A Day of Football
Posted Sep. 21 at 11:54 PM
Bits and pieces from the NFL games I paid the closest attention to yesterday….
Bengals at Giants: I can only assume that getting sacked so often by the Giants pass rush played a factor in Carson Palmer's dismal clock management toward the end of the game. The Bengals were going to win this game in regulation until they apparently decided to run down the clock to instead kick a tying field goal. Just brutal. And yes, the fact that a Giants loss would have wiped out about half of my suicide pool is playing a factor in my views here.
As for the game, boy, has Mathias Kiwanuka been wasted at linebacker pre-Osi Umenyiora injury. The Giants sure can find pass rushers. Most of the teams in the NFL would kill for just one of those guys, while the Giants come up with Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Kiwanuka. Anyway, the Bengals offense at least showed signs of life -- Chris Perry was OK when there was an opening and Palmer remembered that T.J. Houshmandzadeh is pretty good. Next week should be even better: home against a bad Browns secondary. Remember this matchup in Cleveland last year: 51-45, Browns.
Steelers at Eagles: Seems like Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson wasn't too happy with the way his group got embarrassed on Monday against the Cowboys. Johnson sent a whole lot of blitzes at Ben Roethlisberger, sacking him eight times and hitting him a few more for good measure. A highlight was when Roethlisberger tried to run for a first down on 3rd-and-long in the third quarter, a play that looked like a designed run. He was crushed by three defenders, and the camera switched to Mike Tomlin on the sideline looking like he'd just heard about the ending of Old Yeller. As expected, Philly's defensive struggles at Dallas were kind of flukey, plus they came against a really good offense. (More on that below.)
Now the injuries: Roethlisberger was knocked out, but he'll no doubt be fine for next week, just sore. Donovan McNabb got briefly knocked out (shoulder), but returned; he's fine. The big concern is Brian Westbrook, who looked like an MVP candidate through two weeks but sprained an ankle after landing on it awkwardly. If he misses much time, it could derail an otherwise very strong looking Philadelphia team.
Jaguars at Colts: Not to take anything away from a fine win by the Jaguars over their division rivals, but they got very lucky at the end. There seemed to be little to no chance that David Garrard was going to lead the team to a winning field goal in the final minute, but he got a break on a floater that a receiver snatched out of the air and then benefited from a pass interference penalty on a fourth-down pass that had virtually no chance of being caught. Don't get me wrong, Jacksonville won the first 55 minutes or so anyway, but they are fortunate not to be 0-3. Oh yeah -- Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew looked just fine.
For the Colts, Marvin Harrison probably got tired of being called washed-up; looked pretty good catching 4 balls for 40 yards and a touchdown. Joseph Addai (78 yards, 2 TDs) also decided to join the 2008 season, which was nice. Now the Colts get a bye to think about a pretty uninspiring 1-2 start (including 2 home losses) and maybe get some guys healthy. The schedule looks a little better after the bye -- but not by much.
One more thing: after kicking the winning field goal, Josh Scobee sprinted across the field. To celebrate with his teammates? No, to catch up to the stadium worker who'd fished the football out of the net and make sure he retrieved it from him. I guess he really wanted that football.
Cowboys at Packers: That's a little bit more like what you expect to see out of a virtual rookie at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers made some plays here and there and finished with a good fantasy day (virtually all of it after the game was out of reach); he never looked comfortable or particularly good. Probably won't be much better this week: at Tampa Bay, a place that tends to chew up opposing quarterbacks. Green Bay's offense was pretty much unstoppable last season and in the first two games this year, but who did it struggle most against: defenses that could really bring lots of pressure, like the Giants, Bears and Cowboys. And oh yeah, no running game in this one either; perhaps Ryan Grant is still hurt.
Three games, an average of 32 points for the Dallas offense -- and it looks like it's still just getting warmed up. This team doesn't punt very often, and probably won't this season. Points and turnovers (Romo comes up with some head-scratchers here and there) seem to end most drives. Felix Jones looks like the best No. 2 RB in the league. Hot pickup in deep leagues this week will be Miles Austin, who was getting some deep looks even before catching a long touchdown.
Other random notes while surfing.... The Raiders did everything to win in Buffalo but actually win. Some may recall the Bills losing a pair of heartbreakers early on last year. Looks like things have swung the other way for what appears to be the AFC East's best team. ... The Saints, driving for a winning field goal at Denver, picked up 7 yards on first down late in the game and then tried to pick up the final three using a power running game they don't have. Throw the ball, guys. It looked like they were concerned about leaving time on the clock or something -- a valid concern, but irrelevant if you don't get close enough to ensure the game-winning field goal. Brandon Marshall caught a TD in this one that was the easiest replay reversal in history. I have no idea why it wasn't ruled a touchdown initially. ... Matt Forte, the next Marshall Faulk? Caught a touchdown and was targeted on another that he nearly came up with. Surprising impact from this second-rounder. ... The Patriots lost an early TD opportunity when Matt Cassel was ruled "in the grasp," right before scrambling free and into the end zone. Good thing for the Giants that officiating crew wasn't working the Super Bowl, or Eli Manning's play to David Tyree doesn't happen. ... The third straight week I forgot about the queso dip we bought before the start of the season to enjoy with the games on Sunday. It's not like you really eat that stuff on a random Wednesday evening or anything. Maybe tonight.
Andy watches as many games as he can each Sunday. If you do the same, feel free to add your own observations from the previous day’s games below.
Posted by Paul Owers | Sep. 22 at 10:25 AM
You can't paint with a broad brush after only one game. Wouldn't put it past Bill Belichick to use the bye week to find a competent quarterback (Jeff Garcia in a trade?). But the Patriots look very much like a team that will struggle to make it to 9-7. Take away Tom Brady and suddenly that schedule doesn't look so ridiculously easy.
Posted by BARRY BROWN | Sep. 23 at 07:08 AM
More random thoughts from the games I watched - Cutler and Marshall could end up #1 at their respective fantasy positions by season's end and lead the Broncos to the playoffs, but I can't see them winning much in the post-season with that horrid defense. Flip-side, that Tennessee team seems to be made for the playoffs with their defense, running game and special teams. Chris Johnson appears to be hit or miss as long as Lendale White-Castle is in there. The Vikings D is starting to come alive like they were supposed to. They beat up on Jake Delhomme and contained Steve Smith. Speaking of QB harassment, I've been waiting to see what that Pittsburgh O-line would do against a decent defense and we got our answer. They're a sieve! Brandon Lloyd made a few plays for the second consecutive week and Forte has shown himself to be a complete running back against a few better defenses. I include that Indy D when Bob Sanders is in there... but when he's not, their rush D is non-existent. After a couple years with this scenario playing out, has any one player shown themselves to be more important to their defense than Sanders?
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