The SF Giants baseball announcer, Duane Kuiper, coined a phrase that has been used a lot lately. Giants Baseball: Torture. Now I am a big fan of the Giants, even though the 49ers will always be number one in my heart, and I do agree it can be painful to watch the Giants on offense. Watching them go 1 for 200 with runners in scoring position is painful. Watching them strand the last 20 runners that made it to 3rd base with less than 2 outs, makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Watching Bochy pull Sanchez even though he was pitching almost perfect baseball, in favor of Sergio Romo who blew the lead for the second straight night, is making me go prematurely grey. And watching Wilson load the bases almost every time before finally getting the save, has given me an ulcer.
But the truth is, I'll take the torture of the Giants any day over the torture of the 49ers. If torture means having a .568 winning percentage, winning the NL West, and playing for the NL Pennant, I'll take that kind of torture over the torture of watching the 49ers. Because while I may have put several new holes in the walls of my house while watching the Giants, at least they still manage to get the job done in the end. Watching the 49ers, on the other hand, now that's real torture. That's the kind of torture that has me seeking the sweet embrace and warm glow of Johnny Walker Black Label.
But enough of my ranting. This is supposed to be about all the teams in the NFL, so let's get rolling with another team that is feeling some torture of their own.
Tony Romo threw for 406 yards and 3 TD's but he also threw 3 interceptions, was sacked 6 times, and was hit 10 times more. They Cowboys also committed 12 penalties for 133 yards, none of which were bigger than the excessive celebration penalty that came after the Cowboys tied it up at 27-27. Kicking off from the 15 instead of the 30, the Titans were able to get a great return all the way down to the Cowboys 5 yard line. A couple plays later Chris Johnson, who rushed for 131 yards, punched it in from the 1 and the Titans retook the lead. But the Titans weren't perfect either. Early in the 3rd Romo found Miles Austin, who split the defenders for a 69 yard TD to tie the game at 17-17. Titans defender Michael Griffen said of the play, "I wish Miles was the meat in between our sandwich." Uh...I'm not even sure what to say to that. Not to be out done, Romo was quoted as saying, "This is really hard to swallow right now." And to think people like to make those kind of jokes about SF.
The Vikings were playing on ESPN and that could only mean one thing. Time to listen to all the nauseating man love thrown Brett Favre's way. Playing in the middle of a rain storm that had religious people looking for an arc, Favre became the first QB ever to throw for over 70,000 yards and 500 TD's. However, it was his NFL record 324th interception that ultimately lost the Vikings the game. Trailing 20-22 Favre rolled right and threw a pass right at Jets defender Dwight Lowery, who returned it 26 yards to put the game away. Favre was playing the game just hours after he apologized to teammates for the distraction that came about from the allegations that Favre sent racy texts and lewd pictures to Jets sideline reporter, Jenn Sterger. No word yet if Favre has also apologized to his wife and to Sterger, who obviously got the job because of her sparkling on air personality and not because of her looks.
The rest of week 5 after the jump.
The first points in the game came after the Raiders blocked a punt for a safety. The first TD in the game came when the Raiders blocked another punt and returned it 5 yards. And the final TD of the game came when the ball was stripped from Phillip Rivers and Tyvon Branch returned it 64 yards with only :58 left to play. In between those scores, the little engine who could, Bruce Gradkowski, had to leave the game because of a hurt shoulder. In came Jason Campbell who efficiently led the Raiders on two second half TD drives of 93 and 73 yards. It was the first time Campbell had played since being benched in the middle of week two. "It definitely meant a lot," Campbell said. "Just seeing the guys on the sideline, how hard they were fighting." Oh, how cliche. Next, I suppose he's going to tell us he told his teammates never to give up. "The one thing I said was, 'You didn't give up.'" Never mind.
