Replacement Refs: The replacement officials had a really rough go of it in week two. While I didn’t see any game changing calls, the officials dramatically slowed the game down and ruined the flow of the action. In the Baltimore at Philadelphia game, the officials constantly were spotting the ball incorrectly or having trouble determining where it should be spotted. They also did not get control of the game when players got a bit chippy. The Denver at Atlanta game was even more mismanaged. It was very painful to watch.
Jay Cutler Continues to Prove he is a Jerk: I have never been a fan of Jay Cutler, especially after the petulant, childish way he left Denver. I do feel sorry for Cutler because he really doesn’t have a good offensive line and he often gets pounded on during games, but bumping your left tackle and getting in his face in public probably isn’t the best way to handle it. And his postgame press conference was also childish and petulant. Despite what Brian Urlacher says, I find it hard to believe Cutler has much respect in the Bears locker room.
Tight Ends Rule the Day: While there were some amazing offensive performances from Reggie Bush (RB, Miami), Danny Amendola (WR, St. Louis), and Victor Cruz (WR, New York Giants), it was the tight ends that made pivotal or had big days that helped get their teams over the top in Sunday. Brent Celek of the Eagles was the clearly the MVP of that game and was frequent target and security blanket for Michael Vick. Vernon Davis (San Francisco), Heath Miller (Pittsburgh), Todd Heap (Cardinals), Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta), and Anthony McCoy of Seattle all had pivotal roles in their team’s wins.
My Top Five Teams: San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Green Bay, Denver
GAMES I WATCHED
Arizona Cardinals over New England Patriots, 20-18 (on NFL.com Game Rewind)
I really, really did not want to watch this game on NFL.com Game Rewind and I wish I hadn’t. The Patriots played about as badly on offense as I have ever seen them play. They weren’t playing well when Aaron Hernandez went out with an ankle injury, but after that they seemed totally unprepared and muddled on offense. It was just awful to watch. The Cardinals do have a solid defense, but New England didn’t seem to even show up for the game. On the bright side, the defense played rather well considering the turnover and blocked punt and that offense did nothing to help them out.
About all I can say about this game is that I hope it’s an aberration and not a trend. The loss of Aaron Hernandez for a month or more is going to hurt.
MVP: Patrick Peterson, CB
Green Bay Packers over Chicago Bears, 23-10
The Chicago Bears were just awful in this game. The offense line was atrocious. Jay Cutler was awful even when he had time in the pocket. And Clay Matthews not only had 3.5 sacks, but was a menace to Chicago’s offense all night long.
Green Bay’s offense looked much better in this game than they did last week against the 49’ers and they even got a little running game going with Cedric Benson at times. It wasn’t a spectacular offensive performance but it was certainly and efficient one.
MVP: Clay Matthews, LB
Philadelphia Eagles over Baltimore Ravens, 24-23
Not only for was this game a turnover fest for both teams, but the replacement officials were pretty lousy in keeping up with the flow of the game. The Eagles tried to hand the game to the Ravens early with a flurry of turnovers, but Baltimore gave the ball right back often enough to almost even out the points off turnovers by the end of the game. It was a close game throughout but the ragged play of Flacco in the second half and a few lucky breaks for the Eagles turned it into a close win for the home team.
While the officiating was poor, they didn’t decide the game. I am sick of Baltimore constantly blaming bad calls every time they lose a game. It was offensive pass interference on Jacoby Ford in a second half apparent touchdown pass. He had is hand on the defenders facemask. And it was clearly a forward pass by Michael Vick in the fourth quarter when the ref overturned his original call of a fumble. At most one might argue it was intentional grounding. These two calls did seal the deal for the Eagles, but both were appropriate and correct calls.
Tight end Brent Celek had a fantastic game for the Eagles.
MVP: Brent Celek, TE
Pittsburgh Steelers over New York Jets, 27-10
The Steelers had a nice, steady offensive performance in this game. While the offense was still generated primarily in the passing game there was just enough running to keep the Jet’s defense off balance. And Big Ben had a one of his better games, spreading the ball around to numerous receivers. We even saw the reemergence of Heath Miller in the passing game who had three catches and a touchdown.
And the defense played liked we are accustomed to seeing the Steelers defense play. They seemed rather vulnerable last week against Denver but this week they held the Jets in check for most of the game.
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger, QB
San Francisco 49’ers over Detroit Lions, 27-19
I think the 49’ers are clearly the best team in the NFL right now. They have a fabulous defense and the offense is now clicking on all cylinders. Quarterback Alex Smith is playing at a very high level, and has good rapport with tight end Vernon Davis. He is making good decisions and getting the ball to his receivers with velocity and accuracy. And I keep waiting to see Frank Gore slow down and look his age. But so far he looks fantastic and rejuvenated. With the depth on the offensive line and the stout defense, the 49’ers are going to be hard to beat.
Detroit, on the other hand, doesn’t come out looking so good. Granted they were playing a tough defense but Matthew Stafford was not that accurate with his passes. Stafford seems a bit lost at times. He might have a big arm, but in this game I wasn’t too impressed with him. And they really need to get a running game going but I’m not so sure Kevin Smith is the answer there. I think Detroit might regress a bit this year.
MVP: Vernon Davis, TE
Atlanta Falcons over Denver Broncos, 27-21
Wow, what a difference a week makes. Last week Payton Manning looked like the old Payton Manning, and this week the throws three first half interceptions spotting Atlanta at 20-0 lead. That was pretty much, almost the game.
Manning the Broncos did come back and make a game of it in the second half but Atlanta’s offense and defense did just enough hold off a comeback.
On the theme of what a difference a week makes, Julio Jones had an embarrassing week, dropping a sure touchdown pass and having fumble fingers throughout the game. Lucky for Atlanta the same was not the case for Roddy White who had a superb outing.
MVP: Roddy White, WR
St. Louis Rams over Washington Redskins, 31-28
Danny Amendola. Enough said. What a wicked good performance by this WR. He had 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown and tied an NFL record for most catches a first half with 12. He was almost unstoppable except for a fumble. The Rams fell behind early because of turnovers and sloppy play but I thought mostly outplayed the Redskins. A blocked punt by St. Louis in the second half essentially cleared the way for the win.
MVP: Danny Amendola, WR
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
I know Reggie Bush had a phenomenal 172 yards rushing, but I am still going with Amendola.
Offensive Player: Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams
Defensive Player: Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Lineman: Marshal Yanda, RG, Baltimore Ravens
Special Teams: Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens
Rookie of the Week: Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens.