NFL 2009–Week 8 Recap

Hal Levine revelry is in the rear view mirror, and the clocks have been turned back. Now it is time to revel in men beating the tar out of each other over an oblate spheroid.

Sadly enough, today is the KRLA Townhall event. Once again, something will interfere with my NFL Sunday.

There is no Sunday Night game because of the World Series. The NFL does this out of politeness. We all know a Sunday Night game would render baseball unwatchable. Then again, it already is.

The early games were almost as boring as baseball, as scoring came infrequently in 8 games were defensively dominated. Outside of Philadelphia, there was little offense.

For those loving offense, my coed touch football team “Kiss Da Baby” won 40-21 in a game that was closer than the score indicated. My team wears green t-shirts, and I could not find mine before the game. The rules state that we have to wear the appropriate colors. Thankfully it was Halloween, so I took the top half of my “Riddler” costume and played in that. I am so glad this game was not videotaped as I was the only player dressed as a Batman character. More importantly, I managed to wash and dry the jersey in time to wear it that night for Halloween. Most importantly, fashion nightmare aside, we won the game.

Enjoy my recap of Week 8 in the NFL. Then leave me alone so I may watch the highlights.

Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets–When a pair of decent teams get together, the results can be a good game. Earlier this year they played a night game that was a thriller, as multiple lead changes led to a 31-27 Miami heartstopper. The rematch was in New York, and it was a defensive struggle early on. Rex Ryan saw his defense disintegrate in the first game, but the Jets were stout early on. A field goal had Gang Green up 3-0. At the 2 minute warning, Miami made a short field goal to make it a 3-3 game.

Miami lost yards to start the third quarter, and with a short field after a punt, the Jets moved just enough for Jay Feeley to attempt a 55 yard field goal. Rex Ryan is not afraid of bold gambles, and this one in a field position game paid off as the Jets led 6-3. A game with virtually no excitement then turned into a third quarter pinball machine as Ted Ginn exploded.

First Ginn returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to put the Dolphins up 10-6. Then Jason Taylor picked up a fumble and returned it 48 yards for a score. 2 plays, 2 touchdowns, and a 6-3 deficit became a 17-6 Dolphins lead. The Jets went nowhere and punted on their net possession, but a fumbled punt had the Jets on the Miami 29. Mark Sanchez from the one yard line executed a naked bootleg that was so perfect that he scored and came back to the players before the Dolphins even realized he had the ball. Yet a 17-13 game was short-lived as Ginn did it again. He bested his previous return by one yard, as a 101 yard kickoff returned had the Dolphins up 24-13. The Jets came right back as Sanchez threw to Jerricho Cotcherry for 53 yards before hitting Braylon Edwards with a 19 yard touchdown. Sanchez was intercepted on the 2 point conversion, but a first half with 6 points featured a 3rd quarter with 37 points as the Jets trailed 24-19.

Miami had some breathing room in the fourth quarter when Chad Henne led a 13 play, 8 minute drive that ended in a 5 yard touchdown pass to Hanos. An inexplicable 2 point conversion attempt failed, but the Dolphins led 30-19. Sanchez brought the Jets right back, quickly moving the team 81 yards. A 16 yard touchdown pass to Keller had the Jets within 30-25 with 6 minutes left. The 2 point conversion succeeded, but was nullified by illegal motion. The second attempt failed.

The Jets got the ball back, and Sanchez worked the 2 minute drill smartly. On defense, Tony Sparano smartly took timeouts so the Dolphins would have enough time should the Jets score. With 90 seconds remaining, the Jets faced 3rd and 6 from the Miami 8. Sanchez was sacked, setting up 4th down from the 15. Sanchez backpedaled to his 30, and fired to the end zone incomplete. The Dolphins swept the series, with both games being thrillers. A playoff game between these teams would be great for the league. 30-25 Dolphins

San Francisco 49ers @ Indianapolis Colts–The 49ers took a surprising 7-0 lead when Frank Gore stopped complaining about losing the 2000 election and ripped off a 64 yard touchdown run. 20 year veteran Matt Stover, filling in for injured Adam Vinatieri, had the Colts within 7-3. The Colts high octane offense struggled throughout the first half of this game, but a second field goal had Indy within 7-6 midway through the second quarter. Alex Smith seems to have revived his flagging career, as a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis had the 49ers up 14-6. The Colts did manage to sneak in a 31 yard field goal just before the half to trail 14-9. An 11 play, 5 1/2 minute drive led to a 4th field goal as the Colts trailed at home 14-12 entering the final quarter. A league with very few upsets this year was potentially seeing one.

