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.
Oakland Raiders 13 at Kansas City Chiefs 17
Ian Dembsky: Kansas City's first drive of the game: 10 rushes for 73 yards, one pass for three yards, finished off with a rushing touchdown. Welcome back, Trent Green!
Mike Tanier: Happy birthday, Larry Johnson. Don't go out celebrating: you have another game on Thursday.
The Raiders lost Robert Gallery and LaMont Jordan in this game. Maybe they should be the team that plays Ohio State...
Ned Macey: I flip over in the fourth quarter; the Chiefs are losing, and Green has 12 attempts? He made a couple nice throws to lead them down for the game-winner. Then comes the sequence only the Raiders could pull off. Walter is in because Brooks' hand is hurt. He makes a couple erratic throws and a couple of completions. In comes Brooks for the great pass down the middle to get the ball inside the 10. Next pass goes right to a KC defender.
Buffalo Bills 24 at Houston Texans 21
Michael David Smith: Kickoff was half an hour ago and J.P. Losman already has 184 passing yards. The Texans may have some problems in their secondary.
Doug Farrar: Talk about feast or famine -- of those 184 passing yards, Lee Evans has three catches for 180, and two other Buffalo receivers have a catch each for two.
Aaron Schatz: They just showed the two Buffalo touchdowns on halftime highlights. Both of them had Demarcus Faggins in coverage and he was badly beaten both times. By the way, in fantasy football my opponent this week (not a FO guy) left Evans on his bench. Wow, am I lucky.
Tim Gerheim: It turns out that Lee Evans has a tremendous skill as a wide receiver: He can run very, very fast. He didn't do much of anything clever on either of his touchdowns, he just outran Demarcus Faggins. Now, I'm the last one who will say anything bad about a guy named "Demarcus," and on balance I like Faggins, mainly for his not being Phillip Buchanon. But he was undrafted for a reason -- he's not that fast. And since the Texans don't have any NFL-caliber safeties, there was no help over the top once Evans beat him.
One of the findings from the game charting project that surprised me most was how few teams match up their best corner against the opponent's best receiver. I don't entirely understand why that is to this day. I particularly don't understand it when you're the Texans against the Bills. Dunta Robinson hasn't had so great a year, but he's still probably our best defender. The Bills are the Panthers light -- put four guys around their top wide receiver and they can't move the ball (at least when McGahee is out). Why the Texans played the first quarter with Faggins and little safety help on Evans I'll never know.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Cleveland Browns 20
Ian Dembsky: Uh-oh ... Bad Ben Roethlisberger is back. Another interception returned for a touchdown against the Steelers.
Ryan Wilson: If you want to know how bad Pittsburgh's kickoff team is, Sean Morey is returning kicks for the second straight week and he just busted one 76 yards.
Ian Dembsky: The pride of Brown University! Of course, Big Ben immediately followed this up with his second interception of the game.
Ryan Wilson: I have no idea how Cleveland didn't win this game and that's with Droughns and Bodden out. Jeff Davidson has done a nice job calling plays since Maurice Carthon got axed (which reminds me ... MDS, I'm guessing Matt Millen will draft Maurice Carthon as the OC with the Lions' top 5 pick). Chaz Frye wasn't asked to do a lot, took a lot of three-step drops, and Jason Wright did a very nice job running wherever Casey Hampton wasn't.
Not surprisingly, Joey Porter was smacking his gums pre-game at Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards. At one point, Winslow stiff-armed Porter for an 8-yard gain and it might've been the only time all season Porter didn't have anything to say. Of course, a play later he sacked Frye, so it was short-lived.
Roethlisberger continues to act like a guy who's suffered a bunch of blows to the head in a short time. He looked to have Raiders flashbacks in the first half, throwing another pick-six. (It was so bad the Steelers radio guys were wondering what the season record was for picks-six. Currently Ben has four.) He calmed down in the second half, stringing together two very nice drives, the final one putting the Steelers up for good.
Still, the special teams is a joke (see Sean Morey reference above). It's hard to tell if the defense is regressing or if they're just really tired from being on the field for 30 minutes a game.
