Archive for November, 2011

NFL 2011–Week 11 Recap

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Veterans Day was 11-11-11. This week brings us NFL Week 11 of 2011.

Ok, enough numerology. This column is about football. Time for the NFL 2011 Week 11 Recap.

New York Jets @ Denver Broncos was the Thursday night game. Tim Tebow manages to win games while throwing for almost 0 yards. The kid has intangibles, but at some point he may have to throw the ball to win. As for the Jets, Rex Ryan again saw his team lose to New England and end talk about the changing of the guard.

After a touchback Tebow went straight to the air and found Thomas for a 28 yard gain. Tebow led Denver to a 4th and 1 at the Jets 21, and Jon Fox decided to go for it. Willis McGahee got stopped by Gang Green as the Jets took over. The Jets went 3 and out, but a shanked punt went only 13 yards. The Broncos took over at the Jets 34. Matt Prater would hit a 37 yard field goal to put the Broncos up 3-0.

At the end of the first quarter Denver was at their own 47. McGahee fumbled, and the Jets took over at the Broncos 35. Mark Sanchez led the Jets to a 4th and 2 at the Denver 3. Rex Ryan took a timeout but decided not to go for it. Nik FOlk hit the 21 yarder to tie the game 3-3. Denver returned the ensuing kickoff 67 yards to the Jets 39, but 3 plays netted only 1 yard. Jon Fox decided against the 56 yard field goal. Denver got it back again with a short field at the Jets 48, but 3 plays later another punt was the result. Potential excitement came on the last play of the half when Folk tried a 61 yard field goal. He missed, but not by much. That was what passed for highlights in a terrible 3-3 halftime game.

The Jets got going in the third quarter as the Jets took over after a touchback. Sanchez immediately hit Plaxico Burress for 30 yards. McKnight gained 7 and 3. Illegal contact added 5 more and Sanchez hit Burress again for 9. and 13 and then found McKnight for 12 down to the one. Powell got the carry, fumbled the ball, and avoided being a goat when offensive lineman Slauson became the hero by falling it in the end zone for the touchdown. It was hideous, but the Jets led 10-3. Denver had no offense whatsoever but the defense stepped up. With 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter the Jets faced 3rd and 6 at their own 25. Sanchez was intercepted by Goodman, who returned it 26 yards for the score to tie the game 10-10.

Things got worse for the Jets when they fumbled the ensuing kickoff, again giving Denver a short field at the Jets 42. Again Denver went 3 and out and punted. The defenses settled in as the Jets began the fourth quarter at their own 31. McKnight ran for 11 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Sanchez hit Turner for 4. On 3rd and 9 from the Denver 45, Sanchez found McKnight for 14. Folk came in for a 45 yard field goal try and started outside but barely made it inside. This ugly game had the Jets up 13-10 with 9 1/2 minutes left in regulation.

Denver went 3 and out and the Jets got the ball midway through the fourth quarter at the Denver 47 with a chance to do some damage. The only damage they did was to themselves, but a well placed punt had Denver at their own 5 with 6 minutes left to play. Rex Ryan had to see if his defense could back up his boasts.

They could not. A swing pass to Royal almost became a safety, but Royal slipped a tackle for an 8 yard gain. Tebow then ran for 15. Tebow threw to Thomas for 9 and on 3rd and 1 Tebow gained 7, 9 more, and another 3. Tebow then found Rosario for 18 yards to the Jets 26. with 2 1/2 minutes to play. With just over one minute left the Broncos faced 3rd and 4 at the 20. Tebow ran around the end all the way for the score as the 95 yard drive took 5 minutes and had the Broncos up by 4.

The Jets last hope got off to a bad start when the ensuing kickoff was taken 9 yards deep in the end zone and only returned to the 14. With 34 seconds left the Jets faced 4th and 19 at their own 18. Sanchez hit Turner for 25 yards as the Jets took their last timeout. Sanchez found McKnight for 13 more but he did not get out of bounds as Sanchez spiked the ball with 7 seconds left. The Hail Mary did not even reach the end zone as it fell incomplete. Both of these teams are 5-5 as the Jets have lost 2 straight and Denver got within 1/2 a game of 1st place in the AFC West. Tebow still looks awful throwing the ball. Yet even when teams know he will run, he still succeeds and wins. 17-13 Broncos

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens–Cincy was without wide receiver Green while the Ravens were without Ray Lewis. Despite starting 6-2 most fans saw the Bengals as pretenders. Their loss at home last week to Pittsburgh didn’t help. As for the Ravens, they are considered contenders but the loss at Seattle last week was inexcusable.

After an exchange of punts the Bengals took over at their own 18. Andy Dalton went deep and hit Simpson for a 47 yard gain. On 3rd and 5 Dalton went to Hawkins for 17 yards down to the 13. Cedric Benson would run it in from 7 yards out to have the Bengals up 7-0. After that the defenses would stiffen up.

Early in the second quarter the Ravens received a break when a shanked Bengals punt went only 15 yards, giving Baltimore the ball at their own 45. On 3rd and 4, Joe Flacco hit Dickson for 14 and Anquon Boldin for the 35 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Ravens got the ball back at their own 34. Flacco hit Torrey Smith for 13 and then went deep to Smith for a 49 yard gain to the 4 yard line. On 3rd and goal at the 1, Ray Rice took it in to have the Ravens up 14-7. Both Flacco and Andy Dalton would trade interceptions late in the half as the Ravens led 14-7 at halftime.

The Ravens began the third quarter at their own 20 and on 3rd and 10 Flacco found Smith for 15. On the next play Rice broke free for a 59 yard gain. On 3rd and goal from the 2, Flacco was sacked as the Ravens settled for a 22 yard Billy Cundiff field goal to lead 17-7. After a touchback, the Bengals soon faced 3rd and 3 at their own 27. Andy Dalton went deep to Leonards for 37 yards and to Gresham for 24 more. Cedric Benson ran for 5 and then the 3 yard touchdown to get the Bengals within 17-14.

Late in the third quarter Dalton was intercepted by Smith at the Cincy 32. Smith returned it to the 16 and then fumbled it. It was eventually recovered by Ayanbadejo for Baltimore at the 2 yard line. One play later Rice scored as the Ravens led 24-14 after three quarters. The fourth quarter began exactly as the third quarter ended, with Dalton getting intercepted again. Baltimore took over at the Cincy 38 and Flacco needed one play to go to deep to Smith for the touchdown. The Ravens led comfortably 31-14, but Dalton would lead a furious comeback.

On 1st and 15 from the 25, Dalton hit Simpson for 22. On 3rd and 6 from the Baltimore 49, Dalton went for the bomb to Andre Caldwell, as the Ravens got within 31-21 with 11 minutes left in regulation. Baltimore went 3 and out when Rice was stopped cold on 3rd and 2. The Bengals took over at their own 20 with 9 minutes left.

On 3rd and 7, Dalton fired incomplete, but defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the Cincy 47. Dalton then hit Gresham for 15 and scrambled himself for 11 and 10. With 6 minutes left the Bengals faced 3rd and 2 at the 9. Dalton fired to Gresham for the touchdown, but the referees reviewed the catch as they do with every scoring play in the NFL this year. On further review the play was ruled incomplete. On 4th and 2 at the 9, needing 2 scores, Marvin Lewis decided not to go for it. The 27 yard Mike Nugent field goal with 5 1/2 minutes left had the Bengals within 7.

After a touchback, a key play came with 3 minutes left on the clock as the Ravens faced 3rd and 1 at their own 46. Rice again got stopped short and on 4th and 1, Harbaugh did what every coach not named Mike Smith would do. He punted. The Bengals got it back at their own 14 with 2 1/2 minutes left and 2 timeouts.

Dalton ran for 9 and hit Hawkins for 19 at the 2 minute warning. Dalton hit Simpson for 8 to midfield with 1:35 to play. Dalton then went deep to Simpson and he came down with it for a spectacular 43 yard catch. The Bengals faced 1st and goal at the 7 with 50 seconds left as Ray Lewis could only watch from the sidelines in street clothes while pumping up his teammates to make one stand.

After one incompletion, Dalton was chased and threw another incompletion. Yet that one was costly as Dalton was flagged for intentional grounding. Terrell Suggs was all over him and now it was 3rd and goal from the 17. Dalton threw incomplete again and everything came down to 4th and goal at the 17 with 33 seconds left. Yet the comeback would fall short as Dalton was sacked.

Armchair quarterbacks could say that had Marvin Lewis gone for it earlier and the Bengals made it, they would have only needed a field goal late. That is why they are armchair quarterbacks. Lewis made the right call. Dalton finished 24 of 45 for 373 yards and one touchdown, but also 3 costly interceptions. Flacco was 17 of 27 for 270 and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. The Ravens maintained the battle for first place with Pittsburgh, while Cincinnati fell behind them both to 6-4. Those referring to the Bengals as pretenders now are howling loudly. Cincinnati is an improved team, but simply not an elite team. 31-24 Ravens
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns–The Jaguars are a bad team that is able to beat the even worse teams. The Browns lost 13-12 last week when they fumbled a snap that led to a missed 22 yard field goal. Mike Holmgren was not a happy Walrus.

With 6 minutes left in the opening period the Jaguars took over at their own 8 yard line. On 3rd and 1 Maurice Jones-Drew gained 3. On 3rd and 6 from the 24, Blaine Gabbert hit Hill for 13. On 3rd and 4 from the Jaguars 48, Gabbert got just enough. On 3rd and 8 from the Cleveland 36, Gabbert hit Mercedes Lewis for 9. From the 6 yard line, Jones-Drew would take it in to cap off a staggering 18 play, 92 yard drive that consumed 10 minutes to put the Jaguars up 7-0 with 11 minutes left in the half.

After an exchange of punts, the Browns took over at their own 13. Colt McCoy hit Little for 22. On 3rd and 6 from the 42, McCoy went for the home run ball and got it to set up 1st and goal at the 7. Defensive pass interference moved it to the one and Ogbonnaya took it in to have the teams deadlocked 7-7 at halftime. It may have been the first ever score by a player named Ogbonnaya.

The Browns have played some of the most hideous games in the NFL this year, winning one 6-3 and losing 13-12 last week. This was another game that never should have been played. Late in the third quarter the Browns took over at their own 15. Ogbannaya ran for 12, McCoy hit Joshua Cribbs for 13, and McCoy scrambled for 15 more. OgBannaya gained another 9 and the fourth quarter began with the Browns facing 2nd and 6 at the Jaguars 30. McCoy hit Little and Marecic for 11 yard gains. On 3rd and goal from the 3, McCoy hit Cribbs for the score as the Browns led 14-7 with 12 minutes left in regulation. The 12 play, 85 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive would soon be followed by Jacksonville going 56 yards in 13 plays in 6 1/2 minutes. Yet their would be a difference.

Jacksonville took over at their own 20, and soon faced 3rd and 7 at their own 35. Gabbert hit Hill for 28 yards and Mercedes Lewis for 11 more. With 6 minutes left the Jaguars faced 3rd and 8 from the 9. With the tying touchdown one throw away, instead Gabbert was sacked for a 15 yard loss. Josh Scobee hit the 42 yard field goal as Jack Del Rio decided not to go for it on 4th and 23 from the 24. The Jaguars were within 4 points, but Del Rio trusted his defense to get the ball back.

From the 20, McCoy hit Little for 6 and the greatest Ogboyanna in the history of the NFL ran for 40 yards.  With 3 minutes left the Browns faced 2nd and 7 at the Jaguars 16. Putting the game away was within reach. Yet these are the Browns. McCoy was sacked for a 7 yard loss. Phil Dawson came in for the 38 yard field goal. Despite missing a 22 yarder las week, it was time for redemption. Except, these are the Browns. The kick was no good, and Jacksonville took over at their own 29 with 2:49 left and one timeout. It would come down to who wanted it least.

Gabbert hit Thomas for 9 and Lewis ran for 7 at the 2 minute warning. Gabbert hit Lewis for 12 and with 1:24 left the Jaguars faced 4th and 1 at the Browns 34. With the game on the line, the Browns jumped offsides. These are the Browns. On 3rd and 10 from the 29, Gabbert threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference meant an automatic first down at the 14. These are the Browns. Gabbert hit West for 9 and with 41 seconds left the Jaguars faced 3rd and 1 at the 5. Jones-Drew ran for 3 and with 13 seconds left Jones-Drew got one more yard. Gabbert then threw incomplete, and the entire game came down to 3rd and goal at the 1 with 3 seconds to play.

Fritz Shurmur, Jack Del Rio, and Mike Holmgren’s mustache could only watch. Gabbert fired to the end zone, but in a game like this asking either team to catch it would be too much. That was good enough for Cleveland as it fell incomplete with no flags on the field. Winning ugly is just as terrible as winning beautifully for television viewers, but the Dawg Pound will take it. Holmgren was a happy Walrus as the Browns got the win. 14-10 Browns

Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions–The Panthers are 2-7 and on the road against the 6-3 Lions. Yet before one can scream about a mismatch, Detroit is 1-3 since their 5-0 start. Early on Matthew Stafford was intercepted deep in his own territory, but Cam Newton threw it right back to Detroit. Stafford moved Detroit to the Carolina 26, but was then intercepted again.

Carolina took over at their own 18 and Deangelo Williams ran for 29 and Newton hit Brad LaFell for 21 more. On 3rd and 11 from the Detroit 33, Newton hit Stewart for 21. Newton would throw incomplete on 3rd and 7 from the 9 and the Panthers would settle for a 27 yard Olindo Mare field goal as Carolina led 3-0. Detroit took over and faced 3rd and 1 at their own 29. Detroit would fumble it away and Carolina took over at the same spot. On 2nd and 15 Newton hit Stewart for 19 and then Steve Smith for the 15 yard touchdown to have the Panthers up 10-0 after the first quarter.

The Lions began the second quarter at their own 29, when Smith ran for 43 and then caught a 28 yard touchdown pass from Stafford to quickly get within 10-7. Yet just as quickly the Panthers had a 17-7 lead when Pilares returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.

A Detroit punt had the Panthers with a short field at the Lions 48. On 4th and 4 Ron Rivera called a punt. The Panthers punted, but illegal use of hands before the kick instead gave the Panthers 1st and 10 at the Detroit 37. Jim Schwartz could only watch as Williams ran for 26 and Newton took it the final 11. With 9 1/2 minutes left in the half the Panthers led 24-7. Yet this game was far from over.  The Lions overcame a 27-3 deficit a few weeks ago to Dallas, so they were not going to panic in this situation. Also, they were playing a 2-7 team not used to prosperity.

After a touchback, Stafford found Calvin Johnson for 17. On 3rd and 12 from the 35 Stafford hit Nate Burleson for 15 to midfield. On 3rd and 5 from the Carolina 45, Stafford found Tony Scheffler for 7, Davis for 15, Smith for 9, Morris for 8, and Young for a 3 yard touchdown as 5 different receivers completed the 12 play, 8- yard, 6 1/2 minute drive to have the Lions within 24-14.

Carolina took over at their own 14 with only 3 minutes left in the half, and at the 2 minute warning they faced 3rd and 5. Newton threw incomplete, but illegal contact meant an automatic first down at the 24. Newton hit Greg Olsen for 8 and Stewart for 11. With 49 seconds left in the half Carolina faced 3rd and 1 at the Detroit 45. Stewart got 2 and Newton found Smith for 20. With 15 seconds left in the half a 3rd and 7 completion came up one yard short. With only 5 seconds to work with the call was an easy one as Olindo Mare hit a 31 yard field goal to have the Panthers up 27-14 at halftime.

I the third quarter Carolina punted, and a 16 yard return with a horse collar tackle tacked on had the Lions beginning at the Carolina 30. Stafford hit Young for 11, Burleson for 3, and back to Burleson for the 16 yard score to quickly have the Lions within 27-21. Carolina punted again and the Lions took over at their own 34. Smith gained 9 and Stafford hit Johnson for 26 more. Morris ran for 16 and on 3rd and 12 from the 17, Stafford found Tony Scheffler for the touchdown. With 6 minutes left in the third quarter the Lions had the 28-27 lead, but Stafford was barely warming up.

With 12 1/2 minutes left in regulation Detroit took over at their own 31. On 2nd and 5 Smith ran for 19 and Stafford hit Heller for 12 and Johnson for 8. Then the ground came took over as Smith ran for 10, Morris banged out 9 and 2, and Smith capped off the drive from 4 yards out. With 8 minutes left in regulation, the Lions led 35-27 after the 25 point swing.

Yet Cam Newton was not done either. After a touchback, on 2nd and 7, Newton hit Stewart for 26 and then ran for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Detroit 44, Newton found Williams for 32, with a horsecollar tackle moving the ball to the 6. Newton ran it in himself, and then hit Steve Smith for the 2 point conversion as this pinball maching game was tied 35-35 with 5 minutes left.

