1. I think this is what I liked about Week 3:
a. Great idea of new Raider boss Mark Davis to bring Marcus Allen back into the fold at the coliseum in Oakland Sunday. He'd been away too long. He's a Raider. I don't care where he finished his career.
b. How amazing is Tony Gonzalez: nine catches, 91 yards, a touchdown and a heck of a smooth fadeaway jumper from the top of the key, over the crossbar.
c. Maurice Jones-Drew always says he'd be his own first fantasy draft choice. Maurice Jones-Drew the GM would have been a good scout Sunday. MJD: 28 for 177.
d. What a throw by Mohamed Sanu. Forty-nine yards in the air, perfectly thrown to A.J. Green on the first snap of Bengals-'Skins.
e. What an instinctive play by Washington linebacker Rob Jackson, diving for the interception in the end zone to score against the Bengals.
f. And the jarring hit by Ryan Kerrigan on Andy Dalton that caused it.
g. Jason Witten, for passing Ozzie Newsome on the all-time yardage list for tight ends. Newsome played until he was 34. Witten is 29. Quite an achievement, even with the air being filled with footballs.
h. Doug Martin, who runs every attempt like it's his last.
i. Look at you running, Jay Cutler.
j. Jamaal Charles, 17 for 199. In three quarters.
k. Michael Johnson, meet RGIII: three sacks, four quarterback hits.
l. Told you everyone was writing off Gerald McCoy too soon. He was in Tony Romo's grill all day -- too close, on one helmet-to-helmet play that will get him fined -- but he was the disruptive force the Bucs drafted him to be.
m. Jason Hanson, 4 of 4 (47, 53, 33, 26) in field goals, and three punts for a 39.3-yard average, looking like he'd been punting all his life.
n. Akeem Ayers, the anonymous Titans linebacker, with 16 tackles and a sack.
o. Nice commentary on Cutler, John Lynch of FOX.
p. Israel Idonije's a hidden gem on that Bear front, but he won't be if he has many more 2.5-sack days, as he did Sunday.
q. Heck of a bomb, Blaine Gabbert.
r. Congrats, Kevin Kolb. That had to be a huge win for you, beating the Eagles.
s. Good instincts and intelligence, Jayron Hosley, the Giants rookie cornerback. Hosley, on a blitz of Cam Newton Thursday, wasn't faked out by the nimble Newton. Then, when he contacted Newton as he released the ball, Hosley had the presence of mind to not drive him into the ground, but to slide off him and avoid a possible roughing penalty. That was a five-year-vet play by a third-round rookie.
t. Brian Anger, the Jacksonville punter, with six for a 53.5-yard average.
u. Tashard (20 for 91) Choice of Buffalo: best third-string back in football.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 3
a. Tebow shirtless again. Come on, Tim. You're on the verge of becoming the girl who wants to be respected for her brain dressing in next to nothing.
b. The protection for Drew Brees. He must have gotten hit 15 times after releasing the ball by various and sundry Chiefs.
c. RGIII passing yards, first half: six.
d. How do the officials miss the helmet-to-helmets on Tony Romo and Darius Heyward-Bey? Seriously. How?
e. You realize, of course, that Mike Vick cannot last the season getting pummeled like this. I'm not sure he can last the month. G-Men at Eagles Sunday night.
f. Not a big fan of the BS chant. Don't think I've ever heard it louder than it was in Baltimore.
g. Seven straight home losses for Washington. Seriously?
h. Hands to yourself, Bill Belichick.
i. And going freaky on the officials doesn't help you either, Kyle Shanahan.
j. Collinsworth was right in ripping the Patriots' attempt at tackling on the Dennis Pitta touchdown in the first half. Devin McCourty's try was abysmal. Wait until Bill Belichick gets hold of that piece of tape.
k. Wasn't Devin McCourty good at some point?
l. Josh Freeman, too?
m. Train for Hail Marys much, Titans? There's a rule even rube sportswriters know: Knock it down! Knock the ball down!
3. I think the United Football League did a smart thing in matching Brian Banks, the former wrongly imprisoned top linebacking prospect, with Jim Fassel's Las Vegas Locos. Banks is a longshot to be a pro football player, but Las Vegas gets the benefit of a player desperate to make the big time, and it gets a story that warms everyone's heart. "I had the opportunity to work out with NFL teams, was evaluated, got constructive criticism on what I needed to work on,'' Banks said last week. "This is big, a giant step to my overall pursuit of playing in the NFL. I think this is the best way to gain experience.''
4. I think Chris Johnson is costing every great running back of the future about a million bucks a year. Pay the guy big and he disappears.
5. I think the more the Saints lose, the worse it's going to be for Roger Goodell in Super Bowl week. I mean, the man will not be able to leave his hotel.
6. I think the best news about the end of the stalemate between the NFL and Time Warner Cable is that, after nearly nine years of fighting about carrying NFL Network, we finally don't have to hear about it anymore. NFLNet debuted in the homes of the 12.3-million Time Warner Cable subscribers, in 29 states, on Sunday.
7. I think, in case you didn't catch my drift about Cam Newton, I objected to three things he did Thursday night, aside from playing his worst all-around game as an NFL player. One: Scoring in the third quarter to make it 23-7, and then pulling the Superman act in the end zone; bush league. Two: Setting himself apart on the bench late in the game when things were going bad, causing Steve Smith to read him the riot act for being a baby. Three: Talking postgame about the loss like his dog just died.
