This week was probably the most exciting of the season, with five games being decided by three points or less. The sweetest one involved a Manning, but it wasn’t the one you thought of first. I have been a critic of Eli Manning, and knowing me that won’t change anytime soon. Despite that, I think he threw the most beautiful touchdown pass to Toomer with only seconds left. For those of you that didn’t see it, let me play it out for you. The Giants have just driven to the eight after a very quiet catch from Jeremy Shockey that went for twenty-four yards. Eli misses Toomer on first down, then executes a draw to Tiki down to the two. Eight seconds left, no timeouts but no time worries either, because it’s four down territory and eight seconds is a lifetime. Eli drops back five steps and Barber picks up the blitz as Eli scans the field. No one open, he starts to back pedal and pressure comes. Off his back foot, he throws a cool, tight soft spiral over the linebackers to the outstretched hands of Toomer. Touchdown, ballgame. He made it look effortless. I actually sat there in awe. There have been much better passes to win (Montana to Clark for example) but this has been a defining moment so far. A great performance against a smart, fast and disciplined defense.
No Mo Joe
While we revel in one quarterback’s glory, let’s wallow in another’s misery. Joey Harrington is done in Detroit. How little confidence (though well deserved I might add) does Mariucci have in Harrington that he starts a thirty-five year old quarterback who is only 70% healthy after coming off a broken leg? Garcia wasn’t stellar, but he put one in the win column and he was efficient He didn’t turn the ball over and won the game with a patchwork group of receivers. They are .500 right now, and that may very well steal the division crown in an impotent division like the NFC Norris. I’ll be curious to see how well he does when Roy Williams and Charles Rogers return in a few weeks. Next week’s game is the big test — Chicago is coming to town.
Speaking of big tests, Drew Bledsoe failed his miserably. I am in absolute disbelief that a quarterback of his experience would throw a 12-yard out in a tie ballgame with only seconds to go. You would think if he didn’t learn that in thirteen years in the league, he would have learned it in the second quarter when the same type of pass was nearly picked by a floating defender on the same side. I seem to remember back in 2001 a Dallas quarterback who did the same thing with the game on the line, and it was someone named Ryan Leaf. Not to compare Bledsoe to Leaf, but that was boneheaded. It just goes to show you can’t teach a dumb dog any tricks. One pass took Dallas from first to last in the division. Besides the pasting of Philadelphia, their three wins have come by a total of ten points. Wins nonetheless, but they are going to have some trouble down the stretch. I think the combination of the loss of Flozell Adams and a gimpy Julius Jones is going to put some games on the very shaky shoulders of Drew Bledsoe, which can’t be good.
Ricky Update: 6 carries for minus 1 yards. That brings his season total to 11 carries for seven yards. That makes him ranked about nine hundred fifty third in the league. Gus Frerotte is out-rushing him this season. Enough said.
Just Plain Lousy Game of the Week: BAL vs. CHI – Gee, what a shock that the Ravens are involved in another one of these. 16 points and, including penalties, 315 total yards between both teams. Has there been a bigger bust than Jamal Lewis this year? 34 yards on 15 carries, that’s 2.3 per touch. This year he is averaging 2.9 per carry in six games. You would think he wasn’t healthy; I think he has simply lost his edge. Maybe he needs to commit another crime to get him refocused?
I thought Marty Schottenheimer actually had a stroke after the Eagles blocked that kick and ran it back. He just stood there, motionless as the game slipped out of his fingers. What can you expect though when you have the best back in football and your quarterback is the leading rusher with nine yards?
The Houston Texans might as well move to Seattle, as the sun has shined very little on them this year. One bright light was Jerome Mathis’ 89 yard kickoff return for a TD. No Colt special-teamer even laid a glove on the man and he turned it on at the thirty and was gone. A complete spectacle to see; very Dante Hall-ish.
What exactly did Mike Tice say to his guys at halftime to inspire them to come back from 17 points down? I think it went like this, “Imagine, it’s a calm sunny day on Lake Minnetonka…” Sorry, I just can’t let that one go yet.
You may want to take a look at Heath Miller if he is still available. He is developing into the focal point of the Steelers’ passing game. Even if they only throw fifteen passes a game, he will get his and he has scored two weeks in a row.
This week’s stupidest player award goes to Damione Lewis who punched LeCharles Bentley in the..um..groin about four feet from the referee. If you’re going to hit someone, at least do it at the bottom of the pile where no one can see it!
Jose Cortez (yes the 49ers’ reject kicker) was cut from the Cowboys. The fantasy pool for kickers just got a little better. I guess nothing is too strange for kickers since the Cardinals’ Neil Rackers is leading all kickers with 66 points. Yes, your heard right, the Cardinals’ kicker is leading.
Mark Brunell is making Joe Gibbs look like a genius. He is quietly having a pro bowl caliber season. Of course, the 49ers would make Joey Harrington look like a pro bowler, but that shouldn’t take away the credit for what he has done. He is tied with Peyton Manning for third in passer rating, with more TDs and fewer interceptions than Manning. Who would have seen that coming?
On to next week, and some mid-season awards….