A Day of Football
Posted Oct. 26 at 08:36 PM
Here is this week's whirlwind tour of the handful of games I was able to see the most of yesterday. Note to self, don't host a birthday breakfast at your house on a Sunday morning, because inevitably it will stretch into the afternoon and you'll miss part of the early games. TiVo and three tuners helps, but it's not the same. Plus you'll invariably drink way too much coffee. OK, onto the games....
Chargers versus Saints in London: Now that's the kind of game that should help American football take hold of Europe. Compared to the rain-soaked debacle between the Giants and Dolphins last year (13-10, with winning QB Eli Manning passing for 59 yards), this 37-32 slugfest was barely the same sport. LaDainian Tomlinson looked a lot like Tomlinson. Former teammates Philip Rivers and Drew Brees seemed determined to prove that they were the best QB on the field. And the Saints won a narrow game in which once again they made some mildly curious decisions at the end (as they seemed to in a loss at Denver), taking an intentional safety rather than punting, turning a 7-point lead into a 5-point lead and giving San Diego's Darren Sproles a chance at a long punt return (which he provided) and then Rivers a Hail Mary into the end zone (which for Saints' fans was probably alarmingly close to being completed). To me the best part was that intentional safety, just because I imagine overseas fans watching Brees running backward into his own end zone and being all, "Blimey! Wot the bleedin' 'ell is that lad doing? He's off his nut, he is!" Anyway, a fun game, and even though the Chargers are 3-5, I still think they'll win the AFC West by a couple of games over Denver.
Arizona at Carolina: The Panthers had the league's top pass defense and had just controlled the top passing offense, the Saints, a week ago. So naturally Kurt Warner went in and threw for 381 yards and 2 TDs. Do you think at this point Matt Leinart is just like, I give up? Anyway, Warner was in great form and Anquan Boldin returned to catch 2 TDs and Steve Smith made some spectacular plays, and of course Edgerrin James' complaints last week about not getting enough of a workload resulted in him carrying the ball all of 7 times for 17 yards, as well as losing a critical fumble. Meanwhile Tim Hightower carried 6 times for just 3 yards, but he had one of the more impressive short touchdown runs of the year. At this point I think James needs to just do more with the opportunities he gets, or it's Hightower, not James, who will be a bigger part of the game plan. Carolina is 6-2, and following the bye they play Oakland and Detroit. As my son would say while watching The Jungle Book, "I like Magheera." I'd correct him and say it's BA-gheera, but he's right to like the Panthers right now, in NFL terms and fantasy ones.
Kansas City at Jets: Brett Favre threw nearly twice as many passes (40) as Jets' running backs had carries (21) against the league's worst run defense, with Kansas City giving up more than 200 yards per game on the ground. I can't explain it, beyond saying, perhaps the Jets knew Kansas City would be looking for the run, so they decided to outsmart them with the pass. But whom did they actually outsmart? They won, so no one will care that much, but it was a little odd. As was a Kansas City player, trailing 21-17 in the fourth quarter, getting a 15-yard penalty for taunting. You play for Kansas City. What do you have to taunt anyone else about? Regarding Brett Favre: He's not sensing pressure the way he has in the past. He's taking some hellacious hits on plays where in the past he'd have dumped the ball off a second or two earlier, and those were responsible for two of his interceptions. This team needs to run more, or Favre's not going to last the season. And hey, that Leon Washington dude can play. For Kansas City, I'm not ready to say Tyler Thigpen can play, but at least Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez may have value the rest of the way, because Thigpen was serviceable ... didn't trip over his own feet out there or anything. Oh yeah, Jamaal Charles might be the next Tatum Bell, but he also might be Kansas City's best running back the rest of the way (if he's not badly hurt; he left with an injury late). Better than Kolby Smith, certainly, and who knows what the future holds for Larry Johnson.
Giants at Steelers: Great game. Looked like the game of the week coming in, and really turned out that way. Back-to-back challenges of goal-line carries by opposing coaches. Big defensive plays, and bone-shattering hits on Derrick Ward, Steve Smith, and Ben Roethlisberger (that's kind of a given). A critical fourth-down conversion from Eli Manning to Amani Toomer that seemed to turn the game around. Interesting game for Nate Washington, who touched the ball three times. One was a 65-yard TD. Another was a 53-yard TD, erased by a holding penalty. And the third bounced off his hands for an interception. In any case, he filled in pretty well for Santonio Holmes. A note on this game is that one of the eight players who will reportedly be suspended this week is the Texans' long snapper. My wife said, What is a long snapper doing taking illegal substances? Hours later, the Steelers lose their long snapper during this game, and his backup immediately shoots one over the punter's head for a game-tying safety. That's what you get for questioning how important those guys are, I guess.
Additional random thoughts from channel surfing: The new commercial for "Guitar Hero" with ARod, Kobe Bryant, Michael Phelps, and some other guy whose name escapes me as I try to blot the thing out of my mind aping "Risky Business" is one of the more disturbing things I've seen. I just don't know what to say beyond, that should not be. ... The Bengals and Lions will probably win a game eventually. But they're not getting closer; they're getting further away. ... David Garrard is tough, underrated (NFL players think so, according to Sports Illustrated) , and should have been a winner yesterday. He made the throw, but Matt Jones -- who otherwise had a great day -- couldn't haul it in. Game of inches, and the Jaguars are coming out on the wrong side of too many of them. ... I'm the one who likes the FOX robot. You can blame me. The bit where he rips up the Burger King king's head? And it's a robot head underneath? As they say on the other side of the Atlantic, that's brilliant.
Andy watches all the games he can each Sunday. If you want to add some observations of your own from yesterday, feel free.
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