GAMES I WATCHED
Denver Broncos over New England Patriots, 20-17 OT
This was a well played game by both teams and Denver should have shaken off any doubters that they are as good as their 5-0 record. They have beaten both Dallas and New England at home in back to back weeks and looked good doing it.
This was a very disappointing regular season loss for Patriots fans (but every loss really is). How did the Patriots’ defense let Denver drive the ball 98 yards for a game tying touchdown?! That is simply unacceptable. I thought the game was wrapped up after we pinned Denver at their own two yard line, thinking we’d eventually get the ball back in decent field position and do something with it. Instead it was a steady march down the field and a game tying touchdown for the Broncos.
I never thought I’d say this but the difference in the game was Tom Brady’s inability to hit open receivers. Besides the obvious easy touchdown we should have had when Brady overthrew Moss near the end zone, he also missed some key throws in the second half that could have extended drives. Brady is still way off on his accuracy and reads. In his postgame press conference Brady indicated he and Wes Welker weren’t always on the same page, which is not a good sign. I hope he has not hit an impasse and continues to improve as the season progresses. If he starts throwing the ball like the Brady of old, then watch out, because that’s what was missing from the offense on Sunday.
Other than the long drive for the game tying touchdown and field goal in overtime, the young defense is playing reasonably well, but nobody will mistake then for the 1985 Bears or even the 2009 Ravens. This is a unit that should also improve as the season progresses. But giving up a 98 yard drive to let the Broncos tie the game and gain momentum is simply not something good defenses do.
Denver, meanwhile, has proven that their 5-0 record is no chimera. They play well on both sides of the ball and have nicely balanced offense. Kyle Orton is the second coming of John Elway. Just kidding! But Orton is making the throws he needs to make and keeps his errors to a minimum. In fact, as to now, he looks like a better quarterback than Tom Brady. I am impressed by this new Denver team.
I am hopeful that New England gets back on the winning track. The AFC is not going to be an easy conference to make the playoffs this year.
MVP: Brandon Marshall, WR
Cincinnati Bengals over Baltimore Ravens, 17-14
The Bengals versus Ravens matchup was another excellent game between two playoff caliber teams, one a surprise in the Bengals, and one many think is a Super Bowl contenders in the Baltimore Ravens. Like the New England loss to Denver, this was a regular season loss that Ravens fans have to lament. Not only did they lose to a division rival at home, they lost on an 80 yard scoring drive in the last minutes of the game lead by the Bengals’ Carson Palmer. This vaunted Ravens defense played very well most of the day, but gave up some yards on roughing penalties, and the Bengals usually took good advantage of it.
The most surprising thing about his game is that the Bengals and Ravens both played excellent football. This was not a case of the Ravens playing down to perennially losing squad. This looked like two top notch teams going at it. And but for a fluke play against Denver, the Bengals very well could be sitting on a 5-0 record today.
Two other notes, Palmer played with his non-throwing hand taped up after getting it stepped on in the second half but still had an outstanding game. And where did Bengal’s running back Cedric Benson, the would have been bust of a first round draft choice out of Texas, find his rhythm and toughness? Having seen him play poorly for the Bears I never thought I’d see Benson make anything of his career. He ran tough and hard against a stout Ravens defense, and set the tone for the game early. While Benson deserves a nod for MVP, Palmer led an 80 yard drive for a winning score so he gets my vote.
MVP: Carson Palmer, QB
Indianapolis Colts over Tennessee Titans, 31-9
Peyton Manning is playing as good as I have ever seen any quarterback play in my lifetime in these first five games. That may sound like hyperbole, but I am completely serious. The man is a machine. He completely picked apart the Titans and this really never was much of a contest.
What has happened to the Titans? I thought they played an excellent game against Pittsburgh to start off the season in a loss, but they can’t seem to win a game.
I hate to say this, but I felt the Titans basically gave up in the second half. Yes, I think they quit. Not a good sign for the Titans.
I really wanted the Titans to pull off the upset against the Colts, because they are desperate team and desperate teams are dangerous. They play the Patriots next week. I hope they look just as bad as they did this week.
MVP: Peyton Manning, QB
Miami Dolphins over New York Jets, 31-27
After losing their first three games of the season, the Dolphins are now sitting at 2-3, just one game behind the New York Jets and New England Patriots for the AFC East division lead. The division could turn into a dogfight this year as the Patriots continue to struggle on offense and the Jets and Dolphins are playing even better than they did last year.
This was a very entertaining game which went back and forth several times. I really liked the Dolphins offense game plan. Not only did they use the Wildcat and the running game to great effect in general, they ran screeners and up the gut runs to slow down the aggressive pass rush of the Jets. They did exactly what the Patriots did not do in their loss to the Jets a few weeks ago. Ricky Williams’ 51 yard screen play was the perfect call for a blitzing Jets defense. Then later in the game when the Jets didn’t blitz, CB Darrelle Revis got burned by the speedy Ted Ginn, Jr. (who has not lived up to his 1st round draft pick status to this point).
The Dolphins running game is scary to watch and should serve them well the rest of the season. Despite being 2-3 with an inexperienced QB, the Dolphins look to be in the mix this season. They won’t be an easy to team to beat.
MVP: Ronnie Brown, RB
Atlanta Falcons over San Francisco 49’ers, 45-10
The San Francisco 49’ers
appeared to revert back to their old losing ways against the Falcons. I watched this game on tape and it was an ugly sight to behold, unless you’re a Falcons fans. The first half was simply a mistake filled, sloppily played, embarrassing performance by the 49’ers on both sides of the ball. Running back Glen Coffee looked like the rookie he is and didn’t seem to know what he was supposed to be doing out there. Quarterback Shaun Hill was ineffective. And the defense lost its composure.
Roddy White had a career day running all over the 49’ers secondary. In the second quarter he burned Nate Clements for a 90 yard touchdown reception after Clements went for the ball instead of the tackle. Earlier, after a San Francisco timeout to calm the team down, he ran right through the defense for his first long touchdown grab of the day. His 210 receiving yards (on 8 receptions with 2 touchdowns) set the franchise record.
A perfect example of the 49’ers dysfunctional, childish mistakes was Dre Bly intercepting the ball in the third quarter and then having Matt Ryan catching him and knocking the ball out of his hands while he was celebrating. Foolish.
I can’t image practice is going to be very pleasant this week for the 49’ers. If they keep playing like this, they are in for another miserable, losing season.
MVP: Roddy White, WR
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Offensive Player: Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys (250 yards receiving sets franchise record)
Defensive Player: Ed Reed, FS, Baltimore Ravens
Offensive Lineman: Justin Smiley, G, Miami Dolphhins
Special Teams: Sam Koch, P, Baltimore Ravens
Rookie of the Week: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (6 catches, 142 yards, two touchdowns)