On the opening play of the final quarter, the Colts had the ball on the San Francisco 22. Jim Caldwell reached into the bag of tricks. Peyton Manning handed off to Joseph Addai, who lobbed a halfback option pass to Reggie Wayne for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion failed, but on a day when Manning was not getting the team touchdowns, somebody else stepped up as the Colts led 18-14.

Although Manning finished 31 for 48 for 347 yards, this team ground out the clock in uglier fashion than normal. San Francisco did reach the Indy 30, but a penalty killed the drive. With 5:45 left, the Colts got the ball and never relinquished it. Tony Dungy is retired, and the Colts do not play Buc Ball, but this was Buc Ball. Good teams win even when not looking pretty, and theColts are 7-0 after a tough win. Mike Singletary will get wins, but not today. 18-14 Colts

Cleveland Browns @ Chicago Bears–Only in this year’s NFL could a team lose by 35 and be heavily favored the next week. Then again, Chicago was hosting Cleveland. Jay Cutler led a 10 play, 5 minute drive that set up one field goal, and when the Browns turned it over deep in their own territory, the Bears lost a couple of yards and had Robbie Gould kick another one as the Bears led 6-0 in a game with no implications beyond parts of the industrial midwest. If Robbie Gould is a reason to watch a game, this game was scintillating. His third kick had the Bears up 9-0. The Browns did manage to level Cutler on one drive, but a helmet to chin hit, led to a personal foul. Matt Forte ran it in from one yard out at the 2 minute warning to give the Bears a 16-0 lead. The second half was played for contractual reasons.

The Browns got a lucky break when the Bears managed a 12 yard punt, setting Cleveland up at the Chicago 30. Derek Anderson ran it in from one yard out to pull the Browns to within 16-6. The extra point was blocked, and the Browns got no more breaks. Matt Forte ran it in from 10 yards out to make it 23-6. In the fourth quarter, a goal line stand by Cleveland was wasted when Anderson was intercepted by Charles Tillman, who returned it 21 yards to the house to complete the blowout. Eric Mangini does not seem like Mangenius, but nobody does in Cleveland. 30-6 Bears

Seattle Seahawks @ Dallas Cowboys–Both of these teams have shown brilliance and underachievement this year, although the Cowboys have started clicking. Matt Hasselbeck led the Seahawks on a 14 play, 69 yard drive that took 6 minutes, setting up a 43 yard Olindo Mare field goal. Tony Romo, who has a bunch of receivers that do not tear the team apart while dropping passes, found Hurd for a 36 yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead.

In the second quarter the Cowboys began a drive at the Seattle 30. With the short field, Marion Barber ran it in from 2 yards out to put the Cowboys up 14-3. Yet Hasselbeck quickly brought Seattle down the field, as an 80 yard drive was capped off with a 23 yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch as the Seahawks were within 14-10. The Cowboys missed a chance to expand the lead when Nick Folk missed a field goal. The Cowboys would not waste their next chance as Tony Romo led a 10 play, 65 yard drive that finished with a 7 yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams as the Cowboys led 21-10.

When Tony Romo found new superstar Miles Austin for a 3 yard touchdown in the third quarter, the Cowboys had broken the game wide open at 28-10. The exclamation point came when Patrick Crayton returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-10. Dallas added a fourth quarter field goal before surrendering a garbage touchdown late. The Cowboys are 5-2, and leading the tough NFC East. Jerry Jones is on the verge of letting the team sit at the adults table. The Seahawks play in the NFC Worst, so anything is possible. 38-17 Cowboys

Houston Texans @ Buffalo Bills–Despite being coached by Dick Jauron, the Bills had a chance to win this one. They are underdogs at home, which again goes back to Jauron. Speaking of overrated, Terrell Owens may drop way too many passes, and the only thing he normally runs is his mouth. Yet he ran a reverse around the end for a 29 yard touchdown to put the Bills up 7-0. I was wrong. He and Jauron are now superstars. The Texans responded with a field goal to close the gap to 7-3. In the second quarter the Texans reached the 5 yard line before settling for another field goal to make it a 7-6 game just before the 2 minute warning. The Bills added a field goal of their own to take a 10-6 lead into the locker rooms. The Texans added a third field goal as the Bills led 10-9 after three quarters.

