McNabb, Tomlinson may be getting the last laugh on former teams
NEW YORK -- Five very preliminary things I think:
1. I think I can't believe Kansas City is the only unbeaten team in the NFL on Oct. 4.
2. I think the Eagles fans did one of the classiest things I've seen in that city in -- well, in forever, when they heartily cheered
3. I think it's entirely possible
4. I think the Ravens wouldn't be where they are this morning, and they wouldn't have won at Pittsburgh Sunday, without an excitable little competitor of a cornerback,
5. I think you can be 53, paunchy, skunk-gray of the hair -- and still pull off a little bit of an athletic feat. More later about the adventures of a newborn half-marathoner in northern New England -- yes, I finished, and there was no hospitalization involved.
Now for the headlines of the day:
I'll let my buddy
McNabb never delivered the voracious Philly crowd a championship, but he played his best and he showed class for 11 years, and on Sunday the fans responded -- stunningly, I thought -- with probably 85 percent cheers when he was introduced last in the pregame introductions.
The Redskins could have done far more gloating than they allowed themselves after the 17-12 victory, but McNabb said all the right things, except the one sentence he allowed himself in the locker room when
Who knows? For one day he was right, and we'll see if for three or four years he turns out to be. On this day, I thought the co-star of the show was the Philadelphia crowd.
There was a sadness in
Good thing it means nothing right now. Ranking the teams is an exercise in dart-throwing. And isn't that great for the NFL at the quarter-pole -- that any of eight to 10 teams might have a legit argument to be the best right now?
I pick the Ravens because I think after four weeks they can win games in more ways than any other team. Pittsburgh, with
I thought he made an awful pass on fourth-and-goal from the two with 2:44 to play and Baltimore down 14-10. Flacco waited one beat too long, then threw a fade too far to
But he recovered nicely. With 68 seconds left, Flacco got the ball back at the Steeler 40 in great field position after a punt, still trailing 14-10. Smart player that he is, he used the third play to set up cornerback
Flacco pumped just enough. McFadden bit. Houshmandzadeh had the area from the 10-yard-line into the end zone to himself, and Flacco didn't miss. Ballgame.
"You ever think you'd see a receiver running wide open in the end zone, in this stadium?'' I asked him.
"No,'' he said. "Not even close. That doesn't happen. But when he froze on the little pump, I knew it'd be open.''
The Ravens can't beat the Bengals -- Cincinnati defensive coordinator
"We always have a lot of confidence around here,'' Flacco said. "But this really elevates. There's no better feeling in the world than to win in a place like this.''
One postscript: Lardarius Webb is a very big reason the Ravens are waking up 3-1 this morning. With 10:13 left in the game and Baltimore up 10-7,
"It hit both of our hands at the same time,'' Webb said. "I wanted the pick soooooo bad. Last year when we played the Steelers here, I didn't play, and it's such an exciting place to play I wanted to do something to help us win. It's such a pleasure playing here. And if I could have just intercepted that ball ... But to make the play, to stop him from catching that touchdown, was a great play. I was happy about it.''
The Steelers went on to score on the drive on a
Of all the incredible stats in the NFL this morning, the one that stops me in my tracks is this one: Baltimore's allowing 119.0 passing yards per game, stingiest in the NFL. And before the season, I'd have sworn the secondary would be such an Achilles heel for the Ravens that it would end up ruining their season. But Webb,
For 13 weeks this offseason,
"I lost a lot of strength in the last couple of years with those injuries, and when you lose strength, you lose explosion,'' Tomlinson said from a very happy team bus leaving Ralph Wilson Stadium after his Jets crushed the Bills 38-14. "So the only way I was going to get back to where I needed to be was to be all-in to the offseason program. I moved to New Jersey and was there the first day of the program and stayed all the way 'til the end in June. I missed only one week -- to move from San Diego to New Jersey. If I'd stayed on the West Coast, I'd never have been able to build the kind of chemistry I've built with these guys right now.''
In essence, Tomlinson looks like he turned the way-back machine to 2007, which is when he had his last great season in San Diego. He's fast. He can beat linebackers around the corner, which he didn't do last year. He bursts into tacklers. Very dissimilar to the last couple of years in San Diego. He rushed for 3.8 yards a clip in 2008 and 3.3 last year, and the Chargers had seen enough. We all thought we'd seen enough. Raise your hand if you thought Tomlinson was going to be anything but a relief pitcher for the explosive
I got a kick out of looking at the four-week rushing leaders this morning. Look who's 6 and 7:
With his 133-yard, two-TD rushing day, Tomlinson moved past
I asked him if he takes any delight in showing he's not washed up. "The pleasure isn't showing people they were wrong,'' he said. "The pleasure is showing people the Jets were right in the faith they showed in me. They made the right choice.''
