Game Of The Week:
And then there were three.
We started this week’s round of games with five undefeated teams, but only the Saints, Chiefs, and Broncos were able to make it through with an unblemished record.
The Patriots fell from the ranks of the unbeaten as Tom Brady saw his streak of 52 straight games with a touchdown pass snapped by the Bengals. New England sputtered on offense en route to a 6-13 loss at Cincinnati.
Unable to pull off late game heroics for the second week in a row, the Seahawks were forced to settle for too many field goals as Andrew Luck and the Colts handed Seattle their first loss of the year 34-28.
This was a statement game for Indianapolis. Now, after having beaten both Seattle and San Francisco, two clubs once touted as the top teams in the NFL, the Colts are stating their case for consideration as a legitimate contender in the AFC. How well do they match up against Denver? We’ll find out in two weeks when the Broncos visit Lucas Oil Stadium.
Speaking of Denver, their high flying, “where’s the defense?”, 51-48 victory over the Cowboys is this week’s game of the round.
Tony Romo became only the 15th quarterback in NFL history, and the first Cowboy, to throw for 500 yards in a game. In addition to his monster yard total, he tossed 5 TD passes with only 1 interception. Problem is, Danny Trevathan’s intercept, came off a Romo forced a pass, on the Cowboys final offensive play of the game; that set up Matt Prater’s last second game-winning field goal.
I did a little research after the game as I was curious to know if Tony Romo was the first player to throw for 500 and lose. Turns out he’s got plenty of company in this oh-so distinguished club.
Elvis Grbac, Vince Ferragamo, Drew Brees, Phil Sims, Dan Marino, and Matthew Stafford have all hit 500 yards and left the field with an L.
So, as the Cowboys will surely acknowledge, you´ve got to play defense too. A not-so-easy task against Peyton Manning and the unrelenting Broncos offense. Denver has now set the record for the most points scored after 5 games at 230, and I have a feeling that they will stay in the habit of breaking records for the foreseeable future.
While the following will surely be no consolation for Romo and the faithful followers of America’s Team, the Cowboys did at least paint a road map for the rest of the NFL to follow if they hope to topple the Broncos. You’re not going to stop the Broncos’ offense, you’ve got to outgun them, and hope you have the ball last.
Performance Of The Week:
Honorable mention must go to Tony Romo for his performance this week; but sorry Tony, this is the NFL, winners only.
Instead, the Cincinnati Defense takes the prize. The Bengals’ D had been somewhat of an underachiever through the first four games of the season, but on Sunday against the Pats they played up to expectations.
Led by linebacker Vontaze Burfict (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss), the Bengals defense held the Patriots to 248 total yards and tacked on 4 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Cincy’s secondary owned the Patriots’ receivers on 3rd down as New England went a miserable one for twelve.
The last time the Patriots were held without a touchdown was in 2009, during a 16-9 loss to the NY Jets, and the last time New England scored so few points was a shutout loss at Miami in 2006.
Marvin Lewis, who usually doesn’t give them out, handed a soaking wet game ball to Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer as a show of recognition to the defense’s exception effort.
Biggest Upset Of The Week:
When the last game clock ticked down to double zeros on Sunday’s card, I was at a loss as to which game to pick for upset of the week. Two previously undefeated teams suffered their first loss, but both Seattle and New England were playing on the road, against quality opponents in the Colts and Bengals.
Perhaps these visiting teams were favored on the Vegas spread, but you could hardly call these wins upsets.
All I have to say is thank you to the coach that we all love to hate. Rex Ryan came through for me on Monday Night Football. For all his “just shut up Rex” press conferences, the guy seems to find a way to win when his team is not supposed to. Sure, the Falcons were a disappointing 1-3 coming into this one, but we’re talking about a team that won 13 games last season and made it all the way to the NFC Championship.
With the addition of RB Steven Jackson, Atlanta was virtually a lock to repeat as NFC South Champs. Not so much anymore.
This is why I love the NFL, and why all other professional sports leagues across the globe need to study and implement their model of parity. More so today than ever, Bert Bell’s famous “any given Sunday” line rings true.
So how did the Jets do it?
