Saturday, November 20, 2010

Home Sweet Home?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

Are there any lakes in Los Angeles, let alone in California?

Do people really sing much Jazz in Utah?

What makes a good rivalry? Is it when a pair of teams win for many years, an inter-city or inter-state match-up? What about when they return to their old stomping grounds?

Franchise relocation has been a part of the American Sports Scene for years. Owners take teams in Smaller Markets and move them to Major Metro Areas. They also move them to play in State Of The Art Arenas.

In recent weeks, there has been talk about Los Angeles building a stadium downtown. With Denver Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen having health issues, Stan Kroenke, who owns the St. Louis Rams, in addition to the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, would swap franchises with Bowlen, thus allowing Bowlen to move the Rams back to Los Angeles.

Time will tell if this happens.

But today, I'm going to list some of the most interesting Franchise Moves and I welcome your feedback.

1) Los Angeles Lakers (Minneapolis Lakers) returning to the Twin Cities to face the Minnesota Timberwolves.

2) Atlanta Braves (Milwaukee Braves) return to the Beer City to face the Brewers. Former All-Time Home Run King Hank Aaron retired with the Brewers.

3) Calgary Flames (Atlanta Flames) return to Atlanta to face the Thrashers. As a kid growing up in the 1970's, I remember when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Atlanta Flames out of the 1977-78 playoffs and Bill Lochead was the hero in this series by scoring a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory at Olympia Stadium.

4) Dallas Stars (Minnesota North Stars) return to the land of 10,000 lakes and face the Wild. I once told a Wild PR Guy when he asked me if there was anything missing in his media guide to add the franchises first victory over the Stars. The following year, the result was in the book.

5) Arizona Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals) returning to face the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears.

6) Baltimore Ravens (Original Cleveland Browns) returning to Ohio to face the new Browns. Former Owner Art Modell never made this trip back to Cleveland, but in reality, to build the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame ahead of a new Browns Stadium, was a bad decision and I don't blame Modell for moving the team, which would eventually win a Super Bowl.

7) Tennessee Titans (Houston Oilers) facing the Houston Texans.

8) Atlanta Braves (Boston Braves) returning to Beantown to face the Red Sox during inter- league play.

9) Texas Rangers (Washington Senators 1961-1971) returning to the Nations Capital to face the Washington Nationals. It doesn't happen much but when it does, now that the Rangers are a good team, historians will mention it. The first manager in the history of the Rangers was Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

10) San Francisco Giants (New York Giants) last World Series title was in the Big Apple. But they return to New York to face the Mets every year and once in a great while will face the Yankees. My late Friend/Uncle Ernie Harwell called Bobby Thomson's the "Shot Heard 'Round The World" in 1951. The Giants last won a World Series in 1954. During the year Harwell dies, the Giants are champions again. Ernie must be smiling in heaven.

11) Los Angeles Dodgers (Brooklyn Dodgers) return to New York to face the Mets every year and have had some great battles with the Yankees in the World Series since there move out west. Does anybody remember the late Billy Martin versus Tom Lasorda? Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the sixth game of the 1977 World Series on Oct 18 enabling the Yankees to win 8-4 and win the championship.

12) New Jersey Devils (Colorado Rockies) return to Denver to face the Avalanche periodically.

13) Minnesota Twins (Washington Senators 1901-1960) when they face the Washington Nationals. The Twins have three World Series Championships and their business model for a small market franchise is one many teams copy with their commitment to using their farm system. This season, they moved into a brand new outdoor stadium.

14) Oakland A's (Philadelphia A's & Kansas City A's) return to face the Phillies periodically during inter-league play and see the Royals every year.

15) Utah Jazz (New Orleans Jazz) face the New Orleans Hornets.

16) New Orleans Hornets (Charlotte Hornets) return to North Carolina once a year and face the Charlotte Bobcats.

17) Golden State Warriors (Philadelphia Warriors) return to Philadelphia to play the 76'ers every year. Hall of Fame Center Wilt Chamberlain played for the the Philadelphia Warriors and 76'ers. On March 2, 1962, Chamberlain became the only player in NBA History to score 100 points in a game with the Philadelphia Warriors, a 169-147 win over the NY Knicks. He also grabbed 25 rebounds.

