Monday 11 December 2017 / 03:09 PM

Airing It Out: Week 6

Game Of The Week:

Back when I use to be a season ticket holder, before moving away from my home state in the “Game of Life”, I was one of those bumbling morons in the stands dressed up in a ridiculous blue and green get-up, screaming my brains out each Sunday to the point of Monday morning laryngitis.

Now that I’ve matured as a fan (somewhat), anyone watching my behavior at the stadium would probably refer to me as just a plain old moron, as opposed to a bumbling one. But back in the day, I was certifiably nuts about football.

My mates and I had a system of rules and etiquette for game day. We didn’t pay for parking, never booed the home team (no matter what), and win or lose we stayed until the clock ticked double zero.

There are about 20,000 fans in Boston who wish they’d followed my etiquette, as they missed out on an unforgettable barn burner finish in Foxborough. The Patriots knocked the Saints from the ranks of the unbeaten with a stunning last second 30-27 victory.

The game was the back and forth battle that we expected from two teams that were (5-0) and (4-1) respectively heading into the match-up.

With three and a half minutes left to play the Saints were down 17-23, and faced a 3rd and 20, from the Patriots’ 35 yard line. Drew Brees calmly threw the go-ahead touchdown to Kenny Stills, who made a spectacular catch in tight double coverage, silencing Gillette Stadium.

Needing only a field goal, Tom Brady trotted out onto the field to run the two minute drill. The Patriots were unable to muster up even a single first down, and after Bill Belichick’s risky decision to go for it on 4th down on their own 24 yard line, the Saints took over well within field goal range.

New England’s defense stood tough and forced New Orleans to kick, and Garrett Hartley punched it through the uprights from 39 yards out to put the Saints up by 4. Brady would have a second opportunity to stage a comeback, but this time he would need a touchdown to win.

On the first play of his second comeback effort, Brady went deep and threw an INT to Keenan Lewis. This is when dejected fans headed for the exits with the age-old lame excuse in tow, “Let’s see if we can beat traffic.”

Armed with a time out and the two minute warning to stop the clock, miraculously the Pats could still get the ball back with a stop. A stop is what they got, and the Saints learned the hard way that you can’t give Tom Brady three chances to run the two-minute offense.

After four big-time catches, Brady spiked the ball on the New Orleans 17 yard line to stop the clock with 5 seconds remaining.

I’ve already told you the score, so let’s let Tom Brady describe what happened next in his own words:

“When the game gets to the end, the margin of error gets smaller. That’s when we’re at our best. I looked right, came back left. “K” made a move, slipped behind him and I just tried to put it where he could make a play. That was pretty sweet.”

 

Performance Of The Week:

 

There were a lot of great performances this week in the NFL. Cam Newton and Nick Foles both threw for 3 TD’s, Knowshon Moreno busted in three scores on the ground, Marshawn Lynch ran and caught for 155 total yards while getting into the end zone twice.

All four of these players helped lead their team to victory.

But Vernon Davis single-handedly dominated the 49ers match-up against the Arizona Cardinals. He hauled in 180 yards through the air, a career best, which included 35 and 61 yard scores.

Davis’s 8 catches matched the total output for all other receivers on the San Francisco team, and while Frank Gore put up a tough effort in the running game, it is safe to say that without Davis ruling the skies that the Cardinals would have been able to pull off the upset.

Biggest Upset Of The Week:

 

For the second straight week, picking the top upset is a no-brainer. Two weeks ago I wrote about how the Chargers could surprise a lot of people this year and how they seem to play better in the role of the underdog. Sure enough, last night on Monday Night Football the Chargers took down the Indianapolis Colts 19-9.

Fresh off a big-time win over the Seattle Seahawks, the Colts came out flat on the road against San Diego. Indianapolis was unable to get the ball into the end zone and had to settle for 3 Adam Vinatieri field goals to sum up their scoring efforts. No matter who you play against in the NFL, 9 points just simply going to get it done.

The Chargers were hardly prolific on offense either, also settling for 3 FGs, but they ground out a victory with Ryan Matthews topping 100 yards on the ground and Philip Rivers tossed the only touchdown of the game to Keenan Allen.

