NFL 2008–Week 9 Recap

Yes, I am aware that there is a Presidential Election coming up.

Today is Sunday in November, which means the midpoint of the NFL Season.

For those watching Monday Night Football, which should include every red blooded American male in existence, halftime brings a special treat. Uber-announcer Chris Berman of ESPN will be conducting interviews with John McCain and Barack Obama. The interviews will be filmed earlier in the day and shown at the break.

That concludes today’s political coverage. Sundays are about football.

With that, I bring you the Week 9 NFL Recap.

New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills–The Jets began with a field goal on their opening drive, but Buffalo needed only 3 plays to strike back. A strong kickoff return had them at their own 43. Trent Edwards hit Marshawn Lynch for a 42 yard gain, setting up Edwards’s 9 yard touchdown toss to Vine. Leading 7-3, Edwards later fumbled deep in his own territory, and the Jets began at the Buffalo 6 yard line. Buffalo held the Jets to a field goal. On the next Buffalo drive, Edwards had the Bills at first and goal, but disaster struck. He was intercepted by Abram Elam, who raced 92 yards the other way for the touchdown. The Jets led 13-7, and it was still only midway through the first quarter. The rest of the half was quiet, as the Jets missed a field goal just before the half.

Each team added a field goal in the 3rd quarter, but after the Buffalo score, the kickoff went out of bounds. Starting from their own 40, Brett Favre found Jerricho Cotchery for a 35 yard gain. Thomas Jones ran it in from 7 yards out to put the Jets up 23-10. The game seemed in hand, but with Brett Favre, you never know what you will get on any given play. He was intercepted by Greer, who returned it 42 yards to bring the Bills within 23-17. For the second week in a row, a near certain victory turned into a cliffhanger. Nevertheless, Favre stays calm, and that is why he is a winner. With 11 minutes remaining, Favre led the Jets on a 14 play drive that ate 8:41 off of the clock. The 31 yard field goal with 2:12 remaining put the game out of reach. 26-17 Jets

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cincinnati Bengals–The underachieving Jaguars ran into a desperate winless Cincinnati team. Carson Palmer is out for the season, but backup Fitzpatrick led the Bengals 84 yards in 14 plays, taking almost 8 minutes off of the clock to put the Bengals up 7-0. On their next long drive Fitzpatrick led them 88 yards to another score. Both touchdown passes went to Chad Johnson for 2 and 10 yards, as the Bengals led 14-0. In the 3rd quarter, an interception of David Garrard set up a 30 yard run by Cedric Benson, followed by another Benson run for a 7 yard touchdown. After 3 quarters, the Bengals led 21-3, and were well on their way to their first win, except for one thing. These are the Bengals.

Early in the 4th quarter, the Jaguars faced 4th and goal at the Cincinnati 3. A penalty pushed the Jaguars back to the 8, and they settled for a field goal and a 21-6 deficit. The Bengals fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was returned 18 yards for a gift touchdown. The Jaguars now only trailed 21-13. These are the Bengals. With 6 minutes remaining, Garrard moved the ball 73 yards, with Maurice Jones-Drew carrying the final yard for the touchdown. less than 90 seconds remained. These are the Bengals. Yet the 2 point conversion was no good. The onsides kick failed, but the Jaguars got the ball back with 11 seconds remaining. They tried lateraling the ball several times, but did not score. After 8 straight losses, the Bengals had survived. 21-19 Bengals

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns–The Ravens began with a field goal, and on their next drive Joe Flacco threw a  47 yard touchdown pass to Clayton for a 10-0 Baltimore lead. The lead lasted only several seconds as Joshua Cribbs took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a score to put the Browns within 10-7. In the second quarter Cleveland added a field goal to tie the game 10-10. Matt Stover hit a short field goal with 29 seconds left in the half to put the Ravens up 13-10. Starting at their own 33, Cleveland quickly got in range for Phil Dawson, who nailed a 54 yarder to tie the game 13-13 at halftime.

