Curran: In the end, an appreciation for Manning

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Curran: In the end, an appreciation for Manning

As owner Jim Irsay verbally pulled the sheet over Peyton Mannings career as a Colt on Wednesday, Manning stood to his right and a step behind him.

Around here, for better than a decade, Mannings been a punchline, a punching bag, a nemesis and finally and most appropriately appreciated.

Appreciated the way Magic Johnson ultimately became appreciated. Appreciated because his excellence, his passion and the simple presence of his team made it possible for people here to have competitive emotions tapped that otherwise wouldnt have been.

Without Manning, the Patriots excellence would not have been brought into such clear relief. Without Manning as a foil, Tom Bradys career would not have had the measuring stick thats helped make his place in NFL history so clear.

Manning helped make the Patriots what they are. Manning helped make Brady what he is.

The Patriots-Colts rivalry is over.

And lets be honest about this too the days of Peyton Manning as a transcendent NFL quarterback are most likely over as well. Hes 36. Hes had four neck surgeries in a year.
Hes going to be the target of the most impassioned chase for a free-agent player the NFL has ever seen. But nobody not the Dolphins, Jets, Redskins, Seahawks, Cardinals or whoever is going to sign PEYTON MANNING. They will sign the guy who used to be the best quarterback in football, who still can play his position as well as anyone on some Sundays (and Mondays or Thursdays). But it wont be the same player who ran an offense that was as comfortable to him as sliding behind the wheel of a car hed driven 100,000 miles.

Hell be getting used to a new coaching staff, new teammates, a new city and the demands on his time as franchise saviorhood ornament. All at the age of 36 with the mobility loss that comes with being 36 and, perhaps, the reduced arm strength that comes with having had those operations.

I dont doubt for a second that there will be some games when Manning is outstanding, where he takes over completely and puts up Manning-like numbers. But there will be games when he walks off the field and people say, Is that all there is? Is that all thats left?

I dont want to retire, Manning said through a crooked smile on Wednesday.

He shouldnt. And we should be glad of that. He deserves and will get the chance to write the final chapters of his NFL career. And if he lands in the AFC East with the Jets or Dolphins, hell be competitively detested around here again. But with a different flavor. Bitterness about the glory he and the Colts got will be reduced, replaced by that appreciation of what he was not just to Indy and the NFL but to New England.

But the climax of the book is over. This is the epilogue.

Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

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Monday, Sept. 26: So what happens if Canada loses World Cup final?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while finding it hard to believe that it’s game day for the Boston Bruins. Summer is officially O-V-A.
 
-- The Montreal media is starting to get on board with this tougher, grittier version of the Habs, along with a healthy Carey Price.
 
-- Pierre McGuire sits in with Ottawa’s TSN sports radio station and talks Team Europe in the World Cup, as well as a number of other things.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Zeisberger is already openly wondering what would happen in Canada if they lose to Team Europe in the best-of-three final to the World Cup.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Puck Daddy Greg Wyshynski asks Brad Marchand if a part of him has thought about playing with Sidney Crosby on the Penguins if he hits free agency. Bells, alarms and whistles should be going off on Causeway Street to give No. 63 whatever he wants at this point. In case you missed it, I talked about the danger of Crosby trying to woo his Nova Scotian buddy to Pittsburgh last week.
 
-- PHT writer James O’Brien says it sounds like the St. Louis Blues are going to play a more aggressive brand of hockey this season.
 
-- For something completely different: Forbes Magazine says Pete Carroll, not Bill Belichick, should be considered the NFL’s foremost cheater.
 

Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

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Rookie Dak Prescott solid again, Cowboys beat Bears, 31-17

ARLINGTON, Texas - Maybe the Cowboys will be OK without quarterback Tony Romo this time. The future of the Dallas running game with Ezekiel Elliott looks pretty good, too.

Dak Prescott led scoring drives on all four Dallas possessions in the first half before throwing his first career touchdown pass in fellow rookie Elliott's first 100-yard game, and the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears 31-17 on Sunday night to snap an eight-game home losing streak.

With his second straight win, Prescott doubled the number of victories the Cowboys (2-1) had in 14 games without the injured Romo over three seasons before the fourth-round pick showed up.

Prescott's first TD pass was a 17-yarder to Dez Bryant for a 31-10 lead in the fourth quarter, and he's up to 99 throws without an interception to start his career. Philadelphia's Carson Wentz has 102, and those are the two highest career-opening totals for a rookie in NFL history.

"Dak's handled every opportunity he's had right from the start really, really well," coach Jason Garrett said. "No different tonight."

Brian Hoyer had trouble moving the Chicago offense early with Jay Cutler sidelined by a sprained right thumb as the Bears fell behind 24-3 at halftime and dropped to 0-3 for the second time in two seasons under coach John Fox.

Making his 27th career start for his fourth different team, Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 317 yards - a good portion of that with the game out of each late in the fourth quarter - and threw for two scores to Zach Miller.

"We haven't played a complete game," Fox said. "This week was the reverse of what we've had. We played very poorly in the first half."

Elliott finished with 140 yards on 30 carries, including a 14-yard run when he hurdled safety Chris Prosinski. The Cowboys kept giving him the ball while trying to work the clock with a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter a week after he was benched because of two fumbles in a win over Washington.

"Made a lot of good runs tonight, a lot tough runs, a lot of NFL runs," Garrett said. "He's physically tough. He's mentally tough."

It didn't even bother Prescott that Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed just the second game of his six-year career after his back tightened up during the week.

Prescott was 19 of 24 for 248 yards in Dallas' first home win since last year's opener, which was a week before the first of two broken left collarbones that kept Romo out of 12 games last season.

Romo is expected to miss about another month after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.

Prescott had one of three rushing touchdowns for the Cowboys, who have seven this season after getting eight all of last year, when they finished 4-12.

Because the Bears fell behind again, they couldn't do much with the running game. They had just 15 carries for 73 yards and lost leading rusher Jeremy Langford to an ankle injury in the second half.