<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:11:33 -0500 Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:11:33 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Marshall Calls Bears' Loss to Dolphins "Unacceptable" ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:01:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/0d7d41844dbe412a83e1a1217ad964dc.jpg

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall has always been known as an outspoken person, whether addressing the teams he has played for or whether he’s working to further his advocacy of mental health awareness. That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that after the Bears lost 27-14 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Marshall made sure the media knew that the players in the locker room were angry about the game:

“There’s a lot of guys this means a lot to. We’re 3-4. We need to play better. That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. We shouldn’t have lost today, shouldn’t be 3-4. [The] offense [has] got to play better. It’s as simple as that.”

The Bears’ offense turned the ball over three times on the afternoon, including a bad interception by Jay Cutler and a fumble by the Bears’ quarterback. A report from Michael C. Wright of ESPN Chicago said that Marshall “called out” Cutler after the game in the locker room, and added this thought:

“Marshall, meanwhile, didn’t deny there was friction in the aftermath of the game.

“’We lost, there should be a lot of frustration,” Marshall said. “You should hear frustration. We’re 3-4. Yeah, this means everything to a lot of guys in this locker room. This means a lot.”

Several reporters said after the game that Marshall could be heard yelling in the locker room behind closed doors, with kicker Robbie Gould being the subject of some of his anger.

While some fans and writers may have the opinion that Marshall’s actions speak to a locker room in disarray, there is a small reason for hope amongst the wreckage of this game. Receivers butting heads with quarterbacks is not a new phenomenon in the NFL, and a guy like Marshall is certainly capable of letting loose if he wants to get a point across.

Cutler has been in the league long enough to know that dealing with teammates is always a delicate balancing act, and what Marshall said doesn’t reek of blaming Cutler or anybody else; it reeks instead of a desire to hold everyone on the team, himself included, accountable for the loss.

This is a pivotal moment for the Bears this season. Will they allow this adversity to cripple their playoff chances, or will they use this as motivation to move forward and improve on their execution and game-planning?

Cutler and Marc Trestman’s reputations could very well be riding on the answer to that question, and if Marshall’s statements are any indication, the Bears’ locker room is aware of the magnitude of the battle that they face. 

Photo Credit: Lutz, BJ (NBCUniversal)]]>
<![CDATA[Dolphins vs. Bears: Three Phase Report Card ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:40:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/167*120/bears+dolphins+getty30.jpg

In our weekly grading of how the Chicago Bears did, we examine the offensive struggles and defensive lapses that led to Sunday's loss against the Miami Dolphins. 

Offense: C-

The Chicago Bears’ offense is supposed to be one of its strengths, but with their scoring average down to 22 points per game and only scoring 14 points against the Miami Dolphins on their home field, things are not going right for this group at the moment.

The only reason this unit’s grade isn’t even lower is because of Matt Forte. He had 109 all-purpose yards on Sunday, scoring two touchdowns and helping the Bears at least remain somewhat competitive. Outside of him however, things go south in a hurry. Jay Cutler looked awful on Sunday, throwing off his back foot repeatedly and turning the ball over twice in the loss.

Alshon Jeffery was largely absent from the game as well, catching two balls on the first drive of the game and then not coming down with another reception the rest of the way.

All told, the team had just 224 yards of offense in the game, and they only had two first downs in the entire first half. TWO. It was a bad day overall, and one that Marc Trestman and company are going to have to address.

Defense: C

Being expected to play for over 37 minutes is never easy, but the Bears’ defense still has to play better than they did on Sunday. Jeremiah Ratliff was the lone standout of the afternoon, with three and a half sacks to his credit, but those all came in the early stages of the game, and he disappeared in the second half.

Several other players were worthy of criticism after the game, including cornerback Kyle Fuller, who blew a few coverages even before he broke his hand and picked up a hip pointer later in the game. Linebacker Shea McClellin also looked completely lost on the field, vacating gaps and getting pushed aside on run plays all afternoon.

About the only other bright spot on the day was that the Bears held the Dolphins to just four third down conversions in the game. That’s a carry-over from their success against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6, and one they should cling to as they evaluate game film this week.

Special Teams: B+

In what has to be the most surprising sentence we’ve typed so far this season, the Bears’ special teams actually looked really good in this game. They didn’t have a single penalty, Robbie Gould didn’t miss on either of his extra point attempts after having one blocked in the Atlanta game, and most importantly of all, Chris Williams actually broke the 20-yard line on returns twice in the game.

Coaching: F

The impact of coaching in sports is often debated, but there is no way that the coaching staff can escape blame after a loss like this one. Trestman’s offensive game plan was a complete joke, and the results speak for themselves. His decision to let the first half clock run out rather than trying to get the ball back to get a positive result before the break was questionable, and his decision to call timeout on a 4th-and-1 play with 21 seconds left on the play clock was downright laughable.

As for Mel Tucker and the defense, one picture sums up the afternoon pretty well:

It was a scene all too reminiscent of the Buffalo game earlier in the season. The linebackers were vacating gaps, allowing Lamar Miller to savage them. They couldn’t contain Ryan Tannehill on read-option plays. They couldn’t do anything right. It was a bit of regression from Tucker, and it was something that the Bears cannot repeat again if they’re going to have any hope of beating the New England Patriots next week. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kyle Long Walks Back Criticism of Fans Monday]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:05:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/168*120/456282376.jpg

The Chicago Bears came out of the gate flat and stayed that way in a 27-14 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon, and after the game right guard Kyle Long expressed his displeasure at the way fans received the team as they were headed to the locker room at halftime:

Predictably and understandably, the comments left a lot of fans feeling disgruntled. The team had played an abysmal first half of football on both sides of the field, going scoreless in the half and picking up just two first downs. Jay Cutler also threw an interception in the half, and Marc Trestman opted to head to the locker room with his team down 14-0 instead of calling a timeout with a little less than a minute left and two timeouts to use.

After a day to think over his Sunday comments however, Long wisely backtracked a bit and apologized for what he had said:

To be completely honest here, Long was both right and wrong in this situation. Players can be mad at fans for booing, but fans should also be permitted to express their displeasure with the way things are going. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and what Long said and the cascade of boos that the team got fit under that premise.

The other thing that has to be mentioned is that both Long and Lamarr Houston are focusing on the wrong thing if they’re going to focus on fans being “unsupportive.” Their effort on the field, not the fan reaction to the team, is what needs some work, and at least guys like Brandon Marshall seem to get that. If players are going to let themselves be affected by what is said or done by fans or media, then the Bears could be headed down the path to mediocrity rather than a path to success.

Just ask the 2004 Chicago Cubs. 


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Hampton: Coach Trestman is on "Shakey Ground"]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:58:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009317234_1200x675_345244227542.jpg 10/19/14: Bears Hall of Famer takes Chicago Bears head coach to task after embarrassing loss to Miami Dolphins.]]> <![CDATA[Who is Leading the Bears?]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:50:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009317145_1200x675_345239619554.jpg 10/19/14: Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton says Brandon Marshall is trying to be the leader of the team at a time when the coaches are failing to hold players accountable.]]> <![CDATA[Viewers Respond: Why Can't Bears Win at Home?]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:50:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009317046_1200x675_345240131654.jpg 10/19/14: Sports Sunday viewers take to Facebook and Twitter to answer FanZone question.]]> <![CDATA[Bears Offense Collapses Against Dolphins]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:45:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009316999_1200x675_345239619558.jpg 10/19/14: Bears Hall of Famer Dan Hampton analyzes the Chicago Bears' offensive lineup after a brutal loss to Miami.]]> <![CDATA[Madhouse Enforcer's Central Division Power Rankings: Week 2]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:07:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/457315830.jpg

Every week, Madhouse Enforcer will take a look around the Central Division and let you know who’s hot and who’s not in our little corner of the hockey world.