The fourth quarter was all Texans, as Moats ran wild. Moats had 3 touchdowns of 11, 1, and 3 yards as the Texans won a blowout. The Texans have quietly won 3 straight for Gary Kubiak. As for the Bills, they still have Dick Jauron. 31-10 Texans

Denver Broncos @ Baltimore Ravens–The Baltimore defense began laying the lumber early on as Kyle Orton got rocked for a sack on the first play. Ed Reed also knocked the daylights out of a defensive receiver, because that is what he does. A field goal had the Ravens up 3-0, and a second quarter field goal extended the Baltimore lead to 6-0 at halftime.

A listless first half was followed by a second half that began with a jolt as Lardarius Webb…yes, Lardarius Webb…returned the second half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown for the Ravens. It was the first time in NFL history that a person named Lardarius had done this, and most likely the first time a Lardarius had ever played. The game went from listless to Lardarius as the Ravens led 13-0. Kyle Orton settled down and led a 10 play, 86 yard drive that took 5 minutes. Moreno ran it in from one yard out and the Broncos were within 13-7. Joe Flacco countered by leading the Ravens 10 plays and 69 yards over 5 minutes. A field goal had the Ravens up 16-7. From there, the defense clamped down.

Joe Flacco led a 5 minute, 73 yard drive that culminated in a 20 yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason to give the Ravens a 23-7 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the game. Rice ran it in from 7 yards out to complete the scoring and knock the Broncos from the ranks of the unbeaten. The Broncos nearly lost their first game in Week 1. Yet time will tell if this was a tough road loss against a good team or if their 6-0 start was a mirage. 30-7 Ravens

St. Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions–The league should have scheduled this game against the World Series to test my theory of how little baseball matters. Then again, Wednesday morning would have been better. The Rams have lost 17 straight, and are chasing the 19 straight the Lions lost. Yet because the Lions did it in one season, the Rams will never get the credit they deserve.

Marc Bulger did lead an 11 play, 6 minute drive that led to a field goal and a 3-0 Rams lead, already defeating those who took the under. A bizarre play followed on defense. Matthew Stafford threw an interception to Butler at the Ras goal line, thwarting a drive. Yet Butler apparently did not study the NFL rulebook, because he went past the goal line where his interception turned into a safety. The Rams led 3-2. With one minute left in this terrible half, the Rams lined up for a 54 yard field goal. Instead, a perfectly executed fake led to kicker Josh Brown throwing a 36 yard touchdown pass to Fells as the Rams led 10-2.

After a scoreless third quarter, the first play of the fourth quarter had the Lions at the Rams 41. Matthew Stafford went deep for a 36 yard gain to Johnson. Stafford scrambled for the 4 yard touchdown himself, and then hit Morris for the 2 point conversion to tie the game 10-10. With 2 1/2 minutes left in this awful game, the Rams took over at their own 38. On 3rd and 3, defensive pass interference had the Rams at the Lions 42. Stephen Jackson stunned the crowd by running for a 17 yard gain and then for the 25 yard touchdown.

The Rams finally stopped the bleeding, after 17 straight losses. They failed to go 0-16 like the Lios by beating the Lions. Surprisingly, the Lions were not happy for them. Both of these teams have one win on the year, as the race to the bottom reverted away from the Rams. 17-10 Rams

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles–The Giants have been reeling after starting 5-0, and playing at Philadelphia is not a good place to recover. Despite going 13-3 last year, the Eagles belted the Giants twice in Giants Stadium last year, including the playoffs. This had the potential to be a blockbuster game. Early on, it was anything but.

