And we all thought 2011 was the year of Philly didn’t we? One week in October has killed both the Phillies and the Eagles’ seasons. The you-shall-not-call-them-the Dream Team moved to 1-4 on the season following a defeat to the AFC East’s rising dynasty, the Buffalo Bills. Mental mistakes on offense killed the Eagles as Michael Vick gave up four picks to the ball-hawking Bills defense. While the Eagles’ high-priced secondary shutdown Buffalo’s passing game, the D had no answer for Fred Jackson who put up 200 yards of offense himself.
The blame game in the notoriously fickle Philly is reaching a crescendo, mostly focused on coach Andy Reid, whose clock mismanagement and quirky play calling style must grate on any fan. No coach can hold a team (or a fanbase) forever, and it’s possible the Eagles need a new voice, even if Reid’s long-term regular season success is nearly unmatched. But lost in the hype of the preseason coronation were some nagging questions about this team’s composition. Why spend money on a third corner when you have other holes on D? And most importantly, is Michael Vick a franchise QB or a wonderful comeback story who turned a hot half-season run into a 100 million dollar mistaken commitment? His past play with Atlanta and the start to this season suggest that latter. And in that case, Philly’s Phucked.
The biggest story of the league this week was the passing of Raiders owner Al Davis. While his importance to the league was unquestioned, the hagiography surrounding his demise seemed slightly strange considering the media had spent the last decade calling him an incompetent asshole. Regardless, his Raiders gave an emotional performance, upsetting the Texans in Houston. While the Texans limited Darren McFadden and got 400 yards from Matt Schaub, the Raiders got key contributions from Davis’ most maligned wacky first round picks, Sebastian Janikowski and Darrius Heyward-Bey. A bonehead last second endzone pick sealed the win and sent the rough Raider Nation into tears.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Patriots revenge win over New York, even if most of the world is sick of the Boston-New York rivalry. Fuck it, its my recap. Last year’s playoff game was an abomination, a choke, a disaster… and an exposition of a team that admittedly wasn’t quite as good as its 14-2 record. The 2011 Patriots have not corrected all their flaws—the secondary still leaks yards and I’m pretty Gotty, TC, David and Tins could generate a better front four pass rush. But this year’s squad is an offensive juggernaut, perhaps on the level of the 2007 team. It was particularly satisfying to see the Pats ram the ball down the Jets’ throats to seal the game, as Rex Ryan had spent the whole week blubbering about the Jets’ “ground and pound” tough guy identity. With the Jets two games behind the Bills and Patriots and rumblings of mutiny by the offense, its going to be a challenge for Rex to right the ship.
— Expect Denver’s bye week to include mass rumblings for a Tim Tebow revolution to occur after Kyle Orton was benched at the half and Tebow nearly rallied the Broncos from a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit before finally falling to the Chargers 29-24.
— The Cowboys had their best week of the season. The Eagles ripped away their “overhyped underachiever crown” while the Giants blew a chance to control the division by letting the Charlie Whitehurst led Seahawks maul them at home. Plus Romo didn’t throw any picks! They should have bye weeks more often.
— San Francisco annihilated the Bucs 48-3, setting up an epic showdown with Detroit next week for first place in the NFC. Just like we all predicted.
— The Colts are clearly sucking for Luck and should be investigated for fair play violations. How else do you explain letting Matt Cassel throw four TDs to lead KC to victory from 21 points down?
— Even if the Giants did lose, they still managed to provide an inordinate amount of crazy highlight plays. Victor Cruz did the honors this week with a spectacular catch.
— Andy Dalton bested Blaine Gabbert in the Battle of Overmatched Rookie QBs. Cincy runs their record to 3-2 behind a sneaky good defense. We can’t be sure if the Bengals are good, but it looks like the Jaguars certainly suck. It’s a race to the bottom in the AFC South.
— Minnesota finally figured out that giving Adrian Peterson the ball produces positive results, such as three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. Sadly though, their first victory places them behind Indy in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Also, Donovan McNabb’s cold streak has become a downward spiral with another dismal effort that did not remotely contribute to the W.
— MVP candidate Aaron Rodger’s overcame a slow start and put on a dazzling second half performance that snapped the Falcons 23-0 winning streak when leading after the first two quarters. Despite an ailing offensive line Green Bay’s signal caller tossed up two strikes and nearly 400 yards, in another episode of what has become a dream season for quarterbacks.
— Cam Newton’s dream rookie season continues as his exceptional stats keep pouring down. Unfortunately for the Panthers, stats don’t win games and the Saints managed to squeak out a win and dodge the promising quarterback’s relentless assault. Panthers WR Steve Smith did help add another TD pass to Newton’s totals and then tried to snatch the helmet off of a Saints defender after Smith was on the receiving in of a disrespectfully late hit.