Sunday Scores & Monday Predictions

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By TLarner

The first Sunday of the NFL regular season is in the books. Check out some highlights, as well as scores and Monday Night Football predictions.

Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem

Yesterday’s game between the Colts at the Texans was one of my Sunday surprises. Indianapolis had defeated Houston in 15 of their 16 meetings before yesterday.

Carried by the legs of Arian Foster, the Texans were able to overcome Peyton Manning’s career day. Foster lived up to his preseason hype with a record breaking performance. He had a franchise record 231 rushing yards on 33 carries, and all of his three touchdowns came in the second half. The Texans gained a total of 355 yards on offense, with 257 coming on the ground. Of their 23 first downs, 15 of them were earned on rushing plays. This is a different team than we are used to seeing. Last season, quarterback Matt Schaub threw for a league high 4,770 yards. In the Houston home opener, he had only nine completions for 107 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. On the other side of the ball, defensive end Mario Williams recorded his first sack of the year. While they only sacked Manning twice, the Texans’ defense was able to apply plenty of pressure on him.

Manning had a great game statistically. He went 40-57 for 433 yards and three touchdowns. His 57 attempts was a career high. Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne each had a touchdown grab. Collie had a career high 11 catches for 163 yards, but he also had a critical fumble. After making a big catch inside the 15 yard line, he took a bigger hit from safety Bernard Pollard, turning the ball over one a drive where the Colts could have cut the deficit to 20-17. Instead, Houston went up 27-10 on the following drive. Joseph Addai had only 44 rushing yards. While the Colts survived last year with a less than spectacular rushing offense, they will need to have a more balanced offense next week, even though Manning has won his share of games almost by himself.

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Taking Care of Business & Working Overtime

The Atlanta Falcons and the Pittsburgh Steelers gave us the first overtime game in the 2010 season. This game was definitely a defensive struggle, as neither offense was able to find any rhythm. Falcons kicker Matt Bryant matched Jeff Reed of the Steelers during regulation as each made three field goals.

Michael Turner ran for only 42 yards on 19 carries (only a 2.2 average). Matt Ryan threw for 252 yards, and an interception. Luckily, receiver Roddy White had a good game. As one of my fantasy receivers, White had 13 catches for 111 yards. Tony Gonzalez became the first tight end to reach 1,000 career receptions.

The Steelers found a way to win without Ben Roethlisberger, who started his four game suspension. Dennis Dixon got the game start, and was able to manage the game. Veteran receiver Hines Ward made a few nice catches to help his young QB. The unanimous Player of the Game was running back Rashard Mendenhall. He finished with 120 rushing yards, including a 50-yard game winning touchdown in the first few minutes of overtime. Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu added a pick. Linebacker James Harrison had a fumble return for a touchdown, but it was ruled an incomplete pass as Ryan’s arm was coming forward. While it may not be pretty, Pittsburgh picks up a big win while awaiting Big Ben’s return.

After Further Review…

Normally, I wouldn’t take time to review a game between the Bears and the Lions. However, we can’t overlook the controversy that decided the game. Jahvid Best gave the Lions a 14-3 lead with a pair of touchdown runs. Bears’ running back Matt Forte answered by taking a screen pass 89 yards, outrunning all of the Lions defenders to the end zone with just over a minute left in the half.

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On the Lions’ following drive, quarterback Matt Stafford was sacked by Julius Peppers, fumbling the ball, and dislocating his shoulder, and will miss at least a month. Another Chicago star defender Lance Briggs forced a fumble on a sack in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Shaun Hill lost the ball on his own one-yard line. The Lions defense showed up on the next four plays, keeping the Bears out of the end zone. Chicago turned the ball over after a failed fourth down attempt trailing 14-13. Inside the two minute warning, Forte caught another touchdown as the Bears take a 19-14 lead.

This sets the scene for the questionable call. Hill drove the offense to Chicago’s 25-yard line. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Hill throws a jump ball to Calvin Johnson, who out jumps corner Zachary Bowman for what appears to be the game winning reception. He clearly has possession of the ball in his right hand as his left hand, both feet, both knees, and his rear end hit the ground. Johnson then allows the ball to hit the ground in an attempt to break his fall, and loses the ball. According to NFL rules, the receiver must maintain control of the ball through the air and as he falls to the ground. Whereas Johnson thought he had a catch after his feet and other body parts hit the ground, he didn’t control the ball throughout the entire motion of the catch. I personally agree with the call. Whether he knows the rules or not, Johnson must know if the ball hits the ground, it is an incomplete pass, and should have taken the fall and used both hands to hold the ball. Take a look for yourselves here. What do you think, catch or incomplete?

