NFL 2009–Week 6 Recap

Last night was North Carolina. Today is Maryland. Glimpses of the early games were watched before I spoke at a function for Jim Rutledge, who is running for Senate against Barbara Mikulski. For those who have never seen Mikulski, she will most likely play defense for the Baltimore Ravens when Ray Lewis retires. She is the 3rd worst Barbara in America behind Boxer and Streisand, and the worst non-California Barbara.

Yet today is a day to keep the Boxers and Mikulskis of the world out of our lives while we try and enjoy the games. Glimpes of the late games were seen from a lovely restaurant where I spoke to the Montgomery County Republican Women’s Federated. The night game at least I got to watch from a nice comfy television at an undisclosed location in Silver Springs, Maryland.

The thought for this season is the lack of parity in the league. I hate the term parity, preferring competitive balance. However, the usually even bell curve of the league seems out of whack this year.

The Giants, Vikings, and Broncos are all 5-0, with the Saints at 4-0. The Bengals are 4-1, with their only loss to the Broncos. On the flip side, the Titans, Rams, and Chiefs are all 0-5. the Raiders are 1-4, with their only win against the Chiefs. The Browns are 1-4, beating an equally terrible Bills team. The 1-4 Lions have their only win against the equally awful Redskins. I cannot remember a year with such a lack of competitive balance.

With that, here is the NFL 2009 Week 6 Recap.

Chiefs @ Redskins–Sometimes a pair of awful teams can surprise everyone and play a spectacular game. Sometimes they stay true to from and just play a dreadful game, as these teams did. No touchdowns were scored in this game. After fumbles abounded, Matt Cassel in the second quarter led a drive from the Kansas City 14 to the Washington 21, setting up a field goal and a 3-0 Chiefs lead. On the last play of the half, facing 4th and 2 at the Chiefs 36, Jim Zorn decided against the tying 53 yard field goal attempt. Jason Campbell was intercepted instead. For some unknown reason, the second half was not canceled.

Campbell was benched at halftime, and replaced by the ancient Todd Collins. Collins is old, but his entire career backing up Jim Kelly gave him a good feel for the game. His benching after leading Washington to the playoffs a couple years back was inexplicable. Collins came in, and sparked the team. The Redskins took the second half kickoff, and a 40 yard field goal tied the game 3-3. Washington seemed in good position on their next drive when Clinton Portis ran 78 yards to the Chiefs 10. That was it, as another field put the Redskins up 6-3. The Chiefs came back, and another field goal had the game tied 6-6 entering the fourth quarter in a game I am giving more coverage than is deserved.

Field position became the difference, and after the Redskins were pinned deep, a punt had the Chiefs starting at the Washington 36 with 6 minutes left. Naturally the Chiefs failed to pick up a first down, but the go ahead field goal had them up 9-6 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Washington fumbled on their next drive, and a short pass from Cassel to Dwayne Bowe went for 32 yards. The Chiefs had 1st and goal at the 9 with only 1:37 left. Yet again there was no touchdown, as another field goal had the Chiefs up 12-6 with 37 seconds left. There was no miracle comeback as the Redskins took over at their own 7, and Collins was sacked for a safety. The Chiefs had their first win, while the Redskins are equally bad at 1-5. 14-6 Chiefs

Giants @ Saints–This was a game to watch, as a pair of unbeatens went at it. Unfortunately for viewers, it was a lopsided game. Drew Brees finished the game with 4 touchdowns on 369 yards on 23 of 30 passing. Brees led the Saints from the get-go, moving the team 70 yards in 15 plays over 7 1/2 minutes. On 4th and 1 from the 2, Bell scored the touchdown to put the Saints up 7-0. After a punt, Brees kept firing. A 29 yard touchdown pass to Marquis Colston was reversed and ruled down at the one yard line, so Brees threw the touchdown to Jeremy Shockey, who delighted at beating his old team. The Saints led 14-0. The Giants returned the kickoff to midfield, but could only get a field goal out of the good position.

In the second quarter the Saints kept rolling. Brees hit Meacham for a 36 yard touchdown pass. The extra point was blocked, but at 20-3, it didn’t matter. Ahmad Bradshaw did score from 10 yards out to get the Giants to within 20-10, but then the roof that was cracking officially caved in on the Giants. A 35 yard defensive pass interference penalty set up Brees to Moore for the 12 yard score that had the Saints up 27-10. Dominic Hixon had his second great kickoff return of the game, and 68 yards later the Giants were at the New Orleans 37. A 15 yard touchdown from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham had the Giants within 27-17.

Yet their defense had no answer for Brees. He hit Colston for gains of 40 and 20 yards on successive plays. With one minute left in the half, the Saints got stuffed on 4th and goal at the 1. Yet the Giants gave the ball right back a few plays later when Manning was sacked and fumbled. From the New York 7, Reggie Bush ran it in just before halftime to give the Saints a comfortable 34-17 halftime lead.

