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 2007. 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 York Jets 17 at New England Patriots 14
Bill Moore: Patriots had second-and-1-foot from the three-yard line. They have been running the ball up the middle quite well. Rather than picking up the first down (and maybe a touchdown) to give them three more chances at the end zone, they ran two plays designed for a touchdown (a sweep and a pass). Both lost yards and they kicked a field goal. With terrible field conditions due to rain, poor play calling in my opinion.
Another poor decision by the Patriots coaching staff ... Doug Gabriel blows by the defender with a flat pass, but the defender, Drew Coleman does a nice move by getting behind him and tipping the ball out at the Jets 25. However, he is stepping out of bounds when he tips the ball out. With little time to decide, Belichick chooses NOT to challenge it. Change of possession plays are the most important use of challenges. The Jets marched down the field and created a swing of at least 10 points.
Aaron Schatz: Belichick made the right call in not challenging that fumble. Sure, changes of possession are the most important calls to challenge, but not when they're obviously correct. It was very clear from the replay that Gabriel coughed it up before he stepped out. It's an example of the randomness of fumbles -- if that ball bounces one foot to the left, it's out of bounds and the Patriots keep it -- but you don't throw the red flag when you know you are 99.99% sure you are going to lose unless the play means the entire game late in the fourth quarter.
Bill Moore: Gabriel coughed it up before WHO stepped out of bounds? I ran the DVR as super slow speed. I think it was pretty obvious that Coleman was stepping out of bounds when he made contact with the ball.
Aaron Schatz: It's really hard to square this Jets offensive line with the one that couldn't get any running game going whatsoever in the early weeks of the season. On that long Jets drive that ended with the Kevan Barlow TD, Nick Mangold and Pete Kendall were getting outstanding forward push.
And why does Jim Nantz keep calling the third receiver from the Jets "Tim Duh-wight"?
Doug Farrar: That's what's known as having Phil Simms rub off on you.
Aaron Schatz: Junior Seau is not good in pass coverage. It seems like the Jets have completed a number of short passes with Seau just one step behind the receiver, desperately trying to get his hand in there.
Bill Barnwell: Roosevelt Colvin just sacked Chad Pennington and the refs blew the whistle IMMEDIATELY. Not after a second or two - Colvin still had his arms around Pennington and when the whistle blew, they both stopped and looked at the refs like something was wrong.
Ian Dembsky: Thee Jets are bringing tons of pressure, and the Pats simply haven't had time to react, especially because Brady can't move around well on the sloppy field. I'd like to see him do what he did against Oakland in the Tuck Rule game: Go shotgun, quick release passing game. Neutralize the pass rush with short completions, and less need for Brady to move around.
Aaron Schatz: I'm very depressed. The Pats played like crap today. Until those last two drives, it's like Brady forgot how to play in the elements. The Jets front seven was very, very good and the Pats were spooked by the pass rush all day long. Jerricho Cotchery is also very good and had a great game. Laveranues Coles actually didn't have such a great game.
Jason Beattie: You think you're depressed? I picked the Jets this week in my loser survivor pool. So long, $835!
Bill Moore: Did the Pats and the Jets switch uni's before the game? The Pats made errors and mistakes I would have expected the Jets to make. Like having to call a timeout after the two-minute warning of the first half. What was that? And the Pats defensive line couldn't stop the run (granted Richard Seymour was out later in the game with a mysterious injury) or get to Pennington. 110 yards from Barlow and Washington, combined? Ellis Hobbs had perfect position on Cotchery's touchdown, yet let Cotchery make the catch anyway.
On the other hand, the Jets made plays when it mattered, and got yards when they needed it. Other than one 50-yard run from Dillon, they held the Pats to 3.8 yards per attempt -- not great, but not enough that New England felt they could run all over them.
I think the Patriots coaching staff made judgment errors while the Jets staff made some interesting, effective calls like the Pennington pooch punt.
And I still think Drew Coleman was out of bounds when he forced Gabriel's fumble, and that was a key turning point of the game.
San Diego Chargers 49 at Cincinnati Bengals 41
Doug Farrar: Marty Schottenheimer got burned by his refusal to challenge in the first quarter on Cincinnati TE Tony Stewart's circus catch -- it didn't look like Stewart got both feet in, but Marty didn't even have his headset on. I'm assuming he didn't get a call to challenge from his coaches, and the play kept the Bengals going on their second touchdown drive of the first quarter.
On San Diego's subsequent drive, Marvin Lewis challenged a Keenan McCardell forceout which was reversed because McCardell didn't have possession. San Diego had to punt on the next play. On the next play after THAT, Palmer hit Ocho Cinco on a 51-yard TD bomb. Marvin was wearing his headset.
It's amazing how different San Diego's defense is without Shawne ("I can't find the bottle") Merriman in the lineup. They can bring no real consistent pressure, and Carson Palmer has shredded them to bits. The Chargers were giving up 269 yards per game -- total -- and Palmer has 282 yards passing at the half. San Diego's secondary, which FO has written about at some length, has been totally exposed. I have to give credit to Cincinnati's offensive line, which is playing well without Rich Braham at center and Levi Jones at left tackle.
Also, three different Johnsons (Jeremi, Rudi and Chad) scored touchdowns for the Bengals in the first quarter. I should probably stop right there.
Mike Tanier: Regarding the Chargers, I believe that Castillo is hurt this week, so that's another missing piece from their front seven. So basically, they need their Roid Warriors.
Doug Farrar: Well, just when you thought it was safe to come out of the locker room ... Cincinnati had a 28-7 lead at the half, including 21 in the first quarter, and the Chargers scored 21 in the third quarter. Philip Rivers is showing a very admirable ability to rebound from a rough start.
...and before I could even finish writing that, Chad Johnson ran by the entire right side of San Diego's defense for a 74-yard touchdown. You will not see that many consecutive blown assignments in one play for quite a while. Ocho Cinco must have used the "Invisible Paint" that always worked in the Looney Tunes cartoons.
Dierdorf is right -- this is a crazy AFL-style shootout. "Hadl with the bomb to Alworth!"
Bill Barnwell: I don't know which Bengal it was -- I think it was Rudi Johnson -- but Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson both owe him a beer. His blitz pickup on the second Johnson touchdown catch was a thing of beauty.
Doug Farrar: Shaun Phillips really abused fullback Jeremi Johnson on the Palmer sack/fumble to start the fourth quarter -- finally, someone on the San Diego defense made an important play. The Chargers recovered the ball at the Bengals 9, and Tomlinson needed only one play for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game. The last two of those four came within fifteen seconds of each other.
Aaron Schatz: After the Pats game ended, they switched us to Bengals-Chargers. Marlon McCree should be suspended for the rest of the year for the helmet-to-helmet hit he just put on Housh before the pass was even there.
Mike Tanier: You get to see the last seven minutes of Bengals-Chargers? I doubt you'll see more than four touchdowns.
Doug Farrar: FS Marlon McCree just went helmet-to-helmet on T.J. Houshmandzadeh a good full second before the ball arrived as Houshmandzadeh was running a crossing pattern. McCree very obviously left his feet and used his helmet as a weapon. If he doesn't get fined five digits at the very least, the Bengals have every right to be incensed. Enough of this "$5,000 fine for horse-collar tackles" crap -- not to mention other obvious personal fouls that can do great harm outside of the parameters of the game. The NFL really needs to send a message this time. Too bad he wasn't wearing the wrong shoes!
Baltimore Ravens 27 at Tennessee Titans 26
Bill Barnwell: Is my scoreboard messed up? Tennessee put 26 points on Baltimore in the first half??
Ryan Wilson: Somebody forgot to tell Travis Henry the Ravens' run defense is pretty good. He's running all over them in the first half. And when the Titans play-action/naked bootleg, Vince Young has been very accurate. Drew Bennett is wide open, usually with Samari Rolle supposedly in coverage.
