2010 NFL Week 14 Remix

KC Chiefs QB Brodie Croyle is one of Lloyd’s Lackey’s for Week 14 after his awful play in his team’s loss to the Chargers –0-10 as a starter

Week 14 Games

Thursday, December 9 

Colts (7-6) over Titans (5-8), 30-28…A crazy Thursday Nighter that saw Indy hold-on after building a big lead early..QB Peyton Manning looked to be back (over 300 yds passing w/ 2 TDs, no INTs)…Collins (over 200 career TDs) rallies Titans, but falls short…CJ2K gives it his all (almost 200 yds of offense), but TENN didn’t have much else..Moss held to zero receptions…Colts find a little running game with rookie Javarris James  (17 ATT 49 yds 1 TD)

Sunday, December 12

Niners (5-8) over Seahawks (6-7), 40-21…Singletary makes the right move by going back to QB Alex Smith (3 TDs, 0 INTs)…Seattle continues to show there is more clean-up needed by Carroll on this inconsistent team…Niners RB Brian Westbrook continues drinking from the fountain of youth (6 REC, 87 yds 1 TD)
 
Bills (3-10) over Browns (5-8), 13-6… In the Battle for Lake Erie, the Bills did just enough to get passed the Browns…Fitzpatrick was not great but he got the job done..Hillis continues his climb up the Browns’ historical ladder…Delhomme was pitiful (threw for only 86 yards)…Mangini appears to be out in Cleveland
 
Buccaneers (8-5) over Redskins (5-8), 17-16…This game was a nail-biter and showed that “Good” Teams win and “Bad” teams lose…Bucs QB Josh Freeman continued to play cool under pressure..Special Teams killled the Redskins (2 missed field goals and botched potential game-tying XP)…Kicker Gano (ribs) had a bad game..McNabb had a solid game despite being under duress in the pocket…WAS RB Ryan Torain had a career day in a losing effort

Cardinals (4-9) over Broncos (3-10), 43-13…In Week 14’s Toilet Bowl the winner was Arizona…Cardinals crushed the hapless Broncos in Erc Studesville’s head coaching debut…First time starter QB John Skelton had a very solid game..RB Tim Hightower (148 r. yards and 2 TDs) had the game Whisenhunt had been waiting for Cards K Jay Feely was awesome (25 points including a TD run)

Chargers (7-6) over Chiefs (8-5), 31-0…This game showed the AFC West is still wide-open..With no Cassel (appendix), the Chiefs were terrible on offense…Cheifs QB Brodie Croyle now 0-10 as a starter (7/17 40 yds 0 TD)…Chargers get above .500 and back in division-hunt…Rivers has another big day while spreading ball around..SD defense holds KC to less than 200 total yards
 
Dolphins (7-6) over Jets (9-4), 10-6…A bad home loss for the suddenly reeling J-E-T-S (lost 2 straight)…NY Jets Asst Coach Sal Alosi goofs by tripping a Miami player on a special teams play (suspended for rest of 2010 and fined 25K)…Dolphins defense is stifling (6 sacks)…Jets QB Sanchez looked not ready for primetime (17-44 for 216 yards and INT)…Dolphins LB Cameron Wake lived in New York backfield as starting RT DamienWoody (knee) was out..Henne “managed the game” but defense ruled
 
Eagles (9-4) over Cowboys (4-9), 30-27…A tough NFC East road win for the Eagles despite their continued redzone problems on offense and defense…Akers keeps kicking..Birds D harasses Kitna into a crucial pick…Vick shakes off some shaky O-line play (constantly hit) to get the ball to D-Jax, McCoy, and Avant…D-Jax showed both his explosive big play nature (over 200 yards on only 4 catches) and immarturity (stupid taunting penalty for “hotdog” goalline theatrics)..RB LeSean McCoy continues to come of age as he helped the Birds run out the  clock at the end of the game (over 4 minutes)…Dumb endzone moves by Eagles KR Calvin… PHI loses Graham (ACL – season) and Bradley (Dislocated Elbow – Indef)…There was a minor National stink/controversey over Cowboys RB Tashard Choice getting Eagles QB Michael Vick’s autograph on the field after the game…Eagles face Giants in an NFC East showdown in WK15

Falcons (11-2) over Panthers (1-12), 31-10..This one should have been stopped before it even started…Matt Ryan is efficient as he finds future HOF Gonzalez for a TD…Turner rolled up and down the field on the hapless Carolina defense (28 Rushes, 112 yds, 3 TDs)…Claussen looks lost in a bad home loss…ATL moves closer to NFC homefield advantage..Good effort from comebacking RB Stewart wasted
 
Jaguars (8-5) over Raiders (6-7), 38-31…One of the Week’s best games was a huge surprise…OAK and JAX went toe-to-toe for 4 qtrs with the Jags winning to remain atop the AFC South…JAX ran the ball over the Raiders like a tank (over 200 yards)…JAX’s Thunder and Lightning Combo of MJD and Jennings both run for over 100 yards..Great games for Campbell and McFadden are wasted in a tough loss for the Raiders…JAX next plays at IND in WK15 for the AFC South crown

Lions (3-10) over Packers (8-5), 7-3…A shocker in Motown as the battle-tested Lions finally pulled off an upset…GB loses QB Aaron Rodgers (2nd concussion of season) then the game…Replacement Flynn was no match for a defense led by R.O.Y candidate N. Suh… Stanton efficient and throws for game’s only score…GB has to pick up the pieces for a WK15 showdown game with the Patriots on SNF

Patriots (11-2) over Bears (9-4), 36-7…Pats clinch playoff spot…No one plays better in the snow than the Patriots and MVP candidate / QB Tom Brady (now 10-0 in his career in the white stuff)…Brady spreads the ball all over the field (369 yds, 2 TDs) to Welker, Branch, Woodhead and others…Speaking of Branch, he had a career regular-season high 151 rec yds including a back-breaking 59-yd catch right before halftime…The Patriots humiliated the NFC North leaders on their own field…Patriots clinch first 2010 playoff spot…Bears will need to step-up in WK15 against MIN (where?)…NE hosts GB on SNF

Saints (10-3) over Rams (6-7), 31-13..This game showed that the NFC West is the NFC Least as the Champs pounded the upstart Rams in the Bayou…QB Drew Brees (25-40, 221 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) found a variety of WR’s including the re-emerging Marques Colston…RB Chris Ivory had another good game before leaving with a minor injury… Other than S-Jax the Rams didn’t have much offense to keep the Saints off rookie starter Sam Bradford..Everything still same, Saints trying to catch ATL and STL still leads the NFL’s worst division.  Next in WK15, NO faces ATL in an NFC South Showdown and STL will host KC in a Missouri “Show Me Something” special.

Steelers (10-3) over Bengals (2-11), 23-7…This was tough Western PA football played in the mud with rain and cold temperatures…PIT further buried the awful Bengals with a dominating win..Look for Marvin Lewis to be out after season as Cincy are classic underachievers…Big Ben toughs-it-out as he wears a shield to protect his broken nose…Polamulu looks like DEF MVP of league (2 INTs including game-changing Pick-6)…Carson Palmer is not right and it shows…T.O wonders where he will be in ’11

Monday, December 13

NY Giants (9-4) over Vikings (5-8), 21-3..This game was moved to MondayNight in DET due to the Metrodome’s roof collapsing under snow..1st MNF game of the evening was historical as Favre is inactive due shoulder (297 consecutive starts over)..Peterson bottled up….Giants overcome more E. Manning INTs (2) to post win…G-Men’s tag team backfield of Bradshaw and Jacobs run the ball down the Vikings throat (over 200 yds)…T-Jack hurts knee on handoff, but hobbles through most of game…NYG and PHI for NFC East in WK15

Ravens (9-4) over Texans (5-8), 34-28 OT…This laugher early got real interesting at the end…BAL jumps out to an early 28-7 lead only to have QB Schaub (31-62, 393 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs) and WR A. Johnson lead HOU to 21 unanswered points to send the game to overtime…Ravens CB Josh Wilson wins the game in OT on a Pick-6..Ravens stay 1-game behind PIT..New Orleans visits BAL in WK15

 Weekly Leaders

Passing   
1. M. Schaub HOU  393 yds – OT  (L)
2. T. Brady NE  369 yds, 2 TDs  (W)
3. J. Campbell OAK  324 yds, 2 TDs  (L) 
4. P. Manning IND  319 yds, 2 TDs (W)
5. M. Hasselbeck SEA  285 yds  (L)
6. M. Vick PHI  270 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs (W) 
 
Rushing
1. R. Torain WAS  172 yds, 0 TDs  (L)
2. L. McCoy PHI  149 yds, 0 TDs  (W)
3. T. Hightower ARI  148 yds, 2 TDs  (W)
4. J. Stewart CAR  133 yds  (L)
5. D. McFadden OAK  123 yds (L)

Receiving

1. D. Jackson PHI  210 yds, 1 TD (W)
2. D. Branch NE  151 yds, 1 TD (W)
3. A. Johnson HOU  140 yds – OT  (L)
4. A. Benn TB  122 yds, 0 TD  (W)
5. H. Ward PIT  115 yds  (W)
5. W. Welker NE  115 yds  (W)
 
TDS   
1. M. Schaub HOU  3 TDs  OT  (L)
1. D. Garrard JAC  3 TDs  (W)
1. D. McFadden OAK  3 TDs  (L)
1. A. Smith SF  3 TDs  (W)
1. D. Brees NO  3 TDs  (W)
 (3 others tied for 1st) 

Kickers 
J. Feely ARZ 25 points (W)
J. Reed SF  16 points (W)
D. Akers PHI 12 points (W)

Standings Breakdown

2 teams — (11-2) Patriots,Falcons
2 teams — (10-3) Saints, Steelers
5 teams — (9-4) Eagles, NY Jets, Bears, NY Giants, Ravens
4 teams – (8-5) Chiefs, Packers, Jags, Bucs
3 teams — (7-6) Colts, Dolphins, Chargers
3 teams — (6-7) Seahawks, Raiders, Rams
6 teams — (5-8) Titans, Redskins, Browns, Niners, Texans, Vikings
2 teams — (4-9) Cowboys, Cardinals
3 teams —  (3-10) Lions, Bills, Broncos
1 team — (2-11) Bengals
1 team —  (1-12) Panthers

Division Leaders

NFC

Eagles/Giants (NFC East —  4 game lead over WAS), Falcons (NFC South — 1 game lead over NO), Bears (NFC North — 1 game lead over GB), Seahawks/Rams (NFC West — 1 game lead over SF)

AFC

Jags (AFC South — 1 game lead over IND), Steelers (AFC North — 1 game lead over BAL), Patriots (AFC East — 2 game lead over NYJ),
Chiefs (AFC West — 1 game lead over SD/Oak)

Current Streaks

Winning: Falcons (7); Saints (6); Patriots (5)
Losing: Bengals (10); Panthers (7); Titans (6)

If playoffs started today, Here would be the Seeds….
NFC — 1. ATL, 2. CHI, 3. PHI, 4. STL, 5. NO, 6. NYG
AFC — 1. NE, 2. PIT, 3. KC, 4. JAX, 5. BAL, 6. NYJ

How 2009 Playoff teams are faring  — Saints (10-3), Eagles (9-4), Packers (8-5),  Vikings (5-8), Cowboys (4-9), Cardinals (4-9),
Patriots (11-2), NY Jets (9-4), Ravens (9-4), Colts (7-6), Chargers (7-6), Bengals (2-11)
 
Remaining Games for Contenders

 Atl — @Sea, NO, Car
Bal — NO, @Cle, Cin
Chi — @Min, NY, @GB
GB — @NE, NYG, Chi
Ind — Jac, @Oak , Ten
Jac — @Ind, Was, @Hou
KC — @StL, Ten, Oak
Mia — Buf, Det, @NE
Min — Chi, @Phi, @Det
NE — GB, @Buf, Mia
NO — @Bal, @Atl, TB
NYG — Phi,  @GB, @Was
NYJ — @Pit, @Chi, Buf
Oak — Den, Ind, @KC
PHI — @NYG, Min, Dal
Pit — NYJ, Car, @Cle
SD — SF, @Cin, @Den
Sea — Atl, @TB, StL
SF — @SD, @StL, Ari
StL — KC, SF, @Sea
TB — Det, Sea, @NO

