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If Vick stays healthy, sky’s the limit for Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick throws against the Washington Redskins in the first half of their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland November 15, 2010.  REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Washington’s defense isn’t exactly the cream of the crop but that doesn’t change the fact that Michael Vick was simply amazing in the Eagles’ 59-28 victory on Monday Night Football.

Vick completed 20-of-28 passes for 333 yards with four touchdowns and also added 80 rushing yards on eight carries with two more scores. He threw an 88-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson on the opening play of the game and then proceeded to lead the Eagles to a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter. While the Redskins scored a couple of times to show their fans that they were still breathing, Philly was in complete control.

The law of averages will eventually catch up to Vick. It has to. No quarterback can sustain the performance that he’s turning in right now, but he can certainly continue to help the Eagles stockpile wins. When you look at the top six teams in the NFL, some are going to have Vick in the No. 1 slot given what he did on Monday night (coupled with how bad the Giants looked against the Cowboys on Sunday).

But he has to stay healthy. He’s already missed several games this season because of a rib injury and he’s not going to change the way he plays. If he sees a lane, he’s going to take off and run – as he should. He has improved dramatically as a passer since his days in Atlanta, but he’s still going to pull the ball down and run 5-10 times a game and that opens him up to injury.

That said, he’s been phenomenal and if he can stay consistent then the Eagles are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. They have a huge game this Sunday against the Giants and an entire second half, but their victory in D.C. Monday night proved that this is a team to be reckoned with.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Todd Haley refuses to shake Josh McDaniels’ hand following blowout

Following the Broncos’ 49-29 dismantling of the Chiefs on Sunday, Kansas City coach Todd Haley went to midfield and instead of shaking Josh McDaniels’ hand, he angrily pointed his figure at McDaniels and stormed off.

Just so you know I didn’t concoct this story on my own, here’s the video:

The Broncos led 35-10 at halftime and scored just once more in each of the final two quarters, but apparently Haley thought Denver should have taken a knee at the start of the third quarter.

Some will say that it wasn’t very sportsmanlike of the Broncos to keep throwing in the fourth quarter, but it’s not like the Chiefs were completely inept offensively. Matt Cassel threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, so clearly Kansas City wasn’t content to take a loss and get out of dodge as quickly as possible. Nor should they have been.

Football games last 60 minutes. There was no give up in the Chiefs and Haley shouldn’t have expected his opponents to give up either. Just because Kansas City had the better record and was in first place at the start of the day doesn’t mean Denver should have laid down for them.

There’s an unwritten rule in baseball that I absolutely loathe. Teams that are up “big” late in games aren’t supposed to steal as a courtesy to their opponent. But if a team doesn’t want to get run on when its getting its ass kicked, then it should try throwing runners out.

I’ll offer the same advice to Haley. The last time I checked, the Chiefs were playing with 11 players on defense. They weren’t at a disadvantage so if they wanted McDaniels and company to stop scoring, then they should have stopped the Broncos. It’s that simple.

Kevin Walter’s touchdown leads to more controversy over catch rule

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 14: Kevin Walter  of the Houston Texans catches a touchdown pass during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 14, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The same referee who overturned Calvin Johnson’s touchdown at the conclusion of the Lions-Bears game in Week 1 is once again at the center of controversy.

Or at least the rule he keeps having to make decisions about is.

During the fourth quarter of the Texans-Jaguars game on Sunday, Houston’s Kevin Walter caught a pass in the end zone, rolled over on his back, stuck the ball up and then it fell out of his hands.

The ruling on the field was an incomplete pass, but referee Gene Steratore reviewed the play and overturned the call, which gave Walter and the Texans a touchdown.

Following the game, Mike Pereira (the NFL’s former director officials) said the call was right.

“No question this should be a touchdown. The action where Walter lost the ball was clearly after he completed the catch, and he actually seemed to be showing the officials he had maintained control.”

“The referee, Gene Steratore, who was the referee in the Lions-Bears matchup in Week 1 for the controversial Calvin Johnson play at the end of the game, made the right call again. This time there was clearly a second act, which to me, is reminiscent of a second baseman losing the ball while taking the ball out of his glove in an attempt to turn a double play. So the Texans win this challenge, but ended up losing the game on a wild Hail Mary by the Jaguars on the last play of the game.”

Here’s the thing that continues to befuddle me about this end zone possession rule. If a running back dives into the end zone and the ball goes over one of the pylons it’s considered a touchdown, even if the ball gets dislodged from his hands at the end of the run. In essence, the play is a touchdown as soon as the tip of the ball crosses the goal line.

