The Award Section
Offensive Player of the Week
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit.
Stafford was 26 of 43 for 422 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. He's the youngest player ever to have five touchdown passes in a game, and the first rookie to throw five in a game since 1937. Forget the stats. If you read about Stafford at the top of this column, you know why I consider his one of the heroic performances of this or any other year.
Defensive Player of the Week
Joey Porter, LB, Miami.
Two weeks after mouthing off and then not showing up against New England, and one week after being benched against Tampa Bay, Porter came up very big in the trend-setting first half Thursday night in Charlotte. I don't pretend to know what sets Porter afire, but he brought it big-time in this game.
On the first series against the Dolphins, Jake Delhomme went back to pass on third-and-goal from the seven. A Porter sack forced a Carolina field goal. In the second quarter, trying to drive to shave a 7-3 Miami lead, Delhomme was sacked by Porter on another third down. Two minutes later, Miami scored to make it 14-3 at the half. For the game, Porter had eight tackles, the two sacks and another quarterback pressure. Say what you want about him, but Porter seems to thrive on being in the eye of the storm.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland.
Myers, a third-string tight end playing kickoff coverage, won the game for Oakland. With the score tied at 17 and 33 seconds left and the Raiders kicking off, Myers stripped Bengal return man Andre Caldwell on the kickoff. Myers recovered his own forced fumble, leading to Sebastian Janikowski's winning field goal. How many times have the Raiders turned a losing game around in the last five minutes like that? Not many.
Jamaal Charles, RB/KR, Kansas City.
I don't care if this came against the embattled (and that's putting it mildly for a kick-coverage unit that's allowed four touchdown returns in 10 games) Pittsburgh special teams. The Chiefs, justifiably heavy underdogs to the defending NFL champs, got the opening kickoff. Charles, the quick second-year running back from Texas, caught the ball on the run going left, turned upfield, zigged and zagged and broke two tackles and scored. It was called a 97-yard, but I'd say he ran about 120. It's the kind of play that energizes a crowd and gets the Chiefs into it, and sure enough, Kansas City ended up giving the Steelers a game.
Coach of the Week
Brad Childress, head coach, Minnesota.
In the same week he became financially secure for the rest of his life after signing an extension through 2013 (it will pay him at least $4 million a year, which should buy a few cabins on a few Minnesota lakes), Childress saw the fruit of his preseason labor look great in the Vikings 35-9 rout of the Seahawks.
The man he coerced out of retirement, Favre, continued an MVP-caliber season at age 40, throwing for 213 yards and four touchdowns while completing 22 of 25 passes. And Percy Harvin, the youngster Childress scouted and put his stamp of approval on, scored his sixth touchdown of an Offensive Rookie of the Year season.
Remember Childress' trip down to Gainesville the week before the draft to personally investigate Harvin? Childress told me this summer he wanted Harvin to pick him up and drive him around. "I wanted to be in his car, and I wanted to smell the car,'' Childress said. He meant he wanted to see if he could sniff any marijuana after Harvin's adventurous college career. He also asked Harvin if he was aware that because of his marijuana experiences in college and for testing positive for pot at the Scouting Combine, he'd enter the NFL already in the NFL's substance-abuse program. "You'll be eligible to be tested up to 10 times a month,'' Childress warned. So far, so good ... and the Vikes are 9-1 thanks to Childress' decisions and the play of the two guys he worked hard to get.
Goat of the Week
Hank Poteat, CB, Cleveland.
On Football Night in America, Rodney Harrison said when Eric Mangini was an assistant coach in New England, he would practice the Hail Mary defense for 10 minutes every Friday in practice. Certainly he's doing the same thing in Cleveland. Amazingly, with Cleveland holding a 37-31 lead and no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, Detroit quarterback Stafford let fly with a rainbow to the end zone and Poteat tackled Calvin Johnson with the ball in the air. If Poteat had jostled Johnson, there's little chance a flag would have been thrown. But a full-scale body slam to the ground ... That has to be called. Pass interference. With the extra play, Detroit threw a touchdown pass to win it. On the goat scale, Poteat's play ranks about as high as you can go.
Stat of the Week
In Brady Quinn's star-crossed career, he hadn't had many hours like the first hour of the Detroit game Sunday. In fact, he'd never experienced anything like the three-touchdown-pass first quarter and the 24-3 lead he built. How the first quarter Sunday compared to his first two-and-a-half years in the NFL:
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Dallas Cowboys PR czar Rich Dalrymple reports exclusively to Monday Morning Quarterback this presidential oddity involving the Super Bowl Cowboys of the nineties: Barack Obama went to high school with Super Bowl left tackle Mark Tuinei at the Punahou School in Hawaii. Michelle Obama went to the same high school (Whitney Young in Chicago) as Super Bowl defensive tackle Russell Maryland, though not at the same time.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
I Weep For Humanity Dept.: The NBC Football Night in America crew took in the Panthers-Rangers game Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Entering the building, I saw eight 18ish Ranger-clad guys and gals posing for a photo, with what I assumed was a passerby who agreed to take their photo. All posed with middle fingers pointing at the camera.
