NFL 2010 Week 3 Recap

The Cowboys and Vikings are 0-2. The Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0. As Chris Berman would say, “That’s why they play the games.”

Let’s get down to football.

San Francisco 49ers  @ Kansas City Chiefs—A pair of overrated teams met in an interconference game as Alex Smith hit Frank Gore for a 31 yard pass that led to nothing. Jamal Charles had a 23 yard run called back due to offensive holding in this thriller that remained scoreless after the first quarter.

Alex Smith hit Brandon Flowers, who plays defense for Kansas City. Matt Cassel then found Dexter McCluster, who actually plays offense for Kansas City. The game was a McClusterf*ck, but the 31 yard touchdown pass had the Chiefs up 7-0. The 49es eventually kicked a field goal, and at the 2 minute warning the Chiefs extended the lifelessness of this game with Ryan Succup missing a short field goal.

Even a boring game can have an interesting play, and Todd Haley went to the bag of tricks with a double handoff flea flicker that Cassel threw for a perfect 45 yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe have the Chiefs up 17-3. When Cassel threw to the end zone for Meyocki, he Karate Kidded his way to a one handed catch for an 18 yard touchdown reception and a 24-3 Chiefs lead. Mike Singletary is another step closer to the Ray Rhodes scowl without the wins to back it up. Another Kansas City score followed by a garbage touchdown was just that. The Chiefs are the worst 3-0 team in some time, but still winning. 31-10 Chiefs

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots—While this was not supposed to be the biggest mismatch since Super Bowl III, the Patriots have beaten the Bills 13 straight times. Buffalo took a 3-0 lead. Reality then set in as Tom Brady hit Randy Moss for a short touchdown pass to have the Patriots up 7-3, which at the time seemed enough offense for a New England win. Ryan Lindell did add another field goal to get the Bills within 7-6.
The Bills actually took the lead 13-7, but a 22 yard run by Woodhead, in for an injured Kevin Faulk, had the Patriots back on top 14-13 late in the half. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to play well in place of the benched Trent Edwards, as a 3rd Lindell field goal before the half had the Bills up 16-14.

Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal to have the Patriots up 17-16 in the third quarter. Tom Brady then went deep to Randy Moss, who did what he does for a 35 yard touchdown to have the Patriots up 24-16. CJ Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a score. Buffalo wisely decided not to attempt the tying 2 point conversion, as the kick had the Bills down 24-23 with plenty of time left. A game with 6 lead changes almost saw a 7th one, but Ryan Lindell missed from 51 yards out.

Brady fired another touchdown to give the Patriots the 31-23 lead. Fitzpatrick brought the Bills back, but was intercepted in the end zone to end the threat. Jarvis Ellis ran it in as the Patriots eventually pulled away from the very game Bills with a 38-23 lead. Fitzpatrick kept firing, and another touchdown had the Bills within 38-30. The Bills had a chance to tie the ball at their own 35 with 3 minutes left, but Fitzpatrick was intercepted as the Patriots escaped. 38-30 Patriots

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers—The Buccaneers kicked a field goal to grab the early lead, but a 46 yard touchdown bomb from Charlie Batch…yes, Charlie Batch…to Mike Wallace had the Steelers up 7-3. Connor Barth added a 24 yard field goal to get the Buccaneer within 7-6.

Batch scrambled for 24 yards, found Heath Miller at the 5, and then capped off a drive with Rashard Mendenhall battering the ball in from 3 yards out to put the Steelers up 14-6. Later Batch went deep again. A sure interception was bobbled, and caught foa  gift touchdown to have Pittsburgh cruising 21-6. Pittsburgh got the ball bvack, and on 3rd and 3 from the 9, Batch hit a wide open Hines Ward to have Pittsburgh up 28-6 in a laugher that either exposed the Buccaneers as pretenders or reinforced that Pittsburgh is for real even without their starting quarterback. Mike Tomlin would argue the latter.

The blowout continued with a field goal and an interception return for a touchdown as the Steelers led 38-6. The Bucs mounted a furious comeback that fell just short by 25 points as the 3-0 Steeleres won another road game without their starting quarterback. 38-13 Steelers

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints—A 72 yard punt return by Lance Moore set up a short Drew Brees touchdown pass to have the Saints up 7-0 early on. Matt Ryan brought the Falcons back with a 13 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 7 to tie the game 7-7. The Saints had their first turnover of the entire season as Drew Brees went for the bomb and was intercepted. Apparently the Saints did not panic because the next time they got the ball, Sean Payton had Brees go deep again, for an 80 yard touchdown pass to Lance Moore to put the Saints up again 14-7.

In the second quarter Brees rolled out, barely got touched by 2 defenders, stumbled both times, somehow stayed upright, and threw an underhanded pass that was his second interception. Brett Favre is known for doing this, but this was uncharacteristic for Brees as the Falcons took over at the Saints 30. The Falcons got no points on the drive, but got the ball back at their own 28.

Ryan then led a ridiculous 19 play drive. Mike Smith, an average non-descript white guy who looks like a guy named Mike Smith, decided to gamble on 4th and 1, and the Falcons converted. On 3rd and 1 a running play got stuffed, but a very aggressive Smith gambled again on 4th and 2 from the 11. Matty Ice Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for the first down at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and goal form the 1, Michael Turner took it in to tie the game 14-14.