1. Chicago Blackhawks (Last Week’s Rank: 1)

Despite dropping an overtime decision to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, the Blackhawks retain their top spot in the rankings based on their dominance of possession in their two Week 2 games. They outshot their opponents 87-38 in those games, but that advantage in shots was at least in part due to the fact they got 12 power plays in the two games.

Nonetheless, the Hawks will be looking to improve on their power play and on their finishing around the net as they head into a tough stretch of games. Home tilts against Philadelphia and Ottawa sandwich road tests against the Predators and Blues.

2. Dallas Stars (Last Week’s Rank: 5)

The Stars got off to a rough start to the season, but they rebounded nicely in the second week, grabbing five of the six available points. They scored three times on the power play in wins over the Blue Jackets and Penguins, and they got a hat trick from Tyler Seguin and a four point night from Jason Spezza in the process.

Next week things remain on the easy side for the Stars schedule wise, with tilts against the Canucks, Islanders, and Devils on the docket.

3. St. Louis Blues (Last Week’s Rank: 4)

The Blues are a team that was all over the map last week, with a blowout victory over the lowly Arizona Coyotes and then two resounding defeats at the hands of the Kings and Ducks. St. Louis did outshoot Los Angeles 43-18 in a losing effort, but the fact they couldn’t get the job done was a bit disconcerting.

Unfortunately for St. Louis, things aren’t getting any easier. They only play two games in Week 3, with home tilts against the Canucks and Blackhawks looming, but they will likely be without offseason acquisition Paul Stastny, who is week-to-week with an upper body injury.

4. Minnesota Wild (Last Week’s Rank: 2)

After winning back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche to begin the year, Minnesota crashed back to earth with losses to the Ducks and Kings. Overall on the season, they are 0-for-16 on the power play, and they suffered a huge scare when Mikael Granlund was drilled on a late hit by Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler. Fortunately for them, he seemed to be okay, but it reminded them of what life could look like without him.

Minnesota will look to get back on the winning track with a couple of home games this week, playing the Coyotes and Lightning at Xcel Energy Center.

5. Nashville Predators (Last Week’s Rank: 3)

Despite being outshot in three straight games and racking up an 1-0-2 record, the Predators are still one of the more intriguing teams in the NHL. Goaltender Pekka Rinne has a record of 3-0-1 on the season with a 1.23 GAA, but his replacement has been solid as well, as Carter Hutton nearly backstopped the Preds to a win over the Blackhawks.

Three home games loom on the schedule for the Predators this coming week, with the Coyotes, Blackhawks, and Penguins all visiting the Music City.

6. Colorado Avalanche (Last Week: 7)

The Avs grabbed their first win of the season against the Boston Bruins last week, but they also picked up three more losses in a series of games against Canadian opponents. They are 1-for-22 so far on the power play this season, and to make matters worse, goaltender Semyon Varlamov was placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.

The schedule does offer a bit of a reprieve to the Avalanche in the coming week, with a couple of home games against Florida and Vancouver on the docket. A road game against Winnipeg on Sunday will give them their first taste of divisional hockey since back-to-back shutout losses against Minnesota to open the season.

7. Winnipeg Jets (Last Week: 6)

Speaking of the Jets, they drop to the bottom of the rankings this week, and while it’s surely comfortable territory for them (they spent a good chunk of last season down there), they at least have one thing going for them: they are 20-of-21 on the penalty kill so far.

Another good thing for the Jets is that goaltender Ondrej Pavelec hasn’t been bad at all, giving up 2.22 goals per game and racking up a .919 save percentage. They do need to improve on their anemic power play however (they are 0-for-14 so far this season), and a game against the Hurricanes to open the week could do the trick.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 7]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 22:38:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/457509990.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the seventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Game Photos: Bears vs. Dolphins]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 15:24:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/170*120/bears+dolphins+getty2.jpg The Chicago Bears came into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins looking to win for the first time at home this season, but those plans went up in smoke as they dropped a lackluster 27-14 decision on the lakefront.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Look Listless in 27-14 Loss to Dolphins]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 14:57:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/172*120/bears+dolphins+getty.jpg

The Chicago Bears came into Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins looking to win for the first time at home this season, but those plans went up in smoke as they dropped a lackluster 27-14 decision on the lakefront. 

The game got off to a rousing start for both defenses, as two straight three-and-out drives opened the game. Jeremiah Ratliff got the festivities started by sacking Ryan Tannehill on the first play from scrimmage, and Jared Allen grabbed Lamar Miller on second down for a minimal gain. After the Dolphins punted, the Bears threw two straight screen passes, and then on 3rd-and-1 Jay Cutler’s pass to Alshon Jeffery fell incomplete, forcing the Bears to punt.

On the next Miami drive, the Bears’ defense began to yield some yards, and the Dolphins marched down the field to score. Charles Clay snared a deep completion for a key first down, and he ultimately caught the touchdown pass from Tannehill, as Kyle Fuller ran a zone coverage pattern while the rest of the Bears were in zone. Shea McClellin also slipped on the exchange, leaving Clay wide open and the Dolphins with a 7-0 lead with about seven minutes left in the first quarter.

The Bears’ offense made a couple of good plays to start their drive, but ultimately it stalled out thanks to a Cutler sack on third down, and they had to punt again. The Dolphins again moved the ball well to end the first quarter, with Daniel Thomas getting a couple of nice gains.

The Dolphins’ solid run up the field ended up stalling out in Bears territory, with Ratliff picking up his third sack of the game after he read a run play perfectly and got around the edge to stop Tannehill. The Bears also dodged a bullet as the Dolphins missed a field goal, and Chicago got the ball back still down seven points.

Cutler and the Bears began passing the ball down the field to start out their drive, including a nice post pattern to Martellus Bennett underneath the safeties for a first down. On third down, Cutler attempted to throw the ball downfield, but he ended up finding Rashad Jones instead. After a poor tackle attempt by Jeffery, Jones made it all the way down to within the Bears’ 30-yard line to set the Dolphins up. Tannehill then found Mike Wallace in the back of the end zone for a score, and Miami seized a 14-0 lead with about five minutes left.

After nearly throwing another interception, Cutler and the Bears were sent off the field with another unsuccessful drive. Tannehill was able to move the Dolphins a bit, but ended up getting sacked by Ratliff and Jared Allen to finish off the drive. The Bears opted not to call a timeout and allowed the Dolphins to run out the clock on the half.

As the Bears got going in the second half, they finally seemed to remember that Matt Forte was on the team, giving him eight touches on the drive. His first was a 16 yard run, and later on he converted on a fourth down play to extend the drive. Finally, Cutler tossed a nice screen pass to Forte off of a delayed release, and Forte waltzed into the end zone to make it a 14-7 game.

The Dolphins responded to the length drive with one of their own, marching down the field and scoring again to extend their lead back to 14. Tannehill had the biggest play of the drive when he rushed for 30 yards on a 4th-and-1 play in Bears territory. Two plays later, the Dolphins scored on a Miller sweep to the left side, and they took a 21-7 lead with about 30 seconds remaining in the quarter. 

Marshall ended the third quarter with a first down catch, but things quickly went south for the Bears. In a one-on-one matchup with Jordan Mills, Cameron Wake got into the backfield and sacked Cutler, forcing a fumble in the process. The Dolphins ended up recovering, but they were stopped by the Bears’ defense and had to settle for a field goal to make it 24-7.

The Bears turned the ball over again on their next drive, with Dante Rosario doing the honors as Cortland Finnegan punched it loose with his helmet. Miller got several good runs on the drive to help milk the clock for Miami, but a field goal attempt was blocked by Lamarr Houston as the Bears remained down 17 points.

