I am not trying to go all Al Pacino on everyone, but after watching the games this week it really hits home how much a game of inches professional football really is. One play, catch, drop, penalty, or missed tackle your team is in crisis mode instead of yocals screaming Super Bowl aspirations on the radio. With the microscope permanently fixed on the landscape of the NFL, those plays are seen over and over again and talked about ad nauseum until the weekend gives us a similar set of plays to discuss. I, as a fan, have been on the uplifting side of the slim margins, and I have watched everything slip away by the fingertips of fate. It is why we hate and love being fans at the same time and this week we look at instances of inches that have teams going in different directions.
Justin Leonard Leaps For The First
A lot of glory will rightfully go to Cinicnnati Bengals QB Carson Palmer and Andre Caldwell (who is the the brother of Reche, but apparently the eye-bulging is not a shared genetic trait) who connected on the game-winning TD in the 23-20 Bengals win, but it was a key 4th down play that allowed that to even happen. It was a tremendous drive by the Bengals, but they were faced with a 4th down and Palmer checked down to Leonard in the flat. Leonard, who was featured on Hard Knocks this season outraced James Farrior and dove across the sticks. If he falls short, the game is over and the Bengals are saying "here we go again" to themselves. Instead it is the Steelers who are looking inward at 1-2 with the Bengals one freak play away from being 3-0.
The Redskins Stopped Short
The Hogs are taking the brunt of criticism this week after being the first team to lose to the Lions since 2007. The Lions eluded fail by downing the Skins 19-14. The inches in this game were the ones that Clinton Portis failed to get on 4th down from the goal line. Portis was stopped just shy of the endzone in the first half. The loss of those 7 points turned out to be the difference. The Lions winning a game was inevitable, but of course nobody wanted to be the first to break the streak. The hot topic in DC is now the hot seat that resides under the posterior of Jim Zorn. The players have come out and shown support and having Tampa at home this week helps, but it is hard to believe that a team could be in this much turmoil after only 3 weeks. I just hope Zorn is not looking to L. Ron Hubbard for guidance.
Sigh, He Is Still A Kid Out There
The inches in this case belong to receiver Greg Lewis, but the man who delivered the ball is getting all the attention. How lucky for TWWL that they have the Vikings for MNF against the Packers. If you dislike Wrangler jean commercials and discussion of number 4, stay away from ESPN this week. Maybe the "Best Damn" lists from Fox can sate you. Favre made the tremdous 32 yard pass to Lewis in the back of the endzone to give Minnesota a 27-24 win over San Francisco and move the Vikes to 3-0. Really a spectacular play by Lewis who was cut in preseason by the Patriots and now may have new life in Minnesota or become the Tyree of this regular season. I am not sure if Lewis was cognizant of his first foot being inside the line but he did drag the second one. The Niners are still 2-1 and with Arizona and Seattle looking bad, the division could be theirs this year.
-Mark Sanchez is doing well at the helm, but let's not anoint him yet. Joe Flacco did the same kind of game management for a Rex Ryan defense last year. If Sanchez can develop like Flacco seems to be, then he may don said crown. Tough week for Ryan Mouton who muffed a punt and fumbled a kickoff which was pretty much the difference in the Jets 24-17 win. Titans 0-3, eep.
-The inches the penalty flag flew on Muhsin Muhammad's offensive pass interference call last night in Dallas is unknown, but what I do know what that it was a horrible call that erased a touchdown and helped secure the Cowboys 21-7 win. CB Mike Jenkins was riding Muhammad way past the 5-yard zone and if you are going to let that go, then you have to let Muhsin's hand on Jenkins' shoulder pad go.