Another Sunday come and gone. I got to watch about 8 hours of football this Sunday on Sunday Ticket. Was very pleased about that. And I was very pleased that there were so many good games after having to endure several mediocre weeks of action in the past month.
* Wow, hats off to Cincinnati. The Bengals raced out to an early 1st quarter lead and held on late to defeat the Ravens 17-7 at home. With the big victory - the second of the season over the Ravens - the Bengals ensured that they'll retain 1st place in the AFC North regardless of what transpires Monday night. Cedric Benson was a workhorse again, toting it 34 times for 117 yards. The game effectively was over when Ravens kicker Steve Hauschka missed a critical field goal that would have made it a one score game following an amazing strip of Ocho Cinco by Ed Reed late in the 4th quarter. I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens find themselves a new kicker by season's end if Hauschka doesn't get his act together. If you don't remember, he missed a game winner against the Vikings several weeks ago. You can't put a solid team together on both sides of the ball and then have an unreliable place kicker counterfeit so much of the hard work being put in by the whole team. Baltimore didn't really deserve to win that game, but they put themselves in position to at least have a shot at forcing overtime. Hauschka didn't do his job though. The Ravens aren't on the ropes just yet, but they're in a big hole considering they have two tilts with Pittsburgh still on the schedule. Luckily for them, the Texans weren't able to edge out a victory in Indy and remain very much in the Wild Card hunt for now.
* Not good Green Bay. Two weeks ago they looked to be in good shape, but consecutive losses to Minnesota and now previously winless Tampa Bay and the Packers look to be pretenders. That's one shaky defense. You could tell though watching Tampa Bay that they wanted it more than the Packers. That's sad if you're a Green Bay fan.
* New Orleans and Indianapolis both escape and improve to 8-0. Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans have to be sick to their stomach after usually reliable kicker Kris Brown missed a potential game tying field goal as time expired. Ouch. The Saints meanwhile overcome a double digit deficit for the second consecutive week behind a big second half offensively.
* Not that Vince Young won the game for the Tennessee Titans, but he's been very solid through two starts and I'm sure plenty of fans are wondering why it took 6 straight losses for Jeff Fisher to give up on Kerry Collins. The Titans put up 34 points on a 49ers defense that has been pretty good for most of this year. Quarterbacks don't win or lose games by themselves, but if I'm not mistake, Young improved to 20-11 as a starter in the NFL. He's got plenty of work left to do and he'll need to do a better job keeping his head mentally the next time adversity surely heads his way, but for now, he looks focused and ready to work on getting better. Oh yeah, Alex Smith. I wrote a few weeks ago that I thought it was ridiculous that Mike Singletary gave up on Shaun Hill after struggling for only 6 quarters or so. Alex Smith threw three interceptions on Sunday and fumbled once, and there's little doubt in my mind that he won't make it the whole year before being benched back in favor of Hill.
* How about that San Diego victory? Wow. Just as they've done time and time again the past few years, the Chargers responded with their backs against the wall. With the Giants up by 3 and inside the 5 yard line following a P hillip Rivers turnover, the Chargers got the stand they needed to keep it a one possession game late in the 4th quarter. Then with just about 2 minutes remaining, Rivers atoned for his previous mistakes and led San Diego down the field on the game winning scoring drive to defeat New York by a single point, 21-20. San Diego improved to 5-3 and could find themselves within a single game of Denver by the end of Monday night. That division's going to be real fun to watch down the stretch.
* I still don't think Matthew Stafford should be playing for the Lions with a healthy Daunte Culpepper sitting on the bench. Stafford was pretty much awful again on Sunday in a winnable game against the Seahawks. After getting out of the gates nicely and building a 17-0 lead, Stafford threw 5 interceptions, several of which were just pathetic reads and decisions. That's six picks and zero touchdowns since returning from injury two weeks ago.
* Sheesh, the Arizona Cardinals remain impossible to figure out. Last week they look pathetic in defeat at home against Carolina. This week they smoke the Bears on the road. Kurt Warner throws 5 picks last week; and he follows it up and silences his critics with 5 TDs against the crumbling Bears defense. Strange team in a strange league.
* My keys to winning against Denver a bit later. Can not wait for this one after watching a very dramatic and action packed Week 9 unfold on Sunday. Go Steelers!