1. I think this is what I liked about Week 7:
a. Daryl Johnston. Lindsay Nelson. (You'll just have to Google it, youngsters.)
b. I am sorry I didn't make more of a fuss over Drew Brees' 31 of 35 night against the Colts. I can't figure out if it's more Brees, or more the Colts white-flagging it. But completing 89 percent of your throws in an NFL game is something Brees likely will never do again. I mean, it's only been done four times, ever.
c. That's a start, John Beck, completing 22 of 37.
d. Matt Forte (25 carries, 145 yards) just keeps getting more expensive by the week. Bizarre the Bears haven't been able to find some common ground to get him signed.
e. Javier Arenas is one of my favorite players. Now a wildcat touchdown? What a stud.
f. Here's to you, too, Brandon Flowers, with your two opportunistic picks.
g. How dangerous the Steelers have become. Ben Roethlisberger has the kind of weapons now that make Pittsburgh a deep-threat team the way Green Bay is. And Roethlisberger is taking full advantage.
h. Mike Wallace, 20.3 yards per catch through seven weeks. He's entering Swann territory.
i. Steve Smith (seven for 143) is in Swannville too.
j. That was one of the best 13-for-32 games I've seen, Christian Ponder. There's hope in Minnesota.
k. Best play I saw Sunday, and it wasn't close: Green Bay tight end Andrew Quarless came in motion from the left of a trips-left formation (three receivers to the left), and when the ball was snapped, obliterated Jared Allen on a block, leveling him. The play broke down, Quarless ran out and put his right hand up; Aaron Rodgers rolled right and found him. Gain of 21. Go find this play if you've got NFL Game Rewind -- second quarter, 11:43 to play. You'll love Quarless' energy.
l. Can't find fault with the Vikes punting with 2:37 left, down 33-27, with all timeouts left, on fourth-and-10 from their 36. You can't ask Christian Ponder to convert that -- or, at least, you have to think your defense has a better chance of holding the Packers to six or seven plays and a punt rather than thinking Ponder can get 10 yards against a very good dime defense.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about week 7:
a. Fifteen straight games now, in this big passing era, for the Vikings without a 300-yard passing game. Thanks for that note, Stats Inc.
b. What on earth has happened to the Rams? It's like 2010 never happened.
c. Crucial, game-turning (and correct) holding call on Jets center Nick Mangold. That nullified a touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, and led to Eric Weddle picking off Mark Sanchez in the end zone a minute later.
d. Ndamukong Suh pushing down Atlanta offensive lineman Joe Hawley in full view of the referee in Detroit. And the awful non-call of unsportsmanlike conduct by the referee, who was staring right at it -- Bill Leavy. Who, by the way, must not like working in Ford Field.
e. Oakland-KC: zero touchdown passes, eight interceptions. Nice day aerially.
f. That Oakland balloon from midweek? Now airless.
h. The Colts look like they're sprinting to the Andrew Luck finish line.
h. Work on that two-minute drill, Chargers. San Diego fans have to be sick over that one.
i. The Oakland loss was incredible. But no team had a worse day with more at stake than Tennessee. A 34-point loss at home, with the division lead on the line, against a team missing a top-five-in-the-game wideout in Andre Johnson. Very telling game for the Titans.
3. I think, just for the record, because I know and you should know, Adam Schefter didn't sit on the Carson Palmer trade story because he was protecting anyone. It's an absurd statement and thought. I'm not in the business of defending rivals against baseless claims, but this one was so far out of left field, with no evidence suggesting real truth, that I feel compelled to defend him.
4. I think Donovan McNabb probably should get the message now. In the last 19 months, Andy Reid, Mike Shanahan and Leslie Frazier -- the first guy drafted him, the last guy stuck his neck out for him with the Viking front office -- have all chosen to replace him at quarterback.
You could argue that Reid simply made the choice of two young players (Kevin Kolb and Mike Vick) over McNabb. But the other two men needed McNabb desperately, and he didn't play well enough in either place to keep the job.
McNabb will surely be invited to someone's camp if he chooses to keep playing in 2012, and he may even stick with the Vikings, but I'm not sure he wants to be someone's mentor, even if it is worth $3 million. And with the story about McNabb's slacker work ethic by Mike Lombardi on NFL Network Sunday (I'm not doubting it, though I cannot confirm it), what sign is there that a team would trust McNabb to come in and be Mr. Mentor?
5. I think if the season was seven weeks long and I had to vote today, my Executive of the Year would be Mike Brown. It's not just the Palmer trade. It's sticking to his guns on draft day and waiting, waiting, waiting for Andy Dalton at the 34th overall pick.