Week 15

Thu, Dec 16 
SF @ SD  Qualcomm Stadium 8:20 PM  —- NFLN          

Sun, Dec 19 
BUF @ MIA  Sun Life Stadium 1:00 PM  —- CBS          
CLE @ CIN  Paul Brown Stadium 1:00 PM  —- CBS          
DET @ TB  Raymond James Stadium 1:00 PM  —- FOX          
JAC @ IND  Lucas Oil Stadium 1:00 PM  —- CBS          
ARI @ CAR  Bank of America Stadium 1:00 PM  —- FOX          
NO @ BAL  M&T Bank Stadium 1:00 PM  —- FOX          
PHI @ NYG  New Meadowlands Stadium 1:00 PM  —- FOX          
KC @ STL  Edward Jones Dome 1:00 PM  —- CBS          
WAS @ DAL  Cowboys Stadium 1:00 PM  —- FOX          
HOU @ TEN  LP Field 1:00 PM  —- CBS          
ATL @ SEA  Qwest Field 4:05 PM  —- FOX          
NYJ @ PIT  Heinz Field 4:15 PM  —- CBS          
DEN @ OAK  Oakland Coliseum 4:15 PM  —- CBS          
GB @ NE  Gillette Stadium 8:20 PM  —- NBC          

Mon, Dec 20 
CHI @ MIN  University of Minnesota 8:30 PM  —- ESPN

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2010 NFL Preseason Week 1 Review

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon received a Game Ball for his outstanding play in Week 1 of the 2010 NFL Preseason

Week 1 of the 2010 NFL Preseason is now in the books.  As usual the start of preseason games are welcomed by most players (want to hit someone else other than teammates) and fans (“Jonesing” for their football fix).  But after most of the starters have left preseason games, usually in the first or second quarter, everyone watching can’t wait for the “real” games to start.  Unfortunately there are usually several “training camp” players on the field after halftime, which lends to some sloppy play at times.

The week’s highlight had to be the opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium as the “Battle for New York” was center stage on Monday Night football. Friendly tenants, the New York Giants and New York Jets, battled it out with the G-Men coming away with a 31-16 win.  The biggest television-worth play had to be Giants quarterback Eli Manning having a “Y.A Tittle” moment.  Manning departed the game in the first half with a three-inch laceration to his forehead after getting caught between two Jets’ defenders with his helmet off. Blood was gushing from Peyton’s little brother’s melon, which definitely needed several stitches to close the wound.

One key element that I noticed this week and throughout the preseason is that the National Football League is “survival of the fittest”, where you can never have too much quality depth.  Unfortunately players around the league continue to drop like flies. Some notable injuries were Buffalo Bills RB Fred Jackson (broken hand – 4 to 6 weeks), Houston Texans RB Ben Tate (broken ankle – season), Tennessee Titans RB Stafon Johnson (his great comeback story is over for now after a heart-breaking ankle injury), Dallas Cowboys OT Marco Colombo (knee scoped), Detroit Lions LB Jordon Dizon (knee – season), New England Patriots DE Ty Warren (season-ending hip injury), Baltimore Ravens OT Jared Gaither (back tear) and too many others to list.

All these injuries are making coaches and general managers scream, “Please Let’s Just Start the Regular Season”. I have to agree with them, because too often important pieces of a team’s puzzle are lost for considerable amounts of time, including for the entire season, in meaningless games. We all know that preseason games — or “exhibition” games as I like to call them — are only on the schedule for the purpose of generating extra revenue (television dollars and local teams having two extra “home” games at full price) and they are very unnecessary. Also as Eagles head coach Andy Reid recently said of his game-planning for the his preseason Week 1 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, “We kept it pretty vanilla” – BTW: the Eagles and Jaguars play in Week 3 of the regular season.  You just are not going to see much in preseason as teams usually want to save their best for the games that count.

With today’s athletes already engaging in year-round NFL activities including OTAs and long arduous training camps, four preseason games is a bit much. Today’s NFL players’ bodies are already pushed to the max after training camp two-a-days in the hot sun, so there is already a “Next Man Up” mentality before preseason games are even played. I know coaches try to limit exposure to key veterans by getting them out of preseason games early, but the risk is always there. I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to investigate limiting preseason game, however I am not sure about removing them just to add more career-shortening regular season games.

Even though this week’s preseason games only gave a minor taste of “real” regular season NFL football action, there were some bright spot performances.  Overall though, I say bring on the “real” games, because the NFL’s preseason is just too long of a process and watching games of depth chart 3’s versus 4’s is unbearable.  For goodness sakes, Minnesota Vikings 3rd string quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw for 310 yards and 3 TDs in a 28-7 win over the hapless St. Louis Rams ….need I say anymore.

Game Balls

Redskins QB Donovan McNabb – After a slow start, Washington’s new signal-caller settled down to lead his offensive unit to touchdown.  McNabb hit young receiver Anthony Armstrong with a 4-yard strike to complete his night’s work.  For the game, Big 5 finished with numbers 5-of-8 for 58 yards in two series.

Giants WR Victor Cruz – I guess the NY Jets really do need holdout Darrelle Revis. A preseason star was born in the Giants’ 31-16 win over the NY Jets.  Cruz caught 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 TDs.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers – The former 2009 Pro Bowl passer was amazing as he finished with numbers of 12-13, 159 yards, and 1 TD against the lowly Cleveland Browns.

Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen – Could there be a quarterback controversy in Carolina already?? I am saying hold your horses on that one.  But the former Notre Dame star showed good footwork and arm strength in his team’s 17-12 loss to the Ravens.

Steelers QB Dennis Dixon — Had a perfect passer rating as he finished with numbers 6-7, 128 yards and 1 TD in a 23-7 win over the Detroit Lions.

Panthers OLB Greg Hardy – Showed great burst off the edge as he finished with 2 sacks in a loss to the Ravens

Lloyd’s Lackey

Colts better get another back-up quarterback – Usually try to not give out a “Lloyd’s Lackey” this time of the year.   But there was an awful performance that must be noted.  In case Peyton Manning gets hurt — not that No. 18 ever gets hurt — Indy has no shot of winning games with back-up passer Curtis Painter.  The former Purdue star was awful in a 37-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.  His line for the game was 9-for-19, 64 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 9 Review

stafford

By virtue of his 5-interception performance in the Lions loss to the Seahawks, QB Matthew Stafford is Week 9’s Lackey

The second half of the 2009 NFL Season has begun and the “real” fun of self separation into the “Contenders” and “Pretenders” was very prevalent in Week 9.  Though there were still four blowout games (winners by 10 points or more) from the NFL’s slate of 13 games, overall there were several competitive games that may have future playoff implications.

This week the NFL’s Big 3 from this decade all were tested and won. By virtue of their dominating 28-10 win over the AFC West leading Denver Broncos (6-2), the Pittsburgh Steelers have won 100 wins since the start of the 2000 season. The Steelers joined fellow former Super Bowl winners and 100-win teams this decade, the Indianapolis Colts (109) and New England Patriots (108).  In their Monday Night Football win, the Steelers in their 5th straight win (tied for first in AFC North with Bengals at 6-2) returned to the type of football that has made them a mainstay in the NFL for almost 40 years.  Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin preached that there was more work to be done, 2nd-year running back Rashard Mendenhall ran with a physical style against the NFL’s best defense (22 times for 155 yards), and the Steelers defense fueled by the improved health of safety Troy Polamalu (3 tackles and 1 INT) produced 3 turnovers and 2 sacks. Safety Ryan Clark, who couldn’t play in the altitude of Denver due to blood disorder, talked pretty candidly after the Steelers’ D picked-it-up in his absence, “It’s a team sport and we’re probably the ultimate team in the NFL”.

The Colts (8-0) continued their winning ways by a score of 20-17 home win over the scrappy Houston Texans (5-4) -– 17th straight win and eighth in a row this season.  The Texans wanted to get to a 6-3 record for the first time in team history, knock the Colts from the ranks of the unbeatens, and jump into the AFC South race.  Unfortunately for head coach Gary Kubiak’s squad, they were their worst enemy drawing 13 penalties for 103 yards, turning the ball over four times including a crucial RB Ryan Moats’ fumble in the redzone and kept three Indy scoring drives going with untimely penalties.  Conversely the Colts led by Peyton Manning (34/50 318 yds 1 TD, and 1 INT) and TE Dallas Clark (14 receptions for 119 yards) stuck to their tried and true philosophy that has produced an NFL record 6 straight 12-win seasons (good running game, Manning hitting timely throws, and defensive pressure led by Pro Bowl player Dwight Freeney).  In the end, a back-and-forth game came down to the leg of Texans kicker Kris Brown and the former Pro Bowl kicker — already hit a 56-yard field goal earlier in the game — missed a makeable 42 field goal attempt to tie the game as time expired.

The Patriots (6-2) in their 27-17 win over the Dolphins (3-5) also had to dig deep to be a desperate team trying to get back to their winning ways from 2008.  The Dolphins battled the Patriots throughout a game where Miami relied on grinding it out via their running game – Wildcat returned back to its 2008 birthplace – while New England had some big plays from quarterback Tom Brady (25/37 332 yards, and 1 TD) and receiver Randy Moss (see Game Balls).  One of the NFL’s deadliest quarterback-receiver combos hit on a 71-yard touchdown catch and run that turned a 17-16 Dolphins lead into a deflating moment that sent the Pats’ faithful home with their 3rd straight win.  The victory by the Patriots gave them a two-game lead over the NY Jets (4-4) in the AFC East.  But importantly set the stage for Week 10’s uber Sunday Night Football showdown with the undefeated Indianapolis Colts, which has been marked down as a must-see game since the schedules came out in April.

Week 9’s other big winner surprisingly took place in Tampa Bay, Florida.  That’s right…the team that entered the week as the NFL’s last winless squad put forth a miraculous effort in defeating the Green Bay Packers 38-28 before a sell-out crowd.  I am sure several fans came out to help honor the 1979 Bucs, who 30-years ago led by quarterback Doug Williams almost made it to the Super Bowl.  But the 2009 version of the Bucs came with an effort worthy of their predecessors and told the rest of the NFL that the 2008 Detroit Lions could have their 0-16 infamy.  Wearing their throwback creamsicle orange uniforms with Bucco Bruce on their helmets, the Bucs played with pride and poise in a game no one expected them to win — first win since Nov. 30, 2008, snapping an 11-game losing streak.  The Bucs, who hadn’t scored more than 21 points in a game this season, tallied 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and set-off a heartwarming celebration. The Bucs were led by their defense (forced 3 INTs from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers including one for a touchdown by safety Tanard Jackson and sacked the beleaguered quarterback 6 times), young quarterback Josh Freeman (see Game Balls) and veteran CB Rhonde Barber (5 tackles and blocked a punt, which he returned for a 31-yard touchdown). 

Other teams with big wins other than the Bucs and the Big 3 of the AFC were the Dallas Cowboys (improved to 6-2 and took control of the NFC East with a tough road win over Philly); the New Orleans Saints (shook off an early 14-0 deficit to NFC South rival, Carolina Panthers, to win going away 30-20 and remain undefeated at 8-0); the Cincinnati Bengals (ran all over the mouthy Ravens for the second time this season in a dominating 17-7 defensive win); the Tennessee Titans (won for the second week in a row as QB Vince Young, RB Chris Johnson, and their turnover happy defense led the way); and the San Diego Chargers (QB Philip Rivers and his teammates came to the East Coast on an mission and pulled out a road win over the NY Giants – 4th straight loss).  These wins plus the other aforementioned victories definitely have helped to clear up the playoff picture as we are in the NFL’s proving ground months of November and December.  But for teams at or near .500, all is not lost as since 1990 -– when the NFL went to their current 12-team playoff format — 47 teams (20.6 percent of the 228 playoff clubs) have advanced to the postseason after starting the season with a .500 or worse record after eight games. 