After a good Forte run and a pass interference call on the Dolphins, the Bears were able to cash in to make it a two-possession game. On a third-and-goal play from the one-yard line, Forte punched the ball in between the tackle and guard on the right side of the line, and with seven and a half minutes to go, the Bears trailed 24-14. 

The Dolphins did a nice job of moving the ball down the field on their next drive, with Miller leading the way with a couple more solid rushes. He got into the end zone toward the end of the possession, but a holding call on Clay wiped it out. The Dolphins ended up having to settle for a field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the game, giving themselves a 13 point lead.

Chris Williams got the Bears some great field position by returning the ensuing kick-off to the 45-yard line, and despite some early struggles, Forte snared a first down catch to convert on fourth down. After that play however, things were stopped up again, as several passes to Marshall and Bennett fell incomplete. The last play of the game for the Bears saw Marshall lose on a jump ball against Finnegan, turning the ball back over to the Dolphins and ending the contest.

The Bears will look to show their road-warrior skills next Sunday when they take on the New England Patriots in Foxboro. The game will be their final one before their Week 9 bye.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[3 Stars: Toews, Oduya Key as Hawks Down Predators]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 11:32:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*121/456942532.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have outshot their last two opponents by a margin of 87-38, but after a Wednesday loss to the Calgary Flames, Saturday night’s outcome was more positive as a Jonathan Toews short-handed goal in overtime gave them a 2-1 victory over the Nashville Predators.

There were some things that were negative about the game, but in this edition of Three Stars, we’ll focus on the positives.

Third Star: Trevor van Riemsdyk

One of the downsides of being a rookie in the NHL is that you don’t really have a set place in a lineup, and van Riemsdyk found that out the hard way on Saturday night, as he was taken off of a pairing with Niklas Hjalmarsson and united with Michal Rozsival.

Instead of worrying about the change in partner, van Riemsdyk seemed to thrive, making a couple of sterling defensive plays that displayed his patience and his skillset. The first came early in the first period, as Seth Jones bore down on the Blackhawks net. After the Nashville defenseman intercepted a pass from Patrick Sharp, he turned up ice and got a clean release across the blue line. Using his speed, van Riemsdyk chased down Jones and tied him up near the net, preventing a shot on goal.

For good measure, van Riemsdyk then intercepted a pass from Jones behind the net to prevent a follow-up opportunity, and the Hawks maintained their early 1-0 lead.

Later in the game, van Riemsdyk made another nice play when he intercepted a cross-ice pass by Derek Roy, who was looking for a trailer in the offensive zone. Add to that the occasions that the rookie cleared the puck from in front of the net to limit rebound chances, and you have arguably the most impressive game that he has played in his young NHL career.

Second Star: Johnny Oduya

Speaking of defensemen who were instrumental in the Hawks’ Saturday win, Oduya played a really solid game at both ends of the ice. His first period goal got the ball rolling in a big way for the Hawks, as he likely took Carter Hutton by surprise as he rifled a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle. The puck ended up squirting between Hutton’s leg pads, and the Hawks got a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game.

In the second period, Oduya made his presence known on the defensive side of things as well. With Nashville forward James Neal bearing down on Corey Crawford, Oduya quickly got into position and tied up Neal’s stick, preventing a breakaway opportunity and helping keep the contest tied.

Being reunited with Hjalmarsson was something that felt inevitable ever since Joel Quenneville separated the pairing, and Oduya certainly proved that he is really happy to have his running mate back.

First Star: Jonathan Toews

Even before his game-winning short-handed goal in overtime, Toews and the first line were arguably the best group on the ice (although the fourth line of Daniel Carcillo, Ben Smith, and Marcus Kruger generated a ton of chances in limited action). Overall, the group attempted 14 shots on goal in the game, and they largely carried possession whenever they were on the ice.

Ultimately though, it was Toews’ ability at both ends of the ice that paid the most dividends as he scored the winner. When Craig Smith attempted a drop pass to Roman Josi at the point on the Predators’ overtime power play, Toews read the pass, intercepted it, and carried it down ice on a breakaway.

Toews’ first shot on net was stopped by Hutton, but the goaltender was unable to corral the puck. With the rebound yielded, Toews tapped the puck between Hutton’s skates, and the United Center erupted as the Hawks secured their third victory of the young campaign. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[OT Goal Gives Blackhawks 2-1 Victory Over Predators]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 23:24:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/457315830.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks scored on their two most important shots of the game on Saturday night, with Johnny Oduya scoring on the first shot of the game and Jonathan Toews scoring on the last as they beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-1 at the United Center.

Former Blackhawk Carter Hutton made 35 saves in a losing effort for the Predators, and current Hawks goalie Corey Crawford made 19 saves as the team moved to 3-0-1 on the young season. Shea Weber scored the only goal of the game for Nashville on a first period power play.

As the game opened up, the Hawks’ struggles to score despite a slew of chances Wednesday were quickly forgotten as Oduya scored less than two minutes into the contest. After Bryan Bickell and Niklas Hjalmarsson moved the puck across the ice to the defenseman, he stepped across the blue line and uncorked a slapshot from the top of the face-off circle. Hutton couldn’t quite get his leg pads together fast enough, and just like that the Blackhawks went up 1-0 in the game.

A couple of good defensive plays by the Blackhawks kept things going in their favor over the next few minutes, and their defensive dominance was a theme that was repeated through most of the game. Daniel Carcillo made a good play to break up a cross-ice saucer pass after Jeremy Morin was taken down along the boards, and Trevor van Riemsdyk made another nice play a few minutes later as he tied up Seth Jones on a semi-breakaway toward the Chicago net.

Unfortunately for the Hawks, their defensive play didn’t translate into an overall disciplined approach, and it cost them with about nine minutes left in the first. With penalties to Andrew Shaw and Hjalmarsson giving Nashville a power play, Weber unleashed a slap shot from in close that deflected off of Michal Rozsival’s skate and into the top of the net to tie things up at 1-1.

The Blackhawks did get another power play a few minutes later, but in what is becoming a recurring theme, they were unable to score. They did hold Nashville to just three shots on goal in the period, but with Weber’s tally things were tied at 1-1 at the end of the first period.

The second period started out in much the same way as the first, with the Hawks playing solid defense and getting good offensive chances at the other end of the ice. Marcus Kruger found Hjalmarsson open in front of the net with a quick pass, but the defenseman couldn’t corral it in time to get an effective shot off, getting stopped by Hutton. A few moments later, Oduya made a solid defensive play as he tied up James Neal on the rush to prevent Nashville from getting an easy cscoring chance.

After another stellar play by van Riemsdyk to keep Derek Roy from finding an open man with a pass, the Hawks went back on the power play and couldn’t convert again. In fact, they failed three consecutive times on the man-advantage in the second period, with penalties to Viktor Stalberg, Filip Forsberg, and Mike Ribeiro all going unpunished.

Duncan Keith committed a penalty late in the second to give Nashville a power play chance, but good defense kept the Predators from mounting much of a charge as the game remained tied at 1-1 through two periods.

As the third got underway, the Hawks’ first line continued to churn out chances, but to no avail. Marian Hossa carried the puck in on a 3-on-1 rush early in the frame, but his pass across to Toews was timed just a touch too late, and the shot was hurried and ineffective.

After that play, the Predators generated a couple of great chances of their own in the ensuing few minutes, but Crawford was there to save the day. On a 2-on-0 chance in front, Colin Wilson fed a pass across the zone to Craig Smith, but Crawford kicked out his right leg pad to make the save. A few minutes later, Crawford had to come out of the net to challenge a wrist shot by Weber, but his blocker was able to knock the shot aside and keep the game tied.

