By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’S NFL Review: Week Two
PHILADELPHIA — Last weekend’s games were supposed to be highlighted by the “Revenge Grudge Match” from last year’s divisional playoffs with the Chargers traveling to New England to take on the NFL’s version of Darth Vader, the Patriots.
The game did not live up to the hype as the Patriots and their Head Coach Bill Belichick showed that not even the NFL (Belichick and the team were disciplined in “videogate”) or its MVP (L.T) could affect their play as they dominated the Chargers 38-14 in Foxboro.
The only revenge happened in Tennessee where the Colts returned to beat the Titans 22-20 in their stadium avenging an impromptu December 2006 loss to the Titans (when Rob Bironas hit a game-winning, 60-yard field goal as time expired).
The weekend did feature some history with Brett Favre breaking the record for most victories (149) that he had shared with Hall of Famer John Elway and an unpredictable pinball machine (96 points and 1,085 yards of offense) victory by the Cleveland Browns over the Cincinnati Bengals by the whopping score of 51-45.
Overall, we’re now seeing the parody and separation aspects of the NFL as 10 teams are off to a (2-0) start and another 10 are in a hole at (0-2) including 2006 playoff teams: Eagles, Jets, Saints, Giants, and Chiefs. The teams that are (0-2) need to buckle down because only 17 teams since 1990 have qualified for the playoff after starting in the deep hole and only 2 teams have come back from the even deeper hole of (0-3).
Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre: The tales of the future Hall of Famer’s demise were greatly exaggerated. With his line protecting him, Favre has led the Packers to six straight regular season victories. In that streak, No. 4 has gotten the Packers off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2001. Favre in his record setting 149th career victory over the Giants 35-13, threw for 29-of-38 for 286 yards with 3 TDs and one interception. Though many of his teammates were in grade school during his heyday in the ’90′s, the “old gray beard” has found a way to relate to the young players and revitalize a team that no one expected to be a
Honorable Mention: Bears KR Devin Hester (73-yard punt return for a TD in win over Chiefs, also had a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD nullified by a penalty), Bengals QB Carson Palmer (a Bengals record 6 TD passes in loss to Browns), 49ers RB Frank Gore (Played tough for his late mother in a win over the Rams), Browns RB Jamal Lewis (216 yards rushing with 1 TD), Patriots WR Randy Moss (eight catches for 105 yards, 2 TDs) and Surprise 2-0 Teams (Packers, Redskins, Lions, Texans, and 49ers)
Lloyd’s Lackey of the Week
Cinncinati Bengals Defense: After beating the Ravens on Monday Night, the Bengals defense was nowhere to be found in a 51-45 loss to the Browns, who only punted twice in the game. Marvin Lewis should be ashamed of himself as his defense allowed the Browns to racked up 554 yards of total offense including Derek Anderson throwing five touchdown passes and Jamal Lewis rushing for 216 yards. The Bengals “swiss cheese” defense allowed beleaguered Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennell to get his second divisional win ever (2-14) and the Browns for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950 had a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow).
Dishonorable Mention: Rams (Lost for a second straight week at home to a NFC foe), Bears QB Rex Grossman (It seems he is always listed: 20-34, 160 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs as the Bears won in spite of him), Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson (17-33 for 166 yards and tied a team record with 4 INTs in a loss to the Lions), Falcons QB Joey Harrington (Sacked seven times while going 12-of-20 for 200 yards w/ 0 TDs in a loss to the Jags), “Little” Giants players TE Jeremy Shockey (Called for a delay of game penalty (spiking the ball) after a first-down catch and dropped a potential first-down pass) and WR Amani Toomer (Taunting Penalty deep in Packers Territory), The Philadelphia Eagles (Listless in home loss to Redskins, while scoring a touchdown) and Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards (For the second week in a row his team was listless in a bad loss).
Game News and Notes
Colts 22, Titans 20
The Colts had a 16-6 edge at the half and never looked back as Peyton Manning threw for 312 yards and a touchdown. The Titans tried to close the gap, but there would be no miracle 60 yard winning field goal this time. The game could have been a letdown for the Colts, but they found a way to stay focused after a opening 41-10 rout of New Orleans. The Colts were playing without starting linebackers Freddy Keiaho (right elbow) and Rob Morris (ribs), which was probably a factor in allowing the Titans 313 yards of offense, including 141 yards rushing. In the game Colts WR Marvin Harrison passed Cris Carter for fourth on the career yards receiving list.