Here’s the current division breakdown after Week 9:

NFC East – Dallas Cowboys (6-2) have a 1-game lead over the Eagles (5-3)

NFC West—Arizona Cardinals (5-3) have a 2-game lead over the Niners (3-5)

NFC South — New Orleans Saints (8-0) have a 3-game lead over the Falcons (5-3)

NFC North– Minnesota Vikings (7-1) have a 3-game lead over the Packers and Bears (both 4-4)

AFC East– New England Patriots (6-2) have a 2-game lead over the NY New Jets (4-4)

AFC West– Denver Broncos (6-2) have a 1-game lead over the San Diego Chargers (5-3)

AFC South– Indianapolis Colts (8-0) have a 2 ½ game lead over the Houston Texans (5-4)

AFC North– Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers (both 6-2) have a 2-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

Game Balls

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman – What a debut for the first round pick from Kansas State.  Looking real good in his creamsicle best, Freeman threw for 205 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, and 1 two-pt conversion plus ran for 20 yards. He showed poise and confidence while leading the Bucs to a come-from-behind win that also happened to be their first win of the season. Freeman’s best throw of the day was a beautiful touch pass touchdown to WR Sammie Stroughter on 4th-and-four late in the game to take the lead.

Honorable Mention

Patriots WR Randy Moss — In a game that was tight throughout, Moss (six receptions for 147 yards, 24.5 ypc, and 1 TD) had two big plays for the Patriots. He hauled in a 36-yard one-handed reception to set up RB Laurence Maroney’s 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and in the 3rd quarter, he turned in the play of the game.  After the Dolphins scored to  take a 17-16 lead, it was Moss who rose to the occasion.  Moss using a “Walter Payton-esque” right stiff-arm sent the young rookie Vontae Davis flailing to the turf and sprinted all the way to the endzone for an electrifying 71-yard touchdown catch and run. 

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald – Is there player better than Fitz right not at the receiver position…NO!!!  In a road win over the Bears, Fitzgerald produced numbers 9 Rec, 123 Yds and  2 TDs. Each week this Pro Bowl receiver makes at least two or three catches that make you say, “Are you kidding me?”

Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson — The league’s leading rusher carried the ball 25 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Niners.  Johnson became the first back to top 100 rushing yards against the Niners and also added three receptions for 25 yards. Johnson rushing yardage total thus far this season is 959 yards and he is on pace for 1,918 yards rushing this season, which would be extremely close to  breaking Earl Campbell’s franchise record from 1980 of 1934 yards.

Indianapolis Colts TE Dallas Clark – Has become the NFL’s best X-factor combining skills that work as a receiver, H-back, tight end, and fullback.  In the Colts win over the Texans, Clark was Peyton’s main target hauling in 14 passes for 119 Yds with most of them causing first downs.

San Diego Chargers Shawne Merriman – Welcome Back, Welcome Back.  Merriman appears to be rounding back into form from a tough knee injury in 2008.  The tough pass rusher had two sacks for the second straight week and now has 4 sacks for the season.  Led by Merriman the Chargers had 5 sacks for the second week in a row.

Other Honorees: Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner (166 Rush Yds, and 2 TDs with 2 Rec, 14 Yds in the Falcons win over the Redskins); Chicago Bears TE Greg Olsen (5 Rec, 71 Yds, and 3 TDs in the Bears’ loss to the Cardinals);Detroit Lions TE Brandon Pettigrew (rookie is coming into his own as he catch 7 balls for 70 yards and 1 TD); Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (keeps piling up the yardage w/ 149 Rush Yds, and 2 TDs with 2 Rec for 12 yards in a loss to the Saints); Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner (261 Pass Yds, 5 TDs, 0 INTs in a huge win over the Bears); Tennessee Titans CB Cortland Finnegan (returned an interception for a touchdown in a win over the Niners); Seahawks LB David Hawthorne (2 INTs of Lions QB Matthew Stafford)

Lloyd’s Lackey

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford –- He looked like a rookie throwing for only 203 yards, 2 TDs, and a whopping 5 INTs in a loss to the Seahawks.  Stafford was also sacked twice and Seahawks CB Josh Wilson returned one of his picks 61 yards for a touchdown.

Dishonorable Mention

Washington Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall – A noted jerk around the NFL, Hall continued his infamy at the Georgia Dome.  Playing his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, Hall sniped all week about how the team and GM Tom Dimitroff had treated him unfairly, then got into with the whole Falcons’ sideline.  After Hall was roundly booed during the game by fans, he was involved in a sideline skirmish after teammate LaRon Landry took a late shot at Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.  Hall had to be separated from equally hot-headed nincompoop Falcons head coach Mike Smith.  Hall said after the game, “Later on, coach Smith, Mike came over and grabbed me, talking [stuff] to me…Saying he’ll kick my [butt] and all this other [stuff]. I definitely stay in Atlanta in the off-season. So if Mike Smith wants to see me, he can find me”.  He added, “I can’t wait for guys to sit back and watch the replay. I can’t wait to watch the replay. I’m going to be giving Commissioner [Roger] Goodell a call myself because something needs to be done about that.  “He put his hands on me in a harmful way. Talking about that he was going to kick my [butt] and all this other [stuff]. That’s not how you do things”

Chicago Bears DT Tommie Harris — Referee Ed Hochuli ejected Harris early in the 1st quarter of the Bears’ game against the Arizona Cardinals for punching Cardinals guard Deuce Lutui in the head.  Lutui had blocked Harris on a 10-yard run and took his time getting off Harris after the play.  The angry and subpar performing Harris responded by punching Lutui in the facemask. Harris has just 9 tackles and zero quarterback sacks this season.

Arizona Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin – After learning of his deactivation for Week 9 due to a lingering ankle injury, Boldin sulked and expressed discontent with the Cardinals’ coaching staff.  The malcontent Pro Bowl receiver said the coaches weren’t “man enough” to tell him before the game that he wouldn’t play. Did you know the Cardinals are 5-1 in the games where Boldin did play in the past two seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco – I know it was only in fun, but No. 85 went over the line again.  The audacious Bengals receiver playfully tried to bribe an NFL official with a $1.00 bill during a replay in the third quarter of his team’s win over the Baltimore Ravens.  You know Ocho Cinco will be getting a call from Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Week 9

Sunday, November 8

Bengals (6-2) over Ravens (4-4), 17-7

Buccaneers (1-7) over Packers (4-4), 38-28

Cardinals (5-3) over Bears (4-4), 41-21

Chargers (5-3) over Giants (5-4), 21-20

Colts (8-0) over Texans (5-4), 20-17

Cowboys (6-2) over Eagles (5-3), 20-16

Falcons (5-3) over Redskins (2-6), 31-17

Jaguars (4-4) over Chiefs (1-7), 24-21

Patriots (6-2) over Dolphins (3-5), 27-17

Saints (8-0) over Panthers (3-5), 30-20

Seahawks (3-5) over Lions (1-7), 32-20

Titans (2-6) over 49ers (3-5), 34-27

Monday, November 9

Steelers (6-2) over Broncos (6-2), 28-10

Byes: Bills (3-5), Browns (1-7), Jets (4-4), Raiders (2-6), Rams (1-7), Vikings (7-1)

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 8 Review

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Houston Texans RB Ryan Moats was one of Week 8’s Game Ball winners for his efforts in the Texans 31-10 win over the Buffalo Bills

With the 2009 season officially hitting the halfway mark, the league celebrated with a magnificent week of action in Week 8.  This was a great week in the NFL filled with upsets, big wins, and playoff picture shaping moments.  Despite six teams on a bye (Bengals, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Patriots, Redskins, Steelers) and some blowouts that have been too plentiful this season – 8 teams won by 12 points or more — there were compelling storylines everywhere that kept viewers glued to their seats.  The NFL is clearly winning the battle for sports fans weekly and I am sure Week 8 will be a landslide too when the numbers are reported, especially with FOX having both the Eagles-Giants NFC showdown and then Favre’s return game to Green Bay — during Week 7, FOX’s doubleheader drew 28.4 million viewers for the most viewership since the Super Bowl. 

You cannot review the action from Week 8 without talking about the highly anticipated Lambeau Field return of former Packers legend and current Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre.  No. 4 playing for the hated Vikings not only returned back to his home of 16 years, but he clearly showed his “former” fans and employers that he has plenty left in his right arm.  Favre and the Vikings dominated the Packers 38-26 in a game very similar to the Vikes’ Week 4 win in Minnesota. The Vikings defense didn’t give Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (26-41, 63.4%, 287 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs plus 52 rushing yards) any time in the pocket (6 sacks) and Favre put up some big numbers with a little help from his friends.  Emerging rookie WR/KR Percy Harvin had a big game producing 5 catches for 84 yards and 1 TD plus five kick returns for 175 yards.  And All-World running back Adrian Peterson (25 carries for 97 yards and one touchdown) was tough till the end, but the day clearly belonged to Favre.

 After enduring a week of being called a “Waffler”, “Flip-Flopper”, “Drama Queen” and “Traitor”, Favre stepped on the field and put aside a booing crowd to “Stick It” to his old team.  Favre threw a season-high four touchdown passes and was never even touched in the pocket (zero sacks) as he piled up superb passing numbers 17-28, 244 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs.  And of course like he always seems to do every week, Favre set a record of most completions in one venue (passed John Elway’s record) and tied Dan Marino’s NFL record of 21 career games with at least four TD passes.  After the game, Favre hugged several members of the Packers team and staff including former favorite receivers Donald Drivers and Greg Jennings.  The future Pro Football Hall of Famer left the field surrounded by media everywhere and pumped his fist to a mix of cheers and boos.  Favre said after the game, “I’m not going to sit here and throw any daggers…We played about as good as we can play. We can play better, but that’s what it was going to take to beat that football team. That’s the satisfying thing.”  Favre added, “I’ve never been one to rub it in anyone’s face…The guys I’ve played with as a Packer, I’ve got a lot of respect for, as I do (for) this organization and these fans.”

So with Favre-a-palooza over for the second time in less than 1 month, let’s take an inventory of what happened.  Favre in two “big” wins over the Packers  (scores of 30-23 in Week 4 and 38-26 in Week 8) finished with passing numbers 41-59, 515 yards, 7 TDs, 0 INTs, no sacks allowed and a passer rating well over 130.  The Packers on the other hand have a 10-13 record since sending their former franchise quarterback to exile in the Meadowlands in 2008.  Favre stated at his postgame press conference, “What I’ve done here (Green Bay) speaks for itself.”  For those unable to interpret Favre’s last comments, I will translate them for you.  “Hey Packers GM Ted Thompson and the rest of you haters…How do you like me now, What!!”

With everyone caught up in the Vikings-Packers and all the drama that followed Favre’s revenge homecoming, there were some other serious stories this week that I felt were a little neglected.

The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints were both tested but still continued on their unbeaten ways – both 7-0 — The Indianapolis Colts are the NFL’s number one team (very quietly), but even they have to sweat one out here or there.  In their 16th straight win (franchise record), the Colts rallied from a 14-12 deficit to finally beat the scrappy San Francisco 49ers 18-14 in Indy.  The win was a testament to how well rookie head coach Jim Caldwell is keeping a veteran group of players on track without future hall of fame coach Tony Dungy.  With the win, Caldwell joined Potsy Clark (1931 Portsmouth Spartans started 8-0) as the only rookie head coaches in the past 80 years to start the season 7-0.  Caldwell leaned on veteran quarterback Peyton Manning (31-48, 347 passing yards, 0 TDs, and 0 INTs) in the win, but it was a great halfback pass from RB Joseph Addai (former high school quarterback) to Reggie Wayne (12 catches for 147 yards and 1TD) that was the game-winning score.  Also special recognition needs to go out  to veteran kicker Matt Stover who was 4 for 4 on field goal attempts. 

