Sunday Evening Quick-Hitters: Reactions from Week 4 in the NFL

Every Sunday evening throughout the 2011 NFL season I’ll compile quick-hit reactions from the day that was in football. I vow to always overreact, side with sensationalism over rationalism, and draw conclusions based on small sample sizes instead of cold, hard facts. It’s the only way I know how to write…


Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford passes against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their NFL football game in Arlington, Texas October 2, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– There were certainly plenty of people who saw the Lions going down to Dallas and beating a sub par Cowboys team. But did anyone seem them getting down by 24 points and having to rally for the second straight week on the road? This team is legit and I can’t wait to see how they’ll fare in a couple weeks when they play the Packers. The best part about seeing the Lions go 4-0 is that I know Tom “Killer” Kowalski is watching somewhere. Killer had been the Lions beat writer for over the last two decades before abruptly passing away in his home before the season started. Him and I worked together at WDFN in Detroit and while he’s greatly missed, there’s no way he’s missing Lions mania right now. They’re finally doing it, Killer…

– When I previewed Week 4 on Thursday I wrote about how Sunday’s trip to Cincinnati was going to be a good test for the Bills, even though they were playing a 1-2 Bengals team. I wrote that because the Bills were coming off an emotional win against the Patriots and now had to travel to play a team they were expected to beat. I even told my father that this was the day the Bills lose their first game. When they took a 17-3 lead I was ready to eat my words but in a blink of an eye, the Bengals were kicking a game-winning field goal to improve to 2-2 on the season. The Bills are a good young team but they’re not good enough to overlook any opponent.

– You know, it’s rather amazing. The lockout was supposed to hurt teams with new coaching staffs and yet the 49ers are 3-1 under Jim Harbaugh and could have very easily been 4-0 had they not collapsed against Dallas in Week 2. It’s a long season but what a great job he’s done so far making the transition from Stanford to the pros. When they were down 23-3 today in Philadelphia, the Niners could have easily packed it in. But they didn’t and I think that’s a testament to Harbaugh. What a great day for comebacks and what a great win for San Fran.

– Cam Newton almost threw for 400 yards again – and against Chicago, no less. I thought he would struggle against the Bears’ Tampa 2 and he did throw a pick-six early in the game. But man-oh-man is he an athletic marvel. At this point I guess I should stop including him in the “Didn’t See that Coming” section, but I continue to be amazed at what this kid can do so early in his career.


New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan leaves the field at half-time against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL AFC Championship football game in Pittsburgh, January 23, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– Hey Rex Ryan, your old defense is a lot better than your current one right now. That’s back-to-back weeks your team has lost by double-digits and you haven’t even played the Patriots yet. Not good.

– For as much respect as he deserved playing in the second half of that San Francisco game two weeks ago despite suffering broken ribs and a punctured lung, Tony Romo equally deserves to be vilified today. There’s no reason why Dallas didn’t beat Detroit but 30 points after building a 27-3 lead. But Romo virtually gave the game away on his own. Those interceptions he threw were pathetic. PATHETIC. All of Canada can smell his wretchedness today.

– Hey Rob Ryan, what do you think of Calvin Johnson now? When asked about trying to defend Megatron earlier this week, Ryan said: “We work against better receivers with Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. They are probably two of the premier receivers in football, but this guy is right there. He’s almost that good. He’s excellent.” He’s almost that good? No, he’s in the top 5 – if not the top 2. For those wondering, Johnson finished with eight catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the Lions’ come-from-behind victory today in Dallas. He also caught the game-winner in the closing minutes. Pfff, almost that good. Please…

– Kevin Kolb needs to start earning that five-year, $63 million contract he signed in the offseason. The Cardinals have lost their last three games despite having the ball in the closing minutes with a chance to win in all three. That reflects poorly on the quarterback. Kolb took four sacks (including an inexcusable one on the Cards’ last possession), threw more interceptions (1) than touchdowns (0), and lost a fumble in Arizona’s loss to New York on Sunday. Derek Anderson could have done that.

– How the hell was that Victor Cruz play not a fumble? He may have given himself up but he didn’t slide feet-first or kneel on the ball, thus prompting an end-of-the-play whistle. He stumbled, wasn’t touched by a defender, and then flipped the ball forward as the Cardinals jumped on it. That was a fumble and it proved the difference in the game. That said, I liked what Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt said following the loss. In a nutshell, he said that the game should have never came down to that play and he was right. The Cards were up by 10 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. They should have won without needing that play to be ruled a fumble.

– The Broncos lost 49-23 today and neither Tim Tebow nor Brady Quinn took a snap. Kyle Orton may have thrown three touchdown passes but he also tossed a very Tony Romo-like three interceptions as well. He was brutal and the Broncos weren’t going to mount some massive comeback, so why didn’t John Fox take a look at Tebow or Quinn? If he’s not going to play either of them in a rout, when is he going to play them? It’s mind-boggling.