18) Indianapolis Colts (Baltimore Colts) return to face the Baltimore Ravens. Thanks to late Colts Owner Robert Irsay, who moved the team in the middle of the night to Indiana, there is no love loss between these two cities. Their battles in the NFL playoffs get real emotional for the fans in Maryland.

19) Oklahoma City Thunder (Seattle Super Sonics) return to the Pacific Northwest to face the Portland Trail Blazers. Seattle may be two hours north but there are some Sonics diehards that take this commute to see their one-time championship franchise. In 1979, the Sonics were indeed Super.

20) Carolina Hurricanes (Hartford Whalers) when they return to New England and face the Boston Bruins. The Whalers were the one-time home of NHL legend and Hall of Famer Gordie Howe. These two New England teams had a nice rivalry but a new stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina sent this franchise south. Boston's last Stanley Cup Championship was in 1971-72 while the Hurricanes won their first title in 2005-2006.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good Riddance Lockhart Stadium

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

It takes six games to become bowl eligible and in a few weeks we'll know if the FAU Owls make it to a sanctioned one this Holiday Season with the benefits being more exposure to enhance the recruiting of this 10-year old football program.

But no matter what, FAU will have played in two Unofficial Bowls.

FAU won it's rivalry game titled "The Shula Bowl" defeating Florida International University (FIU) 21-9 at Fort Lauderdale's Lockhart Stadium on Oct 30.

The next Unofficial Bowl Game will be held on Dec 4 at 2 PM when the Troy Trojans face the Owls in "The Good Riddance Bowl."

This will be the Final Game played at Lockhart Stadium, a facility which has been the home of high school football and professional soccer back in the 1970's and 1980's primarily for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. At full capacity, Lockhart Stadium holds close to 20,000 fans.

I doubt if there will be even 10,000 for the Troy contest which could determine if FAU even has a chance to become bowl eligible.

"The Good Riddance Bowl" is an event that everyone is looking forward to.

The players will no longer have to take showers and change at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. There will be no more post-game interviews by the batting cages.

The press box never had a consistent wireless connection and was too small to accommodate all members of the media and coaching staffs.

There were no TV Monitors for replays in the press box. The outside scoreboards never showed replays and were adequate for high school and soccer games but not major college football.

Access to the press box was limited to old steel stairs.

I won't miss the paltry crowds of 7-10,000 and watching Football Bowl Subdivision games in a half empty stadium.

FAU's on-campus stadium is due to open up in October of 2011 and it couldn't come soon enough!

According to Athletic Director Craig Angelos, the school will have to pay a $1 Million per-year mortgage payment to Regions Bank. That's a payment that Angelos knows he'll gladly make because the future guarantee games to bigger schools should pay out that amount and reach seven figures. If a team is going to get blown out by a BCS Conference School while developing it's own tradition, at least that institution should profit greatly.

Good exposure is priceless but now the Owls have a 30,000 seat on-campus stadium to look forward to. It will bolster recruiting and Angelos is shrewd enough that knowing him, he'll take advantage of Boca Raton's Central Location in Palm Beach County, that he'll be able to schedule concerts along with other events. Boca Raton is 20-25 minutes each way from West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale and about 45-60 from Miami Dade County depending on traffic.

More importantly, future schedules will be able to accommodate 6-7 home games instead of 4-5. The fifth game was usually played at an NFL size stadium either Joe Robbie Stadium or this year, Detroit's Ford Field against the Michigan State Spartans.

The on-campus stadium will eliminate neutral site games excluding bowl games.

In FAU's 30-17 loss to the Spartans on Sept 11 at Ford Field, the Owls cleared $500,000 and that went towards financing the stadium. Angelos was hoping that he would earn much more since there is a large alumni base in Detroit. During a Fall Game in East Lansing a couple years ago, 70,321 fans showed up on a rainy day on September 13, 2008 at Spartan Stadium to watch MSU shutout FAU 17-0.

But now there is relief that Boca Raton will finally and officially be considered a college town. The city does have a Hooters in the area and many of their road football games are shown in the restaurant, in addition to Coach Howard Schnellenberger's weekly radio show which does draw a good crowd.

In the meantime, there will be no emotional farewells when FAU faces Troy in "The Good Riddance Bowl."

