Somewhere between Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois, is a sportsbar. From that undisclosed location comes my NFL 2011 Week 8 Recap.
It may have been because of Halloween, but this NFL Sunday was a day of incredible shockers and scary events from those who think they know football. In a strange irony, the Raiders had their bye week. So all the comparisons about how every day in the Black Hole is Halloween will have to wait until next week. So while there is no Silver and Black, there is plenty to report on leading up to the night of black and orange.
ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman is famous for taking major upsets and saying “That’s why they play the games.” Yet today really did have several of those games. For those who love underdogs, unfortunately most of the shockers turned into near shockers as order was restored late. Yet we did have some fantastic football, and the upset of the year.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Giants–The winless Dolphins were on the road against a very good Giants team. This was mismatch number one in what should have been an easy win for Big Blue. Eli Manning took the Giants from their own 15 to the Miami 34. Yet on 4th and 9 Tom COughlin decided to go for it rather than try the 52 yard field goal. Manning threw incomplete. Matt Moore soon led Miami to a 3rd and 9 just past midfield. Moore scrambled for 16 yards and then hit Clay for 16 more. On 3rd and 6 from the 13, defensive pass interference put the ball on the one. Steve Slaton took it in and the Dolphins led 7-0 after the 10 play, 6 minute drive.
From the Giants 37, yards came easily as Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 18 and Manning hit Mario Manningham for 12 more and Ballard for another 21. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the 7 Manning threw incomplete and the Giants settled for a 25 yard Lawrence Tynes field goal to get within 7-3.
Miami took over at their own 10 to start the second quarter and Moore hit Brandon Marshall for 20. On 3rd and 1 from the 39 Hilliard gained 4. On 3rd and 6 from the Miami 47 Moore gained 11. Reggie Bush then raced 35 yards. On 4th and goal at the 1 Tony Sparano decided to go for it. With 0 wins, why not? Moore got in and the Dolphins led 14-3.
With 4 minutes left in the half the Giants got the ball back and with 2 1/2 minutes left faced 3rd and 8 at their own 18. Manning hit Victor Cruz for 11. From the 34, Manning hit Bradshaw for 10 and Hakeem Nicks for 12. With 1 minute left in the half the Giants reached the Miami 31, and Manning hit Bradshaw for 15 more. With 12 seconds left in the half it came down to 3rd and 1 at the 7. Manning hit Manningham for the score as the Giants trailed 14-10 at the break.
AFter a touchback to start the third quarter the Dolphins moved the ball again. Moore hit Marshall for 12 and Bush ran for 28 and 13. The drive would stall but Dan Carpenter nailed a 40 yard field goal to put the Dolphins up 17-10. Manning would lead the Giants to a 4th and 8 at the Miami 39, but this time Coughlin decided to punt and play field position.
Late in the third quarter the Giants took over at their own 12. The fourth quarter began with the Giants facing 3rd and 9 at their own 27. Manning hit Cruz for 26 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the Miami 40, Manning hit Ballard for 22. Yet a 3rd and 7 completion came up short and set up 4th and 2 at the 10. Coughlin played it safe and the field goal had the Giants down 17-13 with 11 minutes left in regulation.
Miami punted and the Giants took over at their own 47 with 8 1/2 minutes left. Bradshaw ran for 11 and Nicks caught a pass for 17. On 3rd and 12 from the Miami 25, Manning hit Cruz, who took it all the way for the score. The Giants had their first lead of the day with 6 minutes left.
Miami went 3 and out but got the ball back with 3 1/2 minutes left. At the 2 minute warning they faced 4th and 23 at their own 27. Moore was intercepted as the Giants escaped with an ugly win. The Giants remain a contender while the Dolphins are still winless as the vultures circle around Tony Sparano. 20-17 Giants
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans–Jacksonville was 1-5 until an inspired defensive win over Baltimore last Monday night. They had to go on the road to face a Houston team coming off a 34 point win. This game also had blowout written all over it, and again it was competitive.
Houston made it look easy early on as Matt Schaub led the Texans 8- yards in 12 plays and 6 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 3 from the 27 Schaub hit Jones for 16 and on 3rd and 12 Schaub would find Foster for just enough. From the Jacksonville 44 Schaub hit Walter for 25. Schaub would scramble in for a 2 yard touchdown to have the Texans up 7-0.
After that the rest of the first half turned into a defensive slugfest. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half it was still 7-0 and the Texans were at their own 45. Schaub was sacked and fumbled. Roth recovered and lateraled it to Knighton, who lateraled it to Session. Eventually the Jaguars would take over at the Houston 8. Blsine Gabbert would finish the day a miserable 10 for 30 for 97 yards, but a 5 yard touchdown pass to Hill had the game deadlocked 7-7 at the half. Gabbert would miss a chance to give the Jaguars the lead when after leading them to the Houston 23, he was intercepted.
Early in the third quarter Jones returned a punt 33 yards to set up the Texans at the Jaguars 44. On 3rd and 3 Schaub hit Walter for 16. On 3rd and 5 from the 16 Schaub hit Owen Daniels for 6. On 3rd and goal at the 7 Schaub found Joel Dreesen for the score as the Texans retook the lead 14-7.
Jacksonville hung tough all game but on the first play of the fourth quarter from their own 21, Gabbert was intercepted again. The Texans took over at the Jags 40. Defensive pass interference followed by a 12 yard toss to Dreesen moved the Texans to the 13. Arriun Foster then ran for 4, 5, and the final 4 to have the Texans up 21-7 with 12 1/2 minutes left.
With 9 minutes left the Jaguars caught a break when the Texans fumbled in their own territory and Jacksonville recovered at the Houston 26. With 6 minutes left the Jags faced 4th and 4 at the 7. Gabbert hit Thomas for 5 and Maurice Jones-Drew took it the final deuce as the Jaguars were within 21-14 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.
