Miami Dolphins over New England Patriots, 38-13
I am sure most New England fans, like me, thought we’d be coasting into our bye week 3-0. Miami sure spoiled that party. I didn’t get to see this game, which is just as well for the sake of my furniture, but by all accounts New England was horrible on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. It is the most embarrassing loss the Patriots have suffered in a long, long time. What is more disheartening is that without Tom Brady the Patriots are really going to be leaning heavily on the defense to keep games close. They were completely and totally outclassed by the Dolphins. And it sounds look like Cassel looked lost like he did in preseason. I have heard some say that this will bring Patriot’s fans down to earth after last week’s win over the New York Jets. Well, the Patriots fans I correspond with never got too high but were cautiosly optimistic instead. We knew we were in for a long, tough, possibly bad season, even after last week’s win. But I have to tell you, I don’t think any of us expected this! But I have seen teams get humiliated before like the Patriots did on Sunday and come back strong.
The other little thing Patriots fans have to worry about is the mood of Randy Moss. Moss is double and even triple teamed in most games and he signed with the Patriots to play with Tom Brady and win a Super Bowl, not Matt Cassel. I give Randy Moss the benefit of the doubt that he is going to be a team leader and help keep things positive, but it does give me pause given his past.
And it was great to see the New York Jets lose to the San Diego Chargers Monday Night. Jets fan were giddy with glee after Brady got hurt, thinking they had the AFC East all to themselves. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills are quietly 3-0 and I liked what I saw last year of Trent Edwards and Marshawn Lynch. Maybe it’s the Bills, not the Bretts, err, I mean Jets, that Patriots fans should start being worried about.
I am not hitting the panic button just yet. The season just got that much harder but I’m keeping the faith.
GAMES I WATCHED
Washington Redskins over Arizona Cardinals, 24-17
If I told you at the beginning of the season I was going to watch the Washington Redskins and Arizona Cardinals in week three you probably would have felt very sorry for me for having to watch two lousy, bottom feeding teams that often look like the second string of a junior high team. This game, in fact, looked like two excellent football teams in a closely contested game.
For both teams the offensive lines played extremely well. Jason Campbell and Kurt Warner looked like All-Pro quarterbacks. Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James ran the bell well. And the defenses were pretty solid too, although both defensive lines were pretty much handled by the offensive lines. The key difference in this game were two Arizona turnovers that lead to 10 Washington points and that is about all that separated the two teams. If these teams keep playing solid football like they did Sunday they should be in for pretty decent seasons. But the season is young.
A few other observations about the game:
Edge is a great running back with great vision but he has lost a step. It takes him a little longer to get to the hole and he was rather unsuccessful on rushing outside the tackles because he seemed a step slow. His age and tenure in the league are starting to show.
Last week I listed this year’s crop of talented rookie running backs. I thought about adding Tim Hightower (University of Richmond) to the list,but didn’t. I am adding him now. Granted I’ve only seen him for one game but he demonstrated good vision and speed against the Redskins. Barring injury he should have a very bright future ahead.
And lastly, the Washington offense finally looked organized. But given they have Dallas, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants to contend with in the NFC East, I don’t hold out much hope for a playoff run this year.
MVP: Jason Campbell, QB
Philadelphia Eagles over Pittsburgh Steelers, 15-6
Watching Pittsburgh this year has been very strange and this game was no exception. The Eagles blitzed constantly and sacked Big Ben eight times. Poor Roethlisberger took a beating. And now we find out this week that Willie Parker has a sprained knee and won’t start this week, along with two defensive lineman. Pittsburgh’s defense also beat up on the Eagles, as L.J. Smith and more importantly, Brian Westbrook were both injured during the game. Donovan McNabb also suffered an injury but it sounds like a minor one (at least minor for a NFL player, I’d be likely be in the hospital). This was a tough game for both teams and could impact their chances the new few weeks.
And I’m not sure what to make of either of these teams. The Eagles, if Westbrook is on the field, can move the ball and look like a playoff team and their defense really stepped up after a poor showing in Dallas. Pittsburgh also has a lot of talent but their offensive line looked completely flummoxed. There is no way Big Ben is going to be able to stay on the field this season if he keeps taking hits like he did Sunday. Meanwhile Troy Polamalu continues to impress. Both teams seem a little off kilter though and it will be interesting to see where they go this season.
Finally, I don’t know much about Sav Rocca, Philadelphia’s punter, other than that he was an Australian Rules football player. He had a phenomenal game punting and made a real difference in the game.
MVP: Jaqua Parker, DE, 2.5 sacks plus one in which he forced a fumble.
I am already sick and tired of hearing about the Dallas Cowboys this and the Dallas Cowboys that. I guess I empathize a little with why people were so sick of hearing about the New England Patriots last year. But the bottom line is the Dallas Cowboys have proven they are the best team in the NFL as of today. They have a big, powerful offensive line, Tony Romo is the best quarterback in the NFL right now, Terrell Owens is constantly double teamed so it opens up the offense for other receivers, they have the best tight end in the league this side of Dallas Clark in Jason Witten, and Marion Barber is simply a beast! There are some questions about their defense, but right now Dallas is the team to beat in the NFL.
In this game Dallas just plugged away at the Packers until the damn broke. Barber chewed up yardage, especially in the second half, and Romo hit a couple of big plays to Miles Austin, which were the difference in the game. I continue to be impressed with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers though. They couldn’t establish much of a running game but Rodgers played well enough to keep them in it for a while. Green Bay should wind up in the playoffs, but the injury to Al Harris, their starting cornerback, is a big concern.
MVP: Marion Barber, RB, 143 yards rushing
San Diego Chargers over New York Jets, 48-29
San Diego was desperate for a win to avoid slipping to 0-3 and they certainly played like it. The Chargers have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL so it’s not surprising that they rolled up so many points against the Jets, especially with some gift turnovers and gaffes by the Jets in the passing game. For the first three quarters Brett Farve was clearly not in sync with his receivers. It’s hard to tell if his poor passing and interceptions were Farve’s fault or the recievers. But it was clear either the recievers either ran the rwrong route or Brett just didn’t know where they were supposed to be. They need to get their act together soon or the Jets are going to have a hard time winning against any team. I thought the Jets receivers played poorly in general. This has to be a very disappointing loss to Jets fans, not so much the loss itself, but they weren’t very competitive through much of the game and Farve was a non-factor since the offense was so out of sync.
MVP: Philip Rivers, QB
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Ronnie Brown, RB, Miami Dolphins. 5 touchdowns rushing, one passing.
Defensive Player: Jaqua Parker, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Offensive Lineman: Pete Kendall, G, Washington Redskins
Special Teams: Sav Rocca, P, Philadelphia Eagles
Rookie of the Week: Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans, 116 yards rushing in his first start