Th Saints continued to bungle away chances as they fumbled the ball at midfield. The Falcons returned the favor at the Saints one yard line. On further review the runner was ruled down by contact and Atlanta retained possession. On 3rd and goal from the 3, a running play lost 2 yards for the second straight play and the short field goal had the Falcons up 17-14. Yet Brees kept firing, and a 16 yard touchdown to Moore had the Saints up 21-17 as the third quarter ended.

With 9 minutes left, Ryan hit Roody white for a 22 yard touchdown as the Falcons led 24-21. With 3 1/2 minutes left, the Falcons faced 4th and 3 at the Saints 37. Smith gambled again, and this time lost as the Falcons turned it over on downs after an incomplete pass. Brees worked the clock, and after getting stuffed on 3rd and 1, Payton decided to go for it rather than try a long field goal. A completed pass kept the Saints moving with 36 seconds left.

With 12 seconds left, Brees fired incomplete to the end zone. With no timeouts, Payton took no more chances, and Hartley came in for the tying field goal from 32 yards out. It was good, and the teams went to overtime 24-24.

The Falcons won the toss and went backward. The Saints received the ball at their own 32 and Brees went right to work. The Saints moved with ease to the Atlanta 11, where Garrett Hartley came in for the 29 yard kick to win it. Hartley, who kicked the Saints into the Super Bowl last year, missed this one in front of a shocked Superdome crowd.

With 9 minutes left in overtime, the Falcons took over at their own 20, moved back to the 10, and faced 3rd and 5 at the 25. Ryan threw incomplete, but defensive pass interference kept the drive going. Facing 3rd and 1 from the Saints 46, Turner picked up 3 yards. At the 2 minute warning, facing 4th and 2 at the 23, Matt Bryant came in for a 41 yard field goal attempt. A false start pushed it back to 46 yards. It didn’t matter as Bryant did what Hartley did not, again shocking the home crowd. Both teams are 2-1, and the rematch of this fine game is already being anticipated. 27-24 Falcons, OT

Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers—Jimmy Clausen started his first game and immediately completed a pass to the Cincinnati defense. Carson Palmer kept his prima donna receives quiet early on as Marvin Lewis decided to play smash mouth on the ground with Cedric Benson. When Carson went to the end zone, it was for Caldwell, as defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Benson went around left end to have the Bengals up 7-0.

A field goal had the Bengals up 10-0, but a chance to extend the lead was wasted when a slow attempt to spike the ball led to the half running out at the 5 yard line.

In the third quarter the Panthers got to the red zone, where Deangelo Williams ran it 19 yards to set up a 1 yard Jimmy Stewart touchdown to get the Panthers within 10-7. A 50 yard field goal had the Bengals up 13-7, and the Panthers simply did not have enough offense to make it competitive for four quarters. A Carson Palmer touchdown pass sealed the Carolina fate. 20-7 Bengals

Tennessee Titans @ NY Giants—Despite benching him in favor of Kerry Collins, Jeff Fisher had Vince Young start this game. Rob Bironas got the Titans on the board first with a field goal. Eli Manning then hit Kevin Boss with a 52 yard catch and run, but on 3rd and goal Manning made a boneheaded mistake. Scrambling, he threw and ill advised pass between several defenders that was deflected and intercepted for a touchback. Manning completed all 9 of his opening passes, but only 7 of them went to the Giants. The Giants added to the excitement of the home crowd with Lawrence Tynes missing a field goal.

Chris Johnson ran the ball well, and defensive pass interference on the Giants had the Titans on the 3. Fisher played attitude ball and just had 3 straight runs up the gut, with Johnson taking it in from the one to have the Titans up 10-0.

The Giants did finally get on the board with a field goal to trail 10-3. Despite a rough first half, Eli Manning worked the 2 minute drill to perfection, with Ahmad Bradshaw running it in on a draw play from 7 yards out to tie the game 10-10.

While the Giants appeared to have the momentum, things reversed in the second half. A safety had the Titans up 12-10. After the free kick, Young hit Kenny Britt in the back of the end zone for a 10 yard touchdown to make it 19-10 Titans.  The Giants wasted a golden opportunity to get back in the game when Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled at the Titans 5 yard line. The Titans moved to the Giants one yard line but could not put the game away. A field goal made it 22-10. After Manning fired incomplete on 4th down, Chris Johnson ripped off a 42 yard run against the lifeless Giants defense. Tennessee simply did what was done to them a week earlier. They hit the Giants n the mouth. Johnson scored on a short run for a final exclamation point. 29-10 Titans

Dallas Cowboys @ Houston Texans—A game that could have been a coronation for the Cowboys is now a fight for survival as another loss could lead to Jerry Jones blowing up his own stadium before the next home game. He may try this with Reliant Stadium until being reminded that he does not own it. A scoreless opening quarter gave Wade Phillips job security at least through halftime.

