Stephen Jackson and the Rams galloped their way to their first victory in 2009, while the Ravens bullied the Broncos into their first defeat. A crazy AFC East battle and a homecoming in Wisconsin that did not end favorably for the home fans, were about the only games worth mentioning on a far from memorable day in the NFL.
Let’s be honest, week 8 in the NFL was, at the end of the day, a lousy week. Other than some excitement in the MIA/NYJ and the MINN/GB contests, the week was underwhelming. (The SF/IND and STL/DET games were close, but I wouldn’t call them entertaining.) Therefore, let’s look ahead to the mammoth week ahead. Next Sunday will be the biggest week in the NFL thus far. Division battles in the AFC East, North, and South pair playoff contenders vying for division titles. The day is capped with a NFC East slugfest that will determine who is currently number two in the NFC. It’s hard to argue that the Saints aren’t the best team in the NFC. However, you could make an argument that the Brett Favre’s are close behind. I’m not totally convinced. The Vikings are a solid football team. They play good defense and make plays on offense, but can they win when Brett Favre is under heavy pressure? Not likely. Both the Cowboys and Eagles bring the heat, every down, every series, all game long. As they demonstrated Sunday, these teams terrorize quarterbacks. We’re barely halfway through the season, so this is all premature, but it makes for some competitive banter. Enjoy.
The Denver Broncos got a beat down when they ran into the perfect storm in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens, coming off a bye that followed three consecutive losses, were desperate and angry. Desperate and angry are not welcoming terms to any offense lining up across from the Raven defense. On Sunday, it was the Ravens defense that pounded, frustrated, and ultimately stymied the Bronco offense. Kyle Orton was sacked twice but was hit and pressured multiple times. Baltimore proved that Kyle Orton, as good as he’s been, is still not capable of beating a top tier defense. The Ravens obviously believed this going in as they took away the Broncos rushing attack and forced Orton to beat them. Offensively, the Ravens took advantage of the Broncos smaller, quicker defense by battering them at the line of scrimmage. Baltimore grinded away at the Denver defense by staying on the field (11/18 on third down), and committing to the running game. The knockout blow was delivered on a ten play, 4th quarter touchdown drive in which the Ravens lined up and ran the ball ALL ten times. While the Broncos are a very good team, they were beaten into submission by a bigger, tougher, and physically superior Ravens team today.
Here’s what I included in my preview of the Panthers/Cardinals matchup: “I’ve got myself so excited about this that I think it’s actually gonna happen. Julius Peppers terrorizes Warner all day, Carolina rushes for 200+ yards, and Steve Smith finally finds the end zone. What a great day for the Panthers!” Ok, so let’s review. Peppers terrorizes Kurt Warner? Check. Carolina rushes for 200+ yards? Check. Did Steve Smith find the end zone? Check. And the Panthers won? Yes sir. Now is when the Panthers collectively kick themselves, and their kicker. If Carolina doesn’t fumble away a 4th quarter punt and John Kasay doesn’t miss two very makeable field goals, The Panthers are 4-3 right now instead of 3-4. A 4-3 record puts them right in the wildcard mix. However, with the Bears, Falcons, and Packers struggling, the 3-4 record doesn’t put the Panthers out of contention. With a solid defense and one of the best rushing games in football, it’s too early to give up on the Panthers. Carolina simply needs to rely on what they do best. Run Carolina, RUN.
That was impressive…
- Redemption for Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr. Ginn had two kickoff returns for TDs that essentially won the game for a Dolphins team desperate for a win.
- He’s annoying but Bills WR Terrell Owens can still fly. He outran the Texans defense on that 29 yard TD run.
- Carolina Panthers running game.
- Wnston Justice surrendered zero sacks to Osi Umenyiora on Sunday. That’s six less than the last time they matched up.
- The Dallas defense has turned it on recently.
- What a great battle between two of the best young running backs in the NFL. Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew and Titans RB Chris Johnson showed us just how fast they are. Jones-Drew: Rushing TDs of 79 and 80 yards. Johnson: Rushing TDs of 52 and 89 yards.
- The fake WR screen by Panthers QB Jake Delhomme to WR Steve Smith left Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stuck in Smith’s tailwind
- Great naked bootleg by Jets QB Mark Sanchez. The Dolphins D-Line was still fighting at the line five seconds after Sanchez scored.
- Interception by Panthers DE Julius Peppers. Great display of awareness and athleticism.
- Raiders kicker, Sebastian Janikowski has a got a leg. His 48 yard field goal would have been good from 58.
- Savvy play by Packers WR Gregg Jennings. On QB Aaron Rodgers’ 35 yard run, Jennings was downfield pretending to try to get open to keep the DB on him even though Aaron Rodgers was 7 yards away, which was a good 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The Vikings DB had no idea.
- Vikings QB Brett Favre. Enough said.
- Texans RB Ryan Moats coming out of the bullpen and rushing for over 140 yards and 3 TDs.
- 49ers defense holding the Colts and Peyton Manning to 18 points.
- The Giants cut the score to 16-7 in the 2nd quarter. Less than 70 seconds later, the Eagles were up 30-7. That’s an explosive offense.
- The Bears still managed to look bad in a 30-6 win. Now that is impressive.
Not so much…
- AVATAR. Is that movie the grown up version of FernGully?
- Eli Manning is beginning to look like the rattled, inconsistent Eli Manning from 2004-2007.