Patrick Sharp racked up a few chances in the closing minutes of regulation, but the Hawks couldn’t convert. He blasted a shot on Hutton from in close, but the rebound barely evaded a crashing Toews. With 30 seconds remaining, Sharp had another shot on net, and once again Toews couldn’t corral it. Despite outshooting the Predators 34-17 in regulation, the Hawks once again had to settle for overtime as the game remained tied.

In the overtime period, Sharp once again took center stage, but this time it was for the wrong reasons as he was sent to the box for tripping Ryan Ellis. Fortunately for Sharp and the Hawks, the team’s captain was there to pick up the pieces, as he scored the game-winner. When Smith tried to drop a pass back to Roman Josi at the point, Toews intercepted the pass, pushed it up ice, and got two shots on goal. The first was saved by Hutton, but when the rebound squirted out to the top of the crease, Toews tapped it in and gave the Hawks a 2-1 win.

The Blackhawks will wrap up a four game homestand on Tuesday night when they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to the United Center. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["War Machine" Attempts Suicide: PD]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 12:54:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/War-Machine-vegas-MMA.jpg

A professional mixed martial arts fighter accused of beating his porn star ex-girlfriend and one of her male friends tried to commit suicide in a Las Vegas jail, authorities said.

Jonathan "War Machine" Koppenhaver, 32, was found Tuesday in a cell at the Clark County Detention Center sitting on the floor with his feet resting on the bunk, Las Vegas Metropolitan police said in a statement.

The officer noticed what appeared to be a torn piece of linen around his neck that was tied to the leg of his bunk, police said.

The officer called to Koppenhaver several times, but he did not respond, according to police. When the officer went inside the cell he noticed that Koppenhaver was struggling to breathe, police said.

The officer cut the ligature from Koppenhaver’s neck and his breathing became less strained and he started to speak, police said.

Koppenhaver was moved to a medical isolation cell, where he was placed on suicide watch.

Police said they found a suicide note inside Koppenhaver’s cell.

Koppenhaver, a former porn actor, was booked into Clark County jail in August.

He's accused of beating adult film actress Christy Mack and her male friend at a Las Vegas home on Aug. 8 before fleeing to the Los Angeles suburb of Simi Valley, where he was arrested a week later.

Koppenhaver faces charges including attempted murder and dozens of assault counts.

Koppenhaver made his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2007 and legally changed his name in 2008. He lost his only pay-per-view bout that same year.

He fought out of San Diego for a variety of promotions and had a 14-5 record as a welterweight. He lost his last fight, in Iowa, last October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Simi Valley Police/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Hawks Headlines: Sidney Crosby Emulating Patrick Kane]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:40:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/495442373.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are off until Saturday, but we still have some stories to share with you in this Friday edition of Hawks Headlines.

-We start out with an interesting post by Nina Falcone, who discussed the way that Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is trying to emulate Patrick Kane. [CSN Chicago]

-We have a couple of posts about Andrew Shaw to share, including one about how he’s working on improving his performance in front of the net as he tries to re-direct shots. [Daily Herald]

-Shaw is also working hard on his face-off ability, as he looks to become an all-around better player as the team’s second line center. [Chicago Sun-Times]

-The Blackhawks had 50 shots on goal in Wednesday’s loss to the Calgary Flames, but they simply couldn’t finish the job. Scott Powers has more. [ESPN Chicago]

-If there has been one big surprise so far this season for the Blackhawks, it has been the play of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk. [Chicago Tribune]

-Wrestlers CM Punk and AJ Lee were at the Blackhawks game on Wednesday, and a fan claims that the duo was rude to him when he asked for a picture. [WrestleZone]

-Finally, if you’ve ever wondered what goal songs other NHL teams use, this website has you covered. They have the goal horns for all 30 teams, as well as the famous Brass Bonanza song from the Hartford Whalers. [We Just Scored]

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Is Matt Forte a Hall of Famer? ]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:24:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/455515072.jpg

In this Friday edition of Bears Bites, we check out the Hall of Fame candidacy of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte, what the keys will be for the Bears as they prepare to face the Miami Dolphins, and examine just good Jeremiah Ratliff has been this season.

-We start out with Dan Durkin (@djdurkin on Twitter), who wrote up an interesting piece about the numbers that Forte has put up so far in his career. Do they make him a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate? [CBS Chicago]

-We turn our attention back to the task at hand for the Bears Sunday as they look to win their first game on home turf this week. What will be the key to beating Miami? Bob Warja (@bobwarja) has five keys to victory. [Chicago Bears Huddle]

-On Thursday, a significant event occurred at Bears practice: the offensive line had all five starters practicing together for the first time since Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. John Mullin (@csnmoonmullin) has more. [CSN Chicago]

-Jay Cutler has taken some big hits during his time with the Bears, but just about every time he gets hit he gets back up, and he addressed that toughness this week. [Daily Herald]

-There was an interesting article this week about the amount of time that players and coaches spend on TV during NFL games, and surprisingly, Cutler was near the bottom of the list. Marc Trestman was too. [ESPN Chicago]

-The Bears were missing four of their starting linebackers on Sunday when they beat the Atlanta Falcons, and a good chunk of the credit for their strong performance has to go to linebackers coach Reggie Herring. [Chicago Sun-Times]

-Just how good has defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff been for the Bears this season? Let’s count the ways. [Chicago Tribune]

-In the Bears’ Week 6 victory over the Falcons, the Georgia Dome was so loud that a team had to use a silent snap count. No, it wasn’t the Bears that were affected by the noise. It was the Falcons, whose signals were getting drowned out by the thousands of Bears fans in attendance. [Da Windy City]

-Finally, we get a view of the Dolphins-Bears matchup from an outside perspective. [Sun-Sentinel]

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Waive Kyle Cumiskey, Trim Roster to 22]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 16:37:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/171*120/456609836.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks came into the regular season carrying eight defensemen on their roster, but apparently they won’t continue that trend because they have placed Kyle Cumiskey on waivers:

Odds are that the move is designed to send him down to the Rockford IceHogs, but more importantly than where Cumiskey is going is what the move represents. The team went into the season thinking that Cumiskey would be a good insurance policy for rookie blue liner Trevor van Riemsdyk, but over his first three games of the season, the youngster has shown talent at both ends of the ice.

His passing ability has been top-notch, and he has created plenty of scoring chances despite not getting a point yet in his young career. He leads the team’s defensemen in Corsi On-Ice at 48.14, and he also has the best Corsi Relative at 40.6. Part of that is helped by the fact that he’s played some sheltered minutes (he’s started 60% of his shifts in the offensive zone), but in playing with Niklas Hjalmarsson, the rookie has proven that there was a good reason the team held onto him for the start of the season.

With van Riemsdyk’s performance in mind, another question with Cumiskey out of the picture is how Joel Quenneville is going to handle the defensive pairings when Michal Rozsival returns. Will he slide into the lineup on a regular basis, leaving van Riemsdyk to rotate with David Rundblad, or will all three players cycle in and out until one of them grabs firm hold of the fifth defensive spot?

The Blackhawks still have a nice stretch of time where they aren’t playing a lot of games (their first set of back-to-back games isn’t until October 25 and 26), so keeping all seven defensemen fresh is going to be an interesting balancing act. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McNabb Calls Cutler "Tony Romo of the Midwest" ]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:57:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Donovan+MCNabb+Waves+to+Fans.jpg

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler gets tagged with a lot of criticism, but oftentimes it’s not as aggressive as the verbal volleys that former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb lobbed at him on Thursday morning.