That was rethought after Arriun Foster converted a draw play on 3rd and 19 for 20 yards and a first down at the Dallas 32. A field goal had the Texans up 3-0. Tony Romo then finally got the Cowboys going, hitting Miles Austin at the one yard line to set up Marion Barber for the go ahead score as the Cowboys led 7-3.  From midfield, Romo went deep to Dez Bryant for an apparent touchdown, but it was nullified by illegal touching as Bryant went out of bounds before coming back to catch the ball. Peeler kicked a 49 yard field goal to have the Cowboys up 10-3 at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Romo found Roy Williams for a 20 yard touchdown pass to have the Cowboys up 17-3. Matt Schaub finally saw his ground game get going, as the Texans got to the one yard line. However, consecutive running plays were blown up in the backfield. A pass led to defensive pass interference in the end zone and offensive holding as the calls offset. Schaub then got belted by Keith Brookings. The Texans settled for a field goal and trailed 17-6 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

What little suspense remained when a short Tony Romo pass turned into a 73 yard touchdown to Roy Williams when the defender fell down for an easy 24-6 lead. Dallas tacked on a field goal while a garbage touchdown ended the game and saved the season of the Cowboys. 27-13 Cowboys

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings—The Vikings are struggling but the Lions without Matthew Stafford were considered overmatched. The Lions lived down to their reputation by fumbling early, but Kyle Vanden Bosch belting Brett Favre ended Minnesota’s first threat. Minnesota committed a pair of penalties that wiped out a long punt return and a 10 yard reverse by Percy Harvin.

Brett Favre then threw an interception at the Minnesota 40 that would have been a touchdown had multi-hundred pound Corey Williams been lighter and quicker. This fellow should follow Warren Sapp on Dancing With the Stars as Detroit began at the 5. Shawn Hill hit Tony Schefter for the touchdown pass to have the Lions up 7-0 on the road.

Favre continued to get knocked around with an offensive line getting beaten, but the Lions fumbled a punt to set up the Vikings at the Detroit 25. Favre went deep to a wide open Harvin on the first play, and a slightly overthrown ball turned into a diving catch by Harvin for a gorgeous touchdown and a 7-7 game.

Hill realized that lobbing it up for Calvin Johnson was smart, so he did it, and Johnson did the rest, coming down with it at the Minnesota 24. It led to a missed field goal by Jason Hanson from 44 yards out.
Last year Favre made “Pants on the Ground” famous with a butt slap of Jared Allen to continue the magical season. This year it was Favre putting the ball on the ground and getting knocked on his hide. Yet roughing the passer on Ndamakung Suh negated the turnover. Brad Childress, who is bald and Catholic, decided to have Favre start handing the ball to Adrian Peterson. Peterson picked up tough yards on the ground, setting up an eventual 3rd and 1 at the 6. Peterson ran it in standing up to have the Vikings up 14-7.

Just before the half, Favre got hit as he threw, resulting in a duck that was intercepted at midfield. It set up a 33 yard field goal by Hanson to make it 14-10 at intermission.

In the third quarter Favre threw a backward pass that was somehow called forward and ruled incomplete. This allowed Minnesota to stay in field goal range to take a 17-10 lead. Minnesota got the ball back, and Adrian Peterson took a handoff, bounced off tacklers inside, got to the outside, and raced for an 80 yard touchdown to give the Vikings the cushion. It was not pretty, as Favre has as many turnovers in 3 games as he did all of last year. Nevertheless, the Vikings have a win while the Lions are in familiar territory, hoping Matthew Stafford comes back now and the pain stops. 24-10 Vikings

Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens—For those who love beautiful football, there were other games to watch. Phil Dawson got the Browns on the board with a field goal in a game where touchdowns were expected to be in short supply. Yet Joe Flacco did hit Anquon Boldin on an 8 yard touchdown to have the Ravens up 7-3.

From about midfield in the second quarter, Flacco hit a wide open Anquon Boldin at the Cleveland 16. Another pass to Boldin, who was still wide open, went for another touchdown and a 14-3 Ravens lead. With 16 seconds left in the half, the Browns faced 3rd and goal at the 1. For the first time all season, the Ravens gave up an offensive touchdown as the Ravens still led 14-10 after the Hillis score.

A long run, a defensive personal foul, and a Joshua Cribbs wildcat snap had the Browns facing 1st and goal at the 6 as the third quarter ended. The Browns ran it in to lead 17-14, and both teams got very nasty. There were ejections as Cribbs was taken off the field on a stretcher. With 9 minutes to play, Flacco went deep to Mason for a 50 yard touchdown as the Ravens retook the lead 21-17. Baltimore tacked on a field goal with 5 1/2 minutes to play to make it a 7 point game.

The Browns failed to move the ball, as the Ravens tried to run out the clock. On 3rd and 3 from the 27, Joe Flacco hit TJ Houshmanzadeh for 4 yards with 2:26 remaining. With 1:55 left the Ravens faced 3rd and 4 at their own 37. With everything on the line, the Browns defense got called for a neutral zone infraction, and the game was over. The Browns are 0-3, and Eric Mangini is one step closer to the Walrus Mike Holmgren making the changes he spared last year. 24-17 Ravens

Washington Redskins @ St. Louis Rams–The Redskins blew a 27-10 lead last week, while Sam Bradford has looked impressive in a pair of close losses by a combined 5 points. Bradford got help early on as Stephen Jackson ripped off a 42 yard touchdown run to quickly have the Rams up 7-0. Donovan McNabb then hit Santana Moss on a swing pass. Moss fumbled, and it was returned 49 yards to the Washington 3 yard line. Bradford hit Fells for the touchdown as the Rams quickly had a 14-0 lead. The Redskins had to punt, and it was blocked. The Rams took over at the Washington 26 with a chance to end it minutes into the game. Yet Bradford went for all the marbles, and was intercepted.

