Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Sep 2007

Audibles at the Line: Week 1

compiled by Doug Farrar

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2008. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

New Orleans Saints 10 at Indianapolis Colts 41

Aaron Schatz: Faith Hill is hotter than Pink, and a better singer, but the NBC theme song still blows goats.

Bill Barnwell: "NFL Football on NBC/Al and John are the best on TV" are right up there with "Her stories are boring and stuff/She's always calling my bluff" and "Fell deep in love, but now we ain't speakin'/Michael J. Fox was Alex P. Keaton/When I met you I said my name was Rich/You look like a girl from Abercrombie & Fitch" in the pantheon of "Worst lyrical couplets of the late 20th/early 21st century."

I was naive to dream that John Mellencamp was going to be left behind in the 2006 season, wasn't I? Our long national nightmare has begun again.

Mike Tanier: You know, Faith did seem a little ... girded. Like her hip-hugger pants were really made of titanium to lock any stray 30-something cellulite into place. Somewhere between a transvestite and a 50-year-old Grand Ole Opry alum now in Branson, trying to still look hot to the guys in the 95th row.

Ben Riley: When did Paulie Walnuts buy the Colts? Amazing suit. And John Mellencamp sounds awesome on 30-second skip.

(Mercifully, the season begins ...)

Aaron Schatz: There's the first of Tony Ugoh's 25 false starts this year, trying to learn Peyton Manning's intricate signals as a rookie. Good luck with that, Tony.

I remember reading a book that said something about the Colts being screwed if Joseph Addai gets hurt .. what was that again?

Bill Barnwell: Was that the earliest en masse trip by fantasy players to the waiver wire in NFL history? First play, first game?

Colts dropped Raheem Brock into coverage on a third down. Brock's zone skills apparently involve waving his hands around frantically and yelling "Boogie Oogie Oogie!" at the quarterback. This was not enough to stop Brees from finding Colston right next to Brock.

Aaron Schatz: I decided to sit and track where Dallas Clark is playing in this game. We really shouldn't be considering him a tight end at this point, this is just silly. Here's how the Colts' formations have gone:

Drive 1: Clark slot, Clark wide with Wayne in slot, trips right with Clark as WR, Clark slot.

Drive 2: After first play I didn't catch: Clark wide with Wayne in slot, Clark slot, Clark slot, Clark as TE stance in short yardage situation, Clark wide with Wayne in slot, Clark wide with Wayne in slot.

So it isn't even just that Dallas Clark is playing slot receiver. The guy is lining up WIDE almost half the time, with Wayne as the slot receiver. Where's Anthony Gonzalez?

Bill Barnwell: Anatomy of a Touchdown: Saints line up Fujita against Wayne in the slot when Harrison is out wide on the left against David. Manning signals to Wayne presnap to run a slant, Wayne does do dutifully and draws the safety, and Harrison toys with David before catching a perfectly thrown ball and sticking the landing. Football is art.

Stuart Fraser: Is there any moment of that touchdown during which Jason David looks like he has Marvin Harrison covered? That's not just toast, that's burnt toast.

Bill Barnwell: Hey, first screwy play-by-play line of the season. Brees completes a pass to himself. Somewhere, the yellow highlighter starts stretching in the bullpen.

Aaron Schatz: Bill, I hope you realize that nobody out there except for a handful of FO interns knows that I color the Excel line yellow when it is a weird play.

Mike Tanier: I thought the "highlighter" reference was some sort of University of Oregon joke.

Stuart Fraser: I just wish to record for posterity that Madden criticized Freeney for rushing to the inside on that play. Also, that was the third end-around the Saints have called in one-and-a-bit quarters. Is this normal, or does Payton think it's a good call against Indianapolis' run blitzing tendencies?

Bill Barnwell: It's Payton working against Freeney. They run a lot of end-arounds, but it makes sense against the Colts' scheme.

Hey, good old terrible Colts punt coverage! Remember when I said football was art? The Colts' punt coverage is a Jackson Pollock piece.

Did the Saints use Devery Henderson on the line frequently last year as opposed to in the slot? I wonder whether he'll be able to break the jam there.

Aaron Schatz: Yes. The Saints used Henderson pretty much as the standard outside starter opposite Colston when Joe Horn was injured last year.

Ben Riley: Did the Colts' return guy just signal for a fair catch even though no one was within 20 yards of him? Between that and the shanked punt earlier, I'm starting to see why our commentary disparages the Colts' special teams.

Bill Barnwell: Tony Dungy's "... not afraid to play young guys?" Well, I would hope not, because if he was, he'd have a 16-man roster. Madden also said the youth would catch up with them on special teams and maybe we should check that as an indicator for poor special teams coverage -- I may cross-check poor coverage units against the study I just did of games played by second-day picks.

Michaels was wrong -- Scott Shanle was covering Clark on the 39-yard-gain, not Fujita. Fujita just cleaned up the mess. Fujita's looked fine on Clark when they've been matched up together -- the Clark play was set up the play before when Clark ran a simple five-yard curl and then ran a little hook-and-go on second down.

Michael David Smith: Either the referee called that illegal touching on the Brees near-sack wrong, or that's a stupid rule. Why wouldn't it be a loss of down? Brees commits a penalty, and his team is better off as a result.

Doug Farrar: Per NBC graphic. Coaches who have made the playoffs in eight straight seasons: Tom Landry (twice), Chuck Noll, Tony Dungy. That's it. Wow. I'm guessing Bill Walsh would have made it, though. Six straight playoff seasons, and then George Seifert's first two teams go 14-2.

Ned Macey: I'm just signing on and was wrong about one thing. I predicted that Audibles would be filled with how bad Payton's game plan is. How else could the Colts hold them to three offensive points in the first half? I'll go on record that the Colts defensive DVOA is somewhere within 5% of zero.

Tony Ugoh as pass blocker is still a major work in progress, but even worse, Manning knows it is a work in progress. He looks jittery. In his defense, he is getting hit.

Did Jason David ever force a fumble or return one for a touchdown when he was with the Colts? The Colts definitely were the better team in that half, but thanks to the one play it is tied. I doubt the Saints are held to three offensive points in the second half. I wouldn't be surprised to see a scoring drive right out of the gate by New Orleans. They need to help Brown on the outside and let Brees throw the ball down the field. 4.4 yards per completion is a joke.

Aaron Schatz: I definitely think Ugoh looks better on runs than he does on passes. He's looking pretty good on runs.

Doug Farrar: Isn't that pretty typical of younger linemen, though? I know that Seattle's very happy with guard/tackle Ray Willis, who hasn't had a lot of actual game time with the Seahawks since being drafted in 2005. Willis' ability to maul people on running plays morphs into some obvious confusion on pass plays. And that's playing with Matt Hasselbeck and Seneca Wallace in the preseason, not Peyton's Chicken Dance in the 2007 opener.

Sean McCormick: The Colts continued protecting Ugoh in much the same way they did all preseason. He usually had a tight end lined up to his side. When he didn't, the team either ran a pass play that called for a one-step drop, or they called a running play predicated on the notion that Ugoh's man would be in the backfield. On at least one of the few times Ugoh was left alone, Will Smith came in and slammed Manning. So while the results were good, no one should get carried away and think Ugoh is Marcus McNeill the second. The Colts' entire gameplan was built around protecting him (or more specifically, protecting Manning from him).

Mike Tanier: The Colts run defense looks halfway decent. Rob Morris is a big part of that. His range isn't that bad, and he makes the tackles he has to make. Sanders, of course, thumped a few guys. That Freddy Keiaho just blew up Stinchcomb and drove him back into Reggie Bush on a play to the outside. He's definitely a guy to keep an eye on. Bill Barnwell dissed Raheem Brock, but he played a really good first half too.

The Colts are generally keeping a TE on Tony Ugoh's side, but the extra tight end is rarely blocking. Ugoh has been on an island against Will Smith and has been losing some battles, but Manning bails him out by adjusting in the pocket or getting rid of the ball quickly.

Fumble luck in the first half. Gotta love it. But in general, I think we've talked about it to death (I say that now, but when I need a Rundown hook, I'll find my motivation).

Aaron Schatz: Good instincts by Devery Henderson to turn into a defensive back and knock away that interception a few minutes into the third quarter.

It really looks like the Colts defense spent a lot of time with film of the Saints offense. All these screens and draws stopped fooling the Colts about four minutes into the game.

Stuart Fraser: What's also apparent is that the Saints don't have a plan B now the screens and draws aren't working. Indy's safeties are pretty deep, so Reggie Bush on slants and intermediate routes would have been my plan.

Indy, meanwhile, seems to be executing whatever play they feel like calling ...

Vince Verhei: On the radio broadcast, Boomer Esiason just noted that Dwight Freeney didn't have any sacks tonight, but was getting lots of pressure. He then noted that Freeney lead the league in pressures last year. Looks like he's a reader.

Aaron Schatz: Next week will be National Jump to Conclusions Week, and I hate to participate. Everybody always completely overreacts to the first week of the season. That being said, from this game it certainly looks like the Indianapolis defense will be better this year, and Freddy Keiaho looks like the reason. It's the kind of thing our projection systems just can't pick up.

The other thing I'm feeling from this game is that the Saints offensive line does not look as good as they were last year. I thought the defense was the unit that would all back to earth, but what if it is the offensive line?

Doug Farrar: Sean Payton appeared to be very concerned about pass protection in the preseason. I remember watching him eviscerate fourth-round rookie running back Antonio Pittman on the sideline after some less-than-stellar blitz pickup in the game against the Bengals. Pittman now plays for the Rams.

Aaron Schatz: The answer to the question, "Can Jason David play man after playing his whole career in the Tampa-2?" seems to be, "No."

Ryan Wilson: I think it's safe to say that Jason David will be going as Fred Thomas for Halloween. Or is it the other way around?

Ned Macey: I want to amend my answer to the dumbest off-season story for the 2007 Season Predictions. My new pick would be that the Colts "lost" things on defense. An idiot on local sports talk was listing the players the Colts lost today (including Corey Simon, who didn't play). Not that sports talk should be taken seriously, but all the departed players signed for midrange to poor contracts. They did not "lose" anybody.

I do feel bad for Jason David today, but after leaving a terrible LCB on an island too much last year, is it excusable that New Orleans let David get stuck in single coverage three separate times? They presumably had someone deep most of the first half, since Wayne did nothing. The TD to Harrison had the safety biting to help on the underneath route.

Ben Riley: One benefit of contributing to Audibles via DVR delay is that you can delete your more egregious mistakes. Such as my handwritten note, "Fujita all over field -- nice pass break-up -- looks like Tatupu," which looked far more insightful before Fujita started giving up huge gains to Dallas Clark with regularity.

I have more to say, but I need to go work the fantasy-trade phone to see if I can get someone to panic and dump Brees. He had a bad night. There won't be many more.

Pittsburgh Steelers 34 at Cleveland Browns 7

Ryan Wilson: The Browns go three-and-out on their first series, new punter Paul Ernster muffs the snap on fourth down, he finally gets it off, but the officials flagged the Browns for four penalties on one play. FOUR. You don't see that every day. Steelers with a first down on Cleveland's 22. That makes it a zero-yard punt. Awesome.

Russell Levine: Ryan beat me to it on this one. Despite Michigan's start, I have not lost my empathy for football fans of sad-sack teams. Not even those from Ohio. A three-and-out to start the year, followed by the announcement, "We have four fouls on the offense." Oh, my.

Stuart Fraser: The Steelers are going after Eric Wright, as promised. Holmes and Ward have now both got behind him on pass plays, for a total of 20 yards and a touchdown. Wright ... well, see what we wrote about various Saints on Thursday. He doesn't look ready.

Charlie Frye throws an interception into double coverage (under no significant pressure) and Pittsburgh gets the ball on Cleveland's 17. Ouch. I'm beginning to feel sorry for Browns fans already.

Pittsburgh's pass protection looks absolutely horrible -- Cleveland got to Roethlisberger twice on two pass plays in that sequence (one was called back for offside, but only one guy was offside and about three rushers were through untouched).

Jeff Reed has now kicked off three times in seven minutes, plus kicking a PAT and a field goal. The first kickoff was a touchback, the second was run out of the end zone, the third went to about the five. Clearly, Romeo Crennel's secret strategy to tire out the opposing kicker is working.

Ryan Wilson: After the Frye pick, Jamal Lewis fumbled. From the CLE 40, Roethlisberger play-actions and throws a bomb to Santonio Holmes, who split the safeties in the Cover-2. As Rich Gannon points out (Gannon's pretty good, by the way), that can't happen in that coverage. Luckily, safety Sean Jones throws a fit in safety Brodney Pool's general direction after the play. Nothing like team in-fighting during the first quarter of Week 1.

Stuart Fraser: Santonio Holmes would like the world to know that just because he's not returning punts any more doesn't mean he can't fumble. The advantage, I suppose, of having him fumble on a reverse is that it's more likely to go out of bounds, which indeed happens.

The Browns have clearly been watching film, though -- they're not falling for any of Pittsburgh's screens on third-and-long. When not being burned by Santonio Holmes the Cleveland D doesn't look that bad, actually. Willie Parker has been going nowhere all game. If Cleveland had an offense things would help. Charlie Frye is horribly inaccurate, throwing behind his receivers much of the time.

OK, so the Steelers ran a draw instead of a screen and Parker goes about 20 yards. He then fumbles on the next play, and Cleveland recovers. The Willie Parker experience, gentlemen.

Ryan Wilson: The Browns' first-half offensive highlight (singular) was Joe Thomas. He's looked solid all half. Oh, by the way, Frye has been sacked five times and Derek Anderson is warming up.

Stuart Fraser: The Browns have brought in Derek Anderson. Has Charlie Frye broken the record for the fastest benching in the NFL? 7:08 remaining in the second quarter, I think.

Doug Farrar: Well, that's what they get for cutting Ken Dorsey, gosh darn it. Who's sorry now, Cleveland? Oh, wait. Don't they have that Quinn guy?

Stuart Fraser: About the only thing I can say about the second quarter of PIT-CLE is that Daniel Sepulveda looks great. Plenty of altitude on those punts, and they're all landing inside the 20. Oh, and Rich Gannon is also really good -- breaking down why various quarterbacks suck, noting Pittsburgh's rash of drops might not be all the fault of the pass catchers, commenting on the various Pittsburgh blitz packages. The less said about the rest of the game the better, I think.

The Cleveland offense wakes up for a drive and proves that you can still throw on this Pittsburgh secondary, provided the pass protection holds up. Kellen Winslow seems to be matched up on cornerbacks most of the time and is still getting open. This might just be Ike Taylor struggles against receivers who are much bigger than him, part many in a series of even more.

Anderson has now gone back to missing his targets, the rain isn't helping, and the Steelers are killing the clock quite well at the moment, so there probably won't be much corroborative evidence either way.

Ryan Wilson: One last thought: As Stuart mentioned earlier, the Browns defense actually looked pretty good. As good as you can look giving up 34 points. A lot of that had to do with field position, and the offense going three-and-out, but Kamerion Wimbley was in the backfield all day, and second-year linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was always around the ball. The Browns' two young safeties, Brodney Pool and Sean Jones, were inconsistent, but playing them is the right move. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright (the Browns traded up to get him in April) started in place of Gary Baxter, and the Steelers targeted him early in the game. He was in coverage on the Hines Ward touchdown, and on several other big plays. New defensive end Antwan Peek also played well, collapsing the pocket and batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. This unit will keep Cleveland in close games, but the problem is finding a quarterback to do that. Oh, wait...

Mike Tanier: I disagree with the assertion that the Browns defense looked good. Steelers receivers dropped about a half dozen passes. The run defense looked OK, I guess, but the Steelers were still able to run the ball for much of the game.

Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson were just awful. Frye could see the Steelers blitzing in his face but just stood there and waited to get hit. Anderson can miss a stationary receiver 10 yards away by three yards.

Ryan Wilson: Yeah, that's why I qualified the "Browns D looks good" with "As good as you can look giving up 34 points." If the offense hadn't given them such awful field position, and they weren't on the field for 400 plays, the game would've a little closer, I'm guessing.

Miami Dolphins 13 at Washington Redskins 16

Bill Barnwell: First play I see in this game, Chris Chambers gives up on a pass. I think it's destiny sometimes.

Huh? The Dolphins are giving the ball to Jesse Chatman while Ronnie Brown sits. Gumbel's saying that the reason why is because of Chatman's experience with Cam Cameron in San Diego. He's still Jesse Chatman.

Aaron Schatz: I don't get the Chatman thing at all.

Bill Barnwell: The Redskins go for it on fourth-and-2 from the Miami 21-yard line (in a 10-10 game) and Todd Yoder gets a penalty for "abrupt movement simulating the snap." The field goal becomes a 43-yard field goal and Shaun Suisham, fortunately, puts the field goal through.

Carlos Rogers is having serious trouble covering Chris Chambers, but he just got jobbed on a call where the ball wasn't within five yards of Chambers and Rogers pulled down his arm. Illegal contact? Sure. Pass interference? Not a chance. Washington gets a makeup call for intentional grounding immediately after.

Doug Farrar: Proof positive that refs don't consistently know the difference is that when you look at the penalty data, about half the crews go 2-to-1 in favor of illegal contact, and the other half go 2-to-1 in favor of pass interference. I guess the NFL figures it will all even out in the end.

Bill Barnwell: Crazy ending to regulation: Campbell throws a bomb that bounces off Jason Taylor (in the end zone) into the hands of Antwaan Randle El on the four-yard line. Randle El gets within a yard of the goal line before Taylor stops him. Overtime.

Will Carroll: Yeah, someone get me the DVOA on that play. "Stat Padder" that very nearly became a highlight show all-timer.

Mike Tanier: Good news and bad news in Washington. Good news: Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts carried the ball 17 times each, so our fantasy projections look pretty sensible. Bad news: Jon Jansen is probably out for the year. I think Mike Pucillo is the backup. We'll be testing that Washington depth early this year.

Philadelphia Eagles 13 at Green Bay Packers 16

Bill Barnwell: J.R. Reid just blew the game for the Eagles. The Packers were punting with a minute or so left and Reid called for a fair catch, couldn't locate the ball in traffic, and then sprinted and dove for it and missed. It hit him in the stomach and the Packers recovered on the Philadelphia 30-yard line. An absolutely brain-dead play.

Ned Macey: Along the same lines, I can't believe Green Bay settled for the 40-plus-yarder by the rookie, but the kid nailed it.

This game -- at the risk of jumping to conclusions too early -- proved both us and Brett Favre right. They have a very good defense, and the D-line just dominated the game. Jolly, who beat out Harrell, in the preseason, tipped three passes and generally dominated the interior. My man (and Peter King's new favorite player) Cullen Jenkins impressed, and their nickel pass rush should be dangerous all year with KGB on the outside and Jenkins at tackle.

At the same time, I never saw an open receiver for the Packers. The offensive line, which is supposed to be gelling, was getting pushed around by the Eagles D-line. The Pack better hope that Driver is still well less than 100 percent, because he looked slow and unable to get any separation. Watching Moss run wild (and wow, could I have been wrong on that one, but it was just one week), could the Packers have gotten him for the mid-round pick?

For the Eagles, they pick up right where they left off last year, losing a game where the only touchdown they allowed was on a fumbled punt (maybe interference) that bounces 30-plus yards into the end zone for the Packers. Donovan McNabb clearly sold his soul to the devil at one point, and the devil is collecting.

Vince Verhei: I know everyone's ready to jump all over Green Bay and bury Philadelphia, and the Green Bay defensive line did cause plenty of problems for Donovan McNabb, but let's really look at this: The Packers scored three points on a 53-yard field goal and ten more off of two muffed punts by the Eagles. The Eagles only lost this game because of three random, fluky, non-repeatable special teams plays. I'm sure DVOA will say Philly outplayed Green Bay today.

Ned Macey: I agree with this sentiment and still think Philly is the better team. That being said, the projection system predicted Philly to be the third-best offense in football, and they did very little. The eighth overall projection for Green Bay's defense, which looks wild compared to what others think, certainly looks more likely in light of this game. They shouldn't have to score too many points to beat Chicago or Minnesota.

Mike Tanier: This is basically the same game the Eagles lost about four times last year. They committed sloppy penalties and dropped a bunch of passes.The best offensive plays the Packers had were Brett Favre "creative" plays where he pitched the ball to someone who ran for 15 yards. But they were still in a position to win if they didn't do something stupid. But someone did something stupid. I don't ever want to see Greg Lewis return a punt again. I don't want to see J.R. Reid return a punt again. If Mahe is on the beach somewhere, I want the Eagles to trade for James Thrash or somebody. Coulda had Allen Rossum for a bag of beans. GRRRRR.

Denver Broncos 15 at Buffalo Bills 14

Doug Farrar: Bills rookie RB Marshawn Lynch looked good on an early chip on Ian Gold. Then, he was completely puzzled in blitz pickup on D. J. Williams for Denver's first sack. End of drive No. 1. Too bad, because Roscoe Parrish flew by about six defenders on a little bubble screen on that drive. Nice play. There's quick and there's fast, and Parrish is definitely both.

Shanahan called a Michael Vick Memorial spread option from Cutler to Travis Henry with the Broncos at their own goal line. Good call and a 33-yard gain. I wanna see Shanny call the Statue of Liberty, though. Then I'll be impressed.

More Parrish. He was freaky-deaky on a 74-yard punt return touchdown following Denver's first drive. I didn't get to see the Bills a lot last year, but he looks like a very interesting situational option. Since he's five feet tall, maybe they should just throw him 50 screens and he can lead the NFL in yards after catch by 1,000 yards. He just blows by traffic.

Bill Barnwell: Then Peerless Price would have nothing to do.

Doug Farrar: The Broncos had better stop thinking of Paul Posluszny as rookie meat. He's pinned to Henry, filling holes, not over-pursuing (except, quite notably, on the spread option play). Right where he should be most of the time. If there's one thing I take away from the preseason as an indicator, it's rookie performance. Last year, it was Seattle guard Rob Sims who made an impression, and this year, "Poz" has really stood out. He looks to continue that in the regular season.

New Denverite Simeon Rice broke up a Losman pass to end a second-quarter drive as left tackle Jason Peters did the "Who, me?" dance.

Halfway through the second quarter, Gus Johnson and Randy Cross start talking about Jay Cutler's "swagger." While I take a minute to look up his Swagger Index, I eagerly await similar references to gunslingers and riverboat gamblers, and I want Gus and Randy to tell me that Jay's just havin' fun out there.

Bill Barnwell: You should have seen Phil Simms talk about Wes Welker's similarity to Wayne Chrebet and how he's not afraid to go over the middle.

Doug Farrar: Well, here's some textbook smash-mouth football. 4:03 left in the first half, and the Bills have a fourth-and-1 from the Denver 29. Guard Jason Whittle comes in as a fullback, heads over left tackle, and Lynch follows him. D.J. Williams hits Lynch so hard that you can see Lynch's helmet fly backward ten yards. Lynch just kept moving and got the first down. Yikes -- that's just how George Halas drew it up 50 years ago.

It might be a bit early to bury Denver's defensive line with the same old jokes. Elvis Dumervil tipped and intercepted a Losman pass at the end of the first half, ending the second of two horrible drives for Buffalo in which they appear to have rented Scott Linehan's End Zone Force Field.

Also, Jay Cutler might be the best pure thrower off the back foot I've ever seen. I'm serious. If we ever chart DVOA off the back foot, Cutler's would be off the hook. I've seen at least three long completions in that fashion -- perfect rainbows right in the receivers' arms.

Denver's Domenik Hixon and Buffalo's Kevin Everett collided in the opening kickoff of the second half, and Everett, a second-year tight end from Miami, went down like he'd been shot. The ambulance came on the field quickly, and the last I heard (per FOX's Jay Glazer) was that Everett sustained a spinal injury and was being rushed into emergency surgery. All we can do is to hope and pray for the best possible news. It wasn't very pretty on the field.

Simeon Rice is looking really good. The Bills tried an end-around to Parrish in the third quarter. Parrish went from right to left, faced Rice, tried to put on the moves, and nothing doing. Takedown two yards into the backfield.

Lynch also looking fine in the Buffalo backfield as Peters and center Melvin Fowler pull left on a Power Sweep that Lombardi would be proud of. He pretty much defined Buffalo's second touchdown drive.

J.P. Losman threw a 60-yard incomplete bomb to Lee Evans on a third-and-5 with the Bills up by two and less than three minutes left in the game after Jason Elam missed a late fourth-quarter field goal. Buffalo punted, was sent back 10 yards with a holding penalty, punted again, Denver got the ball at their own 34 with two timeouts and the two-minute warning left. This ought to be good.

OK, never mind. Cutler sees Losman's dumb play and raises him dumber with a reverse pass/live ball brainfart under pressure that had Selvin Young desperately batting the ball out of bounds. Cutler converted the fourth-and-2 with a nice run, completion to Walker, and I'm wondering if he might not just pull this off. Walker again. Spike. Blown spread option play goes nowhere. Walker again. Tick, tick, tick ... field goal unit on ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... BOOM! Elam makes the 42-yarder with no time left.

Damn, what an entertaining game. I have no idea how the field goal unit got in there so fast.

Russell Levine: I can't believe Denver managed to kick the game-winner by rushing the field-goal team on the field with a running clock and about 12 seconds left when the previous play ended. Impressive execution, and a crushing loss for Buffalo.

Ned Macey: Impressive execution by Denver, but how did they get in that position? The Broncos run some sort of option play or pitch play or something that backfires and wastes enormous time. I didn't realize they were out of timeouts, but playing for the 50-yarder, which they were doing there, is absurd. Kudos to the special teams coach, but that could be Keep Chopping Wood on Shanahan if they hadn't gotten it off.

Vince Verhei: It got somewhat lost in the chaos at the end of the game, but Denver's pass defense had a phenomenal day, holding the Bills to just 97 yards on 14 completions. Yes, that is 6.9 yards per completion. The Bly-Bailey combo gets an A+ after one game.

Doug Farrar: Indeed -- you'd have to think there was something about Denver's secondary behind Losman's decision to throw a bunch of four-yard outs.

Kansas City Chiefs 3 at Houston Texans 20

Bill Barnwell: Eddie Kennison pulled a hammy in the Chiefs game on the first series. Oh, is that offense doomed.

Vince Verhei: I didn't see a ton of this game, but I did see Matt Schaub throw a brutal, inexcusable interception, a lame duck of a pass to a well covered receiver in the end zone. Also, so far this season, Mario Williams has more touchdowns than Reggie Bush.

Tennessee Titans 13 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Michael David Smith: Jags-Titans appears to be the only game not in HD. Anyone know why?

Bill Barnwell: The Jaguars' emergency quarterback this week is actually the guy who runs the HD truck.

Michael David Smith: It's certainly not Garrard's fault that Chris Brown has run wild on the Jags' D, but I didn't see anything from him that made me think it was smart to cut Leftwich.