I've enjoyed many good times at Lockhart Stadium dating back to the 1980's when the Fort Lauderdale Strikers played there in front of nice crowds in the old North American Soccer League. Back then, South Florida's only major sports teams were Schnellenberger's Miami Hurricanes, the Miami Dolphins and the Strikers.

There have been some exciting FAU Games at Lockhart Stadium including one against my Alma-mater USF when the Bulls brought a No. 6 National Ranking to Fort Lauderdale and escaped with a 35-23 win on October 6, 2007.

Saturday's 24-23 win over Louisiana-Lafayette saw the visitors fail on a two-point conversion which could have tied the contest late. Schnellenberger would joke around with the media afterwards that it reminded him of his Miami Hurricanes National Championship win over Nebraska in the 1984, 50th Orange Bowl Game.

Cornhuskers Coach Tom Osborne elected to go for the win but lost the 1983 National title dropping a 31-30 decision by not converting the two-point attempt.

But as "The Good Riddance Bowl" draws closer, if the wrecking ball hits Lockhart Stadium, there will be no tears, just cheers.

It will be nice to work in a First Class Facility on campus the way it's suppose to be.

Nobody will be more grateful to the change than Owls Sports Information Director Katrina McCormack, who has done a nice job under the circumstances with what she's had to work with.

Good Bye and Good Riddance Lockhart Stadium!

You won't be missed!

May the wrecking ball hit you ASAP!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Pistons Owner?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

What could be the Detroit Pistons answer to New Jersey Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov?

It's not Mike Illitch, the Red Wings & Tigers owner. As much as I admire Illitch and everything he stands for, my instincts tell me that for some reason I don't believe adding the Pistons as his third team is a good fit.

If Illitch were running for Mayor of Detroit or Governor of Michigan, there would be no reason to hold an election because he'd win in a landslide. He'd get my vote in a New York second.

His ideas of building a new stadium in Detroit for the Red Wings and Pistons are good but I'm curious as to how he'd drum up the financing to get this project done with the economy a mess.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. If he wants to reach the hearts & emotion of Metro Detroiters, he should move swiftly and build a new Olympia Stadium on the former Tiger Stadium site.

Also, are his assets and pockets deep enough to field three competitive and winning franchises? Baseball doesn't have a salary cap while hockey seems to be raising its salaries gradually without a real money making television contract. The NBA is facing labor problems in the coming year with it's collective bargaining agreement.

For years, Illitch struggled with two teams and the Tigers 43-119 mark in 2003 was the third worst team in major league history and they set the American League record for losses. They finished 47 games behind division winner Minnesota.

The Illitches originally bid in excess of $400 million, higher than expected for an NBA franchise in a season before expected labor issues in a state with a rough economy. I've heard that Illitch Holdings Incorporated lowered it's bid in recent days.

The only way I'd give my full endorsement for the Illitches to own the Pistons is if the fear existed that the team would move out of Michigan.

The Pistons play in a beautiful stadium and belong in Metro Detroit!

Now that the bidding has re-opened, the ownership group that makes the most sense is Beverly Hills billionaire and financier Tom Gores, who has a successful track record of taking unsuccessful companies, changing their business model and making them successful again. Aside from a couple tough years since Owner William Davidson died, Gores transformation shouldn't be as bad since all of the pieces are in place, namely the stadium, airplane, practice facility and venues connected with the purchase.

Gores grew up in Flint, attended Michigan State University and has been active in NBA circles for several years. Since he is a Michigan Man, loves the Pistons, it would appear to be a good fit.

What I like about Gores is the Pistons can continue to play at the Palace of Auburn Hills. There is no reason to move to a better arena. The Palace of Auburn Hills is a gem and they have found a home.

Keeping the Pistons at the Palace would allow Davidson to rest in peace, not turn over in his grave.

I've seen sporting events at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, America West Arena in Phoenix, Chicago's United Center, Milwaukee's Bradley Center, Minnesota's Target Center, Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla, St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, Fla, Amway Arena in Orlando, Fla and the American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Palace compares favorably to these venues.

The addition of Gores would provide Detroit with a new face on the ownership scene since he's only 46-years old. His deep pockets will give the Pistons all the financial resources they will need. At least being a Pistons fan gives him the passion to move the team forward.

