Number 13 was a lucky number for the Colts and Saints this week. On the 13th day of December, both teams won their 13th game, and for the first time in the history of the NFL we have two teams starting a season with a perfect 13-0 record. They're like the "kids in the street" in the Kaiser Chiefs song, they never miss a beat. Minnesota also got back on track after being dominated by the Cardinals last week (thanks for nothing), and the Eagles and Giants got into a contest to see which defense could look more inept. But let's start with a game featuring a certain receiver who may be going back to his old ways.
All the talk of this game was the complete absence of Randy Moss and how Panthers CB's Chris Gamble and Chris Harris knew if he got frustrated, he'ld give up. The game itself was close, thanks to 3 Patriot turnovers, but they found their groove in the second half and pulled away late. Moss only caught one pass and he actually fumbled it away, so it would have been better if he just dropped it. Wes Welker, on the other hand, caught 10 passes for 105 yards and now seems to be Tom Brady's go to receiver. It was his 5th 10 reception game on the season and he now leads the NFL with 105 receptions total. Meanwhile, Moss only has 11 receptions over his last 4 games. So what did Gamble and Harris say? Gamble said of Moss, "We knew he was going to shut it down. That's what we wanted to do to him. That's what we did. He'd just give up a lot. Slow down, he's not going deep, not trying to run a route. You can tell, his body language." Harris add, "You get physical with him, and I don't want to say he quits, but he kind of doesn't run the routes the way they're supposed to be run." So what you're saying is, "He quits." At least the Patriots got 2 1/2 great years out of Moss, which is about 2 years more than the Raiders got.
Eagles 45, Giants 38
The Giants lost this game because they forgot the 2nd most common piece of advice. The most common is, "Never get in a land war in Asia." But only slightly less common than that is, "Never get into a shootout in a football game when the other team has DeSean Jackson." Anyone catch the movie reference? Jackson is a game breaking machine. Every time the Giants started to feel like they were back in this game, Jackson would make a play. After being down 14-0, the Giants fought back to make it 17-10, only to see Jackson return a punt 72 yards for a TD. Then after finally taking their only lead of the game at 31-30, Jackson catches a 60 yard TD bomb from Donovan McNabb on the Eagles very next offensive play. Jackson's now tied the record for most TD's over 50 yards in a season with 8, and all 10 of his TD's have been plays of over 35 yards. And to think the 49ers passed on the Cal star twice. At least we got Kentwan Balmer and Chilo Rachel instead.
Only one word comes to mind when I think about this game. Ugh. If a team from the NFL ever played a team from the NCAA it would probably look about like this. The Lions were completely dominated in every aspect of the game. The only good thing they did was a 15 play 69 yard drive early on to kick a FG and cut the lead to 10-3. What's amazing is that it could have been worse except Ray Rice fumbled the ball into the endzone on one of the Ravens drives. If he scores instead of fumbling, and the final score ends up as 55-3, it would have been the worst defeat in the history of the Lions franchise. Considering how many awful teams they've had over the years, that's really saying something. Joe Flacco played well, completing 13 of 20 passes for 230 yards and 1 TD, but it was the Ravens ground game that dominated. The Ravens combined to run the ball 40 times for 308 yards and 5 TD's. That's not their passing statistics, it's their running. Afterwards Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, "I thought all 3 phases really stepped up: offense, defense, special teams. Maybe the first time all year we put it together in that kind of a fashion. That is encouraging." I don't mean to burst his bubble, but I'm sure playing the hapless Lions, who've lost 19 straight on the road, had something to do with that.
Jets 26, Buccaneers 3
The Jets were without starting QB Mark Sancez, but it didn't matter much against the Buccaneers. The Jets defense totally dominated the Bucs early on, allowing only 15 total yards of offense in the first half, and not allowing a first down until the middle of the 3rd quarter. Clemens was alright completing 12 of 23 passes for 111 yards, but more importantly, he didn't turn it over. Of his performance he said, "I did what was necessary, no turnovers and made good decisions in the run game." Good decisions in the run game? What does that mean? That you handed off to the right person. What's a bad decision in the run game? As for Bucs rookie head coach, Rasheem Morris, he's still waiting for his second win. And he took over a team that was 9-7 just last year. I'm guessing he shouldn't expect an extension on his contract anytime soon.
