Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday Night Football

Time now to round up the Sunday Night action from week 2: Bills 7 @ Packers 34 -- I badly miscalculated on this one. The main problems were a) thinking that the Bills might wake up and use first round RB C.J. Spiller on more than just one carry and b) thinking that the Bills O-line might actually be able to do something. Anything. and c) over rating the Bills defense. Anyway, lesson learned. The Bills suck and they don't seem ready to help themselves either. Aaron Rodgers finished 19/29 for 255 yards and 2 TDs, leading an always impressive Packers offense. Defensively LB Nick Barnett led the Packers in tackles with 7 and was followed closely by safety Nick Collins with six, but it was LB Clay Matthews who really made the impact with 5 tackles and 3 sacks. Dolphins 14 @ Vikings 10 -- Thank god I'm not a Vikings fan. I'm an Adrian Peterson fan now though. Watching that guy bust through tackles and just keep going like the energizer bunny is all kinds of fun to watch. But if I was a Minnesota fan I'd be tearing what was left of my hair out at the play calling. Peterson carried 28 times for 145 yards and a TD, but he was on fire and could have handled more. On top of that Toby Gerhart was given just 4 carries. That left 36 passes for old man Favre, of which he completed 22 for 225 yards and 3 interceptions (also, loving the deep dropback whilst backed up into the end zone that resulted in the strip/score for the Dolphins). And this is why I didn't take the Vikings as many others did. Favre is obviously not on the same page as some of his receivers and Percy Harvin is not even on the same planet as guys like Shiancoe and Berrian. Need any more proof of the importance of training camp/pre-season? The Dolphins offense was good without being spectacular, but their defense held up well. Under rated safety Yeremiah Bell finished with 9 tackles and corner Jason Allen got 7 & 2 interceptions. Corner Vontae Davis recorded 6 tackles and a pick himself. LB Cameron Wake deserves a mention with 2 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble that was recovered in the end zone by Koa Misi (watch list). Chiefs 16 @ Browns 14 -- The Chiefs failed to score an offensive TD in a game many would describe as "f***ing abysmal". Browns QB Seneca Wallace converted just 16 of his 31 pass attempts for 229 yards, a TD and an INT as he tried to rally his team. On defense the Chiefs were led in tackles by both safety Eric Berry and LB Derrick Johnson (7 each). The Browns were led by safety T.J. Ward with 8 tackles. Bears 27 @ Cowboys 20 -- You've got to admire the balls of Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. You've got Marion Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones at RB, a three way combo that many teams would give their right arm to have, and yet they get just 19 carries between them. Tony Romo finished the game 34/51 for 374 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Most surprising was Jay Cutler who ended up 21/29 for 277 yards and 3 TDs. Cutler looked poised and efficient, making some great throws along the way. On defense it was corners Zack Bowman and Charles Tillman who took control finishing with 8 tackles each and a forced fumble for Tillman. Cardinals 7 @ Falcons 41 -- God damn!!!! Somewhere in there we knew the Falcons offense was lurking. I didn't think they had it in them to pull it out against what is overall a reasonably good defense. But man did they prove me wrong!! Matt Ryan finally found his rhythm and finished the game 21/32 for 225 yards and 3 TDs. Michael Turner ran for 75 yards off just 9 carries (longest run was 21 yards) before leaving the game with a head injury and Jason Snelling carried 24 times for 129 yards and 2 TDs. This is the Atlanta we've all been waiting to see! Derek Anderson meanwhile struggled to 17/31 for 161 yards and 2 interceptions. Tim Hightower busted out an 80 yard TD run, but ultimately finished the game with 11 carries for 115 yards and that sole touchdown. Defensively for the Cardinals the tackle leader was LB Daryl Washington (watch list) with ten, closely followed by LB Paris Lenon with nine. For the Falcons it was LB Sean Weatherspoon who was the sole standout, finishing