If Illitch wants to keep the Red Wings downtown then more power to him. With former Pistons Executive Tom Wilson in charge of getting that stadium, the deal should eventually get done. Wilson is the best hire Iliitch has made in a long time.

But two facilities in one area has worked well for years and will continue to do so.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We can only hope that the Pistons have the answer to Prokhorov with Gores and this formula leads the Pistons back to championship status. When the Nets play the Pistons with these two men in charge, we'll call their meeting the "Billionaire Bowl."

As long as the Pistons remain in Detroit, this is all that really matters. Seeing the Pistons not a tenant in the Palace is criminal.

In Gores, We Trust? Stay tuned to see if this is another Beverly Hills/Detroit connection, referring to the hit movie sequel Beverly Hills Cop I, II & III.

Maybe the Pistons will hold a few practices at Detroit Mumford High School and comedian Eddie Murphy will have a court-side seat at the Palace with scenes from Beverly Hills Cop showing Murphy and Gil Hill on the scoreboard between timeouts.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com


Sunday, November 14, 2010

America's Thankless Job

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

There is an adage which says that you never know how good you have it until it's gone.

I'll bet Dallas Cowboys Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones could use his former Super Bowl winning coach Jimmy Johnson.

Johnson is the reason that Jones owns three Super Bowl Rings. The FOX Analyst is the mastermind who engineered the big Herschel Walker trade that landed Hall of Fame Running Back Emmitt Smith and several players.

The former Miami Hurricanes National Championship winning pilot also turned wide receiver Michael Irvin and quarterback Troy Aikman into Hall of Famers. Johnson's Dallas record of 44-36 mark may lack in winning percentage but not in accomplishments. He endured a 1989 season which saw Dallas finish 1-15, 1990 where he had a 7-9 mark and then the Cowboys fortunes began to turn.

In 1991 he was 11-5 and lost to the Detroit Lions in the playoffs. The 1992 and 1993 seasons were his final years in Dallas as 13-3 and 12-4 marks were good enough to lead the Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles against the Buffalo Bills.

Jones proceeded to run Johnson out of town and hired former Oklahoma Sooners Coach Barry Switzer. Inheriting Johnson's players, Switzer would lead the Cowboys to their fifth Super Bowl title over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1995.

Otherwise, Johnson would have three rings.

I have a hard time understanding why a coach would be ousted after winning a pair of Super Bowl titles, only to gift wrap the last one to his successor. Johnson should have three Super Bowl rings to go along with his college national championship that he earned with the Miami Hurricanes in 1987.

But now I wonder if Johnson's phone number is on Jones speed dial list as the beleaguered owner seeks advice on how to climb out of his 1-7 mess.

As good as legendary coach Bill Parcells was, the Cowboys never made it to a Super Bowl during his regime. From 2003-2006, Parcells was 34-30 and 0-2 in the playoffs.

Then again, quarterback Tony Romo doesn't belong in the same sentence as Aikman as his personal life with Jessica Simpson overshadowed his accomplishments on the field.

His botched snaps on special teams and other untimely mistakes could never lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. On October 25, his broken clavicle has virtually ended his season.

I believe that Romo is the most overrated signal caller in the league and until he proves he can win in the playoffs consistently, that opinion won't change. It figures to be awhile before he gets back to the playoffs. Romo can't blame former wide receiver Terrell Owens for the Cowboys recent struggles this season.

Jones was in a giving mood when he traded multiple draft picks to the Detroit Lions for former Texas Longhorns wide receiver Roy Williams on October 14, 2008. Detroit landed tight-end Brandon Pettigrew, wide receiver Derrick Williams and running back Aaron Brown, all of whom are still with the team. Roy Williams signed a six-year contract for $54 million and $26 million guaranteed.

Now Williams is catching passes from his former Lions teammate Jon Kitna, who was on Detroit's 0-16 season team in 2008.

But the Cowboys problems go deeper than there current record. They began in the pre-season when the team finished 3-2. One of their losses was down in Houston where the Texans blasted Dallas 23-7 as the team continued to make all kinds of mistakes, the offensive line struggled and they sustained injuries and were not a shadow of the squad which made last years playoffs.

