So, the Chiefs overcame a 17 point deficit to beat the Colts, big deal. The Eagles almost came back from being down by 21 but lost and are now 1-4, what else is new? The Lions are one of only 2 undefeated teams while the Colts have the worst record in the NFL, hardly news. In other words, this NFL season after only 5 weeks is so crazy, so upside down, so unpredictable, it's actually become the norm. Long live NFL anarchy!
Game time! Guess who said the following:
"Now that we abused them, for the second time in a row, at their home, there's nothing really to do."
- A) Ben Roethlisburger after Ben-a-palooza
- B) George Bush after the fall of Baghdad
- C) B.J. Raji after the recent Packers win
That's right. It was said by Roethlisburger after their recent...no wait. I could have sworn it was Big Ben, and no, the college girls didn't give him that nick-name. Turns out it was said by Raji. In their last two games against the Falcons, including last year's playoffs, the Packers have outscored the Falcons 63-35 while Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 762 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Packers have now won 11 straight games, including the playoffs, while the Falcons have gone 2-8 over their last 10, including the preseason. Yes I know, the preseason doesn't count, but it makes their fall look so much worse. In fact, they've already lost as many games this season as they did all of last season when they finished with the best record in the NFC. But Raji wasn't done with his criticism. When asked if the Packers have a rivalry with the Falcons he said, "For it to be a rivalry, you have to win meaningful games. They're just another opponent." At this point it's starting to look like everyone's just another opponent against the Packers.
The rest of week 5 after the jump...
So many teams have crawled out of huge holes this year to win, you got the feeling you were seeing another unbelievable comeback when the Eagles cut the Bills 21 point lead down to only 7. Then you remembered this is the Eagles so all the Bills really had to do to win was to step back and let the Eagles self destruct. Michael Vick threw his 4th interception with only 1:49 remaining and the Bills were able to run out the clock for the win. Fred Jackson led the way for the Bills with 196 yards from scrimmage, including 111 on the ground, and now moves up to 6th overall on the Bills all time list with 10 games of 100 rushing yards or more. At the pace he's going he'll tie Thurman Thomas who has 46 games of at least 100 rushing yards when he's 63. So what does this loss tell us about the Eagles? "Sitting at 1-4, there's really not too much you can say whether you're a good team or a bad team," said Vick after the Eagles 4th straight loss. No, I'm pretty sure you can say exactly what kind of team you are and it's not a good one.
With just 1 minute to play in the first half things felt like old times for the Colts. They held a 24-7 lead over the Chiefs and their quarterback had completed 12 of 17 passes for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns. Then they remembered their quarterback was Curtis Painter not Peyton Manning and things began to fall apart. Painter completed only 3 of 10 throws for 40 yards in the second half while the Chiefs Matt Cassel had his best game of the season, throwing for 257 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Chiefs might also have found a replacement for Jamaal Charles. Jackie Battle, who's only had 10 carries in the Chiefs first 4 games and never had more than 20 carries in any one season, ran the ball 19 times for 119 yards and has fantasy owners everywhere dropping Chris Johnson for Battle. OK, maybe not really but you know they're thinking about it. The Chiefs have also completely turned around their season. In their first 10 quarters they were outscored 99-10, but over their last 10 quarters they've outscored their opponents 67-51 and have now won 2 straight. "We never looked at our record at 0-3 and said, ‘Let's cash it in,'" said linebacker Andy "I love to drive my" Studebaker. "You've seen that the last couple of weeks." Amazing what playing back-to-back games against teams without a win will do for your self-confidence.
When teams are struggling and coming up just short, fans love to talk about what could have been. Twice the Vikings blew two huge halftime leads (17-0 against the Bucs, and 20-0 against the Lions) and lost a close one last week against the Chiefs 22-17, while the Cardinals lost 22-21 against the Redskins, 13-10 against the Seahawks, and 31-27 against the Giants thanks to a fumble that wasn't a fumble. So really this was a game against the, could have been 3-1 Vikings and the almost were 4-0 Cardinals. Then again, those same fans wives could have been hot if not for those extra 100 pounds that came from eating Cheetos and drinking super gigantic enormously large big gulps every day, although I'm sure they're beautiful inside. Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb took turns showing why the Eagles didn't want either of them while running back Adrian Peterson stole the show, rushing for 122 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Vikings jumped out to a 28-0 lead before cruising home for the win. It was McNabb's first win with the Vikings but they won in spite of him not because of him as he seemed to think the football was a stone and he was trying to skip it on the surface of water rather than completing passes. When asked if the constant booing bothered him McNabb said, "I don't worry about it all, because at the end of the day you look up and you see a win. We're excited about it." At the end of the day he also looks up and sees his bank account which also must be exciting.
