Amazing: Sixers Rally From 18 Down to Steal Game One in Orlando

Amazing: Sixers Rally From 18 Down to Steal Game One in Orlando

This instant recap of the Sixers huge win in Orlando comes from Andrew Unterberger.

Say what you will about the Sixers, they know how to follow a script.
Stop me when this sounds familiar: The Sixers, down double digits in
the second half of the first round's game one, start to rally back just
as it seems the game's getting out of reach, and crawl ahead in the
final minute to stun the home court and pull off the upset. But as
amazing as their win was to start the playoffs last year in Detroit,
the finish to this one took it to a whole new level. Down 18 with just
a minute left in the third, it looked for sure like this thing was
over--the Magic were hitting from all over, the Sixers looked
completely directionless (and went five and a half minutes without a
field goal), and you could just sense that the Magic had gotten the
better of the Sixers this time out. My Sixers insecurity complex kicked
in full throttle as I pictured sportswriters/broadcasters/naysayers around the country chuckling to themselves and exclaiming "How the hell did this team ever get to the sixth seed?" Worse, I thought they might have had a point.

But then a couple buckets to close out the third left it a 14-point
lead, and the Sixers begin to chip away. Royal Ivey and Lou Williams
both hit threes, and as he always seems to when the Sixers are making a
fourth-quarter run, Donyell Marshall poured in a couple more. A Sweet
Lou three-point play cut it to two, and eventually Andre Iguodala was
at the free-throw line with a one-point deficit and a minute to go.
When he bricked both, and Dwight Howard posterized Theo Ratliff at the
other end to make it a three-point game, it was time to break out the
concessions--"well, at least they didn't give up," "well, if so and so
had gone different," etc. But then a third Donny three to tie it up, a
stop at the other end, and suddenly the opportunity was there to walk
away with the win. With three seconds to go in the game, Andre "I Won't
Call You Iggy Ever Again After This" Iguodala stepped back at the top
of the key, fired a fadeaway jumper over Hedo Turkoglu...and buried it.
Hedo put up a desperation heave well behind the arc as the game ended,
but it was way off. Final Score: Philadelphia 100, Orlando 98.

The thing I didn't even realize until watching Iguodala's
game-winner for the fifth or sixth time was how immaculately it was
defended. Andre tried to do his trademark swoop-and-pull move on
Turkoglu twice to get separation, and neither time bought him an inch.
When the shot actually went up, Turkoglu's hand was so far into Iggy's
face that he could probably smell the Cheetos that Hedo was eating
during the last quarter break. The shot simply could not have been
defended any better without Turkoglu actually grabbing the ball out of
Iguodala's hands, and he drilled it anyway. It was the kind of shot
usually reserved for guys who wear numbers like 23 and 24. Good thing,
too, because those missed free throws could've haunted Andre's
clutchness rep for some time to come. Now I doubt anyone will even
remember them by the time the next SportsCenter airs.

It was such an unbelievably satisfying win--vengeance for Rashard
Lewis's last-minute game-winner earlier in the season, if nothing
else--that it's important that we not start trying to read too much
into it. Yes, what the Sixers did tonight was phenomenal, but if you'll
remember, that Detroit series didn't end up finishing so hot, and
Orlando still proved tonight why they are such a dangerous team. I've
never given Dwight Howard the same credit that others have because I
thought his game was still shallow--he was never really dominant in the
interior, he missed a lot of key free throws, and he got in foul
trouble too early, too often. Well, if there was a flaw to be found in
D-12's game tonight, I couldn't see it--he was absolutely sick on both
ends, denying the Sixers anything easy in the paint, and abusing
Ratliff and Dalembert offensively in the post. In the third quarter,
his unstoppable offense got the team's wings all the open shots they
could handle, and they took advantage, to say the least. The really
scary thing is that Theo and Sammy both actually played Howard fairly
well--there was just no stopping Superman II tonight, on his way to 31
points (11-13 FG and a stunning 9-12 FT), 15 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Whether this was a fluky strong performance or the start of Howard
taking his game to that next level remains to be seen, but for the
first time that I've actually witnessed, he looked like an MVP tonight.

Wherever the series goes from here--and you're absolutely nuts if
you don't stick around to see it for yourself at this point--this game
illustrates why, in my opinion, making it to the post-season at all
costs is so important. You never know when your team is going to go out
and, when you least expect it, turn a game into an absolute
classic--the kind of game that takes second-tier, relatively unknown
young talents like Iguodala and turns them into the stars of tomorrow.
Even if the team doesn't end up advancing, it's just not right to rob
your team and fanbase of potential to make memories like that.

Oh, and I've decided that at this point, after keying a fourth
fourth-quarter game-winning resurgence for the Sixers, Donyell Marshall
absolutely must have a nickname, or at the very least some sort of lame
Chris Berman-ism. So far, I've come up with the following
possibilities:

1. Dagger Donny
2. The Marshall Plan
3. He Is Marshall
4. The Secret Weapon
5. The Amplifier

Votes and other nominations are welcome and encouraged.

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.”