Offensive Player of the Week
Shaun Hill, QB, Detroit.
The Lions had been 2-35 in their previous 37 games. I mean, how many times have you seen Detroit in the victory formation on offense, which is how they ended this game? Hill was the biggest reason. He was 21-of-32 for 227 yards, with three touchdowns and no picks. I love this about his game: He played no favorites. He completed four passes apiece to five receivers, and his three touchdown passes went to three receivers. Hill was 20 of 30 to Nate Burleson, Calvin Johnson, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Pettigrew and Jahvid Best. That's spreading it around.
Defensive Player of the Week
Antoine Bethea, S, Indianapolis.
Though the Colts were leading 6-0 with a minute left in the first half, Kansas City was playing this game just the way coach Todd Haley wanted -- playing keepaway from Manning with some long drives that limited his touches. The Chiefs started the year 3-0 in no small part because they hadn't lost a fumble. But with Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles near the end of an eight-yard gain at the Colts 33 with a minute left in the first half, Bethea exploded into him and the ball popped out. End of drive. Instead of the Chiefs having a chance to go up 7-6, Indy stunted the drive, and the Chiefs, as it turned out, never got the lead in a 19-9 Indianapolis win. For the day, Bethea, the survivor in a season filled with injuries, had seven tackles and the forced fumble.
Special Teams Players of the Week
Rock Cartwright, RB, and Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland.
A brilliant bit of special-teams play by the Raiders in the first five minutes against San Diego in Oakland. A minute into the game, after a failed first drive by the Chargers, Cartwright steamed through the A gap and blocked Mike Scifres' punt out of the end zone for a safety. The Raiders took the ensuing free kick and drove to a 50-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal. Oakland held again, and forced another Scifres punt, and this time Myers came through the middle of the line again and laid on the punt for the second block in five minutes. This time, safety Hiram Eugene picked it up and scored a short touchdown. Oakland 12, San Diego 0 -- and all because of special teams. The architect of the great special-teams performance is a name familiar to many of you. John Fassel. Son of Jim.
Coach of the Week
Jim Haslett, defensive coordinator, Washington.
Over a 44-minute span Sunday against the once-mighty Packers, Haslett's aggressive defense held Green Bay to three points. Ten drives, three points. Forty-four plays, no touchdowns. Haslett had to go to the United Football League last year to be a head coach, and I'm not saying teams will be beating his door down next winter to be a head man in the NFL again. But he's having a terrific year putting good players in position to be great -- like strong safety LaRon Landry, who forced a fumble and had an interception Sunday.
Goat of the Week
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City.
Indy 9, Chiefs 6, 18 minutes left, KC ball at the Colts' 30. Matt Cassel throws deep down the left side for Bowe in the end zone, and ... drop. Next play: Cassel to Bowe, to the left, a little makeup throw, and Bowe drops it, again. Chiefs settle for a field goal. Not good enough. They should have had the lead on the first play of the drive. Instead, they never led, and the Colts won by 10, and the Chiefs had no one to blame more than Bowe for their unbeaten season going up in smoke.
"It's terrible. It's 0-5. The laughing stock of the National Football League. I think we are losing fans by the minute.''
-- Safety Donte Whitner after his Bills, the laughingstock of the AFC at least, were routed by the Jaguars at home.
"Take away the Patriots from Bill Belichick and what is he? A gym teacher with better jewelry, no disrespect to gym teachers intended.''
-- Ron Borges, columnist for the Boston Herald, in a scathing column critical of Belichick for trading Randy Moss.
"I can't wait to taste his power.''
-- Jets linebacker Bart Scott, who has never faced Adrian Peterson before, on the prospect of facing the Minnesota running back tonight at the New Meadowlands Stadium.
"I just saw something I thought I'd never see after Week 5 of a 17 week season ... graphic on NFL Network: if the postseason started today!?!?!''
-- giantspathanlon, Giants PR man Pat Hanlon, at 1:16 Monday morning.
Don't blame Larry Fitzgerald if he's feeling a little ... um, stressed, these days. Or maybe like Gumby, stretching for balls he used to catch in stride. Clearly, no one on the Cardinals misses Kurt Warner more. Since entering the league in 2004, Fitzgerald has never had as much difficulty pulling in passes as he's had this year. That led, in part, to the Cards making a switch at quarterback, going from the inaccurate Derek Anderson to the unproven (but Ken Whisenhunt guesses, more accurate) Max Hall. Charting the percentage of balls thrown to Fitzgerald with Warner on the roster to this year's early numbers, and this year's figures include a 7-of-9 showing Sunday in the win over the Saints:
With Warner: 62.0 percent. Without Warner: 48.1 percent. ... though things seem to be looking up with Hall.
Oct. 17, next Sunday, is a very interesting date in the family history of Clay Matthews, and in Midwestern football.
On Oct. 17, 1954, in Wrigley Field in Chicago, defensive end William Clay Matthews of the 49ers had a key block on the interception return that helped San Francisco beat the Bears 31-24.
On Oct. 17, 1993, at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, linebacker William Clay Matthews Jr. had two sacks in the Browns' 28-17 victory over the Bengals.
On Oct. 17, 2010, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, linebacker William Clay Matthews III hopes to take the field against Miami (he's battling a sore hamstring).
According to T.J. Troup, author of This Day in Football: A Day-by-Day Record of the Events that Shaped the Game, it would be the first time in NFL history that a father, son and grandson played on the same calendar date. As for the fancy name, just call them "Clay.''
Well, I'm sitting here early this morning writing with a walking boot on my right foot, because of my stupidity. I have a stress reaction to my right fibula, which is to say it hurts a little bit to walk, and it's a nuisance, and I'm not really injured but the thing won't go away unless I have this boot on for a couple of weeks. I felt some discomfort there, above my right ankle, before the half-marathon in New Hampshire last weekend, and then the pounding I put on it by sprinting the last 200 or 250 yards exacerbated it. Turns out you're not supposed to do that, which was news to me. So I'll cool my heels, and heal.
In the meantime, here's the tally of your contributions as of Friday:
Charity Donation total: Wounded Warrior Project $14,335.27. Feed the Children $10,334.00. Total $24,669.27
I know that will rise. A Twitter friend said he was donating $331 Saturday night, to make it an even $25,000. Good people out there.
Feed the Children has informed me they'll take the proceeds and load up two semitrailers and take food and household supplies to two needy American cities. They asked if I wanted to choose them, and I asked which cities statistically were the neediest. Buffalo and Cleveland, I was told. And so sometime in the next few weeks, semis will enter the inner cities in Buffalo and Cleveland with food and supplies to serve 400 families -- each family will receive a 25-pound box of nonperishable food, and a 10-pound box of personal-care items, and a box of Avon products.
I'm going to try to get a player from the Browns or Bills involved at each distribution site, and if I do, I'll include their efforts in a future column.
As for the Wounded Warriors, they have myriad ways to use your generosity -- from rehab for amputees or wheelchair-bound veterans, to job training and other ways they acclimate veterans back into society.
So thanks for all your support. Whenever I ask for your help, you do far more than I have a right to expect.
NHL playoff preview: New York Rangers vs. Philadelphia Flyers
NHL playoff preview: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks