1. I think this is what I liked about Week 5:
a. Jason Whitlock's column on foxsports.com about the Favre story, placing the responsibility of getting to the bottom of it at the doorstop of Roger Goodell, which is where it belongs. Whatever Goodell finds, he finds.
b. I don't care if it didn't work. I liked the Chiefs' onside-kick on the first play of the game at Indy. You won't beat the Colts without taking some chances.
c. The Ravens, winning in many ways. If they can run the way they ran Sunday, they're going to be a tough out in January.
d. Matt Forte. With 18- and 68-yard touchdown runs in the first half of the first quarter, he did what the Bear running game hadn't been able to do in the first four games: dominate behind a shaky line.
e. Cody Grimm. Victimized in his first NFL starts against the Steelers in Week 3, he suckered Carson Palmer into an interception at the Bengal 11, stepping in front of Terrell Owens and waltzing in for the touchdown.
f. Jeff Fisher, who was right. Chris Johnson will be just fine, as a 19-for-131 day showed.
g. The combination of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, who followed a six-sack game against Chicago with three, combined, in Houston.
h. Atlanta's run defense, and the stout Jonathan Babineaux, in particular, for holding the Browns to 48 yards on the ground -- in Cleveland.
i. Philip Rivers. Not his fault his special teams put the Chargers in a 12-zip hole.
j. Malcom Floyd (eight catches, 213 yards). Yes, the Vincent Jackson holdout should have been solved two months ago. No, it's not hurting the team very much.
k. Aaron Kampman, reborn in Jacksonville, with 1.5 sacks at Buffalo. How many teams are saying this morning, "Why didn't we go after Kampman harder when he left Green Bay?''
l. Ndamukong Suh. The leader in the clubhouse for Defensive Rookie of the Year. I know T.J. Ward's been very good, but Suh's been dominant. On his rolling-ball-of-butcher-knives 20-yard interception return, you could sense no one wanted to get in his way.
m. David Garrard, for his nice comeback over the last two weeks. Completed 80 percent yesterday in Buffalo.
n. The city of Detroit. It's not easy losing 35 of 37 and not winning by a rout for five years. Happy for you.
o. The delicious prospect of two Atlanta-Philadelphia games across the street from each other next Sunday in Philly: the Eagles and Falcons at 1 at the Linc, the Phils and Braves (if the Braves can go on a two-game winning streak) at 8 in the baseball park.
p. The Raiders, for breaking the 13-game schneid against San Diego, and Tyvon Branch, for having the football sense to not just dive on a fourth-quarter loose ball but to run it back 68 yards for the insurance touchdown.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 5:
a. Carson Palmer looks like a shot-putter, not a quarterback.
b. The utter hopelessness of the Bills and Panthers.
c. I agree with Tony Dungy. If Carolina and Buffalo were to meet, justice would be a scoreless tie.
d. My preseason prediction of the Panthers as a wild card team. I believe I have my bachelor's in football prognostication from Idiotic A&M.
e. Dallas, the worst team in the NFC East.
f. Houston. Like Cincinnati, the Texans cannot stand prosperity. I don't care if the Giants' defense is the '76 Steel Curtain. Eleven first downs, at home, with that offense ... unacceptable on so many levels.
g. Norv Turner, Steve Crosby. Bad special-teams play is the fault, ultimately, of Crosby. An underachieving team lays at the feet of Turner.
h. Wade Phillips, whose Cowboys made Jerry Jones speechless at home. Jones is never speechless, and the fact that he didn't do a postgame meeting with the media ... well, that doesn't bode well for ol' Wade.
i. I don't care if you scored, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The right play with the lead and 16 seconds left after intercepting the ball is not to weave through opponents who could strip you. The right play is to secure the ball and get on the ground, so as to not risk any chance of a turnover.
j. John Carney. You can't miss 29-yard chippies in this league.
3. I think it bears repeating that I liked a lot of what I saw out of the Raiders Sunday. Last year, I remember Shane Lechler telling me he was adamant that the team shouldn't change coaches, because the players really responded to Tom Cable. You can tell they play hard for him, and beating the nemesis Chargers -- and coming from behind to do so -- speaks volumes.
4. I think there isn't a position in football where the gap between the best and second-best player is as big as it is at tight end. Antonio Gates is 1. You could argue that two might this season be Vernon Davis, Dallas Clark, Dustin Keller or Tony Gonzalez if you want to give credit to the classic old guy who still plays very well. But you can't make a good argument for one of them being number 1.
5. I think no matter how stridently you beg, Card fans, you're not getting Warner out of retirement. "No, no, no,'' he told me Thursday night. "I'm done. I'm fully content. No one knows how much the last couple of years took out of me, and I'm so thankful my identity isn't totally caught up in football. I knew when to get out.''
6. I think the thing I really respect about Warner is his unvarnished honesty. If you ask him a question and he can answer it, you'll get the truth. The other night, I asked him how he was enjoying doing the Dancing With the Stars show. Warner is a devout Christian. He has to dance very closely with his very attractive partner, Anna Trebunskaya, and he had to do it recently on TV -- on the 13th anniversary of his wedding anniversary to wife Brenda.