Seahawks 36, Giants 25
The Seahawks won this game thanks to the players you'd always expected would lead them to victory: Charlie Whitehurst, Doug Baldwin, and Brandon Browner. Whitehurst came in for the injured Tarvaris Jackson and completed 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards and a TD, undrafted rookie Baldwin had 8 catches for 136 yards and a TD, and Browner, who'd played his previous 4 years in the CFL, intercepted Eli Manning's pass with 1:08 to play and returned it 94 yards for a TD to seal the win. It was a tough loss for the Giants who had won 3 straight including last week's dramatic win in Arizona. It also was surprising considering the last time the Seahawks won a game in NY, MTV was still playing music and girls wearing leg warmers were considered attractive. In fact, in their last 12 games played on the East coast the Seahawks had managed only 1 win. But it didn't come as a surprise to the Seahawks players. "We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other," Baldwin said. "It's believing the guys next to you will do it." I don't know about you but I hate generic sayings. "We just have to take it one game at a time." "It is what it is." "At the end of the day you just have to keep working at it." "No officer, I've never seen that gun before in my life." Can we just hear something different for once.
The Steelers may have come into this game beaten up physically but they made sure to answer their critics loud and clear that they were still a force to be reckoned with. Playing on a gimpy foot Roethlisberger still threw for 228 yards and 5 touchdowns. Rashard Mendenhall dressed but didn't play thanks to a hamstring injury so Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman took over and ran for 156 yards on 26 carries. Their offensive line was patched together with glue and duct tape yet they only allowed 1 sack and one QB hit. While defensively they completely shut down the Titans. Chris Johnson managed only 51 yards on 14 carries, although he did score his first TD of the season, Matt Hasselbeck was limited to a 72.0 passer rating, and the Steelers took a 28-10 lead into the 4th quarter. "They kicked our butts and we kicked our own butts," Titans DE Dave Ball said. "You're not going to see this Titans team again." That is until they have another game in which they play poorly. It's kind of like the drunk who promises not to get drunk again. Good luck with that.
Poor Cam. You have to wonder if he'll ever catch a break. Once again he played well, putting his team in a position to win, and once again they lost a close one. The Saints took a 23-13 lead early in the 3rd but Newton, who threw for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns, led the Panthers right back. First he drove them 80 yards on a 12 play drive, capping it off with a 1 yard TD scamper, then after a Drew Brees interception, he drove them 59 yards before finding Greg Olsen for a 5 yard TD and a 27-23 lead in the 4th. Unfortunately for Newton and the Panthers, the Saints have Brees. With 7:06 to play, Brees led the Saints offense in a methodical 13 play, 89 yard TD drive to take the lead with only 50 seconds left in the game. It was his 17th 4th quarter come from behind TD drive since 2001. Only Peyton Manning (24), Tom Brady (19), and Jake Delhomme (18) have had more. Wait, who was that last name on the list? One of these things is not like the other. Next thing you know I'll be reading LeBron James is a clutch 4th quarter basketball player. I know, I thought that was pretty funny as well. As for Newton, he was unhappy once again to come up just short. "There's a reason we keep losing," Newton said. "And I want to know the reason." It's not hard. Most of the players on your team aren't that good. It's why they won only 1 game last year.
For a brief minute I actually thought the unbelievable was going to happen. The Jags, behind Blaine "No, my first name isn't David" Gabbert who threw for 221 yards, a TD, and no interceptions, almost won. But once again Andy Dalton who took over this year for...for...what was their old quarterback's name again? Well whoever he was, Dalton once again calmly led the Bengals back from behind late in the 4th, even converting on a critical 4th- and-6, as the surprising Bengals now find themselves with a winning record. Even their two losses were close hard fought affairs with the Broncos and 49ers. "We could be 5-0 right now, but that's not the way it is," said rookie receiver A.J. Green who had 5 catches for 90 yards and a TD, and now has 402 yards receiving on the year. "But we'll take this." And if ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have really high dental bills since most of our teeth would have rotted out.
