Matt Ryan Poised in Win, Mike Thomas Saves Jaguars: NFL Direct Snaps

Dan PieroniCorrespondent INovember 17, 2010

Matt Ryan celebrates one of his three touchdown passes in the Falcons win over the Ravens Thursday night
Matt Ryan celebrates one of his three touchdown passes in the Falcons win over the Ravens Thursday nightKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In a week in which no clear-cut favorite has emerged from either conference, plenty of teams that had stumbled a bit like the Patriots and Bears got back on track, while others like the Giants and Rams blew golden opportunities to be among the elite.

All in all, it was an exciting week.

And it all started with a young quarterback's determination to prove his team was the cream of the crop in the NFC.

Five Things That Impressed Me About Week Ten

1. Matt Ryan

I know I have some fans in Georgia who are probably annoyed that I have given the Falcons little credit for their strong start. The reason being is that I believe the Atlanta defense is average at best and they don't seem to be able to win on the road.

However, Matt Ryan is certainly among the best of the young quarterbacks in the league, as evidenced by his calmness in leading a game-winning drive after the birds had blown a fourth-quarter lead.

I'm willing to look beyond the fact that Roddy White pushed off on the game-winning touchdown because I was so impressed by the facts that Ryan threw for over 300 yards and committed no turnovers against the Ravens defense.

In short, the Falcons are 7-2, but still have tough competition to overcome to truly be among the NFC's top-notch teams.

2. Mike Thomas

With an assist from the Texans' Glover Quinn, who tipped the David Garrard hail Mary to him, Thomas gave the Jaguars an improbable last second victory.

Perhaps even more amazing is that Thomas admitted to the press that the team had never practiced the play except in walk-through sessions.

Call it luck or being in the right place at the right time, it still doesn't take away from the fact that it was exciting.

3. Rob Gronkowski

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, the Patriots' rookie tight end made himself a goat by causing two turnovers in an embarrassing loss to the Browns.

This week, Gronkowski caught three Tom Brady touchdowns passes, thus becoming the first New England tight end to do so in a game.

It all led to a stirring 39-26 win in which the Patriots dominated the Steelers on their home turf.

4. Jason Garrett

I believe the way to impress Jerry Jones as a coach is to not play conservative and give him the indication that the players are buying into your system.

Jason Garrett did both of those things in having John Kitna throw downfield to Dez Bryant. resulting in a score, and by having his team put up 33 points against what was probably the NFC's best team before Sunday.

If Garret can win at least five of the remaining seven games, Dallas will finish a respectable 7-9, which would be quite a remarkable feat if you consider how the Cowboys season began.

Then, you would have to think Garrett would get the interim tag removed for a job well done.

5. The Buffalo Bills

I know they didn't beat a team that talented, but the Bills rode the back of Fred Jackson to the tune of 133 yards. and in the process assured that they wouldn't hear any more jokes comparing them to the 1976 Buccaneers and the 2008 Detroit Lions.

That in itself is impressive enough for me.

Five Things That Depressed Me about Week Ten

1. The Cleveland Browns

This makes my blood boil.

It is unfathomable to me that the Browns can beat my Patriots by 20, but yet blow so many opportunities to beat the Jets.

Abram Elam should have had a sure interception in the fourth quarter, the Browns should have taken advantage of Nick Folk's missed field goal in overtime, as well as made a tackle on Santonio Holmes on the game's last play.

But that all pales in comparison to the stupidity of Chansi Stuckey.

If Stucky had played it safe and gone out of bounds at the Jet 32, perhaps Phil Dawson makes a game-winning kick.

Instead, Stucky fought for yardage and fumbled, the Jets took advantage, and escaped with a victory.

I don't feel too bad though; the Patriots' performance against the Steelers kind of made up for it.

2. Jermaine Gresham

This was a rookie mistake that proved costly. Gresham's late fumble allowed the Colts to obtain a victory and sent the Bengal season into a free-fall, especially with Cleveland and Pittsburgh both losing.

Woe is them.

3. OJ Atogwe

The Ram defender's costly pass interference penalty is the difference between them being tied for first with the Seahawks and them being a game back.

4. The Miami Dolphins Quarterbacks

Chad Pennington's comeback lasted all but two plays, and then poor Chad Henne had to leave the game.

Nothing against Tyler Thigpen, but based on the way he performed for the Chiefs a couple years ago, this probably doesn't bode well for the Dolphins.

This is especially true with a big game against the Bears Thursday night.

5. Matt Cassel

I can only imagine how bad he must have felt after throwing for 469 yards and four touchdowns but yet watching his defense give up 49 points, causing him to lose by twenty.

Idle Thoughts

1. I think it's a mistake for Daniel Snyder to offer Donovan McNabb an $78 million contract with $40 million of it guaranteed when he's 33 and appears to be past his prime

Snyder needs to stop choking this team to death on bad contracts. It appears he hasn't learned from the Deion Sanders and Steve Spurrier debacles.

2. Memo to Todd Haley: This is the NFL, personified by millionaire athletes who are very talented, not a peewee league. If you don't like teams running up the score on you, find a better defense.

3. Kudos to the Cardinals for giving Pat Tillman a statue. To me, that man is a true hero

4. I would recommend several article in this week's ESPN Magazine. Especially the ones on coach's temperaments and wild man Jason Ellis.

5. Sean Avery is nothing more than a hired goon. To hit an Oilers player after he didn't want to drop the gloves the other night was just wrong.

6. M&M's used to be my candy of choice, but now I have weakness for Sour Dots. They're quite good if you like sour candy.

7. In April, I would have bet the farm that Jason Heyward would be the National League Rookie of the Year hands down. I'm glad I didn't. I will admit Buster Posey deserved to win, and not just based on what he did in the postseason.


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