Baltimore Ravens 24, Washington Redskins 10
For the record, I’m ready to jump on the Ravens bandwagon now. I have been skeptical of this team all season and now find myself thoroughly embarrassed to be flip-flopping so blatantly. What sold me is a.) this defense b.) Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh (they’re for real) and c.) the running game.
What’s remarkable about the running game is that it’s success can be credited to three key guys, none of whom figured to be a major part of things when the season started: running back Le’Ron McClain (twice the player that Willis McGahee is, mainly because the converted fullback plays downhill…and with football character), veteran fullback Lorenzo Neal (can’t censure San Diego for letting the injured 16th year man go, but obviously, he can still play) and right tackle Willie Anderson (definitely can censure the Bengals for asking the dinged up but still viable Pro Bowler to leave).
Ed Reed is a great ball hawk, as Madden mentioned 10,000 times, but he’s not incredibly active against the run. The reason why? Baltimore’s front seven is impenetrable.
The Redskins have proven to be exactly what we thought they would be: the best mediocre team in football. They’re a quintessential B-minus.
Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Dallas Cowboys 13
When Ben Roethlisberger completed a 14-yard pass to Nate Washington with about 5:00 left in the fourth quarter, you could just feel another classic Cowboys collapse coming on. When such a talented team has no true leadership or recent history of winning, unfathomable meltdowns can be expected.
Mewelde Moore is a better player than the banged-up Willie Parker right now.
Terrell Owens showed his dismay at the end of this game (to Owens’s credit, he kept a civil tongue during the postgame press conference) but before complaining about not getting the ball against single coverage, T.O. needs to start doing a better job of running his routes against double coverage.
Something we saw in this game that I guarantee we’ll never see again: Jason Witten stinking up the joint so spectacularly down the stretch.
The Steelers tried all evening to bait Pacman Jones into making a mistake (both during and after a play). To Pacman’s credit, he kept his composure and performed remarkably well. Not many guys can seamlessly transition from a six-week layoff like that.
Arizona Cardinals 34, St. Louis Rams 10
They only play twice a year, but doesn’t it seem like these teams actually square off every other week? There may not be a more uninspiring matchup in football right now that Old St. Louis vs. New St. Louis.
It just dawned on me that Torry Holt – who had 61 yards receiving in this game – is on pace for barely 700 yards this season. If the Rams let him go, he’ll have a Jerry Rice-in-Oakland like resurgence somewhere else.
I haven’t been listening to talk radio much this week. Will someone tell me, Is Arizona adored or abhorred right now?
New England Patriots 24, Seattle Seahawks 21
You know it’s just one of those years for the Seahawks when they thoroughly outplay an injury-riddled team at Qwest Field, get a three-touchdown, zero-interception performance from their quarterback (Seneca Wallace) yet still lose.
If the Patriots want to play in January, they’ll need Randy Moss to be more involved these last three weeks. Virtually every statistic indicates that when Moss produces, New England wins, and when he doesn’t, New England loses. Moss has been held to under 70 yards receiving in five of the last six outings.
The Pats brought back Junior Seau and Rosevelt Colvin this week. Karma must have been paying attention because Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel both got hurt (Vrabel was able to return).
Perhaps the Plaxico Burress Super Bowl touchdown memory is to blame for this, but doesn’t it seem like Ellis Hobbs loses a lot of one-on-one matchups in the end zone?
Deion Branch stuck it to his former team, catching four passes for 88 yards and two scores. Yet beneath the surface, those who know the game always watch Branch and see just a stud No. 2 receiver.
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