NFL 2011–Week 3 Recap

After only 2 weeks into the season, many of the teams are already being fleshed out. Some thrilling action came to us in Week 3. Sadly, so did some incredibly dull action.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills–The opening week of the 2003 season saw the Bills shock the Patriots 31-0. Yet the Patriots finished that year 14-2 by beating the Bills by an identical 31-0 score in the regular season finale. New England won the Super Bowl and went on to beat the Bills 15 straight times. Both of these teams came in 2-0 as the Bills overcame a 21-3 deficit last week with 5 second half touchdowns. This game was a real test to see where the Bills were.

As expected, the Patriots cruised early. Tom Brady found Wes Welker for a 14 yard touchdown to have the Pats up 7-0. Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted, and from the Buffalo 35 Brady made it look easy.  A 24 yard pass to Welker set up Brady to Gronkowski from one yard out to make it 14-0 Patriots.

Fitzpatrick moved the Bills to a 3rd and 4 at the Patriots 25. A chop block pushed them back, and Chan Gailey decided to go for it on 4th and 14 rather than try the 53 yard kick. Fitzpatrick was intercepted again as the opening quarter ended with the Patriots on their own 30. Midway through the second quarter the Patriots took over and faced 3rd and 9 at the Buffalo 47. Brady hit Gronkowski for 21 and then for the 26 yard touchdown as the Patriots were winning a laugher 21-0.

The Bills took over at their own 4 and finally got going. A 21 yard Fred Jackson run and a roughing the passer penalty had them at the New England 41. Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for 26. An 11 yard pass to St. Johnson began the drive and also ended it as the Bills got within 21-7.

With 2 minutes left in the half the Patriots were at their own 20 and with just over one minute left they faced 1st and 10 at the Buffalo 13 with a chance to end it. Instead Brady was intercepted as the Bills took over at their own 10. Fitzpatrick hit Nelson for 26 yards and Jackson for 27 more asa  42 yard Ryan Lindell field goal had the Bills only down 21-10 at the half. For the second week in a row, the Bills faced a tale of two halves.

The Patriots took over in the second half at their own 43 but Brady was quickly intercepted again. The 21 yard return had the Bills at the Patriots 39. An 18 yard Jackson run led to 3rd and goal at the 3. Fitzpatrick hit Chandler as the Bills were now quickly within 21-17.

New England took over at their own 14 and Brady found Chad Johnson for 19 and Gronkowski for 29. Yet on 3rd and 4 from the Buffalo 7, New England only got half and settled for a 23 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to lead 24-17. Buffalo went 3 and out and Brady again led New England to a 2nd and 1 at the Buffalo 32. Yet holding killed the drive as the third quarter ended. New England got the ball back at their own 46 and quickly advanced to the Buffalo 23. Yet another scoring chance was wasted when Brady was intercepted for a third time.

Buffalo took over at their own 5. Roughing the passer moved 15 yards, and Fitzpatrick went deep to Jones for 48 yards. Fitzpatrick was then intercepted, but defensive pass interference put the ball on the one yard line. Jackson took it in and the game was tied 24-24 with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation. After a touchback Brady threw his fourth interception of the day, which was returned 27 yards by Drayton Florence for a touchdown. The Bills had their first lead of the day at 31-24.

New England took over at their own 29 and Brady this time led a time consuming drive. Ridley gained 16 yards, and on 4th and 4 from the Buffalo 41, Evil Hoodie Bill Bellichick decided to go for it. Brady found Welker for 5. On 3rd and 7 from the Buffalo 33, Brady found Welker for 20. A false start on 3rd and goal at the 1 led to 4th and goal at the 6 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Brady hit Welker for the score to complete the 7 minute drive and tie the game 31-31.

Buffalo took over at their own 20 and Fitzpatrick immediately found Jones for 29 and Jackson for 12. Fitzpatrick went to Jackson again for a 39 yard touchdown, but on further review Jackson was ruled down at the 1. With 1:43 to play it would have been better for the Patriots had Jackson scored. From the 1 yard line Chan Gailey smartly bled the clock and had the Patriots use their timeouts. On the final play, Lindell came in for a 28 yarder. It was perfect, and the Bills had the upset. Buffalo is 3-0 and New England 2-1. Brady finished 30 for 45 with 387 yards and 4 touchdowns, but also the 4 interceptions. Fitzpatrick went 27 of 40 for 369 yards and 2 touchdowns with the 2 early interceptions. It is far too early to declare a changing of the guard, but Buffalo is much improved and are for real. 34-31 Bills

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Carolina Panthers–A pair of Cats who entered the league in 1995 have both fallen on hard times. Jack Del Rio is on the hot seat while Ron Rivera and rookie phenom Cam Newton are looking for their first win. Luke McCown was benched as Blaine Gabbert got his very first NFL start. Sometimes bad teams with rookie quarterbacks can combine for a thrilling game. This was not that game.

Newton led the Panthers from their own 20 to the Jacksonville 41 before several incompletions forced a punt. Jacksonville took over at their own 10. On 3rd and 13 Gabbert was sacked for a safety as the Panthers led 2-0. Several punts later and the Panthers took over just past midfield. A 35 yard Olindo Mare field goal early in the second quarter had the Panthers winning a thriller 5-0. Jacksonville was about to punt again on 4th and 4 from their own 26 when Carolina jumped offsides. That led to a 12 play, 6 12 minute drive and a Josh Scobee field goal from 53 yards out to have Jacksonville within 5-3.

With 53 seconds left in the half, the Jaguars took over at their own 23. After a 2 yard gain and only 17 seconds left in the half, Jacksonville was simply trying to run out the clock. Maurice Jones-Drew ripped off a 39 yard gain as Jacksonville then called timeout with 6 seconds left in the half. A field goal try would have been 54 yards, so Del Rio instead decided to have Gabbert throw is first NFL touchdown pass, a 36 yarder to Thomas. Despite 29 1/2 minutes of awful football, the Jaguars led 10-5 at halftime. The second half was even worse.

Midway through the third quarter Jacksonville was trying to punt near midfield. The snap was fumbled and the Panthers took over at the Jacksonville 38. It led to a 32 yard Mare field goal as the Panthers were within 10-8.

With 7 minutes left in this awful game the Panthers took over at their own 45. Newton hit Jimmy Stewart for 18 yards and Steve Smith for 13 more. On 3rd and 2 at the 16 Newton found Olsen for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion succeeded and the Panthers led by 6 with 4 1/2 minutes to play. That was enough. Gabbert finished 12 of 21 for 139 yards and one touchdown and one interception. After lighting up the league with over 400 yards his first 2 games, Newton in this one was 18 of 34 for 158 yards and 1 touchdown with 0 interceptions. Newton would gladly take those numbers because it came with his first win. 16-10 Panthers

San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals–This was another example of bad teams getting together to play in an even worse game. The Bengals kicked a field goal in the first quarter and the 49ers kicked on in the third quarter as a 3-3 tie entering the fourth quarter deserves no further elaboration as Andy Dalton remains a rookie and Alex Smith refuses to shake his bust label.