with 8 tackles and a sack. Buccaneers 20 @ Panthers 7 -- A week or so ago I said in a post "... and if young QB Josh Freeman can learn to use the quarterbacks best friend - his Tight End (Kellen Winslow II) - then there is hope for Tampa." Call it coincidence, fate, luck, or someone from the Bucs' spying on my blog (in which case, give me a job please), but Freeman did indeed go looking for Winslow who led the Bucs' with 4 catches for 83 yards. Freeman completed 12/24 for 178 yards and 2 TDs. Cadillac Williams also got in on the action with 27 carries for 51 yards. The Panthers meanwhile continue to be rubbish offensively. Moore was plucked from the game after producing 6/16 for 125 yards, a TD and an INT. Jimmy Clausen did little better. LB James Anderson led the Panthers in tackles with 8 and DT Derek Landri followed up with 7. But the day defensively belonged to the Buccaneers who generated 4 sacks, the most entertaining of which was LB Quincy Black stunting to the inside and getting a clean shot at Moore. Quincy also recorded 6 tackles, along with LBs Geno Hayes and Barrett Ruud. DE Tim Crowder deserves credit for his 3 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Eagles 35 @ Lions 32 -- Wow. Somebody got some offense!! Michael Vick lead the Eagles to victory with 21/34 for 284 yards and 2 TDs. In addition LeSean McCoy ran (yes, the Eagles ran the ball!!) for 120 yards and 3 TDs off 16 carries. DeSean Jackson led all Eagles receivers with 4 catches for 135 yards and a TD. What makes the Eagles win all the more impressive is when you look at the Lions stats sheet. If it wasn't for their early jump into the lead it might have ended quite differently. Shaun Hill threw 25/45 for 335 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. But the star of the show was undoubtedly rookie RB Jahvid Best who finished with 17 carries for 78 yards and 2 TDs, plus 9 catches for 154 yards and another TD. This kid is crazy good. I managed to find a couple of College highlight reels and you can see the burst and cutting ability clearly that was replicated in this game. It's just nuts. On defense the Lions have to be happy with their 5 sacks, including one a piece for DT Ndamukong Suh and safety Louis Delmas who led the team in tackles with 6 each. Kyle Vanden Bosch contributed 1.5 sacks. The Eagles were slightly less well off defensively, but credit to LB Omar Gaither for his 11 tackles. Ravens 10 @ Bengals 15 -- This game should go down in footballing history (I say "should" not "will"), for containing what has to be the single worst roughing the passer penalty of all time, called against Terrell Suggs as he chased down Carson Palmer. It was just beyond ridiculous. Anyway, neither team really out did themselves today, with the Bengals banging home five field goals to take the win. As for the Ravens they have to be wondering to themselves whether they've just been unlucky to face two good defenses in a row, or is their offense really this toothless when it counts? Flacco finished a disappointing 17/39 for 154 yards, 1 TD and 4 INTs. Ray Rice ran for 87 yards off 16 carries but it was little consolation. Carson Palmer ended 16/35 for 167 yards, while Cedric Benson pitched in 78 yards on the ground off 23 carries. The only individual from either team that stood out on defense was Ray Lewis, finishing with 6 tackles and a sack. Steelers 19 @ Titans 11 -- Just.... for gods sake!! This week I put a caveat into my pick for the Rams/Raiders game. I'm thinking I'm gonna have to start doing this for every pick. My caveat for this game would have looked something like "Titans win, unless a) Chris Johnson gets less than 25 carries or b) the Titans decide to pull Vince Young for Kerry Collins,". As it turns out, both would have come up trumps. Johnson had 16 carries for 34 yards, while Vince Young was able to attempt just 10 passes before being pulled after completing 7 for 66 yards and throwing 2 INTs. Enter then Kerry Collins, who threw 17/25 for 149 yards, a TD and an INT. No that the Steelers did much better. Dennis Dixon managed 4/6 for 18 yards before being injured on a designed rush. Charlie Batch came in and finished 5/11 for a whole 25 yards (the Steelers ended the game with just 7 first downs). Predominantly then it was about