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.
Pittsburgh Steelers 41 at St. Louis Rams 24 (Thursday)
Aaron Schatz: What's wrong with the Steelers defense? Thoughts? It isn't just Aaron Smith, because the decline started before Aaron Smith got injured.
Stuart Fraser: It seems to me most of the problem is that St. Louis is running a lot of short routes, quick throws to take the Pittsburgh pass rush out of the equation. Pittsburgh is traditionally vulnerable to this because the corners rarely play tight on the wide receivers, which -- when you've got guys like Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce and an accurate quarterback -- generally means they'll make a lot of short passes. New England did the same thing (when not victimizing Anthony Smith, anyway) -- hence the five passes in a row to Welker.
The Steelers are also A) mostly worried about Steven Jackson, and B) not tackling well at all.
Another general piece of conventional wisdom about the Steelers is that their pass defense is always less effective in the final few weeks of the season, as teams figure out the blitz packages and Dick LeBeau starts holding new schemes back for the playoffs, or something.
For more on the Steelers defense, check out the early holiday edition of Every Play Counts.
Dallas Cowboys 20 at Carolina Panthers 13 (Saturday)
Doug Farrar: Well, there's Jacques Reeves, America's most targeted cornerback, getting schooled on a touchdown lob from Matt Moore to Steve Smith one play after DeAngelo Williams stiff-armed Terence Newman and put him on the bench.
Bill Barnwell: And I thought Ken Hamlin was the Cowboys' least deserving Pro Bowler -- boy, has Nick Folk had an ugly pair of first-half kickoffs.
Aaron Schatz: I don't mind Nick Folk as the NFC Pro Bowl kicker. As MDS and I discovered when he was writing his Pro Bowl article, there really were no good NFC kickers this year -- nobody was good at both field goals and kickoffs.
Mike Tanier: I had Mason Crosby of the Packers over Nick Folk for the All-Rookie Team, so I was surprised by the Pro Bowl selection as well. Crosby was the NFC scoring leader entering the week. That seemed like a pretty good reason to make him All Rookie.
Aaron Schatz: Through Week 15, Crosby was above-average on kickoffs, Folk was below average. However, Folk was worth more on field goals than Crosby. I would have picked Crosby, but like I said, I don't really mind the choice. There isn't a huge difference.
Doug Farrar: Speaking of undeserving, how many teams have running back starters who really shouldn't be, with backups who have proven to be more effective? Both teams playing tonight, the Minnesota thing seems to have resolved itself â€¦ any other teams?
Michael David Smith: The Falcons and Titans also have the lesser running back in the starting lineup.
Bill Barnwell: I really dislike Carolina's defensive game plan, especially after Terrell Owens went out. As much as I like Patrick Crayton, he's not really going to be beating Richard Marshall deep. Tony Romo's clearly not 100 percent -- it makes sense to send some blitzers to the weak side of the Cowboys' line and try and lure Romo to zip it into Jason Witten and fail.
Doug Farrar: It's especially odd in that the Seahawks employed the same sort of tentative defensive plan against Carolina last week, and Matt Moore was able to pick them apart.
Aaron Schatz: Moore is impressing me with his pocket presence in this game.
The missed pass interference against Reeves early in the fourth quarter on Drew Carter may be the most egregious pass interference non-call I've ever seen, and was a good example of why PI should be reviewable.
Doug Farrar: Yep. I ran it back a few times to see if Reeves was playing the ball at all, but he's turning his head down to Carter as the ball's coming in and before he puts his hand on Carter's arm.
Oakland Raiders 11 at Jacksonville Jaguars 49
Doug Farrar: On the second play of the game, Fred Taylor says, "Nuts to you and your Pro Bowl" and heads 62 yards for a touchdown. The Jags like the cutback, and they've got the blockers for it. This time, everyone went right and the entire Oakland defense bit because they know they have to respect that running game and their own run defense is so bad. Taylor cut left, fullback Greg Jones eliminated cornerback Michael Huff (who was more late in his overpursuit than he was in the right place), and Khalif Barnes was right downfield to block. Taylor, Jones, David Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew all scored touchdowns in the first half, and the Jaguars have now scored at least 24 points in nine straight games.
