Bulls

There's no more second-guessing Tom Coughlin

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There's no more second-guessing Tom Coughlin

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- No more hot seat for Tom Coughlin. No more second-guessing. The 65-year-old Coughlin made NFL history on Sunday, becoming the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl by guiding the Giants to a 21-17 victory over New England for his second NFL championship in four years. "What I was concerned with was these guys making their own history," Coughlin said. "This is such a wonderful thing, these guys carving their own history." The Giants did that by capturing the franchise's fourth Super Bowl championship. New York only trails Pittsburgh with six, and San Francisco and Dallas with five, and became the first team to win the title after finishing the regular season 9-7. Coughlin and Hall of Fame candidate Bill Parcells are the only coaches to lead the Giants to two Super Bowl titles, and this game was as wild as New York's 17-14 win over the Patriots in 2008 for his first championship. "Each one is very unique, and this one is just as exciting, probably more so because of the kind of year we had," Coughlin said after seeing Tom Brady's desperation pass into the end zone fall incomplete. "What a wonderful experience it was to see the team come together like they did. Our defense started to play very well, we gained some confidence, and as they say the rest is history." That history will show was that it was Coughlin who kept this team together through early season injuries, a four-game midseason losing streak and a depressing loss to Washington in game No. 14 when they lost a share of first place with a no-show performance. Instead of getting upset, Coughlin told his team everything was still within their grasp, and they went out and took it all, winning their final six games. The final one was the most thrilling with two-time MVP Eli Manning leading an 88-yard drive that Ahmad Bradshaw capped with a 6-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds to go on a play the Patriots let the running back score to save time. "We won so many games like this, at the end of the game, the end of the fourth quarter," Coughlin said. "We talked about finishing all the time and winning the fourth quarter, being the stronger team, making the plays, and it happened again." It marked the seventh time that Manning had led a fourth-quarter comeback this season, and it's become the norm in a season that Coughlin has talked of nothing more than finishing games. "That last drive, looking at each other in the huddle, looking in each other's eyes, we said we're going to finish this things," tackle David Diehl said. The Giants didn't finish games the previous two years and they missed the playoffs. In his final pregame speech Saturday, Coughlin talked about finishing again, players believing in themselves and playing for each other. His final topic was family and love, not what one would expect from a man who is known as a disciplinarian. Coughlin, however, has learned how to reach young players lately and this message sunk in. "It was very passionate," defensive captain Justin Tuck said. "We could have come out and played at that point, we were so excited. It was hard sleep after a speech like that. I don't know what it is about Coach Coughlin, but his Super Bowl speeches, I give them a 10. They got me ready to play. I know he looks dull at times, but he is a fiery guy. You could tell it was from the heart." Coughlin not only motivated his team, he probably outcoached Bill Belichick. The Giants outgained the Patriots 396-349, and held the ball more than 37 minutes. Once again, New York won the turnover battle 1-0, giving them a 12-2 advantage in their six-game winning streak. Coordinator Kevin Gilbride's offense probably should have put up more points and Perry Fewell's' defense kept the Patriots off the scoreboard for the final 26:20. "It can't get much better," Giants chief executive John Mara said. "To have it happen one time, the way it did four years ago, was pretty incredible. To have it happen twice is hard to put into words." Coughlin laughed when asked about being a candidate for the Hall of Fame, but it's obvious his recent accomplishments have put him on the hall's radar. He downplayed matching Parcells' Super Bowl win total. "I'm very thankful and very grateful for the opportunity that I've had as a head coach of the New York Giants," Coughlin said. "The wonderful players that I have worked with, the coaches that have surrounded us and the support from ownership, that's what this is all about." And there is no doubt Coughlin will have that ownership support for as long as he wants.

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

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USA TODAY

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.

Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”

The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.

Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.

“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”

Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.

He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.

“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”

After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.

The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.

“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

The Bears were getting used to life in the big chair. Chicago was favored in each of their last four games, but it all came crashing down at the hands of Brock Osweiler in overtime last week.

The Miami Dolphins pulled off the upset, and now the Bears return home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

Even if they had won in Miami, Chicago likely still would have been underdogs to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but as it stands, Bill Belichick and company are favored by three on most major sportsbooks, according to Vegas Insider.

The line initially opened at Patriots by 2.5, but it would seem that money placed on New England pushed the spread a little more in the Bears’ favor.

Vegas is expecting another higher-scoring game for both teams, with the over/under sitting at 49. Given that the Patriots have scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games, the Bears’ defense may have some trouble keeping this game low on the scoreboard.

In Week 6, home underdogs went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 straight up. According to Bet America, home underdogs have covered in 20 of their 30 games this season, which bodes well for a Bears team facing a tough task at Soldier Field.