I don't know if everyone's heard, but Favre returned to Lambeau Field on Sunday for the first time since leaving the Packers. No, he really did. I know it didn't get mentioned much in the media, but he really did return. Of course their were some other games as well. The Broncos lost for the first time this season. The Titans and Rams finally got off the snide. And the Eagles destroyed the Giants in what was supposed to be a tough game. But they were just side dishes to the Favre feast. So let's start with the main course.
Vikings 38, Packers 26
As Favre returned to Cheeseland for the first time since leaving, the question on everyone's mind was, "How will the fans greet him?" It didn't take long to find out. He was loudly booed when he took the field for practice. He was booed again during the team introductions. And he was booed several times more at the start of the Vikings first few offensive possessions. Meanwhile, the player who got the loudest cheer was Aaron Rodgers. It was kind of like running into your ex while you're with your new girlfriend. You make sure to demonstrate how much you're in love with your new squeeze in a pathetic attempt to make your ex jealous. Not that it mattered. Favre got the last laugh as he completed 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and 4 TD's. At first it looked like the game was going to be a laugher as the Vikings held a 24-3 lead early in the 3rd quarter. But then we got to see why the Packers chose their new QB. Rodgers, who completed 26 of 41 passes for 287 yards and 3 TD's, lead the fighting cheeseheads to four straight scores (3 TD's, 1 FG) and cut the lead to 31-26. But then Favre did what Favre does and put the game away for good. Earlier in the year Favre became the first QB to beat all 32 teams in the NFL. On Sunday he became the first player to have fans from all 32 teams shove needles in the eyes of their Brett Favre voodoo dolls.
Giants 17, Eagles 40
As I watched a game that the Giants were favored to win, I started to wonder why anyone ever thought the Giants were an elite team in the NFL. After starting the season 5-0, the Giants have managed to loose at home to the Cardinals, and get crushed by the Saints and Eagles. When you consider that 4 of their wins came against the Redskins, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Raiders, you really start to believe they're nothing more than a mediocre team. Eli Manning completed 20 of 39 passes for 222 yards and had 2 interceptions. While on the other side of the ball, DeSean "Big Play King" Jackson scored his 6th TD on the season, all 6 of which have been plays of over 50 yards. He has 4 receptions of over 50 yards for a TD, one 85 yard punt return for a TD, and one 67 yard TD run. Donovan McNabb completed 17 of his 23 passes for 240 yards and 3 TD's. The conspiracy theorist in me is starting to think that the Eagles head coach, Andy Reid, needed lawyer money for his incarcerated sons, so he bet on the Raiders last week and threw the game. How else do you explain how a team that scored at will against the Giants couldn't score a TD against the bottom feeding Raiders?
Broncos 7, Ravens 30
Denver came into this game a perfect 6-0. Baltimore came into this game a mediocre 3-3. But it was the Ravens who looked like the perfect team. The Broncos head coach, Josh McDaniels, who looks like he came straight from a college frat party to coach the game, wasn't able to continue the magic as Denver lost for the first time of the season. Their was the usual "We must defend this house!" ranting from Ray Lewis. But it was the Ravens ability to run the ball, becoming the first team this season to rush for over 100 yards against the Broncos, and the spark created by Lardarius Webb's 95 yard kick return for a TD to start the 2nd half, that led the way for the Ravens. Joe Flacco was an efficient 20 of 25 for 175 yards and 1 TD.
Jaguars 13, Titans 30
If it wasn't bad enough that the 49ers have lost 3 in a row, now they get a suddenly rejuvenated Titans team on Sunday. Vince Young, starting for the first time since the 2008 opener, completed 15 of 18 passes for only 125 yards. But the way the Titans were running the ball, they didn't need a whole lot from Young. Chris Johnson set a franchise record rushing for 228 yards with 2 TD runs of 52 and 89 yards. The Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew did his best to keep Jacksonville in the game, ripping off TD runs of 80 and 79 yards. Of course, it didn't help the Titans that they decided to do their best keystone cops impersonation. Drew broke 5 tackles on 1 run and 3 on the other. But the 2 TD runs were about the only thing the Jaguars did well as the Titans easily pulled away late in the game. In fact, spirits are so high in Tennessee that one reporter wrote, "With games against Buffalo (3-5), St Louis (1-7), and Seattle (2-5), Tennessee could conceivably make an unheard of run for a playoff berth." Watch out Indy. The Titans are only 6 games back and riding a 1 game winning streak.