Ben Riley: Jaguars offensive line, where were you Weeks 1 through 5? Because right now, the line looks dominant, particularly after Fred Taylor plows through the open holes they are creating. And Khalif Barnes did throw a sweet downfield block on Taylor's big run.
Doug Farrar: To whatever extent playoff success is about momentum, this is the team that nobody wants to face right now. The defense is great even with the losses of Marcus Stroud and Mike Peterson (I'm very impressed with rookie linebacker Justin Durant), the offensive line is really coming along, and the special teams are exceptional -- Garrard's touchdown was set up by a 56-yard Scott Starks punt return, which was, in turn, set up by a lateral from Dennis Northcutt.
On the Oakland side, I've watched this team a few times this year, and what surprises me after last year's performance is the lack of discipline on defense. Against the Packers last week, everyone in the secondary seemed to be running around with half a clue. On Jones' touchdown today, Huff and Ricky Brown blocked each other out of the play. And dig this sequence at the end of the first half:
(:21) PENALTY on OAK-99-W.Sapp, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced at OAK 35 - No Play.
(:21) PENALTY on OAK-56-D.Burgess, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 10 yards, enforced at OAK 20 - No Play. PENALTY on OAK-99-W.Sapp, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.
(:21) PENALTY on OAK-99-W.Sapp, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 3 yards, enforced at OAK 5 - No Play.
Warren Sapp wouldn't stop mouthing off to the officials and got thrown out. On the next play, Garrard threw his third pick of the season to Kirk Morrison. One of the oddest series of events I've ever seen in a game. The weirdest part was that it all happened after a penalty called on a Jacksonville player -- illegal use of hands on Tony Pashos.
Ben Riley: Doug's play-by-play doesn't do justice to just how bizarre the entire end-of-half series really was. Warren Sapp lost his mind and yelled at various officials for approximately three minutes. Some of the other Raiders decided that Sapp was having too much fun so they started yelling too. And the entire time, Lane Kiffin just stood there, Art Shell-like, doing absolutely nothing to control his team. And even though Garrard threw a pick on the next play, Josh McCown still coughed up a fumble as time expired.
Bill Barnwell: JaMarcus Russell's in, and he's a mix of good and bad things: His motion and his footwork looks consistent, even if he's a little too quick to leave the pocket. His draw motion footwork, on the other hand, was comically bad. His accuracy is ... iffy. He overthrew a wide-open target on his first pass, but he also hit another receiver in stride when he rolled out.
Lowlight was when Russell ran left to elude pressure, and then threw a duck against his body, jumping, into coverage that closed long before the pass got there. A Jacksonville defensive back picked it off, but he fumbled on the way down and the Raiders recovered. This led to the particularly peculiar challenge by Jack Del Rio that his team did not, in fact, intercept a pass.
Russell's second interception was the same -- against the grain, into double coverage. He threw a third duck while running out of bounds, as high as he could, into coverage. It was knocked down by a Raider before Russell got hurt on the play and came off.
Tim Gerheim: I didn't see that second Russell interception the same way at all. I didn't notice where he was in the pocket, but I thought it was a fairly pretty looking pass, except that it was two or three yards overthrown. Terry Cousin was coming across and made a nice interception, but if he hadn't, somebody else (possibly safety Sammy Knight) was right behind him and would have had an easy pick.
Russell is inaccurate both in and out of the pocket. He threw something like a deep fade at some point in the second quarter and it came down too far downfield and out of bounds by about three or four yards. He's been missing passes of many different sorts, in all directions, in lots of different ways. He looks like Eli Manning on a bender.