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Disappointment in Dallas

My Game of the Week ended in a favorable fashion. Again, it was a low scoring affair, as the Redskins won 13-7. Donovan McNabb earned his first win in a red and yellow uniform, rather than his old green and white. He completed less than 50% of his passes for

only 171 yards, not the box score he was hoping for. He did show his mobility that made him a dual threat in his youth, taking off for a 17 scramble on his first drive. Washington’s only touchdown came on a fumble return by corner DeAngelo Hall. With time winding down in the half, Tony Romo flipped the ball to Tashard Choice, who was stripped by Hall, giving the ‘Skins a 10-0 lead going into the half.

The highlight of Dallas’ night was the lone touchdown throw by Romo. Inside the five-yard line, Romo found star receiver Miles Austin in the back of the end zone in the third quarter to come within three of the Redskins. Austin had 10 catches for 146 yards. After that, neither offense found any success. Dallas had a chance to win the game as Romo found Roy Williams in the end zone with no time left, but the score was called back when tackle Alex Barron was flagged for holding.

What does this game tell us about both teams? Is Dallas heading down another road of failure? They have plenty of talent around them, but can never seem to get the job done. As for Washington, can McNabb and the Redskins make a run for the NFC East title? Or was this just a lucky win due to a poor performance by Dallas?

Remaining Scores from Sunday

  • Cleveland- 14
  • Tampa Bay- 17
  • Miami- 15
  • Buffalo- 10
  • Cincinnati- 24
  • New England- 38
  • Denver- 17
  • Jacksonville- 24
  • Oakland- 13
  • Tennessee- 38
  • Carolina- 18
  • NY Giants- 31
  • Arizona- 17
  • St. Louis- 13
  • Green Bay- 27
  • Philadelphia- 20
  • San Francisco- 6
  • Seattle- 31

Monday Night Doubleheader

Baltimore visits the New York Jets in the New Meadowlands Stadium. Darrelle Revis makes his return after signing his big contract. Anquan Boldin will make his first start with the Ravens. This game will be a battle between two extremely strong defenses. I predict a low scoring affair. Rex Ryan’s hardnosed defense will get to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense. Give the Jets their first win to open the new field.

The later game tonight will send San Diego to Kansas City. These AFC West rivals will feature some big names at running back. The Chargers will be without Ladainian Tomlinson, who will play in the first game with New York. Rookie Ryan Mathews from Fresno State will replace the future Hall of Fame back. Without Vincent Jackson, who is still holding out, the Chargers should aim to run the ball. The Chiefs have two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield. Jamaal Charles had 1,120 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009. Former Jet Thomas Jones had career highs in yards and touchdowns last year. However, the Chargers should take this game as they aim for another AFC West title.

Have NFL Splinters? Share them here.

21 Responses to "Sunday Scores & Monday Predictions"

  1. Casey   September 13, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    That Colts game is a head-scratcher. Look at those stats. Houston’s numbers are something out of the 70s. The Colts numbers represent the 21st century. And the Texans win. I love it. Did Peyton have problems with the umpire or something? 🙂 Did the zebras cause him to lose rhythm? 🙂

    So much for Josh McDaniels and Denver building on last year’s early successes.

    Dallas loses to Washington. Hahahaha. I’ve been saying that to myself all day. It’s good for a laugh.

    I am trying to get the Bills loss out of my head. It’s not that they loss. It’s how they lost. How can Edwards look so good on one possession?

    When do the Pats and Jets lock horns? Tom Brady, Randy Moss and company against the Jet defense should be fun to watch.

  2. Casey   September 14, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Blind resume NFL style:

    QB A: this guy went 18 of 34 for 139 yards, one touchdown and a rating of 73.0. His team converted 9 first downs (3/14 on third down) and scored 10 points.

    QB B went 10 of 21 for 74 yards, zero touchdowns and a rating of 56.4. His team converted six first downs (1/11 on 3rd down) and scored nine points.

    Look on the bright side…neither threw an interception.

    You gotta choose between these two. Who do you take?

  3. bill ribas   September 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Casey, if Edwards looked good on one possession, I must have missed that (granted, I didn’t see the whole game). The more I see of him, the less I like him, and in part, it’s his lack of downfield vision. When they showed the sack stats, I think he’s averaged like 2 or 3 per game over the last few years.