Midway through the third quarter, a Manning interception led to a drive that Brees finished off throwing 12 yards to Colston to break the game wide open at 41-17. The Giants moved to the Saints 10 yard line, but on 4th and 20 from the 20, Tom Coughlin decided to kick a field goal and make it 41-20. Brees simply kept unloading. After a 25 run by Pierre Thomas, a 34 yard pass to Meacham set up a 2 yard touchdown run by Evans to make it 48-20.

The Giants added a garbage time touchdown to complete the scoring, but today belonged to the Saints. This might be a different game in the Meadowlands, but the Superdome is great for the high powered Saints offense. The Giants lost their first to drop to 5-1, while the Saints at 5-0 remain perfect. 48-27 Saints

Panthers @ Buccaneers–The Panthers got their first win last week, as the people I spoke to yesterday in North Carolina decided to hold off on impeaching Jake Delhomme for now. Hey, the Panthers were 12-4 last year. Yet he only had 65 total yards passing in this game. As for the Buccaneers, in a theme that must be repeated, Jon Gruden is in the Monday Night Football booth while the Buccaneers are winless. NEVER EVER EVER fire a coach after a winning season, even if the team underachieves. The Bucs went from 9-3 to a collapse and a 9-7 mark that missed the playoffs. Now they are the worst Buccaneers team since 1985. Tampa Bay should have asked Oakland what happened to them when Gruden left.

After a Carolina punt, Carnell “Cadillac” Williams ran it in from 20 yards out to put the Buccaneers up 7-0 early on. After another Carolina punt, Josh Johnson moved Tampa Bay from their own 9 to the Carolina 25. A field goal was no good, wasting the drive. The Panthers capitalized as Deangelo Williams had his own 20 yard run to tie the game 7-7 early in the second quarter. Tampa Bay fumbled deep in their own territory, but at the 3 yard line, the Panthers fumbled it right back. After a Buccaneers punt, the Panthers had excellent field position at the Buccaneers 43. The opportunity was wasted when the Panthers moved only 9 yards, and a 52 yard field goal was blocked. Tampa Bay did manage to drive into scoring position with 1st and 10 at the Carolina 24. Yet they went backwards, and on 4th and 27 punted rather than try a 58 yard kick. As ugly as this was, there was moderate redemption in the second half for those that hate terrible football.

I lied. The Bucs started the second half with a Johnson interception, as Carolina took over at the Tampa Bay 12. On 4th and 1 from the 3, Williams picked up the first down, allowing Delhomme to throw a 1 yard touchdown to King as the Panthers led 14-7. After a punt, Stewart ran for a 26 yard score to have the Panthers up 21-7. Yet this game was not over. Stroughter returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score to get the Bucs to within 21-14. This is their offense.

The Buccaneers got the ball back with 12:45 remaining, and again were in position for a field goal attempt. Yet on 4th and 1 from the 36, a false start penalty pushed them out of range and into a punt. They trailed by 7, yet missed one field goal and had 2 more chances squandered by penalties. Yet Delhomme had his miserable season continue. He was intercepted by Jackson, who raced 26 yards to tie the game 21-21 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the game.

Yet give Delhomme credit. He has led the Panthers to a pair of NFC Title Games and one Super Bowl. He is not going to get rattled. He came back from the interception to lead a staggering 16 play drive from the Carolina 20 that bled almost all of the clock. Yet what made the drive even more remarkable is that Delhomme did not throw a single pass. Short gains on the ground from Williams and Stewart wore down the Tampa Bay defense. The longest run of the entire drive was 10 yards. Stewart converted a pair of 3rd down conversions. Then on 3rd and 1 from the 3, Williams converted before scoring from one yard out with 29 seconds left in the game.  Carolina improved to 2-4, although questions about Delhomme will keep swirling. His running backs saved him today. At 0-6, Tampa Bay has everything but their Orange Creamsicle uniforms off the 1976-1977 team that went 0-26 before winning. 28-21 Panthers

Ravens @ Vikings–This game was exciting and ridiculous. The unbeaten Vikings are led by a 40 year old fellow named Brett Favre who keeps being told to retire by know-nothings. The Ravens have Joe Flacco at the helm, as they are finally more than just a defense. Brad Childress was bald before this game, but he would have torn his hair out anyway by the time it was over.

Early on it looked like a Minnesota coronation. Adrian Peterson ran for 26 yards and Favre threw 19 yards to Vincent Shiancoe to put the Vikings up 7-0 early on. After a Baltimore punt, Minnesota took over at their own 45. Favre hit Shiancoe for 21 yards and Sidney Rice for 19 more before throwing 4 yards to Bernard Berrian for the touchdown to have Minnesota up 14-0. The game slowed considerably until the 2 minute warning. With 1:47 left, Flacco led the Ravens from their own 18 to the Minnesota 12. Yet with time for one more play, an inexplicable West Coast short pass gained one yard. A field goal made it a 14-3 game at halftime.