Ned Macey: I like Jeff Fisher, but he made a cardinal sin at the end of the Baltimore game. Driving for the game-winning field goal, he has third-and-4 at the 25-yard line. They run the ball into the line, leaving a 40+ yard field goal. It gets blocked, and what probably would have been the biggest upset of the day does not happen.
Washington Redskins 3 at Philadelphia Eagles 27
Aaron Schatz: I just caught the replay of the Philadelphia touchdown where receiver Reggie Brown fumbled and Correll Buckhalter caught the fumble IN THE AIR to run 65 yards for the touchdown. Holy karmic payback, Batman.
Tim Gerheim: It doesn't really matter, but it wasn't a fumble (although it's getting counted as one). If that ball had hit the ground before Buckhalter picked it up, it would have been ruled incomplete, or the Redskins would have won the challenge. Brown was bobbling it until it came out, so it's even luckier, in a sense, that Buckhalter was inexplicably there to catch it. It was really good to see Buckhalter score though, after all his injuries and missed time.
Mike Tanier: I turned the game off at the two-minute warning, so if the Redskins came back and scored 28 unanswered points please don't tell me.
The Eagles played pretty well. The defense was very good, the special teams OK. The offense really had one great play and one lucky play in the first half, but did pretty well in the second half.
I cannot believe that the Redskins have gotten this bad. Mark Brunell is just embarrassing at this point. Let's look through the 900-page playbook:
- Brunell drops back, rolls left, directs traffic, throws a pass incomplete up the sidelines (at least three or four per game).
- The easily sniffed-out screen (at least three per game)
- The dump-off into a running back in the flat that the defense converges on for a one-yard gain (at least 5 per game).
In the fourth quarter, the Redskins went through one sequence when they threw two passes in the flat and lost 12 yards on the plays because the Eagles made quick tackles.
I thought at the start of the year that the Redskins had a playoff-caliber defense. That's not what I saw this week, even when McNabb was struggling in the first half. I saw a rain-assisted defense that was vulnerable to the big play and the RUN.
I am interested in reading the Washington newspapers tomorrow to see if the cheerleaders in the DC sports media have gotten out of their prostrate bow in front of Joe Gibbs and can actually criticize him. I am not curious about the Philly media's reaction: they'll say we were lucky to win on a fumble-pitch play and an interception return.
Green Bay Packers 23 at Minnesota Vikings 17
Doug Farrar: I know that we're obligated by federal law to talk of nothing but #4 when we discuss the Packers, but is one of the more underreported stories of the year what's going on with Green Bay's offensive line? Last year, they blew out their vet guards, Ahman Green got hurt, and Favre threw 29 picks just trying to get rid of the ball before he got killed. This year, they rank second in Adjusted Line Yards (30th last year) and second in Adjusted Sack Rate (3rd last year, but pay attention to the interception numbers). Green has four 100-yard performances in the first six games he's played, and Favre is on pace for 14 interceptions for the season. That's what you call a total reversal.
And if you're of the opinion that the 2006 Shaun Alexander is the 2005 Ahman Green ... well, there's some light at the end of the tunnel.
Buffalo Bills 16 at Indianapolis Colts 17 and Houston Texans 13 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10
Michael David Smith: Buffalo is using a really soft front, usually only keeping six in the box. I want someone to create a montage of Edgerrin James watching this while "Memories" plays in the background.
Ned Macey: Well, the Colts are in their typical close game with an inferior opponent. This one is close because of two plays, a 60+ yard fumble return by McGee and an 80+ yard kickoff return by McGee that led to a field goal.
The Bills defense is playing this right. Double both outside receivers. They have the "Ming of Beers" on Clark in the slot. As a result, everything is to Ben Utecht and the running backs. Sure the Colts have moved the ball all day, but if drives take 8-10 plays, mistakes can happen. Utecht was the one who fumbled.
Benefit number 1,000 of the no-huddle: Manning hit Wayne for a gorgeous third down conversion to the 5-yard line. Colts make no subs. Buffalo is in their "base" 4-2-5, and Addai plows through easily for the touchdown.
