Category Archives: Week 9, 2012 Season

New Orleans Saints 28, Philadelphia Eagles 13- The Post Game Breakdown

While the Saints do technically have the “worst” defense in the league, you would not have been able to tell from their Monday night performance.  Say what you want about Steve Spagnuolo, but this man knows what he is doing on defense.  His unit, like any other good defensive one, attacked the weakness of the Philadelphia Eagles- their offensive line.  Dennis Kelly was manhandled by Cameron Jordan upfront, Demetress Bell struggled after filling in for Todd Herremans, Dallas Reynolds was burnt by a couple of double A-gap blitzes, King Dunlap looked helpless at times with Will Smith, even Brent Celek failed to chip on some guys (which is something he usually does very well).  McCoy darn near killed himself picking up the pressure for Michael Vick.  Had he not been there, the sack total would have climbed from 7 to upwards of 10.  Everyone knows that Vick can run, but there is not much he can do when there is instantaneous pressure in his face.  The Philadelphia Eagles are getting killed up front.  Arizona exploited this early in Week 3, and Steve Spagnuolo seized the opportunity and helped his team put together their best game of the season.

I’ll talk first about the Saints.  This was easily their best game of the year.  Drew Brees looked like Drew Brees again, the Saints found the running game that they have been looking for for a very long time now, and as I already mentioned- their defense actually looked like it belonged at the NFL level in this game.  For the benefit of those who did not see this game, I will say that out of five red zone possessions for Philadelphia, they only scored… yes SCORED two times; two field goals to be specific.  Patrick Robinson returned an interception for a TD in the first quarter because if a tipped pass.  Brent Celek fumbled deep in the red zone in the fourth quarter and the Eagles turned it over on downs on the fifth attempt.  The yards were still there, but for the first time this season the Saints held their opponent to under 24 points.  The only mistake they made was when they allowed DeSean Jackson to sprint for a 77-yard TD in the third quarter.  They did fumble the ball away two times, but in the end it did not cost them.  Congrats to the Saints for pulling off a complete game.

Now on to the bigger problem: The Eagles.  This is something that I should have stated earlier but their 3-5 record is not Michael Vick’s fault.  If I was Jeffrey Lurie I wouldn’t be pointing the finger at either of them.  I hate blaming an entire team’s problems on one facet of the game but in this case I believe that it is necessary.  I am of course speaking of their offensive line.  They do get a little bit of the benefit of the doubt.  With the injury to Herremans Monday, they were playing with only one of their starting day o-linemen.  There is not much a quarterback can do without an offensive line.  The score of the game reflects that very idea.  In my opinion the Eagles defense did not play too badly.  I think they should blitz a little bit more but that’s another topic for another day.  The Saint’s offense was only able to score 21 points.  Brandon Graham made his name known with his strip sack that resulted in a New Orleans turnover.  David Sims played pretty well (I thought).  He was beat a few times by Jimmy Graham, but that is to be expected when you are a 2nd year player making your first start.  He tackled better than Nnamdi Asomugha, who simply looked over-matched.  Anyways, circling back to my original point, this whole thing is not Michael Vick’s fault.  I know a lot of people would disagree but it is as I said before: there is not much any quarterback can do without an offensive line.  If you go back and watch most of his fumbles from this year you will realize that most of them are because of pressure.  It is not like he is holding onto the ball too long or anything.  There have been instances where he has just gotten the ball in his hands and he is already running for his life.  Even on three step drops he’s taking colossal hits.  Something needs to change in Philly.  They cannot handle any kind of pressure. Personally if I was a defensive coordinator, I would blitz Vick about 65% of the time.  He never has picked up the blitz very well, and couple that with an ineffective offensive line and you have yourself a match made in heaven (unless your an Eagles fan).

It is clear that Andy Reid will most likely not be in Philadelphia if he is unable to win six out of the next eight games.  The coaching is not a problem though.  I would say the weakest link of the chain is Todd Bowles and come on, he has only coached two games so far.  Bobby April (special teams coordinator) drew up a brilliant special teams fake in the third quarter.  He had Riley Cooper laying down in the end zone and Brandon Boykin running the kick back.  Boykin was supposed to lateral to Cooper and he would take it to the house, but instead Boykin threw the ball forward and was penalized for an illegal forward pass.  That play, to me, is the Eagles’ season in a nutshell: tremendous craft of a play but poor execution.  It may not be the coaches decisions in Philly after all.  The players may need to execute better.