Now after a touchback it was Stafford’s turn. He hit Johnson for a 30 yard gain and then went to Brandon Pettigrew for 16 more. Smith gained 12 with unnecessary roughness tacking on 10 more. On 3rd and goal from the 7, Stafford found Pettigrew or the touchdown. Now the Lions were back on top 42-35. With 2 1/2 minutes remaining, Carolina took over at their own 17 trying to tie it again.

Yet one play resulted in Newton being intercepted. With 2:27 to play Detroit took over at the Carolina 23. Carolina used their timeouts, and with 2:06 to play Detroit faced 3rd and 6 at the 19. If Carolina could get the stop and somehow hope for a missed field goal, they would have life. Yet there would be no life as Smith broke free for the 19 yard touchdown to ice the game.

Ron Rivera and Cam Newton do not want to hear that they have the most exciting 2-8 team in football or that rebuilding takes time, especially with rookies at coach and quarterback. Yet it is true. Jim Schwarz took over an 0-16 team, saw them get to 2-14, start last year 2-10 before finishing 4-0, and are now sitting at 7-3 and in the thick of the playoff hunt. The key is Matthew Stafford being healthy. He shook off his 2 early interceptions to finish a solid 28 of 36 for 335 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Newton was 22 of 38 for 280 yards and one touchdown, but also 4 killer interceptions. That was what saw a 17 point lead become a 14 point loss. 49-35 Lions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers–The undefeated Packers keep rolling although the defense has been giving up big yards and points. Yet the Buccaneers to not have the firepower to keep up on offense and their once vaunted defense has regressed as well.

After a Tampa Bay punt, the Packers took over at their own 12. Green Bay is known as a quick strike offense, but Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers know how to play ball control as well, since the West Coast offense is all about dinking and dunking. Yet even the Cheeseheads could not have expected this drive. The Packers were set up to punt on 4th and 1 from their own 21. Mike McCarthy is not crazy Mike Smith. There were no fakes here. Yet the punter fumbled the snap, recovered it himself, and ran for 9 yards and a first down at the 27. McCarthy will take it.

On 3rd and 5 Aaron Rodgers went deep to Jordy Nelson for 34 yards. On 3rd and 1 from the 25 Rodgers found Nelson again for 6 yards. On 3rd and 3 from the 12, Rodgers ran for 6. and 5 more. Ball ran it in from 1 yard out as the Packers led 7-0 after the staggering 15 play, 88 yard, 8 1/2 minute drive.

The second quarter began with the Packers facing 3rd and 9 at the Tampa Bay 48. Rodgers went to Nelson for 26, Starks for 17, Crabtree for the 5 yard touchdown as the Packers led 14-0. Yet the Bucs did not fold, striking back quickly from their own 18. Freeman went deep to Benn for 28 yards. On the next play Blount broke several awful attempts at tackling en route to a 54 yard touchdown to get the Bucs within 14-7.

Tampa Bay would get the ball back at their own 20 with 11 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 8 Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow for 13. Freeman would lead them all the way to the Green Bay 5 yard line where they would settle for a 23 yard Connor Barth field goal. 12 plays, 75 yards, and 7 minutes had the Bucs within 14-10. Yet they left the Packers 4 minutes to work with.

Helping matters for the Packers was returning the kickoff all the way to the Bucs 38. On 1st and 20 Rodgers calmly went to Finley for 30 yards and to Randall Cobb for 11 more. Rodgers hit Nelson for the 5 yard score at the 2 minute warning as the Packers led 21-10 going into the locker rooms.

A quiet first quarter was followed by an action packed second quarter. The second half saw a similar pattern as the third quarter was fairly quiet. Josh Freeman would lead a 12 play, 7 minute drive from the Tampa 29 to a 3rd and 3 at the Green Bay 4.  He threw a touchdown pass to Winslow, but Winslow was called for offensive interference. The Bucs settled for a 32 yard field goal to get within 21-13.

Tampa Bay got it back at their own 9. Freeman found Williams for 18 and Winslow for 37 more. On the first play of the fourth quarter from the Packers 30, Freeman hit Winslow for 15 and Benn for 6. On 3rd and 4 from the 9, Freeman found Williams for the score with 13 minutes left to play in the game. Raheem Morris decided to go for the 2 point conversion to tie it. Usually the 2 pointer should wait until absolutely necessary, but this one could go either way. The conversion failed and the Bucs trailed 21-19.

Green Bay took over at their own 15. On 3rd and 4, Rodgers fired incomplete but defensive holding kept the drive going. Rodgers took advantage by hitting Starks for 12 and Donald Driver for 13. After an illegal contact penalty, Rodgers hit Starks for 11. Starks then ran for 6 and 20 more. From 2 yards out, John Kuhn took it in to have the Packers up 28-19. The earlier 2 point decision began to loom large as 9 points meant breathing room.

Tamp Bay would go 3 and out, but Green Bay runs the West Coast offense. This means throwing the ball late rather than grinding down clock. Rodgers was quickly intercepted, giving the Bucs the ball at midfield with 6 minutes left.  On 3rd and 5 Freeman hit Winslow for 6 and then went deep to Benn for a 37 yard gain down to the 2. Freeman found Briscoe for the score to have the Buccaneers within 28-26 with 4 1/2 minutes left. With Rodgers being unstoppable at times despite the previous turnover, Raheem Morris went with the onsides kick despite time on the clock. It failed.

The Bucs now needed a stop to give Barth a chance to win it, as the Packers took over at the Bucs 46. On 3rd and 4 Rodgers went deep to Nelson for the touchdown. The extra point was good to keep things a 2 score game as the earlier 2 point try appeared lethal. It all became a non-issue when Freeman was intercepted on the next play. Mason Crosby would doink a 29 yard field goal off the upright, but it didn’t matter. Tampa Bay fell to 4-6 while Green Bay continued its trend of explosive offense and just enough defense to get to 10-0 with the win. 35-26 Packers

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins–The Bill started hot for Chan Gailey but have stumbled a bit despite being 5-4. Miami meanwhile began 0-7, and Tony Sparano held the team together as the team recorded consecutive wins after that. Buffalo began with Ryan Fitzpatrick moving the Bills from their own 18 to a 3rd and 2 at the Miami 12. Fitzpatrick threw incomplete as the Bills settled for a 30 yard Dave Raynor field goal to lead 3-0. Yet one week after getting blown out on the road 44-7, another blowout loss appeared in the making.

Miami took over at their own 13. Matt Moore hit Clay for 10, Reggie Bush for 19, and Bess for 21. On 3rd and 12 from the Buffalo 31, Moore found Hartline for 19. Hartline ran for 9 and Moore hit Anthony Fasano for a one yard touchdown to put the Dolphins up 7-3. Buffalo went 3 and out and Miami took over at their own 41. Moore went deep to Clay for 46 yards, and Reggie Bush ran for 6 and then 5 for the score as the Dolphins led 14-3.

The second quarter began with the Bills facing 3rd and 8 at their own 13. Fitzpatrick was intercepted, setting the Dolphins up at the Buffalo 23. On 3rd and 1 Hilliard gained 2, and Moore hit Clay for the 12 yard touchdown to have the Dolphins rolling 21-3. With 3 minutes left in the half Buffalo took over at their own 18 and on 3rd and 10 Fitzpatrick was intercepted by Nelson. Miami took over at the Buffalo 4, and on 3rd and goal Moore hit Bess for the score to have Miami up 28-3. Miami did get soft at the end of the half as Buffalo took over at their own 23 with 1:23 left. Dave Rayner would drill a 56 yard field goal at the gun. Yet the Bills still trailed 28-6.

Despite earlier flashes of brilliance this season , Fitzpatrick would not be channeling Jim Kelly or Frank Reich in the second half. A quiet second half saw Miami just coast. Buffalo would punt from their own 28, and Miami would block it for a touchdown as Clemons got the block and Sanborn fell on it. Miami led 35-6, and the defense clamped down in the second half. Buffalo would reach the Miami 19 but fumble on 4th and 4 when Fitzpatrick was sacked. Early in the fourth they had 3 cracks from the 1 and could not get in when Fitzpatrick threw incomplete on 4th and goal. Buffalo would get a safety, but they have been outscored 79-15 the past 2 weeks to fall to 5-5. As for Miami, give Tony Sparano some credit. He kept the team fighting hard when they were 0-7, and they have now won 3 straight in convincing fashion. 35-8 Dolphins

Oakland Raiders @ Minnesota Vikings–For more on the game of the day, go to

The Silver and Black showed a ton of character last week as they got a road victory over San Diego after consecutive home losses. They faced adversity with guts, and now have another road game. Minnesota has a bad record but they do have talent with Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, and Jared Allen playing at a high level. The Raiders were still without injured Darren McFadden and Jacoby Ford, and on defense Richard Seymour was out. This meant Hue Jackson again would have to keep the playbook very vanilla. Sebastian Janikowski would play but with his injured hamstring the long field goals were not happening. Before this game is over both teams would suffer more devastating injuries.

Minnesota came up a yard short to start and punted. The Raiders took over at their own 14. On 3rd and 4 Palmer found Kevin Boss for 7 and 9. Yet on 3rd and 2 from the 35 Palmer was sacked to kill the drive. The Vikings took over at their own 23.

On 3rd and 1, Ponder hit D’Imperio for 6. On 3rd and 7 from the Vikings 41, Ponder was sacked by Tommy Kelly for an 8 yard loss. Yet Kelly was called for a very questionable roughing the passer penalty, giving the Vikings 1st and 10 at their own 48. On the next play Tommy Kelly was called for unnecessary roughness, moving the ball to the Oakland 35. Percy Harvin took an end around all the way for the touchdown, but offensive holding at the 17 nullified the score. On 3rd and 8 from the 33, Ponder found Harvin for 9. A third defensive personal foul was a facemask on Tyvon Branch, moving the ball to the 12. 40 yards in penalties led to a 12 yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson to have the Vikings up 7-0.

With Ford out, it was up to Taiwan Jones to return kicks, and he brought the ensuing kickoff to the Oakland 45. With McFadden out, Michael Bush had to step up. On 3rd and 8 Carson Palmer found Bush for 10 and Bush ran for 9. Marcel Reece ran for 20. The drive would stall, but even an ailing Seabass can kick a 29 yarder as the Raiders trailed 7-3 after the first quarter.

After a touchback Ponder got sacked and fumbled. The Vikings were lucky to retain possession. On 2nd and 20 from the 10, Peterson ran for 12. Yet at the end of the play Michael Huff rolled onto his leg and Peterson was down for the count. He was taken off the field on a cart. He did not return the rest of the game although he appeared ok for future games. His loss was a blow for the Vikings. On 3rd and 8 Ponder scrambled for 22 as the second quarter began with Minnesota at midfield. Ponder hit Harvin for 24 yards. Yet on 3rd and 5 from the 21, Ponder went to the end zone and was intercepted at the 5 by Matt Giordano. Giordano returned it all the way to the Oakland 47. It was one of several big plays by a defense that bent all game but did not completely break.

On 2nd and 21 from the Oakland 36, Palmer calmly went to Brandon Myers for the exact amount needed at the sticks. A pair of defensive offsides penalties sandwiched around a 6 yard Michael Bush run set up 3rd and 8 at the 11. Palmer fired to Chaz Schilens inbetween double coverage and Schilens made the catch as the Raiders led 10-7 with 9 minutes left in the half.

Seabass could not boom his kicks out of the end zone and into the stands with his injury, but at least he played. Another short kick was takena t the 10 by Sherels and returned 35 yards to the Minnesota 45. On 3rd and 8 Ponder scrambled for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the 29, Harvin lost 2 yards. A 49 yard field goal attempt to tie the game never got going as Tyvon Branch came crashing through. It would have been blocked, so the kicker simply did not kick it. Punter Kluwe was the holder, and he ended up losing 12 yards. With 5 minutes left in the half, the Raiders took over at their own 43.

Bush gained 3, and on the next carry picked up 28 yards. On 3rd and 8 from the 24, Palmer hit Darrius Heyward-Bey for 9. Palmer hit Reece for 12, and Bush ran it in from 2 yards out as the Raiders led 17-7 with only 1:20 left in the half. More good fortune for the Raiders came went the Vikings fumbled the ensuing kickoff The Raiders recovered at the Minnesota 16. Bush ran for 4 and Palmer hit Boss for 11 down to the one. With 22 seconds left, Palmer tried to run it in but got stopped. The Raiders took their last timeout with 12 seconds left in the half. It was only 2nd and goal at the one, giving Palmer time for 3 passes. Yet a failed run would end the half. Yet Hue Jackson is fearless, and he called another sneak. Palmer did get in, as the second quarter explosion had the Raiders up 24-7 at halftime.

The Raiders had all the momentum, and the main question would be if this team could finally finish and play a complete game. They never make things easy, and today was another test. Neither team could move in the third quarter, and with 4 1/2 minutes left in the period the Vikings took over after a touchback. Ponder was quickly intercepted by Tommy Kelly, giving the Raiders a golden chance to wrap up the game from the Minnesota 24. On 3rd and 1 from the 15 Bush gained 3. Yet on 3rd and 6 from the 8 Palmer fired incomplete. Seabass hit from 26. The Raiders led 27-7 after three quarters. Could they finally finish a game?

No. The last play of the third quarter had the Vikings facing 3rd and 6 at their own 32. Ponder went deep to Aromashodu for 42 yards. On the first  play of the fourth quarter, Ponder went deep to Harvin for a 26 yard touchdown as the Vikings were down 27-14. The Raiders do not finish games.

A good kickoff return by McCann had the Raiders at their own 36. Palmer hit Heyward-Bey for 10 and then again for 20 more. On 3rd and 12 from the Vikings 35 after a sack of Palmer, a short pass to Heyward-Bey gained only 4 yards. Yet 4th and 8 from the 31 was not the main concern. Heyward-Bey took an accidental knee to the helmet, rolled over, and collapsed. He was down for awhile and the stretcher came out. He raised his fist while being wheeled off, but his condition was serious. Add him to the list of injured Raiders. Then the injured kicker came on. Seabass kicks low normally because he kicks for distance, and his 49 yarder was blocked with 11 1/2 minutes left in regulation. The Raiders do not finish games.

Minnesota took over at their own 40, and were forced to go for it on 4th and 2. Ponder threw incomplete but defensive pass interference kept things moving. The Raiders do not finish games. On 1st and 15 from midfield, Ponder ran for 17 with illegal contact adding 5 more. On 2nd and 10 from the 28 Toby Gerhart lost 2 yards, but another questionable unnecessary roughness call on the Raiders meant 1st and 10 at the 15. On the next play Ponder was sacked for 0, but defensive holding meant 1st and goal at the 10. The Raiders do not finish games. On 3rd and goal at the 5, with a touchdown inevitable, Ponder fired to the end zone and was intercepted by Stanford Routt.

The Raiders had the ball at their own 20 with 8 minutes left. They led by 13 and only needed to grind out the clock. Again, it was about finishing a game. Michael Bush ran for 3, then 8, and then 13. With 6 minutes left the Raiders were at their own 44. Yet Bush got a fourth straight carry and this time he was hit and fumbled. The Vikings took over at the Oakland 38. The Raiders do not finish games. Ponder immediately went deep to Vincente Shiancoe for 37 yards down to the one. Ponder then hit Rudolph for the score. The Vikings were only down 6. The Raiders do not finish games.

With 5 minutes left the Raiders were backed up to their own 9. They could not afford to go 3 and out and give Minnesota a short field. They could not fall behind 28-27 and beg injured Seabass to bail them out. They had to stop the bleeding. Reece ran for 13 to give them breathing room. Now it was the Vikings who engaged in self-destructive penalties. Defensive holding and illegal contact offset 2 failed offensive plays as the Raiders had 1st and 10 at their own 33. Minnesota took a pair of timeouts as the Raiders faced a critical 3rd and 4 at their own 39. A first down would really cripple the Vikings. Palmer was sacked for a 9 yard loss. The Raiders do not finish games.

With 3 minutes left the Vikings took over at their own 29. Ponder hit Jenkins for 15, but on 3rd and 8 Ponder was taken down by Tommy Kelly. At the 2 minute warning,  on 4th and 8 from the Minnesota 46, Ponder threw incomplete. The Raiders celebrated, but Minnesota still had one timeout.

Minnesota used their last timeout as Bush gained 4, -1, and 3. The Raiders would have to punt on 4th and 4. They let the clock run all the way down to 13 seconds and took an intentional delay of game. They were too far away to take an intentional safety. Going for it was not an option. A field goal was not going to happen with one already blocked. A punt return for a score would kill the Raiders. Lechler booms touchbacks, but the Raider Nation held their breath as a 34 yard punt was fielded by Sherels at the 11. Sherels did get to the outside but was run out of bounds after a 12 yard return.