In an interview with the “Kap and Haugh” radio show, McNabb called Cutler the “Tony Romo of the Midwest,” and talked about how Cutler’s penchant for mistakes hurts the Bears:

“He can put up 280, 340 yards passing, but you look across the board he’s got two interceptions in a game that cost them 14 points or so. That hurts a football team……A quarterback is measured by your body of work, meaning your wins and losses record, the numbers you put up. And the end-all-be-all is how many playoff wins do you have? If you only have one to show for almost a decade of play that means you can’t lead your team to the playoffs.”

Leading his team to the playoffs is one thing that McNabb did, appearing in 15 playoff games with the Eagles. Once he got there however, he posted an 8-7 record, losing in the NFC Championship Game four times and losing in the Super Bowl in 2004 to the New England Patriots.

In the 2002 NFC Championship game, McNabb threw an interception and lost a fumble as the Eagles lost 29-24 to the St. Louis Rams. In the 2003 title game, McNabb threw another interception and lost two fumbles as the Eagles fell again, this time to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Finally, in the 2004 game against the Carolina Panthers, McNabb threw three interceptions as the Eagles lost 14-3. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble in the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Looking at just his record, it’s clear that McNabb knew how to get his team to the playoffs. He even won a good number of games and made it to a Super Bowl, both of which are things Cutler admittedly hasn’t accomplished. The reality of course is that McNabb is throwing stones in a glass house, based on his failures on the sport’s biggest stages.

This notion that McNabb is an authority on what makes a quarterback a “winner” is simply laughable. His Eagles teams routinely failed when the pressure was at its highest, and it all started with their signal caller. His criticism of Cutler does have some merit, but before NFL fans parrot what he said, they have to consider the source. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Prospects Russell, Vogelbach Struggling in Arizona Fall League]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:44:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/179*120/479187143.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are a team with a slew of young prospects and plenty of optimism heading toward the future, but in the first few games of Arizona Fall League play, things are starting out rough for some of the team’s brightest stars.

Shortstop Addison Russell, who is the fourth-rated prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, is batting just .182 in 11 at-bats thus far for the Mesa Solar Sox. He does have two RBI and has stolen a base, but his bat has been far from perfect in the early going.

Joining Russell on the struggle train are outfielder Jacob Hannemann, who is just 1-for-10 with four strikeouts, and first baseman Dan Vogelbach, who is now batting a measly .091 with seven strikeouts on the young season.

In Monday’s game, a 2-1 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions, the Cubs’ prospects once again collectively struggled at the plate. Overall in the game they went 1-for-11, with Russell’s single in the sixth inning being the only hit. Vogelbach struck out twice in the game, and Hannemann struck out with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning to end a potential rally for the Solar Sox.

All of those things are bad, but fortunately for the Cubs, Monday’s game did bring some good news. Russell showed off his elite-level defense on several plays and helped keep the Solar Sox in the game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Blake Miller muscled a blooper toward the right field foul line. On a dead sprint, Russell was able to get from his spot at second base all the way to the ball, making a running catch and preventing an extra base hit.

In the bottom of the seventh, Russell showed that he has a great arm as well. On a 1-1 pitch, Elias Diaz smacked a ball back up the middle of the diamond just to the right of the second base bag. Sliding on one knee, Russell was able to pick the ball cleanly on his backhand, and from that knee he was able to fire a throw over to first that Vogelbach fielded on one hop and retired the runner.

The news on Russell’s defense isn’t the only good news for the Cubs so far in AFL play. Pitcher Ivan Pineyro has pitched an inning and a third of shutout baseball thus far, walking two batters and picking up a strikeout for the Solar Sox. CJ Edwards has also been solid, starting one game and allowing one earned run and striking out a batter in two innings.

The Solar Sox, whose record currently stands at 1-4, still have plenty of time to turn things around. They will be playing games through mid-November, with the championship game slated for November 15. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hossa Misses Practice, but Should Play Wednesday vs. Flames]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:44:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/171*120/456992906.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks have had several days off since they blew out the Buffalo Sabres by a 6-2 margin on Saturday night, and in the intervening days they have gotten some good news on the injury front for several players.

Marian Hossa, who had a goal and five shots on net in the Saturday win, wasn’t skating with the Blackhawks during Tuesday’s practice, but head coach Joel Quenneville said that he should be able to go on Wednesday night when the Hawks play the Calgary Flames.

Just four points shy of 1000 in his NHL career, Hossa has missed 18 games over the past two seasons, so it’s good to hear that injuries aren’t hampering him this early in the season.

As for the Blackhawks who have been on the shelf in the early-going, they both received some good news after Tuesday’s skate. Defenseman Michal Rozsival, who is dealing with an upper body injury that has kept him out of the first two games of the year, skated with the Hawks Tuesday on a pairing with Duncan Keith and could return this weekend against the Nashville Predators.

Kris Versteeg has also missed the first two games of the season with a lower body injury, but he too is closer to returning. He wasn’t on the ice for practice Tuesday, but Quenneville said that he will likely begin skating this weekend. The Hawks currently have 12 healthy forwards on their roster, so the sooner they can get Versteeg back, the better.

In other news that will surprise no one, Quenneville also announced that Corey Crawford will start again for the team on Wednesday against the Flames. He has allowed four goals so far this season in wins over the Dallas Stars and Sabres. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[First Look: Dolphins vs. Bears ]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:02:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/4540276842.jpg

As crazy as it sounds, the Chicago Bears have yet to win a game at Soldier Field this season, and they will get their third opportunity to break that streak as they take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon.

The Dolphins, who are coming off a last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 6, will be the third AFC East team that the Bears have faced this year, with a win over the New York Jets and a loss to the Buffalo Bills dotting their resume. Like the other two teams, the Dolphins have a decent-but-not-great quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, and their running game was designed to be a big component of what they do.

Unfortunately for Miami, things haven’t gone as planned in that department. They are ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yards per game so far this season, but their running attack took a huge hit on Monday as it was announced that Knowshon Moreno will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. After a huge Week 1 for the Dolphins in which he’d rushed for 134 yards, Moreno has been fighting through injuries, and this knee ailment couldn’t have come at a worse time for Miami.

Lamar Miller, who has a 100-yard rushing game on his resume this season, will take over the primary duties in the backfield. He rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown in the Dolphins’ Sunday loss, but he also lost yet another fumble in that game (his third in five contests this season), and the team has routinely shown that they don’t have as much confidence in him as they do in Moreno.

Moreno’s injury likely means that Daniel Thomas will get back into the Dolphins’ lineup against the Bears. He has 50 rushing yards on seven carries so far this season, and was inactive for Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

As for the Dolphins’ passing game, it certainly leaves something to be desired. Tannehill has had a decent season, completing 60.8% of his passes for an average of 217 yards per game, but he’s also thrown five interceptions and been sacked 10 times. Having a big receiver to throw to in Mike Wallace does help out, but Jarvis Landry and Brian Hartline aren’t exactly top-of-the-line talent to back him up.

Where the Dolphins’ real strength lies is in their defensive ability. They are in the top-10 in the NFL in passing yards against so far this season, and they are 13th in the league in run defense. Defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon have been a large part of Miami’s success, combining for seven sacks so far this season. Cornerback Brent Grimes has also had a noteworthy season for the Dolphins’ defense, with one interception, one forced fumble and six defended passes so far on the year.

Ultimately, the big questions for the Bears to answer on Sunday will boil down to this: can their offensive line prevent Wake and Vernon from getting to Jay Cutler, and can they take advantage of a weakened Dolphins’ rushing attack in order to grind the Miami offense to a halt? We’ll examine both of those questions in more detail as the week goes on, but at first blush, it would appear that the Bears have some sizable advantages going into this game. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carcillo Discusses the Decline of Enforcers in NHL ]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:17:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/456997878.jpg

When the Chicago Blackhawks brought back forward Daniel Carcillo before the season started, the reason for his return was pretty clear: Joel Quenneville felt that the team needed an added element of toughness to go along with all of the speed and skill that the team has, and Carcillo provided it cheaply.

