MMQB Mail: Bills should be thrilled, officiating thoughts, injuries, more
Four Week 1 losers who have optimism: Bills, Titans, Raiders, Chiefs
Hard to argue for more regular season games after slew of Week 1 injuries
Mailbag questions on Crabtree, Collinsworth, Childress and more
FOXBORO, Mass. -- Cleaning up the NFL after one tremendous week, and then your mail runneth over:
The Bills should be thrilled today, not morose.
I know exactly what Dick Jauron will tell his team Wednesday when they gather to prep for Tampa Bay. It's what I would say: You had every reason NOT to be in that game Monday night. A new offensive line, a coordinator who'd never called plays in a game before, a defense playing three quarters without your quarterback (Paul Posluszny).
I'm not saying this is a playoff team, because I don't believe it is. But for 55 minutes, the Bills were justifiably beating the Patriots by 11 in Foxboro, getting good pressure on Tom Brady and moving the ball well.
Of all the losing teams in Week 1, the four that should feel best this morning are Buffalo, Oakland (much better on defense with Richard Seymour), Kansas City (better on offense than anyone thought) and Tennessee (very good toe-to-toe on the road with the defending Super Bowl champs).
Alex Van Pelt did the best job of any coordinator last week.
... Considering, of course, the mayhem Buffalo went through in the past two weeks. When Buffalo whacked offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and went to Van Pelt, a former NFL third-string quarterback, radio voice and position coach, the pressure was on with three first-time starters on the offensive line and a no-huddle scheme that wasn't his own. But Van Pelt got a feel for the offense early, capitalizing on Fred Jackson's terrific matchups against the New England linebackers, and he called a good game.
"Alex called a great, great game,'' Trent Edwards told me afterward. "He's a very calming influence on me. He's been around Jim Kelly, Doug Flutie, Joe Montana, and he knows what it takes to play and win in this game. He really knows how to coach the position.''
You still want to talk about going to 18 regular-season games?
In one week, three teams lost middle linebackers -- Chicago's Brian Urlacher (wrist) for the season, New England's Jerod Mayo (knee) for we don't know how long, and Buffalo's Posluszny (broken arm), possibly for the season but we don't know yet. Posluszny has now suffered a broken arm at New England in two of his first three NFL seasons since being drafted in the second round in 2007.
The Eagles lost a Pro Bowl lineman, Shawn Andrews, today to IR with a back injury he can't seem to lick. That's a big loss because Andy Reid thought Andrews would be an All-Pro-caliber player at right tackle. Donovan McNabb (rib), Reggie Hayward (broken leg), Troy Polamalu and Anthony Gonzalez (knee ligament), Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), Leroy Hill (groin) ... the list goes on. But owners are hell-bent on playing more games. They'll rue the day they vote to play a longer regular season.
Explaining the roughing-the-passer penalties from Foxboro.
The scorecard for the officials on the two tough calls last night: Ref Scott Green -- and I understand he is trying to enforce the spirit of the Tom Brady rule -- blew it when he called New England's Vince Wilfork for roughing Trent Edwards. Wilfork contacted Edwards at thigh-level, which is perfectly legal in the wake of the rules change made to protect quarterbacks from the kind of knee injuries suffered by Carson Palmer and Brady, when rushers contacted them at the knee or below.
But Adalius Thomas deserved to be flagged for flinging Edwards to the ground. That's a garden-variety call that we've seen called the same way a dozen times. Wrong call on Wilfork, right one on Thomas.
Explaining the touchdown reversal in Oakland last night.
Louis Murphy of the Raiders made what appeared to be a jumping catch in the end zone for a touchdown late in the first half against San Diego. The replay assistant upstairs challenged the ruling and asked the referee, Carl Cheffers, to see if Murphy retained possession. I watched the replay three times, and it appeared the ball moved as it hit the ground. That's what Cheffers saw as well, clearly.
Here's what the NFL Rule Book has on this call on page 51: "If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact with an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete."
I would not have gone as far as Cheffers did when he addressed a pool reporter after the game. He said: "The ball skidded on the ground. He eventually completely lost control of the ball.'' But the ball clearly was not in complete possession as Murphy was on the ground.
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