NFL Direct Snaps: Welcome Back Deion Branch, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger

Dan PieroniCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2010

Deion Branch's return to the Patriots was sparked by a touchdown and a key overtime catch that helped beat the Ravens
Deion Branch's return to the Patriots was sparked by a touchdown and a key overtime catch that helped beat the RavensJim Rogash/Getty Images

The 1970s soft rock duo Peaches and Herb said it best:

"Reunited and it feels so good."

Week 6 of the 2010 NFL featured three types of returns: Ben Roethlisberger returned from suspension, Drew Brees returned to his old self and Deion Branch returned home to New England.

Ironically, all three played a key role in helping their teams win.

However, with all that impresses, there is plenty that depresses, including the worst officiating call I've seen this year.

So, without any further ado, let's analyze.


Five Things That Impressed Me About Week 6

1. Deion Branch

Randy who? In his first game back as a Patriot, Deion Branch caught nine passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. But what really impressed me is how fast Branch made an impact. I got the impression that he and Tom Brady were like two old friends that hadn't seen each other in years, yet were still able to pick up right where they left off as if nothing happened.

Branch's career in Seattle will be defined by the constant changes in offensive schemes and his inability to develop chemistry with Matt Hasselbeck. It's easy to say that Branch was stupid to hold out on the Patriots in 2005, and his career suffered as a result. However, that's all in the past now, and if Branch can give the Patriots the type of production he gave on Sunday, they'll be in great shape.


2. Ben Roethlisberger

Although he wasn't perfect, Big Ben made quality throws and threw three touchdown passes in the Steelers' pasting of the Browns. Kudos to the Steeler fans also were letting bygones be bygones and showering their fallen hero with cheers that could be heard all the way to Altoona. The only question now is, can he keep this up?


3. Kevin Kolb

Although Andy Reid has stated that Michael Vick will be his starter once he's healthy, it's hard to ignore the great play of Kevin Kolb in the past couple of weeks. He has completed 44 of his 60 throws for four scores and only one pick.

On Sunday, he continued his hot play with three touchdown passes and a 79 percent completion rate in an easy win over the Falcons. It appears that the man who was supposed to replace Donovan McNabb has shown up, at least for now.


4. Drew Brees

A lot of people thought that Drew Brees' game would suffer with the loss of Reggie Bush. While there was some truth to that in the last couple weeks, Brees returned to form on Sunday. Although a 263-yard effort is pretty darn good, Brees wasn't alone in helping the Saints earn a key victory over Tampa Bay.


5. Chris Ivory

This hidden gem from tiny Tiffin College in Ohio rushed for 158 yards and gave New Orleans a huge pick-me-up. Ivory's power running took some of the heat off Brees to make plays and gave the Saints the running game they have been desperately seeking since the loss of Bush.


Five Things That Depressed Me About Week 6

1. Helmet-to-helmet hits

While it's likely that Brandon Meriweather, Dunta Robinson and James Harrison will receive hefty fines for their actions on Sunday, it's not enough to hit their wallets. Proof of that comes from NBC's resident pot stirrer Rodney Harrison, who admitted putting aside $50,000 a year just so he could pay his fines. Fining million-dollar athletes who potentially endanger athletes is not enough for it to stop.

I was amazed that Todd Heap got up as quickly as he did, and I'm saddened that DeSean Jackson suffered a concussion because of a hit that was over the line. Yes, football is physical, but a helmet-to-helmet hit is dangerous and could cause serious injury to the parties involved.

Therefore, I am imploring the NFL to do the right thing and suspend players who sock defenseless receivers in the head for at least a game. As Rodney Harrison went on to say, it would hurt him more if were suspended because it would make him feel like he was letting down his team.


2. Brandon Flowers

The very definition of offensive pass interference is pushing off on a defender to create enough space for a receiver to catch the ball. That is exactly what Andre Johnson did to Brandon Flowers. So why did they flag Flowers for pass interference? To me, that is a terrible call, and Todd Haley had every right to be angry over it.

Take nothing away from the Texans' 21-point fourth quarter comeback, except that the go-ahead touchdown was an absolute gift.


3. The Bears Offense

0-for-12 on third down, and Jay Cutler was sacked six times. I've started to wonder if Mike Martz was just lucky during his years with the Rams.


4. The Cowboys

Once again they outgained an opponent on offense but shot themselves in the foot with 11 penalties, the worst of all being the Miles Austin excessive celebration flag. It is any wonder they're 1-4?


5. The Chargers

They're already 2-4, they lost to the Rams on Sunday, and to add insult to injury Antonio Gates may not play against the Patriots on Sunday due to a bum ankle. How Norv Turner is still the Chargers' coach is a mystery to me.


Idle Thoughts

1. I loved Andy Reid's candor after the Eagles' win over the Falcons when he said that it felt good to sit there as a chubby guy and have two great quarterbacks. Hey Andy, trust me, you may feel even better if you lose some weight.

2. Dan Patrick's barbs are the only reason I watch Football Night in America. Patrick's observation that Tom Brady contemplated life without Randy Moss and that damn Justin Bieber had me laughing out loud.

3. I know he's not interested in the University of Minnesota job now, but I think Tony Dungy would be an excellent college football coach. He's respected, and he would teach his kids to lead by example.

4. Just when you thought you had seen and read it all, along comes ESPN The Magazine's article on athletes and fecal matter. Then again, when a lot of sports stories are a bunch of crap anyway, I can't say that I'm surprised.

5. Nor am I surprised over the article in this week's Sports Illustrated that an agent once gave a college athlete $25,000 to pay his ill father's medical bills.

6. Last night was Cliff Lee's audition in front of the Yankees brass, and he passed with flying colors.

7. If you just lost your job, broke up with your girlfriend and your dog ran away, don't fret—you could be Junior Seau.


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