Aaron Schatz: Mike, are you watching that game? What the hell happened to the Jags' run defense? That was the one aspect of that team that stayed consistent for most of last season, and it completely imploded today. Only one game, but the Jags certainly get to be the early leader for the "every year the FO projection system loves some team that totally self-destructs" award, following the 2005 Eagles and 2006 Seahawks...

Vince Verhei: I only saw the highlights of this one, but a lot of those highlights were Chris Brown runs. I saw a few plays where it looked like the Jags had linebackers or safeties in position to make tackles, but they just stood there and didn't react as Brown ran by them. Gee, I wonder if there was an unusual coaching decision made this week that may have distracted the team and hurt their morale?

New England Patriots 38 at New York Jets 14

Patrick Laverty: New England's first drive looks like 7-on-7 drills. Brady and Maroney are picking the Jets' defense apart at will. And have you seen those YouTube videos of basketball players crossing over and just breaking the defenders' ankles? That was Randy Moss off the line on his first reception. I fell off my couch laughing.

Will Carroll: I'm not sure that Brady has enough time back there. Good lord, he had about six minutes in the pocket and I didn't think the fake was that good. The Jets just have no rush today and can't figure out if it's the Pats' line or the Jets' rush.

Bill Barnwell: It's both, but I (and Phil Simms) thought the fake was pretty good. The Jets don't get a lot of pass pressure with their DL and are hesitating on blitzing because Welker's destroying them underneath, which means more time for Brady to find the speed merchants downfield.

Welker returned the second punt, so that bit about him not returning punts can get edited out. Jets have pulled out two consecutive fraidy-cat punts.

Justin Miller absolutely cannot cover Randy Moss. Moss broke his ankles off the line in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, Miller was afraid to commit to jamming him and Moss just pushed him aside and ran right by him for 30 yards.

Will Carroll: Just wondering, after watching Randy Moss run by Justin Miller ... if you've got a big wideout and are going to have safety help over the top, why not jam with a linebacker?

Laurence Maroney has yet to lower his shoulder and hit someone. He's scared, and my late pick of Sammy Morris is looking good.

Bill Barnwell: Jarvis Green had a really nice play on a first-down sack of Pennington inside two minutes -- the pocket collapsed and Green anticipated where Pennington's scramble was going to be and ran to the spot where Pennington was going to as opposed to where he was coming from.

Ellis Hobbs just ran the second half kickoff back for a 108-yard touchdown, the longest kick return in NFL history. I know this will sound strange, but that's not a record you should be trying to set.

Aaron Schatz: The Ellis Hobbs touchdown was fun but he never, ever should have run that thing out of the end zone. He outran Justin McCareins at the 10, then David Bowens -- our Mr. Perfect, alas -- missed a tackle at the 20, and then he was gone.

They ran a graphic after the Hobbs touchdown that was truly one of those stupid, pointless graphics that the TV guys specialize in. It said:

PATRIOTS RETURN TOUCHDOWNS
2001-2004: 25 (tied most in NFL)
2005-2006: 3 (fewest in NFL)

"Return touchdowns?" In other words, we're adding together punt returns, kick returns, interception returns, fumble returns, and the occasional missed field goal returns where the New York Giants fall asleep and forget that Devin Hester plays for the other team. We're judging a team here on five different stats which are basically unrelated and heavily dependent on random chance. OK, then.

Bill Barnwell: Pennington's hurt. Green sacked him and his leg buckled. Pennington got up and tried to walk it off twice but was unable to. He limped off with help.

Ben Riley: And at 2:45 pm EST on Sept. 9, 2007, the Kellen Clemens era begins.

Will Carroll: Anyone draft Kellen Clemens? Something looked like it tore in Pennington's ankle on that play. Just a nasty injury and hopping off the field? I have no idea what Pennington was thinking. It's OK to just lay there after getting hit like that.

Russell Levine: Pennington's coming back in. Unbelievable. Nice to see the Jets fans are in midseason form, cheering lustily as Pennington crumpled to the turf.

Bill Moore: There was a collective gasp when Pennington was obviously hurt. The cheer came only when Clemens came trotting on the field. Simms and Nance chastised the reaction of the crowds' reaction, which I didn't think was fair. I don't believe there was any cheering of a downed injured player, something I have seen in other stadiums before. A lot of Jets fans want to see Clemens in there, and it goes with my preseason prediction that he will become New York's favorite Clemens by midseason. However, as a side note, I would have liked to have seen the crowd reaction when Pennington came back in, by CBS was on commercial and didn't replay.

Bill Barnwell: The Jets' offensive line is not really having a good game. The run has been nonexistent and Brandon Moore in particular has looked iffy in pass protection. Green's sack was up against D'Brickashaw Ferguson, but it was a long play (Pennington was back for about five seconds) and Pennington took a really deep drop.

Cotchery, on the other hand, is really impressing me. He isn't the deep threat he was last year against New England (well, not yet), but he's looked really good going over the middle beating the Patriots safeties and linebackers in both zone and man.

Will Carroll: Does the game charting time the amount of time the QB is in the pocket? Tom Brady is able to microwave a burrito back there before making a throw.

Aaron Schatz: The correct line is, "Tom Brady looks like he is able to crochet his son a new baby blanket before making a throw."

No, we don't chart time in pocket, because trying to get an armada of volunteers to start and stop their stopwatches in a consistent fashion would be ludicrous. I would love to track time in pocket, but it ain't gonna happen.

The pass protection for Brady is incredible, but don't forget that part of the pass protection is the fact that the Jets, yet again, are rushing only three guys on a good percentage of downs, just like they did last year. However, the Jets' defense is doing a better job of stopping the run compared to 2006. Also, when the Pats went on a long time-eating drive in the fourth quarter, Maroney was having no problems lowering his shoulder and taking guys on.

The weak guy I've noticed today on the Jets offensive line is Anthony Clement, the right tackle, who has been dominated on almost every run play, with the notable exception of Thomas Jones' first (only?) double-digit run of the day.

Aaron Schatz: Does anyone know if Randy Moss is Omega Psi Phi? I think the thing he did with his hands after his first touchdown was the Omega Psi Phi "Q-Dog" move.

Ben Riley: Unanswerable girlfriend question No. 1: "Why is Randy Moss doing that bird thing? Does he think he's an eagle?"

Will Carroll: My usual answer to this is something just slightly off: "No, he's called The Osprey."

Sean McCormick: Remember when John Abraham used to fly by Matt Light and blindside Tom Brady at least once a game? Good times. Now the Jets either rush three or rush seven and neither gets any pressure at all. While the Patriots were dominant in all facets of the game, the biggest issue was the total inability of New York to generate pressure. Brady had an unconscionable amount of time to throw. Not to take anything away from his performance, but any competent NFL quarterback would have had a huge day.

Looking for a bright spot as a Jets' fan? Look no further than the play of Darrelle Revis. Revis started off on Randy Moss, and he did a good enough job that most of the throws went to Wes Welker. Revis than switched over to Welker and shut him down for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, you can't play a shell game when you have one viable corner and the other team has three viable receivers, so as soon as Revis went off Moss, Moss promptly exploded.

Bill Moore: Gone unnoticed in the Patriots romp was one player who potentially lost his 'starting' job. Matt Cassel, whose job is basically to ask Brady how he likes his coffee (reprising his role from USC), does have one First Team responsibility: holder. He Tony-Romo'd a field-goal snap, and did not fill that role later in the game. New punter Hanson filled in. In fact, when it came time to kneel, rookie quarterback Matt Gutierrez did the actual kneel with Cassel nowhere to be seen. Even in a 38-14 game, one can end up in Belichick's doghouse.

Carolina Panthers 27 at St. Louis Rams 13

Ryan Wilson: Chris Mortensen reports that the Panthers are making Dwayne Jarrett inactive because of performance. I mentioned this to MDS in an earlier e-mail, but Jarrett could be the latest example of why tall wideouts, in general, are overrated.

Bill Barnwell: Pac-10 wideouts in general tend to be busts more often than any other conference's wideouts. The thing is that they play in a conference where teams score more points than any other in football, from what I can tell. The result is inflated scoring.

Doug Farrar: Ah yes, the "Reggie Williams Rule."

Ben Riley: If your favorite team plays in the NFC West, it's a little disconcerting to see converted DT Adam Carriker driving the Panthers' right guard two yards backwards, then shed the same blocker to tackle DeShaun Foster in the backfield. Carriker is going to be a force.

Doug Farrar: On Adrian Peterson's first preseason run, Carriker just nuked him. And I'm trying not to project Chris Gray and Shaun Alexander into the sequence you just described.

Ben Riley: Those who bucked the conventional wisdom and took Frank Gore over Steven Jackson are feeling fantasy schadenfreude at Jackson's 50-yard, two-fumble performance thus far.

Ned Macey: The real problem for Jackson is going to be the injury to Orlando Pace. His left shoulder, and he's out at least for today. Rams offense has stagnated since then. Bulger just got killed by Jenkins (pass got away but legal hit). Bulger proceeded to miss Bruce by four yards on his next attempt, clearly concerned about his backside.

The Rams miss Kevin Curtis and/or Shaun McDonald with Drew Bennett injured. Dante Hall is the third receiver, and the Panthers played a great deal of coverage. That bracketed Holt and Bruce and left Hall on the receiving end of a lot of attempts. Not what he was brought in for. What he was brought in for was a long kick return that set up the Rams' sole second-half score so far (midway through the fourth).

Doug Farrar: And when we wrote about injury luck and regression in the St. Louis chapter of the book, this is what we meant. It gets worse for the Rams. Per Jay Glazer of FOX, Orlando Pace may be out for the year.

Ned Macey: It really is too bad for the Rams. It was night and day for them after Pace went out. Remember Bulger got dumped like seven times by the Panthers last year with Pace out. This year, the offensive line was controlling the line of scrimmage early, and all the problems were coming over center or right guard. Without Pace, they just had nothing.

Atlanta Falcons 3 at Minnesota Vikings 24

Vince Verhei: Joey Harrington and Tarvaris Jackson are putting on an amateur hour quarterback competition in Minnesota. Harrington has thrown, I think, one pass ten yards or more downfield here late in the fourth quarter. Minnesota has returned two picks for touchdowns. One was thrown right into the hands of Kevin Williams. The other was thrown right into the hands of Michael Jenkins, who dropped the ball and watched it bounce into the hands of Antoine Winfield.

Jackson, meanwhile, has just barely avoided disaster. My favorite moment was when he was fighting off a sack and just lobbed the ball backward over his shoulder. The ball landed about eight yards downfield, ten yards from the sideline but fortunately for him there was no defender in the area. I'd have benched him immediately. His numbers will look better than he played because he did manage to get a swing pass to Adrian Peterson, who scrambled 60 yards for a touchdown.

Chicago Bears 3 at San Diego Chargers 14

Aaron Schatz: The early leader for "most blatantly obvious offensive pass interference of the year" is Vincent Jackson, who basically pulled Charles Tillman down by the back of his jersey to prevent an end-zone interception. Plaxico Burress still has 16 games to take the title away, though, and you just know he will eventually.

Antonio Gates does not want to hear about your "Chicago has the No. 1 DVOA against tight ends" comments.

For anyone who doesn't remember the San Diego-Pittsburgh game last year, that's what the San Diego-Chicago game is looking like right now. LaDainian Tomlinson may be the best back in the league, but he's not immune to the power of the opposing defense. The guy has no holes to run through whatsoever. Eight carries, THREE yards.

Bill Barnwell: San Diego's offense has not looked good so far. Even beyond the Rivers interception on an ugly, forced throw, the offensive line is struggling to keep him upright. Grossman doesn't look much better, but the Bears offensive line has opened up holes to run through for Benson.

The Chargers new inside linebackers look better than last year's models. They're pursuing well inside and wrapping up on Benson, who's fumbled once and been close a couple other times.

Big talking point for the game has been Tommie Harris, who's not only been jumping the snap count, but on goal-to-go from the two, jumped the snap and forced a fumble before Rivers even touched the ball. If Norv Turner's such a great quarterback coach, he can't give Philip Rivers some instructions on how to modify his cadence to throw Harris off?

Aaron Schatz: Yes, the biggest part of this play is that the instant replay sure made it look like Harris was not just jumping the count, but plain offside on this play, and the refs missed it, and that's not a reviewable play. Rivers was really angry at the refs.

Bill Barnwell: Another weird punt today. Scifres hit one of the Bears in the back with one and the Chargers recovered. They draw Ogunleye offsides on first down, give the yardage back with 12 men in the huddle, and after they stall out, Tomlinson rolls out and hits Gates for a touchdown. LaDainian Tomlinson might have better footwork than Philip Rivers.

Aaron Schatz: One game, and Tomlinson has already matched his KUBIAK passing projection. Of course, he's the only running back who even HAD a KUBIAK passing projection.

Bill Barnwell: (The other) Adrian Peterson runs for 11 on third-and-10, then runs over a Chargers linebacker on first down ... and then fumbles the ball away on second down. Oh well.

Aaron Schatz: Notice that with the Chargers running out the clock at the end of the game, they switched from Tomlinson to Turner. That's how they keep Tomlinson healthy and under 370 carries each year.

Vince Verhei: Actually, what I noticed was that with six minutes to go and ahead by two scores, with a defense that had surrendered three points all day, Norv Turner ran on first down, then passed on second AND third down. Both passes were complete, and they picked up a first down and never gave the ball back, so he did get lucky. But that was still some horrendous play-calling.

