What have we learned - Week 4
First, there was collegiate football played this weekend, and once again, the polls showed why we shouldn't take them at all seriously and why we shouldn't rank teams until October, as team were upset all over. Penn State played a good team, Illinois, and beat them 38-24, which is a nice win, to be sure, but they still need to watch themselves, especially as they play Wisconsin and Ohio State on the road. For some reason, the local ABC affiliate in Phoenix showed the Virginia Tech-Nebraska game, even though Phoenix, in case you didn't know, is not in the state of Virginia or Nebraska. Why did they show a game between two unranked teams when they could have shown two ranked teams? What the hell? Wisconsin, meanwhile, choked away a 19-0 lead against Michigan. Despite the win, the Wolverines didn't really look all that good. Of course, by the time they play PSU, they'll be dynamite. The big game of the weekend took place on Thursday, of course, as USC went into Corvallis and got manhandled by Oregon State. I don't know if any East Coasters who read this blog watched the game (it started at 9 in the East, after all), but it was fun to watch. The Beavers simply ran it down USC's throat. It definitely wasn't a fluke. Sure, the Trojans turned the ball over a few times, but it wasn't like OSU got freaky touchdowns. They just lined up and bashed them. It was also nice to see Florida lose to Mississippi. Who doesn't hate the Gators? And I'm sure Tom was happy to see Cal win big, while Woody! could take solace from the fact the unprofessional Cincinnati team won, even though the "professional" one couldn't come through.
Chicago 24, Philadelphia 20. Goddamn. I'm glad that Brian Westbrook didn't push it and play, preferring him to rest his ankle for later in the season, but don't tell me the Eagles lose if he's playing. The defense, despite a few lapses (but not on the Devin Hester touchdown, on which he pushed Assante Samuel over in front of the official but wasn't called for it), played well enough for the team to win, and they even got four (4!!!) turnovers for the offense, which they couldn't cash in. And then we get the end. The Eagles started running the ball and plowed through the tired Bears defense. They reached the 2-yard line and had 1st-and-goal. Andy Reid, as pass-happy a coach as we've seen in a while, calls four straight running plays. You have to throw it once, right? Da Bears were ready for the run, especially the running plays he called, which were right up the middle. Even if you run four times, run once outside, for crying out loud, just to see if Da tired Bears can still pursue! Sheesh. How annoying. Andy Reid never listens to me to run the ball more except at the one point he shouldn't. Again, I have no problem running even three times in that situation. But you should try one pass, just in case you catch the defense off-guard. So the Eagles are 2-2, in the middle of a brutal part of the schedule (at Dallas, Pittsburgh, at Chicago, Washington, and even at San Francisco, which should be easy but is a road game on the other coast). I'm fairly happy with their effort, but I wish both Westbrook and McNabb could stay healthy for one season. Is that too much to ask? Oh, and Da Bears won't go far with that offense. They were awful in the second half. They're lucky they have a good defense and that Westbrook wasn't playing.
DeSean Jackson update: 2 rushes for 35 yards, 5 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, 4 punt returns for 37 yards, one fumble on a punt that led to a touchdown. Oh well, he's a rookie. Suck it up, rook! The season so far: 3 rushes for 36 yards, 22 catches for 327 yards, 16 punt returns for 157 yards.
Turnovers: Da Bears 4, Eagles 2. Turnovers = loss? No, damn it. Da Bears wanted to give the game away, and the Eagles didn't take it! 0-1.
Tennessee 30, Minnesota 17. I didn't watch any of this game. Tennessee is really solid, though. As Peter King wrote on-line, how good would the Titans be if they had chosen Jay Cutler instead of Vince Young?
Turnovers: Vikings 4, Titans 1. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way. Don't turn the ball over! 1-1.
Kansas City 33, Denver 19. The Broncos' poor defense finally came back to haunt them, as the Chiefs decided to give the ball to their good running back, Larry Johnson, and get out of the way. Johnson, who I like because he went to Penn State, whined about not getting the ball earlier in the year, and it was nice to see him back it up when they gave it to him. 198 yards is not a bad way to show what you're worth. Of course, what did in the Broncos? See below!
Turnovers: Broncos 4, Chiefs 1. Turnovers = loss? When you're on the road, you can't turn the ball over 4 times. Even a crappy team like KC can win occasionally if you give it to them that much! 2-1.
