Snap Judgments: Week 3
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in the Keystone State's smash-mouth showdown between the Steelers and Eagles at The Linc ...
• In honor of
** Want to get a real-life sense for just how long it has been since the Patriots lost a non-playoff game? Consider that when New England last lost in the regular season,
New England pretty much went on to bigger and better things from there, winning their next 21 regular season games, an NFL record. Come to think of it, you could say the same thing about Palin.
** I promise I'll never doubt
** Miami's Brown could play another 20 years in the NFL and never have a better game than he did Sunday. A team-record four rushing touchdowns on just 17 carries (113 yards), with a pretty 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end
** If you're wondering what it looks like when New England's
** Okay, I'll say it. Miami has itself a quarterback controversy. Do you play
** In all seriousness, it's in this kind of game where the Patriots are going to miss Brady most of all. New England might do pretty well playing from ahead with Cassel in game-management mode (see last week against the Jets), but let the Patriots fall behind as they did against the Dolphins, and it's probably not going to be pretty (see Sunday, from mid-second quarter on).
Cassel and this offense simply lack the explosiveness to erase a significant lead. New England still seemingly doesn't have much confidence in its running game; and against the Dolphins, the lack of a deep passing game -- like the one that Brady orchestrated last year -- was a killer. No Patriots receiver had a catch for longer than
** Maybe the bigger concern in the wake of the debacle against the Dolphins? Brady doesn't play defense, so how exactly did Miami shred New England's veteran-laden unit for 461 yards of offense, 23 first downs, an 8.1 average gain per play and five touchdowns? The Dolphins, a team that finished just 15 games behind the Patriots in the AFC East last season, just beat the defending AFC champions on their own home field. Badly.
That's closing the gap ... and darn quickly.
** I predict it's going to be a very long bye week for the humbled Patriots, with no extra days off awarded to the players by Belichick. For New England, that Week 5 trip to San Francisco cannot come soon enough.
• For a while there on Sunday, Week 3 looked like one of those You-Don't-Know-Anything Days in the NFL. I was watching as three very bad teams went on the road and were having their way with some clubs I thought were playoff material.
The Dolphins were dismantling the Patriots in Foxboro, the Raiders were stunning the Bills in Orchard Park, and the bumbling Bengals were actually giving the defending Super Bowl champion Giants all they wanted in East Rutherford.
But you know the rest of the story. The Raiders and Bengals eventually woke up and realized where they were, with only the Dolphins finishing the road upset they had started.
• What a huge season veteran defensive end
• Until they prove me wrong, here's my big-game rule of thumb about the Cardinals and quarterback
• I saw absolutely nothing in Week 3 to dissuade me from the conviction that Texans head coach
With the Texans at 0-2 and facing games at Jacksonville and home against Indianapolis, this is the week the start-
• Not sure I ever saw Bills fullback
• So much for Thigpen Fever. Who's next on the Kansas City quarterback carousel?
But hey, it wasn't all gloom and doom for the woeful Chiefs. At least
• Quite the statement game for St. Louis, down 17-0 at Seattle almost before the first TV timeout. I guess rallying around their embattled head coach,
I'd say the odds now favor St. Louis making an in-season coaching change, which would be the Rams' first such move since 1962, when
• Good move,
Are you paying attention,
• It wasn't exactly up to the standards he established in the Super Bowl, but
• The Raiders nearly pulled the upset at Buffalo, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that if
Russell has all of 31 completions in three starts this season, or 10.3 per game.
• That's two straight weeks the Bears have let one get away in the fourth quarter. What happened to the dominating, opportunistic team we watched humiliate the Colts in Indianapolis in Week 1?
Chicago was up 24-14 over Tampa Bay with about 6½ minutes left Sunday and let the Bucs score the game's final 13 points to win in overtime. It was the same basic story at Carolina last week, a game Chicago led 17-3 with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter, but wound up losing 20-17.
• Tampa Bay quarterback
Usually, when a team throws as much as the Bucs did against the Bears, victory is not their reward. But form didn't hold in Tampa Bay's 27-24 overtime win, in which Griese went 38 of 67 for 407 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Maybe the most amazing statistic of all? The Bears defense didn't sack Griese even once all day.
• Must admit, every time the Bills trot out their throwback uniforms, I fall in love all over again with those old-school, AFL-era helmets, with that nice red buffalo on the side.