Week 7 storylines include Favre-Childress feud, Pittsburgh fumble
We interrupt an awful lot happening here in Week 7, including the
The Saints and Brees getting shocked by Cleveland at home was already a headline grabber, then the Vikings lost at Green Bay 28-24 (not a shock) and coach
Now, the question today will be whether this is going to turn into an all-out war between Childress and Favre. Maybe, but I doubt it. Each guy is too smart for that. Childress was emotional last night, thinking the refs cost him a touchdown (on the reversed
My biggest question this week is whether Favre's health will end up being a bigger issue than his decision-making. He looked 61, not 41, at the end of that game last night.
The day started with more reporting about the Favre/
Three points about the caterwauling surrounding the Dolphins' 23-22 loss to Pittsburgh:
1. When you start your first two drives of the day at the 22- and 13-yard lines, and you're playing a team with an explosive passing game and a defense that's not going to give you much, and you don't turn those golden chances into touchdowns, you're in trouble. Which Miami was, as it turned out.
2. It's hard to make sense of the replay call by referee
Then, once a replay review was announced, negating the touchdown, unless the crew had seen a clear fumble recovery in the end zone, Steratore was not going to reverse it. And the video of the fumble recovery was not clear. It appeared the Dolphins got it, but the replay was inconclusive. Absent video evidence that the Dolphins had the ball, Steratore ruled the ball came loose from Roethlisberger, but absent evidence that the ball changed hands, gave possession back to Pittsburgh. Looked fishy, to be sure, but what other call could you make?
3. The biggest news to come out of this game? Pittsburgh losing defensive end
The NFL was thrilled with the outcome of Sunday's 13 games, in the wake of the tougher guidelines set down by
"I've seen a change in behavior in one week,'' NFL vice president of officiating
"Knock on wood,'' said Anderson, taking the train home to New York from the Buffalo-Baltimore game, "we had a very good day, from what I've heard from our control center.''
The best thing I saw was players aiming lower but not at the knees -- New England safety
Harrison, of course, took the day off last Wednesday, courtesy of coach
"I'm not changing,'' Harrison said. "I'm going to play the way I've played this game since I was 10-years-old. Whatever happens, happens. I sat there and thought about the way I play, and I can't readjust. There's still nothing I'd do differently on that [Massaquoi] hit. When I was on my way to hit him, he lowered his head. I can do a lot of things out there, but I'm not Superman. Once he lowered his head, I was going to hit him higher, even though I didn't want to.''
We'll see if players make this a one-week good story or if it becomes rote.
I'm not sure about that. I saw enough evidence Sunday that told me the players heard what 280 Park Avenue was preaching
In 1943, the year Washington's Baugh had the greatest season an NFL player ever had, he led the league in passing, punting and, as a deft safety, in interceptions. Baugh had 11 that year. And he was the first NFL player to pick off four passes in one game.
"I still don't believe it," he said an hour after the game in Chicago, where Washington won one of the ugliest games in recent memory 17-14.
Hall ran into the right offense for him Sunday.
"I've never had a day like this on any level," Hall said. "Jay has a lot of confidence in his arm and I thought we had a great defensive plan. We put a lot of pressure on him.
Hall has the right attitude about the Redskins and their chances in the NFC. Has one conference ever looked this weak? Go ahead. Pick the best team in the NFC. There might be six or seven AFC teams who'd be favored against any team in the NFC on a neutral field right now.
"Why not us?" Hall said. "The NFC is wide open, obviously. We only got blown out once [vs. St. Louis] and I think we are going to be able to play the type of football, especially on defense, where we are going to be in all the games to the end."
We all saw the frightening pictures of the sidelines in the New Orleans-Cleveland game when chain-gang member
He had a visitor from the Saints a few hours after the game: Roby, who came in to apologize for the vicious but entirely incidental contact on the sidelines.
"We're a team of coulda-woulda-shoulda, a team of almosts right now.''
"It's definitely embarrassing to be 2-4. Or whatever we are.''
