NFL Week 6 Breakdown
Monday, October 13, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
I went into yesterday thinking to myself, "Ugh, what horribly boring matchups!" and almost considering skipping watching football all day. By the end of the day, my only dilemma was deciding which game qualified as the most amazing game for the day. Here's a quick rundown of all the action.

Upset special! Huge, HUGE upsets all around yesterday. What's more, several of them were decided literally in the last seconds of the game. Let's start with the amazing Atlanta Falcons, who had just given up the lead to Chicago 20-19 with only 11 seconds left in the game. Atlanta then recovered the squib kick and returned it to the 44 yard line, and then young Matt Ryan came in and threw a brilliant 26 yard pass to Michael Jenkins at the Chicago 30 yard line. The pass was thrown such that the receiver was instantly able to get out of bounds, stopping the clock with only 1 SECOND LEFT. Jason Elam, seemingly the goat 10 seconds before for missing a 33 yard chip shot that would have assured the victory, was then able to redeem himself, driving through the 48 yard field goal (not a guaranteed shot by any measure) to win the game with no time remaining.

The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, were doing everything in their power to lose to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cards turned the ball over, the offense failed to capitalize on the defense's surprising stands and they were getting stupid penalties at the worst time. They were aided in this quest for defeat by the officials, who made at least 3-4 major mistakes that overturned what were obvious turnovers by the Cowboys offense (one of which, a Tony Romo fumble, would have resulted in a recovered TD for Arizona in the endzone). Nevertheless, the Cardinals defense had apparently decided that for once they were going to turn in a rugged performance, and after holding the Cowboys to a 3-and-out to start the overtime period, the special teams came in and blocked the punt for a TD. Game over. I have never seen a block like that in my life - it wasn't even really a "block", in that the defender came in SO fast, the ball hadn't even hit the punter's foot yet. Just an absolutely stunning performance by the Cardinals defense and special teams.

The Washington Redskins, in contrast, did succeed in their attempt to lose to the St Louis Rams. The Redskins went into yesterday's game with 0 turnovers for the season, but committed 3 turnovers against the Rams, one of which was returned for a touchdown by the Rams defense. Perhaps the Redskins were guilty of taking this one for granted. Or perhaps, just perhaps, the Rams defense was tired of being the laughing stock of the NFL and decided to man up and earn their paychecks. Either way, congrats to the no longer winless Rams.

Meanwhile, watching the winless Texans on third down from the 4 yard line with almost no time remaining against the Dolphins, I turned to my father and said, "You know, I'm surprised Schaub didn't run it himself on that play. The middle was wide open for him." Sure enough, the next play on 4th down, Schaub called his own number and ran straight up the middle into the end zone, putting his team into the lead for good.

That's quite enough of that, thank you. I'd like to call for a moratorium on the following things:
  1. "Icing the kicker". It's stupid. Kickers know you're going to do it to them and 99% of them are completely mentally prepared for it. Really, what's more stressful - being forced to get out on the field, line up and get a kick off within 30-35 seconds, or having a full timeout to relax, take a deep breath and get your squad all lined up at your leisure? Ken Weisenhunt's special teams turned in an awesome block of Nick Folk's field goal that tied the game with no time remaining, only to have it overturned, because Wiesenhunt had called a timeout at the last second. When Folk got his second chance, he drove home the field goal, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win the game.
  2. The "Tuck Rule". Take a look at the game tape of Tony Romo dropping the ball in the end zone, and then you look me in the eye and justify how that could be considered anything but a fumble. That's the sort of call that completely changes the direction of a game, and it's not fair to the players or the fans.
  3. Linemen running with the ball. The Redskins lost because an offensive lineman caught Jason Campbell's deflected pass and foolishly tried to run with it. He fumbled and the ball was returned by the Rams for a game-deciding TD. If I see one more player trying to be the big hero trying to get a measely couple of yards, I'm going to puke. Be aware of the game situation and realize when the best thing you can do for your team is clutch the ball tightly with two hands and immediately sit down on the field. I see this on both sides of the ball. People need to take a lesson from Brian Westbrook on how to be a selfless player and learn how to take a knee when it really matters for your team.
Studs of the week. How does Earnest Graham run 5 times for only 11 yards and make this list? Read this article to find out why. Earnest, you are a great teammate. Meanwhile, Drew Brees (26/30, 320 yards, 3 TD) is marching towards an NFL record for total passing yards in a season. Even with 3 major receivers out for the Saints, Brees is still putting up obscene numbers. Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan had his first 300+ yard game, but really, the only yards that mattered were the 26 yards he threw on that one pass at the end of the game. One of my regular readers, an Atlanta fan, has been resisting Ryan, but perhaps this performance will bring him and the other doubters around. Andre Johnson (178 yds, 1 TD) looked like the stud receiver from a few years ago before he got injured. Patrick Cobbs (who?) had 3 catches for 138 yds and 2 TDs. Much to my relief as a fantasy football player, Peyton Manning (19/28, 271 yds, 3 TD) finally snapped out of his slump.

Teams I like this week. The Atlanta Falcons have proven to me that they can beat a legitimate team, and not just by running the ball a hundred times. I think an 8-8 season would be a huge accomplishment for them, but I'm starting to think that the Falcons might have something more ambitious in mind, since they're tied for first place in their division right now. Another win like this and they'll have playoffs on the brain for sure. In many ways, the Falcons remind me of their division rival the Saints from a few years ago. In 2006, the Saints had come off a miserable season, with a terrible record, the aftermath of Katrina still fresh in everyone's minds, stewing in a case of loser-dom. It was a culture of losing, and that can be really difficult to pull out of. The team took drastic measures - purging almost 40% of the players from the roster, going out and landing a new tough head coach, and bringing in a QB who could be a great leader for the team (Drew Brees). In essence, they created a completely new team, and in doing so, were able to turn a 2-14 team into playoff contenders in a single year. In many ways, Atlanta has done the same thing, purging a roster that had become mired in that culture of losing, and finding themselves several key players (Michael Turner, Matt Ryan) who can step up and be true leaders for this young squad. I also like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, who I think would be better off if they left Jeff Garcia at the helm for the rest of the season.

Teams I Don't Like This Week. So many losers to choose from... I don't like the Dallas Cowboys, who are looking undisciplined and sloppy lately. The Detroit Lions managed to lose yet again, partially because their idiot QB ran out of the back of the end zone, apparently unaware that that would result in a safety. How much did the Lions lose by? 2 points, the exact amount awarded for a safety. The New England Patriots continued to reap the results of their decision to stick with Matt Cassell against all reason. The Ravens got owned on defense by Manning and the Colts and may already be regretting naming rookie Joe Flacco (28/38, 241 yds, 3 INT) as the starter for the year. Lastly, good to see that firing Lane Kiffin worked out so well for the Oakland Raiders, who turned out a poor performance this week. When the defense has blown 2 close games for you, and then gotten completely blown out in the most recent one, can anyone really side with Davis, who partially wanted to fire Kiffin because Kiffin wanted to fire the defensive coordinator? JaMarcus Russell was wildy inconsistent, but the team seems prepared to sacrifice the rest of the season to get him more comfortable throwing the ball. I'm sure the rest of the team appreciates that.

Breaking news: They just announced that Tony Romo has broken his pinky finger and will be out at least 4 weeks. That is terrible news for the struggling Cowboys. Think TO was bad before? Just wait till Brad Johnson fails to deliver enough balls to him.
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