Mike Tanier: I am the first guy to trash Norvilicious, but I don't have a problem with the Chargers throwing the ball a few times with the score 14-3 and six minutes left. That's too early in the close game to go into turtle mode, and while I didn't scrutinize the plays, I am sure they were facing a stacked box.

Sean McCormick: Is Phillip Rivers tipping the snap count? The Bears must have seen something on tape, because they are coming off the snap quicker than I've ever seen a defensive line play. They are through the offensive line and in the backfield on nearly every play. At one point, Tommie Harris pulled a Madden "No F-in' way" move and sacked Rivers ... on a running play. Chicago lost because their offense kept on turning the ball over (the only surprise is that Grossman wasn't the primary culprit), but their defense played as impressive a game as you will see all year.

Bill Moore: Rex Grossman may have numerous turnovers this season, but Bernard Berrian owes him one back. After dropping a few balls, Berrian just failed to run his route -- going through the motions, if you may -- and Grossman threw the ball his way. Berrian had no idea, and the ball was easily picked off.

New addition Adam Archuleta had the unenviable task of covering Antonio Gates. I'll be interested in seeing the charting data, as some of Gates' bigger gains came within holes in the zone. After a very disappointing season in Washington, the once hard-hitting Ram has something to prove in Chicago this year. I thought he did an admirable job.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 at Seattle Seahawks 20

Doug Farrar: Lofa Tatupu ended Tampa Bay's first drive with a hit on Cadillac Williams on a quick pass over the middle from Garcia. Williams fumbled the ball and Julian Peterson recovered at midfield. First Seattle play was Shaun Alexander up the middle for a pfffffft-yard gain, second down featured the first Mack Strong dropped pass of the season (there was a small, dignified ceremony), and third down was delayed by a timeout as the play clock ran down. Third down: Hasselbeck pass over the middle to D.J. Hackett broken up by Ronde Barber. Three plays, one yard. Gosh, it's 2006 all over again!

Stuart Fraser: So, Cadillac Williams fumbles on the fourth play from scrimmage, the Seahawks recover and waste a timeout in the process of going three and out. On the punt, the returner runs into his own blocking team. I'm wondering if I clicked on Lions/Raiders instead.

Doug Farrar: Memo to all quarterbacks playing Seattle's secondary: Go up top. Jeff "Alleged Noodle Arm" Garcia just heaved one in the air, and Joey Galloway toasted Kelly Jennings, who was on Gilligan's Island with no safety help.

Stuart Fraser: On Tampa Bay's next possession, they line up trips right, Ike Hilliard gets completely lost in the shuffle, runs right by (I think) Lofa Tatupu who ignores him, pass complete, first down and lots. Seattle looks ... horrible, frankly.

Doug Farrar: Marcus Trufant deflected a long third down pass to Galloway downfield with about two minutes left in the first quarter, but Leroy Hill was flagged for roughing the passer. I also saw Deon Grant sniff out an end-around to Michael Clayton, which is the first time in a long time I haven't seen the Seahawks fall blindly for a misdirection. The Seahawks are very lucky to be down only six points after the first quarter. The Buccaneers have outgained them 126-15, and are owning them in time of possession.

The offense looks very flinchy through the first quarter. It seems that there's not any confidence in the offensive line, because everything is either a quick toss from Hasselbeck, or Alexander for one inch and a cloud of nothing. This offense has a lot of plays that take time to develop. Allie Sherman used to say about the screen: "It's like Novocain: You have to wait for it to take effect." This isn't a quick offense from a play development standpoint, though the tempo is quick from play to play.

Walter Jones just stoned Gaines Adams with one hand. Welcome to the NFL, kid.

Seattle's third drive sees some momentum based on a Hasselbeck run for a first down. But on the aborted flea-flicker that lost them ten yards, both Alexander and Jones were caught unaware, and safety Jermaine Phillips just blazed through for the sack. Maybe there's something to that "Oh my God, our plays will die if we don't run them in milliseconds" frame of mind.

Another Lofa Play, when he ended Tampa Bay's drive halfway through the second quarter by moving in on Ike Hilliard and stopping him a yard short of the first down. He seems like he's playing more freely this season -- not bunched up waiting to shed blockers so much.

Two completed passes to Mack Strong on the following drive negated by an Alexander bobble on second-and-7, a false start penalty on Marcus Pollard, and ... a big ol' bomb to Bobby Engram, a 49-yarder which takes Seattle to the Tampa Bay 7. From there, it's: bad pass to Unoccupied Area, bad pass to Deion Branch in the end zone, Alexander goes nowhere on third-and-goal. The drive ends with a Josh Brown gimme field goal -- their first points of the 2007 season, 27 minutes into the game.

If DeShaun Foster was an entire offense, he'd be this one.

Nate Burleson's long punt return puts the Seahawks back in the red zone, and Alexander takes advantage with a minute remaining. Nice cutback run for a touchdown from six yards out ... at least until the booth review disclosed that Alexander's shin was down before the ball crossed the plane. Fortunately, all of Shaun made it across the goal line on the next play.

Russell Levine: Derrick Brooks can still play, and Tampa Bay does have a lot more energy than they nearly all year, when they were just morose most of the time. I also like Tanard Jackson at safety. He can tackle, which is something they've lacked back there for a few years.

Great advertisement for the NFL's new effort to protect players: We see a closeup of Jeff Garcia on the sidelines sniffing smelling salts just before he puts his helmet on and jogs back onto the field.

Stuart Fraser: Jon Gruden's clock management approached Andy Reid levels at the halftime there. The Bucs got the ball with about a minute left on the clock and two timeouts remaining. Naturally, Gruden called repeated runs up the middle, and the clock ran out. I have no idea what he was thinking.

Ben Riley: Greg Spires just ran right around Walter Jones and sent Hasselbeck to the turf. I am officially concerned.

Good third-quarter defensive series for the Seahawks. On first-and-10 from their own seven-yard line, Lofa Tatupu demolishes Cadillac Williams, sending him to the locker room. On second down, Patrick Kerney absolutely leveled Jeff Garcia for a loss. On third, Garcia was pressured and forced to throw pointlessly over a triple-covered Ike Hilliard.

Nate Burleson just fumbled after making a nice reception. He also dropped a first-down pass earlier today. The Seahawks better hope D.J. Hackett's injury isn't serious.

Doug Farrar: Gotta love the fourth-down play with 3:46 left in the third quarter. Bucs are all set to punt, Larry Nemmers rules the play dead, and decides that because of a "large whistle" in the stands which apparently confused the punter, the down will be replayed. I expect a strongly-worded memo from the league office about this -- perhaps the establishment of a new anti-whistle rule.

Bill Barnwell: I just have this image in my head of ten people pulling out a papier-mache whistle and all blowing at once.

Doug Farrar: My only concern is that somehow, someway, the Giants are going to get an extra home game out of this.

After some very iffy early results, it appears that the idea of throwing to your running backs is one that might have a future in Seattle. Maurice Morris' fourth-quarter TD was a nice matchup: one-on-one with Derrick Brooks and a great catch by Seattle's backup running back.

Tampa Bay had a shot to get back in this game with a late fourth-quarter drive, but ex-Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens fumbled the ball on what was his only action of the game. The fumble was overruled by a roughing the passer penalty on Rocky Bernard, but the Bucs coughed it up again two plays later when RB Earnest Graham was nailed by Lofa Tatupu. If I have a Horse Trailer award thingy to give for this game, Lofa's getting it.

Detroit Lions 36 at Oakland Raiders 21

Ryan Wilson: I was just about to write how good Jon Kitna looked on an early first-quarter drive, with the offensive line giving him time, and finding the open receiver. And then he threw a pass right to Kirk Morrison in the end zone. Couldn't have been a worse pick.

Ned Macey: Just when I start to think maybe the Lions might surprise ... They drive down the field, moving at will, with wide open receivers, only to have Kitna throw a pick in the end zone.

By the way, Calvin Johnson is just an amazing physical specimen, but Fabian Washington played him well on a jump ball in the end zone.

Michael David Smith: It's 10-0 Lions. I'm not prepared to say the Lions are good, but I am prepared to say the Raiders are bad.

Stuart Fraser: Switched to DET-OAK in time to see Jon Kitna have approximately ten seconds to pick out a receiver in the end zone. Which, unsurprisingly, he manages.

The Lions, up 26-21, then go for two, get a false start, and for some reason still go for two thereafter. Surely a near-certainty of 27-21 is better than a small chance of 28-21 at that point, even if it's somewhat unlikely the Raiders are going to kick two field goals ...

Ben Riley: There will be some good quotes in TWIQ this week from Tatum Bell, who was pretty angry when he heard that Oakland named its fumble recovery drill "the Tatum Bell drill." Bell just scored in garbage time and then taunted the drunken hooligans in the Black Hole. I'm looking forward to the post-game press conference.

Mike Tanier: Tatum Bell shouldn't be so mad. We've been calling spell-checking "Tanier-proofing" for years around here, and I never get upset.

New York Giants 35 at Dallas Cowboys 45

Bill Barnwell: The Cowboys have been using Marion Barber on passing downs and Julius Jones on rushing downs.

Chris Snee has looked bad so far. He got to the second level on a Ward sweep, but totally failed to seal a linebacker from heading outside which cost the Giants a first down; then, on a third-and-7, he was left standing around looking as the Cowboys sent four.

Romo's still making mistakes. He forced a throw on a smoke play to Owens where McQuarters was a yard off the line and there was traffic all around.

Burress' touchdown was set up by Shockey, who ran a great out just beyond the linebackers (who were in zone), attracting the safety just as Burress cut in for his slant. Roy Williams was too close to the line of scrimmage and couldn't catch up to Burress. Great job by them both, actually.

Antonio Pierce, who's usually a pretty sure tackler, totally whiffed on Barber on his touchdown run. Totally out of character for him.

Before his injury, Mathias Kiwanuka just did not yet have the awareness to drop back in coverage. I understand that he's a DL playing LB, but the Cowboys are just abusing him, Witten in particular.

Really, I can't emphasize how bad Snee has been tonight. A disaster game. Everyone else on the line, Diehl included, has been good, though. Manning's also looked pretty impressive -- probably because the line is keeping guys off him, but his footwork looks good and he hasn't aired out any of his throws.

Prediction: The Giants shift Mathias Kiwanuka back to DE, if not by the end of the season, at the start of the next. He's absolutely lost in pass coverage and while he's a good athlete, he doesn't appear to be a great football player (including the myriad mistakes I saw him make in 2006). He totally blew contain on the Romo touchdown, overpursuing and leaving Romo a giant gap to cut through.

Eli's out with a right (throwing) shoulder injury of some nature. Didn't see an obvious traumatic incident. Lorenzen is in. Lawrence Tynes' kickoffs have been atrocious tonight. Absolutely atrocious. Each one has skipped. The Giants' kick coverage has been abysmal too.

Romo's still making the mistakes Jaws said he was. He forced a slant right into Gibril Wilson for a pick.

Aaron Schatz: My feeling coming out of the Cowboys-Giants game was not that I just saw two great all-around offenses led by two star quarterbacks. My feeling was that I saw some very talented wide receivers and tight ends taking advantage of some very flawed defenses, enough to overcome some bad throws, combined with a whole lot of sloppy special teams play. Oh, and Marion Barber still rules.

(M)ad Men

Aaron Schatz: The Nike commercial with Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson is the early leader for "best commercial of the year." The Heineken techno keg-chick is the early leader for "most annoying commercial of the year," followed closely by "Viva Viagra."

Michael David Smith: Michael Mann directed that commercial.

Bill Barnwell: Who is No. 4 in the Nike commercial from the Steelers who's supposed to be tackling Steven Jackson? Is there a goal line package where Jeff Reed comes onto the field? Is he wearing pants?

Mike Tanier: I was wondering about No. 4 too. He doesn't make a real good effort to get involved in the tackle, so maybe Jackson is returning kicks and he is the kicker.

Now, explain the M.C. Escher thing in Manning's brain.

Bill Moore: I was thinking the same thing on the Nike one, but I personally hate the ad that implies the truck is stopping the plane. No friggin' way! That plane slows down because the PLANE is using brakes, not the truck.

Posted by: admin on 10 Sep 2007

137 comments, Last at 15 Sep 2007, 4:27am by Pat

Comments

1
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:35am

Bad news: Jon Jansen is probably out for the year. I think Mike Pucillo is the backup. We’ll be testing that Washington depth early this year.

Pucillo isn't even a tackle. The backup tackles are Todd Wade and Stephon Heyer.

2
by Oh, Mathematics (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:35am

"The Eagles only lost this game because of three random, fluky, non-repeatable special teams plays."

...And yet they managed to repeat them! Greg Lewis very nearly muffed a third one... Can John Harbaugh PLEASE do double-duty for the secondary and special teams this season??

3
by LooseOnTheLead (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:36am

Re #1: And I forgot Jason Fabini.

4
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:40am

Oh the Bills...you have burned my soul yet again.

5
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:42am

Just one comment on Tarvaris Jackson's wacky over-the-shoulder throw-away. I don't know that it was so much "fortunuate" for him that nobody was there as much as he knew that nobody was there. From where I was watching, there didn't appear to be anybody in the area; rather than taking the sack, he chucked it into an area where nobody was. It was still lucky, but perhaps not as foolish as it appeared on TV.

6
by sam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:48am

It seemed to me that the Titans were running at #53 LB Pat Thomas, filling in for OLB Clint Ingram. When they ran to the other side (towards Daryl Smith), it seemed like they got a lot less yardage. Although, they did get quite a bit up the middle which is very strange. I also wonder how Reggie Nelson did while he was in the game. They SEEMED to do better when it was Sensabaugh/Nelson instead of Sammy Knight/Sensabaugh but since the broadcasters seem to have no idea that different people run in and out of the game... it was hard to tell.

