NFL 2007–Week 3 Recap

History was made today in the NFL. The Oakland Raiders stopped the bleeding. Oh, and Brett Favre did something-or-other important, although it may have been overshadowed by the game in Oakland.

Ok, back to the real world. Here is the week 3 recap. Several 2-0 teams that were not nearly that good were brought down to Earth this week.
Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens–Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner both played significantly, which means the Cardinals still think it is preseason. The Ravens win ugly games with defense and special teams. The surprise was that Leinart ended up being benched for Warner. Although Kurt Warner threw two touchdown passes, the Ravens had a punt return for a touchdown, in addition to 4 field goals for reliable kicker Matt Stover. Stover has ice water in his veins, and he iced the Cardinals at the buzzer today to ruin a furious comeback that had tied the game. Will somebody realize that Kurt Warner is still a superstar? The Cardinals were down 23-6 in the fourth quarter before putting on a clinic to tie the game. Kyle Boller, taking over for an injured Steve McNair, did just enough at the end. 26-23 Ravens

Minnesota Vikings @ Kansas City Chiefs–Gunther Cunningham remains one of the best defensive coordinators in the league, which is about the only positive thing to be said about this ugly game. The Vikings wanted it slightly less, as they squandered away a 4th quarter lead and lost another close game. 13-10 Chiefs

Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles–The Lions 2-0 record was exposed early and often today. John Kitna threw for 446 yards, but this was in catch up mode, which was the entire game. Donovan McNabb again silenced his critics, although I am sure they will find fault in a 21 for 26 performance for 381 yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles wore their throw up uniforms, and Keith Olbermann remarked that they looked like a cross between the 1972 Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Great Gazoo. I had forgotten that Olbermann is funny when he sticks to sports. Only in politics does he come across as a jack@ss. The Eagles put 42 points on the board by halftime, and cruised to a win. The Eagles are far from done, and the Lions are back down to Earth. 56-21 Eagles

San Francisco 49ers @ Pittsburgh Steelers–The 49ers are another 2-0 team that may have started believing their own hype. The Steelers were 2-0, but they actually deserved to be. Big Ben Roethlisberger managed the game. A kick return for a touchdown by Allen Rossum sparked the Steelers. The 49ers had only 3 Joe Nedney field goals for most of the game. Down 23-9, Alex Smith threw a touchdown pass, but unfortunately it went for Pittsburgh. The interception return put the Steelers up 30-9, and they coasted from there. This team is for real. 37-16 Steelers

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–The Rams offense is overrated, and the Buccaneers defense is underrated. The Rams offensive line is decimated by injury, and Jeff Wilkins missed two field goals, but the score was more lopsided than these factors. Jon Gruden likes to pound the rock, and pound away the Bucs did. The defense played “Buc Ball,” and today it worked. 24-3 Buccaneers

San Diego Chargers at Green Bay Packers–First of all, the iron man that is Brett Favre tied the all time touchdown record, tossing three more today for a total of 420. As for the Chargers, they are officially Norvelous. I stated that it would take Norv Turner two years to destroy the Chargers. It has taken three games. Forget the excuses. The Chargers are done. They will make the playoffs, but forget being an elite team. The Packers did make one mistake that could have cost them the game. Down 21-17 with several minutes left in the fourth quarter, they had the ball on the Charger one foot line. They chose to pass, and I suspect Coach McCarthy put Brett’s passing stats above the win. Had Green Bay lost, many questions would have been asked. Nevertheless, Favre came back and threw his last touchdown pass with two minutes left. After San Diego turned the ball over deep in their own territory, McCarthy wisely decided to keep it on the ground to lock up the win. Brett Favre is still the gunslinger, and his last touchdown pass was one of his best. The Packers are 3-0, and perhaps Brett will break the record in Minnesota. The Vikes are not playing well, but the Metrodome is his house of horrors. 31-21 Packers

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans–The Texans have played well to get to 2-0, but the Colts reminded them what a real great team is. The opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown by Jerome Mathis, putting the Texans up 7-0 seconds into the game. Given that Devon Hester did this to the Colts in the Superbowl, it was no surprise that Dungy, Manning and the rest of the Colts stayed very calm. Manning was an efficient 20 of 29, and Matt Schaub was 27 of 33, although two interceptions hurt the Texans. One came after a 74 yard punt return. The Colts have to shore up their special teams, but a 27-10 lead was enough to hold off a late rally by the Texans. The Texans are improving, but the Colts are the World Champs until they are knocked off. 30-24 Colts