Agreed. Now I think the Jets need to make another good choice and make sure they don't burn out Tomlinson. He averaged 258 carries a year over the past two seasons, and it'd be smart if they kept him on a pace to get around 200, so he's the real Tomlinson come winter.
I ask you to go find
"I don't know how far away I was, but I knew the only way I had a chance to do something was just turn and run,'' White, the Falcons' star wideout, told me.
He started about 15 yards behind Clements but made up ground when Clements got into traffic. You could see the play developing, Clements carrying the ball not snug against him but with space out to the side of his body, and if White could just catch him ...
"Sometimes you don't know on a play like that if you're gonna catch the guy,'' White said, "but it's not something you think about. You just go. I just figured, if I can get close enough to touch it, I'm gonna make a play. I watch our defense do that every week in practice and in the games. They do it to me -- punch the ball out. So I know what to do. And I got close enough and I tried to hit it as hard as I could.''
The ball shot out of Clements' arm, and landed near the Atlanta seven, and White tackled Clements so he couldn't recover it. In a split second, White saw the ball on the ground and fell on it -- as did about six other players. "People jumping on me, grabbing for the ball, yelling, screaming, the officials coming in, grabbing guys away. All I could think of was, 'I gotta get out of here.' '' When he did, guard
Moral of the story: Never give up on a play.
"Sometimes,'' said White, "you gotta do whatever it takes to win. It means a lot, giving my team a second chance to win.'' A lot -- like maybe a playoff spot in January.
I realize it might be an unfair day to make the comparison that Kyle Orton's better than Jay Cutler, but I'm not pitting the quarterbacks against each other on the basis of Orton's terrific road performance at Tennessee and on Cutler's feeble and concussed one in New Jersey Sunday night. This is about a body of work -- granted, not a deep body of work, but a 20-game stretch.
In the NFL, a 20-game sample is enough to make a valid comparison. And on the basis of 20 games, it's hard to argue that Chicago got the better of the Jay Cutler-for-Kyle Orton deal. Forget the ancillary parts of the deal; Denver has not drafted well, and I'm not doing this item to get into the value of the two first-round picks and the third-rounder (which turned into
Through the first four weeks of the 2010 season, Orton's 1,419 passing yards leads the NFL; Cutler is 507 yards behind him.
As I remember the April 2009 trade, I'll never forget Denver coach
Cutler got the change of scenery he wanted, but he struggled under offensive coordinator
How long will Cutler have Martz to work with? Who knows? Martz doesn't stay in one coordinator's job very long -- two years in Detroit, one in San Francisco and one now in Chicago. Then again, if the Broncos continue to flame out, Denver owner
Quarterbacks under McDaniels have to be smart because McDaniels gives them so much latitude to change plays, both in the meeting rooms and on the field. Orton's very quiet, but I've witnessed him (last May) in meetings changing little things to make it easier to recall and call plays.
You'll remember, this was supposed to be a lopsided deal favoring the Bears. It's not every day you have the chance to get a franchise quarterback in his prime, still young enough to give you six or seven seasons. It's still very early, and we don't know if Orton can keep it up. He's going to have
1. On the day
2. Next Monday at the Meadowlands, Minnesota plays the Jets. Favre could well get to 500 TD passes and 70,000 yards a week from tonight. He's at 499 and 69,926.
3. Tony Gonzalez is pretty special. He has 203 more catches and 1,942 more receiving yards than any other tight end in history.
In essence, if the league goes from 16 to 18 games, that would mean players would have to play six additional games over a three-year period to be vested for post-career health care. That, I'm told, is far more important to the current rank-and-file than the prospect of 32 new, real jobs, and 64 new practice-squad jobs. It's early in negotiations, very early, but the league has to address modifications to health care when it continues discussions on a possible 18-game season.
This week, I'm going to do it a little differently. I'm not going to pick a one through five. I'm just going to pick five. There's not a clear number one, anyway. So here we go (listed alphabetically).
I don't care if he had gone 2-for-33 Sunday. As long as the Redskins won the game and McNabb was a very positive influence in what had to be the most emotional game of his life, he was a lock for the player of the week.
In his first game back at Lincoln Financial Field after his Easter night trade from Philadelphia to Washington, McNabb kept the chains moving (8-of-19, 125 yards, one touchdown, one interception, five rushes for 39 yards) in Washington's 17-12 victory. For one day anyway, the major advantage in the trade went Washington's way.