3 plays and 90 seconds into the game, Weaver raced for a 41 yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 7-0. After Eli Manning was intercepted, the Eagles began at the Giants 10. Donovan McNabb hit Brent Celek for a 3 yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, but the Eagles led 13-0. A 15 play, 72 yard drive that took up 7 minutes led to a David Akers field goal as the Eagles led 16-0 early in the second quarter.

The Giants finally got on the board at the 2 minute warning. Eli Manning hit Hakeem Nicks for a 34 yard pass between defenders to set up an 18 yard touchdown pass to Kevin Boss to get the Giants to within 16-7. Yet the Eagles came right back, as McNabb went deep to new star Deshean Jackson for a 54 yard touchdown bomb that had the Eagles cruising at 23-7. The Giants decided not to take a knee and go t the locker rooms, and another Manning interception led to McNabb hitting Jeremy Macklin for a 23 yard touchdown pass. The Eagles led 30-7, and were blowing out the Giants for the third straight time dating back to last year.

The Giants fumbled the second half kickoff, and Philly added a field goal before the Giants thought they had gotten back in the game. A fumble return for a touchdown was overturned on review. The Giants did get a field goal and a one yard touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw to pull to within 33-17, but McCoy slammed the door shut by barreling for a 66 yard touchdown run to close out the scoring. Andy Reid has the Eagles looking good, and Tom Coughlin will try and hold his team together after 3 straight losses following a long since gone 5-0 start. 40-17 Eagles

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans–Vince Young started in place of Kerry Collins as Jeff Fisher deferred to owner Bud Adams. It sparked the winless Titans early as Young led a 13 play, 7 minute drive that led to Rob Bironas field goal and a 3-0 Titans lead. In the second quarter, Young hit Nate Washington for a 6 yard touchdown pass as the Titans had a 10-0 lead. A short field after a turnover led to another field goal and the Titans leading 13-0. Yet a team that is 0-6 does not have anything come easy.

Maurice Jones-Drew ripped off an 80 yard run to make it a 13-7 game at the half. One play running drives are supposed to only happen in college football, but Jones-Drew ripped off a 7 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Also, in pro football, the extra point should be automatic. Several games today including this one had the extra point blocked. Yet 2 plays and 2 touchdowns had the game tied 13-13.

Yet The Titans did not fold. Chris Johnson ripped off a 52 yard touchdown of his own as this game of big plays had the Titans back on top 20-13. A field goal extended the lead to 23-13, but in a game of big plays, the Titans had one more In the fourth quarter, Chris Johnson ran for an 89 yard touchdown to ice the game and finally get them a win on the season. 30-13 Titans

Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers–For more on the game of the day, go to

I will keep saying it until he is permanently benched, but JaMarcus Russell wears jersey # 2 because that describes his play. He is a complete bust. As soon as the announcers stated that he had a great week in practice, I knew it was over. Tom Cable smartly decided on the running game, which worked well in the opening week meeting between these teams. Yet from midfield, Russell tried to throw a long pass, which was intercepted by Antonio Rogers-Cromartie. Philip Rivers, who actually can play football, went deep to Malcolm Floyd. Floyd outjumped Michael Huff for a 63 yard gain. On the next play, out of a wildcat formation, Ladanian Tomlinson scored on the 10 yard touchdown as the Chargers rapidly led 7-0.

Russell retook the field, which meant the game was over. He began by calling a timeout before a perfectly executed false start. On 3rd and 4, he threw deep to nobody. At least it wasn’t intercepted. Every single Oakland drive from now on should be started by Bruce Gradkowski. Russell may be the worst starting quarterback in Raiders history, and I remember Jay Schroeder. At least Schroeder went 12-4 his first year starting (Marinovich does not count because of drugs. Russell is inexplicable).

Later in the first quarter the Raiders shocked the football world in a manner not seen since Len Dawson led Kansas City against Green Bay in Super Bowl I. By refusing to let Russell throw the ball, the ground game got the job done. Yes, it was after a Rivers interception, so Oakland started at the San Diego 27. Yet when Justin Fargas ran it in form 3 yards out, the game was tied 7-7. The best chance for the Raiders to win the game evaporated when the Chargers offense came back on the field.