New England Patriots 35 at Green Bay Packers 0
Aaron Schatz: The big news after the first half in Green Bay is that 1) Brett Favre has been awful and 2) Brett Favre is now injured. Favre couldn't hit anyone in the first half -- almost every throw was overthrown by a good 2-3 yards. For a while, we thought perhaps Favre was replaced by Eli Manning. His mechanics were off, but it was hard to tell just what was up -- he had velocity, but everything was high. Then in the last minute, he was sacked and went down very awkwardly -- basically, it was a replay of the current Playstation 3 Madden commercial that demonstrates the new gang tackling physics, except with Bruschi and Banta-Cain as the defenders and Favre in the Dallas Clark role. He got up and looked like both his knee and shoulder were hurt. Officially, it is his shoulder. (Later, they changed that to his elbow.) It's 21-0, and so we might as well see what we're getting with Aaron Rodgers, because it is really hard to see the Packers coming back in this game, Favre or no Favre.
I know that the Patriots have injuries in the secondary, but really, enough with the Troy Brown thing. That was supposed to be for emergencies only. He has two penalties so far as a defensive back this year, and at one point he was in man coverage on Donald Driver. Donald Driver? My god, if you are going to be playing Brown as a defensive back, he is supposed to be on Ruvell "NFL Europe isn't meaningless after all" Martin.
Bill Moore: Brown always lines up against the slot. The thought is that he plays that position, so its easier for him to defend.
Ian Dembsky: Man, Dan Dierdorf is AWFUL!!! This is the worst commentary I've ever heard. He's already made three completely wrong calls based on what was obvious on the field.
Aaron Schatz: From now on, I will be referring to Dan Dierdorf as "The Rockefeller Skank" because he must say the phrase "right about now" roughly every 30 seconds.
Right about now, the Pats inexplicably came out with Brady in the slot and Maroney at quarterback, then everyone shifted around and got into their normal positions. What was the point of this?
Bill Moore: Two weeks ago, the Jets did this with Pennington. I don't get it. Are you, as a defender, really afraid of covering Brady or Pennington? If anything, I'm taking advantage of the five-yard pop.
Aaron Schatz: Right about now, the Pats brought in Vinny Testaverde to kneel down three times at the end of the game. How does the NFL pension work? Does this give Testaverde a better pension by giving him an additional year of service? According to Mike Reiss, Testaverde came in and told everyone "ok, quarterback sneak on one" and then just started laughing.
Michael David Smith: I believe once you've played your 10th season you're fully vested in the pension. Vinny's way past that.
Tennessee Titans 31 at Philadelphia Eagles 13
Aaron Schatz: Highlights just showed Travis Henry 70-yard run against Philly. The Eagles apparently forgot to practice tackling after the Jacksonville game. You would have expected that to teach them a lesson. Now apparently it's 23-6 Tennessee. This can't all be McNabb's injury. I don't get it -- the Eagles have been so good all year, except, apparently, against the AFC South.
Mike Tanier: There is a rumor circulating in Philly that the boys were out a little late last night celebtating Donovan McNabb's birthday. They played hungover today. Season over.
Ryan Wilson: Hmm. I wonder if the Steelers were invited to McNabb's birthday bash.
Aaron Schatz: Right about now, CBS is reporting that McNabb has a torn right ACL. Sigh.
St. Louis Rams 0 at Carolina Panthers 15
Mike Tanier: Marc Bulger just got buried today. Sometimes I think the loss of Pace was the difference, and sometimes I think it was just "that's the Panthers front four and they will get their pressure no matter what." But sometimes I think max protect was backfiring. The Rams were only putting three guys into routes, and the Panthers were getting sacks when nobody was open and the free linebackers started attacking.
Other thoughts: Steve Smith is amazing (duh), Jake Delhomme is having a lot of trouble finding any receiver not named Steve Smith, and the Rams run defense really needs work.