This shouldn't be an award for the defensive player of the week -- it's the best single game for a defensive player this year. Phillips had four sacks, an interception, two passes defended and six tackles. The Chargers completely embarrassed the defending NFC West champions (we won't be using that title to describe the Cardinals in 2011, I don't believe), holding them to 128 total yards. With
Smart use of the perimeter rushers against a bad offensive line Sunday night, and Tuck and Umenyiora combined for six of the Giants' 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and 11 tackles. This is a rush the Giants have been desperate to see, a rush mindful of the Super Bowl win over the Patriots. GM
I've never been a kicker, but I imagine they must grow up dreaming of moments like Scobee experienced on the final play of the Colts-Jags game Sunday in Jacksonville. After Peyton Manning drove the Colts the length of the field (what else is new?) to tie the game at 28, the Jags drove the ball to the Indy 41 and
You're not going to see a better-executed punt block for a touchdown. Ziegler and Walker deked their way through the Atlanta offensive line in the first half at Atlanta, bore in on punter
Entering last weekend, the Rams were 6-44 in the last three-plus years. They'd won one of their previous 28 games. This morning, they're 2-2 and playing better than any other team in the NFC West (I know Arizona's 2-2, but I don't call a team with 34- and 31-point losses in the first month of the season a respectable team). I'm sure the Rams are very thankful they listened to a coach who kept telling them they were getting better, and to keep working and they'd see.
As detailed earlier, with the Niners nursing a 14-13 lead at Atlanta with 1:22 left in a game they desperately needed, Clements picked off a pass from Ryan -- reading Ryan's eyes perfectly and making an easy interception -- and began a gallop down the left side of the field. Clearly, even though the interception likely clinched the victory for San Francisco, Clements wanted to score, and as he ran down the left side, he didn't protect the ball the way he should, and Atlanta wideout Roddy White caught him from behind and punched the ball out. Dumb, dumb play by Clements. It cost the 49ers their first victory of the year.
"When I came out and got a standing ovation, it was overwhelming. Thank you to the fans ... It's big, it's big. There's no way of hiding it. It's over now. The exciting part of this is, it's over now.''
"I don't understand why my name is associated with this whole ordeal. I mean, it's the same offensive dinner that we've been doing, that every team does in the NFL, so I don't know why my name is the single name in this thing. I have nothing against Dez; Dez has nothing against me. Like I said in training camp, I don't want you guys to bang our heads together and try to make us hate each other. That's not going to work. He didn't take my pads. Whoop-de-doo, he didn't take my pads. But he's still out there as a punt returner, catching balls and doing things he needs to do, and I'm doing things I need to do to make this team better. So don't associate me with being the bad guy with Dez and Dez being the bad guy with me, because that's not what it is.''
Williams and Bryant butted heads in training camp when the rookie wouldn't carry the veteran's shoulder pads at the end of a camp practice, which is customary for rookies to do in training camp. Williams did tell Archer he did have quite a nice -- and filling -- meal when the rookies paid. "I ain't ate in two days,'' he said.
This doesn't deserve a monumental amount of coverage, but one thing should be said to the Cowboy veterans who delighted in spending about $2,500 per man (one estimate I heard for the 22 to 25 men who attended this dinner) as most of America struggles to pay for weekly groceries: Stop being pigs. It's disgusting.
"Well that's a good question. I'm not a 'sit around the fireplace' guy. I don't know. I'm not certain about it. We'll see what happens when the time comes, but I know I want to do something, even if it's not day-to-day or something like that. I know I want to do something. I don't like sitting around. I like to get up and get out and go do something.''
"The 'victory bell' rings two times -- when we win and when else?''
One of the 49 students in class said, "Third down?''
"Third down? No! At graduation,'' replied Tressel.
"offended & sad for what...why is it such an issue...I understand time r hard but if he can afford it...it is what it is...
"everybody in this league had to do something one time or another...they don't want u to physically haze...so guy get hit..
"monetarily (I hope I spelled that right) lol''
So the Jets lost
I know, I know -- Revis played Joe Flacco and Tom Brady in the first six quarters, and they've faced Brady (for two quarters),
Starting at 4:10 p.m. Saturday, the Red Sox and Yankees played baseball for 11 hours, 27 minutes of the next 24 hours. In those three games,
Last week I told you how the 2008 Favre trade from Green Bay to the Jets netted the Packers
The Redskins traded two draft picks, including a 2010 second-rounder, to Philadelphia on April 4 for McNabb. This created space for the Eagles to hand the starting quarterback job to Kevin Kolb. And with the second-round pick, the 37th overall, Philadelphia took safety
In his first month on the job, Allen earned a starting safety job with the Eagles, got an interception in Games 1, 2 and 4, and a sack in Game 3. The NFL voted him NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month for September.