The Texans soon faced a critical 3rd and 5 at their own 25 with 4 minutes left. Schaub hit Owen Daniels for 30 yards. A 14 yard run by Arriun Foster followed by him getting 8 more yards on 3 more carries led to a 4th and 2 at the Jacksonville 21 with 23 seconds left in the game. Gary Kubiak decided to have Neil Rackers come on for a field goal, knowing that a miss or block would give Jacksonville life. Jack Del Rio could only watch as Rackers hit the 39 yards to put the game out of reach. Jacksonville hung tough, but it was not enough. 24-14 Texans
Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans–These teams lost by a combined 103-14 last week. The Titans got shellacked 41-7, but that seemed like a squeaker compared to the Colts getting blasted into little pieces 62-7. The Colts came in winless and lifeless.
A 51 Rob Bironas field goal had the Titans leading 3-0 after one quarter in a game where neither team could mount much of anything. Yet a key play in the game came with 10 minutes left in the half. The Colts were punting from their own 7 and Bailey came through and blocked it. McCourty recovered it for the Titans to put them up 10-0.
With 5 minutes left in the half running by Chris Johnson and a defensive pass interference was just enough for Rob Bironas to kick a 50 yarder as the Titans led 13-0 with 2 1/2 minutes left. Curtis Painter was then intercepted, giving the Titans the ball at their own 35 with 1:50 left. On 3rd and 6 Matt Hasselbeck hit Cook for 32 yards, Ringer for 11, Hawkins for 6, and Ringer for 9 more. Nate Washington took it in from 3 yards out as the Titans led 20-0 at halftime. Jim Caldwell not only saw his team losing again, but unlike the other winless or one win teams who fought hard, the Colts were not even competing.
In the third quarter the Colts tried to make a game of it from their own 38. Painter hit Reggie Wayne for 8 and Austin Collie for 21. On 3rd and 1 from the 21 Painter got the yard. On 3rd and 3 from the 13 Donald Carter gained 4. On 4th and goal from the 4 with a winless team down 20, Jim Caldwell decided to kick the field goal. Perhaps just getting something was more important than a spark. Adam Vinatieri hit from 22 as the Colts trailed 20-3.
Late in the third quarter Indy took over at their own 20. Painter hit Clark for 10, and on 3rd and 8 Painter hit Pierre Garcon for 11. On 3rd and 1 from the Titans 48, Painter hit Wayne for 23 and Clark for 18. On 3rd and goal at the 4, Donald Brown took it in as the Colts were within 20-10 only 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Yet there would be no comeback. Painter was intercepted again as the Titans took over at the Colts 338. Ringer ran for 13 and on 3rd and 5 Hasselbeck hit Williams for just enough. On 3rd and 9 from the 14 Hasselbeck found Washington for the score to put the game out of reach. The Colts are an awful 0-8 as some are thinking of giving Peyton Manning his 5th MVP award. The P in MVP stands for player, but either way the debate about who is most valuable to his own team has ended. The Titans bounced back after last week’s drubbing to stay in the hunt for Mike Munchak. 27-10 Titans
Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers–Several years ago these teams faced off in Minnesota to start the season. The Panthers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and won the game 24-13. They would then lose 15 straight as George Siefert was fired. This year the Panthers are 2-5 and the Vikings are 1-6, but the combined 3-11 teams still had an air of excitement as Cam Newton and Christian Ponder showed the league how rookies do it. They put on a good show and made for an exciting game.
This time it was the Vikings on the road who started with excitement as Sherels returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to the Carolina 27. Yet 3 plays yielded 0 yards and Ryan Longwell missed a 45 yard field goal, giving the fans the impression this would be a stupor bowl. That thought continued when the first play from scrimmage after the miss saw Newtong et sacked and fumbled. Jared Allen recovered as the Vikings took over at the Carolina 16. Percy Harvin did the rest, gaining 6 and then the final 10 to have Minnesota up 7-0 only 2 1/2 minutes into the game.
Newton would lead the Panthers to the Minnesota 32 before offensive holding killed the drive. Yet Carolina got the ball back at their own 10. Stewart ran for 6 and 5, and Newton went to Steve Smith for 21. Smith gained another 12 with a facemask tacking on 15 more. From the Minnesota 27, Newton went to Smith deep down to the one, and Newton hit Jeremy Shockey for the score as the Panthers tied the game 7-7 only 90 seconds into the second quarter.
Minnesota went 3 and out and Carolina took over just past midfield. On 3rd and 3 Stewart got just enough, and Newton then went deep to Greg Olsen for a 39 yard touchdown as the Panthers now led 14-7. Ponder had his turn, leading a long drive from the Minnesota 20 to a 3rd and 11 at the Carolina 17. Ponder found Harvin for 12 and a first down, but Harvin fumbled at the 5 and Carolina recovered. Newton led Carolina to their own 42, but then he was sacked and fumbled. With one minute left in the half the Vikings got it back at the Carolina 39. Ponder found Adrian Peterson for 20 and then again for the 19 yard touchdown as the teams were tied again 14-14 at halftime.
In the third quarter Carolina soon faced 2nd and 13 at their own 17. Newton went to Legadu Naanee for 22. Newton then ran for 24. On 3rd and 7 from the Vikings 22, Newton went to Steve Smith, who did what he does. The touchdown had the Panthers up 21-14 with plenty of time left.
After each team went 3 and out, Minnesota took over at their own 10. Toby Gerhart gained 4, 9, and 11 sandwiched around Peterson gaining 9 and 15. On 3rd and 10 from the Carolina 42, Ponder hit Vincente Shiancoe for 12. Ponder hit Peterson for 12 more, and after defensive holding, Peterson carried the final 9 yards as the game was tied for the third time. The 12 play, 5 1/2 minute, 90 yard drive made it 21-21 after three quarters.