After terrible field position to start the second half, the Ravens punted as the Vikings took over at their own 40. They advanced to the Baltimore 22 and kicked a field goal to lead 17-3. Flacco led he Ravens right back, and a 23 yard pass to Todd Heap was followed by a 22 yard Rice run to pull the Ravens to within 17-10. The Vikings took over at their own 29, and a short pass from Favre to Rice went for 63 yards, setting up 1st and goal at the 8. Yet the Baltimore defense held the Vikings to a short field goal and a 20-10 lead late in the third quarter. Baltimore had a great kickoff return, but after starting at midfield, failed to pick up a 1st down.

In the fourth quarter, Favre led the Vikings on an 80 yard drive that took 10 plays and almost 6 minutes. Yet the bulk it was a 39 yard defensive pass interference call at the 2 that set up Favre to Shiancoe for the 1 yard score. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Vikings were in command 27-10. This game should have been over. It was just beginning.

Flacco needed on 93 seconds to bring the Ravens back. A 32 yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton had the Ravens within 27-17 with 8 1/2 minutes left. Minnesota immediately came back, As Peterson ripped off a 58 yard gain to the Baltimore 15. Yet the Vikings could not slam the door shut, settling for a field goal and a 30-17 lead with 6 minutes left. Yet Flacco then threw a short screen pass to Rice, who raced 63 yards. On the next play, Flacco hit Derek Mason for the 12 yard score. In only 49 seconds, the Ravens had struck again as a laugher was now a 30-24 Vikings lead with over 5 minutes left.

The Vikings then ran 3 awful plays, followed by a punt that had the Ravens starting at the Minnesota 33. One play and 7 seconds later, Rice ran the entire 33 yards. In front of a shellshocked Minnesota crowd, the Ravens led 31-30 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Yet there was still plenty more to come.

From the Minnesota 24, Favre simply did what he does. A deep pass to Rice went for 58 yards to the Baltimore 18. Time was no longer a factor. Yet the Vikings still could not advance the ball further. For the 4th time in the game, Ryan Longwell came in and kicked a field goal. The Vikings were back on to by a deuce, and many had felt that the Vikings had scored too early. Favre could only watch helplessly as Flacco led the Ravens from their own 33 with 1:49 left.

Flacco hit Rice and Washington for a pair of 13 yard gains with 1:16 left. On 3rd and 7 from the Minnesota 38, Flacco hit Mason for 9 yards for 30 seconds left. With 3 seconds left, Hauschka came in for a for a 44 yard field goal attempt. With both sides watching as if it were the Super Bowl, the kick was up, and…no good! Hauschka missed it, wide left.

Yes, the Vikings were lucky to win after blowing a big lead, but they are a very good team as well. The Ravens showed a ton of resiliency, and Flacco is on his way to a very successful career. Yet today belonged to the Vikings. As the announcer put it, there was another Minnesota miracle. Like the Vikings, Favre has lived and died his entire career on the edge. It may give Childress heartburn, but for pure fans of the game, this is as exciting as it gets. Yes, the 6-0 team of Mike Tice collapsed and finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs, but another Vikings team with Dennis Green started 7-0 and went 15-1. The 6-0 Brad Childress Vikings had plenty of luck, but they are also very good. 33-31 Vikings

Eagles @ Raiders–For more on the game of the day, go to

Last week was a complete breakdown in every phase of the game for the Raiders, perhaps the low point in the history of the franchise. They were awful in every phase of the game. Yet this week was a more typical Raiders team, with a pathetic offense, but a defense that plays hard and keeps them in games. Darren McFadden remains out with an injury, and the Raiders at 1-4 had only beaten 0-5 Kansas City 13-10. Winning with 13 points is tough to do. As for the Eagles, they are very good, and McNabb looked like his typical Hall of Fame self last week. The Eagles were favored on the road by 14 points. Let me channel ESPN Uber-Announcer Chris Berman. That’s…why they play the games.

The Raiders offense was as awful as ever to start, but surprisingly so were the Eagles. Each team after 2 possessions had exactly 5 yards of offense and no first downs. On the third Oakland Possession, JaMarcus Russell completed a pass to Asante Samuels at the Oakland 29. Samuels plays defense for the Eagles. Either Russell is colorblind or he believes in sharing the wealth, because he spreads the ball around to many  teams in the league. Yet the Silver and Black played inspired defense today. The Eagles moved only 4 yards, and normally reliable kicker David Akers missed a 43 yard field goal.

After another Oakland punt, with 4:45 left in the opening quarter. McNabb completed a 51 yard deep pass to Jackson to the Oakland 35. Surprisingly enough, this was the first 1st down of the game for either team. The Eagles did not get another one, and this time Akers connected on a 45 yard kick to put the Eagles up 3-0. The Raiders took over on their own 14. One play later Zach Miller had an 86 yard touchdown reception. Russell gets the credit, but this was a great effort by Miller, even better downfield blocking, and horrendous defensive tackling. In fact, Miller looked like a defensive tackle, as this was a very slow crawl to the end zone. Nevertheless, Russell had his one big play of the day, and the Raiders led 7-3.