The Saints, who tied their best start in franchise history (1991 team was also 7-0), were involved in a tough game too.  The Atlanta Falcons led by their quadruplets (QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, TE Tony Gonzalez, and WR Roddy White) and their attacking defense were not going to give New Orleans their usual 40 points and another easy win.  The game came down to the final seconds after the Falcons had recovered an onside kick.  But Saints S Darren Sharper (NFL leader with 7 INTs) intercepted Matt Ryan’s desperation heave with 3 seconds left to preserve a 35-27 win. The Falcons on offense ran the ball effectively with Turner (20 times for 151 yards and a touchdown) and their defense put more pressure on Saints QB Drew Brees than I have seen all season (2 sacks and numerous other hits).  However the Saints once again proved that they are the “real deal” and it is going to be difficult to stop them.  Right now their offensive line is providing good protection, Brees is looking like a MVP candidate, the Saints have too many offensive weapons to write down, and their defense has 6 TDs off turnovers – the Cleveland Browns offense only has 5 TDs total.  I won’t bring up the 1972 Dolphins’ undefeated season yet, because the Saints have a long way to go but other than games against the Patriots (Week 12), Falcons (Week 14), and Cowboy (15) every other team that the Saints face from here on out has a losing record through 8 weeks.

The St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans both got off the “schnide” by winning their first games of the season — The Rams broke their 17-game losing streak with a road win over the Lions by a score of 17-10.  I would like to have said that quarterback Marc Bulger had a lot to do with the win, but the star of the game clearly was RB Steven Jackson.  The hard-runner and perennial Pro Bowl player finally was rewarded for his efforts with some good blocking as he piled up 149 rushing yards and scored his first touchdown of the season.  The Rams other big play was a touchdown pass from kicker Josh Brown to FB Daniel Fells on a fake field goal in the second quarter.

The Tennessee Titans after a very long bye week decided to go back to the future by inserting 2006 Rookie of the Year QB Vince Young back into the starting lineup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The former franchise quarterback had not started in 22 games and was finally lobbied into the starting lineup by Titans owner Bud Adams.  Young responded passing for numbers 15-18, 125 yards, and 1 TD plus rushing for 30 yards including moving the chains on a couple 3rd down runs.  As good as Young was in the Titans 30-13 win, running back Chris Johnson (see Game Balls) was even better.  One of the NFL’s fastest players streaked to two long touchdown runs in the second half that closed the door on the Jaguars and plucky running back Maurice “Pocket Hercules” Jones-Drew.

There was also:

  • The rested Baltimore Ravens dominated the previously undefeated Denver Broncos 30-7, knocking them from the unbeatens.  The bye week sure was a good thing for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s team as the Ravens were focused and energized by their home crowd.  The Ravens defense limited the Broncos to a season-low 200 total yards, forced 1 turnover, produced 2 sacks and on special teams they had a kickoff return for a touchdown.
  • The Carolina Panthers pulling a total reversal from their 2008 playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals.  Quarterback Kurt Warner (see Lloyd’s Lackey) looked like Panthers QB Jake Delhomme in an embarrassing 34-21 home loss.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles tore apart the NY Giants on “Sports Sunday” in South Philly
  • The Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans jumping back in the playoff hunt
  • The Cleveland Browns continuing to look like the NFL’s most pathetic team in a loss to the Chicago Bears

Game Balls

Miami Dolphins WR/KR Ted Ginn – Who needs to play offense anyway?  After being demoted from his starting job (too many drops), Ginn made the most of his opportunities on special teams in the Dolphins 30-25 win over the J-E-T-S.  A special returner coming out of Ohio State, the former track star looked like the real deal again.  Ginn helped pick up the Dolphins’ flagging offense by producing two touchdowns on lengthy 3rd quarter kickoff returns of 101 and 100 yards.  Ginn became the first player in NFL history with two touchdowns of 100 yards in the same game and is the eighth player in NFL history with two kick-return touchdowns in a game.  Ginn also became the first player to record two KR-TDs in the same quarter since Green Bay’s Travis Williams in 1967.

Honorable Mention

Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson – “Every Coach’s Dream” was in full affect as the mercurial running back sprinted the Titans to a much-needed 30-13 win over the Jaguars, for their first win of the season. Johnson ran for a franchise-record 228 rushing yards on 24 carries and scored on two long touchdown runs (52 and 89 yards) that displayed his game-breaking speed.

Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre – In the ultimate “In your face” moment of this week, Favre returned to Lambeau with both guns blazing.  The former Packers legend and current Vikings quarterback threw a season-high four touchdown passes and was never even touched in the pocket (zero sacks) as he piled up superb passing numbers: 17-for-28, 244 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs.  Favre also in his 90th win at Lambeau (2nd only to John Elway’s 95 wins at Mile High) tied Dan Marino’s NFL record of 21 career games with at least four TD passes.  Favre’s record since the second half of the 2006 season is 33-10 games (.767 winning percentage), which is amazing considering the guy is 40 years old.   

Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers — And you thought his salary of $1M per week salary was too high (2009 salary of $16M).   Peppers in leading the Panthers to a revenge road win over the Arizona Cardinals had 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 force fumble, and returned an interception for a touchdown.

Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats – This former Eagles running back, who many in Philly thought didn’t have the football smarts to play the game, busted out in a big way this week.  With starter RB Steve Slaton fumbling his way out of the lineup, it was Moats turn to carry the rock in the Texans 31-10 win over the Buffalo Bills.  The small speedy back ran for 126 yards and 3 TDs plus he was able to block when needed and catch the ball, which are two things Moats had trouble with in Philly.  The Texans are now two games over .500 for the first time in franchise history.

Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd – If you don’t know this rookie’s name, you better learn it quick.  Byrd, a second-round pick from Oregon, had two more interceptions in the Bills’ loss to the Texans.  Byrd also tied an NFL record with three straight games of at least two interceptions. Byrd now has 7 INTs in only 8 games and is on pace to break former Bears’ hard-hitting safety Mark Carrier’s NFL rookie record of 10 picks.

Other Honorees: Titans QB Vince Young (was efficient finishing with solid numbers 15 of 18 passes for 125 yards, 1 TD, and ran 12 times for 30 yards in the Titans first win of 2009); Atlanta Falcons RB Michael Turner (rushed 20 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ MNF loss to the Saints); Saints CB Jabari Greer (had a crucial 48-yd interception return for a touchdown in the Saints’ MNF win); St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson (had 149 yards and scored his first touchdown of the season in the Rams’  first win since  October 2008); Eagles FB Leonard Weaver (had a career-high 75 yards rushing yards including a 40-yard touchdown run in the Birds 40-17 win over the G-Men); San Diego Chargers LB Shawne Merriman (registered his first 2 sacks in nearly two years in the Chargers win over the Raiders); Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (scored on a 54-yard touchdown reception in the Eagles’ 40-17 win over Giants.  Became just the second player in NFL history with six touchdowns of 50 + yards in his team’s first seven games of a season – tied HOF Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, LA Rams 1951); Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew (MJD only eight carries  but rushed for 177 yards and two scores 80 and 79 yards in the Jags’ loss to the Titans); Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte (Had 121 yards from scrimmage, including 90 rushing yards, and two touchdowns in the Bears’ win over the Cleveland Browns); Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing (produced 10 tackles, one sack and an interception to end Buffalo’s final drive of the game in the Texans’ 31-10 win over the Bills); Baltimore Ravens CB Lardarius Webb (had three tackles and a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Ravens’ 30-7 win over the Broncos); Carolina Panthers’ two-headed running back combo DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart (the pair thrashed the NFL’s former #1 rushing defense with Williams finishing with 23 carries for 158 yards and Stewart adding 83 yards and 2 TDs).

Lloyd’s Lackey

Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner – In a game that could have shown that the Cardinals were truly back, Warner was awful in a bad home loss to the Carolina Panthers 34-21.  To make matters worse the Cardinals could have gained ground on the Niners and Seahawks, who both lost.  Warner looked like his counterpart QB Jake Delhomme who was awful and frazzled in the Panthers 2008 playoff loss to the Cardinals.   Warner’s final numbers tell the whole story (27/46, 242 YDS, 2 TD, career-high 5 INTs and 1 lost fumble). In all the Cardinals had six turnovers, all committed by Warner.

Dishonorable Mention

The New York Jets – It is so much easier to talk trash and eat hotdogs on the sidelines when you are beating up the hapless Oakland Raiders.  A week after saying they were going to turn the tables on the AFC East rival the Miami Dolphins this time.  The Jets might have suffered their worst loss of the 2009 season, going down at home by a score of 30-25.  Even though the Dolphins had only 104 yards, they scored on special teams (Ted Ginn) and on defense (Jason Taylor’s fumble return for a touchdown) to put the J-E-T-S away.  And embarrassingly Jets LB Bart Scott refused to give the Dolphins credit for beating his team twice this season.  Maybe their upcoming bye week will be the cure that the Jets need as they are 1-4 record in their last five games.

Cleveland Browns QB Derek Anderson – With rumors swirling that the Browns don’t want to pay incentives on backup QB Brady Quinn’s contract, inexplicably the Dawgs have stuck with Anderson.  In another horrible performance in a bad 30-6 loss to the Chicago Bears, Anderson threw for putrid numbers 6/17, 76 YDS, and 2 INTs.  Anderson’s 2009 statistics stand at a passer rating of 40.6 (lowest-rated quarterback in the NFL), 605 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 7 INTs.  Maybe the Browns should put WR/KR Josh Cribbs (former college QB0 as he is the best quarterback on their roster.  Anderson said after the game as a personal policy he doesn’t look at his statistics, because he knows they’re not pretty.”Honestly, they are garbage,” Anderson recently said.   According to STATS LLC, only Ryan Leaf (34.5 in 2000) and Kerry Collins (37.5 in 2006) have started a season more poorly.

Baltimore Ravens WR Derrick Mason — Totally lost his cool in the Ravens win over the Broncos.  Granted he was upset about a bad call by the officials – imagine that…sorry head of officials Mike Pereira – where they missed a defensive holding call. But Mason went too far screaming an official’s face and then slamming his helmet down on the sideline.  Of course he was flagged for his actions for unsportsmanlike conduct, but enough was enough.  Eventually Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had to calm his star receiver down and cooler heads prevailed.

St. Louis Rams safety James Butler – Made a boneheaded move after picking off Lions QB Matthew Stafford.  Butler caught the ball in the endzone ran out then went back into the endzone where Lions RB Kevin Smith tackled him for a safety. Luckily for Butler the gaffe only cost the Rams two points and they won the game anyway for their first win of the season.

Houston Texans RB Steve Slaton – The former 1,000-yard rusher in 2008 lost the ball again (5 lost fumbles in 2009 including one in the win over the Bills) and may have lost his starting job to emerging runner Ryan Moats.

Seattle Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant – Returned from a back surgery for the first time this season and really struggled as he committed 3 Pass Interference penalties.

Week 8

Sunday, November 1

Baltimore Ravens (4-3) over Denver Broncos (6-1), 30-7

Houston Texans (5-3) over Buffalo Bills (3-5), 31-10

Chicago Bears (4-3) over Cleveland Browns (1-6), 30-6

Dallas Cowboys (5-2) over Seattle Seahawks (2-5), 38-17

Miami Dolphins (3-4) over New York Jets (4-4), 30-25

Indianapolis Colts (7-0) over San Francisco 49ers (3-4), 18-14

Philadelphia Eagles (5-2) over New York Giants (5-3), 40-17

St. Louis Rams (1-7) over Detroit Lions (1-6), 17-10

San Diego Chargers (4-3) over Oakland Raiders (2-6), 24-16

Tennessee Titans (1-6) over Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4), 30-13

Minnesota Vikings (7-1) over Green Bay Packers (4-3), 38-26

Carolina Panthers (3-4) over Arizona Cardinals (4-3), 34-21

Sunday, November 2

New Orleans Saints (7-0) over Atlanta Falcons (4-3), 35-27

Byes: Bengals (5-2), Buccaneers (0-7), Chiefs (1-6), Patriots (5-2), Redskins (2-5), Steelers (5-2)

 

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 7 Review

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After a fantastic 189-yard”revengeful” performance against the Chicago Bears, Cincy RB Cedric Benson is Week 7’s  Game Ball winner

I will start with a “Cheerio” this week as the NFL returned to London, England for the third year in a row.  Unfortunately for the NFL’s English fans viewing our version of football, they were not treated to an entertaining game.  The New England Patriots (5-2), led by QB Tom Brady and WR Wes Welker, continued their dominating ways by disposing of the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers 35-7 at sold-out Wembley Stadium — 17 consecutive games against NFC opponents, the longest streak of any team against the other conference since the 1970 merger.  With the 2009 “Own the Moment” season quickly nearing its halfway point, weekly fans are getting more clarity about who are the true “Contenders” and who are the “Pretenders”.  But Week 7 should have been called “Blowout Week” around the NFL as 6 teams lost by 20 points or more and 11 teams won by 10 points or more. 