With 2 seconds left, the Vikings were at their own 23. The Hail Mary was out of reach, yet the hook and laterals never got going as an 8 yard gain and a fumble ended the game. Leslie Frazier saw his team fight hard but lose another game to stay in the cellar. As for the Raiders, 2 straight home losses have been followed by 2 straight road wins. At 6-4, the Raiders are in 1st place this late in the season for the first time since the 2002 Super Bowl team. The Silver and Black are one game up on Denver, 1 1/2 on Kansas City, and 2 up on San Diego. The Raiders still do not know how to finish games, but as the late Al Davis kept saying, “Just Win Baby.” Again, they did. 27-21 Raiders

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins–Dallas is rolling while Washington is reeling, having lost 5 straight. Mike Shanahan has gone back to Rex Grossman. Tony Romo moved Dallas to a 4th and 7 at the Washington 35, but Jason Garrett decided to punt. Washington needed only 3 plays to fumble the ball as the Cowboys took over at the Washington 24. On 3rd and 8 Romo went deep to Dez Bryant for a 22 yard touchdown to have Dallas up 7-0. In the second quarter Dallas took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 12 Romo Holley for 17. A 37 yard Dan Carpenter field goal meant a 10-0 Cowboys lead.

With Tony Romo and Rex Grossman, one never knows what one is going to get. Bad Rex turned into Good Rex in the second quarter with some help from a shanked 23 yard punt that had the Redskins starting at the Dallas 32. On 3rd and 7 Grossman hit Anderson for 23. On 3rd and goal at the 4 Grossman took it in himself to get the Redskins within 10-7.

Another Dallas punt followed by a 32 yard return meant another short field for Washington at the Dallas 43. Defensive holding tacked on 5 more yards. Grossman hit Davis for 8 and Helu ran for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 16 Grossman found Jabar Gaffney for the touchdown with only 20 seconds left in the half as the Redskins led 14-10 at the break. The Redskins began the third quarter at their own 23. On 2nd and 11 Grossman hit Gaffney for 28 to midfield. Grossman ran for 6 and then found Davis for 24. Graham Gano would hit a 40 yard field goal to have the Redskins up 17-10.

Despite being under the microscope, both Romo and Grossman played fairly well in this game, compiling comparable numbers. Romo was 23 of 37 for 292 and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. Grossman was 25 of 38 for 289 with 2 touchdowns and one interception. Yet this game would come down to the kickers. Already leading by 7, Washington had a golden opportunity to create space witha  55 yard punt return to the Dallas 34. Yet Graham Gano missed a 49 yard field goal. To quote announcer Paul Maguire “I hate kickers. They should be paid $50 a game.”

Dallas took over at their own 39. Runs and short passes set up 3rd and 1 at the Dallas 40. Murray got stopped cold, but on 4th and 1 Jason Garrett decided to go for it. Murray this time gained 7 yards. Romo hit Jason Witten for 15, and on 3rd and 6 from the 14 Romo hit Murray for 7 as the third quarter ended. The fourth quarter quickly saw 3rd and goal at the 7, and Romo hit Robinson for the touchdown to tie the game 17-17.

Washington would punt, and Dallas took over at their own 12 with 11 minutes left to play. On 3rd and 8 Romo hit Ogletree for 12 and Bennett for 13. On 3rd and 8 from the Dallas 41, Romo went deep to Witten for a 59 yard touchdown in front of a silent home crowd. With 9 minutes left the Cowboys led 24-17. Grossman would then be immediately intercepted, his only real mistake of the game. Yet it was on a long bomb that just served as a punt. Dallas failed to capitalize. Washington took over at their own 11 with 5 1/2 minutes left.

Grossman went straight to Dante Stallworth for 20 and Young for 27. At the 2 minute warning the Redksins had 2nd and 11 at the Dallas 30. Grossman hit Stallworth for 9. On 3rd and 2 Grossman threw incomplete, but defensive holding instead meant 1st and 10 at the 16 with 1:16 left. It also stopped the clock.  On 3rd and 5 from the 11, Grossma hit Davis for 9 as the Redskins took their first timeout with 34 seconds left in the game. Tashard Choice was traded from Dallas to Washington, and he wanted revenge with the game on the line. He got the carry and lost 2 yards as the Redskins took their second timeout. Then Grossma threw incomplete to set up 3rd and goal at the 4 with 22 seconds left. Grossman hit Stallworth for the touchdown as the game went into overtime tied 24-24.

The Redskins got the ball to start overtime at their own 20, and 5 1/2 minutes later they faced 3rd and 7 at the Dallas 33. Grossman then got sacked, but only lost one yard. Gano was brought in to win it from 52 yards out. Again, Gano missed. To paraphrase Maguire again, “Forget $50. Pay kickers 25 cents.” Then again, Maguire would say that it would not matter since Gano would not be a Redskin next year anyway.

From the Dallas 42, Romo found Bennett for 14. On 3rd and 15 just past midfield, Romo went deep to Dez Bryant for 26 yards. With 6 minutes left in overtime, Dallas faced 3rd and 8 at the Washington 21. Jason Garrett took no chances, bringing in Dan Bailey for a 39 yarder on 3rd down. Gano could only watch in horror as Bailey hit his much shorter kick to end the game and silence the crowd. Dallas has won 3 straight to get to 6-4 while Mike Shanahan has seen his Redskins lose 6 straight games for the first time in years. 27-24 Cowboys OT

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers–The John “Red” Skelton era continues in Arizona, which means the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh should roll to an easy victory in the NFC Worst. Yet while the game was the expected mismatch, it was also a terribly played football game, especially in the red zone. The 49ers dominated statistically in the first half but had to settle for 6…yes 6…David Akers field goal tries. Akers got off to a terrible start, with a 46 yarder blocked and a 49 yarder no good. He would hit from 22 and 43. In the second quarter he had another one blocked from 30 but hit from 29. His 3 for 6 performance had the 49ers up 9-0 in this terrible game.

The 49ers would put the game away in the third quarter as Alex Smith led a 13 play, 8 minute drive that covered 84 yards. A 29 yard toss to Michael Crabtreewould lead to 4th and 1 from the Arizona 27. Despite Frank Gore getting stopped on 3rd and 1, Jim Harbaugh trusted Gore more than Akers at this point. Gore got 2 yards, and on 3rd and 6 from the 21 Smith gained 11. Smith hit Williams for an 8 yard touchdown to have the 49ers up 16-0.

Arizona spent most of the day turning the ball over, with fumbles leading to field goals. An interception of Skelton set up Frisco at the Arizona 37. Smith hit Williams for 11 and Gore ran for 8. On 3rd and 2 from the 18 Smith hit Vernon Davis for the score to make it 23-0.

Skelton would get intercepted again, the 49ers would punt, the Cardinals would fumble the punt, and Smith would be intercepted in the end zone for a touchback. This game was that ugly. Ken Whisenhunt brought in Bartel to replace Skelton at quarterback to start the fourth quarter. Bartel would throw a 23 yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald to complete an 84 yard drive, but that was it. He led Arizona to the Frisco 16 before turning it over on downs.

The only question at this point is if  the 9-1 49ers are for real or are the fraudulent team from 1997 who began 11-1 by beating up pasties in the NFC Worst. They are beating good teams such as Detroit and the Giants, but plenty of bad teams, and playing badly in them but still winning. That 1997 team hosted the NFC Title Game but was throttled by Green Bay. This Frisco team most likely would also get throttled by Green Bay, but at 9-1 they will take it. 23-7 49ers

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams–Somebody, somewhere cares about this game. Seattle had a big upset win at home over Baltimore last week, while the Rams shocked New Orleans a few weeks ago. That would be nice if it were not for all of the losses most of the time. Last year Seattle went into St. Louis and beat them 16-6 as both teams finished 7-9. That was enough for Seattle to be the 2010 NFC Worst Champions. This game was just as awful, anti-climactic, and meaningless.

Tarvaris Jackson began the game from the Seattle 15 by going deep to Williams for a 55 yard gain. Yet on the next play Jackson was intercepted. The Rams would punt, and on the next series facing 3rd and 3 from their own 27, Jackson was intercepted again. 2 plays later, Sam Bradfor went deep to Brandon Lloyd for a 30 yard touchdown. The Rams led led 7-0, but that concluded their lone highlight of the day. The Rams would partially block a punt but get nothing out of it. Seattle ended the first quarter with 2nd and 8 at the Rams 39 but began the second quarter punting on 4th and 33 from their own 36. The Rams responded with 3rd and 26 at their own 6 before punting. This game was that awful.

Seattle would take over after a 25 yard Leon Washington punt return at the Rams 40. Jackson found Sidney Rice for 12 and Marshawn Lynch gained 10. Jackson would hit Rice for a 14 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half. The Rams would punt on 4th and 16 from their own 14. Seattle would reach 1st and 10 at the Rams 27 before punting on 4th and 32 from the Rams 49. This game was that awful.

The Rams punted on 4th and 13 from their own 19 and Seattle took over at their own 30 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half. On 3rd and 2 Jackson went deep to Baldwin for 35 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Rams 27, Lynch gained 12. With 38 seconds left in the half, Seattle took their second timeout with 2nd and 9 at the 14. Jackson was sacked for a 12 yard loss. For some reason the Seahawks felt their 3rd timeout would be better used if taken to the locker room. So on 3rd and 21 from the 26 with only 8 seconds left, Jackson threw incomplete. Yet defensive pass interference in the end zone put the ball on the one yard line with 3 seconds left. Pete Carroll made this game the inspiring beauty it was by opting for the field goal. Stephen Hauschka made the 19 yarder as the Seahawks led 10-7 at halftime. This game was that awful.

In the third quarter Bradford led the Rams from their 20 to a 4th and 9 at the Seattle 38. Steve Spagnuolo inspired everybody by punting. The Rams got it back and soon faced 2nd and 10 at their own 38. Bradford was sacked and fumbled, giving the Seahawks the ball at the Rams 25. Jackson ran for 8 and hit Rice for 9. On 3rd and 1 from the 3, Lynch took it in as the Seahawks led 17-7.

With 6 minutes left in the game, the Rams took over at their own 23. Bradford was sacked for a 9 yard loss. On the next play Bradford was intercepted, giving Seattle the ball at the Rams 21. On 3rd and 11, Forsett ran all the way for the 22 yard touchdown to end the lack of suspense. Seattle has won consecutive games which means something to somebody somewhere. The Rams are still much worse. 24-7 Seahawks

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons–Tennessee is struggling while Atlanta lost a shocker in overtime last week when Mike Smith gambled and lost on 4th and 1 from his own 29. He may be an average non-descript white guy, but his players rallied around him.

San Diego Chargers @ Chicago Bears–The Chargers began 4-1 but have lost 4 straight under Norvelous Norv Turner. The Bears at 6-3 beat Detroit soundly last week and some are saying that Lovie Smith’s team is for real. Let’s hold off. While there is no natural rivalry between the Chargers and Bears, quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Philip Rovers despise each other due to feuds when Cutler was in Denver. One game had Rivers screaming at Cutler and trash talking, which made little sense given that San Diego swept the series that year by over 30 points in each game. That year San Diego began 4-8 while Denver was 8-5. In the last game 7-8 San Diego destroyed 8-7 Denver 44-6 to give San Diego the division and end the Mike Shanahan era in Denver. Cutler was traded in the offseason, but the enmity remained.

A slow first quarter saw Nick Novak kick a 28 yard field goal for the Chargers and Robbie Gould respond with a 42 yarder for the Bears to take a 3-3 game into the second quarter. San Diego missed an opportunity at the end of the first quarter from the Bears 33 when a penalty pushed them out of field goal range.

With 6 1/2 minutes left in the half Norv Turner apparently did not give his punter Mike Scifres the memo. Scifres is one of the best punters of all time. Yet Devon Hester is perhaps the greatest punt returners of all time. Hester returned the punt 42 yards to the Chargers 11. A penalty moved it back to the Chargers 41, but that only delayed things temporarily. Jay Cutler found Earl Bennett for 26 and Marion Barber ran for 10, 4, and the last yard to have the Bears up 10-3 with 4 minutes left in the half.

From the San Diego 22, Rivers hit Jackson for 32 and then on 3rd and 11 Rivers went back to Jackson for 39 more. On 3rd and goal at the 8 Rivers hit Antonio Gates for the score to tie the game 10-10. At the 2 minute warning, it was Johnny Knox returning the kickoff instead of Devon Hester. Yet the special teams that killed the Chargers last year still ached in this game, and Knox returned the kick 53 yard to the Chargers 44. Cutler hit Bennett for 34. On 3rd and goal at the 4 with 26 seconds left in the half, Cutler hit Davis for the touchdown to have the Bears up 17-10. Yet when Goodman returned the kickoff 44 yards to the Chargers 37, they had a chance. Rivers hit Gates for 26 yards, setting up Novak for a 55 yard try at the gun with Hester back to try and return a miss. With Hester jumping to try and field it, the kick hit the crossbar and bounced back no good.

The Chargers began the second quarter at their own 24. Rivers then went deep to Vincent Jackson for 47 yards. Defensive pass interference moved the ball another 21 yards. On 3rd and 4 from the 5, Rivers hit Jackson for the score to tie the game 17-17. Chicago took over at their own 17. On 3rd and 4 Cutler went to Williams 3 straight times for 11, 12, and 11. Cutler then went deep to Knox for 42 yards down to the one. Cutler took it in to have the Bears up 24-17 with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

From the San Diego 28, the Chargers needed one play to fumble the ball away. The Bears needed 2 plays from the San Diego 37 as Cutler hit Williams for 13 and Knox for the 24 yard touchdown to have the Bears up 31-17 after three quarters. On the first play of the fourth quarter the Chargers faced 4th and 4 at the Bears 29. Norv Turner opted for the field goal and Novak hit from 48 to have the Chargers down 11.

Cutler led the Bears from 13 to the Chargers 30. Yet Cutler was then intercepted by Cason, who returned it 64 yards to the Bears 16. On 3rd and 10 Rivers went to the end zone and gave it right back with an interception. Needing 2 scores, the Chargers got nothing. With 9 1/2 minutes left from their own 10, Cutler took 7 1/2 minutes off the clock. Although the Bears got no further than the Chargers 45, the damage was done. Lovie Smith, in a very bizarre move on 4th and 8 up by 11, called for a fake punt. It made little sense except that it did no harm. Punter Podlesh actually had an open receiver and threw a decent pass, but it was dropped. Yet one play later Rivers was intercepted again to end things.

The Chargers have now lost 5 straight. At 4-6 they have fallen 2 games behind division leader Oakland, while the Bears have won 5 straight to get to 7-3. Yet the subplots are deeper. In San Diego, Norvelous Norv Turner somehow cannot get fired. Yet a second straight season of missing the playoffs might finally do him in. Of course, San Diego could run the table again and all is forgiven. Lovie Smith never gets his respect in Chicago, but even at 7-3 the Bears got terrible news. Cutler broke his hand in the fourth quarter after trying to make a tackle on an interception. He will be out 6-8 week. Last year in the NFC Title Game he was injured. He and the Bears are not getting the breaks. 31-20 Bears

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants is the Sunday night game. For those who remember Miracles at the Meadowlands I and II, the tables have turned as the 6-3 Giants under Captain Grumpy Tom Coughlin could knock Walrus Lite Andy Reid and his Eagles out of the playoff chase altogether. At 3-6 the Eagles are a mess and are without Michael Vick and Jeremy Maclin for this game. Vince Young called the Eagles the Dream Team, and his only pass of the season was an interception. Now he gets to start on the road against the Giants, where he will have the chance to throw more of them.

Yet one person who eyes were focused on was Desean Jackson. Last year the Giants were cruising toward the playoffs when a 31-10 lead over Philly at home evaporated in a hellacious fourth quarter. Tied 31-31 on the last play of the game, a punt that should have been kicked out of bounds was fielded by Jackson and returned all the way for a score. Miracle at the Meadowlands II shocked the Giants and put the Eagles in the playoffs while knocking the Giants out. Last week Andy Reid benched Jackson for missing a team meeting. Yet Jackson could have shot people and stuffed the bodies in the trunk of a car, and he would not be missing the Giants game. All Tom COughlin asked was for this time kicks to him go out of bounds.

Much of the first half was a defensive bonelock. After an exchange of punts, the Eagles took over at their own 11. Vince Young went deep and naturally was intercepted by Prince Amukamara. Since it went 52 yards it could be called a punt. From the Giants 37, Eli Manning needed 3 plays to throw an interception right back Chaney. Yet from the Giants 44, the Eagles could only move 6 yards. On 4th and 4 from the 38 Andy Reid decided to punt. After a scoreless opening quarter, the Eagles began the second quarter at their own 30.

