redshirt freshman or sophomore, all since 2007, joining Manziel (redshirt freshman), Jameis Winston (redshirt freshman), Mark Ingram (sophomore), Sam Bradford (sophomore) and Tim Tebow (sophomore).

Jackson came to Louisville as a three-star recruit from Boynton Beach High School in Florida. Some colleges were not sold on him as a quarterback, but Jackson was such a dynamic talented Louisville coach Bobby Petrino altered his offense to accommodate Jackson's speed and elusiveness.

Jackson flashed brilliance as a freshman and showed what was to come in the Music City Bowl against Texas A&M. He had 453 total yards and led Louisville to a victory.

Still, with so many well-established stars from Watson and Mayfield to running backs Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of LSU, Jackson entered the season without much fanfare.

Just the way he likes it.

Jackson spent this season adjusting to newfound fame, growing into the role of face of the team and trying to stay out of the spotlight. He said he cut down on trips to the mall to avoid the inevitable crowds he drew.

He is about to become even more popular. Especially back in Louisville, where he has another year before he can even consider his next big jump -- to the NFL.