Every Monday, SI.com's Ross Tucker will hand out letter grades to deserving NFL parties...
Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles. The only saving grace for McNabb in this putrid performance is that it was an away game, therefore he didn't have to suffer the indignation of hearing the cat calls from the always tough Philly faithful.
McNabb completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the second straight week as the Eagles played to a 13-13 tie against the lowly Cincinnati Bengals. A tie, in this instance, might as well be a loss for the Eagles given their remaining schedule. And if a tie is in fact like kissing your sister, the Eagles have one god-awful-looking sister.
McNabb was careless all day, throwing three crucial interceptions, one right into safety Chris Crocker's mitts. Just as important, McNabb fumbled inside his own 10, but was exceedingly fortunate the Bengals' inept offense had to settle for a field goal after getting first-and-goal at the one. McNabb escaped a failing grade by throwing for 339 yards. Still, scoring only 13 points against a 1-8 team has to be unacceptable in Philly, no matter how much the Bengals' defense has improved.
Things got even weirder after the game when McNabb said he did not even realize a game could end in a tie. I watched in awe three times trying to sense if he was kidding or purposely making a preposterous statement to deflect attention away from his horrific performance. I came to the conclusion he really didn't know a game could end in a tie, despite being in the NFL for 10 years. Don't sweat the details, Donovan, because in this case a tie was the same as a loss.
New York Giants Offensive Line. The Tennessee Titans have a fantastic offensive line that has helped them to a 10-0 record. The Hogs in Washington have been stellar all season too, helping Clinton Portis and crew run the ball at will at times. But the best offensive line this year resides in North Jersey and goes by the name Big Blue. The G-Men proved it once again in their convincing demolition of a Ravens' defensive front seven that was previously thought to be impenetrable.
No, the Ravens did not have their streak of 28 straight games without giving up a 100-yard rusher snapped. But what happened on Sunday was worse. Baltimore gave up 207 yards rushing to the Giants three-headed monster that was fueled early on by man-child Brandon Jacobs and finished off late by the speedy Ahmad Bradshaw.
When three backs average of 6.3 yards per carry, you know the relatively unknown soldiers up front are having a field day. The beauty of the Giants' offensive line is it is not made up of elite athletes who are perennial Pro Bowl picks. Rather, it is a unit that values substance over style and whose trademarks are intelligence and toughness. That intelligence allowed the Giants to pick up Rex Ryan's exotic blitz packages while only giving up one sack. That toughness enabled them to keep on trucking even after losing Kareem McKenzie for some time with a wrist injury.
Aaron Ross's two interceptions helped New York's cause to be sure, but it was the Giants' underappreciated line that carried the day.
Chicago Bears Defense. Whatever happened to the Monsters of the Midway and their 2006 Super Bowl defense? Though the names are the same, their game is decidedly different as the Bears were thrashed for 37 points in a critical NFC North showdown. The Bears normally stout run-stuffing unit allowed 145 yards to Ryan Grant and 50 more to backup Brandon Jackson, with both men averaging at least five yards per carry.
The Chicago pass defense, meanwhile, was porous as usual, with Aaron Rodgers carving it up for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 23-of-30 passing. The Bears pass-rush is no longer existent, prompting Rodgers to tell me on the Sunday Drive on Sirius NFL Radio that he "barely got touched all day" en route to not being sacked once. Though the Bears have sustained some injuries in the secondary, no defensive back can hold up if he has to cover all day long.
The Bears offense wasn't much better, finishing with just nine first downs. Chicago was playing for sole possession of first place in its division on Sunday, but you couldn't tell by watching.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers. The Panthers dynamic duo were mirror images of each other on Sunday against Detroit as they finished with 8.6 and 8.7 yards per carry averages, respectively, while going for over 100 yards each. The backs were able to overcome a game Detroit bunch offensively and another pedestrian Jake Delhomme outing to keep Carolina atop the NFC South at 8-2.
Williams has his second consecutive spectacular scoring run in as many weeks as the offensive line opened up huge holes. I expect the Panthers to lean heavily on their relentless young and talented pairing as we head down the stretch to the playoffs.