On 3rd and 10 Young went deep to Jackson for 32 yards. Jackson was injured on the play, but he would return. Hall then ran for 7 and McCoy added 13 more. The drive stalled, but Henery nailed a 33 yard field goal to have the Eagles up 3-0. The Giants went 3 and out when Brandon Jacobs got stopped on 3rd and 1. Vince Young was then intercepted again, giving the Giants the ball at the Philly 44. The Giants went backward and punted.

The Eagles took over at their own 2 and a bizarre set of circumstances occurred. Young went deep to Jackson for a 50 yard gain to the Giants 48. After the catch Jackson flipped the ball at one of the Giants coaches and was called for taunting. Apparently his benching last week did not sink in. Yet the 15 yard penalty should have been called from the spot of the foul, since it occurred after the play was over. That would have given the Eagles the ball at their own 37 for a 35 yard gain. There was also a defensive penalty for illegal use of hands. Yet the officials for some reason declared offsetting penalties, and instead the Eagles were back to their own 2 yard line again. Further explanation will be needed since it seemed to be an official error. on the next play Young was intercepted again, but on further review it was ruled incomplete. After all of that the Eagles punted.

With 90 seconds left in the half, the Giants had to punt and naturally there was no way they would kick to Jackson. This had to go out of bounds.  Tom Coughlin would soon have his head explode and fire shoot out of his eyes as every fan in Giants history saw Weatherford kick it to Jackson again. Jackson returned it 51 yards. It looked like he scored again, but he was barely pushed just enough to have a foot step out of bounds at the 14. Young needed one play to hit Steve Smith for the score. Smith was signed by the Eagles when the Giants refused to pay him. A tight game now had the Eagles up 10-0.

After a touchback with 1:22 to go, Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for 21. On 3rd and 6 Manning hit Cruz for 8. On 3rd and 3 from the Eagles 40 with 15 seconds left in the half, Manning hit Ware for 10. Lawrence Tynes would hit a 48 yard field goal as the Giants trailed 10-3 at halftime.

The third quarter was just as ugly as the first quarter as Vince Young threw his third interception. With 13 minutes left in regulation the Giants took over at their own 27. On 3rd and 8 Manning went deep to Hakeem Nicks for 47 yards and then to Cruz for the 24 yard touchdown. With 11 1/2 minutes left in the game the teams were deadlocked 10-10.

After a touchback Young showed what he can truly be when he calms down and actually plays football. He is a head case, but he has talent. He can win games, and has won a bunch of them in his career. This time he had a chance to go from goat to hero. On 3rd and 3 Brown gained 6. On 3rd and 10 from the 33 Young found Riley Cooper for 18 just past midfield. On 3rd and 3 from the Giants 42, Young hit Harbor for 6. On 3rd and 1 from the 27, Young got the yard. On 3rd and 4 from the 20, Young hit Jackson for 10. On 3rd and goal from the 8, Young hit Cooper for the touchdown. Young has deserved every ounce of criticism he has gotten, so let’s give credit this time. With the game on the line, he led a staggering 18 play, 9 minute drive, that covered 80 yards and included 6 3rd down conversions.

Down by 7, the Giants took over with 2 1/2 minutes left at their own 9 yard line. Eli Manning has led major drives before, and he was 91 yards from a tie. Manning hit Jacobs for 3 and Ballard for 13 at the 2 minute warning. On 2nd and 20 from the 15, Manning found Nicks for 17. On 3rd and 3 from the 32, Manning went deep to Cruz for 47 yards. Time was no longer a factor as the Giants had 1:25 and were already at the Philly 21. Yet on the next play Manning was sacked and fumbled on a  blindside hit.

The Eagles took over at their own 31 but the Giants still had 2 timeouts as 1:17 remained. The Giants took their 2nd timeout after McCoy gained 7. Desperately needing a stop, instead the Giants saw McCoy slice through the defense for a 60 yard gain down to the 2. The Giants were now helpless to stop the clock, and a very classy Andy Reid did not try to score, kneeling down instead.

Tom Coughlin after the game pointed out that the Eagles were a desperate team and they played like it, and that they deserved to win. The Giants fell to 6-4 while Philly is 4-6. Last year Jackson ruined it for the Giants. This year Jackson prevented the Giants from delivering payback as Big Blue continues to have nightmares about him. When asked about what a frustrating player the temperamental Jackson can be, Reid smiled and said that on those long punt returns, he found Jackson quite “appealing.” 17-10 Eagles

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots is the Monday night game. Matt Cssel gets to face off against his former team, but the real storyline is that the Patriots made a statement last week against the Jets. Champions do not go down without a fight, and Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick, despite his team having deficiencies, still has too much firepower for the Chiefs. To make things worse for Todd Haley, Cassel did not even get the nod as injury forced Tyler Palko to make his very first start.

Todd Haley refused to go conservative, as Palko came out throwing. Yet most of the first half was a defensive slog as neither offense could get much going. Palko would lead the Chiefs to a 3rd and 1 at the Patriots 36, but Battle got stopped and after failing to draw New England offsides, a delay of game meant another punt. A 25 yard punt return had the Chiefs beginning their next drive at the Chiefs 47. On 3rd and 2 McClusker gained 8. From the 31, Thomas Jones ran for 26. The drive stalled, but a 27 yard Ryan Succop field goal had the Chiefs up 3-0.

Midway through the second quarter the Patriots took over at their own 15. From the 18, Brady finally got going, hitting Hernandez for 13 and 9, setting up a 2nd and 7 at the New England 48. Brady then found a wide open Rob Gronkowski, who broke one tackle and raced for a 52 yard touchdown. Despite being totally outplayed, the Patriots led 7-3 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Just before the 2 minute warning Palko got drilled just as he threw the ball. It still should have been caught, but bounced off the receiver’s fingertips. The receiver also got belted in midair. The deflection was intercepted and returned to the New England 46. Brady piled up yards in bunches, hitting Danny Woodhead for 16 and Gronkowski for 18 more. Woodhead gained 12. With 18 seconds left in the half the Patriots faced 3rd and goal at the 3. Brady fired a strike to Woodhead, but at the last seconds it was ripped out of his hands for an incompletion. Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 21 yarder to have the Patriots up 10-3 at halftime.

Palko would move the Chiefs on their next series to the Patriots 41, but a pass over the middle was deflected and intercepted by Arrington, who returned it 16 yards to just shy of midfield. Brady hit Woodhead and Deion Branch for a pair of 12 yard gains inbetween runs by Green-Ellis of 5, 8, and 10. Green-Ellis got a couple more short carries to set up 3rd and goal at the 1. Brady fired incomplete, and on 4th and goal at the 1, Bill Bellichick tacked on the points and ordered the field goal. On the last play of the third quarter Gostkowski made it 27-3.

Yet the Patriots, outside of Boston, keep showing why they are not likable even though they win games. With 4 minutes left in the game and up by 24, the Patriots faced 4th and 1 at the 30. Bellichick decided to go for it and Brady got 2. Then on 3rd and goal at the 1 with 1:14 left, Bellichick called a pass play. It was caught for a score but an illegal shift negated it. On 4th and goal at the 4 Bellichick went for it, although he did call a run. Shane Vereen took it in to complete the scoring. New England won big to continue leading their division while the Chiefs fell 2 games back in theirs. Yet finishes like these are why teams gleefully like seeing New England blow up in the playoffs like they did last year. 34-3 Patriots


Finally, some green jobs

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Before getting to football, I would like to praise Barack Obama. Congratulations Mr. Obama. You are the king of green jobs.

Now let us all bow at the leader of the new green economy.


New York Jets @ Denver Broncos (pick) was the Thursday night game.

(Jets win)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens (7)

(Ravens win but fail to cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns (Pick)

(Browns win)

Carolina Panthers @ Detroit Lions (7)

(Lions cover)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Green Bay Packers (14 1/2)

(Packers win but fail to cover)

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins (2)

(Bills win outright)

Oakland Raiders (1) @ Minnesota Vikings

(Vikings win outright)

Dallas Cowboys (8) @ Washington Redskins

(Redskins win outright)

Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (10)

(49ers cover)

Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams (3)

(Rams cover)

Tennessee Titans @ Atlanta Falcons (7)

(Falcons cover)

San Diego Chargers @ Chicago Bears (4)

(Chargers win outright)

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants (Pick) is the Sunday night game.

(Giants win)

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots (15) is the Monday night game.

(Patriots win but failed to cover)


OWS–We are the 99%, except when we’re not

Friday, November 18th, 2011

As Occupy Wall Street leftists try to destroy their own leftist cities, perhaps the reaction from conservative Republicans should be sheer delight rather than anger.

I mean I personally don’t care if Occupy Oakland destroys their own city. Let liberals burn their own neighborhoods. Just don’t hurt the Coliseum. If anything OWS does delays the Raiders game on Sunday, then OWS protesters should be met with predator drones.

Back during the 1992 LA Liberal Riots (the rioters were not conservative Republicans), my friends and I were terrified they would hurt Denny’s and Tower Records. Sadly that Denny’s shut down due to stabbing incidents and Tower went bankrupt due to technology.

Wealthy Republicans in bucolic areas and warm cul de sacs have private security. They can just shoot to kill when they need. So maybe encouraging liberals to finally destroy their own cities once and for all is something to encourage. They will blame evil Republicans, but they will do so from charred burnt down buildings. Conservatives can respond by shrugging.

Yet what really is getting laughable is when the OWS protesters insist that the violence in their movement does not represent the movement. It is only a few thousand bad apples.

So those committing rapes, vandalism, and wanton destruction are apparently not a true representation of the OWS movement. Yet how can this be possible? Doesn’t OWS represent the 99%?

By sheer definition alone there are only two possibilities.

Either the truly most violent OWS protesters are part of the 99%, and OWS has zero grip on reality, or:

Maybe the most violent protesters are part of the 1%!

That’s it! Shazamm!

Leftists did try to infiltrate tea parties by pretending to be tea partiers, holding up racist signs. I know this because I caught some of them and had them removed. Maybe conservative Republicans are leaving their jobs and infiltrating OWS to destroy stuff. Maybe this is like “Fight Club!”

Finally, we know the truth. Wealthy stockbrokers are putting away their three piece suits, getting grungy, leaving their offices during lunch, and blending in with the OWS protesters to rape people. Only an episode of Law and Order would accept such an idiotic premise.

So if one realizes that the 1% being targeted are not also the violent criminals burning stuff, then the group that claims to represent 99% cannot dismiss those making them look bad.

Congratulations OWS. You may have a few sane members in your ranks, but you will most likely be robbed or beaten or even killed since the crazies have the ammo and you don’t.

It won’t be the 1% harming you. They are at their desks working. You could learn from them.


Barack Obama–Still pompous, still lazy

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Barack Obama thinks his fellow Americans are lazy.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle African-American.


Well Done Mr. Timberlake

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Of all the people I thought I would be writing about, Justin Timberlake was not anywhere near the top of the list.

I have nothing against him. He seemed like a nice enough young man who wrote substanceless but fun popular music. “Bringing sexy back” is catchy, and I very much like the song “Love stoned.” Apparently he dated Britney Spears, but the day stuff like that interests me is the day I give in to the decline of civilization.

I know he was at the center of a controversy with Janet Jackson, but while the girls in the room were screaming at the Super Bowl halftime show, I was more interested in the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots putting on a thrilling game.

If I were to meet Mr. Timberlake a few years ago, the only thing I could think of asking him is “how is school?”

Yet just when we think that all people in the entertainment industry are drugged out, whored out screwups and airheads, one of them comes along and offers pure decency.

Therefore, I am going to turn my column over today to the unlikeliest of people, Justin Timberlake. He recently attended a function honoring the marines, and was very moved by the experience.

Many famous people could learn a lot from Mr. Timberlake.

I will let him tell his story, because it is worth reading from beginning to end.

Well done, Mr. Timberlake. I wish more young people were like you. If they already are, they should say so publicly.

I don’t know much about your music, but I know a mensch when I encounter one.


Barack Obama is now officially French

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Barack Obama recently referred to Americans as “soft.” This week he referred to Americans as “lazy.”

There is only one curseword strong enough to correctly identify and condemn this arrogant gasbag who rocketed to the presidency despite not having created anything since Sasha and Malia.

(For liberals who want to claim this is an attack on his children, sit down. As usual, you’re wrong.)

Mr. Obama, you are officially French.

Now move to Paris and take Eric Holder with you. You can sniff each others’ (redacted) while admiring the scents.


November hate mail

Monday, November 14th, 2011

After plenty of traveling, there is not always time for fresh analysis of issues. So when in doubt, my critics are still the imbecilic gift that keeps on giving. Here is a small slice of my November hate mail. Forgive the strong language. I do not curse in my columns but my critics are uncivilized animals with no regard for decency standards.


Re: The savage lynching of Herman Cain

Not only are you making an ass out of yourself and your paper, you are helping in removing millions of women from the GOP column. Your calling this a lynching is sick, sir, and you need serious help. You are a whining, sick, conservative, nutcase and you have no business on a newspaper website, let along near a serious discussion.

You have no idea the kind of rage you are spawning toward YOU and your sick, sad, pathetic ditto heads on the right.

Shame on you, ou sick fck.

Analysis: GOP women love me. The commenter seems to hate all conservatives. I do not think I am spawning his rage. He seemed to have it before I ever wrote a column.


The only violence at OWS has been committed by the police. You are not a journalist, you are a disappointment as a media "professional."

Analysis: Feminist lunatics began spelling women as womyn with a y so that it would not contain the word men. I wish the police would beat the daylights out of any feminist caught spelling an entire gender as womyn. At the very least bring in Joe “Lean on me” Clark with his baseball bat.


Understood. Your are on their payroll. Bad article.

Analysis: I defend Wall Street so apparently I am on their payroll. Perhaps I could accuse the commenter of being on the OWS payroll but that would imply that anybody in the OWS movement ha a job, collects a paycheck, or contributes in any way to society in a positive manner.

Yes, I admit it, I (e)mailed it in today. I promise to do better in the future. As for my critics, there is no hope. Say it with me everyone.

These are liberals. This is how they behave.

I also got blistered on a sports column pointing out that Joe Paterno should not have been fired. He did plenty of good things in 61 years, and one serious error in judgment should not invalidate all of that. Yet people let emotions get in the way of logical reasoning. Anyone defending Paterno was attacked as evil themselves. I am used to it.

Joe Bush Sr
Would you be so sympathetic to this coach if this victim was your child or a member of your
family? Paterno had to know that this person was raping preteen boys before he was infomed
what had been observed at the time and doing that for many years that followed? How in hell
could he condone his and let this animal do as he wanted with children. How could Paterno
work with him on a daily basis knowing this for years, don't he have (not the animal)
a sense of right or wrong or a smidgen of conscience. They always blame the heathen or
ungodly for this type of behavior (like Dahmer, Manson, Bundy, Gein, Gasy-just to name a
very few) but it is always those among you and when you condone this, you are just as
guilty and should be liable for this atrocity.

No, I am not guilty of sexually violating young boys just because I believe we should respect the rule of law. The Attorney General did not prosecute Coach Paterno. I have no idea if the writer is a liberal but liberals love invalidating the law when they do not agree with the results. Sadly too many of these people own keyboards and send me hate mail. They deserve sympathy if they have nothing better to do with their time.

eric aka the Tygrrrr Express

NFL 2011–Week 10 Recap

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

From the Ohare Airport sportsbar in Chicago followed by an airplane with a tv on the seat, here is the NFL 2011 Week 10 Recap as I fly home to Los Angeles.

Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers was the Thursday night game. For more on the game of the week, go to

A pair of 4-4 teams fought with first place in the AFC West on the line. The Raiders have been devastated by injuries to Jason Campbell, Darren McFadden and Rolando McClain, but Hue Jackson will not tolerate excuses. The Raiders have lost 2 straight at home and now have to go at San Diego on a short week. The Chargers have plenty of talent, but Norvelous Norv Turner seems to keep them from going further. The Raiders swept the series last year after 7 straight years of losing to the Chargers, but this will be a far sterner test.

After a touchback the Raiders quickly went 3 and out. Shane Lechler did his job but the Chargers had trickery prepared. They imitated the “home run throwback” made famous in the Tennessee-Buffalo playoff game after the 1999 season. This time it went for 40 yrds to give the Chargers a short field to start the game. From the Oakland 40, Philip Rivers hit Brown for 13 and Ryan Mathews ran for 16 more. From the 11, the Chargers went backward and soon faced 2nd and 20 from the 21. Rivers hit Mathews for 19, but on 3rd and 1 from the 2 he threw incomplete. On 4th and 1 from the 2 Norv Turner played it safe and Novak hit the 20 yard field goal to have the Chargers up 3-0.