This was a solid win for the Saints.  The way things are shaping up in the NFC it is very possible that a Wild Card team can make the playoffs with a record of 9-7.  The Saints are in the same position as the Eagles are: winning six of eight can put them in a position to make the playoffs.  It is still too early to discount any of these teams yet.  Each have big divisional battles this upcoming weekend and need to win if they want a shot in the end.  The big story from Monday night: the Saints are able to salvage their season, and the Eagles have some major problems as we move along into Week 10.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42 Oakland Raiders 32- The Post Game Breakdown

Doug Martin is a monster.  He had a game for the ages that would have stood as the best ever for a rookie running back had Adrian Peterson not set the single game rushing record back in 2007.  Martin’s performance is a close second.  Four TDs and 251 yards on the ground?  If I gave you those numbers you would probably think they were the final stats for Aaron Rodgers in a game, not a freaking running back.

Okay, now that I got the whole Doug Martin thing out of the way I can focus on other things that happened in the game.  For example, how about the offense?  If I remember correctly this game was 10-7 going into halftime.  The two teams exploded for 57 points in one of the most exciting second halves in recent memory.  There was a combined 939 yards and 10 touchdowns!  Anybody who likes a shootout should have this game forwarded to them.  The way this game ended up does not surprise me.  The Buccaneers really struggle against the pass; Carson Palmer threw for 414 yards and four TDs.  The Raiders are bad against the run; obviously Doug Martin set the world on fire with his performance in this game.

I don’t have much else to say about this one.  The long TD runs of 45, 67, and 70 yards just demoralized the Raiders.  If they could have slowed Martin down just a little bit, they would have had a good chance at winning this game.  Even as it stands now, had Palmer not thrown three picks, they could have won the game.  The offensive production that came from running the ball was bad.  Oakland only put up 22 yards on the ground, and that really hurt.  All and all, the Raiders are not dead yet.  They still have massive confrontations with San Diego and Denver coming up.  The Buccaneers are just one of several teams in the NFC who everyone has to look out for come playoff time.  They are playing at a high level now, and Freeman is getting it done through the air as Martin tears it up on the ground.  By the way, is it out of line for me to say that Doug Martin can contend for the Rookie of the Year honors?  This is two games in a row for him where he has run wild on NFL defenses.  Just a little food for thought…

Baltimore Ravens 25 Cleveland Browns 15- The Post Game Breakdown

In a previous article I said that I was going to discuss some problems that the Ravens had.  I may have jumped the gun on that one.  As I was scoreboard watching I did see that Baltimore jumped out to a big 14-0 lead in the first quarter.  Much to my surprise I saw that the Browns had fought back to take the lead in the fourth quarter 15-14.  I figured that when I got the chance to see the game I would be able to point out some problems with this team, but let’s look at this game from another perspective.  It is a division game after all.  These two teams know each other very well and you tend to see tightly contested games with these circumstances rather than blowouts.  I thought the Ravens defense played much better than they had previously this year.  Even though they allowed the Browns to come back, their defense saved them in this game.  Of the six drives that Cleveland had in Baltimore territory, the Ravens’ D held them to five field goals, and they recorded an interception.  In my opinion, the Ravens would have lost this game if they played with the same defense that they had before their BYE.  I think the off week did them wonders.

The Baltimore offense, as it has in the past, struggled quite a bit on the road in this game.  This was surprising considering the fact that they jumped out to that two touchdown lead in the first quarter.  They picked up a total of 11 first downs in the first quarter.  After that they began to struggle, obtaining only 7 from the second quarter on (one via penalty).  If I were to point out one weakness in this team, it would be their offensive performance on the road.  Normally that would be a downfall of a team in the playoffs, but they actually had one heck of a game last January in New England.  I do not have any major concerns about this team moving forward.  The return of Terrell Suggs to their defense came at a perfect time (when they lost Ray Lewis).  The Ravens should improve on that side of the ball as we move forward.

As for Cleveland, they really did have a shot at winning this game.  Weeden was a little off in this game compared to his last three games.  The Browns just did a lot of things wrong in this one.  Let’s start with penalties.  At first you see the number 4-31 yards.  That isn’t that bad, but considering when they occurred is what absolutely killed Cleveland.  For instance, right before they kicked their fifth field goal, they had a touchdown taken off the board because of an illegal formation.  If the Browns would have been able to get the TD they could have lead 19-14 (or 20-14 if they had gone for two).  Another series that hurt was the one at the end of the third quarter.  Cleveland was hit twice with false starts and then had to waste a timeout after those infractions.  One could say that this cost the Browns the game.  On a 4th and 2 late in the fourth quarter, Pat Shurmur decided to go for it rather than punt the ball away and use their now two time outs to stop the Ravens, which is something that their defense had been doing in the second half.  Needless to say, the decision to go for it backfired and the Ravens took control of the ball and tacked on another FG to put the team up 10.