Ned Macey: This was a case of Linehan getting severely outcoached. It was like he didn't know that Carolina would attack the line with Pace hurt. Then when they kept blitzing, he started the massive mass protection so nobody was open down field. They had no underneath throws in the game plan to keep the linebackers honest. They did seem to always know where Peppers was; unfortunately, they never blocked anybody else.
Delhomme is a solid starter, but he is painful to watch. He made one good throw the whole game on the TD to Smith. His interception was a bad throw. In his defense, it came after he made a nice adjustment and hit Smith for a would-be TD, but the play call was a screen, so they had blockers downfield.
Washington Redskins 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20
Ryan Wilson: I only saw bits and pieces of this game, but Jason Campbell looked pretty good. His first play was a bomb down the left side to Brandon Lloyd, who couldn't make the play. Mark Brunell couldn't make that throw if he was given a cut-off man. Al Saunders' offense looks a lot better when the quarterback can throw the ball downfield.
Campbell did miss on some throws, but he didn't play like it was his first game. And after seeing him, I can only wonder what Joe Gibbs was thinking in staying with Brunell. Especially when guys like Vince Young and Matt Leinart are starting.
T.J. Duckett also made his weekly cursory appearance, and on his first carry (at least the first one I saw) he treaded about three Bucs defenders for a 15-yard gain.
Atlanta Falcons 10 at Baltimore Ravens 24
Michael David Smith: The Falcons' coverage units allowed Ravens returner B.J. Sams to have punt returns of 65 and 59 yards and a kickoff return of 59 yards. Might need to work on that this week.
Atlanta went for it on fourth-and-inches on its first possession, only to have Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs stuff running back Warrick Dunn behind the line of scrimmage. That set the tone for a really crappy day by Dunn and Jerious Norwood.
Credit where it's due: Vick rolled to his left and threw a beautiful strike to Michael Jenkins in the end zone. Falcons' only highlight, basically.
Head coach Brian Billick, who has called the plays since firing offensive coordinator Jim Fassel last month, outsmarted himself on a fourth-and-1. Instead of just a simple handoff up the middle, Billick called a backward pass to wide receiver Mark Clayton, who had trouble handling the ball and was drilled behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of five yards.
A highly questionable pass interference call on Samari Rolle gave Atlanta a big boost in the third quarter. The replay clearly showed that Falcons receiver Ashley Lelie initiated the contact and should have been called for offensive pass interference, but coaches can't challenge pass interference calls, so the penalty stood.
Cincinnati Bengals 31 at New Orleans Saints 16
Michael David Smith: Cincinnati has had injuries on its offensive line all season. This week left tackle Levi Jones was out, and his replacement, Andrew Whitworth, was beaten by Saints defensive end Will Smith for a sack. But overall Carson Palmer did a good job getting rid of the ball quickly.
Saints receiver Terrence Copper fumbled late in the first half. He really has a problem with that.
Indianapolis Colts 14 at Dallas Cowboys 21
Michael David Smith: Manning is getting no protection at all. He has already fumbled twice, both when he was drilled by guys who weren't even slowed down on their way into the Colts' backfield.
Bill Moore: Is it me, or does Romo pump fake on almost every play? I have to imagine, using it so often reduces its effectiveness.
Aaron Schatz: Why are the Colts still starting Dominic Rhodes?
Will Carroll: Dungy likes Rhodes. Addai still can't pick up the blitz quite as well.
Newman just got crushed. CRUSHED. As he "sat up," his arms were locked and his eyes were closed. The ref was trying to keep him down, but his teammates picked him up. Watch -- he'll be right back in the game. Manning's savvy enough to go right at him with a double move.
Aaron Schatz: AGAIN the Colts get the good luck of an opposing field goal kicker shanking a field goal. Yay, Vanderjagt contract. Then, they call roughing the passer on Marcus Spears as he's trying to avoid Peyton Manning and, while trying to regain his balance, bumped him slightly, not even knocking him down. Ridiculous call.
Michael David Smith: It really is amazing how incompetent the Colts are on defense and special teams. I mean, how do you let the opposition back into field goal range when you score a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the half? The only way they could be any worse on defense or special teams is if they still had Vanderjagt.