For the fourth time in five weeks, the Redskins game came down to the very last play. This time it ended when Graham Gano hit a 33 yard FG with 8:09 left in OT. But it didn't look like it would be a Redskins victory early on. The Packers seemed to move the ball at will against the Redskins defense, but they were only able to get 13 points. I suppose 2 missed FG's and turning the ball over on downs at the Redskins 1 yard line will do that. Still, with a 10 point 4th quarter lead, the Packers were in position to win the game. That's when Donovan McNabb took over. He led the Redskins on three long drives that ended in 10 points and 1 missed FG. If only the Packers could have scored more points. "I think we all know yards don't mean anything," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's about points." He must have learned that from watching the Cowboys the last couple of seasons.
If their was an award for sloppiest game of the week, this one would have taken the prize in a landslide. With Jay Cutler still injured, the Bears went with Todd Collins and then Caleb Hanie. The two combined to complete only 8 of their 19 passes for a mere 29 yards and 4 interceptions. But as horrible as that was, the Panthers dynamic duo of Jimmy Clausen and Matt Moore, were only marginally better, as they combined to complete only 14 of their 32 passes for 62 yards and 3 interceptions. Talk about ugly! The lone offensive bright spot came from Bears RB Matt Forte who carried the ball 22 times for 166 yards and 2 TD's. Not bad for a team that had yet to score a rushing TD. I guess the Panthers defense is the cure for a struggling running attack. Of course, this game was also the homecoming of Julius Peppers, and he made sure to make his presence felt. Late in the second, Peppers tipped a screen pass and then dove to make the interception at the line of scrimmage. The play led to a Bears FG that gave them a 17-3 lead. "Quick screens to his side are not recommended," Panthers coach John Fox said afterwards. Didn't he coach Peppers for 8 years? You'd think he would have known that already.
Here's some advice for any aspiring football player who wants to make it big in the NFL, especially on defense. Playing sound fundamental football will almost never get you into the Sports Center Top 10. Only "Wow!" hits will do that. So launch yourself with all your might at the ball carrier and hope the shear force of the blow will cause him to fall. That's the only explanation I can come up with for why the Broncos couldn't make a tackle in this game. Ravens RB's Willis McGahee and Ray Rice gouged the Broncos defense for 200 yards and 3 TD's. Even Joe Flacco got into the action with a TD run of his own. In all, the Broncos were outgained on the ground 233-39. Kyle Orton, who threw for 314 yards and 2 TD's said of the game, "They're just so good. It's tough to play them anywhere. Just be honest, they beat us up today." OK, the beat the snot out of you and generally made you look silly. How's that for honesty.
Giants 34, Texans 10
What happens when the unstoppable object meets the immovable force. Well on Sunday, the unstoppable object got blasted into a million little pieces and was booed by the home crowd. Thanks in large part to Arian Foster, the Texans lead the NFL in rushing, averaging 172 yards per game. But against the immovable Giants defense, Foster was held to only 25 yards rushing, and the Texans as a team were held to a franchise worst 24 yards. On the other side of the ball, the return of Brian Cushing did nothing to slow down Eli Manning who threw for 297 yards and 3 TD's, mostly to Hakeem Nicks who had 12 receptions for 130 yards. "We just got our butt kicked and played undisciplined," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. I'm noticing a trend of teams getting their butt's kicked.
Looking to find a spark on offense, the Cardinals handed the ball to undrafted rookie QB Max Hall. Looking at the score you'd think it worked. But you'd be wrong. After throwing an interception on his second pass, Hall looked OK with 168 yards passing, but it was the Cardinals defense that really stepped up big time in this game. The Saints turned the ball over 4 times and the Cardinals returned 3 of those turnovers for TD's. But the Cardinals defense still gave Hall the credit for the victory. "I think it has a lot to do with how our offense played," DE Calais Campbell said. "We saw life in them and it kind of sparked us a little bit more too." If by "spark" he means the offense was able to score more than the 3 points they scored last week, then I guess he was spot on.
