Monday Morning QB (cont.)
Posted: Monday September 10, 2007 8:44AM; Updated: Monday September 10, 2007 11:32AM
The key headlines from Week 1:
1. The NFC stinks. I'll go out on a limb and say the two teams picked most often to be the NFC's rep in the Super Bowl next February were New Orleans and Chicago, who, coincidentally, both met AFC powers this weekend. The Saints had the ball 12 times in Indianapolis and scored zero offensive touchdowns. The Bears had the ball 11 times in San Diego and scored zero offensive touchdowns.
You like the Eagles to make some January noise? One touchdown in 12 rusty Donovan McNabb drives at Green Bay. The Seahawks? Two touchdowns against the moribund Bucs in 11 possessions. Those four NFC "powers'' went 1-3 this weekend.
We still have the same questions about Rex Grossman. We still don't know if the Saints' defense can hold up. We still don't know if the Eagles can walk and chew gum offensively at the same time. And Seattle? Who knows? They could well be better than the '05 team that advanced to the Super Bowl, but who can get excited about the 'Hawks now?
2. The Patriots are going to be an aerial show bordering on Indy's style this year. The most impressive thing, by far, in the Pats' 38-14 drubbing of their arch-rivals, the Jets, was not the rebirth of Randy Moss. (Though that was impressive enough, obviously.) But I don't recall an offensive line being as dominant and as manically focused on keeping the pressure off the quarterback. Left tackle Matt Light, by my unofficial count, didn't let in a single leak from the right side of the Jets' front seven all afternoon.
"We didn't get as much pressure, I think, because of how the running game was working,'' said Light. "They couldn't tee off and attack the run because Tom was able to do so much in the passing game today.''
Brady is going to make beautiful music with Moss, but remember one thing about the way Brady plays and the way Bill Belichick coaches: They don't go out of their way to funnel the ball to any one receiver, and I can promise you they won't make Moss a 1,700-yard, 21-TD guy. Brady will spray the ball around.
Certainly Brady knows not to ignore Moss. But if the Chargers whack the tar out of the wiry receiver early next week, don't think for a second that Brady won't switch to Wes Welker or Donte' Stallworth. It's a hallmark of the Pats, who think stars are all well and good, but not necessary to have in great quantities in order to win.
3. Three games ended on a walkoff or near-walkoff field goal in a six-minute real-time span just after 4 p.m. Washington's Shaun Suisham and Green Bay rookie Mason Crosby kicked winners at about 4:09 and 4:14, respectively, and then there was the mayhem on the field in Buffalo.
With no timeouts left and Denver trailing 14-12, Jay Cutler threw a short pass to Javon Walker, who lugged it to the Buffalo 24, in field-goal range for Elam. "Toro! Toro!'' went the cry on the Denver sideline. That's special teams coach Scott O'Brien's signal for no timeouts -- get the kicking unit on the field pronto -- and get the ball snapped ASAP.
"When I got out there, there might have been about five seconds left,'' Elam said. "But I couldn't find my holder, Todd Sauerbrun.'' Turns out Sauerbrun was lost momentarily in the scrum of bodies running on the field and bodies running off. But snapper Mike Leach bent over the ball and Sauerbrun took his spot 7.75 yards behind the spot of the ball.
Elam didn't have time to take his measured steps. With just over a second left in the game, the ball was snapped by Leach, placed down by Sauerbrun and, with three Bills leaping and lunging desperately to try to get a paw on it, booted by Elam for a 42-yard game winner with 0:00 on the clock. No problem. "From the goat to ... well, something better,'' said Elam, who'd missed two previous field goal tries.''
Amazing finish. I don't remember the last time I saw a finish of a game decided by a field goal that I'd call exciting. But this game was. "Games like this are why people love pro football,'' said Elam.
It's about as bittersweet a game as you'll ever see. Thrilling in the ending, tragic in the middle.