The Broncos are reeling, the Chargers are surging. Four weeks ago the Broncos were running away with the AFC West. Now the Charges are lurking. Speaking of surging and reeling; the Bengals rule the AFC North and Bill Belichick isn’t as smart as he thinks. Week 10 was a doozy.
I was almost too devastated to write my week 10 review. As a lifetime Eagle fan, I know how to deal with a loss, even the tougher ones. However, there are still defeats that make it tough to sleep at night. Sunday’s heart-wrenching defeat was one of those losses (more on this coming Monday). I was so devastated, I got emotional and actually said the following to my wife, “I can’t take this, I’m accepting applications for a new NFL team.” It took her three hours to talk me out of the locked bathroom. Just kidding…sort of. Nevertheless, I remain an Eagles fan, and here is my weekly recap. I couldn’t let down the 4-6 individuals that read the blog.
Just four weeks ago the San Diego Chargers were all but left for dead in the AFC West. Similar to 2008, the Chargers have come storming back to catch the Denver Broncos. The Chargers will have an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the AFC West next week as they host their division rival. Injuries and inconsistency attributed to San Diego’s struggles early in the year. As players have gotten healthy, the Chargers have found consistency in their running game and improved play on the defensive side of the ball. Philip Rivers is also becoming one of the best quarterbacks in the league. His weapons are hard to miss as both Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates stand at 6’5. If San Diego can continue to run the football, they’ll compete for the conference championship. The first step is beating the Broncos next Sunday in San Diego. Even Philip Rivers admitted he didn’t expect to catch the Broncos so quickly. As we all know, the NFL is famous for rag to riches stories and vice versa.
The AFC North title is likely headed to Cincinnati. While there is still plenty of season left for the Steelers to take the division crown, the Bengals have gone undefeated against their division foes. Most notably, they’ve gone 4-0 against the Ravens and Steelers combined. According to ESPN’s Sunday pregame show, the Bengals are “going ham.” It’s a southern expression that Cedric Benson has been spreading through the team that means “causing mayhem.” Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. The Bengals can play, and win, every way possible. If they’re in a shootout, their offense can score. If they need to chew the clock, they can run the ball and batter a defense. If they’re in a defensive slugfest, their defense and special teams can steal a victory. The Bengals have every facet of the game covered. With the Bengal offense struggling to score touchdowns on Sunday (0-3 in the red zone), the defense turned the tables on the Steelers and kept Pittsburgh out of the end zone (0-4 in the red zone). Winning in Pittsburg is hard enough. Winning without one of the league’s best running backs and keeping the Steelers out of the end zone is even tougher. If you don’t know what a good team looks like, take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals. They’re the real deal. On another note, the AFC North has three of the best six teams in the AFC. They boast the most intimidating defenses in the league and all three teams will beat you to a pulp on defense AND offense. We may even see all three in the playoffs.
The Indianapolis Colts have the NFL’s best quarterback and the dumbest coaching move of the year to thank for their undefeated record. Why Bill Belichick does not punt the ball and force Peyton Manning to drive the length of the field to take the lead is beyond me. Obviously, he didn’t trust his defense to stop the Colts’ offense. Many will defend Belichick’s call because he’s a bold coach that will make those kind of calls. Ignore the Belichick apologists. It was a dumb move. Manning was struggling to find consistency throughout the game. He threw more ducks than I’ve seen him throw in a long, long time. The Patriot secondary was effectively limiting TE Dallas Clark’s contribution to the offense and was getting the best of WR’s Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie (for the most part). Manning would have had around two minutes and one timeout to drive 70+ yards. Down by six, the Colts would also need a touchdown. Absolutely, Manning could have scored despite the time remaining and distance, but you have to make him beat you. Belichick simply gave him the go-ahead touchdown. If Alex Rodriguez is at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and no outs in a tie game, you don’t walk him to lose the game, do you? Why make a decision that would give the NFL’s greatest quarterback the perfect pitch to hit out of the park? Bill Belichick is a fantastic coach, and his ingenuity wins a lot of football games. However, on Sunday night, Belichick was a little too arrogant/confident/stupid for his own good. Sometimes the simplest call is the correct one.
That was impressive…
- Hustle by Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin to get downfield and throw a block on Jason Avant’s 58 yard reception. Maclin is an impressive rookie.