In a battle of who wanted it least, with 10 1/2 minutes left in regulation Frank Gore fumbled deep in his own territory and the Bengals took over at the San Francisco 16. Naturally this only led to a field goal as the Bengals led 6-3 with 9 minutes remaining.

The 49ers took over at their own 28 and Smith found Morgan for 12 yards. Hunter gained 11. On 3rd and 2 from the Cincy 31, Gore gained 4. Smith hit Vernon Davis for 20. Hunter ran it in for a 7 yard touchdown as the 49ers led 10-6 with 4 minutes left. Alex SMith was then declared the combo of Montana and Young. No, not really.

Dalton then did his best Akili Smith impersonation by getting intercepted. From the Cincy 32, the 49ers moved backward. Yet the one good player on either of these teams is veteran kicker David Akers. He drilled a 53 yarder to have the 49ers up 13-6 with 2:16 to play. Dalton quickly moved the ball from the Cincy 17 to the Frisco 36, but was then intercepted. With 8 seconds left Frisco had to punt, but rather than risk a block an intentional safety ended the game. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell apologized to fans everywhere but gave no refunds. 13-8 49ers

Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns–Yet another NFL opposite of classic between dreadful teams. After Colt McCoy was intercepted, Miami took over at the Cleveland 43. Chad Henne it Anthony Fasano for 26 yards and Thomas for the 10 yard score as the Dolphins led 7-0. Miami missed a chance to pad the lead in the Cleveland red zone when Reggie Bush, best known for dating a Kardashian, fumbled it away. In the second quarter Miami blew it again when Dan Carpenter missed a 51 yard field goal.

From their own 39 on 3rd and 12, McCoy hit Watson for 13 and then Joshua Cribbs for a 33 yard score to tie the game 7-7. With 4 minutes left in the half from the 20 Henne hit Hartline for 31. On 3rd and 8 from the Browns 47, Henne found Bess for 16. The drive stalled at the 5 but a short field goal had the Dolphins up 10-7 at the break. For some reason the second half was not canceled. Cleveland kicked a third quarter field goal to tie it 10-10. Miami then mounted a 14 play, 8 minute drive that also resulted in a field goal as the Dolphins led 13-10 after three miserable quarters of football.

With 6 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation the Dolphins took over at their own 41. A steady dose of Thomas followed by unnecessary roughness eventually led to a 38 yard field goal as the Dolphins led 16-10 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

From the 20, McCoy hit Massaquoi for 12. With 1:16 to play the Browns faced 4th and 4 at the Miami 37. McCoy hit Hardesty for 10. On 3rd and 10 from the 27, offsides moved 5 yards closer and McCoy hit Moore for 8. McCoy hit Massaquoi for the 14 yard touchdown as the extra point gave the Browns the lead with 48 seconds left. Miami had an excellent chance to win it with a long kickoff return and starting field position at the Cleveland 47. Yet Henne threw 3 straight incompletions and on 4th down was intercepted. Tony Sparano is 0-3 and already walking the plank, while Mike Holmgren is a happy walrus as his band of ragtags are somehow 2-1. Winning hideously still counts. 17-16 Browns

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings–The Lions are 2-0 after a 48-3 carpetbombing of Kansas City last week. With Matthew Stafford healthy, this is not the Lions of failures past. The Vikings are only 2 years from an NFC Title Game but are in shambles. They blew a 17-0 halftime lead against San Diego to lose with seconds left.

Donovan McNabb has struggled, yet he knows how to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson. Peterson ripped off a 43 yard run to the Lions 20. Yet on 1st and goal at the 9, McNabb was sacked and the Vikings had to settle for a 33 yard Ryan Longwell field goal and a 3-0 lead. Detroit went 3 and out and the Vikings took over at their own 47. Minnesota got within 3rd and 4 at the Detroit 14. Yet again McNabb was sacked and another field goal had it 6-0 Vikings.

With 9 minutes left in the half, Minnesota took over at their own 33. Percy Harvin took an end around 39 yards. McNabb hit Rudolph for gains of 13 and 6, and Peterson ran for the 6 yard score as the Vikings led 13-0. With one minute left in the  half, Detroit punted and a 53 yard return with a facemask tacked on gave the Vikings fit field position at the Detroit 13. McNabb hit Shiancoe from 8 yards out as the Vikings took a 20-0 lead into the locker room. 3 years ago Detroit was 0-16 and played like it in the first half. Minnesota was building a contender and they looked like it in this game. Yet the second half will be talked about by both teams for some time.

An exchange of punts in the third quarter had the Lions at their own 48. On 3rd and 4 Stafford found Pettigrew for 14 and then Calvin Johnson for the 32 yard touchdown as the Lions were within 20-7. After a Vikings punt, Detroit took over at the midstripe. From the Minnesota 39, Stafford hit Pettigrew for 10 and 27. Yet from the 2 yard line, Detroit went backwards and settled for a 28 yard Jason Hanson field goal to get within 20-10.

Minnesota punted again and the Lions took over at their own 11. On 3rd and 8, Stafford hit Young for 17. From the 35, Stafford found Jahvid Best, who took a short pass 60 yards as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Stafford hit Johnson for the 5 yard touchdown as the Lions were now within 20-17.

The Vikings finally got a spark when Booker returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to the Detroit 37. On 1st and 20 after a penalty, McNabb hit Percy Harvin for 21. Yet on 4th and 1 from the 17, Leslie Frazier decided to go for it and Toby Gerhart got nothing as he Vikings turned it over on downs with 11 1/2 minutes left to play. Stafford ten led a 12 play, 6 minute drive, converting a pair of 3rd downs. Yet 3rd and 2 from the Minnesota 32 did not get converted. Hanson nailed the 50 yard field goal as the Lions had come all the way back from 20-0 to tie the game 20-20 with 5 1/2 minutes to play.

Minnesota again went 3 and out and the Lions took over after a bad punt at the Minnesota 47. A horse collar tackle put the Lions in field goal range, and Hanson connected from 40. The Lions led 23-20 with 2 1/2 minutes to play in front of a shellshocked home crowd.