Ben Riley: Russell did not look good. His mechanics looked very suspect, his decision-making was poor, and he struggled to avoid the rush when the pocket started to collapse. Raiders fans -- be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Doug Farrar: Quinn Gray threw a touchdown pass to Richard Angulo with five minutes left in the game for Jacksonville's 48th point. This struck me as a definite Statement Game, the first since the Pro Bowl announcements were made and the Jaguars were completely snubbed. The statement to most of America would seem to be, "How do you like us NOW?" followed by at least one profanity. I know the AFC playoffs will be a hornet's nest, especially since they'd have to play Indy and/or New England on the road â€¦ but I don't know. This is the team that could upset the established order.
Bill Barnwell: And in response, Russell threw his first touchdown pass and then the Raiders successfully completed a two-point conversion to make the score ... 49-11.
Doug Farrar: Well, if you're the Raiders, that's a statement of sorts.
Philadelphia Eagles 38 at New Orleans Saints 23
Mike Tanier: Well, I got to see the Eagles team I expected to see back in September. Better late than never, fellas.
Doug Farrar: I loved the play when Donovan McNabb scrambled for 40 yards, Josh Bullocks popped the ball out of his possession, the ball rolled into the end zone, and Kevin Curtis (playing the role of Freddie Mitchell) fell on it. Just another boring touchdown!
New York Giants 38 at Buffalo Bills 21
Bill Barnwell: Mea culpa from before the season: David Diehl and the Giants have both been better than I expected. That being said, Diehl's an acceptable placeholder, not someone who I'd want to rely on for the length of his contract. He stays too high in pass blocking and defensive linemen end up getting underneath him and driving him back into Eli Manning.
The Bills' offensive scheme on their first two drives is great. They're getting Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson out into the flats on screens. They do this much better than the Redskins. The Redskins use immediate bubble screens, which means the linebackers can flood to them. The Bills' screens are traditional and delayed, so the defensive line penetrates and overpursues the quarterback, while the linebackers have to react and then pursue. They combine this with throwing at the weak points of the Giants defense -- the linebackers, who still can't cover -- and, after the corners are looking into the backfield, deep.
Worst corner in the NFC East: Corey Webster? Will James? Jacques Reeves?
The Giants came back with a bit of luck (a bad snap on a punt that gave the Giants the ball inside the Bills' 35), some good route-running by Amani Toomer, and then smart play calls, running Brandon Jacobs behind the strong right side of the Giants' line straight at the Bills' smaller ends.
Sean McCormick: Manning is having another bad-luck game. A week after Amani Toomer dropped a long bomb, Steve Smith went ahead and did the exact same thing on a deep pass that would have resulted in a touchdown. Then, to open the third quarter, Manning had a pass knocked straight up in the air, resulting in a pick. He's not throwing the ball badly at all, especially considering the conditions, but he's not getting results.
Mike Tanier: Manning is mixing bad luck with bad play. The best part of this game so far was the sudden downpour that lasted for about half an hour. The Bills look really bad when they are playing in the elements. Which is bad news because, like, they play in Buffalo. Jason Peters got hurt early in the game and Trent Edwards was a heavy bag for the rest of the half.
Bill Barnwell: It's amazing how dramatically the Bills collapsed without Jason Peters in there. Their offense simply shut down.
Aaron Schatz: Part of that was receivers dropping a lot of passes with the wet ball, as well as a couple routes where clearly the receiver and Trent Edwards were not on the same page.
I said this when the Bills played the Patriots, and I will say again now: John DiGiorgio makes plays. They should consider moving him to the outside next year so they can keep him in the starting lineup with Paul Posluszny back. He's better than Angelo Crowell.
Of course, DiGiorgio was the only Buffalo defender making a lot of plays on the running game. Except at the goal line, Giants ran on the Bills at will. Huge, wide alleys. Great blocking. The undersized Buffalo defensive line was pushed around all day.
Michael David Smith: Just a general observation, from Bears-Packers to Bengals-Browns to Eagles-Saints and otherwise -- it always amazes me when there's one team out of the hunt and one team in the hunt, and the team that's out of it looks more motivated.