On the next Philly possession, McNabb was intercepted by Stanford Routt, wo raced 26 yards for a touchdown. Yet defensive pass interference on Routt nullified the play. If I have not mentioned this before, Routt is a terrible football player. Asomugha has one side locked up, and for the team to match Haynes and Hayes from the glory days, they need another lockdown corner. Routt is not it, although Chris Johnson plays quite well. The Eagles ended up punting, and the Raiders took over at their own 13.

As the second quarter began, Russell finally mounted a reasonably good drive. He hit Miller for 9 yards, and Justin Fargas broke off runs of 3 and 10 yards. Russell scrambled himself for 12 yards and then hit Miller for a 21 yard gain. An unnecessary roughness penalty on the defense had the Raiders at the Philly 12. Yet on 3rd and 8 from the 10, a reverse to season long non-factor Darrius Heyward-Bey lost a yard. Sebastian Janikowski kicked the 29 yard field goal, and the Raiders led 10-3.The Raiders went 87 yards on 12 plays and 7 minutes. As I said, give Russell credit.

While the jury is still out on Tom Cable (no pun intended), there is no dispute about Andy Reid. He knew his team needed a shot in the arm, and he took a bold gamble to lift his lifeless offense. On 3rd and 12 from the Philadelphia 18, McNabb hit Jackson for 11 yards. On 4th and 1 from their own 29, Reid decided to go for it, and McNabb gained 2 yards. On 3rd and 2 from the Philly 39, McNabb hit Bryan Westbrook for a 34 yard gain to the Oakland 27. Yet the drive was wasted when McNabb was sacked for an 8 yard loss. Reid decided to punt rather than have Akers, who had missed from shorter earlier, try a 53 yard kick.

Maybe Reid knew that his best chance at points was to have the Oakland offense on the field. Russell threw another interception, this one to Quintell. Philadelphia took over at the Oakland 40. McNabb got the Eagles to the 15 before penalties pushed them back. Akers hit a 43 yard field goal and the Eagles were within 10-6 at intermission.

The Eagles went right to work to start the second half, quickly reaching the Oakland 29. Yet the drive stalled, and for the second time in the game, David Akers missed a field goal, this time from 47. The Raiders took over in good field position, and faced a 3rd and 1 from the Philly 40. Michael Bush failed to convert, and Cable decided to go for it. Yet inexplicably, on 4th and 1, Russell went for a deep pass to Louis Murphy, which was incomplete. The defenses then settled in and the game was a punt fest.

With 13 1/2 minutes left in the game, the Raiders took over at their own 40. Justin Fargas picked up 14 yards, and quarterback Russell hit receiver Russell for 18 more. Seabass hit a 46 yard field goal, and the Raiders led 13-6 with 10 1/2 minutes left. McNabb had been beaten up all day, but a 42 yard pass to Brent Celek at the Oakland 27 livened things up. Yet the Eagles gained nothing more, and David Akers nailed his 3rd field goal in 5 tries from 45 yards out with 6 minutes left.

The Raiders led by 4 points,  but so many times over the years the offense would fail to do anything, and the defense would collapse from exhaustion. This game had 16-13 Eagles written all over it. Quarterback Russell did hit receiver Russell for 19 yards, but that was it. The Eagles received the Shane Lechler punt, and took over at their own 20 with 3:42 left. With 2:21 remaining, the Eagles faced 4th and 4 at the Oakland 44. McNabb appeared to hit Jackson for the first down, but the catch was ruled incomplete. The ball just barely hit the ground.

The Eagles had their timeouts, and with 2:02 left, the Raiders faced 3rd and 10. Another Russell incompletion and punt would give McNabb the chance to again give the Raiders another agonizing loss. Not today. Russell rolled out, and hit Receiver Russell, who raced 13 yards for a 1st down. After inexplicably running for a 3 yard loss rather than kneeling, Russell kneeled a couple of times and the Raiders had a stunning upset.

The Raiders are 2-4, but psychologically this is much more hopeful than a 1-5 record which effectively ends a season. Again the offense picked up 13 points and won. The defense cannot keep being asked to perform miracles. Yet for today, it was a nice win to savor for the Silver and Black. 13-9 Raiders

Titans @ Patriots–There is no way to describe the magnitude of this game in terms of the final score. The Titans lost a cliffhanger on the road against the defending champions in overtime. They blew a 21-7 leas in the second week. Yet at 0-5, this team was finally seen as very bad, a shell of the 13-3 team from last year. New England was at home, it was snowing, and they had their major offensive pieces healthy. The Titans had their defensive pieces injured. Yet nothing can excuse one of the biggest blowouts in NFL history. Tom Brady was 24 of 28 for 345 yards and 5 touchdowns, and that was only in the first half.

The first New England drive actually ended in a missed 39 yard field goal, but that was the last best hope for Tennessee. On their second drive, Lawrence Maroney raced to a 45 yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Brady hit Wes Wlker for a 48 yard gain on the 3rd Patriots drive, setting up a field goal. The Patriots led 10-0 after the first quarter. Then the avalanche came, and that is not a reference to the elements. Not since Doug Williams and Washington destroyed Denver in the Super Bowl after the 1987 has one quarterback and a team exploded as much as the Patriots did in the second quarter. Ironically, William had his heroics in the second quarter as well in a 10-0 game.

Lendale White fumbled, and the Patriots took over at their own 35. Brady hit Randy Moss for a 40 yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker to make it 17-0. On the next play from scrimmage, Kerry Collins fumbled, setting up the Patriots at the Titans 31. Brady hit Moss for a 28 yard touchdown to make it 24-0. On the next Tennessee drive, Collins was intercepted. New England took over at their own 35. Brady hit Kevin Faulk for a 38 yard touchdown to make it 31-0. After 3 straight turnovers, the Titans punted, a moral victory. Brady hit Moss for 20 yards and then Welker for the 30 yard touchdown to make it 38-0. Only 1:53 remained in the half, but that was enough time.  The Titans punted, and the Patriots took over just past midfield with 1:16 left. With seconds left in the half, Brady hit Welker for the 5 yard score. 5 touchdown passes in the second quarter alone had the Patriots up 45-0 at halftime.

As I said, describing this in gruesome detail is impossible. Jeff Fisher is a good coach. This season has been a nightmare for him and the team.The Titans have no answers. Some want to start Vince Young, but that might get him killed. As for Bill Bellichick, he continued to show why he is the least classy man in sports, as the starters played in the third quarter and Brady threw out of 5 receiver sets.  When Brady threw his 6th touchdown pass, a 9 yarder to Moss, the Patriots led 52-0 only 5 minutes into the second half. Chris Johnson did rip off a 48 yard gain to the New England 17, but on 3rd and 10, a pass lost 15 yards, resulted in a fumble, and the Patriots had the ball back at their own 39.

Finally Bellichick called off the dogs. Brady sat down, rather than try to beat the record 73-0 Chicago shutout over Washington in 1940. A backup named Hoyer made his NFL debut. He completed a 16 yard pass to Edelman, who is not Welker or Moss. On 4th and 6 from the Tennessee 31, Bellichick, ever the gentleman, decided to go for it rather than kick the field goal. Hoyer hit Welker for 8 yards. From the one yard line, Hoyer ran it in himself for his first NFL touchdown. The 12 play, 8 minute drive consumed the rest of the third quarter.

Vince Young came in and played the 4th quarter. His first pass was intercepted. New England managed to move to a 4th and 7 at the Tennessee 11, where Belichick went for it. Hoyer’s pass only gained 5 yards. Young decided not to throw ever again, handing the ball off to Ringer. He briefly looked like a ringer, picking up a 32 yard gain. Yet on 4th and 1 from the New England 41, the Titans fumbled it away again. With 4 minutes left, the Patriots had 4th and 2 form the Tennessee 42. Bellichick actually allowed his punter to play in this game. At the 2 minute warning, despite it being second down, Hoyer kneeled down 3 straight times rather than try and scored. With 35 seconds left, Vince Young took a knee, also to prevent the Patriots from scoring any more. At this point it was about player safety.

The Patriots failed to score in the 4th quarter, while the Titans were blanked and blanketed. This was the most lopsided game since 1976. The Titans are a mess at 0-6, but this was beyond anything the league has seen in terms of disparity. The Patriots are 4-2, and not going away quietly. 59-0 Patriots

Lions @ Packers–This game was close compared to the other shutout of the day. The Lions went from 0-16 to being a team with hope until Matthew Stafford got injured. Now they are just a very bad team until he returns. Aaron Rodgers hit Jones for a 47 yard touchdown pass only 3 1/2 minutes into the game to put the Packers up 7-0. Dante Culpepper was then quickly intercepted, and the Packers took over at the Detroit 17. Rodgershit Kuhn for the 1 yard score to make it 14-0 Packers midway through the opening quarter. This game also did not reach 73-0 proportions. In fact, the remaining 3 1/2 quarters were dull. The Lions were pathetic and the Packers coasted. The last Lions hope was extinguished with seconds left in the half when they were stuffed on 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 21.

Apparently the only player to play on either team in the entire second half was Green Bay field goal kicker Mason Crosby. He had three field goals in the third quarter and one more in the fourth quarter to extend the misery of Detroit, that being the Lions and the entire city. 26-0 Packers

Texans @ Bengals–The 4-1 Bengals were one bizarre miracle doink pass from being 5-0. The loss came against 5-0 Denver. Yet this team, after so mnay years of futility, is not ready to swagger with the big boys yet. Losing at home to the Texans is simply not what good teams do. Marvin Lewis will be tested in terms of seeing if his team still has resilience. As for Matt Schaub, he was a ridiculous 28 of 40 for 392 yards in this upset Texans win.

Schaub started with a 59 yard pass to Andre Johnson, although that drive went for nought when a sort field goal was blocked. Yet on the second Texans drive, Schaub moved the team over 11 plays and 5 1/2 minutes, with a 12 yard pass to Daniels putting the Texans up 7-0. Carson Palmer brought the Bengals right back, and a 23 yard pass to Chad Johnson set up Cedric Benson from 10 yards out to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter. Schaub tok his turn next, hitting Steve Slaton for a 38 yard strike to put the Texans back in front 14-7. After several punts, the Bengals took over at their own 31 with 2:19 left in the half. A 50 yard pass to Johnson led to an 8 yard toss to Laverneous Coles to tie the game 14-14. With only 18 seconds left in the half, Shcaub had his only blunder of the game, an interception that led to a 50 yard field goal and a 17-14 Bengals lead at the break.

Yet rather than demoralize the Texans, it was the Bengals who were surprisingly flat in the second half despite having the momentum. The team has played well throughout the year, so this was just an off day. 3 1/2 minutes into the second half, Schaub hit Jones for a 23 yard touchdown, and the Texans led 21-17. Yet while the Texans have a good offense, today it was their defense that just clamped down in the second half. Late in the third quarter, Schaub hit Johnson for 20 yards and Slaton for 27 more to set up a 7 yard touchdown to Daniels and an 11 point Texans lead. The Bengals turned the ball over several times, and the rest of the game was scoreless. 28-17 Texans

Bills @ Jets–The Jets started 3-0, but then lost to unbeaten New Orleans before losing a heartbreaker at Miami. Yet this game at home was winnable. Yet it was Buffalo that took a 3-0 lead after a 10 play, 6 1/2 minute drive. The Jets responded with a 14 play, 7 minute drive that bogged down at the 5 yard line. A chip shot field goal tied the game 3-3. In the second quarter, from his own 9, Thomas Jones ripped off a64 yard run to the Buffalo 27. The drive stalled, and a field goal had the Jets up 6-3. This was the score the Bills lost at home last week against previously winless Cleveland, but 6 points is not enough to win every week, even against Buffalo. Yet when Jones got the ball again, he raced 71 yards, this time for a touchdown. At 13-3, this game seemed over given the anemic Buffalo offense. On the last play of the half, Jay Feely missed a 44 yard field goal that would have extended the lead. Surprisingly, Dick Jauron was still coach when the second half began.

Yet the second half was simply the nightmarish game for Mark Sanchez that every rookie will have. Yes, he is talented, but mama said there’d be days like this. Halloween is later on, but the Bills defense haunted him the whole game. Give all the credit to Jauron. Just kidding. On the second play of the third quarter Sanchez’s second interception of the game set up Buffalo at the New York 43. On 2nd and 1 from the 6, a pass went incomplete, and on 3rd and 1, a running play lost a yard. On 4th and 2 from the 7, Jauron cut his losses, and a field goal made it 13-6.

Trent Edwards was injured om the second quarter, but backup Fitzpatrick kept it close. So did Sanchez, who kept firing interceptions. His third one led to a 37 yard touchdown pass from Fitzpatrick to Lee Evans that tied the game 13-13 late in the third quarter. Sanchez’s fourth interception did not lead to any points, but a poor Jets punt had the Bills starting at midfield with 4 minutes left in the game. At the 2 minute warning, the Bills had 2nd and 2 at the New York 29. Jauron then got ultraconservative, and on the last play of regulation, a 46 yard field goal by Ryan Lindell was no good.  Each kicker had missed once, and after a scoreless fourth quarter, the game went to overtime.

The Jets got the ball first and immediately went to work. The drive stalled at the Buffalo 32, and on 4th and 13 Rex Ryan made a bold gamble that blew up. A fake field goal instead of a 49 yard attempt led to an interception, although this one was not by Sanchez. Nevertheless, it was ugly. Midway through the fourth quarter Sanchez did throw his fifth interception, and Buffalo took over at their own 42. With less than 3 minutes remaining in overtime, Lindell connected on a 47 yard field goal to stun the Jets. Gang Green has lost 3 straight after winning 3 straight. Jauron pulled a Lazarus act that would have made Wayne Fontes proud. 16-13 Bills, OT

Cardinals @ Seahawks–These team are both very inconsistent. They play in a division nobody wants to win. Seattle won at home in a shutout by 41 points last week. They were at home again. This game was again a blowout, but in the other direction. The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and went 80 yards in 15 plays over a mind boggling 11 minutes. 4 third down conversions eventually led Kurt Warner to connect with Larry Fitzgerald, who can make a 2 yard touchdown reception look spectacular. Kicker Neil Rackers then shocked the Seahawks with a squib kick. Ken Whisenhunt is known for being a trickster. Arizona recovered the ball at the Seattle 23, and Tim Hightower ran it in from 2 yards out to give the Cardinals a 14-0 lead. After 12 minutes, the Seahawks finally touched the ball on offense.

