What have we learned - Week 15
The maddeningly frustrating Eagles played a fantastic defensive game yesterday, and the offense played just well enough to win. It just shows again that the Eagles should keep McNabb and maybe Reid (I'd rather they dump Reid than McNabb), but they need to run the ball more and get McNabb some good receivers, for crying out loud! They're still very talented (except at wide receiver) and they need to upgrade. Why can't the front office see that? Sheesh. It was a sweet game because of how poorly Romo and Owens played, and I was so happy to see Brian Westbrook take a knee at the one-yard line with 2 minutes left. If the Cowboys don't have the ball, they can't make a miracle comeback! I wonder if Westbrook (and Jon Runyan, who suggested it to him) remembered the Tampa game from last year, when he scored the go-ahead touchdown on a long screen pass that he could have downed at the one and run more time off the clock, which allowed Tampa to come back and kick a game-winning field goal. I wonder ... Meanwhile, didn't the Cowboys run the ball once? They just gave up on it, which made me wonder if Wade Phillips was studying the Andy Reid School of Coaching!
Turnovers: Cowboys 3, Eagles 1. Final score: Philadelphia 10, Dallas 6. Turnovers = loss? Definitely. 1-0.
Hey, the Texans played the Broncos on Thursday night! Who knew? Mario Williams got three more sacks and is playing like a madman. Meanwhile, the Titans have a weak passing game, and Reggie Bush is not playing. Does anyone think this will stop the insanity of judging draft picks on the day of the draft? Probably not.
Turnovers: Texans 1, Broncos 0. Final score: Houston 31, Denver 13. Turnovers = loss? No. Strange. 1-1.
Hey, the 49ers played the Bengals on Saturday night! Who knew? I love when quarterbacks who have bounced around forever come in and play great. Yes, the immortal Shaun Hill led San Fran to that win. What happened to the Bengals? Seriously, that team has too much talent to suck this badly.
Turnovers: Bengals 0, 49ers 0. Final score: San Francisco 20, Cincinnati 13. Turnovers = loss? It's not relevant.
The game of the weekend had to be Buffalo-Cleveland, simply because of the snow. If you missed it, they often couldn't find the yard lines because there was so much snow on the field. Awesome. The Browns simply gave the ball to Jamal Lewis, who got 163 yards on 33 carries. Holy crap, that's a lot. The best player, however, was Phil Dawson, who kicked two field goals, the second of which was a 49-yarder that he kicked way to the left and let the wind push it back through the uprights. What a great kick. The Browns will probably get smacked in the first round of the playoffs (they'll probably play the Chargers, who will destroy them), but it's a great story in Cleveland.
Turnovers: Bills 0, Browns 0. Final score: Cleveland 8, Buffalo 0. Turnovers = loss? No turnovers in that game? Wow.
I didn't watch any of the Tennessee-KC game, because I had things to do, man! Vince Young still isn't looking that good, though. He has the tools, but is still very undisciplined.
Turnovers: Chiefs 3, Titans 0. Final score: Tennessee 26, Kansas City 17. Turnovers = loss? Looks like it. 2-1.
So Brett "R. C." Favre set another record. Yeah, yeah. Did anyone see the long touchdown pass to Greg Jennings that made it 27-14? The two defenders across from him were discussing who was going to cover him, and it appeared they both decided to let him run free and cover the underneath guy. It would, of course, help if there was a safety deep, but there was no one. R. C. gets credit for the touchdown, of course, but he should send a nice bottle of champagne to the two loser defenders. Sheesh. If you can't make up your mind who to cover, try picking up the deep guy. Idiots.
Turnovers: Packers 3, Rams 2. Final score: Green Bay 33, St. Louis 14. Turnovers = loss? Weirdly enough, no. That's how bad the Rams are. 2-2.
You have to fire Brian Billick, right? YOU HAVE TO!!!! Okay, he lost to a winless team, which pissed me off because I wanted Miami to go 0-16. But it's not that he lost, it's that the Ravens reached the 1-foot line with 12 seconds left and Billick kicked a field goal to tie and go to overtime. Yes, it was fourth down. But you need a freakin' foot! Not only do you have Willis McGahee to pick up that foot, but your quarterback is Troy Smith, who is pretty agile and could either sneak the ball or run a bootleg. Hey, Brian, your team is 4-9 and you've lost 7 straight. What the hell are you doing turning into a wuss? He has to go. When I watched them kick the FG, I knew the Dolphins were going to win. It was inevitable.
Turnovers: Ravens 1, Dolphins 0. Final score: Miami 22, Baltimore 16. Turnovers = loss? It was more Brian Billick chickening out, but why not? 3-2.
The Cheaters went to 14-0 in umimpressive fashion, and I would be worried if I were them. They might sit their starters (although knowing Belicheat, I wouldn't count on it), but if they play Jacksonville in the second round, they might be in trouble. If they play Indy in the Championship Game, they might be in trouble. They did not play well at all, and needed an interception return for a touchdown and a blocked punt to score their only offensive TD. I'm still rooting for them to go 16-0 and then lose in their first playoff game. That would be awesome.
Turnovers: Jets 2, Cheaters 1. Final score: New England 20, New Jersey 10. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 4-2.
I know teams don't like to use injuries as excuses, but the Cardinals have suffered through a lot of them. So has Tampa, but the Buccaneers are a veteran team, and I do wonder how Arizona would have done this season if they had a charmed life like the Cheaters or the Cowboys (until yesterday, when they sent a bunch of guys to the infirmary) and hadn't lost so many to injuries. Of course, their tough-guy head coach has simply given up on the running game, which is mysterious. Drew Brees, meanwhile, went nuts: 26-30 for 315 yards. Man, that dude is a monster. Did San Diego really give up on him?