The Chargers, in the heavy AFC West with the Broncos, were destined to shoot for a Wild Card berth before the season even began. With the Jaguars on the card next week, and a match-up against the flailing Redskins in week 9 following their BYE, San Diego has a good chance of keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Colts, however, play host to Denver next week and could very easily fall to (4-3) in a tight divisional race with a surprisingly tough Titans team.

 

Injuries From The Week:

Houston Texan quarterback Matt Schaub went down this week with an ankle injury. In an embarrassing moment for Reliant Stadium, far too many Houston fans were cheering as their pick-six happy QB was writhing on the ground in pain. Further tests are needed to determine the severity of the injury.

DeMarco Murray, RB for the Cowboys, left the game against the Redskins in the 2nd quarter on his own power after suffering an injury to his knee. There is no word out of Dallas yet as to DeMarco’s status.

The Packers lost 2 receivers in this week’s game against the Ravens as both James Jones and Randall Cobb left with leg injuries.

The most frightening of yesterday’s injuries took place late in the Arizona-San Francisco contest. Defensive end Calais Campbell of the Cardinals fell to the ground with an injury to the head and neck after helping to tackle Frank Gore. He lay motionless on the field before being carted off on a stretcher. The good news from Arizona is that Calais will be OK.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Atlanta’s star wide-out Julio Jones went onto the Injured Reserve last week and will miss the remainder of the season with a broken foot. Anyone up for roast Falcon for dinner?

What To Look Forward To Next Week:

 

Some of the games to look forward to next week:

The top game to watch will be the AFC showdown between the Broncos and the Colts. Although the Colts dropped a tough one this week in San Diego, they will look to bounce back for their 2nd straight marquee win at home.

The Steelers are (1-4), and the Super Bowl Champion Ravens are (3-3), but year in and year out, this game is a brawler. It should be a good one at Heinz Field as the return of Heath Miller seems to have the Pittsburgh offense looking up.

I like the match-up between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins. The Bills have left some big wins on the field this season, but they look like a team that is ready to turn the corner. Thad Lewis, the “nobody” from the practice squad, had an exceptional first NFL game, tossing 2 TD’s and no INT’s in a near upset of the Bengals. This AFC East divisional contest ought to be a scuffle.

Week 6 prediction results: I missed on the Jets over the Steelers, but I did call the Chargers’ upset. Never mind about the 4 Rivers TD passes I foresaw.

My predictions for week 7:

Pick of the week: Kansas City 31 – Houston 13

The Chiefs extend their winning streak to 7 as they crush the Texans at home.

Upset of the week: Jets 20 – Patriots 17

The Jets are unpredictable, so why not?

Michael’s Scoop

There was quite a bit of a brouhaha this week in the media as players and owners chastised inappropriate fan behavior at stadiums across the country. From performing the wave while an opposing team’s player lays unconscious on the ground, to cheering the injury of a HOME team’s player, often a few too many Buds and the excitement of NFL Sunday can cause fans to behave poorly.

Payton Manning chided the Denver fans for their impatience in a 35-19 victory, reminding the Broncos faithful that winning games in the NFL isn’t as easy as you might think. Similarly, the boo birds were out in Seattle after a muffed chip shot field goal attempt by the Seahawks’ back-up kicker (that’s right, punter John Ryan came in to attempt his first career NFL field goal after a Hauschka injury), ended with the Titans running it back for a touchdown on the last play of the first half. The ball was actually mishandled by the back-up holder and Ryan never got the chance to kick, but I digress, the point is that fans were booing a (5-1) team.

Personally I think that the media is making a big to do out of nothing. Every fan base has its fair share of idiots, and a certain number of fans have been acting inappropriately ever since they invented the “We’re #1” Styrofoam finger.

While I disagree with jackasses who behave in such a manner, it’s hard to argue against the fact that supporters pay a lot of money to attend NFL games. So in a strange way they have the right to cheer and boo whenever it suits their fancy.

After all, all we need to do is take a peek inside the soccer stadiums of the world and the NFL rowdies don’t look so bad. Well, except for that guy who bit off another bloke’s ear in Oakland. Yeah, he should probably watch the games from his sofa.

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Michael Airhart

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