The end of the world must be just around the corner. Take a look at all the crazy things going on in the NFL. Brett Favre missed his first start in over 300 games (counting the playoffs). The roof of the Metrodome collapsed due to heavy snow. An adult coach stuck out his knee and tripped a player as he ran down the sidelines. The Jaguars can actually clinch the AFC South next week if they beat the Colts. The Titans and Cardinals finally scored a touchdown for the first time in 3 games and it wasn't just one but 4 for both of them. Alex Smith actually looked like a #1 draft pick and the Ravens staunch defense now looks like a sieve. About the only thing I know for sure is that the Bengals and Panthers will lose every week.
Kenny Britt played for the first time since injuring his hamstring on Halloween, which moved Randy "Can I go back to the Patriots now" Moss to the bench, and the Titans offense came back with him. After going 14 quarters without a touchdown, the Titans scored four and almost upset the injury plagued Colts. Peyton Manning threw for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns while putting an end to a 3 game losing streak. The last time the Colts lost four in a row was when Jim "Playoffs!?" Mora was the head coach. Good times.
Who knew all the Cardinals needed to do to break out of their offensive slump was to turn to kicker Jay Feely. Feely kicked 5 field goals and also rushed for their first touchdown on a fake. Rookie John Skelton started his first game for the Cardinals and played mediocre at best. But he didn't need to do much with Tim Hightower rushing for 148 yards and with Denver turning the ball over 6 times. "It's been a rough year," Hightower said. "It's good to kind of get things back in the right direction." Amazing what playing the putrid Broncos will do for a team's selfconfidence.
Patriots 36, Bears 7
The Bears actually outscored the Patriots 7-3 in the second half. Too bad they started the first half in a 33-0 hole. Snowy conditions and the leagues 3rd ranked defense did nothing to slow down Tom Brady who threw for 369 yards and 2 touchdowns. This coming a week after they blasted the Jets 45-3. Bears coach Lovie Smith summed up the game best when he said, "Sometimes you get your butt beat." And sometimes the Bears remind us they are who we thought they were.
The Browns had won 4 of their last 6 games including impressive wins over the Saints, Patriots, and Dolphins, so they should easily beat the Bills. Then I remembered Jake Delhomme was the Browns starting QB. Delhomme only threw for 86 yards while also throwing an interception. Peyton Hillis rushed for 108 yards, but he fumbled three times, losing one, and was stuffed twice on the goal line. "We knew we would have to grind it out," Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "Actually, I think the weather was a little bit better than we expected." True. Turns out it was the Browns that were bad.
Without a solid running game to be afraid of, the Lions teed off on Aaron Rodgers, eventually knocking him out of the game with a concussion. The Packers turned to Matt Flynn and the offense went nowhere. The Packers did have a shot late in the game when Flynn managed to get the Packers to the Lions 31, but on 4th-and-1, his pass to the endzone fell incomplete. Think about that scenario for a minute. With a minute left in the game, two timeouts, and a seldom used backup playing QB, the Packers go for the 31 yard TD pass instead of just trying to get the first down. "I probably shouldn't have put Matt in that position," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said of the call. I think Guinness said it best when they said, "Brillient!"
Without looking, can anyone name the team with the worst record in the AFC? That's right, it's the 2-11 Cincinnati Bengals. Hard to believe a team that made the playoffs last year can be so bad this year. Carson Palmer threw 3 interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and the entire Bengals offense was held to only 190 yards. Over their last four games the Steelers have allowed only an average of 9 points per game. "I'm not sure what happened with our guys," Palmer said of the 10 game losing streak. Turns out, I do know. You averaged 128.5 yards a game on the ground last season, but are only averaging 87.8 this season. Looks like Cedric Benson has returned to his old form.
There's not a more hated man in Washington right now than Redskins placekicker Graham Gano. Considering some of the people currently living in Washington, that's really saying something. Gano missed two short field goals, including one that was only slightly longer than a PAT, and was on the field again when the snap was too high for the holder on what would have been a game tying PAT. Maybe his bad vibes carried over to the long snapper. The botched kicks wasted a great game by Redskins RB Ryan Torain who rushed for 172 yards. "Style points are out the window right now," LB Dekoda Watson said. "It's not like this is the BCS." For which we are all so very grateful.
