GAMES I WATCHED
If I were writing a headline for this game it would be: Giants Running Attack Ravishes Ravens’ Defense. They ran over one of the NFL’s top run stuffing defenses with seeming ease racking up 210 yards on the ground with Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw. Coupled with two Ravens turnovers and that’s the story of the game.
On offense the Ravens didn’t look all that terrible. While Joe Flacco did throw two interceptions, one was a tipped ball that wasn’t his fault. In this game, in something that is very unusual for the Ravens, it was the defense that was the weak link. Even though this may not have been his best outing, I continue to be impressed with the arm, poise, and decision making of Flacco. From what I have seen so far this season, I think he will become an elite quarterback in this league. And the Ravens were smart to draft him this year since there are not top flight quarterbacks coming out of the draft next year.
MVP: Aaron Ross, CB, New York Giants, 2 interceptions and a touchdown.
Pittsburgh Steelers over San Diego Chargers, 11-10
This was another bizarre game in a year that has seemed to have its fair share of them. Both offenses moved the ball fairly well, especially Pittsburgh’s, but neither were able to score. The Pittsburgh defense was its usual nasty self, limiting San Diego to 218 yards, but more importantly snatching two turnovers and scoring a safety. Those plays were the keys in Pittsburgh’s victory. Hines Ward also played a superb game and continues to be the go to receiver in clutch situations.
Troy Polamalu made one of the most amazing interceptions I have ever seen. It reminded me of the one he had against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2006 AFC playoff game that Pittsburgh won and eventually lead to their Super Bowl XL victor. That interception was overturned by the officials (of course it was, it was against the Colts!). How he managed the interception he made in this game is beyond me. It was quite impressive. And of course once again the officials totally blew the call on Polamalu’s fumble recovery for a touchdown at the end of the game, which would have made the score 18-10 (with an extra point). Luckily the play didn’t factor into the outcome and hopefully it won’t hurt the Steelers in any tie breakers for the playoffs down the road. This is the second (maybe even third) game this year that San Diego was involved in where officials made and egregiously bad call – usually to their detriment.
San Diego appears to be all but out of playoff contention. And frankly, I am rather glad. I think this is one of the whiniest teams in the NFL. Good riddance.
MVP: Hines Ward, WR , Pittsburgh Steelers
Dallas Cowboys over Washington Redskins, 14-10
Dallas is back in the playoff hunt with a critical win over the Washington Redskins. Neither team was overly impressive offensively, especially the Redskins who are suddenly struggling. The Redskins offensive line looked rather pedestrian, especially center Casey Rabach, who I had been impressed with up until the last couple of games. Meanwhile Romo chucked up a couple of interceptions in the first half playing with a cast on his broken pinkie, with one of them costing the Cowboys a scoring opportunity. But Romo played pretty well given the injury on his throwing hand. Meanwhile Jason Campbell looked out of sorts, but much of this can be attributed to great coverage by Terrance Newman on Santana Moss and poor play by the Redskins recovers. The Redskins appear to have three huge busts on their hands with rookie wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, and tight end Fred Davis. They have played very poorly and been no factor all year long.
Dallas, or I should say Marion “The Barbarian” Barber, closed the show in the fourth quarter with a tough, rough drive at the end of the game that ate up the clock and sealed the win. I don’t like Dallas. In fact they are one of my least favorite teams. But I sure do love to watch Marion Barber run. He’s a real football player.
Three Cowboys players really stood out in the game for Dallas. Terence Newman, CB, who had great coverage and one interception. Jay Ratliff, NT, who schooled Casey Rabach who couldn’t handle him one-on-one and had two sacks. And of course, Marion Barber on the last drive was most impressive. But defense won this game as the Redskins could run a little, but couldn’t pass at all.
MVP: Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Cleveland Browns over Buffalo Bills, 29-27
This was an exciting game to watch, especially with the big plays in the second half. But it also looked like two very mediocre teams playing. Trent Edwards was horrible through much of the game, throwing three interceptions on the first three drives of the game. But the Browns squandered the opportunities. The Browns only scored six points on those three interceptions, despite good field position, and overall only turned four Bills turnovers into nine points. While Trend Edwards was awful, Quinn played a fairly decent game, but once again the Browns’ much touted wide receiver Braylon Edwards continued to drop ball, after ball, after ball. Edwards was supposed to be a big play receiver this year, but instead he’s become a bit of a laughingstock with his inability to hold on to the ball.
The Browns played it fairly close to the vest in the second half pounding the ball with Jamal Lewis and seemed to seal the deal with a 72 yard touchdown run by seldom used running back Jerome Harrison on the first play of the fourth quarter, putting the Browns head 23-13. But rookie cornerback and kick returner Leodis McKelvin, who had a spectacular night on kickoff returns, returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to keep the Bills in the game at 23-20. After going up 26-20 on one of Phil Dawson’s five field goals, the Bills scored a touchdown on a short drive to make it 27-26. But the Browns came right back and with little time remaining Phil Dawson hit a 56 yard game winning field goal. The Bills were able to get into position to attempt a game winning 47 yard field goal but Rian Lindell missed it.
Leodis McKelvin had a superlative game on kickoff returns and single handedly kept the Bills in the game by giving them good field position on special teams. The Browns started kicking away from him in the second half, which only resulted in good field position for the Bills. Marshawn “Hit and Run” Lynch also had a solid outing with his first 100 yard rushing game of the season. But it was all for naught as the turnovers and poor play by Edwards kept the Bills in check most of the night.
One thing I notice about the Browns defense in the last couple of games I’ve seen is they really get winded in the second half, especially Shaun Rogers, their vaunted nose tackle. Of course Rogers is a huge man and usually is double and sometimes triple teamed. Having 300 pound dudes beating on your for three quarter will wear you down.
MVP: Phil Dawson, K, Cleveland Browns
The New York Giants or the Tennessee Titans? Conventional wisdom seems to be the Titans at 10-0 are the best team in the league. I think the New York Giants are. They both have great running games and outstanding defense, which is what championships are made of. But the Giants have a potentially more explosive, big play offense that can put points on the board fast. I know Tennessee fans will say “wait a minute, the last two weeks we showed some big play ability too!” While this is true, I still think the Giants have a more dynamic, versatile offense, which to me separate the two. Of course that is just my subjective opinion. The only way this argument can be settled is on the field. And the way this season is going, it just may be.
Donovan McNabb is an Idiot: How can any NFL quarterback not know that a regular season game ends in a tie if nobody scores in overtime? That is just unfathomable!! Not only is McNabb and idiot for not knowing this rule, he was idiot for admitting it after the game. I am stunned by it. Given that and his three interceptions and fumble, he has to go down as the goat of the year so far.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Anquan Bolden, WR, Arizona Cardinals, 13 catches, 186 yards receiving
Defensive Player: Terence Newman, CB, Dallas Cowboys
Offensive Lineman: Chris Snee, G, New York Giants
Special Teams: Leodis McKelvin, KR/CB, Buffalo Bills
Rookie of the Week: Steve Slaton, RB, Houston Texans, 156 yards rushing, 1 touchdown