By Andy Benoit, www.NFLTouchdown.com
New York Giants 36, Philadelphia Eagles 31
Andy Reid plain got out-coached by Tom Coughlin in this game. Besides calling failed back-to-back handoffs on Philadelphia’s final possession, Reid made the inexcusable error of wasting his first challenge out of desperation on the first Brandon Jacobs non-fumble near the goal-line. I’ll never understand why some coaches challenge out of sheer hope for a miracle.
Speaking of Jacobs’s non-fumble, how many guys fumbled after being down by contact in this game? It seemed like every other play there was a non-fumble.
When Brandon Jacobs gets a full head of steam, he is the most difficult player to stop in all of football.
Not enough credit went to Philly’s offensive line. The front five held the Giants to no sacks. Jon Runyan was particularly effective working against Justin Tuck.
The rule about the quarterback’s entire body having to be across the line of scrimmage for it to be an illegal forward pass absolutely stinks. Guys can throw from a yard-and-a-half past the line. The NFL should change the rule and treat the line of scrimmage like the sideline, requiring both feet to stay behind it.
The thought before the season was that Brian Dawkins had one good year left in him. So far, he looks like he has at least three good years left.
The Eagles did not do enough to get Brian Westbrook involved, particularly in the passing game. You wonder how healthy he really is.
San Diego Chargers 20, Kansas City Chiefs 19
Well, I guess a win’s a win, right San Diego?
The Chargers have to be extremely concerned about their secondary. Not only is it failing to make plays – remember when Antonio Cromartie got interceptions? – but it’s failing to stop plays. Tyler Thigpen, who was working without the threat of a run game behind him, was 27/41 for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
Kudos to Chiefs president Carl Peterson for signing Mark Bradley. The oft-injured ex-Bear has tremendous speed and, if healthy, an underrated burst. Bradley had nine catches for 81 yards in this game.
I love seeing San Diego get screwed by the refs at the end of games (it happened again in this one with an interference call against Clinton Hart on Tony Gonzalez). The reason I love it is because we get to see the Furious Norv Face. Turner’s contorted redness makes him look like he’d literally spit venom. The Furious Norv Face is peerless when it comes to sideline anger.
Just a guess…CBS play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson (America’s favorite screamer) was using an old roster Sunday. Every time Chiefs linebacker Rocky Boiman made a player, Johnson credited current Vikings linebacker Napoleon Harris. Boiman is wearing the No. 50 jersey that Harris wore before getting cut by Kansas City a few weeks ago.
Indianapolis Colts 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Luck does not exist when you go on the road and defeat a tough Steelers team. But if it did, you would have seen it favor Indy several times in this game, most notably on Peyton Manning’s first touchdown strike, in which Ike Taylor, in perfect coverage, tipped the ball to Reggie Wayne.
The Colts got the win, but they didn’t look sharp most of the time. Three things are missing from this offense:
1. guard Ryan Lilja – his absence hurts most in the run game
2. Marvin Harrison – he has little burst left and no longer gets under deep balls or makes tough snags in traffic.
3. The stretch play – Indy’s not running it as often or executing their play-action pass from it. My guess is Manning’s knee has something to do with that.
Ben Roethlisberger’s turnovers are becoming a problem. If he doesn’t throw two interceptions in this game (we won’t count the last one on a desperation heave), the Steelers probably win. Big Ben needs to focus less on making big plays and more on managing the offense.
Mewelde Moore found the end zone twice on Sunday, and thanks to fantasy football, the public opinion will be that he’s every bit as good as Willie Parker. But the reality is, Moore gained just 57 yards on 24 carries, with his longest run going for nine yards.
Troy Polamalu deserves to be mentioned in Defensive Player of the Year discussions, though not before teammate James Harrison.
Indy’s Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea has been mediocre the past few weeks, but he deserves much praise considering he’s spent a great deal of time at cornerback.
Carolina Panthers 17, Oakland Raiders 6
The Panthers were not sharp in this contest. Jake Delhomme had just seven completions and four ugly interceptions – and it could have been worse. DeAngelo Williams had 140 yards rushing, but 69 of them came on one, albeit great, play.
