The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever

The Time Team Richards Downed Team Hartnell at Boardwalk Hall In Front of Most Eclectic Spectators Ever


There were almost equal parts Flyers and Rangers fans, mixed
with a healthy Devils contingency, then your token smattering of Penguins jerseys.
There were Capitals fans, Bruins fans, Maple Leafs fans, Canucks fans. There was
even a dude wearing an NHLPA sweater, apparently showing his support of union
workers.

Hockey fans from all walks descended on the Jersey Shore,
making Atlantic City the Hockey Capital of the World for one night on Saturday.
In the end, 10,792 people were unable to agree on which team to root for, but
they were almost unanimously aligned on one key point.

Sidney Crosby sucks.

It was a diverse crowd, and everybody wanted to represent. As
soon as we walked through the doors inside the great venue that is Boardwalk
Hall, we were greeted by a raucous Let’s
Go Rangers/Rangers Suck! chant. When Team Philly scored a goal, our fans
stood and cheered, waving white towels. When Team New York scored a goal –
which I’m sorry to say was far more often – their fans stood and cheered,
waving those same white towels.

Scott Hartnell’s squad fell to that of Brad Richards, his
Rangers counterpart, by a final of 10-6 in Operation Hat Trick, but that was
hardly of consequence. Sure there was a feeling of pride at stake, at least in
the stands, although that even took a backseat as well. How often are Flyers
and Devils fans in a room together, pulling for the same side?

The really cool thing was everybody in attendance actually came
together to assist the many communities still reeling from Hurricane Sandy. In
that respect, the exhibition game for charity was an overwhelming success.

The other common bond linking the motley crew that packed a
makeshift ice rink at the beach is they all miss the sport. Within minutes of
the opening puck drop, a powerful We Want
Hockey chant broke out. Then another as the first period wound down. And a
few more times for good measure. Hartnell spoke to reporters about the emotional
fan reaction following the contest.

“It was great, I love it and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I
got a little choked up when you had 11,000 people cheering they want hockey
back,” Hartnell said.

As the final minutes ticked away, We Love Hockey eventually gave way to a couple inevitable rounds of
Crosby Sucks, despite the fact No. 87
didn’t skate. Pittsburgh’s James Neal did participate however, his presence resulting
in arguably the loudest reaction of anyone during player introductions – a most
thunderous chorus of boos.

I guess Flyers, Rangers, and Devils fans do have something
else in common after all. We all despise the Pens.

Yet the Penguins were not the only subjects of ridicule. Unpopular
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was roasted accordingly. Bettman Sucks! and Fire
Bettman were songs even the Pittsburgh faithful could join in on, so there
was truly something for everyone.

As for Neal, he wound up having the last laugh. The 2012 All
Star already had a hat trick by the second period, finishing the game with four
goals. It didn’t help that Team Philly goaltender Martin Brodeur didn’t have
his best stuff. The longtime Jersey netminder and future Hall of Famer looked
like a 40 year old who hasn’t been seeing many minutes lately, letting by a
handful of scores he would probably like to have back.

The player who stole the show was standing 178 feet across
the ice from Brodeur. Henrik Lundqvist, who reportedly flew back to the States
from Sweden to be at the event, was absolutely on fire in net for Team Richards
– no huge shock given he’s had Philly’s number for awhile now. He wound up
stopping 56 out of 62 shots, foiling multiple complex, combination chances
along the way.

Among those denied from finding twine were Hartnell, a real
shame because the building was poised to erupt regardless of how or what it
meant on the scoreboard. Hartsy stuck out some tough times in Orange and Black
before eventually ascending to the top line and becoming an All-Star performer
last season, turning into a serious fan favorite in the process. Most
importantly, he was instrumental in putting OHT together, which was done in
little more than a week’s time from inception to implementation. Outstanding
job by Hartnell as his legend only continues to grow.

Ultimately, the game was just an exhibition, played without
hitting and at half the speed. By midway through the third period, you could
tell some of the guys were gassed, clearly not quite in hockey shape. It didn’t
help the effort that New York was able to knock the air out of Philly’s
second-period comeback run with a couple of soft goals late, taking a 7-4 lead
into the dressing room.

There were moments though. Brodeur received a few sets of
Bronx cheers when he actually managed to get some stops. Dan Carcillo and Aron
Asham teased a fight that never happened, instead trading penalty shots. Simon
Gagne, Steven Stamkos, and P.K. Subban were skating with Flyers. It was a truly
once-in-a-lifetime event.

Neal and Lundqvist played great, and what Hartnell did was
special, but corny as it might sound, the first star of the game was the fans.
We’re talking a total sellout, folks, not only for an amazing cause, but in a
calculated demonstration for an amazing sport. The fans in attendance weren’t
always in agreement on what they wanted to root for, yet the atmosphere was
festive, not hostile. This one time, clearly we were all on the same side.

