Posted: Monday November 6, 2006 10:18AM; Updated: Monday November 6, 2006 1:42PM
The Awards Section
Saints quarterback Drew Brees ranks fourth in the NFL with 2,206 passing yards.
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
Offensive Player of the Week
(tie) Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans. He is the reason the Saints, midway through the season, have staked their claim as serious contenders in the NFC with a 6-2 record. Look what he did in the first quarter in Tampa: 11 of 11, 157 yards, two touchdowns. The Saints were up 17-0 after 16 minutes. And with the Bucs getting close at 24-17 early in the fourth quarter, Brees threw a perfect 45-yard rainbow up the left sideline for a touchdown to Devery Henderson to ice it. Brees gives the Saints such a sense of cool as a leader on and off the field. He signed a six-year, $60 million deal last spring, and if you ask me, he's earned most of that through two months of his first Saints season. A road performance like this one (24 of 32, three touchdowns, no interceptions, 314 yards) points up just how great he's been.
Jake Plummer, QB, Denver. You can't have more of an incredible beginning than Plummer's first seven plays, particularly in the house of the defending Super Bowl champs. On Denver's fourth play of the game, Plummer threw short and to the left flank for Rod Smith, who scored from 16 yards. When the Broncos recovered SantonioHolmes' fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Plummer took over at the Steelers' 10 threw a 10-yard scoring strike to Javon Walker on third down. Less than three minutes into the game that would snuff out any hope Pittsburgh had to make something of their season, Plummer had the Broncos up 14-zip. He finished 16 of 27 for 227 yards, with three touchdowns, no picks ... and looking very much like the man who will keep Jay Cutler on the bench the rest of the year.
Defensive Player of the Week
Jason Taylor, DE, Miami. What a player. What a game. In the first 23 minutes of the Dolphins' stunning win over the Bears, Taylor had a sack, a forced fumble (recovered by the Dolphins) and returned an interception for a touchdown. I like the way Taylor approached this game, with a chip on his shoulder, because he felt people like me were handing the game to Chicago before it even started. (I wrote last week that the Dolphins had as much chance of winning this game as Steve Bartman had of getting a key to the city of Chicago.) "I respect criticism, and I respect people who have opinions,'' he said during a crackly cell phone call afterward, "but things like we don't have a heart ... I mean, that's going too far. We played angry today. I respect everyone. I fear no one.'' And he played like his pants were on fire at Soldier Field, with two passes batted down and three tackles in addition to his first-half fireworks.
Special Teams Player of the Week
(tie) Israel Idonije, DE, Chicago. (Say that name three times fast.) The Dolphins, trying to grab halftime momentum on the last play of the second quarter, had a chip-shot 37-yard field goal lined up to take a 17-10 lead into the break. Idonije leaped and got some fingertips on the ball, knocking it off course, and the Bears went into halftime down 14-10 and thankful it wasn't much, much worse.
Mike Smith, LB, Baltimore. Setting the stage for the ravenous Ravens on the opening kickoff, Smith fought off a block to strip Bengals return man ChrisPerry. Musa Smith of the Ravens recovered at the Cincinnati 34. The Ravens scored right away, then picked off Carson Palmer for a score on the next series, and five minutes into this thing it was 14-0 and the rout was on. Great instinctive play by Mike Smith, another linebacker find by the staff of GM Ozzie Newsome.
Troy Vincent, DB, Washington. He made The Block Heard 'Round The Beltway, breaking through the tackle-end gap on the left side of the Dallas line at the end of the fourth quarter and swatting down the low-flying Mike Vanderjagt field-goal try that would have won the game. Vincent's block gave the Skins one last gasp ... and they took advantage of it, winning the game weirdly on a Nick Novak field goal at the gun.
Coach of the Week
Doug Marrone. Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, New Orleans. For two reasons: With a line viewed far and wide in the preseason as suspect -- Jammal Brown, Jamar Nesbit, Jeff Faine, rookie Jahri Evans (from that Division II football factory, Bloomsburg University) and Zach Strief (playing for the injured Jonathan Stinchcomb Sunday at Tampa Bay) -- the Saints did not allow a sack in the 31-17 win over the Bucs. For the year, New Orleans has allowed an NFC-low eight sacks in eight games. And Marrone designed a pass-heavy gameplan that put up 367 yards and four touchdowns on the Bucs.
Goat of the Week (tie)
Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati. Dogged it on a Hail Mary at the end of the game against the Ravens that Chris McAlister intercepted. Would the Bengals have come back from the 26-20 deficit and beaten Baltimore? Probably not. But Henry quit on the route, pure and simple. Disgraceful.
Terrell Owens, WR, Dallas. Made up for a nice touchdown catch with a stupid celebration penalty and the aforementioned two drops. He simply drops too many balls.
Stat of the Week I
After eight games, the Indianapolis Colts have allowed 5.4 yards per rush by their opponents.
This is a historically bad run defense. It's stunning that a defensive maven like Tony Dungy would have such a porous run defense, and unless the Colts get it fixed in the season's second half, this could signal another disappointing end to another Colts' season.
The worst run defenses in pro football since 1960:
Worst Run Defenses
Stat of the Week II
Larry Johnson's last three weeks, and how the Chiefs have fared:
Larry Johnson's Recent Run
K.C. 30, San Diego 27
K.C. 35, Seattle 28
K.C. 31, St. Louis 17
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
What if you go to an NFL team's complex and a motion picture breaks out? That's what happened to me last Wednesday.
I Acelaed up to Foxboro (it's the only way to traverse the East Coast) for HBO last Wednesday to interview Tom Brady, Rodney Harrison and Mike Vrabel. All that got done by 12:30, and then there was some downtime. Practice wasn't open, and there was no coach or player availability the rest of the day. I wasn't doing my HBO hit until about 3:30. I requested an audience with owner Bob Kraft, who came to find me around 2. "You want to be in a movie for a few minutes?'' he asked. The movie was The Game Plan, a football movie with The Rock in it, and Kraft was to be the owner of a fictitious Boston football team and needed some cronies to be up in his luxury box.
Uh, I guess so, I said. Kraft took me upstairs, where we were introduced to Kyra "TheCloser"Sedgwick, and we stood off to the side of the set. Then we were told to walk in to where Kyra (a sports agent for the star quarterback) was, and we walked on. Kraft hugged Kyra, and they walked off the set with the cronies trailing them. That was about it.
We live in a strange world. Sometimes I don't understand it very well.
Factoid That May Interest Only Me
The John Cougar Mellencamp "This is Our Country'' Chevy jingle, which every single one of us knows every word to, was aired on NBC four times in a 37-minute span of the 8 o'clock hour Sunday night.