Despite having zero life in the second half, Minnestoa took over from their own 17 and finally got going. At the 2 minute warning they had reached their own 41. McNabb hit Rudolph for 20, and Longwell came in for a 49 yard field goal with 1:16 to play. He hit it to tie the game again 23-23. Detroit would punt on 4th and 27 from their own 3, giving the ball to Minnesota with 11 seconds left at the Vikings 40. Minnesota tried the hook and ladder, but despite being at the Detroit 25 and in field goal range they fumbled it away at the gun. Longwell never got the chance to win it.

Detroit began in overtime at their own 27 and made it look easy. Stafford hit Young for 17 and Johnson for 40. On 1st and 10 from the Minnesota 14 only 2 minutes into overtime, Jim Schwartz took no chances and immediately brought in Hanson. Hanson nailed it as the Lions came all the way back to win. Forget 3 years ago. Detroit deserves to be 3-0 and Minnesota deserves to be 0-3. The Lions are much improved and Minnesota has had 2 epic collapses in 3 weeks. 26-23 Lions, OT

Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints–These teams both have high octane offenses, and the expected shootout materialized. Defenses took the day off. Matt Schaub went right to work from the Houston 13. On 3rd and 14, he hit Andre Johnson for 15 and then again for 32. Tate gained 11 and Schaub found Owen Daniels for a 14 yard connection to have the Texans up 7-0. The Texans got the ball back at their own 14, and on 3rd and 8 Schaub found Casey for 62 yards. The drive would stall at the 4, but a 22 yard Neil Rackers field goal had the Texans up 10-0.

In the second quarter the Saints took over at their own 14. Mark Ingram ran for 17 and Brees found Robert Meachem for 12 and Pierre Thomas for 15. Darren Sproles raced for a 30 yard score to get the Saints within 10-7. After a touchback, Schaub found Johnson for 48 yards and Daniels for 23 more. Yet the drive stalled again and from 27 Rackers had the Texans up 13-7. Brees was then intercepted As Houston took over at the Saints 34. Tate gained 19 but again the drive stalled at the 9. Rackers put the Texans up 16-7, although settling for field goals would prove costly.

The Saints took over at their own 21. Brees hit Meachem for 10 and Devry Henderson for 44. Jon Kasay nailed a 35 yard kick late in the half as the Saints trailed 16-10 at intermission. The Saints began the third quarter at their own 27. Brees hit Moore for 14, and on 3rd and 11 from the Saints 45, Brees found Meachem for 16. Brees hit Graham for 32 yards and Meachem for the 2 yard score as the Saints led 17-16.

The Texans took over at their own 27 and Schaub hit Casey for 16. On 3rd and 1 from the Saints 48, Schaub found Johnson for 12. Casey gained 11 more, but again in the red zone the Texans bogged down. Rackers kicked his fourth field goal, and the Texans led 19-17 after three quarters. The teams combined for only 36 points in 45 minutes, but the final quarter would see 37 more points in what Stuart Scott would describe as redunkulous.

A Brees interception set up the Texans at the Saints 42. The first play of the fourth quarter saw the Texans facing 3rd and 6 at the Saints 26. Schab went to Casey for the score as the Texans led 26-17. After an exchange of punts, the Saints took over just past midfield with 11 1/2 minutes left. Brees hit Sproles for 10 and to Graham for a 27 yard score as the Saints were only down 26-24.

Schaub was the intercepted, and it was the Saints with the short field at the Houston 47. Meachem ran for 11, and on 3rd and 6 from the 16, Breed went to Moore for the touchdown. The 2 point conversion had the Saints up 32-26 midway through the fourth quarter.

The Texans took over at their own 20 and Schaub hit Daniels for 12. On 3rd and 1, Schaub hit Casey for 14 to the Saints 45. Schaub then hit Daniels for 15, Walter for 10, and Walter again for the 20 yard score. The extra point had the Texans up 33-32 with 4 minutes left.

The Saints were forced to start at their own 7 yard line. Brees hit Moore for 15, Graham for 13, and Sproles for 11. With 3 minutes left, the Saints faced 3rd and 10 at their own 46. Brees found Graham for 28, with 15 more for a personal foul tacked on. After all that passing, Ingram ran for a 13 yard touchdown. Again the 2 point conversion was good. The Saints had the 7 point lead but 2:47 still remained.

Yet this time there would be no comeback as a 3rd and 5 completion was offset by holding. A sack and an incompletion on 4th and 21 finally ended this pinball machine. These are two of the best offenses in the league and they played like it. Gregg Williams and Wade Phillips are two of the best defensive coordinators in the game, but they had a tough day. Sean Payton bested Gary Kubiak, but both of these teams have right futures ahead.Schaub and Brees had nearly identical numbers, with Schaub going 22 of 39 for 373 and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception. Brees was 31 of 44 for 370 with 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The key was Houston bogging down in the red zone on several drives. 40-33 Saints

Despite winning last week, the 1-1 Giants were considered a mess. The defense needed to fake injuries to survive, receiver Mario Manningham was out, and they were on the road after a short week. Despite losing last week, the 1-1 Eagles were still considered a Super Bowl contender. Michael Vick had a concussion las week but with the Giant defense shredded and battered, this was the type of game for Vick to blast the Giants into little pieces in front of a raucus home crowd. If ever a game deserved the words of ESPN uber-announcer Chris Berman, this was it. That’s why they play the games.

Eli Manning has been skewered in the press, and began this game with incompletions as the Giants went 3 and out. The Eagles took over at their own 41 and Vick led them to a 3rd and 6 at the Giants 19. Yet Big Blue came up big with an interception. From the Giants 27, Ahmad Bradshaw gained 15. From the Philly 40, Manning went deep to Brandon Jacobs. The bruiser is supposed to run for 3 yards and a cloud of dust, but he caught the long touchdown reception as the Giants led 7-0. Philly would punt, and the Giants took over at their own 18. From the 26, a short pass to Cruz went for a 74 yard touchdown as the Giants shocked the home crowd with a 14-0 road lead.

After a touchback, Vick hit Desean Jackson for 17 to begin a 15 play, 8 minute drive. Yet with 2nd and goal at the 2, pass happy Walrus Lite did what else? Call more passes. 2 plays lost one yard and Reid settled for a 21 yard field goal to get the Eagles within 14-3. The Giants soon faced 3rd and 5 from their 25, but Tom Coughlin does have running backs who actually run the ball. Ahmad Bradshaw gained 37. Yet on 4th and 3 from the Philly 31, Coughlin decided to bypass the field goal and go for it. Manning’s pass only gained 2 yards as the Eagles took over with 5 minutes left in the half.