Rivers led a 12 play, 78 yard drive that ate up 7 1/2 minutes.Every single one of the 6 completions went to Vincent Jackson. Somehow, from the 8 yard line, Jackson was wide open in the end zone. This is because Stanford Routt does for the defense what Russell does for the offense. The Chargers led 14-7. The best chance for the Raiders to tie the game disappeared when the Raiders offense took the field. On 3rd and 4, Russell did what he does, by misfiring incomplete badly. The Chargers moved the ball with ease, and Tomlinson ran it up the middle untouched for a 10 yard touchdown. The Chargers led 21-7 with one minute left in the half.

The Raiders had a brief spark of life when Jonthan Holland returned the kickoff 63 yards to the San Diego 37. The Raiders had 43 seconds and 2 timeouts. After moving 10 yards to the 27, Russell was sacked.  Russell then underthrew to a wide open Louis Murphy for a bounce pass. With 15 seconds left and no timeouts, the Raiders faced 3rd and 13. In a truly gutless display of cowardly football, Cable had Sebastian Janikowski kick a 48 yard field goal. The kick was good, and the Raiders trailed 21-10, but the larger point was Cable having zero confidence in Russell and is offense. It was a surrender.

The Raiders took the second half kickoff, and utilized an offense tighter than a 300 pound linebacker in speedos. Runs and ultra conservative passes led to a 41 yard Seabass field goal and a 21-13 game. Later in the quarter Darren Sproles fumbled a punt at midfield, and the Raiders took over. Russell did throw a deep pass that should have been intercepted, reminding Cable to go ultra conservative. It was working, but on 4th and 2 from the 10, with the CHargers on their heels and the defense gasping for air, Cable opted for the field goal. The game was now 21-16, but it was another heartbreaking lack of confidence in the offense.

Rivers calmed the Chargers down with a 15 play, 83 yard drive that consumed 8 minutes. On 3rd and 10 from their own 8, Rivers hit Chris Chambers for 20 yards, just as Oakland had all the momentum. Yet as the Chargers ripped off big gains, the defense of the Silver and Black stiffened by the goal line. A field goal by Nate Kaeding had the Chargers up 24-16 with 4 1/2 minutes left. With 2 1/2 minutes left, the Raiders faced 4th and 7 at their own 46. Russell hit Zach Miller for a 10 yard gain to the San Diego 44 at the 2 minute warning. The Raiders had 2 timeouts, although time was not a factor.

Russell then was hit and fumbled, and luckily Oakland fell on it. A false start set up 2nd and 28 with 1:18 left.  On the next play Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward Bey Ran into each other as Russell was sacked again. The Raiders took their final timeout on 3rd and 31. A pass to Zach Miller made it 4th and 19 with one minute left. Russell fired a pass that was dropped, and again the Raiders had lost to a Norvelous Norv Turner coached team. The Raiders had every chance to win, and naturally, they failed. They are 2-6. The fact that this game was close means nothing. Bad teams lose to Norv Turner. The Raiders are bad. There is no hope in sight. 24-16 Chargers

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers–The circus has come to town. Screw the hyperbole. The game of the year has arrived. The former Packers standout now plays for the Vikings. Yes, this was all about kicker Ryan Longwell. Just kidding. Brett Favre was roundly booed in a classless display by the Cheeseheads. Divorce can be ugly. Yet the real story of this game is that the Vikings are simply a much better football team. An early Minnesota fumble set up a field goal and a 3-0 Packers lead, but the rest was all Minnesota.

Yes, Favre is all world, but he has some ridiculous talent around him. Percy Harvin has returned several kickoffs for touchdowns, and today he took a kickoff 77 yards to the Green Bay 14. On 4th and goal form the one, Brad Childress, who is bald, decided to go for it. Adrian Peterson ran it in from one yard out to put the Vikings up 7-3. In the second quarter Favre hit Vincent Shiancoe for a 12 yard touchdown. Just before the half, Ryan Longwell nailed a 41 yard field goal to make it 17-3 Vikings.

In the third quarter, Favre, no longer needed by geniuses Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy, went deep to Percy Harvin. Favre completed the ball as Harvin split 3…yes 3…defenders. The 51 yard catch and run had the Vikings rolling at 24-3. For those not knowing, Aaron Rodgers now quarterbacks the Packers. He did get them to 3rd and goal, but was then sacked. 6 minutes into the third quarter, the Packers settled for another field goal and a 24-6 game. It appeared to be a victory for the Vikings, but the game then dramatically turned.