7
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:52am

Would it be unprecedented in the DVOA era for the Bears to repeat or exceed last year's defensive performance? It's so frustrating to see the dominate like that, only to lose because of the offense.

Plus Dvoracek and Job (aka Mike Brown) may be out for the year. There seemed to be an unusual rash of serious injuries this week. Scary

8
by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:52am

Yes, get rid of that Heineken commercial. It's been annoying me since I watched a bunch of college football last week, and now I've seen it way too many times. And it doesn't even make sense.

9
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:53am

From Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

"In each of Reid's first eight seasons, the Eagles ranked higher than the Packers in the Dallas Morning News' annual special-teams rankings. The Packers finished 32nd in 2005 and '06, and not once in their five-game losing streak against the Eagles did they outpoint Philadelphia on special teams. At times, they got embarrassed.

After subpar showings the last two years, Reid permitted his only special-teams coach, John Harbaugh, to coach the secondary. In his place he promoted Rory Segrest, a one-year pro assistant.

Electing not to re-sign veteran punt returner Reno Mahe, Reid tried to give the job to young Jeremy Bloom. But after handling the returns all summer, Bloom was let go on the last cut and replaced by Lewis, a wide receiver with not a single punt return in four regular seasons for Philadelphia.

Reid's decision-making counterpart in Green Bay, Ted Thompson, gave special-teams considerations paramount importance both in the draft and roster deliberations."

Based on what was said in the discussion thread and above Reid seems to have taken a cavalier attitude toward his return game. I find that puzzling. Any background Eagles fans?

As for Green Bay, I think Reid did the Packers a favor by not running more in the second half. Philly gashed the Packers pretty well in the second quarter.

Two offensive linemen for GB were benched during the game. Jason Spitz was benched permanently in the middle of the third quarter and Colledge for two series. McCarthy was livid with the play of the interior line which was getting abused. Not that Clifton and Tauscher were any great shakes either.

Nick Collins has has two plus years to get a pair of hands and some ball awareness. It ain't happening. I think at some point the Packers need to cut bait. The guy looks great in the uniform and throws his body around but just does not make plays.

10
by rageon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:03pm

Can someone answer this for me, please: Why didn't Denver just spike the ball to give themselves time to set up for the field goal?

11
by MikeJ (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:03pm

Romo goes 15-24, 345 yards, 4 TD's passing and 1 rushing, and 1 INT and still gets no love? Geez, tough crowd. Sure he had a couple of misfires in the first half, but he also hit a lot of receivers in stride and did a good job of finding the guys that had single coverage. On the INT Wilson faked a blitz and then dropped off late, I don't think Romo forced it so much on that one as got fooled by a nice adjustment, it was pretty obvious that he never even saw Wilson.

12
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:05pm

Ned must have missed it when James Jones had the Eagles cb beaten but Favre overthrew him by 4 yards. And there were other guys open but Favre still doesn't trust guys outside of Driver and Franks. I was appalled at how often number 4 forced it to Franks when another receiver had a step on the defender. But Brett is big on "trust". And until a guy makes a few catches when he DOES get a chance Favre will look elsewhere.

Though it must have been tough yesterday getting much of an idea who is open when you have pressure in your face every other play. Geez the Eagles linemen were everywhere.......

13
by hooper (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:06pm

Just one word on the techno-keg chick:

I'd actually call that commercial a success but for one detail - at the very end, the middle chick blinks once. It happens right after the third chick emerges. If she hadn't blinked in the commercial, I would have given it a pass for detail.

Hey, something had to keep me entertained...

14
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:07pm

Based on what was said in the discussion thread and above Reid seems to have taken a cavalier attitude toward his return game. I find that puzzling. Any background Eagles fans?

The Eagles drafted Jeremy Bloom as KR/PR in 2006, but he missed that season on IR, and then did terribly in preseason. So they had a plan - it just didn't pan out, and they didn't have a backup.

15
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:09pm

Re: the "Return Touchdown" stats--Aaron, how did the announcers address this data? I find the stat interesting, and it could easily be used to talk about the factor of chance in football. I'm guessing they talked about it as something worth "judging" the team by?

16
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:10pm

David:

Thanks. My guess is that they are looking for a backup NOW.

Having sat through bad return guys I feel that pain.............

17
by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:10pm

12 - I saw that Favre/Jones play. I was wondering if Jones was a little slower on his stutter step than Favre expected him to be. It got him off the CB, but it seemed a little slow, and Favre threw the ball before the stutter step, didn't he?

18
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:11pm

Agreed on Kiwanuka- he looks absolutely lost in space. The Giants need to figure out a better solution than this, esp in a division with Witten, Cooley, and LJ Smith. I doubt he'd move back this year though, because Justin Tuck looks like the real deal at DE- he was the only Giant DL able to supply any pressure to Romo.

19
by Gerry (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:11pm

This makes two straight seasons where my Giants have started the year looking pathetic on third and long.

Granted, we only forced (by my count) just 8 third downs all game, with one coming on the second-to-last play as the Cowboys ran out the clock. But of the other 7 third down situations, all were 7+ to go. The results? 1 sack, 1 incomplete, 5 completions resulting in 2 TDs, 3 first downs, and one fourth-and-one which the Cowboys converted (by scoring a TD). That's just awful.

Last year to start the season, they forced 11 third-and-longs (5+ yards). 7 were completed for first down yardage. Two of the incompletes still led to points as they got FGs.

That is two-thirds of the time where we could not stop drives after forcing third-and-long. It's very hard to start a season well when doing that.

20
by South Carolina Beauty Queen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:13pm

In the Titans-Jag game, the Titans were pretty much running an option play with Young-the Titans OL was getting a great push and one LBer was going towards Young on that play. So I am not sure if the Titans have a great OL or just a great play that is going to work the first couple of weeks.

21
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:15pm

Hey, Vince, that was a terrible throw by Jackson, mostly because he waited too long to throw it away, but your description is misleading. Jackson threw it over his shoulder, and it landed ten yards fron the sideline, but that was because it was ten yards out of bounds. Once it was out Jackson's hands by a yard, there was no chance it was going to be intercepted, and you don't bench a guy in his third start because of one throw, no matter how bad, especially with the Brooks Bollinger in the wings, or Holcomb having been on the roster for a week.

The conventional wisdom is that the qbs sucked in this game, but as it is frequently the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. The 2nd interception returned for a t.d. on Harrington was 100% on the receiver, and on the first one, unless you are going to rip a qb every time he gets a ball batted near the line of scrimmage, you have to give Harrington a tinybit of slack. Yes, he threw the ball too low, but give some credit also; there's a reason why Kevin Williams is considered one of the best dts in the league. 95% of the time, a defensive tackle doesn't make that catch, and the pass simply gets recorded as incomplete. Harrington showed decent accuracy for most of the game, but his receivers suck for the most part, and his protection was not good. Atlanta's a bad football team, and Harrington is not the biggest problem.

As for Jackson, he was so-so, while once again his receivers stunk. The good news is that a Viking finally made an above average catch. The bad news was that it was Adrian Peterson, and not a wide receiver or tight end. If the standard for Jackson is going to be that completions only occur when the ball is perfectly thrown, and the receiver is not being covered, then Jackson is going to come up short. Yes, Jackson overthrew a deep pass where Williamson had two steps on the defender, but goodness, NFL receivers should at least occasionally make a catch when the ball is thrown to the wrong shoulder or when a defender makes contact immediately after the receiver has the ball touch his hands. Jackson is not the biggest problem with the Vikings offense.

On the unexpected bright side for Minnesota fans, the Vikings had a good pass rush from the defensive ends on many occasions, and the special teams didn't yield any big returns. If those trends continue, combined with decent o-line play and Peterson's obvious explosiveness, the Vikings should not have a terrible year, terrible being defined as six wins or less. Every win is a blessing, but we'll see if the defensive ends (in pass rushing) and special teams continue to hold their own.

22
by Adam Gretz (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:17pm

The Broncos didn't spike the ball because it was fourth down.

I once saw Rich Gannon spike the ball on fourth down in a game against the Steelers back in 2000...

23
by Glazius (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:18pm

It's hard to tell with the Browns, but Pittsburgh may have significantly improved its special teams this year.

Rossum might turn out to be a good return man, we'll have to see him in action a couple more times to be sure. Certainly Sepulveda did great things with his punts, but he generally had a short field. They were talking up the Browns' returner in previews but he didn't actually get to run anything back, and I don't think Sepulveda had a touchback on a punt either.

24
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:20pm

Pacifist, am I misremembering? Did not Jackson's wacky throw land out of bounds? If it landed in the field, then it was worse than I thought.

25
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:21pm

Re #11: Agreed on Romo. "Good job" is an understatement when you're averaging 14.375 YPA.

I'm coming to FO less than I used to, especially now that there is other good stats commentary out there. I still occasionally come here to see what these Giants and Eagles fans (disguised as objective analysts) have to say.

This post is pretty obvious. All Giants-centered commentary except for pointing out the two mistakes that Romo made all night. I'll take his stat line any day, especially for a young QB with less than 16 starts, rather than 4 years.

26
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:23pm

21. I'd add that the majority of the time, a DT that gets an interception like that isn't going to be able to run 50+ yards for a TD. This is the second long TD for Williams (he had something like a 70 yard return on a fumble recovery in 2004); he's a monster athlete, to be a big run-stuffing TD and be able to catch a ball and run with it.

The Viking pass rush was good, aided by some good blitzing. It helped, I'm sure, that Atlanta had no WRs to scare anybody in one-on-one coverage. But since that was the defense's biggest weakness last season, it's very encouraging to see a real pass rush.

27
by Pacifist Viking (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:26pm

24. I remember it landing close to the out-of-bounds line, but I can't remember whether it was in or out of bounds (I saw it from the very back row; seriously, the only thing behind me was an advertisement). But watching it from behind, it was clear that there were no defenders near to threaten it, and (I hope, anyway) Jackson saw that.

28
by rageon (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:26pm

#22 - thanks, I could have sworn it was 3rd down, rather than 4th, so that's why I was messed up. Sorry.

29
by cjfarls (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:26pm

Yes, as an OSU (Oregon State) alumn I disregarded FO and took Jackson over Gore in The 4th slot of my FF draft... sentiment and injury risk... yes, as of now I regret that tremendously. If Gore stays healthy this year, I may need to go on suicide watch... At least my Broncos won (even if ugly).

30
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:26pm

Hey, Badger, I only saw parts of the Packers game, mostly 2nd half action, and is it just me, or did Favre look as old as it appeared? I think he may be reaching the point all aging qbs get to, where the confidence starts to slide. All in all, though, Packers fans should be thrilled to have a one game lead in the division after one week.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:32pm

Yeah, Pacifist, the scary thing is that Kevin Williams' pass catching abilities may match that of the Vikings' receivers.

32
by jim m (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:35pm

Will - I'm pretty sure the ball landed out of bounds or right at the sideline. In any case it was as you described no where near a defender. He just waited to long to dump the play.

I thought Jackson's accuracy was really poor on one series (missed williamson long, wrong shouldered Rice on 25 yard side line pass forcing him out of bounds, and then he was late and wide on a rollout to the new TE - resulting in an interception). Other than that I thought he looked very poised. My only worry about Jackson is his accuracy - which seems below average, but not awful.

Robison looks like quite a find for the 4th round.

33
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:37pm

Re #25
Romo was 2/8 throwing the ball outside >5 yards downfield, and one of the completions was a 7 yard swing to Barber. The other completion was a TO TD, which was a very good throw. But most of the time, he missed and missed badly. Sure, Romo was successful. All he had to do was stand in the pocket and throw the ball down the middle of the field. Pardon me if I'm not hugely impressed by that. Of the two QBs in the SNF game, I was much more impressed by Eli, who had probably the best game I've ever seen from him.

Just for the record, I'm a Titans fan. My team won a close game I expected them to lose, and the QB did almost nothing to help them win (seriously, 2 completions over 10 yards?).

34
by CA (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:37pm

Re: “Worst lyrical couplets of the late 20th/early 21st century.�

I nominate "If I could grant you one wish/I'd wish you could see the way you kiss" from the opening of Hill's own (although not actually written by her) "The Way You Love Me." Not only is it embarrassingly hokey, but also it doesn't even make sense.

35
by Fnor (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:38pm

It's not enough that "Our Country" is back and being abused again, but apparently they can't find some other song to flog until our ears bleed.

36
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:38pm

re - the Hobbs kickoff return...

I remember a story from Bud Grant, after a Charlie West fielded a punt at about the 2 yard line, somehow avoided the initial rush and wound up taking it all the way for a touchdown that still stands as the Vikings' longest punt return (I think it was against the Redskins in '68). When he got to the sideline, Grant informed him that if he ever fielded another punt inside the ten again he would be cut the next day.

It wouldn't surprise me if Bellichek held similar sentiments on Hobbs' return. Because if he doesn't chew him out for it you know he's going to get it in his head that there is no kick he can't return...

37
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:40pm

Will:

I hesitate to respond only because folks like Pacifist and "packernation" are so adamant that Favre needs to be taken out back and shot for the good of all mankind anything I write will be derided, mocked and scorned as abject homerism.

But I will write something and accept the consequences.

As I wrote before the season Favre's ARM is fine. It isn't 1998 Favre but he can still throw with just about anyone. It's the legs that are the problem. And yesterday the legs held up. And I expect with the bye week coming around week six the rest will help and he should hold out until mid-November or so like he did last year. And then his legs will go, his technique has never been there so nothing available to compensate, and his game will collapse.

