The Broncos and Brandon Marshall waited until the 4th quarter to silence their doubters (for now) while the Patriots staked their claim as the team to beat in the AFC. Elsewhere, the Giants got a scare, Peyton Manning continued his dominance, and Mark Sanchez abruptly fell back to earth.
I watched the Cowboys/Broncos game and couldn’t decide what I thought. Are the Broncos that good or are the Cowboys that dysfunctional? I’ve settled on 46-54. The Cowboys are a little more dysfunctional than the Broncos are good. Don’t get me wrong, the Broncos are a solid team. Their defense has an attitude and plays aggressively on every down. Both are certainly a reflection of Brian Dawkins’ leadership. Their offense works. There’s not much more to say about the offense. They have some weapons, but as he showed most of Sunday, Kyle Orton can’t always deliver the ball to those weapons. The Broncos will absolutely have a say in the playoff picture and even the AFC West. Will they ultimately make the postseason? I’m not hopeful for them because I think the wildcards will come from the South and North, so the Broncos will need the Division title to advance.
As for the Cowboys? Tony Romo is about a year overdue. His maturation date was supposed to be last season. Here we are, a year later, and he still commits critical errors and makes it hard for his team to win. The Cowboys need to rely more on their running game and the defense until Romo finds himself. Having him airing it out forty times a game is asking for trouble. The NFC is a talented conference and the Cowboys play in the deepest division. If they want to taste the postseason, they need to get Romo’s head (and game) straight. He’s not nearly good enough to compete with the league’s elite right now.
A quick piece of advice for NFL coaches: DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT give the ball to either of the Manning boys with time on the clock before the end of the half. Both Eli and Peyton made their opponents pay for such mistakes on Sunday. Against the Kansas City Chumps… I mean Chiefs, Eli Manning got the ball in his hands with 1:49 left in the half and 87 yards to go. Eli went 3/4 for 58 yards and put an additional three points on the scoreboard as time expired. In Indianapolis, the Seahawks gave Peyton Manning the ball with only 1:22 left and 78 yards to the end zone. Peyton overcame two penalties and went 7/9 for 93 yards and a TD in 1:19. The Mannings run the two minute drill like they created the thing. Coaches should pay heed and take extreme measures to keep possession of the ball until the halftime whistle. If they don’t, you can be sure that Peyton and Eli will extend their lead or close a deficit with whatever amount of time you leave them to work. They’re that good.
Tight Ends are making a comeback in the NFL. For a number of years, TE’s Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez were widely regarded as impact players. There weren’t too many other tight ends that drew the same attention. Jason Witten began to creep into that conversation in past seasons, but 2009 should see more than a handful of playmaking tight ends join the group. Even though Brent Celek and Tony Gonzalez had bye weeks, twelve touchdown passes were thrown to tight ends in today’s play. Celek is ranked in the top ten in receiving yards and Gonzalez leads his team in receiving yards and touchdowns. Chris Cooley and Vernon Davis have become the most consistent receivers for their respective teams and Greg Olsen has grown into Jay Cutler’s security blanket. Dallas Clark tops all but four receivers in receiving yards and is an impossible matchup for linebackers. Owen Daniels and John Carlson are also worth keeping an eye on, and, of course, Antonio Gates and Gonzalez are as effective as ever. I, for one, am excited to see the tight end triumphantly return to the NFL.
That was impressive…
- Ravens WR Derrick Mason on offense’s first drive: 6 Rec. 77 YDS, TD. All six receptions were for first downs, four of them were third down conversions.
- (More surprising than impressive) At 1:15PM ET, both the Buccaneers and Lions led 7-0.
- Laurence Maroney’s first quarter juke on Ravens LB Dannell Ellerbe. Ellerbe left some laundry on the field.
- Colts DE Dwight Freeney playing and registering a sack a week after suffering a quad injury that was supposed to leave him out for close to a month.
- Browns DT Shaun Rogers blocking the Bengals game-winning extra point.
- Ravens converting a 3rd and goal from the 20 yard line.
- Champ Bailey’s third quarter interception of Cowboys QB Tony Romo.
- Chad Ochocinco’s one-handed TD grab
- Those yellow Steeler helmets. I know I’m somewhat color blind, but I love them.
- Cowboys defensive stand on 3rd and 1, and 4th and 1 at the close of the third quarter in a 10-7 game.
- Rashard Mendenhall coming out of Mike Tomlin’s doghouse and running circles around the Charges defense
- 49ers and Texans beating teams they’re supposed to beat.
- The Jaguars offense has been on quite a roll the last couple of weeks.
- Broncos WR Brandon Marshall going up and getting the game winning reception from Cowboys CB Terence Newman. Too many WR’s wait for the ball. The run after the catch was just as impressive.
- They eventually lost, but the Jets defense kept their team in the game.
- That aggressive and exciting defense in Denver. How long has it been since we’ve said that?
Not so much…
- It’s amazing the Broncos can still walk after they shot themselves in the foot so many times; 10 penalties for 81 yards.
- Jets DT Kris Jenkins’ false start on the Saints 4th and 1 attempt with less than ten minutes left in a seven point game. You HAVE to expect the hard count there. Inexcusable.
- Rams QB Kyle Boller looked like the Kyle Boller that never figured it out in Baltimore. Last week was an anomaly.
