Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I had to postpone my column for one day due to the fact that much like a couple of Super Bowl QBs I was still very groggy from my game experience the day before. In fact I am still feeling the after effects today, although not as bad. But the post must go on, so here is a wrap up of what went on around the league this weekend (Bucs game excluded, scroll down for that review.)


Chargers lose game, but more importantly LB Merriman
As if losing 30-27 to a Chiefs team that had been humiliated 41-7 by Pittsburgh a week earlier wasn't bad enough, the Chargers got word that star LB & reining Defensive Rookie of the Year Shawne Merriman has tested positive for steroids and faces a 4 game suspension. The news is a critical blow to a team that has already lost 3 key defensive players for illicit reasons: gunshot wounds suffered during a drunk driving arrest(LB Steve Foley); felony selling of prescription cold medicine (S Terrence Kiel); and an arrest for domestic violence (CB Markus Curry.) Now the heart & soul of the defense, a kid who set the league on fire last season when he had 10 sacks & 54 tackles as a rookie out of Maryland is charged with taking the banned steroid nandrolone and, pending appeal, faces a mandatory 4 game suspension for a first time offender. Merriman claims the 'roid was in a supplement he has been taking forever and he had no idea the nadro was in it, blah, blah, blah... c'mon dude, my 9-year-old could probably deduce what stuff is bad and what stuff is legal because there is so much coverage of this nowadays. Next thing you know he's going to say the jar had dirt on it and the dirt got on his hand and...
Congrats, Shawne; you're reputation for being a feared defensive force who played the game hard & the right way is now tainted forever. (Note: he will continue to play pending an appeal, said to be Nov. 9th.)

Big trouble in Big D
Pity poor Tuna Parcells, T.O. D. and all the rest of those overconfident, holier-than-thou Cowboy players & fans, for the team they have got down there in Irving is now an unmitigated disaster; word on the streets has FEMA ready to show up at any time. The Cowboys not only lost the game last night on MNF to their hated NFC East rival Giants, 36-22, they also lost their starting QB, their realistic hopes at winning the division, and possibly Parcells' reign on the team. The Boys looked flat & sloppy from the get-go, trailing 9-0 early after a 50-yd TD bomb from Eli to Plexiglass and a safety by LaVar Missingman, the second time Bledsoe was blindsided on a sack. But they had a shot to take the lead before the half when they drove all the way to the NY 15 , only to see Bledsoe throw a horrendous ball that CB Sam Madison easily picked; it would end up being the INT that may have ended Bledsoe's career as a Cowboy. Tuna tabbed fan-fave Tony Romo to start the 2nd half, but he fared no better-his first pass was picked off and turned into a FG 50 seconds later. Owens also dropped a critical 4th down pass when he was wide open, and Bledsoe was shown stewing on the sideline the remainder of the game. Ugly scene right now in Big D, not that anyone outside of Cowboy Nation gives is shedding a tear for this sorry bunch.

Super Bowl QBs go down with injuries

Adding injury to insult: Seahawks blown out and lose QB Hasslebeck
As if losing at home to the Vikings by a score of 31-13 weren't bad enough the Seahawks lost starting quarterback Matt Hasslebeck to an apparent right knee injury. Hasslebeck was injured with the score tied at 10 early in the3rd quarter after Minnesota LB E.J. Henderson rolled up on his leg after a play; although it was a similar-looking play to the one that knocked Carson Palmer out of last years' playoff game, Henderson was blocked into the QB and did not intend to injure him. Small consolation for 'Hawks fans as the team is still reeling from the loss of 2005 NFL MVP Shaun Alexander, who may return next week after missing 3 games with a broken foot.
After the injury the Vikes proceeded to rip off 21 unanswered points mostly thanks to the running of Chester Taylor. Taylor rushed for a career-high 169 yards, including a back-breaking 95-yarder that turned a 7-point game into a 14-pt deficit to start the 4th quarter; with backup QB Seneca Wallace handing off to backup RB Maurice Morris (49yds), Seattle had no chance. So the 'Hawks face the prospect of playing at least the next 3 games without their field general, and although they have a cake schedule the rest of the way (OAK, SF, GB, AZ) they will still face a tough road back to the Bowl. It looks like Deion Branch won't be returning, either.