A disastrous kickoff return had Jacoby Ford lucky to get back to the 13. With McFdden out Michael Bush is the bruiser expected to carry the offense. On the first play he raced 44 yards, and then got the ball again for 5 more and then another deuce to set up 3rd and 3 at the San Diego 38. With Sebastian Janikowski playing with a bad hamstring, 55 yard field goals were not the easy decision they usually are for the Raiders. Bush got the carry anyway and came up one yard short. On 4th and 1 Hue Jackson decided against going for it or kicking the field goal. He called a fake punt. Lechler threw deep. There was obvious pass interference as Quentin Jammer decked Jacoby Ford. It was not called and the Chargers took over.

On 2nd and 10 Aaron Curry blew up Chargers offensive lineman Marcus McNeil and McNeil stayed down. Curry prayed as McNeil was carted off. On 3rd and 6  Rivers threw incomplete. The Raiders took over at their own 14. Bush ran for 3, and after San Diego jumped offsides, got a couple more for a first down and then a couple more. With the running game working, Carson went deep to Jacoby Ford for a 41 yard gain. It was underthrown, so instead of a touchdown it was a long gain. Yet Ford then went down with an ankle injury on the play as the offense continued to lose bodies. The cart took him to the locker room as well as the drive continued.

Bush gained 5 and Palmer then hit TJ Houshmanzadeh for 6 to set up 1st and 10 at the Chargers 22.  Bush barreled for another 8 yards and then 4 more to the 10 yard line. Illegal use of hands made it 1st and goal at the 5. Marcel Reese took it to the 2.  Bush went airborne, got hit, but broke the plane as pure power football completed the 11 play, 86 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive to have the Raiders up 7-3 as the first quarter ended.

Seabass and his bad leg meant short kickoffs, and the Chargers took over at their own 28. The second quarter saw a 3rd and 8 sack of Rivers as the Chargers punted again. The Raiders kept it on the ground from their 25 and Taiwan Jones gained 4 and then 12. On 1st and 10 Palmer went deep and Denarius Moore made a diving finger tip catch for a 46 yard gain to the 13. Yet on 3rd and 2 Bush came up a yard short. On 4th and 1 from the 4 Hue Jackson wasted no time calling for the field goal. Seabass hit a knuckleball that may have missed from 30 but from 22 it was good the Raiders led 10-3.

Another short kickoff had the Chargers taking over at their own 28.  On 3rd and 4 Rivers found an open receiver past the first down marker, but Michael Mitchell blasted him to force an incomplete pass as the Chargers punted after a 3rd straight 3 and out. Denarius Moore blundered by fielding the punt at his own 1 yard line, and going down at the 13. Luckily for the Raiders the Chargers had an illegal man downfield, meaning a rekick. Moore again made a mistake as he decided not to field a ball that bounced at the 15 and rolled toward the goal line. Moore was lucky as it just reached the end zone for a touchback.

Bush ran for 4 and Palmer hit Moore and Bush for 7 yard gains. Yet on 2nd and 3 from the 38, the Raiders self-destructed with consecutive holding penalties. They would punt and the Chargers took over at their own 22. On 3rd and 6, Rivers was sacked again as a 4th straight 3 and out gave the Raiders the ball at their own 44 after a long return by Moore. A wel executed screen pass to Bush went for 23 yards at the 2 minute warning. Palmer needed one play to execute a perfect play action pass deep strike to Moore for the touchdown as the Raiders led 17-3.

From their 28 with with 1:46 left in the half, Rivers hit Gates for 9 and Tolbert gained 4. Yet Kameron Wimbley sacked Rivers for a 10 yard loss and on 3rd and 9 Rivers threw incomplete. San Diego punted again and the Raiders took a knee to end the half. Palmer finished the half 8 of 10 for 169 yards while Rivers was 4 of 11 for 44 yards. Yet the Raiders offense was very vanilla, which hurt them in the second half last week. They still have not opened the playbook like they did earlier in the year, so they had to run well in the second half or get more creative. San Diego can strike in a heartbeat. The Raiders led in total yards 293 to 65. It was pure domination, but games are 60 minutes and not 30.
The Raiders had the ball for 19 1 /2 minutes in the first half. The key question would be if they could finish a game. Seabass still could not kick it to the end zone to start the second half, but he managed to squib it there. Heavy pressure and a pair of incomplete passes meant 3rd and 10. Yet this time Rivers hit Patrick Crayton for 14 and then for another 11 as Rivers found a rhythm. A 2nd and 6 screen pass was blown up by Aaron Curry for a loss. On 3rd and 7 Rivers found Antonio Gates for a 22 yard gain to the Oakland 30. Rivers went for it all and threw into double coverage. Somehow Vincent Brown outjumped Giordano and Stanford Routt for the touchdown as the Chargers were within 17-10.

Raiders fans saw this last week, and they did not want to see another second half collapse. The offense had to keep the pressure on and not go into a shell. With Ford out injured earlier in the game, Taiwan Jones returned the kickoff only to the 15. Jackson kept it basic but Bush gained 6 yards on first down. On the next play Stefan Wisniewski accidentally stepped on Palmer’s foot, resulting in the 6 yard loss and 3rd and 10. Yet a perfectly executed screen pass to Bush went for 55 yards. On 2nd and 7, Palmer went deep and found Moore for the 26 yard touchdown as the Raiders led 24-10. Hue Jackson was rewarded for not being too conservative.

Another short kickoff had the Chargers at their own 30. On 3rd and 6 the Raiders jumped offsides. On 3rd and 1 Rivers hit Tolbert for 10 yards just shy of midfield. Rivers then fired a laser to Vincent Brown for 20 yards. On 3rd and 7 from the Raiders 28, this time the Raiders held as Rivers threw incomplete. From 46 yards out, Nick Novak missed it just wide as the Chargers came up empty. Now the Raiders had a golden opportunity to show they can finish a  game.

A pair of ultraconservative runs by Bush set up 3rd and 5. Under heavy pressure with 2 defenders bearing on him, Palmer off his back foot somehow hit a falling Brandon Myers for 6 yards and a critical first down. Bush gained 5 but on 2nd and 5 Palmer was again chased and this time the defense forced a fumble. Hue Jackson challenged the call although it was clear Palmer’s hand was not going forward. The Chargers took over at their own 48 as the Raiders lost a timeout.

Rivers hit Mathews for 5 and Mathews then somehow avoided a loss and ran for 13 more. Rivers again went deep to Brown and again the play was very well covered, this time by Lito Shepphard. Yet somehow again Brown came down with it after wresting it away for another miracle touchdown. As the third quarter was ending the Chargers were within 24-17 as the Raiders again had to prove…say it with me everybody…that they could finish an entire game.

Yet in a stunning turn of events, the officials reviewed the catch and called it incomplete. Brown clearly caught it and was inbounds. That was not in dispute. However, Lito Shephard also had his hands on it and he was out of bounds. Tie goes to the offense, but Shephard being out of bounds meant the entire play was out of bounds. That will be one for referees to discuss in the offseason. Instead of a touchdown it was 3rd and 10. Rivers got drilled on the next play by Wimbley but somehow got it to Crayton, who came up one yard short. On 4th and 1 from the Oakland 24, the Chargers lined up to go for it and then called timeout. Rivers hit Tolbert, who broke a tackle for a 17 yard gain. Rivers the rolled out and found a wide open Jacob Hester for a 7 yard score. Now it actually was 24-17, and the third quarter had finally ended. So again the Raiders had to see if they had the character to finish a tough game on the road.

A touchback and another predicted run up the middle meant one yard. Palmer then found Moore for 12 yards and a first down. Bush got another run up the middle on first down but this time netted 4 yards. Encrochment on the defense then meant 2nd and 1. Bush got 3. On 2nd and 10 Palmer hit Kevin Boss for 8. On 3rd and 2 Bush broke free for a 30 yard gain. The Raiders had 1st and 10 at the 18. Yet again they could not finish things as Palmer was hit as he threw, leading to a fluttering interception. A personal foul against the Chargers came after the interception, so San Diego retained possession at their own 6 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Ryan Mathews was trapped in the backfield and belted in the end zone for a safety. Yet the Raiders jumped offsides. Rivers hit Tolbert for 7 and a first down. On 2nd and 10 Rivers threw incomplete but Stanford Routt was called for defensive holding. Although the Chargers were only at their own 22, the Raider Nation has seen this kind of collapse before. A pair of incomplete passes meant another critical 3rd and 10. The Raiders sent a blitz and Rivers threw it straight to Lito Shephard. The sure interception was dropped. Shephard had it right in his hands. Nevertheless it was 4th and 10 and the Chargers punted with 9 1/2 minutes left. Yet defensive holding on the punt before the ball was kicked instead meant the Chargers kept the ball. Yes, this was a full scale collapse.

The Raiders led in total yards 450 to 239 at that point but could not get off the field. From the San Diego 32, the drive continued. On 2nd and 9 Rivers somehow shook off a sure sack, flew around like Houdini, rolled out, and fired deep. This time it was incomplete to set up 3rd and 9. This time the Raiders came on a jailbreak and Rivers threw it straight to Rolando McClain. McClain dropped it, but it was 4th and 9. The Chargers punted and finally the drive was over. With 8 minutes left in regulation the Raiders had the ball at their own 31. For the 50 billionth time, they had a chance to finish a game.

Bush got the carry and gained 5 yards. He got it again and gained 2 more to set up a critical 3rd and 3. Palmer burned the Raiders second timeout with 7 minutes left in the game. Every first down would keep Rivers off the field. A pass was broken up and of course 3 and out meant giving it back to Rivers. Shane Lechler hit a fantastic punt as the Chargers again had awful field position at their own 11.

On 2nd and 10 Rivers found a wide open Jackson for 23 yards. Rivers then hit Gates for 9. An incompletion meant 3rd and 1 from the San Diego 42. Hester got the yard. Rivers found Gates for 9 and a draw play to Tolbert meant 11 more. The Raiders appeared in full retreat when a sack of Rivers meant 2nd and 15 from the Oakland 42. Rivers again went for the deep ball to the end zone into double coverage. Finally, the Raiders outjumped the Chargers as Giordano intercepted it in the end zone.

The defense had saved the day but there was still 3:22 to play. The offense again for the umpteen billionth time had to finish a game. A run up the middle lost a yard as the Chargers took their second timeout. The Raiders tried to pass, and it was incomplete. 3rd and 11 was meant to be a disaster and a typical Oakland offense self-destructing. Not this time. Palmer found Kevin Boss for a 24 yard gain. With exactly 3 minutes left, the Raiders had to salt it away as the Chargers took their final timeout. Now it was time to just run the ball and hang on to it.

Bush got the carry and gained nothing as the clock ticked down. A naked bootleg fooled nobody. The clock hit the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and long, the only intelligent thing to do in this situation is run the ball. A run and a punt would leave Rivers with 1 minute and no timeouts. An incomplete pass would stop the clock and give Rivers an extra 45 seconds. Hue Jackson is a riverboat gambler, but there is a line between boldness and foolishness. This is one time where there is no decision whatsoever. You run the football.

Michael Bush raced up the middle and came so close to the first down marker to end it. Yet he was one yard short. On 4th and 1 Hue Jackson decided not to go for it from the San Diego 36 with 1:13 left. After taking a delay of game, Lechler hit another beauty. Rivers had 1:04 and 0 timeouts from his own 10 yard line. The offense could not finish it, so the defense had to do it.

Rivers hit Brown for 12 but Shephard kept him in bounds. Rivers then hit Gates, who did get out of bounds with 37 seconds left at the San Diego 27. Rivers got hit as he threw incomplete on the next play to set up 3rd and 5. Rivers hit Brown at midfield as the clock ticked.  Rivers spiked it with 14 seconds left. Rivers was going down and tried to throw it forward like the Holy Roller. Yet the rules were changed because of that and it was ruled a sack. With the clock running Rivers snapped it with one second left. Rivers was sacked again and the Raiders had the win.

The quarterbacks had comparable numbers, each throwing 2 touchdowns and one interception with Palmer throwing for 299 yards, most in the first half, and Rivers throwing 274, most in the second half. Yet Palmer barely lifted his arm, going 14 for 20. Rivers meanwhile fired early and often going 23 for 47. Michael Bush had 30 carries for 157 yards, over 5 yards a carry. Bush also had 85 receiving yards for a total of 242 yards. Moore had 123 yards receiving. The Raiders had 489 yards of offense compared to 314 for the Chargers. 191 of that came on the ground while the CHargers had only 75 yards rushing. Rivers was sacked 6 times, 4 of them by Kamerion Wimbley.

The Chargers fell to 4-5 with 4 straight losses under Norvelous Norv Turner. As for the Raiders, they  are a young, inexperienced and injured team trying to find their identity.  After a pair of bad home losses, they gutted out a tough win on the road. They showed determination and heart. Hue Jackson deserved credit for getting the team to 4-2. Yet good teams respond to adversity. Hue Jackson has kept this team together through very tough times. The Raiders made their mistakes but they have nothing to apologize for. They beat the Chargers for the 3rd straight time. In useless statistics, the Raiders in 1994 at 6-6 went into San Diego and beat the 9-3 Chargers 24-17 when Stan Humphries was sacked on the final play. Yet in that season the Raiders were the underachievers. This Silver and Black team is anything but as Palmer got his first win as a Raider. The Raiders are 5-4 and in first place in the AFC West. Just win baby. 24-17 Raiders

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons–This game very well could determine the NFC South, and both of these teams won on the road last year to split the series. Sean Payton is back on the sidelines after having to coach from the press box due to an injury, while Mike Smith remains the poster child for average non-descript white guy monthly magazine. Yet by the time the game was over, NFL fans saw a fantastic football game and the bland looking Mike Smith turn into a riverboat gambler with a coaching decision late that summoned up the ghosts of Barry Switzer and Bill Bellichick. This one will be talked about for some time.

The Falcons began with Matt Ryan leading a staggering 16 play drive that consumed over 8 1/2 minutes. The Falcons moved from their 20 to the Saints 13. Yet a false start and incomplete passes stopped the drive. Matt Bryant kicked a 36 yard field goal to put the Falcons up 3-0. Darren Sproles returned the ensuing kickoff to the Saints 35. On 3rd and 2 Drew Brees hit Marquis Colston for 9 and 10. The Saints would also stall, but Jon Kasay nailed a 52 yard field goal to tie the game 3-3. On the next series the Falcons went 3 and out and faced 4th and 1 at their own 29. With the first quarter almost over, Mike Smith decided he was not crazy. He punted. This seemed routine, but would play a role later on.

Atlanta got the ball back to start the second quarter with very good field position at their own 44. Ryan went to Roddy White for a 27 yard gain. Ryan again took the Falcons deep, but on 3rd and 5 from the 11 he threw incomplete. Bryant kicked a 29 yarder to put the Falcons up 6-3. The field position game changed, and with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half the Saints took over at midfield. Brees made it look easy as he hit Graham for 29 and then again for the 21 yard touchdown as the Saints led 10-6 with 2 1/2 minutes left in the half.

Atlanta again ran 3 plays and again faced 4th and 1 at their own 29. With 1:56 left in the half, Mike Smith again showed he was not crazy and opted to punt. While again this seems like a routine call, again it would be an issue later. The Saints would get the ball back at their own 48. Yet 3rd and 3 meant a Brees incompletion. From the Atlanta 45, Sean Payton also played it smart and punted. With 1:05 left in the half the Falcons were at their own 1. Turner gained 10, and with 37 seconds left the Falcons were at their own 19. Ryan went deep to Douglas for a 46 yard gain. Ryan gained 9 more, and with 3 seconds left in the half Bryant came in for a 41 yarder. He missed it, deflating the home crowd as Atlanta trailed 10-6 at halftime.

The Saints in the third quarter began at their own 18. From the 20, Brees went deep to Robert Meachem for 36 yards. Pierre Thomas gained 16 and 9, but on 2nd and 1 lost 4. John Kasay came in for a 40 yarder, but in a complete mirror image he missed his kick as well as the game stayed 10-6.

The Falcons soon faced 3rd and 10 at their own 30, and Ryan hit Douglas for 12. On 3rd and 8 from the 44, Michael Turner gained 24. The Falcons soon faced 4th and 1 again. Yet they were at the Saints 26, not their own 29. So Mike Smith went for it, which was not insane. Turner gained 5 yards. On the next play Ryan hit Snelling for the 21 yard touchdown to complete the 10 play, 6 minute drive, 70 yard drive and put the Falcons up 13-10.