I’m not going to trash the Raiders this week. They all played hard and hung in there against an elite club, despite being short-handed.
How good is Nnamdi Asomugha? Matched up one-on-one against Steve Smith, the superstar corner caught as many balls as the superstar receiver: one.
If the Raiders linebackers classify as “a liability” against the run, then the Raiders safeties classify as “a joke.”
Minnesota Vikings 28, Green Bay Packers 27
Adrian Peterson! Adrian Peterson! Adrian Peterson!
And on the flip side of that, No Cullen Jenkins! No Cullen Jenkins! No Cullen Jenkins!
The only negative on Peterson’s afternoon was his fumble on a failed fourth-and-one attempt midway through the fourth quarter. And really, the negative there is on Brad Childress for listening to his runner and changing his mind about doing the wise thing, which was punting.
Mike McCarthy made a huge blunder in settling for a 52-yard field goal. The Packers had enough time to try to get the ball closer, but McCarthy chose to make it tough on his kicker, Mason Crosby. Yes, Crosby kicked two from 60 yards in pregame warm-ups, but pregame warm-ups are not done in pads, in front of millions of viewers, under pressure or with a defensive rush.
One thing young quarterbacks must not do is allow their success to go to their head. Not from an ego standpoint, but from a decision-making standpoint. Aaron Rodgers is a great example. In recent weeks he’s been holding the ball a little longer and taking more chances, all in hopes of making the big play. There’s another quarterback who wears yellow pants and whose name starts with an R who is doing the same thing right now.
The Packers O-line could not handle Minnesota’s pass- rush. In particular, Jared Allen was a beast. He had only one sack, but he altered at least eight other plays.
The Packers D is struggling right now, but one guy who is not is safety Nick Collins. The fourth-year pro has greatly improved his pass defense and now leads the league with five interceptions.
Atlanta Falcons 34, New Orleans Saints 20
The Falcons are officially for real. Matt Ryan looks more like a Pro Bowler than a rookie. Michael Turner is not Lamont Jordan 2.0 after all. Mike Smith is a somebody indeed. Turns out Roddy White can catch. And John Abraham can stay healthy. Who would have ever guessed this?
Let the record show that it wasn’t a shouting match between Drew Brees and Jeremy Shockey; it was just Brees shouting at Shockey. And Shockey deserved it; he screwed up on the play by missing a block and then the ball. One thing to keep an eye on is Shockey’s playing time. He shared snaps with Billy Miller in this game (even before Shockey left with an ankle injury). New Orleans seems more comfortable with Miller in the passing game.
Jerious Norwood could be a real difference-maker for the Falcons should they reach the postseason. Not a lot of people know about the rawer than sushi Norwood, but he might be the most explosive big-play runner in the league.
The Saints were without Reggie Bush, but that’s no excuse for abandoning the run. Deuce McAllister had only five carries and Pierre Thomas had just six.
Tennessee Titans 21, Chicago Bears 14
Great week I picked for blatantly labeling Kerry Collins a game manager, huh? Seemed like every time I looked up he was completing a mid-to-deep range pass over the middle. Collins finished 30/41 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Where were the Bear linebackers?
Oh, that’s right, they were up near the line of scrimmage, limiting the Titans to just 20 yards rushing on 29 carries. Credit the Bears for doing what they set out to do.
It will be interesting to see if Matt Forte can hold up down the stretch of his rookie season. This game was a great illustration of how the Bears use their young running back. Forte had 20 tough carries against a violent Tennessee defense, then he was asked to propel the passing game, which he did with a team-leading seven receptions. That’s a lot of the load to shoulder.
Rex Grossman wasn’t bad Sunday, but he completed only five passes to wide receivers. Does that mean he was Kerry Collins-esque?
Banged-up Keith Bulluck was a question mark Sunday morning, but by the end of the afternoon, he wound up leading the Titans with 10 tackles.
Jacksonville Jaguars 38, Detroit Lions 14
Not to be negative, but this victory somehow makes Jacksonville’s loss against Cincinnati look even worse.
In his debut with the Lions, Daunte Culpepper looked like, well, a guy off the street. He threw an interception on his first series and got injured shortly after that.