Though Kolb got concussed and then benched, the backup quarterback, Vick, brought on to the Eagles in 2009 after
I won't say Philadelphia got the better of the deal, of course, not after McNabb waltzed back into town and won a very big game Sunday.
Here are three postscripts from a little Friday digging:
• The Eagles have either a third- or fourth-round pick coming from Washington in the 2011 draft. If any of three events occur -- McNabb makes the Pro Bowl this year, the Redskins win nine or more games, or the Redskins make the playoffs -- it's a three. If not, it's a four.
• Washington is committed to deal the third- or fourth-rounder not traded to Philadelphia as compensation in the deal to acquire tackle
• You want to know why Washington wasn't aggressive in pursuit of Jackson when the Chargers dangled him in trade recently? Blame it on the McNabb deal.
Trading for McNabb, I believe, caused the Redskins to not deal for a receiver they very much need. The Redskins had a bare-bones draft last April, with only two picks in the top 170. Their second-, third- and fifth- had been dealt away or used (as in supplemental pick
Standing in front of me Saturday afternoon in line outside the Legal Sea Foods Test Kitchen restaurant at Terminal A in Boston's Logan Airport was a couple, including a man with a navy sport coat and a U.S. Navy cap pulled down over his forehead. They asked for a table for two. The server nodded and took them to a table in the corner, where they put down their carry-ons, picked up the menu and sat undisturbed by a good crowd at the bar and restaurant focused on CNN and the Ryder Cup on the big screens in the place.
For 15 minutes, no one said a word to the guy, which really surprised me. Did no one notice the scar on his neck, the wry smile and, even with the hat pulled low, one of the most recognizable visages in America? Or were people just being nice and giving the man his space?
I'd be surprised if no one in the place knew
I came to a fork in the road in the middle of New Hampshire Saturday morning, orange- and red- and green-leafed trees on three sides of me, a half-hour into the New Hampshire Half-Marathon, and I saw this sign:
As in 10 miles. My God! Ten miles to go. For a 53-year-old sedentary person, that was a slap in the face if there ever was one. All the while, smart runners like
But I had lots of help right about then. My runner brother-in-law,
In other words, we ran through rural New Hampshire and past choppy Newfound Lake and by some of the best foliage you'll see, down hills and up, and I never felt like I was working very hard -- because I had friends with me having a conversation like we were sitting around having a few cold ones. In all, before we neared the finish line, there were 26 fans (I counted, and I may have counted one fellow in an Orioles cap twice) along the course cheering us on, so this was no New York City Marathon where the crowd carries you along. Team King carried me.
I had a little kick in the end, running the last mile in 9:31 (Prefontaine-esque for me), and I was stunned to be able to sprint pretty hard the last 200 yards. Our group finished in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 24 seconds. No records were broken, but my two goals were kept -- I ran the entire way (except for a 25-second relief stop in mile 8) and I didn't finish last. You can
A wonderful day. An absolute gift. A day I'll always remember with great fondness. On the way to my NBC gig in New York late Saturday afternoon, I sat thinking about what had been accomplished here. Three months ago, I was in middling condition, running a little and trying to get my weight down. Then this Ocho thing blew up and I opened my big mouth. I'm damn glad I did. Never would I have mustered up the endurance to run 13.1 miles. The side benefit is I came to realize how eminently doable a very hard physical task is. When I've watched runners most of my life, I've thought how out of reach what they were doing was. Saturday proved to me it's not.
Cool highlight: On the bus out to the starting line, I sat with a fellow from Tallahassee,
"My husband reads your column,''
Lauren Jensen, by the way, wiped the racecourse with me. I saw her jet away at the starting line, and didn't see her again 'til she introduced me to her husband,
And so it ends -- but I hope your generosity doesn't. I have many people to thank for their support in the last few weeks. You, readers of this column and my Twitter feed, woundedwarriorproject.org and feedthechildren.org, have helped raise more than $20,000 for two worthy causes (with more coming in this final week, I hope). I'll have final totals for you next Monday, but there's still time to contribute at www.runpeterkingrun.com.