- Derek Anderson managed to have a lower QB rating than Kurt Warner today…and Warner threw 5 interceptions.
- San Francisco 49ers are on a 3 game losing streak. Lucky for them, they play in the NFC Worst and are still only a game behind the Cardinals.
- Did anyone notice the two Oakland Raider receivers running into each other in the 4th quarter? Uh, fellas, you won’t get an illegal contact penalty if you take each other out. That’s not how it works.
- The Arizona Cardinals were rolling until they were thumped by the visiting Panthers. That’s an embarrassing and unacceptable home loss for a team that looked like it was finding its rhythm.
- The Packers defense. Every time the offense clawed its way back into the game, the defense allowed the Vikings to march down the field and score.
- The Jets looked good on their final drive until they got inside the ten. From there, the play calling failed the Jets. Trust your running game, not your rookie quarterback.
- Aaron Rodgers is still waiting to throw the ball. Somebody needs to put a timed shock collar around his neck.
- Bills defense completely fell apart in the 4th quarter. When Ryan Moats scores “thrice,” you know you’re playing poorly.
- How about that Seahawks upset pick? I nailed that one.
- On a day when their offense performed well, the Jets special teams blew the game by giving up two 100+ yard kickoff returns for touchdowns.
- Rams vs. Lions. Nothing in particular, just the game. Not good football.
- The Seahawks secondary missed three tackles inside the seven yard line on Sam Hurd’s 1st quarter touchdown reception.
- The Colts, Bears, and Ravens all struggled to score touchdowns on Sunday, especially early in the game.
- Browns’ offensive stats: 191 total yards, 1/11 on 3rd down, 5 turnovers. When do we bring in replacement players in Cleveland?
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Brett Favre: 17/28 244 YDS, 4 TD
RB Chris Johnson: 24 Carries, 228 YDS, 2 TD
WR Reggie Wayne: 12 Rec, 147 YDS, 1 TD
WR Vincent Jackson: 8 Rec, 103 YDS, 1 TD
TE Dustin Keller: 8 Rec, 76 YDS, 1 TD
D Ravens: 7 points, 200 yards allowed, 3/13 3rd down conversion, 1 TO
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Kurt Warner: 5 INT, Fumble
RB Steve Slaton: 1 Carry, 1 YD, Benched in 1st Quarter after fumble
WR Mike Sims-Walker: 2 Rec, 9 YDS, 0 TD
WR Pick One. It was a slow week for wide receivers
TE Owen Daniels: Knee Injury in 1st Quarter. Likely out for year
D Bills: Could not keep 10-9 4th Quarter lead. Surrendered 3 TDs in the 4th
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only winless team left in 2009.
Welcome back to the NFL, Vince Young. The Jaguars defense isn’t a top defense but Young’s 15/18 for 125 yards and a TD is a good start to build on.
The Chargers won again but I am not convinced that they are a legitimate playoff team. Unless the Broncos fall apart, I don’t think we’ll see the Chargers in the postseason.
Brett Favre vs. the Packers this season: 41/59, 515 yards, 7 TDs. Salt on a wound.
When your rookie quarterback goes 20/35 for 265 yards, 2 TDs, and ZERO turnovers, you should win those games. The Jets did not, and now they’re 1-3 in the division.
The Dolphins are resilient. They don’t have a lot of talent on the roster but they find ways to win.
Vikings DE Jared Allen spends as much time in the Packers backfield as Aaron Rodgers. Maybe put a tight end out there to help?
Jake Delhomme in 2008 Divisional Playoffs vs. Cardinals: 17/34, 205 yards, TD, 5 INT, Fumble
Kurt Warner Sunday vs. Panthers: 27/46, 242 yards, 2 TD, 5 INT, Fumble
Vikings WR Percy Harvin is a difference maker. Whether it’s on offense or special teams, he makes a handful of plays every game for the Vikings.
Browns Defensive Coordinator, Rob Ryan got into a shouting/cursing match with Bears QB Jay Cutler. The Bears won but Ryan’s defense got the best of Cutler. The NFL is always more exciting with a Ryan on the sideline. It reminds me of my childhood with Buddy Ryan.
Devin Hester is developing into a very impressive WR for the Bears. The converted DB gets better each week.
The Rams won. Best part of the game? A Rams DB picked off a pass in the end zone, ran it out, then ran it back in and got tackled for a safety. Ahh, the Rams.
Heads up play by Donovan McNabb to pluck the ball away from Justin Tuck and ultimately catch his own pass. The swatted ball could have easily been a pick-six, but McNabb’s efforts kept the momentum away from the Giants.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson is a monster. He wears down defenses as the game grinds on. Look as his stats by quarters (Att, YDS, AVG):
1st Quarter 44 166 3.8
2nd Quarter 40 171 4.3
3rd Quarter 38 167 4.4
4th Quarter 41 280 6.8
While it wasn’t enough, it was nice to see Aaron Rodgers rally the Packers in the second half of Sunday’s division game vs. the Vikings.
Rams RB Steven Jackson deserves some recognition. He plays for arguably one of the worst teams in the league and yet he comes out and runs extremely hard every week. He’s currently the second leading rusher in the NFL. In a league full of Larry Johnson-esque prima-donnas, Jackson is a refreshing reminder that there are some classy players.
Commentators weren’t as entertaining or embarrassing as usually today. Let’s hope for a better week 9.