In the 3rd quarter Cribbs did it again, taking a punt return 32 yards to the Baltimore 28. On the next play, Derek Anderson found Braylon Edwards for the touchdown to put the Browns up 20-13. Anderson led the Browns 72 yards on their next possession, with a 7 yarder to Wright putting the Browns up 27-13. Yet Baltimore was far form done themselves. Flacco led the Ravens 79 yards in 11 plays, with a one yard McClain run pulling the Ravens to within 27-20 after 3 quarters. After a short punt, the Ravens took over at the Cleveland 42. Flacco found Derrick Mason for a 28 yard touchdown pass to tie the game 27-27 only one minute into the 4th quarter.

With 7 1/2 minutes remaining, the Ravens took over at their own 37. Rice ran for a 60 yard gain down to the Cleveland 3 yard line. Yet on 3rd and goal from the 2, the Browns lost 2 yards and settled for the go ahead field goal with 5 1/2 minutes left. With 3 1/2 minutes left, Anderson was intercepted by Terrell Suggs, who returned it 42 yards to lock up the victory. 24 unanswered points turned the game. 37-27 Ravens

Houston Texans @ Minnesota Vikings–Gus Frerotte went right to work, throwing a 55 yard pass to Bernard Berrian, reaching the Houston 11. Adrian Peterson did the rest, as his one yard run had the Vikings up 7-0. However, on the next Minnesota possession, Frerotte was intercepted by Reeves, who raced 44 yards to tie the game 7-7. In the second quarter, a short punt had Minnesota starting at the Houston 47. Even with a short field, Frerotte used up 6 minutes over 13 plays. The drive culminated in Frerotte finding Rice for 8 yards and a 14-7 Minnesota lead. Frerotte kept firing, as a short swing pass to Berrian went for a 49 yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead for the Vikings.

Sage Rosenfels started the second half in place of Matt Schaub. Rosenfels led the Texans 72 yards, with a 3 yard touchdown pass to Anderson to pull the Texans to within 21-14. In the 4th quarter, Frerotte quickly took the Vikings 84 yards, with a 25 yard touchdown pass to Shiancoe putting the Vikings up 28-14 with only 6 1/2 minutes remaining. Rosenfels found Johnson for 14 yards with 3 minutes remaining, but it was too little, too late. The Texans got the ball back deep in their own territory with one minute remaining, but a sack of Rosenfels ended things. 28-21 Vikings

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears–A field goal and a 5 yard run by Kyle Orton had the Bears up 10-0 after the first quarter against the winless Lions. Out of nowhere, after 8 1/4 terrible games, the Lions exploded in the second quarter. With John Kitna out for the season, Orlovsky led a 12 play, 6 minute drive that ended when Kevin Smith scored from one yard out. The extra point was blocked, and the Lions trailed 10-6. Devon Hester fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Lions began at the Chicago 17. One play later, Orlovsky found Calvin Johnson for the touchdown to put the Lions up 13-10. A short punt had the Lions at their own 45, and Orlovsky led them down the field again. A 14 yard pass to McDonald had the Lions up 20-10, and after an exchange of field goals, Detroit led 23-13 at the break. Kyle Orton was injured at halftime and did not return.

In the second half, working with a short field, Rex Grossman found Davis for a 6 yard touchdown pass to pull the Bears within 23-20. With 8 1/2 minutes left, a 20 yard punt return by Devon Hester with a personal foul tacked on had the Bears starting at their own 46. Grossman took it in himself from one yard out to put the Bears up with 5 1/2 minutes left. The blocked extra point was looming large for Detroit.

