2009 NFL Week 13 Review
Jets 19, Bills 13
The NFL Network ran a promo featuring several players who were talking about how exciting it was to play in Canada. Some of them, mainly Nick Mangold and Paul Posluszny, looked like they were lying. Only Bart Scott seemed pumped, but that's because he's a crazed lunatic.
When the Jets established a two-score lead in this contest, the Bills looked like they just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. While the London game works, this Canada experiment has been a failure, mainly because Buffalo is such a bad team.
Later, David Clowney also dropped a touchdown pass. Mark Sanchez was also guilty, missing a wide-open Jerricho Cotchery for a touchdown on his first drive. This game should have been 21-3, but the Jets let the Bills hang around.
However, Fitzpatrick seemed like he was forcing it into Terrell Owens too much. Darrelle Revis completely erased Owens from this game, holding the diva wideout to three catches for 31 yards.
Fitzpatrick hit Lee Evans early in this game with a 38-yard bomb against Lito Sheppard. I was surprised he didn't exploit this matchup more; Sheppard has struggled this year. That Evans' only reception.
Eagles 34, Falcons 7
I will also say that the Eagles were pretty classless to allow QB Dog Killer to score two late, meaningless touchdowns against his former team. This was not a Cedric Benson-Chicago Bears-type situation; the Falcons got rid of QB Dog Killer because he was a scumbag who committed a terrible crime and went to jail. I've lost a lot of respect for Reid for his antics today. He could have easily won this contest without utilizing QB Dog Killer. What Reid did was utterly classless, and I will vow to make fun of him more often than already do.
One person on NFL.com's GameCenter stated: "Hey look its the dogkiller. Only Pathetic Philadelphia Fans could support a criminal like that." Bravo.
Panthers 16, Buccaneers 6
So, what happened? Josh Freeman's horrendous ball security once again murdered the Buccaneers' chances. Freeman was 23-of-44 for 321 yards, but threw a whopping five interceptions (three in the red zone). One of the picks came in desperation mode, so I won't fault him for that, but he had a really horrendous error on the opening drive of the third quarter. With a first-and-goal on the 4, Freeman ran a nice play-action fake, but fired a pass directly into Jon Beason's body.
Raheem Morris also had a pretty bad blunder. With a fourth down on Carolina's 3-yard line with 10 minutes left and down seven points, Morris decided to eschew the field goal. The Buccaneers, who had trouble in the red zone all afternoon, predictably failed when Freeman overthrew a receiver despite having tons of time in the pocket.
You may argue that Tampa Bay needed a touchdown to tie, but it's not like there were only three minutes left. There were 10 minutes remaining on the clock, and the Panthers made a field goal on their next possession, giving them a two-score advantage. Had Morris opted top kick it, his team still would have had a chance.
Bears 17, Rams 9
In fact, one sequence pretty much epitomized this contest for St. Louis: Down 10-0, Rams had the ball at midfield. Kyle Boller hit a pass to Danny Amendola to get the team close to the Bears 30. Unfortunately, Alex Barron was called for a holding penalty. One play later, Brandon Gibson fumbled the ball, returned by Chicago to St. Louis' 20.
Just blown opportunities for the Rams all afternoon. They began six possessions in Chicago territory in this contest, but mustered just three field goals. Still, their fans can't be too upset; they're one step closer to landing Jimmy Clausen.
Bengals 23, Lions 13
The Bengals did a good job blowing out a team for the first time since stomping on the Bears late in October. They needed a big victory like this. Cincinnati had a 23-7 lead before Kevin Smith scored a late backdoor touchdown to cover the spread for Detroit.
Of course, Matthew Stafford's interceptions didn't help. Along with his 11-of-26 for 143 yards, he tossed two picks. He also took three sacks.
The good news is Stafford connected on a beautiful 54-yard bomb to Calvin Johnson in the first quarter. Megatron, meanwhile, finished with six grabs for 123 yards and a score. The bad news is that Stafford re-aggravated his shoulder injury. There's a good chance he'll miss next week's game at Baltimore.
