New England Patriots over Buffalo Bills, 20-10
Too bad I didn’t get to see this game but by all accounts Matt Cassel is improving and playing well, the running game is working despite that the Patriots are down to an undrafted rookie free agent, and the defense is finally stopping people. The bright side of this game is that the Patriots are now tied with the Jets for first place in the AFC East and are much improved from the beginning of the season. How Belichick is getting this severely injury depleted team to 6-3 at this point of the season is a testament to the front office and the coach. Had we not bungled the game last week we would be 7-2 and sitting pretty! The Patriots controlled the ball with its running game and short passing attack for most of the second half. Wes Welker had his usual sterling game with 10 catches for 107 yards. Dink and dunk? Who cares? What we care about are wins. And to think pundits said this team would be lucky to finish 6-10 without Tommy Boy!
But once again the Patriots lost another key starter on defense for the season, linebacker Adalius Thomas. How they will overcome such attrition to their players remains to be seen.
MVP: Wes Welker, WR, New England Patriots
GAMES I WATCHED
Minnesota Vikings over Green Bay Packers, 28-27
The Minnesota defense won this game, Adrian Peterson salvaged it. The Vikings overcame three horrible interceptions by Gus Frerotte, one that was returned for a touchdown, to pull out the game 28-27. Adrian Peterson had a phenomenal 29 yard run at the end of the game for a touchdown that all but sealed the deal for the Vikings. Matt Crosby missed a 52 yard field goal at the end of regulation after the Vikings defense held the Packers back after a good kickoff return at the end of the game.
I have a lot of affinity for Gus Frerotte, the 15 year veteran and late round draft pick by the Washington Redskins who supplanted Heath Shuler, the bust of a top draft pick, back in the early 90’s. He has mostly played well this year, if inconsistently, giving the Vikings a much better chance to win than Tarvaris Jackson, who was simply inept. But like his season, Frerotte was very uneven in this game. But when he was terrible, he was very terrible. He was inaccurate with many passes and his interceptions were boneheaded. His three picks directly resulted in 17 points for the Packers and it really cost the Vikings more points given they were in very good field position on two of his miscues. Had it not been for Frerotte’s picks this would have been a blowout. Adrian Peterson was phenomenal with 192 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving. He really put on his Superman cape and willed this team to victory.
And the Vikings defense was just as phenomenal. They scored two safeties in the game and I don’t recall the last time I saw two safeties in one game.
For the Packers, they have a lot to be worried about. Aaron Rodgers has played well but not great since his shoulder injury and he took a real beating in this game. For the most part the offense didn’t do much. Well, they didn’t do anything really. 14 of the Packers 27 points came on an interception return for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown. But at least they made the turnovers count for points and very well could have won the game despite their lack of offensive firepower. It’s hard to say whether the lack of offense the last two weeks was great defense by the Titans and the Vikings or just poor offense. From my observation it’s a little of both but I think offensively they will be fine. Their defense, however, can’t stop the run and they rely on turnovers to keep them in the game. And this game they lost linebacker Nick Barnett. It will be a long and interesting stretch for both teams the rest of the season.
MVP: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Indianapolis Colts over Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-20
Two dumb interceptions by Big Ben equals a win for the Colts (his third was a desperation heave so I won’t count that). As usual the Pittsburgh defense was the best unit on the field, although they gave away one touchdown on a tipped ball that Reggie Wayne turned into a long touchdown. But the Colts aren’t dead yet and it’s hard to overcome turnovers against a Manning lead offense. The Colts scored 14 points off turnovers which was the difference in the game. But let’s give a little love to the Colts oft maligned defense as well. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis played in the Steelers backfield most of the game, putting some pressure and hits on Big Ben. But the Steelers, or Rottenberger, gave this game away.
MVP: Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
New York Giants over Philadelphia Eagles, 36-31
The Giants are another team that dominated the game but kept it close because of turnovers. The Eagles turned two turnovers in the first half into 14 points while the Giants turned two Eagles turnovers into only six points, which kept the Eagles in the game. In the second half the triple headed monsters of Brandon Jacobs, Derek Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball down the Eagles throats and there wasn’t a heck of a lot they could do about it. While the big three ran, the Eagles failed to make it on fourth and short late in the game. As great as Brian Westbrook is, his forte isn’t short yardage runs. End of story.
The Giants have proven that last years run through the playoffs and their Super Bowl win was no fluke. When Eli isn’t tossing balls to the other team, their punishing running game and stellar defensive line and linebackers can carry the day.
MVP: Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49’ers, 29-24
Wow, I saw some good games this weekend and this was the wildest and most entertaining of the lot. First Kurt Warner played the best game at quarterback I have seen so far this season. He was simply phenomenal. I like Kurt Warner a lot for some reason and I’m glad to seem him out there playing well. He has some ball security issues historically, but the last few weeks he’s gotten good protection and has played lights out. And the Cardinals needed it this day.
This was a game where it was clear the Cardinals were the better team but they just could not put away the suddenly scrappy, hard playing San Francisco 49’ers. Say what you will about Mike Singletary as a coach, and his staff certainly botched the end of this game, but at least the 49’ers played hard and with a lot heart, which is all you can ask for. Several key plays kept the 49’ers in the game, including the opening kickoff, which was run back for a touchdown by Allen Rossum. They also held the Cardinals out of the end zone after long drives that ended up in short field goals in the first half.
The end of the game for the 49’ers was an absolute fiasco. They had a great chance to win the game but with at least 40 seconds on the clock with no timeouts, they were unorganized and let most of the time run off the clock. Then they ran an inexplicable running play with the fullback on the 1 ½ yard line as time ran out. I’d love to see how Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Mike Martz cozy up this week.
The 49’ers are not a good team. The have one good offensive player, Frank Gore. They have one could be good player but is an asshole, TE Vernon Davis. Their defense isn’t that bad, especially with Patrick Willis in the middle. But they have a lot of work to do. Shaun Hill is not an NFL starting caliber quarterback. He is gritty and tough, but he made some silly mistakes and his mechanics and throwing motion are very odd. It will be interesting to see what decisions this team makes at the end of the season as far as coaches go, but I think they have a long way to go to be a good team.
MVP: Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player: Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina Panthers
Rookie of the Week: Ryan Clady, LT, Denver Broncos