By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
BASN’s NFL Review: Week Ten
PHILADELPHIA — The second half the 2007 NFL season began in week 10 and though there was not the huge mega-power match-up this week, there were some great games and performances.
I know everyone was hurting from their weekly Patriots fix, but there were still many storylines as we start to see the inevitable movement of playoff contenders and pretenders in November.
– “Big Ben for MVP” will be the cry in Pittsburgh as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed that he is back in the groove after a tough 2006 season. In a game the Steelers could have easily lost to the Browns, Big Ben was calm and cool leading his team to a come from behind victory. At 7-2, the Steelers have jumped into the upper echelon of the NFL and now everyone is anticipating their Week 14 game versus the unbeaten Patriots.
– The Eagles led by mercurial running back Brian Westbrook (See Game Balls) “may” have saved their season as they stormed back to win a tough game in Washington DC. The win put the Birds at 4-5 with their next battle against the winless Dolphins.
– Everyone better start believing in the 8-1 Packers and Cowboys. These two teams showed that 2007 maybe a flashback to the mid 90′s when these storied franchises fought yearly for conference supremacy. Veteran offensive players over 34 lead both teams in Packers quarterback Brett Favre and Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens. Both player’s ability and desire were questioned going into the season, but they are putting up Pro Bowl type numbers this season on their respective hall of fame resumes.
– It was “hello Rexy time” as Bears quarterback Rex Grossman re-entered the fracas by coming off the bench and leading the Bears to a victory over the Raiders in a must-win situation. The win was the first step in the Bears (4-5) attempt to catch the NFC North second place Lions (6-3) and cure their Super Bowl hangover.
– Speaking of the Lions, I believe that their loss this week to the Cardinals proved that even though they have six wins much work still needs to be done for them to be taken legitimately. The Cardinals held the kitty cats to negative yards rushing (-18 yards) and it was big play after big play offensive for Whisenhunt’s boys. You can also throw the 49ers (2-7 after a 2-0 start), Chiefs (4-5, It was no LJ – no go as Brodie Croyle showed he is not an NFL quarterback), Panthers (4-5, Looked punchless in a home loss to the Falcons) and Ravens (4-5, six turnovers in a home loss to the Bengals) in my “pretenders” category.
– Injuries are always a huge determining factor in who survives to make some noise in the playoffs. This week saw several key veterans including Colts DE Dwight Freeney (foot), Cardinals DE Bertrand Berry (triceps), Chiefs QB Damon Huard (neck), Vikings RB Adrian Peterson, Ravens QB Steve McNair, and others lost for significant amounts of time, which will greatly affect their teams playoff chances.
Parity or mediocrity depending on who is looking continues to be the rule as there are 15 teams with a .500 or better record including the undefeated Patriots. There are also 13 teams with losing records including the winless Dolphins. Of the under .500 teams there are seven 4-5 teams (Cardinals, Bears, Eagles, Chiefs, Broncos, Saints, Panthers, and Ravens) who still have a chance to make it to the playoffs.
Also for the losing record teams in the NFC South, NFC West, and AFC West they still have a good chance for their divisional title as their current leaders are only 1 game above the .500 mark. By the way, Congratulations are in order for the St. Louis Rams, who got off the sidelines by posting their first victory over the red-hot Saints 37-29 in New Orleans.
Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook: Too often NFL fans and media including myself don’t fully appreciate the Eagles explosive running back. I don’t know if it is his size (5-feet-8, 200 lbs.), his former small school status (2002 third round pick from Villanova), or the fact that LT and Reggie Bush get all of the press and commercials that cause awareness away from Westbrook. But in my opinion, it is the mercurial Eagles multi-purpose back, who has produced week in and week out in 2007 while being the Birds only offensive threat. Hopefully after his performance against the Redskins in his hometown area (Washington DC/Maryland) people will take notice. With the Eagles season in jeopardy, Westbrook rose to the occasion catching a screen pass and zigzagging his way 57 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and quieting a sold-out FedEx Field crowd with 3:16 left. The Redskins never challenged again after that point in the Eagles 33-25 victory. For the game Westbrook, finished with numbers of 20 rushes for 100 yards w/1 TD and 5 receptions for 83 yards w/ 2 TDs (183 total yards and the 8th time in his career that he has accomplished 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game). With 701 yards rushing and 518 yards receiving, Westbrook is poised to be the NFL’s first 1,000 yard rushing and receiving player since Marshall Faulk in 1999, which definitely should help him get selected to his first Pro Bowl.
St. Louis Rams RB Steven Jackson: The often injured running back re-emerged this week and looked like his old self. Jackson ran 22 times for 76 yards with one touchdown, catch 5 passes for 24 yards and even threw a touchdown in the Rams’ first victory of 2007.