All the talk about last years playoff run, winning a playoff game, the first for Romo and now deposed Coach Wade Phillips was premature. The dreams of playing in the Super Bowl in their own stadium really ended in August.

It's hard to imagine the head coach doubling as the defensive coordinator. But Jones allowed it to happen as the Cowboys would continue to commit foolish penalties and lost five games by seven points and under then were blown out the past two weeks leading to the hiring of Jason Garrett.

Now Garrett has the most thankless audition of an interim head coaching job in America. The coach in waiting has the challenge of a lifetime. Good Luck Jason. You're the man in charge of making sure Jones $1.3 billion stadium which has a capacity of 80,000 but is expandable to seat up to 100,000, doesn't become half empty.

I've never felt sorry for an NFL head coach as much as I do for Phillips. The man has an overall record of 82-59 and 34-20 with the Cowboys. His overall playoff mark was 1-5. He handled Owens as well as anyone could by addressing him by his first name. Unlike Parcell's, who addressed Owens by referring to him as "The Player" which is a sign of disrespect.

The demise of the Dallas Cowboys squarely falls on Jerry Jones!

He runs strong football minds out of town and now he'll have the ultimate challenge of fixing this Texas size earthquake which is 10 on the Richter Scale. There is no doubt that 60-70% of the players wearing the star on the helmet will be gone after 2010.

If there is no football in 2011 because of a lockout, Cowboys fans will agonize over the 2010 season much longer!

Instead of looking at the post-season, they may end up drafting a quarterback with next years No.1 pick in the 2011 Draft, hoping to find another Aikman. That would be a good start with either Garrett or the next coach.

Johnson and Aikman worked well through the growing pains and the results speak for themselves.

There won't be another Walker trade because there isn't a team dumb enough to trade lots of draft choices and players for a marquee player. The Cowboys don't have a player a team wants to get swindled.

It's hard to believe that if the Detroit Lions don't end their record 24-game road losing streak against the Buffalo Bills today, they'll have an opportunity to do it against a 1-8 Cowboys team which is destined to lose in New York against the Giants.

But to think the Detroit Lions could end that losing streak in Dallas on November 21, is something that nobody saw coming. By then, a 25-game losing streak against a team that was predicted to reach the Super Bowl is mind boggling. Yet, it's quite possible.

On Thanksgiving, Detroit and Dallas will have such poor records that the announcers on both FOX and CBS will have to do lots of homework to explain the rise and fall of both franchises.

If Garrett doesn't get hired, who would be the best fit for "America's Thankless Job?"

Former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Bill Cowher won't want the job because he'll want the freedom to make his moves. Should John Fox get fired from the Carolina Panthers, he could be the next Jones "Yes Man."

Fox's Brian Billick has won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens and Jones does like to go after these former championship winning coaches either at the college or pro levels with the hiring of Johnson, Switzer and Parcells.

Watching Billick the past couple years at FOX, this guy is knowledgeable and has worked with all kinds of personalities over the years. He'd handle this Texas size challenge well.

Jones could go to the UFL and snap up Las Vegas Locomotive's Coach Jim Fassel, who lost to Billick in the Super Bowl while he was the New York Giants Coach. Being a former coach in the division, Fassel should be able to have an understanding of how to prepare for those teams.

As General Manager and Head Coach, Fassel led the Locomotives to the 2009 UFL championship and has a good track record of working with quarterbacks. He'd have a lot of work to do in Dallas either with Romo or a prospect. Building any franchise from scratch looks good on a person's resume and Fassel is doing a fine job in Nevada.

Finally, Jon Gruden has worked for Al Davis and built the nucleus of a an Oakland Raiders team that he defeated with Tony Dungy's Tampa Bay Buc's players.

But Gruden has a Super Bowl ring more recently than Jones and his fiery personality would be a good fit in Dallas. He survived under Davis and now Jones is in a desperate situation.

I believe Jerry would give him space to do his job. Gruden could be the closest thing to bringing Jimmy Johnson back. If Gruden is a great salesman, he might be able to entice Irvin and Smith to join his coaching staff.

Regardless, for those who underestimate Johnson's impact and blueprint on the franchise, it's been 15 years since the Cowboys won the Super Bowl. It figures to be much longer with the team in bad shape.

