BASN’s Week Six NFL Review

By Lloyd Vance
Updated: October 16, 2008

NFL PHILADELPHIA — Every week I seem to say, “On Any Given Sunday” and some weeks live up to that mantra better than others. Week 6 of the NFL was one those spectacular rollercoaster weeks.

The best league on earth treated us to games where the thrills didn’t stop and you had no idea when the next twist, turn, or drop was coming from next. I don’t know about you, but my head was on a swivel as I went from game to game enjoying the majesty that is the NFL.

There were two unthinkable upsets with teams thought to be in the elite of the NFL, taking it on the chin from teams thought to be out of their league. The formerly winless St. Louis Rams (1-4) in their first game under fiery interim head coach Jim Haslett stunned the formerly red-hot Washington Redskins 19-17 at FedEx field.

Haslett became only the second of 14 interim head coaches since 2000 to win his first game. Haslett’s Rams got the win on Josh Brown’s 49-yard field goal with no time left on the clock (Rams first win since Dec. 2, 2007). The play of the game was an unfortunate one for Redskins Guard Pete Kendall. The big lineman caught a batted pass, but fumbled while trying to advance it to Rams safety O.J. Atogwe who took it 75 yards for touchdown.

If you figured there wasn’t another colossal upset left after the Rams-Redskins then Monday Night Football’s shocker of the lowly Browns (2-3) beating the formerly undefeated New York Giants 35-14 must have thrown you for another loop. The loss snapped New York’s 11-game road winning streak and sent a message to the NFL that anyone can beat anyone in the NFL.

The game was particularly satisfying for Browns quarterback Derek Anderson, who finally looked like his 2007 Pro Bowl self throwing for respectable numbers 18-29, 310 yards, 2 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Anderson wasn’t the only hero for the Browns as receiver Braylon Edwards (five catches for 154 yards and 1 TD) and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (10 TKLS) also helped out too.

The goat of the game had to be last year’s Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning as he threw three interceptions with the biggest one coming near the endzone. Browns second-year emerging cornerback Eric Wright jumped in front of the Manning offering and raced 94 yards for the decisive game-closing score.

As if the upsets were not thrilling enough, or the first time since the NFL / AFL merger in 1970, four teams (Falcons, Vikings, Texans and Rams) won games in the final 10 seconds of play. Three of the games last play was decided by my favorite players, kickers with Texans quarterback Matt Schaub running for the other decisive score on a fourth and goal play.

Those four games were exciting, but the game of the day had to go to the Cowboys-Cardinals. The game started off with a bang as Cardinals return man JJ Arrington brought the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and the track meet like game was on from there.

In the end it took overtime for this one to be decided with the bizarre ending of Sean Morey blocking a punt and it being returned for a touchdown for the Cardinals to produce the 30-24 win. That was the first time in the NFL’s 89-year history that an overtime game ended that way.

The current standings show that there is little separation in the parity-laden league as there is one lonely undefeated team (Titans 5-0), three (4-1) teams — Giants, Bills, and Steelers; a multitude of seven (4-2) teams Buccaneers, Falcons, Cardinals, Broncos, Redskins, Cowboys, and Panthers; three (3-2) teams — Patriots, Colts, and Jets.

Making there only 14 teams in the NFL with a winning record — Is everyone at .500?? It seems that way as there are eight (3-3) teams — Bears, Eagles, Colts, Saints, Chargers, Jaguars, Vikings, and Packers; three (2-3) teams – Ravens, Dolphins, Browns; the (2-4) 49ers; four (1-4) teams — Seahawks, Chiefs, Rams, Texans, and Raiders; With the (0-5) Lions and (0-6) Bengals bringing up the rear.

The division leaders after 6 weeks features some craziness including three-way ties for first place in the NFC South (Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all at (4-2) w/ a 1 game lead over the Saints) and NFC North (Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and Chicago Bears all at (3-3) w/ a 3 game lead over the Lions).

The rest of the divisions feature leaders: NFC East: NY Giants (4-1), NFC West: Arizona Cardinals (4-2) w/ a 2 game lead over the Niners, AFC South: Tennessee Titans (5-0) with a 2 game lead over the Colts, AFC East: Buffalo Bills (4-1) w/ a 1 game lead over the Patriots, AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) w/ a 2 game lead over the Ravens, and AFC West: Denver Broncos (4-2) w/ a one game lead over the Chargers. Two divisions (NFC South and NFC East) have every team with a winning record.

I believe all of the wackiness, parity, excitement, or whatever you want to call it around the NFL this season is driven by the fact that every team is pretty equal and there is not a “Super” team out there reeking havoc.

Remember when the road to the Super Bowl went through one “Super” team – Steelers in the ’70s, Niners in the ’80s, Cowboys in the ’90s, and Patriots of the ’00s. But this year no team is running away with the title and every week teams better be ready for their next challenger — Sorry Titans fans.