From the Saints 18, Brees brought them right back. He hit Colston for 15, and on 3rd and 8 went back to Colston for 19 more. From the Atlanta 33, Brees went deep to Meachem for the touchdown as the Saints took a 17-13 lead into the fourth quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing 2nd and 19 at their own 31, Ryan was intercepted. Teh Saints took over at the Atlanta 26. Brees hit Colston for 15 but the Saints went backwards due to holding. On 4th and 25 from the 30, Kasay came in for a 48 yarder. He made this one, as the Saints led 20-13 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Atlanta went 3 and out and on 4th and 7 from the Altanta 47, Mike Smith decided to punt. This made sense since plenty of time remained. The Saints took over at their own 12. Brees quickly hit Moore for 28. On 3rd and 5 from midfield, Brees again hit Colston for 18 yards. The drive stalled, but Kasay hit a 44 yarder. With 7 minutes left in regulation the Saints led 23-13 and appeared to put the game out of reach.

From the Atlanta 19, Ryan showed why he has the nickname Matty Ice. Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for 18, Weems for 9, and soon faced 4th and 3 at the Saints 45. Of course Mike Smith went for it because in this situation that is the only sane option. Ryan hit White for  yards and then again for 19. Ryan then fired to Gonzalez for the 20 yard touchdown as the Falcons were only down 23-20 with 4 minutes left in the game.

The onsides kick failed, and the Saints took over at the Atlanta 44. On 3rd and 11, Brees hit Colston for 13. The Falcons had to use all of their timeouts. With 3 minutes left the Saints had 2nd and 1 at the Falcons 23. One more yard would most likely end the game. Mark Ingram got the carry and lost 4 yards. Then on 3rd and 5 Sean Payton decided to have Brees throw. He fired incomplete. Yet Kasay could come in for a 45 yard kick to at least make it a 6 point game. The kick was good, but holding nullified the score. 55 yards was too much for Sean Payton, and he decided to punt. Morstead did his job, as the Falcons had one last chance with 1:55 left from their own 6 yard line.

Ryan quickly hit Douglas for consecutive 23 yard gains. On 2nd and 15 from their own 47, Ryan went back to Douglas a third time for 20 yards. With 41 seconds left the Falcons had 3rd and 6 at the Saints 29. Ryan threw incomplete but defensive pass interference meant 1st and 10 at the 20. With 28 seconds left it was 3rd and 10, and Ryan hit Weems for 11 and then spiked the ball to stop the clock with 13 seconds left. Yet despite the chance for a miracle 94 yard drive to end it, Ryan fired incomplete twice. 13 plays and 85 yards in under 2 minutes meant only a 27 yard Matt Bryant try. Yet the Falcons were all but dead down 10 saw Bryant connect as the game went into overtime tied 23-23. If ever a game deserved an extra period, this one was it.

Atlanta got the ball to start overtime and soon saw Ryan throw incomplete on 3rd and 2. On 4th and 2 from their own 28, Mike Smith decided to punt because he is not crazy. For those who wonder why so many routine fourth down decisions are being analyzed, it only takes one crazy call to ruin things. The Saints also ran 3 plays and soon faced 4th and 1 at their own 36. Sean Payton punted because he is not crazy. Atlanta got it back on the 20. On 3rd and 1 Ryan hit Cox for 2, but on further review it was ruled that Cox fumbled it forward, moving it back to the spot of the fumble. That left 4th and 1 for the Falcons at their own 29. Naturally Mike Smith would punt like did every other time since he is not crazy.

Not so fast. Smith had the Falcons line up to go for it. On 4th and 1…from their own 29. Surely this was just to try and get the Saints to jump offsides. I mean everyone knows what happened when Bill Bellichick gambled on 4th and 2 from his own 28. It failed and the Patriots gave up the winning touchdown. Everyone knows when Barry Switzer gambled on 4th and 1 from his own 29. The gamble failed in a tie game and Dallas lost on a late field goal since their opponent was already in range. Bill Parcells would gamble from his own 40, but not from his own 29 in that situation. Nobody is that crazy outside of Bellichick and Switzer.

Add Mike Smith. Mike Turner got stuffed and the jubilant Saints took over at the Atlanta 29. On 2nd and 7 Brees hit Collins for 12. Ingram ran for 6 more. On 2nd and 4 from the 8, Sean Payton took no chances. Kasay came in for a 26 yarder to win it as Mike Smith and the Falcons looked on helplessly. Kasay connected and the Saints won. This was a fine football game, but Mike Smith cost his team the game. Yes he led the Falcons to a 13-3 record last year and is the only Falcons coach to enjoy 3 straight winning seasons. Yet this decision was boneheaded, and now the Saints are in sole control of the NFC South with some breathing room. As for Barry Switzer, he was allowed to take a mulligan since Dallas won the Super Bowl that year. Bill Bellichick gets latitude due to 3 Super Bowl rings. Sean Payton has a ring, and his onsides kick in the Super Bowl worked. Mike Smith may not be boring, but he needs some big wins to overcome this loss. 26-23 Falcons, OT

Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers–The Titans have faded after a strong start while the Panthers are a young improving team with rookie phenom Cam Newton. Yet outside of Newton this game has very few if any compelling storylines. From the start it was a blowout as a pair of big plays began the deluge. Mariani returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown and Matt Hasselbeck hit Williams for  43 yard touchdown as the Titans led 14-0 after the opening quarter. Rob Bironas would tack on a field goal from 38 yards out as the Titans led 17-0 at halftime of a game that was never competitive.

In the second half he Panthers finally got on the board when Olindo Mare nailed a 29 yard field goal. Yet that concluded the Carolina lowlights for the day. Bironas would tack on a 36 yarder and then in the fourth quarter a 49 yarder to have the Titans coasting 23-3. Neither Cam Newton or Matt Hasselbeck were spectacular or awful, but on this day Hasselbeck got help from a revitalized Chris Johnson. Late in the game Hasselbeck led an 11 play, 83 yard drive that ate up 6 minutes, culminating in a 1 yard run by Johnson to end the scoring. Ron Rivera knows better days are ahead but on this day, Mike Munchak saw his club stop their skid in a big way. 30-3 Titans

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals–The AFC North is seen as a turf war between Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Despite being 6-2, Cincinnati is considered an afterthought. Every team complains they are disrespected, but with only 2 winning seasons in 20 years, the Bengals really are. A loss at home to Pittsburgh will have everybody calling them out as pretenders.

After a Cincy punt the Steelers took over at their own 46. Ben Roethlisberger found Mike Wallace for gains of 7 and 6 sandwiched around a 6 yarder to heath Miller. Wallace ran for 15, and on 3rd and 10 from the 16, Roethisberger found Jerricho Cotcherry for the touchdown and the early 7-0 Steelers lead. Cincy punted again and the Steelers took over at their own 22. Roethlisberger found Rashaard Mendenhall for 26 yards and Wallace ran for 16 more. Big Ben hit Hines Ward for 10 nd on 3rd and 10 from the 20, Roethlisberger went back to Miller for 18. Mendenhall got the deuce for the touchdown as the Steelers were making it easy up 14-0.

The Bengals finally got going. On 3rd and 5 from their own 26, Andy Dalton went deep to Hawkins for 25 yards. After Scott ran for 11, rookie Dalton went deep to rookie Green for a 36 yard touchdown as the Bengals were only down 14-7. The offenses cooled after the first quarter as the defenses took over. Big Ben was intercepted to start the second quarter, giving the Bengals a short field at the Pittsburgh 41. The Bengals would settle for a 43 yard Mike Nugent field goal to trail 14-10. Midway through the quarter Roethliseberger led Pittsburgh from their own 13 to a 3rd and 7 at the Cincy 10. Yet Big Ben was then sacked as the Steelers settled for a 39 yard Shawn Suisham field goal and a 17-10 halftime lead.

The third quarter saw Pittsburgh punt, and the Bengals take over at their own 33. Dalton hit Gresham for 10 and Caldwell for 11 on 3rd and 10. A 25 yard pass to Cochart set up 1st and goal at the 10. Dalton hit Caldwell at the 2, and hit Gresham for a one yard score as the 11 play drive had the game tied 17-17.

From their own 19 Pittsburgh came right back. Roethlisberger hit Cotcherry for 13, Wallace for 9, Brown for 12, and saw Redman run for 11. On 2nd and 12 from the Cincy 21, Roethlisberger hit Wallace for 12. Mendenhall ran it in for the 9 yard touchdown as the Steelers were back up by 7 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was all defense. Dalton was intercepted early in the fourth quarter. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Bengals got it back at the Pittsburgh 49. Benson gained 7 and 16. With 2 1/2 minutes left from the Pittsburgh 25, Daltonw as intercepted again by William Gay. Yes the Bengals are 6-3 under Marvin Lewis, but they look ripe for an early playoff exit if they even get there. Mike Tomlin has his guys prepared for a third match with Baltimore, and until Cincy proves otherwise, their record is just scheduling and nothing more. 24-17 Steelers

St. Louis Rams @ Cleveland Browns–This game meant something in the 1950s when Norm Van Brocklin, Paul Brown, Otto Graham, and Lou “the toe” Groza were around. Today it is just a pair of bad teams who are both cellar dwellars in their respective divisions. Walrus Mike Holmgren has to watch this game, but nobody else has that obligation. Cleveland moved 11 plays over 6 minutes and Phil Dawson hit a 44 yard field goal to have the Browns up 3-0. In the second quarter quarter Sam Bradford moved the Rams 10 plays in 5 minutes for 69 yards. When Bradford hit Brandon Lloyd from 7 yrds out, NFL fans got to experience a touchdown as the Rams led 7-3. Much of the rest of the game was a battle of field goal kickers. Dawson hit from 32, Josh Brown responded from 29, and Dawson hit from 43 to have the Rams leading 10-9 at halftime.

The second half was even worse as the league refused to cancel the game. Dawson connected from 27 and Brown responded from 34 in the fourth quarter as the Rams led 13-12. The only way to send a terrible game is with terrible play. With 2 minutes left the Browns had 4th and goal at the 4. Old reliable Phil Dawson actually missed the 22 yard field goal wide. Mike Holmgren was a most unhappy Walrus as the Rams debated whether or not to even accept the win. Steve Spagnuolo decided to take it. 13-12 Rams

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys–The Cowboys humiliated the Bills in consecutive Super Bowls. Then Chan Gailey took over the Cowboys and was quickly fired by Jerry Jones, leading him to the Bills. Wade Phillips was fired from both of these teams as well. In recent years, these teams played a thriller on Monday Night Football in Dallas. Tonoy Romo threw 5 interceptions and with one minute left the Bills led 24-16. Yet somehow Romo got his team a touchdown. They missed the 2 point conversion, recovered the onsides kick and kicked a 53 yard field goal at the gun to give the Cowboys a 25-24 shocker victory. In 2011, both of these teams have talent but are inconsistent.

One never knows what they will get from Tony Romo. On this day they got a Hall of Fame performance. Romo completed his first 13 passes and finished a precision 23 of 26 for 278 yards. Romo threw a 34 yard pass to Dez Bryant to put Dallas up 7-0. Then Romo found Miles Austin from 5 yards out. Despite having dated a Kardashian, Austin caught the ball to have Dallas up 14-0 after the 12 play, 7 1/2 minute, 78 yard drive. Buffalo tried to get back in early in the second quarter but a 52 yard field goal try was no good. Dallas needed only one play to capitalize as Romo went deep to Robinson for a 58 yard touchdown. Dallas led 21-0.

Ryan Fitzpatrick brought Buffalo back from the 20, and defensive pass interference moved the ball to the Dallas 46. Fitzpatrick hit Chandler for 18 and Fred Jackson ran for 19 more. Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for a 3 yard touchdown to get the Bills within 21-7. Was a miracle comeback in the works? Just like in the Super Bowls, the answer was a resounding no as the Bills score was a mere blip on the short end of a blowout.

With 8 minutes left in the half from the 20, Dallas soon faced 3rd and 8. Romo hit Murray for 17. On 3rd and 6 from the Dallas 43, Romo found Jason Witten for 17. On 3rd and 2 from the Buffalo 32, Romo found Witten again for 10. On 3rd and 6 from the 18, Romo hit Dez Bryant for 11. Murray would take it in from 1 yard out to complete the 14 play, 80 yard, 7 minute drive and have the Cowboys cruising 28-7 at halftime.

In the third quarter Fitzpatrick led Buffalo from their own 17 to a 4th and 2 at the Dallas 17. Chan Gailey decided to go for it and Fitzpatrick fired incomplete. After an exchange of punts the Cowboys took over at their own 34. Romo hit Bryant for 12, Ogletree for 17, and Robinson for 10. On 4th and 2 Dan Bailey hit the 45 yard field goal as Jason Garrett saw Dallas up 31-7. Fitzpatrick was then quickly intercepted, leading to another field goal as the Cowboys led 34-7 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter began with Buffalo reaching the Dallas 37 before fumbling the ball away again. Dallas bled the clock with an 11 play, 8 minute drive that resulted in another field goal from 31 yards out and a 37-7 lead. On the next play Fitzpatrick was intercepted again, and Terrence Newman returned it 44 yards for the final score of the game. Like the Super Bowls, the Bills were destroyed by turnovers. This game was not as painful, and both teams are 5-4. Both Dallas and Buffaloa re one game back in their respective divisions. Yet the Bills sliding while Dallas is inconsistently trending upwards. 44-7 Cowboys.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts–The 2-6 Jaguars look like a juggernaut compared to the 0-9 Colts. Jim Caldwell has yet to make a facial expression while Jack Del Rio knows losing this game could give him something pink for Christmas, long after breast cancer awareness month has ended. Once again bad teams came together to play an even worse game. The first quarter saw Josh Scobee hit a 44 yard field goal for the Jaguars while the Colts responded with a 42 yard Adam Vinatieri kick to send the teams to the locker rooms tied 3-3. The league demanded the second half be played.

In the third quarter Blaine Gabbert led the Jaguars on a staggering 16 play, 86 yard drive that consumed over 9 1/2 minutes off of the clock. This was good for the fans since terrible games should be shorter anyway. It was better for the Jaguars as Gabbert hit Dillard from 11 yards out to have Jacksonville up 10-3. The Jags had Dillard yet the game was still a dullard. The Colts did not have Peyton Manning or even Curtis Painter. They had Dan Orlovsky, who played on the 2008 Detroit team that went 0-16. With 5 minutes left and the Colts facing 3rd and 3 at their own 20, Orlovsky was sacked and fumbled. Jacksonville took over at the Indy 8 and Maurice Jones-Drew ran it in on 3rd and goal at the 3. Indy fell to 0-10 and the Jaguars are now a 3-6 juggernaut. 17-3 Jaguars

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs–The Chiefs began 0-3 but could move into a first place tie with the Raiders in a division nobody seems to want. The Chiefs lost last week at home to previously winless Miami. Denver now has Tebowmania, and his running the option so far has worked. Tim Tebow again did it with his legs early on as he ran it in from 7 yards out to put the Broncos up 7-0. In the second quarter Matt Prater hit a 38 yard field goal as the Broncos led 10-0 at halftime against a lifeless Chiefs squad.

In the third quarter Matt Cassel finally got the Chiefs moving, and a 65 yard drive culminated in a one yard touchdown pass to McClain to get the Chiefs within 10-7. Yet Denver would salt away this dull game in the fourth quarter as Tebow showed the ladies that he is more than just the best pair of legs since Elroy Hirsch (not really). He has an arm, and he went 56 yards to Eric Decker to put the game out of reach. The Chiefs would kick a field goal with 11 seconds remaining, but Denver recovered the onsides kick. Kansas City has lost 2 straight games at home to inferior teams, same as Oakland did. Oakland rebounded on the road as Denver, Kansas City and San Diego are all 4-5, one game behind the Raiders in the AFC West. 17-10 Broncos

Washington Redskins @ Miami Dolphins–Miami got their first win last week and now face a reeling Redskins squad. Mike Shanahan got rid of Donovan McNabb, then benched Rex Grossman, and has now benched John Beck and gone back to Grossman. As for Tony Sparano, some Dolphins fans are mad at him because the win last week could remove them from the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Luck lost this weekend while the Dolphins won without him. Fans are what they are sometimes. The theme on the day was bad teams combining to play very bad games, and this one was no exception.

After a Washington punt, Miami took over with a short field at the Washington 45. On 3rd and 8 Matt Moore found Brandon Marshall for 26 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the 9 Moore hit Reggie Bush for 4. Bush took it in for one yard out proving that despite dating a Kardashian, he can still contribute something positive on a small scale. The Dolphins led 7-0, and after that the field goal kickers took over this awful game. Graham Gano hit from 26. In the second quarter Dan Carpenter hit from 21 nd Gano responded from 47. In the third quarter Gano hit from 23 and Carpenter responded from 28. Miami led 13-9 after three quarters as both teams struggled near the the goal line. Washington saw 3rd and goal at the one result in a nullified touchdown due to holding.