From the Philly 29, Vick found Jeremy Maclin for 13. On 3rd and 2 from midfield, Vick hit Harbor for 17. Unnecessary roughness led to an 11 yard touchdown run by McCoy as the Eagles were within 14-10 just past the 2 minute warning. After a ount the Eagles got the ball back at the Giants 46 with 1:12 left. Vick hit Maclin for 24 and a 38 yard field goal at the gun had the Eagles only down 14-13 at halftime.

In the third quarter Vick led the Eagles on a staggering 14 play, 88 yard drive that consumed 9 minutes. From the Philly 10, the Eagles soon faced 3rd and 6 at their own 14. Vick scrambled for a few, fumbled, saw a teammate pick it up, and eventually gain 21 yards in the sandlot. Vick hit Scmidt for 13 to midfield and Maclin for 23 more. Vick hit Avant for 14 to set up 1st and goal at the 2. Schmidt gained 1 and twice Vick got stopped trying to take it himself. An extra down due to a defensive penalty led to 3rd and goal at the 1. Schmidt lost a yard, but even worse, Vick was injured again. This was far more serious than last week, as a broken hand  knocked him out of the game. On 4th and goal at the 2, rather than bring in Mike Kafka right away, Reid went with the field goal. Philly led 16-14, but without Michael Vick the momentum changed again.

Early in the fourth quarter the Eagles took over at their own 27 and McCoy gained 21. Vick stayed in the game, and on 4th and 1 at the Giants 43, Reid decided to go for it. McCoy lost 3 yards and the Giants took over. Short passes and runs got the Giants to the Philly 28 with 8 minutes left in regulation. Manning went deep to Cruz for the score as the Giants retook the lead. The 2 point conversion failed, but a defensive penalty moved it closer and Jacobs banged it in to put the Giants up  22-16.

After a touchback, Kafka finally came into the game and promptly threw an interception. The Giants took over at their own 44. On 3rd and 1 Bradshaw gained 2. With 4 minutes left the Giants faced 4th and 2 at the Philly 22. Defensive offsides killed the Eagles. On 3rd and 11 from the 18, Manning hit Bradshaw for the final nail in the Philly coffin.

Kafka would be intercepted again, but the real story involved Vick being injured. It also involved Eli Manning who despite only completing 16 of 23 passes for 254 yards, threw 4 touchdown. The washed up Giants beat the destiny bound Eagles as Big Blue is 2-1 and Philly is only 1-2. Tom Coughlin was so proud he almost smiled. 29-16 Giants

Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans–Another game between bad teams produced the expected result, a bad game. Several of the bad games were competitive, but that does not mean well played. An exchange of punts had Denver at midfield. A defensive pass interference call would lead to Denver facing 3rd and 7 at the Titans 20. Kyle Orton hit Brandon Lloyd 11. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Orton hit Willis for the score as the Broncos led 7-0.

In the second quarter the Titans moved after beginning at their own 15. On 3rd and 5 a 34 yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Chris Johnson  was followed by a 13 yarder to Ringer. On 3rd and 7 from the Denver 30, Hasselbeck hit Nate Washington for 16 and then for the 14 yard score as the game was tied 7-7.

An exchange of turnovers eventually had the Titans at their own 43 with 4 minutes left in the half. On 4th and 9 the Titans prepared to punt with 3 minutes left. Kern fumbled the snap, which usually means disaster. Yet somehow the punter picked up his own fumble and ran 35 yards to the Denver 35. This absolutely ridiculous sequence led to a 46 yard Rob Bironas field goal that had the Titans up 10-7 at halftime. The second half was even worse.

The third quarter saw the Broncos take over at their own 20 after an exchange of punts. On 3rd and 4 from their own 47, Orton hit Eric Decker for just enough. On 3rd and 2 from the Titans 41, Orton hit Decker for 7. A facemask on the next play had the Broncos at the 14. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Orton found Willis McGahee to complete the staggering 16 play, 8 minute drive and put the Bronocos up 14-10 after three quarters. A Hasselbeck fumble gave Denver gift field positio at the Titans 13. Yet on 2nd and goal from the 2, McGahee gained only 1 yard in 2 carries. On 4th and goal from the 1 Jon Fox Decided to go for it and gave McGahee the ball again. Again McGahee got stuffed. Mike Munchak saw his defense save the day as 13 1/2 minutes still remained.

An exchange of punts had the Titans backed up again to their own 5 with 8 minutes left in regulation. On 3rd and 2 Hasselbeck found Ringer for 4. Then Hasselbeck went deep to Stevens for 58 yards to the Denver 25.     Johnson gained 8, and Hasselbeck then hit Washington for 13 and Graham for the 4 yard touchdown. The Titans regained the lead by a field goal with 4 1/2 minutes left.

Orton led the Broncos from their 20 to a 3rd and 11 at the Tennessee 39 with 1:46 to play. A few more yards meant a long field goal, but it was not to be as Orton was intercepted. Denver fell to 0-3 as the calls for Tim Tebow will not become loud thunderclaps. As for Tennessee, a pair of home wins has them at a surprising 2-1. It was ugly, but the Titans got the victory. 17-14 Titans

New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders–From the AFL Title Game after the 1968 season to the 1970 Heidi Game, the Raiders and Jets have put on some classics. In 1993 the Raiders overcame a 17-0 deficit to win 24-20 on the final play. In 1997 it was the Jets returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown to stun the Raiders 23-22. That was after the Raiders overcame a 20-3 deficit a couple years earlier to win 24-23. Yet of all the memorable games in this series, the battle in 2009 was not one of them.

Rookie Coach Rex Ryan and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez went into Oakland and destroyed the Raiders 38-0. Sanchez was even caught on the sidelines eating a hot dog. To be fair, Sanchez was not showboating. As he explained after the game, he was very sick from influenza and had not been able to keep food down. He apologized for his actions and made very classy and respectful remarks about the Raiders. Of course when you win 38-0, being humble is easy. The Raiders under Hue Jackson are much improved, especially on offense. As for Rex Ryan, his pride and joy was defense. That is what made the next classic in this series all the more surprising, as it was a shootout from the get go. For more on the game, go to

The Raiders began at their own 24, and Darren McFadden gained 5 to start a record setting day for him. Jason Campbell found Denarius Moore for 13. Moore was the fourth or fifth string receiver who played last week due to injuries to everybody else ahead of him. He made some acrobatic catches, and seeing more of him is necessary. Campbell went deep to Moore, and defensive pass interference went for 25 yards. Antonio Cromartie was the guilty party, and he had a miserable game that will stay with him for some time. With the Raiders not wanting to target Darrell Revis on Revis Island, Cromartie was attacked often. Campbell went deep to Kevin Boss for 28 yards, and McFadden carried it in from 2 yards out to quickly have the Raiders up 7-0.