Of course, a lot of fans and writers were irked by the decision to bring Carcillo back. The winger had been traded away after the team won the Stanley Cup in 2013, and ended up playing with both the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings last season before signing a tryout deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins this summer. Whether it was his at-times reckless play or his penchant for making silly mistakes, Carcillo’s return was not welcomed by all.

In response to that criticism, Carcillo opened up to the Chicago Sun-Times about what he feels he brings to the game:

“I never, ever wanted to be a guy who’d just go out there and fight. But the guys that do our job make certain guys superstars. To remove us from the game…to have guys run around and hit and agitate…what you see now is a culture of guys doing that and not backing it up.

“That’s the scary thing – not only for [tough] guys like us being pushed out, but also for superstars. Guys are going to start taking shots, and then there are no consequences.”  

This notion that Carcillo was brought on to protect players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane is certainly something that the front office and coaching staff buys into, but it’s not necessarily true in all instances. Star players still get hit in bad places, like Toews was when Brooks Orpik bulldozed him with a high hit last season, and even the presence of a guy like Brandon Bollig in the lineup didn’t change that.

What’s perhaps more telling than the fact that Orpik still took a run at Toews was how the Blackhawks responded. They didn’t come out and try to fight Orpik or pulverize Sidney Crosby. Instead, they amped up their puck possession game, fired a slew of shots on the Pittsburgh net, and tried their best to tie the game up instead of getting worried about playing the revenge game.

Granted, Carcillo does bring a lot to the table outside of just using his fists. He scored a goal in Saturday’s win over the Buffalo Sabres, and he also drew a penalty by using his speed rather than his agitiation abilities, but this notion that he’s a needed deterrent simply doesn’t hold water. The Blackhawks are a team that bases their game on speed and possession, and while having a guy like Carcillo fulfills people’s notions of toughness on a team, the “toughness” he adds to the game isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Randle Faces Shoplifting Charge]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:31:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/joseph-randle-mugshot-inset.jpg

Frisco police say they arrested Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle for allegedly shoplifting $123 in underwear and cologne Monday night at Stonebriar Centre Mall.

According to police, Randle, 22, was stopped by Dillards loss prevention employees and detained at about 8:15 p.m. after they saw him make a purchase at a counter and then walk to another part of the store where he allegedly put a tester bottle of Gucci Guilty Black cologne ($84) and a 2-pack of black Polo underwear ($39.50) into his Dillards bag.

When he left the store and into the parking lot, he was stopped by store employees.

After Frisco police compared the contents of Randle's Dillards bag with his receipt and watched surveillance footage of him in the store, he was placed under arrest on a Class B misdemeanor for theft between $50 and $500 and put into a Frisco police car.

While there, the officer said Randle said if he knew he was going to be arrested he would have just kept walking to his car.

According to the police report, Randle told officers that he didn't pay for the merchandise because he did not want to take the time to do it.

After being booked into jail, Randle posted $350 bond and was released at about 1:20 a.m. Tuesday.

Randle, a second-year player out of Oklahoma State who was drafted by the Cowboys in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, is a backup running back for the team. In six games this season, Randle has carried the ball 16 times for 113 yards. In 2013, the back carried the ball 54 times in 13 games for a total of 164 yards.

According to RotoWorld, in 2013 Randle signed a four-year $2.39 million contract that included a $188,820 signing bonus.  His base salary in 2014 is $495,000. He is set to make $585,000 in 2015, $675,000 in 2016 and is a free agent in 2017.

At this time, there has been no statement from the Dallas Cowboys.

NBC 5's Catherine Ross contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Bears-Falcons Report Card: Offense Makes Strides in Win]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:19:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/175*120/457128084.jpg

Offense: A-

In what was arguably their most complete performance of the season, the Chicago Bears racked up 478 total yards of offense against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, and their ability to mix the run and the pass ended up paying dividends as they snapped their two-game losing streak.

A lot of attention will be paid to Jay Cutler, and rightfully so after he threw for 381 yards in the game. What people really should focus on is this element of the game: Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, used mostly as decoys and short-yardage guys as they recovered from leg injuries, were both making plays downfield, both with their speed and with their vertical ability.

Add to that the fact that the Bears’ run blocking looked really solid in the game, and you have a recipe for success that the team will look to cook over and over again.

Defense: B+

Holding the Falcons to under 300 yards is a pretty solid achievement, but it was the variety of ways in which they kept Atlanta in check that earned the defense this grade. When Matt Ryan would drop back to pass, Bears’ defensive linemen often got into his face and forced throws, with four sacks to their credit. When Steven Jackson and Devonta Freeman would attempt to run, guys like Stephen Paea would be there to greet them.

No matter what the Falcons threw at the Bears, Chicago seemed to repel it. Holding Atlanta to 13 points at home is a big achievement for a team that has looked really shaky against both pocket passers (Aaron Rodgers) and mobile quarterbacks (Geno Smith, EJ Manuel) alike. Doing so without their top four linebackers and without safety Chris Conte speaks volumes to the improved depth that this team has, and they earned their paychecks in this one.

Special Teams: C-

Unfortunately for the Bears, not all of the news was good on Sunday. With several penalties, poor return decisions by Santonio Holmes and Chris Williams, and a blocked extra point, the special teams phase of the game once again proved to be more of a liability than an asset.

The one good thing that the team did in the game was that they kept former Bears standout Devin Hester in check. Hester did have one return of 26 yards in the game, but he averaged just five yards per punt return and 22 per kick return in the game, and most importantly of all, he wasn’t able to give his team the kind of field position that puts the pressure on an opposing defense.

The Bears’ coverage game is pretty sound by this point. If their return game can’t step it up though, they could be in trouble as the season wears on. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report Links GoPro to Brain Injury]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:12:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP886669197394.jpg

The French commentator whose reported remarks had sparked reports that a GoPro camera may have played a role in Formula 1 racing legend Michael Schumacher's brain injury is now urging everyone to "stop all speculation."

Schumacher, 45, has been immobile and unable to speak after he fell and hit a rock in a skiing accident last year while he was wearing a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet.

European news outlets had reported that racing commentator Jean-Louis Moncet told Europe 1 radio that Schumacher's son Mick told him the placement of the camera contributed to the brain injury — but Moncet denied that Tuesday on Twitter.

"The problem for Michael was not the hit, but the mounting of the GoPro camera that he had on his helmet that injured his brain," Eurosport had earlier quoted Moncet as having said.

But Moncet appeared to contradict that suggestion in a tweet Tuesday.
"STOP ALL SPÉCULATION," he tweeted. "Mick could not say something about camera or injury of Michael because we did not speak together."
Following the initial report linking the GoPro to Schumacher's injury, shares of the Bay Area-based company plummeted, losing as much as 10 percent in trading Monday, Business Insider reported.

A GoPro spokesman declined to comment on the report linking the camera to Schumacher's injury but said the company was monitoring the situation closely.

Schumacher emerged from a medically-induced coma in June but remains in serious condition.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Air Force Captain Proposes to Cheerleader During Game]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:05:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/457130192.jpg

The Arizona Cardinals may have defeated the Washington Redskins on Sunday, but Cardinals cheerleader Claire Thorton, 23, was the big winner when her Air Force Captain boyfriend got down on one knee during a break in the game and proposed.

Eric Straub, 26, dressed in his flight suit, completed a successful mission when Thorton said “Yes!” in front of thousands of screaming NFL fans who watched the proposal on the stadium’s Jumbotron.

"It was pretty amazing,'' Thornton told TODAY.com. "I was shaking really bad. He's like 'Put the ring on!' And I'm like, you put it on me!'