With 10 minutes left in regulation the Vikings got it back at their own 15. On 3rd and 7 Ponder hit Harvin for 11 and Aromashodu for 15 just shy of midfield. On 2nd and 15 from the 44, Ponder found Harvin for 22. Peterson gained another 12 as the clock ticked down. On 3rd and 5 from the Carolina 16, a completion to Peterson came up 2 yards short. After 13 plays and 7 minutes, 4th and 2 at the 13 meant a chance at redemption for Longwell. From 31 yards out he hit it, and the Vikings had the 3 point lead with 2:43 to play.
From the Carolina 24, Newton hit Naanee for 9 and Stewart for 7. With just over one minute to play, the Panthers faced 4th and 15 at their own 35. A prayer was answered as Newton hit Brad LaFell for 44 yards at the Minnesota 21. With 50 seconds left the Panthers faced 3rd and 3 at the 14. Newton ran for 6, but this time offensive holding meade it 3rd and 7 instead of 1st and 10. Newton hit Smith for 5.
In a game where these teams were mirror images of each other with 3 ties, the Panthers faced the exact same 4th and 2 at the 13 that Minnesota faced earlier. Only 29 seconds remained in the game, and veteran Olindo Mare came in to tie it and give the game overtime. Yet in a stunner, Mare simply missed it. Just like that, the Panthers had lost. Both teams were 2-6, although Leslie Frazier and Ron Rivera know better days are ahead with their quarterbacks. Newton threw for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns while Ponder threw for 236 and one touchdown. Yet neither quarterback was intercepted. As for Newton, being a rookie is no excuse to him. He wants the wins, and this time he got another close loss. 24-21 Vikings
Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens–Despite losing to previously 1-5 Jacksonville last week, an angry Baltimore group was supposed to smash the daylights out of a pathetic Arizona team. Yet in the first half the Cardinals looked like the team that went to the Super Bowl 3 years ago while the Ravens looked awful. Midway through the first quarter from the Arizona 28, Kevin Kolb went deep to Larry Fitzgerald, who is as great as ever. Fitzgerald caught the 66 yard bomb at the 6 yard line. Yet nothing else came of it as a 32 yard Jay Feel field goal had the Cardinals up 3-0 after the first quarter.
Baltimore from their own 15 ran the ball well, and a 15 play, 6 1/2 minute drive saw 1st and goal at the 2. A loss and a false start meant a 26 yard Billy Cundiff field goal and a 3-3 game early in the second quarter. Arizona rapidly moved from their own 23 to the Baltimore 31. Yet a false start soon meant 4th and 15 from the 36. Ken WHisenhunt opted against the field goal try and punted. Baltimore took over at their own 9. From the 17 Flacco was sacked and fumbled. Darnell Dockett recovered at the 2 yard line for Arizona. Beanie Wells got a yard and then the other one as the Cardinals led 10-3.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Ravens. They punted, and Peterson returned it 82 yards for a touchdown as the Cardinals led 17-3 in front of a shellshocked home crowd at the Big Crabcake. The next play from scrimmage saw Flacco get intercepted, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Baltimore 25. Kolb hit Fitzgerald for 13 and Doucet for a 10 yard touchdown as the Cardinals were pouring it on 24-3 with 4 minutes left in the half. The upset of the year was 34 minutes away.
From the 20, Flacco led the Ravens down the field. He hit Pitta for gains of 9 and 12 and Anquon Boldin for 16. Boldin was traded from Arizona to Baltimore, and his revenge game was not going well. On 3rd and 6 from the Arizona 27, Flacco was sacked. Yet illegal contact on the defense instead made it 1st and 10. On 3rd and 6 from the 18 Flacco was sacked again, and this time it stood. Cundiff would hit a 47 yarder as the Ravens still trailed badly at halftime 24-6.
Before getting to the second half, a stroll down meltdown memory lane is necessary for the team that has suffered for most of its 125 years. 5 years ago the Cardinals went on the road and led Chicago 20-0 at halftime and 23-3 after 3 quarters. A pair of defensive touchdowns, a Devon Hester punt return, and a missed Arizona field goal at the gun led to one of the great postgame press conference tirades. Dennis Green screamed that the Bears “are who we thought they were!” and that “We let them off the hook!” The theme of this game was different quarterback and coach, but same Cardinals.
The Ravens quickly moved in the third quarter after a touchback. Flacco hit Pitta for 8 and Dickson for 14. From just past midfield, Flacco found Boldin deep for 37 yards. On the next play defensive pass interference put the ball on the one, where Ray Rice took it in to have the Ravens within 24-13.
With 5 minutes left in the third quarter the Ravens got the ball back at their own 12. Flacco hit Boldin for 23 and 9. On 1st and 20 from the Ravens 37, Flacco went to Boldin again for 27 and 21. On 3rd and 10 from the 11, for the second time in the period, an incomplete pass to Boldin resulted in defensive pass interference and the ball at the one. Again Ray Rice took it in as the Ravens were only down 24-20 after three quarters. These are the Cardinals.
Arizona needed one play from scrimmage for Kolb to be intercepted. Baltimore took over at the Arizona 22. On 3rd and 3 from the 15, for the third time in the third period, defensive pass interference killed the Cardinals. On the first play of the fourth quarter, from the 3 yard line, Rice did it again for his third touchdown as the Ravens had come from 21 points down to lead 27-24. These are the Cardinals.
