Monday, November 06, 2006

Monday Afternoon Kick Returns

Okay, after spending the past 7 hours vegetating on the sofa I feel well enough to write my first real post in 2 days. My ribs still feel like they've been worked on by Jigsaw, but I guess that's to be expected after 10 hours of barfing.

So let's recap what went on in the NFL yesterday while I was in a near-comatose state.

- Bucs lose to Saints, 31-14, to fall to 2-6
I had this game on the (little) TV and tried to follow it while I was drifting in & out of consciousness. Let me tell you if you want to try and stay alert and interested in something other than puking watching the Bucs game is not the answer. I remember the Saints taking an early 14-0 lead on 2 Drew Brees (24-32, 314yds, 3TDs) touchdown passes, one to Rookie of the Year candidate Marques Colston (11recs, 123yds, 1TD) and a 54-yards bomb to former LSU standout Devery Henderson(3recs, 111yds, 2TDs.) By the time the Bucs decided to get the offense rolling, after 6 straight 3 & outs, the score was 17-0 and it looked like blowout time at Ray jay. But I'll say this for Bucs QB Bruce Gradkowski (18-31, 185yds, 2TDs), he's a competitor and he doesn't have any quit in him. Despite boos raining down on them and the horrid performance of the offense the Rocket rallied the troops behind 2 touchdowns to Joey Galloway (4recs, 97yds, 2TDs) in a span of 3:00+ minutes before the half to close the gap to 17-14. Gradkowski had 132 of his 185 yards passing on those 2 drives, which speaks volumes about what the rest of the game was like for the Bucs. And their fans. The Saints made sure they wouldn't need any last-minute heroics from Reggie Bust (11 carries, -5 yards; 4recs, 22yds) like they did in the first meeting between these two teams by scoring twice in the 3rd quarter, on a 3-yard run by Deuce McAllister and a 45-yards bomb from Brees to Henderson. That made it 31-14 heading into the 4th and it left many of the Ray Jay faithful heading for the exits. So now the Bucs officially suck- all that talk about "turning things around" and "we're right there" after their 2 victories over Cincy & Philly (2 wins that don't look so big now considering the plights of those two teams) just looks like typical player/coach BS. The only thing this sad bunch of underachievers is close to is the Number One pick in the 2007 draft. And the only question left is whether or not Chucky Gruden will be the man trusted with making that choice.

-Colts remain unbeaten while Bears fall to(ironic drumroll please)...Miami
In case you haven't guessed yet, yes I am trying to avoid posting about the Colts/Pats debacle of last night. I was hoping it was just a product of my hallucinatory mind, but watching ESPN today I was reminded that it was a brutal reality. The Pats looked equally as bad in the game last night as they looked good in their Monday Night spanking of the Vikes last week. The Mannings ran their record to 8-0 for the second consecutive season, only the 2nd time that has been done in 75 years, but we already know that they are Regular season Wonders. But I'm going to do a whole post about that game after this one (as painful as it may be) so I'll go on to the other team that was making a run at the perfect season record of the 1972 Dolphins, the 2006 Chicago Bears. Memo to Bears: the next time you plan on having an undefeated season, don't schedule the Dolphins. They ruined the '85 McMahon/Fridge/Ditka team's run at perfection, and they did it again to the '06 edition with a 31-13 beatdown in the Windy City yesterday. And they did it by turning Rex Grossman into, well, the real Rex Grossman, forcing the former Gator into a horrendous 18-42, 210 yard 3 interception outing and running all over the Bears top-rated defense. Miami running back Ronnie Brown had a career day, amassing 190 total yards including 157 rushing, and Joey Harrington (16-32, 137yds, 3TDs, 2INT) continues to make Dolphin fans wish they had never signed Duante Culpepper. But the news gets worse for Chicago, who have now looked terrible in 2 out of their last 3 games (remember the near-Disaster in the Desert, the miracle comeback vs. Arizona?)- defensive captain LB Brian Ulracher went down with a foot injury near the end of the game and is to be reevaluated today. With a monster NFC showdown at The Meadowlands Sunday night against the Giants looming, the Bears can't afford to have their leader miss the game. And they can't afford for Rex Grossman to play like the real Rex Grossman anymore. They need him to go back to playing like that other person, before he started getting national publicity and TV ads.
-Cowboys continue to crumble under weight of T.O.D.'s faults
The game between bitter rivals the Cowboys and the Redskins yesterday technically was decided on the final play of a wacky final minute, when 'Skins kicker Nick Novak booted a 47-yard FG with no time left to give Washington a 22-19 victory. But in theory the game may have been decided a lot earlier by the actions & reactions of world-class jackass T.O.D. Although the Diva Receiva did haul in 7 catches for 76 yards and a score, it was his 15-yard penalty for pretending to use the ball as a pillow after his touchdown, a cheeky reference to the stories going around this week for his penchant for napping in meetings, that represented yet another selfish and narcissistic action by the me-first meathead. But if that wasn't bad enough the king of dropped passes blew a sure long touchdown from Tony Romo (24-36, 284yds,2TDs) later in the third as the ball unexplainedly clanked off of the mouthy receivers hands; I tell ya for a guy who is supposed to be the best in the business he sure drops a TON of passes. Besides the idiot's antics the 'Boys shot themselves in the foot in a number of ways: they had 11 penalties for 153 yards; Tuna decided to go for 2 points when they went up 6-5 early in the 2nd quarter, they missed it, and that single point would have won the game for them; in that crazy final minute the Boys had a chance to win the game, but Mike Vander-jagoff had his 35 yard attempt blocked by Troy Vincent with :06 left. That block led to an incredible ending, as S Sean Taylor picked up the block and returned it 30 yards and apparently the game was headed to overtime. Not so fast my friend- there was a 15-yard facemask call on the return, and since the game can't end on a defensive penalty the 'Skins had one last shot at an untimed down. Novak made the kick, and the Boys are sitting at 4-4 and an absolute mess, thanks to Mr. Egomanic himself. What are the odds that Tuna just ends up strangling Owens to death while he is taking one of his little catnaps one day?

