Sunday NFL Countdown: Cowboys and Closing Out Games; Jets’ School Bus and Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso
Sunday NFL Countdown host Chris Berman and analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson and Ray Lewis will preview the NFL games on Sunday, Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. Senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry, providing fantasy football updates and insight, and NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will report the day’s headlines and news across the league during the three-hour pregame program.
Sunday NFL Countdown will also feature updates from reporters at games, including:
- Suzy Kolber and Ron Jaworski (Saints at Jets – “The Big Early Game”)
- Sal Paolantonio (Chargers at Redskins)
- Josina Anderson (Chiefs at Bills)
- Ed Werder (Vikings at Cowboys)
- Cowboys’ Problems with Closing Out Games: Since the 2011 season, the Dallas Cowboys have lost four games where they had double-digit leads in the final quarter – the most losses from that position in the NFL. The team has also lost three games they had to win in the last week of the season to make the playoffs. Countdown delves into why the Cowboys, a team with so much talent on its roster, repeatedly fail in must-win games.
- Jets’ School Bus: To boost his team’s camaraderie, Jets head coach Rex Ryan started a new tradition this season – arriving at home games aboard a school bus. With a 3-1 home record, the tradition appears to be working, reports ESPN.com writer Greg Garber, who reveals how the school bus ride is helping the team succeed at home.
- #LegendofKiko: Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso is tied for the league lead in interceptions with four and in tackles with 81. A quiet and unassuming player off the field, his play on it has fans in Buffalo enamored with the rookie from the University of Oregon. The fans love him so much they started a Twitter trend sweeping through western New York on NFL game days with the hash tag #LegendofKiko.
- Soundtracks – Luke Kuechly: The Panthers middle linebacker, wired for sound during the team’s week 7 game, will be featured on Sunday’s “Soundtracks.”
Aaron Rodgers and NFC North-leading Packers Host Rival Bears on Monday Night Football
Aaron Rodgers and the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers (5-2) host Brandon Marshall and the division rival Chicago Bears (4-3) on Monday Night Football on Nov. 4 at 8:25 p.m. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will call the game from historic Lambeau Field with sideline reporter Lisa Salters.
Bears-Packers on MNF is the only NFL game in week 9 between teams with winning records. In addition, Monday night marks the 185th regular season game between the Bears and Packers, the most games ever between two NFL franchises. The longtime rivals are playing on MNF for the 11th time. The series is split with five wins apiece, while the Bears have won the last two meetings by the score of 20-17 (2010 and ‘08).
Leading into the NFC North matchup, Kolber hosts ESPN’s pre-game show Monday Night Countdown (6:30 p.m., ESPN) from Green Bay with analysts Trent Dilfer, Lewis and Steve Young, contributor Rick Reilly and Tirico, Gruden and Salters. Studio host Berman, analysts Carter, Ditka, Jackson and Johnson and insiders Mortensen and Schefter contribute to the show from the network’s headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Highlights:
- Gruden’s Extra: Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning head coach Mike McCarthy, who was once an assistant coach with MNF’s Jon Gruden at the University of Pittsburgh, sits for a conversation on “Gruden’s Extra.”
- Aaron Rodgers Conversation: Packers quarterback and Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers talks to MNF’s Salters about his team’s 5-2 start and Monday’s game.
- Soundtracks – Matt Forte: Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, wired for sound, will be the subject of this week’s “Soundtracks” on Countdown.
- Rick Reilly Features Green Bay – Titletown, USA: Most cities have a Broadway or a Main street, but there is only one city where you can turn onto Bart Starr Drive from Lombardi Avenue. In Green Bay, Wisc., every street has a name, and often it is the name of a football player or Super Bowl winning coach. Monday Night Countdown’s Rick Reilly took a trip to Titletown, USA, to navigate Green Bay’s unmatched tribute to the Packers.
NFL Matchup – Cam Newton Stock Rising; Colts Defense; Aaron Rodgers’ Run-Pass Option; and More
NFL Matchup host Paolantonio and analysts Jaworski and Merril Hoge will preview the weekend’s key matchups by taking viewers inside the film room with X’s and O’s analysis on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 (re-air on ESPN, Sunday at 6:30 a.m.). Highlights:
- Disaster Down – Chiefs Brandon Flowers Sack: Jaworski explains a play which shows how Chiefs defensive backs Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers successfully switch coverage and blitz responsibilities with their dime personnel package.
- Hoge Breakdown – Cam Newton to Ted Ginn on a Third and 11 Play: On a three-game win streak, the Panthers Cam Newton has eight touchdowns with zero turnovers and is the best third-down passer in the NFL. Hoge breaks down Newton’s improvements in reading and recognizing coverage, as well as getting the ball out faster.
- Coaches Clicker – Danny Woodhead on a Third-Down Play: Quarterback Phillips Rivers has the Chargers offense on a roll, converting 49 percent of its third down plays to multiple targets at different positions: Vincent Brown, Kennan Allen, Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead. Hoge uses the Clicker to explain how Woodhead used a designed third-down play to beat the Colts’ coverage.
- Jaws Playbook – Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski: Last week versus Miami, Tom Brady had 12 shotgun snaps and was under center 49 times. Jaworski goes to the playbook to show the different approach in the Patriots’ offense with tight end Rob Gronkowski back on the field.
- Passing Thought – Tony Romo to Terrance Williams on a 60-yard Touchdown: Due to the Cowboys’ spread offense, rookie wide receiver Terrance Williams has scored a touchdown in the team’s last four games as the Cowboys have used the empty set backfield extensively. Jaworski provides an in-depth break down on Tony Romo’s numbers out of empty sets.
- Blitz Breakdown – Jets Defense vs. Saints Offense: Last week the Saints had a great offensive game plan against the Bills and their defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, the former Jets defensive coordinator. As the high-powered Saints offense faces head coach Rex Ryan and the Jets this week, fans should expect a replica of blitzes against the Saints empty backfield formation, explains NFL Matchup’s crew.
- X AND O Files – Colts Defense Versus the Run: Coming off a bye, the Colts travel to Houston after wins over the 49ers, Seahawks, and Broncos, who have a combined 20-4 record. The key factor this year has been their defense, contends Hoge, as he explains that the Colts fast defense will be critical against a zone run team like the Texans.
- Between The Lines – Aaron Rodgers Run-Pass Option: The Bears have allowed almost 30 points per game and their upcoming game is against division rival Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football. Jaworski goes to the telestrator to explain how quarterback Aaron Rodgers will use the run-pass option to take advantage of the Bears defense.
ESPN Radio – Steelers at Patriots on Sunday
ESPN Radio’s Sunday afternoon NFL games continue with the Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots on November 3 at 1 p.m. Sean McDonough will provide play-by-play with Bill Polian as analyst and Ian Fitzsimmons reporting from the sidelines.
ESPN.com “Hot Read” on 24 Year-old Rolando McClain’s Self-imposed Exile
ESPN the Magazine’s Seth Wickersham profiles 24-year-old Rolando McClain, who, nearing the peak of his NFL career, chose to walk away from professional football and NFL life to re-enroll at the University of Alabama in search of peace and a much needed perspective.