After a touchback Kolb finally got the Cardinals going again, hitting Fitzgerald for 19. On 3rd and 7 from the Arizona 44, Kolb threw incomplete. This time it was the Ravens making the mistake as defensive holding kept the drive going. On 1st and 20 from the Arizona 39, Kolb was intercepted again by Ed Reed. Yet Lardarius Webb was called for defensive pass interference at the Baltimore 41. On 3rd and 1 Wells got stopped, but Ken Whisenhunt decided to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 32 rather than try the tying 50 yard field goal. Wells got 4 yards. On 4th and 9 from the 27, Feely was brought in to try from 45. The kick was good, as the game was tied 27-27 with 9 minutes left.
With one minute left the Cardinals had to punt from their own 6 yard line. A short punt had the Ravens taking over at the Arizona 44 with 52 seconds left. These are the Cardinals. On 2nd and 7 Flacco went deep to Troy Smith for 36 yards down to the 5. John Harbaugh had Flacco bleed the clock. On 3rd and goal from the 7 with 3 seconds left, Cundiff came in for the 25 yarder. Was there any doubt? It was good, and the Ravens had the biggest comeback win in franchise history. Flacco, despite the early blunders, finished 31 of 51 for 336 yards. Baltimore has a major showdown at Pittsburgh next week, who they belted in Week 1 at home. As for the Cardinals, they are still now and perhaps forever exactly what we thought they were. 30-27 Ravens
New Orleans Saints @ St. Louis Rams–The Saints won last week 62-7. The last time a team won 62-7 at home it was the playoffs after the 1999 season went Jacksonville throttled Miami and sent Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson into retirement. Yet the next week in the AFC Title Game Jacksonville lost 33-14 to Tennessee. Yet these Saints would only have to guard against a letdown against the pathetic winless Rams. The Rams may be worse than the 1-15 team from 2 years ago. In 2002 the Rams were 0-5 at home and had both starter Kurt Warner and backup Jamie Martin injured. Some 3rd stringer named Marc Bulger had to begin his career against the 4-0 Raiders, who would get to the Super Bowl. The Rams won easily. This time it was AJ Feeley playing for Sam Bradford
Nothing came easy in the first quarter as the Saints saw Jon Kasay miss a 49 yard field goal to keep the game scoreless. In the second quarter the Rams faced 2nd and 19 at their own 3. Stephen Jackson gained 10 and Feely hit Gibson for 13 and Brandon Lloyd for 11. Jackson gained another 15. On 4th and 2 from the Saints 40, Steve Spagnuolo decided to go for it. With the Rams winless, why not? Feeley hit Salas for 17. Josh Brown would hit 38 yarder as the 14 play, 5 1/2 minute drive saw the Rams lead 3-0 midway through the second quarter.
With 1:40 to play in the half it was still 3-0, as the Saints prepared to punt from their own 30. The punt was blocked by Quinn as the Rams took over at the Saints 15 with 1:36 left. Feeley hit Salas at the 3 yard line. Salas fumbled, but before someone could blame the Same old Rams, they retained possession. Jackson took it in on the next play as the Rams led 10-0 with 1:12 left in the half. From the Saints 12, Brees needed only one play as he was intercepted.
The Rams took over at the Saints 38. On 3rd and 10, Feeley hit Gibson for 14. After defensive holding, Feeley hit Lloyd for 8 down to the 11. From the 8, Feeley hit Lloyd for the touchdown. In a span of 60 seconds at the end of the half, a 3-0 game was all of a sudden 17-0 Rams as an angry Sean Payton tried to regroup his team.
Yet in the third quarter the Rams kept rolling. Gibson gained 11, and on 3rd and 3 just shy of the halfstripe, Salas gained 8. On 4th and 2 from the Saints 35, Steve Sapgnuolo again decided to go for it rather than try a 53 yarder. Stephen Jackson broke free for a 32 yard gain to the 3, and Jackson took it in two plays later as the 11 play, 6 minute, 73 yard drive had the Rams winning a shocker 24-0.
Many of the games on the pre-Halloween Sunday saw bad teams jump out to big leads but end up losing anyway. The Rams were in total control, and with 90 seconds left in the third quarter they faced 3rd and 6 at their own 10. Feeley was sacked, fumbled, and saw Jonathan Vilma fall on it in the end zone for a touchdown. The Rams still led 24-7 after three quarters, but the game was not over.
The Rams went 3 and out and the Saints took over at their own 32. On 3rd and 1 Ivory gained 6 and Brees hit Graham for 11. On 3rd and 12 from the Rams 44, Brees found Marques Colston for 25. From the 14 Brees went back to Colston for 11 and Pierre Thomas carried it the last 3 yards. The Saints were only down 24-14 with 10 minutes left in regulation.
For those who do not remember the 2000 season, the defending champion Rams beat the Saints in New Orleans 26-21 and then faced them the next week in New Orleans again in the Wild Card. The Greatest Show on Turf fell behind 31-7, got to within 31-28, and then fumbled away the game as the Saints had their very first playoff win. A decade later the Saints were the Superpower trying to mount a furious comeback against a far inferior team.
Yet with 3 minutes left in the game, from the Saints 20, Brees was intercepted. It was the reverse of their Super Bowl win, as this time Stewart raced 27 yards to put the dagger in as the Rams led 31-14. Brees would throw a touchdown pass with literally 6 seconds left, but a day of shockers saw the biggest one of all. This was the upset of the year and maybe of several years. Yes, “That’s why they play the games.” The Rams got their first win as the Saints fell to 5-3. Any Given Sunday certainly applied to this stunner. 31-21 Rams
Lions @ Broncos–Jon Fox gave in to Tebowmania and saw his decision rewarded as Tebow led a stunning comeback last week to turn a 15-0 deficit with 5 minutes left into a thrilling 18-15 win. Yet that was over winless Miami. Detroit was 0-16, but that was 3 years ago. They have lost consecutive games at home after starting 5-0, but Jim Schwartz does not have the same old Lions. Matthew Stafford is pretty good.