Thorton thought that Straub, an F-15 pilot in the Air Force, was getting a special welcome home from the Cardinals during the game since he had just returned from a deployment in the Middle East the night before.

Meanwhile, the airman had already organized with Cardinals officials that he would propose to his cheerleader girlfriend when he came out on the field.

“It was so loud you couldn't hear anything. I had all these things I wanted to say, but once I got down on my knee, I had no idea what to say. I think all I said was, 'I love you marry me!' It was funny.''

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Central Division Power Rankings: Week 1]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:41:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/456992640.jpg

Every week, Madhouse Enforcer will take a look around the Central Division and let you know who’s hot and who’s not in our little corner of the hockey world.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks didn’t play very well in their first two periods of the season, but they bounced back in a big way as they scored a shootout victory over the Dallas Stars in their first game, and they blew out the Buffalo Sabres in their second game of the season, a 6-2 triumph in their home opener.

That Sabres game is actually the beginning of a four-game homestand for the Hawks, with the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators preparing to come to town on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. Their penalty killing unit has been solid, killing off nine of 10 power plays against so far, and Corey Crawford has looked good despite facing a slew of shots against the Stars. All good things for the Hawks so far.

2. Minnesota Wild

The Wild had an interesting start to the season in going up against the defending Central Division champion Colorado Avalanche in back-to-back tilts, but they proved any doubters wrong by thoroughly demolishing their opponents. They outscored Colorado 8-0 in the two games, and they outshot them by an incredible 82-46.

Yes, their power play hasn’t been good, going 0-for-8 so far, and yes, they are going to be hitting the road again to take on Anaheim and Los Angeles this weekend, but if their first two games are any indication, they are hellbent on proving doubters wrong and showing that they belong in the conversation as one of the best teams in a loaded division.  

3. Nashville Predators

The Predators made some big moves in the offseason, including trading for forward James Neal, but it was their established performers that helped them to a 2-0 start to the season. Pekka Rinne allowed three goals in two games, and Shea Weber picked up a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over the Stars on Saturday evening.

Nashville will look to continue their winning ways against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, then they’ll hit the road for a couple of Central Division matchups, first against the Winnipeg Jets Friday and against the Blackhawks Saturday at the United Center.

4. St. Louis Blues

The Blues haven’t been off to the best of starts to the year, dropping a 3-2 decision to the New York Rangers on Thursday, but they did bounce back with a nice 4-1 win over the Flames on Saturday. They have looked solid offensively, with 64 shots on goal in their first two games and two power play goals in 10 chances.

A tough five game stretch awaits St. Louis beginning on Thursday as they head to LA to tangle with the defending champion Kings. The Arizona Coyotes and Anaheim Ducks await after that before the team returns home to play the Canucks and Blackhawks next week.

5. Dallas Stars

The Stars came into the season with high hopes after acquiring Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, but their offense hasn’t found its proper tenor just yet. They’ve only scored three goals on 52 shots, and they’ve dropped consecutive games to the Blackhawks and Predators to begin the season.

Things aren’t going to get any easier next week for the Stars, as they hit the road for an Eastern road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. They then head home for a Saturday tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving them an interesting look at how they fare against some uncommon opponents.

6. Winnipeg Jets

The Jets got off to a flying start with an impressive 6-2 victory on the road against the Coyotes, but they quickly crashed at the end of the runway as they were outscored 7-1 in consecutive losses to the Sharks and the Kings.

There is some good news for the Jets, however. They are a perfect 14-for-14 on their penalty kill so far this season, and they are allowing fewer than 30 shots per game so far. Games against the Predators and Flames will also help as they look to rebound, but they’ll have to do something about their power play: they’ve gone scoreless in nine power play attempts so far this season.

7. Colorado Avalanche

Giving up 82 shots in two games is not a recipe for success. Going scoreless in seven power play opportunities is not a recipe for success. The Avalanche checked both of those boxes over the weekend as they lost consecutive games to Minnesota, and they looked positively lackluster in the process as their Central Division title defense got off to a sputtering start.

The Avalanche will join the Stars in going on an Eastern road trip this week, with games against the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators on the docket. The middle game in the set should be an interesting one between two teams that are having trouble holding onto the puck, but the real test will come Monday against a perennial Cup contender. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Allen, Young Stand Tall in Bears Win]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:41:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/183*120/457134226.jpg

In just six games, the Chicago Bears have been criticized for everything from poor game management by quarterback Jay Cutler to lackluster play by the team’s linebackers and safeties on pass defense. More than any other element of the game, the one thing the team has been most roundly chastised for has been their inability to get to the quarterback on the pass rush.

New acquisitions Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston had borne the brunt of that criticism. With a combined $67 million in contracts signed before the season started, both players were expected to provide some serious punch off the line, and neither had delivered. Houston has been good in run defense, but his performance on the pass rush was poor at best. Allen was in the same boat, missing a game due to pneumonia and not looking much more effective when he was on the field.

On Sunday however, everything seemed to change. The Bears ended up with four sacks on the afternoon against Matt Ryan, and their run defense limited the Falcons to just 42 yards on the ground. It was a masterful performance by everyone that lined up with that group, and it was their effective play that really set the tone for the game.

Stephen Paea got things started with a strong first half, with a pass deflection and a sack to his credit as the Bears’ defense held Atlanta to just three points. After those plays, things quieted down a bit as the Falcons stormed back to score 10 unanswered points in the third quarter, but things picked up again in a big way after the Bears took a 27-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.

On a second down play with about 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Bears got pressure from up the middle of the line with Houston, and Allen and Willie Young each came around the edge quickly off the snap. The Falcons’ line simply couldn’t hold all three guys back, and Allen ended up picking up his first sack as a Bear to force a third and long play.

The Falcons’ next drive saw a similar end, as Young hauled down Ryan in the backfield on a third-and-five play. Ryan ended up throwing an interception on his next pass, and the Bears looked poised to cruise to victory.

Unfortunately, the Falcons did end up getting the ball back, but the Bears’ defensive line continued their strong play. Young got yet another sack on first down, and when Will Sutton knocked down a pass on fourth-and-short, the Bears were able to run out the clock on their third victory of the season.

Between the excellent pass rush, the great run defense, and the willingness to bat down passes at the line (Ego Ferguson had similar success in that area last week), things look like they may be coming together for the Bears up front on defense. With a banged up linebacker corps and a group of safeties that have had to deal with plenty of injuries of their own, it’s important that the front four step up in a big way, and if they can keep playing like they did Sunday, things should continue looking up. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Third Down Prowess Seals Win for Bears ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:21:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/457133936.jpg

The Chicago Bears’ offense has been sputtering for the last few weeks in the second half of games, but things took a turn for the better on Sunday as they withstood a push from the Atlanta Falcons in a 27-13 victory.

With about three and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Bears got the ball back thanks to a great knockdown of a pass by Kyle Fuller. After a penalty on Senorise Perry on the punt, the team was backed up to their own 13-yard line, and Bears fans collectively held their breath.

What happened next should give the team a big surge in confidence. They converted four straight third-downs on the scoring drive, and in the process they bled eight and a half minutes off the clock. The big play came on a third-and-goal play from the nine-yard line, which in just about any offense in the league is a passing down. The Bears instead opted for a draw play right up the middle, and when Matt Forte bulldozed his way into the end zone, the team had a sizable lead that they would never relinquish.

The play was a perfect microcosm of what the team had been doing so well in the second half of the game. Whenever the Falcons would get them in a third-down situation, the Bears would find a soft spot in the defense and exploit it. They did it three times via the pass on that late third quarter drive, and with seven points on the line on the fourth opportunity, they threw the change-up. It was a perfectly executed play, and it will be one that fans should keep in mind if the Bears make the postseason.