Dallas mediocre pre-season is a good lesson that those games mean more than we think since a team has to work on developing chemistry together and get the mistakes out of the way early. That's why the mini camps and off-season programs are in place so these disasters get averted.

Jones should take a page from the New York Yankees and that's when the late George Steinbrenner hired General Manager Brian Cashman to run the team, the Yankees won five championships.

The right move for Jones is to hire Johnson back as General Manager, stay in his suite and let Johnson run the franchise and bring in the players. Jones can handle the business side.

At the college level, Johnson had an 81-34-3 record and won the national championship with Miami. Including his time with the Miami Dolphins, Johnson compiled an 80-64 mark and was 9-4 in the playoffs including his two titles. Time will tell if his record ever gets him elected into Pro Football's Hall of Fame, but he should be there if for no other reason, "It's Quality, Not Quantity." Johnson knows college talent and the Cowboys need him to call the shots having won at both levels.

The only thing Johnson didn't accomplish was watching Dan Marino win a title. But he's not a miracle worker trying to coach a player who is the most one-dimensional player on the planet. That's for another day.

Johnson's phrase, "How About Those Cowboys" is now the punch line of all the comedy shows and it's not funny anymore.

You never know how good you have it until it's gone and I'm sure that Johnson is classy enough to help Jones out of this jackpot. But Johnson will have to be smart enough to make sure that Jones stays out of way and make sure his meddling is in the next contract.

Otherwise, saying no to "America's Thankless Job" will be an easy decision.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lions Best Friend

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

During the past 2 1/2 years, the Detroit Lions haven't had many good friends.

With records of 0-16, 2-14 and now 2-5, there have been blackouts at Ford Field as a result of an abundance of bad football.

Since the addition of former Georgia Bulldogs QB Matthew Stafford with the top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, "The Motown Gunslinger" has caused plenty of aggravation for one team.

Stafford is 2-0 against the Washington Redskins and in each Lions victory, he sent shock waves back to the Nations Capital.

How embarrassing was it for Redskins Nation to lose 19-14 to Detroit on September 27, 2009 which enabled the Lions to snap a 19-game losing streak? Detroit's last win occurred on Dec 23, 2007.

It was so bad that Head Coach Jim Zorn lost his job at season's end following a 4-12 campaign. His QB Jason Campbell, who threw for 340 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, is now with the Oakland Raiders.

Stafford, "The Motown Gunslinger" threw for 241 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions in the victory in front of 40,896 relieved fans, and the fewest to watch a Lions home game in 20 years.

On Sunday, "The Motown Gunslinger" struck again in his first game back after missing five contests with a separated right shoulder, leading Detroit to a 37-25 win in front of 46,329.

He completed 26-of-45 attempts for 212 yards and four touchdowns, three to receiver Calvin Johnson, plus one to tight-end Brandon Pettigrew.

In addition to Stafford's performance, Detroit's defense had seven sacks, two each from rookie Ndamukong Suh, and veterans Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Busch. Suh now has 6 1/2 sacks this season and when the Redskins benched starting QB Donovan McNabb, havoc occurred again as Vanden Busch forced a fumble on back-up QB Rex Grossman, Suh picked up the football and rambled 17-yards for a touchdown to seal the win.

The Redskins left Detroit with a 4-3 record and even though Head Coach Mike Shanahan won't have to worry about job security, he'll have another headache.

What lies ahead in his working relationship with McNabb? Time will tell.

But meanwhile, despite the fact that the Redskins lead the all-time series with the Lions 27-11 which dates back to 1932, wins No. 10 and 11 were huge for Detroit. Snapping that long losing streak and matching last years win total are building blocks and baby steps to get the team back to respectability.

At least the Lions know what franchise has become their best friend recently and the Redskins were there when they needed them. It won't erase the memories of Detroit's lone NFC Championship Game when the Redskins blasted the Lions 41-10 in 1991 at RFK Stadium leaving Detroit Super Bowl-less.

That's part of the past. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Lions the rest of this season as well as the Redskins.

But for one week, the Redskins had to get hammered by the local media for another embarrassing loss to a struggling but promising franchise led by "The Motown Gunslinger."

The flight from Detroit to Washington D.C. was a long and quiet one for the second straight year.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.


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