"It's been fun,'' Warner said, "but it's been challenging too, and more of a commitment than I ever thought it would be. I'm busier than I was as a football player.'' And Brenda's reaction? "She has her moments,'' Warner said. "I totally understand. It's tough on us. When I was dancing 'the dance of love' with my partner, it was our anniversary, and Brenda said, 'Do you find it ironic that you're dancing the dance of love on our 13th anniversary?' ''
I mean, how many people would level with a reporter like that? I find it refreshing and very, very human.
7. I think if you're a football fan, the 95-minute "Lombardi'' play opening on Broadway Oct. 21 will be worth your while. I saw the adaptation of the great When Pride Still Mattered book by David Maraniss on Friday night at Circle in the Square Theater in midtown Manhattan and was impressed with a few things.
Dan Lauria (the dad from The Wonder Years) looks about as much like Lombardi as anyone could. Marie, his wife (played by Judith Light) portrayed the angst and wide range of emotions a coach's wife must feel daily. Now, in a play about Lombardi, I wondered if I would feel the semi-rage his players must have felt, and the attempts at intimidation they must have felt; and I wondered if the occasional pushbacks from players like Jim Ringo, Jerry Kramer and Jim Taylor would surface. So the scene I loved best had all of that in it. It was a crackler between Taylor (a husky Californian new to Broadway named Chris Sullivan) and Lombardi over Taylor's contract and how Lombardi was treating the rookies better financially than the vets.
Here's how I judge a legitimate scene -- did it seem real, and not staged? And this scene was so intense that spit flew from the mouths of both men as they lit into each other. Our party met the actors afterward, and I asked Sullivan about it. Two interesting things. He said he wanted the scene to feel a little bit dangerous, which it did. And he said he'd gotten advice that a scene like that needed to be done like it was the first time he was doing it, so it would feel legitimate and emotional. Which it did. My Broadway experience is quite limited, but I know what I like, and I liked this show.
8. I think the Montclair Rumor of the Week, heard by a good friend of mine back in my old Jersey town, is a very good cross-sporting one. Too bad it's not true: The story goes that Derek Jeter and his soon-to-be bride, Minka Kelly, were to buy the old Michael Strahan palace in Montclair. Great view of Manhattan. Close to Jeter's family in West Orange. But I reached deep into my Montclair sources and found out that no, Jeter's not buying in the 'Clair. At least not now.
9. I think I'm not sure how many men of God have cocked and loaded guns in the glove box, Glen Coffee.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Amazed the Twins just don't show up against the Yankees, year after year.
b. If Billy Wagner didn't get hurt, it'd be the Braves up in the NLDS over the Giants, 2-1, not the other way around.
c. Have a good time at Rays-Rangers Tuesday, Tony Dungy. The visiting team is 4-0 in that series, by the way.
d. Mostly uninformed NHL prediction of the week: I'm picking Sharks-Caps for the Stanley Cup finals, in the battle of disappointing playoff teams. The winner: San Jose.
e. Media Quote of the Week: Maureen Dowd of the New York Times visited a motivational seminar at the Verizon Center in Washington recently and reached this conclusion on one of the panel's speakers, Terry Bradshaw: "He seemed more like a man who could use some advice rather than one paid for giving it."
Funny thing is, I bet he'd agree.
f. Coffeenerdness: Rough weekend at the Starbucks on 56th and 6th Sunday night, just before 11. All the milk in the place was wiped out except for skim. Can't have a skim latte. Just won't do. So I had to do one of the doubleshot things in the can. Those actually are pretty good.
g. What a beautiful weekend in New York. Totally understand why so many people want to live here.
h. Remember Buddy Biancalana? He's the little shortstop who helped the Royals beat the Cardinals 25 years ago in the World Series, and he's co-authored a book, The 7 Secrets of World Class Athletes, that has a few lessons for us all. It's about how players can use a mental edge to get maximum performance, and he recently got Ricky Watters on a golf course to test it out. Watters had been a middling, frustrated golfer, but he used the mental and physical edge he learned from Biancalana and co-author Steve Yellin to improve dramatically. (They haven't seen my golf swing yet if they think can get bad golfers to play well.) There are some interesting concepts in the book, and it's an easy read.
Jets 23, Vikings 16. "How often is it,'' Larry Fitzgerald mused the other day, "that Adrian Peterson's the third story in a game?'' One, Favre trying to play a football game in the midst of a tabloid circus. Two, Moss a Viking again. Three, Peterson re-establishing himself as the best all-around back in the game.
If Brad Childress calls this game right, even with Moss back, it'll be a good combination of Peterson putting the Vikings in favorable down-and-distance situations so the rush doesn't beat down Favre. But I won't be surprised to see Favre force it to Moss one too many times, and with Darrelle Revis likely returning from a Moss-induced hamstring injury, look for the Jets to be turnover-hungry. By the way, I say Favre's going to get ripped up one side and down the other by the crowd in New Jersey tonight.
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