– How much more of a beating can Ben Roethlisberger continue to take? Last year he played through a broken foot and now he may have broken the other one. He’s a tough dude but the guy can’t play with two bad wheels. Pittsburgh has got to fix its offensive line.

– Hello David Garrard? This is the Miami Dolphins…

– I’m sorry but Michael Vick seems like the same arrogant, immature person to me. Did you hear his comments to the media following the Eagles’ inexcusable choke-job to the 49ers today? “Do I really have to answer that question?” Yeah Mike, you do. And drop the attitude while you’re at it.

– The Eagles are example No. 501 that stockpiling a bunch of free agents in the offseason doesn’t always lead to cohesion and victories. And don’t expect this team to figure things out soon. Andy Reid has a real mess on his hands.

– A tale of two NFC teams: The Packers take a 28-17 lead at halftime, score a touchdown midway through the third quarter to make the game 35-17, and then keep their foot on the pedal. Final score? Packers 49, Broncos 23. The Falcons build a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter, largely using the hurry up offense with Matt Ryan and by staying balanced offensively. But almost immediately after Matt Bryant’s 50-yard field goal with 13:40 left in the third, the Falcons go into prevent mode defensively and try to run the clock out offensively. In other words, they not only take their foot off the pedal but they completely get off the highway and take the scenic route home. Final score? Falcons 30, Seahawks 28. And if Pete Carroll doesn’t foolishly attempt a 61-yard filed goal in the closing seconds, Atlanta is 1-3 on the year instead of 2-2.

– Speaking of Pete Carroll: What on earth was he thinking attempting a 61-yarder with 13 seconds remaining instead of going for it on 4th and 8 from Atlanta’s 43-yard-line? I realize that converting a 4th and 8 isn’t easy. But I like my odds of getting a first down better than I do of Steven Hauschka kicking a freaking 61-yarder. I don’t care if he was booting them from that range in warm ups: All kickers hit from that range in warm ups. It’s no surprise the kick wasn’t even close to going through the uprights.

– I don’t know what offense was more inept this weekend: the Browns or Ohio State’s.

– So much for the Rams winning the NFC West. They’ll be lucky to win four games at this rate.


Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers scrambles against the Denver Broncos in the second half during their NFL football game in Green Bay, Wisconsin October 2, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– Aaron Rodgers looks like he’s playing against a bunch of Pop Warner kids every Sunday. Several times today I said to myself, “Shame on that Aaron Rodgers. Look at him throwing all of those touchdown passes on that poor Pop Warner team. He ought to be embarrassed.” It’s amazing that Green Bay can go from Brett Favre to this guy and other franchises go decades without finding one decent quarterback.

– Call it lucky, controversial or whatever, but give Eli Manning and the Giants credit for mounting that fourth quarter comeback in Arizona today. It’s not easy to play a physical divisional game on the road last week and then turn around and fly cross-country seven days later. But the G-Men did. They’re certainly tougher than their NFC East rivals, the Eagles.

– Do you think the Ravens’ defense was fired up to play their former coordinator Rex Ryan tonight? And follow up question: Do you think the Ravens took their wake up call against the Titans two weeks ago seriously? Destroying an 0-4 Rams team is one thing. Destroying a good Jets team is quite another. Baltimore looks goooood.

– Granted, Tarvaris Jackson actually played well on Sunday but tell me why again the Seahawks didn’t need Matt Hasselbeck? The 36-year-old is on pace for 4,608 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Clearly the man still has plenty left in the tank.

– What are the Patriots now, 687-0 after a loss? They were impressive today. The Raiders are competitive and it’s never easy for any team to fly cross-country and win. (And not only look good doing it.) But that’s what the Pats did. They always take losses seriously and it shows when they win the following week.

– That, right there, is the signature win that the Texans have been searching for. No, the Steelers haven’t looked great this season but they’re still the Steelers. Losing Andre Johnson was a killer but guys like Arian Foster stepped up. This is the Texans year to finally claim the AFC South, but they need to keep playing hard for 16 weeks. Hopefully for they’re sake Tennessee continues to play well so that Houston is pushed from here on out. This isn’t a team that needs to cruise into the playoffs and then go one-and-down because they weren’t challenged. Keep them focused, Gary Kubiak.

– Bengal fans had to have appreciated what Andy Dalton did in the second half today. After a rough first half, the rookie completed 11 of 16 passes for 182 yards in the second. On the Bengals’ game-winning drive, he connected on 3 of 4 passes for 46 yards and converted a third down by using his legs. Big win for the young pup.

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