field goals, defense, and an 89 yard kick off return for a TD by the Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. Though - and I'm going to sound like a spoil sport because it was a clever play - I'm pretty sure the Steelers should have been flagged for having three men in the wedge. Defensive leaders for the Steelers were Linebackers James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons. Timmons finished the game with 12 tackles and a forced fumble, while Harrison had 10 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. Safety Troy Polamalu was notable for earning his second pick in as many games, as was LB LaMarr Woodley for his sack, interception and forced fumble. The Titans were led by DE Jason Babin with 7 tackles and a sack. LB Will Witherspoon gets a nod for his sack and forced fumble. Seahawks 14 @ Broncos 31 -- Now this is more like the Broncos I saw coming into the season. Kyle Orton went 25/35 for 307 yards and 2 TDs. Knowshon Moreno finished with 24 carries for 51 yards and a TD. Corel Buckhalter had just 11 carries but picked up 19 yards and a TD. Rookie WR Demaryius Thomas (watch list) took to the field for the first time, ending the game with 8 receptions for 97 yards and a TD. In the end the Seahawks put up a good fight but Matt Hasselbeck could only rustle up 20/35 for 233 yards, 1 TD and 3 interceptions (including one by rookie Perrish Cox from my watch list). The Seahawks ground game was practically non-existent. Defensively Seahawks safety Lawyer Milloy proved that being over 3000 years old is no barrier to success, leading the Seahawks with 7 tackles and a forced fumble. Rookie Earl Thomas also recorded 7 tackles. For the Broncos it was Brian Dawkins leading the charge with 6 tackles and an interception. Rams 14 @ Raiders 16 -- Sadly Bradford threw just 25 passes, forcing me to stick with my pick of the Rams. Bradford ended 14/25 for 167 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. RB Steven Jackson carried 19 times for 75 yards, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Raiders. QB Jason Campbell started for Oakland, but after posting 8/15 for 87 yards and an INT he was pulled at half time for the man that is... Brrrrruuuce Gradkowskiiiiiiiiii !!! I love me some Bruce Gradkowski and his 11/22 for 162 yards, a TD and an INT proved to be enough. Darren McFadden carried 30 times for 145 yards to help the Raiders chew the clock and see off the Rams. Defensively the Rams were predictably led by Jame Laurinaitis who finished with 9 tackles and a sack. Safety Craig Dahl recorded 7 tackles and DE James Hall bagged 5 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Corner Jerome Murphy (watch list) grabbed himself a pick. For the Raiders it was safety Tyvon Branch and DE Kamerion Wimbley who topped the team with 4 tackles and a sack each. Texans 30 @ Redskins 27 (OT) -- I distinctly remember someone saying something about not buying into the Donovan McNabb hype (*stares at the ceiling and whistles). McNabb finished the game 28/38 for 426 yards and a TD, but was unlucky not to put another on the board. RB Clinton Portis may have only contributed 33 yards off his 13 carries but the 2 TDs helped big time. Sadly for the Redskins it was not enough. The Texans however are definitely the new Panthers, avoiding all attempts at deception and reverse psychology to do as they're told. Having rushed the Colts off the field last week they came back with just 19 carries for Arian Foster. To be fair to them, Matt Schaub finished 38/52 for 497 yards and 3 TDs, plus one INT. It's at this point that I'd like to pause and wag my finger of annoyance at the NFL Network once more, this time for practically releasing a certain bodily fluid associated with intercourse (there might be children reading) into their pants over McNabb, despite the fact that Schaub finished with more yards and two more touchdowns. Where were the Matt Schaub highlights after the game? And what's happened to the highlights with radio calls, which are longer, more detailed and more interesting to listen to? Anyway, moving swiftly on, Andre Johnson finished the game with a ridiculous 12 catches for 158 yards and a last ditch, game tie-ing TD. Kevin Walter came close with 11 catches for 144 yards and a TD. On