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A look back at the games played this past week in the NFL
I was supposed to write a recap of last week's games on Tuesday but asked if I could push it back to Wednesday, then to Friday for a preview of this week's games, then just a regular story for Saturday, and then nothing as I hated what I wrote. The whole time I kept thinking of the great quote by one of my favorite authors Douglas Adams, "I love deadlines. I love the wooshing noise they make as they fly by."
Well I'm back this week and I just have to say I'm glad the Giants won on Monday otherwise I might have gone postal. OK, not really since I like most of the people I work with, but I may have written a carefully worded and angry letter to the Daily Herald complaining about the crack in my sidewalk and repeated complaints to my city officials have not caused them to fix it, and I pay taxes, and isn't that what taxes are supposed to be used for, and if I trip and skin my knee won't they be sorry after I hit them with a million dollar lawsuit. I still might write the letter, we'll just have to see how things go this week.
For those who want to feel better about the 49ers just look how everyone else is doing. There are a lot of teams who were supposed to be good who are .500 or worse and cross the board there are a whole lot of 2-3, 3-3, and 4-2 teams while there are only 3 teams with a record of 5-1 or better (Falcons, Texans, and Ravens) and the Bears are 4-1. Besides, the Giants finished 9-7 last year and won the Super Bowl while the Packers were 10-6 the year they won it. The 49ers had a bad game against a really hot QB who was throwing in impossibly small windows. Luckily there's still a whole lot of football still left to play. So let's see how the games played out this week.
This game was a pretty dull affair for 57 minutes but that turned around in the final 3 minutes of play. With the game tied at 13-13 Carson Palmer, who finished with 353 yards, drove the Raiders into FG range before finding Asante Samuel at the Raiders 21-yard line which he returned 79 yards the other way to give the Falcons the lead. Palmer drove the Raiders down the field again only this time he got it into the right end zone and tied it back up with only 40 seconds remaining. But when you have Matty "ice that melts in the playoffs" Ryan as your QB 40 seconds is more than enough. He hit on 4 quick passes setting up Matt Bryant's game winning 55-yard FG. The Falcons are now the lone undefeated team in the NFL while the Raiders are still wondering if they can get even a partial refund on Palmer. "Put the blame on me," Palmer said. "It's completely my fault." OK, it's your fault. Recognition is the first step, now you only have 11 to go.
When Eric Decker fell down with nothing but open field in front of him my thought was either there really is some sort of Tebow curse hanging like a cloud over the Broncos or those Buffalo Wild Wings commercials are more than just commercials. The Chargers took a 24-0 lead into the locker room at half and looked poised to take a 4-2 stranglehold over the AFC West while the Broncos were in danger of falling to 2-4, just one game ahead of the Chiefs and Raiders. Jeez the AFC West blows this year. Too bad for the Chargers Peyton Manning has a history of making the incredibly hard look easy and Philip Rivers has a history of losing games that are in the bag. In just the second half alone Manning completed 13 of his 14 throws for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns while Rivers turned the ball over 5 times and finished the game with 6. And here we all thought Alex Smith had a rough second half. I know they say there are no stupid questions just stupid people who ask questions, but at the risk of sounding stupid, how in the name of everything holy and some things only semi-holy does Norv Turner still have a head coaching job? I bet Chargers fans never thought they'd long for the days of Marty Schottenheimer.
I don't think many saw this coming but maybe we should have. First off the Steelers defense is getting old, and I mean really, really old. They currently have the oldest defense in the NFL. They're not to the point where they wear sweat suits and give off a faintly odd odor but they're getting there. Secondly, the Steelers just haven't been that good on the road this year. They'd already lost to the Broncos and Raiders (their only win of the season) and now you can add the Titans to the list. Even the teams they have beaten, the Jets and Eagles, haven't exactly been world beaters. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 290 yards and even Chris Johnson had a good game carrying the ball 19 times for 91 yards, which would have been only an average game for Johnson a couple of years ago but by this year's standards even just looking like you belong in the NFL is an improvement. Rob Bironas kicked a 40-yard FG as time expired and the Titans got their second win of the season. Tim Shaw, who blocked a punt in the 4th quarter said about the win, "We couldn't lose tonight. We were desperate. We needed this win more than anything. It's gotten us in a good place." Being 2-4 is a good place? I suppose almost anywhere would seem good when you've been living in the equivalent of a Turkish prison.
