1. I think this is what I liked about Week 6:
a. Matt Hasselbeck, with one more comeback in a game he had no business winning.
b. Separated at birth: Macaulay Culkin, Henry Hasselbeck.
c. (Not Just Saying This) Separated at birth: Paul Ryan, Andrew Siciliano of the NFL Sunday Ticket Red Zone.
d. Andrea Kremer, NFL Network's new health and safety reporter, with a gem of a story on Darrius Heyward-Bey returning from a serious concussion.
e. Good to see referee Bill Vinovich back working (Detroit-Philadelphia) his first game since 2006 after heart trouble. According to NBC's officiating consultant, Jim Daopoulos, Vinovich will serve as a sub for different refs each week. At Philadelphia Sunday, he subbed for Scott Green.
f. No interceptions by the Raiders through five games. Three interceptions by the Raiders in the first half at Atlanta.
g. Love Ray Rice's attacking running style.
h. Victor Butler's deflection of a Joe Flacco pass.
i. The longest run by a quarterback in the NFL since 1996, the 76-yarder by Robert Griffin III. Deion Sanders in his prime wasn't catching this man.
j. Prince Amukamara, who finally looks like he belongs, playing corner with confidence for the Giants.
k. The crowd in Seattle. Those fans are so loud you almost have to turn the TV down.
l. Shonn Greene (32 carries for 161 yards), playing for the first time all year like a franchise back, punishing Colts as he ran.
m. Legatron. It's a matter of time before St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein breaks the record for the longest field goal (63 yards) in NFL history. He missed a 66-yarder wide left at Miami that had plenty of leg. Of course, he missed 52- and 37-yarders too, and making any of the three would have forced overtime in a three-point loss.
n. Ronde Barber, he of the 78-yard interception return for touchdown, still making winning plays at 37.
o. Ahmad Bradshaw, who is more of a workhorse than I expected.
p. Washington's injured defense, which managed its fourth defensive touchdown of the year (Madieu Williams' 24-yard interception return) and has scored more points off turnovers through six weeks than it did all of last season.
2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 6:
a. Bad decision by Josh Freeman, throwing right to Justin Houston with the Bucs headed for a score in the first quarter.
b. Two bad decisions by Matt Ryan, uncharacteristic.
c. You're kidding, Muhammad Wilkerson. What a dumb play, taking two steps after an Andrew Luck-released pass and forearm-shivering him in the back.
d. Ray Lewis continues to have trouble getting off blocks. He whiffed on Felix Jones' first-half touchdown run against the Cowboys.
e. Hold off on the Cantonization of Andrew Luck, after his overthrow of an easy touchdown to Coby Fleener at the Meadowlands.
f. Gotta make that catch for the two-point conversion, Dez Bryant.
g. Hey, Papa John's: The season is six weeks old. The commercial about what you're doing to kick off the season is similarly six weeks too old. Fix it, please.
h. Jim Harbaugh's challenge of a first-half play in which his runner's knee was down long before the ball came out but he challenged anyway. Waste of a challenge.
i. The Chiefs. That's a team that couldn't do anything right in Tampa. The definition of not doing anything right: getting outgained by the Bucs by 203 yards. Other than Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson making impact plays and the line keeping Brady Quinn clean, I saw nothing to like in this game for the Chiefs.
j. The urgency of the Dallas offense in the final minute at Baltimore. Not sure who should take the biggest hit for not getting off one more play before the 51-yard field goal try, but shouldn't Tony Romo be yelling, "On the line! On the line!'' Something, anything. I gave Jason Garrett my goat of the week for Dallas not having urgency at the end, but there's lots of blame to go around.
3. I think I am sick of those in and out of the football business telling me Ben Roethlisberger gets no respect. Stop. Just stop. Just because someone doesn't think Roethlisberger is as good as Tom Brady or Eli Manning or Aaron Rodgers doesn't mean that person doesn't respect him. We're in the golden age of quarterbacks -- the best time for quarterbacks, with the deepest roster of very good ones, in the history of the league -- and I consider Roethlisberger highly respected in the hierarchy. If it's bashing a guy to consider him the third- or fifth- or seventh-best at a time of such greatness ... I mean, Lord help us.