The lead did not last long. After an exchange of punts, the Jets took over at their own 29. On 2nd and 14, a short pass from Sanchez to LaDanian Tomlinson went for 74 yards down to the one yard line. Sanchez took it in himself to tie the game 7-7. The Raiders punted, Sanchez was intercepted, and the Raiders punted again. The Jets took over at their own 21 to start the second quarter.

Sanchez found Santonio Holmes on 3rd and 1 for a 19 yard gain, and defensive pass interference on Stanford Routt added 15 more. Early in the second quarter Sanchez found Tomlinson again, this time for an 18 yard touchdown to put the Jets up 14-7. Campbell then moved the Raiders from their own 13 to a 4th and 4 at the Jets 38. This usually no man’s land, but with Sebastian Janikowski tying the league record with a 63 yarder a couple weeks ago, 56 yards is well within his land. His kick was long enough but wide, as the Raiders still trailed 14-7.

The Jets took over at their own 46, and from midfield Shon Greene ran for 15. On 3rd and 9 Sanchez found Derrick Mason for 11. Greene ran for 12 more and Tomlinson another 7 down to the 4. Yet 2nd and 3 from the 4 produced only one yard in 2 plays. On 4th and 2 from the 3, Rex Ryan opted for the field goal. Nick Folk hit the 21 yard chipper as the Jets were well in command up 17-7 with 5 minutes left in the half.

Then McFadden exploded. The Raiders took over at their own 15. From the 30, McFadden took a pitch around left end, and raced past everybody for a 70 yard touchdown run. One play had the Raiders back within 17-14. The Raiders got the ball back at their own 14 with 1:44 left in the half. Michael Bush ran for 9, and Campbell hit Moore and Bush for 7 yard gains. Short passes to Moore and Boss had the Raiders at midfield with 41 seconds left in the half. A pair of short passes to Chaz Schillens led to another try by Seabass from 54 yards as the half ended. This time the Polish Cannon blasted it through the uprights as the Raiders and Jets were knotted up 17-17 at the break.

Each team punted twice to start the third quarter, and on the third Jets drive Sanchez led them to a 3rd and 2 at the Oakland 37. The Jets do not have Seabass, so Rex Ryan decided to go for it. Sanchez fired incomplete, and the game remained tied. From the Oakland 37, Campbell found Derrick Hagan for 13. McFadden ran around the end for 27 yards, and Moore ran around the end on a double reverse. Hue Jackson’s trickery worked perfectly as Moore took the double reverse for the score to have the Raiders up 24-17 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.

Cromartie had a nightmarish day on defense, but on special teams he was even worse. Normally Seabasss with the new kickoff rule just kicks everything into the far upper deck and out the stadium. Yet the man with 100% touchbacks actually had a non-touchback, and the Jets wished otherwise. Cromartie fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the goal line, booted it forward, tried to fall on it, lost it again, and saw the Raiders recover at the Jets 13. McFadden ran for 12 as the third quarter ended. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Bush ran it in to have the Raiders up 31-17.

The Raiders are a much improved team, but that is not the same as being a good team. Good teams finish games, and the Raiders are still learning and growing. Last week they blew an 18 point halftime lead, and in the opening week barely held on after a 10 point lead late. Finishing games is vital, and a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter should not be blown. Normally it is the Raiders on defense bailing out the inept offense, but this year the offense is much better. Yet this season the defense has been vulnerable. Ryan Fitzpatrick ripped them last week, Mark Sanchez passed for 369 yards this week with zero first half sacks. Yet in the second half the defense harassed Sanchez and pounded him with four sacks. They broke his nose. The question would be if it would be enough.

The teams exchanged punts, and with 8 1/2 minutes left the Jets were backed up to their own 7. Tomlinson ran up the middle for 20 and Sanchez hit Plaxico Burress for 24. Just like that Gang Green was past midfield. On 3rd and 10 Sanchez found Dustin Keller for 13. Sanchez hit Mason for 10, and on 3rd and 1 from the 16, Sanchez went to Burress for the touchdown. 10 plays and 93 yards came easily as the Jets were within 31-24 with 5 1/2 minutes to play. The Raiders needed to try and run out the clock and not let Sanchez have a chance to tie it..

From the 20, Sanchez scrambled for 10. On 2nd and 8, rather than run it, Hue Jackson called a pass. It was incomplete to Darrius Heyward-Bey, but defensive holding meant another first down. Jackson refused to go conservative, and kept passing. He calls the plays, and is responsible for the results. Campbell went deep to Michael Bush for a 28 yard gain. With 2:43 to play, the Jets took up their final timeout. The Raiders faced 3rd and 9 at the Jets 31. A run would take the clock down to the 2 minute warning. Again Jackson called a pass play and Campbell went deep again incomplete.

I know Al Davis loves the long ball and Hue Jackson has the go for the throat mentality, but sometimes 3 yards and a cloud of dust is the right thing to do. Just Win Baby means winning. Yet the results are what matter. Seabass was brought in for a “short” 49 yarder. A miss would give the Jets a golden chance to tie it. Seabass drilled it and the Raiders had a 10 point lead. 2:37 remained, and the game was far from over.

Seabass drilled another kickoff, but a desperate McKnight decided not to kneel, taking it 8 yards deep in the end zone. He returned it 50 yards to to the Jets 42. On 2nd and 5 from the Oakland 42, Sanchez went deep to Keller for 33 yards down to the 9 yard line. A pair of incompletions was followed by a completion to Tomlinson that set up 4th and goal at the 2 with under one minute left left and the clock running.

Sanchez scrambled, and just barely broke the plane of the goal. Just like that the Raiders were an extra point of only being up 34-31, with an onsides kick pending. Yet the officials reviewed the score as they do all scores, and on further review Richard Seymour knocked Sanchez so that his knee hit the ground before the ball broke the plane. The touchdown was taken off the board and the Raiders had the win.

It was not easy, and like the movie Any Given Sunday, it came down to inches. Yet both teams are 2-1. Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez were classy two years ago in victory and classy in defeat. These are the types of games the Raiders need to win to get to the next level. Next week it gets even tougher as they host an angry New England team coming off a stunning loss. Yet for now, the Silver and Black showed what they can do when they play a complete game.

McFadden finished with 171 yards, and Rex Ryan was not happy that his vaunted defense was gashed for 234 yards on the ground. Sanchez played well, but was knocked silly when it counted most. A good Raiders game is when punter Shane Lechler is barely mentioned. Of course he was great but for once that was not the story.Hue Jackson wants to get back to the Pride and Poise days of intimidation. He wants to “build a bully.” So far, the early results are positive. 34-24 Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers–The Chiefs may be the worst team in the NFL while the often underachieving Chargers may be one of the best. Yet the expected blowout id not materialize. Yes, this is why they play the games.

