Review of Perfection: The Inside Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins Perfect Season

griese-cover-198x300Perfection: The Inside Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ Perfect Season by Bob Griese and Dave Hyde
John Wiley & Sons, Inc, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-118-21809-9 (hardback)
272 pages

The Miami Dolphin’s 17-0 perfect season in 1972 is also a look back at what professional football was about in the early 1970’s – running the ball and defense.  Bob Griese was a cerebral quarterback but he did not put up gaudy stats.  In fact, most of the season Griese was on the sideline injured while a 37 year old Earl Morrall lead the team, or at least managed the game by handing off to Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, and Jim Kiick.

Isn’t it truly amazing that he Miami Dolphins went undefeated with a backup quarterback at the helm most of the season?  In today’s NFL that would almost certainly be impossible.

Griese’s retelling of that 1972 team is an interesting inside look at historically one of the best teams in football.  The only drawback to the book is that it really doesn’t have a lot of new material in it.  Much of these stories have been told in other places through various medium.  Nevertheless it is still an entertaining look back a great team.

There were a few key themes in the book that I found particularly interesting.  First was the fact the running game with Larry Csonka smashing people and the No Name Defense lead by linebacker Nick Buoniconti were really the heart and soul of the team and the reason for the undefeated season?.  Running the ball and defense wins championships.  Where did that go in today’s NFL?  Unfortunately, for players like defensive tackle Manny Fernandez, who definitely should have been the MVP of Super Bowl VII and in the Hall of Fame, suffered because nobody really paid attention to the individuals and they didn’t get as much public credit for their efforts as they deserved.  The middle linebacker position was already a glamour position because of players like Sam Huff and Dick Butkus so Buoniconti became the face of the defense.

Second was team unity.  Griese recounts that Marv Fleming, a tight end from Green Bay, came to the team and noticed the segregation between black and white players.  There was not racial tension on the team, but that was alien to Fleming in Green Bay.  He took charge of making sure the players integrated the locker room and to some degree their social lives, which likely helped team chemistry.  In other places Griese talks about team unity and its importance to their accomplishments.

A third theme is a reminder of just how crazy and brutal the game was in the 1970’s even though players were not making all that much money at the time.  Getting out of hospital beds to go play in a game, playing with injuries that would keep some players today on the sideline for weeks, and the pain pills and other pills to get players though the game.  While Griese does not go into excruciating detail on this, he clearly acknowledges it.

As mentioned earlier another very important point is just how vital it was to play together as a team.  That is what makes championship football.  Jim Kiick wasn’t happy about getting demoted so Don Shula could get the speedier Mercury Morris on the field, but when he got his chances he made the most out of them.  And when Earl Morrall was taken out of a game in the playoffs and then Griese handed the starting job going forward, he might not have liked it but he took it well and Griese acknowledges how much that meant to him and the team at the time.  And of course on the field, a tight knit group of players who played well together as units.

This book is full of great stories about the players taking us through the season a week at a time, with certain larger points being made in each chapter.  And clearly going 17-0 wasn’t easy.  The Dolphins had some close calls in a few games.  But they achieved perfection, and cling tenaciously to their legacy to this day.
Perfection: The Inside Story of the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ Perfect Season

2010 NFL Football Season: Week 11 Observations

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS

Top Ten Teams

Philadelphia Eagles. While not as dominating a performance as last week against the Redskins, the Eagles won a division game against a tough opponent and shut down Giants’ running back Ahmad Bradshaw.

Atlanta Falcons. I don’t know what the Falcons strength of schedule looks like but it can’t be great. But they keep rolling along with a solid offense and defense.

New York Jets. The Jets’ come from behind wins week after week are pretty amazing. If the Patriots and Jets both win on Thanksgiving the Monday Night match up the following week will be the biggest game of the year so far.

New England Patriots. The Patriots constantly giving up big leads week after week is a real concern for Patriots fan. While the offense seems to have found a rhythm, the defense hasn’t matched up. This could ultimately be their downfall.

Baltimore Ravens. Not much to say about the Ravens game this week against a depleted and woeful Carolina Panthers unit.

Pittsburgh Steelers. After getting convincingly beaten by the Patriots last week the Steelers made a real statement in blowing out the Oakland Raiders.

Green Bay Packers. The shellacking of Minnesota this week must have been sweet for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

New Orleans Saints. It will be interesting to see if the Saints can regain their dominant form they showed last year. They seem to be on a bit of a roll now.