Turnovers: Cardinals 2, Saints 2. Final score: New Orleans 31, Arizona 24. Turnovers = loss? The Cardinals' turnovers hurt more than the Saints', but ultimately it's a wash.
Another great game to watch was the swirling-snow Jax-Pittsburgh game. Jacksonville simply pounded the crap out of the ball, with Fred Taylor gaining 147 yards. This is a game that points out why you shouldn't turn the ball over. With a 22-7 lead in the fourth quarter, David Garrard threw an interception that sparked the Steelers to two touchdowns and a tie game. Don't turn the ball over! Jacksonville proved they can go into a brutal atmosphere and win. Watch out, Cheaters!
Turnovers: Jaguars 1, Steelers 0. Final score: Jacksonville 29, Pittsburgh 22. Turnovers = loss? Again, no. Bizarre. 4-3.
Very early on in the Atlanta-Tampa game, Ronde Barber returned an interception for a touchdown. Anyone who knows anything about football should have turned off the game right there, as a 7-0 deficit is far too great for this year's Falcons to overcome. I actually happened to have the game on with the Buccaneer dude returned the kickoff for a touchdown, and I was kind of saddened that we'll never again hear, whenever a team kicks off to Tampa, that they've never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their existence. It was kind of comforting, knowing you'd hear that whenever the Buccaneers play. I guess now a Mets pitcher will throw a no-hitter in the upcoming season. That would be too crazy, I suppose!
Turnovers: Falcons 4, Buccaneers 1. Final score: Tampa 37, Atlanta 3. Turnovers = loss? The first Atlanta turnover went for a touchdown, which were all the points the Bucs needed, so yes. 5-3.
Seattle and Carolina went into the fourth quarter 0-0. The first touchdown of the game was scored with less than two minutes remaining. This was in Carolina, not Cleveland or Pittsburgh or New England. What the heck were the teams doing? Seattle, I think, was mailing it in because they clinched the division, but it's still a troubling game. They should crush either the Giants or Vikings in the first round of the playoffs, but I can't imagine they'll go farther than that.
Turnovers: Seahawks 1, Panthers 0. Final score: Carolina 13, Seattle 10. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way. 6-3.
The Raiders played so well, but just didn't have enough playmakers. That's why it's so hard when you're not very good to win against superior teams - you need something wacky to happen, and when the opposing team is so good, they don't often do wacky things. The Colts simply didn't panic and did their thing, and pulled out a lackluster victory.
Turnovers: Colts 1, Raiders 0. Final score: Indianapolis 21, Oakland 14. Turnovers = loss? Another no. How odd! 6-4.
Detroit has now lost games this year by scores of 56-21 and 51-14. Man, what happened to them? I know they played an easy schedule early on, but at least they were playing hard. Now they don't look interested at all. LaDanian Tomlinson passed Jim Brown on the touchdown list, by the way. Stuff like that irks me. I never saw Brown play, but when I see him on film, there's really no doubt that he's the best running back of all time. More and more people are forgetting him, though, and that's too bad.
Turnovers: Lions 6, Chargers 0. Final score: San Diego 51, Detroit 14. Turnovers = loss? You think? 7-4.
Hey, look - it's the annual Giants meltdown! Eli Manning now has to deal with the loss of Jeremy Shockey (I'm glad he's not dead, but I'll shed no tears for him breaking his leg, because he's a punk) and the fact that his receivers seemed to be allergic to the ball. Amani Toomer dropped a long pass that would have gone for a touchdown when there were no defenders within fifteen yards of him. You can't drop that pass! I think Manning is wildly overrated, but his awful performance isn't all his fault. The G-Men are going to get smacked around by Tampa or Seattle in the first round.
Turnovers: Giants 1, Washington 0. Final score: Washington 22, New Jersey 10. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 8-4.
The Vikings are also destined for a first-round exit, because their quarterback is mediocre and Adrian Peterson is a rookie who can be stopped, and has been, quite often (the Eagles, Packers, and freakin' 49ers all held him in check, and that's just off the top of my head). Tarvaris Jackson kept giving the ball back to the Bears, and Kyle Orton kept finding ways to not score touchdowns. I can't really say we learned anything from the game. The Bears stink, and the Vikings are a nice story who won't last long in the postseason. But we already knew that.
Turnovers: Vikings 4, Bears 1. Final score: Minnesota 20, Chicago 13. Turnovers = loss? Not with that mighty Bears offense screwing up so much! 8-5.
That brings teams who turn the ball over less than their opponents to 152-29. This was probably the closest week for that, but it's still better to not turn the ball over. That's probably obvious. College football is in hibernation, unless you root for one of those strangely-named teams in the lower divisions. Appalachian State won its third Championship in a row and its fans displayed lousy class, coming onto the field and asking for autographs before the game was over, and Wisconsin-Whitewater beat Mount Union in Division II. Mount Union routinely destroys weaker teams, so I have no problem with them losing. I read somewhere that Joe Flacco, the Delaware QB (the Blue Hens lost to App. St.), might be a first-day draft choice. Keep track of your favorite Blue Hen next April! (Come on, who doesn't love the Blue Hens?)
So that's the week in football. Maybe by this time next week Terrell Owens will have called his quarterback a Nancy Boy and his offensive coordinator a brain-damaged hick. We can hope, can't we?