New Orleans 31, San Francisco 17. Another game I completely skipped. The 49ers are just another NFC West team that can't win on the road.
Turnovers: 49ers 3, Saints 2. Turnovers = loss? I guess. 3-1.
New York Jets 56, Arizona 35. This was a weird game. It was 0-0 after one quarter, and then the Cardinals simply gave the game away and the Jets scored 34 points in the second quarter. Actually, Arizona lost this game in the first quarter, when they had two possessions inside New York's 20 and didn't score. You can't let chances like that go! People are blaming the defense for getting torched, and that's fair, but Kurt Warner and the offense kept giving the ball away. Seven turnovers, for crying out loud! Meanwhile, everyone is going gaga over R. C. Favre. SIX TOUCHDOWN PASSES!!!! He's JESUS!!!! Well, if you watched the game or saw the highlights, three of the touchdowns were to wide-open receivers. And I'm not talking somewhat open, I'm talking no defender within 10 yards (and in two cases, something like 20) of the receiver. I can throw touchdown passes when there's nobody else in the picture! You can commend R. C. Favre for actually finding the receiver, but it's not like three of them were hard throws. Come on - a high school quarterback could have thrown those passes. And finally, Peter King doesn't think the hit on Anquan Boldin was all that bad. I don't think it was malicious, but the fact remains that the Jet defender left his feet, led with his helmet, and hit Boldin on the face mask with the crown of his helmet. It should have been a penalty, but failing that, it will definitely be a fine. Of course, why on earth was Boldin still in the game with 30 seconds left and his team losing by three touchdowns? I don't mind that they were trying to score, but maybe you could put in some back-ups and see what they could do? Sheesh. [The word came down Monday: A $50,000 fine and a game suspension. Yowch. Roger Goodell has said he wants to crack down on dangerous plays, and this is proof. Boldin flew back to Arizona late Sunday night/early Monday morning, so apparently there's no spinal problems. We'll see if he plays next week.]
Turnovers: Cardinals 7 (!), Jets 1. Turnovers = loss? Uh, yes. For sure. 4-1.
Tampa 30, Green Bay 21. I don't have much to say about the Matt Bryant situation. In case you didn't know, Bryant, who's the kicker for the Buccaneers, lost his three-month-old son last week. He died in his sleep, so it might have been SIDS. Bryant still played on Sunday, and said that it was important for him to do so. I was watching ESPN and Berman was talking about the fact that the NFL doesn't have a bereavement policy. So he kind of had to play, apparently. That pretty much sucks. Bryant kicked three field goals, which was the margin of victory for Tampa, and he sounded like he wanted to honor his son by playing, but it kind of sucks that the NFL would dock him money if he wanted to take the game off to mourn for his kid.
Turnovers: Packers 4, Buccaneers 3. Turnovers = loss? It appears so. 5-1.
Carolina 24, Atlanta 9. I didn't watch this game, either, but I'd like to point out that Jonathan Stewart, another guy I like because he went to Oregon, scored yet another touchdown in this game. Go, Jonathan Stewart!
Turnovers: Falcons 0, Panthers 0. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.
Jacksonville 30, Houston 27. I saw the very end of this game, and it was pretty neat how David Garrard kept running when he had no other options. I doubt if it's something the Jaguars really want to keep doing, but it worked for this game. They couldn't stop Houston late in the game, but they got lucky in overtime because the Texans never got the ball. Jacksonville is finally looking like the team people thought they would be.
Turnovers: Texans 0, Jaguars 0. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.
Cleveland 20, Cincinnati 12. Boy, the first battle of Ohio was a drag this time around, wasn't it? Last year the Browns won 51-45. Now that was a game! This time around, Carson Palmer didn't play, and after the Browns won, Derek Anderson said "We've got our swagger back." Yeah, okay, Derek.
Turnovers: Bengals 5, Browns 2. Turnovers = loss? Sure looks that way. 6-1.
San Diego 28, Oakland 18. Poor Oakland. They had a 15-0 lead at the half, a 15-3 lead at the end of the third, and the Chargers ripped off 25 points in the fourth quarter to win. Al Davis should fire Lane Kiffin right now or tell the world that Kiffin is his coach. Letting him twist in the wind sucks. And if the Chargers need 25 fourth-quarter points to beat the Raiders, they're in trouble. [And, finally, Big Al fired Kiffin Tuesday. At least our long national nightmare is over!]
