New York Giants 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 14
Great win for the Giants – they were clearly the better team on Sunday. The New York secondary absolutely stifled the Steeler receivers (you may have noticed Ben Roethlisberger holding the ball for half an hour every time he dropped back). Also, Pittsburgh’s mediocre offensive line could not handle the Giants’ aggressive front seven.
Steve Spagnuolo might be the best defensive coordinator in the league right now. Few dial up blitzes as effectively as him. Sure, he has some stars to work with, but overall, the Giant D is middle of the road in terms of raw talent. Yet it’s performing at an elite level.
Can’t remember the last time I saw a Giants game that didn’t include the announcers beating an Eli Manning storyline to death. Thank you, Kenny Albert and Troy Aikman.
Speaking of the Fox broadcast, did anyone see Pam Oliver botch her report at the beginning of the second half? It might be worth You Tubing (if you have an extra minute or two).
James Harrison sailed a long snap over Mitch Berger’s head for a late game-tying safety. Here’s what I don’t understand: why doesn’t the backup center, or even starting center, handle the long snap duties in emergency situations?
New York has the best rushing attack in football this season. This alone should be enough to finally send one of these starting offensive linemen to Hawaii (I vote for right guard Chris Snee).
Plaxico Burress didn’t get an opportunity to truly stick it to his former team Sunday because he began the game on the bench as punishment for missing a treatment on a neck injury. Ironically, it’s this kind of behavioral garbage that helped make the Steelers Burress’s former team to begin with.
Dallas Cowboys 13, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9
This was a very good defensive struggle, highlighted by two ravenous run-stopping front sevens. For the Bucs, the speed of the defensive line gave Dallas trouble. For the Cowboys, linebacker Bradie James and nose tackles Jay Ratliff and Tank Johnson were big difference-makers.
Terrell Owens had only 33 yards receiving, but he stayed positive afterward. A sign that Owens has maybe grown up – a little – is that he seems to realize the offense is going to be treading water as long as Brad Johnson is under center.
Jeff Garcia is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Few quarterbacks elude the rush and keep their eyes downfield as well as he does. And few can move on from their first read, progress through two more, then come back and hit their first read later in the play.
The formula for beating Dallas is blitzing Johnson and jamming the wide receivers. Tampa Bay did that on Sunday, they just didn’t get any big plays offensively or on special teams.
Cowboys rookie corners Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick had excellent games. Obviously, they must continue to play at a high level while Terence Newman, and now possibly Anthony Henry, sit out. But one concern with both rookies is their level of confidence. It’s bordering on “too high.” Jenkins loves to jump routes, and Scandrick is becoming an all-out tackler. If I’m Cowboys secondary coach Dave Campo, I spend Monday taking both rookies through the film, praising them and then scaring them with foreboding tales about giving up big plays.
After this game I heard Wade Phillips and several Cowboy players refer to the team’s upcoming bye week. One problem: Dallas’s bye is in Week 10. I don’t see any way the Cowboys go on the road and beat the Giants next week.
New Orleans Saints 37, San Diego Chargers 32
Are you like me? When watching this game, did you find yourself thinking, “I wonder if these Brits understand what’s going on.” The Brits had a lot of complicated football thrown at them in this one, including an onside kick and Drew Brees taking a bizarre safety in the closing seconds. (By the way, considering New Orleans was well past the 20-yard-line when they did that, and that it trimmed the lead from seven to five while still leaving eight seconds on the clock, you have to say that was one hell of a stupid decision by Sean Payton).
The Chargers lost, but the good news is they can still win the AFC West (thank you, overrated Denver), and LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be himself again.
Of course, San Diego has to stop somebody. And we’re discovering that without Shawne Merriman, that’s not something they can do.
If the Saints can get a few games above .500, you’ll start hearing Drew Brees’s name loudly in MVP discussions. The way he worked the ball around Sunday without the threat of Reggie Bush was extremely impressive.
Overall, I still don’t like sharing our game with the British. I think any European who attends an NFL game should first have to sign a document acknowledging that football is 1,000 times more complex and exciting than soccer.
Cleveland Browns 23, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
Two organizations badly needed this outcome: the Browns, and ESPN. From a television standpoint, thank God this darling team is still in it.
By the way, at 3-4, are the Jaguars still in it? What’s the deal with them?
Derek Anderson appears to be one of those players who performs well only when he has something to prove. Playing for his starting job again this past week, Anderson was mentally sharper, and thus, less predictable.
Cleveland’s best play call this season came in the second quarter on a fourth-and-one. Anderson play-actioned and rolled right before hitting a wide open Steve Heiden for a momentum-boosting 51-yard-gain.
By the way, speaking of Heiden….Kellen Winslow, didya see the veteran tight end’s solid performance? Didya see his blocking? You think maybe you might shape up now that, you know, it’s obvious this team does not need you?
Don’t drink the Matt Jones Kool-Aid. Yes, the guy had his first 100-yard game of what has been a fairly stellar season, but understand the bottom line with Jones: he’s an ultra-athletic former first-round pick who runs horrendous routes, wastes more motion than player in the game and shows less energy than a hungover Eeyore.
Shaun Rogers is playing like a man on fire right now.
Click here to read Snide Remarks from all Week 8 games