The second quarter saw the game reverse. A 40 yard defensive pass interference call on the Rams led to a 29 yard Gano field goal as the Redskins trailed 14-3. The Rams fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Redskins took over at the Rams 21. One play was all McNabb needed to hit Moss to make it a 14-10 game. The Redskins got the ball back at their own 17, and Torain ran for 36 yards. The Redskins eventually faced 4th and 2 at the 6, and Mike Shanahan decided not to gamble. The 24 yard field goal had the Redskins within 14-13 midway through the second quarter.

Bradford took over at the 20 with 7 1/2 minutes left in the half and bled the entire rest of the half.On 3rd and 6 from the Washington 40, Bradford hit Amendola for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the Washington 13, Bradford hit Clayton at the one yard line with over a minute left in the half. Then things got crazy as Toston lost 1 yard and Bradford threw incomplete, but defensive holding again set up 1st and goal at the 1. This time Toston lost 3 yards, a false start cost 5 more, and a couple plays later it was 4th and goal at the 3. Steve Spagnuolo went for the chip shot field goal, and it was blocked to end the half. The entire drive resulted in nothing.

The Redskins began the third quarter at their own 27, and McNabb quickly went deep to Moss for 56 yards with a horse collar tackle adding 15 more. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 2, Clinton Portis lost a yard and a 21 yard Gano field goal had the Redskins come all the way back to lead 16-14. Then the game changed again.

Bradford led a 12 play, 74 yard, 5 minute drive. This time, the Rams finished what they started. On 3rd and 10 from the Washington 34, Bradford hit Fells for 12 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the 19, Bradford hit Fells for just enough, and then Darby ran it up the middle to have the Rams back in front 21-16.Bradford then led the Rams from their 35 to the Washington 19 before settling for a 37 yard field goal as the Rams extended their lead to 24-16 with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

The Redskins still could not move the ball as they had earlier, and the Rams took over at their own 48. Bradford continued managing the clock well. Although the Rams again bogged down in the red zone, another field goal, this time from 29 yards, had the Rams up 27-16. Needing 2 scores, McNabb was then intercepted, as the Rams began at the Washington 41. By the time the Rams added another field goal, less than 2 minutes remained. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 30 with seconds left to play, McNabb for some reason threw a 6 yard pass as time ran out. The Redskins have lost 2 straight after barely surviving their opener, while Sam Bradford has his first NFL win. 30-16 Rams

Philadelphia Eagles @ Jacksonville Jaguars–After telling the world that Kevin Kolb would get his job back, Andy Reid reversed gears and made Michael Vick the starter. An unwritten football rule says a quarterback should not lose his starting job to injury. Yet Vick has played well, and has the support of the locker room.

The Eagles returned the opening kickoff all the way to the Jacksonville 44, but 3 plays and 7 yards later, Andy Reid decided to punt on 4th and 3 rather than kick the 54 yard field goal. Philly got the ball back, and soon faced 3rd and 16 at their own 39. All Vick was able to do was throw a 61 yard touchdown to Deshard Jackson to have the Eagles up 7-0. The defenses settled in, and a 51 yard Josh Scobee field goal had the Jaguars within 7-3. Vick then moved the Eagles from their 6 to the Jacksonvill26, where Andy Reid decided to gamble on 4th and 1 after a 3rd and 2 run got Philly halfway. The Eagles got stuffed  in a game that looked like it was becoming a slugfest. It was not

The Eagles got the ball at their own 47 with 1:37 left in the half. On 3rd and 8, Vick hit Captain Morgan Brent Celek for 21 yards. Vick then hit Jeremy Maclin for 14 yards, and again for the 16 yard touchdown to have the Eagles up 14-3 with 4 seconds left in the half. With 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, David Garrard was intercepted, and the Eagles took over at the Jacksonville 45. Vick needed one play to go deep to Maclin for the touchdown as the Eagles cruised 21-3.

Jacksonville punted, and Vick began the next drive by completing a 42 yard pass to Jackson. Vick scrambled for the 17 yard touchdown himself. It seems that Superman is back, and he is now wearing an Eagles Jersey. Andy Reid took a lot of criticism this week, but this game was vindication. As for Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio is seeing his hot seat get even hotter with a pathetic effort at home. 28-3 Eagles

Oakland Raiders @ Arizona Cardinals–For more on the game of the day, please turn to

This game will be talked about for years to come through the Raider Nation. It could be the beginning of the Bruce Gradkowski era at quarterback. The Raiders finally have a leader. Yet this game will forever be remembered for Sebastian Janikowski.

Seabass kicked the opening kickoff 2 yards into the end zone, but Stephens Howling raced through the Oakland special teamers like they were Stephen Hawking. Stephens Howling went 102 yards to the house as the Cardinals immediately led 7-0.

The Raiders got a decent kickoff return and took over at their own 48. Bruce Gradkowski was magnificent in the first half. He went deep to Louis Murphy at the 5 yard line, but the play was called back due to offensive pass interference against Darrius Heward-Bey. The Raiders punted, and Shane Lechler did his job, pinning the Cardinals at their own 3.

