By: Shawn Davis
I threw for six touchdowns the other night while controlling the Green Bay Packers against the unbeaten Houston Texans in a game I could not believe I was having. After the first quarter I got out to a 14-0 lead and I hung on to win 42-24 with Aaron Rodgers completing crisp passes with every press of the buttons on my game controller. No matter what the Texans tried on defense, I had an answer to counter and it made me feel great about the rest of my season since I am now 3-3.
What is that you say? Huh…I wasn’t playing video game football in HD on Sunday night for the world to see? Sorry I thought my game was being televised!
There seemed to be a quiet moan inside Reliant Staduim (and it reverberated throughout the league) once the Packers shredded the mighty Texans – and they make it look easy. Green Bay put out a notice to the rest of their upcoming opponents: We’re going to attack you, relentlessly, and if our defense holds…good luck trying to scheme against us. Rodgers tied a franchise record with six touchdowns (no turnovers; someone scream that in Michael Vick’s ear) along with 338 passing yards while carrying himself with the aura he’s been operating with these past two seasons. If the Packers can defend – big IF – they will catch both the Vikings and Bears and storm into the postseason ready to challenge the Giants and 49ers for top-dog status in the NFC. Sorry I’m “out” on the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals at the moment.
What do we all make of the Texans after such a beating? Records aside, did anyone see this contest getting out of hand, in either way? A case can be made that if the final score was shown without applying the names with them a good majority of viewers would have picked the Texans as they’re the most complete team ( I think they still are) and the Packers struggle to defend both the run and pass, right? I even picked the Texans to prevail in my Week 6 Picks column. Sue me!
Talking heads are going to overreact to that one game but what we can walk away with is simple: If the Packers continue to defend, we will see what they did Sunday take place a few more times – and the Texans will bounce back from being dismantled, they will.
Oh yeah, Jermichael Finley is NOT the threat he thinks that he is.
In other news…
What about the “rookie” quarterbacks bringing it this weekend? Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Russell Wilson are 13-16 combined (Luck being the only one walking off the field Sunday in a loss) with 31 TD/31 INT. Not only are the young signal-callers winning games, they aren’t walking out there and taking the check down, safe passes. They are going down the field aggressively in the no-huddle and throwing over opposing defensive backs…with the poise of veterans; combined, they were 4-1 as a group in Week 6.
OAK 20 @ ATL 23: There are games where one team imposes their will from the opening kickoff and some where it’s an uphill battle all day long and they have to claw back after turnovers. That was this contest in the confines of the Georgia Dome. The Raiders were forcing the tempo on defense (with three interceptions) and Carson Palmer played well enough to stun the Falcons at home – 23/33, 353 yards with one touchdown and an interception – but you see the final score.
Asante Samuel helped ice the game with a 79-yard interception return on Palmer’s lone mistake. Atlanta is 6-0 and going into their bye knowing they need to play better but they are finding ways to be successful and that’s all that counts. Winning in routs doesn’t show a team its true identity because they aren’t facing tests – and thus far the Falcons are sitting for every exam and walking away with great results.
CIN 24 @ CLE 34: Brandon Weeden gets the Browns a victory and snaps an 11-game losing streak, ugh! On his 29th birthday, Weeden went 17/29, 231 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. This would be a big day for the rookie quarterbacks throughout the league.
STL 14 @ MIA 17: Ryan Tannehill responded on a day where the team’s best weapon, Reggie Bush, was limited by the Rams’ defenders with 61 total yards on 17 touches. Tannehill played with poise by passing 21/29 for 185 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions while operating the no-huddle offense the majority of the afternoon.
IND 9 @ NYJ 35: I do not understand why this final score was so surprising. The Jets can defend – for the most part – and going against a rookie quarterback, no matter how heralded, will usually favor the green team. Andrew Luck was off-target on some sure touchdown passes and in games such as the one Sunday; he needed some assistance from the run game. He never got it!
The New York Jets offensive depth chart is a dumpster fire at the skill positions. Shonn Greene may not have another game like he had (161 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns) the rest of this year.
DET 26 @ PHI 23 (OT): I looked over this game almost sure the Eagles would find a way to shoot themselves in the foot; another lead, another lead blown. What do you take away from a game where you lead by 10 points…in the fourth quarter? You take a loss, that’s what!