Aaron Schatz: Oddly enough, that's what I expected to happen in Buffalo: I expected the Bills to be more motivated because the Giants were falling apart. The Bills were plenty motivated, but the Giants looked motivated too, and it turns out they're the better team -- especially without Jason Peters in the game.
Mike Tanier: Well, the Bills and Saints both came out smokin'. The Eagles looked flat as hell in their first few series, and I was writing Giants Collapse Rundown scenarios in my head at around 2 p.m.
Cleveland Browns 14 at Cincinnati Bengals 19
Ryan Wilson: To add a team to MDS' list: the Bengals. The Browns could've wrapped up a postseason berth with a win, and Derek Anderson ended up throwing four picks. All four were on Anderson, too. Two resulted in 13 Cincy points, and another was tossed in the Bengals' end zone. There was some discussion that Anderson should've been a Pro Bowler, but he's way too inaccurate, and I think what David Garrard did with half the pass-catching talent is much more impressive. That said, I can buy the argument that Joe Thomas deserved the nod over Jonathan Ogden.
Vince Verhei: Anderson was, indeed, horrible today. His two interceptions just before halftime both lead to Bengals touchdowns, quickly turning a 6-0 deficit to a 19-0 gap, and when he had a chance to pull the win out at the end, he ran a very ugly two-minute drill, throwing short passes in bounds over and over again. I must also say that he got no help from his receivers. The Browns were dropping passes all day today. Much like the Eagles, the Browns team we expected to see all season showed up today.
Houston Texans 15 at Indianapolis Colts 38
Ned Macey: Went to this one in person, which probably made it a lot more enjoyable than if I had watched it on TV, where I would have been bored. The Texans scored easily on their first drive. It seems that once a game, the Colts defense looks eminently mediocre, and then the rest of the game they are very good. They shut down the Texans without any semblance of a pass rush.
We didn't see Hunter Smith until Jim Sorgi had entered the game. More remarkably and worth noting, we didn't really see Mario Williams except on a coverage sack. Tony Ugoh stoned him, admittedly with help, but Williams was a non-factor.
Tim Gerheim: That's not entirely true. Williams had one or two sacks when the game was still within reach (I think the first was at the beginning of the drive that made it 17-7, so would have made a lot of difference), but Travis Johnson hit Manning when he was down (a little bit, anyway) and negated the sack with a 15-yard penalty. I was only listening to the game, but they commented that the Colts were keeping a tight end on Williams.
The Texans often look really good on their first drive, especially if it's off the opening kickoff, and then afterward they're awful. Today, I think, was another example of that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19 at San Francisco 49ers 21
Mike Tanier: Was Jeff Garcia injured or taken out?
Bill Barnwell: Taken out, although he didn't really look great when he was in there. Not a lot of zip on his throws.
Baltimore Ravens 6 at Seattle Seahawks 27
Doug Farrar: A week after giving far too much time and too little pressure to first-time starter Matt Moore, the Seahawks wised up and are bringing extra men after first-time starter Troy Smith. Most encouraging was the fact that while Smith converted his first third down of the game against the blitz, Seattle kept bringing pressure, especially Julian Peterson off the right edge as an extra rush end. Peterson is playing at a very high level after a couple of invisible weeks. They didn't give up as they did last week after a couple of successful third-down conversions. Smith does have good mobility, and he seems to be averse to the kinds of blatant rookie mistakes I saw out of JaMarcus Russell today. Judging from the quotes I read this week from his veteran teammates, he's got the confidence of those around him.
Add the Ravens to the list of teams that apparently scout officiating crews. Bill Carollo's crew doesn't call offensive holding anywhere near the league average. And if rookie right tackle Marshal Yanda holds Patrick Kerney any tighter, I could start to make some very inappropriate jokes.