After an exchange of punts, the Lions got the ball back on their own 42 with 2:49 left. They then fumbled the ball away. They got the ball back with just over one minute remaining on their own 13. Orlovsky passed them to the Chicago 32 with seconds remaining. Had the extra point not been blocked,a  game tying field goal could have been attempted. Down by 4 points, all Orlovsky could do was throw to the end zone, where the ball fell incomplete. The Lions are now the remaining winless team. 27-23 Bears

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Kansas City Chiefs–Tyler Thigpen led the Chiefs 69 yards on 12 plays in over 6 1/2 minutes to put the Chiefs up 7-0. Thigpen hit Bowe from 7 yards out for the score. Tampa Bay fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and starting at the Tampa 41, Kansas City took advantage. Smith scored from one yard out to put the Chiefs up 14-0. Tampa Bay had a long drive that stalled at the Kansas City 7 yard line, leading toa  field goal. The Chiefs then went to the gadget book. Thigpen lined up, but a direct snap went to Charles, who pitched it to Bradley. Bradley bobbled it, regrouped, and threw a 37 yard touchdown pass to Thigpen for a 21-3 Kansas City lead. Thigpen found Bradley for 56 yards on the next drive to set up a field goal. The Chiefs led 24-3, but a 97 yard kickoff return by Smith made it 24-10. Tampa Bay added a field goal, as the Chiefs led 24-13 at halftime.

After a scoreless 3rd quarter, the Buccaneers drove deep into Kansas City territory before fumbling. It did not matter as the Chiefs fumbled it back on the next play. Starting only 3 yards away, Graham found Smith for the score to pull the Bucs to within 24-19. The Chiefs then went on a 6 minute drive that could have iced the game, but on 4th and 1 from the 4, a delay of game penalty forced a field goal. The Chiefs led 27-19, but the Bucs had life.

The Buccaneers went down the field, and with 3 1/2 minutes left, Tampa Bay faced 1st and goal from the Kansas City 7. They fumbled the ball away, and again the game seemed over. It wasn’t. AFter a punt, the Buccaneers started at midfield with 1:50 remaining. Garcia completed a couple of passes before firing 24 yards to Antonion Bryant for the touchdown. Cincinnati reached a win by stopping the 2 point conversion. Kansas City already has won this year, and they were not about to win another one. The 2 point conversion was good, and the game went into overtime tied 27-27.

The Chiefs never saw the ball again. The Buccaneers won the toss, and Jeff Garcia needed only 4 minutes to take Tampa Bay from their own 26 to field goal range. Matt Bryant nailed it from 34 yards out. Kansas City led 24-3, but they are terrible. 30-27 Buccaneers, OT

Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams–This was a game of big plays, as Kurt Warner faced off against his former teammate Marc Bulger. Warner led the Cardinals from the 9 yard line to the St Louis 1 yard line, where a 7 minute drive ended up in a goal line stand for the Rams. Later in the quarter, Bulger went deep to Stanley for an 80 yard touchdown. The Rams are not the Greatest Show on Turf, but they led 7-0 after the first quarter before the levee broke.

The Cardinals are the Greatest Show in the Desert. It was the defense that got things going when a Bulger pass was intercepted by Antrell Rolle and brought back 40 yards for the tying score. A field goal put the Cardinals in front, and a 30 yard run by Tim Hightower had Arizona leading 17-7 late in the half. The Rams 2 minute drill was a disaster, and Warner needed only one play to go deep. His pass was underthrown, and should have been intercepted by Wade. Wade juggled the ball, and instead it was caught by Urban, who raced for the 56 yard touchdown to put the Cardinals up 24-7 at intermission.

In the 3rd quarter, Warner fired at will. From his own 18, a 19 yarder to Anquon Boldin was followed by a 33 yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald. A 7 yarder to Boldin put the Cardinals up 31-7, and they coasted from their. A 9 minute drive bled the clock dry in the 4th quarter. The Cardinals finished with 510 yards, 342 by Warner, and almost 39 minutes of possession. The Cardinals at 5-3 lead their weak division. 34-13 Cardinals

Green Bay Packers @ Tennessee Titans–The unbeaten Titans faced off against a decent Green Bay team in a tough game. Early on the game was about field goals as Tennessee added a pair before Green Bay put one on the board. Rodgers led a 71 yard drive that went 6 minutes over 12 plays. A 5 yarder to Donald River had the Packers up 10-6. Lendale White ran 54 yards to set up a 3 yard run by Johnson to put Tennessee back in front 13-10. at the half.