The Eagles have 17 turnovers in six games, where Michael Vick has 13, himself, with eight interceptions and five fumbles. That’s the formula to 8-8 if you ask me. Entering the final quarter with a lead, what to the Eagles do? Pass. LeSean McCoy and the other running backs on the roster aren’t being used in situations where they need to succeed. McCoy isn’t your traditional pound-it-in type of back but he has the ability to get tough yards and, more importantly, kill the clock and move the chains to preserve a lead.
The win was monumental for a Lions team that was facing an uphill climb in the NFC playoff picture had they not rallied back because looking up at 10-11 teams in their own conference would have been too much to overcome. Matthew Stafford threw for 311 yards and Calvin Johnson tapped into his Megatron persona by pulling in six receptions for 135 yards to get a much-needed victory on the road.
KC 10 @ TB 38: Josh Freeman went 15/26 for 328 yards and 3 tds/1 interception by remembering that Vincent Jackson (4 receptions, 66 yards, 2 tds) and Mike Williams (4 receptions, 113 yards and a touchdown) are his receiving threats. Keep that in mind, Josh.
DAL 29 @ BAL 31: The Cowboys stacked up 481 yards of offense, controlled possession for 40 minutes…and lost! The Ravens were there to be had and the Cowboys couldn’t get to the line on time, in possession of a timeout. Please do not blame Dan Bailey for missing the 51-yard field goal attempt that would have won them the game, his team should have RUN A PLAY to get him closer.
BUF 19 @ ARI 16 (OT): Is Arizona diving the way Buffalo did last season?
NE 23 @ SEA 24: Do not let the receiver get behind you! Russell Wilson (16/27, 293 yards, 3 tds) was killing the Patriots on play-action as he lead the Seahawks to 14 points in the last 7:31 to rip the victory from the hands of the visitors. I’ve been a fan of this team since the season started and I was put off by them when they were gifted the win versus Green Bay but I’m over it now. I like their secondary because they just mug receivers on the outside and push them around across the middle of the field.
If Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas aren’t the best secondary as a unit, they’re close, but they are head-and-shoulders the most confident, physical and intimidating group in the NFL.
New England does not close games anymore and the entire AFC East is 3-3; I bet there isn’t a single person that predicted that would happen.
NYG 26 @ SF 3: Most of the 49ers that were on the field in January’s NFC title game felt they cost themselves a victory more than it was about the Giants beating them. Okay. What happened on Sunday afternoon?
It’s been almost three years (22 games) since an opposing back came into Candlestick Park and rushed for over 100 yards, Ahmad Bradshaw had 116 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. The Giants bullied the 49ers the entire contest.
MIN 26 @ WSH 38: You will watch Robert Griffin and you will see him run…away from everyone! Vick was – and still is – a devastating and dynamic runner but Griffin, at least, looks to have speed on a whole new level.
GB 42 @ HOU 24: Whoa!
PIT 23 @ TEN 26: This could be a down year for the Steelers to give this game away but I won’t throw dirt on them just yet.
DEN 35 @ SD 24: I’ve watched a few Peyton Manning-led comebacks over the years but the two that stand out happen to be the 2003 Monday Night Football game versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Colts prevailed 38-35 in OT) where his team overcame a 21-point deficit and the 2006 AFC Championship game – one of my personal favorite games ever – where he rallied his Colts from a 21-6 deficit against the New England Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl by winning 38-34.
Pictures of those contests played in my mind as the San Diego Chargers were beating the Denver Broncos’ head against the grass last night. In my heart – truly, in my heart – I felt this game was not over…at all. I laughed as Antonio Gates caught his second touchdown before the half to push the lead to 24 to NOTHING because I just believed the second stanza of the game would be completely different from the first. So would I flip the channel to the NLCS? Nope, not with Manning still standing and the Broncos playing from under another deficit because of turnovers and a hot Chargers squad trying to bury them; this was drama at its best.
To watch the throw Manning HAD to make on third-and-16 to Jacob Tamme (for a 25-yard gain) at the start of the fourth quarter to keep a crucial drive alive made me confident this game was going to turn. You know what else helped? The defense actually forcing turnovers – and converting them into touchdowns because the last thing Manning ever needs is a defense that gives him touchdowns and extra possessions.
San Diego put up 24 and then watched the Broncos get 35 unanswered points; a tale of two games in one. Manning’s arm strength should no longer be a topic unless it is shown to be. You don’t believe me? Watch the throws he made last night: tight, fast and with velocity to spare as it reached the intended receiver. He was 13 of 14 for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns in the second half. Man!