Don't look now but Ryan Tannehill might actually be the answer at QB for the Dolphins. Turns out all the Dolphins needed to do in order to find a quality replacement for Dan Marino was to draft one in the first round. The Dolphins should probably keep that strategy under wraps as they don't want other NFL teams to catch on. After throwing 3 interceptions in his first game and generally looking about as lost as an old man trying to figure out how to use his new iphone, Tannehill has played well in 4 of his last 5 games winning 3 and losing the other 2 in overtime. Against the Rams he completed 72.4% of his passes for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sure he had his gaffs (that's a word isn't it?) and the Dolphins offense didn't get many yards thanks to being held to only 19 yards on the ground, but they came away with the "W" which is the only stat that matters. Meanwhile the Rams looked like the better team but had the only turnover of the game, and their great rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein missed his last 3 FG attempts including one of 66 yards just before the half. But the Dolphins don't care if they were outgained in total yards, they only care about the win. "We know how football is played," Dolphins receiver Davone Bess said. "It's not about statistics; it's about winning. Pretty, ugly, it doesn't matter. It's just about winning." It is? I was always told, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game." They lied to me!
Colts 9, Jets 35
So I actually thought the Jets would win this game but I didn't see them winning it so convincingly. Mark Sanchez only threw for 82 yards, averaging just 4.6 yards per pass attempt, but 2 of his throws were caught for touchdowns and the Jets dominated on the ground. Shonn Greene ran for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns helping the Jets finish with 252 for the day. Even Tebow was used effectively, completing a 23-yard pass on a fake punt and scrambling for a first down later in the drive that ended in a TD just before the half. Meanwhile Andrew Luck threw for 280 yards but was intercepted twice and gave up a third turnover on a fumble. Now the Jets, a team many short sighted and over-reactionary fans dubbed one of the worst teams in football after their beat down at the hands of the 49ers, will take over first place in the AFC East if they beat the Patriots in their next game. "We want to be a team no one wants to play," head coach Rex Ryan said. "And, we're on our way." True, but that's just because no one wants to go to New Jersey.
Lions 26, Eagles 23
With just over 5 minutes to play Michael Vick hit Jeremy Maclin for a 70-yard TD pass and a 23-13 lead. At that point every Eagles fan had to feel like the game was in hand. After all the Lions had managed only 13 points all game despite the fact Vick had turned the ball over 3 more times giving him 13 on the season in only 6 games. Matthew Stafford had been held in check with only 145 yards passing with no touchdowns and one interception. In danger of starting the season 1-4 after winning their first 5 games in 2011 Stafford took over. In the final 5 minutes of regulation and in overtime Stafford led the Lions to 3 straight scoring drives, throwing for 166 yards, and giving them a much needed win and their first win on the road all season. Now the Eagles have lost back-to-back games after holding late leads and are sitting at 3-3 going into their bye week. They're struggling so hard to find answers they fired their offensive line coach who for some reason had been in charge of their defense. "I don't know what to tell you other than we have to do better," coach Andy Reid said. "We've got to learn how to win football games. You have a 10-point lead with 10 minutes left, you have to learn how to finish." No, you had a 10-point lead with 5 minutes left, but I do have a suggestion. How about not averaging around 3 turnovers a game, unless you really like turnovers in which case I think you may be able to swing a deal for Rex Grossman.