This begs the question, How bad must Drew Stanton be if Detroit put him behind Dan Orlovsky and then behind an unemployed guy?
Lions rookie Kevin Smith looked solid on Sunday. The third-rounder gained 96 yards on 23 carries, exhibiting a somewhat surprising burst in getting to the outside.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Mike Peterson for the rest of this season. Jack Del Rio has taken an enormous risk by strong-arming his defensive captain.
Miami Dolphins 21, Seattle Seahawks 19
I’ve decided that no coach in football celebrates as well as Tony Sparano – not even portly Wade Phillips and his stubby arm raises. Sparano’s enthusiastic gesticulation during games, and especially at the end of games, is great viewing.
Just when we thought the Wildcat might be dead, the Dolphins realize they’re playing a downtrodden Seahawks team. After three empty weeks, the Wildcat formation generated a 51-yard touchdown run for Ricky Williams and a 16-yard score for Ronnie Brown.
I’ve pointed this out once already this season, but I feel like it needs mentioning again: Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell is having a fantastic ’08 campaign. He’s coming off major injury and playing for a big contract. Give him one.
Miami is not leaving the AFC East picture anytime soon. Still left on their schedule are games against the Raiders, Rams, 49ers and Chiefs. They also have another crack at the Patriots and, in Week 17, the Jets.
New England Patriots 20, Buffalo Bills 10
It wasn’t as close as the score indicated. New England thoroughly dictated this game. Matt Cassel was a methodical 22/34 for 234 yards. BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 26 carries for 105 yards, with none of his carries going for more than 13 yards (talk about consistency). In all, New England controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes, thanks in large part to a 13-play second half drive that resulted in a field goal, and a team-record-tying 19-play, 92-yard fourth quarter drive that culminated in a touchdown.
The Bills are done if Aaron Schobel doesn’t get back in the lineup; without him they have no pass-rushing presence.
Teams have figured out that Buffalo does not have a running game (which is why teams have also figured out ways to slow Trent Edwards). The problem for the Bills is that Marshawn Lynch still hasn’t developed much patience, and the interior offensive linemen – save for Derrick Dockery – still hasn’t conjured up any skill.
None of the New England’s front seven defenders looked great Sunday, but as a collective unit, they were very effective. This speaks to good coaching.
New York Jets 47, St. Louis Rams 3
Never mind on all that stuff about Rams players competing harder and smarter for Jim Haslett.
Can anyone explain how it is that the Jets mundane, banal offense manages to explode in epic proportions when facing an NFC West opponent in the Meadowlands? New York tagged Arizona 34 points in the second quarter alone back in September, and then dropped 40 – forty! – on the Rams in the first half.
Perhaps more impressive is that, unlike in the Cardinal game, the Jets did not let up in the second half. They held the Rams to just three points and displayed the same swarming defense that overwhelmed Marc Bulger and the St. Louis offensive line in the first half.
Brett Favre is a different quarterback when he’s playing with a dangerous tight end. First-round rookie Dustin Keller had a coming-out party Sunday, catching six passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. The dynamics of this offense will change if Keller can become a major factor in the second half of the season.
Baltimore Ravens 41, Houston Texans 13
I’d love to hop on the Baltimore bandwagon, but I just can’t. Not yet anyway. This team still hasn’t handled elite competition. Their victories have come against the Bengals, Raiders, Dolphins, Texans and Browns (twice). Their losses have been to Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Indianapolis. We’ll find out about this Ravens team in the coming weeks – they have four games against the NFC East, plus another showdown with Pittsburgh.
In this game, Baltimore got solid play from Joe Flacco, but more than that, they were dominant on the ground. The Ravens rushed the ball 40 times for 162 yards, with the offensive line consistently moving Houston’s defensive front two or three yards off the ball.
It was nice to see the resurrection of Todd Heap (five receptions, 58 yards, two touchdowns). Life is always easier for a young quarterback when he has a tight end to fall back on.
It wasn’t a problem Sunday, but the Ravens are really going to miss Chris McAllister. Look at what happened to this defense last season when the corners struggled.
Visit Andy Benoit at www.NFLTouchdown.com
Posted by Andy Benoit at 11/10/2008 7:37:00 AM