Offensive Players of the Week
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta.
In the NBC viewing room, you can tell when something big's about to happen -- when you hear Gus Johnson yell, "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!'' like he did early in the second quarter on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to White. By halftime, White was six for 157 yards ... and he added more in the second half, including another touchdown, and finished with 11 catches for 201 yards, with two scores. This came in a game in which the Cincinnati defense was ready to shove it down White's throats. Before the game, he'd said of the Cincy defenders: "I don't even know these guys' names. But, hey, I'm going to go after them and we're going to have a successful Sunday.'' Maybe White ought to go all Ocho on the D every week.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee.
Britt had to sit (hey, that rhymes!) for the first quarter of Tennessee's showdown with NFC contender Philadelphia, but he played three mighty quarters. With seven catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns -- the greatest receiving day a Philadelphia Eagle team has ever allowed -- Britt, from the Eagles' backyard at Rutgers in New Jersey, overwhelmed the Philadelphia secondary in the Titans' come-from-behind win.
Defensive Players of the Week
DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington.
Hall became the 20th player to have four interceptions in a game. In fact, check out the relative stat lines of Hall versus Cutler's usual favorite intended receivers:
David Bowens, LB, Cleveland.
The career journeyman, in the span of 29 minutes, picked off Brees twice and returned both to the house. I can guarantee you that no stranger sentence will ever be written about the career of a backup front-seven player. Drew Brees gave Bowens two pick-sixes, from 30 and 64 yards. Beyond amazing.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Reggie Hodges, P, Cleveland.
Hard for a punter to have a better day. His 68-yard run with a fake punt was 50 yards longer than any other Cleveland offensive play of the day. He dropped two of his four punts inside the 20 and had a longer net average, 42.3-yards, than gross (42.0). He held for kicks.
Coach of the Week
Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator, Oakland.
Credit Jackson for taking a team with two injured quarterbacks and crafting a rushing attack the likes of which this franchise has rarely seen to beat the hated Broncos in Denver. In a 59-14 rout, Jackson kept calling the runs because they kept working, and it allowed Oakland to possess the ball for nearly 39 minutes. Keyed by Darren McFadden's 165-yard day, the Raiders ran it 52 times for 328 yards. I see more of that coming. There's a bold prediction.
Coaching Decision of the Week
Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan turning Scott Fujita loose in his old town.
Midway through the first quarter, Ryan called for Fujita, lined up at the right outside linebacker, to take on the tight end or back on a blitz call. Fujita, with an emotional homecoming game at the Superdome, blew through Dave Thomas and sacked old friend Brees for a 10-yard loss, helping set the table for a stunning victory by Cleveland. Ryan knew Fujita, one of the Super Bowl heroes in New Orleans last year, would be inspired to play a great game, so he sent him early and was rewarded.
Goat of the Week
Lovie Smith, coach, Chicago
On the play after failing to get an Earl Bennett catch and run down at the one-yard-line reversed (Smith challenged, claiming it was a touchdown), Smith didn't challenge what appeared almost certainly was a quarterback sneak for a touchdown. It was one of those plays where the quarterback -- Cutler -- jumped and extended the ball over the plane of the goal line before being pushed back by Albert Haynesworth; then the ball was knocked loose by London Fletcher and recovered by Washington. If Smith challenged the call, that's seven points (in a game that ended 17-13) he could have gained if correct; instead the Bears got nothing. Figures that Smith is one-for-five on challenges this year. This was a badly blown non-challenge.
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England. He has the Patriots humming along at 5-1, averaging 29.5 points per game with an offensive cast that seems to change in prominence every week.
2. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis. We'll see if he's a magician with Jacob Tamme trying to fill Dallas Clark's shoes.
3. Roddy White, WR, Atlanta. Nine more catches (54) and 38 more receiving yards (747) than any other receiver in football.
4. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore. Funny putting him here after such a sieve game by the Ravens D. But he's been the best all-around defender in football through seven weeks.
5. LaRon Landry, SS, Washington. Redskins are winning with D, and he's their best man.
You talk about your indictments of an offense, but it can't all be on the offensive line in Chicago. Midway through the third quarter of another pitiful offensive display, this time against the Washington Redskins, the Bears reached 21 straight third-down plays without converting. That's seven consecutive quarters of offensive incompetence.
In the past 365 days, the Titans are 13-4 and the Broncos 4-13. A year ago today, Denver was 6-0 and Tennessee 0-6. You see which way each is heading. (Even weirder, the now-sinking Broncos beat the now-rising Titans 26-20 in Week 4 of 2010.)
Sunday was the 10-year anniversary of the death of Steve Schoenfeld. He died Oct. 24, 2000, killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing a street in Tempe, Ariz., shortly after he saw Helen Thomas give a speech at Arizona State. I didn't want to let the moment pass without remembering a colleague missed by so many in my business -- a dogged, tireless person and former president of the Pro Football Writers of America.
He'd have been 55 on Sunday, covering the Cardinals and Seahawks in Seattle, and telling us something in his story we didn't know.
Another fun ride on the Acela on Saturday morning from Boston to New York. Actually, it was all good, a quiet ride through fall-foliageville, until a young couple got on the train in Stamford. In the next 50 minutes (I counted) she had four glasses of Cabernet, he had three scotch-and-waters.
As we approached New York, her glass empty (I mean, how can you drink maybe 16 ounces of wine at 10 in the morning in less than an hour -- what a feat!), the 25-ish gal looked over at a ball field as we rolled through New York. A football team in green jerseys was practicing.
"IS THAT THE JETS?'' she shouted, drawing the attention of everyone in the car. "OHMYGAWD IS THAT THE JETS? JETS PRACTICE? THAT IS MY FAVORITE TEAM! I LOVE ME SOME JETS!!!! IF THAT'S THE JETS I LOVE THEM!''
I know you're asleep now, Miss. But those weren't the Jets. The Astoria Jets, maybe. But not your Jets.
"Coaches, players, & management not in favor of new emphasis. What's the impetus? I believe NFL lawyers are fearful of class action lawsuit.''
--@jayfeely, Arizona kicker Jay Feely, on the league's motivation for the renewed emphasis on player safety.
He's not alone.