The Bills offensive play-calling is less impressive. We get it; the Colts have a bad run defense, but you have Anthony Thomas, and they have 8-10 people in the box.
By the way, David Garrard just wins, baby.
Michael David Smith: "Michael Vick is a good passer" is in close competition with "David Garrard just wins" for today's idiotic football announcer cliche award.
Also, I like how Dick Enberg and Randy Cross are going on and on about how smart Tony Dungy is because he doesn't care how big a player on his defense is, he just cares if he can play. Uh, guys, did you notice how the Colts' small defensive players are getting their butts kicked up and down the field every Sunday?
Mike Tanier: I want to say David Garrard just wins, too! Let's all say it and really tick some readers off. Mike Tice is an idiot and I see his fingerprints all over the Garrard decision.
Ned Macey: Rhodes fumbles, and the Bills are about to take the lead. No word on why Rhodes is getting the majority of the carries today. It's like they thought they would easily beat the Bills so let's give the veteran another chance.
Ned Macey: So much for taking the lead. The Bills leave Robert Royal one-on-one on Freeney on third down, and Freeney gets his first full sack of the season. Moved back, Lindell pushes the field goal wide right.
The Colts spent the entire game proving they were not the best team in football. At the same time, they are the first team in history to start back-to-back seasons 9-0. Maybe that's meaningless, but I think it's an impressive feat that bears some appreciation. Maybe VOA will prove me wrong, but my subjective impression is that the only team that has outplayed them was the Giants in Week 1, in large part because of the dropped interceptions. Jacksonville did for one half, but that game was pretty even. They are definitely not the team they were a year ago, but on a neutral field, the only team I would pick to beat them is San Diego. This all goes back to my statement of 5 weeks or so ago that there are no great teams this year.
Aaron Schatz: In Weeks 1-9 the Colts were actually outplayed twice, by the Giants and the Titans -- yes, that's before the huge opponent adjustments on the latter.
San Francisco 49ers 19 at Detroit Lions 13
A. Lee punt.
E. Drummond returned punt for 8 yards.
DET committed 10 yard penalty.
SF committed 26 yard penalty.
This is probably why none of us are watching this game.
Ian Dembsky: San Francisco shut down Minnesota last week, and now, thanks in large part to three fumbles, they've rammed the Lions' bandwagon off the highway. Are they getting better?
Kansas City Chiefs 10 at Miami Dolphins 13
Mike Tanier: As I write, Damon Huard is 12-of-30 for some miniscule yardage total and the Chiefs are being shut out. Are we done with the controversy? I mean, yes, he played well. Backups sometimes play well. And then they go back to the bench. Good work, Damon. Sit down. Now we can all talk about how great Joey Harrington is for a few weeks.
Michael David Smith: I disagree about Damon Huard. If his worst game of the season is one in which he throws 34 passes with no turnovers (so far), I wouldn't call that reason to bench him. Anyone want to place a friendly wager on who has a better DVOA, Green or Huard, at the end of the season?
Mike Tanier: We're not talking about benching Damon Huard. We are talking about benching Trent Green. The argument is "Huard hasn't done enough to deserve to keep playing," not "Huard shouldn't be benched after one bad game."
A quick look at Damon Huard's DVOA suggests that if Green returns as a starter next week he will have to move a mountain to catch up to Huard, who is sitting pretty at 47 percent. I never said he wasn't playing well. But even though the Chiefs opened up their playbook in recent weeks, they still aren't doing all the things they would do if Green were available.
So no bet on the season-wide DVOA, but I will bet that Huard has a negative DVOA from this point forward in the season, assuming he plays another game. And if that does happen and you take the bet, the loser must write the winner a long poem at the end of his column admitting that the other had a far superior knowledge of the game.
Michael David Smith: OK, the bet is on. I'm not sure what rhymes with Huard, but that'll be your problem.
Aaron Schatz: I know what rhymes with Huard. Former Lincoln Secretary of State R. Jay Seward.
Michael David Smith: You're thinking of former draft bust R. Jay Soward.
