The Award Section
Goat of the Week
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants.
For the first five weeks of the year, Eli looked like Peyton. For the past three weeks, he's looked like Danny Kanell -- inaccurate, unnecessarily risky and unsure of himself. Totally bizarre. Like the throw he made to Asante Samuel on the Giants' first series; at least it appeared to be intended for Samuel, who stepped in front of tight end Travis Beckum and picked it off, leading to the second touchdown for Philly. Manning threw another one just before the half, setting up another touchdown, and by then it was over. The Giants have to hope it's just a minor slump, because if Manning keeps throwing to the other team like this, and completing balls at a rate lower than 50-percent (which he's doing the past three weeks), New York's going to be out of the pennant race by Thanksgiving weekend.
Offensive Player of the Week
Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota.
Really, could the day have been any more perfect? Four touchdown passes, tying him with Dan Marino for most four-TD games in an NFL career. Watching the man the Packers kept instead of him, Aaron Rodgers, come up short in the fourth quarter when Favre himself came up big. "This one will hurt for a couple of days, physically and mentally,'' said Rodgers. Not for Favre. For the second straight game against his former mates, he didn't try to do too much. Just win. And that was enough. Other players in Week 8 had better statistical days, but no one played as well with the heat turned up as high as did Favre.
Defensive Player of the Week
Aubrayo Franklin, NT, San Francisco.
Now, you look at Franklin's stat line -- three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss -- and you say, "Come now. There had to be 75 guys in the league with better defensive days.'' Franklin's game is classic proof that stats for defensive linemen are 90-percent meaningless. Franklin was a regular in the Colts' backfield, leading San Francisco's stout front that held Indy to 61 rushing yards on 21 carries, a 2.9-yard average. "That's a great defense,'' said Joseph Addai afterward. It was led by a no-name noseman in his seventh year from Tennessee, with a surprisingly swift move, at 317 pounds.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Ted Ginn Jr., WR/KR, Miami.
No player in this season -- perhaps in many a season -- has had seven minutes like Ginn had Sunday in the Meadowlands. With 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Ginn took a Jay Feely kickoff at the goal line, made a couple of easy cuts, and sped up the right sideline for a 100-yard touchdown. With three minutes left in the quarter, Ginn took a Feely kickoff a yard deep in the end zone, motored into some traffic, made a sick cut right, made another sharp cut, and sprinted up the right sideline again, this one for a 101-yard touchdown. (See video of Ginn's returns here.) Second time in history a man returned two kicks for touchdown in the same quarter. Fairly amazing to see a player race out of the doghouse so explosively.
Coach of the Week
Frank Bush, defensive coordinator, Houston.
The Texans, two weeks ago, held the Bengals to 46 second-half yards in Cincinnati; they gave the Bills just 83 yesterday in Buffalo. Bush has added speed and aggression to a defense that too long had been Mario Williams and DeMeco Ryans and nine average Joes. There's a personality to this defense now, a swarming aspect that wasn't there in the past, and the Texans are a wild card threat because of the chip-on-the-shoulder attitude Bush has instilled.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
At the Favre Bowl, a Packer fan with a green number 4 Packer jersey had "BENEDICT ARNOLD'' where the "FAVRE" nameplate is supposed to be.
Stat of the Week
I've made this point in the last couple of weeks, and it's more true now than it has been all season: The Cleveland Browns are no better off today than they were 10 years ago, when they were an expansion team, in the middle of their first season back after a four-year absence from the league.
Just look at the quarterback play. In 1999, the season's midpoint came on Oct. 31. This year, it came on Nov. 1. Comparing the numbers of Tim Couch, who started Games 2 through 8 in 1999, and Derek Anderson, who has played all but the first 10 quarters this year:
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
This is not a travel note per se, but more of an event note in a place I traveled to. Does that count? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held two concerts at Madison Square Garden Thursday and Friday, and I was lucky enough to be in the crowd on the second night, the most interesting night of music I've ever seen in person.
These concerts get big acts to do a few songs -- on Friday, it was Aretha Franklin, Jeff Beck, Metallica and U2 -- then bring out guest stars to accompany them on songs. What a parade: Lenny Kravitz and Annie Lennox with Aretha, Sting and the ZZ Top guy, Bill Gibbons, with Beck, Lou Reed and Ray Davies of the Kinks and Ozzy Osbourne with Metallica (my first exposure to Metallica, and when I woke up Sunday, 32 hours after the show, my ears still had some weird hummmmmm going on in there) ... and then the incredible U2 guests. Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith, then the Black Eyed Peas (now there's some energy) and then, drumroll please, Mick Jagger. Each artist was onstage for seven to 11 songs, with a short intermission between each mini-show, making for a ridiculously memorable four-hour night. The five best songs:
1. "Gimme Shelter,'' by U2, Mick Jagger and Fergie, of the Peas. When Jagger came onstage and the familiar chord began, the Garden went as crazy as I've ever seen a crowd go for a song. I thought Fergie was going to lose her mind gyrating and screaming the lyrics alternately with Mick.
2. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For,'' by U2 and Bruce Springsteen. A King dream: the two giants of my music life crooning together into the same mike.
3. "Sweet Jane,'' by Lou Reed and Metallica. Metallica's good. Good and loud. Reed was perfect with them.
4. "You Really Got Me,'' by Ray Davies and Metallica. My God. We've forgotten how great the Kinks were.
5. "Because the Night,'' by U2, Springsteen and Patti Smith. They messed up the lyrics and the beat the first time through, and, exasperated, Smith almost left the stage. But they did it again, and she was outstanding, and the crowd loved her because she was a good sport.
Shameless MMQB Book Promotion (and Odd Book-Signing Deal) of the Week
In Monday Morning Quarterback: A fully caffeinated guide to everything you need to know about the NFL, you'll find these two Factoids That May Interest Only Me, circa 2002:
From a holiday-season MMQB column: Dan Marino dressed up as Miami quarterback Jay Fiedler on Halloween.
And from a pre-draft MMQB column: Among the questions on the 480-question personality test given to all draft prospects: Do you enjoy beating animals? "And I wondered,'' said Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington, who took the test, "if you're a linebacker, should you say yes?''
I'll be having a signing in my old hometown, Montclair, N.J., at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on Nov. 21, a Saturday, late in the afternoon. Good friend Dave Kaplan is organizing. Details to come. Other signings? I wanted to do one in Denver tonight, but it couldn't be organized on short notice. I may do another signing or two in the coming weeks, one of them in Manhattan.
What we've decided to do, additionally, about signings is this: You can mail the book to SI, and as long as I receive it by Dec. 4, I'll sign it (with however you want it personalized) and send it back to you so you'll have it in-hand by Dec. 12. No return postage necessary; we'll handle that. Send your book (or books) to:
It's an awkward arrangement, I realize, but I've had 75 or so requests for signings, so this is the compromise we've figured out. Buy a book, mail it to me, and I'll sign and return it.
Tweet of the Week
"Just noticed this on my Packers credential: It's Green Bay home game No. 4. Of course it is.''
NFL Truth & Rumors