San Diego Chargers. San Diego is starting to look like the Super Bowl contender they were supposed to be. This is a very dangerous team in a weak division.

Indianapolis Colts. The Colts dropped a little this week after losing to the Patriots but only because the Chargers played so well.

The New York Giants dropped off the top ten list this week after losing a home game to the Eagles.

Trent Dilfer

Along with Tom Jackson, Trent Dilfer joins my all time least favorite announcers/analysts list. This guy is complete idiot and does not belong on television. The first week of the season he was the announcer for the San Diego Chargers versus Kansas City Chiefs game. I taped the game and watched it the next day and started right at the kickoff so I wasn’t even sure who the announcer was, I just thought he was an idiot. He kept going on and on and on and on ad nauseum about how great San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is. I thought, gee is this guy married to Rivers?

Every time I see him on television he makes me sick with his stupidity. I turn the channel when I see him now. He was an awful quarterback too.

Brad Childress is Gone, Brett Favre Should Be Next

As soon as I saw that Brad Childress was finally fired from the Minnesota Vikings and Leslie Frazier named the interim head coach, I thought if Frazier really wants to take control of this team he has to release Brett Favre and see what Tarvaris Jackson can do as quarterback. Favre is as much of the problem with that team as Childress was and it will not be resolved until they show him the door. Favre has played horribly this year and clearly is the person who really that runs the team.

GAMES I WATCHED

New England Patriots over Indianapolis Colts, 31-28

After building up a nice 31-14 lead the New England Patriots defense gave up two really quick scores to the Colts in the fourth quarter, and nearly gave up a tying field goal or winning touchdown near the end of the game. This was heart attack city for Patriots fans and a cause for great concern. The defense is clearly still a work in progress but that progress better be a bit quicker as we reach the end of the regular season. The offense is not going to be able to put up 31 points on every team. And if we get behind it seems like the game could be over.

I am a glass half empty kind of fan after years and years of woeful Patriots teams in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, and I complained about the offense not doing more in the second half after a few bad series. But I was reminded that Peyton Manning threw three interceptions and the game loser, so I will just have to take that.

Danny Woodhead’s 36 yard touchdown run in the third quarter with little Wes Welker blocking downfield was a thing of beauty.

MVP: Danny Woodhead, RB

Chicago Bears over Miami Dolphins, 16-0

With third string quarterback Tyler Thigpen starting for the Dolphins off a short week I thought they were in big trouble, and they were. Add to that some injuries on the Dolphins’ offensive line and they were in even bigger trouble. The Dolphins offense just never could get it going and they were giving up a lot of yards on kick returns to Devin Hester that set up Chicago for an early lead that they never relinquished.

I think Thigpen is a decent quarterback and with a regular practice schedule and some protection can win some games for the Dolphins.

MVP: Devin Hester, KR/WR

Baltimore Ravens over Carolina Panthers, 37-13

This game went pretty much as expected with the Ravens dominating the undermanned Carolina Panthers on both sides of the ball. Nothing against Brain St. Pierre but when you sign a perennial backup and third stringer off the street to be your starter you are in big trouble. That goes doubly true if you are facing a ball hawking Ravens defense.

MVP: Ray Rice, RB

Philadelphia Eagles over New York Giants, 27-17

Despite being only a game up on the New York Giants in the NFC East, the Eagles staked their claim to the division title with a win over the New York Giants. While it wasn’t the otherworldly performance of a week ago against the Washington Redskins, the Eagles played good enough, especially on defense, to pull out a tough win. More impressive is the defense is playing better than it has all year long.

While the Giants are a bit banged up they are a strange team to watch week in and week out. Some weeks they look great and other weeks they look awful, even in some of their wins. You never know what Giants’ team is going to show up.

MVP: Jeremy Maclin, WR

San Diego Chargers over Denver Broncos, 35-14

Has a sleeping giant awoken from its slumber? After three straight wins and basically handing a game to the New England Patriots, the Chargers, even at 5-5, are poised to take the AFC West title if they keep winning. They have some tough matchups ahead but I am not a big believer in the Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos are almost out of it.

This was a very dominating performance in all phases of the game by the Chargers. And while Philip Rivers was brilliant and really is having an MVP type season, backup running back Mike Tolbert set the tone early in the game with tough runs.

