Some observations of this past weekend’s games…
Have Pats will travel
With the Pats 28-24 victory over the Colts on Sunday, New England sits atop the AFC East at 10-2 thanks to wins over Indianapolis, Miami, Denver, and Philadelphia…all on the ROAD! The Pats came into this game at Indy as underdogs, but they jumped out to a quick 17-point lead. When the Colts scored a TD with :12 seconds remaining in the half, you could feel the momentum leaning towards the Colts. That feeling lasted about :12 seconds. Bethel Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a TD taking the wind out of the Colts sails…or so we thought. These are the Colts and after a couple Tom Brady interceptions, the Colts tied the game at 31 with close to ten minutes to play in the game. That’s when Bethel Johnson stepped it up again. After the Colts tied the score, Bethel took the ensuing kickoff 67 yards which led to a Brady touchdown which turned out to be the game-winning score….of course, things weren’t that easy. The Colts got the ball back with just over three minutes to play at the 50-yard line (thanks to another lousy 20-yard Ken Walter punt), and the Colts had first and goal to go from the Pats 2 yard line. Two Edgerrin James runs netted one yard and a fade pattern fell incomplete which brought up fourth and one from the one. If the Colts score a TD, they win. If they don’t, the Pats win. Shouldn’t all games be decided like this? On this day, it was Willie McGinnest and the Pats defense who stuffed James for the third time in four plays and the Pats got the win. Things won’t get much easier for either team as the Pats head home to face Miami and the Colts head to Tennessee next week, but what a game. This was one of the best of the season, bar none.
Respect the stripes!
The stripes I’m referring to, are those worn by the new America’s team. That’s right, your Cincinnati Bengals! The Bengals defeated the Steelers 24-20 in Pittsburgh last Sunday, mostly due to the Bengals defense forcing two Steelers turnovers in Bengal territory, and are sitting at 7-5 including four straight wins after starting out 0-3. Jon Kitna hasn’t hurt them either as he’s thrown 19 TDs to only 4 INTs over the last nine games which has started some (gulp!) MVP talk. These are the new Bengals, the Marvin Lewis-led Bengals. These Bengals have Cincinnati fans digging out their Boomer Esiason and Cris Collinsworth jerseys and wearing them with pride. The win marked the second straight road win for Cincy as they kept pace with the Ravens who also sit at 7-5 atop the AFC North. With the wild card likely to be a 10+ win team this year, neither the Bengals nor the Ravens can let up as they square off against each other in Baltimore next week. Can the Bengals continue their magical run to the playoffs? If so, maybe Cincy fans can finally retire those Anthony Munoz jerseys and upgrade to Chad Johnson or Jon Kitna replicas.
Maybe it wasn’t all Keyshawn’s fault?
Okay, Keyshawn is no longer shooting his mouth off in Tampa, so why did the Bucs lose in Jacksonville 17-10 marking their fourth loss in five games? The highly-touted Tampa Bay defense that was once drawing comparisons to the ’86 Chicago Bears looks like a shell of last year’s squad. Just this past Sunday, the Bucs allowed a 100-yard rusher (Fred Taylor) and failed to post a sack against rookie QB Byron Leftwich. This lack of sacks was the second straight road game in which the Bucs failed to sack the QB. You never heard those kind of stats from the Mike Singletary and Richard Dent defenses of yesteryear. With the defense playing so-so, the offense has also struggled with Michael Pittman losing time to Thomas Jones and Brad Johnson throwing for more than 200 yards only once in the past three games. The Bucs A.K. (after Keyshawn), are now 1-1 (5-7 overall), and they’ll need to win the next four games to finish above .500 and have an outside shot at the playoffs. It looks like Brad Johnson might be taking his trip to DisneyWorld a month early this year.
Points, points, and more points
For those of you that were feeling “turkey tired” on Thanksgiving and took an afternoon nap, the Dolphins started off the scoring onslaught by dropping a 40-spot on Bill Parcells and the Boys. The Ravens, yes those Ravens, continued to surprise everyone with Anthony Wright at QB by posting 44 points for the second game in a row. The Ravens 44 points weren’t even the high total of the day as the Rams completely shredded the Vikings with a 48-point outing thanks to three Minnesota turnovers and a blocked punt. The Pats/Colts game saw a total of 72 points as both teams scored at least 34 points. Last but certainly not least, the Seahawks made it three straight games scoring 34 points or more with a 34-7 drubbing of the Browns. With the playoffs right around the corner, expect more scoring and more disparity as the season winds down and teams start looking ahead to a trip to Houston on February 1st.
Some other passing thoughts….
Ray Lewis was everywhere against the 49ers. Not only did he return an interception for a TD, but he also had 18 tackles, with 14 of them being of the solo variety. Now that’s how you burn off a Thanksgiving dinner!
Don’t look now, but Marshall Faulk is back. His three TDs last week moved him past Jim Brown and Walter Payton on the career touchdown list. Those aren’t your run-of-the-mill type names. As a side note, Jim Brown scored his TDs in fewer games. He was the Man.
Speaking of the Rams, how funny was it to see Kyle Turley interrupt a Marc Bulger interview saying, “This is our quarterback, Marc Bulger. Did you see him play today? SHUT UP!!!” Take that Brenda Warner!
Someone had too many leftovers before Sunday’s game. John Kasay missed three field goals and an extra point and the Panthers lost to the Eagles 25-16. For you non-Mathematicians, had Kasay not missed any kicks, the Panthers win. Someone please pass Kasay the Tums.
I hate to start looking ahead to next week when the ink hasn’t even dried off of my Monday morning newspaper, but look at these games:
Cin – Bal: Battle of the AFC North division leaders
Ind – Ten: Battle of the AFC South division leaders
Mia – N.E: Battle of the AFC East division leaders
Dal – Phi: Battle of the NFC East division leaders
K.C. – Den: 11-1 Chiefs face 7-5 Broncos looking for a wild card spot
Sea – Min: 8-4 Seahawks vs. 7-5 Vikings
Wow. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Until next week…