6. I think the Chris Johnson story -- he's been downright awful, shows no burst whatsoever, is making zero tacklers miss, and is on pace for a 715-yard rushing season -- will be a cautionary tale for all future running backs who hold out deep into training camp. And if I'm a GM, I'd think very hard about paying a ransom to a player who "works out on his own'' and then wants to be the highest-paid guy at his position. The train wreck that is Johnson's season shouldn't be forgotten.
7. I think if I'm the Browns, I'm having serious questions about Montario Hardesty's ability to be the every-down running back. A win's a win, and Cleveland somehow beat Seattle in a slugfest, 6-3. But Hardesty (33 carries, 95 yards) was a plodder more than a runner Sunday, and had 20 carries of two yards or fewer. I wonder when was the last time a runner has rushed 20 times in a game, basically, ineffectively. At one point in the first half, here were Hardesty's rushes in succession: 1, minus-1, 1, 2, minus-1, two. I'm thinking the Browns should kiss and make up with Peyton Hillis.
8. I think Detroit is holding its breath on the Matthew Stafford knee and ankle MRI, set to be done today after his left leg caved in on a hit on the last Lions offensive play of the loss to Atlanta. Praying a little too, probably.
9. I think the Lions will rally around Ndamukong Suh today, and most likely deny the Atlanta accusations that Suh either was disrespectful or taunted quarterback Matt Ryan when he was on the ground in the third quarter with a leg injury. But I thought Rodney Harrison put it best last night on our Football Night in America set. Basically, he said that perception becomes reality, and that reality becomes very hard to change. "I was known as a dirty player,'' he said, and that tag never left him his entire career. "I don't think Suh's a dirty player, but he's going to get that rap if he's not careful.''
If, indeed, he yelled at an injured player writhing on the ground, that's just going to feed into the image. That's why the worst thing Suh's coordinator, Gunther Cunningham, or coach Jim Schwartz could do right now if the story's true is to blindly back Suh. They'd be enabling him instead of correcting him.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. One of the great box score lines ever, considering the magnitude of the moment, from Saturday night's 16-7 Cardinal victory in game three of the World Series: A. Pujols 1B 6 4 5 6. I forget who said it, but some player in the postgame scrum said it was good and right that Pujols joined Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson as the only men to hit three homers in a World Series game, seeing that Pujols is one of the greatest hitters ever.
b. Congrats on your eight-catch game for Cornell against Brown, Luke Tasker. Bet you'd rather have had the win if you're anything like your father.
c. I see NBC reported there were "flecks of gold'' in the paint on the new, shiny Notre Dame helmets in the Saturday night game against USC. Are you telling me there's no better, more charitable way for a Catholic institution to spend its money than to outfit the football team with helmets made in part with real gold?
d. Proud of you, Maya Pitts and Angel Hart and Deja Davis (former Montclair softball Bears who I had the sincere pleasure of coaching), for your play in helping Montclair (N.J.) to a 1-0 Essex County Tournament soccer victory over Livingston High Saturday night. Miss you guys.
e. The more I walk behind smokers, the more I detest smoking.
f. My niece Charlotte got married Saturday in England to a swell guy named Jonny. Sorry I missed it, you two lovebirds. Have a great life.
g. And my congrats on the nuptials to my brother Ken and his wife Jane. Ken's the greatest guy I know, totally unselfish and generous to a fault, and a wonderful host. So bummed I missed the event. As my wife told me about the three days of festivities over there, Ken's never-ending refrain was, "Can I get a drink for anyone?''
h. That's my bro!
i. I have a few books to catch up on, but my SI boss, Terry McDonell, gave me one the other day I'm really looking forward to cracking: "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.'' Have a feeling I'm going to want a German Shepherd after I finish with it.
j. Coffeenerdness: I believe I set a personal record Sunday. Ten total shots of espresso in three lattes between 6 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Not that it's going to come back to haunt me or anything.
k. Beernerdness: Pleasure to share two Dogfish Head 90s with my Versus Friday night partner Russ Thaler on the Acela the other night. Then nearly fell asleep on the subway when I got to New York from the Versus studios in Connecticut.
l. I like a World Series that's tied 2-2. I like a World Series that's tied 3-3 better. I missed the weekend's games, but I'll be channel-flipping tonight.
m. Someday, Florio, I'm taking you to a baseball game. And I'm confiscating your phone. Baseball's not poison, you know.
Baltimore 22, Jacksonville 9. In case the Ravens wake up in Jacksonville this morning unmotivated, I advise two things: Check the highlights of the no-cornerback Vikings with a rookie quarterback making his first start from yesterday; you'll see how Minnesota took Aaron Rodgers to the two-minute warning and almost won. And two: The Steelers and Bengals are not going quietly into the NFL night. They're 5-2 and 4-2, respectively, breathing down your back. Not time to overlook anyone.
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