An ugly first quarter saw Philip Rivers move the Chargers to the Chiefs 34, whena  3rd and 8 pass was intercepted and returned 50 yards. The Chiefs moved to a 4th and 1 at the Chargers 11 and Todd Haley decided to go for it. Thomas Jones got the yard but offensive holding nullified it. Ryan Succop missed the field goal as the game remained scoreless.

Rivers then led a 15 play, 7 minute drive from the Chargers 28. Three 3rd down conversions had the second quarter beginning with the Chargers at the Chiefs 23. On 2nd and 13 after a fumble where the Chargers retained possession, Rivers hit Mathews for 18. Mathews then ran for 6 and the final 2 as the Chargers led 7-0. Rivers would throw another interception and Kansas City would fumble to ruin a drive despite retaining possession.

With 3 1/2 minutes left in the half, Rovers moved the Chargers from their own 10. On 3rd and 3 Rivers hit Mathews for 24. On 3rd and 1 from midfield, Mike Tolbert gained 5. Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for 17 and Vincent Jackson for 11 but no more. Novak nailed a 35 yard field goal as the Chargers led 10-0 at halftime.

After a Chargers punt, the Chiefs began the third quarter with a short field at the Chargers 42.  On 3rd and 7 from the 27, Matt Cassel found Dwayne Bowe for 23 and then the final 4 as the Chiefs were only down 10-7.

After a touchback Rivers brought the Chargers right back, hitting McMichael for 26. On 3rd and 1, defensive offsides moved the chains. From the Chiefs 40, Rivers hit Jackson for 20 and Floyd for 11. Mathews ran for 5 and then again the final 4 as the Chargers were back on top 17-7 after three uneventful quarters.

From the Kansas City 27, Cassel led a mind boggling 18 play drive that consumed 9 1/2 minutes. On 3rd and 10 a running play by Dexter McCluster gained 16. On 3rd and 6 from their own 47, illegal contact kept the drive going. On 4h and 4 from the San Diego 42, Todd Haley decided to go for it. Cassel hit Steve Breaston for 5. On 3rd and 2 from the 20, McCluster gained 3. Yet on 3rd and 11 from the 18, Haley called another running play that only gained 3 yards. After all of that, a 33 yard field goal was all the Chiefs could muster as they trailed 17-10. Rivers needed only 5 minutes to move the Chargers from their own 29 to the Chiefs 23. A 41 yard field goal had the Chargers back on top 20-10 with 8 minutes left.

Kansas City fought hard, and on 3rd and 10 from their own 20, Cassel found Bowe for 21. On 3rd and 11 from the 40, Cassel went to Bowe again for 19. On 2nd and 13 from the Chargers 44, Cassel went deep to Breaston for 43 yards down to the one. Cassel hit Pope for the score. The Chiefs were within a field goal as Norvelous Norv Turner was wondering if this would finally be the game that would get him fired.

Rivers moved the Chargers from their own 33 to a 4th and 1 at the Chiefs 34. A long field goal would still make it a 6 point game so Turner decided to go for it. Rivers took the sneak and got nothing. The Chiefs had life with 1:26 left as Turner went to clean out his desk. He needn’t have bothered as Cassel was intercepted again. The Chargers are 2-1, both wins against 0-3 teams in games that should not have been close. Meanwhile many are suspecting that Matt Cassel succeeded in New England because of the system, and that Haley will be lost without Charlie Weis. San Diego remains Norvelous. 20-17 Chargers

Baltimore Ravens  @ St. Louis Rams–While many of the games featured bad teams that at least played competitive games, this featured one team on the upswing and another expecting to go to the Super Bowl. It was one of the few mismatches of the day, as the Ravens jumped all over the Rams from the start.

The Rams punted, and the Ravens took over at their own 22. On the second play from scrimmage, Joe Flacco went deep to Smith for a 74 yard touchdown as the Ravens exploded out of the gate 7-0. The Rams punted again, and the Ravens took over on a short field at the Rams 44. The Ravens missed a chance to extend their lead when Billy Cundiff missed a 51 yard field goal. It didn’t matter.

The Ravens got the ball back after a touchback. Smith gained 10 yards and Flacco hit Ray Rice for 11. From the Rams 41, Flacco went deep again to Smith for a 41 yard touchdown as the Ravens led 14-0. Another Rams punt had the Ravens at their own 45. Flacco hit Anquon Boldin for 9 and Williams ran 28 yards. Flacco continued playing pitch and catch with Smith, as the 18 yard touchdown connection was their third hookup in the first quarter alone. The Ravens led 21-0 and were never threatened. The second quarter saw Billy Cundiff miss again from 51, but connect from 21 and 31 to give the Rams a 27-0 halftime lead. Cundiff added a 38 yarder early in the third quarter to have the Ravens up 30-0.

Sam Bradford would finally get the Rams on the board with a 34 yard touchdown pass to Gibson, but the blowout was the same. Late in the game facing 3rd and goal at the 6, Flacco did fumble the ball away. Yet Bradford was sacked by Haloti Ngata, resulting in a a fumble that Ngata returned 28 yards for the score anyway. Steve Spagnuolo improved the team last year but he still has more work to do. Meanwhile, the Ravens after their hiccup last week got back to looking and playing like the elite team they are. John Harbaugh saw Flacco throw for 389 yards on 27 of 48 throwing with 3 touchdowns. 37-7 Ravens

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears–Last year’s NFC Title Game saw Green Bay go in and beat Chicago in a game that was much more lopsided than the score. Simply put, the Packers were for real while the Bears were pretenders. Once again the game was in Chicago, and once again the far superior team won easily.

Aaron Rodgers quickly moved the Packers 80 yards from the start. Ryan Grant ran for 13 and Rodgers hit Greg Jennings for 12, 19, 11, and 19 again. Rodgers decided to give Jennings a break and toss a 6 yard touchdown to Finley to have the Packers up 7-0.

Later in the quarter Jay Cutler was intercepted, setting up Green Bay at their own 32. An exchange of punts had the Packers at their own 40 as the quarter ended. On 3rd and 3 the Bears jumped offsides. On 3rd and 2 at the Chicago 40, Rodgers hit Finley for 24 and then for a 7 yard score as the Packers led 14-0.

Cutler finally got the Bears going, hitting Devon Hester for 37 yards, Hurd for 17 more, and Johnny Knox for 24 more. Cutler found Sanzenbacher for the 4 yard touchdown to get the Bears within 14-7.

