First and 10: Veterans L.T., Lewis shine; Saints look out of sync
LaDainian Tomlinson put on a show reminiscent of '06 in the Jets' win over the Bills
Steven Jackson deserves praise for his gritty performance in the Rams' win
The Packers beat the Lions but missed Ryan Grant's presence in the backfield
Quick-hitting insights from the slate of 1 p.m. games.
LaDainian Tomlinson has been telling everyone he struggled over the last two years in San Diego because of injuries. Now that he's healthy, he can produce like he used to. Hard to question Tomlinson after he ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the Jets' 38-14 win over the Bills -- his first 100-yard game since October 2008.
Tomlinson showed speed, power and some cuts that looked like a 2006 highlight reel (just ask Buffalo safety Donte Whitner, who almost lost his cleats on Tomlinson's second touchdown). Tomlinson, however, got a huge assist from the Jets' offensive line, which manhandled the Bills' injury-depleted front line. Today's performance might have been a bit of an aberration, but that would be OK, because the Jets don't need Tomlinson to do this every week.
The Rams' Steven Jackson should get consideration for offensive player of the week even though he ran for only 70 yards. Despite a groin injury that clearly slowed him down, Jackson caught a 49-yard pass and ran for tough yards in the second half to help the Rams hold on for a 20-3 win against the Seahawks. With Sam Bradford throwing darts -- some of which the Rams' slippery fingered receivers actually caught -- a healthier Jackson will make the 2-2 Rams a threat in the watered-down NFC West.
In a game of defensive superstars, it's fitting Ray Lewis made a spectacular interception to seal Baltimore's 17-14 win over Pittsburgh. Lewis' diving catch was the Ravens' first pick of the season. At 35, Lewis can't do everything he once did, but he still has a knack for making huge plays. As we expected, Sunday's AFC North showdown was a showcase for both defenses. Baltimore's Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs both showed they can be impossible to stop at times. And give Steelers defenders Troy Polamalu and James Harrison credit for giving Pittsburgh a chance to win despite only 141 passing yards from Charlie Batch.
Atlanta wide receiver Roddy White will make the Pro Bowl because of his receiving production, but his strip of San Francisco's Nate Clements in the fourth quarter was the biggest play of the Falcons' win on Sunday. White has quietly become one of the best receivers in the league without all the nonsense we've come to expect from others who play the position.
If the Saints had started the season with 46-year-old kicker John Carney, they'd be 4-0 after beating the Panthers, and no one would be talking about a Super Bowl hangover and that their big-play offense still looks out of sync.
The Broncos beat the Titans despite only 15 rushing yards on 17 carries Sunday. You have to figure defenses will adjust if there's absolutely no threat on the ground. But give quarterback Kyle Orton credit for controlling the game and playing within Josh McDaniels' offense.
Cleveland's Seneca Wallace doesn't look like an NFL quarterback, and Peyton Hillis doesn't look like an NFL tailback. Wallace was efficient enough to keep the Browns in the game early, and then they softened up the Bengals defense for Hillis to seal the win in the second half. No team has a less glamorous set of skills players than the Browns, but they beat the star-studded Bengals on Sunday.
Even though they came away with the win, the Packers missed Ryan Grant in Sunday's close win against Detroit. They weren't able to play any kind of ball-control offense in the second half, and Aaron Rodgers barely had the ball in his hands. Fill-in John Kuhn is OK, but he'll get six yards in a hole Grant would have turned into a 20-yard gain. Lions quarterback Shaun Hill was the star of the game in a losing effort, with 331 passing yards and two touchdowns. Hill did have two picks, but one came when Jahvid Best slipped and the other on a miscommunication over the route with Calvin Johnson.
Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil will clearly get a fine for his obscene gesture at the officials. But what do you expect from a guy like Cecil? He couldn't dial it down as a player and doesn't seem capable as a coach. And though what he did was unacceptable, it's probably worth the fine for firing up the Tennessee defense.
For a while on Sunday, it looked like three 0-3 teams might get their first win -- San Francisco, Carolina and Detroit. But they all lost by less than a field goal. The Browns did win their first, and the Bills didn't show up at all. But the efforts of these supposed bottom-feeders show how much parity there is in the NFL this season. We already saw the one 3-0 team that played so far -- Pittsburgh -- go down, leaving just the Bears and Chiefs undefeated. It's hard to imagine there are going to be too many matchups this season where the underdog doesn't have any chance at all.
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