Deliberately avoiding Percy Harvin, the Packers tried a short kick. It worked, as the Vikings fumbled it and the Packers took over at the Vikings 41. Rodgers hit Havner for a 16 yard touchdown to pull the Packers to within 24-13. Minnesota punted, and Rodgers led an 84 yard drive that was helped along by  42 yard completion to Jones. Rodgers hit Havner again for a 5 yard touchdown to make it a 24-20 game. Yet just as the Packers had the Vikings on their heels, the kickoff went to Harvin.

Harvin returned the kick 48 yards to the Green Bay 38. Favre hit Harvin for 15 yard, and a facemask penalty on the defense gave the Vikings 1st and goal at the 9. Favre hit Jeff Dugan for the 2 yard touchdown to put the Vikings up 31-20 with 13 1/2 minutes left in the game. Rodgers came right back, and a short touchdown pass to Greg Jennings followed by a failed 2 point conversion had the Packers within 31-26.

The Packers got the ball again, and with 5 1/2 minutes left, a 51 yard field goal attempt to cut the gap to 2 points was no good. Favre kept firing. A screen pass to Peterson picked up 44 yards. With 3 minutes left Favre threw his 4th touchdown pass, a 15 yard toss to Bernard Berrian to put the game out of reach.

The Vikings swept the series, and are 7-1. Green Bay is close to being done. Favre is 2-0 against Aaron Rodgers and his old team. The questions about Favre vs his old team are over. Now the question will be if Favre can win a Super Bowl with his new team. At the midpoint, it is very possible. 38-26 Packers

Carolina Panthers @ Arizona Cardinals–This game was a tale of 2 franchises moving in opposite directions. Last year the Panthers cruised to a 12-4 record behind superstar quarterback Jake Delhomme and all world wide receiver Steve Smith. The Cardinals at 9-7 were on their way to playoff elimination as the Panthers reached the Super Bowl. Then in a playoff shocker, it was Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald that dominated in a 33-13 Cardinals rout. The Cardinals went to the Super Bowl while the Panthers began this season losing an losing.

The Panthers entered this game 2-4 and Jake Delhomme being on the verge of being benched. Yet John Fox stuck with his long time leader. The Cardinals entered 4-2 after an impressive win on the road at New York. This was shaping up to be a blowout win for the Cardinals in the desert. Again, the football Gods delivered a surprise in an otherwise predictable season.

Delhomme started by leading a 15 play, 7 1/2 minute drive that covered 74 yards. When Jimmy Stewart ran it in from 15 yards out, the Panthers led 7-0. Warner responded with an 11 play, 81 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive. Warner hit Stephens-Howling for the final 14 yards to make it 7-7. Yet the second quarter was all Panthers.

Deangelo Williams ripped off a 77 yard gain to set up a 10 yard touchdown run by Stewart to put the Panthers up 14-7. Warner was intercepted, and Delhomme hit Steve Smith for a 50 yard touchdown pass to make it 21-7. Julius Peppers then returned a Warner interception 13 yards for a touchdown to have the Panthers winning big 28-7 at halftime. It did not make up for the playoff loss, but wins matter.

In the third quarter Warner led an 11 play, 67 yard drive that took 6 1/2 minutes. A one yard touchdown pass from Warner to Patrick had the Cardinals within 28-14. When the Panthers added a field goal, the game seemed out of reach, but Kurt Warner continued to rally the Cardinals. A pass to Steve Breaston set up a one yard touchdown run to get the Cardinals within 10 points, but it was too little, too late. The Panthers padded the lead with another field goal.

While this upset was not nearly as much of a shocker as the playoff game last year, a small taste of revenge may get the Panthers on the right track and right Delhomme as well. As for the Cardinals, they took a big step last week, but reverted this week back to form. They are simply inconsistent. 34-21 Panthers

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints was the Monday Night game. Back in 2006, this was perhaps the most emotional Monday Night Football game in history, with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina powering the crowd. Steve Gleason and Lawrence DeLoach were part of the greatest blocked punt in history as the Saints won at home. For better or worse, this was “just” a great football game. Mike Smith and the 5-2 Falcons went to play Sean Payton and the 6-0 Saints. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees have been conducting aerial assaults the past couple of years. This game had the potential to be a dandy, and it was.