2 plays on offense led to a Seattle fumble, setting up a field goal and a 17-0 Cardinals lead early in the second quarter. This game also did not become 73-0. In fact, it was not even a shutout. Yet it was over from a competitiveness standpoint. Seattle did kick a field goal with 4 minutes left in the half, but when Warner fumbled on the next Arizona possession, Seattle failed to capitalize.

In the third quarter, a mostly forgettable game was broken open when the Cardinals after a poor Seattle punt began at the Seattle 43. Warner hit Steve Breaston for a 16 yard touchdown to put the game away at 24-3. Midway through the fourth quarter, a Matt Hasselbeck interception led to a field goal to close out the scoring. In Mike Holmgren news, the Walrus is still retired. So was the Seattle offense today. At 3-2, the Cardinals lead the NFC Worst. 27-3 Cardinals

Browns @ Steelers–Once again this year, a very bad team went on the road to play a good team, and there were no surprises. Yet the score was closer than it could have been. Apparently the Steelers did not get the message from Mike Tomlin about being bored. It would be hard to blame them today. The fans were bored as well early on, as the opening quarter was scoreless.

Ben Roethlisberger got going in the second quarter, hitting Heath Miller for 25 yards and Santonio Holmes for 41 more to set up an 8 yard touchdown to Miller that had the Steelers up 7-0. After a Cleveland punt, Big Ben hit Holmes for 21 yards and then threw a 52 yard touchdown pass to Hines Ward to put the Steelers up 14-0. No, this game was not 73-0 either. In fact, it got downright interesting when Joshua Cribbs took the ensuing kickoff back 98 yards for a score to silence the crowd. This is what the Browns call offense. They were within 14-7 despite being the Browns. The Steelers took over at their own 35, and with help from a roughing the passer call and a 4th and 1 conversion at the Cleveland 14, kicked a field goal to lead 17-7 at intermission.

The Browns came to life at the start of the third quarter, as Derek Anderson threw a 43 yard pass to Massaquoi. Anderson hit Vickers for a one yard touchdown as the Browns pulled to within 17-14 only 3 1/2 minutes into the second half. Brady Quinn held a clipboard. Yet the Steelers could care less. Big Ben went deep to Ward for 45 yards, and Wallace ran for 21 yards to set up Rashard Mendenhall from 2 yards out to put the Steelers up 24-14.

The rest of the third quarter was pathetic, as 3 Pittsburgh and 2 Cleveland drives ended in turnovers. At least in the fourth quarter the Browns stopped the madness by punting. Pittsburgh managed to finally hang on to the ball as well, and a 6 minute drive bled the clock, and led to a field goal to pad the score. The Browns added another interception just for bad measure. It was a win for Pittsburgh, but Mike Tomlin knows they do not get to play Cleveland at home every week. Big Ben did throw for 417 yards, but he had 2 of the 4 Pittsburgh turnovers, as Cleveland had three of their own. Both quarterbacks lost the ball in the air and on the ground. As for Eric Mangini, he has fallen a long way since being Mangenius. 27-14 Steelers

Rams @ Jaguars–The Jaguars are woefully inconsistent, while the Rams are just woeful. Yet this game was better than anticipated. Yet Marc Bulger was back from injury, and he began the game by leading the Rams on a 73 yard touchdown drive. A 17 yard touchdown pass to Avery had the Rams up 7-0. David Garrard came right back, and hit former Rams standout Torry Holt for a 41 yard gain to set up Maurice Jones-Drew for the 4 yard touchdown. The extra point attempt was botched, and the Jaguars trailed 7-6. This would be key later on. Bulger went deep again to Avery but was intercepted. On the first play of the second quarter, a Jaguars drive was wasted when Jones-Drew fumbled in the red zone. He redeemed himself later in spades.

With 7 minutes left in the half, the Rams bled most of the clock on a 14 play drive. On 4th and 1 from the Jacksonville 35, Stephen Jackson was stuffed. However, defensive offsides kept the drive going as Jack Del Rio was disgusted. A 52 yard field goal had the Rams up 10-6 at intermission. The Jaguars did get a chance at a 58 yard field goal as the half expired, but Josh Scobee did not connect. A totally forgettable third quarter was lowlighted by Garrard being intercepted in the red zone, but he fourth quarter was worth watching.

A 10 play, 6 minute drive was culminated for the Jaguars when Maurice Jones-Drew scored his second touchdown. The one yard score had the Jaguars up 13-10. This game was just heating up after three quarters of defense. 8 minutes remained. The Jaguars got the ball back, and Garrard threw another interception. Leonard Little ran this one back 36 yards to paydirt to put the Rams back up 17-13 with 4 1/2 minutes left. Yet Garrard calmly and quickly led the Jaguars back. A 78 yard drive ended with Jones-Drew scoring his third touchdown. The 3 yard score had the Jaguars up 20-17.

