Sunday Evening Quick-Hitters: Reactions from Week 2 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…


Buffalo Bills tight end Scott Chandler celebrates a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in the fourth quarter of their NFL football game in Orchard Park, New York September 18, 2011. REUTERS/Doug Benz (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

– Who knew that with the Bears in New Orleans to take on the Saints and Cam Newton hosting the defending champs that Raiders-Bills would be the most entertaining early game on Sunday? I’m pretty sure neither defense dressed for the second half but this game had it all: a major come-from-behind victory, plenty of big plays (that TD Denarius Moore caught from Jason Campbell was siiiick), and a last-minute touchdown pass on fourth down (see the photo above as Scott Chandler scores the game-winner). It’s actually fun to watch Ryan Fitzpatrick run Buffalo’s dare-I-say-high-powered offense.

– I was impressed by Cam Newton in his pro debut (how could you not be?), but I fully admit that I expected him to fall flat on his face against the Packers. Naturally he comes out and throws for over 400 yards again and is now on pace to pass for 6,832 yards this season. He’s also completing over 60% of his passes and had he not turned the ball over three times, I’m not so sure the Panthers don’t beat the Packers today. I don’t know if this is beginner’s luck or we’re seeing the next great thing at quarterback but I shudder to think what he’ll do once the game actually starts slowing down for him.

– Let me get this straight: the Ravens rack up 35 points on the Steelers’ defense but couldn’t muster more than a touchdown and two field goals against the Titans? Some were concerned that the Ravens would come out flat after their impressive win over the Steelers last Sunday and “some” were right. Matt Hasselbeck took advantage of a depleted Baltimore secondary all afternoon, completing 30 of his 42 pass attempts for 358 yards and a touchdown. Hasselbeck was helped by the fact that the Ravens wanted nothing to do with pressuring him as they finished with zero sacks.

– Jaguars win a gutsy 16-14 game over the Titans in their season opener, then fail to show up today and are blasted by the Jets, 32-3. Titans look hapless in Jacksonville last week, then came out on Sunday and romp a Raven team that destroyed the Steelers last week. The NFL is screwy, I tell ya.

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Eagles beat Cowboys but Vick is still taking too many hits

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 12: Quarterback Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles runs for a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Here are a six-pack of observations on the Eagles’ slim 30-27 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday night.

1. Michael Vick is still taking too many shots.
I don’t know who asked the question, but Cris Collinsworth relayed a comment by Vick that was interesting. Vick said that if he was defending himself, he would do what the Texans and Cowboys did the past two weeks: keep hitting him. Even he knows the best way to stop him is for the defense to deliver as many clean shots whether he’s in or out of the pocket. While he went on to complete 16 of his 26 pass attempts for 270 yards and two touchdowns, he threw two interceptions (one wasn’t his fault as the catchable pass went off his receiver’s hands and into the arms of a defender) and 151 of those 270 yards came on two plays (a 60-yard reception to DeSean Jackson on the first play of the game and a 91-yard touchdown to Jackson at the start of the fourth quarter). On a whole, Vick wasn’t spectacular and you have to wonder if the pounding he’s been taking is starting to add up. His sizzling numbers in the middle of the season were bound to drop, but he’s looking mortal with each passing week. Andy Reid did a better job of getting LeSean McCoy more involved on Sunday night. But he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg still have work to do when it comes to figuring out a way to protect Vick.

2. Jackson is electric but he needs to mature.
DeSean Jackson once again showed how incredible a player he is by racking up 210 yards and one touchdown on just four catches. As previously mentioned, two of his catches went for 151 yards and the play he made in the fourth quarter on his 91-yard touchdown reception was thrilling. But once again, he flashed his immaturity. On the 91-yard touchdown, he stopped inches short of the goal line, put his back to the end zone and as defenders were closing in, he laid back with his arms outstretched and fell backwards into the end zone. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth debated whether or not he should have been flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct (he was), but it really doesn’t matter. The gesture was unnecessary and while I know the kid is just having fun, what’s the harm in racing into the end zone, flipping the ball to the ref and celebrating with your teammates sans the penalty? This is the third time since high school where he’s played around at the goal line and with the playoffs coming up, it would be nice to see DeSean kick this nasty habit. He’s such a good player; I would hate to see his antics at the goal line take away from his talent.

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Losing is a collective effort now for Cowboys

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 19: Head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys reacts during a 27-20 loss against the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium on September 19, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Jerry Jones said Monday that he wouldn’t fire Wade Phillips during the season. He didn’t say whether or not he’d fire him a millisecond after the season, just that he wouldn’t give him the boot during the season.

This may displease Dallas fans, but why should Jones fire him? Phillips isn’t the only reason the Cowboys are 1-4, nor is he even the main reason.

The Cowboys racked up double-digit penalties in their loss to the Vikings on Sunday. They did the same thing in their loss to Tennessee two weeks ago and are now tied with Detroit as the most penalized team in the NFL.