Turnovers: Chargers 2, Raiders 2. Turnovers = loss? Another wash.
Buffalo 31, St. Louis 14. Poor St. Louis. They had a 14-6 lead at the half, a 14-13 lead at the end of the third, and the Bills ripped off 18 points in the fourth quarter to win. Sound familiar? Lane Kiffin might still have a job, but Scott Linehan got the ax today. It's probably about eight months too late, as he didn't do a good job last year, but we'll see if Jim Haslett does a better job with this team. I doubt it. Meanwhile, the Bills are pretty good. But we'll see how they do next week ... here in the desert!!!!
Turnovers: Rams 2, Bills 1. Turnovers = loss? You bet! 7-1.
Washington 26, Dallas 24. So Terrell Owens whined that he didn't get the ball enough. Dallas threw to him 17 times (he caught 7) and called two running plays for him out of 58 plays. How the hell are they not getting him the ball enough? Shut the hell up, Owens. Owens had two carried, Romo scrambled for one, and Marion Barber had 8 carries. Those were the only running plays for the Cowboys. Yeah, you're not going to win too many times with that. The Cowboys are kind of soft. Maybe Owens will tear them apart. That would be sweet.
Turnovers: Cowboys 1, Washington 0. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 8-1.
Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20. I couldn't bring myself to watch this game. I guess it turned out to be pretty exciting, but I wouldn't know. I do know that what happened last night is the reason it's tough to start a rookie quarterback. Joe Flacco looks like he'll be pretty good, but he held the ball too long last night, fumbled, and the Steelers scored their second touchdown in 15 seconds. A veteran quarterback probably wouldn't have held the ball. In today's NFL, where the margins are so tight, little things like that often determine the winner.
Turnovers: Ravens 1, Steelers 1. Turnovers = loss? Technically, no, but I don't know if the Ravens scored off of theirs. I know the Steelers did.
That makes the teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents 36-9. Don't turn the ball over!
Okay, let's look at the standings!
Tennessee: 6 turnovers, +6 margin, 4-0 record.
Washington: 1 turnover, +6 margin, 3-1 record.
Pittsburgh: 5 turnovers, +4 margin, 3-1 record.
San Diego: 5 turnovers, +3 margin, 2-2 record.
Green Bay: 6 turnovers, +3 margin, 2-2 record.
Philadelphia: 6 turnovers, +3 margin, 2-2 record.
Buffalo: 5 turnovers, +2 margin, 4-0 record.
Atlanta: 3 turnovers, +2 margin, 2-2 record.
New York Jets: 7 turnovers, +2 margin, 2-2 record.
Miami: 1 turnover, +2 margin, 1-2 record.
Kansas City: 7 turnovers, +2 margin, 1-3 record.
Baltimore: 5 turnovers, +1 margin, 2-1 record.
Oakland: 6 turnovers, +1 margin, 1-3 record.
Cleveland: 7 turnovers, +1 margin, 1-3 record.
New York Giants: 1 turnovers, +0 margin, 3-0 record.
Carolina: 4 turnovers, +0 margin, 3-1 record.
Tampa: 9 turnovers, +0 margin, 3-1 record.
New Orleans: 7 turnovers, +0 margin, 2-2 record.
Chicago: 8 turnovers, +0 margin, 2-2 record.
Jacksonville: 6 turnovers, -1 margin, 2-2 record.
New England: 4 turnovers, -2 margin, 2-1 record.
San Francisco: 9 turnovers, -2 margin, 2-2 record.
Minnesota: 7 turnovers, -2 margin, 1-3 record.
Denver: 7 turnovers, -3 margin, 3-1 record.
Arizona: 9 turnovers, -3 margin, 2-2 record.
Indianapolis: 5 turnovers, -3 margin, 1-2 record.
Seattle: 6 turnovers, -3 margin, 1-2 record.
Houston: 6 turnovers, -3 margin, 0-3 record.
St. Louis: 5 turnovers, -3 margin, 0-4 record.
Dallas: 6 turnovers, -4 margin, 3-1 record.
Cincinnati: 9 turnovers, -4 margin, 0-4 record.
Detroit: 6 turnovers, -5 margin, 0-3 record.
It's starting to shake out a bit, if you notice. We'll see how it goes as the season goes along.