- Cardinals Safety Adrian Wilson picked off a Matt Hasselbeck shovel pass. A Shovel pass! Sure, Hasselbeck bobbled the snap, but getting into the backfield to intercept the toss is a great play.
- Patriots QB Tom Brady is back. While his team gave away a victory, he has regained his pre-injury form. He was nearly perfect on Sunday night.
- Patriots RB Kevin Faulk left several Colt defenders grasping for air on a number of plays. Is there a more severely underrated running back?
- Panthers QB Jake Delhomme has not turned the ball over in three games. Panthers are 2-1 in those games
- Gorgeous throw by Redskins punter Hunter Smith on his 35 yard TD pass
- Very, very bold call by Falcons coach Mike Smith. With 14 minutes remaining and his team down by eight, Smith chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from the three rather than kick a field goal. It paid off as the Falcons scored on the attempt, but a gutsy call nonetheless.
- The Bengals blitzed Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger on 1st and 10 as the Steelers attempted to take the lead on their final drive of the game. Most teams go into prevent mode there. The Blitz caught the Steelers off guard.
- Eagles WR Jason Avant has one amazing set of hands. If it hits his hands, chances are he’ll come down with it.
- Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew taking a knee at the one instead of scoring the go-ahead touchdown. Taking the knee allowed the Jaguars to run out the clock before kicking the game winning field goal. Smart move.
- Broncos WR Brandon Marshall’s 1st quarter against the Redskins: 2 receptions, 115 yards, 2 TDs.
- Vikings RB Adrian Peterson threw a Detroit defender off of him….with one arm…en route to a 22 yard TD run and then did it again on another run later in the game. It’s almost unfair how strong he is.
- In case you were unaware, Patriots vs. Colts games are entertaining.
- Panthers WR Steve Smith also has a great set of hands, as demonstrated on his 1st quarter TD reception
- The Cincinnati Bengal cornerbacks are tough and aggressive. They “out-Steelered” the Steeler wide receivers on Sunday. They’re a very big reason the Bengal defense is so tough to beat.
- Rams rookie WR Brandon Gibson (who was just traded from the Eagles) is talented. He tormented the Saints secondary all day long.
- Packers rebounding and saving their season with a huge win at home against the Cowboys. The Green Bay defense finally showed up.
- Titans RB Chris Johnson is fun to watch. Today, he took on, and bounced off of three Buffalo defenders to score a TD in the 3rd quarter.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t know they only have one win this season. They play hard every down.
Not so much…
- The Minnesota Vikings racked up 302 total yards in the first half and had only 10 points to show for it as three red zone trips yielded only one field goal.
- Jets CB Lito Sheppard got abused by Jaguars WR Mike Sims-Walker on Walker’s 26 yard TD reception
- Stop fumbling, Adrian Peterson.
- Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Colts safety Bob Sanders are considered to be two great safeties. However, they are both oft-injured, Sanders more than Polamalu. Great players need to be consistently on the field.
- The Cowboys and Packers were penalized 22 times for a total of 167 yards. Discipline anyone?
- Eagles QB Donovan McNabb managed to essentially sack himself by walking into a Charger defender who was simply lying on the ground.
- The Bills are not a good team, especially in the 4th quarter. A few weeks ago they were outscored 21-0 by the Houston Texans. This week, the Titans outscored Buffalo 24-0 in the 4th (including 2 Int. returned for TDs).
- Falcons kicker Jason Elam missed a 34 yard field goal that would have given the Falcons the lead with 7 minutes remaining. He missed it BAAAADD too.
- Peyton Manning was throwing ducks all over the place on Sunday Night. He threw at least four.
- The respective red zone offenses of the Bengals, Eagles, and Steelers.
- While he made me tune in, not even Gus Johnson could make the Chiefs/Raiders entertaining.
- Packers punt returner, Tramon Williams, is lucky instant replay reversed the call on the field. Allowing a punter to force you to fumble is extremely embarrassing.
- Leave it to the Eagles to make LaDanian Tomlinson look like vintage LT.
- Steelers kicker Jeff Reed made another horrendous tackling effort on Bernard Scott’s kickoff return for a TD. Very similar to the effort he put forth when Percy Harvin ran one back a few weeks ago.