Trent Edwards finally got to feel what it was like to win a game in Buffalo this year. Too bad for Bills fans Edwards is now wearing a Jaguars uniform. The man who took his place, Ryan Fitzpatrick, played well with 220 yards passing and 3 TD's, but it's hard to win when the defense is always spotting the other team 30+ points. For the fourth straight game the Bills defense allowed over 30 points, and for the third straight game, they allowed over 200 yards on the ground. The Jaguars rushed for 216 yards and David Garrard completed 80% of his passes for 178 yards and 3 TD's. "It's as bad as you could possibly get," Bills DT Kyle Williams said. "We're at the back end of everything. It's bad. Really bad." I guess he thinkgs it's bad.
In only their fourth game of the season, the Bucs have already won as many games as they did all of last season. Looks like the Baby Bucs are growing up. Trailing 14-21 with just over 2 minutes to play, Josh Freeman led the Bucs to 10 points in only 1:26 and the win. The reason the Bucs were able to score so quick was thanks to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis calling a pass play even though the Bucs were out of timeouts and Cedric Benson had rushed for 144 yards. Carson Palmer threw an interception, which the Bucs were able to turn into the tying TD, then Palmer threw another interception, which the Bucs were then able to turn into the game winning FG. It was a tough loss for a Bengals team that seemed to have the game well in hand. But not everyone in a Bengals uniform was down. The CB formerly known as "Pacman" happily told TO and Ochocinco after the game, "You're looking like hounds in a dog show." Whatever that means. I also just realized something. There are some dumb names on this Bengals roster.
Late in the 4th, the Browns had the ball near midfield, while the Falcons were clinging to a 13-10 lead. That's when Jake Delhomme's pass was deflected by DE Kroy Biermann, who dove for the interception, rolled to his feet, and then rumbled 31 yards, while caring a Browns player on his back, for the TD. I found the whole thing to be absolutely amazing. Who knew Delhomme was still a starting QB in the NFL? In fairness to Delhomme, he does have a gimpy ankle and was only playing because of an injury to Seneca Wallace. It seems the only healthy QB on the Browns roster is rookie Colt McCoy. That might explain why Browns head coach, Eric Mangini, was seen praying to the Rosemary while muttering for a miracle under his breath. Or maybe the miracle would be if he kept his job past this season.
Over the last four games this season, the Lions have lost three of them by 5, 3, and 2 points. On Sunday they finally broke through for the win in a big way. It was the largest margin of victory for the Lions since 1995. To put that into perceptive, that was one year after the 49ers won their last SB. Rams QB, Sam Bradford, had probably his worst game of the year, completing barely half of his passes for 215 yards while also throwing 2 interceptions. However, part of his struggles might be attributed to the injury of his go to receiver, Mark Clayton, who looks to be out for a while. Not that the Lions don't have injuries of their own to deal with. The most obvious being to Matt Stafford. "Even though we don't have Matt," WR Nate Burleson said. "We have somebody who can hold down the fort." And by "somebody" he means Shuan Hill, who threw for 227 yards and 3 TD's. Hill became the first Lions QB since Joey Harrington to win a game while throwing at least 3 TD's and 0 interceptions. Now there's an exclusive list.
The '72 Dolphins get to break out the champagne early this year because the last undefeated team in the NFL, the KC Chiefs, lost. Long live parity! Colts RB Mike Hart filled in for an injured Joseph Addai, and scored the only TD of the game with 4:02 left to play to give the Colts a 19-9 lead. The Chiefs played well enough to win but might have ultimately been done in by two big gambles that failed. They kicked on onside kick to start the game that didn't to go the required 10 yards and the Colts turned the great field position into a 3-0 lead. The Chiefs then drove the ball to the Colts 8, but instead of kicking the tying FG, they went for it and Matt Cassel's pass fell incomplete. In an attempt to justify the onside kick at the start of the game, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said, "Going back to 2000, teams that have opened with an onside kick have had a plus 60% win percentage whether they got it or not." I'm going to go out on a limb and say, failing to recover an onside kick at the start of the game won't improve your chances of winning. It just goes to show you can twist numbers around to justify whatever you want. It's why accountants get paid as much as they do.
Eagles 27, 49ers 24
The 49ers turned it over 5 times and lost?! Unbelievable.