MVP: Mike Tolbert, RB

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
Defensive Player: Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears
Offensive Lineman: Sebastian Vollmer, T, New England Patriots
Special Teams: Devin Hester, KR/WR, Chicago Bears
Rookie of the Week: Gerald McCoy, DT, Tampa Bay

2010 NFL Football Season: Week Nine Observations


The Dallas Cowboys

Watching the Sunday night debacle where the Green Bay Packers demolished a Dallas Cowboy’s team that had been thumping their chests about a Super Bowl run at the start of the season was just too much fun to watch. For all those lifelong Cowboy’s haters like me, it’s great to see this team not only buried in mediocrity, but actually be a bad team that quits. I knew after watching that travesty of a game that poor Wade Philips was going to get the proverbial axe. Jerry Jones had to do something to stop the bleeding. I like Philips but never thought he was quite cut out to be a head coach. I am not so sure Jason Garrett is the answer as I see the offense, which he runs, as part of the problem as well. If they really want to make a statement they need to cut Mike Jenkins who has been a horrible cornerback all year long. The Cowboys are providing some good fodder and good entertainment.


GAMES I WATCHED

Cleveland Browns over New England Patriots, 34-14 (On NFL.com Game Rewind)

I had to force myself to watch this game online. What I saw made me sick to my stomach.

The New England Patriots defense has been very soft all year long. We have mostly been winning through special teams and turnovers. And our offense, without Randy Moss stretching the defense, has been extremely inconsistent as teams are able to simply double cover the underneath receivers. Wes Welker is getting a lot of unwanted attention from defenses these days. And when we can’t establish a running game to loosen up the passing attack, the offense is just flat.

But the defense was just absolutely mauled by the Cleveland Browns. The scariest thing about this game is it is either an aberration and just a trap game between contests with the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers, or it exposed our defense and weak, undisciplined, and patsies. I hope it was just an aberration.

The Browns did beat the Saints after all and Peyton Hillis, who had a 184 yards rushing in this game, put up 144 yards on the stout Baltimore Ravens defense (okay, I know they are not as stout this year but still). And I thought the Patriots’ defense played very physical and tough against the Minnesota Vikings and the hard running Adrian Peterson. So that gives me hope that defense just had an off day. But you never want to lose this badly and look that soft against any team, much less one with losing record.

Cleveland certainly appears to be better than their 3-5 record. They beat the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots and played very well against the Baltimore Ravens.

MVP: Peyton Hillis, RB

Baltimore Ravens over Miami Dolphins, 26-10

The Baltimore Ravens had little trouble dispatching the Miami Dolphins. I thought they were going to pay for settling for field goals after having the ball in the red zone twice in the first half. Once the Ravens got near the goal line they had comically bad offense series after looking great up that point and had to settle for three points instead of seven. But Miami was never able to take advantage of their breaks. It was only 13-10 Ravens at halftime and it should been much worse for the Dolphins. But the Ravens dominated the second half.

Most impressive was the Ravens ran the ball straight up the middle over and over with guard Ben Grubbs and center Matt Birk just dominating the interior of the Dolphins defense. The Ravens, while giving up a few yards, forced three interceptions and never looked back.

MVP: Ben Grubbs, G

Philadelphia Eagles over Indianapolis Colts, 26-24

I have a lot to say about this game and the horrendous officiating. The officials did every thing they could to give the Indianapolis Colts the win. The officials used zero common sense in call helmet-to-helmet contact. I could care less about the Eagles and despite many who think I hate the Colts, I really don’t. But I have observed over the years just how much the bad, horrendous, game changing calls always seem to go in their favor.

The bottom line is the Eagles completely outplayed the Colts and deserved to win the game.

The biggest mistake the officials made is calling a roughing penalty on defensive back Kurt Coleman late in the second quarter after Austin Collie was knocked out on a hard, legal hit. Collie clearly caught the ball, had possession, moved forward and ducked his head, and was crunched by Coleman in what appeared to be the chest area. Collie drops the ball and the Eagles recover it. The correct call by the officials would have been a fumble by Collie and the Eagles getting the ball wherever they returned it. At the very least it should have been the Eagles ball at the spot Collie fumbled it. Instead the Colts get a 15-yard penalty in the red zone and are able to score a touchdown and pull to a 16-14 deficit against the Eagles.