- Speaking of the Rams, I did my best to watch them for a significant amount of time this week. I couldn’t do it. They’re extremely hard on the eyes.
- Trent Edwards’ performance thus far makes Bills fans miss the days of JP Losman.
- Matt Cassel fumbled three times today and missed a plethora of passes. The Chiefs can’t be excited about that $63 million contract.
- When I picked the Bills this week, I assumed the Dolphins were the team more likely to give up on the 2009 season. I was wrong. The Bills jumped ship first.
- The Seahawks need some red zone help. Second quarter red zone possession: 1st and goal at the nine. Three plays later, the Seahawks kicked a field goal from the 21. Three plays, -12 yards.
- Both the Ravens and Chiefs fumbled the opening kickoff.
- The three passes thrown to Giants WR Mario Manningham on the offenses third drive were quite interesting. First pass: bobbled and nearly intercepted, fell incomplete. Second Pass: bobbled and caught for 43 yards. Third pass: bobbled and intercepted. That’s not the way to earn Eli’s trust
- Seahawks WR TJ Houshmandzadeh must annoy his quarterbacks. He whines and shows his displeasure too often.
- RIP 2009 Tennessee Titans
- Chiefs are not a very good football team
- Giants LB Michael Boley celebrated after breaking up a first quarter pass in the end zone. He was burned on the play, but QB Matt Cassel badly under threw the ball and hit Boley in the helmet. Players celebrate too much and too often about nothing.
- Mark Sanchez looked like a rookie quarterback today.
- First and goal, and Jason Witten isn’t the primary option at least once? Not a great move, Cowboys.
- Chargers performance on Sunday night. Showing up for the final 17 minutes isn’t enough in the NFL.
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB David Garrard: 323 YDS, 3 TD
RB Rashard Mendenhall: 29 Carries, 165 YDS, 2 TD, 2 Rec, 26 YDS
WR Steve Smith (NYG): 11 Rec, 134 YDS, 2 TD
WR Mike Sims-Walker: 7 Rec, 91 YDS, 2 TD
TE Antonio Gates: 9 Rec, 124 YDS, 2 TD
D Saints: 10 Points Allowed, 4 Turnovers, 4 Sacks, 2 TD
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Mark Sanchez: 138 YDS, 3 INT (One returned for TD), Fumble (Recovered for TD)
RB Marshawn Lynch: 8 Carries, 4 YDS in first game back
WR Braylon Edwards: 0 Rec, 0 YDS, 0 TD (This spot has now been named after him)
WR Mark Clayton: Dropped 4th down pass as Ravens were driving to win the game.
TE Buffalo Bills Tight Ends: 0 Rec, 0 YDS, 0 TD
D Chargers: 516 YDS Allowed, Surrendered 38 Points
Darrelle Revis must give opposing quarterbacks nightmares. He’s now gotten the better of Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marcus Colston. That’s an impressive 2009 resume.
Last week I mentioned an article focusing on fourth down attempts. This week, 33 fourth down conversions were attempted. Of those 33 attempts, 20 were successful. That’s a little over a 60% success rate. Coaches are getting gutsier.
The Cleveland Browns do have a pulse.
Eli Manning’s injury looked an awful lot like an Achilles injury. The Giants (especially Steve Smith) must be overjoyed it was nothing more than a bruised heal.
Darren Sharper is harassing young QB’s in the red zone; 99 yard TD return on Mark Sanchez today, 97 yard TD return on Kevin Kolb two weeks ago. He now has the second most interceptions returned for a TD (Rod Woodson is first).
The Patriots have had the toughest schedule thus far (Bills, Jets, Falcons, Ravens) and have come through at 3-1. That’s encouraging for a team welcoming back an injured QB.
As mentioned during the broadcast, the Giants offensive line has been together for 36 consecutive games. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, only two teams (Pats, Colts) have more regular season wins than the Giants. The offensive line is an under-appreciated keystone to any perennial contender.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick went for the first down on 4th and 1 at the opponents three yard line early in the first half. How many coaches don’t kick the field goal there? I would argue everyone but him and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Welcome to the end zone, Steve Slaton and Matt Forte.
The Titans defense is not nearly as good as advertised…
…Speaking of false advertising…In their promo for Week five, FOX used the following statement to describe the games they’ll broadcast, “It’s another great slate of NFL action (in HD) next week.” Really? DAL/KC, MINN/STL, TB/PHI, WASH/CAR, and ATL/SF is hardly what I would consider, “great NFL action.”
Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton are settling in quite nicely in their new respective locations.
I cannot wait for the, “I’m so confused and can’t keep up with what’s happening, so I make this hilarious face,” Super Bowl. Redskins head coach Jim Zorn and Cowboys head coach Wade Philips face off 11/22. Get your popcorn ready.
On the constant feed at the bottom of the screen, NBC’s Sunday Night Football displayed, “Texans’ defense shuts down Raiders attack.” Excuse me? What attack do the Raiders have? I couldn’t believe this. The Raiders can’t score when they run through their plays without a defense. That’s how bad they are.
Tom Brady’s third quarter fumble was recovered for a Ravens’ touchdown. How did he respond? Six plays, 79 yards and a touchdown in 3:52. His stats on that drive: 4/4 73 YDS and a TD. Good players respond to adversity.
It took six months, but baseball finally matters.