The Dolphins may be from a warm market, but they sure heat up when December rolls around. They've now won 6 straight in the month of Santa and their 2 wins this year have put them right back in the playoff picture. Miami won this game because of great defense (only giving up 217 total yards), strong running (Ricky Williams rushed for 105 yards and 1 TD), and solid QB play (Chad Henne was 21 of 29 for 220 yards). As for the Jags, the loss seriously hurts their playoff chances. They may very well need to win all three of their remaining games and two of those games are against the Colts and Patriots. Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said of their December sucess, "We're 2-0 in December right now. That's important. A lot of teams wish they were 2-0 in December." He then caughed "Cowboys" under his breath.
Be honest. How many people laughed when they saw the score of this game? I have nothing against the Steelers, but their recent run of futility, considering they're the defending champs, is kind of funny in a pathetic sort of way. They've now lost 5 straight and their last three came against the Chiefs, Raiders, and now the Browns. Not to beat a dead horse but what exactly did coach Tomlin mean when he talked about unleasing hell? Was he referring to the hell that would have to be endured by their fans who are watching the game? Josh Cribbs was the hero for the Browns with 104 return yards, 87 rushing yards, and 9 receiving yards, for a game total of 200. Brady Quinn, for his part, did nothing with only 90 yards passing and only 1 completion in the second half. But the 32nd ranked Browns defense stepped up and won the game for them. Cribbs said with vengful excitement, "They're going to hear that bus engine all the way back, that's a lonely ride. I've ridden that ride for 5 years now. It's time for them to hear that engine all the way home while they look at the stat sheet." In response to Cribbs I would ask, "You guys have to ride a bus instead of flying?"
Saints 26, Falcons 23
I joked last week, after the Saints amazing come from behind win over the Redskins, that maybe God was a Saints fan. After this week I'm really starting to believe that he his. And I'm agnostic. The Saints gave up 392 yards of offense to the Falcons, and the Falcons only punted 1 time, but the Saints still found a way to win. The Saints actually took a big lead early on 23-9, but the Falcons fought back and tied it half way through the 4th, before the Saints took the lead for good with a FG. Drew Brees was his usual solid self, throwing for 296 yards and 3 TD's. Reggie Bush, coming back from an injury, was also a key factor for the Saints with 2 TD's. Their was even a Mark Brunell sighting. Did anyone know he was still playing? A disapointed Tony Gonzalez said after the game, "We can build on this and hopefully finish the season strong. Who knows? We can get hot and if somebody else doesn't get hot, we have a chance." I guess it's good to have dreams.
With the Packers leading 13-0 early on, it looked like it would be another long day for Jay Cutler and the Bears. But the Bears surprisingly came back and even had the lead going into the 4th quarter 14-13. But this is the '09 Bears we're talking about so it should come as no surprise that the Packers scored early in the 4th and held on for the win. Ryan Grant was the star for the Packers as he rushed for 137 yards and 2 TD's. A dispondent Lovie Smith told reporters in his news conference, "This is the first time we've been swept by the Packers (during my tenure). This season hasn't turned out exactly the way we would have liked. This hasn't happened a lot of times, so I don't know quite how to respond to it. But, we just have to do something about it in the future." At least coach Smith has a clear plan going forward.
Broncos 16, Colts 28
This game was all about the records. The Colts became the first team to win 22 straight regular season games. They also won the most games by any team in one decade with 114, beating the old record of 113 held by the 49ers of the 90's. For the Broncos, Brandon Marshall caught 21 passes for 200 yards, breaking the old record of 20, held by TO when he was with the 49ers. This game was a lot like the Saints game. The Colts jumped out to an early large lead. The Broncos fought back and eventually cut it down to 21-16. But in the 4th the Colts put it away to win their 13th to stay perfect on the season. When Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels was asked if Kyle Orton was their "franchise" QB he said, "I don't know what the definition of that is, because there are a lot of quarterbacks who have had great success in this legue that, I don't know how you define them as franshise QB's." Let me help you. Of the recent Super Bowl winners we have Roethlisberger with 2, Tom Brady with 3 and 1 loss, Eli Manning with 1, Peyton Manning with 1, and Kurt Warner with 1 and 2 losses. They would probably be considered franchise QB's.
