Since there are still games being played, I thought I'd comment briefly on some of the action I saw this weekend. Feel free to jump on in behind me.
Jacksonville at New England:
- First off, hats off to Jacksonville for their effort Saturday night. Absolutely zero signs of intimidation from Jack Del Rio's squad. Had they been able to convert inside the redzone more successfully in the 2nd half, this one probably would have come down to the wire.
- I wasn't completely sold on David Garrard earlier in the year. Now? Entirely. He's accurate, calm under pressure, and surprisingly to me, very imaginative with some of his throws. His TD pass to Ernest Wilford, over the LB and beyond the reach of the CB in the endzone, was a thing of beauty.
- Major props to Jack Del Rio for inserting him into the starting lineup prior to the start of this year. That's the type of move that can make or break a coach. I think it's safe to say Del Rio has bought himself ample job security for that decision, and for the job he's done generally this year with the Jaguars.
- At the end of the day though, too much Tom Brady spelled the Jags' doom. I heard some Colts fans say yesterday that Tom Brady 'didn't do much' on Saturday night. They were contending that all Brady was asked to do was check down to his backs and short options. I guess they missed that incredible throw to Donte Stallworth on 3rd down late in the game on the run on a busted screen pass. As much as it pains me to say it, Brady's simply playing at another level than the rest of the league.
Seattle at Green Bay:
- Little help here guys, I didn't see much of this one. I did see the first quarter, and thought the Packers might be in for a heart-breaking day after the 'Hawks got out to an early 14-0 lead compliments of two Ryan Grant fumbles. Not the case however, as Green Bay came roaring back to take a commanding 28-17 lead by intermission.
- It was hard to take Brett Favre seriously when he said he thought last year and this year's Packers squads were some of the most talented he's ever been on. Turns out he was right. The defense is young and ferocious. The offensive line is acceptable. They're running game has been in full-gear in the second half of the season. And they have playmakers on the outside who can make something happen after the catch.
- We wrote earlier in the year at BTSC that it appeared the Seahawks gave up on their coach during the Steelers-Seahawks game. Perhaps the same could be said of Saturday's game. 6 straight TD possesions for Green Bay? That's unacceptable. You got to have more pride than that, and it makes you wonder what kind of command Mike Holmgren has over his squad, especially during trying times.
- It may be the beginning of a new era in Seattle. Shaun Alexander should and probably will be cut, and I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if Holmgren decided to call it quits in the Emerald City.
San Diego at Indianapolis:
- No doubt the game of the weekend, and perhaps one of the top 5 or 10 better games all year. What an effort from the San Diego Super Chargers. No LT for much of the game, no Rivers for the 4th quarter, and a barely servicable Antonio Gates and they find a way to knock off the defending champs on the road.
- Allow me to toot my own horn for just a brief second: I won my 20:1 bet about San Diego advancing to the AFC Championship game. Me and a friend made the bet when the Chargers were 1-3, but in my mind, there was no way they wouldn't at least have that opportunity to get there. Too much talent on both sides of the ball to dismiss this team, even if their head coach has a long track record of mediocrity.
- Speaking of Norv Turner, I thought he coached a very good game. Leaving aside the Xs and Os, I simply thought he did a good job being passionate and intense on the sidelines, and it clearly carried over to his team. There was no sign of the 'deer in the headlights' Norv Turner that many fans have grown accustom to over the years. A signature win for Turner and the franchise, regardless of what happens next week in New England.
- As for the Colts? Well, all I'd say is I thought the better team won yesterday. The Chargers are more complete on defense, have better special teams, a game-changing speed demon a la Maurice Jones Drew in Darren Sproles, and a superior running game. Because they were in the inhospitable RCA Dome however, the Chargers needed a few breaks from Indy to win this one, and they got them. Marvin Harrison fumbled deep inside SD territory; Peyton overthrew Reggie Wayne inside the red zone for an INT, and Kenton Keith mishandled a screen pass inside the 5 yard line that led to another pick.
- For as great as Manning is, I still question his on-field demeanor as a leader. I'm aware that nobody works harder during the offseason or in the film room as Peyton, but when the going gets tough on the field, you're likely to see Peyton hanging his head with that 'aw shucks, why do my teamates suck so much' look on his face. When the team scores, Manning usually walks off the field unexcitedly (to his credit, it's better to act like you've been there before rather than acting like a bafoon). And after a failure, Manning hangs his head. I don't see the same jubilance that I see from Favre; I don't see the same level of close-knit tightness that I see from Brady and his linemen; and I don't see the same level of personal accountability in defeat that I see from Big Ben. As one of the better, if not the best, QB in the history of the game, Manning leaves a lot to be desired in my mind as an on-field leader.
New York at Dallas:
- Didn't watch but 5 minutes of this one, so no thoughts from me here really. I will say that Dallas was primed to be had this weekend. They hadn't been playing good football for nearly a month, unlike the Giants, who seemingly have been in playoff mode for the past month. Kudos to Tom Coughlin for tweaking his approach this year and finally getting the postseason results with the Giants that are befitting of his overall tenure of success in the Big Apple.
- Back to the drawing board for Tony Romo. You won't find me commenting on that Jessica Simpson stuff. I think that's absurd. But I will say that Romo, perhaps unfairly, is going to have to live with the 'can't win the big one' label for at least another year. A good kid and a good QB, but I'll still take Roethlisberger over the undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois, thank you.
Great weekend of action football fans. Did you watch the games, or did you stay away from all things football following the Steelers loss last weekend to Jacksonville?