Well, Geno Smith was brilliant, completing 80% of his passes and tossing 3 TDs with no intercepts. Coming into the game he was tied with Eli Manning for the most turnovers in the league at eleven, but he put together his most complete game of his young career in this one.
After Atlanta had rallied to take the lead 28-27 with 1:54 to play, Smith calmly completed 4 of 4 passes and added on an 8 yard run to get Nick Folk in position to kick a last second 43-yard field goal to win as the clock struck 00:00.
After an off-season filled with drama and controversy, pretty much everyone around the league figured that the Jets’ goose had been cooked. If I were Woody Johnson I’d have fired Rex long ago.
But here they are at (3-2) and only one game out of first place in the AFC East. Perhaps the Jets aren’t as big of a mess as we all thought they were. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out, but this big time road win against the Falcons at the Georgia Dome sure is a good start.
Rex is starting to make me a believer, even if I want to punch him in the chops every time he opens his mouth.
Injuries From The Week:
Round 5 is the week of the injured quarterback.
Both teams lost their starting QB on Thursday Night Football when Buffalo traveled to Cleveland. E.J. Manuel could be out 4-8 weeks with a sprained LCL, which left the Bills scrambling to work out every free agent QB not currently working out for the Raiders.
Next week, the Bills’ will start some guy you’ve never heard of who was just promoted off the practice squad. Going up against a Bengals defense that just got finished shutting down Tom Brady, Lord help you Thad Lewis.
Browns signal caller Brian Hoyer tore his ACL and is out for the season. The Browns had quietly won three straight games with back-up Hoyer at the helm, so this is quite a blow for Cleveland. Brandon Weeden will get a shot at redemption as he gets his old job back by default.
Michael Vick left the game early with a hamstring injury against the Giants. It is unclear as to whether or not he’ll be ready to go next week, so it’s possible that we’ll see Nick Foles lead the Eagles against the now, Josh Freeman-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For the Jaguars, an awful season continues to head even deeper down into the long drop. This year’s second overall pick, Luke Joeckel, broke his ankle and will be out for the season.
What To Look Forward To Next Week:
Some of the games to look forward to next week:
- The top game to watch will be when the undefeated New Orleans Saints travel to New England. These are two legitimate contenders in their respective conferences, and Brees and Brady are simply put, are yard and touchdown machines.
- The Sunday Night Football NFC East match-up between the Redskins and the Cowboys is always a classic. Washington and RG3 are off to a slow, disappointing start, and Dallas is coming off a heartbreaking near upset of the Broncos.
- The Chiefs look to go 6-0 against their division rival Oakland Raiders. Kansas City will need to win in order to keep pace with Denver, who is already up 42-0 on Jacksonville and the game doesn’t even start for another week.
Round 4 predictions: I went 0 for 2 last week as the Packers downed the Lions 22-9 and the Rams topped the Jaguars 34-20.
My predictions for Week 6:
Pick of the week: Jets 31 – Steelers 17
Pittsburgh continues their downward spiral in their visit to the Meadowlands.
Upset of the week: Chargers 28 – Colts 27
The Colts, flying high after upsetting the Seahawks, drop this one to the Chargers as Phillip Rivers throws for 4 TDs.
NCAA coaches gone pro have always been, and always will be, a mixed bag. It’s not merely differences between the collegiate and the professional game that dictate a coach’s success or lack thereof in the transition. There are a myriad of factors that lead some former college coaches to thrive and others to be shooed out of the league just as quickly as they were brought in.
This season’s, “how will he fare” candidate is without question Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly. Before he’d ever even coached a single pro game he was talking about how he was going to revolutionize the way teams played offense.
Kelly’s unique, run as many plays as you can, hurry up approach has born a hodgepodge of results. On the surface, it seems unsustainable, but if tweaked to fit within the pro system, Chip could find a happy medium that yields wins in the pass-happy NFL of 2013.
There must be something to his genius as several top NFL coaches contacted Kelly while he was still at Oregon, looking for insights on how to speed up their offense and run plays more quickly.
Personally, I don’t see him being über successful as long as his ego stops him from learning the ropes of the pro game. Innovation is one thing, but if he insists on constantly reinventing the wheel, then I foresee more of the same up and down results that we’ve seen thus far from this Eagles squad.
Check back next week for chitchat on week 6.