Some observations of this past weekend’s games…
Ricky wasn’t tricky, but Peyton was creatin’
The marquis matchup of the AFC on Sunday pitted the 6-1 Colts against the 5-2 Dolphins. Miami had beaten the Colts four straight times and have had success against Peyton Manning who has won only three games in eleven tries against Miami. Sunday was a different story. Ricky Williams was held to only 36 yards rushing as the Colts defense stepped it up big time and won 23-17. A healthy Edgerrin James made his presence felt in a big way who rushed 26 times for 89 yards and a score. James continually fought for the extra yard and despite Zach Thomas being his shadow all day, the Edge did just enough to gain that extra yard. The Colts got a lucky break at the end of the first half as a pass intended for Marvin Harrison ricocheted off the stud WR right into the hands of TE Marcus Pollard who took the pass 51 yards setting up a field goal that gave the Colts the lead for good. Miami had a chance to steal this one in the fourth quarter but the ball continued to bounce the Colts way. After picking off Manning late in the fourth quarter, the Dolphins took over on the Colts 15 yard line with just under three minutes to play. Brian Griese rolled right, but Dwight Freeney got to him forcing Griese’s second fumble of the game which was recovered by the Colts. Griese has looked impressive in his two starts, but until Miami finds a way to win at home (all three of their losses have come in Miami), they won’t need a December swoon to be knocked out of playoff contention. As for the Colts, the healthy trio on offense combined with the superb play of the defense has them sitting atop the AFC South at 7-1 looking down at popular Super Bowl pick Tennessee.
Who needs a QB when you got Ray Lewis
Let me get this straight, Jamal Lewis is held to under 100 yards (only 68 to be precise) for the first time in seven games. Kyle Boller has 6 TDs and 8 INTs on the season and has only thrown for more than 160 yards once this season including 156 yards on Sunday. Is anyone else wondering how the Ravens won 24-17 and are 5-3 and are in 1st place in the AFC North? Did I mention the Ravens have a guy named Ray Lewis on defense? Lewis (Ray, not Jamal) was simply dominant against the Jaguars on Sunday. Not only did Lewis post 14 tackles (12 of the solo variety), but he picked off rookie Byron Leftwich to ice the game with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. With Pittsburgh playing it’s worst ball in recent memory (2-6), unless the Bengals or Browns rattle off six wins in their next eight games, the Ravens look to be in great shape to take the AFC North division with ease. If Sunday’s game is any indication, Jamal Lewis may not even be the most valuable Lewis on the Ravens team.
New York-New York duke it out in OT
The good news for Jets fans: Chad Pennington returned to the starting lineup this week. The bad news: despite his 4 TD passes including three to Santana “Laveranues who?” Moss, the Jets came up short in overtime 31-28 on Sunday. The battle of the Meadowlands appeared to be well in hand with only ten minutes to play with the Giants converting a two-point conversion to take the lead 28-14. But Chad Pennington completed 11 of 16 passes on the Jets final two drives including passes to seven different receivers to tie the game at 28-28 forcing overtime. The Giants won the coin toss (no heads/tails incidents to speak of) and possession but Brett Conway missed a 39-yard field goal attempt. After trading punts the Jets had their shot at victory, but Doug Brien’s 50-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The Giants drove down the field on their next possession and Brett Conway went from the outhouse to the penthouse as he made the 29-yard field goal for the win. With the win, the Giants have won two straight and at 4-4 are only two games behind division-leading Dallas. The J-E-T-S dropped to 2-6 with this game marking the fourth loss by seven points or less. Their Golden Boy is back, but it may be too late.
Saints still have Bucs number
Another Florida team, more home struggles. Miami fans aren’t the only ones down south wondering what’s up with their home team as the Bucs dropped their third loss in four games at Raymond James Stadium to the Saints 17-14. Deuce McAllister ran for 110 yards and the Saints scored both of their touchdowns after Tampa Bay turnovers including one INT returned for a TD and another TD on the first play following an INT to former beer-delivery guy Michael Lewis. The Bucs had six turnovers in all on the day and it’s only thanks to the Tampa Bay defense that this game did not get out of hand earlier. Brad Johnson lead the Bucs down field twice for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough to pull out the victory. The defending Super Bowl champs are now sitting at .500 at 4-4, two games behind the Panthers in the NFC South. The Saints head into their bye week having won three out of their last four games and are only a half game behind the Bucs at 4-5. It looks like the NFC South will be up for grabs until the very last week and these teams will meet again in five weeks to see if the Saints can make it four straight wins against the Bucs. The Bucs may have the advantage in their next game…it’s not in Tampa.
Some other passing thoughts….
Only Brett Favre could do what he did against the Vikings on Sunday night. Favre had some help thanks to Ahman Green & Co. who gained 261 yards on the ground, but a QB playing with a broken thumb on his throwing hand and performing well is something you don’t see everyday.
Do you think Randy Moss is laughing at all these failed backward laterals? I believe I counted three just this week that paled in comparison to the Freak’s play two weeks ago.
How far have the Raiders fallen? From Rich Gannon to Rick Mirer. That sums up their season in five words.
Forget about Marvin Harrison, is anyone watching Torry Holt lately? Holt already has 978 yards and 9 TDs with eight games to go. Yikes.
Coaches on the hot seat: Bill Cowher, Steve Spurrier.
The Steelers have lost five games in a row and are no longer a threat in the AFC North. In Cowher’s 12 years as head coach, he has won fewer than seven games only once (6 wins in ’99). That could be twice after this season.
The Redskins have lost four straight and Steve Spurrier is 1-8 against his division foes. Patrick Ramsey looked like a pinball against the Cowboys and if Spurrier can’t figure out how to protect him, Ramsey will be the latest casualty in the Spurrier experiment. Hey Steve, just give Pete Carroll a phone call and move on.
Until next week…