I don't know why but seeing Tony Romo struggling to win just makes me smile. Wait, I do know why. He's the QB for the Cowboys and I hate the Cowboys. Besides, he and Tom Brady are always with the kind of girl guys dream about hooking up, unless you're gay, not that there's anything wrong with that. Things are so bad for Romo he lost this game even though he put his team in a position to win. Trailing by 8-points Romo drove the Cowboys down the field for a TD with just 32 seconds remaining and even threw a perfect pass on their 2-point conversion that went right through the hands of Dez "I need to be watched 24-7 so I don't slip up" Bryant. Smirk. Then when they miraculously got the onside kick, Romo drives them into FG range only to watch the kicker miss. Smile. Poor Romo. Even when he comes through in the clutch he still loses. "I felt we fought really hard and well through a lot of different adversities in all three phases," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "(The Ravens) have been awfully good for a while. This team's been awfully good in this place for a while. We gave them everything they could handle." Oh no, I feel a moral victory coming on. Save me from my Singletary flashback!
Aaron Rodgers goes crazy for 338 yards and 6 touchdowns while the supposedly best defense in football gets blasted for 42 points. Jordy Nelson caught 9 passes for 121 yards and 3 touchdowns while Randall Cobb had 7 receptions to go over 100 yards receiving as well. Rodgers was only sacked twice but J.J. Watt mimicked his belt move after one of them. "As a quarterback, it's interesting to see the kind of dances that go on around you," Rodgers said, "and it's not often that you get a chance to dance back to them." Please, do you really need to plug your State Farm commercial in a post game interview?
In a battle between two teams no one outside the state of Ohio cares about, it was the Browns who came out on top and still no one outside Ohio cares. Andy Dalton threw for 381 yards and the Bengals outgained the Browns but Dalton also threw 3 interceptions including one to Sheldon Brown that was returned for a TD in the 4th quarter. With the win the Browns become the last team in the NFL to win a game this season. The 2008 Lions are now free to break out the Pabst Blue Ribbon to celebrate.
Several things were reinforced for me after this game. They are, in no particular order, C.J. Spiller is an explosive runner (12 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD), Ryan Fitzpatrick is way overpaid (18/32, 153 yards), Larry Fitzgerald is still amazing despite not having anyone good to throw him the ball (6 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD), and Kevin Kolb and John Skelton are so bad they make our QB tandem look like Joe Montana and Steve Young (16/36, 173, 1 TD, 2 Int). Rian Lindell kicked a 25-yard FG in overtime to end the Cardinals 8 game winning streak but the Cardinals did have a chance for the win in regulation. After Jay Feely kicked a franchise long 61-yard FG to tie the game up at 16-16 with just over 1 minute to play the Cardinals got the ball back but his 38-yard attempt was tipped and sailed to the right. "You go from on top of the world to feeling about as low as you can feel," Feely said. No, I had an experience a lot worse than that. Ever see the movie "The Crying Game"? It was something like that.
Patriots 23, Seahawks 24
Tom Brady had thrown 179 passes without being intercepted but he was picked off twice in this game including one in the end zone. Yet in spite of that the Patriots were cruising. Brady threw for 395 yards, Marshawn Lynch was struggling on the ground with only 41 yards on 15 carries, and the Patriots held a 23-10 lead halfway through the 4th. Then Russell Wilson took over and led the Seahawks on two TD drives, finishing the game with 293 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also became the first rookie QB to ever have 2 game winning TD passes in the final 2 minutes and we're only in week 6. The upcoming game on Thursday just got bigger. Just as a hypothetical question, does anyone know where Russell likes to eat and the best way to conceal a lead pipe? Hypothetically speaking of course.
Chiefs 10, Buccaneers 38
Fans were cheering in Kansas City when Matt Cassel was injured and replaced by Brady Quinn, not that they were happy he was injured, just that he wasn't playing anymore, or so I've been told. Well they got their wish and it looks like there was a reason Quinn failed in Cleveland, never really played in Denver, and was a backup to Cassel. Turns out he sucks! Quinn completed 22 of 38 throws for 180 yards and 2 interceptions. Hey, I hear Tyler Palko is still unsigned.
Giants 3, 49ers 26
If you lie to yourself enough times sometimes you can actually get yourself to believe it.