The Browns really could have won this game if they had avoided some costly mistakes.  When they occur they may only seem minor, but these things really do add up.  I guess that is why this team is now 2-7, right?

Atlanta Falcons 19 Dallas Cowboys 13- The Post Game Breakdown

The Atlanta Falcons are halfway to perfection as they improve to 8-0 while the Cowboys suffer their fifth loss of the season and find themselves in a lot of trouble.  Honestly, I expected to see more points in this game.  There was plenty of offense (377 yards for the Cowboys and 453 for the Falcons).  Matt Ryan played better against that vaunted Dallas D than any other quarterback has this season.  He completed 24 of his 34 passes for 342 yards.  I do have to say, Ryan is luck he survived this game.  The Atlanta offensive line made a couple of huge mistakes when they let guys run free.  DeMarcus Ware darn near decapitated Matty Ice in the second quarter.  It looked like Jacquizz Rodgers was supposed to at least chip him, nevertheless the mishap almost cost the Falcons a fumble (Roddy White was alertly able to recover).  The Cowboys did do a good job at pressuring Ryan in general, while their offensive line was able to fend off Atlanta pass rushers for a majority of the night.  In the end I think it is fairly obvious that the better team won this game.

The Dallas Cowboys were beat.  I find that in most of their games there is usually something that their fans can point to as an excuse, but tonight they were just outplayed.  The Falcons have done this two weeks in a row; they did not force a turnover but their offense and defense outperformed their opponents.  The question still remains: who have the Falcons beaten?  The only team that they bested that has a winning record today is the Denver Broncos.  Is this team really an 8-0 caliber team?  I have become a believer in them after these past two weeks.  They are now thoroughly beating teams and looking good while doing it.  I am going to give the Cowboys a little credit here: outside of an ineffective running game they were able to do a lot of good things in this one.  Their defense held the Falcons out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.  Tony Romo did not turn the ball over (he came close though) and if he had enough time he probably could have won the game for the Cowboys.  Even though they are a 3-5 team, if they can play every game like they did in this one then they could end up with about 8 or 9 wins.  They have to turn things around quickly because they head to Philadelphia in Week 10 for a game that I will surely have my eye on.  That will basically feel like a playoff game for each team.  The Falcons take their show on the road to New Orleans where they will be favored to go 9-0.  We’ve got some compelling stuff coming up next week.  I can’t wait!

Indianapolis Colts 23 Miami Dolphins 20- The Post Game Breakdown

I thought that this game would be a very critical one come playoff time in determining who earns the wild card spot.  Because of that, I felt that it would be a good idea for me to watch this one.  I was not disappointed by what I saw from either rookie quarterback.  As a matter of a fact, there were times in this game where I could have sworn that Tannehill and Luck were not rookies.  Andrew Luck played a brilliant game while setting a rookie record for passing yards in a game (433).  This was a very entertaining game, and if anybody reading this is subscribed to NFL Game Rewind, I highly recommend this one.  There was a lot of impressive quarterbacking in this one.

In place of a simple summary of the game, I want to highlight a couple of important things from this game.  First and foremost, the Miami Dolphin’s pass defense needs some major tweaking.  Andrew Luck was picking their secondary apart with ease, and I saw a couple of big mistakes out of Sean Smith, a corner for Miami.  I really hate to pick on one guy because it is a team sport, but he missed a couple of key tackles in this one.  The one play I would like to dissect is the 36 yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton in the third quarter.  This was one of the few “mistakes” that Andrew Luck made in this game.  He heaved the ball high in the air and was hoping that his receiver could make a play in double coverage.  Luckily for Luck *pun intended* Hilton was able to, but had Smith been able to whip his head around, he would have intercepted the pass and ended the drive.

I thought that both offensive lines struggled a little bit in this one.  Miami’s did do a nice job run blocking though.  Indy’s o-line collapsed a few times but the ‘Phins had a tough time getting to Luck because he did an amazing job at climbing the pocket or sliding to his right (and left) and delivering perfect passes to his guys.  I did not take notes during the game, so I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I do remember seeing that Luck had completed something like 13-15 of his passes on third down.  Let’s just say he was spectacular on third down in this one.  The Colts were able to dominate the time of possession (despite an ineffective run game for the most of the way) because of their efficiency on third down.  Dwayne Allen came up huge in this game on third down, as did Reggie Wayne; but really this was a collective effort for Indianapolis.  Luck was able to spread the ball around very well, as four of his guys had five or more receptions.  I like what I saw from Indy in this game, and I think all of America will get a chance to see how good this team is in January because I think they are headed for the playoffs.