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets–The Dolphins outgained the Jets 424-256, and Trent Green outpassed CHad Pennington 318-124. Yet the Dolphins made mistakes and the Jets did not. The Jets made big plays, and the Dolphins did not. The Jets were 61% on 3rd down conversions, and a 98 yard kickoff return by Leon Washington propelled the Jets to a 31-13 lead. The Dolphins made a game of it, but fell short. 31-28 Jets

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots–This was a case of David against Goliath, and in real life, Goliath beats up David and takes his lunch money. The Bills did lead 7-3 early, but then reality set in. Tom Brady threw four touchdowns, and the Patriots outgained the Bills 485-193. It was that bad. 38-7 Patriots

Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks–This was an exciting see-saw game of big plays. The Bengals outgained Seattle 412-340, but were plagued by 10 penalties to only three for the Seahawks. The game was marred by six turnovers, four by Cincy. The Seahawks led 14-10 at the half, but in the third quarter, Matt Hasselbeck inexplicably dropped back into his own end zone to pass, and ended up being sacked for a safety. The ensuing field goal put the Bengals up 15-14. With Seattle up 17-15, the Bengals scored a touchdown with under three minutes remaining to go up 21-17. Seattle then marched immediately down the field. Hasselbeck redeemed himself, and Seattle scored the go ahead touchdown with just over one minute to play. A fumble on the ensuing kickoff doomed the Bengals. 24-21 Seahawks

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Denver Broncos–Although the Broncos were one of the weaker 2-0 teams in the league, they were not pretenders such as other previously mentioned luckmeisters. The Jaguars simply came in and hit Denver in the mouth. Jacksonville is an up and down team, and today they played Jack Del Rio football–smash mouth. Jacksonville had the ball for almost 39 minutes, including a drive that lasted nearly 15 minutes from early in the first quarter through early in the second quarter. On fourth and goal from the one, they rammed it into the end zone. The Jags had 191 yards rushing, but that one yard was critical. Time of possession does not matter if it only leads to field goals. The Jaguars led 20-7, and then Denver cut the gap to 20-14. The Jaguars had every chance to ice the game, but on the Denver one yard line, they fumbled the ball away. Yet Denver made two mistakes in the second half. First of all, they used all three of their timeouts, inexplicably having none when it counted. Yet on fourth down and five from their own nine yard line, and 4 minutes to go, they decided to go for it. Mike Shanahan usually does not hit the panic button, and even with no time outs left, four minutes is enough time. The failed conversion attempt gave the Jaguars a gift field goal to lock up the victory. The pass thrown on that play was thought to have been caught at first, and Shanahan was briefly a genius. However, when it was ruled incomplete, Denver had no time outs to challenge the call. This game was important, but it the Jags had a big win last year versus Pittsburgh and failed to build on the momentum. Time will tell. 23-14 Jaguars

New York Giants @ Washington Redskins–The Washington Redskins were another bunch of 2-0 pretenders. The Giants were really worthy of being 0-2 however. The Redskins led 17-3 at the half, but the second half was dominated by the Giant defense. Until the last drive, the Redskins had 14 yards of offense in the second half. The Giants offense had three turnovers, but they also converted 9 of 16 3rd downs. The Redskins only turnover in their own territory allowed the Giants to break a 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter. The Redskins drove all the way down to the Giant one yard line, where a goal line stand made the difference. The Giants have a defense, and a lot of heart. 24-17 Giants

Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons–Joey Harrington went 31 for 44 for 361 yards. However, Atlanta killed themselves with two turnovers and ten penalties for 135 yards. On one defensive series, the Falcon defense racked up 67 penalty yards. With Steve Smith injured, the Panthers relied on Deshaun Foster, who did not disappoint. Nursing a seven point lead, the final 5 minutes of the game were Carolina running out the clock. Foster also had one touchdown. Delhomme and Carr played in this game. 27-20 Panthers

Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders–The Oakland Raiders won. My Yom Kippur prayers were answered. Fore more extensive coverage of this game, go to http://www.justblogbaby.com

The Browns have looked like the one team the Raiders could beat the last several years. Two years ago, in Oakland, one of the worst games ever played was a 9-7 Browns win. The defense gave up only three field goals, although the last one was the winning kick at the buzzer. That game did help get rid of Norv Turner, who is now ruining an AFC West rival. Last year in Oakland, the Raiders led 21-3 at the half before the offense and defense went into a prevent induced shell. Phil Dawson made his field goal, and the Browns won 24-21. I have said Romeo Crennel is a good man, and he seems to be turning the team around, but if these teams played in Oakland more often Crennel would be coach of the year. In addition, the last time these teams met in Cleveland, the Browns won an ugly 13-7 game, with Phil Dawson being the difference.

This game was virtually identical. A win is a win, and the Raiders might go 1-15. The defense plays well most of the game, and collapses late. The offense is a disaster.

The Raiders built a 16-0 second quarter lead, but this is much less impressive than it appeared. Twice the Raiders had first down and goal to go, and ended up with field goals. One drive they could not score from one yard out. Another drive the defense intercepted pass and allowed the Raiders to start with first and goal. These wasted opportunities cannot be overlooked. Sebastian Janikowski redeemed himself in a big way today, but the offense is dysfunctional. Josh McCown is simply a backup anywhere else in the league.

16-0 disappeared in a heartbeat when the Browns returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Instead of 20-0, it was 16-7. A turnover by the Raiders led to a field goal, and a 16-10 game. The Browns offense was so bad early on that in their first offensive series, after converting a 3rd down and 19, they were faced with 3rd down and 40. They punted on 4th down and 28.

The Browns took a 17-16 lead in the third quarter, when the Raiders were blessed with a ray of hope. Josh McCown was injured, and Dante Culpepper was allowed to play the rest of the game. I never wish injury on anyone, especially not a Raider, but Culpepper is much much much much much much much (get the point?) much much better than McCown. Culpepper simply makes plays that McCown cannot make. Giving Culpepper more time with the starting offense will only help him.

A Dante Culpepper drive put the Raiders up 23-17. Lamont Jordan was running hard the whole game, and the offensive line held up relatively well, making few mistakes. A field goal after a nine minute drive put the Raiders up 26-17. A 27 yard screen pass and run by Lamont Jordan on a 3rd down and 23 appeared to break the back of the Browns. Seabass hit the fourth field goal off of the dirt. Yes, he has had tough games, but he came through today. However, the Raiders simply do not close games out.

In past weeks, and years for that matter, I have said that the defense was exhausted due to the ineptness of the offense. Not today. The Raiders held the ball for 36 minutes. All the defense had to do was wrap up the game, which they failed to do. In the blink of an eye, the Browns moved easily down the field, closing the gap to two points. The Raider defense simply melted.

On the next drive, the Raiders had 4th down and one at midfield. The Raiders punted the ball, which was the right decision. A magnificent kick By Shane Lechler seemed to lock up the game. The Browns were on their own 9 yard line with one minute to go and no time outs. Yet the Raiders defense absolutely collapsed. It was a nightmare, as the Browns gained 40 yards on 3rd and 10. With10 seconds left, the Browns were in position for a 52 yard field goal. They instead passed the ball, setting up a 40 yard attempt with 3 seconds left. Another loss was in the works.

Phil Dawson made the kick, but the Raiders called time out just before the kick was made. This was the exact reverse of the Denver loss a week ago.

Yes, the Raiders deserved to lose this game. Yes, the team is playing awful football. Yes, the offense is dreadful, and the defense had a spectacular collapse. However, the difference between winning and losing is so small. The losses eat at me as a fan, so I cannot imagine how the players and coaches feel. This team needed a win.

Dawson’s kick was blocked by Tommy Kelly. There would be no heartbreak this week.

I remember when it seemed like the Raiders always won these close games. The last few years they have lost almost all of these games. Wins like these are what keep teams from quitting. Players are human. They get tired of losing. They need to see results.

Make no mistake about it. This was a bad team barely surviving at home against a worse team in a game both sides deserved to lose. However, the Raiders were robbed on the road against Denver. Now they have something to build upon.