Roethlisberger's season of misery continues
Pittsburgh and Atlanta played a whopper of a game on Sunday as the Falcons and Steelers played what looked like an Arena League or Madden version of NFL football. The quarterbacks were on fire, especially in the first half: both Steeler QB A-Ben-dicitis (16-22, 238, 3TDs) & Falcon run&gunner Mike Vick (18-30, 232, 4TDs) tossed 3 TDs in the first half and the receivers they were throwin to had field days as well: Pitt's Hines ward(8recs, 1171 yds, 3TDs, 1 lost shoe) and Atlanta's Algae in the tank Crumpler(6recs, 119 yds, 3TDs.) The teams traded scores in a wild game that was tied at 38 after regulation, and Atlanta would eventually win on a 32-yard FG in OT. But by then A-Ben-dicits was long gone, having been on the receiving end of a nasty helmet-to-helmet collision from Chauncey Davis early in the 3rd quarter; Big Bend was knocked out cold and had to be removed from the field on the cart. He was later seen cheering on backup Charlie Batch & his mates from the sidelines with his hat on backwards, a sight that might as well become the official team photo for this miserable (2-4) post-Super Bowl season.In case you lost track Roethlisberger has now been a hood ornament in an off-season motorcycle accident, had his appendix removed in the preseason, and now this. I wouldn't want to be around this guy when the season is over (oh yeah, it already is.)
Now I've got it-it's the 'guys who are too old
to wear their hat-on-backwards' curse

Legit or Git?
Inspired by the awesome ESPN segment Contender/Pretender (and you guys know how much I love those cheesy ESPN segments) I have come up with my own way of describing the cream of the crop & the rest of the slop in the NFL. Thanks to my 19-year old stepson for supplying me with the word "git', which loosely translated means a loser, nerd, or wannabe.

LEGIT: New England (5-1)
The Pats are quietly and efficiently (as usual) creeping up on the rest of the AFC, thanks partly to an easy schedule and the improved play of the drastically-changed team. The Pats are now tied with nemesis Denver for the 2nd best record in the AFC (the Colts are on their usual "Regular Season Wonders" 6-0 run) and after their sound 28-6 thumping of Buffalo in Orchard Park appear to be in comfortable control of a playoff spot. Tom Terrific was his usual understated-but-effective self (18-27, 195yds, 2TDs, no INTs) and Corey Dillon ran for 2 scores. The still-gelling defense held the NFLs 5th leading rusher, Willis Magahee, to a mere 59 yards on 20 carries, for a wimpy 2.9YPC with a long run of 8 yards, and they forced Bills QB JP Lostman into committing 3 turnovers (2 fumbles, 1 INT.) Plus Brady found his 2 new receivers (Chad Jackson & Doug Gabriel) for touchdowns.
After 2 tough games coming up (@MIN on MNF, @ home vs. Colts) their soft December schedule (DET, MIA, HOU, TEN) should help the Pats lock up a top-seed playoff spot.

GIT: Philly(4-3)
From kings of the league to 2-time hard luck losers in two weeks time the Eagles have been exposed as a one-dimensional, flawed, and sometimes poorly coached team. Last week they handed the game to the Saints and let them kick a deflating game-winning FG at the buzzer; this week, we all know what happened at Ray Jay ( I sorta remember) as they allowed the 2nd longest game-winning FG in NFL history in their meltdown in the Tampa heat. Both times questionable clock management by coach Andy Reid led to the losses. But the real problem is the Eagles are so predictable-it's McNabb scrambling to make plays and Westbrook (when he's healthy) trying to break off a big run (which he did against the ancient & clueless Buc defense.)
Although they are not better off with T.O.D., they most certainly need to upgrade their receiver position in order to compete in the playoffs. But with a killer sched remaining (@IND, @NYG, CAR, ATL) they might not have to worry about that.

LEGIT: Denver(5-1)
They may have a horrible quarterback but their defense is the real deal; after their ho-hum 17-7 victory over hapless Cleveland this D has allowed a paltry 44 points in 6 games for a minuscule 7.3 PPG. They would have had a shutout this week, too, if Jake the Fake hadn't thrown a 4th quarter INT that led to an easy Browns score- it was only the 2nd TD the unit had allowed all season! Talk about putting the 'D' in Denver. This team may be as close to the 2000 Ravens as far as 'let the D win the game & don't let the QB blow it' mentality that won them a Super Bowl than any we've seen since. But I still don't think they can win it with Plummer behind center. Although if Baltimore could do it with Dilfer, I guess anything's possible.

GIT: Jacksonville (3-3)
Remember when the Jags were being lauded as a sure-fire Super Bowl contender? Neither do I as J'Ville got blown out by the woeful Texans 27-7 this week, their 2nd awful loss in 3 weeks. What happened to that staunch defense that held opponents to 12PPG the first 3 weeks? Now they have allowed 36 to Washington & 27 to a Houston squad that had been averaging 14 PPG. Plus the Texans had been allowing a league-worst 418YPG coming in; they gave up only 22o to Byron Leftwich and the rest of the Jags offense. The Texans had not had a back rush for over 60 yards all season until the artists formerly known as the Jacksonville D-line let unheralded rookie Wali Lundy run for 93 yards and a score; Houston ran for a season high 131 yards on the ground. Yikes! All these things, plus upcoming dates with Indy, New England and the Giants add up to another season without a championship in J'Ville.
Alright, that's all I got folks. Time to go pop a few more Advil and adjust my backwards cap.

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