Eagles’ Cary Williams says the team is overworked, exhausted

The Eagles are 3-0, one of the few undefeated teams left in the NFL. You’d think all would be harmony and happiness in the locker room. And then you’d remember this is Philadelphia we’re talking about, where nobody ever takes the easy path when there’s a more prickly one to travel.

Cornerback Cary Williams heralded the end of a triumphant, hard-won victory not by taking pride in the team, but by griping about practice.

“I’m burnt out. Burnt out. I’m not the only guy that feels burnt out,” Williams said. “I’m just a guy that’s man enough to stand up for players and just say that we’re burnt out. My legs hurt. My legs were done in the fourth quarter. My legs were done in the third quarter. My legs were done before the game started.”

Granted, the Eagles were playing a short week, having beaten Indianapolis on Monday Night Football six days before. But even so, Williams said that the absence of an off day hurt him and the team.

“Something has to be modified and something has to be changed, and I’m not afraid to say, ‘Hey look, that’s what needs to be done,'” Williams said. “I’m not hurting anybody. I just know what this locker room feels like. I know what the guy to the left of me to the right of me feels like. I know what it’s like, so I’m in close connection with these guys. It’s not just an individual game. It’s a team game. You’ve got to understand, you need all 11 guys out there on the field.”

The Eagles gave up three pass plays of 40 yards or more, and two of those were thrown in Williams’ direction. Is there a connection here? Perhaps.

The issue of practice is a touchy one; many old-line pros and football types feel that players are too coddled as it is with limited hitting. The players, obviously, would prefer to rest whenever possible to be fresh. And the varied schedule, especially for a noteworthy and nationally attractive team like Philadelphia, means that establishing a consistent schedule that builds in off days can be a tricky process.

Overall, though, this brings to mind another Philadelphia athlete’s thoughts on practice:

It’s a good bet Williams is going to be hearing enough about practice to drive Allen Iverson insane.

The Eagles have three more weeks of games before their bye week. You can bet that several of Williams’ teammates and head coach Chip Kelly will be answering questions about practice before then.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Roethlisberger leads Steelers to thorough dismantling of Panthers

By the time Week Three rolls around, we can start to see the outlines of how a season’s going to go. The Carolina Panthers may not be who we thought they were. The Pittsburgh Steelers, as it turns out, may be a whole lot more.

The Steelers beat the Panthers in a game that wasn’t even that close. Pittsburgh threw around Carolina like sacks of dog food on both sides of the ball. Pittsburgh’s well-coached, well-managed, well-played game handed Carolina its first loss since Week One of 2013.

A dull exhibition of field goals — four in the first half, three by Pittsburgh — exploded into an exceptional offensive display by the Steelers, starting with a dropped-from-the-sky touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown. Following a monstrous 81-yard run by Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisberger again connected with Brown, putting the Steelers up 23-6 and effectively ending Carolina’s last chance at a victory.

It got uglier, however, with Carolina punt returner Philly Brown muffing a kick, then compounding his own problem by trying to run with the fumbled ball rather than falling on it. The Steelers descended on him, the ball ended up in the end zone, and Pittsburgh walked away with another touchdown as the fans walked into the Charlotte night.

This was a landmark evening for Pittsburgh from a statistical perspective. Bell’s run was the longest in the NFL this season and the longest by a Steeler since Jon Fuqua in 1970, 44 years ago. Bell and Blount both hit triple figures in rushing, the first time Pittsburgh had pulled off that feat in nearly 30 years.

For the Panthers, Cam Newton was 24 of 35 for 250 yards and a touchdown, a respectable total albeit much padded when the game was out of reach. Carolina wisely pulled Newton with five minutes left in the game, inserting Derek Anderson to prevent further injury to a still-healing Newton.

So where does this game leave each team? Both are 2-1, though both face drastically different prospects in their own divisions. The Panthers dropped into a tie for the NFC South lead with the Atlanta Falcons, with the New Orleans Saints just one game behind. The Steelers, meanwhile, share a division with the still-undefeated Bengals and the tough-to-pin-down Ravens and Browns.

Next week, both teams remain in the other’s division. The Steelers get a virtual guaranteed W with a game against Tampa Bay, while Carolina and Baltimore will take one another’s measure.

The Panthers aren’t this bad, but the Steelers might just be this good. Carolina should stay in the mix for a playoff spot in the NFC, but Pittsburgh’s performance is going to make the rest of the league pay attention.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Facebook or on Twitter.

Mississippi State racks up 570 yards of offense in road upset of No. 8 LSU

For much of the offseason, we heard that Mississippi State would be a surprise contender in the SEC West in 2014. On Saturday night, the Bulldogs proved why.

Dan Mullen’s squad went into Death Valley and overwhelmed No. 8 LSU from the opening kickoff in a 34-29 win that was much more lopsided than the final score indicates (LSU scored twice in 28 seconds late in the fourth quarter). The Bulldogs racked up a whopping 570 yards of total offense – and they made it look easy en route to the first MSU win in Baton Rouge since 1991.