As for yesterday, BF has a long history of locking into certain guys as a fallback particularly when things get ugly. With the Eagles linemen in his face constantly Favre was looking for Driver (no surprise) and Franks (god help me). Period. When the play called for someone else as the primary BF would honor the play and get the ball to Ruvell Martin or James Jones. But it was a rare moment when he had much time to scan the field and give everyone an honest look.

Favre is on the cusp of the abyss. I suspect his body will keep him on the ledge for a few more games. But at some point he is going to crash.

And it's going to be ugly.

And sad. At least for some of us.......

38
by andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:43pm

In an interview after the game, Kevin Williams said the reason he was where he was when he got the interception was the Vikings were late to the line and the Falcons quicksnapped before he got set. So he was standing up and didn't even rush, just stayed standing up and made and jumped up when saw Harrington throw the ball. So if he'd been in position, he would not have been in the path of the ball.

Not to excuse Harrington,that pass had a very low trajectory, I know Kwill is pretty tall but it wasn't like he got it with his fingertips, it looked like the ball hit around his elbow. And given where he was, the ball had already travelled at leaast 5 yards when he blocked it and then caught it.

39
by James G (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:47pm

Re: Pac-10 wideouts

It does seem to be a little bit of a problem, especially when you consider J.J. Stokes, Freddie Mitchell, Keary Colbert, Reggie Williams, Mike Williams, R.Jay Soward, and even Keyshawn Johnson (decent career, but not worth #1 overall). OTOH, both Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh played in the Pac-10, and I'm not convinced the problem is any worse than the over-drafting of Florida wideouts (other than Darrell Jackson, which one has lived up to his hype from college?)

40
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:48pm

The NFC North's DTs are just incredible.

41
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:48pm

jim m, yes the long pass to Williamson was the worst in term of accuracy, but goodness, it sure would be nice if a Vikings receiver made a play on a less than perfectly thrown ball. The throw to Shiancoe had some mustard on it, and was slightly off target, but when a receiver has both shoulders turned to the qb, and the throw is going right at the receiver's shoulder pads, even the wrong one, the pass should be caught in the NFL. I think Rice is a good prospect, but that was another very completable pass by NFL standards.

Throw in drives being stalled when Chester Taylor dropped a pass that Jackson slightly underthrew while being rushed, and when Bobby Wade dropped a perfect pass because a db had the temerity to touch him right after the ball arrived, and Jackson didn't get a whole lot of help from any receiver not named Adrian Peterson. Oh, well, at least Williamson caught the balls that hit him in the hands.

42
by Len (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:50pm

Re: #33,

Dude, that's your perogative to not be impressed. Like I said, I'll take his stat line any day.

43
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:58pm

#22: The Gamebook says the play before was an 11-yard gain on 3-10, so the FG was on 1-10. Is the Gamebook wrong?

44
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:07pm

Oh, by the way? For all those who doubted it, yes, Randy Moss is still Randy Moss, absent recurring hamstring problems. If the Pats get Seymour and Harrison back, and Moss stays healthy, the AFC race this year is going to be especially intriguing. When Moss is on a bad team, without strong leadership, he really becomes a liability. That won't be a problem in New England.

45
by n0_j0 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:14pm

DGL:
What the announcers were saying is that the Broncos weren't sure if it was a first down, and really couldn't take the time to find out. In their minds, it was fourth down (and if it wasn't measured, I don't know if the refs ever decided what down it really was).

46
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:15pm

Re #42
I'm not arguing his stat line. I'm arguing his ability to put up, if not the same stat line, a good one for the rest of the year. See, e.g., Sexxy Rexxy, 2006 games 1-4 v. rest of year.

Re #43
I was watching and I'm pretty sure Gamebook is right-the Broncos had the chance to spike it and chose to run the FG team on instead.

The flipside, though, is that the play was, IIRC, a quick slant and while Walker would get a couple yards, there's no guarantee he'd get the 10 necessary to get the 1D. Rather than wait to see if they got the 1D or not, the Broncos chose to just run the FG team on the field. Obviously, it worked, and because there wouldn't necessarily have been a better alternative, I won't really criticize Shanny for doing it the way he did it.

47
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:16pm

Can anyone who saw the game explain why Deion Branch was invisible stat-wise in the Tampa@Seattle game?

48
by Phil (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:17pm

"New Kids on the Block had a couple of hits/Chinese food makes me sick"

49
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:18pm

Re 42-

Giants fans are discounting Romo for the same reason Eagles fans were discounting Eli's huge comeback against them last year- "what's so hard about hitting wide open recievers?" It's a tricky argument to make- our defense is terrible, so you get no credit for beating us.

And for the record- I think Eli played a better game than Romo- more presure, weaker running game, tougher defense, tighter-covered recievers, playing from behind- but Romo played a helluva game as well. Wouldn't surprise me to see them 1-2 in PAR.

and Dallas' line was just amazing- Romo had Brady-esque time to throw.

50
by mrh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:19pm

Has Charlie Frye broken the record for the fastest benching in the NFL? 7:08 remaining in the second quarter, I think.

Brunell replaced Ramsey at 9:23 of the 2nd qtr in the 2005 opener. Ramsey was apparently shaken up or hurt at the end of the previous Redskins possession, but my memory is that this was widely regarded as an excuse for Gibbs to do what he intended to do all along, and that is bench Ramsey.

Tynes' was a mediocre FG kicker (although it's not like Medlock is reliable) but he was terrible at kickoffs with the Chiefs.

51
by Disco Stu (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:25pm

What's the latest on Vernand Morency? GB needs him back, cuz Brandon Jackson did not look like a starting-quality NFL back. Whether Morency is is another question, but he's got to be better than Jackson.

52
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:25pm

Stuart's point about the two-point conversion came into play on the Lions' next drive: Hanson's field goal gave the Lions a one-possession, eight-point lead, rather than a two-possession, nine-point lead. (I agreed with the initial decision, but wasn't so sure after the penalty.)

Granted, it was the Raiders offense they were facing, but golly, it's like the Lions have a defensive line after all. That DVOA projection makes more sense now than it did when I first saw it ...

By the way, for anyone who has DirecTV and does not have the SuperFan package, it's worth it. Red Zone channel + HD = crack. I had a friend over to watch the early games - she's a Favre fan, so we were watching the Packers on local TV. At halftime, we switched to the Red Zone, and didn't change again until the early games were over (except to check on Everett). We didn't even bother to go back to Fox. Constant action, no commercials, pointed commentary (I think something about a cheap shot by Hines Ward ...).

Plus you get the Sunday Ticket games in HD, which means you can actually read the numbers on players' backs. (Side note: Atari Bigby returns confusion to charting the Packers' defense. Is that Harris or Bigby?)

Agree with Nate. The QB position might be a disaster area, but DT isn't so bad.

53
by Manteo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:25pm

47 - Branch attributed it to the Tampa 2 taking away Seattle's outside receivers. Other than a big play to Engram and a couple decent catches by Burleson, it was the running backs that carried Seattle's offense yesterday. It's interesting to see Holmgren experimenting with more passes to the RBs, too.

54
by Bob P (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:26pm

I have to vent about this somewhere, and I think this is the place.

Full disclosure: I'm a Jets fan and have been since they were the Titans. Full disclosure part two: the reputation Jets fans have is well deserved.

But what in the world was going on last night on NBC with Collinsworth and Olberman hating on Jets fans for supposedly cheering when Pennington went down?

I was watching on TV and what I heard was fans gasping like Bill Moore said in the article...followed by cheering when Chad hopped off the field...followed by cheering when Clemens came on to replace him.

So is this the first time fans have ever cheered when an injured player has left the field/court/ice?

Is this the first time fans have cheered when a replacement comes in for the injured player?

Sorry, I just think that was HORRIBLE reporting by NBC last night.

55
by Manteo (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:28pm

53 - I should add, Marcus Pollard, I believe, was the Hawks' leading receiver -- which is a real glass half full/half empty kind of thing.

56
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:28pm

I'd guarantee the Ealges had a higher DVOA than the Packers in everything except special teams. Two muffed punts were fluke plays that destroyed the Eagles. The Packers D-Line looked good though, and they will be a tough defense at home or on grass.

I'd also bet you that Eli Manning had a very good DVOA/DPAR last night. Ward had decent stats, but it was due to 1 long run.

57
by doktarr (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:28pm

RE: 10,

The previous play had been a 3rd-and-10. The Broncos were planning on getting whatever yards they could, and then running the FG unit out regardless of whether they made the first down or not. They couldn't afford the time to consider whether they had passed the marker, just in case they hadn't and it was 4th down.

58
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:28pm

I expect McCarthy will point out that James Jones was open quite a few times on plays where Favre forced it to Franks/Driver. In Favre's defense, he didn't have a lot of time most of the game. And what was up with Franks running all those medium-to-deep routes? I don't recall seeing a lot of that.

I thought Brandon Jackson looked ok. I'd put his absolute upside at Thomnas Jones, which would be fine.

Philly ran the ball pretty well, though the LBs pretty much made the tackles they were supposed to make, keeping Westbrook from getting into the secondary. The DL was terrific on the pass rush - the Philly OLs did a lot of semi-tackling and McNabb was still hurried on most throws. There will be some 6- or 8-sack days.

Other games: It's going to get tougher as the season wears on to insist that Cedric Benson is better than A. Peterson the Other. Though we should note that Peterson got most of his carries toward the end of an exceedingly physical game, he's just better, and more versatile.

Romo: He hit an awful lot of guys in the chest, as he usually does. You can always find a couple bad throws and poor decisions, but outside of Brady/Manning, that's true of pretty much everyone. Odd how different QBs get held to different standards. We understand he's not the monster he appeared to be after about week 12. He's also pretty good.

59
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:31pm

#40, yeah if Shaun Rogers stays motivated and healthy for a year, a case can be made that the dt play in the NFC North is as good as any division's in recent memory. The guys in Green Bay looked pretty damned stout yesterday as well, and of course Tommy Harris and the Williams non-brothers don't need to be touted. It's like it is 1967 all over again, with Alex Karras, Willie Davis, Alan Page, and Henry Jordan manning the middle in the NFL Central.

60
by jim m (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:32pm

Will - I thought Rice made a really nice adjustment on that pass and that Jackson had a lot of room to keep the ball inbounds.

I'm very high on Rice - particularly considering his age. I've read he's got great ball skills, which seems very apparent - he catches everything, but he made the key block on the 60 yard TD as well.

61
by zack (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:39pm

on titans vs jags

this game was great if for the only reason that it was the exact opposite as most thought...

The Titans ran all over the great run defense of the Jags...and the Jags great running game couldn't get going against a bad titans run defense...

The Titans did nothing but add Corey Simon to a group of Dlinemen on a defense ranked near the bottom last year.

And everyone was critical of LenDale and Chris Brown running the ball..

As for why Chris Brown was so open up the middle. The answer is Vince Young. The Jags LB's were so concerned with Vince bootlegging that they left the middle open while cheating to the outside on every run play. Thus the inside trap was gravy all day.

62
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:42pm

#52 Absolutely agreed on the Red Zone channel. That's basically all we watched yesterday, and Andrew Siciliano (who has huge ears) did a great job announcing the action. I must have said, "I love this channel" 3 times during the day.

I can understand watching your favorite team when they play, but if they're not going, RDZ is a wonderful option.

63
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:43pm

None of us should've been surprised by Kiwanuka's horrendous play against the pass. However, the Kiwi (non)play that horrified me the most was Julius Jones' 21 yard carry around the right side. There was literally no one containing the RB. I figured that Kiwi had screwed up in some way and he did. The problem was NO ONE BLOCKED HIM ON THE PLAY(!).

BTW, Bill... I'll be mighty pissed if they don't make the move of Kiwi back to DE this week. It's one thing to have players get on the job experience, but another thing entirely when that player is being exposed routinely during a game. He's simply not a LB and if he was, it would be in a 3-4 system. We knew Tynes' kickoffs were going to be bad so I was just happy he was making the FGs. The one before the half was big. I guess someone deserves credit for holding onto Derrick Ward through his 3 injury plagued seasons.

64
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:44pm

How does dvoa discount when for example Jason Campbell throws a hail mary at the end of the half, the ball is batted down by Jason Taylor, only he bats the ball down right into Randel Els hands for a 50 yard pass play?

What about when Tavaras Jackson throws a 1 yard screen pass to AD and he breaks tackles and runs for 60 yards?

How about when a QBs pass is tipped by his receiver and the ball is intercepted ( not his fault).

I like seeing interceptions classified into different groups. A bad read is a bad read is a bad read, but if the WR runs a stop and the fastball bounces off his hands and is picked by the corner behind him... why should the QB's stats suffer?

The poster on here that had his own QB rating system was interesting too. He down played screens and YAC yards ( like a 1 yard screen pass that turns into a 60 yard gain).

Last night Eli Manning had a lot of yards through the air. He wasn't dinking and dunking the ball, and he really only made 1 mistake ( when Plax fell). It is difficult too, because you often have to throw the ball before the WR makes his break ( and run the risk that he slips like he did).

65
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:49pm

63- I saw that too! Kiwi took bad angles as a linebacker, and couldn't keep contain. Big no-nos. They did have him rushing on the left side on passing situations though.

Later in the game the Giants brought in Reggie Torber.

I'd like to see the Giants rotate Osi, Stra, Tuck, and Kiwi on the ends to stay fresh.

Whatever the Giants do, don't put antionio pierce on witten on 3rd downs.