Tebow did lead Denver from their own 20 to the Detroit 21, and a 39 yard Matt Prater field goal had Denver up 3-0. Detroit may not be the 1985 Bears, but those Bears trailed 3-0 in the Super Bowl and what Detroit did to Denver on this day was just as ugly. After a touchback, Stafford hit Tony Scheffler for 9 and Young for 13. Stafford then went deep to Young for a 41 yard touchdown as the Lions led 7-3 and never looked back.
Late in the first quarter from the Lions 11, Stafford hit Nate Burleson for 15. Stafford ran for 21 with 15 more tacked on for unnecessary roughness. Seconds into the second quarter, Jason Hanson hit a 50 yarder to have the Lions up 10-3.
Midway through the second quarter the Lions took over at their own 32. Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for 7 and Calvin Johnson for 19. Williams gained 10 and Stafford went deep to Scheffler for 28 down to the 2. Stafford hit Scheffler for the one yard touchdown as the Lions led 17-3 with 4 minutes left in the half.
Denver went 3 and out and a 17 yard punt return with unnecessary roughness tacked on had the Lions beginning just past the midpoint. On 3rd and 5 Stafford hit Johnson for 17. Morris ran for 6 and caught a pass for 7. Stafford went to Johnson for 13 and Morris took it the final yard as the Lions led 24-3 at halftime. The early games featured stirring comebacks. The late games did not.
In the third quarter, from the Denver 38, Tebow was sacked for a 14 yard loss, fumbled, and saw Avril take it 24 yards for the touchdown as the Lions led 31-3. Midway through the third quarter Stafford would go deep to Johnson for a 56 yard touchdown as the Lions poured it on 38-3.
Tebow would lead Denver to 4th and 2 at the Detroit 33 before throwing incomplete. Then in the fourth quarter on 3rd and 5 from the 8 he was intercepted by Houston at the goal line. Houston went coast to coast for the 100 yard touchdown as the Lions led 45-3.
Tebow would mount a furious comeback that would get Denver into the end zone once, but that still left them 5 touchdowns short of a comeback. Detroit righted the ship to get to 6-2 while Denver fell back in their division. The Lions would mock Tebow’s Christian faith by dropping to their knees after the touchdowns and doing mock prayers. It was classless, but Tebow needs better performances to avoid this. Stafford finished 21 of 30 for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns while Tebow was 18 of 39 for 172 and the interception. 45-10 Lions
Washington Redskins @ Buffalo Bills–Both of these teams started out hot at the beginning of the year to defy expectations, and then regressed backward. Yet today saw some separation in a game that was neither interesting nor close.
After an exchange of punts Buffalo took over at their own 20 and Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for 26. Fred Jackson gained 5 and 13. On 3rd and 2 from the 28, Brad Smith took a wildcat 5 yards. Fitzpatrick then hit Chandler for a 20 yard touchdown to have the Bills up 7-0.
The second quarter began with Fitzpatrick fumbling, and the Redskins taking over at the Buffalo 31. Washington got to the 16 but soon faced 4th and 25 back at the 31. Graham Gano had his 49 yard field goal blocked, concluding anything resembling a highlight for Washington. Mike Shanahan chucked Donovan McNabb, benched Rex Grossman, and saw John Beck get beaten up. Meanwhile, a 34 yard defensive pass interference penalty against the Redskins led to a 37 yard Ryan Lindell field goal as the Bills led 10-0.
Fitzpatrick moved Buffalo from their own 45 to a 3rd and goal at the Washington 8 with a chance to pad the lead, but he was intercepted in the end zone to kill the drive. Yet Washington went 3 and out and the Bills took over at their own 20 with just over one minute left in the half. On 3rd and 4 Fitzpatrick it St. Johnson for 5, but only 35 seconds remained in the half. On the next play Jackson caught a pass and took it 46 yards to the Washington 23. Lindell connected from 44 as the Bills led 13-0 at halftime. Outside of Buffalo and Toronto, the second half was worthless.
On the first play of the third quarter after a touchback, Jackson ran for 43 yards, then for 4 and 2. On 3rd and 4 from the 31, Fitzpatrick hit St. Johnson for 7. Jackson ran for 2 and 7 and on 3rd and 1, Fitzpatrick hit Chandler for the 15 yard touchdown. Buffalo led 20-0 with a full 26 minutes to play. It did not matter. Buffalo would add a field goal in the fourth quarter as the Redskins got blanked to continue their slide. Buffalo meanwhile has gotten to 5-2 a year after Chan Gailey saw the team start with eight straight losses. 23-0 Bills
New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers–Both of these teams are very good, getting to a combined 7 Super Bowls in the last decade and winning 5 of them. Yet the patirots always beat the Steelers, especially in Pittsburgh. Bill Bellichick owned Bill Cowher and he owns Mike Tomlin. The Patriots always beat the Steelers and to even play the game is a waste of time. With New England coming off a loss, they were not going to lose consecutive games for the Evil Hoodie.
Pittsburgh began at their own 32 and on 3rd and 4, Ben Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for 11, 10 and 19. On 3rd and 11 from the 23, Roethlisberger went to Miller again for 15. On 3rd and goal at the 5 Big Ben hit Mewelde Moore for the score as the Steelers led 7-0. New England went 3 and out, and Roethisberger took the Steelers on a staggering 16 play, 8 minute drive from the Pittsburgh 13 to the New England 9. Yet on 3rd and goal Big Ben was sacked. On the first play of the second quarter, Shawn Suisham hit from 33 as the Steelers led 10-0.
Yet the Patriots always beat the Steelers. With Pittsburgh in total control, the Steelers soon faced 3rd and 17 at their own 15. Big Ben was intercepted by Gary Guyton, as the Patriots took over at the Pittsburgh 8. Tom Brady hit Deion Branch from 2 yards out for the score. Despite having 0 offense, the Patriots only trailed 10-7.