The defense held, and the Raiders took over at their own 41. Gradkowski went deep again, and this time the pass interference was called on the Arizona defense, setting up a 22 yard touchdown to Zach Miller to tie the game 7-7.

The Cardinals punted again, pinning the Raiders at their own 5. Oakland went nowhere, but the Raiders got the first big break of the game when the Cardinals muffed the punt, setting up the Silver and Black at the Arizona 28. Gradkowski hit Miller at the 7 yard line, but the drive bogged down after that. Seabass made the 22 yard field goal to have the Raiders up 10-7.

The Cardinals took over at their own 20 and Beanie Wells ripped off a 24 yard gain. Derek Anderson went deep, and defensive pass interference on standout Nahmdi Asomugha set up a 42 yard field goal by Jay Feely to tie the game 10-10.

The Raiders took over at their own 38. Darren McFadden ripped off a 7 yard gain, and Gradkowski hit Heyward-Bey for 16 yards. Tom Cable had to decide between a field position punt or a 55 yard field goal. Cable took the gamble. Seabass gets paid the big bucks, and drilled the kick with plenty of room to spare. The Polish Cannon had the Raiders up 13-10 in a frenetic first quarter. The pinball machine pace of the game did slow up.

Anderson then led a 12 play, 76 yard drive that ate up 6 minutes. Another defensive pass interference penalty got the Cardinals from the quartermark to the midfield stripe. On 3rd and 4 from the Oakland 43, Anderson hit Williams for 11 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 23, Anderson passed incomplete. Ken Whisenhunt decided to go for it on 4th and 1, and Tim Hightower picked up 2 yards. Wells picked up gains of 12 and 6, and Anderson capped off the drive by hitting Steve Breaston for the 2 yard touchdown to have the Cardinals up 17-13.

The Raiders took over at their own 23. On 3rd and 14 from the 34, Gradkowski hit Heyward-Bey for 21 yards. Yet a sack of Gradkowski killed the drive and the Raiders punted. Lechler again nailed a dandy, and the Cardinals from their own 5 failed to pick up a first down. The Raiders took over at their own 42 with 4 ½ minutes left in the half, but Gradkowski was intercepted. The Cardinals went 3 and out, and the Raiders got the ball back at their own 31 with 2:40 left in the half.

From the Oakland 43, McFadden showed his electricity with a 33 yard run to the Arizona 24. An 18 yard pass to McFadden set up a 2 yard McFadden run as the Raiders led 20-17 at halftime. The offenses led the first half, but the defenses took over in the second half.

In the third quarter the teams exchanged punts, and the Raiders took over at their own 11. On 3rd and 4 from the 17, Gradkowski fired to Louis Murphy, who took the pass and bolted for a 70 yard gain to the Arizona 13. A holding penalty pushed the Raiders back, where they stayed. Seabass, who had already made 2 field goals including the 55 yarder, came in for the chip shot from 41. He hooked it no good, as the Raiders failed to extend their lead.

The Cardinals made the Raiders pay in a big way. Beginning at the 31, a 3rd and 1 run from the 40 had Wells picking up 5 yards. On 2nd and 1 from the 46, Anderson hit Breaston for 25 yards. Ti Hightower picked up 13 yards and Anderson hit Larry Fitzgerald for the touchdown. Asomugha had won the battle much of the game against Fitzgerald, but the Cardinals led 24-20. More than an entire quarter remained, but the rest of the game was the Cardinals trying to give the game away and the Raiders refusing to take it. It all came down to who wanted it less. Gradkowski cooled off in the second half, but he had no help.

With 12 minutes to play, in regulation the Raiders managed to turn 3rd and 28 into 4th and 18 at their own 27 before punting. Again the Cardinals muffed the kick, and the Raiders had gift field position at the Arizona 16. On 3rd and 10, the Raiders were bailed out by defensive holding, moving the ball to the 11. On 3rd and 12, the Raiders again misfired and again got bailed out as defensive pass interference placed the ball on the one yard line. Michael Bush failed to get it in, and then a costly delay of game penalty moved the Raiders back. Instead of trying to pound it, a pair of incomplete passes wasted the opportunity. Seabass made his 3rd field goal in 4 tries, a 23 yarder. The Raiders trailed by a point with 8 minutes left, needing only one more Seabass field goal to win it.

Arizona went backward, and the Raiders took over at their own 30 with 6 ½ minutes left. Gradkowski hit Louis Murphy for a 25 yard gain to the Arizona 44. On 3rd and 2 from the 36, another killer penalty crippled the Raiders as a false start changed a 53 yard field goal attempt to what appeared to be a punting scenario on 4th down. Instead, Cable decided to bring in Seabass for a 58 yard field goal rather than play field position. With 4 ½ minutes left, the kick was long enough, but no good wide. It is hard to fault Seabass for missing from 58, but the Raiders still needed to get him one more chance.

The Cardinals wasted excellent field position, went 3 and out, and gave the Raiders the ball back at their own 20 with 3 ½ minutes to play. On 3rd and 9, Gradkowski hit Miller for 15 yards. The clock ticked, and with one minute to play it all came down to the Raiders facing 4th and 10 at their own 36. Gradkowski was brilliant, hitting Heyward-Bey for 12 yards at the sidelines. Gradkowski then went deep to Heyward-Bey, who had his arm hooked. Defensive pass interference had the Raiders at the Cardinals 13 with 55 seconds left.
The Raiders were in the driver’s seat. They actually got too conservative as McFadden lost 4 yards on first down. He picked the yardage back up, and with 4 seconds left Seabass came in for a gift 32 yard field goal attempt. Missing from 41 was one thing and from 58 no big deal. This was 32. Drill it, win, and let the Raider Nation celebrate.