  4. Wally   September 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Based on 1 game, looks like I’ll have to take QB A. QB B looks like Sanchez last night … and he looked as awful as the stats are. And he sure goes down early with the baseball slide if defenders get “close” … this cost the Jets at least 1 key first down when he scrambled but took the dive well short of the marker and well short of the defenders. Typical USC wimp 😉

  5. bill ribas   September 14, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Casey, as far as the QB choice, can’t we give the backup on the bench a shot? Otherwise, A gets a slim margin.

    Question – can you also add in how many offensive line penalties there were? Although with stats like this, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Never mind.

  6. Casey   September 14, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Bill – haha – yes! Go to the bench.

    Believe it or not, the Bills had a 10-play, 85-yard drive in the fourth quarter that took 4:19. Edwards completed SEVEN consecutive passes. Yes, you read that correctly: SEVEN consecutive. It happened in the fourth. By that time, everyone was well into putting themselves out of misery. All the passes were short slants just over the line of scrimmage.

    Wally – Sanchez’s true colors coming out?

  7. Wally   September 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Casey —
    Yes … I think maybe we’re seeing the beginning of a trend with SoCal QBs. Leinart has been a bust and Sanchez is starting to look “limited”, but it’s early. Maybe playing with all the talent at USC has sort of dumbed down the QB position there … “just throw it up and our guys will get it” … or “just lay it out in the flat for Reggie Bush or the latest great tailback and they’ll run 50 yards”. Plus, their line will give any QB great protection. It’s like shootin’ fish in a barrel … or at least it was during Carroll’s tenure. And Sanchez only started for USC 1 year, right?

    On the flipside, we’re probably seeing QB’s who didn’t play for great college programs develop quicker and get off to better career starts. They are forced to be great students of the position and might be hungrier too. For every bust like Jemarcus Russell or Matt Leinart, there’s a Joe Flacco, Matt Shaub or Eli Manning having success. Now … I’ll be very disappointed if Jimmy Clausen doesn’t eventually pan out as a good one … time will tell.

  8. Dan   September 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Trent Edwards can not play NFL quarterback!!! I’ve been saying it for years… No matter how good he looks in stints, he can not do it due to 2 factors…
    These 2 factors are the two most basic factors that can help you understand who can and who cannot play NFL quarterback…
    1) Arm strength – He can throw 75 yards. However, he can’t throw 25 without stepping into the throw. Watch any elite or NFL ready quarterback and they can sling it out of pressure. He can’t throw if anyone is within 1 yard of him. This is the most basic physical tell.
    2) Quick Decision Making – This is obvious. He can’t process the information fast enough. He may be smart enough to know where everyone is going on every play. He may be able to make all the right reads during 7 on 7 in practice. But game speed with a live rush and a true defensive scheme is a completely different thing. And I do know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.

    Yes there are other factors, leadership qualities, elusiveness in the pocket (footwork), moxy, etc.

    However, those two basic qualities are necessary to even have a chance. He does not possess either and it is frustrating for me as a simple high school coach and former small school player to know this and see this obvious distinction while the NFL “experts” don’t seem to get it.

    Another example is Brady Quinn…that should be a good reference for you ND fans. And before you make arguments for his career at ND, think about Dorsey from Miami…

  9. Wally   September 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Dan —
    I only played QB in Pop Warner and briefly in HS before I gave up football, so I’m certainly not an expert. I just want to disagree a little bit on your top 2 success factors for QBs. I agree with quick decision-making and would probably rate that #1. However, arm strength may not even be in the top 3. Instead, I would put a) quick release and b) accuracy ahead of arm strength. I will even be tempted to insert your other factors (leadership, footwork/mobility) ahead of arm strength.

    There is, of course, a minimum amount of arm strength required to play QB in the NFL and all these guys have it or they wouldn’t be drafted. In my humble opinion, it’s these other qualities that separate the good ones from the others. When you look at the greatest QBs in NFL history, a surprisingly low % had “cannons”. Elway and Favre may have had the best arms in the Top 10 of all time, but Unitas, Montana, Marino, Manning, Brady, Tarkenton, Aikman, Starr, Staubach, et al were/are great primarily for other reasons.

    To use a basketball analogy, what I want in a QB is more Larry Bird (court sense, awareness, instincts) and less Dr J (pure athleticism). Of course, who wouldn’t want both? IMO, arm strength is waaaaaaay over-rated (See JeMarcus Russell and Jeff George).