In the 3rd quarter, both teams reached inside the opposing 10 yard line, and both teams had to settle for a field goal as Tennessee maintained a 16-13 lead. With 5 1/2 minutes remaining, Crosby nailed his 3rd field goal to tie the game 16-16. After an exchange of punts, the Titans had the ball at their own 8 yard line with 1:49 left. Coach Jeff Fisher decided to play it safe from near his own goal line, and the Packers used a timeout in the hopes they would get the ball back. After the Titans ran for the first down, Collins was allowed to air it out, completing a 20 yard pass to the Tennessee 40. On the last play of regulation, Rob Bironas was brought in for a 47 yard field goal attempt. He hit the upright, and the ball bounced away no good. The game went into overtime.

The Titans won the coin toss and went straight down the field. From their own 22, 10 plays and 5 1/2 minutes was enough to give Bironas a chance to redeem himself. From 41 yards out, Bironas nailed it, and the Titans escaped at home to remain the lone unbeaten team in the league. They got to 8-0 by surviving another defensive slugfest. 19-16 Titans, OT

Miami Dolphins @ Denver Broncos–The Dolphins are only 1 year removed from 1-15, but a Bill Parcells year is a lifetime. The Dolphins jumped all over Denver in the beginning, with a pair of field goals and a 32 yard interception return of Jay Cutler for a Brandon Marshall touchdown. The 13-0 Miami lead did not last long. Eddie Royal returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards to the Miami 5. Royal ran it in himself the final 5 yards on the ground to pull the Broncos within 13-7. The Dolphins led 16-7 at the half and 16-10 late in the 3rd quarter. A missed Denver field goal with 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter was a missed opportunity.

The key play in the game came late in the 3rd quarter when Cutler threw a deep bomb for what appeared to be the go ahead touchdown. Offensive pass interference nullified the score, and instead the Broncos gave the ball back to the Dolphins. Miami added a field goal to lead 19-10. The Broncos needed 3 plays to come back as Cutler went deep again, this time for 47 yards to Hillis. This time the gain stood, and a throw to the end zone on the next play resulted in defensive pass interference. From the one, Cutler found Hillis to cut the gap to 19-17 with 11 minutes remaining.

While players play, this is a Bill Parcells and Tony Sparano team. They are about attitude and statement making. A staggering 15 play, 8 minute drive bled Denver dry. On 4th and 1 from the 35, the Dolphins eschewed the field goal and ran straight up the gut for a gritty first down to keep the drive going. From the Denver 25, Chad Pennington threw to Ricky Williams at the 2 yard line. Ronnie Brown did the rest on the next play, and sealed the win. 26-17 Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants–With Tony Romo still out, the Cowboys have gone from elite to dysfunctional, with Terrell Owens one loss away from ripping the team apart as he does. The Giants are playing like defending champions with chips on their shoulders. The Giants dominated from the start. Eli Manning led the Giants on an 11 play, 75 yard drive that ate over 6 minutes of clock. Manning hit Kevin Boss for the 13 yard touchdown to put New York up 7-0. Late in the 1st quarter, Brad Johnson was intercepted, setting up the Giants at the Dallas 27. Manning found Steve Smith for a 5 yard touchdown to put the Giants up 14-0 after the opening quarter.

In the 2nd quarter, Manning returned the generosity by throwing an interception to Jenkins for a 23 yard Dallas score to make it a 14-7 game. Yet after that it was all Giants. Late in the half, the Giants began at their own 48. Brandon Jacobs rumbled 27 yards to set up Manning’s 3rd touchdown pass of the half, an 11 yarder to Amani Toomer.