- Both the Vikings and Cardinals passed up 1st quarter field goals to go for 1st downs when they were inside the 10 yard line. Field goals are still worth 3 points right? Or did they change that and I missed it?
- With his team down six with less than a minute to go, Raiders WR Darrius Heyward-Bey caught a huge pass on 3rd down to put the Raiders in striking distance. The very next play he had a pass bounce off his hands that was picked off to end the game.
- Cowboys WR Roy Williams. He’s really worth all those draft picks huh?
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Donovan McNabb: 35/55 450 YDS, 2 TD, 1 Garbage INT
RB Chris Johnson: 26 Carries, 132 YDS, 2 TD, 9 Rec, 100 YDS
WR Randy Moss: 9 Rec, 179 YDS, 2 TD
WR Reggie Wayne: 10 Rec, 126 YDS, 2 TD
TE Kellen Winslow Jr.: 7 Rec, 102 YDS, 0 TD
D Packers: 7 points, 278 yards allowed, 3/12 3rd down conversion, 3 Turnovers
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: 2/7 6 YDS, INT Returned for TD
RB Brian Westrbook: 6 Carries, 28 YDS, Second Concussion in a month
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey: 1 Rec, 22 YDS, 0 TD, Drop Led to Game Clinching INT
WR Roy Williams/Braylon Edwards: Crucial fumbles in tight games (respectively)
TE Zach Miller: 1 Rec, 9 YDS, 0 TD
D Eagles: Dominated all day long, Surrendered 41 Points
The Ravens, Steelers, and Redskins have proven the most effective way to beat the Denver Broncos is to run the ball against them. The Denver defense is quick and aggressive, but undersized.
Someone needs to tell Aaron Rodgers that the football is not the TV remote control. It’s ok to give it to someone else from time to time.
The Dolphins nearly lost to the Buccaneers. Their downward spiral began on a fumble by RB Ronnie Brown. Turnovers are dangerous. They can instantly change the whole complexion of a game.
It was another week of questionable/horrible roughing the passer calls. At what point do we change the position’s name from “quarterback” to “princess”?
Albert Haynesworth got hurt again. I honestly have not watched the Redskins once this year without seeing him injured at some point during the game.
This is my “making fun of Jim Zorn” bye week. I’ll return next week.
TV: $999.99. NFL Ticket: $369.99. Seeing Falcons’ owner, Arthur Blank trying not to cry on the sideline after Jonathan Stewart’s game-clinching 45 yard TD run: Priceless. (Owners belong in their boxes, not on the sidelines.)
Matt Ryan is official infected with the sophomore slump. He’s killing the Falcons.
CBS color analyst Phil Simms: “I just wonder if there’s ever been an NFL game in history where there’s not flags on special teams.”
The St. Louis Rams put on quite a show on Sunday. Who’d have thought the Rams would have an opportunity to win the game late in the 4th quarter?
The Subway baby voices commercial made me laugh all 17 times I saw it today. Very funny.
If I’m Donovan McNabb, there’s no way I ruin my stats by throwing a hopeless ball into the endzone as time expires when I know it’s going to be picked off. Instead, I turn to my sideline and chuck it as hard as possible at Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott for his defense’s horrible performance or Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg for never running the ball inside the red zone.
Reggie Wayne and Randy Moss are too much fun to watch. Obviously, their quarterbacks have a lot to do with their success, but they are amazing talents nonetheless.
FOX’s cameras caught Cardinals’ DT Darnell Dockett giving Matt Hasselbeck a forearm shot to the throat. If you can’t hit them legally, I guess you’ve got to sneak the shots in at some point.
I think the Eagles may need a basic math tutor for Asante Samuel. On the crucial 3rd and 2 in the 4th quarter, Samuel decided to give his man a 7 yard cushion. Small miscue. Not a big deal. (Throwing things and punching my couch as I type this.)
Who’s excited to watch the Browns tomorrow night? I’ve heard rumors that Gruden, Jaworski, and Tirico all tried to call out sick with Swine Flu.
I tweeted the following after today’s events but before Manning’s comeback: “Things you probably haven’t heard since 2004: George W. Bush is a great President, Donovan McNabb played better than Peyton Manning today”