The Cowboys sure are playing a lot of 4-3 for a team that usually plays the 3-4 and is up against an offense whose supposed weakness is playing against the 3-4.
Aaron Schatz: I noticed that too -- specifically, on the final drive of the second quarter, where the Colts finally scored. The Cowboys just stopped getting pressure on Manning, and suddenly, voila, good offense marching down the field. Go back to the 3-4, kids.
Cowboys just intercept the ball on a tip from Harrison and return it for a touchdown. This is, of course, a total fluke, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
Did anyone think that Vanderjagt would actually make that field goal to end the second quarter?
Bill Barnwell: There's no way the Cowboys do not cut Vanderjagt this week.
Ned Macey: I don't think anyone likes Vanderjagt, and I know he's struggled all year, but I have to say Vinatieri shanked two makeable field goals including a game clincher against his old team.
Aaron Schatz: Perhaps Vinatieri did miss two field goals against the Patriots, but Vanderjagt is doing this in every game and averaging something like 57 yards per kickoff. I mean, come on.
Ned Macey: I think the 3-4 thing is just a given with the Colts offense. Saturday hates having someone line up over him. The line is still confused about who is coming from the outside. Linebackers are in the way on Harrison's short in. There is too much talent to not score some points (2004 AFC playoffs against NE aside), but they have not figured this out at all.
They are definitely pulling out their tricks today. Wayne and Harrison on the same side. Wayne in the slot, as he was on the TD. And a rare Aaron Moorehead sighting.
As I write, Manning gets picked again (this time more his fault since he threw into triple coverage, even if Harrison could have held on).
At the same time, this game is encouraging because this is the Colts 2005 defense re-appearing. Very quick and making big plays. We'll see if that holds, but if I were Dallas I would throw the ball a fair amount this half until I never saw a safety in the box.
As for Rhodes, I can't really believe it is pass protection because down the stretch against Denver they had him on the field. This is a seniority play, and if it shaves 5 carries a game off for Addai to keep him fresh, then I guess I don't really care.
Bill Moore: OK, quick. If Dallas gets the ball inside a 40+ yard Vanderjagt FG, do they kick it?
Ned Macey: I can't be too distraught about a game that told us nothing we didn't already know. The defensive improvement I noted in the first half disappeared, but one good half is better than usual. They had a chance inside the ten-yard line. Unlike Denver, NYJ, and whatever other late comebacks, this one came up just short. I've never been a big Brandon Stokley guy, but they do miss him. It is asking too much of Clark to consistently have to beat cornerbacks.
One final thing: I don't always love Nantz-Simms, but I thought this was the first Dallas game I watched with the appropriate amount of TO coverage. Much appreciated. And predictably, the Colts took him out only to get beat repeatedly by Glenn. The five-yard slant turned into a slant-and-go was beautiful.
Aaron Schatz: When the announcers are praising the way Marc Colombo is taking out your defenders, your defense has a hard time against the run. Those last three Dallas drives were just bam, bam, bam down the field â€“ the Colts couldn't seem to stop anything. If Manning hits that fourth-and-2 for the touchdown, does anyone doubt that the Cowboys just march right down the field to score again? (A touchdown, of course -- they wouldn't be able to actually make a field goal.)
Now we can go back to talking about the Colts with sanity. No longer does everyone have to praise them because they have a magical power to make opposing field goal kickers miss, and we can talk about what they really are: a great offense, a bad defense, atrocious special teams, one of the top teams in the NFL but not a Super Bowl favorite.
Meanwhile, in the preseason I was really skeptical of the idea that the Cowboys were going to be a major contender this year. But Romo looks excellent and with the Giants and now Eagles wrecked by injuries, they could win that division and make some noise in the playoffs. Right about now, I am definitely a believer in the Cowboys.