Aaron Schatz: Whoops! Yes, the sec of state under Lincoln was WILLIAM Seward, heh heh.
If Alaska is William Seward's folly, what was R. Jay Soward's folly?
Michael David Smith: I think Soward's folly was thinking he could coexist with Tom Coughlin.
Mike Tanier: You all are so worried about Seward that you haven't realized that MDS will have to try to rhyme my last name. And none of you even know how to pronounce it except Aaron!
Michael David Smith: Oh, that'll be the easy part:
I lost a bet with Mike Tanier
I must confess that he is manlier
And if that isn't how it's pronounced, well, that's why it's called poetic license.
Mike Tanier: MDS, I am glad you are brainstorming.
Ned Macey: I never bet on football, but I look at lines for Any Given Sunday, and I'm a firm proponent of the "If the line looks to good to be true bet the other way" system. Despite this, did anyone else see that the Dolphins were favored today? If I had any sort of betting account, I would have put down money on Kansas City, but as usual (last week's DEN-PIT being an exception) the bookies are right. Joey Harrington -- all he does in win football games.
Aaron Schatz: Just like David Garrard!
New Orleans Saints 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers 38
Aaron Schatz: The karmic payback cloud is floating over the entire state of Pennsylvania, because the Steelers got an actual fumble recovery on defense and now lead 14-0 after the Saints apparently forgot that Heath Miller is an eligible receiver.
Bill Barnwell: Hines Ward reacted to a failed Roethlisberger third down pass off his back foot in the red zone with utter disgust. The thing was, Ward had a guy between him and the first down marker, and Ward is smart enough to know that. That makes me think that Ward was Roethlisberger's hot read and/or his primary option on a blitz there, and that Roethlisberger is ignoring it to make a big play.
I was wrong about Sean Payton -- he knows what he's doing -- but he looks like a middle manager out there.
Aaron Schatz: Troy Polamalu went out in the middle of the first half with a mild concussion, and there's no doubt that the Steelers defense hasn't been the same since. Deshea Townsend is also out now.
I'm sure everybody tonight will see the highlights of the Reggie Bush reverse where he scored by flipping over defenders as he fell into the end zone. That was the kind of thing everybody expected to see from Bush on a regular basis, but I don't know how many highlight plays he's really had other than this one and the punt return. (The awesome YAC against Tennessee was in the preseason right?)
Michael David Smith: Yeah, that run against Tennessee was in the preseason. Despite that awesome leap into the end zone, I'm growing increasingly skeptical of whether Bush is ever going to be an every-down back in the NFL. I think his career is going to look a lot like Rocket Ismail's -- enough contribution that you can't call him a bad player, but never anything close to his spectacular college career.
Mike Tanier: This is clearly "I argue with MDS" week.
I agree that Bush has not made that great a contribution to the Saints this year, but it is way too early to write him off. The raw talent is so apparent; he just doesn't know what he's doing with the ball in his hands. For more on an overhyped rookie who looked like a complete mess by mid-Novemeber, check out Too Deep Zone this coming Friday.
Aaron Schatz: I'm not writing much about the Steelers-Saints game I'm watching, but honestly, this is the same Steelers team we've seen all year, except with better luck and more stability on special teams. They're dropping some passes, Willie Parker is much better running outside than inside (he's put up two 70+ yard carries), Roethlisberger mixes good decisions with stupid ones, the front seven is still very good, the secondary is shaky -- especially without Polamalu. As for the Saints, I don't think I've learned anything from them either except that Jason Craft is not as good as Fred Thomas. Marques Colston is unbelieveable, and we're all just scratching our heads wondering what the scouts missed (we missed it too, whatever it is), but we all knew that already as well.
Remember this, from the DVOA commentary last week?
FO's Adjusted Line Yards stats rank the Saints 29th stopping runs around left end or right end, but fourth stopping runs listed as going behind a guard or up the middle.
Willie Parker knows this, I think.
