What have we learned - Week 2
And so the latest "Game of the Century" played out rather predictably. I mean, even if they had played Chris Wells, did anyone think the Buckeyes would win this game? After the past two BCS "Championship" games? Everyone keeps bashing on the Big Eleven because they don't play speedy football like USC and the SEC teams, but I would love to see a bowl game in Columbus or Ann Arbor or Happy Valley in January. One of the reasons why Big Eleven teams don't build their teams that way is because of October and November games, when the weather negates speed a bit. Of course, USC was tougher than Ohio State, too, so there's that.
It's lucky that USC won, because the Pac-9 had a shitty weekend (USC, I think, now plays in the NFC West, so the conference ought to rename itself). Oregon won, but they had to come back furiously against a mediocre Purdue team (in Indiana, it should be noted, so you can say a road win is a road win). Oregon State won, but they played Hawaii at home. Washington absolutely stinks, and proved it against Oklahoma. UCLA scoured the junior high schools of Los Angeles and suited them up, because there's no way college kids lost 59-0 to BYU (I expected BYU to win, but come on!). Stanford lost. Arizona lost to New Freakin' Mexico. Cal inexplicably scheduled a game to start at noon on the East Coast, and by the time they woke up, Maryland had built a big enough cushion to hold on for a win. Tom wanted me to mention Cal last week, but I doubt he expected this. I assume the game was played so early because ESPN wanted it so, but I wish these West Coast teams would stand up and get a better TV deal (one with ESPN and not Fox, for instance) and then they wouldn't have to grovel for any ESPN television appearance, even if it puts them at a distinct disadvantage. To wrap up the day, Arizona State blew a ten-point lead in the second half and lost in overtime to UNLV. This was a weird game. ASU plays Georgia this Saturday, so they might have overlooked the Rebels. Dennis Erickson kept running the ball, which didn't work, and then, in OT and down by a field goal, he ran into the line twice for very little gain and then called a pass play that looked like it was designed for the QB to throw it out of the end zone. It was as if he assumed their kicker would get a field goal, but why not go for the touchdown? Plus, the kick was blocked. ASU is now out of the Top 25, which is a bit harsh, considering Ohio State is still ranked ahead of, for instance, Penn State.
Ah, the Nittany Lions. They went to Syracuse and destroyed the Orange 55-13, continuing their exhibition season. Next week they play Temple, which lost on a Hail Mary to Buffalo, of all teams. Poor Temple. If Penn State doesn't win this game by 40, it will be an upset. Michigan got trounced by Notre Dame, a game I wanted both teams to lose, but all that means is that it will look that much worse for PSU when, on 18 October, the Wolverines beat them again. Wisconsin actually had some balls and went to California to play Pat Hill's Fresno State Bulldogs, and they managed to win. I just find it amusing that after USC made Ohio State cry for their mommies, ESPNers were saying that the Buckeyes will win the Big Eleven and all will be all right. Um, what? I'm not saying they won't win, but they have a tough road. Just assuming they're going to win it is kind of insulting to the other teams that didn't lose 35-3 and barely beat Ohio, is all I'm saying.
In other college news, Missouri is good, East Carolina almost believed the hype about their team, Middle Tennessee State completed a Hail Mary against Kentucky, but it was at about the 15-yard line, and the dude who caught it got tackled at the 1-yard line. So close! That has to suck. Auburn beat Mississippi State 3-2. I watched a few minutes of that game and almost died of boredom. Jesus, someone score a touchdown!
Onto the league where they play for pay:
Dallas 41, Philadelphia 37. I'm not terribly happy about the Monday Night game, despite the Eagles playing well. They drove it right down the field twice early and were forced to kick field goals. It was early in the game, but I was worried. You need to score touchdowns! Later, they were forced to kick another field goal. Yes, the Cowboys kicked two field goals, but they were long FGs, and the Cowboys weren't that close to the end zone. Then the Eagles got the ball back with almost 3 minutes left and dicked around. McNabb took two sacks on the final drive instead of running with the ball. You have a time out, the two-minute warning, and not a long way to go! The Eagles panicked, and that's the most frustrating thing. They were moving the ball up and down the field, and they could have thrown a screen pass to Westbrook or something else short, or even run the ball, but McNabb looked far downfield and took sacks. Damn. Still, the offense looked really good, and although the defense was crappy, they did get an interception and a touchdown on a fumble, so that was something. I'm glad they didn't get blown out, but this was frustrating. But if McNabb stays healthy, the rest of the league better watch out.
DeSean Jackson update! 6 catches, 110 yards, 2 punt returns for 12 yards, and one unbelievably idiotic play at the goal line, where he dropped the ball before actually scoring. Yes, this is a "run 'til you puke" situation (see below with Reggie Bush), and I hope Andy Reid actually glues the ball to his hands. I'll give him a tiny bit more leeway than Reggie Bush, because this is the first time he's done it in the pros, even though he did it college. Come on, DeSean, don't be an idiot!