However despite the ever-increasing number of blowouts in an NFL world where anyone can see the Grand Canyon sized divide between the  “Have’s” and “Have Nots” (after 7 weeks of play there  are three undefeated teams – Colts, Broncos, and Saints and  three winless teams – Rams, Titans, and Bucs) there were a few match-ups that lived up to their hype.  With only two divisional grudges on this week’s slate, the highlight of Week 7 had to be the 8 inter-conference games pitting the AFC and NFC, where conference bragging rights were at stake. After the dust settled it was the AFC, once again, that dominated the NFC with 6 wins and 2 losses.  The AFC’s dominance this week, held true a distinct pattern that we have seen this decade.  Despite the New York Giants winning in 2007, clearly the AFC has picked up their collective games as they have won all but two Super Bowl titles (other NFC title was the Buccaneers in 2002).  The AFC has the Indianapolis Colts led by Robo-Quarterback Peyton Manning seem to win 12 games every year (beat-up on the winless Rams this week), the Patriots who have won 3 Super Bowl titles this decade (thumped the Bucs in London, England) and the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers (ended the Vikings winning streak this week).

Even though two of the three big AFC franchises stumbled early (Steelers and Patriots), you knew they would get back in the race at the top of the NFL and they have so far.  The AFC’s Big 3 is almost always in the mix come playoff time and do not expect anything different this season.  Each team has a quality quarterbacks making timely throws, solid running games providing balance, and attacking defenses who turn turnovers into points.  The Steelers won their 4th straight game, this time disposing of one of the NFC’s two unbeatens (Steelers 27, Vikings 17). The Steelers fueled by their resurging defense – wonder if the return of Troy “The Hair” Polamalu has anything to do with it – bent but didn’t break in their victory that put the first “L” on the Vikings (outgained Pittsburgh 386-259, but only scored 10 Points offensively).  Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s defenders were able to stop Vikings QB Brett Favre (34 of 51, 334 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT), All-World RB Adrian Peterson, emerging receiver Sidney Rice, and the rest Vikes offense deep in Pittsburgh territory when it mattered most – 3 big defensive stands. 

The Steelers were able to turn back Peterson 3 times (from the half-yard line) on a crucial early game goalline stand that left the score 13-10 in favor of the home team.  But the two biggest game-changing plays happened when the 2008 Super Bowl champs needed it most, especially with their offense sputtering at times.  Other a short Peterson touchdown run, there no passing touchdowns and easily the Vikings biggest play was a Percy Harvin 88-yd kickoff return.  Steelers LB LaMarr Woodley’s 77-yard fumble touchdown return after Favre was stripped in the 3rd quarter and LB Keyaron Fox’s 82-yard interception touchdown return of a Favre dump-off pass late in the 4th quarter were the keys in ending any of the venerable quarterback’s comeback magic this week. Favre said after his team’s first loss of 2009, “There were a lot of what ifs, a lot of reasons we didn’t win, the red zone was one of them. (The Steelers) are physical, and they were as good as we thought they’d be”.  The Steelers held Peterson to only 69 rushing yards – 25th straight game without allowing a 100-yard rusher – produced 3 turnovers, and kept Favre out of the endzone for the 1st time this year in the win.

Even in a weekend of AFC dominance, one NFC team continues to “March On” and that is the NFC South leading New Orleans Saints.  The Saints continued the best start in their franchise’s history by beating the Dolphins in a thrilling comeback as they increased their record to 6-0.  Brees and the unbeaten Saints fell behind for the first time all season, then overcame a 21-point deficit Sunday to beat the Dolphins 46-34 (biggest comeback in franchise history). The NFL’s highest-scoring team topped 40 points for the fourth time (most since 1950) and outscored the Dolphins 22-0 in the fourth quarter to seal a crucial road victory.  Brees, who have looked like a miniature version of Johnny Unitas at times this year, had his worst game of the season – 3 INTs, a lost fumble and five sacks — but it didn’t matter as the Saints won again.

Brees this week used his legs rushing for 2 TDs including a crucial quarterback sneak at the end of the first half that cut the score to 24-10 in favor of the Dolphins.  To their credit, the Saints’ staff made the right adjustments at halftime that eventually won them the game.  “It can be a season-defining win,” linebacker Scott Shanle said. “This was a test we hadn’t faced yet, and we couldn’t be happier with the way we responded.”  Brees was not the only hero of the game as their Saints defense produced the stops that allowed their offense to comeback.  After a first half where the “Wildcat” was running wild (for the game, America’s most talked about formation netted 30 yards on 14 plays), the Saints dug in and limited the Dolphins to only 10 second-half points.  The Saints biggest play happened early in the 3rd quarter when Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper (NFL leading 6 INTs) scored on an interception return for the third time this season. The 42-yard INT to the ‘House came after Sharper took a deflected from Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr.

The Saints defense preserved the win for New Orleans finest too as CB Tracy Porter picked off a Chad Henne pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown with just under 2 minutes remaining.  Miami’s RB Ricky Williams, who had 3 TDs, said of the loss the NFC’s best team, “This was our game to win, we fought and we fought. They just fought harder at the end.” Everyone knows that it is too early to make season long assertions right now. But New Orleans has shown week in and week out that they are a tough team with a lot of weapons offensively and defensively.  I can tell you, they have made a believer out of this one-time naysayer.  I cannot wait for the Saints to host the Patriots in Week 12.

Here are some Lloyd’s Leftovers for this week before we go to the awards.

New Colts’ head coach is the real deal — Rookie head coach Jim Caldwell has led the Colts to a 5-0 start this season.  With a Colts win on Sunday against St. Louis Rams, the Colts improved to 6-0 and Caldwell tied the mark for the best start by a rookie head coach since 1970.  Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels already tied the mark on Monday night in the Broncos’ 34-23 victory over the San Diego Chargers.  With wins in Week 8, Caldwell and McDaniels can break a tie with former head coaches Chuck Knox, Red Miller, and Mike Martz.

Titans owner wants to see Vince Young now — Though the hapless Titans were on a bye this week, their owner Bud Adams made it clear he wants Vince Young to replace Kerry Collins now.  Adams, 86, has always been in Young’s corner and may be giving head coach Jeff Fisher a mandate. Fisher would not commit to Collins (completing 54.8 % of passes with 5 TDs and 8 INTs) at his press conference Monday — the first time he’s wavered on the decision all year. Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Young, who counts $14.2M against next year’s salary cap, will get his chance against the Jaguars on Sunday. The third overall pick of the 2006 draft, Young went 18-11 in 29 starts over his first three seasons, but he’s been the backup since suffering a knee injury in the second half of the Sept. 9, 2008 game (2008 season opener) against the Jaguars. “I have been wanting (Fisher) to play Vince Young more because Collins has been having his problems out there,” Adams said. “I just think we need to find out how well (Young) can do.

Tough Injury Loss for the Jets — Mercurial Jets RB Leon Washington broke his leg (fibula) in a blowout win over the Oakland Raiders.  The Jets will probably place Washington on IR and they will need 3 players (rookie Shonn Greene, Brad Smith, and Danny Woodhead) to replace the variety of skills that he offers to the team.  Other key injuries around the NFL were Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (concussion), Steelers DE Travis Kirschke (calf), Redskins TE Chris Cooley (broken foot –season), Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons (high ankle), Colts RB Donald Brown (shoulder), Vikings WR Bernard Berrian (left leg), Saints DT Sedrick Ellis (sprained right knee), Dolphins CB Will Allen (ACL- season),  Niners ILB Takeo Spikes (sprained right shoulder), Colts WR Reggie Wayne (strained groin), Redskins QB Jason Campbell (sprained ankle), Giants TE Kevin Boss (stiff neck), Texans WR Andre Johnson (chest contusion) and Rams CB Bradley Fletcher (torn ligaments in right knee – season).

Nice road ahead for the Arizona Cardinals – After their tough 24-17 win over the NY Giants on Sunday Night Football, the road back to playoffs is a favorable one for Ken Whisenhunt’s team.  Only two of the Cardinals’ 10 remaining games are against teams with winning records. Their next five opponents – Carolina Panthers (2-4), Chicago Panthers (3-3) , Seattle Seahawks (2-4), St. Louis Rams (0-7) and Tennessee Titans (0-7) — are a combined 7-24.

Hey Raiders do you want a re-do on that pick – In his first action since ending his 71-day holdout, Niners first-round WR Michael Crabtree played a ton his team’s close loss to the Houston Texans.  Crabtree was in for 48 of 54 of the Niners’ plays and had five catches for 56 yards in his NFL debut.  Conversely Raiders WR Darius Heyward-Bey (7th overall pick), who was taken three spots ahead of Crabtree by noted need for speed aficionado Al Davis, only has 7 catches for 64 yards and 0 TDs plus at least four drops through 7 games.

Game Balls

Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson – “Revenge” is a dish best served cold and that is exactly what Benson gave the Chicago Bears.  After accusing Bears management (GM Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith) of bad-mouthing him out the door, Benson took matters into his own hands was spectacular in the Bengals surprisingly easy 45-10 win over the reeling Bears.  The former Bears first round pick who was quickly jettisoned after a couple off the field incidents, regained his lead in the NFL rushing title race with a career-high 189 yards  on 37 carries and 1 TD.  The former University of Texas star seems on a Pro Bowl pace right now as he has rushing stats 164 carries for 720 yards (4.4 ypc) and 5 TDs.

Honorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo — The Cowboys (4-2) continued their climb back in the NFC East divisional race with a dominating 37-21 home win over the Falcons – second straight win.  The main cog of the Cowboys’ offense was spectacular completing 21-of-29 passes for 311 yards and 3 TDs plus he added 31 yards on the ground.  Romo also seems to have his T.O replacement in emerging receiver Miles Austin.

Dallas Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware — The Cowboys defensive menace recorded two sacks Sunday in the ‘Boys win over the Falcons and now has 4 sacks for the season.  Ware finally seems comfortable rushing the passer again and the Cowboys rewarded his hard work by giving him a new six-year deal including $40M in guaranteed money.  The 6-4, 262-pound three-time Pro Bowl linebacker now has 57.5 quarterback sacks for his career.

Cincinnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer – While everyone was talking about the effort of RB Cedric Benson, Palmer “quietly” show that he is getting back to his old form in a big win over the Bears.  Palmer was pinpoint as he completed 20-of-24 passes for 233 yards and 5 TDs.

New England Patriots FS Brandon Meriweather – The former product of the “U” had two interceptions across the pond, including returning one for a touchdown in the Patriots’ 35-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pittsburgh Steelers LT Max Starks — The Steelers strong tackle is finally meriting his big salary.  Starks held Vikings Pro Bowl DE Jared Allen to just one tackle and no sacks in the Steelers win over the Vikings.  Starks and his O-line mate also helped the Steelers produce a 5.3 YPC average in the running game.

SF 49ers QB Alex Smith – It was remember me time as the former first overall pick from 2005 shine after replacing starter Shaun Hill at halftime.  Smith responded by completing 15-of-22 passes for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns (all to emerging TE Vernon Davis) plus rallied the Niners from 21 points down.  Unfortunately the Niners came up short losing to the Houston Texans by a score 24-21.

Other Honorees: Steelers linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Keyaron Fox (scored 4th quarter touchdowns to drive the Steelers over the Vikings); Buffalo Bills Safety Jairus Byrd (two interceptions spurred the Bills to a surprising road win over the Panthers); New Orleans Saints PK John Carney (became the fourth NFL player to score 2,000 points in his career); Dallas Cowboys WR Miles Austin (showed that his 250-yard breakout at Kansas City in Week 5 was no fluke, by producing 171 yards and 2 TDs in the Cowboys win over the Falcons); Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb (reached career milestones 30,000 yards passing and 200 career touchdown passes in the Eagles win over the Redskins);Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (caught only two passes but had 69 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ 27-17 win over the Redskins.  Jackson also ran for a 67-yard touchdown and scored both Eagles’ offensive touchdowns); The NY Jets RB’s (led by rookie Shonn Greene’s 144 yards and 2 TDs, the Jets RB’s became the first NFL team since 1975 – Buffalo Bills — to rush for 300 yards in back-to-back games).