Ugly as can be, but beyond beautiful. Thank you Tommy Kelly, and congratulations to Lane Kiffin. The first one is always the toughest. Now please start Dante Culpepper next week. The revenge factor might motivate him against Miami.

Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell held their clipboards well, and in a couple years this game may mean a lot. For a team and its fans hungry and desperate for signs of life, they existed today. We are not the 1972 Dolphins, but we are not the 1976 B8uccaneers either.

The team made many mistakes, but found something they have lacked for several years…a heart. 26-24 Raiders

Dallas Cowboys @ Chicago Bears was the Sunday night game. The first half was a defensive slugfest. Tied 3-3 in the second quarter, the Cowboys go ahead field goal attempt was blocked. With seconds remaining in the half, Rex Grossman blundered. I am not a Grossman basher as many are, but he was lucky to escape at halftime with the game tied. On 3rd down and 11 and the clock ticking, he spiked the ball, creating fourth down at midfield with six seconds remaining. The idea of a punt return was dangerous, so the Bears tried a hail mary. Even though it was fourth down, the clock would run out. Instead, Grossman was sacked, and although the clock clearly showed one or two seconds left, the officials declared the half over. It was an awful call, but it stood.

The offenses opened it up in the second half. Terrell Owens earned his money on several catch and runs as the Cowboys went up 10-3. Julius Jones and Marion Barber were running solid. Devon Hester was having a rough game. He fumbled a kick in the first half, recovering it himself. In the second half, he fumbled another one, skirting dangerously close to his own goal line and a safety before getting it out to the 10 yard line. Rex Grossman then earned his stripes in a big way.

Facing 3rd down and 10 from his own 10, Grossman scrambled for 14 yards on a first down. This led to a 90 yard drive that deadlocked the game at 10.

Dallas scored another touchdown on its next possession, and then recovered a fumble in Bear territory with a 17-10 lead, which was where things stood after three quarters. The fumble set up a field goal, and then the Bears fell apart. Devon Hester fumbled for the third time in the game, and although he recovered all his own fumbles, the poor field position did make a difference. An awful throw into traffic by Rex Grossman was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. The Chicago crowd then began chanting for Brian Griese. A defensive bonelock turned into a fourth quarter blowout. It is early in the season, but the Cowboys look very impressive, perhaps the best team in the NFC. 34-10 Cowboys

Tennessee Titans @ New Orleans Saints was the Monday night game. The Titans are underrated, and have the best coach in the league in Jeff Fisher. The Saints are overrated. Yes, they made it to the NFC Title game last year, but they were only 10-6, and that was in a pathetic NFC. The feel good emotion of Katrina has worn off, and the bottom line is that despite the legendary 2006 heroics of Gleason and Deloach, which will inspire me for years, the 2007 Saints are a team in trouble. Deuce Mcallister tore his ACL in the game and is now out for the season. Reggie Bush is not a 30 carry a game workhorse. Drew Brees has less at wide receiver than last year. Vince Young moved around with relative ease, and the Titan defense intercepted Brees several times, including once for a touchdown. Sean Payton and Jeff Fisher learned from Bill Parcells and Buddy Ryan, and today the 46 defense won the day. Buddy Ball lives in Nashville. 31-14 Titans

eric

4 Responses to “NFL 2007–Week 3 Recap”

  1. Eric, Very nice recap for those (like me) who aren’t quite up to speed but would like to be. The fans of Chicago better be careful what they wish for. We Bronco fans had Griese for a few years and we wouldn’t wish him on anyone. Grossman has a great arm, he just needs some common sense and more experience.

  2. Lord Nazh© says:

    “On 3rd down and 11 and the clock ticking, he spiked the ball, creating fourth down at midfield with six seconds remaining. The idea of a punt was dangerous with Devon Hester on the field, so the Cowboys tried a hail mary. Even though it was fourth down, the clock would run out. Instead, Grossman was sacked,”

    Hester doesn’t return for the Cowboys 🙂 The Bears tried a hail mary, not the cowboys.

    Other than that, good recap

  3. Blame the Donco’s loss on me, as I chose to not only listen, but also watched the game. 🙂
    In any case, Denver as a team is still jelling. Next year perhaps..?

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