Matt Hasselbeck's second interception was pretty bad in that Hasselbeck had the kind of time he doesn't usually have anymore, he threw a quick slant to Deion Branch, and Derrick Martin easily jumped the route. His first interception was absolutely a product of a missed pass interference call on Kelly Gregg. However, there's a ray of hope with Seattle's running game. Shaun Alexander is getting some yardage in the one formation that seems to work for him at this point: running outside the guards in an I-formation, with Leonard Weaver leading the way.
Tim Gerheim: Troy Smith just threw a pass to Musa Smith, which fell incomplete. I don't mention that to point out how undermanned and/or undertalented the Ravens offense is, but because both of them have "Smith" on the back of their jerseys, not " T. Smith" and "M. Smith." Weird.
Aaron Schatz: The NFL changed the rules last year, and teammates who have the same last name no longer have to have first initials. That's why the Pats' No. 12 jersey doesn't say "T. Brady" now.
Michael David Smith: But there's a grandfather clause, so players who already had an initial on their jersey are allowed to keep it, if they want.
Aaron Schatz: Actually, I think the rule isn't that you can't do it, just that you don't have to. I think teams and players get to choose now.
Doug Farrar: I'm not nominating this for KCW because I sort of understand the thinking behind it, but â€¦ down 21-0 with 10:41 left in the third quarter from the Seattle 43-yard line, Brian Billick decides to punt on fourth-and-2. Backup running back Mike Anderson had been gashing Seattle's defensive line pretty well in relief of Willis McGahee, and I'd guess Billick was reacting more to Smith's three consecutive incompletions and just shutting down his ineffective offense. But â€¦ if not now, when? You've lost eight straight games; don't you even want to try?
Stuart Fraser: Yeah, I think "next season" is your "when" there.
Tim Gerheim: I think it's becoming clear that Brian Billick doesn't do anything unconventional that could be criticized. If he's going to be criticized, it's going to be for doing things by the book -- the book that doesn't appear to have been updated in decades.
Stuart Fraser: Oh, he does. Normally it's calling pass plays on third/fourth-and-short when you have a perfectly good running game and some rather questionable quarterbacks. I don't know what to make of Billick. You have to give him some credit for the Ravens being largely an excellent team whilst he's been there, but he never seems to do anything tremendously smart. Herm Edwards v1.5, maybe -- except that I never get the impression his players love him either.
Bill Barnwell: What happened to McGahee? And for that matter, Shaun Alexander?
Doug Farrar: McGahee hurt his ribs early in the game. Alexander is actually getting good blocks at the line of scrimmage, which makes a difference. As I've said before, he's not a one-cut-and-go guy who can slip through the tiniest opening. He needs a functional offensive line more than most other backs. He hasn't had one with any consistency since Super Bowl XL.
Ben Riley: Cadillac Williams. Santonio Holmes. Jeff Garcia. Alex Smith. Willis McGahee. What do these players have in common? They've each been knocked out of a game against the Seahawks this year. Very, very quietly, the Seahawks defense has turned into one of the most fearsome in the NFL. They still lack size in the secondary -- Jordan Babineaux is a huge liability, and Brian Russell seems to enjoy randomly running back and forth toward the line of scrimmage -- but if the Seahawks are going to go anywhere in the playoffs this year, it's going to be on the strength of the defense.
Vince Verhei: Last week in Audibles, a reader asked why anyone from FO.com would watch football in a sports bar. Well, here is a perfect example of why: I had to attend a birthday party at a relative's house, where we watched the deathly boring second half of this game. Had I been in a sports bar, I could have been watching Randy Moss and Tom Brady chasing records, or the Falcons come-from-behind- then-fall-from-ahead game with the Cards, or the 49ers hanging on to upset Tampa Bay. Instead, I had to watch a meaningless second half between two teams that both looked like they just wanted to get out of the rain as quickly as possible.
