Offensive Player of the Week
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston. For a while, late last year and early this year, Arian Foster was the chic gotta-stop-this-guy-to-beat-Houston pick. Then Schaub went to work Sunday in Washington.
He and Andre Johnson (with an assist to Kevin Walter) combined to play great in rebounding from a 27-10 deficit with 19 minutes left. Schaub completed 38 of 52 throws for 497 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception. He threw for 332 yards in the second half. The tying touchdown he never saw. He was getting lit up while his 34-yard pass was headed to a leaping Johnson in the end zone.
Defensive Players of the Week
Clay Matthews III, LB, Green Bay. A second consecutive three-sack game stamps Matthews as the premier defensive player in the league over the first two weeks. Not only that, but Matthews had two additional quarterback hits and another tackle for loss in the Pack's 34-7 rout of the Bills at Lambeau Field.
Cameron Wake, LB; Koa Misi, LB; Vontae Davis, CB, Miami. A great defensive day in Minneapolis for the Dolphins was led by a trio of impact players. Wake had 1.5 sacks and forced an end zone fumble by Favre that resulted in a strip-sack that Misi (two quarterback hits, two tackles) recovered in the end zone for what turned out to be the game-winning score. Davis had an acrobatic interception and backed up Dansby on a goal-line stoning that was the biggest defensive play in the game.
Lawrence Timmons, LB, Pittsburgh. Linebacker U. is producing another one. On a day when James Harrison had 11 tackles, two forced fumbles and two sacks, Timmons chipped in with 15 tackles and a forced fumble of his own. Every time I looked up, there was Timmons hanging around Chris Johnson and Vince Young. Johnson runs against everyone, and he was held to 34 yards by the Timmons-led defensive front. Amazing that the Steelers can win a game by eight points when they total 127 total yards, but the defensive depth is a huge reason.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Antonio Brown, KR/WR, Pittsburgh. On the first snap of his NFL career (the sixth-rounder from Central Michigan was inactive last week), Brown took a handoff on a reverse on the opening kickoff at Tennessee and sprinted 89 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown. Pittsburgh had won just one game in Tennessee since Houston relocated to the state (out of eight games), so Brown's return was a tremendous boost for a team needing one.
Coach of the Week
Raheem Morris, head coach, Tampa Bay. "We're buying in,'' Josh Freeman said after the game. "We all feel good about the direction we're heading in with Raheem.'' From the start of the offseason program, Morris told his team there wasn't any cavalry coming over the hill -- this was the team they were going with. So far it hasn't been a team for 2012 and beyond. It's been a team ready to play and win now.
Coaching Decision of the Week
Tennessee's fake-to-one-side, kick-to-another onside kick late in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh. Rob Bironas lined up with the majority of the kick-cover team on his left, lined up to onside-kick left with the Titans trailing 19-11. At the last second, Bironas shifted his body to line up directly behind the ball, the coverage team shifted its focus with three men moving to the middle, and Bironas quick-kicked to an area in the middle of the field where only one Steeler was. The ball bounced off the Steeler, and Titans linebacker Colin Allred recovered.
The Titans practiced the play last week -- led by special-teams coach Alan Lowry -- and it was called because they thought it was the best way to attack the middle of the Steelers kick-return team. It worked perfectly.
Goat of the Week
Matt Moore, QB, Carolina. The Panthers are stunned. Where's the Matt Moore who went 4-1 down the stretch last year, clearly winning the quarterback job and forcing Jake Delhomme out of town? Where's the moxie and the confidence and the deft downfield touch?
Moore continued to play like he was seeing ghosts in a 20-7 loss to Tampa Bay. In eight quarters of two terrible offensive performances by the Panthers, Moore has completed 41 percent of his passes. He's playing with an indecision that has to be a shock to coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson. Fox has a big decision to make to try to salvage his season -- whether to give Moore one more week or to go to second-round pick Jimmy Clausen. It's a call he hoped he wouldn't have to make all season, never mind Week 3.
I know, I know. Looks like I blew this one. I thought Moore was going to play well this season. The scary part of Moore's game right now is it looks like he has none. What would I do if I were John Fox? Probably give Moore one more start. If he's lousy again, I'd give the job to Clausen.
Philadelphia linebacker Ernie Sims went 1,000 days between wins.
True fact: The last time Sims played in a game for a winning team before Sunday's 35-32 triumph over Detroit was Dec. 23, 2007, when the Lions, his original team, beat Kansas City. Since then, he was 0-1 in 2007, 0-16 in 2008, 0-11 in 2009 and 0-1 this year with the Eagles. That's a personal 29-game losing streak for Sims.