66
by justsaying (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:52pm

Willallen,
Don't forget Corey Redding in your list of NFC North great DTs. He played at a pro-bowl level last year.

Shaun Rogers blocked ANOTHER kick in week 1. He has more than most TEAMS since entering the league. They also said over the last 12 years or something like that he's blocked the most kicks in the laegue. He's only in his, waht, 6th season? When rested, he's an unstoppable force. An absolute manimal.

67
by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:52pm

Patriots have won AFC East and it's only week 1. From what I saw Sunday I'd give the Bills a heads up on landing 2nd place. Their rookie back looked much man. The Jets looked... well it was the Pats. The Dolphins might win some games at some point as long as the team forgets to cover the circle route by the back. Really how many 5 yard passes to the back can you call in a game?

68
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:57pm

jim m, a really nice adjustement would have entailed keeping his feet in bounds. Don't get me wrong, the throw was off target, but sometimes a throw should be made that way to account for a safety closing from over the top, although it appeared that there was more room on this play. To be a good NFL receiver means making that catch. It isn't as if it would have made any highlight reels; it would have been just a slightly above average play. Having said that, I too like Rice as a prospect quite a bit.

69
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:58pm

On the Eagles plays: Are they really fluke plays when they were caused by rank stupidity, not blind luck? Sure, the fumble recoveries were lucky for the Packers, but the muffed punts were the direct result of the returners grabbing at kicks they had no prayer of bringing in securely. That kind of thing is repeatable.

70
by Chris (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:01pm

Brett Favre had that fluke pass to D.Wynn as he was being brought down, he tosses the ball like a hot potatoe to D.Wynn who scampers for about 20 yards.

Tavaras Jackson being sacked and throwing the ball up in the air like a hand grenade deserves immediate benching.

I am not a big fan of quarterbacks not securing the ball as they are being brought down. Sure, sometimes you might pick up an additional couple yards and make sports center, but your also very likley to fumble.

71
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:03pm

No, Chris, unless you are determined to ruin a guy, you don't bench a qb in his third start because of one throw. That's pretty silly.

72
by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:06pm

Chris: Eli Manning had a great game. You don't need to bash every other qb in the NFL to get us to realize that.

73
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:12pm

So, the Bears D still looks fantastic, Tommie Harris is still a monster, Mike Brown still can't stay healthy, and the offense is still the big question. I didn't like what we saw from Benson.

On the upshot, Grossman didn't make any spectacularly bad decisions, despite a ferocious pass rush that saw several guys sack Grossman completely unblocked. The INT was as much or more Berrian's fault than Rex's. A few times he either threw it away or ate it and took the sack instead of throwing an ill-advised pass into double/triple coverage. The only Evil Rex play was the fumble he had while scrambling around that Adrian Peterson grabbed off a lucky bounce.

Still, a positive sign. Last year Rex would probably have tossed at least 3 picks with the pressure he was facing yesterday. Baby steps...

74
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:15pm

Re #64
DVOA uses the NFL's official PBP, which does not distinguish between 60 yard passes where the ball is caught 60 yards downfield and the ball is caught -2 yards downfield. DVOA is a tool, and an interesting one, and one I believe is valuable, which is why I refer fellow football fans to this site. But, it's just an analyzing tool, and it can only be as good as the input it gets.

That's why FO does the game charting project, which is designed to help answer questions like why passes are intercepted and whether a 60 yard pass was thrown 60 or -2 yards downfield. The game charting project is by no means perfect-TV angles generally suck, we don't necessarily know what the players were supposed to be doing, and there's lots of data that's not collected, either because it doesn't seem relevant, even though it is, nobody's thought to collect it, it would be hard to collect well, or it would be time-consuming to collect (we game charters are, after all, unpaid volunteers who have a rest-of-life). But, the game charting project does product some decent, or at least interesting, data.

Naturally, we football fans also watch the games, from which we gain subjective impressions And we do things like talk with other football fans, and consume sports media. We develop opinions on players as a whole, sometimes discounting some information and at other times discounting other information.

The perfect is the enemy of the better. Using more than one way to evaluate players and teams is better than using only one way. If you don't think a tool provides useful information, don't use it and/or see how it can be improved.

75
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:16pm

I thought Cedric Benson looked terrible yesterday. Time for Ron Turner to go with Adrian Peterson the Other.

76
by NickFantana (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:18pm

Re#8 - It's a robot woman that stores beer where her vital organs should be. Delicious frosty draught-keg Heineken. We should all be so lucky to have such a robot woman in our lives. The commercial's premise is flawless, as is its grating, robot voice soundtrack.

Re: Football - I'm a Browns fan and it's my first time posting. Peter King rhetorically wondered in his MMQB column "how can you work for an entire training camp and look like that?" As of the beating the Browns took yesterday, this becomes the essential question for all fans of the team. It should animate the way we view the rest of the year, regardless of how their quality of play may improve (because God knows it can't get worse.) Even if Crennel recovers the team to respectability (a long shot so long as we continue to have no quarterbacks on the roster) what happened in Week 1 is still an important signpost in his coaching tenure and if he somehow manages to keep his job for another year, the opening week debacle will still be important to remember this time next year as the Browns fail to prepare (or is it prepare to fail?) for another opening day.

77
by Andy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:26pm

Barnwell: My favorite bad Interpol lyric is "friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell."

78
by cjm (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:28pm

As an uninterested observer (Colts fan) watching the Chicago-San Diego game, I think the NFL is really lucky that SD ended up winning that game. I've seen some bad calls, but I've never seen such an obvious missed call as that Tommie Harris offside rob a team of an almost certain touchdown - and in a game where TDs were awfully hard to come by, too.

79
by Fergasun (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:35pm

Redskins fan who didn't see the game.

Ecstatic to see they gained 400 yards on the Dolphins defense. Especially with Jansen out, and a UDFA filling in for him. Todd Wade, the regular RT backup was inactive for the game... I found it odd when I saw the inactive list.

Not sure how J. Campbell did, 2 interceptions doesn't seem good. Where were Moss and Cooley?

For the guy who asked about Ramsey-Brunell in 2005. Ramsey took a vicious clothesline from Lance Briggs who knifed up the middle on a well timed blitz. I think the injury report was that he had a sprained neck. After treatment on the sideline and halftime many fans expected him to come back, but it was Brunell.

Fans were mixed on this decision up until the last 5 minutes of Week 2...

I can't remember the last time the Redskins had 400 yards of offense against a good defense.

80
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:37pm

"
As an uninterested observer (Colts fan) watching the Chicago-San Diego game, I think the NFL is really lucky that SD ended up winning that game. I’ve seen some bad calls, but I’ve never seen such an obvious missed call as that Tommie Harris offside rob a team of an almost certain touchdown - and in a game where TDs were awfully hard to come by, too. "

You obviously missed the last two years of playoffs. Really awful calls have become commonplace in the NFL.

"what happened in Week 1 is still an important signpost in his coaching tenure and if he somehow manages to keep his job for another year, the opening week debacle will still be important to remember this time next year as the Browns fail to prepare"

Sometimes, its not an issue of being prepared. Sometimes its an issue of not having the talent to win. I'm not a huge romeo fan, but frankly, that team has so much less talent than the the steelers, that its ridiculous.

81
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:39pm

Yeah, #77, and I wonder if that missed call is going to mean Harris is watched extra carefully for the rest of the season. I think he is the best snap anticipator in the league right now, and has gotten away with a few offsides in the past, so as a Vikings fan I can only hope the officials start being a little unfair to him.

On the other hand, as a kid, I remember Alan Page getting enraged on a couple of occasions when officials incorrectly called him offsides, and them completely taking over a game. I remember one game against the Lions where Page was called twice in a row for being offsides, became so enraged that he threw his helmet (unbelievably, such actions didn't guarantee penalty or ejection back then), and then recorded three sacks in a row for about negative 35 yards.

I take it back. Officials, please leave Tommy Harris alone......

82
by hector (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:49pm

Nice to see LaMont Jordan re-introduced to the Oakland passing game. Insert your favorite Tom Walsh joke here _________.

For most of the day it seemed like scoring and general offensive production was down from normal levels, but a lot of stuff happened late, dunno. It didn't seem like there was a lot of scoring in the preseason either (if that's even worth thinking about).

Minnesota's pass rush impressed me - say what you want about Joey, he normally gets rid of the ball. Detroit to the side, some nasty defenses in that NFC North.

Maybe some day we'll track how many interceptions a wideout costs his QB (or have "excused errors" for the QBs, similar to how a Hail Mary pick doesn't count against him in any intelligent measure). Roy Williams, Michael Jenkins and Bernard Berrian, you're all at one.

83
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:49pm

64: I imagine the hail mary play will be marked HM and not counted in DVOA, much like hail mary interceptions arn't counted. The other stuff just looks like regular completions/interceptions in DVOA, because DVOA uses the standard game book. The game charting data will break it down differently, though and that is tabulated in the book and used for deeper analysis.

84
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:51pm

Re 75:
What were you saying about one game earlier?

BTW, Benson was 10th in DVOA and 18th in DPAR last year.

85
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 2:59pm

Well, fair enough, but unlike Brooks Bollinger, Adrian Peterson the Other looks like a better player than the guy in front of him, but I admit that is only from my brief viewing of the Bears.

86
by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:00pm

Nominating the Ipod/Bjork commercial for most annoying.

87
by Mike W (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:08pm

Nick #76 - you mean you actually find that robot chick attractive? If she were smoking hot, it would still be an annoying ad, but damn.

Ced Benson is a between-the-tackles bruiser with only a little bit of shake. He also ran up his blockers' legs yesterday a few times. Adrian Peterson the Other was good in 2005, so it's not like he just had a couple good carries yesterday.

88
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:11pm

#79:

Where were Moss and Cooley?

Moss was dropping everything thrown his way (much to the shagrin of my fantasy team), and Cooley was helping the UDFA OT you mentioned. Randle El, though, was very impressive-- they left him in man coverage a lot, and he made them pay several times.

I can’t remember the last time the Redskins had 400 yards of offense against a good defense.

You might want to wait a few weeks before you decide whether the 2007 Miami Dolphins qualify as "a good defense."

I was stuck watching that game, as it was the only 1PM game aired in the DC area. At one point in the broadcast, Dierdorf said that "this is going to be a game of mistakes and field position," to which I added, "so don't touch that dial!!"

89
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:14pm

If Javon had been able to run a few more yards after being tackled, or if the Bills had simply held him up for a couple of seconds, the Broncos would have lost that game.

90
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:22pm

Good Deadspin post on the Elam kick linked in my name. Apparently the intention was to spike it (it was 1st down) but that got screwed up when the code for the FG team got yelled out.

91
by fracguru (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:25pm

As a Texans fan, I'll make a couple of comments for the 3 other folks that read this site who might care about them.

First, the one play you commented on (Schaub's interception) WAS a complete bonehead play. However, Schaub then went on to play an excellent game and ended up with a rating of around 100, I believe. The 77 yard strike to Johnson was perfectly thrown. I think Schaub is going to be exactly what the Texans need: reliable, accurate, and low turnovers. On the Texans' second drive he got completely hammered on the blind side by a blitzing linebacker. There is no question in my mind that Carr would have coughed the ball up after that hit. Schaub didn't even bobble it.

The defensive line play really stood out, however. Williams and co. played the run well and got pressure in passing situations without blitzing.

All-in-all it was a great start for a team that is going to finish much better than projected at this site. Yes, I dropped a couple of bills on the over for the Texans win total of the season. I'm feeling very good about that bet.

92
by Bronco Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:27pm

90:

Thanks, that's an awesome link...so close to defeat, and yet we get the W.

93
by South Carolina Beauty Queen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:27pm

#86

thats not Bjork, its Feist, though it does sound like Bjork.

94
by Nate (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:29pm

86 - Feist, not Bjork. Unless there's a different commercial. Also, I like it.

95
by South Carolina Beauty Queen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:30pm

Did Mario Williams look a lot better this year then last year. I know his statline was a lot better, but its not like the Chiefs have an offensive line anymore.

96
by TomC (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:40pm

In re: Tommie Harris and the Snap Count.

I'm a Bears fan, but for the good of all humanity I was yelling at Norv and Rivers: "Change the cadence! Give a hard count! Do something!" But they didn't, so I really didn't have much sympathy when they got jobbed at the goal line, 'cause it was at least the third time Harris had successfully jumped the snap. (And, for the record, the others were 100% legal.)

97
by Dr. Tobias Funke (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:55pm

RE:54

Bob, I was at the game yesterday and can assure you that the ripping NBC gave NY fans was warranted. The cheers were concurrent with a flaying Pennington and not Clemens coming on to the field. Truly disgusting. It's easy to be a fan of Pennington even as an opposing fan.. I can't understand why a fan would ever celebrate his injury. It was indeed a shameful moment. There was no doubt as to the intent of the cheers.

98
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:59pm

97.

Watching the game, I completely agree. The timing was pretty clear.

I'm a patriots fan, and I couldn't be happier to see Pennington off the field. He seems to give us fits.

99
by mrh (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:01pm

The Dolphins might win some games at some point as long as the team forgets to cover the circle route by the back. Really how many 5 yard passes to the back can you call in a game?

Judging by the 2003 Chargers, the answer is somewhere around 8-9 a week.

100
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:19pm

#77 - My favorite awful Interpol lyric has to be "we rejoice because the hurting is so painless." What absolute crap. I like the rest of the song though, so I can forgive it... This time.

101
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:25pm

Should Gates be considered the Chargers' WR1 instead of their TE? That would make more sense of his performance against the Bears.