 Lloyd’s Lackey

Kansas City Chiefs RB Larry Johnson — Things just went from bad to worse for LJ in Kansas City.  The two- time NFL rushing leader and former workhorse has definitely slowed down since his heyday of about 4 to 5 years ago.  Time, off the field problems, and injuries have definitely caught up with him (30 on Nov. 19th). But the bigger story is that after another pedestrian effort (16 rushes for 49 yards with a long of 9 yards) on Sunday in a 37-7 loss to the Chargers, Johnson got on the offensive via Twitter against Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. Here are some of his excerpts: “my father got more credentials than most these pro coaches….google my father!!!”; “My father played for the coach from “remember the titans”. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefly. Our coach. Nuthn”.  It is never a good idea to jump-on your head coach, but then LJ decided to call some reporters a bad word for homosexuals and Tweeted much more. Now NFL spokesman Greg Aiello revealed that the league is investigating LJ’s recent tirade on Twitter.  Plus the team basically told the volatile runner that he cannot practice and is not at their complex.  I don’t think it will be long before LJ is on the free agent running back scrap heap with older RB’s Warrick Dunn and Shaun Alexander. 

Dishonorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys WR Roy Williams – The former Detroit Lions first rounder returned to the line-up in Week 7 (rib injury) and produced 1 catch along with several drops.  Williams just doesn’t seem like he will ever live-up to the amount the Cowboys traded for him and now Miles Austin is clearly the team’s No. 1 receiver.  Williams has just 12 catches on 30 targets (40% catch rate) this season and looks like he is a colossal bust.

Oakland Raiders DE Richard Seymour – Predicted his team would make the playoffs after their “lucky’ win over the Philadelphia Eagles last week.  And the Raiders responded by getting shutout 35-0 by the NY Jets.

NY Jets QB Mark Sanchez – I know it was a snooze fest in a dominating 38-0 win over the Raiders, but did you really have to eat a hot dog with mustard on the sidelines.

Minnesota Vikings FB/TE Jeff Dugan – Unnecessarily ran down NFL Back Judge Richard Reels on Percy Harvin’s Kickoff for a touchdown in the 4th Quarter of the Steelers’ win.  Also Dugan had a bad tripping penalty near the goalline that negated a Brett Favre touchdown pass.

NY Giants rookie OT William Beatty – Playing in place of starter Kareem McKenzie (ended Giants O-line’s 38 consecutive starts streak), head coach Tom Coughlin gave Beatty mixed reviews.  The youngster from UConn was beat off the edge by Cardinals OLB Clark Haggans for a sack and also had a bad false-start penalty late in the fourth quarter.

Panthers QB Jake Delhomme – Was terrible in Carolina’s 20-9 home loss to the Buffalo Bills as he threw more 3 interceptions.  The former Super Bowl starter is now on pace to throw a mind-boggling 35 interceptions and has 13 INTs for the season.  The NFL’s 32nd rated passer may soon be watching one of his former backups (AJ Feeley or Matt Moore) playing. 

Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell – Returned to his pitiful ways in a horrible loss to the NY Jets.  Russell had 2 INTs, 1 lost fumble, and was benched for journeyman QB Bruce Gradkowski.

Chicago Bears DT Tommie Harris – Inactive for lack of effort in practices and for overall being in head coach Lovie Smith’s doghouse.  The former Bears defensive leader was told he was not need this week and he may soon be looking for another team despite his huge contract.

NFL Week 7

SUN, OCT 25 

Bengals (5-2) over Bears (3-3), 45-10

Bills (3-4) over Panthers (2-4), 20-9

Cardinals (4-2) over Giants (5-2), 24-17

Chargers (3-3) over Chiefs (1-6), 37-7

Colts (6-0) over Rams (0-7), 42-6

Cowboys (4-2) over Falcons (4-2), 37-21

Jets (4-3) over Raiders (2-5), 38-0

Packers (4-2) over Browns (1-6), 31-3

Patriots (5-2) over Buccaneers (0-7), 35-7

Saints (6-0) over Dolphins (2-4), 46-34

Steelers (5-2) over Vikings (6-1), 27-17

Texans (4-3) over 49ers (3-3), 24-21

MON, OCT 26

Eagles (4-2) over Redskins (2-5), 27-17

Byes: Broncos (6-0), Jaguars (3-3), Lions (1-5), Ravens (3-3), Seahawks (2-4), Titans (0-6) 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award -winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Season – Week 4 Review

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Colts QB Peyton Manning gets my Game Ball for Week 4 of the 2009 NFL season after leading the Colts over the Seahawks

One quarter of the 2009 NFL’s “Own the Moment” season is already in the books with the recent close of Week 4 around the league.  Before we start recapping Week 4’s action on the field, I have to commend the NFL for their great work this week in supporting the fight against breast cancer with their “Crucial Catch” campaign.  As someone whose family has been personally affected by the disease, it is great to see the NFL getting involved in trying to find a cure.  There was a “pink” everywhere in NFL stadiums including NFL coaches’ hats, fan jerseys, goalpost pads and ribbons on NFL personnel — even Michael Irvin on NFL Network wore a pink tie and ribbon.  Plus there was a Public Service Awareness piece by Fergie from the Blackeyed Peas on early screenings and “tough” NFL players thumbed their nose at stereotypes by wearing pink uniform attire including Saints QB Drew Brees, Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson, Vikings QB Brett Favre, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco and others. 

 I can totally understand why NFL fans are flocking to TV’s everywhere as the storylines are plentiful around the league.  Last week NFL games topped the local ratings in 26 markets, beating several premieres on the networks including ABC’s Dancing with the Stars (ranked #2).  Week4 was another exciting week filled with Revenge (Brett Favre looked like his old MVP self in leading the Vikings over the Packers), “Normalcy” (Peyton Manning throws for over 300 yards in another victory, Steelers pounding their running game to a win over the Chargers  and the Giants steamrolling the hapless Chiefs), “Surprises” (Jaguars easily knocking the Titans into the 0-4 abyss and the upstart Broncos fighting off the Cowboys), and “Heartbreakers” (NY Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez playing like a rookie in a tough loss to the Saints, Jim Zorn Haters going home unhappy as the Redskins squeaked out a 16-13 win over the winless Bucs  and the poor Browns losing in the last seconds of overtime to the promising Bengals).

The game everyone wanted to see, Brett Favre’s long awaited showdown with the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football didn’t disappoint.  The NFL and ESPN’s leading man turned back the clock – defying his impending 40th Birthday on October 10th – and showed the league and more importantly Packers GM Ted Thompson that he still has some fire left in his basement in a 30-23 victory.  Favre continually said leading up to the game that one game was not going to define his career and that he was not out for “revenge”, but who was the old graybeard passer trying to kid.  You know Favre felt great as he produced three touchdown passes and 271 yards while completing 24 for 31 passes, without a turnover. Of course everyone will “paint” the MNF game’s picture as Favre, Favre, and more Favre, but it was a total team effort by the ascending Vikings (4-0).  The Vikes battered Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (passing numbers: 26-37, 384 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT), sacking him eight times, causing an interception and forcing a fumble.  The main disruptor for the Vikings improving defense was DE Jared Allen, who produced a career-high 4 1/2 sacks and a safety in the fourth quarter.  The night was magical for Favre and Vikings, but everyone – especially ESPN – better remember there are 12 more games to be played and Super Bowl XLIV in February is a long ways away.

Some Lloyd’s Leftovers from Week 4 include:

NFL needs to stop protecting Brady — As soon as the “Brady Rule” was on the books this spring, you knew there would be a game situation that highlighted the ambiguity (at the referees discretion) and overall ridiculousness of it.  It had to be fate as the Patriots-Ravens game this past Sunday was the model for the misinterpretation of the rule that basically makes NFL quarterbacks into China dolls and of course Tom Brady was the “victim”.  In the Patriots 27-21 win over the Ravens, the NFL officiating crew led by referee Ron Winter called two ridiculous personal fouls against the Ravens that of course extended Patriots’ scoring drives.  The two calls amplified the NFL’s continuing “sissy-fication” of the game and further fueled the debate that the league cares more about their million-dollar passers than any other position.  After the game, the Ravens players could not hold their tongues.   “Without totally going off the wall here, it is embarrassing to the game,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “Brady is good enough to make his own plays, let him make the play. When you have two great teams that are going at it, let them go at it. Both of their touchdown drives had personal fouls that kept drives alive. Did that win or lose the game? No, but it got them 14 points.”  I could not agree more with the Ravens as the NFL that I grew up watching in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s was a league where a quarterback put his shoulder pads and helmet on like everyone else, so he was rightfully fair game.  As former Eagles head coach Buddy Ryan used to say, “They should just put flags on the quarterbacks and get it over with”.  On NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Brady’s former teammate Rodney Harrison jokingly told Brady, “Take off the skirt and put on a pair of pants”.

The Indianapolis Colts are machines – Despite everyone including yours truly predicting a lower than expectations season, the Colts just keep marching on as they won their 13th straight regular season game in a 34-17 victory over Seattle on Sunday.  The AFC South leading Colts , who are off to a 4-0 start this season, extended their NFL record for most 4-0 starts to five (started back in 2000). The way the Colts and their quarterback Peyton Manning dominated the Seahawks made their head coach Jim Mora say, “We played greatness today. (Manning) is one of the finest of all times.”.

Two rookie head coaches are undefeated  – Jim Caldwell ( Indianapolis Colts) and Josh McDaniels  (Denver Broncos) with  their respective wins over the Seahawks and Cowboys both have led their teams to 4-0 starts.  This is only the second time in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) that two rookie head coaches have guided their teams to 4-0 starts in the same season.  The last pair were former NY Jets head coach Al Groh and former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz back in 2000.

Redskins pull their coach from the fire, for this week – After an embarrassing 19-14 loss to the formerly winless Detroit Lions (ended their 19-game losing streak) last week, the Washington Redskins and their head coach Jim Zorn could ill-afford to look bad against the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week.  With the Redskins-Lions game ending play of a terrible ill-fated hook-and-lateral play fresh in their minds, Redskins’ fans were ready to let the team have it and they did.  The boo-birds were out early and often against the Buccaneers as the Redskins were putrid in the first half  producing 3 punts, 3 turnovers (fumble and 2 INTs), one missed field goal and losing by a score of 10-0.  By all accounts it looked like many Zorn haters would be putting back on their Burgundy-and-Gold colors after the former Seahawks assistant was let go with another embarrassing loss  seeming to be close at hand.  But a funny thing happened on the way to Zorn’s firing, the Redskins woke-up.  The Redskins, fueled by a DeAngelo Hall interception and a Jason Campbell to Santana Moss 59-yard touchdown bomb,  stormed back scoring sixteen unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to defeat the Bucs by a score 16-13 and thus saving Zorn’s hide for another week. 

However as satisfying as the “ugly” win may have been for Zorn, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder may still be lurking to give him the boot.  The Redskins still don’t have any offensive continuity and have been held to fewer than 20 points in 11 of the last 12 games.  Plus  running back and team leader – for better or worse – Clinton Portis is not happy about the play calling and his role on the team as the former Pro Bowl back is still searching for his first 100-yard game of 2009.  For Zorn’s sake, the Redskins better take care of the business against the lowly Carolina Panthers (0-4) and Kansas City Chiefs (0-4)  in the next two weeks as they have a big divisional showdown looming against the Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) in Week 7. Struggling Redskins QB Jason Campbell (passing numbers: 12-22, 54.5%,  170 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs) said of his team’s halftime wake-up call, “At halftime, I was like, if we don’t pull this one out, I don’t know what I’m going to do on Monday. I might as well hibernate.”