I know part of the officials’ reaction to the hit was probably that Collie was knocked completely unconscious and had to be taken off on a stretcher. I have a lot of admiration for Collie and thankfully he appears to be fine now. But that doesn’t absolve the officials for practically handing the Colts a touchdown.

But they were not done yet! Down 26-17 with three and half minutes left in the game, the Colts face a 4th down and 18 yards to go from the Philadelphia 41 yard line. The Eagles sack Manning, game over, right? Hold on, defensive end Trent Cole barely grazes the back of Manning’s helmet as he was being blocked. Manning probably didn’t even feel or notice it. But the officials, seeing that the Colts were about to lose, drop the flag, 15 yards, let’s hand the Colts another touchdown refs!

The Eagles were able to survive for a close win but it should have never come to having to get first down and run to run out the clock.

Lost in all this is Michael Vick played an excellent game both passing and running and the Eagles defense played as well as I have seen them play all year.

MVP: Michael Vick, QB

Green Bay Packers over Dallas Cowboys, 45-7

There really isn’t much to say about this game other than that Green Bay destroyed Dallas and the Dallas players simply quit. Jerry Jones must have been horribly embarrassed by the lack of effort or will on the part of his team. The Packers played a great game, of course, but they didn’t have a real football team to compete with.

And Clay Matthews, Jr. just terrorized the Dallas offensive line while receiver James Jones had a nice day with 8 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown.

MVP: Clay Matthews, Jr., LB

Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals, 27-21

The Bengals are an enigma to me. They have great receivers, a good quarterback, and a solid running game but just can’t seem to get it done. Their defense is a bit weak and not at all like the Marvin Lewis defenses of the past, but they are not horrible either. Had the Bengals not given up scores after turnovers and a blocked punt, they might have been able to win this game. But they just seem not to be able to get over the hump.

The Steelers defense, as usual, is solid but they seemed to relax after getting the big lead and let the Bengals back in the game late. And the offense had to resort to a trick play with Antwaan Randle-El throwing a touchdown pass. But despite a speedy receiver, Big Ben, and a good running attack, they don’t tend to produce a lot of points.

While the defense really won this game, they let the Bengals back in it so I’m going with the speed receiver Mike Wallace as the MVP who had 110 receiving yards and extended the Steelers lead in the fourth quarter with his touchdown grab from Randle-El.

MVP: Mike Wallace, WR

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland Browns
Defensive Player: Clay Matthews, Jr., Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
Offensive Lineman: Ben Grubbs, G, Baltimore Ravens
Special Teams: Wes Welker, WR/K, New England Patriots
Rookie of the Week: Jacoby Ford, WR, Oakland Raiders

2010 NFL Football Season: Week Four Observations

Patrick Chung

The big theme of the last two weeks was the huge days wide receivers have put up, with Terrell Owens of the Cincinnati Bengals snagging ten catches for 122 yards and a touchdown this week.

And Josh Scobee’s 59 yard field goal allowing the Jacksonville Jaguars to put up a big win against the Indianapolis Cots got upstaged on special teams Monday night by Patrick Chung’s heroics.

And of this writing, of course, the New England Patriots trade of Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings is the story of the week. But I will save that for later.

GAMES I WATCHED

New England Patriots over Miami Dolphins, 41-14

First, fellow Patriots fans should not get overly excited about our defense after this win. They are still awful. Miami pretty much moved the ball on us at will most of the game and in the second half gave up a long touchdown run to Ricky Williams. Rob Ninkovich’s two interceptions stopped drives, yes, but until Miami got way behind in the second half, our defense still looked vulnerable.

The big story of this game was simple: special teams. Kick off return for a touchdown, block punt setting up good field position for another touchdown, block field goal ran back for a touchdown. Sweet! But we won’t do that every week and our defense is still a work in progress.

Our offense was efficient but didn’t have the greatest first half, especially in the red zone. But when Miami scored in the second half to inch closer, Brady engineered an excellent drive for a touchdown that pretty much sealed the game.

For Miami much of the blame was placed on the Chad Henne. He has seen his better days at a quarterback, and played poorly once his team got behind, but I think he’ll bounce back. I liked his attitude after the game in the press conference, taking some blame and saying he’ll get better. The special teams coach was also fired. And there were a lot of bright spots for Miami. The Patriots took away Brandon Marshall, but Davone Best had a great day. And Patriots left tackle Matt Light had a horrible time against Miami Linebacker/Defensive End Cameron Wake. That kid had an unstoppable motor until late in the game.