Bernie Kosar once had a great line about a quarterback's job once the game ends. He said the postgame interview scrum is like the fifth quarter, where you help set the agenda for your teammates and, in part, your organization, for the next week. When you do that, you can't be an all-is-lost guy, which is what Newton looked like after the Giants beat Carolina.
8. I think Torrey Smith should teach Life Lessons 101 to Cam Newton.
9. I think the Dallas Cowboys did the right thing in defending their quarterback running out the clock against Tampa Bay: They blocked Tampa's front. It's pretty easy to police things like this, and Jason Garrett did. I still think I'd like to see the shotgun tried against this. Wouldn't it be less risky for an offense to snap the ball back seven yards?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The Triple Crown is a pretty big deal. The last time it was won, 1967, I was sitting on the couch in my living room in Enfield, Conn., nerdily keeping score of the final Red Sox game of the Impossible Dream season. That's the weekend my hero, Carl Yastrzemski, went 7 for 8 as the Sox swept the Twins in a two-game series to win the pennant, and it's the weekend Yaz won the Triple Crown. (Yaz homered in the seventh Saturday, his 44th, and Harmon Killebrew followed two innings later with his 44th.) Yaz won the Crown, tying Killebrew in homers and winning the Batting and RBI titles outright. It hasn't been done in the 45 years since.
If the season ended Sunday, Miguel Cabrera would do the exact same thing -- win the batting and RBI titles, and tie Josh Hamilton for the homer run title with 42. I admire the ridiculous season of Mike Trout, but if the season were over and I had a vote, Cabrera would be my MVP.
b. Happy 50th birthday (Sunday), John Harbaugh.
c. Happy 63rd birthday (Sunday), Bruce Springsteen.
d. Why I really like Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe: He wrote this weekend that the Red Sox had trailed in each of their previous 32 games, and that Jacoby Ellsbury, as of Saturday, had played in 246 of the last 476 Red Sox games. Play 246, sit 230. That'll give you pause about paying him $15 million a year starting in 2014.
e. Dodgers: 11-16 since The Trade.
f. Coffeenerdness: Order of the week, at the Starbucks at 50th and 2nd in Manhattan: "Could I have a triple doppio in a grande cup, with eight Splendas?'' Cashier looks up. "You mean six shots of espresso with eight Splendas?'' That's right.
I like my espresso, but I'd have to be strapped down with a dental device holding my mouth open to get that down my throat.
g. Beernerdness: There's something about Pyramid Hefeweizen in the parking lot of a huge stadium on a warm September late afternoon that's, well, pretty good. Experienced that at Springsteen Wednesday night at the Meadowlands. I would imagine a few of you out in Seattle tonight will experience the same thing in the lots outside CenturyLink Field.
h. Book I Wish I Had Time To Read This Month: "When Saturday Mattered Most: The Last Golden Season of Army Football," by Mark Beech, my friend at Sports Illustrated ... and a 1991 West Point grad. I love books that transport you into a place you wish you'd been, and the one great anecdote from this book that illustrates how Beech does this comes from the Army-Pitt game on Oct. 25, the only blemish on the team's 8-0-1 record; it ended in a 14-14 tie.
As Beech writes, Army halfback Bob Anderson had been an All-American in 1957, and he admits now that when he saw that the Panthers end he would be blocking was a sophomore, he didn't pay much attention to the scouting report on the hulking underclassmen. But Anderson's attitude got an adjustment in the first quarter, when he had his helmet knocked askew while attempting to lay a block on Ditka. "He hits me with a forearm and my chinstrap pops off," Anderson told Beech. "He broke my nose and he made the tackle. And as I'm lying there on the ground in pain, I hear this voice over me, 'Hey, kid' -- I'm a junior and he's a sophomore and he's calling me 'kid' -- and he says to me, 'Here's your chinstrap, kid.' " This one goes on the offseason bookshelf. High on it.
i. That Mike Ditka, he was a man. Still is.
j. Book I Will Get To In the Offseason Right After Beech's: "Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country and Football at West Point," by Joe Drape, about how the 2011 Army prepared for football and battle. I've heard nothing but great things about it.
Story of the week that has the NFL buzzing: Yahoo!'s Mike Silver on how NFL scouts hated Greg Schiano at Rutgers because of the restrictions he placed on them. There is no question Silver's piece, which I believe to be on the mark, will cause the Bucs and Bucs fans to circle the wagons around their coach. And I like the fact that Schiano's not just some nice guy who's come in to do a nice job for a nice family of owners and nice GM. Schiano is smart enough to know that when you make rules or run plays that tick people off, you're going to be a target. And if I'm someone who loves the Bucs, I like the fact that my coach has the guts to do things to tick people off.
Green Bay 21, Seattle 20. To a lesser quarterback than Aaron Rodgers, I would make Seattle's cacophonous 12th man crowd a big factor tonight. And it still very well could be; Rodgers calls a ton of stuff at the line, and he changes plays with alacrity because Mike McCarthy gives him immense freedom in the no-huddle offense at the line.
But you can bet the Packers worked overtime on hand and non-verbal signals in practice this week. So I say this comes down to five Green Bay receivers -- Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb and Jermichael Finley -- making enough plays against the top five Seattle secondary men (Seahawks should be in nickel a majority of the time) -- Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Marcus Trufant at corner, and the punishing pair of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor at safety. By the score, you can see I believe this game could go either way, and Rodgers just has enough to beat everyone's second-favorite Cheesehead quarterback, Russell Wilson.
So long, Steve Sabol.
Do those slo-mo spirals look
as good from up there?
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