With the exception of the Philadelphia Eagles, division leaders across the league distanced themselves from their division foes in week 9. Elsewhere, the retro Tampa Bay Buccaneers out-dueled the Green Bay Packers for their first victory of 2009 and playoff hopefuls fell off the wagon… hard.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned their first victory of the 2009 season on Sunday. As big of a win as it was for the Buccaneers, it was an even bigger loss for the Green Bay Packers. I could easily cover the playoff implications of the loss, or the multitude of reasons the Packers lost, but that’s not what enrages fans in Green Bay. Packer fans are steaming about the play of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Watching Favre tear up the NFL only makes the heat on Rodgers hotter. While it may be unfair to a certain degree, Rodgers certainly deserves the criticism for his poor play in Tampa Bay. Over the course of Sunday’s game, Rodgers completed less than 50% of his passes, took 6 sacks, and threw 3 interceptions to boot. What will really irk the Packer faithful was his performance on the potential game-winning drive. In a position where the great Brett Favre ruled for so many years, Aaron Rodgers came up extremely small. Rodgers completed just one of three passes, was sacked, and threw the decisive interception on 4th down (which was returned for a touchdown). Not exactly what one would call, “Favre-esque.”
Miscommunication can, and will, cost you in the NFL. When the Houston Texans look back at their Week 9 gut-wrenching defeat to their division rival, Indianapolis Colts, they’ll see that a blown communication on 2nd and goal from the one yard line in the 2nd quarter ultimately cost them the game. Here’s what happened. Texans’ running back, Ryan Moats took a pass down to the Colts’ one yard line. When he was hit and forced out of bounds, the ball popped loose and bounced back into the field of play. The initial call was that he was down when the ball came loose. Every player in the vicinity reacted as if they agreed with the call. The line of scrimmage was set and the Texans approached the ball ready for the next play. At the line, quarterback, Matt Schaub was having difficulty getting everyone adjusted before the play clock would expire, and therefore called a timeout. I was watching the game at this point and immediately yelled, “stupid, so stupid,” at the TV. Whenever there is a questionable call, you can’t allow the opponent a lengthy amount of time to determine whether the previous play was correctly called. The Colts did exactly that. They used the timeout to see the replays and decided to challenge the play. The call was overturned and Indianapolis was granted possession. The Texans blew an opportunity to put at least 3 points on the board in a game they lost by 3. One miscommunication at the line of scrimmage cost the Texans the game, and probably a shot at the division title.
The Dallas Cowboys are the top team in the NFC East at the season’s halfway point. In an ugly Sunday night game (ugly is becoming synonymous with the Eagles), the Cowboys outlasted the Philadelphia Eagles by pressuring Donovan McNabb and keeping the Eagles’ offense out of rhythm. Even though the game contained a total of 19 penalties for 152 yards, the Cowboys proved they’re the team to beat in the division. The Eagles can’t protect the quarterback, sustain drives, and McNabb is as inconsistent as ever. I’ll have more on the Eagles issues tomorrow. For now, the Cowboys are in the driver’s seat. It’s also important to note that, between the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants, Dallas has the easiest remaining schedule. If Tony Romo continues to protect the ball, Dallas has a formidable team on both sides of the ball. There’s plenty of season left, but the NFC East is the Cowboys to lose.
That was impressive…
- Carolina Panthers were up 14-0 in the first seven minutes.
- Titans RB Chris Johnson is a special back. He can be the home run hitter or the back that grinds away a defense, like he was today.
- Charges QB Philip Rivers struggled most of the day, but his game winning drive to beat the Giants on the road was huge for the Chargers’ playoff hopes.
- Dolphins CB Vontae Davis made some exceptional plays today against Randy Moss and Tom Brady. He had his share of miscues, but he has a bright future.
- I’m not totally convinced the Green Bay Packers even have a defense, but the Buccaneers dismantled whatever lined up opposite them on Sunday.
- How good is Peyton Manning? After the 1st quarter, Manning had already thrown for 176 yards and a TD.
- Texans rookie LB Brian Cushing is all over the field, every week. Cushing and the Texans defense kept their team in the game all day against Manning and the Colts’ high powered offense.