To me, Miami seems to be a slightly above mediocre team with a lot of upside. Unfortunately, I would say the Patriots defensive this year has been a slightly below mediocre team, but they do have a huge upside in their youth, speed, and raw talent.

But this was the Patrick Chung show with the blocked punt, blocked field goal, and pick six late in the game. Oh, and let’s not forget Woody, or Woodhead, and no this not a plug for an erectile dysfunction drug. Thank you Jets.

So let’s not spoil this with talking about the Randy Moss trade which I will leave for another time.

MVP: Patrick Chung, SS

Baltimore Ravens over Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-14

This was a brutal, hard hitting, defensive game and the Ravens managed to come out top, mainly because their defense played extremely well. The Steelers squandered two scoring opportunities off of Ravens’ turnovers and Jeff Reed missed two field goals, which were really the difference in the game. While the Ravens still gave up some yards in the running and passing game, they mostly played great when it counted. Two road wins against division opponents, even if one of them was an improving Cleveland Browns team, puts the Ravens where the want to be four games into the season.

And Pittsburgh must be thrilled to have survived four games with a 3-1 record while Ben Rottenberger served his three game suspension for egregiously bad and probably criminal behavior toward a female college student in the off season. It’s rather interesting that both defenses gave up scoring drives late in the fourth quarter, with Baltimore having the ball last and the last laugh as they waltz out of Heinz Field with a victory in hand. But I think the Steelers are still the team to beat in that division. While you can only greatly admire the excellent play of Charlie Batch, this offense should be more explosive with Big Ben at the helm.

It’s hard to choose an MVP for this game because it was a real team effort across the board. But cornerback Lardarius Webb broke up to sure touchdowns to Mike Wallace so that’s my guy.

The AFC Central should come down to the wire and expect both of these two teams to be in the playoffs. And I have to say, the Steelers are scary good with Big Ben coming back and Rashard Mendenhall finally looking like the running back he was drafted to be.

MVP: Lardarius Webb, CB


Washington Redskins over Philadelphia Eagles, 17-12

After seeing about one full game of Kevin Kolb this season I have one word to say – awful. What Andy Reid sees in Kolb I have no idea. He was awful in the first half of the first game of the season before sustaining a concussion and he was awful against the Redskins when he came on in relief of Michael Vick. It’s pretty clear why Andy Reid made the smart move and started Vick. I’ve heard pundits make all kinds of excuses for Kolb’s performance but he clearly does not see the field well and misses wide open receivers he should hit under the type of pressure any quarterback is going to face. And it is also clear the coaches don’t trust him because as soon as he enters the game the offense becomes screens and short dump off passes with a few runs mixed in. The only time they finally opened the offense up a little bit is when they got behind. And for the most part Kolb could not deliver. Going into this season I was a big believer in Kevin Kolb. Not anymore.

I will say this for him though. He does have a good arm and he put the ball right in Jason Avant’s hand on the hail marry at the end of the game. Avant should have caught the ball for a stunning win.

And while we are on the Eagles, linebacker Quintin Mikell should be benched. He was lousy throughout the game and was the worst defensive player I saw this week. And I only had to laugh when I saw Asante Samuel and his half-hearted, make believe attempts to make a tackle. And then getting hurt on one. I remember when he was with the Patriots a few times I even saw him run away from big running backs with a head of steam.

The Redskins played relatively well but the Eagles soft defense made them look a little better than they probably are. They ran the ball well, and once Donovan McNabb settled down a bit in what had to be an emotional day for him, he played well enough to win. But his inaccuracy, which has plagued him throughout his career, was certainly on display for large parts of the day. The running game helped the Redskins offense out a lot. And I do wonder when Ryan Torain will simply be named the starter over Clinton Portis. Portis ran well but he stays hurt, which is unfortunate but not uncommon for an older running back with the kind of mileage he has being a featured back for so many years.

And linebacker Lorenzo Alexander was a beast on special teams! He was jacking people up left and right.

At the end of the day, despite not having off the chart stats, I felt Ryan Torian’s running sealed the deal.

MVP: Ryan Torain, RB


New York Giants over Chicago Bears 17-3

I can not remember a worse performance by an offensive line in my lifetime as the Chicago Bears displayed on Sunday night. That was such a pathetic, embarrassing, and atrocious performance I’d be utterly ashamed were I on that unit. And again I heard pundits making excuses that it’s Mike Martz’s system, blah blah blah. I don’t care what system you are in, or what your offensive scheme is, if you have an offensive line that blocks that badly you are going to lose, badly.