Is that on coaching or the players? Before you answer “coaching,” remember that Phillips made it a point of emphasis to his players after Marc Colombo was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct in the loss to the Titans not to jeopardize the team by making stupid mistakes. And yet there was Miles Austin on Sunday, leapfrogging over Roy Williams in celebration over Williams’ touchdown in the first quarter. Austin was also penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and although the penalty didn’t lead to a score for the opposition like Columbo’s did, it still put the ‘Boys in bad position.

The penalty is a reminder that not everything is Phillips’ fault in Dallas. He didn’t leapfrog over Williams – Austin did. Those kinds of penalties are on the individual – not the Cowboys’ coaching staff.

That said, Phillips and his crew don’t escape criticism here. When Tony Romo threw that horrendous interception to E.J. Henderson with under three minutes to play on Sunday, Marion Barber was 5-for-5 picking up first downs at that point. Yet with his team facing a 3rd-and-2 from the Dallas 22-yard line, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett called a pass play and the result was disastrous. He did the same thing earlier in the game from practically the same spot on the field and Romo threw an interception then, too.

Garrett also out-thought himself at the beginning of the game when he ran Barber three straight times to pick up an easy first down on the Cowboys’ first possession, then called three straight passing plays which netted a punt. I know Minnesota’s claim to fame defensively is stopping the run, but for the love of foghorns, Jason, keep the ball on the ground if it’s working.

But this is what the Cowboys do every week now. The players shoot themselves in the foot with dumb penalties while the coaching staff either fails to make the proper adjustments or winds up out-guessing itself. It’s a sick cycle right now and one that is sure to continue unless Phillips, the players or Jones does something about it.

Something has to give in Dallas.

Did Miles Austin turn down endorsement deal because of Reggie Bush?

BEL AIR, CA - JULY 12: Dallas Cowboys football player Miles Austin and actress Kim Kardashian attend professional tennis player Serena Williams' Pre-ESPYs House Party held at a private residence on July 12, 2010 in Bel Air, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for SW)


The Dallas Cowboys Miles Austin likes following in Reggie Bush’s footsteps..but apparently he won’t follow Reggie on his latest endorsement deal. Miles has turned down a six-figure endorsement deal with Red Bull..According to my source, the reason Miles said no to Red Bull is because Reggie Bush already has a contract with the energy drink company..Kim did not want Miles to walk down that path..I hope Kim is gonna pay him the hell does a dude turn down six figures..truth be told, he would have never gotten the offer if he was dating Kim Kardashian..-TO

I think “Terez” meant that Austin would have never gotten the offer if he “weren’t” dating Kardashian.

I don’t know how reliable Terez Owens’ sources are, but I agree with him if his report is accurate. How could Austin turn down a six-figure endorsement deal just because he didn’t want to go swimming in Bush’s lake again? Six figures is six figures – to hell with Reggie Bush, I’m bathing myself in Red Bull if I’m Austin.

Of course, all of this seems a little too easy, doesn’t it? Bush, who has an endorsement deal with Red Bull, used to date Kardashian, who is now with Austin, who turns down a Red Bull endorsement. He must have done so because of Reggie Bush.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this story is bunk, but it’s the middle of July and I’m dying for NFL news…any NFL news.

Roy Williams ready to fight to retain his job

Cowboys’ receiver Roy Williams is well aware that rookie Dez Bryant wants to get on the field this year. And in order to do so, he’ll have to unseat Williams, who is the incumbent starter at the position opposite Miles Austin in the offense.

“This ain’t my first rodeo,” Williams said. “I got recruited [to Texas] with B.J. [Johnson] and Sloan Thomas, so those are two top-notch guys. I came in and did my thing. I was the third one on the totem pole in that deal, and I came out No. 1. I don’t really see it as a competition thing. I see it as us getting better.

“But I know in the back of my mind and the back of his mind, he wants to play, the only way he’s going to play is to get No. 11 off the field, and that’s going to be tough to do. But it’s going to make us better as a football team.”

In preparation, Williams has been catching 200 balls a week off the JUGS machine according to the Dallas Star-Telegram. He’s also catching 40 or 50 balls from Tony Romo during the week while trying to ensure that he won’t drop as many passes as he did last season.

“It won’t even be half,” said Williams, who had the 12th-most drops in the league last year, according to STATS Inc. “Do you want to take that bet? I won’t even come close. Promise you.”

Williams has the right attitude, but he’ll have his work cut out for him competing against Bryant. While it’s always best to keep expectations somewhat tempered when it comes to rookies, Bryant is just flat out better than Williams. He’s faster, has softer hands and projects to be more of a playmaker. There’s a reason why the Cowboys drafted him and it wasn’t so he could watch Williams (whose contract may have saved him from being released by now) play.

That said, Williams is right in that Bryant makes the Cowboys a better football team. Competition breads success and the addition of Bryant should make Williams more focused and determined to produce.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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