Injuries still a factor around NFL — The scariest moment of this week’s action occurred when Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jared Gaither suffered a head and neck injury while blocking a defender in the Ravens loss to the Patriots.  Gaither had to be removed on a backboard, which brought back painful memories of NFL players who suffered serious injuries on the field  like former Lions O-lineman Mike Utley.  Thankfully Gaither was quickly tended to and head/neck tests at the hospital came back negative.  The big former University of Maryland road grader might even miraculously be back on the field in the Ravens’ next game against the Bengals . Other injuries of note happened to NY Giants QB Eli Manning (Plantar fasciitis), Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford (possible dislocated kneecap), Raiders RB Darren McFadden (knee), Baltimore Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (tore his left quad), New York Giants LB Michael Boley (knee sprain), Bears WR Devin Hester (shoulder) and Bears WR/KR Johnny Knox (shin)

Game Balls

Colts QB Peyton Manning – “Robo-Quarterback”, as I like to call him,  was at his best in the Colts 34-17 victory over the Seahawks.  Manning, while making household names of young receivers Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, produced his 4th straight game of 300- yards plus passing  – first time in his storied 12-year NFL career that he accomplished the feat.  The 3-time MVP definitely is trying to outdo his little brother, NY Giants QB Eli,  who also is playing at a high level thus fueling speculation of an all-Manning Super Bowl.  The older Manning finished with passing numbers 31 of 41 for 353 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in the win.  Manning also tied Fran Tarkenton for No. 3 on the NFL’s career passing touchdowns list with 342 and now only trails Dan Marino (420) and Brett Favre (472).

Honorable Mention

Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard – Despite playing in front of 18,000 empty seats, Garrard found his rhythm for the second week in a row.  In a 37-17 dismantling of the Texans, Garrard threw for passing numbers 27-37, 323 yds, and 3 TDs  323 yards and 0 INTs. I wonder how Jags head coach Jack Del Rio will motivate Garrard this week as last week he put the kibosh on their quarterback’s radio show.  Next up for Garrard and the Jags are the struggling Seahawks (1-3) and Rams (0-4).

New York Giants WR Steve Smith – Who needs Plaxico?  Eli’s new favorite target  posted a career-high 11 receptions for 134 yards and 2 TDs in the Giants’ 27-16 win over Kansas City.  Smith has 34 receptions through Week 4, the most receptions through the first four games of a season in Giants’ history.

Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall — Let’s not kid ourselves, the Broncos would be “crazy”  to get rid of Marshall even if he is a pain.  When average QB Kyle Orton and the Broncos needed him most, Marshall responded with the play of the game against the Cowboys.  Late in the 4th quarter, Marshall catch a Kyle Orton jump ball pass over Cowboys CB Terrence Newman and weaved his way to a  spectacular 51-yard game-winning  touchdown. 

New England Patriots WR Randy Moss —  The future hall of famer posted his first touchdown of the season in the Patriots’ 27-21 win over Baltimore.  Moss’ 14-yard touchdown catch gave him 137 career touchdowns and now ranks sixth all-time for the most career TDs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Aqib Talib – The often misunderstood tough corner came to play this week for the Bucs against the Redskins.  In the Bucs’ 16-13 loss to the Skins, Talib produced 3 INTs against quarterback Jason Campbell.

Other HonoreesChicago Bears QB  Jay Cutler (Made like John Elway on a memorable helicopter dive for a touchdown in a win over the Detroit Lions); Niners QB Shaun Hill (was solid in the Niners’ blowout win over the Rams, pushing his record as a starter to 10-4); Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown (rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-10 win over the Bills); New Orleans Saints DB Darren Sharper (had two INTs and  returned one a club-record 99 yards for touchdown in the Saints win over the NY Jets); Houston Texans Defense (allowed only 165 yards of offense in their 29-6 victory over the Raiders, which was the Texans defense’s best performance since 2004); Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall (after being benched last week, the former first rounder ran for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a SNF win over the Chargers); Dolphins OLB Cameron Wake (The former All-CFL star was activated this week and produced six tackles and  3.0 sacks  while subbing for Joey Porter); Vikings WR Sidney Rice (Special teamer of the week as he snagged two onside kicks – looked like Charles Barkley grabbing a rebound — to seal the Vikes win over the Packers).

Lloyd’s Lackey

New York Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez – Welcome to the NFL rookie!!  After three weeks on a magic carpet ride, Sanchez found out that in the NFL, teams will quickly figure you out.  Sanchez completed only 14 of 27 passes for 138 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs in the Jets 24-10 loss to the Saints.  New Orleans frustrated and confused the young passer as he turned the ball over four times.  Sanchez directly contributed two touchdowns for the Saints — one on Saints’ safety Darren Sharper’s 99- yard interception touchdown return and the other on a sack/fumble in the endzone.  Maybe now everyone including Jets head coach Rex Ryan will back off the “Sanchize” talk, as in he is the franchise.  As the first rounder from USC (only 16 college starts) has a lot to learn in the “Big Boy” NFL.

Dishonorable Mention

Tennessee Titans QB Kerry Collins – Hey Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, “Put in Vince Young already”.  Your team is off to a horrible 0-4 start and Collins along with your terrible secondary are the main culprits.  Collins was back to his old New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders form as he produced numbers of 29-48, 284 yds, 1 TD, and 2 INTs in the Titans embarrassing 37-17 loss to the Jags.  Collins has four turnovers in the last two games and is playing like the “journeyman” that he has always been.  Put in the 2006 NFL Rookie of the Year, who might provide a spark to a team looking for a soft place to fold right now.

CBS Analyst and former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon – I guess somewhere Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was feeling Gannon’s pain regarding overtime rules. Gannon commentating on CBS for the Bengals-Browns game got confused about when an NFL overtime game is completed.  Right before Bengals kicker Shayne Graham attempted the potential game- winning field goal with seven seconds left in overtime (made it), Gannon wondered on air about whether the Bengals might be leaving too much time left for a big kickoff return by Browns Pro Bowler Josh Cribbs.  Luckily for Gannon,  play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle corrected him and they both had a good chuckle over the former Raiders quarterback’s gaffe.

Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden – Boy was I wrong about this guy after he came out in the draft in 2008.  Instead of being the next Adrian Peterson, McFadden is looking like colossal draft bust Kijana Carter right now.  Maybe it is the play of inconsistent QB JaMarcus Russell or the Raiders banged-up O-line, but McFadden needs to do more.  Facing formerly the NFL’s weakest rush defense (Houston Texans), McFadden produced minus-3 yards on six rushing attempts.  He also will miss 2 to 4 weeks with a knee injury that requires surgery.  For the season McFadden only has produced 145 yards on 47 carries (3.1 ypc) and only 1 TD.

Cleveland Browns WR Braylon Edwards – It wasn’t that long ago that Edwards was talking about holding out and that he wanted to be traded out of Cleveland.  Well after another terrible game, Edwards may one get his wish as several fans probably want drive him to the airport.  Edwards had zero catches and a committed a bad personal foul penalty ( negated a good rushing gain) in the loss Browns 23-20 overtime loss to the Bengals.  The former first rounder has not looked nothing like a No. 1 receiver this season and only has only has 10 catches for 139 yards and 0 TDs.  Did I also mention that he allegedly got in an altercation with a club promoter arguing over LeBron James too this week.

Week 4

Patriots 27, Ravens 21

Bears 48, Lions 24

Colts 34, Seahawks 17

Giants 27, Chiefs 16

Redskins 16, Bucs 13

Bengals 23, Browns 20

Jaguars 37, Titans 17

Texans 29, Raiders 6

Saints 24, Jets 10

Dolphins 38, Bills 10

Broncos 17, Cowboys 10

49ers 35, Rams 0

Steelers 38, Chargers 28

Vikings 30, Packers 23

Bye Week Teams: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Arizona, Carolina

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

2009 NFL Review – Week 2

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Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo is Lloyd’s Lackey for Week 2 of the 2009 NFL Season

Week 2 of the 2009 NFL season came and went without the fanfare and glitz Week 1– except in Dallas  But this week in the NFL season showed that every year is a new opportunity to rise or fall quickly in the parity laden league.  There were upsets (Bengals over the Packers in Lambeau and Texans over the Titans), a possible changing of the guard in two divisions (Niners over the Seahawks and the Jets knocking off the Patriots), rebounds (Bears over the Steelers, Cardinals over the Jaguars, Bills over the Bucs and Raiders over the Chiefs), offensive explosions (Saints QB Drew Brews, Titans RB Chris Johnson, Niners RB Frank Gore, Texans WR Andre Johnson and others)  and bad teams getting worse (Redskins over the Rams,  Broncos over the Browns, and Vikings over the Lions).

 The biggest story of the week had to be the grand opening of Jerry Jones’ new football palace called “Cowboys Stadium”.  An NFL record 105,000 + crowd came to see the Cowboys against division rival the New York Giants, but the stadium was the real story.  The truly first class stadium is state of the art including mega scoreboards, huge concourses, pedestal dancers, and any other amenity that $1.1 Billion dollars can buy you.  The pregame ceremony was right out of a Hollywood script including former President George W. Bush proving the pre-game coin toss and a video placing Cowboys stadium in the class of the Taj Mahal and The Coliseum in Rome.

Unfortunately Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (see Lloyd’s Lackey) was not up to par and stunk up Jones’ new play pen again and again in a close 33-31 loss.  Despite Dallas pounding out 251 yards on the ground against the Giants’ vaunted defense  — final rushing numbers 251 yards rushing on 29 carries (an 8.7-yard average) and three touchdowns – Romo floated passes that ended up in the other team’s hands and made bad decisions at inopportune moments.  The Cowboys turned over the ball four times, including three interceptions thrown by Romo that led to 24 points for the Giants. The last time the Cowboys opened a new stadium in 1971 (Texas Stadium), they won the Super Bowl, but is anyone ready to step out on that limb…not just yet. 

An interesting stat is that at the end of Week 2, is that the middle of the NFL keeps increasing as there are 9 teams at (2-0), 9 teams at (0-2) and a glut of 14 teams at (1-1) showing that parity is indeed alive in the “Any Given Sunday” NFL. For the 23 teams that are either 1-1 or 0-2, there is still good news and their fans need to keep their feet still on their teams bandwagons.  Being 1-1 or 0-2 after the first two weeks of the season is not a death sentence as since 2002, 48 of 84, a percentage of 57.1%, teams made the playoffs after starting at those marks.  In fact, four of the past eight Super Bowl champions began their seasons with a 1-1 or 0-2 record, including the 2007 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, who started last season at 0-2.  Remember last year the Bills were (2-0) and the Dolphins were (0-2) and we know how those two teams finished in the AFC East.

Though it is still too early to start formulating long-term season assumptions based on a couple of games, here are some interesting news/notes/trends at this time.

The Jets Back It Up – When Jets head coach Rex Ryan was a youngster learning at the foot of his legendary defensive guru father Buddy Ryan, he really listened to his Dad’s ability to “Back It Up”.  After a week where Ryan said, “I didn’t come here to kiss (Patriots coach) Bill Belichick’s rings. I came here to win”. The Jets snapped an 8-game home losing streak to the Patriots with their 16-9 road win. Ryan’s defense was suffocating as the Patriots never scored a touchdown and were limited to three field goals – no offensive touchdowns allowed in first two games of the season, first team since 2006.  Though Patriots QB Tom Brady was not sacked, the Jets continued to put pressure on him again and again.  The Jets had many heroes, but biggest props should go to CB Darrelle Revis — shutdown Patriots WR Randy Moss (four receptions for 24 yards) – and rookie QB Mark Sanchez (14 of 22 for 163 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT) who was cool against the veteran Pats’ defense.  “I just tried to be physical with him at the line,” said Revis.  BTW:  Did you happen to catch the “chilly” postgame handshake between Ryan and Bill Belichick.

1972 Dolphins must be feeling good – There are currently only 9 unblemished teams in the NFL with a record of (2-0) including 2008 playoff teams Colts, Giants, Vikings, Ravens, and Falcons.  This cast of usual winners has been joined by the surprising San Francisco 49ers (continued out-physicalling the rest of  the NFC West led by their defense and RB Frank Gore), New Orleans Saints (outscoring the league behind record setting QB Drew Brees), Denver Broncos (rookie head coach Josh McDaniels’ team is getting the job done, but who have they beaten), and the New York Jets (Brash group of youngsters is following their head coach Rex Ryan with a “take no prisoners” mentality).  Though the unbeatens all have good stories, I don’t think any of them will come close to not losing 2 or more games.

