Here’s the big story of the week: The Bills have won their first game of the season. They beat the Lions 14-12. The Lion’s ability this season to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory is astounding. Good for the Bills, terrible for Detroit.
On to the actual big stories of the week.
The lights went out in New Jersey. Literally. And we aren’t talking about an old dump like Schaefer Stadium, we are talking about the Brand Spanking New New Meadowlands Stadium. Did they forget to pay the power bill or what? Perhaps the Giants need to call in Mike Holmes from HGTV to check out their contractors work and fix what they did wrong.
Things did not go uphill from there. The Cowboys had already plowed over the Giants and were leading the game 26-6 early in the third quarter. The Giants made a good run after the lights came back on 12 minutes later, but much of the amenities we are used to did not return. The biggest thing missing for viewers at home? The score graphic.
Not that it mattered as the Cowboys beat the Giants 33-20. Jason Garret got his first win and the ‘Boys are now 2-7. But hey, if the Cowboys run the table and beat Philly twice, New Orleans and Washington in Dallas, and Indianapolis and Arizona at home, they’ll be 9-7 and may even make the playoffs.
Not exactly likely, but they don’t say “any given Sunday” for nothing.
Another big story of the week: Jacksonville at Houston. After starting the season hot, Houston seems to have cooled off a bit. They went 4-2 before the bye and have lost all three games since then. But nothing hurts as much as the way they lost to Jacksonville on a last-second Hail Mary pass thrown by David Garrard, batted like a volleyball by Houston defensive back Glover Quin into the hands of Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Thomas who scored the go-ahead touchdown with no time left.
Someone needs to explain what you should do in that situation to Quin. You don’t bat the ball you catch it. Or at least make sure that no one else can catch it. Either way Houston walked away with it’s third straight loss and Jacksonville walked away happy.
On to the Sunday Night Game. Pretty good match up as far as Sunday Night games go. The Patriots and the Steelers had identical records, Pittsburgh was coming off a win over Cincinnati, and the Patriots were coming off a shellacking by the Cleveland Browns.
Mike Tomlin called it a match up of emotion verses cerebral. In one sense it is. The Steelers are more aggressive, hard running, taking the lunch pail to the coal mine kind of mentality. The Patriots are like a steady organized assembly line, everyone has a roll, and they do it or they are replaced.
Of course, Tom Brady showed more emotion in the first half that most of the fans there. After his stagnant offense got in it’s own way (again) he pulled them together and blasted them. That seemed to do the trick as the offense quickly put the game out of reach.
It didn’t help that Big Ben was sacked 5 times for 38 yards, as the offensive line couldn’t hold up with both of Ben’s blind side guys, Max Starks and Chris Keomeatu, out with injuries. They also could not establish the run with the offensive line, and when you take away the run, you take away the play-action pass.
All told it was really a bad match up for the Steelers. They are excellent against the run, but the Patriots run game is iffy at best. They have a decent secondary, but the team is predicated on stopping the run. When you face a team that is pass first think about the run later, and your linebackers are not generally pass rushers, its a difficult match up. Especially with the return of Logan Mankins and a generally stout offensive line built around protecting the passer.
Final score: 39-26, though all three of the Steelers touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, which started with the Pats up 23-3. It is of note that Hines Ward left the game early with a “neck injury” (aka concussion) and did not return, leaving the red zone offense to the likes of Randell El.
Other notes from Sunday:
Newly minted Titan Randy Moss caught one pass out of the 5 thrown to him as the Titans dropped one in Miami. The day was equally bad for Miami, despite the win. Chad Pennington attempted his first two passes of the regular season, was promptly injured and now requires surgery. See you in 2011 Chad. So in came Chad Henne. He made it to the tail end of the third quarter before injuring his knee on an incomplete pass. The Dolphins have not ruled out Henne for week 11.
After Henne left, in came quarterback number three, Tyler Thigpen. At this point Tennessee, themselves on their second quarterback of the game, was only down by five. But Thigpen threw a touchdown to Anthony Fasano, they kicked a field goal, and Miami’s defense held Tennessee scoreless in the fourth on their way to a 29-17 victory.
The Jets managed to score in the last minute of overtime to defeat the Cleveland Browns 26-20.
Carson Palmer’s late interception halted Cincinnati’s comeback against Indianapolis as the Colts hang on to win 23-17.
Tampa Bay clobbered Carolina 31-16, just about every player on the Broncos scored in their 49-29 route of Kansas City. Ye Olde Gunslinger Brett Farve’s 1 TD and 3 INTs helped the Chicago Bears on their way to a 13-27 victory over Minnesota.
It is also notable that Jay Cutler thew 3 TDs and 2 INTs in the game and he and Farve are tied for the most picks thrown this season.
Seattle, with Matt Hasselbeck back at the helm, easily defeated the hapless Cardinals 36-18 and the Niners rallied for 10 points in the fourth quarter and an OT field goal to defeat the St. Louis Rams 23-20, giving QB Troy Smith his first win of the season.
Philly takes on Washington tonight, and with the Giants loss to Dallas, an Eagles win would put them in a tie for first in the NFC East with the G-Men. If the Redskins win they will move into a tie for second with the Eagles.
Big games next week:
Brett Farve and the Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers at home in Minnesota.
Philadelphia plays at home against the Giants, and if they win this week against the Skins, it would be a battle for first in the NFC East.
The Broncos taking on the Chargers could be a good game, certainly a make-or-break one for San Diego, and if Denver plays like it did this last week, the Bolts could be in for a tough one.
And the mother of them all:
Indianapolis at New England. The weather at the moment is cold but clear and this looks to be a big match up, as these games always are, pitting Tom Brady against Peyton Manning. Both teams are pretty evenly matched, with the Pats getting a slight edge for being at home. We should be in for a real treat, watch at 4:15 on CBS.