Turnovers: Cowboys 2, Eagles 1. Turnovers = loss? Well, no, but the Eagles' turnover came at the worst time, in the fourth quarter, leading 37-34, driving for at least a field goal. Damn. 10-2.
Green Bay 48, Detroit 25. The Lions took a 25-24 lead with 7.41 left in the game after being behind 24-9. I turned the game off, thinking I'd come back in a minute or two to check out the score. When I turned it back on, the Packers had kicked a field goal to go up 27-25. I turned it off and when I turned it back on, the Packers had scored a touchdown. What the heck? When I turned it back on, it was 41-25 and the Lions had the ball back. I watched in amazement as Jon Kitna threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, the second interception going the other way in a minute of game time. Holy crap! That's why you're the Detroit Lions. Sheesh.
Turnovers: Lions 3, Packers 1. Turnovers = loss? Well, two of the Detroit turnovers went for touchdowns for the Packers, so I'd say yes. 1-0.
Oakland 23, Kansas City 8. I didn't watch any of this game, but KC has to be the worst team in the league, don't they? I mean, the Rams have lost to two good teams and looked awful, but losing the Raiders and looking awful is really, well, awful. Larry Johnson is whining about playing time, and although I love LJ because he's a Nittany Lion, he should shut up - no one forced him to sign a big contract with the Chiefs! And who was playing quarterback for the Chiefs? That's right, Tyler Thigpen! Who doesn't love Tyler Thigpen? He's a Chanticleer!
Turnovers: Raiders 2, Chiefs 2. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash.
New York Giants 41, St. Louis 13. It was only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but the touchdown for the Giants was a pass to Plaxico Burress in the end zone where the closest Ram was about fifteen yards away. That pretty much summed up the game. By the fourth quarter, the G-Men just hammered the Rams, who have, amazingly, not run a play in the "red zone" - inside the other team's 20-yard line - in two games this season. Scott Linehan has to be fired soon, right?
Turnovers: Rams 1, Giants 0. Turnovers = loss? Well, not really, because the turnover was returned for a touchdown when the score was 27-13, but what the hell. 2-0.
Indianapolis 18, Minnesota 15. This was one of the more ridiculous games of the weekend. Minnesota dominated this game for almost three quarters. They knocked Peyton Manning around, they stuffed the Indy ground game, and they ran the ball well with Adrian Peterson. But they couldn't score a touchdown, and that was their downfall. You have to score touchdowns! Why didn't they score touchdowns? Because their quarterback sucks. I'm sorry, but it's true. Even Brad Childress, the coach of the Vikings, thinks he sucks. There were plenty of chances for Tarvaris Jackson to throw, and the Vikings ran the ball right up the middle. They didn't want Jackson to lose the game, in other words, but all that meant was that he did nothing to win it. I said this last week, and it's still true - you can't win in this league without a good quarterback. Tarvaris Jackson is not a good quarterback. And Dan Dierdorf is an idiot (although you should have already realized that). At one point, Adrian Peterson took a handoff and, about three yards behind the line of scrimmage, faced a defender who broke through the line. Peterson juked him and managed to gain about three yards. Dierdorf raved about the play, saying that's what makes Peterson special and that no other running backs can make that kind of play, turning a big loss into a decent gain. I thought, "Isn't that what running backs are supposed to do?" I mean, don't we see running backs doing that all the time, because running backs are good at making moves? Every Barry Sanders run started that way, and he often went 70 yards after making the guy miss. A good friend of mine said that Sanders often had to avoid getting tackled by his own linemen as well as the other team! A few minutes later, I turned on the Buffalo-Jacksonville game and Fred Taylor did the exact same thing. Good job, Dierdorf. Shut the hell up.
Turnovers: Colts 2, Vikings 1. Turnovers = loss? No, only because the Vikings are so inept on offense. 2-1.
Tennessee 24, Cincinnati 7. In honor of Woody!, I will henceforth refer to the Bengals as a "professional" team. The quote marks are important, I tell you! By the time I wanted to check this game out, it was already late and the Titans were beating them up, so I missed the wind storm. It looked kind of cool, though. If you haven't seen the windiness, it's quite fun. I suppose that Vince Young won't be getting his job back any time soon, because Penn Stater Kerry Collins stepped up and led the team to victory. As for Cincinnati ... the less said the better. They're not as bad as the Chiefs, but they're getting there!
Turnovers: Bengals 2, Titans 1. Turnovers = loss? Seems like it. 3-1.
