London dud; Bears' RB mistake; hand out the MVP
Posted: Sunday October 28, 2007 7:00PM; Updated: Monday October 29, 2007 1:26AM
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- So, the way we see it, this should even us up for that whole "the British are coming, the British are coming'' thing.
At least we were basically prepared for the English attacks in the battles of Lexington and Concord. You have to wonder if the good folks of London really saw the Dolphins coming. And we Americans have the temerity to say soccer is boring?
There's no telling how much the NFL's international efforts to broaden its fan base got set back by Sunday's Giants at Dolphins game, played in the rain and slop at venerable Wembley Stadium. But, Lord, it couldn't have helped the cause. If the NFL catches hold in Europe after this one, you know they were really hungry for the game of tackle football in the old country.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw for all of 59 yards on 8-of-22 passing -- and won. Miami quarterback Cleo Lemon beat that, but just barely, completing 17 of 30 for 149 yards passing in the Dolphins' 13-10 loss -- which dropped the Dolphins to a franchise-worst start of 0-8.
Sending the Dolphins over to represent the NFL was not exactly a Marshall Plan-like gesture of generosity. Miami fielded a junior varsity squad on offense: No Trent Green. No Ronnie Brown. No Chris Chambers. In their places were Cleo Lemon, Jesse Chatman and Justin Peelle. With fairly predictable results.
The league might have packed in 81,000-plus for the first NFL regular-season game to be played outside of North America, but the real test will be to see how many of those supporters (love that English term) will be back for more after sitting through a three-hour fight for good footing and proper divot-replacement.
The Giants played stout defense -- limiting Miami to just three points for the first 58 minutes, and 254 yards of offense overall -- and ran the ball convincingly behind Brandon Jacobs' career-best 131 yards. But if getting the Brits hooked on offense is the key to their conversion to Roger Goodell's game, Sunday wasn't a persuasive opening statement.
If the NFL really cared about getting Europe interested, maybe it could have talked Bob Kraft and Jimmy Irsay into moving next week's larger-than-life-itself Pats-Colts game across the pond. I'm pretty sure Bill Belichick wouldn't have minded.
Those pumpkin-colored jerseys the Bears wore at home in honor of Halloween certainly didn't scare the Lions. The only thing scary about Chicago on Sunday was its offensive execution in a 16-7 loss to visiting Detroit.
Another week, another ho-hum showing by Cedric Benson. The Bears lead running back finished strong to gain 50 yards on 13 carries, after having just 29 on his first 10 carries. That just won't get it done. Benson has just 416 yards on the ground this season, with a paltry 3.1 yard average and two rushing touchdowns.
Can we just admit the obvious? By trading Thomas Jones to the Jets, the Bears banked on the wrong running back.
Tom Brady's having a pretty good year. He threw three more touchdown passes in the Patriots' rout of Washington, giving him 30 on the season. His previous career high was 28, and he needed fewer than seven and a half games to break that mark.
Get the MVP plaque inscribed and polished up, folks. It's belongs to T.B. this year. No ifs, ands or buts.
Didn't the Eagles used to have a running game? I mean, like late last season? Oh, that's right. That's when Jeff Garcia was their quarterback.