Rodgers came back with an 11 play, 6 1/2 minute drive. Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for 13, Jordy Nelson for 18, and Jones for 13. Ryan Grant gained 13 more as the yards came easily. The drive bogged down in the red zone but Mason Crosby hit a 37 yard field goal to put the Packers up 17-7.

With 1:51 left in the half after a touchback, Cutler hit Knox for a 40 yard gain and Matt Forte for 28 more. Yet from the 7 yard live, 3 incompletions meant a 25 yard Robbie Gould field goal and a 17-10 Bears halftime deficit.

In the third quarter from the Green Bay 37, Grant gained 14 and Rodgers hit Nelson for 16. Grant picked up 11 and 10 as the Bears had no answers on defense. The Packers would settle for a 28 yard field but led 20-10 after three quarters.

A field position game had the Packers taking over at the Chicago 44. Rodgers hit Nelson for 6 and Finley for gains of 12 and 15. On 3rd and 9 from the 10, Rodgers found Finley again for the touchdown as the Packers led 27-10 early in the fourth quarter.

Chicago got a break when Green Bay fumbled in their own territory. Chicago needed one play from the 32 as Cutler hit Davis for the touchdown with 12 minutes left in regulation. Rodgers was then intercepted, but the Bears could not capitalize. With one minute left the Bears appeared right back in it when Knox returned a punt 89 yards for a touchown. Offensive holding nullified the score and extinguished any chance of a comeback. Again, the score was closer than the game itself, as the Packers under Mike McCarthy appear to be just as good as last year. If the Bears want to prove last year was not a fluke, Lovie Smith needs to see better than this. 27-17 Packers

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks–In a week where so many bad teams combined to play competitive but bad games, even the NFC Worst division should be embarrassed by this pathetic effort. Ken Whisenhunt and Pete Carroll could use Kurt Warner and Matt Hasselbeck but are stuck with what they have.

Arizona began the snoozefest with Jay Feely missing a 51 yard field goal. Seattle took over at their own 41 and Tarvaris Jackson hit Sidney Rice for 32 yards. Seattle nailed a 30 yard field goal to take the 3-0 lead. In the second quarter, Arizona took over at their own 48, and Feely would nail a 44 yarder to tie the game 3-3.

Arizona got the ball back at their own 22 and Kevin Kolb hit Larry Fitzgerald for 9 and Smith for 13 more. Kolb hit Fitzgerald again for 15 and Roberts for 11. Kolb found Fitzgerald for the 1 yard touchdown as the Cardinals led 10-3 midway through the second quarter. With less than 2 minutes left in the half, Seattle took over just past midfield. That was just enough to set up a 52 yard field goal, which had the Seahawks trailing 10-6 in a game that would only get worse as it went on. Both quarterbacks were intercepted in the final 10 seconds of the half on consecutive misfires.

After an Arizona punt to start the third quarter, Seattle took over at their own 28 and Jackson led a 14 play drive over 6 minutes. On 3rd and 15 from the Seattle 46, Jackson hit Baldwin for 20. Jackson would scramble for an 11 yard score. Seattle led by a field goal. A full 21 minutes remained, but it was pointless. A 49 yard field goal by Feely to tie the game with 5 1/2 minutes left was no good. With 2 minutes left a 4th and 1 pass at the Seattle 39 was incomplete, but defensive pass interference kept it going. The Cardinals lost a couple yards, and another miss by Feely was averted when Kolb was intercepted to end this dreadful game. 13-10 Seahawks

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers–Back when Warren Sapp, John Lynch and Derrick Brooks took the Pirates of Pewter Pants to the Super Bowl, they used to play “Buc Ball.” This was code for winning ugly with a stifling defense and just enough offense. Against the high powered Falcons, this game between playoff contenders was the return of Buc Ball.

On the third play from scrimmage, Matt Ryan was sacked, forcing a fumble that the Bucs recovered at the Atlanta 17. Yet after moving to a 1st and goal at the 4, Tampa Bay gave it right back. The defenses settled in, although a 49 yard Connor Barth field goal very late in the first quarter had the Buccaneers up 3-0. Atlanta took over at their own 32, and Ryan led an 11 play, 5 minute drive. On 3rd and 3 from the Tampa 44, Ryan found Roddy White for 30. Yet the drive stalled at the 4 yard line as a 26 yarder in the second quarter by Matt Bryant tied the game 3-3.

After a touchback, it was Josh Freeman who led the Buccaneers on a 12 play, 7 1/2 minute drive. On 3rd and 2, Freema found Graham for 6. From the Tampa 46, Freeman hit Stocker for 24. Freeman hit Williams for 12, and eventually Freeman would sneak it in himself from one yard out to have the Buccaneers up 10-3 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the half. Disaster struck Atlanta as Ryanw as sacked and fumbled again. Despite starting at the Atlanta 9, Tampa went nowhere and kicked a field goal to lead 13-3. Ryan then led the Falcons from their own 7 to a 3rd and 10 at the Tampa 35 with 10 seconds left in the half. Within field goal range, a short pass was intercepted as the Bucs led 13-3 at the half. This was Buc Ball.

The Buccaneers began the second half after a touchback with Freeman leading an 8 minute drive that took 16 plays. On 3rd and 4 from the Tampa 36, unnecessary roughness kept the drive going. On 4th and 1 from the Atlanta 35, Mike Smith, who looks like an average non-descript white guy named Mike Smith, decided to go for it. Freeman gained 3 yards. On 3rd and 6 from the 28, Freeman gained 14. Yet the drive stalled at the 10 so another field goal was in order. Tampa Bay led 16-3 after three quarters. This was Buc Ball.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, facing 1st and 10 at the Atlanta 44, Freeman was intercepted. Ryan quickly led Atlanta to a 4th and 3 at the Tampa 7. Ryan fired incomplete to turn it over on downs. Atlanta got the ball back at their own 41 and this time Ryan went deep to Jones for 49 yards and then to Tony Gonzalez for the 10 yard touchdown. Atlanta was only down 16-10 with 10 minutes left in regulation.

Atlanta got the ball back at their own 32 with 8 minutes left and Ryan led a 13 play drive. Ryan hit White for a pair of 15 yard gains, the second one on 3rd and 7. With 4 1/2 minutes left the Falcons had 1st and goal at the 5. Yet Ryan was sacked, and a couple incompletions later it was 4th and goal at the 15. This time Mike Smith decided to kick the field goal and play defense. Bryant did his job as the Falcons were now down only by a field goal.