Packers 35, Giants 13
Br ett Favre was efficient (See Game Balls) in leading the Packers to an easy 35-13 win over the reeling Giants. The loss was the second straight for the undisciplined and self-defeating Giants. The loss marked the Giants first (0-2) start since 1996 and it appears daily that Tom Coughlin is under the gun. Bright spots for the Giants included: Eli Manning playing well despite having a sprained shoulder (16-of-29 for 211 yards with a touchdown and an interception). After the game beleaguered Head Coach Coughlin said “We have no excuses,” and “There is no explanation for it. We gave ourselves some opportunities and then took them away, so we became our own worst enemy.”
49ers 17, Rams 16
In a game that may have marked the changing of the guard in the NFC West, the Niners beat the Rams 17-16. The game came down to the final seconds, but a costly Dante Hall fumble doomed the Rams. Marcus Hudson recovered for San Francisco, setting up the winning 53-yard field goal Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins, who had missed a 56-yard field goal try with 59 seconds to play. The 49ers (2-0) wanted to win the game for the grieving Frank Gore, who lost his mother the wednesday before the game. Gore responded scoring two touchdowns and gaining 81 yards on 20 carries. St. Louis lost despite outgaining San Francisco 392 yards to 186. Rams Pro Bowlers QB Marc Bulger (24-for-41 for 368 yards and one touchdown) and RB Steven Jackson (60 yards on 21 carries) pretty much held in check. The Rams still lead the all-time series 59-55-2. The series dates to 1950.
Lions 20, Vikings 17 (OT)
In a surprise win by the usually basement dwelling Detroit Lions, Jason Hanson kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime for a 20-17 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions win ended Minnesota’s 10-game winning streak over Detroit. The game-winning drive was orchestrated by Lions veteran quarterback John Kitna (22-33, 245 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT) who had been knocked out of the game with a concussion earlier in the first half. Minnesota and Detroit took turns blowing chances throughout the game including: A combined ten turnovers including a Vikings QB Brooks Bollinger’s fumbled snap that setup the game-winning field goal and two missed field goal attempts in the final 45 seconds. Lions rookie WR Calvin Johnson had four receptions for 61 yards and scored for the second straight week.
Steelers 26, Bills 3
For the second week in a row the Pittsburgh Steelers came out and dominated their foe under Mike Tomlin. The Steelers were led by RB Willie Parker (126 yards rushing and 1 TD) and QB Ben Roethlisberger (21-34, 242 yards w/ 1 TD) as they controlled the clock and the tempo coasting to a 26-3 victory over the Bills. The Bills wearing No. 85 T-shirts under their jerseys, were trying to win one for injured teammate Kevin Everett, but it was not to be. Bills quarterback J.P. Losman struggled throwing for 15-25, 154 yards as Buffalo was outgained 421-223 and Pittsburgh held the ball nearly 70 percent of the time. Mike Tomlin won his home opener as the Steelers’ coach, just as Bill Cowher (1992) and Chuck Noll (1969) did. The Steelers wore throwback uniforms modeled after those worn in the 1950s and 1960s, with gold helmets and white pants.
Cowboys 37, Dolphins 20
After a low scoring 10-6 lead in the first half, the Cowboys (2-0) exploded for 27 second half points on their way to beating the Dolphins 37-20. The game was highlighted by the explosive play of Cowboys WR Terrell Owens (5 receptions for 97 yards w/ 2 TDs). A Tony Romo (14-for-29 for 186 yards w/ 2 TDs and 36 yards on four runs) to Owens connection on fourth-sealed the Dallas win with four minutes. The Dallas defense also came to play intercepting Miami QB Trent Green four times and recovering two of his fumbles. On the other hand, the Cowboys protected the ball on offense committing no turnovers. New Dallas haed coach Wade Phillips was pleased saying ”How about the defense?” and ”Five turnovers – how about that? That’s the kind of defense we have.” The Cowboys have won their first two games for the first time since 1999. Dallas rookie kicker Nick Folk was perfect, making field goals of 26, 28 and 47 yards.
Jaguars 13, Falcons 7
In a boring battle that featured no scoring in the first and third quarters, the Jaguars dominated the Falcons 13-7 in Jacksonville. The Jags’ defense was stifling sacking Falcons QB Joey Harrington 7 times and holding the Falcons (0-2) to 82 yards on the ground. Jaguars quarterback David Garrard continued to show that he can be a capable starter finishing with numbers of 17-25 for 272 yards with a touchdown. He was most impressive in the fourth quarter going for 7-of-8 for 122 yards on the two scoring drives. With temperatures near 90 degrees, Jags coach Jack Del Rio opted for pants and a polo shirt instead of the suit he wore in last week’s loss.