  10. Casey   September 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    When I think of QB arm strength, Art Sclichter comes to mind. Wally – remember him? Remember the footage of Art in practice chucking 70 yard bombs from a sitting position. That did not convert too well to NFL success. Of course, Art had a couple of other distractions, but you get my point.

  11. Wally   September 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    Yep … Schlicter was the “can’t miss kid” from Ohio State. An early day Jamarcus Russell story. My poster boy for “Golden Arm-Two Cent head” was always Jeff George. He played for Illinois in college after transferring from Purdue and then bounced around the NFL for like a decade. I think maybe it was the Falcons who stayed with him the longest, but the Raiders and I’m sure others had him play at least a handful of games. And he had an absolute gun for an arm, plus a very quick release, but he was kinda like Nuke Laloosh in Bull Durham … ya never knew where the ball was going. But wherever it went, it always had plenty of mustard on it.

    I’m a little worried about Dayne Crist at ND right now. He’s got an absolute gun, but he definitely lacks touch and timing. He’s still short on significant game experience and he appears to be a bright kid, so I expect he’ll develop these things.

  12. Wally   September 14, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Speaking of a guy who ONLY had a great arm but played more than a handful of years … do you remember Bobby Douglas, the left ywith the Bears in the ’70s??? (Those were some bad Bears teams). He would throw the football so hard, that even when it was an accurate pass (rarely) it was too hot for receivers to handle. He was a great running QB, but I think his career completion % was less than 50%. Take a look at this

  13. TLarner   September 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Remember when people thought Drew Brees wouldn’t have any arm strength left after his shoulder surgeries? Look at him now. He can still sling the ball, and his decision making and accuracy is among the best in the NFL. While I must say Peyton is my pick for the best QB in the league, Brees isn’t far behind.

    Trent Edwards lacks all the skills needed, especially confidence. I don’t understand why he won’t throw any passes more than 5 yards. Grow a pair. He never looks comfortable in the pocket. So he had one good looking drive, but I’m sure we can find some highlight tapes of Losman looking like a real pro on some plays. If I was Lee Evans, I’d want out of Buffalo. He is a solid receiver, and could make a real impact on an above average team. I’m still hoping Lynch will be traded to Philly. No, there are no trade rumors or I doubt they have talked about it, but the Eagles can use a power back for short yardage plays, and it looks like he is the odd man out in the Bills’ backfield.

    How about the Chiefs upset? Their young players really stepped up. Charles had a big run, rookie tight end Tony Moeaki had a touchdown catch, and rookie Dexter McCluster’s huge punt return for a score. McCluster refers to his position as “OW” or “Offensive Weapon”. His versatility as a back, receiver, and special teams star is priceless.

  14. Casey   September 14, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I am not trying to suggest Edwards is an NFL quarterback. The is so out of place it is scary. Which makes that one drive a real head scratcher. I half-wondered for a minute if Brohm or Fitzgerald had been inserted.

  15. Weeds   September 14, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    How about Lynch to Green Bay now?

  16. Dan   September 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I do like the discussion that my comment generated. However, I might have phrased it incorrectly. Arm strength is by no means the most important quality of an NFL qb. Trent Edwards does have a strong arm…when he can step into the throw… An NFL QB must be able to throw without stepping. This is a very simple and basic skill to see and if a QB, like Edwards, can not do that, he cannot make it as an NFL QB. It’s like saying that two qualities of being a MLB baseball player is being able to walk and see. If they can’t do those 2 basic things, they cannot play MLB baseball. Obviously oversimplifying in my analogy. Before we should even start thinking about other things like leadership quality and timing, etc., you can easily judge whether a QB can throw downfield without having to put all of his might into it…again, i.e. Edwards.

  17. Dan   September 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Weeds, Good point about Lynch to Green Bay. The Bills need everything they can get whether it be draft picks or other players. They should try to get something for whatever running back any other team will take. Don’t just cut him!

  18. Wally   September 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    If the Bills are relying on Edwards to make numerous passes without stepping into it, then their offensive line might need an overhaul as well since he must be under a severe pass rush most of the time.

  19. Casey   September 15, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    T – by the way, well played with the BTO reference.

  20. Casey   September 16, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Almost forgot, QB A (from above) is Edwards while QB B is Sanchez.

  21. Casey   September 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    How about this stat – Jaws just gave it on PTI – on first down the Cowpokes threw the ball 23 times and rushed 6.

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