Redskins 34, Raiders 13
I learned something while watching the Raiders on offense. JaMarcus Russel really does look a lot like a walrus trying to play football. This was a close game in the 3rd quarter with each team trading scores, but then something happened to put the fear of God in all Raiders fans. Bruce Gradkowski went out with an injurie and looks like he's done for the season. That brought in Russell, and the fans booed loudly and often. With Russell in, the Raiders offense stopped moving and the Redskins pulled away in the 4th. Just so you can get an idea, here's what each QB did while they were in the game. Gradkowski completed 10 of his 18 passes for 153 yards, had 0 interceptions, and was sacked 2 times. Russell completed 10 of 16 passes for 74 yards, was intercepted 1 time, and was sacked 6 times. So much for that cannon arm of his. DHB's speed won't work very well on 5 yard outs. If I were the Raiders, I'ld go with Charlie Frye next week. You know what you're getting with Russell, do you really think Frye could do worse? Nnamdi Asomugha said about the Raiders inability to win 2 games in a row, "For some reason it has always happened this way. You can't put your finger on it." I can put my finger on it. You have a guy who looks like Orca with arms playing QB.
Chargers 20, Cowboys 17
Three years ago the Cowboys had on opening for a new head coach. Both Norv Turner, their old offensive coordinator during their glory days, and Wade Phillips were interviewed for the job. Jones hired Phillips and Turner went to the Chargers. Since that time, the Chargers have been a perfect 11-0 in December while the Cowboys have only gone 3-8. So it should surprise no one that the Chargers won once again and the Cowboys lost. The biggest reason for the loss in this game was the Cowboys inability to move the ball once they got in scoring range. Three times the Cowboys drove inside the Chargers 25 and all they came away with was 3 points. They even had a first and goal from the 1 but the Chargers defense came up huge, stopping them on 4 straight runs. Jerry Jones was so disapointed after the game he told reporters, "This is a bitter pill to swollow." Of course, he wasn't talking about the game, but rather his 3-D experience that was a total bust. Fans could watch the giant TV in 3-D because everyone knows how much fun it is to put the glasses on, them take them off to watch the field, then put them back on, then take them off, and so on and so on. It was eventually switched back to normal in the 3rd quarter and got the loudest cheer of the night.
Can someone please help me understand how we lost to this Seahawks team? They had one good possession. Outside of that, it was 3 and out almost the entire game. The Texans came out on fire in the first half and scored on their first 4 possessions, and they would have scored on their first 6 except for a blocked FG and a missed FG just before the half. Matt Schaub threw for 365 yards and 336 came in just the first half. Matt Hasselbeck, who was sacked 3 times and fumbled 3 more, said afterwards, "I'm more disapointed than I am physically hurt. It was a real bad peformance by us. It's just going to be one of those weeks where it's going to be uncomfortable and a lot harder than normal." Normal? You're 5-8, isn't losing more the norm?
This was billed as a battle between the two top RB's in the NFL. At least based on the number of yards they have so far on the season. Chris Johnson lived up to his billing rushing for 117 yards and 2 TD's. Steven Jackson, however, rushed for a season low 47 yards. Vince Young got hurt in the game but Kerry Collins looked more comfortable than he did earlier in the season and had no problem leading them the rest of the way. I'm sure it also helped that he had a 14-0 lead when he came in. A very frustrated Steven Jackson said afterwards, "Instead of standing here embarrassing myself, and my family, I'm just going to say I'm tired. I'm just tired. I'm tired. You fill in the blanks. However you want to write the article, however you want to say it, I'm just tired." I can fill in the blanks? Here goes, he's saying, "Can you please trade me away from the abysmal orginization that's going nowhere quick, while I still have a few good years left in me. Please. Pretty please."
Bills 16, Chiefs 10
KC was just bairly able to avoid a TV blackout for the first time in 19 seasons and fans watching at home probably wished they hadn't. Trailing 16-10 late in the game, the Chiefs had a chance to win, but the 60 million dollar man, Matt Cassell, drove them 59 yards and then threw an interception. He got one more chance and drove them 30 yards before throwing the final interception, his 4th, to end the game. It was the second horrible game for Cassell who had a rating of 35.4 a week after having a rating of 14.6. Denver fans must really feal like they dodged a bullet by not winning the Cassell sweepssteaks.
A week after being shut down, Adrian Peterson found his game again, rushing for 97 yards and 2 TD's as well as receiving for 40 yards. Brett Favre did just enough completing 17 of 30 passes for 192 yards and 1 TD and the Vikings defense did the rest. What probably helped the Vikings the most was the trash talking done by the Bengals D-line about how they were going to dominate. Why do players never learn that trash talking before the game always backfires? Cedric Benson was the lone bright spot for the Bengals rushing 16 times for 96 yards, but with the Bengals falling behind early, they had to go away from the run while trying to play catch-up. Now if someone could please explain to me where this team was last week?