Maurice Jones-Drew rushed for 101 yards including a 30 yard TD run, Rashard Jennings rushed for 109 including a 74 yard TD run, and Jason Hill(yes, that Jason Hill) caught a 48 yard touchdown pass to lead the Jaguars past the Raiders. The Raiders controlled the game early on and had a 17-7 halftime lead, but the three big plays from Jones-Drew, Jennings, and Hill changed the momentum to the Jaguars. David Garrard also threw for 3 touchdowns which now ties him with Mark Brunell's franchise record of 20 touchdowns in one season. Seriously? Only 20? Not much of a record. The Jaguars can now clinch the AFC South with a victory over the Colts next week. In other news the Apocalypse is also just a week away.
Rams 13, Saints 31
Drew Brees blew out to a fast start completing 13 of his first 15 passes including two touchdown passes to Marques Colston. Get it? Brees blew. The fast start put extra pressure on Sam Bradford who threw for 231 yards, but also had two passes picked off deep in Saints territory. "I've got to be better when we're down there and I've got to be smarter with the football," Bradford said. "I just can't make those mistakes." Sure you can. Feel free to make them all the time.
Dolphins 10, Jets 6
A week after getting embarrassed by the Patriots 45-3, the Jets got embarrassed again. Only this time it was for a different reason. In a game where the Jets never held a lead, Sal "say hello to my little friend" Alosi, the Jets strength and conditioning coach, stuck out his knee and tripped Nolan Carroll, the Dolphins gunner on a punt. "I wish they'd tripped me. I'd have broken that old man's leg," LB Channing Crowder said. "A grown man from the coaching staff? That's high character." I guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the Rex Ryan coaching tree.
If Chris Carter only caught touchdown passes then DeSean Jackson only catches 40+ yard passes. Jackson had four catches that totaled an eye popping 210 yards. It was another tough loss for the Cowboys who now have lost seven games by 7 points or less. It also means the Cowboys are guaranteed to have their first losing season since 2004. So how does owner Jerry Jones feel about the loss? "It doesn't feel good," he said. I have to disagree. I think it feels great.
Everything eventually comes to an end even if it seems like it never will. For the first time since 1992, Brett "open fly jeans" Favre didn't start the game. The football gods were so angry they destroyed the roof of the Metrodome in protest. The Giants pounded the ball with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw who combined to cary the ball 25 times for 219 yards and two touchdowns. They also stuffed the Vikings Adrian Peterson, limiting him to 26 yards on 14 caries. Of course the big story was still Favre as the cameras constantly panned over to him. "At least I won't look back and say, 'I wonder if I played could we have done this or that,'" Favre said. "We know now." Yes we do. We know you guys stink.
The Ravens might have won but they have to feel nervous over the way it ended. For the second straight week the Ravens blew a big lead. Fortunately for them a pick-6 in OT saved them from another embarrassing loss. Is there a reason Cam Cameron becomes uber-conservative whenever the Ravens get a lead? The Texans Matt Schuab threw for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns, but his interception in OT cost the Texans the game and saved the Ravens from utter embarrassment. "There's always plays that define where you go," LB Ray Lewis said. "For us to get that win the way we got it, I'm telling you, if you're not happy, there's something wrong with you." Or maybe there's something wrong with you that you're not bothered by the fact you and your defense just blew two 21 point leads.
Back in the 70's and 80's there was a show called "To Tell the Truth". A panel of four had to guess which one of the three contestants was telling the truth and which two were lying. At the end the host would say, "Will the real (person's name) please stand up. So let me ask, "Will the real Alex Smith please stand up." Seriously. Just as I had made peace with the idea of giving up on Smith, he has to have his best game ever. He threw for 255 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions, and a QB rating of 130.9. If Smith continuous to play at a high level for the remaining 3 games, the 49ers almost have no choice but to try and resign him. It's either that or gamble on the draft again and how many years will be wasted on trying to develop another QB?