San Diego Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie : It seems every week the former first round pick from Florida State looks like his hero Deion Sanders. This week he helped to shut down the champion Colts as he intercepted three passes in the Chargers 23-21 victory. Prime Time II also contributed six tackles.
Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens: The NFL’s former biggest pain has kept his nose clean and his numbers show it. Owens hooked with Dallas QB Tony Romo twice on fourth quarter game-breaking touchdowns. T.O was physical and overwhelmed the Giants secondary for 6 catches, 125 yards, and the aforementioned 2 TDs. Owens accounted for 125 of Romo’s 247 passing yards in the victory. For the season T.O has 50 receptions for 855 yards (17.1 ypc) with a NFC leading 8 touchdown catches.
Cleveland Browns KR/WR Joshua Cribbs: I have been a fan of Cribbs since he was a 1,000 yard passing and rushing quarterback in the same season for Kent State. Cribbs elusiveness was on display Sunday in Pittsburgh as he was a major component in the Browns almost victory. He had a huge 90-yard kickoff return that directly led to one of Browns quarterback Derek Anderson’s three touchdown passes. Plus he had the NFL’s highlight reel play of the week as he had an improbable 100-yard kickoff return touchdown after fumbling the ball near the goal line and then racing down the sideline to the “house”. Cribbs finished with more yards on kickoff returns (204) than the Browns offense had total yards (163). Cribbs said of his 100-yarder, “It was a couple of inches from going into the end zone and I had to make a decision and live with it”.
The Detroit Lions: Matt Millen’s boys were back up to their old tricks in week 10. After woofing that they were a legitimate playoff team at 6-2, the kitty cats showed why Detroit fans have been frustrated for years. They ran the ball only 8 times for negative 18 yards, yes “negative” (the lowest team rushing total since 1946) in a bad 31-21 loss to the Cardinals. You can also include horrible numbers in total yards (245), penalties (10 for 70 yards), and turnovers (5) in the eye opening loss. Will need to pick it up versus the Giants in week 11 to be taken seriously.
Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Steve McNair: It seems Father Time has finely catch with the tough warrior from Alcorn State. McNair was terrible in a home loss to the Bengals finishing with numbers or 17-26 for 128 yards plus throwing an interception in the end zone with 12 seconds remaining in the first half. The interception halted the Ravens best scoring chance and sent them into the locker room to a chorus of boos.
Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning: The Super Bowl XLI MVP was terrible in a bad loss to the Chargers. Manning threw a franchise record six interceptions and finished with numbers of 34-56 for 328 yards with 2 TDs and the aforementioned 6 INTs.
The San Francisco 49ers: They embarrassed themselves against the Seahawks and their historical franchise on Monday Night Football. The Niners were shutout 24-0 and were 1-for-12 on third down conversions for most of the game. They now have had scored a total of three points in their two games against the Seahawks this year. Former first overall selection quarterback Alex Smith showed again that he is quickly looking like a huge reach finishing with numbers of 12-28 for only 114 yards.
Scoreboard and Game Notes
Cowboys (8-1) 7 10 7 7 31
Giants (6-3) 7 10 0 3 20
University of Phoenix Stadium
Lions (6-3) 7 0 7 7 21
Cardinals (4-5) 3 14 7 7 31
Bears (4-5) 0 3 0 14 17
Raiders (2-7) 3 0 0 3 6
M&T Bank Stadium
Bengals (3-6) 0 6 3 12 21
Ravens (4-5) 0 0 0 7 7
Bank of America Stadium
Falcons (3-6) 7 0 3 10 20
Panthers (4-5) 0 10 0 3 13
Eagles (4-5) 7 0 6 20 33
Redskins (5-4) 0 12 3 10 25
Jaguars (6-3) 7 7 7 7 28
Titans (6-3) 0 3 3 7 13
Rams (1-8) 7 10 10 10 37
Saints (4-5) 7 0 0 22 29
Browns (5-4) 7 14 0 7 28
Steelers (7-2) 3 6 7 15 31
Vikings (3-6) 0 0 0 0 0
Packers (8-1) 7 6 14 7 34
Bills (5-4) 0 0 2 11 13
Dolphins (0-9) 3 0 7 0 10
Broncos (4-5) 3 3 14 7 27
Chiefs (4-5) 3 5 3 0 11
Colts (7-2) 0 7 0 14 21
Chargers (5-4) 16 7 0 0 23
49ers (2-7) 0 0 0 0 0
Seahawks (5-4) 10 7 0 7 24
Byes: New England, Houston, N.Y. Jets, Tampa Bay.
Byes: New England, Houston, N.Y. Jets, Tampa Bay.