Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Not just another passing fancy


The Green Bay Packers defense tackles Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson during the first half of their NFL football game in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 5, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes“You’ve got to run the ball in this weather and play defense, and we do that better than anyone,” New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said after his team beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday to grab the last playoff spot in the AFC.

And with that statement, Ryan helped perpetuate one of the most worn-out myths in the NFL today, that teams must run the ball to be successful in the postseason.

Running the football will always be a part of a team’s offensive game plan, but the league has evolved to the point where it doesn’t matter how well you can run the ball. Unless you have a good, if not great, passing attack you will not win in the playoffs.

Last year’s Super Bowl was a perfect example of this. Neither team resembled the 1973 Miami Dolphins that captured the Lombardi Trophy while attempting a mere seven passes. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger attempted eight passes in the Steelers’ final game-winning drive of last year’s Super Bowl.

Winners and losers of the 2009 NFL draft


Top NFL prospects stand together on stage before the start of the 2009 NFL Draft

Most football experts will tell you that it takes three full years to evaluate an NFL draft class, but don’t tell that to the media, who are only too happy to provide the instant gratification of a thumbs up or down analysis after less than 72 hours.

Draft guru Mel Kiper of ESPN gave the Green Bay Packers his highest grade, an A, based primarily on their top two picks of defensive tackle B.J. Raji and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. While the Oakland Raiders, who selected the speedy, but unpolished wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bay with the seventh overall pick and the Dallas Cowboys, who didn’t have a pick until the third round after trading away earlier selections, both received the lowest mark of D.

Sanchez ready to call New York home



Richard Cato is blogging the NFL draft

Catching a late cross-country flight, the top pick of the New York Jets, Mark Sanchez, made a surprise appearance at Radio City Music Hall today for day 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Taking a tour of the Jets facilities earlier in the day, the former USC quarterback was greeted with cheers as he took the stage wearing a Jets hat.