What is this, the Bud Adamsing of America?
Tweet of the Week
"Good morning to all, top of the morning on this awesome football Sunday ALI-HOLMES=OCHO CINCO-NNAMDI'' I damn sure ain't HOLMES either.''
Ochocinco's line on Sunday: four catches, 67 yards, no touchdowns.
Twitter MMQB Chunk Award Winner
In honor of passing 200,000 followers on Twitter the other day (I sit at 216,442 as the day dawns), I decided to give one of the flock the chance to write a short piece of their choosing in the column this week. I took nominations, and of the 500-plus ideas that came in, I chose @tbaysi1, Tim Baysinger of Queens, N.Y., to write about a situation that appealed to me -- NFL fans choosing to sit home in their man caves rather than trekking out to games. It's one of the reasons Jerry Jones built such a grand palace in Texas. Jones fears football is becoming a studio sport. He wants to make sure when his team is 5-8 one December day, and it's sleeting in Dallas, that the fans will still want to come out to the stadium because of the great gameday experience. Here's Tim's take:
The roar of the crowd, the chance to see some of the greatest athletes in the world up close...no thanks, I'd rather stay home.
Don't get me wrong, seeing the game in person does have its perks. Seeing those athletes in person gives you a better appreciation for just how good these guys are, and being with more than 50,000 screaming fans is just downright fun. Can't say how many times I have been at a game where I've started conversations with people around me. After that however, I don't see any other positives.
For starters, going to the game makes something that should be three hours of your time into five or six. Getting up early to arrive at the stadium around noon -- earlier if you're tailgating -- only to sit in traffic and deal with the horrors of stadium parking. Sitting in uncomfortable seats, paying for overpriced food and beer, not to mention the price already paid for the tickets, and there goes your mortgage payment this month.
Football fans are some of the most passionate individuals you will ever meet, only surpassed by soccer fans. That passion only increases at the stadium, which can lead to them being unruly, or just downright nasty. It's not like baseball where you can take your kids; it's as if they need an age requirement at games. One of the more underrated gripes is definitely the bathroom situation; waiting in those lines, having to walk through the rows to get to the aisle, and having to get up for those people. I always feel bad for anyone sitting in the middle of the row, especially in a place like the Metrodome. Hope you can hold it, pal! As we all know, not every person at a game is for the home team. Nothing is worse than sitting next to a fan of the other team, especially if that person is not following proper away fan etiquette.
Watching the game at home is, plain and simple, more enjoyable. HDTV has changed the game. The clarity and the panoramic views clearly make it better than being there. Why am I going to suffer when instead I can be comfortable indoors with a few of my friends chatting about the game, following my fantasy team, eating food and knocking back a few, without spending the same amount I do on health insurance? When the game is over, instead of sitting through traffic I get to enjoy more football.
The biggest reason I always hear for being at the game is the chance to witness something special, to say to others, "I was there." Back in early 2003, I was watching with my dad our beloved 49ers play the Giants in the playoffs on TV. You all know the story: down 38-14 in the second half, only to come back and win 39-38 and complete the second-greatest comeback in playoff history. I'll never forget my usually reserved father screaming when the Niners pulled ahead and again when they eventually won, and then telling my mother all about it, something he also never does. Would it have been cool to be at that game? Of course, but my not being there didn't cheapen that moment, and it still stands as one the best days I can remember.
So maybe it's time to trade in those season tickets for a nice big flat screen and a comfy recliner.
Shameless MMQB Book Promotion of the Week
Last chance to get your "Monday Morning Quarterback'' books autographed and personalized for the holidays. Send me the book by Saturday, and for the cost of a book and the shipping to New York (Barnes and Noble and Amazon have it on sale in the $17 range), you can get the thing sent back in time for the holidays, with anything -- within legal reason -- sent as an autographed greeting. Come on. You know you want it.
You can buy the book on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com or at your local bookstore. I'll have it back to you by the middle of the month, plenty of time to spread that Peter King holiday cheer. Send two, or three! One fantasy league is getting a book for all 12 owners! That's what I call smart fantasy ownership! Send books to:
NFL Truth & Rumors