Well, I think this was certainly the wildest weekend of football we’ve seen thus far this season. We saw three overtime games, a few games’ won at the buzzer and a couple referee blunders (calling them blunders might be a bit too nice). Let’s jump into my 10 points from week three.
1. What more can I say about the replacement ref’s that hasn’t already been said. We saw many bad calls across the league Sunday, but nothing even lays a finger on what we saw last night. It’s pretty clear-cut that the Packers got hosed. Along with several phantom calls throughout the game, the refs simply decided the game.
The NFL that we all love has turned into a circus. Trent Dilfer put it quite well during the postgame show on ESPN last night, “This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and this is ruining it.”
The refs were told to crack down and take control of the games, and it appears that in their minds, that means they need to throw a flag on every play, even if nothing actually happens.
This charade has gone on long enough. Hopefully last night was the tipping point Roger Goodell and the owners needed to clean up this game that has turned into a joke and has lost some serious integrity. Will I watch all the games next weekend and from here on out regardless? Absolutely. That said, the most popular sport in the country shouldn’t be compromised over such petty BS.
2. I don’t even want to talk more about the ending of last nights game, however there are some points that need to be brought up from the rest of the game. First of all, Seattle has a fantastic defense, and it was great to see rookie Bruce Irvin have a breakout game on Monday night. The Packers offensive line look HORRIFIC in the first half allowing the Seattle defense to sack Rogers eight times.
While the Seahawk defense looked stellar, really expected more from the Packers offensively. Cedric Benson still hasn’t really clicked with this offense that just hates running the ball, and last years MVP Aaron Rogers seems to be in some sort of fog thus far. He just doesn’t look like the same guy we saw the last few seasons. New Orleans and their JV defense coming to town next weekend could be just what the doctor ordered for the Pack.
3. The biggest injury coming out of this weekend was clearly the Jets loss of Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Revis. Revis tore his ACL Sunday on a non-contact play (which seem to happen more and more and are just terrifying). This is an enormous blow to a Jets team that relies so much on his ability to shut down half of the field on any given play. As arguably the best corner in the league, the Jets will really have to change how they defend other teams. As good as Antonio Cromartie can be, he can also be that bad at times. His painfully inconsistent play won’t be nearly enough to make up for the loss of Revis. I think teams could have a field day throwing on the edge against the Jets now. This should be interesting to watch for the remainder of the season. That said, best wishes on a quick recovery to Revis.
4. The surprise of the NFL thus far has without question been the Arizona Cardinals. They sit at 3-0 with victories over Seattle, New England and Philadelphia and have done it with some fantastic defense. Patrick Peterson is turning into one of the best defensive backs in the game and their defensive line just creates havoc. The best news for them though, is that Kevin Kolb hasn’t messed anything up yet. It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation is handled once John Skelton is healthy.
I think the Cardinals are definitely for real and this division race will shape up to be a dandy between Arizona Seattle and of course San Francisco.
5. The defending Champion New York Giants appear to have woken up and have a fire lit under their behinds. After an absolutely awful first six quarters of the season, they mounted a great comeback against Tampa Bay last weekend and then decimated the Panthers on Thursday night. Eli is playing as well as any quarterback in the game and for them to have the performance they did without Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and several other key pieces last week was quite impressive.
6. While the craziest game of the weekend probably goes to Tennessee and Detroit, Baltimore and New England put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. Taking my fandom out of it, it was an extremely entertaining football game. For the second time in as many meetings, I feel Joe Flacco outperformed Tom Brady when it mattered. Flacco had a pretty terrible first quarter and the Ravens just couldn’t move the ball at all. After getting kick started by a penalty call against the patriots that game them a first down, they began to move the ball much better. This was the first time this season The Ravens appeared to use Ray Rice correctly. This was the perfect balance of Running and passing for them and Rice’s production on the ground completely opened up the field for Flacco to pick apart the patriots defense. Flacco made more plays in the fourth quarter and in the end led the Ravens down the field to kick a game winning (barely) field goal.
Even though the Pats have fallen under .500 for the first time since 2003, they will be just fine. Their division isn’t exactly the toughest and I fully expect them to go on a pretty serious run. I’d be shocked if they found a way top miss the playoffs in this down AFC.
7. Andy Reid opened up such an unneeded can of worms yesterday during his Monday morning press conference. He stated that Mike Vick is his starting quarterback “for now”. The media obviously jumped all over this story and will clearly blow it way out of proportion. With every mistake Vick makes, the question will be raised of when enough is enough, and the short-tempered Philly fans won’t wait too much longer.
This offense is really just not clicking. Vick has been a turnover machine, but it’s far from all his fault. Andy Reid for some reason hates to run the ball when he has arguably the most elusive back in football. I just don’t get the Eagles. They won’t win anything the way they are going right now, and I have a sneaky suspicion that if the coach next year has a giant mustache it won’t be Andy Reid.
8. After three weeks, it appears to me that threw two best teams in the NFL are Houston and Atlanta. Both teams have some extremely dangerous and exciting offensive weapons, solid quarterback play, and fast, quality defenses. It’s amazing to me what Wade Phillips has done in just a little over one season with this Texans defense that was once an absolute joke. Only time will tell if these teams can both avoid injuries and keep playing at a high level, but I think they can. San Francisco, Baltimore and the Giants have been right below in terms of impressive play thus far.
9. The sophomore quarterbacks (outside of the 2011 top pick Cam Newton) really shined Sunday. Christian Ponder had without question his best game as a pro as the Vikings pulled off the upset of the weekend by stunning the 49ers. Jake Locker exploded for the Titans in their wild bout with the Lions. Blain Gabbert threw a game winning touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts in the final minute of the game. Finally, Andy Dalton led the Bengals past the Redskins in a shootout as he threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns. It’s great to see these young quarterbacks continue to grow and progress. I’m sure we will continue to see these guys get better and better as this season rolls along.
10. It appears that since players believe they can get away with a few more things here and there with these replacement refs, big hits have been a common theme early on this season, with Sunday being no exception. Ed Reed had two HARD shots on Patriots receivers (Julian Edelman and Deion Branch), one of which resulted in a flag. The two extremely scary hits of the weekend however, were not from that game. Broncos linebacker Joe Mays BLASTED Texans quarterback Matt Schaub, which resulted in Schaub losing a piece of his ear (gross). Mays wound up getting suspended for one game, which he’s appealing at the moment.
The other one came when Raiders receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey leapt to try and catch a pass in the end zone when he got contorted in mid air and suffered a blow by the defenders helmet. Heyward-Bey wound up getting carted off the field and had to spend the night in the hospital with a concussion and a strained neck. These hits are always scary and it’s good to hear that Heyward-Bey is expected to make a full recovery.