So, eventually it's time to recap some of the action. Only a few days late and a little brief, but then work is -- as always -- the great time consumer;
Miami Dolphins 23 @ Green Bay Packers 20: All that time spent running around trying to avoid defenders last year seems to have set Aaron Rodgers in good stead. His ability to slide around in the pocket and buy time was very impressive. Sadly though he still found himself sacked 5 times, including one for Koa Misi (watch list) and three for the superb Cameron Wake. Again though the Packers had another game where they put up pretty good yardage, but just struggled to consistently find the end zone.
San Diego Chargers 17 @ St. Louis Rams 20: What happened to the Chargers? I mean the real Chargers. 7 sacks conceded? Either the Rams D was digging deep or the Chargers line was just that bad. Patrick Crayton offered hope, confirming my belief that he can be a first team WR. But the day belonged to two Rams. RB Steven Jackson carried 29 times for 109 yards and a TD, including some crucial late game runs. And to kick things off early rookie WR Danario Alexander (undrafted, watch list) came up with a TD on his full debut and finished with 4 catches for 72 yards.
Baltimore Ravens 20 @ New England Patriots 23: This is what happens when I finally put my faith in Baltimore? Nice. Lot of great hits going on in this game so for me it was a doozy to watch. The key story was probably the return of Deion Branch to the Patriots fold, along with the important catches he made along the way, especially in over time. Interesting to see Ray Rice put up 88 yards on 28 carries, with his longest run being 8 yards. More ball control than explosion there, which is a good thing. Ultimately though, that famous Ravens D just couldn't hold up at the end.
Cleveland Browns 10 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 28: "Big" Ben Roethlisberger returned. And showed exactly why Pittsburgh fans are prepared to overlook all his indiscretions and forget about all the talk from earlier this year when many of them were saying that they couldn't trust Ben and didn't want him associated with their team. 16/27 wasn't the most efficient, but 257 yards and 3 TDs, with just one pick is still very good. Critically, Roethlisberger was able to pull out the great passes when they were needed most, such as in the red zone and backed up on his own goal line. Colt McCoy (watch list) also got his debut and did ok. He wont mind the two interceptions so much and threw his first NFL career TD pass to Ben Watson. The five sacks are more of a problem.
I should also point out that the media world and the league has been buzzing after James Harrison laid a big hit on Josh Cribbs that knocked him out. I'll cover this in more detail tomorrow.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 @ Houston Texans 35: What a game! The Chiefs drop two in a row as the Texans continue to astound everyone with a) how good their running game is, and b) how chronically bad their defense is. I mean, puke inducing bad. When Dwayne Bowe caught a quick slant and took it 42 yards for a TD, that pretty much summed up the Texans defense. No awareness, no tackling, just a shambling zombie pretending to play D. Luckily for them though the Chiefs were unable to get first downs late in the game and the Texans came back with 2 Touchdown drives in the final 7 minutes to win it. The Chiefs nearly had two 100 yard rushers, Matt Cassel completed 20/29 for 201 yards and 3 TDs, no INTs, but it just wasn't enough. Still, a lot of positives to take away from that game for Kansas.
Detroit Lions 20 @ New York Giants 28: A few weeks ago I suggested that maybe my picks should carry conditions, that if not met, nullify the pick. Well for this game it would have been "unless Shaun Hill comes out injured". Which he did. Drew Stanton didn't do too bad, but his accuracy (19/34) was never going to cut it. Big games from two Giants tipped the balance in the end; DE Osi Unmenyiora had two sacks on the day and RB Ahmad Bradshaw came up with 133 yards on 19 carries, helping to sustain drives that included two touchdown runs by Brandon Jacobs. I still think the Lions need to do more to get Jahvid Best involved in the game but still, it's been one of those seasons for the Lions where everything seems to go wrong at various critical moments. Chin up Detroit fans.
Atlanta Falcons 17 @ Philadelphia Eagles 31: I believed in Kolb (though not his defense or his left tackle, which is why I took the Falcons). Not many other seemed to have as much faith in the supposed future of the QB position in Philadelphia. Well they should have. 23/29, 326 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. So why have I been so confident in Kolb? Easy, because we've seen this before from him. In the few times he's played prior to this season, we saw Kolb do exactly what he did on Sunday; sling it downfield with reasonable accuracy. Of course it helps when you have DeSean Jackson to throw to, and then when he goes down after a massive hit from Dunta Robinson, Jeremy Maclin just steps right up and turns seven catches into 159 yards and 2 TDs. It was all too much for a Falcons D that will have to go back to square one, while the Eagles D finally did it's job.
Seattle Seahawks 23 @ Chicago Bears 20: I should have known. I should have thought back to the last time Jay Cutler was quarterbacking the Bears. 17/39, for 290 yards. Oh, and six sacks, including one in the end zone for a safety. The Bears continue to have serious protection issues as well as serious run blocking issues. Not so for the Seahawks who managed to get some good running going, especially in the red zone which allowed newly acquired RB Marshawn Lynch to punch in for a score. Devin Hester also reminded the Bears why he shouldn't be wasted on offense as he came up with an 89 yard punt return for a TD.
