Week three of the NFL season did not lack excitement. Overtime games, last minute comebacks and upsets were all seen throughout the NFL landscape. Before we get into the happenings of Sunday, something about the referees needs to be said.
I have always been one to defend referees because the people who criticize them the most do so after having the advantage of looking at numerous replays. I’m not the type who is going to write a 2,000 word essay on how Ed Hochuli blew the Chargers’ game last week or how he is the worst referee to ever take the field. No, that’s not me. NFL refs are much better than other major sports’ officiating crews.
But I have noticed a disturbing occurrence for the second week in a row. The Zebras have been quick to blow the whistle and come down with a ruling before properly discussing and confirming the correct call.
With the Steelers trailing the Eagles 10-6 in the second half, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dropped back from his own five yard line to pass. Similar to most of the day, he was under a heavy rush. He avoided the grasp of defensive end Trent Cole for an instant, got outside of the pocket and on his way to being dragged to the ground in the end zone, he attempted a pass in the direction of an eligible receiver.
The officiating crew was quick to toss the flag for intentional grounding, and since it occurred in the end zone, an automatic safety. The referee did not offer any explanation as he simply gave the safety signal after the flag had been thrown.
After looking at the replay, Roethlisberger’s knee did in fact touch the ground while he had the ball so in the end, the call of safety was correct. The manner in which the decision was reached was not. The call was for intentional grounding. It was not intentional grounding for three reasons.
First, Roethlisberger was outside of the pocket. By rule, he is allowed to throw the ball away.
Second, the pass he threw was tipped by a defender, thereby eliminating grounds for intentional grounding.
And third, there was an eligible receiver in the vicinity of the pass attempt.
Though the safety awarded to Philadelphia was correct at the end, the way in which it was reached was not. Had Roethlisberger’s knee not touched the end zone, we could have been looking at another major whirlwind with referees making a wrong call in a critical moment of a close game. Just thought I should mention that.
New England Patriots, meet Ronnie Brown. Five touchdowns? Are you kidding me? To say Ronnie Brown scorched the Patriots would be an understatement. Never have I seen the Patriots under Bill Belichick look so baffled. No, not in the Super Bowl or in their last regular season loss (ironically enough, a 21-0 defeat to Miami). The Patriots had absolutely no idea how to stop Brown, who ran for four touchdowns and passed for another.
I figured the Patriots’ offense would be slow and they might win in a low scoring 17-6 type of game. Did I think the Dolphins would drop 38 on New England? Absolutely not.
The Pats are still 2-1, but I don’t think there is any other team in the league with a winning record through three weeks who is feeling as miserable as they are in New England country. At least they have the Red Sox.
Speaking of AFC heavyweights falling on their face, what’s the deal with the Colts? Peyton Manning engineered a thrilling fourth quarter comeback for the second week in a row, only to see it go to waste as Josh Scobee drilled a 51 yard field goal with four seconds remaining to give the Jaguars their first win of the season while dropping the Colts to 1-2.
Injuries weren’t the reason Jacksonville drove down with less than a minute to go; I can tell you apologists that much.
Denver continues to roll up the yards and the points as they dropped 34 on New Orleans en route to improving to a 3-0, perfect record. Jay Cutler wasn’t as invincible as he’s been through the first two weeks (plus Ed Hochuli wasn’t in attendance. Just kidding!), but did enough to keep the quick scoring Saints at bay.
On a sidenote, residents of Denver, Colorado have seen an average increase of 7 points to their blood pressure readings. Three Bronco games coming down to the final stretch has been blamed. An increase in stomach ulcer occurrences has also been noted.
The Philadelphia Eagles are filthy. They put Ben Roethlisberger on the ground eight times! I haven’t seen a game with such intimidating blitz packages since—well, since the Eagles did it last season.
Philadelphia played what many consider to be the best team in the NFC (Dallas) last week followed by the best team in the AFC (Pittsburgh) this week. They almost won on the road at Dallas and followed that up with a convincing victory over Pittsburgh, without the services of injured runningback Brian Westbrook.
Again, if McNabb stays healthy, sky is the limit for the Birds.
The Titans are pretty good. I don’t care who lines up at quarterback. That defense is stout.
Dallas knocked off the Green Bay Packers, bringing an end to the most annoying and over analyzed statistic of all time, “The Cowboys have never won in Green Bay”. Who cares?! They’ve played there five times in like, 238 years!
Anyway, the Cowboy defense was not very giving and the offense had a decent night en route to scoring 27. No big deal for Romo and Co.
Overtime thrillers. New York kept its perfect record alive as they held off the pesky Bengals 26-23 thanks to a beautiful pass from Manning to Toomer in overtime, setting up the game winning field goal by John Carney.
What is with Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson? I mean, I knew Johnson would have a terrible season the minute I picked him for my fantasy squad; it’s how things work.
But Palmer has been particularly disappointing. I know he had a better game Sunday than he had in the previous two weeks, but he’s dropped out of the “Top Three Quarterbacks” in the league discussion; that’s for sure.
67 passes thrown. Brian Griese threw 67 passes. Unbelievable! Only in a John Gruden offense would you find a statistic like that. Either way, the Bucs moved up to 2-1 after a coming back from a 10 point deficit with less than six minutes to play.
Chicago’s defense has cost the Bears’ two games in a row now. You read correctly; the DEFENSE has cost them two games.
Buffalo is 3-0. Needs no further explanation.
The Redskins have now had two impressive games in a row with a 24-17 victory over the previously unbeaten Arizona Cardinals. More impressive than the 24 points the young offense put up was the fact that they held Arizona’s high flying attack to less than 20 points for the first time dating back to last season.
After a pathetic showing in New York for week one, the Skins have scored 29 on the Saints and 24 on the Cardinals in consecutive weeks. The true barometer reading will be clear after the next two games. Why? Because the Skins play the Cowboys and Eagles. Good luck.
Cleveland’s season is over. I know there are 13 games left, but their season is over. They are bad offensively and they are just as bad defensively. Derek Anderson has played terribly and the Brady Quinn watch is officially on.
Minnesota Viking fans need to write a thank you card to their defense because they just saved the season. Antoine Winfield’s 19-yard fumble recovery returned for a touchdown tied the score at 10 just before halftime. The defense went on to give up zero points to the Panthers in the second half, letting the offense do just enough to come away with a 20-10 victory while avoiding a disastrous 0-3 start.
Rushing - 17 carries, 113 yards 4 TDs
Passing – 1/1, 19 yards 1 TD
Passing – 14/37, 125 yards 1 TD 3 INTs
Game of the Week:
New Orleans – 32
Denver – 34
871 yards of offense, big plays, fourth quarter field goal miss. Easy pick.
Snore of the Week:
St. Louis – 13
Seattle – 37
Never a contest, uninspired play by Rams for lameduck coach Linehan.
John Madden Conversation of the Week
I literally stopped chewing the bite of dinner in my mouth and stared like a deer at the television as I listened to Madden say the following while discussing Dallas’ offensive lineman, Flozell Adams:
John Madden: Well, they used to call him Flozell “Hotel” Adams. But now they don’t call him that because everyone around him is so big. Heh! He used to be the “Hotel”.
Al Michaels: Now he’s just “Motel” Adams.
John Madden: Heh heh, well now he’s Motel Adams surrounded by a bunch of Hotels!
… Seriously? And he is baffled as to why Frank Caliendo targets him with his comedy routine?