Harbaugh OK after heart scare
When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh experienced an irregular heartbeat at the team's practice facility on Wednesday, he reported his symptoms to the team's medical staff and was told to immediately seek further evaluation. Good thing. Harbaugh, who had once had a similar problem during his playing days, underwent an outpatient procedure to correct the condition and was back on the job by Friday.
(Actually, he got a peek at practice on Thursday shortly after the procedure, but let's keep that our secret.)
"Driving over here [Thursday] and you're not here and the rest of the team's out here practicing, that's not a good feeling," Harbaugh said upon his return. "It's like, I've had that dream before many times, where it's like you're supposed to be taking a test, or the team's out there practicing and you're not out there."
Harbaugh had the problem corrected with a similar procedure 13 years ago when he was with the Chargers, and he missed only a day of training camp. The good news: It looks like he won't need further medical treatment for the foreseeable future.
Harbaugh is now on medication to treat the problem, and will have follow-up visits to monitor his condition. But he doesn't expect any further problems, and he insists his high-energy style of coaching won't change. Nor does it have to in light of his situation.
"Listen to the doctors and eat right," said Harbaugh, who also plans to reduce his caffeine intake.
Asked if his wife or daughters had any words of wisdom that stuck with him during the scare, Harbaugh said, "The biggest one, 'I love you.' "
Colts-Patriots, but with a twist
This will be the 10th straight year the Colts have faced the Patriots in what has turned into the most intriguing non-divisional rivalry in the NFL. The series is best known for the epic quarterback battles between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but now it's Andrew Luck's turn to take the reins from Manning and add his own flavor. That both teams are 6-3 only underscores the drama.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, Luck is well versed in the history of this great matchup, so he knows the importance of facing a team that has been to the Super Bowl five times since the 2001 season.
"I know as a younger quarterback, you always tried to watch that game, just because the two guys were the benchmarks for the position," Luck said. "So I remember some of the playoff games, some of the late games, I think when Gillette Stadium still had grass. Great games and great franchises."
And another great quarterback added to the mix. Luck has performed as advertised -- and maybe better. Luck already has four 300-yard passing games, tying Manning's rookie record. He has the highest winning percentage (.667) through Week 10 by any No. 1 overall rookie quarterback in the Super Bowl era. And his 2,631 passing yards are the most through nine games among rookie passers in NFL history.
Ravens-Steelers not the same
The Ravens visit the Steelers today to renew their intense AFC North rivalry, but there will be a decidedly different feel to the game. For the first time since the Ravens were founded in 1996, the game will be played without either linebacker Ray Lewis or quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup.
Lewis, a first-round draft pick in 1996, remains out after undergoing surgery or a torn triceps. Roethlisberger, the Steelers' first-round pick in 2004, will miss the game with shoulder and rib problems he suffered in a Week 10 win over the Chiefs. Byron Leftwich starts in his place.
So who wins? Well, the numbers certainly favor the Ravens. They've won 11 straight against AFC North opponents and have won two in a row against Pittsburgh. In his past six games against the Steelers, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has 1,501 passing yards, nine touchdowns, two interceptions and a 92.3 passer rating.
Then again, this is the NFL, where the on-any-given-Sunday (or Monday, Thursday or Saturday, as may be the case) theory applies.
Best wishes to Mike Dikta for a speedy recovery from what has been diagnosed as a minor stroke he suffered on Friday. "Iron Mike" will not be at ESPN today for his regular spot as an analyst. Here's hoping he's back soon.
Watch out, Lawrence Taylor. Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware needs one sack for his seventh straight 10-sack season. That would tie Hall-of-Famers Taylor and former Bills defensive end Bruce Smith for the third longest streak in NFL history.
Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is in the midst of arguably his best season at age 31. Tillman has two interception returns for touchdown, and a whopping seven forced fumbles. "He's probably the best that anybody has ever seen" in forcing fumbles, said 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who faces the Bears tomorrow night.
A shoutout to former NHLer Peter Ferraro of Sound Beach for lending a hand with the Island Harvest turkey/food/cleaning supplies drive on Friday in Bethpage. Ferraro and his twin brother, Chris, both of whom played for the Rangers, run youth hockey programs on Long Island.
Former Hofstra star receiver Marques Colston has 55 career touchdowns and needs just one more to pass Deuce McAllister for the most in Saints franchise history. Colston has seven TDs in his last six games.