Saints, 49ers Stage Rare Comebacks During Week 7's Sunday, Blowout Sunday
This may be the first time their names have ever been uttered in the same sentence, but thank goodness for Drew Brees and Alex Smith.
Albeit with different results, each NFC quarterback remembered how to make football both exciting and dramatic on a day dominated by one-sided NFL contests.
Trailing by three touchdowns early in the second half, Brees' New Orleans Saints used a resurgent ground attack and a pair of scoring interception returns, including an acrobatic catch and run combo by active career INT leader Darren Sharper, as they rallied to defeat the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium 46-34 on Sunday.
In Houston, visiting 49ers quarterback Alex Smith relieved struggling San Francisco signal caller Shaun Hill at halftime and commanded his team to a stirring near-comeback from a 21-0 halftime deficit to the host Texans. Houston won the game, 24-21, but Smith won back San Francisco's starting QB job with three second half touchdown passes.
Perhaps even more startling than the Saints' and 49ers' respective comebacks, though, is that they were among eight teams in Sunday's 13 contests to trail by 21 points or more in the second half.
The other six teams in the same predicament were not so fortunate: for the first time since the Nixon administration (Dec. 20, 1970), an NFL Sunday served up a half-dozen blowouts of at least 28 points.
Among Week Seven's 13 victorious NFL teams, only two, the aforementioned Houston Texans and the Arizona Cardinals, were limited to single-digit winning margins.
This was a day in which nearly every winning NFL team put on a BCS-worthy performance, racking up as many "style points" as possible, a la Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators of the mid-1990s.
For a league that prides itself on parity and the idea that any team not owned by Al Davis can find success in any given year, is it really surprising the NFL served up more blowouts on Sunday afternoon than Goodyear did at Martinsville Speedway?
And is there any question that New England's 59-0 drubbing of the winless Tennessee Titans in Week Six, in which Patriots coach Bill Belichick could easily be accused of running up the score against an inferior opponent, inspired nearly every winning team to keep its foot on the gas pedal until the final whistle?
Finally, will the Dolphins' and Texans' second half collapses make the league's players and coaches even more aware of the precariousness of an NFL lead, causing an abundance of lopsided games in the season's second half, or were Sunday's outcomes merely the result of poor scheduling by the NFL several months ago?
No matter the reason for Blowout Sunday 2009, we should all be thankful the Tennessee Titans were given a week to recover from last week's embarrassment and that the Detroit Lions didn't have a date with the Denver Broncos at Invesco Field this afternoon.
If either case were different, I may have been called upon to reference the Harding administration.
See, some good can come from having a bye week.
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