The Texans lost their star Tight End Owen Daniels, and Steve Slaton lost his 5th fumble of the season, but none of it seemed to slow down the Texans offense. Six year backup, Ryan Moats, replaced Slaton and quickly became the first player in franchise history to score 3 TD's in one game. The Bills, for their part, did the best they could to make it easy for the Texans by totaling a paultry 204 yards of offense. Just how bad were the Bills? Well Texans LB DeMeco Ryans said, "It was easy. They kind of had the same formations, they didn't give us a lot of motions and things. So it was a simple offense to go against." Don't forget. The Texans went up against Jim Raye's master gameplan just last week, so the Bills offense must be incredibly plain. Given Terrell Owens high profile clashes with previous QB's Jeff Garcia, Donevon McNabb, and Tony Romo, you have to wonder how he feels toward Ryan Fitzpatrick. The previous 3 QB's were at least pro bowl caliber players. Fitzpatrick on the other hand....well let me just say I wouldn't be surprised if he suddenly turned up mysteriously missing.
What's the cure for overcoming a 2 game losing streak and a 45-10 thrashing the previous week? Play the Browns of course. The Browns entered the game with the leagues worst defense and 2nd worst offense. Earlier in the season Brady Quinn was benched in favor of Derek Anderson, but apparently Anderson doesn't want the job either. He's done everything in his power to be bad, sporting the NFL's worst QB rating, 36.2. After completing only 6 of his 17 passes for 76 yards and 2 interceptions, Anderson and Quinn switched places again. Maybe this is a rare situation where being the starting QB for the Browns is so dangerous, that both QB's would rather be standing on the sideline holding a clipboard. The Browns only managed 191 yards of total offense while turning the ball over 5 times. On the Bears sideline there's no debate who's the starting QB. Jay Cutler completed 17 of 30 passes for 225 yards. After the game, Jamal Lewis announced this would be his last season. I guess the Browns aren't paying him enough to go through the torture of another season with them.
The last time the Seahawks were any good they beat the Cowboys and Tony "Butterfingers" Romo in the first round of the playoffs. Well that was then and this is now. Even with 2 weeks to prepare, the Seahawks looked over matched. Romo completed 21 of his 36 passes for 256 yards and more importantly, finished his 3rd straight game without an interception. Miles Austin, who had 16 receptions for 421 yards over the last two games, proved he was human after all. He had a decent game with 5 catches for 61 yards and a TD, but it was his celebration after the TD that had people laughing. Going up for the now common goal post slam dunk, Austin came nowhere close to having enough hops to throw it down. Maybe he should have tried it in practice first before embarrassing himself on TV. Looks like white boys aren't the only ones who can't jump.
Rams 17, Lions 10
If their was a Super Bowl for the two worst teams in the NFL, this would have been it. Just how bad are these two teams? Over the last 17 games the Rams and Lions have gone a combined 1-33. Well that win total was guaranteed to double in this clash of the lamest. Not that both teams didn't do their best to lose. One example would be James Butler's interception. He intercepted it in the endzone, ran it out, and then ran back in and got tackled for a saftey. Only truly bad teams can turn a good play into a negative. After the game Butler said, "Don't ask about that dumb play. I knew it wasn't going to hurt us. I just knew we were going to win because I have faith." Did you hear that Steven Jackson? You didn't win because you play with heart even though you're on a horrible team (22 carries for 149 yards and 1 TD). You won because Butler has faith. When asked if he had faith during the teams earlier 7 losses Butler reportedly said, "Are you kidding? Even God has his limits."