- The Bengals offense was a well-oiled machine coming out of their bye week, scoring on their first three drives (and then sputtered the rest of the day).
- Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals bounced back this week with impressive wins over conference opponents. The Cardinals are really good when they have their act together.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneer defense sacked Packers QB Aaron Rodgers 6 times on Sunday. (With how long Rodgers holds the ball, a pee-wee team could re-produce the same effort, but still a nice day for the Bucs.)
- Moral Victory of the Week: Kansas City Chiefs defense holding Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew to 3.3 yards per carry. Baby steps, Kansas City, baby steps.
- Patriots WR, Randy Moss stiff-arm of CB Vontae Davis to the ground (one of Davis’ aforementioned miscues) en route to a 71 yard TD reception.
- Panthers LB Jon Beason continues to amaze me. He’s fast (chased down Reggie Bush), but can still hit as well as any player in the league.
- The Seattle Seahawks bounced back from an early 17-0 deficit to dominate the Detroit Lions 32-3 the rest of the game.
- If you want to beat the Saints, you have to play 60 minutes of solid football. As the Dolphins and Panthers have learned firsthand, dominating the first half just isn’t enough. The moment you stop the scoring is the moment you lose the game.
Not so much…
- Why, oh why did the Panthers abandon the run in the 2nd half? Until the late fumble, the Panthers never trailed by more than 3 points. Putting the game in Jake Delhomme’s hands is not how you’re going to win. He didn’t throw any picks, but he missed receivers high and wide all day long.
- Earth, I’d like you to meet Alex Smith. Alex, this is Earth. You know you stunk when you’re outplayed by Vince Young.
- Baltimore Ravens’ defense first three drives against: 12 plays, 73 yards, TD; 10 plays, 80 yards, TD; 12 plays, 75 yards, FG.
- The Redskins showed a little life in the 2nd half today, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are bad, bad, bad.
- Chicago Bears’ defensive effort in the 1st half: forced no punts, no turnovers; allowed 320 yards, 31 points; surrendered 9.4 yards/rush; Cardinals were 6/6 on 3rd down. FOX’s Joe Buck’s analysis: “It’s become a rather average defense.”
- The New York Giants need some help in their secondary, pronto.
- The NFC North wet the bed today: 0-3 with losses to the Buccaneers, Cardinals and Seahawks. What else could go right for the Minnesota Vikings?
- Texans kicker, Kris Brown, missed a game-tying 42 yard field goal that would have forced overtime against division rival, Indianapolis Colts. Better shower and changed elsewhere, Mr. Brown
- New Orleans Saints red zone offense in the first half: 3 possessions, 2 FG, 1 interception
- Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr dropped another pass with the game on the line. He might be back in the doghouse.
- Packers QB, Aaron Rodgers, throwing deep down field to Gregg Jennings when Jennings was quadruple covered. Yes, Brett Favre would do that, but you have to win to earn that leniency.
- Ravens will have a tough time making the playoffs as it is, but they’ll need a better first half effort from their offense; 44 total yards, turnover, 0-5 on 3rd downs.
- In a critical game for his team, it took DT Tommie Harris all but 4 plays to get ejected. Harris punched a defenseless Cardinal player. You stay classy, Tommie.
- What’s with Michigan athletes? Dolphins QB, Chad Henne called a timeout in the 4th quarter on Sunday. One small problem, the Dolphins were out of timeouts. Apparently, Chris Webber has infected them all.
- The Giants losing 4 in a row in a slop-fest against the San Diego Chargers was ugly. A botched 1st quarter field goal ultimately ended up being the difference. Not a nice way to enter your bye week.
- Nice job Aaron Rodgers. Your attempted decapitation/tackle of Buccaneers safety Tanard Jackson was mighty impressive. Maybe next time you could try to prevent him from scoring too?
