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Hartford Crude Rant, October 25, 2009
Campbell, Albany Rally, Top Comets, 31-21
Offense Goes Silent After Blackmon’s 2nd Quarter Heroics
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Baltimore Sunk, October 25, 2009
Williams Electrifies as Bolts Subdue Richmond, 38-26
Running Back’s Rampage: 301 Yards on 21 Carries, 4 Touchdowns
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 25, 2009
Tomlinson, Cherries Paste Philadelphia, 31-3
Favre Held to 96 Yards, Responsible for 3 Giveaways
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Washington Postage Stamp, October 25, 2009
Jackson is Answer; Capitols Beat Richmond, 37-27, to Clinch
222 Yards, 3 TDs in Return; Parrish Punt Return TD Provides Insurance
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Providence Kernel, October 25, 2009
5 TD Passes by Rodgers as Syracuse Drubs Steam Roller, 48-15
Horrid 3-Game Home Stand Ends — Outscored 116-37
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New York Slimes, October 26, 2009
Empires Flatten Hershey Bars, 33-14, in Sack-Fest
Seymour Collects 3 of Team’s 9 Sacks; 289 Yards Passing for Delhomme
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, October 25, 2009

Rip Snorter

(Nearly) Equal Opportunity Ground Game Wore Down Lakers

Philip Rivers was off target last night against the Lakers in the first half — 9-for-26 — so the Cherries increasingly relied on their ground game. That strategy paid off in spades as Delaware wore down the Philadelphia defense and treated their sometimes disrespected home fans to a 31‑3 laugher.

LaDainian Tomlinson had one of this better games, with 121 yards on his typical workload of 20 carries. In recent seasons that would have left only 6 or 7 carries for Michael Turner and Turner’s designated understudy du jour.

This season is different.

The trend has been for Tomlinson to share more and more of the load. That’s really good as the durable Tomlinson, at age 30, isn’t getting any younger. The marquee running back attained the 1,000 yard milestone for the 9th consecutive season with a 2-yard touchdown run off right tackle midway through the 3rd quarter.

The players with whom he is sharing the load — Antonio Pittman and Brandon Jackson — have each exceeded the relatively modest expectations that accompanied them when they were acquired together from the Baltimore Bolts at the pre-season EFL owners’ meeting.

Whereas in the recent seasons Tomlinson got triple the carries of his backups, this season the ratio is less than 2:1. While Tomlinson has rushed 234 times in the season’s first 12 games, Pittman and Jackson have combined for 127 carries, the former with 73 for 317 yards (4.3 average) and the latter with 54 for 196 (3.6 average).

And last night Pittman and Jackson saw (nearly) equal opportunity relative to Tomlinson, with 18 carries between them — 9 apiece.

During the second half as the Cherries pulled away from the Lakers, both Pittman and Jackson made notable contributions:

Tomlinson’s backups present a nearly identical form factor. Pittman is 5-11, 207 pounds. Jackson is the same height and weighs 210.

Pittman is pleased with the playing time he has had. “Coach [Jon Brams] has given me a chance to be a role player. I’m grateful for that, and I feel I’ve done well. L.T. is a legend. It’s an honor to be his backup. If he’s a little better rested going down the stretch because of me and B.J. [Jackson] its gotta help us.”

And what of Rivers … did he rebound from that forgettable first half? I would say so. In the second half he was 9-for-13 for 99 yards, and he threw his second and third touchdown passes.

Rivers’ longest, most timely completion came during the first Cherries possession of the half. On 3rd and 12 at the Delaware 47, Jason Avant ran 10 yards straight down the slot. At that point his stutter-step froze Frank Walker, and Rivers hit him in stride for a 31-yard gain. The next three plays were Tomlinson touches, the third the milestone touchdown, which put the Cherries up, 17‑3. The rout was on.

I’ve given short shrift thus far to the Delaware defense. They dominated Brett Favre and his Lakers offense last night. Recall how late last season Favre and company came into Delaware Stadium and moved up and down the field with little resistance, racking up 455 yards and 44 points on their way to a blowout win. Favre threw for 282 yards and 4 scores that night.

Last night was a completely different story. The Philadelphia offense was way overmatched. They were outmuscled, outhit, and out-finessed. They looked like a Division II college team going up against an SEC title contender. Of the 12 Lakers possessions, they failed to gain more than 5 yards on 7 of them. For the night the Cherries held the Lakers to 174 yards. Favre didn’t even reach triple digits through the air, going 11-for-31 for 96 yards. He was also sacked 3 times.

By late in the third quarter I was feeling embarrassed for Favre. His troubles were exemplified right then by a botched exchange with Derrick Ward on what appeared to be a draw play call, LaMarr Woodley got in between Favre and Ward and batted the ball — heck, Favre nearly handed it right to him — several yards toward the Philadelphia sideline. Terrell Suggs fell on it and rolled forward to the Lakers 37. The Cherries cashed in that takeaway for their next to last touchdown.

With their 9th win in 12 games this season, the Cherries are closing in on their 4th consecutive Central Division title. A New York loss at home this morning against Hershey would be the clincher. Last season those two teams met at Hershey the morning after the Cherries’ blowout loss to the Lakers in week 13, and in convincing fashion Hershey pulled off the upset that handed the division crown to Delaware. One wonders if that aspect of history will repeat itself. That would be kind of cool.

As for the Lakers, the best they can do is .500. In all likelihood they’ll miss the playoffs for the 4th season in a row. They didn’t play like a playoff team last night — that’s for sure. Put me in the corner with those who feel the Cherries traded away Favre to Philadelphia at just the right time (2005).