I'd like to thank the sponsors of the run, Under Armour and Harpoon Brewery, and the town of Bristol, N.H., which put on such a fun half-marathon (and 10K and full marathon, too), and Jon Kuniholm for coming from North Carolina, and my four other partners in the race, including my trainer
And thanks to NBC for surreptitiously videotaping my feeble stretch run and stunning me with it on "
But not the last.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:
c. The embattled
d. Haloti Ngata is such a force, and such a deceiving athlete, that I swear the Ravens could put him at defensive end in pass-rush downs consistently and he could get double-digit sacks.
e. Nobody places the ball at the perfect spots for his receivers like
g. Osi Umenyiora. You're a man possessed.
h. Way to hang in there,
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 4:
a. Nomination for worst game of the week by a player on a winning team:
b. Nomination for worst game of the week by a unit: Chicago's pass protection. Cutler didn't throw fast enough, and the Bear line was a simple sieve in a nine-sack first-half performance.
c. I don't like Giants return man
d. Me thinking Tomlinson was washed up.
e. The Raiders letting Derrick Ward and Arian Foster roll over them.
g. Buffalo's secondary. What a poor display. On the Jets' third touchdown pass of the day, there were three Jets open in the end zone. Watch the wide-angle replay. Three guys open, including the one who caught the touchdown pass from Sanchez, tight end Dustin Keller.
i. Soon to be seeking another line of work, or at least another team: Giants punter
3. I think nothing will be easy for the Saints this year. Hasn't been through four games. Won't be for the next 12.
4. I think the quarterback crop for the 2011 draft is taking shape nicely, with one of the top prospects looking great for a half Saturday night in Eugene, Ore., before the roof fell in. I asked ESPN's
5. I think this thought occurred to me while watching
6. I think
7. I think the Bills look farther away from contention than I ever remember.
8. I think the 49ers aren't out of it. Not at all, not in the NFC West. If they beat the Eagles Sunday night (and Philly playing Kolb behind that line makes that very possible), and with Arizona hosting New Orleans and the Rams at dangerous Detroit, the Niners could go to bed Sunday night a game out of first through five weeks after an absolutely wretched start.
9. I think this could be Arian Foster's wakeup call --though I must say I didn't think he needed one. I had dinner in Houston with Foster 12 days ago, and I found him to be quite responsible and absolutely thrilled he was getting a real chance to be a big-time running back after his checkered past at Tennessee.
Here's what I mean about responsible: We sat at the restaurant for a good three hours. At the start of the evening, we each ordered a glass of wine. I knew we'd be there for a while, so after we'd ordered the wine, with the waiter still there, I asked Foster if he'd like to just order a bottle because we'd probably be there long enough to drink two glasses. Oh no, he said; he didn't want to drive after having two glasses of wine.
He was kept out of the lineup Sunday for missing a meeting and being late for another, apparently, and he was chided for it early Sunday morning by one of his Twitter followers. "I'll try to be better,'' he wrote to his fan.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Apropos of Nothing Quiz Dept.: What is Everbank Field? (Answer at bottom of this section.)
b. This is what I call paying it forward: A couple of weeks ago, I put two club seats to Friday night's Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park in play for my www.runpeterkingrun.com fundraiser. The face value of the tickets is $340 for the pair. I asked for $500. A reader from West Lafayette, Ind.,
So I did, lowering the price to $400. This time,
At the same time, two other readers combined to donate $416 and said they'd take the tickets if they were available, but if not, good luck with the race. Wow, I said; thanks.
Greg Morville got back to me and said his buddy
c. Baseball awards: MVPs:
Now, it took me a while to come over to the Felix Hernandez camp, and I don't love giving the award to a 13-12 pitcher, but pitching for a team that offensively challenged (zero runs scored by Mariners in seven of his last 13 starts) has to be a very strong consideration. One final note: Almost picked
d. Turns out I was right about the Red Sox. Picked them to finish out of the running in the AL East, with the Ray and Yanks making the playoffs. I figured one thing right -- they didn't have the bullpen to make the playoffs -- but the injury thing, obviously, no one can predict.
e. Coffeenerdness: The most shocking thing about my run in the wilds of New Hampshire? I did it fueled by a non-Starbucks coffee. Dunkin' Donuts, you did just fine. Thank you.
f. Congrats on a great first year at
g. Good luck on your new NFL assignment with the
h. I'll miss box scores for the next six months.
i. Everbank Field is the home field for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The game's in Florida, and New England has been a bad road team lately, too, losing five of the last six away from home and giving up 28, 34, 10, 22, 38 and 35 points in those six games. It's entirely possible that Tom Brady could put up 30 tonight. But that might not be enough. And he might get tormented by the resurgent Miami pass-rush, too.
Walking to my plane in Boston Saturday afternoon, a Massachusetts state trooper told me, "You picked the wrong team, Petah. Shoulda picked the Pats.'' Maybe, but if I did, I wouldn't have much confidence in the pick.