But when a receiver makes a catch, has two feet down (or his butt and an elbow in the case of Johnson’s touchdown in Chicago), he has to maintain the catch until next Wednesday. Why? I can see the differences between Walter and Johnson’s touchdowns, but it doesn’t change the fact that CJ had secured the catch, had two feet, his butt and his forearm on the ground. I get it – he didn’t maintain control throughout. But you can’t tell me that a running back can dive for the end zone, lose the ball and have it count for a touchdown when a catch like Johnson’s doesn’t count. The rule stinks.

Now, by rule, I guess you can say that the running back already had possession of the ball when he was diving for the end zone and that’s the difference between that play and a receiver making a catch when he’s already in the end zone. But that hardly seems fair, especially considering guys like Johnson had already secured the catch (not by rule mind you, but by common sense).

That said, I’m fine with the Walter ruling. It was a touchdown – just like Calvin Johnson’s was. (Again, not by rule, but by common sense.)

Patriots hand out road map on how to beat Steelers’ defense

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady waits to go onto the field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania November 14, 2010. REUTERS/ Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Entering Sunday night, most pundits would have agreed that the Steelers’ front seven is probably the best in football. Observers know that Pittsburgh can be had through the air (as long as you stayed away from Troy Polomalu), but that was if you figured out a way to neutralize their pass rush, of course.

Well, Tom Brady and the Patriots figured out a way to neutralize the Steelers’ rush in a lopsided 39-26 victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. And not only that, but they laid out a blueprint on how other teams can do the same.

Chris Collinsworth said it best during the broadcast when he mentioned how the Steelers “like to play in a phone booth.” They want teams to try to line up and run the ball right at them. And when they stop the run, they want their opponents to be one-dimensional so that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau can disguise where the pressure is coming from and frustrate the quarterback.

But the Patriots turned their game with the Steelers into a track meet. Brady spread the ball out, worked the middle of the field, found receivers on the outside for quick gains and often set his offense up with short down-and-distances all night. His offensive line was also outstanding, as they picked up the Steelers’ blitzing linebackers and allowed Brady to work through all of his progressions.

Defenses can’t give any quarterback time to throw. When they give someone like Brady time, they might as well be signing their own death wish.

Granted, not every team can do what Bill Belichick’s Patriots can do. But the NFL is a copycat league and you can bet offensive coordinators that have the unenviable task of facing the Steelers over the next two months will be dissecting that tape. Pittsburgh won’t play that bad defensively every week, but suddenly they look a little vulnerable on that side of the ball.

Cowboys smoke Giants in Jason Garrett’s debut

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett walks the sidelines during the first quarter of their NFL football game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, New Jersey, November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Jerry Jones would have fired Wade Phillips a month ago if he knew the Cowboys would have played as well all season under Jason Garrett as they did in New York on Sunday.

The Cowboys routed the Giants 33-20 in Garrett’s debut. Even though Dallas’ win was only by a 13-point margin, I use the term “routed” because many believed that this New York team was the best in the NFC coming into this game. (Not to mention the Cowboys have looked like an utter train wreck for most of the season.)

There really was no secret to how the Cowboys dismantled the Giants: they stayed balanced offensively, they won the turnover battle and they produced some big plays. The Giants turned the ball over three times, including once at the goal line as Bryan McCann picked off Eli Manning and returned the gift 101 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest interception return for a score in franchise history for the Cowboys.

Jon Kitna, who clearly located a genie sometime this week and cashed in one of his three wishes, threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie Dez Bryant caught three passes for 104 yards and a score, while Felix Jones (who saw a lot of playing time after Marion Barber was benched) caught three passes for 85 yards and one touchdown.

Outside of Mario Manningham (10 receptions, 91 yards, 1 TD), it was a day the Giants would like to forget. Dallas punched them in the mouth from the opening bell and New York had no response. They tried to make it close at the end, but a Hakeen Nicks touchdown was wiped off the board because of a holding penalty and then Manning turned the ball over twice on the Giants’ next two possessions to ice the game for the Cowboys. (Although a botched snap was part of the blame for one of Manning’s turnovers.)

It’s not completely shocking that a divisional rival was able to walk into the New Meadowlands (a dark New Meadowlands at that, as the stadium suffered a couple of power outages during the game) and beat the Giants. What’s shocking is that the divisional rival was a Dallas team that had just fired its head coach earlier in the week and had played like crap in its previous three games. If I’m Tom Coughlin, I don’t even watch the reply from this loss. Just pitch the tape in the trash and look ahead to next week.

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