In a week with exciting finishes everywhere, upsets and big plays, the biggest game of all was something of a letdown.
I’m talking, of course, about Donovan McNabb’s return to Philadelphia, which turned out underwhelming for pretty much everyone. Yes McNabb got the W, but this was a case of the team carrying him, not some heroic, vindictive domination. Yes, bitter Eagles fans got to cheer Donovan every time he underthrew a receiver, but they also got to watch their present QB get hurt and watch the QB of the future fail to inspire any sort of confidence that he is capable of winning an NFL game, or completing a pass of longer than seven yards. Despite being in the game until the last play, the Eagles never looked like the better team.
Quarterbacks are so important to a team’s success that any fanbase is bound to overreact and overanalyze their QB like a crazy pregnant chick. Right now, there are plenty of Pats fans who think Tom Brady’s hair is somehow affecting his play. Prior to Brady, who is only the greatest player in franchise history, we had a similar love-hate relationship with Drew Bledsoe that Philly fans have with McNabb. In both cases, a point was reached where it was in everyone’s interests to move on.
But this doesn’t mean Donovan was treated fairly by Philly fans. Always underrated, his regular season and playoff success speaks for itself, dragging plenty of teams with mediocre receivers and running backs to conference championships in the beginning of the decade. As a reward, he got called out by faux football analyst and racist savant Rush Limbaugh. When he finally got a go-to-guy, he responded with a Hall of Fame season, only to watch the same receiver sell him out and destroy a potential Super Bowl team in a bout of diva-ish insanity. If a few breaks had gone his way, he could have brought the Eagles a title and retired a Philly legend. He didn’t get those breaks, but that doesn’t mean Philly fans shouldn’t appreciate him because it looks like it’s going to take them some time to replace him.
Elsewhere around the league David D. and the rest of Who Dat Nation have to be concerned. Losing to the Falcons is one thing, but the Saints were a first down away from losing to one of the worst teams in the league in the friendly confines of the Superdome. D’Angelo Williams had no problems gaining yards on the ground and the Saints had some major red zone troubles with Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush both out. Yea they’re 3-1, but with the way their playing, the Saints are looking one and done rather than a Bayou dynasty.
Of course, the Saints weren’t the only contender to struggle. Green Bay blew a two touchdown league to Detroit before hanging on for a two point win. The Bengals blew a vintage T.O. game (10 catches, 222 yards receiving) as Peyton Hillis led the Browns to a win in the battle of Ohio. And most surprisingly, the Colts dropped another game to the Jaguars, thanks to a 59 yard last second field goal by kicker Josh Scobee.
But the luckiest winner has to be the aforementioned Falcons. The Dirty Birds fell behind 14-0 thanks to a blocked punt, complete with as sweet a special teams play as you’ll see from Taylor Mays, who caught the ricochet while tippy-toeing the back of the end zone:
The Niners held the lead, and appeared to have the game sealed when Nate Clements picked off Matt Ryan with 1:20 left. Trying to boost his Pro Bowl credentials, Clements chose to return the kick rather than fall on the ball. Roddy White played hero by chasing him down and forcing the fumble, giving the Falcons life. A few first downs later, and Matt Bryant wins the game on last second field goal. Hey, sometimes it’s your year.
— I apologize to LT for calling him washed up for the last two years. 133 yards is 133 yards, even against Buffalo. The Jets are dominating without Revis, Braylon Edwards appears to be over his drops and Santonio Holmes is back next week. As a Pats fan, this makes me ill.
— The Ravens eked one out against the Steelers 17-14. I didn’t see this game, yet feel like I know exactly what happened — little offense, lots of hard hits and trash talking, and the Steelers secondary blowing coverage to lose the game late. Hey I’m right!
— Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s self-adulating behavior may have cost his team an easy score, but he probably earned his way into the .gif hall of fame, fumbling while watching himself on the Jumbotron at New Meadowlarks stadium. Pride goeth before destruction, Ahmad.
— A quarter of the way through the season and Broncos QB Kyle Orton is on pace for 5600 passing yards. The NFL has officially gotten too pass happy.
— Tennessee defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil got caught expressing his opinion on the referees in a less than family friendly manner. Supposedly, he could be on the hook for 100K. That’s ridiculous.