He missed it. Tom Cable pumped his fist high in the air before realizing it was no good. An elated Ken Whisenhunt hugged players. 255 yards passing by Gradkowski went for naught. Anderson was 12 for 26 for only 122 yards, yet celebrated. The Raiders statistically outplayed the Cardinals, but for only the second time in his otherwise sterling career, the Polish Cannon misfired 3 times. Both times the 3rd miss came on the final play and lost the game. Seabass has won many big games, but after 7 straight losing seasons, getting to 2-1 is so much more psychologically uplifting than being 1-2, which is what the Raiders are. The season is at stake, and the character of this team will be tested. As for Seabass, he must rebound from this debacle. 24-23 Raiders

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos–Kyle Orton threw the ball 57 times, completing 37 of them for a ridiculous 476 yards. Peyton Manning was pedestrian by comparison, although he was 27 of 43 for 325 yards, and of of course 3 touchdown passes.Yet early on the Colts red hit offense was ice cold in the red zone. Adam Vinatieri nailed a pair of field goals to have the Colts up 6-0 after the opening quarter.

In the second quarter Orton was intercepted, as the Colts took over at the Denver 26. Manning took the gift, and a 5 yard touchdown to Austin Collie had the Colts up 13-0. Orton led the Broncos from their own 20 on a 6 minute drive to a 1st and goal at the one. Lawrence Maroney could not get in on 2 tries, and Orton threw incomplete on 3rd down. Josh McDaniels decided to go for it, and it appeared that Maroney had scored. Yet Jim Caldwell challenged the call, and on further review the call was reversed. The refs got it right, as Maroney’s knee came down with the ball short of the goal. Caldwell was so pumped up he almost made a facial expression.

With 1:49 left in the half, the Broncos got the all at their own 39. Orton moved the Broncos all the way to a 2nd and 1 at the Indy 7. This time McDaniels decided on passes, and Orton fired incomplete twice. On 4th and 1 at the 7, McDaniels decided not to get hsi head handed to him again, as Prater nailed the 25 yard kick to have the Broncos down 13-3 at intermission.

The Broncos began the second half with a bang, as Orton went deep to Brandon Lloyd for a 48 yard touchdown. Just like that, the Broncos were within 13-10. After an exchange of punts, the Colts got going from their own 21 as Manning hit Collie for 22 yards. A penalty moved the Colts back 10 yards, but Manning hit Collie for 27 more. On 3rd and 6 from the 36, Manning again went to Collie, this time for 8 yards. On 3rd and 9 from the 27, Manning actually threw to someone not Collie. Reggie Wayne caught the 13 yard reception. Manning hit White for the 9 yard touchdown as the Colts led 20-10.

Orton came right back, hitting Lloyd for 61 yards. The Broncos got nothing more, as a Prater field goal had the Broncos within 20-13. The fourth quarter began with the Broncos at their own 28. On 3rd and 4, Orton hit Lloyd for 7. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 44, Orton scrambled for 9 yards. The 6 minute drive came to a head with 4th and 3 at the Indy 12. McDaniels again decided to go for it with 9 minutes in regulation, and Orton fired incomplete as the Broncos turned it over on downs.

With 7 1/2 minutes left, the Colts faced 3rd and 15 at their own 17 as the home Denver crowd yelled. A stop could mean a tie game. Instead, Manning hit Collie for 48 yards. The Colts do occasionally call running plays, and Joseph Addai picked up 10 before Manning went back to Collie for 23 yards and a score to ice the game. Josh McDaniels had no answer for Manning, but neither has the rest of the NFL. That is why the Hall of Fame awaits him. 27-13 Colts

San Diego Chargers @ Seattle Seahawks–Philip Rivers threw 53 passes, completing 29 of them for an eye popping 455 yards. He had a pair of touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Matt Hasselbeck was a more economical 19 of 32 for 220 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Stats do not win games. A scoreless opening quarter saw the Seahawks finally move the ball to start the second quarter. From the Seattle 25, Forsett ran for 28 yards, and Hasselbeck completed a 37 yard pass to Carlson at the 10. The drive bogged down at the 5, and Olindo Mare hit the 23 yard kick to have Seattle up 3-0.

After a Hasselbeck interception, Rovers led the Chargers from their 20 to the Seattle red zone. Yet a fumble at the 5 yard line killed the drive. Seattle took over at their own 7, and on 3rd and 4 from the 13, Hasselbeck hit Deion Branch for 6 yards. A 22 yard completion to Williams set up a 42 yard touchdown pass to Branch as the Seahawks led 10-0. Norv Turner challenged the call, and on review the play was reversed. Branch fumbled the ball at the one out of the end zone for a touchback, and the game remained 3-0.