The fourth quarter began with Rex Grossman leading the Redskins from their own own 41 to a 3rd and 10 at the Miami 32. Good Rex hit Hankerson for 22 yards. Yet on 1st and goal at the 10 with 12 minutes left in regulation, Bad Rex was intercepted by Karlos Dansby. Miami took over at their own 19. Moore hit Marshall for 12, and on 3rd and 8 form the 33, found Anthony Fasano for 11. Moore went back to Fasano for 21 and Marshall for 12. Bush ran for an 18 yard touchdown with 6 minutes left to put the game out of reach. Mike Shanahan has seen his team collapse. As for Tony Sparano, those calling for his head may wish to pause. Chan Gailey began 0-8 last year in Buffao before the team split the final 8 games and improved drastically this year. After an 0-8 start Miami has won consecutive games by double digit margins. They are still fighting hard for Sparano. 20-9 Dolphins

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles–Kevin Kolb was hoping for revenge against Walrus Lite Andy Reid, but Kolb is injured and will not play. John “Red” Skelton starts for the Cardinals, bringing back to glory days of Stoney Case and Casey Weldon. The Eagles have Michael Vick, and should almost consider this a preseason game. Take the any given Sunday cliche and throw it out the window. Even at 3-5, the Eagles are much better than the Cardinals.

A scoreless game in the second quarter saw Skelton throw a perfect pass to Asante Samuel. Problem: Samule plays defense for the Eagles, and he returned it 20 yards for a score to have the Eagles up 7-0. Skelton would redeem himself and lead Arizona 84 yards in 10 plays in 5 minutes. Skelton would find Larry Ftizgerals, who does play receiver for the Cardinals, from 10 yards out to tie the game 7-7. Michael Vick then had his turn, and 10 plays and 70 yards later McCoy would crash in from one yard out to have the Eagles up 14-7 at halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, Skelton would lead the Cardinals on another long drive, taking Arizona 89 yards. From 7 yards out, he again hit Fitzgerald, who still plays receiver for the Cardinals. The game was tied 14-14 with plenty of time left. With 7 minutes left in regulation the Cardinals faced 3rd and 7 at their own 16. Skelton completed a pass to Nahmdi Asomugha, who also plays defense for the Eagles. Philly took over at the Arizona 26 but failed to get a first down when a 3rd and 3 run netted onely one yard. Henery made the 36 yard field goal and the Eagles led 17-14 with 5 minutes left.

Yet before everybody could begin the “these are the Cardinals” chant, Arizona actually came alive. They did face 3rd and 19 on their own 15, and Skelton hit Taylor for 15. On 4th and 2 from their own 32 with 3 minutes left, Skelton hit Stephens-Howling, who took it 30 yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Philly 38, Skelton went deep to Fitzgerald, who still plays for Arizona as a receiver. Fitzgerald came down with it at the one yard line. On 2nd and goal at the one Beanie Wells lost 4 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 5 Skelton hit Doucet for the touchdown in front of a shellshocked home crowd. The Cardinals led by 4 with 1:56 to play.

Philly took over at their own 19. With 41 seconds left they faced 3rd and 20 at their own 32. Vick went deep and was intercepted. Maybe this is why they play the games. Ken Whisenhunt earned job security through next week while the stories about the Eagles righting the ship are now as dead as they are after falling to 3-6 with consecutive home losses. This was a stunning loss for the Eagles. Desean Jackson was benched for missing a team meeting. Andy Reid may have to bench the entire team after this effort. As for Skelton, he is now the offspring of Jim Hart, Neil Loma, and Jake Plummer combined. No, not really. 21-17 Cardinals.

Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Albert Haynesworth arrived to Tampa so fast after being cut by New England that he barely had time to take a nap. Then again, he can always get some sleep on the field during the game. The Bucs face a Houston offense that even without Andre Johnson is racking up yards and points. It was a blowout from the very first play.

After a touchback, Matt Schaub went deep to Jones for an 80 yard touchdown. Only 12 seconds into the game, and the Texans had the 6-0 lead. Albert Haynesworth of all people got his Bucs career off to a good start by blocking the extra point. It didn’t matter. Josh Freeman had a miserable day with 3 interceptions. On his first drive the Bucs reached the Houston 39, but then Freeman was sacked to end the threat. From the Houston 15, Schaub led a 14 play, 7 1/2 minute drive that went 80 yards. Yet on 3rd and goal from the 5 the Texans failed to capitalize and had to settle for a 22 yard Neil Rackers field goal and a 9-0 lead.

In the second quarter the Texans took over at their own 10. From the 22 Schaub found Arriun Foster, who took a short pass 78 yards for another long touchdown as the Texans were coasting 16-0. With 1:45 left Freeman moved the Bucs to a 4th and 2 at the Houston 5. Raheem Morris decided to go for it and Freeman fired incomplete. The Bucs got it back at the Houston 46 and on the last play of the half Connor Barth drilled a 55 yard field goal. The Bucs were down 16-3, but there would be no rally.

After a Bucs punt in the third quarter, the Texans took over at their own 35. Schaub would throw only 15 passes all game, completing 11 of them for 242 yards and the 3 touchdowns. Houston just ran it down the Bucs throats the rest of the game. Foster broke off runs of 13 and 17 and Tate added 13 more. Ward gained 9 and Foster ran it in from 5 yards out to have the Texans up 23-3. Freeman was the intercepted, giving the Texans the ball at the Tampa Bay 39. Foster ran for 8 and Tate added 5 and 4. On 3rd and 6 from the 22, Schaub hit Foster for 13. Ward then ran for 5 and for the 4 yard touchdown to have the Texans up 30-3 in a laugher.

Freeman was intercepted again, but Rackers missed a 37 yarder. If a kicker has to miss a kick, it should be when his team is already up by 27. With 11 1/2 minutes left inr egulation Freeman would hit Parker from 9 yards out. The 2 point conversion failed as Tampa Bay trailed 30-9. Yet midway through the fourth quarter Freeman was intercepted again and the Texans took over at the Tampa 27. Foster ran for 9 and 2 while Tate ran for 5 and then the 11 yard score to end things. Houston remains in first place in the AFC South while Tampa Bay fell further behind in the NFC South. Losing badly at home does not help matters. 37-9 Texans

Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks–A very good Ravens team travels on the road to face a pathetic Seattle team. Yet after the big emotional win over Pittsburgh to sweep the series, the Ravens have to guard against a letdown. John Harbaugh will have his guys focused while Pete Carroll probably misses the gorgeous Southern California weather and quality football at Troy.

Yet despite the Ravens deservedly being talked about as a Super Bowl contender, the last time they beat Pittsburgh they had a major hangover against a far inferior Arizona team. Last week’s win over Pittsburgh was even bigger, and this time the Ravens again came out flat against a dreadful NFC Worst opponent.

Joe Flacco would lead Baltimore to a 50 yard field goal try, but Billy Cundiff missed it. From the Seattle 40, Tarvaris Jackson hit Zach Miller for 6 and Marshawn Lynch gained 5. Jackson hit Lynch for 21, and again for 23. Lynch took it in from one yard out to have the Seahawks up 7-0. Baltimore fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Seattle the ball at the Ravens 19. A 22 yard field goal made it 10-0 Seahawks.

In the second quarter Baltimore took over at their own 34. Flacco hit Dickson for 3 and 15. On 3rd and 1 from the Seattle 39, defensive pass interference meant 5 more yards. On 3rd and 10 from the Seattle 20, Flacco found Dickson for 19. On 2nd and goal at the 1, Ray Rice got the ball and threw the halfback option to Dickson for the score as the Ravens got within 10-7.

The rest of the half belonged to Seattle kicker Hauschka. A 38 yarder with 5 1/2 minutes left in the half had the Seahawks up 13-7. Baltimore went 3 and out and Seattle took over at their own 42. On 4th and 1 from the Baltimore 22, Hauschka hit from 39 to make it 16-7 with 1:55 left in the half. For the second time in the half the Ravens fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving Seattle the ball at the Baltimore 18. Again Seattle failed to capitalize with a touchdown as a 35 yard field goal had them up 19-7. Hauschka made 4 kicks in the first half while Cundiff had a rough day. Flacco led the Ravens to a 52 yard try at the end of the half, but Cundiff missed a second time.

In the third quarter Flacco was intercepted, giving the Seahawks a gift at the Baltimore 4 yard line. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 3 Jackson was sacked. Hauschka hit his fifth field goal from 22 to make it 22-7. Despite being totally inept the Ravens only needed 2 scores to get back in it. Late in the third quarter Flacco led the Ravens from their own 18 to the Seattle 17. After 12 plays and 5 minutes, this time Cundiff hit from 35 as the Ravens trailed Seattle 22-10 after three quarters.

With 8 minutes left in regulation after another sack of Flacco, the Ravens faced a critical 4th and 5 at their own 40. Forced to go for it, Flacco scrambled for 6 yards. On 3rd and 10 Flacco threw incomplete, but illegal contact kept the drive going. Flacco found Ray Rice for another first down at the 39 yard line. Another incomplete pass to Boldin was offset by a defensive hit on the defenseless receiver for going helmet to helmet. Ironically it was the defender who stayed down. On 1st and 10 from the 16, Flacco fired a laser to Ed Dickson as the Ravens were within 22-17 with 6 minutes left.

All the Ravens needed was a stop, but the vaunted defense of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs could not get one. A desperate Ravens team at the 2 minute warning even challenged the spot on a run in the hopes of a first down being overturned. The challenge failed as the Ravens wasted a vital timeout, leaving them with only one. Marshawn Lynch got his 31st carry as the Ravens called their final timeout. Another run meant another first down as the Seahawks ran out the clock. The Ravens are a good football team but Harbaugh does not seem to be able to get them ready for bad teams as they do in their big games. Contenders have to dispatch the bad teams, and the Ravens failed to do this. 22-17 Seahawks

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears–The 6-2 Lions and 5-3 Bears actually have a meaningful game in November. Both of these teams could make the playoffs, and the Lions would sweep the season series with a win today.

It was a mismatch from the start. The Lions first drive ended when Calvin Johnson fumbled and the Bears took over at the Detroit 30. Unnecessary roughness moved the ball to the 12, and Matt Forte ran for  and then 6 more as the Bears led 7-0. On the next series it was Nate Burleson who fumbled for the Lions as the Bears took over at their own 38. Jay Cutler hit Bennett for 15 and a facemask added 15 more. Robbie Gould hit a 43 yarder to ahve the Bears up 10-0. After a punt the Bears took over at their own 48. On 3rd and 13 Cutler hit Bennett for 17 and Johnny Knox for 18. Gould would hit from 35 as the second quarter began to have the Bears up 13-0.

Detroit then went 3 and out and punted. Devon Hester would only be returning kicks in this game, not playing wide receiver. Has anybody gotten the memo about not kicking to Devon Hester? Deion Sanders saw his baby do it again with the Bears already up 13-0. Hester took it 82 yards for his 12th punt return touchdown and 18th overall return touchdown to put Detroit up 20-0. As the great Chicago announcer keep saying, “Devon Hester, you are ridiculous!”

Detroit went 3 and out again, and the Bears took over at their own 16. Jay Cutler quickly fumbled, and the Lions took over at the Chicago 19. Morris gained 9, but on 2nd and 1 and 3rd and 1 Stafford threw incomplete. On 4th and 1 Jim Schwartz decided to kick the field goal rather than go for it down by 20. Jason Hanson hit from 29 to have the Lions down 20-3. With 7 minutes left in the half the Lions took over at their own 35. On 3rd and 5 from the 42 Stafford hit Young for 11. On 3rd and 15 from the Chicago 23, Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for 17. Yet on 3rd and goal at the 6, Stafford was sacked. Hanson hit from 35 as the Lions trailed 20-6. Cutler led the Bears to a 43 yard Robbie Gould try at the end of the half. Gould missed it, giving the Lions hope. The third quarter would dash those hopes quickly.

Cutler would finish the game only 9 of 19 for 123 yards. Yet he did not throw an interception. Stafford put it up 63 times, completing 33 of them for 329 yards and a touchdown. Yet 4 interceptions killed the Lions. 2 of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns, with Heller returning one 24 yards out and Peanut Tillman taking the latter one 44 yards for the score. Robbie Gould would tack on a field goal as late in the third quarter the Bears led in a blowout 37-6 as tempers flared after yet another Stafford interception. The Lions would finally reach the end zone, long after the outcome was in doubt.

Both of these teams are now 6-3 and have split the season series. Jim Schwartz has seen the Lions lose 3 of 4 since their 5-0 start While Lovie Smith has the Bears firmly in the hunt, although both teams are way behind Green Bay.  37-13 Bears
New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers–In 1990 these teams played a couple of the greatest defensive games in NFL history. The 49er won on Monday night football 7-3 after both teams started 10-0, got clocked in game 11, and met the week after. Yet in the NFC Title game it was the Giants who won 15-13 on 5 Matt Bahr field goals to prevent the 49ers 3peat and send Bill Parcells to his second Super Bowl win. In the playoffs after the 2002 season the tables were turned in an offensive shootout as the Giants blew a 38-14 lead, allowed the 49ers go ahead 39-38, and saw the Giants botch a field goal on a fumbled snap at the end. The game today sees both teams resurgent as Tom Coughlin has the Giants at 6-2 and Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers at 7-1 in his rookie season.

21 years after the NFC Title game went to the half without a touchdown, so did this game. After a touchback, Eli Manning led a 14 play, 8 1/2 minute drive that got no further than 4th and 2 at the 5. Tom Coughlin opted for the field goal and Lawrence Tynes hit from 23 to have the Giants up 3-0. Alex Smith after a touchback led a 12 play, 6 minute drive. yet it stalled at the 18 and David Akers hit a 36 yarder to tie the game 3-3 after the first quarter.

Another touchback and another long drive meant 13 plays and 6 1/2 minutes but again just a 25 yard field goal as Tynes put the Giants up 6-3. Yet another touchback and another drive meant a 52 yard field goal by Akers as the game was tied 6-6 with 5 minutes left in the half. Jim Harbaugh called a surprise onsides kick that worked perfectly as the 49ers took over at their own 47. With 1:49 left in the half, Akers hit again from 39 as the 49ers led 9-6. Eli Manning was intercepted, giving the 49ers the ball at the Giants 43. Yet from the 24, Alex Smith threw it right back to the Giants to end the half.

The third quarter continued the trend of the first half as the 49ers took a touchback and Smith moved them in 10 plays to 1st and goal at the 10. Yet Smith then threw 3 incompletions as Akers hit his fourth field goal from 28 yards out as the 49ers led 12-6.

With 8 minutes left in the third quarter the Giants took over at their own 16. On 3rd and 7 Manning went deep to Victor Cruz for a 36 yard gain and Brandon Jacobs ran for 15 more. Manning hit Pacoe for 14. In a game of only field goals, the Giants faced 3rd and 6 from the San Francisco 13. Finally the end zone was cracked with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter as Manning hit Mario Manningham for the score as the Giants led 13-12 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter began with the 49ers at midfield. Hunter ran for 6. On 3rd and 2 from the 42, the Giants jumped offsides. Hunter ran for 6 more to the Giants 31. Alex Smith then found a wide open Vernon Davis, who leapt over the goal line past 2 defenders to get the 49ers back in front. Smith found Michael Crabtree for the 2 point conversion to have the 49ers back in front 20-13 very early in the fourth quarter.

Eli Manning came back and threw a pass straight to Carlos Rogers. Problem: Rogers plays defense for the 49ers, and he gave the 49ers golden field position at the Giants 17. One play was all Kendall Hunter needed to take an off tackle run all the way to the end zone untouched as a close game now saw the 49ers comfortably head 27-13 with 12 minutes left in regulation.

Yet the Giants were far from done. Eli Manning quickly led them to a 3rd and 7 at the Frisco 33. Manning then went deep to Hakeem Nicks. Despite good double coverage, Nicks hauled it in for the touchdown as the Giants were back within 27-20 with over 10 minutes left.

With 6 minutes left the Giants had it back at their own 30. With 3 1/2 minutes left the Giants faced a critical 4th and 6. Tom Coughlin decided to go for it and Manning found Mario Manningham for an 18 yard gain to the San Francisco 48 yard line. On 2nd and 5 Manning went deep to Manningham. Manningham had it in his hands and dropped it. Manning avoided a sack on 3rd and 5 and was lucky to avoid intentional grounding. On 4th and 5, Manning found Victor Cruz for 6 yards as again the Giants stayed alive at the 2 minute warning. Manning then found Ware, who straddled the sideline and got out of bounds at the 18 with 1:53 left. Manning found Cruz for 8. With 38 seconds left in regulation from the 11 yard line, the Giants faced 4th and 2. Yet this time Manning’s pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage by Justin Smith.