The NFL Season is Survival of the Fittest-. Unfortunately every week in the NFL an important aspect is which teams can avoid injuries.  Tthis week’s biggest stories was the fractured rib injury that Seahawks  quarterback Matt Hasselbeck suffered after LB Patrick Willis nailed him in the Hawks’ loss to the upstart SF 49ers. We will have to see if Hasselbeck is able to get back on the field as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has a similar injury and is not expected back until Week 5.  Other major injuries Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (ankle), Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (groin), Falcons rookie DT Peria Jerry (knee – season), Eagles CB Asante Samuel (stinger), Packers OT LT Chad Clifton (ankle), Bucs S Jermaine Phillips (broken thumb), Bills RT Brad Butler ( knee – season), RG  Randy Thomas (torn right triceps – season), and Raiders OG Robert Gallery (broken leg – season)

The Wildcat still around – With the Dolphins gaining 239 yards rushing in the MNF loss, including 107 out of the Wildcat.The 2008 breakout formation is still the “talk” of the NFL after it’s 1-year anniversary.  But Defensive coordinators maybe catching on as they are preaching that unless the guy taking the snap (Wildcat QB) can throw then “sellout” on stopping the run – Ravens were the first team to totally shut it down in the playoffs against the Dolphins.  The Philadelphia Eagles had okay success with the Wildcat in their loss against New Orleans as Jackson, Westbrook, and rookie Jeremy Maclin only gained 45 yards on nine plays out of the Wildcat.  I have to agree with ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski that the Wildcat is fun, but in the end the NFL is a passing league first.  Jaws said, “I love the Wildcat. It’s great. I’m glad Dolphins QB Coach (David) Lee is up there working all the plays. Maybe he can give them to the college coaches, because that’s where they work. At the NFL level you must have a quarterback that plays from the pocket.”  We will see if Eagles backup QB Michael Vick can open some eyes as a dual-threat Wildcat QB this upcoming week when he returns from suspension against the Chiefs.

Titans not the same without Haynesworth — Titans DBs Cortland Finnegan, Michael Griffin and Chris Hope all went to their first Pro Bowl  last season as the Titans picked off 19 passes and allowed only 12 TD passes, second in the NFL.  But after losing high-priced free agent DT Albert Haynesworth to the Redskins – collapsed the pocket and caused defensive pressure – the Titans secondary  has struggled .  The once mighty Titans have gone 0-2  to start the season and are ranked dead last in the NFL in pass defense (339 ypg). Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub had a field day in the Texans’ 34-31 upset win over the Titans in Nasvhille,  throwing for 357 yards and four TDs.  Conversely, the Redskins with Haynesworth have improved ( allowed 183.5  passing yards per game —  tied for 10th in the NFL).

Who needs Plaxico Burress? – In the Giants’ big win in Big D, Mario Manningham (10 receptions for a career-high 150 yards, including his 22-yard TD) and Steve Smith (10 receptions for 134 yards, and his own 22-yard TD) were spectacular. The underrated duo — combined for 20 receptions for 284 yards and two touchdowns — seems to have finally crawled out from the huge shadow of Plaxico Burress (former playmaker just started a 2-year jail sentence) and now look like reliable targets for improving quarterback Eli Manning.  Conversely the Cowboys’ receiving corps of  Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd produced only reception a piece.

Two Future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks Break Records — Colts QB Peyton Manning, playing in front of his special guest Tiger Woods, broke the Colts all-time record for most wins by a starting quarterback (119) in Colts comeback 27-23 victory over the Dolphins.  Manning said of the accomplishment, “I don’t feel comfortable with these comparisons to Unitas.” Manning added, “But I’m very proud to wear the same uniform as Johnny Unitas. He was a real winner.”  Manning’s biggest plays were down the stretch including a 48-yard game-winning touchdown throw to emerging WR Pierre Garcon with 3:18 minutes left in the game.  Manning (14-23, 303 yards, and 2 TDs) was joined in the record books by Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, who set the NFL’s all-time record for consecutive games played by any player (285 consecutive games) breaking Vikings DL Jim Marshall’s record in a dominating 27-13 win over the Lions.  Favre — who turns 40 in October — completing 23 of 27 for 155 yards and 2 TDs. y enough to play that long.

Quick Lloyd’s Leftover

What in the world happened to the Steelers vaunted running game that has been a staple of the six-time Super Bowl winner since the 1970s.   This season, Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has shelved the running game in favor of passing the ball.  The Steelers have run 45 times and tried to pass on 84 occasions (including six sacks) in two low-scoring games decided by three points.  With their record standing at 1-1 and a tough game coming up at the Bengals, you have to wonder if Arians will have RBs Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, and Mewelde Moore running more.

Games Balls

Baltimore Ravens LB Ray Lewis – The stories of Lewis’ demise over the years has been greatly exaggerated.  When the Ravens needed a big play to close out the Chargers, it was the future Hall of Fame linebacker who answered the call. On fourth-and-two in the final minutes and the Ravens protecting a 31-26 lead back up against their 15-yard line.   The Chargers ran little tank RB Darren Sproles,  but before Chargers  OG Kris Dielman could pull, Lewis blasted through the line to stop Sproles for a four-yard loss.   Lewis (34) finished the game with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.  NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said of the play, “The greatest play of Ray Lewis’ career”.

Honorable Mention

Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner – In turning back the clock, the Cardinals 38-year old pass set an NFL record with a 92.3 completion percentage in the Cardinals’ 31-17 win over the Jaguars. Warner completed his first 15 passes and finished with passing numbers 24-26, 243 yards, 2 TDs and a 131.2 passer rating. The previous record was surprisingly set by Cleveland Browns former QB  Vinny Testaverde (21 of 23 —  91.3%) in 1993 game against the Los Angeles Rams.  One of Warner’s incompletions was an admitted blown route by WR Anquan Boldin.  Warner said of the effort, “I’ve had days where I felt like this before… The NFC Championship Game last year. The Super Bowl. Those weren’t as accurate, but I felt like I was going to complete every ball. This was one of those days where you see things so quickly and feel comfortable about making the decisions so quickly”.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees  — For second week in a row, the 2008 NFL offensive player of the year receives a game ball.  Brees threw three touchdowns passes in the Saints’ 48-22 lopsided win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The former Purdue star now has nine touchdown passes through Week 2, which ties him with former St. Louis Cardinals QB Charley Johnson (1965) for the most TD passes through the first two games of a season. The Saints topped the 40-point mark for the second consecutive week – has not been done since the 1968 Oakland Raiders – and Breess dealt with the Eagles blitz as he finished with numbers 25-34, 311 yards, and 3 TDs.

Cincinnati Bengals DE Antwan Odom – Who would have thought after the Bengals starred on HBO’s Hard Knocks that a little known defensive end would their leading player through 2 weeks.  Going into the 2009 season Odom had had only 15.5 sacks in 60 NFL games, but look who is now the NFL’s most feared sackman. Odom currently leads the NFL with 7 sacks and he was amazing in the Bengals upset win over the Packers.  Odom produced  7 TKLs, 5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss in the 31-24 win.

Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson – One of the fastest men in the NFL became the first player in NFL history to record a 90-plus yard rushing touchdown (91), 50-plus yard rushing touchdown (57), and 60-plus yard receiving touchdown (69) in a game.  Unfortunately Johnson’s efforts did not lead to a victory as the Texans surprised them 34-31.  Johnson had 284 yards from scrimmage on 25 touches (16 carries for 197 yards rushing, nine catches for 87 yards).

San Francisco 49ers LB Frank Gore – What a game for Niners offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye’s main weapon.  Gore ran for 207 yards on only 16 carries (246 total yards) and displayed a tremendous burst on a pair of long touchdowns. After rushing 79 yards for a first-quarter score, Gore took the opening handoff of the second half and sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown in the 49ers’ 23-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks. Gore is the first player since Barry Sanders on Oct. 12, 1997 to record two rushing touchdowns of 75-plus yards in a single game.

 Others standouts —  Houston Texans WR Andre Johnson (Totaled 10 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the Texans’ 34-31 win over the Tennessee Titans); NY Giants QB Eli Manning (Came of age in a big win over the Cowboys throwing for numbers 25-38, 330 yards, two touchdowns); Colts TE/HB Dallas Clark (Took the first pass of the MNF game 80 yards for a touchdown and  finished with seven receptions for 183 yards – the 4th highest total for a tight end in NFL history); Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson (Rushed 29 times for 141 yards (a 4.9-yard average); Redskins safety Chris Horton (knocked away the Rams’ potential game-winner and produced a forced fumble in the Skins ugly 9-7 win)

Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo – America’s sweetheart passer was terrible in the opening of Dallas Cowboys Stadium.  Romo struggled (13 of 29 for 127 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions) and squandered 251 rusing yards by the Cowboys running backs.  T.O’s best buddy did have a rushing touchdown, but too often when the Cowboys were deep in Giants territory, Romo found a way to not get points.  “It’s frustrating, I’m really, really disappointed in myself right now ” said Romo, who entered the game as the NFL ‘s highest rated passer.  Romo’s rating for the night was 29.6 passer rating which was more than a 100 points lower than a season-opening 140.6 rating in Week 1.   Maybe Jessica Simpson was somewhere with a voodoo doll.

Dishonorable Mention

Dallas Cowboys OT Flozell Adams — Giants DE Justin Tuck was rightfully angry with Adams after being tripped in the second quarter of New York’s 33-31 win on Sunday night.  Tuck said Adams’ trip, extended his leg after being beat by Tuck, was “bush league.” Tuck hurt his shoulder on the play and did not return to the game.  Tuck later said, “It was bush league, He did it a few times, and they (the officials) only called one.”  Adams was tried to downplay the incident when asked by AOL FanHouse, saying “I didn’t see nothing,” told the site. “Did you see something?”

Cleveland Browns head coach Eric Mangini – Little Belichick without the resume is now 0-2 after an embarassing 27-6 loss to the Broncos and his team is one of the NFL’s worst.  It was also learned this week that Mangini had fined a player $1,701 for failing to pay for a $3 bottle of water during a team hotel stay. My advice for Mangenuis is to treat your players like professionals and you will get better results.

Washington Redskins rookie LB Robert Henson – The rookie linebacker from TCU – who was inactive against the Rams — complained via Twitter about Redskins fans booing the home team during a 9-7 win against the Rams.  Henson tweeted, “All you fake half hearted Skins fan can .. I won’t go there but I dislike you very strongly, don’t come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!!”  He later apologized, saying he was angry after being hit with objects from the crowd, but he is a dope.  Luckily for the world, Henson cancelled his Twitter account.

Other dishonorees:  San Dieo Chargers LB Shawne Merriman (tied for 218th in the NFL in tackles after two games with only six tackles and zero sacks); Eagles punter Sav Rocca (wildly inconsistent and had a bad shank of 26-yards at a crucial stage of the Eagles eventual loss to the Saints).

 

2009 NFL Week 2 Results

SUN, SEPT. 20

49ers (2-0) over Seahawks (1-1),  23-10

Bears (1-1) over Steelers (1-1), 17-14

Bengals (1-1) over Packers (1-1), 31-24

Bills (1-1) over Buccaneers (0-2), 33-20

Broncos (2-0) over Browns (0-2), 27-6

Cardinals (1-1) over Jaguars (0-2), 31-17

Falcons (2-0) over Panthers (0-2), 28-20

Giants (2-0) over Cowboys (1-1), 33-31

Jets (2-0) over Patriots (1-1), 16-9

Raiders (1-1) over Chiefs (0-2), 13-10

Ravens (2-0) over Chargers (1-1), 31-26

Redskins (1-1) over Rams (0-2), 9-7

Saints (2-0) over Eagles (1-1), 48-22

Texans (1-1) over Titans (0-2), 34-31

Vikings (2-0) over Lions (0-2), 27-13

SUN, SEP 13 

Colts (2-0) at Dolphins (0-2),  27-23

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)