Fuller Once Again Shines in Tough Assignment

Losing Charles Tillman for the season was a big blow for the Bears, but having Kyle Fuller playing in his place has been a godsend. He had three interceptions and two forced fumbles coming into Sunday’s game, and his coverage skills have been useful in shutting down some really good receivers like Michael Crabtree and Kelvin Benjamin.

On Sunday, Fuller faced one of his biggest tests in Atlanta’s Julio Jones, and he passed it with flying colors. Jones did have four catches for 68 yards in the game, but he was targeted 12 times, and Fuller was responsible for ensuring that his solid day didn’t become a great one.

One such play came late in the first quarter. After Stephen Paea batted down a second down pass, the Falcons had a third down chance, but when Jones caught the ball, Fuller was able to pound it loose and prevent Atlanta from converting. He had another solid play to break up a second quarter pass from Ryan that set up a Paea sack on third down, and finally he had the key pass breakup on third down toward the end of the third quarter that led to the key Bears drive of the afternoon.

That ability to not only force turnovers, but also to provide solid coverage against some of the league’s best wide-outs has earned Fuller a lot of national attention, and Sunday’s game merely cemented that reputation even further.

Mills’ Poor Game Masked by Victory

On the first play from scrimmage in the game, Mills was whistled for a false start. On the Bears’ next possession, Mills lost his block on Jonathan Massaquoi, and Jay Cutler was sacked for a five-yard loss. On the third drive of the afternoon, Mills was flagged for an illegal formation penalty. On their fourth drive, he was penalized again for a false start penalty, his third flag of the afternoon.

Undisciplined line play is something that the Bears have really tried to cut back on over the past few seasons, and even though Mills did clean up his act in the second half of the game, he’s got to start showing some serious improvement in his sophomore season. His pass-blocking isn’t his strong suit, but at the very least he has to show more mastery of snap counts in hostile road environments, and even though it didn’t cost the Bears a win Sunday, it’s something worth keeping an eye on as the season wears on. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cardinals Edge Giants to Tie NLCS ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 08:08:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/457139424.jpg

The St. Louis Cardinals have evened the National League Championship Series 1-1 after three late homers fueled St. Louis to a 5-4 walk-off win over the San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals outfielder Kolten Wong delivered a walk-off home run off Sergio Romo in the bottom of the ninth inning to end the night.

With the Giants ahead 3-2 in the seventh inning, Cardinals pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras tied the game with a home run off reliever Jean Machi. Matt Adams followed with another home run off Hunter Strickland in the eighth inning that put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

The Giants tied the game in top of the ninth after a wild pitch from Trevor Rosenthal scored pinch-runner Matt Duffy, who was running on the pitch, from second base.

The Cardinals won after losing All-Star catcher Yadier Molina to a strained oblique muscle in the sixth. Molina was getting further tests and manager Mike Matheny said it ``didn't look real good.''

"We just knew we had to keep grinding,'' Wong said. "When you lose someone like Yadi, it's definitely tough for us, but we told ourselves we've been going through this all year. Grinding up and down, not getting any easy pass, so we're all so confident.''

It was a rare postseason failure for the reliable San Francisco bullpen, which allowed a home run in each of the final three innings.

"They are the reason we're in this situation, and you give (the Cardinals) credit,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "They threw out some good at-bats and we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them.''

The best-of-seven series resumes Tuesday night with Game 3 in San Francisco with John Lackey going for St. Louis and Tim Hudson starting for the Giants.

Wong hit an 0-1 pitch from Sergio Romo for his second big home run this postseason. The rookie's seventh-inning drive was the decisive blow in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

St. Louis, last in the NL with 105 home runs during the regular season, has hit 11 homers in six playoff games, seven in the seventh inning or later. Earlier, Matt Carpenter connected for the fourth time this postseason.

Seth Maness retired Pablo Sandoval on a comebacker with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth, and got the win.

Maness came on after closer Trevor Rosenthal couldn't hold a one-run lead. Rosenthal's pitch bounced off the glove off backup catcher Tony Cruz and Duffy, running on a full count, never broke stride and slid home with the tying run.

Molina bent over in pain after a swing and didn't make it out of the batter's box on a double-play ball in the sixth. Wincing, he gingerly walked off the field.

Adams, whose three-run shot off Clayton Kershaw put St. Louis in front for good in their clinching playoff win over Dodgers, homered off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland.

Gregor Blanco's fourth postseason hit in 31 at-bats put the Giants up 3-2 in the seventh, but Taveras re-tied it in the bottom half with a homer off Jean Machi just inside the right-field foul pole.

Carpenter hit a solo home run off Jake Peavy in the third. Randal Grichuk singled with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 2-0.

The Giants came back against Lance Lynn.


Giants: Hudson pitched well vs. Washington in Game 2 of the Division Series, allowing a run in 7 1-3 innings.

Cardinals: Lackey has a win each of the last three postseason series and is the active leader with 111 postseason innings.

Click here for full Giants coverage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2014 Chicago Marathon Comes To a Close]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 18:06:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/169*120/457114468.jpg

Chicago hosted the running world once again Sunday as nearly 45,000 runners took to the streets for the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Runners snaked through several Chicago neighborhoods on a grand tour of the city, which continues to makes its way to the forefront of the running scene.

“Each year it gets a little bit bigger and a little more exciting,” said race director Carey Pinkowski. “The popularity of marathon running is amazing. It’s in some ways intrinsically connected with Chicago.”

The city is one of six World Marathon Majors.

While there were precautions taken following the first U.S. Ebola diagnosis in Texas, officials said there were no Ebola scares or concerns surrounding the race and touted no security problems during the event.

Both uniformed officers and those in plain clothes were on patrol along the route, and as in years past, random checks were conducted on backpacks or large bags.

Despite optimism by race organizers and picturesque weather, there was no world record set in Chicago this year.

Eliud Kipchoge crossed the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon finish line in just 2:04:11.

After Sunday's finish, he noted he missed his personal mark but still feels pleased with the result.

"This is a big marathon," he said. "All in all, I'm happy."

Last year's course record was 2:03:45, set by Kenya's Dennis Kimetto

Defending champion Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won her second consecutive Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, making her the first ever man or woman to win four straight world marathon majors.

Her unofficial time was 2:24:36.

“Today, I was trying to push and it was very difficult because it was very, very wind,” Jeptoo said following her stunning win.

Jeptoo ran her first career sub 2:20 in last year's Chicago race, the fifth fastest time in Chicago Marathon history.

The University of Illinois' Joshua George and University of Illinois alum Tatyana McFadden took home repeat victories in the men’s and women’s wheelchair race.

“On behalf of the people of Illinois, I congratulate the thousands of runners who trained, ran and completed the annual Chicago Marathon,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement. “For those who traveled from afar to those from right here in Illinois, it is an honor to have such dedicated and talented athletes race through Chicago each year.”

Many runners credited the Chicago-area fans and spectators with helping them reach the finish line. Officials estimate roughly one million spectators lined the streets to root for their champions.

"Chicago is absolutely amazing," McFadden said Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Game Photos: Bears vs. Falcons]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 17:25:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/167*120/457128072.jpg Bears take on the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 6]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:36:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP583404611673.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the sixth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2014 Chicago Marathon Finish Line 55]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 16:25:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009211248_1200x675_340969027533.jpg Watch runners cross the finish line at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.]]> <![CDATA[2014 Chicago Marathon Finish Line 54]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 16:20:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009211247_1200x675_340966979939.jpg Watch runners cross the finish line at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.]]> <![CDATA[2014 Chicago Marathon Finish Line 53]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 16:19:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009211246_1200x675_340968003706.jpg Watch runners cross the finish line at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.]]>