The Bulldogs’ offense came out firing early and often, leaving the vaunted LSU defense looking confused. Junior quarterback Dak Prescott was on point for four quarters as he threw for 268 and two touchdowns while also racking up 105 yards and another score on the ground. In addition to Prescott, the Tigers had no answer for the running prowess of Josh Robinson. The 5-foot-9, 215-pound junior running back registered 197 yards on just 16 carries.

The MSU defense never allowed the Tigers’ ground game to get going. Though the Tigers put up 430 yards of total offense, only 89 of those yards came via the run on 35 attempts – a 2.5-yard average.

LSU split snaps between Brandon Harris (6-of-9, 140 yards, two TDs, one INT) and Anthony Jennings (13-of-26, 157 yards) at quarterback, and both were subjected to some hard hits from the MSU front seven, especially when they tried to run. The two combined for just 25 yards on 13 carries.

With a strong start, the Bulldogs had the luxury of playing with a lead for most of the night. It was 17-0 early in the second quarter. When the second half rolled around, the Bulldogs pulled away for good early in the fourth quarter when it was 34-10.

LSU cut the lead to 34-16 when Kenny Hilliard scored on a one-yard run with 14:49 to go – and that looked like the closest the Tigers would get. However, Harris found freshman wideout Malchi Dupre on a 31-yard TD pass with 1:48 to go, cutting the score to 34-22.

After a failed LSU onside kick, the Bulldogs had a major gaffe when the center snapped the ball over Prescott’s head as the offense tried to run the clock out. LSU recovered and Harris found Dupre in the end zone again two plays later for the Tigers’ second score in 24 seconds.

All of a sudden it was 34-29. The Tigers had a final crack at pulling out a miraculous win, but Harris’ Hail Mary pass was intercepted by Will Redmond as time expired, and the Bulldogs were finally able to exhale.

So what does it all mean? For one, Mississippi State is definitely a threat in the SEC West. The Bulldogs will find themselves ranked next week, but things won’t get easier. Next on the schedule? A home contest with sixth-ranked Texas A&M.

On the other side, LSU showed that it is still undergoing the typical growing pains of a very young team. Though the final score indicates otherwise, the Tigers really looked helpless at times and were thoroughly outperformed in front of a huge home crowd at Tiger Stadium.

Les Miles’ bunch will bounce back. His teams always do, but one can’t help but wonder if we overrated the Tigers a bit. New Mexico State, the team’s last non-conference game of the season, is next on the schedule for the Tigers before they enter the rigors of the SEC schedule.

The jury is still out on the Tigers – but I suspect we’ll learn a lot more after they face Auburn in two weeks.

For more Mississippi State news, visit BulldogBlitz.com.

For more LSU news, visit TigerBait.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

Louisiana-Lafayette turns botched field goal into 14-yard gain (GIF)

Whenever a holder on a field goal or extra point attempt fumbles the snap, the play usually instantly turns into a big panic for the kicking team, and more often than not, that panic does not yield a positive result.

Louisiana-Lafayette managed to defy those odds Saturday night against Boise State.

On fourth-and-14, Hunter Stover was lined up for a 38-yarder when the snap was fumbled. Stover scooped up the bouncing ball, rolled right and heaved the ball down field. Remarkably, after Stover absorbed a big hit, the pass found tight end Evan Tatford, who made a falling catch for a 14-yard gain and a first down.

The first down set up a first-and-goal for the Ragin’ Cajuns at the Boise 7-yard line. Unfortunately, the team could not turn the remarkable play into six points.

Three plays later, Stover was back out on the field for another field goal attempt. Things went smoothly this time, and the senior nailed the 22-yard attempt.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

Braves fan catches Lucas Duda’s home run in popcorn bucket

If players are given the Gold Glove Award as recognition for their superior defensive skills, perhaps fans should be rewarded with golden buckets of popcorn when they make the highlight reels. That seems to be the most commonly used prop — well, aside from an actual glove — used to make spectacular catches in the stands.

To be perfectly honest, it’s also the most visually appealing, especially when the bucket happens to be full and its contents explode from within.  

That would be the exact scene that played out on Friday night in Atlanta. As one Braves fan in the right-field bleachers attempted to enjoy his mid-game snack, Lucas Duda of the Mets took aim and launched a mammoth two-run homer right in his direction. It appeared like the fan was still enjoying his last bite as it unfolded, yet without thinking twice he lined himself up and moved his bucket into position to make a fantastic catch. 

He even used two hands to steady the bucket.

Strong fundamentals on display at Turner Field! From that fans, that is. The big league club would go to lose 5-0. 

It’s almost like an instinctual reaction now. As if fans grew up practicing catching baseballs in popcorn buckets and come prepared for just that scenario. There’s never any hesitation to sacrifice the snack, and rarely do we see the fans mess it up.

It’s obviously a long way ahead of the fan who tries catching the ball while holding a beer, but could be losing ground to parents who catch the ball while holding a child. We’ve seen a number of those this season, and with each one the bar seems to be raised. In order to regain its healthy lead, the popcorn-eating fans may have to start going behind the back.  

Consider that an unofficial challenge. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!