Miami had a great mix of runs and passes in this game, which was something that Indianapolis was not afforded.  Tannehill did some good things with the ball as well, throwing for nearly 300 yards himself.  Reggie Bush had a sick 18-yard TD run in the second quarter where he made at least three guys miss.  The guys in the booth (Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots) said it best- the Dolphins were able to lean on a run game and Andrew Luck basically had to do it all on his own… that is until Vick Ballard closed the game out for the Colts when he ran downhill for 19-yards picking up 27th and final first down for his team.  Indianapolis was then able to milk the remaining 35+ seconds off the clock for their fifth win.

Andrew Luck looked amazing in this game.  Ryan Tannehill played well again and neither team turned the ball over.  All is not lost for Miami, they still have a realistic shot at a Wild Card spot.  The only teams that I can think of that might be able to challenge them for the spot would be Oakland (who they beat) and Cincinnati (who they also beat).  As far as seeding goes, Indy now has a big advantage for the #5 seed.  I think these are two good teams who all of America will be able to enjoy for many years to come.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 New York Giants 20- The Post Game Breakdown

The Pittsburgh Steelers look like the uhhhh… the Pittsburgh Steelers.  What I admired the most about Todd Haley’s play-calling was the fact that he stuck with the run, despite trailing the Giants by 10 points in the third quarter.  Issac Redman ran like a man possessed in this game.  I saw him break tackles, gain yards after contact, and snowplow his way for several first downs.  Eli Manning did not look like the Super Bowl MVP last year, and he really didn’t last week against Dallas either.  For the second straight game he was held without a TD pass and has thrown a pick.  To be fair, he was facing the #1 and #3 passing defenses in consecutive weeks.  I was impressed with how Pittsburgh handled the Giants in the fourth quarter as they picked up their biggest win of the season.

The game started off slow for both teams, but things picked up after an Ike Taylor interception lead to an Emmanuel Sanders touchdown reception.  The Giants benefited from a couple of questionable calls on the next drive and punched it in with Andre Brown.  Next, the Giants’ Michael Boley recovered a Roethlisberger fumble and took it to the house.  It is now 14-7 G-Men.  A Lawrence Tynes missed 51 yard FG gave the Steelers hope and they were able to kick a FG of their own and take the game into halftime at 14-10.

The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated the second half, and once again the Giants could not close the game out.  In the past two games the Giants have scored 37 points in the first half and only 12 points in the second.  Early on, the Giants held a lead of 20-10, until Mike Wallace ripped off an incredible 51 yard TD.  Later in the game, a 63 yard Emmanuel Sanders punt return was spoiled when the Steelers decided to run a fake field goal.  The Giants snuffed that out to hold the game at 20-17.  On their next drive, the Steelers converted a couple of third downs and capped the drive with an Issac Redman TD.  The game was now 24-20 and Pittsburgh’s defense did its job, stopping the Giants and forcing them to go three and out.  From here, the Steelers were able to waste away the clock and close out the game with a “W”.

Giants fans may not want to hear what I have to say next.  In my eyes, this game has exposed a couple of problems for New York.  First of all, their special teams unit got schooled by rookie Chris Rainey, who was able to rip off a few big returns.  As I stated earlier, Emmanuel Sanders did have a 63 yard punt return.  Also, the Giants had a lot of trouble containing the run.  I saw a lot of broken tackles and some breakdowns in the secondary.  We have seen what good defenses have been able to do against the Giants’ offense.  Now we are seeing that the defense can be pushed around a little bit.  The Giants will be able to bounce back next week against Cincinnati, but then will have to come home to the Packers.  Things will be getting tough in a hurry for the men in blue.  They will need to work hard in order to blanket these flaws.