4. Jimmy Haslam's purchase of the Browns will be approved Tuesday in Chicago. Then Haslam will get on with the business of deciding who will run his franchise in 2013 and beyond. I hope he looks long and hard at Pat Shurmur, who I think is a good man and coach. Not saying Haslam should keep him -- just saying he should think very seriously about it, because Shurmur's the kind of smart young coach, like Gary Kubiak was in Houston's rocky times, who is growing into a tough job.
5. I think if I were Roger Goodell, I would do exactly what the four suspended Saints want him to do: recuse himself and allow either of his discipline czars, Ted Cottrell or Art Shell, or both, to comb through the facts of the Saints' bounty and determine if Goodell has made the right call.
I understand why Goodell might be hesitant to do so -- because he doesn't have to, by CBA rules -- but what harm is there in allowing a new set of eyes to see what he's seen in such endless, numbing detail for this entire calendar year? I still believe the suspended players will feel wronged if Goodell does recuse himself and the players are found culpable. But at least it will be new people looking at the evidence.
6. I think the week should not pass without a mention of the Tuesday retirement of Kevin Faulk, the Patriots' all-time all-purpose yardage leader. More importantly, he and Troy Brown and Mike Vrabel were the poster children for what Bill Belichick established in New England, beginning in 2000 -- the kind of selfless team guys who didn't whine about their roles but rather were molded in the way a smart coaching staff thought best to build a contender. It worked.
Faulk's not going down as an all-time great, but owner Bob Kraft got it right the other day when he said: "Kevin Faulk helped define the way an entire generation of Patriots fans have come to view and appreciate our brand of football.'' Big stars aren't the only players whose careers should be celebrated in retirement. Players like Faulk should be too.
7. I think you can chase your tail with a lot of these borderline hits that get defensive players flagged and fined, particularly for hits on the quarterback. But I have to comment on the hit on Andrew Luck that got Green Bay linebacker Nick Perry a 15-yard penalty and a $15,000 fine. Perry got the penalty and fine because he hit Luck with his helmet first on his body, and a defender can't contact a quarterback with the helmet first.
A terrible rule in the first place, because a tackler keeping his head up and hitting a ballcarrier below the shoulders is the textbook way to tackle; for a defender to have to consciously keep his head to the side of a quarterback's torso is unreasonable.
The NFL told Perry he led with the crown of his helmet, but I've watched this play over and over, and he didn't lead with the crown of the helmet -- he had his head straight-up, his facemask contacting Luck first. There are dangerous plays in football, and the league is smart to be vigilant about getting rid of them. This, however, should not be considered a dangerous play, but rather one with the defender tackling the quarterback the way he should.
8. I think Aqib Talib's four-game suspension for Adderall use, which removes him from a potentially season-defining game next Sunday against Drew Brees in Tampa, not only robs the Bucs of their best cover corner (by far), but also gives every corner-hungry team in free agency one more reason to not sign a perpetually troubled player next March when he hits the open market.
9. I think I like Mike Vick owning a dog. As he said, he needs to break the cycle of animal abuse in his family. How will you do that for the next generations without showing them dogs can be beloved pets and not killer competitors?
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. I'm having a hard time understanding why the people I see running through Manhattan with LIVESTRONG gear still wear the stuff, in the wake of what we heard last week from members of Lance Armstrong's bicycle racing team that he was doping while competing for years in the Tour de France. "To be on Lance Armstrong's team, doping was a necessity,'' one teammate, Ty Hamilton, told ESPN Radio. How much more evidence do you have to see and hear to be convinced Armstrong wasn't clean when he won all those races?
b. South Carolina unveiled the worst football uniforms in the history of football uniforms Saturday.
c. There can't be more valiant losers in sports, not just baseball, than the A's and O's.
d. It is impossible, and that is not even remotely hyperbole, to experience more bad karma than Alex Rodriguez has in his first seven postseason games this year.
e. I really feel for Derek Jeter, the best baseball player whose full career I've had the pleasure to see.
