First and 10: Cowboys' freefall, mistakes haunt Jets, more analysis
Even with Tony Romo out, this was an opponent the Cowboys figured to control
Sam Bradford has been steady and hasn't thrown an interception in three games
Team Streak continues for Miami, perfect on the road and winless at home
Quick-hitting insights from the slate of 1 p.m. games ...
This was supposed to be the game the Cowboys showed up, even with Jon Kitna filling in for an injured Tony Romo, considering the Jags have been inconsistent and all of Dallas' five losses had come by seven points or less. But the wheels fell off completely against Jacksonville in front of a comatose Cowboy Stadium crowd. The 'Boys tried to run the ball to help out Kitna, and they averaged only 2.4 yards per carry. Coming into the year, the bulky offensive line was at least supposed to run. They couldn't protect Kitna or get any push off the line against the Jags. Defensively, the Cowboys had trouble tackling and let Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard play nearly a perfect game.
The Jets wasted another impressive defensive performance and we learned their quarterback Mark Sanchez might not be quite as far along as we thought. Gang Green shut down a good Packers passing offense and gave their offense plenty of opportunities. But the whole unit made too many mistakes and Sanchez, who finished 16-of-38 for 256 yards, isn't quite the kind of quarterback who can lift the offense up when it is struggling. The Packers' Clay Matthews notched sack No. 9½ to seal the deal in the fourth quarter, strengthening his claim to Defensive Player of the Year through eight weeks.
The Lions' pass rush on Washington's Donovan McNabb was relentless, and Ndamukong Suh looks like a shoo-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Suh had two sacks and scooped up a fumble for a touchdown to seal the victory. The Lions, who scored 23 points in the fourth quarter, have to be excited right now, with quarterback Matthew Stafford throwing four touchdowns in his return from a shoulder injury. If they had ruled Calvin Johnson's catch a touchdown against the Bears in Week 1, Detroit would be 3-4 and gaining momentum. As is, the Lions could be a very dangerous opponent in the second half of the season.
We know the Chiefs are dominant on the ground -- Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones combined for 284 yards Sunday in a 13-10 overtime win over Buffalo. But can Kansas City get enough from Matt Cassel to win the AFC West? Cassel completed just 14-of-26 passes for 152 yards, with a lot of that accomplished in overtime. That will work against the 0-7 Bills, but it's hard to imagine the lack of balance won't catch up to the Chiefs.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford hasn't put up huge yardage numbers, but he hasn't thrown a pick in three games and has helped keep the chains moving with efficient short passing. That's impressive for a rookie and a credit to the St. Louis coaching staff for making sure Bradford isn't in tough spots. Bradford completed 25-of-32 passes, and is the right quarterback for a team that is playing solid defense and can run the ball so well with Steven Jackson.
You saw the best and worst of Cincinnati's Terrell Owens on Sunday. He had two touchdowns, one on a circus play that bounced out of Dolphins CB Chris Clemons' hands. But he didn't go full throttle after two passes on a key late fourth-quarter drive of Sunday's loss. One pass T.O. dropped and failed to draw what could have been pass interference, and the other led to an interception by Shaun Smith. The Dolphins improved to 4-0 on the road. Now they need to step up at home, where they're 0-3.
The 83,941 fans at Wembley Stadium in London got a pretty good show watching the 49ers beat the Broncos, and the Niners may have found new life for their offense with Troy Smith filling in for Alex Smith. The former Heisman Trophy winner kept plays alive with his feet and made some nice throws. It will be interesting to see how Smith would do if teams have time to gameplan against him. The Broncos have to be in a lot of pain after Eddie Royal's punt return for a tying touchdown was called back because of an illegal block in the back.
Do the officials really deserve such a hard time when so often it's hard to tell what was the right call even on a replay? The Panthers' David Clowney picked a pass off the ground in the fourth quarter against the Rams and the officials ruled he had control of the ball before it hit the ground. The same call went against the Vikings' Visanthe Shiancoe last week and against the Lions' Calvin Johnson in Week 1. All three calls could probably go either way even if they did stick to a strict interpretation of the rule. They can have all the conference calls they want, and those calls will still be too close to call.
We saw why so many defensive backs play on that side of the ball on Sunday, as several defenders dropped seemingly easy picks. Even the Packers' Charles Woodson, one of the greatest ever, let an easy one go. Surprising, since most of them wear the sticky gloves that help the receivers make so many one-handed catches.
No one likes the timeout right before a field-goal attempt, but you can't argue with the results in the Chiefs-Bills overtime game. Buffalo's Ryan Lindell knocked a 53-yarder through right after the whistle ended the play in OT, then missed the attempt that counted. Some teams had moved away from that field-goal freeze. Expect to see a lot more of that after it helped Kansas City pull out a win.
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