From the Pittsburgh 24, Roethlisberger hit Emanuel Sanders at midfield and Mike Wallace for 7 more. Roethlisberger found Brown for 9 and Wallace for 14. On 3rd and 4 from the 7, Roethlisberger went back to Brown for the score as the Steelers led 17-7 with 2:40 left in the half.
From the 20, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski for 23. On 3rd and 2 just past midfield, Brady hit Wes Welker for just enough. Brady went back to Gronkowski for 17, and Stephen Gostkowski hit a 46 yarder to have the Patriots only down 17-10 at halftime.
The second half was a war of attrition as Roethlisberger led aanother 14 play, 7 minute drive. They simply kept Tom Brady and the Patriots offense off of the field. From the Pittsburgh 27, Roethlisberger got them all the way to a 3rd and 2 at the New England 3. Yet Roethlisberger then threw incomplete, and Mike Tomlin was taking no chances. Suisham hit the 21 yarder as the Steelers led 20-10. Brady finally took the field and led the Patriots from their 21 to the Pittsburgh 24. Yet Gostkowski’s 42 yarder clanked off the upright as the Steelers still led by 10 points.
Roethlisberger led another long drive, as 11 plays took another 6 minutes off of the clock. On 3rd and 12 from the Pittsburgh 30, Roethlisberger hit Brown for 19. Yet again went Pittsburgh got down deep they could not reach the end zone. On 4th and 3 from the 5, again Tomlin was not going to gamble. Suisham hit from 23 and the Steelers led 23-10. Yet 11 1/2 minutes were left in regulation and the Patriots coming back was inevitable. They always beat Pittsburgh.
New England punted, and the Steelers took over at their own 33. Roethlisberger quickly hit Wallace for 16 and Rashard Mendenhall ran for 18. On 3rd and 3 from the Patriots 26, Big Ben threw incomplete. Suisham came in for the 44 yarder to all but ice the game with 6 minutes left. Naturally the kick was no good, the score remained 23-10, and the Patriots comeback was inevitable.
From the New England 33, Brady hit Welker for 8, Branch for 16, Gronkowski for 10, Kevin Faulk for 18, and back to Welker for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the 7, only 4 1/2 minutes remained. Yet the STeelers entered the neutral zone, making it 1st and goal. With 2:48 to play, on 4th and goal at the one, Brady was intercepted. Yet Pittsburgh was called for defensive holding. Instead of game over, it was 1st and goal at the one. Brady hit Hernandez for the touchdown. 2:35 still remained, the Patriots were within 23-17, and the inevitable comeback and 24-23 Patriots win was happening again. They have gotten pretty much every favorable call in the history of refereeing since Tom Brady began playing.
With all 3 timeouts left, the Patriots were expected to kick it deep. Yet Bill Bellichick decided to go for the onsides kick anyway, and it was a terrible kick that did not even travel 10 yards. Pittsburgh took over at the New England 37. Again they had a chance to put the game away. On 3rd and 1 from the 28, Redman got the yard. The patriots were out of timeouts, and with 2:10 to play Pittsburgh had 1st and 10 at the Patriots 27. A field goal would again ice it.
Redman lost a yard as the 2 minute warning was reached. This should not have mattered because a couple runs into the line would pretty much almost run out the clock. For some bizarre reason, Roethlisberger went back to pass. He was sacked for an 11 yard loss. On the next play he was sacked again for an 8 yard loss. This play calling was insane. Although only 28 seconds remained, the Steelers faced 4th and 35 at their own 48. They punted, and the Patriots got the ball back at their own 22. They were 78 yards away and had 19 seconds to do it. Anybody who thought the game was over never lived through the Tuck Rule. New England always wins the close ones and they always beat Pittsburgh.
For once, not this time. Brady was sacked by Brett Keisel. The Grizzly Adams looking fellow got past his grizzled opponent Matt Light and caused the fumbled. Troy Palomalu then punched at the ball until it went out the back of the end zone. After further review, the call stood. This fumble was not being overruled, and it was a safety. The Steelers exercised some demons. A cynic would say let’s see what happens in a playoff game. Yet on this day, New England dropped two straight to fall to 5-3 while Pittsburgh is in first place as they prepare for their showdown at home next week against bitter rival Baltimore. 25-17 Steelers
Cleveland Browns @ San Francisco 49ers–First Carmen Policy went from the presidency of the 49ers to that of the Browns, and years later Walrus Mike Holmgren has gone from being a 49ers assistant to the President of the Browns. Holmgren learned from Bill Walsh, who was an assistant under Paul Brown before being the head coaching legend in San Francisco. Yet on this day, the storyline was another very good team at 5-1 under Jim Harbaugh against a bad team that is still experiencing growing pains with rookie coach Fritz Shurmur and young Colt McCoy.
On the second play from scrimmage McCoy fumbled, and the 49ers took over at the Browns 20. On 3rd and 5 Alex Smith threw incomplete, but defensive holding kept the drive going. Frank Gore ran it in from 4 yards out as the 49ers led 7-0. The best play for the Browns all day was a good punt that pinned the 49ers at their own 1. Yet 11 plays and 7 minutes later, the 49ers had moved 88 yards to a 4th and 1 at the Browns 11. Surprisingly, despite not making it on 3rd and 2, Jim Harbaugh decided to play it safe and kick the field goal. David Akers hit from 29 as the 49ers led 10-0.