Texans 34, Panthers 21
In a win that signaled that a new era has begin in Houston, the Texans went on the road and dominated the Panthers 34-21 as they got to their first 2-0 start. The win made the team holler ”We’re a different team, baby!”. The Texans were led by their offseason prize quarterback Matt Schaub who threw for 227 yards passing and two touchdowns. The team’s overall record is now 24-56 in five seasons, but this they seem reborn under new GM Rick Smith. The Texans defense held the Panthers to 7 second half points as they forced three second-half turnovers and three sacks. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak didn’t get too high saying ‘We’re doing some things better, and we’ve still doing a lot of things that we’ve got to improve on to be a good football team”. He added ”It’s just one of 16, and I’m proud of our football team to come here on the road and win. And we get to play the world champs next week.” The big test comes in week three as the Texans play against the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis in an early season showdown in the AFC South division.
Broncos 23, Raiders 20 (OT)
The Broncos got away with another close victory for the second week in a row as Denver kicker Jason Elam’s 23-yard field goal with 5:48 left in overtime beat the Raiders 23-20. The win was not without a controvsey because Denver head coach Mike Shanahan had called a timeout just before Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski made an apparent game-winning 52-yard field goal at 11:13 of overtime. No one but referee Walt Anderson had heard Shanahan’s call and on the re-kick of course, Janikowski’s kick hit the left upright. The Raiders (0-2) whole team claims that they never heard the timeout whistle and Raiders rookie head coach Lane Kiffin said ‘Nobody was aware they called timeout”. Shanahan is now 20-5 against his former team.
Cardinals 23, Seahawks 20
After taking a 17-7 halftime lead, the Cardinals held on to beat the Seahawks 23-20 on a last second 42-yard field goal by Neil Rackers. The game winner was setup by a Darnell Dockett fumble recovery of a Matt Hasselbeck fumble. The game was a roller coaster with Rackers needing a 52-yard field goal to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Cardinals RB Edgerrin James was spectacular rushing for 123 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.
Patriots 38, Chargers 14
In what was billed as the weekend’s grudge match, it never materialized as the Patriots led took a 24-0 halftime lead and coasted to a dominating 38-14 victory over the Chargers in Foxboro. The Patriots were led by QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. I believe they wanted to show last year’s regular season champ and the entire NFL that they didn’t need to cheat in winning their three Super Bowls. The players wanted to backup their coach after the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team another $250,000 and they will probably have to forfeit a first-round draft pick in ’08 for “Spygate”. Brady (25-31, 279 yards w/ 3 TDs) said, “After everything that went on this week, we wanted to do our best for him”. Patriots WR Randy Moss had second straight 100-yard receiving game including two touchdowns and big time free agent signee LB Adalius Thomas returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown. 2006 NFL MVP Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson could not back up his boasts that he wanted the Pats by running for only 43 yards on 18 carries.
Browns 51, Bengals 45
In the weekend’s most bizarre game, the Browns beat the Bengals 51-45. The game featured offensive records everywhere including: Browns QB Derek Anderson (20-33, 328) throwing 5 TDs, Browns RB Jamal Lewis rushing for 216 yards (7.7 ypc including a 66-yard TD run), Bengals QB Carson Palmer (33-of-50 for 401 yards) throwing for 6 TDs, and Bengals WR Chad Johnson catching 11 balls for 209 yards. The Browns had a 300-yard passer, a 200-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow) for the first time since joining the NFL in 1950. Cleveland racked up 554 yards of total offense and scored their most points since returning to the league in 1999. The win was only the second divisional win for beleaguered Browns head coach Romeo Crennel, who improved to 11-23 in his third season. It was just the third time in NFL history that two QBs threw five TD passes in the same game (Oakland’s Tom Flores (6) and Houston’s George Blanda (5) both did it on Dec. 22, 1963, and Billy Kilmer of New Orleans (6) and Charley Johnson of St. Louis (6) also did it Nov, 5, 1969).
