Fooch's Note: If you want to discuss the elevation of Alex Smith back to the starting QB position, head over here.
Week 7 in the NFL was all about the blowout. Only two games were decided by less than 10 points, and one of those would have been a blowout if not for the Quarterback change. Obviously, some of the games were closer than the final score indicated. But most of the games really were a one sided affair. So let's start with the game that was supposed to showcase to those who live on the other side of the pond, what the NFL is all about.
The NFL came to London on Sunday and the 85 thousand who packed into the stadium were treated to a real snooze fest. That is, of course, unless you're a Pats fan. Why didn't the NFL chose the Steelers to play in this game? Could you imagine all the mileage sports announcers and writers would get out of all the "Big Ben" jokes? The Patriots showed why they're one of the best as Tom Brady completed 23 of 32 passes for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the other hand, the Bucs showed why they haven't been good since they kicked out Tony Dungy as their head coach. Josh Johnson completed only 9 of his 26 passes for 156 yards, while throwing 3 interceptions. While the final score came as no surprise, I was incredibly surprised to see Junior Seau running around the field. Isn't he close to 50 years old? This is the same player who was already a Pro bowl linebacker on the Chargers team that got destroyed by the 49ers in their last Super Bowl.
Cedric Benson returned to play in Chicago for the first time since getting the boot by the Bears for his off field shenanigans. Is their a funner word to say than "shenanigans"? Like any true prodigal son, he made the Bears pay, rushing for 189 yards as well as scoring a touchdown. But he wasn't the only one tearing up the Bears defense. Chad "watch out CNN" Ochocinco had 10 receptions for 118 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jay Cutler of the Bears completed 26 of his 37 passes for 251 yards, but he also had 3 interceptions. It looks like the Bears will only go as far as Cutler can take them. In their 3 wins he's thrown 7 TD's and only 1 interception. But in their 3 losses Cutler only had 4 TD's but 9 interceptions.
Anyone who thought the Rams had a chance in this game, please raise your hand. Go ahead and raise your hand. I said, raise your hand. No one? Not even you, Steven Jackson? Seriously, there's not a player a feel worse for than Steven Jackson. It must be hard being the only great player on a really, really bad team. The Rams are so bad that the Colts defense outscored the Rams offense 7-6. For the season the Rams offense has only scored 5 TD's while giving up 4. Rumor has it that the Rams have already contacted Roger Goodell and asked if they can just go ahead and chose the first draft pick now, instead of waiting until April. Rams, you are now on the clock.
This game was all about TO. No, not that TO. I'm talking about turn overs. The Panthers turned the ball over 4 times which led to 17 points for the Bills. The Bills sure didn't score 20 points because they moved the ball so well on offense. Ryan Fitzpatrick was only 11 of 22 for 123 yards. Their leading rusher, Marshawn Lynch, only gained 40 yards on 17 carries. The Bills scored 20 because Jake Delhomme likes to throw interceptions (he had 3 in the game). It makes you wonder what head coach John Fox was thinking. The Panthers have 2 of the best RB's in football, yet he let Delhomme pass the ball 44 times in the game. Not that I'm complaining. For anyone wondering about the other TO, he had 3 receptions for 27 yards and is on pace for 553 yards on the season. This from a player who's had at least 1,000 yards receiving in 9 of his last 10 seasons (the one exception coming in his second year with the Eagles when they benched him after 7 games).
This game started as a blowout. Miami jumped to an early 21 point lead, and had a 14 point lead at halftime. The problem was, their lead was over the Saints. The Saints can score points in a hurry, and that's just what they did. They turned a 14 point halftime deficit into a 12 point margin of victory. In the spirit of Halloween, Drew Brees did his best Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde impersonation. Brees was 22 of 38 for 298 yards and a TD. He also ran for 2 TD's but he also had 3 interceptions. The play of the game had to go to Reggie Bush. With the ball on the 9 yard line the Saints ran a double reverse. By the time Bush got the ball he was all the way back on the 22, but he quickly turned it up field, sprinted down the sideline, and then leaped head first from the 6 yard line over a defender, and into the endzone. Darren Sharper also had a pick 6 for the Saints, while Ricky Williams rushed for 3 TD's for Miami.
In a battle between two teams wearing colors that look like they belong in the toilet instead of on a uniform, it was the Packers who easily took care of the Browns. The Browns actually took an early 3-0 lead, but it was all Packers the rest of the way. Aaron Rodgers gave his usual solid play completing 15 of 20 for 246 yards and 3 TD's. Packers RB, Ryan Grant, also had a great day, rushing for 148 yards. The Browns, for their part, were as bad as the Packers were good. Derek Anderson completed only 12 of 29 passes for 99 yards and an interception. For the season Anderson only has a QB rating of 40.6. It makes you wonder if "Mangenius" is playing Anderson so the Browns can avoid paying any bonuses or escalators in Brady Quinn's contract.