f. Two most heartbreaking ends to baseball games I have ever seen: Game 6, 1986 World Series, in New York, ball through Bill Buckner's legs, Mets beat Boston ... Game 5, 2012 National League Division Series, Cards get three two-out, two-strike runs in first playoff series in Washington in 70 years, St. Louis beats the Nationals.
g. Davey Johnson managed the winner in the first, the loser in the second, 26 Octobers apart. (Thanks for that note, Brian Hyland.)
h. The Nationals might want to sign that Phil Coke guy. His first 13 pitches in the American League Championship Series were strikes. A foreign concept to the Nats hurlers.
i. Willie "Mayes," TBS? Sheesh. Are your producers and graphics people all 16?
j. I didn't think it was possible for a baseball player to be bigger than me once Mickey Lolich and Wilbur Wood retired. But C.C. Sabathia and Prince Fielder are in the ballpark.
k. Cornell wide receiver Luke (son of Steve) Tasker's stat line from Cornell's 41-38 win over Monmouth Saturday: 11 receptions, 280 yards, one touchdown.
l. Congrats, Ohio U, for cracking the AP Top 25 this week. It's not every year that you start a season 7-0 and get ranked. In fact, it's not any season since 1968.
m. Good job, Lars Anderson, for your profile in this week's Sports Illustrated on the Bobcats. My little Bobcats, the Boise of the Midwest? Wow. I'm going to have to digest that.
n. Coffeenerdness: Had a chance to speak to old friend Ted Shaker's class at NYU the other night, and it gave me a chance to not only chat up some serious students about the future of the NFL, but also a shot to try a good latte and great atmosphere of Think Coffee in the neighborhood. That's some serious espresso.
o. Beernerdness: Had Bronx Pale Ale the other night, and even though it was at a great restaurant, Birreria at Eataly in Manhattan, I had low expectations. "Bronx Pale Ale'' doesn't exactly make one thirst in anticipation. But this was as good a pale ale as I've had in memory. It's a darker one, with a bitterness I like in pale ales but not overpowering. Delicious.
p. I can't keep up with all these A Football Life shows, NFL Films.
q. Sad over the death of Beano Cook at 81. He was one of the great football minds of our time, and certainly one of the great characters. Before becoming the czar of all things college football for ESPN, he was a publicist for CBS Sports. And in the early '80s, when I covered boxing (among other things) for the Cincinnati Enquirer, Beano was a regular in town because of the great junior welterweight, Aaron Pryor, and because CBS in those days showed lots of weekend afternoon fights.
I used to meet Beano during the week to go over CBS' plans for bouts, and to arrange to talk to their commentators for stories before the fights. Once, I visited him in the Clarion Hotel downtown. I knocked on his door. He greeted me in a white T-shirt and boxers, with the bed unmade, shades drawn, and a couple of days of room service food scattered on various surfaces. I was 25 at the time and thinking: So this is the world of big-time publicity men. But he got the job done, delivering everyone I needed, always. And the one thing I remember about Beano -- both then and in future years, when we'd see each other or talk over the phone -- is how much he knew about every sport.
r. RIP Arlen Specter. Good public servant.
The Boston Globe's NFL and Patriots beat man came up with a gem in deciphering why the Patriots can go so fast on offense. It's the one-word play call. Excellent stuff from a rising star in the business, Bedard.
I've got Denver 33, San Diego 27 tonight at Qualcomm, in one of those last-team-with-the-ball-wins games. If it's that kind of game, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker simply have to be more reliable. I make this pick knowing they've been one-quarter liability, three-quarters good. Thomas and Decker have combined for 11 drops (Thomas six, Decker five) through five games; no starting receiving duo in the league had more entering Week 6. There will be a point in this game, late, where it'll be 3rd-and-7, Denver ball, crowd screaming, and Manning's going to take a shotgun snap, and he can't afford to be wondering, If I throw this high and outside, where only Thomas can catch it, is the guy going to catch it?
Hey Aaron Rodgers!
Loved what you told Tafoya.
"Shhhhhhh.'' Critics silenced.
Buffalo native Patrick Kane scores in his return home as Blackhawks beat Sabres
Henrik Lundqvist wins his 300th game as Rangers blank Red Wings