Washington Redskins 23, Philadelphia Eagles 17
Major props to this Redskins team. Playing without several key starters on defense, Washington has gone on the road and flat-out beaten two very good division rivals in Dallas and Philadelphia. Nothing lucky, fortunate or opportunistic about it – just two thorough victories.
Jason Campbell is playing near perfect football in terms of managing the game and making the proper reads. This is allowing Clinton Portis to be the workhorse on offense.
The front line that Portis is running behind is doing a fantastic job, particularly when given help by tight ends and fullbacks in sealing off the edges. Portis is such a patient runner than any good blocking is going to allow Washington to dictate the flow of the game via the ground.
Santana Moss did not catch a pass on Sunday, but he busted his tail blocking. You wouldn’t normally think of Moss as this type of player. His catchless day should not be viewed in an overly negative light; Philly sacrificed a lot of defenders to covering Moss, which is the main reason Chris Cooley had his first 100-yard performance of ’08.
The Eagles offense put together a masterful opening drive and then did virtually nothing after that. On the opening drive, Philly attacked Washington on the edges, where they were vulnerable playing without injured stars Jason Taylor, Marcus Washington and Fred Smoot. But after the opening drive, Brian Westbrook slowed down (a rib injury may have had something to do with it) and Donovan McNabb went into that maddening dink-and-dunk mode that has become a trademark of the Eagles whenever they’re trailing. Watching the Eagles come from behind is often like watching someone use a tablespoon to dig themselves out of a hole.
Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 21
Epic game from Big Ben – particularly in the closing minutes when he made play after play under heavy duress.
One can’t help but ask, Where is the Jaguar pass-rush? Weren’t Jacksonville’s top two draft picks supposed to infuse some life up front? The only defensive end playing worth a darn right now is Paul Spicer, the man who was scheduled to be a backup at this point.
The reason Jacksonville stayed in this game was because Pittsburgh did not run the ball often enough in the second and third quarter. Mewelde Moore was extremely impressive when he was able to turn the corner.
Jacksonville’s interior pass defense should be a major concern. Yes, they were without starting safety Reggie Nelson in this game, but this secondary has been getting killed up the middle all season.
When I heard Madden talking about David Garrard’s calves, I giggled. Then when I saw the picture of Garrard’s calves, I gasped.
How far has Max Starks fallen? After being given the franchise tag over the offseason, Starks was unable to recapture the starting right tackle job from Willie Colon. When Kendall Simmons was lost for the year, Pittsburgh chose to start unknown Darnell Stapleton, rather than slide Colon inside and let Starks take over in his place. And when Marvel Smith left this game with cramps, it was Trai Essex who came in ahead of Starks (which was also the case down the stretch last season).
Dallas Cowboys 31, Cincinnati Bengals 22
Terrell Owens’s 67-yard touchdown may have saved Dallas’s season. For one, it put them ahead by two scores against a team they should have been beating by four scores. For two, it gave Owens just enough of the spotlight to override his afternoon of sulky body language. If T.O. doesn’t catch that pass, he likely finishes the day with one reception for 10 yards, and a series of sound bites for ESPN to over blow afterward. And just think what would have happened if Dallas had lost.
How is Cincinnati’s image rebuilding project going? Well…Chris Henry was back on the field in this game, and so did newly signed running back Cedric Benson (who actually looked alright).
Chris Perry has five fumbles in five games. The Bengals probably liked him better when he was getting injured.
Carson Palmer wasn’t looking for Chad Johnson at all in the first half. I’ve never seen a quarterback get so far away from his star receiver. Johnson was at least able to do some damage in the second half, but his disappearance is terribly strange.
I’m almost to the point where I dislike T.J. Houshmandzadeh more than Ocho Cinco. Houshmandzadeh is pretty much as big a head case as Johnson – we just don’t notice because he’s not as funny or charismatic.
Tony Romo needs to improve his leadership. His demeanor isn’t always great, and you rarely see him talking with his offensive teammates on the sideline.
It’s a safe guess that Pacman Jones leads the league in dropped interceptions. He also leads the league in exciting yet unproductive punt returns. Overall, though, Jones is playing well. And his consistency is improving each week.
The Marion Barber-Felix Jones duo could be the best in football this year.