102
by NickFantana (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:30pm

Re 87

Not a chance, Mike. I was trying to be ironic but after I re-read it, I realized I sounded like I was very supportive of that commercial. Trust me, if you had been at my place watching football over the weekend, you would have needed earmuffs to make it through that commercial. It's one of the worst ever.

103
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:30pm

101. I don't remember seeing anything resembling blocking from him, so maybe.

104
by South Carolina Beauty Queen (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:32pm

So...anyone else see the New England stealing signals report....

105
by Matt H (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:33pm

Just wanted to echo the kudos for Rich Gannon in the Browns section up above - Commentators for the PIT/CLE debacle were Gannon and Kevin someone (have to check my DVR), and they not only supplied intelligent commentary, but included personnel changes and formation shifts. They also dropped little nuggets here and there explaining some of the game terminology - talked to the viewer, not down to the viewer. Huge difference from the typical presentation, and very enjoyable.

106
by JJ (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:45pm

The Broncos didn't kick the game-winning field goal on 4th down...it was 1st down. On 3rd and 10 Walker caught an eleven yard pass. They could have calmly walked up to the line and spiked it with about five seconds left and let Elam kick it, without rushing on 2nd down. Not that I'm complaining about the results...

107
by Mike B. (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:50pm

and Dallas’ line was just amazing- Romo had Brady-esque time to throw.

And therin is the rub with Romo. I think he's a good QB, but to be honest, both secondaries were so awful (and NY's pass rush was so ineffective) that it's hard to judge if he's Grossman good or, say, Big Ben-good.

When he puts up that line against the Eagles, I'll be a little more impressed. Of course, Manning The Younger is in the same boat...

108
by BillWallace (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:58pm

re: Broncos Bills
On the 4th and 2 Cutler running conversion on the last drive, the Bills linebacker(s) were trying to call timeout at least a full second before the snap. I think the ref should have seen it and blown the play dead.

Marshawn Lynch is damn good.... reminds me of Steven Jackson.

109
by putnamp (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:02pm

feist or bjork, i got tired of seeing it between every commercial break :(

110
by Bill Barnwell :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:56pm

Tommie Harris and the Snap Count.

This would be a great name for a band. A la "Mock Trial with J. Reinhold"

111
by Xian (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:08pm

#105: Kevin Harlan?

In the "Are FO-findings penetrating into the NFL?" category, I saw this quote in the Milwaukee J-S.

"We came in throwing the ball, that was our mind-set, and then running it to win," coach Mike McCarthy said.

Madness. Anyway, I'm still just pleased that Fox showed that game in the PacNW.

112
by Admore (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:11pm

@91

I, too, care about the Texans. And yes, the only comment on the Texans-Chiefs game was about the only truly bad play Schaub made on Sunday. He got it out of his system and played very well from then on.

I think I can say for the first time ever that the Texans were clearly the superior team , and the score reflects that. It wasn't a fluke, this game could easily have been 30-6.

In other news for the 4 Texans fans reading, I thought the play calling got a bit too timid or conservative. On the Texans' final scoring drive the Chiefs seemed absolutely ripe for a play action pass after 5 straight runs up the gut.

It looks like adding Schaub and Jacoby Jones has made Andre Johnson a very very tough cover.

The best news is that the defense is looking pretty good overall, and the defensive line is, dare I say it, looking threatening.

Also it seems that a use besides "organ harvesting" has been found for Ron Dayne. Who'd have believed that?

113
by ammek (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:14pm

Ned: "The eighth overall projection for Green Bay’s defense, which looks wild compared to what others think..."

Well there's no reason for that. They were 6th last year, 3rd in weighted DVOA at the end of the year. And in the offseason they added depth and Atari. So DVOA actually projects them to be a little worse this year.

On the other hand, we all knew the offense would be bad; we were hoping for RavensBad but yesterday it looked more like 2005TexansBad. Here's hoping the Eagles' D is truly special.

I'm trying to follow Aaron's rule and not get carried away with week one, but all six of my projected divisional winners who've played won their games: Pats, Colts, Broncos, Skins, Vikes and Panthers. If the Niners and Bengals win today, I'll be ecstatic.

114
by Richard (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:18pm

101: A.J. Smith frequently refers to him as their #1 receiver and he often lines up as a receiver, so that's not too far off base

115
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:32pm

104:

Yes. It looks bad, but that's what I thought the last time this came up and it ended up being much ado about nothing. Do all teams do this and only rarely get caught (or pursued)? Or are the Patriots becoming turds? Been a rough year for Patriots chances at winning "Sportsmen of the Year"

116
by Some Dude (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 7:01pm

Directed by Michael Mann? I woulda sworn it was directed by Zack Snyder.

Seriously, awesome commercial. Oh, and Mike is wrong about who Jensen's backup is...I don't remember who it is, but it's some rookie outta University of Maryland, who was tabbed to start before we made that trade for whatshisname from the jets.

Yeah, us redskins fans know our offensive line. Go Hogs!

117
by Adam (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 7:32pm

@ 10

The Broncos didnt know it would be a first down (it was, Javon Walker caught an 11 yard pass on 3rd and 10) and instead of waiting to find out, they sent the FG out there in their hurry mode that they practiced just in case it was 4th down.

118
by The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:01pm

Just to clarify comment #116

Jansen's backup is (or was for week 1 at least) Stephon Heyer, UDFA from Maryland. He's best known for starting at LT for all 4 preseason games in Samuels' absence. He was never used as a guard. It's unclear whether the Skins want him to permanently replace Jansen or whether they would prefer Todd Wade, who is still getting over a shoulder injury.

119
by BadgerT1000 (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:06pm

Post 111:

The Packers threw the ball like crazy last year. Favre set a career high in passing attempts and with a new corps of running backs it was deemed a fait accompli that Favre would be asked to throw the ball even more in 2007.

While the Packers offensive linemen are considered good "technicians" they can be overpowered due to their lack of strength. And you saw Exhibit A of that yesterday. The Eagle D-linemen just shoved Jason Spitz around like so much dirty laundry and them wanting a spot on the couch.........

120
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:29pm

I am not going to bother voicing my displeasure about the Bears losing. It was a bit annoying that a freak punting accident had so much to do with the game, but that is the nature of the beast with low scoring contests. If the Bears want to win the game their RBs shouldn't have fumbled twice and Berrian should run his routes properly.

However if everyone is going to bitch about Harris jumping the snap then maybe they shoud go back and watch the previous play. Vincent Jackson fumbled when Tillman slapped the ball out of his hands before he was down and the Bears recovered. The replay from the opposite side to the initial transmission shows Tillman smacking the ball, and that Jackson didn't maintain possession as he went down. Either incomplete or fumble (off the top of my head I am unable to remember whether he made enough of a football move to count and the rules seem to have been re-emphasised). But everyone wants to moan about the next play so bitch bitch bitch.

There was a reason that the Chargers rushed up to the line, if you look at Jackson's body language immediately after the play it is pretty obvious he hasn't just made a great catch. He knew he had ballsed the play up.

121
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:36pm

Oh, just one more thing maybe the reason that Harris knew the cadence was because they hadn't changed it from the play before as they were hurrying to the line to avoid a replay.

122
by John B (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 10:44pm

#121:

I pretty sure that Tomlinson was stuffed at the goal line immediatly before the play in which Harris was totally off-sides. I just don't remember them rushing to the line, but I could be wrong...

123
by Dan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 10:57pm

RE 97

I was at the Meadowlands yesterday, too, and I have to say I really didn't hear widespread cheers when Pennington was injured. There may have been a few idiots who cheered, but I've heard injuries (e.g., Ken O'Brien) cheered by the Jet crowd; I don't think the reaction to Pennington's injury was at all celebratory.

Yes, Clemens was cheered when he came in, presumably because the backup QB is always the most popular guy in town, but I think that Berman, Olbermann et al. were over the top, creating a story where I don't think one existed.

As for the Patriot spying allegation, I'll be amused if it's true, for two reasons; first, Belichick will deny knowing anything about it - which we all know is a complete joke given his controlling nature. Second, all the self-congratulatory Pats fans - many of who NEVER followed that team until about five years ago - will have to deal with the fact that their self-proclaimed moral superiority is, and probably always was, a mirage.

124
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:51pm

I don't know about you guys, but nothing makes me want to drink more than a pale ugly robotic girl with a heineken in her chest.

125
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Mon, 09/10/2007 - 11:52pm

Re: 123,

Who's self-proclaiming? The team or the fans?

Ps. It sucks being a Pats fan now because everyone thinks you jumped on the bandwagon a few years ago. :p

126
by Chris (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 12:22am

107- Week 2, NYG @ Philly.

123- I agree, the media was trying to make a story, and I can't wait to see the moral superiority of the Patriots angle.

I am sure everybody saw Kyle Bollier step in to relieve Steve Mcnair tonight. His stat line must be horrible but the Heap TD catch was unfairly called back, his other throws hit his receivers and were dropped, and the final throw hit Heap in the numbers, but was intercepted. Kyles stats must look like crap, but he did what was asked of him in those tough circumstances.

127
by John (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 12:24am

...presumably because the backup QB is always the most popular guy in town...

Dude, I don't know where you're from, but around here, we wouldn't be cheering for Jim Sorgi...

Unless, of course, it meant we were up 5 TDs going into the last few minutes of the game.

128
by Marko (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 1:33am

120-122: The "catch" by Vincent Jackson was two plays before. The Chargers then rushed to the line of scrimmage and LT carried the ball inside the 1. The next play was the play where Harris jumped the snap count and Rivers fumbled.

As for the "catch" by Jackson, I agree with Jimmy. It looked pretty clear to me that it should have been ruled incomplete. That's why I was screaming at the TV for the Bears to challenge the play, and also why the Chargers rushed to the line to get the play off.

129
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 1:38am

Chris: Manning sucked in that game until Philly's secondary was replaced by the Lollipop Guild. Once Toomer and Burress got matchups where they could just overpower the corners, that's when the comeback started.

130
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 3:00am

#129... Are people STILL arguing about the Giants-Eagles game? BTW, Manning threw a TD pass on the opening drive of the game.

131
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 4:38am

#130: Yes, but only because Chris made a crazy statement.

The original statement was: "When he puts up that line against the Eagles, I’ll be a little more impressed." To which, Chris suggested that Manning already has.

Except the original statement didn't say "When he puts up that line against an Eagles secondary down two corners starting a dime back, I'll be a little more impressed." I've got a feeling the original author intended "when Manning puts up those numbers versus a secondary as skilled as Philly's starting secondary." Or, given that Philly's secondary's already injured (thanks again, Lito! Think you can stay healthy for more than 1 game into the season next year?!), even "when Manning puts up those numbers versus an only slightly-banged up Philly defense" might be better.

I don't know how people still argue that game, though. Philly and New York played each other twice more that season, and it's not like Manning shredded them the other two times.

132
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 4:44am

125

Well they did go from one of the least popular franchises to the most popular in about 5-10 years, some of the fans have to be new :)

133
by Chad Gerson (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 6:47am

Hmmm, the Colts looked stellar and the Jags looked awful. From the way some of the FO staff talked about the Colts before the season, you'd have thought they belonged in the JV league.

Jacksonville has ZERO chance of winning the AFC South--the same chance they had all along. Yes it's only the first week, but sometimes it doesn't take long to be brought back to reality. All the Colts doubters' apologies are accepted.

134
by James, London (not verified) :: Tue, 09/11/2007 - 8:09am

No web at home currently, so I'm late in, but the worst couplet ever is

"I'm as serious as cancer/when I say rhythm is a dancer".

Shaun Gayle impresses me more and more as an analyst every time I see him. Smart, really knows his stuff, (especially coverages) and very rarely bleats about "swagger", "intensity" and all the usual crap.

NFL Playbook was a real disappointment. I thought I'd get an hour of televised TDZ, with the added bonus of the mythical coaches cam. Instead, I got a highlight show with Brian Baldinger and Sterling Sharpe talking about nothing in particular.

As for football;

The only way to distinguish between the smoking corpses of Fred Thomas and Jason David is DNA testing. Also the Colts D impressed, but the Saints O-line did not.

Trent Green is the early leader for the "Captain Checkdown" award this year. Miami looked hopeless again on offense, and when the ball was thrown more than 8 yards, the chances are it was dropped anyway. As for Miami's D, when Randell-EL smokes your secondary (not including the last minute Hail Mary), you may have issues.

Bill Murray should be coaching in Chicago. It's that day again. Defense great, Mike Brown on IR, Offense not helping. One difference this time; Rex was not the biggest issue.

As for the Giants, Eli played really well I thought, J-Load not so much. How does an 800-pound QB slide short of the marker on 4th & short?

The Cowboys need Terrance Newman back badly. Their Secondary didn't look much without him.

135
by jimmo (not verified) :: Wed, 09/12/2007 - 10:55am

re: 126,129, 130,131... I read post 107 to say that he (the commenter) would be impressed if/when Romo put up those numbers against the Eagles, not Manning.

136
by kai (not verified) :: Thu, 09/13/2007 - 1:35am

that heineken commercial has gotten supremely irritating. almost as irritating as trying to use the freakin' thing. has anybody used this so called keg? it leaks all over the place!!! also, talk about deion branch disappearing, what ever happened to donte stallworth?

137
by Pat (not verified) :: Sat, 09/15/2007 - 4:27am

#135: Right after that, he said

Of course, Manning The Younger is in the same boat…

which started the whole can o' worms. Romo and Manning are average QBs to me, right now. That's not a bad thing, mind you, but they're nowhere near a top-shelf QB.