I don’t like Jay Cutler and his petulant attitude but I really felt sorry for him against the Giants. He had no prayer in the backfield. The Giants defensive line was left to basically tee off on him until he was knocked out of the game. And then they knocked Todd Collins out of the game. Had I been third string quarterback Caleb Hanie, after seeing the massacre on the field, I might have turned in my helmet and shoulder pads and quit the NFL for good before trotting on the field and putting my life on the line against a basically unblocked Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

And that, really, is the story of the game. The Giants were not utterly impressive on offense facing a good Bears defense, but Ahmad Bradshaw did have a solid game. But the Bears defense was pretty much worn out toward the end of the game. I have no idea how good the Giants were in this game, I just know how bad the Bears offensive line was.

MVP: Justin Tuck, DE


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Terrell Owens, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Defensive Player: Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants
Offensive Lineman: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers
Special Teams: Patrick Chung, SS, New England Patriots
Rookie of the Week: Maurkice Pouncey, C, Pittsburgh Steelers

2010 NFL Football Season: Week Three Observations

Tom Brady

I realize after the first three weeks of the season that what I thought I knew, I don’t know, but there some things I know that I know, at least I think so this week.

What I Thought I Knew

I was ready to anoint the Green Bay Packers one of the top teams in football going into the week and I thought Mike McCarthy was a good coach. The horribly sloppy play and penalties against the Chicago Bears and questionable decisions by McCarthy lost the game for the Packers.

I thought the Ravens had one of the best defenses in the NFL. Who would have thought they wouldn’t be able to stop the run, against the Cleveland Browns of all teams? Luckily for them the offense woke out of its slumber for a win.

I thought the San Francisco 49’ers were an up and coming team despite their losses, but they proved me wrong Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

I thought the Houston Texans might be the best team in the AFC but they got punked by Dallas’s defense.

And while I knew the St. Louis Rams would be better this year than last, I didn’t expect them to completely handle the Washington Redskins the way they did.

And finally, I have never been a big believer in Michael Vick coming back to be an effective every down quarterback. I guess he has proven me wrong, so far.


What I Think I Know

Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league and they just keep proving it. It is scary that they are 3-0 without Big Ben. Very scary.

The New England Patriots young defense is terrible, mostly in the secondary. I sure hope Bill Belichick gets that squad straightened out, soon.

Clinton Portis has seen his better days.

Philip Rivers is a whiney punk and San Diego has once again started off slowly. I’d love to see them lose the rest of their games. I am tired of Philip Rivers.

Baltimore’s offense could be one of the best in the league once Joe Flacco starts playing well. Even though he played well against the Browns, I still didn’t like his jittery feet and mechanics.

The Super Bowl is totally up for grabs this year. So far, there are no clearly dominant teams in the NFL.


GAMES I WATCHED

New England Patriots over Buffalo Bills 38-30 (On NFL Game Rewind)

What is going on with the New England Patriots defense?! Giving up 23 points to the Buffalo Bills is simply not acceptable (I am not counting the kickoff return for a touchdown by C.J. Spiller). The young rookie defensive backs are struggling mightily. Hopefully they will improve over the course the season. Otherwise we are in big trouble.

Thankfully, the offense looked great. Tom Brady had a terrific game and spread the ball around to a variety of receivers. The one huge concern I have is the lack of commitment to the running game. Even without a marquee running back, it is imperative to have a rushing attack to slow down pass rushers and keep defenses a little more off guard. Otherwise teams will just catch up with our passing attack.

Ryan Fitzpatrick obviously had a great day at quarterback as well and you can understand why the Bills jettisoned Trent Edwards who was just not working out. It will be interesting to see what kind of success the Bills can muster when they face tougher defensive backs.

MVP: Tom Brady, QB

Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns, 24-17

I was absolutely shocked watching the Cleveland Browns and Peyton Hillis run all over the Ravens defense. Hillis ended up with 144 yards against what I thought was one of the toughest run defenses in the league.