St. Louis Rams 22 at Seattle Seahawks 24
Doug Farrar: I really wonder about the Rams' defensive strategy on Seattle's first drive. Center Robbie Tobeck is out, and Chris Spencer isn't nearly as experienced with the line calls. St. Louis is allowing huge seams for Maurice Morris on the ground, and you'd think they'd account for the run a bit more.
This should also be an interesting battle between right tackles -- who between Tom Ashworth and Alex Barron will get flagged for the most false starts?
Ashworth was pathetic on the Leonard Little sack/fumble -- he was supposed to turn out to Little, and he went inside instead. Little got a free release, and Victor Adeyanju took the fumble back 89 yards for a touchdown. People don't talk about Sean Locklear (who Ashworth is replacing this week), and there's a reason why. He just does his job and blocks the right freakin' guy. Seattle put together a good drive that was wasted by two red zone penalties and a missed assignment.
St. Louis' run defense is horrid. Their interior defensive line is the rough equivalent of the San Diego secondary I watched this morning: "Oops -- I missed the assignment again!" They are accounting for the run, it turns out, but the overpursuit is laughable.
Seneca Wallace isn't going to be anyone's Damon Huard, but he looks very solid out there. Good touch, excellent mobility and a nice feel for only his third career start. He's very dangerous on the rollout, and you will see defenses reacting to that.
The Seahawks amassed 134 yards, nine first downs, and ate up nine minutes of clock before the Rams offense hit the field. And it's a 7-7 tie. I have a headache.
Mike Tanier: "Oops, I missed that Assignment Again" is my favorite Britney Spears song.
Doug Farrar: Whenever Seattle blitzes, Bulger just auto-checks to Steven Jackson in the flat. That's automatic. Jackson is on pace for 82 catches this season, and they're using him in other ways in the passing game, not just as a bailout. But Lofa Tatupu showed his reaction speed on a first quarter fake end-around to Isaac Bruce. The actual play was a swing pass right to Jackson, but Tatupu didn't pursue Bruce -- he just bulled Barron over and got Jackson for a loss. He's one of my favorite players for just that ability. It got him to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and I wonder how that Defensive Rookie of the Year award is looking on Shawne Merriman's mantle right about now.
Michael David Smith: Bulger throws a fourth-down interception that serves the exact same purpose as a coffin-corner punt. It's one thing for Ken Hamlin, who picked off the pass, not to have the presence of mind to knock it down instead of intercept it. But what's with the announcers not bothering to notice that the interception was actually a good play for St. Louis?
Doug Farrar: I dunno, but J.C. Pearson sure does look a lot like Tiger Woods.
Tatupu is having his best game of the season. He was the only player to intercept a Marc Bulger pass all year (first SEA-STL game) until the end of that drive, and he almost did it again in the third quarter when he read a swing pass to Isaac Bruce and batted it in the air.
Ned Macey: Nice two-play combo by Richie Incognito. Jackson runs in the go-ahead TD, but people start pushing, and Incognito picks up the personal foul. On the two-point conversion, he picks up a hold. The ensuing kickoff (15 yards back) gets run to midfield, and now Josh Brown will have a very makeable game-winner.
Another KCW nomination would be Linehan. Rams driving, third-and-6, Bulger throws short of the first down to Curtis. Play ruled incomplete. Right before the field goal is snapped, Linehan challenges (Wilkins hit the meaningless FG). Winning the challenge, Linehan now has fourth-and-1 at about the 11. Having challenged, he has to go for it and calls a play for Klopfenstein in the end zone. They now look like they're going to lose by less than three points.
Bill Barnwell: I had a couple and their third wheel next to me at the bar and they were screaming at every little thing in the Seahawks game, just randomly yelling out Seahawks like they were in the stadium, actually cheering for that interception inside the five as if it were the greatest play a Seahawk has ever made. Just an utter mess. You ever go to or watch a game you have no rooting interest in and have people around you make want the team they're supporting to lose? We need a name for those people. Anti-fans?
Has there ever been an easier 80+ yard punt return in history than Nate Burleson's? He ran straight ahead the entire time and moved out of that line exactly once -- to deke out the punter.