Trailing 21-7, Brooks Bollinger came in for Brad Johnson to start the second half. All Bollinger needed was one play to complete a pass to Butler. Butler plays for the Giants. Starting at the Dallas 18, Jacobs picked up 6 yards on one run and the final 12 yards on the next run. The Giants led 28-7, and Jerry Jones asked Coach Wade Phillips to put himself in at quarterback. No, not really. Bollinger did lead a 16 play drive that ate up 8 1/2 minutes of clock, but that is not a smart straegy when down by 21. Bollinger hit T.O. for the 8 yard touchdown to put the Cowboys within 28-14. They got no closer as a 6 minute Giants drive ended i a 17 yard run by Ward to end the blowout. 35-14 Giants

Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks–Koo Koo Ke Choo, all hail the Walrus Bowl between rotund mustachioed coaches Mike Holmgren and Andy Reid. 90 seconds into the game, Holmgren was the happier walrus as Seneca Wallace, again filling in for an injured Matt Hasselbeck, threw a bomb to Koren Robinson that went for a 90 yard touchdown and a 7-0 Seattle lead. In the second quarter Andy Reid was the only smiling walrus. An 80 yard drive ended with Donovan McNabb throwing 22 yards to Reggie Brown to tie the game. After a punt, the Eagles started at their own 45. From the Seattle 27, McNabb found Curtis at the one yard line, setting up a 1 yard toss to Herremann to put the Eagles up 14-7 at the half.

In the second half, David Akers did the rest. He tacked on 4 field goals to extend the Philadelphia lead to a comfortable win. All hail Andy Reid, Koo Koo Ke Choo. Mike Holmgren was an unhappy walrus. 26-7 Eagles

Atlanta Falcons @ Oakland Raiders–For more on the game of the day, go to

The Raiders are dreadful, but in a league containing Detroit, St Louis, Kansas City and Cincinnati, this often gets overlooked. Today was a day when bad teams played competitive games. Detroit and Kansas City were winning by 10 and 21 points respectively before collapsing late. The Bengals nearly blew an 18 point lead but hung on. The Raiders had no such luck or skill. Michael Vick is in jail for dogfighting, but Matt Ryan, aka Matty Ice, showed that it is the Raiders that have gone to the dogs.

Ryan needed 6 minutes to drive the Falcons 88 yards for a 7-0 lead. Ryan hit Jenkins for the 37 yard touchdown pass. The Raiders went 3 and out, and the Falcons rapidly went 70 yards for another score as Jerrius Norwood ran it in from 12 yards out to put Atlanta up 14-0. Again the Raiders went 3 and out, and again the Falcons went 88 yards. Ryan hit Jenkins for another score, this time from 27 yards out. The Falcons led 21-0, and tacked on a field goal to lead 24-0 at halftime.

I hope that this is rock bottom for the Raiders, because the last 5 years of misery really hit hard today. The Raiders failed to pick up a single first down the entire half. They had negative yardage.

The second half featured flashes of something positive that led to nothing. The Falcons faced 4th and 1 at the Oakland 9 before Atlanta got stoned up the middle. On another drive the Raiders blocked an Atlanta punt. On another drive the Falcons missed a field goal. Yet When Russell did managed to drive the Raiders deep, from the 10 yard line he threw into triple coverage and was intercepted in the end zone.  I still maintain that Russell has talent, but he has no help. Darren McFadden was out injured with turf toe, and Russell has little offensive line help and no mentoring from the coaching staff.

The Raiders defense pitched a shutout in the second half, but the Falcons defense did it in both halves, and possible did not care in the second half. The pain in Oakland continues. 24-0 Falcons

New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts was the Sunday night game. For years this was the preview of the expected AFC Title game. last year the Colts were the quietest 14-2 team in league history, overshadowed by the 16-0 Patriots. This was supposed to be the regular season game of the year before the season started.

However, the NFL is not about the best teams, but the best healthiest teams. Tom Brady is out for the season, and the Colts have had an injury wracked offensive line. Peyton Manning missed all pre-season, and Joseph Addai was out for a few games.Nevertheless, Matt Cassell has filled in ably, and the Colts are getting players back. Therefore, this game had the potential to be a shootout just as in years past. The punters were expected to take the night off.