Mike Tanier: The Cowboys have a great shot to make the playoffs, thanks to the presence of Jeff Garcia in the picture and the general weakness of the NFC. But Romo is still working his way through his first five games. After five games, opposing coaches have enough film of you to really break down what you are doing. You'll often see "hot" new quarterbacks go cold in about their fifth or sixth game as opponents start adjusting to them.
Seattle Seahawks 14 at San Francisco 49ers 20
Mike Tanier: Is that Rick Pitino coaching the Niners?
It looks like the Seahawks defense hasn't figured out how to defend screens or misdirection plays yet.
Doug Farrar: Question: Does Mike Nolan fidget this much when he's NOT wearing a suit?
Seneca Wallace's first-quarter interception was predicated on two factors -- his inability to follow through on a too-quick play action sell to Shaun Alexander (which kept the pressure on him and perhaps forced an early throw), and the inexplicable decision to throw deep into triple coverage. Not sure if he was just heaving a wobbler to Darrell Jackson, or if he was throwing to a zone and Jerramy Stevens showed up late, but man, that was ugly. The second quarter pick was just goofy -- he threw right to Walt Harris, who was in front of Deion Branch.
What makes Wallace valuable in another sense is his ability to make something out of nothing, as he did earlier in that drive when his protection broke down and he eluded several defenders for a long first down. He reminds me of film I've seen of Marlin Briscoe, the old Denver quarterback.
Frank Gore is wearing the big boy pants. He ran through nine in the box on what looked like an overload right. Gore simply went the other way. All he had to do was bounce off cornerback Kelly Herndon and saunter for 51 yards. 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner apparently told Gore that there would be some misdirection in the playbook this week. Good call against a Seattle defense that sometimes overpursues. On the next play, Ken Hamlin was late on an Alex Smith pass to Eric Johnson. I've seen Hamlin arrive late for coverage more than before this season. While I hesitate to blame the head injuries he suffered last year without knowing of any concrete medical evidence, it has crossed my mind.
People are starting to observe more publicly what we were once trying to overlook in the Northwest: fullback Mack Strong is blocking absolutely horribly this year. Always a stalwart road grader through his first twelve seasons, his inability to keep rushing plays going past the first hit is a real (and very surprising) problem. For Seattleites, this is the biggest hit to a local sports institution since Edgar Martinez' bat speed went to heck in 2004.
Mike Tanier: I take that back. I got a better look at Nolan. That tie is a clip on. Rick Pitino wouldn't blow his nose on that suit.
Doug Farrar: Mike Tanier, Reebok Spokesman...
The Seahawks' defense seems to have skipped tackling school this week. Frank Gore is just gashing the front four, and the first hits he's getting are from cornerbacks. Alex Smith just set the score at 16-0 with a rollout right and dive into the end zone. Sheesh.
Seattle really isn't playing well in any aspect of the game, but I don't want it to seem that San Francisco isn't anything more than that formerly bad team taking what they're given. They're the ones capitalizing on errors. They're the ones sustaining drives and carrying the momentum. And their defensive turnaround over the last two games has been impressive, coming as it does with the standard Minnesota and Detroit disclaimers.
Mike Tanier: We did put Frank Gore on the cover last year, didn't we?
Aaron Schatz: No, we didn't put Gore on the cover. He was another one of the names we were tossing around as ideas, like Philip Rivers.
Mike Tanier: Rats. Can we put Leon Washington on the cover next year?
Doug Farrar: I tend to wonder if Maurice Morris isn't the best option at running back for Seattle's current offensive line. While Shaun Alexander is a back who is very good at following blockers, waiting for holes to develop, and cutting back or bouncing outside quickly if they don't, Morris is more of an instant-fast, cut once and go guy. This line is just good enough for Morris' ability to do that (at least it was over the last two wins, when Floyd Womack was in at left guard), but I don't think there's enough talent, or enough continuity, for Alexander's modus operandi. It's hard to bounce outside when the outside has collapsed. And it's near-impossible to productively cut back into a wall of defenders.
It still amazes me that the Seahawks gave Alexander that huge off-season contract, and they wouldn't pony up an extra $600,000 to keep (by franchising instead of transitioning) Steve Hutchinson, the man who was as responsible as anyone for making Alexander's style so effective.