Palmer has struggled a bit this year in terms of fantasy production because he's not getting anything from the No. 2 receiver position. Laveranues Coles had two grabs for 25 yards Sunday. Coles ran the wrong route on one play, which resulted in one of Palmer's picks.
Colts 27, Titans 17
Despite the defeat, Tennessee played really well. In fact, the Titans had more first downs than Indianapolis (24-23), they out-gained the Colts (375-358), and they won the time-of-possession battle by about six minutes.
So, what happened? Three things. First Nate Washington had a huge drop on what would have been a 60-yard touchdown early in the contest.
Second, the Titans had two big turnovers near midfield. An Ahmard Hall fumble on first down at the Indianapolis 46 interrupted a promising drive, while a poorly thrown Vince Young interception (late along the sidelines) led to a Colts touchdown.
And third, the Titans screwed up twice in the red zone. They had a 1st-and-goal on Indianapolis' 1-yard line and a 1st-and-10 on Indianapolis' 19, and managed a grand total of ZERO points on those two sequences. They went for it on fourth down both times and failed. Had Jeff Fisher opted for field goals, his team would have been down only four points with possession and 1:21 on the clock. Fisher and Raheem Morris should create a Facebook group called the "I Senselessly Go for It Instead of Kicking Obvious Field Goals Club."
This victory is also Indianapolis' 21st consecutive win in the regular season, matching the 2006-08 New England Patriots' record. Congratulations to Peyton Manning for kicking a**.
Jaguars 23, Texans 18
Matt Schaub was sacked on Houston's first offensive play of this contest. He suffered a shoulder injury and walked off to the locker room. Rex Grossman stepped in and was very Rex Grossman-like, going 3-of-9 for 33 yards and an interception.
Schaub reentered the game in the second quarter, but it was too late; the Jaguars already had a 17-0 lead. Schaub did his best to lead his team back (19-of-27, 207 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but the deficit proved to be too much. Of course, a silly halfback option for Chris Brown that resulted in an interception didn't help.
David Garrard was 15-of-28 for 238 yards and two touchdowns, but had his league-leading 12th fumble of the year.
Broncos 44, Chiefs 13
And this game? It was also misleading. The Chiefs should have lost by 80.
The other bright spot was Jamaal Charles, who rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.
Dolphins 22, Patriots 21
The Patriots predictably denied everything and Brady practiced in full throughout the week. However, right before the game, ESPN's Michael Smith reported that Brady's finger was bothering him and that his passes in warmups were pretty shaky.
Brady silenced all speculation by connecting on a 58-yard bomb to Randy Moss on New England's first drive. But right after that, Brady ran into the locker room. He was on and off throughout the rest of the contest. He hit Sam Aiken for an 81-yard score, but the throw should have been picked off; Aiken simply came away with a great reception over a Miami defensive back. Brady later tossed two interceptions, one of which was horribly thrown in the end zone.
We learned an important lesson: Vegas knows everything. The next time a spread mysteriously drops 2.5 points in the span of 30 minutes, don't bet on the game. It's no accident that the sportsbooking industry makes millions upon millions every year. They knew Brady's finger would affect him, and they were right on, despite ESPN and other media outlets scoffing at the rumors.
As much as the Patriots screwed up in the red zone, this contest could have been a Miami blowout if Henne would have hit all of his easy passes. New England's defense disgracefully couldn't put any sort of pressure on Henne, who was sacked only once.
Raiders 27, Steelers 24
I don't want to take anything away from Bruce Gradkowski though. He was very impressive in a final quarter that saw five lead changes, although two of his passes on the final drive could have easily been intercepted. Gradkowski finished 20-of-33 for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He may not have starting-caliber arm strength, but he's proven that he can be clutch when the game is on the line.
I honestly never thought I would say that about Gradkowski. JaMarcus Russell was equally surprised; he even dropped his bag of Skittles and cried.
