THE TOP STORYLINES:
The St. Louis Rams Notch Their First Win of 2011, Stunning the New Orleans Saints 31-21
The St. Louis Rams (1-6) were coming off a humiliating 34-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and the New Orleans Saints (5-3) were rolling after a 62-7 drubbing of the Indianapolis Colts on national television. From every angle, the Saints had the advantage over the Rams, so how do you explain what is easily the biggest upset of the season? The emotionally flat Saints could not contain Steven Jackson (25-159-2 and 4-32-0 receiving), and they could not protect Brees. The unexpectedly inspired Rams pressured the Saints triggerman all day, sacking him six times and intercepting him twice (one pick-six). Brees compiled just 269-1-2, which is a poor game by his standards. With little time to throw, the New Orleans deep passing game was stymied, which explains the poor showings from the usually dependable Jimmy Graham (4-39-0) and Marques Colston (3-50-0). After surrendering 294 rushing yards to the Cowboys, St. Louis held New Orleans to just 46 rushing yards. Rams backup A.J. Feely compiled a modest 175-1-0, and Brandon Lloyd led all St. Louis receivers with 6-53-1.
Tim Tebow’s Miami Miracle Followed By a Mile High Meltdown Denver Broncos Blasted 45-10 by Visiting Detroit Lions
The Denver Post already is ripping Tebow’s pathetic performance, calling him a “sorry excuse for a pro quarterback.” Just remember Denver Broncos (2-6) fans – you wanted Tebow to start. And you finally figured out what head coach John Fox already knew: Tebow is athletic, but he is not NFL quarterback material right now because of his sub-standard passing skills. And we also learned that Tebow and most of the Denver offense are not safe fantasy options. Thanks to the putrid play of Tebow – not to mention the entire Broncos team – the Detroit Lions (6-2) defense/special teams rolled up some big points for its owners, holding Denver to 10 offensive points while amassing seven sacks, one pick (returned for a touchdown) and one recovered fumble (returned for a touchdown). The erratic-armed Tebow completed 18 of his 39 passes for 172-1-1 and piled up 10-63-0 on the ground. Knowshon Moreno (14-69-0 and 1-5-0 receiving) and Eric Decker (6-72-1) were Denver’s offensive leaders.
This contest was just another day at the office for the Lions offense, which helped the Motor City Crew earn its biggest road triumph in 41 years. Matthew Stafford’s injured right ankle did not slow him down; the Detroit triggerman compiled 267-3-0. Calvin Johnson (6-125-1), Titus Young (4-66-1) and former Bronco Tony Scheffler (3-38-1) were the Lions’ top pass-catchers. Maurice Morris (13-58-1 and 1-7-0 receiving) was the team’s leading rusher.
The Dream Team Finally Makes Its 2011 Debut, Blasting the Dallas Cowboys 34-7
Where has this Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) team been all season? Now this is how a Super Bowl contender is supposed to play. The Eagles notched their third win, jumped back into the NFC East race and silenced their critics with a Sunday night thrashing of the Dallas Cowboys (3-4). Philadelphia excelled on offense, defense and special teams, turning in a masterful performance, which probably shouldn’t surprise us – Eagles head coach Andy Reid is 13-0 lifetime after a Bye week.
Philadelphia shocked everyone by attacking Dallas’ top-rated run defense non-stop with LeSean McCoy. He rushed 30 times for a mind-blowing 185 yards (sixth-highest total in franchise history) and two rushing scores, and caught two passes for 15 yards. Vick compiled an efficient 279-2-0 on 21-of-28 passing and amassed 7-50-0 rushing. The Eagles have been using Brent Celek (7-94-1) more heavily than usual. Maclin (3-54-1) caught Vick’s other scoring strike, while DeSean Jackson had a quiet game (3-31-0).
The Philadelphia defense snuffed out the Dallas offense with ease. Tony Romo (203-1-1) was under constant pressure. Because of the Eagles’ stellar play in the secondary, Dez Bryant (3-28-0), Miles Austin (3-27-0) and Jason Witten (4-28-0) all had bad games. Slot receiver Laurent Robinson (5-103-1) caught Romo’s only touchdown pass. After DeMarco Murray torched the St. Louis Rams for 253 rushing yards last week, he posted a modest 8-74-0.
The Pittsburgh Steelers Down the New England Patriots 25-17, Holding Tom Brady and Company to Season Lows in Scoring and Yardage
This was a statement game from the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – no question. I watched this one from beginning to end, and I can tell you the final score is not indicative of how thoroughly the Steelers defense dominated one of the premiere offenses in the NFL. Tom Brady has the Pittsburgh’s number, right? Not on this day. A supposedly older and softer Steelers defense sacked Brady just three times and pressured him non-stop. The Pittsburgh offense also deserves a huge nod for chewing up what is admittedly a soft New England Patriots (5-2) defense, holding the ball for more than 39 minutes. The Steelers’ five scoring drives lasted 11, 16, 10, 14 and 11 plays, respectively.
Ben Roethlisberger played an outstanding game, amassing 365-2-1 with touchdown tosses to Anthony Brown and Mewelde Moore. If you happened to start little-used Heath Miller, you hit the jackpot – he piled up a surprising 7-85-0 stat line. Mike Wallace rolled up 7-70-0 while Mendenhall led Pittsburgh with 13-70-0 and 3-22-0 receiving. For the Patriots, Brady amassed a 198-2-1 stat line; his two touchdown passes went to Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez. Rob Gronkowski (7-94-0) led all New England receivers. Kevin Faulk (ACL surgery) made his 2011 debut, leading the Patriots with a paltry 6-32-0 on the ground while chipping in 5-20-0 receiving.