"Let's face it: It's inevitable that someone's going to get hurt really bad out there. When? I don't know. But it's going to happen.''
"I think the skirts need to be taken off in the NFL offices.''
That's an amazingly incendiary quote from a man who will sit in the negotiating sessions with the owners in the coming months.
"I feel fine ... I've had way worse. I've lost a day before."
In the NBC viewing room, you can tell when something big's about to happen -- when you hear
Britt had to sit (hey, that rhymes!) for the first quarter of Tennessee's showdown with NFC contender Philadelphia, but he played three mighty quarters. With seven catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns -- the greatest receiving day a Philadelphia Eagle team has ever allowed -- Britt, from the Eagles' backyard at Rutgers in New Jersey, overwhelmed the Philadelphia secondary in the Titans' come-from-behind win.
Hall became the 20th player to have four interceptions in a game. In fact, check out the relative stat lines of Hall versus Cutler's usual favorite intended receivers:
The career journeyman, in the span of 29 minutes, picked off Brees twice and returned both to the house. I can guarantee you that no stranger sentence will ever be written about the career of a backup front-seven player. Drew Brees gave Bowens two pick-sixes, from 30 and 64 yards. Beyond amazing.
Hard for a punter to have a better day. His 68-yard run with a fake punt was 50 yards longer than any other Cleveland offensive play of the day. He dropped two of his four punts inside the 20 and had a longer net average, 42.3-yards, than gross (42.0). He held for kicks.
Credit Jackson for taking a team with two injured quarterbacks and crafting a rushing attack the likes of which this franchise has rarely seen to beat the hated Broncos in Denver. In a 59-14 rout, Jackson kept calling the runs because they kept working, and it allowed Oakland to possess the ball for nearly 39 minutes. Keyed by
Midway through the first quarter, Ryan called for Fujita, lined up at the right outside linebacker, to take on the tight end or back on a blitz call. Fujita, with an emotional homecoming game at the Superdome, blew through
On the play after failing to get an
You talk about your indictments of an offense, but it can't all be on the offensive line in Chicago. Midway through the third quarter of another pitiful offensive display, this time against the Washington Redskins, the Bears reached 21 straight third-down plays without converting. That's seven consecutive quarters of offensive incompetence.
In the past 365 days, the Titans are 13-4 and the Broncos 4-13. A year ago today, Denver was 6-0 and Tennessee 0-6. You see which way each is heading. (Even weirder, the now-sinking Broncos beat the now-rising Titans 26-20 in Week 4 of 2010.)
Sunday was the 10-year anniversary of the death of
He'd have been 55 on Sunday, covering the Cardinals and Seahawks in Seattle, and telling us something in his story we didn't know.
Another fun ride on the Acela on Saturday morning from Boston to New York. Actually, it was all good, a quiet ride through fall-foliageville, until a young couple got on the train in Stamford. In the next 50 minutes (I counted) she had four glasses of Cabernet, he had three scotch-and-waters.
As we approached New York, her glass empty (I mean, how can you drink maybe 16 ounces of wine at 10 in the morning in less than an hour -- what a feat!), the 25-ish gal looked over at a ball field as we rolled through New York. A football team in green jerseys was practicing.
"IS THAT THE JETS?'' she shouted, drawing the attention of everyone in the car. "OHMYGAWD IS THAT THE JETS? JETS PRACTICE? THAT IS MY FAVORITE TEAM! I LOVE ME SOME JETS!!!! IF THAT'S THE JETS I LOVE THEM!''
I know you're asleep now, Miss. But those weren't the Jets. The Astoria Jets, maybe. But not your Jets.
"Coaches, players, & management not in favor of new emphasis. What's the impetus? I believe NFL lawyers are fearful of class action lawsuit.''