In the second quarter the 49ers had a chance to end the game early as they moved from their own 17 to 2nd and goal at the 1. Gore lost a yard, got it back, and this time on 4th and goal at the one, Harbaugh decided to go for it. Gore got stopped. Cleveland took that goal line stand momentum and punted, as the 49ers got it back at their own 36. Gore ran for 14 and 5. On 3rd and 6 from the Browns 32, Smith hit Braylon Edwards for 12. On 3rd and 1 from the 11, Smith ran for 9. Smith would hit Michael Crabtree for the 2 yard touchdown as the 49ers led 17-0 with only 90 seconds left in the half.
Yet from the Cleveland 17, McCoy worked the clock. On 3rd and 2 from the Browns 47, McCoy hit Norwood for 4. With 8 seconds left in the half, facing 3rd and 5 at the 49ers 44, McCoy hit Josh Cribbs for 11. Phil Dawson drilled the 52 yard field goal as the Browns were down 17-3 at halftime. An epic comeback was in the works, if by epic comeback one means dull unwatchable football.
With 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Browns did reach the 49ers 34, but McCoy was intercepted. With 7 minutes left in the game the Browns faced 4th and 1 at their own 42. McCoy got the yards. On the next play McCoy hit Moore for 12, and on the following play McCoy went deep to Cribbs for a 45 yard touchdown. With a little over 6 minutes left in regulation, the Browns were only down 17-10.
Yet from the 49ers 25, Smith led a time consuming drive that bled the clock. On 3rd and 3 Gore only gained one yard, but a critical defensive facemask was a killer. With 3 minutes to go and the 49ers facing 3rd and 3 at the Browns 32, Smith hit Sopoage for 14. Nothing says 49ers glory like the Smith to Sopoaga connection. At the 2 minute warning the 49ers faced 4th and 4 at the 8. Akers hit the 26 yarder to put the game away and end the lack of suspense. The 49ers may have won ugly, but at 6-1 they are a serious force. As for the Browns, they are the Browns. 20-10 49ers
Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks–The Bengals are 4-2 by beating bad teams, and Seattle qualifies as a bad team. Cincy began at their own 26, and on 3rd and 6 Andy Dalton hit Caldwell for 8. On 1st and 20 the Bengals benefitted from a defensive personal foul to keep them moving. Scott ran for 11, 4, and 1, and on 3rd and 5 at the Seattle 30 Dalton hit Leonard for 6. The Bengals would settle for a 34 yard Mike Nugent field goal and a 3-0 lead, but there was more to come. Seattle went 3 and out, and Jones returned the punt 63 yards to the Seattle 26. Scott gained 9 and 3, and Dalton hit Simpson for the 14 yard touchdown to have the Bengals up 10-0.
Seattle took over at their own 21 and a defensive personal foul gave them a first down in place of offense. Charlie Whitehurst hit Zach Miller for 17 and Sidney Rice for 15. Stephen Hauschka would hit a 47 yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter to have the Seahawks within 17-3.
The second quarter saw White hurst throw an interception, and later on with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half the Bengals took over at their own 16. On 3rd and 1, Seattle jumped offsides. On 3rd and 6 from the Cincy 35, the Seahawks were caught for defensive pass interference. On 3rd and 11 from the Cincy 48, Dalton hit Lee for 14. From the Seattle 43 at the 2 minute warning, Dalton went deep to Green for the touchdown as the Bengals led 17-3.
Seattle took over at their own 35 and on 3rd and 4 Tarvaris Jackson found Obomanu for 32 yards to the Cincy 27. On 2nd and 15 Jackson found Baldwin for 21. With 19 second left in the half the Seahawks faced 3rd and 7 at the 8. Jackson hit Miller for 5 and the Seahawks took their last timeout with 14 seconds left. On 4th and 2 at the 3, Pete Carroll decided to go for it. In a bizarre set of circumstances, a running play was called. Marshawn Lynch got the 2 yards for the first down but the clock ran out with the Seahawks one yard short. Carroll put down his USC pompoms and remembered how much the NFL game is different.
In the third quarter Daltonw as intercepted again and the Seahawks took over at their own 9. Jackson went deep to Obomanu for a 55 yard gain. Lynch gained 9, but on 3rd and goal at the 7 Jackson threw incomplete. Pete Carroll apparently learned his lesson as a field goal had Seattle down 17-6 after three quarters. Only 4 more kicks and they would be in the lead. That was not happening.
Dalton was intercepted again, and the Seahawks took over at their own 21 with 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 11 Jackson went deep to Baldwin for 31 yards and to Rice for 35 more yards. Jackson hit Tate for 9, and Lynch ran for 3 and then the final 2 for the score. The 2 point conversion failed, but with 9 minutes left Seattle was only down 17-12.
From the Cincy 38, defensive holding moved the ball 5 yards and Scott ran for 16 more. Nugent hit a 48 yard field goal and the Bengals led 20-12 with 5 minutes left in regulation. Yet Seattle punted on 4th and 18 from their own 7, and Tate returned it 56 yards for a score. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Bengals were up 27-12. White hurst moved the Seahawks to the Cincy 35 but threw incomplete on 4th and 10. With 49 seconds left it was Jackson in as he and Whitehurst combined to not produce many points. Jackson was intercepted by Nelson, who returned it 75 yards for the final touchdown as a 5 point game was broken wide open in the fourth quarter. The Bengals are 5-2, and Marvin Lewis continues to see his team beat up on patsies. Yet it is nice to know that once a pair of egomaniacal wide receivers with reality shows leave the team, they do better. 34-12 Bengals.
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles was the Sunday night game. Both of these teams are struggling and way behind New York in the standings although Walrus Lite Andy Reid has seen the Eagles turn the corner after a disastrous 1-4 start. Jason Garrett still does not know what he has with his roller coaster team and up and down quarterback Tony Romo despite the big win last week. These teams have played many classics over the years, and 31 years ago played in the NFC Title Game. That game was uncompetitive, and so was this game.