New Orleans Saints 31 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6: And normality is restored. The Saints blow the Buccaneers off the face of the Earth. I get a pick right. Drew Brees hits 21/32 with 3 TDs. And the Buccaneers run defense folds like a bad hand, giving up 158 yards to Chris Ivory off 15 carries. Yes, 15.
New York Jets 24 @ Denver Broncos 20: For me, the pass interference call that led to the Jets final TD was a little soft. But then isn't everything in football these days (can you smell the rampage coming tomorrow?). Mark Sanchez looked largely off the pace for most of the game, throwing his first interception of the year, followed by his second later on. Luckily for the Jets, Kyle Orton essentially did worse, completing less than 50% of his passes and scoring just a single TD. Rookie QB Tim Tebow (watch list) got a chance to play a few snaps and carried the ball 6 times for 23 yards and his first NFL career TD.
Which brings me to the reason I was most interested in this result; While it seems my ability to stare into the future and predict what's going on in the mind of some of the NFLs Head Coaches and coordinators is lacking (hence the bad picks) my eye for talent seems to be working quite well this year. LaDanian Tomlinson had another 2 TDs. Rookie Demayrius Thomas (watch list) had a TD catch. Tebow we've already spoken of. Then to round it off corner Perrish Cox (watch list) had seven tackles and a FF, while Syd'Quan Thompson (watch list) got the second pick. Not a bad days work really.
Oakland Raiders 9 @ San Francisco 49ers 17: Finally! A win! I don't care that I lost the pick. To hell with it. The 49ers won a game! It's not all good though. Alex Smith still went about his usual Jekyll and Hyde routine, going 16/33 but somehow producing 2 TDs. Frank Gore did what I've long maintained he could do; convert 25 carries into 149 yards (longest; 64). It's a shame that Gore is often such an after thought (and the Raiders poor rush defense helped). The critical factor in the game however was out of the 49ers hands and is the main reason that 49er fans shouldn't get carried away; Jason Campbell completed just 8/21 for 83 yards and 2 INTs. The fact that the Raiders kept it to within 8 points despite that abysmal showing tells you everything you need to know about San Francisco this season.
Dallas Cowboys 21 @ Minnesota Vikings 24: Lets forget the 24/32, 3 TD, 2 INT performance from Tony Romo for a second. Lets forget Brett Favres 14/19 for a TD performance. Lets forget about Adrian Peterson taking 24 carries for 73 yards and a TD. And let's focus on something that basically sums up the Cowboys season. It is the celebration following Roy Williams's TD catch. Miles Austin leapfrogs a standing Williams in a superb display of athleticism... and gets flagged for excessive celebration. And you have to ask yourself this; Why -- given that a late excessive celebration penalty contributed heavily to your defeat last week -- would you even attempt something like this? Why do it? Why aren't the coaches picking up on this? It just boggles the mind and for some reason it drives me nuts. The discipline on this team is shocking. I'm glad now that the Vikings beat them because the Cowboys refuse to help themselves.
Indianapolis Colts 27 @ Washington Redskins 24: It was close. But it was even closer than the score tells. The Redskins had at least three great opportunities to pick off Manning but came up short. The Colts defense clung on desperately, with corner Jerraud Powers finishing with a game leading 8 tackles (almost all of them important) and an interception, 1.5 sacks from Robert Mathis, and a solid showing from rookie Linebacker Pat Angerer, including a sack. But the game was highlighted by the tale of two running backs; Joseph Addai for the Colts and Ryan Torain for the Redskins. Addai had 17 carries for 128 yards and a TD, which is practically unheard of for the Colts in recent years. The opportunities it created for play action were suitably exploited.
But Torain was not so lucky. He had 20 carries for 100 yards and 2 TDs (a big fan, it would seem, of round numbers). He could of -- however -- had much more. Torain was a beast, running over the slightly under sized Colts defense at will. This was helped by the fact that many of the Colts defenders seemed less than keen to get stuck into the tackles. Yet despite the obvious mismatch, the Redskins leaned on Donovan McNabb who went 29/45 for 246 yards, a TD and 2 INTs. I don't get it. I think pretty much everyone watching the game could see that Torain was having his way with the opposition, so why not let him loose? It wasn't like the Colts jumped out to a 20-point lead at any point. Just stupid.
Tennessee Titans 30 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 3: Can I get a Hallelujah? No. But what I can get is a decent pick and a bit of vindication. The injury to Vince Young brought in Kerry Collins and for a moment I was worried that it was all over. But my god, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger came up good. He held Collins to just 16 passes of which he completed 11 for 110 yards and a TD. Then they got back to doing what they do best; rushing. Chris Johnson carried 26 times for 111 yards and a TD, with Javon Ringer putting in another 42 yards off 10 carries (longest; 13). Coupled with some good defense which included a red zone (technically end zone) interception and a fortuitous injury to David Garrard that meant Trent Edwards had to step in, and the Titans were home and dry.
That's all the weekends action then and it now leaves me at a woeful 41-49 pick wise on the season. I just don't understand what's happened this year. What's happened to the Packers? Why are the Texans so inconsistent? Where did the 2009 49ers go? Who knows. Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow with a personal rant and a little treat for you all, especially those of you who coach. Till then,
Have a great day everyone.