Seattle Seahawks 30 Minnesota Vikings 20- The Post Game Breakdown

This is the last game I will be reporting on that I did not get the chance to see.  I do know that Adrian Peterson opened up the game with an 74-yard run and closed that same drive with his first of two touchdowns.  Russel Wilson plays substantially better when he is home.  Once again he put up some pretty numbers- 3 TDs, no picks.  He completes a high percentage of his passes as well.  In this game, many people thought that it would be a defensive battle, but that certainly wasn’t the case.  If I were a fan of either of these teams, I would be concerned about my defense.  Seattle has struggled in consecutive weeks against something.  Last week they looked helpless against the pass and this week Adrian Peterson shredded them for 182 yards.  For Minnesota, this is the third time in four weeks they let a young QB light them up.  Minnesota has lost their edge and dipped to a modest 5-4.  They also lost possession second place with this loss and Green Bay’s win.  The Vikings will need to win next week against Detroit.  The loser of that game just might be dead in the water.  Seattle is 5-4, but an 0-3 record within the division could prove to be their downfall.  Perhaps a Wild Card is a possibility for the team from the great Northwest.

Denver Broncos 31 Cincinnati Bengals 23- The Post Game Breakdown

Peyton Manning remains perfect against Cincinnati in his career (8-0) as the Denver defense holds off the late Bengals comeback.  Without seeing this game, I could tell you that the Bengals played a good game.  They did lead in this game late 20-17.  Trindon Holliday returned a kickoff 105 yards, and Manning hooked up with Decker twice (and another to Joel Dreessen).  Once again, Peyton was able to supply an ample amount of offense for the Broncos who did gain 366 total yards.  AJ Green had another nice game with 7 catches, 1 TD, and came within one yard of his fourth 100 yard game this season.

Like I said before, Peyton Manning has his team playing at a championship level.  I do not think that the Broncos will earn a first round BYE, but a division win is almost a guarantee if they can continue to play like the way they have.  With this loss, the Bengals are in desperation mode with their fourth straight loss dropping them to 3-5.  They play host next weekend to the defending Super Bowl Champs in what will basically be a playoff game for them.  I don’t want to say that the Bengals have to win out to make the playoffs, but they certainly cannot afford to lose many more games.  They have already lost to potential Wild Card teams (Baltimore/Pittsburgh and Miami).  Their schedule does not get much easier either as we go towards the cooler months of the season.  Bottom-line: good win for Denver, bad loss for Cincy.

Carolina Panthers 21 Washington Redskins 13- The Post Game Breakdown

The Carolina Panthers are able to take one away from the Redskins in the Nation’s Capitol.  I saw a fun fact on Sunday NFL Countdown (ESPN) that says the winner of the game in DC right before election day is generally able to predict who will win the election.  Whenever the Redskins win, the incumbent wins the election.  If the road team is victorious, the person who is running against the president will win.  Perhaps this is good news for Mitt Romney.  Anyways, I did not see this game, but I did track it at the bottom of the screen during the Miami/Indianapolis game.  The ‘Skins did fail on a fourth and goal, which did cost them.  The Panthers seemed like they were in control for a majority of the game.  It seemed like each team went into the game wanting to run the ball (the Redskins enter their games with that mentality anyways).  Cam Newton not turning the ball over in this game was key for the Panthers.  Previously Newton was only 1-8 in his career in games decided by one score.  It must feel good for Carolina to finally be on the winning side of a close game.

It didn’t seem like this game was all that close (from just following it on the bottom of the screen).  I do feel the need to point out that the Redskins are in real trouble now, slipping to 3-6.  Nobody ever said that RGIII would be able to bring his team to the playoffs.  While he is playing well, the Redskins really need to fix some things on their defense.  Last week there were a lot of dropped passes from their wide receivers.  What I mean to say is that there are too many things wrong with the Redskins for just one man to fix.  I do like where the Redskins are going, but this game’s outcome tells me one thing- the Panthers are not as bad as their record indicates.  This was a very good win for Cam and his Panthers.

Green Bay Packers 31 Arizona Cardinals 17- The Post Game Breakdown

Without seeing this game I can’t tell you whether or not Aaron Rodgers played lights out in this game, but 4 TDs (and a pick) is pretty darn good.  This game was a lot like last week’s game vs. Jacksonville- Rodgers playing pretty well, throwing a few TDs, but not racking up a ton of yards.  If you check out the stats, you will see that the Packers were able to run the ball a little bit against this Arizona defense, which is something that Aaron Rodgers was very critical of earlier this week.  Arizona has not won since their overtime struggle with the Dolphins.  Their defense does not look like it once did, and really (outside of the Week 6 game with Buffalo) it has not played well at all as of late.  This was the same team that gave Tom Brady fits in New England and nearly shut out Philadelphia at home.

Not much needs to be said about the Packers.  They are currently playing much like they did last year, and Rodgers is once again looking like he is one level above everybody else.  Keep in mind, the Packers really could be 7-2 right now, but we won’t go there.  Four in a row is nothing to shake a stick at, and the Pack can feel good about things as they head into their BYE this next week.