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Baltimore Sunk, August 30, 2009
Bolts Come Back Twice to Nip Connecticut, 17-14
Sproles Jump Starts Rally with 2nd Half Opening Kickoff Return
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Charleston Daily Smell, August 30, 2009
Manning Outduels Delhomme as Cannons Top New York, 34-28
Driver’s TD, 6th Lead Change, Holds Up Over Last 10 MInutes
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Washington Postage Stamp, August 30, 2009
Capitols Hog Ball Late, Beat Philadelphia, 16-13, in OT
72-Yard Drive Over Last 6 Minutes of Regulation Knots Score
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, August 30, 2009
Daunting Defense Lifts Cherries Over Providence, 21-7
Allows Just 4 First Downs, 65 Yards in First Half
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Syracuse Posed Standee, August 30, 2009
Smith, Richmond Stave Off Crush Rally Bid, 31-24
Westbrook’s Heroics Not Enough to Overcome 21-Point Halftime Deficit
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Harrisburg Pay and Rot Ooze, August 31, 2009
Flacco Sizzles as Hershey Bars Halt Albany, 34-10
100-Plus Receiving Yards Each for Jennings, Santana Moss
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, August 30, 2009

Rip Snorter

Bunnies? Hardly, but Lewis, Dawkins Keep Going, and …

Associating bunnies with Ray Lewis and Brian Dawkins is about as incongruous as you can get. They are two of the meanest, most intense hombres to ever set foot on a professional football field.

And yet, their performance for the Cherries last night in a 21‑7 pounding of the Providence Steam Roller reminds me of a particular bunny. That would be the Energizer Bunny from the battery commercials. For Lewis, at age 34 and Dawkins, at age 36, aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. They are playing very well. Like the commercials say, they “keep going, and going, and going …”

Terrell Suggs and Bart Scott also played particularly well for the Cherries’ defense. In the first half they held the Steam Roller to a paltry 4 first downs and 65 total yards. Providence was more successful in the second half — 140 yards — but that too is a pretty stingy yield on Delaware’s part.

But this one didn’t feel securely in the win column until Donte Whitner outwrestled Gonzalez — no small feat — for a Bulger pass at the Delaware 12 with 4:52 to go.

Why the delay?

Well, the Cherries’ offense went silent just past the midway point of the third quarter, after Pittman’s score, with three consecutive three-and-outs. And before then the offense couldn’t exactly be described as world-beaters. In fact, all three Cherries’ touchdowns were set up by Providence turnovers:

While the Cherries moved the ball effectively early, mainly due to Phillip Rivers’s pinpoint accuracy, Rivers was twice in the first quarter stripped on sacks, by Tyler Brayton and then by Ryan Clark, both recovered for Providence by Stewart Bradley. Fortunately, the defense bailed out Rivers, both times preventing the Steam Roller from getting into Cherries territory.

Dissect the stats sheet in search of the reason for the Cherries offense’s disappointing 229-yard output, and you won’t be able to help but notice the rushing of LaDainian Tomlinson: 36 yards on 24 carries. What the flock?

Tomlinson’s output came on the heels of the 31 yards on 14 carries he gained on the ground in the Cherries’ loss last Sunday morning to the Caps. While it’s admirable, I suppose, that Jon Brams kept trying last night to establish the running game — a successful formula for him over the years — it’s not clicking to say the least. Tomlinson’s performance brought to mind something else that keeps going and going — the Roomba self-propelled vacuum that continually bounces off obstacles in its path.

I asked Tomlinson how soon he expects to bust out with a big game. “I always expect going into a game that I’m going to gain a lot of yards. Providence got some good penetration and caught me for some negative yardage. Fortunately, Antonio [Pittman] didn’t have much trouble finding holes, and that gave us a lift.” It’s true that Pittman did pick up some of the slack — and that’s a good sign for Delaware. Pittman ran 7 times for 35 yards including a 22-yard burst up the middle on 2nd and 16 at the Cherries 32 with 2:07 left to effectively seal the win. He also made a great catch-and-run over the middle for 14 yards late in the first half, which led to the Tomlinson touchdown that broke a scoreless tie.

If there are better days coming for Tomlinson, it would benefit the Cherries for those days to arrive in time for the series of games on deck against divisional rivals Philadelphia and Hershey. We’ll see …

By the way, I fully expect Bulger’s unpalatable performance to earn him a demotion. Gus Frerotte is waiting in the wings for the Steam Roller, who fell to 1‑3. Providence coach Ri Divine typically hasn’t shown a lot of patience for the kind of play he got last night from Bulger.