What's the cure for a QB who had a horrible day and a team coming off a tough loss? Play the Raiders of course. The Jets coaching staff learned last week that it would probably be better if Mark Sanchez passed the ball as little as necessary. The Jets ran the ball 54 times for 316 yards, compared to only 15 passes attempted. It was the second straight game that the Jets rushed for over 300 yards as a team. On the Raiders side, coach Tom Cable decided he had seen enough of JaMarcus "The Walrus" Russell and benched him in favor of Bruce Gradkowski. Not that Gradkowski was much better completing 10 of his 19 passes for only 97 yards. The good news is that DHB had his best game of the season catching an incredible 2 passes for 28 yards, doubling his season totals to 4 receptions and 64 yards over 7 games. Take that Michael Crabtree.
Vikings 17, Steelers 27
The stage was set. The Vikings had the ball down by 3 with time running out. Saint Favre had led the "Purple People Eaters" into long field goal range but the touchdown was what everyone wanted. Suddenly something very strange happened. Favre threw the ball but it was a Steeler who caught it. Keyarn Fox intercepted Favre's screen pass at the 18 yard line and bumbled down the field for a TD. The best part of the run was when Favre did the QB feet first slide to the side of Fox and then tried to tie his shoes for him as he ran past. Before anyone complains, I get it. Even if Favre had tackled Fox it wouldn't have mattered. Why risk an injury? But it was still funny to watch him not even really try to make the tackle. For the game, the Vikings had 1 return for a TD and the Steelers had 2, both by the defense. Their was also an interesting part when a TD was called back from the Vikings because of a penalty by Jeff Dugan. However, Dugan got his revenge when he ran over an official later in the game on Percey Harvan's punt return for a TD.
A bad day got worse when the Cardinals pulled the upset off at the Meadowlands. Eli Manning stunk up the place with 3 interceptions, including 1 to end the game with the Giants driving for a game tying TD. Even the TD Manning did have was more luck than anything. A deep pass over the middle was deflected by Rogers-Cromartie, but instead of hitting the ground, it shot up into the air where it was caught by the other WR down the field, Hakeem Nicks. Nicks ran the rest of the way into the endzone untouched. For the Cardinals, Beanie "Baby" Wells had the best game of his career rushing 14 times for 67 yards and a TD.
Chargers 37, Chiefs 7
The Chiefs ended a 9 game losing streak last week and were looking to make it two in a row. Riding the high emotions of the victory the Chiefs hosted the Chargers and proceeded to look like the horrible team they were during their 9 game losing streak. The Chargers pummeled the Chiefs for a 30 point victory, and it wasn't even that close. Going into the game Rivers decided to set a world record for being the only person to read an entire book while standing in the pocket during an NFL football game. The Chiefs generated zero pass rush and Rivers picked apart their defense for 268 yards and 3 TD's. The Chiefs Matt Cassell, for his part, completed only 10 of 25 passes for 97 yards as well as throwing 3 interceptions. All the Denver fans watching the game rejoiced continually because of the bullet they dodged by not being able to trade for Cassell.
Matt Ryan of the Falcons had only been sacked 2 times on the season. The Cowboys made sure to change that by getting to him 4 times. The pressure led to him throwing 2 interceptions and the Cowboys pulled away in the second half for a comfortable 16 point win. The play of the game happened right before the half. On 3rd and goal from the 5, with no timeouts, and 15 seconds on the clock, Tony Romo dropped back to pass. The pocket quickly collapsed around him with about 3 Falcons having a chance to sack him and send the game into halftime, down only 10-7. But somehow Romo pulled a Harry Houdini, broke the tackle, moved forward, and passed for the TD with 2 seconds left in the half. Romo also seems to have a new favorite target in Miles Austin. Austin had 171 yards receiving in the game and has had an impressive 421 yards receiving over the last 2 games.
49ers 21, Texans 24
There's been a lot of debate recently about what the 49ers should do at the QB position. Should they stick with Shaun "Game Manager" Hill. Maybe they should choose Nate Davis who's looked great in meaningless preseason games against 3rd string defenses. Or maybe the 49ers should use one of their 1st round picks in next years draft to get a QB for the future. The one person who seemed to be forgotten in all this discussion was Alex Smith. That's obviously no longer the case. Although it was only 1 half, Smith looked better than anyone to where the Red and Gold for quite some time. And he's still only 25. It was only 1 half, and he could easily go back to playing his more timid style we're all used to around here, but he's deffinately put himself back into the discussion.