Detroit Lions 10 at Arizona Cardinals 17
Michael David Smith: So, honestly, now that the Lions are getting their asses kicked by Arizona, can anyone think of any plausible reason that Matt Millen should still have a job? I'm already getting a sick feeling in my stomach thinking about how Millen will spend next year's Top 5 pick.
Aaron Schatz: Millen didn't sign Mike Vanderjagt to a big contract, so, you know, that's a point in his favor.
Ned Macey: The Lions have gotten a free pass so far in Detroit with first the Tigers and then Michigan. Now, since we can't spend the next three weeks talking only about BCS scenarios, I think it could get ugly here. Considering this is his THIRD coach in six years, how can it possibly not be mostly his fault?
Michael David Smith: Would you like to know who's playing receiver for the Lions now? Josh McCown. Seriously. Josh McCown. Matt Millen spent a Top 10 pick on Mike Williams, and now he can't beat out a quarterback for playing time at wide receiver. And not a particularly fast quarterback either.
San Diego Chargers 35 at Denver Broncos 27
Mike Tanier: Chargers just ripped off a 99 yard drive mixing runs and passes, guys like Lorenzo Neal and Michael Turner making good plays in addition to a healthy dose of LT. C'mon, guys. I am miserable about the Eagles and at least want my picks to look good this week.
Michael David Smith: I keep hearing how LaDainian Tomlinson reminds everybody of Barry Sanders. Can I just say that I don't see that at all? Barry's brilliance was that he'd out-juke five people before he even crossed the line of scrimmage. Tomlinson's strength is exactly the opposite -- he doesn't do any juking until he's through the hole. They just don't seem similar at all to me.
Doug Farrar: I would agree. Maybe it's a size perception issue? Tomlinson runs more like Joe Morris than he does Sanders. Hell, he runs more like Maurice Morris than he does Sanders.
Bill Barnwell: Speaking of jukes, everyone needs to go out of their way to see Laurence Maroney take five points off of Nick Barnett's 2008 agility rating in Madden on the Patriots' last touchdown today. If that had been an And 1 game, Barnett would've been sent home.
Mike Tanier: I don't see Sanders or Joe Morris. Maybe a little of a Tony Dorsett thing, though LT is stronger and Dorsett was faster and just looked smoother when he ran. Walter Payton, maybe, though even LT isn't the finisher Payton was.
Two long drives by the Broncos to counter the Chargers' one long drive. It's odd to see the Chargers miss two third-and-shorts.
Aaron Schatz: That Darrant Williams interception was just an awful, awful throw by Philip Rivers.
Mike Tanier: Yep. He bounced back with some good throws on the next drive. They may have dug too deep a hole. Oh great, now the Chargers are acting like the Eagles.
LT scores on a 51-yard seam pass.
Aaron Schatz: It turns out that if you have LaDainian Tomlinson on your team, there may be no such thing as a hole too deep. This also goes for my fantasy team which had a terrible week until about ten minutes ago.
Mike Tanier: Arrgh, stop letting Mike Bell run off left tackle!
I have LT in two leagues. I leave lineups that look like they are thrown together by my four-year old, and as long as I don't forget LT, I win. Mike Bell is also on one of my teams, but of course he is sitting the bench because I am afraid Shanny is going to give Nash Bridges 30 carries to prove a point.
LT, let's see, is like Billy Sims when Sims was at his peak, but LT's peak has been twice as long. O.J.? Don't remember him in his prime, but the running styles are similar I think.
Ian Dembsky: Whoohoo! It's another edition of "NBCee it"! Oh, wait ... I don't care. Especially since the graphics make it look like a replay on my NES.
Mike Tanier: Fourth-and-4 and the stage is set for some Shottenheimerian gaffe for the ages...
Michael David Smith: Absolutely horrible clock management for Denver, wasting the timeout before the fourth down play, then tackling Tomlinson inches short of the end zone instead of just letting him score and getting the ball back with plenty of time to score and get the two-point conversion for overtime.