-Denver demolishes defending champs in their house, 31-20
The Super Bowl Hangover has gone to a full-blown life-threatening condition as the Steelers(2-6) continued their slide into oblivion yesterday in a humiliating loss to the Broncos (6-2.) A-Ben-dicitis looks more and more like a one-year wonder as the season goes on: although he was an astounding 38-54 for 433 yards and 1 touchdown, his 3 interceptions gave him 14 picks versus 7 TDs in '06. That is the highest total for any starter in the league this season. The normally offensively anemic Broncos picked apart the proud Pittsburgh D thanks to 3 huge plays from WR Javon Walker(206 total yards, 3TDs): a 10-yard TD catch in the 1st quarter, a 72-yard scoring run to start the 3rd, and a clinching 10-yard TD after the Steelers closed the gap to 21-17 to start the 4th. So the hallmarks of the Steeler teams of the past few decades- stout defense & a bulldozer-like rushing attack- were nowhere to be found yesterday. Pittsburgh ran only 19 times for 96 yards while forcing the former caretaker of the offense to put the ball in the air so many times that it looked like he was waving in oncoming air traffic. I think he had more passing yards in this game than he did all last season combined. But seriously, the Steelers are at their best with Roethlisberger putting the ball up 20-25 times, the running backs having 35-40 carries, and the defense holding the other team down. None of those things are happening in the Steel City right now, and the result is a disappointing season one year after they found championship glory.

-Bengals fall to 4-4 with lackluster loss to Ravens
Cincy was the chic Super Bowl pick heading into the season based on their improvement last season and the emergence of their prolific offensive trio of Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson & Rudi Johnson. But 8 games in the Bengals are treading water and in serious danger of sinking out of the playoff picture altogether. They have lost 4 of 5 and continue to play exasperating football, especially on offense. Chad Johnson, fined $5000 for his foolish "Ocho Cinco" schtick last week, has been a shell of his former self, catching only 40 balls for 483 yards & 2 TDs; last year he had 97 receptions for 1432 yards & 9 TDs. He has started questioning Coach Lewis' use of him, and although I'm not a fan of a player calling out a coach it would appear in this case the player is right. But Lewis better figure out what is wrong, quick, because coupled with all the off-field player woes it will be the coach that pays the price for the team's failures, not the players.

- Falcons lose to 1-5 Lions, 30-14
All the positive talk about how Mike Vick had become a passing and not just a running quarterback these past 2 weeks, when he threw 7 TD passes & ran just 19 times in wins over Pittsburgh & Cincy, went out the window after his horrible performance in Atlanta's (5-3)disheartening loss to the lowly Lions yesterday. Vick(17-32, 163yds, 1TD, 2INTs) was back to his undisciplined self in this game, throwing 2 bad interceptions and fumbling once, leading to 14 Detroit points, and Atlanta's defense allowed the Lions to score its second-highest point total of the season. And the Detroit trio of QB Jon Kitna (321yds, 1TD), RB Kevin Jones (110yds, 2TDs), and WR Roy Williams (6recs, 138yds, 1TD) gashed the Falcons defense that has given up 95 points in the last 3 games. All of a sudden things aren't looking so rosy for the denizens of the Georgia Dome.

-Chargers and Chiefs keep things tight in the AFC West
San Diego continued its excellent play of late with its 4th win in their last 5 games, a 32-25 win over the pesky Browns. The Chargers rolled up 381 yards of offense, 172 alone from running back LaDanian Tomlinson, who also accounted for 3 TDs. With a running attack like that all QB Phillip Rivers has to do is manage the offense and he was an efficient 19-28 for 211 yards. So the Chargers moved into a tie with Denver atop the division at 6-2, but nipping at their heels are the resurgent Kansas City Chiefs, who defeated St' Louis 31-17 and have come alive behind backup QB Damon Huard. Huard, filling in for injured starter Trent Green, was a modest 10-15 for 1248 yards, but 3 of his completions were for touchdowns; he has now thrown 11 touches to 1 pick in his action this season as the Chiefs have rallied from a 2-3 start by winning 3 straight, including handing the Chargers that lone loss 3 weeks ago. At 5-3 they are right behind Denver & San Diego, and with dates remaining against the two of them it is shaping up to be a good old- fashioned shootout for the lead in the wild, wild AFC West.
Tonight's Monday Night Football matchup, the 2-5 Raiders at the suddenly sinking Seahawks (4-3( is the first bona-fide stinker for the revamped ESPN version of MNF. Throw out the fact that the Raiders have won 2 in a row, their QB (Andrew Walter-who?) was an embarrassing 5-14 for 51 yards in last weeks'' win over the Steelers, and Seattle has been sinking like a stone since the loss of QB Matt Hasselback & RB Shaun Alexander; they have lost 3 of their last 4 and neither player will be back in uniform tonight. To top it all off there has been a torrential rain falling in the Seattle are all day (shocking, I know), so the game should be an ugly, sloppy, hapless mess. Good luck ESPN- let's see if Kornheiser & Theisman go at each other during the 3rd quarter of this snoozer.

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