Instead there was a defensive slugfest that began with an exchange of punts. On their second drive, Manning led the Colts on a staggering 91 yard drive that took 15 plays and ate up 9 minutes. Manning’s 12 yard pass to Gonzalez finished the drive. The Colts staggered the rest of the half with the exception of a drive that would have led to a field goal had a false start not led to a 10 second runoff to end the half. New England had a pair of long drives that stalled in the red zone. Notable was the fact that not one pass was thrown to Randy Moss in the entire half. The Patriots settled for field goals, and the Colts took a 7-6 lead into the locker rooms.

In the 3rd quarter, Cassell led a 15 play drive that ate up almost 8 minutes. This time the Patriots finished the drive with a 6 yard touchdown run by Green-Ellis. The 2 point conversion failed, but the Patriots led 12-7. A strong kickoff return by Pierre Garcon had the Colts starting at their own 43. Manning completed passes to Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne before again finding Gonzalez in the end zone, this time from 9 yards out. The 2 point conversion to Wayne was successful, and the Colts were back in the lead at 15-12.

In a game of long drives, the Patriots mounted another one that went into the 4th quarter. The 15 play drive faced what might have been the key play in the game. From the Indy 39, Cassell went deep to a wide open Jabar Gaffney. The ball went right through his hands. It was perfectly thrown, and he dropped it. Although the Patriots are normally well disciplined, they made uncharacteristic critical mistakes. At the start of the 4th quarter, before a single play had been run, Cassell had to use up New England’s 2nd timeout. Then when the Patriots faced 4th and 1 at the Indy 7, confusion reigned. The Patriots lined up to go for it, and Coach Bill Belichick ran onto the field to call a timeout. He decided to kick the field goal. The kick was good, and the game was tied 15-15 with 11 1/2 minutes remaining. However, the Patriots were now out of timeouts.

The Colts took over at their own 18, and Manning tossed passes of 20 yards to Clark and 24 yards to Gonzalez. The drive then stalled, but former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed the 52 yarder for the Colts. The Colts had their 3 point lead back with 8 minutes remaining.

The Patriots began at their own 19 on their next drive, and were marching right down the field when another mistake occurred. On 2nd and 2 from the Indy 32, Green-Ellis ran very near the first down marker within inches. Yet after the play, a personal foul on the offense pushed them back 15 yards. It was a dumb penalty, and instead of 3rd and 1, it was 3rd and 16. Had the Patriots picked up the 1st down before the penalty, even moving back 15 yards would have left the Patriots at 1st and 10. The run itself might have been worth a challenge, but the Patriots had no timeouts left. Instead, after a short gain, Cassell’s desperation pass was intercepted by Bob Sanders with 4 minutes left. The Patriots did get the ball back at their own 20 with 21 seconds remaining, but it was too much distance to overcome. The game ended with a New England Mistake, as Randy Moss, rather than going out of bounds, tried to go the distance, veered towards the middle, and fumbled the ball away.

Despite the low score, it was a close game, and even though these teams are only a combined 9-7, either one or both of them with a couple breaks could still go deep into the playoffs. A rematcha s in past years would be well anticipated. 18-15 Colts

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins was the Monday night game. Mike Tomlin is a very worthy successor to Bill Cowher, and the Steelers made things exciting by beginning with an onsides kick to start the game. However, it failed, setting up a Washington field goal. Washington tacked on another field goal to lead 6-0 after the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Redskins, their highlights ended at that point. Pittsburgh kicked a field goal in the 2nd quarter. For 28 minutes the game was a defensive slugfest. With just over 2 minutes remaining in the half the Steelers blocked a punt, recovering at the Washington 13. After backing up 10 yards, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward before sneaking over himself from a yard out to put the Steelers up 10-6 at the half. Despite the score, it was costly. Big Ben did not finish the game.

In the second half, the Steelers took the field with Byron Leftiwch. They took thesecond half kickoff and marched 72 yards, with Willie Parker running it in from a yard out. The extra point was no good, but the Steelers led 16-6. The defense then clamped down clamped down. They may not be the Steel Curtain, but they are very good.  A 12 play, 7 minute drive went 77 yards. Leftwich hit Holmes for 5 yards to round out the scoring. The Redskins are much improved, and the Steelers have played some brutal headknockers lately. 23-6 Steelers


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