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Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

Best of NFL: Redskins notch 1st win vs. Giants; Cowboys rout Bears

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.  -- Dustin Hopkins kicked a 37-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter for his fifth of the game and the Washington Redskins avoid a near-disastrous 0-3 start with a 29-27 win over the penalty- and error-prone New York Giants on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins threw touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 to Jamison Crowder as the banged-up Redskins (1-2) handed new coach Ben McAdoo his first loss with the Giants (2-1).

Su'a Cravens ended the Giants' final drive with an interception in New York territory. It was Eli Manning's second pick of the quarter, with the other coming in the end zone by Quinton Dunbar after New York got to the Redskins 15 on a big play by Odell Beckham Jr.

This was a wild NFC East matchup that see-sawed the entire second half after Washington rallied from a 21-9 deficit (see full recap).

Prescott, Cowboys rout Bears on SNF
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without injured quarterback Tony Romo over three seasons before the rookie fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia rookie Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals in NFL history.

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox (see full recap).

Vikings stop Newton, snap Panthers' home win streak
CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Minnesota Vikings keep finding ways to overcome injuries --and keep finding ways to win football games.

Sam Bradford threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph, Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a score and the Vikings snapped the Carolina Panthers' 14-game home winning streak 22-10 on Sunday.

The Vikings put the clamps on Cam Newton, intercepting the league's reigning MVP three times and getting eight sacks, one of those resulting in a safety by Danielle Hunter. The eight sacks were the second-most ever against Newton.

"We have a great team -- the best team I have been a part of," said Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, who had three sacks. "We come from every area on the field and we get sacks."

Said Newton: "They were dictating to us after they got the momentum."

The Vikings improved 3-0 despite losing running back Adrian Peterson and offensive tackle Matt Kalil to injuries last week. They lost starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in the preseason (see full recap).

Bills bounce back with win over Cardinals
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y.  -- LeSean McCoy scored twice and safety Aaron Williams returned a botched field-goal snap 53 yards for a touchdown in leading the Buffalo Bills to a 33-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor also scored on a 20-yard run at a time the Rex Ryan-coached Bills spent the past week taking the brunt of criticism after opening the season 0-2.

The win also came on the heels of Ryan firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman and replacing him with running backs coach Anthony Lynn.

McCoy scored on 24- and 5-yard runs, and finished with 110 yards rushing after combining for just 117 in his first two games. Taylor had 76 yards rushing, including a 49-yarder, the longest by a quarterback in team history (see full recap).

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Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

Doug Pederson: For the Eagles, 'this was a good benchmark'

On his way to the locker room following his team's stunning 34-3 victory over the Steelers, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson reacted, well, like you probably did.

Pederson had to be surprised by what had just transpired. After all, this wasn't the Browns or the Bears. This was the Steelers, who entered the game with the second-best odds behind New England, per Bovada, of winning the Super Bowl (the Patriots were first). 

And the Eagles didn't just beat them. They clobbered them.

But minutes later, when Pederson met the media for his postgame press conference, he tried his best to act like it was no big thing.

“I told the team way back in OTAs that it just takes a little bit of belief," Pederson said. "Belief in themselves. Trust the process. Believe in the coaches and the coaches believe in one another. That’s what they did tonight. 

"Am I surprised? A little. But at the same time, I know that locker room, I know those guys and I know what they are building. By no means have we accomplished anything yet. The season is still extremely young. But what they did tonight just proves that they are coming together as a football team.”

Yeah, yeah. Sorry, Doug. It's OK to be surprised. Scratch that. Make that stunned. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year. But now? Forget that. 

At least for the next two weeks. The Eagles are on their bye week and don't play again until Oct. 9 at Detroit. 

“It is still a young season, only three games. This was a good benchmark," Pederson said. "That’s a good football team, the Steelers are a great football team. They are going to be there at the end, they always are. Coach (Mike) Tomlin always has those guys ready to play. 

"But for our guys, it is just a little glimpse of that belief that I have been saying since the spring and summer. If they just do their jobs, I just feel that good things can happen. We just protect each other in that dressing room in there and keep coming to work everyday.”

Pederson is the only head coach in team history to win each of his first three games. It's only the ninth time the Eagles have started 3-0.

And of course, a big reason they've done so is their prodigy quarterback Carson Wentz, who became only the second rookie in team history to record a 300-yard passing game (Nick Foles is the other).

More impressively, Wentz now has attempted 102 straight passes without an interception, the longest streak ever begin an NFL career (per ESPN). Dallas'  Dak Prescott is at 99 after the Cowboys beat up the Bears.

But don't ask Pederson to admit he's amazed by Wentz or the fact he had the presence of mind to make plays like the riveting 73-yard TD pass to Darren Sproles (much more on that here).

“You know, you just put on his college film. Just watch him," Pederson said. "We exhausted his college tape and those were the plays that he made at North Dakota State. That play tonight was just a tremendous play by both he and Darren Sproles. Those are the types of things that we know he can do. He just keeps gaining confidence every single week.”

As does the defense, which kept one of the league's most potent offenses out of the end zone

"They just weren’t going to be denied," Pederson said. "They just weren’t going to bow their necks. They weren’t going to let them in the endzone. It just came down to our will versus theirs and I was just so happy with the way the guys played. Just a great team effort.”