Let's play a game. I'll give you the game stats of two teams, teams A and B, and then you try to guess the winner. Team A had 51 offensive plays, team B had 77. Team A had 104 yards of total offense, team B had 378. Team A held the ball for 25:54, while team B had it for 34:06. Both teams turned the ball over 1 time. Who won? If you said team B, you're wrong. Team A was the Dolphins and team B was the Jets. So how did the Dolphins win despite being dominated? Tedd Ginn Jr. Ginn became the first player in NFL history to return two kickoffs of 100 or more yards for a touchdown in the same game. Which is a good thing since Ginn just got replaced in the starting lineup by rookie receiver Brian Hartline. When you throw in a TD by the defense and 1 good TD drive by the offense, you end up with a Miami victory. In fact, when you take out Miami's one good drive, you get 10 drives that totaled a measly 52 yards. The Jets LB Bart Scott was so frustrated after the game he said sarcastically, "They're a great team. They'll probably contend for the Super Bowl." Unfortunately, for fear of being beaten up, the reporter didn't follow up by asking, "Since you're 0-2 against them this season, what does that say about your team?"
Raiders 16, Chargers 24
The Chargers came into the game tied at 12 for the most current victories by one team over another. They left the game holding the current record at 13. LaDainian Tomlinson, who's struggled this year with only 1 TD, took advantage of the Raiders 2nd worst run defense, and reached the promised land 2 times on runs of 6 and 10 yards. Shawne Merrimam had 2 sacks and finally got to do the "I'm just so excited right now, lights out" dance for the first time since the 2007 season. For the Raiders, JaMarcus "I am the Walrus" Russell had his usual plodding day completing 14 of 22 passes for 109 yards and 1 interception. Which begs the question, didn't the Raiders draft Russell because of his big arm? How can a guy with a "big arm" have only a 5.5 yards per attempt average? The Raiders 1st round pick this year, the 38 million dollar man, Darrius Heyward-Bey, had 1 catch for 10 yards. It was the first time in 8 games that DHB had catches in back-to-back games. It only took Crabtree 2 games to accomplish the same thing.
Panthers 34, Cardinals 21
Either the Panthers aren't as bad as we thought, or the Cardinals aren't as good as we thought. More likely it's that the Panthers head coach, John Fox, decided to not let Jake Delhomme blow the game for them as he's done in the past. He leads the NFL with 13 interceptions. It all started going downhill for Delhomme in last season's playoffs. Delhomme threw 5 interceptions and fumbled once as the Cardinals upset the Panthers in Carolina on route to their unlikely Super Bowl run. This time the script was flipped. It was Kurt Warner who threw 5 interceptions and fumbled once as the Panthers upset the Cardinals in Arizona. Delhomme was asked to do as little as possible completing 7 of his 14 passes for 90 yards, with 50 yards of those coming on a TD pass to a wide open Steve Smith. But why let Delhomme pass more than that when you have one of the best 1-2 combos at the RB position? DeAngelo Williams had 23 carries for 158 yards and Jonathan Stewart had 17 carries for 87 yards and 2 TD's. After the game Delhomme had to be checked out at the hospital and all the Panthers coaching staff were secretly hoping this would give them a reason to bench him.
49ers 14, Colts 18
The 49ers defense played out of their minds, sacking Peyton Manning more times in 1 game (3) than he's been sacked all season (2), and generally frustrating him into making errant throws, including an easy pick that was dropped by Dre "I do what I do" Bly. Alex Smith played well completing 19 of 32 passes for 198 yards and 1 TD as well as 1 interception, but occasionally his passes sailed a little. After building a 14-6 lead, the Colts chipped away with FG's until finally getting into the endzone on a trick play. The 49ers, for their part, played their usual conservative style except for the last few minutes of the first half when they quickly moved down the field for a TD. Reggie Wayne had 12 catches for 147 yards and 1 TD while on the 49ers side, Michael Crabtree had the best game of any 49ers WR this season, catching 6 balls for 81 yards.