WEEK 2 OF NFL PRESEASON FEATURES SIX NATIONAL TV GAMES…
BILLS HOST COLTS IN TORONTO…GIANTS PLAY FIRST HOME GAME
AT NEW MEADOWLANDS STADIUM
-- NFL CELEBRATES 90TH BIRTHDAY ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 20 --
It’s Week 2 of the NFL preseason and the schedule is full of excitement.
Among the highlights are the Buffalo Bills hosting the Indianapolis Colts at the Rogers Centre in Toronto and the New York Giants’ first home game at New Meadowlands Stadium.
Kicking off the week on Thursday, August 19 at 7:30 PM ET is the latest installment of the Bills Toronto Series, a plan that calls for the Bills to play a regular-season game in Toronto each year from 2008-2012 and preseason games in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
"We are excited to play at the Rogers Centre," says Buffalo owner RALPH WILSON, "and continue our regionalization efforts with the Bills Toronto Series."
This contest against the Colts will mark the first of two games in Toronto this year as the Bills will host the Chicago Bears in the regular season on November 7.
"We are very excited to once again welcome the Buffalo Bills to the Rogers Centre," says PAUL BEESTON, president and CEO of Rogers Sports and Entertainment. "A strong opponent like the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts should provide an exciting matchup for Toronto to see the new-look Bills under the direction of head coach CHAN GAILEY."
On Saturday, August 21 (NFL Network, 7:00 PM ET), the Giants will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in their first home game at the new stadium. Last week, the Giants, who were the visiting team, defeated the New York Jets 31-16 as the facility’s two tenants met in the first ever football game at New Meadowlands Stadium.
"The stadium was great," says Giants safety ANTREL ROLLE, who set up the game’s first touchdown by returning an interception 59 yards to the one-yard line. "It was a great atmosphere and it will be a great place to play. I’m glad that the New York Giants came out with the first victory in the new stadium. We’re definitely happy about that."
Undrafted rookie wide receiver VICTOR CRUZ, who hails from nearby Patterson, New Jersey and played collegiately at Massachusetts, introduced himself to the NFL by hauling in six catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns (64, 34 and five yards).
"I just wanted to come in and work hard," says Cruz. "Growing up, watching the Giants and seeing blue all my life, I feel like I’m dreaming right now."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY NFL: The NFL will celebrate its 90th birthday on Friday, August 20.
On August 20, 1920, in the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio, the National Football League was born. Four independent professional football teams – the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, and Dayton Triangles – met to discuss the mounting problems facing the pro game, including rising salaries, the signing of college players while still in school and players moving from team to team. The solution was to form a league. They called it the American Professional Football Conference.
On September 17, another meeting was held with more teams and the league’s name was changed again to the American Professional Football Association (it was eventually changed to the National Football League on June 24, 1922). Jim Thorpe was also elected APFA president at the same meeting. A membership fee of $100 per team was charged to give the appearance of respectability, but no team ever paid it. Scheduling was left up to the teams during that first season, and there were wide variations, both in the overall number of games played and in the number played against APFA member teams.
The first game featuring an APFA team was played on September 26. A crowd of 800 watched the Rock Island Independents defeat the St. Paul Ideals 48-0 at Rock Island’s Douglas Park. A week later on October 3, the first game featuring two APFA teams took place between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles at Triangle Park in Dayton. Dayton won 14-0. The same day, Rock Island defeated the Muncie Flyers.
Some of the other highlight games in Week 2 of the NFL preseason:
NEW ENGLAND at ATLANTA (Thursday, FOX, 8:00 PM ET): Two of the game’s elite quarterbacks – New England’s TOM BRADY and Atlanta’s MATT RYAN – will square off in the Georgia Dome before a national TV audience on Thursday night.
Entering his third season, Ryan has led the Falcons to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history. The young quarterback spent the offseason watching film on some of the league’s best at the position, including New England’s Brady.
"I learned several things about the game and about my own game during my film work," says Ryan, "but I was mostly impressed with the patience under fire exhibited by PEYTON MANNING and Tom Brady."
Both teams opened the preseason with victories in Week 1. The Patriots defeated the defending champion New Orleans Saints 27-24 and the Falcons knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs 20-10.
"This is all about establishing an attitude every time we step on the field," says New England tight end ALGE CRUMPLER. "Regardless of who we are playing or what the circumstances are, if we play together as a team, good things will happen."
MINNESOTA at SAN FRANCISCO (Sunday, NBC, 8:00 PM ET): The 49ers will host the Vikings on Sunday night in a matchup between two teams with high hopes entering 2010.
The game will feature two of the game’s finest running backs – Minnesota’s ADRIAN PETERSON and San Francisco’s FRANK GORE.
Both players were selected to the Pro Bowl last season. Peterson rushed for 1,383 yards and 18 touchdowns, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers EARL CAMPBELL and BARRY SANDERS as the only players to rush for at least 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of their first three seasons. Gore rushed for 1,120 yards and became the first 49er to rush for at least 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. He also scored a career-best 13 total touchdowns (10 rushing, three receiving).
The teams are both coming off victories in Week 1. The Vikings won 28-7 at St. Louis and the 49ers defeated the Colts 37-17 in Indianapolis.
"Overall, I thought our guys did a pretty decent job," San Francisco head coach MIKE SINGLETARY said about the team’s performance in Week 1. "We’re on the right road, but we have a long way to go."
ARIZONA at TENNESSEE (Monday, ESPN, 8:00 PM ET): It will be a rematch of one of 2009’s most exciting games.
Last year in Week 12, the Titans defeated the Cardinals 20-17 when quarterback VINCE YOUNG threw a game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver KENNY BRITT as time expired. Young drove the Titans 99 yards on 18 plays in the final 2:37 and passed for a career-high 387 yards.
"We’ve had some tremendous finishes around here, but I can’t remember one like that," exclaimed Tennessee head coach JEFF FISHER after the game. "Just a tremendous finish."
Young, who was the third overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, will face another first-round selection from that same year in Arizona quarterback MATT LEINART (No. 10). Young has defeated Leinart in each of their past two meetings in dramatic fashion – last year’s contest and the 2006 Rose Bowl, when Young scored on a fourth-and-five run from the eight-yard line in the fourth quarter to lead his Texas Longhorns past Leinart’s USC Trojans.