You know what I like best about the Seattle defense? Unlike Tennessee, which looked like an entirely different defense when Albert Haynesworth was injured, the Seahawks don't seem to be reliant on a single superstar. Yes, Kerney leads the league in sacks, but they can also get pressure from Peterson and Darryl Tapp. All three linebackers are consistent playmakers. I guess the worst-case scenario would be an injury to Marcus Trufant, which would press Jordan Babineaux into starting duty. OK, that is a scary thought.
Doug Farrar: Losing Lofa Tatupu for any length of time would be the worst-case scenario. I dont even want to think about that. But the interior line was pretty solid in this game without Rocky Bernard, who's been their best tackle all year. In 2006, the whole thing fell apart without Marcus Tubbs.
Miami Dolphins 7 at New England Patriots 28
Aaron Schatz: So, the Patriots are in the red zone, and Miami is double-covering Randy Moss. Well, at least, that's apparently what they were trying to do. Instead, they decided to double-cover the right corner of the end zone. Rookie Kelvin Smith has the shorter coverage, Moss makes a move and Smith pushes him towards the middle of the field. The only problem? Jason Allen is still standing in the damn corner, not even moving towards Moss. Smith pushes Moss in the direction Moss's route was going anyway, and away from the deep defender in the double coverage. Touchdown No. 20. Man, that is some bad, bad pass coverage. Like the Patriots need these kinds of gifts on offense.
Cleo Lemon has gotten out of a couple of what seemed like sure sacks. He's slippery. Not like this is doing much for the Dolphins, but hey, scramble for one is better than a loss of six.
Laurence Maroney scored a 59-yard run in the second quarter, the longest run of his career. The previous longest run of his career happened in the first quarter. The lane Maroney ran through on this touchdown was so wide that Jabba the Hutt would have scored, even if he was tied to Fat Bastard in a three-legged race.
The second half of the game was a bit strange. The Patriots kept Tom Brady in there and kept throwing and throwing until halfway through the fourth quarter, trying to get Brady (and Randy Moss) the all-time touchdown record(s) in front of the home fans. Instead, they had all kinds of problems, including three turnovers by Brady (although one was a fumble on fourth down). The defense still dominated in the second half, though -- the Dolphins did score one touchdown, but the Patriots were all over Cleo Lemon all day. As slippery as he is, he couldn't get away every time.
I think the Pats outgained the Dolphins by something like 275 yards to 35 yards in the first half. Any writer who turns this into "the Patriots didn't score on Miami in the second half which shows they are vulnerable" is officially an idiot.
New York Jets 6 at Tennessee Titans 10
Stuart Fraser: No offense in Nashville today. Well, not much -- the Titans kinda have a running game, which is slowly leading to them moving into field goal range over an exchange of several punts. Thomas Jones fumbled without actually needing to be tackled. Vince Young got sacked on a play where the right defensive end just rushed over the left tackle and threw him to the ground, unfortunately head first. Young took his time getting up and people wondered if he'd return, but he came right back for the next series (though he doesn't look entirely happy). The pass protection isn't entirely horrible, but Young is taking forever over throwing the ball (and this comes from somebody used to watching Ben Roethlisberger), which generally allows the Jets to get to him.
Sean McCormick: Is it me or has Vince Young's mobility been negated to the point where his most positive athletic plays come from him getting free just long enough to throw the ball away?
Stuart Fraser: To an extent, the degree to which a quarterback's mobility is useful is limited by how well the receivers can improvise. It's all very well being able to extend plays, but if the receivers don't come open, throwing the ball away is all you can do. Of course, having the vision to see the receiver who does come open and the accuracy to find him whilst on the run are also required. I haven't watched enough Titans football to know where the problem lies.
Jerricho Cotchery now has three catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. On all of these occasions he appears to have been man covered and beaten his corner really quite easily -- including one deep pass where the corner (No. 21, I think) more or less watched as Cotchery ran by him. If this was a "Pennington can't throw it that far" play, well, he can, and anyway he's your man and you're supposed to cover him. The Titans might want to think about shading towards him a bit.