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Kurt Warner: 22/32 261 YDS, 5 TD
RB Michael Turner: 18 Carries, 166 YDS, 2 TD
WR Larry Fitzgerald: 9 Rec, 123 YDS, 2 TD
WR Mike Sims-Walker: 6 Rec, 147 YDS, 1 TD
TE Dallas Clark: 14 Rec, 119 YDS, 0 TD/Greg Olsen 5 Rec, 71 YDS, 3 TD
D Ravens: 7 points, 200 yards allowed, 3/13 3rd down conversion, 1 TO
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Alex Smith: 3 INT, Fumble
RB Clinton Portis: 4 Carries, 4 YDS, Concussion in 1st Quarter
WR Marques Colston: 1 Rec, 45 YDS, 0 TD, Multiple Drops
WR DeSean Jackson: 2 Rec, 29 YDS, 0 TD
TE Marcedes Lewis: 1 Rec, 3 YDS, 0 TD
D Bears: 438 Total Yards Allowed, Surrendered 41 Points
Great information from FOX:
Carolina has allowed 6 turnovers returned for touchdowns.
New Orleans has returned 7 turnovers for touchdowns, which is 2 more touchdowns than the Cleveland Brown offense has mustered the entire season. Wow.
The Miami Dolphins know how to compete with the league’s best quarterbacks. Look at the Dolphins’ first drive of the 2nd half: 16 plays, 66 yards, TD, 10:09 of possession.
Ravens kicker, Steven Hauschka might be looking for a new job soon. Hauschka missed a 38 yard, 4th quarter field goal with just over 6 minutes remaining. The field goal would have brought the Ravens within 7 points. Instead, the Ravens were left needing two scores. Hauschka also missed a 44 yard, game winning field goal as time expired against the Minnesota Vikings in week 6.
Former NFL Referee, Red Cashion was in the stadium for the Ravens/Bengals game on Sunday. Hearing him call, “First Daaaahhhhwwwwwnnnn” on Sundays was a major reason I hoped he had the Eagles’ game every week.
These men could use somewhere a little cooler to sit; John Fox, Gary Kubiak, Mike McCarthy, Lovie Smith, and Jim Zorn.
CBS’s Dick Enberg: “Man, this Bengal team is high on hair though isn’t it? I mean they’re the hairiest team in the league…my favorite is Peko, his number is ninety-follicle.”
Rough, rough day for Joe Flacco. Probably the worst outing of his two year career.
In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went winless. How fitting was it for the 2009 Buccaneers to wear those same 1976 uniforms to finally get their first victory of the 2009 season?
For those keeping track, Jim Zorn did in fact complete his grocery list while watching Sherman Lewis call another horrible game for the Washington Redskins.
At some point during the 2nd quarter, CBS showed that the Bengals had scored on their previous ten drives quarterbacked by Carson Palmer. On the very next play, the Bengals failed to convert on 3rd down. They wouldn’t score again the rest of the game. Way to deliver the kibosh, CBS. Nicely done.
I hate the, “ice the kicker time out.” It never works, and usually backfires as it did for the Colts on Sunday. Texans kicker, Kris Brown missed the initial field goal, but the late timeout granted him a second chance. He hit it.
FOX analyst Troy Aikman offered that the addition of Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears “put a stop light” on the needs at other positions like receiver and offensive line. If you watch the Bears, he’s right.
The Panthers responded to the Saints 3rd quarter touchdown by driving the length of the field. Unfortunately, miscues inside the ten yard line forced Carolina to settle for a field goal. After taking the momentum back from the Saints, only getting a field goal shifted it right back to the Saints. The Panthers were unable to recapture any momentum the rest of the game.
Very questionable 4th quarter challenge by Saints Head Coach, Sean Payton. WR Marques Colston clearly lost the ball when he hit the ground. How many times have we seen a receiver lose control when hitting the ground and the pass ultimately ruled incomplete? It happens every week, and yet Payton challenged the call anyway. What’s worse, he used a timeout to decide whether to challenge and then was charged an additional timeout for losing the challenge. The play was obviously not overturned and the Saints lost two timeouts in the 4th quarter of a tight division game. Payton is lucky his poor decision didn’t come back to bite him.
In their advertisement for next week, FOX referred to the Lions/Vikings game as a “NFC North showdown.” I don’t know if I would use the word, “showdown” to describe that game. Maybe, “massacre” or “thrashing,” but definitely not, “showdown.”
The 49ers, Bears, Dolphins, Packers, and Panthers all watched their playoff hopes slip further away today.
Something you never want to hear as an NFL coach, “You were out-coached by Wade Phillips.” New low for Andy Reid.