Philly took over at their own 21 and jumped all over Dallas right from the start. Michael Vick went to Jeremy Maclin for 24 yards. McCoy ran for 21. Vick scrambled for 15. On 3rd and 9 from the 12, Vick hit Maclin for the touchdown. Philly led 7-0, and they made it look easy because it was. Philly got the ball back at their own 10. On 2nd and 9 Vick hit Captain Morgan Brent Celek for 19. Vick ran for 11, hit Desean Jackson for 12, and saw McCoy run for 11 and then 34. McCoy took it the final 2 as the Eagles led 14-0.
Romo was then intercepted, giving the Eagles the ball at their own 33. On 3rd and 8 Vick scrambled for 9. From the Dallas 46 Vick hit Celek for 15. On 3rd and 8 from the 29 Vick found Avant for 20 and Celek for the 9 yard touchdown. He still had his Captain Morgan swagger as the Eagles led 21-0 with 10 minutes left in the half. At this point the Eagles simply coasted. Vick led a 13 play, 6 minute drive from their own 13 to the Dallas 4, and Henery hit a 23 yard field goal to have the Eagles up 24-0 at halftime. In the third quarter it was another 13 plays, another 6 1/2 minutes, and Philly moving from their 24 to the Dallas 5. Henery connected from 26 as the Eagles led 27-0 after three quarters.
Late in the third quarter on 2nd and 18 McCoy ran for 22. On 4th and 1 from the Dallas 35 Andy Reid decided to go for it. McCoy got 2 yards as the third quarter ended. McCoy would run for a 13 yard touchdown to have the Eagles pouring it on 34-0. Romo has had some epic comebacks, and he did lead one on this night. Yet needing 5 touchdowns, Dallas fell 4 touchdowns short. As for the Eagles, they finally look like the team everyone expected them to be when the season started. As for Dallas, Big D stands for doubt. 34-7 Eagles
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs–The Chargers are a very good team that has a tendency to underachieve for Norvelous Norv Turner. The Chiefs began 0-3 and looked worse, yet have been beating up on weaker and injured teams to get to 3-3. The Chargers won the earlier game in San Diego, but only 20-17. This game will be talked about for some time, especially the ending.
After a punt the Chiefs took over at their own 33. Matt Cassel led them to a 4th and 5 at the Chargers 18. A 36 yard field goal had the Chiefs up 3-0. Philip Rivers needed one play to throw and interception, and Dexter McCluster needed one play to fumble it back. Both quarterbacks were intercepted twice, and in a game of turnovers, one of them loomed very large later on. Late in the first quarter Rivers was intercepted again, giving the Chiefs the ball at their own 23. On 3rd and 1 Cassel found McClain for 14, with 15 more for unnecessary roughness. Cassel then went deep to Baldwin for a 39 yard touchdown as the Chiefs had a surprising 10-0 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was a slugfest where Novak hit a 44 yard field goal to get the Chargers within 10-3. Later on San Diego would fumble deep in Kansas City territory, and the Chiefs would fumble it right back. San Diego would lose yards, and on 4th and 22, a 52 yard field goal try was no good. Ryan Succup would hit from 47 as the Chiefs led 13-3 at halftime.
The third quarter had the Chargers move up and down the field. Rivers would finish 26 of 41 for 369 yards and the 2 early interception. Yet the Chargers kept settling for field goals. Novak connected from 44, 24, and 26, with the second one coming after an interception of Cassel. Yet the Chargers trailed 13-12 after three quarters.
Kansas City took over at their own 26 and on 2nd and 3 Cassel hit Pope for 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Chargers 48, Cassel gained 7 and Battle got 11 more. From the 24, Battle ran for 5, 18, and the the last yard to have the Chiefs up 20-12 with 12 minutes left in regulation.
After a touchback, Rivers hit Patrick Crayton for 18. On 3rd and 13 from the 35, Rivers hit Vincent Jackson for 27, Mathews for 14, and Brinkley for 20 down to the 2. Brinkley took it in as the Chargers finally reached the end zone. Rivers went to Brinkley again for the 2 point conversion as the game was tied 20-20 with 7 minutes left.
The Chiefs went 3 and out and the CHargers got the ball back at the Kansas City 48 with 5 minutes left. All they had to do was bleed the clock and kick the winning field goal. On 3rd and 18 Rivers hit Crayton for 19. At the 2 minute warning the Chargers had 1st and 10 at the Chiefs 25, well within Novak’s range. On 3rd and 1 from the 16, Jacob Hester got the yard. This was critical because the Chiefs were now out of timeouts. A field goal was only 33 yards, and the Chargers could run the clock down to almost zeroes, kick, and go home. It was over and the Chiefs were helpless.
Then came the miracle at Kansas City. With one minute on the clock, Rivers could have taken a knee, and gotten the clock down to 15 seconds. Another knee would have taken it down to almost zero before the kick. Yet somehow, Rivers fumbled the snap and the Chiefs recovered. A quarterback-center exchange was botched. Cassel would move the Chiefs to the San Diego 45 before being intercepted again, but it was the Chargers who were shellshocked as the game went into overtime.
In overtime the Chargers went 3 and out and the Chiefs took over on their own 19. Cassel hit McCluster for 12, Baldwin for 11, and McCluster again for 13. On 3rd and 14 from the Chargers 47, Cassel hit Steve Breaston for 17. Battle gained 9 and 6 more. On 3rd and 7 from the 12, Todd Haley was taking no chances. Succop came on for the 30 yard try. It was good, and the Chiefs had the stunning win. People still insist San Diego is a good team and the Chiefs are not, but they are both 4-3, tied for first place with the Oakland Raiders. The Rivers fumble will be talked about for years, as a certain Chargers victory became a defeat. 23-20 Chiefs, OT