Washington 29, New Orleans 24. Why is Reggie Bush so stupid? Remember two years ago, when he scored on a long pass against Da Bears in the NFC Championship Game and taunted them before he scored? And how Da Bears came back and won? I'm not saying that was the reason, but don't you think Da Bears had a bit of incentive after that? Well, on Sunday, Bush, a year and a half older, did it again! He scored on a punt return and pointed and waved at the Washington defenders. It made the score 24-15, Saints. The football gods promptly punished New Orleans, as they didn't score again and lost. Whenever an athlete does something idiotic, Krys and I have the solution: The coach should make him run until he pukes. Let's hope Reggie is doing some regurgitating this week. And damn, the NFC East looks good, doesn't it? I wonder if any of them will lose outside of their division.
Turnovers: Saints 3, Washington 1. Turnovers = loss? Well, yeah, but I think it was Reggie's stupid play. 4-1.
Carolina 20, Chicago 17. I watched very little of this game, because it wasn't really that interesting, but it was nice to see Jonathan Stewart, a rookie from Oregon, scoring two touchdowns, including the game-winner. A Devin Hester apparently has internal bleeding, which can't be fun. Chicago looks like they did two years ago when they went to the Super Bowl, but I wouldn't be happy if I were Chicago fans, because you really can't rely on blocked punts and interceptions to help you win games.
Turnovers: Da Bears 2, Panthers 1. Turnovers = loss? So it appears. 5-1.
Buffalo 20, Jacksonville 16. The Jaguars are having trouble running the ball, and that's why they're 0-2. Running and defense is fine, but when it comes down to it, you need a QB who can make a big throw, and David Gerrard doesn't seem to be that guy. I'm not saying he's a bad quarterback, but he doesn't have that ability, it appears. We'll see about Trent Edwards, but right now he looks decent. I will say that James Hardy, who caught the game-winning touchdown, is a good addition to the Bills. I saw him last year against Penn State for Indiana, and he torched the Lions. He's tall and has good hands. He was taken in the second round, 41st overall, but he could be seen as a steal down the line.
Turnovers: Jaguars 2, Bills 1. Turnovers = loss? Why not? 6-1.
San Francisco 33, Seattle 30. I'm honestly not sure how Seattle lost this game. Whenever I turned it on, the Seahawks were winning and seemingly do whatever they wanted. Patrick Willis's 86-yard interception return helped turn it around for the 49ers, but even late in the game, when Seattle's offense was playing poorly, the defense still seemed to be beating up poor J. T. O'Sullivan. Then, suddenly, the man with the olde-tyme name (seriously, J. T. O'Sullivan sounds like he should be lobbying Congress in the 1880s or something) put together two awkward but effective drives, and just like that, San Francisco had won. It was very strange. Seattle is circling the drain, unlike some other 0-2 teams. The only reason they might have hope is because they're playing the Rams this weekend. But given their performances in the first two weeks, they might not want to chalk this up in the 'W' column just yet!
Turnovers: Seahawks 3, 49ers 1. Turnovers = loss? Definitely. Hold onto the football, people! 7-1.
Tampa 24, Atlanta 9. This is another game I had no interest in, so I watched very little. I will say that Brian Griese looked pretty darned good in the highlights, and it looks like Jeff Garcia might be out of a job once more. At least he gets to go home at night to her:
Yes, I'm shamelessly posting pictures of cheesecake! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!
Turnovers: Falcons 2, Buccaneers 1. Turnovers = loss? I suppose. 8-1.
New England 19, New York Jets 10. You know, I may not like R. C. Favre, but the man can throw a football decently. The Jets, presumably, also think he can throw a football, because they went out and got him. So why, when they have first and goal, trailing 6-0, do they run into the line three times and kick and field goal? Don't you want R. C. Favre to do what you got him for, which is run around in the backfield for 10 seconds, giving ground from the three to the 15, before launching a wounded duck 30 feet in the air, which three defenders will have a chance to intercept but won't, bobbling it around among them before it falls into the hands of your receiver, who just happened to be lying on the ground in the end zone? I mean, isn't that what you got him for? Sheesh. Meanwhile, I'm still not sold on Matt Cassel. He had a nice game, but come on - it's the Jets. R. C. Favre or not, it's still the Jets.
Turnovers: Jets 1, Cheaters 0. Turnovers = loss? Looks that way. 9-1.