Luckily for the Ravens the offense woke up after two disappointing weeks with Flacco hitting Anquan Boldin for three touchdowns. Despite having a better game I still though Flacco sometimes looked sketchy in the pocket. No quarterback has a lot of time to throw in the NFL but when Flacco gets what I consider normal pressure, he seems to get happy feet and throw off his back foot or make mental errors. It was less pronounced this week than last but there are still some issues there.

And what can you say about the acquisition of Anquan Boldin? He has been one of the most consistent offensive performers in the league and the bright spot on offense for the Ravens the past three weeks.

For Cleveland this should be a game to build on. If they can play that well against this defense, they should be able to notch up a few wins this season. And I wonder if Jake Delhomme will get his starting job back? Seneca Wallace looked awfully good in this game. Of course he was getting a lot of support in the running game.

MVP: Anquan Boldin, WR

St. Louis Ram over Washington Redskins, 30-16

Despite some miscues and not taking full advantage of some of their opportunities, the St. Louis Rams looked like a good football team against the Washington Redskins! I was extremely impressed with the team on both sides of the ball.

I was most impressed that after taking a 14-0 lead, the Washington Redskins came back to take the lead 16-14 early in the third quarter but the Rams didn’t falter. This is when bad teams fall apart and get spanked. Instead, the Rams stayed calm and retook the lead with a nice touchdown drive and never looked back. While I think Sam Bradford has a lot of work to do, his calm leadership and solid play showed that he can eventually be top flight starter in the NFL if he stays healthy. And the defense shut the Redskins out the rest of the game thanks to linebacker Bill Laurinaitis being all over the field and the play of free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe before leaving the game with an injury.

On the Redskins side of the ball, they absolutely could not get a running game going. Without a running game they just could not do much in the second half. It would appear Santana Moss is getting too old be a receiver that can carry the load and Joey Galloway is even worse. I am surprised the Redskins didn’t go to tight end Chris Cooley more than they did.

The most bizarre play was when Clinton Portis broke off a long run and then simply fell to the ground himself. Later in the week it was reported he told Coach Shanahan it was because of his wrist injury and concern about ball security. While I think Portis is one of the biggest whiners and malcontents in the league, he has been a tough player so I give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

This game reminded me a lot of the Detroit Lions game last year in the third game of the season where the Redskins lost in a poorly played game and Portis got into an argument with Jim Zorn on the sideline after taking himself out of the game. To me, that game marked the day the wheels came off for the Redskins in the 2009 season. Again, in the third week, they lost to a team most would think they should beat, and didn’t look great in the process. Will the wheels come off again or will Shanahan keep this team rolling forward and improving? With a weakened offensive line, no running game, and a questionable corps of receivers, it might be tough. Donovan McNabb can’t do it all on his own.

MVP: Bill Laurinaitis, LB

New York Jets over Miami Dolphins, 31-23

Mark Sanchez had a great game against the Dolphins. Is this his breakout game or will he revert back to the poor play we saw in the first game of the season? Time will tell. But I will say, I am not a believer.

I also think if the off field incidents like Braylon Edwards’ DUI continue, it will become a distraction for this team. He did catch a long touchdown pass to help redeem himself. The key to this game, to me though, was the ability of the Jets to run the ball with LaDanian Tomlinson, helping out the passing game.

Miami hung tough and tried to come back but to no avail, even with Brandon Marshall catching 10 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.

MVP: Mark Sanchez, QB

Chicago Bears over Green Bay Packers, 20-17

Green Bay outplayed the Bears but their 18 penalties for 152 yards killed them. Holding penalties thwarting the offense and a stupid roughing the passer penalty negating a Green Bay interception really did the Packers in. Punter Tim Masthay was horrible, having the kind of game that should get him cut. A short low kick allowed an easy punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester that put the Bears ahead in the fourth quarter and was really the key play in the game.

And then Mike McCarthy challenged a fumble that was clearly a fumble in the fourth quarter costing the team a timeout. That was a really stupid move on his part. There is no way that play was getting overturned.

The Bears are now 3-0, the only undefeated team in the NFC, and have knocked off two good teams in Dallas and Green Bay. Frankly, they just don’t look like a 3-0 team to me.

MVP: Devin Hester, WR/KR

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Offensive Player: Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Defensive Player: Bill Laurinaitis, LB, St. Louis Rams
Offensive Lineman: Adam Goldberg, G, St. Louis Rams
Special Teams: Leon Washington, RB/KR, Seattle Seahawks
Rookie of the Week: C.J. Spiller, RB/KR, Buffalo Bills