This was not as epic  as the games in 1990 or even 2002, but it was a fine football game. The 49ers moved to 8-1 while the Giants fell to 6-3. Both teams still lead their divisions and the NFL would definitely benefit from seeing a rematch of this game, perhaps in the NFC Title Game. 27-20 49ers

New England Patriots @ New York Jets is the Sunday night game. These teams hate each others guts. The Patriots have won the division the last 2 years but the Jets have gone deeper in the playoffs. Last year the Jets went into New England and got blasted 45-3. Then in the playoffs a few weeks later the Jets won at the Patriots 28-21. Rex Ryan knows the Patriots are reeling from consecutive losses, and this is the best chance the Jets have to bring down the Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick and his Evil Empire of football.

Mark Sanchez came ut throwing and put on a clinic early on against the woeful New England pass defense. Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes over the middle for a 27 yard gain to the New England 9. Had Holmes stayed upright he may have scored but he stumbled down without being touched. This was key since the drive would stall. Then Nick Folk quickly deflated the home crowd by somehow missing a 24 yard field goal. Tom Brady then got his chance, and he also unleashed passes at will. Yet a costly illegal motion penalty killed the drive. An ill advised sideline pass should have been intercepted, but the ball was simply dropped in and out of the bread basket. Stephen Gostkowski did his job from 50 yards out as the Patriots led 3-0.

Each team on the next series also faced mirror situations with different results. Sanchez faced 3rd and 8 in his own territory to end the drive. Tom Brady would soon face 3rd and 8 from his own 31. He went deep to Chad Johnson for a 51 yard gain. Yet a couple of incompletions meant another field goal try. From 36 yards out, Gostkowski gave the Patriots the 6-0 lead.

The game then turned into a war of attrition as the defenses dealt heavy hits. A field position game favored the Jets, and with 5 minutes left the Patriots were pinned at their own 5. Tom Brady was unprepared for a shotgun snap, and it bounced of of him and a scrum ensued. The Patriots retained possession, but on the next play a near sack of Brady in the end zone led to a call of intentional grounding. The Jets got the safety to get within 6-2 as Rex Ryan pumped his fist.

The Jets received the free kick and when New England jumped offsides, the Jets were at the Patriots 47. LaDanian Tomlinson broke off a 15 yard run, and Sanches then fired over the middle to Patrick Turner for a 22 yard gain to the 10 yard line at the 2 minute warning. On 3rd and goal from the 3, after a timeout, Sanchez ran the quarterback draw and stretched the ball over the plane for the touchdown as the Jets led 9-6 with with 1:20 left in the half. Tempers flared after the extra point as the defense was called for a personal foul to be assessed on the kickoff.

Yet what really hurt the Jets was that they took the timeout. They scored way too early and there was no reason to stop the clock. They had plenty of time. So despite keeping Tom Brady out of the end zone for nearly 29 minutes, he still had 1:20 to work with. After the touchback Brady hit Rob Gronkkowski for 12, Wes Welker for 14, and back to Gronkowski for 23 more.  A defensive facemask on the next play moved the ball to the Jets 16. On 3rd and 12 from the 18 Brady went to Gronkowski for the score as the Patriots took the 13-9 lead into the locker rooms.

The Patriots went nowhere to start the third quarter but the turning point in the game came when the Jets fumbled the ensuing punt. Several Jets had a chance to recover the ball with no Patriots around it. Somehow it slipped through all of them and the Patriots took over at the Jets 13 yard line. On 3rd and 11 Brady avoided a sack, moved around for what seemed like forever and a day, and found Gronkowski for the touchdown. The play was reviewed and while Gronkowski did catch it, he had stepped out of bounds before coming back in to catch it. An illegal touch left the Patriots with 3rd and 16 from the 19. Brady hit Welker short of the marker and Gostkowski came in for a 27 yarder, which he hit to put the Patriots up 16-9.

McKnight was the one who fumbled the punt, and he also bobbled the ensuing kickoff. Yet he quickly collected himself and returned it to the Jets 40. On 3rd and 7 Sanchez found Curley for 23. Yet the next pass was deflected and intercepted by Ninkovich, who returned it to the Patriots 43. Brady quickly found Aaron Hernandez for 16. and Branch for another first down at the Jets 23. In the hurry up offense with the Jets defense exhausted, the Patriots switched to the ground game. From the 6 yard line Brady went back to the air and found Gronkowski for the score as the Patriots now led 23-9

Sanchez finally moved the Jets again, and on a critical 3rd and 2 from the Patriots 10, Tomlinson got 3. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress for the touchdown to get the Jets within 23-16. Yet the defense could not stop the Patriots running game as they racked up chunks with ease. Brady then found Deion Branch for 14 to the Jets 39 while staying in the no huddle offense. Brady then found Gronkowski for 12. On 3rd and 4 from the Jets 18, Brady found Welker for 9 just before being sacked. From the 8, Brady found Branch for the score as the 13 play, 84 yard, 7 minute drive put the dagger in as the Patriots led 30-16 with 8 minutes left in regulation.

The Jets then self-destructed for good as a penalty, a dropped pass and an interception by Ninkovich made it a route. It was his second pick of the game, and the 15 yard return had the Patriots cruising 37-16. The final indignity came when the Jets moved to the Patriots 10 with less than one minute to play, and a touchdown pass was dropped before the Jets turned it over on downs. Even during garbage time they could not get the score.

For all the blather about the changing of the guard, forget it. The Patriots are now in sole possession of first place and have swept the Jets this year. The Jets have a short week before traveling to Denver for a Thursday night game. The Patriots have not lost 3 straight games since 2002. Evil Empires do not go down easy as once again Bill Bellichick served Rex Ryan a heaping of humble pie. In typical classless Patriots fashion, Bellichick had Brady keep throwing late while up by 21 points. Brady completed his final 12 passes. In a useless statistic, the score of this game was the exact score of the playoff game between these teams. That was under Eric Mangini and this was Rex Ryan, yet in both caases it was Bill Bellichick delivering the pain. At least the other one was on the road. This was a home debacle for Gang Green. Rex Ryan plays a Patriots fan in an upcoming Adam Sandler movie, but nothing about this game had him amused. 37-16 Patriots

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers is the Monday night game. The defending champion Packers are 8-0 while Minnesota is a miserable team. Yes these teams have had memorable Monday night games with thrilling upsets, but this will not be one of them. Oh yeah, and Brett Favre played for both of these teams, which the NFL announcers will try not to mention 6 billion times.

This was expected to be a blowout and the home team obliged at the outset. Minnesota quickly went 3 and out and punted to Randall Cobb. Cobb took the opening kickoff back 109 yards for a score in Week 1. He began the second half of the season in…what else? Mid-season form. He returned the punt 80 yards for a touchdown as the Packers led 7-0 barely more than one minute into the game.

On the next series Christian Ponder got belted by Clay Matthews, forcing a fumble. Minnesota retained possession but punted. From the Green Bay 30 Rodgers fumbled on the first play for a 7 yard loss, but after that he made it look easy. Rodgers ran for 9 and then hit Donald Driver for 22. On 3rd and 1 from the Minnesota 27 Rodgers gained 3 and then went deep to Greg Jennings for a 24 yard touchdown to have the Packers up 14-0. On the next series Ponder had Minnesota moving, but on 3rd and 9 from the Packers 28, a sideline pass for Vicente Shiancoe was ripped out of Shiancoe’s hands by Charles Woodson for the interception. That would lead to a field goal as the defenses dug in after that with Green Bay up 17-0 at halftime.

Green Bay was not content to go conservative in the second half. They immediately moved to ice the game as quickly as possible. Green Bay took over at their own 31. From the 34, Rodgers found Jordy Nelson for 23. On 4th and 2 from the Minnesota 35, Mike McCarthy decided to go for it. An earlier conversion on 4th and 5 from the 36 led to the field goal. Green Bay converted again as Rodgers hit Nelson for 12, Driver for 6, and then back to Nelson for the  17 yard touchdown as the Packers led 24-0.

Minnesota could not get anything going but got a break when Randall Cobb fumbled the punt. Cobb took the earlier one back for a score, but this fumble had the Vikings starting at the Packers 14. Christian Ponder hit Percy Harvin for 11 and then Adrian Peterson took it in from 3 yards out to have the Vikings down 24-7. An angry Cobb redeemed himself on the ensuing kickoff, returning it 55 yards to midfield. Rodgers hit Starks for 9 and Starks then ran for 15 more. Rodgers found Ryan Grant for 17 down to the 9. On the next play Rodgers hit John Kuhn for the touchdown as the expected route materialized with the Packers up 31-7.

Late in the third quarter Green Bay began at their own 41. On 3rd and 7 a defensive pass interference penalty moved the Packers 20 years as the third quarter ended. On 3rd and 12 from the Minnesota 38, Rodgers was sacked. Yet illegal use of hands on the defense meant an automatic first down. On 3rd and 2 from the 25, Rodgers hit Jones for 9. Rodgers hit Nelson for a 4 yard touchdown to make it 38-7.

Minnesota went 3 and out and the Packers took over at their own 34. Aaron Rodgers was benched by Mike McCarthy, but there is no quarterback controversy. Risking injury is not a wise move, so Rodgers relaxed on the sideline while backup Flynn got some snaps. On 3rd and 4 Flynn found Cobb. On 3rd and 4 from the Vikings 47, Minnesota jumped offsides. Flynn then went deep to Finley for 31 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the 3, Flynn ran it in to make it 45-7.

There is a difference between good teams and great teams. The Packers are a great team. Even at 8-0 Mike McCarthy was not satisfied that the Packers were not closing out games. Well Leslie Frazier has a Vikings team that is in bad shape. These are games that great teams win big. The Packers did, and got to 9-0 in the same fashion that got them to the Super Bowl last year. 45-7 Packers


Penn State scandal brings down Joe Paterno

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

If ever there was a column I never wanted to write, this was it.

Yet not writing about it would have been cowardly.

More than anything, I personally am identified as a lover of the game of football. I prefer the NFL to the college game, but the Penn State situation cannot be ignored by anyone who loves football.

Penn State has been rocked to its core with the disclosure that former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing young boys that he met through a charitable organization he founded. Sandusky was caught in 2002 in a campus locker room shower with a young boy. Although he retired in 1999, he still came on to campus frequently.

To make matters worse, top members of the Penn State athletic department, including legendary coach Joe Paterno, knew about what happened.

First let’s dispense with the obvious. Mr. Sandusky is presumed innocent, but if he is guilty he should burn in a fiery underground pit for all of eternity. Crimes against innocent children are one of the rare instances where the word “unforgivable” looms large. Human beings do not sexually abuse children. Vile animals do.

As much as people want to make this story about something bigger than football, football does play a major role in this tragedy.

The culture of football is about being macho. Players play injured, knowing that broken bones heal and heroism and glory can last a lifetime. Players play in ice cold and snow and in blazing heat. Most importantly, what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. The code of silence bonds the brothers in pads and helmets.

While blaming the victims for not speaking out is unacceptable, it is necessary to understand the reluctance to speak out. Players do not want to be seen as “gay.” There are homosexual men in the NFL, and this is just an issue that is not dealt with. Gays publicly serve in our military now, but in the NFL they keep quiet. Gay players keep quiet because millions of dollars are on the line.

These kids were nowhere near professional players. They were just dreaming of one day playing. Yet even young kids see their heroes on television and want to emulate strength. Fear of being seen as weak makes them vulnerable to predators (alleged) like Sandusky.

Coach Joe Paterno has been molding young men at Penn State as a head coach since 1966. In all of that time, he has run a clean program. Penn State was never seriously sanctioned during his tenure. At age 84, he had the Nittany Lions at 8-1 and in contention for a national championship. The alleged crimes were committed by an ex-employee no longer affiliated with the program.

Yet the father figure affectionately referred to as “Joe-Pa” came under heavy fire for being seen as not doing enough upon being aware of the child molestation taking place. He did report the incident to his immediate supervisor and campus police. He then washed his hands of the matter.

Legally he did the right thing. The Pennsylvania Attorney General stated that he is not a target of the investigation. Yet morally some are asking if he should have done more.

This view is shortsighted. There is a hierarchy, and usurping authority in the chain of command is not appropriate. Despite the fact that Coach Paterno was a larger than life figure on campus, he was still not the boss. He reported to his supervisor. He followed proper procedure. That should have been the end of it from his standpoint.

Coach Paterno wanted to tell his version of events in his weekly press conference, but was silenced from doing so.

Coach Paterno decided to retire at the end of the season. He had three games left plus a possible Bowl game. Retiring was the right thing to do.

The trustees on campus decided that was not good enough. Despite 46 years and 409 wins, the most of any Division I college football coach, Joe Paterno was fired. This was absolutely the wrong thing to do.

Trustees are academics. They love to preach that universities are places of higher learning, and that academics is more important than football. This sounds highbrow, except that at most programs with established football programs, this is a lie.

Engineering, law and medical schools students did not bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to Penn State. Joe Paterno and his college football team did. Like it or not, 100,000 people will not spend money out of their pocket on a weekly basis every freezing winter to watch the research team cure diseases. Should they? Life is about what is, not what should be.

The trustees wanted to send a message that nobody is indispensable. In recent years several iconic coaches from Bobby Knight to Bobby Bowden to Eddie Robinson were fired or forced into early retirement. Yet Bobby Knight was caught on videotape in a physical altercation with a player. Bobby Bowden had allegations of corruption to fend off, from students skipping classes to getting arrested for off the field behavioral problems. Knight ran a clean program but could not control his personal behavior. Bowden was a gentleman accused of turning a blind eye and letting his players run wild.

(Florida State University was the school that the fictional ESU in the movie “The Program” was modeled after, showing the dark side of college football.)

Eddie Robinson was a gentleman who ran a clean program. His players were good citizens. Yet after 55 years, he just stopped winning.

Joe Paterno did not succumb to any of these problems. He personally treated people with respect, and his players for the most part stayed out of trouble. He ran a clean program and kept himself clean in his conduct. The Nittany Lions were still one of the top teams in the country. They were winning, and doing it the right way.

This is why it is so wrong to see a 46 year veteran, an 84 year old man, shoved under the bus. He committed no crime. Yet he did not go “above and beyond.”

When dealing with issues involving abuse of children, the bare minimum for many doesn’t cut it.

Nothing lasts forever, and Penn State will move on just like Grambling, Indiana, and Florida State did.

People will rightly point out that what Joe Paterno went through is nothing compared to what the sexual abuse victims are dealing with.

This is true, but unfair. Telling a paraplegic to be grateful they are not a quadriplegic is wrong.

The sexual abuse victims of course are the “biggest” victims. We should all pray for every single one of them.

Yet Joe Paterno is also a victim. He took the fall for the bad behavior of others who no longer even worked for him. He was given the news in a telephone call, not even in person.

People lament how corporations fire workers in such a cold manner. The fact that Joe Paterno was a highly paid football coach does not make the callousness of how he was treated any more acceptable.

As students descended on his home to tell him that they loved him, he came outside and gave them advice that we should all follow.

Pray for the sexual abuse victims. They need it.


Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (7) was the Thursday night game.

(Chargers cover)

New Orleans Saints (1) @ Atlanta Falcons

(Saints cover)

Tennessee Titans @ Carolina Panthers (3 1/2)

(Panthers win but fail to cover)

Pittsburgh Steelers (3) @ Cincinnati Bengals

(Steelers cover)

St. Louis Rams @ Cleveland Browns (3)

(Browns cover)

Buffalo Bills @ Dallas Cowboys (5 1/2)

(Cowboys win but fail to cover)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3) @ Indianapolis Colts

(Colts win outright)

Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (3 1/2)

(Broncos win outright)

Washington Redskins @ Miami Dolphins (4)

(Redskins win outright)

Arizona Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles (Pick)

(Eagles win)

Houston Texans @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick)

(Texans win)

Baltimore Ravens (7) @ Seattle Seahawks

(Ravens win but fail to cover)

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears (3)

(Bears cover)

New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers (Pick)

(49ers win)

New England Patriots @ New York Jets (1) is the Sunday night game.

(Patriots win outright)

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers (14) is the Monday night game.

(Packers win but fail to cover)


11/11/11–Happy Veterans Day

Friday, November 11th, 2011

On 11-11-11, today is the day where America celebrates its veterans.

God bless America. God bless our troops, and veterans everywhere.

Thank you. Thank you, and welcome home.