Arizona 31, Miami 10. People here in the Basin are trying very hard not to get too giddy about the Cardinals' 2-0 record, because they haven't really beaten good teams (although San Francisco looks better this week than they did last week), but they're still doing what they need to, and that's beat the bad teams on their schedule before it gets really hard (up next: two games on the East Coast against Washington and the Jets, for which they will stay in the East instead of coming back here). The nice thing about this game is that they put their foot on the gas early and didn't let the Dolphins have any hope. Of course, because it's the Cardinals, their offensive game started this way: delay-of-game penalty (before they could run their first play, mind you), illegal formation penalty, and then, on 1st-and-20, a 79-yard touchdown to Anquan Boldin. That about sums up the Cardinals! Miami, meanwhile, continues to stink, and kicking a field goal in the third quarter when they were losing 24-0 is just a jerk move. I know they scored a touchdown later, but kicking a field goal there is just the coach being scared they'd get shut out. No guts, no glory indeed.
Turnovers: Dolphins 0, Cardinals 0. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash. I will point out that, although Arizona continues to commit stupid penalties (8 more on Sunday), they haven't turned the ball over so far this season. Hold onto the ball, people!
Pittsburgh 10, Cleveland 6. Yes, I skipped the entertaining afternoon game to go straight to the excruciating night game. Gadzooks, Cleveland is not good. Why are they on national television so much? I know they were flashy for a while last year, but they faded down the stretch (before the television schedule was made, remember) and didn't make the playoffs. Now they're stinking up the joint and making Madden even more incomprehensible than usual because he can't talk about the game. They should be CBS's fifth game with my grandma and Jim Fassel as the broadcasting duo. The Steelers have to go play the Eagles next week. That should be a pretty good game.
Turnovers: Browns 2, Steelers 0. Turnovers = loss? Sure! 10-1.
Denver 39, San Diego 38. This was a wildly entertaining game, but everyone's focusing on the end, which is fine. Until that point, it was a wildly entertaining game, and that one minute at the end didn't decide it. Denver put up 31 points in the first half, after all, so the San Diego defense should look in the mirror instead of whining about the refs. And for all the talk about how great Jay Cutler played, he threw an unbelievably stupid interception a few minutes earlier that led to the San Diego go-ahead touchdown. Cutler was driving the Broncos to a field goal or touchdown, but his choice to throw it into triple-coverage was horrible. Finally, the non-fumble was a joke, sure, but it was 3rd-and-goal from the 10, which is really hard to pick up. Plus, they ran the same exact play for the two-point conversion. Come on, San Diego, play some D! As for Norv Turner calling the ref's decision "unacceptable," I wonder if he called his defense unacceptable. Did he call his coaching unacceptable? People make mistakes, Norv! Sheesh.
Turnovers: Chargers 1, Broncos 1. Turnovers = loss? Doesn't matter.
There's another week. So far, teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents are 18-5. Let's check out the teams, their records, and their turnover margin:
Arizona: 0 turnovers, +5 margin, 2-0 record.
Pittsburgh: 1 turnover, +4 margin, 2-0 record.
Buffalo: 1 turnover, +3 margin, 2-0 record.
Green Bay: 1 turnover, +3 margin, 2-0 record.
Washington: 1 turnover, +3 margin, 1-1 record.
Tennessee: 3 turnovers, +2 margin, 2-0 record.
Denver: 1 turnover, +1 margin, 2-0 record.
Carolina: 2 turnovers, +1 margin, 2-0 record.
Philadelphia: 1 turnover, +1 margin, 1-1 record.
Tampa: 2 turnovers, +1 margin, 1-1 record.
Kansas City: 3 turnovers, +1 margin, 0-2 record.
New England: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 2-0 record.
New York Giants: 1 turnover, +0 margin, 2-0 record.
Baltimore: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 1-0 record.
Atlanta: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 1-1 record.
Chicago: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 1-1 record.
Miami: 1 turnover, +0 margin, 0-2 record.
Minnesota: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 0-2 record.
San Diego: 2 turnovers, +0 margin, 0-2 record.
New York Jets: 2 turnovers, -1 margin, 1-1 record.
Oakland: 3 turnovers, -1 margin, 1-1 record.
St. Louis: 1 turnover, -1 margin, 0-2 record.
Cleveland: 2 turnovers, -1 margin, 0-2 record.
Cincinnati: 4 turnovers, -1 margin, 0-2 record.
Dallas: 3 turnovers, -2 margin, 2-0 record.
Indianapolis: 3 turnovers, -2 margin, 1-1 record.
New Orleans: 4 turnovers, -2 margin, 1-1 record.
Houston: 3 turnovers, -2 margin, 0-1 record.
Jacksonville: 5 turnovers, -2 record, 0-2 record.
San Francisco: 6 turnovers, -3 margin, 1-1 record.
Detroit: 4 turnovers, -3 margin, 0-2 record.
Seattle: 5 turnovers, -4 record, 0-2 record.
It's early in the year, but it's interesting to track this. The weird thing, of course, is that Dallas has 3 turnovers, a -2 margin, but a 2-0 record. Their offense is that good, but they should watch that.
Next week: More fun!