Saints 33, Redskins 30
And what would a crazy victory be without a crazy play? Late in the second quarter, down 17-10, Drew Brees heaved a poorly thrown pass down the middle of the field that was picked off by Kareem Moore. In fact, as soon as Brees launched the ball, I yelled, "That's going to be intercepted."
Moore, who appeared to be down at first glance, got up and ran down the field. Robert Meachem alertly tackled and stripped Moore, taking the ball away and returning it for a touchdown.
The play was reviewed for what seemed like five minutes, and it actually stood. Moore was touched down, but by his own teammate. Meachem was awarded with a defensive touchdown (not a receiving touchdown), to the behest of fantasy owners everywhere.
Brees' other targets: Marques Colston (2 catches, 46 yards, TD), Pierre Thomas (8-64), Devery Henderson (6-61), Jeremy Shockey (4-47) and Reggie Bush (4-28).
Two of Campbell's scores went to Devin Thomas, who made seven grabs for 100 yards. The other was to Fred Davis (5-53). Santana Moss (5-68) and Antwaan Randle El (4-73) also contributed.
Chargers 30, Browns 23
You can't take away anything from Quinn's 25-of-45 for 271 yards and three touchdowns. None of that was real. Quinn pieced together a nice opening drive to start this contest, but had only two possessions that went longer than 14 yards until this game was well in hand. All but a few of his passes were his trademark short junk.
However, one big positive was definitely gained for Cleveland. Rookie tight end Evan Moore caught six balls for 80 yards. He's the real deal. The Browns reportedly loved what Moore was giving them in practice, so they decided to roll the dice with him here. Moore made some really impressive catches and has established himself as a potent weapon for Quinn and whomever the Browns draft in April. Remember his name when you're drafting next summer.
Giants 31, Cowboys 24
Snowmo defenders will cite his numbers (41-of-55, 392 yards, 3 TDs), claiming that it wasn't his fault. Snowmo played well on some drives, but missed some open receivers late in the game when it mattered most. I guess you could say this game epitomized his calendar year.
Seahawks 20, 49ers 17
The Seahawk fans seemed to have three big issues:
1. Instead of taking shots downfield, Matt Hasselbeck once again checked it down too much. It really looks like he's afraid to get hurt again. I think Hasselbeck has suffered from Marc Bulger syndrome, thanks to Tim Ruskell's unwillingness to spend a high pick on an offensive tackle. Hasselbeck finished 25-of-34 for just 198 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Deion Branch dropped a big catch late in the fourth quarter. Branch also hauled in a 7-yard touchdown, but that reception allowed the 49ers to have another possession prior to Seattle's final drive.
3. Jim Mora Jr.'s infatuation with Julius Jones. I wrote before this game that we would find out how inept of a coach Mora is. Well, he's way more clueless than I thought. I figured Mora would at least split carries evenly with Jones and Justin Forsett. Instead, Jones ineffectively rushed 20 times for just 67 yards. The crowd booed every time Jones touched the ball.
Forsett, meanwhile, received only five attempts. He gained just nine yards, but also took three receptions for 25 more yards and a touchdown.
Mora clearly has spent too much time with Todd Haley. Both men are horrible head coaches who simply don't understand the value of getting the ball to their best players. I guess that's a taxing concept to master.
Cardinals 30, Vikings 17
The misfortune began when right tackle Phil Loadholt left the game with a shoulder injury. After that, left tackle Bryan McKinnie limped off the field. Both players returned later.
But it just kept going downhill - strong safety Tyrell Johnson exited the game and was replaced by rookie Jamarca Sanford. Corner Cedric Griffin suffered a head injury and had to leave. But worst of all, stud middle linebacker E.J. Henderson fractured his femur and will be out for the rest of the year.
If the Vikings lose in the postseason, they'll look back on this game as the catalyst of their decline.
For thoughts on Ravens-Packers, check out my updated 2009 NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.
2009 NFL Power Rankings
NFL Picks - Dec. 20
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2008 Championship Sunday Diary - Jan. 20
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