San Diego punted, and Seattle took over at the Chargers 41. Defensive pass interference gave Seattle the ball at the 9. Hasselbeck hit Carlson for the touchdown, and despite being reviewed again, this touchdown stood as the Seahawks did lead 10-0 with 53 seconds left in the half. Darren Sproles fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Seahawks had the ball at the Chargers 24. With 22 seconds left in the half, Hasselbeck spiked the ball to stop the clock. With 0 timeouts, Seattle had 3rd and 1 at the 2. Pete Carroll called a quarterback sneak, and Hasselbeck was stopped after picking up only one yard as the half ran out. Perhaps in the future he will throw the ball, since incomplete passes stop the clock.

All was forgiven when Leon Washington took the second half kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Seattle led 17-0. Rivers came back like lightning. From the 20, he hit Antonio Gates for 28 yards and Davis for 49 more, concluding the drive with a 3 yard pass to Floyd to have the Chargers within 17-7.

Seattle looked in good shape with 2nd and 1 from their own 45, but 2 plays failed to gain a yard. Rivers moved the Chargers from their own 16 to the Seattle 29. At that point a delay of game penalty and a sack took the Chargers out of field goal range. Seattle took over at their own 7, and Hasselbeck was sacked for a safety as the Chargers got within 17-9.They received the free kick at the Seattle 45, and Rivers led them to 3rd and 3 at the 6. A penalty stopped the Chargers again, as a field goal had the Seahawks clinging to a 17-12 lead entering the final quarter.

Seattle went nowhere, but Rivers was intercepted to set up the Seahawks at the Chargers 11. Seattle got no further than the 5, as a field goal had them up 20-12. The Chargers took over at their own 35, and Rivers hit McMichaels for 28 yards. With 3rd and goal at the 2, an touchdown was nullified by offensive pass interference. Yet one play later, Rivers hit Gates for the 12 yard touchdown. Rivers hit Naanee for the 2 point conversion, and with 6 1/2 minutes left, the Chargers had come all the way back to tie the game 20-20. The game would remain tied for a few seconds.

Leon Washington did it again. In an “are you kidding me?” moment, this time he took the kickoff back 99 yards to have the Seahawks back up by 7. Rivers came right back, hitting Gates for 25 yards, Crayton for 18 more, and Gates for another 19 to the Seattle 14. Yet on 4th and 15 Rivers threw incomplete with 2 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Seattle went nowhere, and the Chargers got the ball back with 1:38 to play at their own 45. Rivers hit Davis for 16 yards and Davis for 25 more as the Chargers were at the Seattle 12 with 30 seconds to play. With 15 seconds to play, again the Chargers faced 4th and 15. This time Rivers fired to the 5 yard line complete to Thomas, who unfortunately for Rivers plays defense for Seattle. Pete Carroll is trying to figure out how to get Leon Washington to return 2 kicks for scores every week, while Norvelous Norv Turner again saw San Diego start slow, this time with a 1-2 record. 27-20 Seahawks

NY Jets @ Miami Dolphins was the Sunday night game. A pair of teams with stout defenses were supposed to play a slog. Instead, out of nowhere, the defenses took the week off as the offenses got going ina  game expected to have little offense. Mark Sanchez was only 15 of 28, but those completions went for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chad Henne was 26 of 44 for 363 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and one interception.

The Jets took the opening kickoff, and Sanchez quickly hit Dustin Keller for a 24 yard touchdown to have the Jets up 7-0 on the road. Late in the first quarter the Jets took over at their own 10. Ladanian Tomlinson picked up 10, and Sanchez hit Keller for a 31 yard gain. From the Miami 36, Tomlinson picked up 21 more. Sanchez hit Keller from 12 yards out, and early in the second quarter the Jets led 14-0.

Henne finally got going, and a long defensive pass interference penalty had the Dolphins at the Jets 3 yard line. Tony Soprano could not help them win, but Tony Sparano must have been pleased to see Tony Fasano catch the touchdown pass from his Pisano Henne as the Dolphins closed to within 14-7.The Jets returned the kickoff 54 yards to the Miami 43, but wasted the field position and punted as the Dolphins took over at their own 14. 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes later, a 44 yard field goal had the Dolphins within 14-10 with one minute left in the half. Sanchez led the Jets down the field, but a field goal attempt as the half ended was blocked.

The Dolphins began the second half at their own 27 and Henne got right down to business. On 3rd and 6 from the Miami 42, Henne hit Bess for 10 yards. On 3rd and 15 from the Jets 35, Henne hit Hartline for just enough at the marker. On 3rd and 1 from the 11, Henne hit Brandon Marshall for the touchdown as the Dolphins now had the 17-14 lead.The lead lasted 18 seconds. The Jets took over at their 33, and Sanchez went to Braylon Edwards for the 67 yard touchdown as the Jets led 21-17.

The Dolphins took over at their own 25, and Henne quickly found Hartline for 28 yards. On 3rd and 10, Henne went deep to Marshall for 40 yards down to the 7. Holding pushed Miami back 10 yards, but Henne found Hartline for 15 to set up 2nd and goal at the 2.  After consecutive incomplete passes, Tony Sparano decided not to roll the dice. A 20 yard field goal had the Dolphins trailing 21-20.

The Jets punted, and Miami prepared to do the same when the punt was blocked as the Jets took over at the Miami 17. On 3rd and 15 from the 22, Smith took the wildcat snap and ran 16 yards. Yet the Jets got no closer, and a field goal had them up 24-20 with 13 minutes left in the game.

