We can champion the NFL for its parity all day long, but someone has to go to the playoffs at the end of the day. The cream will begin to rise to the top, the minute hand will tick faster towards midnight for Cinderellas & some teams will have to relish playing the spoiler & fighting for roster spots. Yet, on a week where things should begin to sort themselves out, many questions arose as opposed to answers.
How valuable is Santonio Holmes to the Jets? After missing the first 4 games of the season and enduring a near-scoreless five quarters, the former Buckeye snagged a 37-yard reception from Mark Sanchez to neutralize the Cleveland Browns entire game in the blink of an eye. There’s nothing worse than having the “W” slip through your fingers at the last second but for the Browns, it’s just another day at the office.
The Patriots kept pace with the Jets behind Tom Brady’s 350-yard, three touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers may have made the score respectable in the fourth quarter, but their vaunted defense had no answer as the Patriots marched up and down the field virtually at will all game.
All week long, the talking heads at Bristol pegged the Giants as a Super Bowl sleeper team and possibly the best team in the NFC. All of that was before they ran into a rejuvenated Cowboys team hellbent on making sure Jason Garrett won his NFL debut. Where this effort was the past few weeks is anyone’s guess, Jon Kitna had his best outing in years tallying 327 yards with three touchdowns and a QB rating of 124. Dez Bryant didn’t look too shabby either. The Giants brand new stadium had some technical difficulties and the squad lost a valuable chance to gain some separation from the Eagles & Redskins, who face off tonight.
The Randy Moss road show continued down in Miami. It wasn’t a great game to be a QB with Kerry Collins, Chad Pennington & Chad Henne all leaving with various injuries. The Dolphins were able to win 29-17 thanks to four field goals and a timely TD pass from third string QB Tyler Thigpen. Moss finished with one reception for 26 yards. Tampa Bay rolled over the Jaguars thanks to a two touchdown performance from Josh Freeman, along with long TD runs from LeGarrette Blount & Cadillac Williams. A nice rebound after last weeks loss to Atlanta. Speaking of the which, Roddy White’s 33-yard touchdown catch with 20 seconds in regulation was the difference in their Thursday night match-up with the Ravens.
However, the play of the day belonged to David Garrard & Mike Thomas’ improbable Hail Mary connection that stole a game from the Texans. CB Glover Quin deserves some credit for knocking the ball into Thomas’ hands, but he shouldn’t catch too much flack for doing what he was supposed to do. That win over the Colts must seem so long ago for Houston since their promising season was officially flushed down the drain.
— The Buffalo Bills finally won their first game of the year, while the Lions found themselves on the wrong side of history once again by losing their 25th road game in a row.
— On what proved to be a rare off day by Peyton Manning, the Colts survived thanks in part to five turnovers by the Bengals.
— Brett Favre proved that good things don’t always come in threes, turning in his third three interception game of the season while falling to the Bears 27-13.
— The Chiefs laid the groundwork for the Chargers late season run after falling to the Broncos 49-29. Tim Tebow threw his first NFL touchdown.
— Troy Smith led the 49ers to their third straight win with an overtime victory the Rams. Only out West can a team be 3-6 and have the audacity to still be in the hunt for a division title.