He's not alone.
b. The Raiders scored the most points in their 50-year history. Putting up 59 on the suddenly woeful Broncos, 38 in the first quarter and a half, should be enough ammo for
f. I could have sworn
g. The effort by Carolina. To put up 379 yards on any team, even San Francisco, is a great day for the quarterback-challenged Panthers.
j. Kudos to
k. Ben Roethlisberger's artful 53-yard touchdown bomb to
l. I like the Steelers winning on the road without
a. Everything about Denver. How would you know where to start?
b. The Cincinnati defense. I figured the Bengals couldn't repeat last year's playoff performance, but this is ridiculous. Another generous day in Atlanta -- 452 yards, 39 points -- left the Bengals 2-4 and out of any realistic playoff contention.
c. The Jags. In six days, they've gone from a 3-2 contender to a 3-4 joke. No team has allowed more than Jacksonville's 209 points.
d. Very strange case of Drew Brees
e. If you want us to take you seriously, St. Louis, don't squander a 17-3 lead against the offensively incomplete Bucs.
f. Brett Favre and his bad ankle. Suddenly, 2009 seems 10 years ago.
g. Chicago's playoff hopes. Hard to see them competing to be .500, never mind vying with Green Bay for the division title.
"For us,'' Manning said, "Dallas pass-protects like a right tackle, and he's also a threat to go down the middle of the field. You've seen Dallas in the backfield for us or lining up at wide receiver. You have to find the guy who can do that, where if [a defender] slips just a little bit, if he bites on a fake just a little bit, it's not just going to cost them a 10-yard completion, it might cost an 80-yard touchdown."
Sterger has been adamant that she did not give Favre her phone number. Conway and Reese told me Sunday that they have identified a "person of interest" whom they believe was the conduit who got the phone number to Favre. That person, I am told, may have worked for the Jets in 2008. This is all speculation on my part -- what part of this story isn't speculation? -- but if Sterger wants a career in the media, it would be difficult for her to have a credible one if she is paid off by Favre for her silence. (I should make it clear that Conway told me there have been no settlement discussions with the Favre side.)
But if a good attorney could make a case that a Jets employee gave Favre the number, maybe the Jets would be liable for damages based on behavior of that employee, giving out personal phone numbers without someone's knowledge. It will be interesting to watch in the coming days.
One: Players are naturally going to be concerned about making as much money in as short a period a time as possible because NFL contracts are largely not guaranteed. When Branch signed a six-year, $39 million deal with Seattle after being traded from New England in 2006, he didn't necessarily expect to play out the full six years. So even though it appears as though he will play the full six years of this contract (2011 is the last year of the deal), Branch couldn't have known that at as he was mulling New England's offer in 2006.
The Patriots' offer over the first three years of the contract would have paid Branch $16 million; over four years, $20 million. The deal he signed with Seattle would net him $23.6 million over three years, and $27.6 million over four. With the injury factor being so big for a smallish wide receiver like Branch, a difference of $7.6 million over four years is major. Thus, even though Branch was pained to leave Brady, the money seemed worth it at the time.
Two: In terms of pure guaranteed money, the Patriots offered $11 million. The deal with Seattle guaranteed $13 million. That was also a factor. Now, there's a good chance I would have wanted to make the best deal I could to stay with the Patriots just because I would want to play my whole career with a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback. But I'm not Branch.
Here's the start of
I get it -- not enough Lombardi (
a. Had the good fortune Wednesday to attend a screening of the new documentary
The documentary, which is narrated by
b. That was not a happy crowd filing out of Citizens Bank Park on Saturday night. I was among the masses. Stunning but right, I guess, to hear the Phillies fans boo the celebrating Giants on the field.
c. Philadelphians aren't very happy with
Then, in the eighth, I loved him bringing in
e. I really like National League baseball. I like the strategy of the game more than what one gets from the AL.
f. I like
g. You don't think the Texas fans and two-thirds of New England didn't get a little more pleasure out of the end of Game 6 when
h. If you're
i. I love Texas making the World Series. I love the Giants making it. I love new franchises like the Rangers making it to the big dance, ratings be damned. I'll be watching,
k. Coffeenerdness: Why do restaurants assume you want skim milk for the coffee? Nothing against skim (it's nice for cereal), but you might as well drink the coffee black if you take it with skim.
l. I don't watch much college football, but that