As of this writing, Chris Henry, wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals has passed away in an accident precipitated by a domestic dispute. He was 26 years old. He has had a history of problems and confrontations, which is unfortunately the only thing I know about him off the football field.
The theme of this week has to be big play by wide receivers. Huge days were turned in by:
Andre Johnson of Houston (11 catches, 193 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Brandon Marshall of Denver in a losing effort who set an NFL record for receptions in a game with 21 catches for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
DeSean Jackson of Philadelphia (6 catches, 178 yards, 1 touchdown), who also had a 72 yard punt return.
Great days were also turned in by Wes Welker (New England), Vincent Jackson (San Diego), Greg Camarillo (Miami), and Hakeem Nicks (New York Giants)
New England Patriots over Carolina Panthers, 20-10
Sloppy play, including two turnovers that resulted in points, kept this game close for the Panthers, but the Patriots ultimately prevailed. There seems to be a lot of turmoil with the Patriots. Randy Moss had a bad game and afterward, Carolina cornerback Chris Gamble called Moss a quitter. Moss sure played like he was sulking and seemed to be completely out of it. Not only did he look like he was quitting on routes (one which resulted in an interception), he fumbled the ball and jumped off sides. I am giving Moss the benefit of the doubt. Everyone has bad games.
Adelius Thomas, on the other hand, needs to shut up and play ball instead of being a punk. Derrick Burgess got sent home last week too and came out and had an excellent game. Of course since Thomas is sitting on a fat contract I guess he is sitting pretty and doesn’t have to play well and can be a malcontent.
As usual, Wes Welker had a monster game and brought it home. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about Wes being a candidate for NFL MVP?
MVP: Wes Welker, WR
GAMES I WATCHED
Cleveland Browns over Pittsburgh Steelers, 13-6
How the mighty have fallen. Pittsburgh is all but out of the playoff race after losing to a third very bad team in as many weeks. I am shocked, frankly, at how the Steelers have seemed to just fall apart this year. Cleveland did play one of its best games defensively, but still, to see the Steelers not only make the Chiefs, Raiders, and Browns look like legitimate NFL teams, but actually lose to them, is just stunning.
Cleveland’s defensive coordinator Rob Ryan really brought the dogs after Big Ben, who was sacked eight times. And unlike many games, instead of Ben escaping and making a big play, the Browns slammed him to the turf. There was no escaping for Big Ben or the Steelers this night.
Despite the win, and that Cleveland played with some heart, I’m not convinced this will be a good team anytime soon.
MVP: Josh Cribbs, WR
Minnesota Vikings over Cincinnati Bengals, 30-10
I actually thought this would be a tight game given the Bengals running game and stout defense, but it just wasn’t to be. The Vikings played well on both sides of the ball but the defense really stepped it up a notch or two.
And those who say Jared Allen isn’t a defensive player of the year candidate because of his stats don’t watch football too much. This guy is double and triple teamed on many plays and as a result opens up the game for the rest of the defensive line. The only game I’ve seen Allen single handedly shut down was against the Arizona Cardinals.
Antoine Winfield returned after six weeks out and he returned with a vengeance. He was the real difference maker on defense. He is one of my favorite non-Patriots players in the league. This little guy comes up and blasts you. I wonder if wimpy players like Asante Samuel are embarrassed of themselves after watching Winfield lay the wood on people.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati more or less proved in this game they are in the middle of the pack with a group of average teams in the AFC.
MVP: Antoine Winfield, CB
San Diego Chargers over Dallas Cowboys, 20-17
I don’t like Dallas and like to see them lose, but not to San Diego. Dallas continues its December woes and could end up missing the playoffs again if they can’t string together some wins. They have the talent to win but seemingly not the moxie to get it together enough to put away the good teams.
And San Diego, unfortunately, to me is the real team to beat in the AFC. Once the playoffs start, the Colts disappear and San Diego has already proven they can beat the Colts in Indianapolis in the playoffs. They’ve done it before and if it happens this year, they’ll do it again. Philip Rivers is hot, Antonio Gates is rediscovering his form, and even LaDanian Tomlinson is getting into the act. Add to that one of the better receivers in the league in Vincent Jackson and a much improved defense, you have a solid foundation going into the playoffs. They could be scary. In fact, right now, I think they are Super Bowl bound. GAG!
MVP: Vincent Jackson, WR
Philadelphia Eagles over New York Giants, 45-38
This was a wild, crazy game with ups and downs for both teams. While I am a bit of a throwback who loves the lower scoring defensive struggles, this game was quite entertaining. Both defenses kept giving up huge plays, which kept the Giants in the game after getting down 14-0 early.
Philadelphia now looks to be in the driver’s seat in the NFC East with Dallas continuing their losing ways in December.
DeSean Jackson was the star of the day with six catches for a 178 yards and a touchdown, to go along with his 72 yard punt return for a touchdown. And even Michael Vick looked good with a few runs and a nice pass.
I think the Eagles, like the Colts, are likely to give it up in the playoffs. But they are not a team anyone should take lightly.
MVP: DeSean Jackson, WR
San Francisco 49’ers over Arizona Cardinals, 24-9
The Cardinals shit their pants against the 49’ers with seven turnovers. There’s not much more to say about why they lost this game. They started early with a fumble by Tim Hightower in the Red Zone , and the contagion continued the rest of the game. After looking like the Super Bowl team from a year ago against the Minnesota Vikings last week, on the road they just couldn’t hold onto the ball.
I feel sorry for the Arizona defense. Even though they gave up 167 yards to Frank Gore, they didn’t play that badly. They just found themselves constantly, and unexpectedly, back out on the field.
And while Frank Gore had a great game, it was the Cardinals’ turnovers that sealed the deal, so my MVP goes to free safety Dashon Goldson, who was instrumental in three of them. Also hats off to Patrick Willis who is one of the best, and some might argue the best, middle linebacker in the league this year.
MVP: Dashon Goldson, FS
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Brandon Marshall, WR Denver (Who set NFL Record with 21 receptions in a game, (200 yards))
Defensive Player: Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington Redskins
Offensive Lineman: Kris Dielman, G, San Diego Chargers
Special Teams: DeSean Jackson, WR/KR, Philadelphia Eagles
Rookie of the Week: Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington Redskins