On my flight back from Miami on Sunday I got to experience the DirectTV Redzone since my flight was on JetBlue. I can honestly say that from now on when I am flying on a Sunday in the fall, I will do everything in my power to fly on this airline. No commercials, not too much time listening to the same broadcast team, and no being stuck on a bad game with only a few game breaks every half to let you see the other action. I realize that a lot of people already have Sunday Ticket and that this is nothing new to them, but for schmucks like me, it is quite an experience, even if it does come from a small TV on the back of an airplane next to two young people in Virginia Tech gear playing love-rub the whole flight. I watched all the early games by the Redzone and it confirmed what I already know: if I could afford it I would get DirectTV just for Sunday Ticket alone. Continue on for my thoughts and observations on the week's action.
Panthers gain the edge
Earlier this week on local radio Jon Beason predicted he would have an INT and he did and it came at a pivotal moment in the game with the Panthers clinging to a one point lead. Carolina came back from a 17-3 deficit to win 27-23 as Steve Smith tightroped the sideline to put the Panthers ahead for good. The play was proof of why we need instant replay in football and even more proof of why sideline and goaline cameras need to be set-up for each and every game. So many times we see calls not able to be made because the network's camera angles do not give us a definitive shot. The only evidence we had for the play is the divet Smith kicked up with the front part of his foot. This lead Brian Baldinger to say that Steve Smith ahs the strongest arch in his foot of anyone in the world. Magnus Ver Magnussen would probably disagree. The win combined with the Bucs loss puts the Panthers sqaure in first place with the Raiders and Lions as their next two. What was earlier a question of whether the Panthers would make the playoffs is now turning into a question of how far they will go.
Buffalo falling back down to earth?
The Bills 25-16 loss to Miami signals their second loss of the season and their first with Trent Edwards more than the first quarter. The Dolphins played a complete game and forced a key INT and safety from Edwards. The Bills as a result slipped into a tie for first in the AFC East with New England who won at home against St. Louis. There was also a Ted Ginn Jr. sighting on Sunday in Dolphins Stadium as he had 7 catches for 175 yards and managed not to break his leg in celebration.
Jolly good show!
While I don't agree with playing regular season games outside the US, the Chargers and Saints put on a good show in London. To me this is like Manchester United and Chelsea playing their match in America, but the Saints come away with the much needed win 37-32, while San Diego falls to 3-5. Luckily for the Chargers, they play in the AFC West and still are within sight of the Broncos. In a battle between the former San Diego starter and back-up, the passing lines were about equal for both Brees and Rivers: 30-41, 339, 3 TDs for Brees and 25-40, 341, 3 TDs for Rivers. LT had a solid game, rushing for 105, but it was the Chargers defense that could not handle the challenge. It turned into a wild shootout, but San Diego just ran out of ammo.
Jets receive 0 style points
A win is always a win, but Favre and the Jets made it look pretty bad on Sunday 28-24 against the hapless Chiefs. Favre had 3 picks as he now leads the league in them. The last of his almost cost the Jets the game as Brandon Flowers returned it for six. The Jets are probably the most insecure 4-3 team out there right now, especially since they are only third in the division. They have games at the Bills and at the Patriots in 2 of their next 3 games. Unless they go 2-1 or 3-0 over that stretch, it will be no playoffs for Farve and he can return to handing out info on the Packers full-time.
Giants steal one
In my picks for this weekend's games I said that I thought the Giants would get to Roethlisberger but the Steelers would find a way, and they almost did. But a host of turnovers and a bad snap lead to the Giants escaping the burgh with a 21-14 win. The game was as hard hitting as we thought it would be. The Giants are in a great position to make a playoff run and defend their title, and a big reason is Eli Manning's lack of INTs. His stats were not pretty, but he threw 0 picks. Big Ben threw 4 and also took 5 sacks, but nobody is piling on him as the O-line for Pittsburgh has not been there for him all year. The Steelers play Washington, Indy, and San Diego next so it does not get any easier for them going forward. In regards to the Kenny Phillips hit that drew a flag, we know how Aikman feels about it, but it surely has become a hard issue for the NFL to solve. Players keep getting bigger and stronger and the game by its very nature induces incredible collisions. The league and the officials need to be more careful about which plays display harmful intent and which ones are just products of the physicality of the game. If it had been Hines Ward loading up a hit like that on Sunday, the Steeler fans would have cheered loudly as the opposing player was slow getting up.
Mike Singletary goes a tad too far
It was not a good debut for Head Coach Mike Singletary. The previous sentence I wrote was an understatement. After predicting the Niners would rally and win, I now see how ridiculous my prediction looks now. First off, there was this:
Then, there was the 34-13 loss to the Seahawks. Finally, Mike decided to have a rant in his post-game press conference, seen here:
The rant surrounds the decision by Singletary to tell Vernon Davis to hit the showers after a dumb personal foul penalty late in the game. Not having all the facts about the situation all I conclude is this: Vernon Davis committed a dumb penalty, but he also rarely gets thrown the ball, has a bad QB, and did try to chase down a Seattle defender after an interception. Singletary took some tough shots at Davis and so far to his credit, Davis has not cried about it. I think the outburst by Mike has to do with his frustration and him being an emotional person. It was going a little too far to publicly bash him like that. If he had that big a problem, he should have just dressed him down on the sideline, which the cameras would have gotten to prove his point and then address him in private. All this is considering Davis was a number 6 pick that has never produced, but I think in this case he was placed with the burden of being the face of a franchise of futility at the moment.
As far as Danyelle Sargeant goes, she has already gotten flack on TV, radio, and the internets, but some of it is well deserved. Prior to this incident there was this gem. The bottom line for me is this; you are an NFL sideline reporter, you get paid (probably decently) to cover the league, how do you not know that Bill Walsh has been dead for over year! That alone gives people the right to harshly criticize you. Furthermore, how do you not know the story of Singletary anyway? Great Bears linebacker? Hello? I'm sure there will be a tailwhip back in the positive for this girl as the network and others rally for her in the sympathy vote, but to me this is inexcusable. You are only on camera for a few minutes out of a 3 and half hour broadcast, you have no business saying something that stupid.
Will ESPN give the Titans a "Pursuit of Perfection" highlight graphic now?
It would only be fair, since they did that to the Patriots last year. In any case, the Titans handled Manning, the pressure, and the ugly uniforms to win 31-21 last night. The Colts look like a tired team this year. As soon as Manning went under the knife, and Bob Sanders and Joseph Addai went on the shelf they have looked nothing like they have in past years of success. Even Tony Dungy has been off track, making a questionable call to go for it on 4th down in the 3rd quarter and then not even throwing the red flag when Chris Johnson clearly fumbled the ball. Even if the refs come over and say they blew the play dead you still throw the flag. The schedule does not get easier for the Colts and I do not know if they will get more than 9 wins this season at this point. The Titans did what they have been doing, grinding it out and relying on their defense to hold the other team. The Titans defensive line has gotten much of the press, but the defensive backfield has been stellar as well. Chris Hope and Nick Harper had terrific games. Looking at the Titans offense, I am still not sure that Vince Young could not come in and do what Collins is doing, but the team is surely going to stand firm with is working right now. That being said Kerry had some bad looking passes and the Titans also had some easy passes dropped, but with the defense playing the way it is and the combination of White and Johnson, it appears Tennessee has the AFC South well in hand.