You all know what happened. Al Davis passed away and a day later the Raiders found themselves in an emotional hard fought game. Both quarterbacks played poorly as the Raiders Jason Campbell completed only 15 of his 35 passes for 190 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception, while the Texans Matt Schaub threw for 416 yards but also completed less than half of his passes and threw 2 interceptions. So much for a commitment to excellence. Led by 3 50+ yard Sebastian Janikowski field goals, the Raiders were clinging to a 25-20 lead when the Texans drove down to the Raiders 5, only to have Schaub's final pass intercepted in the end zone by Michael Huff. But Al Davis's other big saying was, "Just win baby" and that's what the Raiders managed to do, even if it was ugly, much the way Al Davis looked at the end. No? Too soon? Hey, if anyone in the Davis family is reading this I'll apologize. Or at least I'll think about it. As for the emotional nature of the win, Raiders coach Hue Jackson said, "I know he's looking down on this team and he's with us every step of the way," which got me thinking. If he was looking down on them, does that mean he'll be looking up in 12 hours since the earth will have spun half way around? Or is he just holding a steady orbit in our atmosphere above the Raiders team? Kind of a strange thought to imagine him floating in our atmosphere looking down on the Raiders.
Chargers 29, Broncos 24
Tebow Mania is in full bloom. Trailing 26-10 in the 4th, Tebow led the Broncos on 2 TD drives, running in the first one from 12 yards out and passing to Knowshon Moreno for 28 yards to finish off the second. The fans went wild, Kyle Orton did his best golf clap, and the words, "It is done" could be heard from above. Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen fans so excited after a loss. The fans were chanting, "Tebow! Tebow!", some were waving their Tebow jerseys, and others were waving their clipboards, doing their best Tebow impersonation, all because Tim Tebow had turned a 26-10 deficit into a 29-24 loss. OK, it was still a loss, but Broncos fans have gotten used to losing over the last few years. Now with Tebow they have something different. They have a reason to hope that most of their losses will at least be close. "Everybody has been cheering for him for the longest," said running back Willis McGahee. "Now he finally got in and moved the ball for us." And for the Broncos, that by itself is a miracle.
Bears 13, Lions 24
Can those last few people who are living in the last decade when Matt Millen was making draft picks by throwing darts at a board, buy American meant the guy who owned the company had a home in America, and the Lions were the laughingstock of the NFL, finally admit that this year's team is legit? The Lions didn't just beat the Bears, they controlled them. They were more physical, they had a better game plan, and most importantly of all, Matthew Stafford is not Jay Cutler, for which everyone in Detriot can be eternally grateful. Stafford threw for 219 yards and 2 touchdowns, Calvin Johnson had 5 receptions for 130 yards and a TD, and Jahvid Best had the first 100-yard rushing game of his career going for 163 yards and a TD. Of course, it helps that this year's version of the Bears defense would make Lawrence Phillips look like Barry Sanders, but that's just one more reason the Lions are so far ahead of the Bears in talent. Welcome to the new decade in the NFL, where the Lions, Bills, and 49ers are good and the Bears, Vikings, and Colts are just glad next year's draft looks good.
With the Patriots needing a win over the Jets they turned to the Law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis carried the ball 27 times for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, Tom Brady threw for 321 yards and a TD, while the Patriots defense held the Jets to only 255 yards of offense. The Patriots never trailed in the game and have won 19 straight home games while the Jets have now lost 3 in a row. Now the Jets, who came into the year with high expectations after back-to-back AFC Championship appearances, seem to be adrift without an identity. Over the last two years they were a pound and ground team, running the ball and playing physical defense, but over the first part of this season they seemed to be trying to air it out more. However, Mark Sanchez is not the elite QB many Jets faithful would like him to be. So against the Patriots they tried to morph back into their old style even though the Patriots have given up more passing yards than any other team in the NFL. "I think we got away with that early," Sanchez said of running the ball. "It's easy to say from an outside perspective, ‘Oh, those guys are last in the league just throw it every down.' We're not built for that." Unfortunately, it may be they no longer know what they're built for.
Buccaneers 3, 49ers 48
If you want to know one reason why this year's 49ers team is different than in years past just look at one stat, turnovers. The 49ers are tops in the NFL with a +10 turnover ratio and no team has turned the ball over less than the 49ers who have only 4, including just 1 interception. In other words, unlike teams in the past, they're not doing those stupid things that would always kill them in close games. They're not having costly turnovers, painful penalties, or worst of all, giving up 30 yard TD bombs on the last play of the game. Even now it hurts to think about that one. When teams talk about doing the little things the 49ers, under Harbaugh, actually are doing all those little things and it's adding up to the big thing of a 4-1 record and essentially a 3 game lead over the Seahawks.