Richie Incognito is the real-life embodiment of the fat guy from Varsity Blues.
Doug Farrar: The odd thing about the Seattle win wasn't the Josh Brown field goal to end it, to be sure -- Brown kicked the game-winner in St. Louis as well. But Nate Burleson's punt return touchdown was the Seahawks' first in three years, and the Incognito penalty which pushed the Jeff Wilkins kickoff back 15 yards is exactly the kind of boneheaded maneuver Seattle's normally moribund special teams unit would commit. Up here in South Alaska, we're not at all used to special teams winning ballgames.
The Seahawks also clawed their way to 6-3, and a two-game-plus-tiebreakers lead in their division, despite being without their starting quarterback, halfback, center, right guard, and slot receiver.
Denver Broncos 17 at Oakland Raiders 13
Mike Tanier: This was a heck of a game if you hate drives, offense, or football in general. After four possessions, the Broncos had 17 yards of offense and two turnovers. Luckily, they were playing the Raiders offense, and one 15-yard touchdown drive was about all they could muster.
The score was 13-7 forever. The Raiders weren't sitting on the lead; they were passing and passing some more. Of course, their passing game stinks, so they kept punting. The Broncos responded with another Plummer pick and some do-nothing drives. Meanwhile, I wrote some of these emails, fed the baby, played Justice League with my three-year old, checked the Cowboys-Cardinals score. Yawn.
Finally, the Broncos put together a nice little drive. Plummer tried to fumble the ball away, but a teammate jumped on it. Fourth-and-goal, they execute this beautiful play-action pass which will be on the highlight films. Actually, I think the hard count was the best thing about the play; a couple of Raiders defenders lost balance and had no forward momentum at the snap.
Anyway, the game was dull and awful, and I wish I had watched Saints-Steelers, or a replay of the Chargers game.
Dallas Cowboys 27 at Arizona Cardinals 10
Bill Barnwell: Edgerrin James doesn't look like his confidence has been shot. It looks like it's been [extremely graphic depiction of violence].
Chicago Bears 38 at New York Giants 20
Aaron Schatz: Am I wrong, or did the Giants depend almost entirely on a pass rush from the front four last year? This is the second game -- Atlanta being the other -- where I've noticed just a ton of cornerback blitzes, and they are working beautifully. (For all I know, the Giants have also done this in a number of other games this year that I just didn't happen to watch.)
"Hi, Brandon Jacobs? This is Steve Smith. When you finally give birth to that football, give me a ring, I can give you some wiping tips."
Mike Tanier: The Giants did a lot of zone blitzing last year. Most of the designs were to free up Strahan or Umenyiora, so they would blitz the gaps to try and tie up the guards and isolate the offensive tackles on Gappy or Osi, or blitz wide and stunt the two stars.
I heard that Tiki Barber was there for the conception and the first two trimesters. Jacobs is strictly a delivery room dad. Sorry, that's awful.
Doug Farrar: I guess Plax was right -- Chicago DBs just pick off what's thrown right at them. Like the stupid jump ball that Eli Manning couldn't even get over the head of Charles Tillman.
Mike Tanier: I usually wind up rooting against the out of town team whose "fan" at the bar feels the need to curse out the players he is supposedly rooting for every time they do something wrong. I usually assume that the dude is a gambler and I just want him to lose money. Mind you, I know guys who will put $500 on some random game, get hit with a 35-3 loss, then shrug their shoulders and try to make their money back on Monday Night. The dude in the corner screaming "F***n Rex Grossman you m****f****n a*****e", I guarantee, has about $25 riding on the game.
Aaron Schatz: How far back CAN Eli Manning run? 20 yards? 30? Did Aaron Brooks take over his body in some sort of "Freaky Friday" accident?
Ian Dembsky: Deep in the red zone, Eli had one of his patented overthrows to Burress, after which Feely missed a makeable field goal. Then on the next posession, when he should have thrown the ball high to Burress, he underthrew him for an easy Chicago interception.