The Rams got the ball back at their own 22 with 1:49 left. Bulger quickly hit Jackson for 38 yards. H then hit Amendola and McMichael for a pair of 13 yard completions. With 15 seconds left, the Rams had 1st and goal at the 9. After a spike and an incompletion, the Rams had 3rd and goal at the 9 with 7 seconds left. Steve Spagnuolo had enough time to throw one more quick pass, but opted for the field goal. When a team is 0-5, to quote Herm Edwards, “play to win the games.” Spagnuolo played not to lose, and the game went into overtime tied 20-20. The blocked extra point was the difference. The Rams never saw the ball in overtime. Garrard moved the Jaguars from their own 20 in 13 plays and 7 minutes to the Rams 18. Josh Scobee ended it, as the Rams remained winless. 23-20 Jaguars, OT

Bears @ Falcons was the Sunday Night game. Jay Cutler and Matt Ryan brought 3-1 teams into this game. Ryan was especially confident after lambasting San Francisco by 35 points in a road win last week. Both quarterbacks had 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in a game that appeared even on paper and was played out that way. A scoreless first quarter ended with Devon Hester returning a punt to the Atlanta 44. Cutler hit Bennet for 21 yards and Johnny Knox for the 23 yard touchdown to put the Bears up 7-0 to start the second quarter. Yet wgen Cutler threw an interception on the next Chicago drive, Ryan threw a 40 yard touchdown pass to White to tie the game 7-7.

With 5 minutes left in the half, Ryan led a 12 play drive from the Atlanta 36. A pair of 3rd and 1 conversions kept the drive going, and with 5 seconds left in the half, on 3rd and goal from the 10, Ryan hit Tony Gonzalez for the score to put the Falcons up 14-7 at the midpoint.

The Bears took 6 minutes in the third quarter to drive to the Atlanta one yard line, where they fumbled the ball away. The Falcons then took 6 minutes to drive from their own 2 to the Chicago 31 before a deep pass was intercepted at the Chicago 7. Yet Cutler then rapidly moved the Bears 92 yards. He actually ran for 30 yards himself to start the drive. A defensive pass interference penalty followed by a 41 yard pass to Greg Olsen led to Cutler hitting Olsen for the 2 yard touchdown to tie the game 14-14 with 6 minutes left in the game.

A 62 yard kickoff return by Weems had the Falcons in business at the Chicago 41. Ryan hit Gonzalez for games of 16 and 15 yards. With 3 minutes left, Michael Turner ran it in from 5 yards out to put the Falcons back on top. The Bears got the ball back at their own 12. Cutler hit Devon Hester for a 34 yard gain to the Atlanta 48. He then hit Matt Forte for 13 more. A defensive pas interference penalty had the Bears at the Atlanta 14 with 1:07 left. Penalties pushed the Bears back to 3rd and 25. Cutler immediately hit Bennett for 24 yards to set up 4th and 1 at the 5 with 34 seconds left. At the worst possible moment, the Bears suffered a false start penalty. That was the difference in this dead even game, as Cutler then fired incomplete on 4th and 6. For the second straight year, the Falcons defeated the Bears in a nailbiter. The battle of the SMiths had Mike defeating Lovey. Let’s hope they meet in the playoffs. 21-14 Falcons

Broncos @ Chargers was the Monday Night game. Josh McDaniels has shocked the league has the Broncos remain unbeaten. As for the Chargers, they are somehow still coached by Norvelous Norv Turner. Philip Rivers came out firing, hitting Malcolm Floyd for gains of 18 and 20 yards followed by a 25 yarder to LaDanian Tomlinson. The drive bogged down at the 2 yard line as the Chargers kicked a field goal to lead 3-0. A game of big plays on special teams immediately put the Broncos up 7-3 when Eddie Royal returned the ensuing kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Rivers brought the Chargers right back, and a  3 yard touchdown pass to Voncent Jackson had the Chargers up 10-7 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the Broncos tied the game on a Matt Prater field goal. Yet again, this game was about special teams. Eddie Royal became the 11th player in NFL history to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in the same game. His 71 yard punt return for a touchdown put the Broncos on 17-10. Late in the half Nate Kaeding hit a 44 yard field goal to put the Chargers within 17-13. When the Broncos, punted, it was San Diego’s turn to light up the stadium. Darren Sproles took the punt and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown and a 20-17 lead for the Chargers at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Kaeding nailed a 50 yard field goal to put the Chargers up 23-17. Yet the rest was all Denver. Kyle Orton, who might be the most underrated quarterback in the NFL, hit Tony Scheffler for a 19 yard touchdown pass to put the Broncos up 24-23 after three quarters.

Despite moving the ball well most of the game, Rivers was sacked four time sin the second half, and a fumble at midfield in the fourth quarter led to a Denver field goal and a 27-23 Broncos lead. The Chargers came back to reach the Denver 38, but Turner passed up a 55 yard field goal attempt and punted. A short pass from Orton to Scheffler went for 52 yards, setting up a 5 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokely to put the Broncos up by 11 points with 3 minutes left. The Chargers tried to cut the gap to 8 points by finally giving Kaeding a 55 yard field goal try, but it was no good. The Broncos are 6-0, and the 2-3 Chargers, who are hyped every year by everyone except me, remain Norvelous. 34-23 Broncos


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