The Falcons were not impressed with the Saints having home field advantage. Ryan led the Falcons 77 yards on their opening drive, with Michael Turner running it in from 13 yards out. Brees brought the Saints right back, going 80 yards in 13 plays over 5 1/2 minutes. Pierre Thomas broke off a 22 yard touchdown run to tie the game 7-7. While both of these teams have quick strike offenses, the defenses showed up in this game as well. When Biernmann returned a fumble 4 yards for a touchdown after a sack of Brees, the Falcons had a 14-7 lead.

The second quarter was all Saints. Brees led a 12 play, 80 yard, 6 1/2 minute drive, capped off with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Marques Colston to tie the game 14-14. Atlanta came right back down the field, but on 3rd down in the red zone, a short swing pass that would have been a first down was dropped. Jason Elam then doinked a 35 yard field goal off the upright as the Falcons missed a golden opportunity.

Brees made the Falcons pay, working the 2 minute drill to perfection. 80 yards came rapidly and easily, and Reggie Bush plunged over from one yard out to put the Saints up 21-14 late in the half. The Falcons had one minute to work with, and decided not to run out the clock. Yet this time it was the Saints defense that stepped up big. Ryan was intercepted by Greer, who followed some perfect blocks up the middle of the field for a 48 yard touchdown and a 28-14 Saints lead. Ryan did bring the Falcons quickly back, and close enough for a long field goal attempt by Elam as the half ended. Again, the kick was no good.

While the game had the potential to be a Saints route, the second half did not develop that way. Ryan went deep to Roddy White for a 68 yard bomb to have the Falcons to within 28-21. The Saints missed a chance to extend the lead when John Carney missed a field goal. Ryan brought the Falcons back again in 14 plays and 70 yards over 7 minutes. It momentarily looked like the Falcons had the tying touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but a successful challenge by the Saints had the call correctly ruled an incomplete pass. The Falcons settled for a field goal and trailed 28-24 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

With 10 minutes left, Pierre Thomas fumbled and the Falcons recovered at the Saints 35. The Saints challenged this call as well, but lost the challenge and a timeout. A bruising 24 yard run by Turner had the Falcons knocking on the door, but Ryan was intercepted inside the 5 yard line. Brees then bled the clock and moved the ball. With 3 minutes to go, and everything on the line, the Saints had 3rd and goal at the one. Brees swung it out to Pierre Thomas, who went wide, went airborne, and catapulted the Saints into an 11 point lead.

Yet the game was not out of reach. The Falcons did get a field goal with 28 seconds left, and a perfectly executed onsides kick was recovered by the Falcons. With 11 seconds left, from just past midfield, Ryan heaved the Hail Mary. Darren Sharper intercepted it at the four yard line to finally end this wild and woolly one. A rematch is already anticipated, with a rubber match in the playoffs being well worth the television time. The Saints remain unbeaten at 7-0 while the Falcons lost their second straight after a 4-3 start. 35-27 Saints


One Response to “NFL 2009–Week 8 Recap”

  1. These revelations about Tom Cable are quite disturbing. I think we’ll be seeing a different coach in Oakland next year. But whoever that coach is, as long as Big Al keeps calling the shots, the NFL will keep putting more and more distance between the Raida’s and the rest of the league. The game has passed Al Davis by. You can’t build a successful team on big arms and speed demons. It simply doesn’t work anymore. When you look at the top teams in the league, you see balanced talents, lots of intangibles, nuanced strategies, flexible schemes. Defenses now rely heavily on quality strong safties, taking away the middle of the field. QB’s have to be able to make drop and sideline passes, highly accurate low inside zip passes, third and fourth progression screens. You have to be very quick-minded and bright. Arm strength and speed are all well and fine, but you need a lot more than that to make it in today’s NFL. The Raiders will continue to sink as long as Big Al keeps living in the past.


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