Defense, DE Mario Williams came up good for the Texans again with 3 sacks. The Redskins D was lead in tackles by safety Reed Doughty (ten) and followed by LaRon Landry (8 tackles and a sack) and corner Carlos Rogers (6 tackles, 1 interception). Patriots 14 @ Jets 28 -- It was satisfying to watch Randy Moss take some of the wind out of the the Jets sails by treating Darrelle Revis like a rookie corner for his TD catch. Revis went off after aggrevating his hamstring injury, though I must say that's the fastest I've ever seen someone walk with such an ailment. In the end the Jets had the last laugh. Sanchez found his feet with 21/30 for 220 yards and 3 TDs. LaDanian Tomlinson (11 carries for 76 yards; longest 31) and Shonn Greene (15 carries for 52 yards; longest 8) pitched in well. It was.... unexpected to say the least. TE Dustin Keller led all receivers with 7 catches for 115 yards and a TD. Brady tried, but 20/36 for 248 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs wasn't enough. Rookie TE Aaron Hernandez (watch list) led the Patriots receivers with 6 catches for 101 yards. Patriots LB Tully Banta Cain was the only defensive stand out of the game with 8 tackles and a sack. DT Gerard Warren earns a note for his two sacks, as does Jets LB Jason Taylor for his sack and forced fumble. Jaguars 13 @ Chargers 38 -- I was surprised by David Garrards numbers last week. Today he was back to normal, going 15/23 for 173 yards, a TD and 4 INTs. Luke McCown came in but could only manage 11/19 for 120 yards. Rashad Jennings finally got some decent carries and went for 38 yards off nine attempts (that's basically double his normal carries!) which was enough to beat Maurice Jones-Drew's 12 carries for 31 yards and a fumble. Mike Sims-Walker led all receivers on the day with 10 catches for 105 yards and a TD. Philip Rivers was on pretty good form though, bagging 22/29 for 334 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. After an injury to rookie RB Ryan Matthews it fell to Mike Tolbert to carry 16 times for 82 yards and 2 TDs. Malcolm Flyod led the Chargers in receiving with 3 catches for 95 yards and a TD, while Antonio Gates was left free to make 5 receptions for 57 yards and 2 TDs. Defensively there were a number of eye catchers. For the Jaguars; Safety Courtney Greene (8 tackles, an INT and a FF), LB Daryl Smith (7 tackles and a sack) and Safety Sean Considine (7 tackles). For the Chargers; SS Steve Gregory (8 tackles), CB Antoine Cason (6 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 FF) and LB Brandon Siler (6 tackles, 1 INT). Giants 14 @ Colts 38 -- Forget the score, it wasn't even that close. Peyton Manning was efficient on his way to 20/26 for 255 yards and 3 TDs. The most stunning thing for me was to see the Colts runs the ball 43 times. Yes, the Colts. The Indianapolis Colts with Peyton Manning at QB rushed 43 times!! Joseph Addai had 20 carries for 92 yards, while Donald Brown took 16 carries for 69 yards and a TD. The resulting play-action opportunities for Manning were taken with cold precision. This is how the Colts offense should run, with scary perfection. Brother Eli was not up to the same level though stumbling to 13/24 for 161 yards, 2 TDs and an INT. Ahmad Bradshaw fought manfully to take 17 carries for 89 yards. The interceptions however - plus two Eli Manning fumbles - were too much to overcome. That, a superb Colts offense, and two sacks each for Colts DEs Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. For the Giants, their D was led by LB Michael Boley with 11 tackles, but a solitary sack from Mathias Kiwanuka was not what they would have hoped for against a team like the Colts. That then is all the results from Sunday. I'm 7-8 pick wise, with a possible evens banked on the Saints tomorrow. In retrospect I should have ignored any gut feelings I had - however loud - that the Bills might in any way, shape or form have challenged the Packers. The rest are, well, just tough. As I've said before, I always find early picks hard because of the difficulty in figuring out how the coaches are going to approach the games and how they're using their personnel. Give it maybe one more week then there's no excuses. Have a great day everyone.

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