Bill Barnwell: A) Igor Olshansky is a buffoon.
B) Even more so, Tom Nalen is a scumbag.
Aaron Schatz: It's a shonda.
Mike Tanier: Let me provide the narrative to surround the Nalen-Olshansky thing.
So on fourth-and-4, the Chargers intercept a Jake Plummer pass and take the ball deep into Broncos territory. They then feed LT the ball. Nick Ferguson makes a nice play to stop the clock, all but carrying LT out of bounds, but then the Broncos make the tackle on the one-yard line that MDS mentioned.
The two-minute warning hits. Broncos are out of timeouts. Marty decides to eat his cake and have it. He has Rivers roll over at the goal line -- not kneel, but roll so they don't lose yardage. That burns about 30 seconds. Then, LT scores. Marcus McNeill gives Ian Gold a little extra-curricular, Gold retaliates, and there's a 15-yard penalty on the kickoff.
Another smart call: the Chargers execute a high kickoff instead of booting it through the end zone. Cecil Sapp has a brain cramp, diving for the ball and falling at about the three-yard line. I guess there's a slim chance that the Chargers could have fielded the kickoff if it bounced, but it's not clear why Sapp made this diving catch.
Of course, the stage is set for The Drive 2. Plummer throws some ugly passes, then completes a long one on fourth down to Walker at the 34-yard line. The Broncos line up to spike, Plummer spikes, and Nalen just decides, what the hell, I'll dive straight for Igor Olshansky's kneecaps. Olshansky punches Nalen three times and draws a 15-yard penalty and an ejection. Marty goes buck nutty on Igor.
Then, Plummer hits Rod Smith for 14 yards. About 25 seconds left. Drayton Florence makes the tackle, then grabs the ball and tosses it away from the official. Defensive delay of game. Five more yards. Clock stopped. Two idiotic plays by the Chargers.
Luckily, there's a sack and a fumble on the next play and the Chargers win.
That being said:
I ROCK! MY TWO BIG PICKS IN RUNDOWN CAME OUT RIGHT THIS WEEK! USA! USA! SCREW FLANDERS!
Bill Barnwell: There was actually a second penalty on the Broncos for unsportsmanlike conduct towards an official -- group whining perhaps -- and that was an extra 15 yards, meaning Nate Kaeding was kicking off from the BRONCOS' 40-yard line. Merely lining up for this kickoff took about four minutes.
Also, in the latest embarrassing shot of the week, Marcus McNeill's fly is down on the shot where they were showing his broken hands.
Mike Tanier: Forgot about that. I think Williams said the 10-letter c-word.
Bill Barnwell: Celebration? No, wait, that's 11 letters.
Bits 'n' Pieces
Will Carroll: This Maloof-Hardee's commercial is just plain classic.
Favre out. McNabb out. Bad day for a lot of fantasy teams. I'd expected a lot of QB injuries at the start of the season, but then read Michael Lewis' book and second-guessed myself. Now, we're starting to see it again. A coach told me mid-season that the NFL would consider a "leaving your feet" rule, where a tackler couldn't leap at a QB. I thought he was joking at the time. Now if he told me that the QB would now wear a flag, I wouldn't be surprised. Given that, why don't more teams emulate the Colts? The NFL is hardly shy about copycatting â€“ protect-first line, block-first RB, keeping two TEs in to make those edge rushers go further, and more.
Ryan Wilson: My wife and I just had this conversation after a "60 Minutes" promo pimping a Joe Namath interview:
Me: Can you believe "60 Minutes" thinks Joe Namath having a drinking problem is newsworthy?
My wife: Does that have to do with the Suzy Culpepper incident?
Yeah, my wife doesn't really follow football, but I wonder who should be more offended, Daunte or Suzy. I'm going with Suzy.
Ian Dembsky: Conversation overheard at NBC: "Can we un-flex Philly at Indianapolis and go back to Chicago at New England instead??"
Later This Week
Any Given Sunday: 49ers over Seahawks
Every Play Counts: Larry Johnson