With 1:49 to play, everything came down to the Bucs facing 4th and 1 at the Atlanta 44. At the worst possible time, defensive offsides gave away the first down and the game as the Buccaneers ran out the clock. Atlanta was 13-3 last year but with even more talent are 1-2. Tampa is a surprising 2-1 after many thought they overachieved last year. Nevertheless Raheem Morris continues to his team make great strides, although the offense has a long way to go to match the defense. Again, this was Buc Ball. Winning ugly is still winning. 16-13 Buccaneers.

Pittsburgh Steelers  @ Indianapolis Colts was the Sunday night game. Before the season this was supposed to be a potential AFC Title Game preview, with Mike Tomlin getting Pittsburgh to the big game twice, winning once, with Jim Caldwell getting Indianapolis to the big game a couple years ago. Yet with Peyton Manning out due to neck surgery, the Colts have been awful. That changed the equation of this game from a potential cliffhanger to a potential blowout. Again, that’s why they play the games.

Ben Roethlisberger took over after a touchback and hit Mike Wallace for gains of 19 and 29 yards. The drive stalled, but Shawn Suisham hit a 48 yarder to put the Steelers up 3-0. Later in the opening quarter Big Ben went deep to Wallace for an 81 yard touchdown bomb as the Steelers led 10-0 after one quarter.

In the second quarter Roethlisberger was hit and fumbled, giving the Colts the ball at midfield. On 3rd and 9 Kerry Collins found Autstin Collie and Reggie Wayne for 11 yard gains, and Joseph Addai gained another 11. Despite 1st and goal at the 3, incomplete passes killed the drive as Adam Vinatieri hit the 21 yarder to get the Colts within 10-3 with 6 minutes left in the half.

With 2 minutes left in the half, the Steelers were in total control, with the only Indy points coming off a turnover. Then Big Ben was sacked again by Dwight Freeney and fumbled again. Anderson scooped it up and raced 47 yards for the tying touchdown and a 10-10 game. After a touchback, Big Ben was then quickly intercepted, giving the Colts the ball at the Pittsburgh 12. The non-existent Colts offense settled for a 25 yard field goal. 3 turnovers were the difference as the Colts were totally outplayed but led 13-10 at halftime.

In the third quarter the Colts punted again, and Big Ben moved the Steelers from their own 14 to the Colts 18. It was al for naught as Suisham doinked a 36 yard field goal off the upright. Another Indy punt had the Steelers at their own 23. Roethlisberger found Heath Miller for 30 yards. Suisham hit the 44 yard field goal with 12 minutes left in regulation to tie the game 13-13.

Kerry Collins came out and America saw the return of Curtis Painter. The last time we saw Painter, the Colts were 14-0 when Bill Polian decided that 16-0 did not matter. In the third quarter Manning was pulled with the Colts leading 15-10. Painter came in near his own goal line. Rather than run, they had him go back to pass near his own goal line. He was hit, fumbled, and saw the Colts fall behind 18-15. They would lose that game to the Jets 29-15, allowing the Jets to make the playoffs. This year Polian talked Collins out of retirement specifically to avoid playing Painter. Nevertheless, a tie game in the fourth quarter saw his return.

After each team punted two more times, with 6 minutes left in regulation, the Colts faced 2nd and 3 at their own 25. It was deja vu all over again. Painter went back to pass, was sacked by James Harrison and fumbled. Troy Palomalu returned it 16 yards for the touchdown as the Steelers led 20-13.

Now for those who want to rip Painter to shreds, give him some credit for fighting back. After a touchback, on 3rd and 3 from the 27, Painter found Collie for just enough. He then went deep to Pierre Garcon for 27 yards and again to Garcon for 18 and 8. On 3rd and 2 from the 6, Addai took it in. 10 plays and 80 yards had the game tied 20-20 with just over 2 minutes left. Yes Painter gave up a touchdown on offense. So did Roethlisberger. They both came back afterward. Yet Painter does not play defense, and when it mattered most, neither did anybody on the Colts.

From the 20, Big Ben hit Wallace for 6 and Hines Ward for 11. He then found Moore for 22. Roethlisberger then scrambled for 11 more. On 3rd and 1 from the 21, Redman gained 3. This allowed the Steelers to bleed the clock. Suisham came in for the game winning field goal from 38. He had it and the Steelers got the win. Pittsburgh is 2-1, while Indy fell to 0-3. Now Indy may even have a quarterback controversy on his hands for the first time since 1997 before Manning was drafted. 23-20 Steelers

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys was the Monday night game. Mike Shanahan has turned the Redskins around with Rex Grossman leading them to a 2-0 record. Jason Garrett has seen the Cowboys blow a big lead one week and mount a furious comeback win the next week to get to 1-1. Tony Romo played despite cracked ribs, with the flak jacket being his protector in lieu of offensive line protection. For those who love field goals, this game was an epic thriller. For everybody else it was a competitive but incredibly dull game. Graham Gano and Rookie Dan Bailey each kicked three field goals in the first half as the teams went to the locker room deadlocked 9-9. Gano also had one kick blocked. Further elaboration is not necessary.

In the third quarter, Romo was intercepted, and the Redskins took over at their own 24. Grossman hit Santana Moss for a 36 yard gain and Cooley for 12 more. On 3rd and 3 from the 19, Grossman found Tim Hightower for 7 yards. Hightower then ran for 6, 5, and the final one yard as after 41 minutes of football, the end zone had been reached. Washington led 16-9, and decided to give their offense the rest of the day off.

The third quarter ended with Bailey kicking his fourth field goal to get Dallas within 16-12. In the fourth quarter Felix Jones roke off a 40 yard run and Romo hit Robinson for 25 more. 1st and goal at the 2 meant Dallas had to go backward, and Bailey kicked his fifth field goal. Dallas trailed 16-15 with 7 minutes left in regulation.

Washington punted again, and the Cowboys took over at their own 14 with 3:44 to play. Romo found Jason Witten for 7 and Ogletree for 20 more. One problem during this game was terrible snaps from the center. Several times Romo was not ready for the snap. A fumbled snap somehow led to an 11 yard loss and 3rd and 21 back at the Dallas 30. Romo calmly went to Dez Bryant for 30 yards, with a 15 yard facemask tacked on. Once again Dallas was unable to get to the end zone, but this time they only needed a field goal. Bailey had already connected from 41. 27, 32, 41, and 23. This one was from 40. Bailey was 6 for 6, as Dallas led by a deuce with 1:52 to play.

After a touchback, Grossman moved the Redskins to a 2nd and 10 at their own 43 with 38 seconds to play. Graham Gano never got his chance as Grossman was sacked and fumbled to end things. Both teams are 2-1, as Jerry Jones contemplated renaming the team the Dallas Baileys. 18-16 Cowboys


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