Bears 20, Chiefs 10
Despite the bad efforts of quarterback Rex Grossman (20-34, 160 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs), the NFC Champion Bears led by KR Devin Hester’ beat the Chiefs 20-10. Hester was electric scoring on a 73-yard punt return in the second quarter and setting up a field goal in the third with another long return s touchdown return. Also for the Bears, RB Cedric Benson ran for 101 yards. The Bears stifled Chiefs star RB Larry Johnson (55 yards on 16 attempts). K.C.’s Damon Huard didn’t play well either going 19-for-28 with 175 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. He was also sacked four times before leaving late in the game for Brodie Croyle. The Bears defense was tough as Bears LB Lance Briggs forced a fumble and sacked Huard plus LB Brian Urlacher got his first sack since 2005.
Ravens 20, Jets 13
In a battle of backups, Ravens QB Kyle Boller outplayed Jets QB Kellen Clemens as the Ravens beat the Jets 20-13. The victory looked easy in the first half as the Ravens led 17-3 at the half. Kellens almost led the Jets back in the second half cutting a 20-3 deficit to seven points in the fourth quarter. The young quarterback from the University of Oregon took the Jets to the Baltimore 7 before Ray Lewis intercepted a deflected pass in the end zone with 1:04 left to preserve the win. Before the interception, Jets WR Justin McCareins dropped a potential touchdown pass at the 5 with 1:55 left.
Bucs 31, Saints 14
In a game that showed “what a difference a year makes”, the defending NFC South Champion Saints fell to (0-2) losing to the Tampa Buccanneers 31-14. The game was all about Bucs veterans QB Jeff Garcia (10 of 16 passes for 243 yards w/ 2 TDs and no interceptions) and WR Joey Galloway (four catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns including a 69-yard bomb). The Saints (0-2) were embarrassed for the second consecutive week and have been outscored 72-24 after reaching the NFC championship game last season. Reggie Bush was contained for the second week with only 27 yards on 10 rushes and 43 yards on six receptions. Saints coach Sean Payton said ”I’m disappointed. I’m not surprised,” and ”We didn’t play well enough. ”
Redskins 20, Eagles 12
The Redskins surprisingly beat a listless Eagles team at home on Monday Night Football. The Eagles trailed throughout most of the game and they were unable to get in the end zone settling for four David Akers field goals (Read more in the Eagles game report).
Titans Extend Jeff Fisher’s Contract: The Tennessee Titans and coach Jeff Fisher have agreed on a contract extension that will keep Fisher though 2011. Titans’ owner Bud Adams picked up a one-year option after last season, when the Titans rallied from an 0-5 start to complete an 8-8 season. Associated Press reported the agreement will add four years to Fisher’s contract. The deal is thought to be worth $5.5 million to $6 million per year. Fisher is the longest-tenured coach with his team in the NFL and is in his 13th full season. He coached his 200th regular-season game Sunday in a 22-20 loss to Indianapolis.
The Hurricanes lead the way: For the second consecutive season, the University of Miami has the most players on NFL Kickoff rosters. This year, Miami has 46 players on NFL rosters, up from last season’s total of 42. A total of 252 colleges are represented on 2007 NFL rosters. Here is a breakdown of the Top 10 Schools: Miami (46), Ohio State (44), Florida State (41), Georgia (37), Michigan (36), Texas (32), Florida (31), Notre Dame (30), and Auburn (30)
Falcons may be turning to QB Byron Leftwich: With Joey Harrington looking frazzled (Sacked 13 times in two losses), the Falcons maybe turning to free agent quarterback Byron Leftwich to save their season. After taking a pass on Lefwich after he had been released in final cuts by Jacksonville, the Falcons finally called Leftwich. The big quarterback was signed by the Falcons on Tuesday to a two-year, $7 million deal. Until the Falcons called, Leftwich did not have many nibbles on the open market after the Ravens signed Kyle Boller to an extension. He had been the seventh overall pick in the 2003 draft, but his Jags’ career was injury plagued with ankle and leg injuries. Leftwich will compete with Harrington in Wednesday’s practice and he finished his Jaguars career with a 24-20 record as a starter, completing 789 of 1,344 passes for 9,042 yards, 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions for a passer rating of 80.5.
Cowboys sign Tank Johnson to two-year deal: Suspended defensive tackle Tank Johnson signed a two-year contract Tuesday with the Dallas Cowboys. The big, but troubled DT from the University of Washington had played the last three seasons for the Chicago Bears until recent legal problems caused him to be released after his suspension. Johnson can’t play for the Cowboys until he completes his eight-game NFL suspension for conduct detrimental to the league. He has served the first two games of that suspension and he will still have to apply for reinstatement in November. Johnson will make about $255,000 this season, the prorated portion of a minimum contract.