Miami managed to get to the Jets 42, but Sparano decided not to gamble on 4th and 2. Playing field position, a perfect punt had the Jets at their own 5. The strategy worked, and the Dolphins got the ball back at midfield. From the 32, a 50 yard field goal had the Dolphins again within one point at 24-23 with 6:42 to play.

From the 20, Sanchez led a veteran drive. A 16 yard run by Smith had the ball at midfield. Sanchez hit Edwards for 20 yards down to the 30. Green picked up 7 yards and Tomlinson added 18 more. Tomlinson may be on Social Security, but he still has legs left as his one yard run into the end zone gave the Jets an 8 point cushion with 1:55 to play to cap off the 12 play, 5 minute, 80 yard drive.

The Dolphins took over at their own 31. From the 26, Ronnie Brown picked up 17 yards and Henne hit Bess for 16 more. Henne then hit Marshall for 30 yards down to the Jets 11 with 54 seconds left. With 34 seconds left, the Dolphins had 4th and 4 at the Jets 5. Henne fired into a sea of Gang Green and was intercepted in the end zone. The teams of dominating defenses played a game with almost all offense that was decided by the defense, as Rex Ryan gave his best Hard Knocks smile with his Jets now at 2-1 with back to back division wins. 31-23 Jets

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears is the Monday night game. Both teams came in 2-0, but Green bay was considered a title contender while Chicago was a possible pretender. This was simply a fine football game, an old-school, old-style NFC North Black and Blue Division laying of the lumber that would have made Vince Lombardi and George Halas proud. Yes there were turnovers and plenty of penalties, but it was beautifully ugly. This is why we watch football.

Jay Cutler began by leading the Bears in a 6 1//2 minute drive from the Chicago 18 to the Green Bay 31. The drive ended with Robbie Gould missing a 49 yard field goal. After the miss, Aaron Rodgers quickly and easily moved the Packers, with a 26 yard pass to Finley, an 18 yard pass to Jones, and a 7 yard touchdown toss to Greg Jennings to have the Packers up 7-0.

Cutler brought the Bears to the Green Bay 25, but then went deep and was intercepted in the end zone. The defenses settled in, but early in the second quarter the Packers began at their own 7. Rodgers led Green Bay on a 14 play drive that lasted nearly 8 minutes. The drive stalled at the 20, and Mason Crosby connected on a 38 yard field goal to have the Packers up 10-0.

The Bears had nothing going right, but the Packers committed a special teams sin. For those who have forgotten, do not kick the ball to Devon Hester. Lovie Smith has been criticized for taking the phenom from kick returns and giving him more wide receiver plays, reducing his special teams impact last year. With less than 2 minutes left in the half, Hester returned a punt 28 yards to the Green Bay 44. Cutler hit Johnny Knox for 31 yards to set up a 9 yard touchdown to Jennings as the Bears closed to 10-7.

Green Bay was dominating time of possession, and they began the third quarter with Rodgers leading an even longer drive, this one lasting almost 8 ½ minutes. From the 20, Rodgers drove them methodically to the Chicago 16, where again the Chicago defense stiffened. A short field goal was blocked by Julius Peppers, and another opportunity went squandered.

Cutler drove the Bears from the 26 to a 4th and goal at the 1, inches from the end zone. Mike Martz, as his forte, decided not to use running back Matt Forte. A pass was dropped in the end zone as both teams racked up yardage without getting points.

Seconds into the fourth quarter, the Packers decided to tempt fate again, refusing to kick away from Devon Hester. This time Hester made them pay as only he does. His 62 yard touchdown return ignited the crowd and had the Bears leading 14-10 in a game where they were being outplayed.

Rodgers kept moving the Packers, this time from the 20. 12 plays and nearly 8 minutes later, the Packers were again in the red zone. On 3rd and goal at the 3, Rodgers scrambled around the end as Brian Urlacher raced toward him. It was a photo finish, with Rodgers diving a split second before Urlacher got to him as Rodgers made it past the pileon to have the Packers back in front 17-14 with 7 minutes left in regulation.

Cutler was quickly intercepted, but roughing the passer nullified the play. A second personal foul gave the Bears 30 yards of movement in a game where Green Bay broke their  all time franchise record that has stood for 55 years, that being 18 penalties. As was the case all game for both teams, the red zone became the dead zone. On 4th and 4 from the 7, a chip shot field goal by Robbie Gould tied the game 17-17 with 4 minutes to play.

The turning point came in the game when Green bay fumbled the ball away and the Bears took over at the Green bay 46 with 2 ½ minutes to play. On 2nd and 20, the Bears again benefitted from defensive pass interference at the Green Bay 35. Cutler was intercepted, but another defensive pass interference penalty had the ball on the 9 with 1:44 to play. With 53 seconds left, the Bears had 3rd and goal at the 1. Forte did not get in, but with 0 timeouts left, the Packers helplessly saw 4th and goal at the 1 become meaningless as Gould came in for an 18 yard kick with 9 seconds left.

There were no miracles, blocks, or botched snaps. The kick was good, and the Bears had the hard fought win. Green Bay is 2-1, the Bears are 2-0, Mike McCarthy will address the awful lack of discipline, and the rematch in Wisconsin cannot come fast enough. 20-17 Bears


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