I never thought I would say it, but I think I like all of the parity around the NFL, because it is pure entertainment. So we all need to continue checking-in to see how the wackiest league around continues to shock and amaze us.

Game Balls

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees- It has been an amazing year so far for the undersized rocket arm passer. Brees didn’t disappoint the Saints (3-3) faithful this week as he completed his first 16 passes on the way to eye-popping numbers 26 of 30 for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-3 win over the Oakland Raiders. Brees is getting the ball downfield to a plethora of receivers including running back Reggie Bush, tight end Billy Miller and receivers Lance Moore and Devrey Henderson. Brees is on pace for 5,312 yards for the season, which would be shatter Dan Marino’s NFL record of 5,084.

Honorable Mention

Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan- The first round pick out of Boston College is living up to his billing so far leading the (4-2) Falcons into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC South. Ryan completed 22 of 30 passes for 301 yards (first career 300 yd game) and one touchdown in the Falcons’ 22-20 win over Chicago. The cool rookie also provided the play of the game as he threw a perfect pass to WR Michael Jenkins to set up the game-winning field goal with one second remaining on the clock.

St. Louis Rams safety O.J Atogwe – In on of the biggest upsets of the day, the Rams surprised the home team Redskins as their stout safety led the way. Atogwe recovered a fumble and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown in the Rams’ 19 – 17 win finishing with four tackles, a forced fumble, a recovery, and a touchdown.

Indianapolis Colts DE Robert Mathis- The athletic sack man harassed Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco all day in the Colts’ 31-3 victory. Mathis finished with three sacks, six solo tackles, and a forced fumble.

Philadelphia Eagles DE Juqua Parker- What a game for a guy everyone seems to forget about with Pro Bowl player Trent Cole on the other side. Parker was a player possessed as he recorded five tackles and a sack and returned an interception 55-yards for a touchdown in the Eagles’ 40-26 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Other honorees: Miami Dolphins running back Patrick Cobbs (three catches for 138 yards and 3 TDs off “Wildcat” gadget plays), Bucs veteran RB Warrick Dunn (115 yards rushing in a win over the Panthers), Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew (125 yards rushing and 2 TDs in a win over the Broncos), Rams head coach Jim Haslett (upset win over the Redskins in DC in his Rams’ debut), Texans DE Mario Williams (four tackles, two sacks and 1 FF in a win over the Dolphins) and Jets RB Thomas Jones (3 TDs in win over the Bengals after only 2 TDs in all of 2007).

Lloyd’s Lackey

St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Richie Incognito- One of the NFL’s Dirtiest players was on display in the Rams win over the Redskins. It seemed after every play the surly former lineman that was kicked off the Nebraska football team in college was in the middle of the action. Incognito almost cost the Rams a chance to win the game by being flagged a 15-yard misconduct penalty for saying something to an official after a scuffle. The penalty moved a 34-yard attempt to 49 yards, but luckily for Richie his teammate kicker Josh Brown came through.

Dishonorable Mention

New England QB Matt Cassell- We all knew Cassell was not Brady… heck at this point he isn’t even Rohan Davey. The average “Joe” quarterback is struggling to replace legend 2007 MVP Tom Brady as Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Chargers dropped the former USC lifetime backup to 2-2 as a starter. Cassell finished with pedestrian numbers 22-38, 203 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT. I am just waiting for ticking time bomb Randy Moss to blow as the volatile receiver only has two touchdowns through 5 games.

New York Giants QB Eli Manning- “Bad Eli” was in the building on Monday Night as last year’s Super Bowl MVP threw three interceptions in the upset loss to the Browns – Manning had only 1 INT going into the game. It was Manning’s aforementtion interception to Eric Wright that turned the game for the Browns.Manning was also battered and bruised (chest) in the game.

Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode- Was it me or did the big o-lineman just stand there while the Cardinals pounced on a loose ball. Maybe in his defense Gurode didn’t see it, but c’mon you have to help your team out when everyone is yelling “Ball”. For his efforts, Gurode was chewed out by T.O of all people. CBS Analyst Boomer Esiason said of the Owens’ tongue lashing, “Every center I’ve ever played with, if a wide receiver went over to him and did what Terrell Owens did . . . they would have beat him into the ground.”

Dallas Cowboys CB Adam Jones- I could not leave this section without singling out the NFL’s most notorious second tier cornerback. Pacman thought he was in the clear from his altercation last week, because no charges were filed by the police and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was okay with the malcontent player’s explanation – I think Terrence Newman’s injury had something to do with that. However Commissioner Roger Goodell had seen enough and suspended Pacman indefinitely for an alcohol violation of the NFL Player Conduct Policy – from the tone of things this could quite possibly be a lifetime ban for the habitual offender. I would have liked to say this situation is unfortunate, but Jones just doesn’t get it and probably never will. Pacman’s boxscore line from Sunday’s loss reads 5 tackles and no interceptions, so happy trails and good luck.