Aaron Schatz: Who's on him, Cortland Finnegan or Nick Harper?
Stuart Fraser: Seems to be mostly Finnegan. Though the Jets now seem to be mostly pounding Thomas Jones now for no particular gain. The passing game is doing a lot more for them than the run has, though Pennington is certainly taking his lumps in making those passes.
The Jets have thrown a lot of screen passes in this game, and very few of them have gone anywhere. By the time the screen is completed, the secondary or the linebackers have sniffed it out and there are many defenders and few blockers waiting for the reciever. I suspect Jets fans would like to blame this on Pennington, but to me it seems that the offensive line does a really bad job of selling the screen, and the wide receivers and tight ends aren't anything to write home about as blockers, either.
Sean McCormick: Yeah, they're just not a very good screen team, which is strange, seeing as their left tackle and center are both very mobile.
A very nice fourth-down conversion by the Jets. The offense went out in a heavy set, tried to draw Tennessee offsides to no effect, shifted into an empty backfield, tried again to draw Tennessee offsides with no effect, then Pennington stood up as if he was ready to let the play clock run out before suddenly getting back under center and quick-snapping. It bought a moment of hesitation that got him the first down. Of course, you need to do all that when the other team's defensive line is much bigger and stronger than your offensive line.
Well, the story of this game was the dominance of the Titans defensive line over the Jets offensive line (and for Jets fans, this is not a new story). Haynesworth was a wrecking ball in the middle of the line, but Tennessee was also able to get pressure off the edges, particularly against Anthony Clement. The Jets tried repeatedly to establish a run game, but it's hard to do so when your front line is getting blown away like tent pegs. So they were reduced to putting the game entirely on Chad Pennington. Pennington completed a very high percentage of passes, but he was picked twice for what turned out to be a 14-point swing, as his first interception set up Tennessee's only touchdown and his second interception was in the end zone.
Vince Young was profoundly unimpressive. His mobility has absolutely no impact on the game at all. He's nothing like Michael Vick, or even like a young Donovan McNabb. He has no problems throwing deep, but he doesn't get any mustard on his intermediate throws, and he doesn't place his short throws particularly well. I recognize that his receiving corps is nothing to write home about, but still, Tennessee has to be disappointed with his development to this point.
Washington Redskins 32 at Minnesota Vikings 21
Doug Farrar: Ladies and gentlemen, the Tarvaris Jackson Experience!
Aaron Schatz: Yeah. Tarvaris Jackson is not very good. How many interceptions has this guy thrown this year that have made you cringe and say, "How can you throw that ball from that position?" The jump pass -- who are you, Bob Cousy?
Ben Riley: So I think it's pretty clear how to stop the Vikings now: put everyone in the box and wait for Tarvaris Jackson to make a mistake. Seriously, did anyone think the Redskins would be in control of their own destiny after today? It's looking like the Seahawks will be hosting the Redskins in a rematch of the 2005 division round game. Weird.
Tim Gerheim: The Minnesota Vikings: Pass defense optional. (TM)
Doug Farrar: While Brad Childress is trying to figure out if he should challenge a somewhat suspect fourth-quarter completion to Santana Moss, the Redskins hurry to the line to prevent the red flag -- and a fumbled center-snap exchange by Todd Collins puts the ball in the hands of Minnesota's Kevin Williams. Then Joe Gibbs challenges, claiming that Minnesota had 12 men on the field. The successful challenge puts the ball back in the hands of the Redskins, who go on to score a touchdown.
Bill Barnwell: Well, the Washington "Check to see if the other team has 12 guys on the field" coach, the "Check to see if the other team has 12 guys on the field" assistant coach, or the "Check to see if the other team has 12 guys on the field" quality control coach deserves a raise after that challenge.
Doug Farrar: I think they have some extra money in the coaching budget after the "Call two timeouts in a row" guy was fired.
Aaron Schatz: That was some Patriots vs. Ravens-level serendipity right there.