Aaron Schatz: I feel like the Giants were really dominating the game for about a quarter and a half, and then it suddenly changed at the end of the first half, and now they've turned into the gang that couldn't shoot straight. It's eerily like today's Pats-Jets game.
Ian Dembsky: The officials just called a completely non-existent horse-collar tackle penalty on Chicago. I swear, the horse-collar penalty has been a total debacle since its inception. I've yet to see it called correctly.
Mike Tanier: When did Grossman get good again?
Ian Dembsky: Madden said it best when he said that this game is like a heavyweight fight. Both lines are battling to establish dominance, and it keeps going back and forth quarter-by-quarter. For the football purist, this has been a truly excellent game.
(Devin Hester runs back a missed field goal for a 108-yard touchdown.)
Al Bogdan: The short field goal attempt returned for a touchdown is easily my favorite play in all of football. Except, of course, when it's against the Giants. Glad I decided to stop working and start paying attention to this game.
Aaron Schatz: The Giants just fell asleep, and I am stunned, although not as stunned as they probably are. This is one of the great "fell asleep" plays ever, along with that one where the Broncos forgot to touch Marvin Harrison.
Ned Macey: How does the old missed FG return for a TD get scored in DVOA? The killer play on that drive was going for the whole first down on the third-and-forever. Why not just take the free 10 yards, get a makeable field goal and try and cut it to 1 point?
Aaron Schatz:DVOA treats that as just a missed FG. The rest of it is a "nonpredictive event." A totally awesome nonpredictive event.
Ned Macey:Now we'll see if Eli's 145 fourth-quarter QB rating is up for the task. No idea why he generally plays better later, but that pass 10 feet over the receiver's head on second down may mean this isn't his day. And as I write that, another overthrow for an interception.
Doug Farrar: At this point in time, I'm obligated to say that Eli Manning is really coming along.
Ian Dembsky: Wow, did Eli look completely horrible on that last series. Good for Bill though; his Catholic Match Girl Staredown Lock of the Week (Chicago +2) is looking safe.
Aaron Schatz: They showed Jay Feely sitting there with his head in his hands after the play -- I hope he doesn't feel that was his fault. That was NOT his fault. Dude, when you are short on the field goal, it's the responsibility of the 10 other big guys on your team to tackle the guy from Chicago.
Since they were talking about the "swirling winds of the Meadowlands," I should remind everyone of the Audibles from a couple weeks ago where I pointed out that the Meadowlands doesn't affect special teams any more than other cold-weather stadiums.
Al Bogdan: Prior to that, Feely had been the best Giant on special teams coverage all game. On at least two kickoffs he was the primary defender that brought down the ball carrier.
The more I think about it, if that play didn't happen against the Giants, it would be in the running for the best play I've ever seen, right behind the Marino fake spike/TD against the Jets. What a brilliant job by Hester faking out the entire Giants roster before he ran the ball back 108 yards.
Ian Dembsky: Not to be picky, but why didn't the Giants go for it on fourth-and-10, down 18 with 7 minutes to go? They were near midfield; no reason not to give it a shot there. You have to try.
Aaron Schatz: And Ian officially channels Gregg Easterbrook. Next, he'll be discussing carbon emissions in next year's SUVs.
Bill Barnwell: Begin Giants fan time.
Eli Manning is f*****g terrible. Every one of our readers who bitches about us saying he sucks is a Manning relative.
End Giants fan time.
There's also something very sad about Michaels associating "blogging" and "blathering" when the whole reason that a blogosphere exists and that people pay attention to it is the utter drivel coming out of the mainstream sports media. Ugh.
Bits 'n' Pieces
Bill Barnwell: Want to know what's worse than the "This Is Our Country" ad? Three different TVs showing two different versions of the ad while the music blares out in a bar.
Aaron Schatz: Great comment in open thread: "Not only does that ad not make me want to buy a Chevy, it makes me want to join Al Qaeda."
Tim Gerheim: You're both on a DHS list right about now.
(This is normally where we write about Any Given Sunday and Every Play Counts, but we're not sure what we're doing yet. So much to choose from!)