"Wow,'' Sims said after the game from the Eagles' locker room. "I never sat down and figured that out.''
Well, who would?
I would -- eight days followed the win in 2007, 366 (a leap year) in 2008, 365 in 2009 and 261 days preceded Sunday in 2010 ... an even 1,000.
"To be honest with you,'' he said, "it did feel like a long time, but not that long. Not 1,000 days. Because I've been on the sidelines for some games we won but I just didn't play those days. So this feels pretty good.''
Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com ran the team-by-team salary-cap figures on his site Sunday. What intrigued me is that the last two teams on the list -- Tampa Bay ($80.8 million) and Kansas City ($84.5 million) -- are 2-0, and two of the four highest-paying teams -- Dallas ($166.5 million) and Minnesota ($143.4 million) are 0-2.
How not to handle a mini-crisis: Saturday morning, on an Amtrak train from Boston to New York, an elderly man fell in the bathroom while the train was near Stamford, Conn. He banged his head and bruised his arm, and was lying on the floor of the train. The train stopped to discharge and pick up passengers, and a nervous-sounding voice came over the PA about a man having fallen and we might have a delay. "I think we're gonna need medical,'' he said, with a scared edge to his voice.
I mean, are you kidding me? The PA system on a train with 300 passengers is not the place to sound borderline panicky about an old man who falls in the bathroom. A simple, "If there's a doctor on the train, or any medical personnel, please report to the bathroom at the rear of the café car,'' would do just fine.
I live on Amtrak on fall weekends, going back and forth to NBC Studios in New York for Football Night in America, and the train personnel are terrific, by and large. Might be time, though, for a little Calmness Training in emergency situations. (Emergency medical personnel came on the train after a few minutes, and the guy was shaken up but fine.)
My half-marathon (the New Hampshire Half-Marathon, Bristol, N.H.) is 12 days out now, and I'm quite excited to report I'll have Team King running Oct. 2 as the leaves begin to turn in the heart of New England. I'll be joined by my brother-in-law, Bob Whiteley; two good friends from Montclair days, Mike (Mike From Montclair) Goldstein and George Frole; my button-pushing running trainer, Roberto Portocarrera; and a man I don't know but can't wait to meet, Jonathan Kuniholm.
Kuniholm's an engineer at Duke University. In 2004, his Marine reserve unit was called into active duty for the war in Iraq. On the first day of 2005, his unit was ambushed -- five died and Kuniholm was wounded. His right arm had to be amputated below the elbow -- and he worked on the design for one of the advanced prosthesis he wears. The hand looks like a metal hand. It's inspiring to see (I've seen a picture of it.) Kuniholm will join our group the night before the race, when my wife will prepare a pasta dinner for us. I'm grateful to Wounded Warrior Project for sending Kuniholm to the race, and I hope his presence raises the awareness for the cause he's trying to help every day at Duke.
A few notes: The fundraising event at Harpoon Brewery Thursday night with me and some of my Boston media friends sold out in a few hours the other day; thank you very much ... I have a training run Tuesday morning with Amby Burfoot, the 1968 Boston Marathon winner. He works for Runner's World, and I'm hoping he can impart some wisdom about running to me. Like, "Finish the race without embarrassing yourself.''
You can still contribute to our two charities, Feed the Children and Wounded Warrior Project, for the event -- please do -- at http://runpeterkingrun.com. Also, a big thanks to Under Armour for gear for the race ... And I have two items to motivate you to donate:
1. Two Fenway Park club seats in the upstairs State Street Pavilion section to Red Sox-Orioles Wednesday go to the first person to donate $200 to the cause -- and to follow up with an e-mail confirming the donation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. And Rick Johnston of West Lafayette, Ind., has done a very good deed. He won the two Yankees-Red Sox club seat tickets at Fenway for Friday night, Oct. 1 ... and has graciously donated the tickets back to the cause to be used again. So here's the deal: The first person to donate $400 (either to one of the charities or split between both) and follow up with an e-mail to me at email@example.com will win the two tickets.
Thanks a lot for your support.
"who's the slouch now?''
--@MarkCannizzaro, New York Post football writer Mark Cannizzaro, 90 seconds after Randy Moss -- called a "slouch'' by Darrelle Revis in the offseason -- scored on a one-handed touchdown catch over Revis near the end of the first half of the Patriots-Jets game.
"I will destroy the Ravens secondary, simply because i've confidence in the body of work i put [in] this week where i feel i wont fail.''
--@OGOchoCinco, Cincinnati wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, days before facing the Ravens in Cincinnati on Sunday.
I wouldn't call four catches for 44 yards and no touchdowns exactly a destruction.
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