Was it even possible to follow all of the action in the NFL this Sunday?
If you were watching the Lions come from behind and beat the Eagles in overtime, did that make you miss the Cowboys’ failed comeback in Baltimore, where Dallas missed a game-winning field goal as time expired? Maybe you were watching the undefeated Falcons need a 55-yard field goal with one second left to beat a surprisingly game Raiders team. But if you were, did you miss the Dolphins improve to 3-3 with a surprisingly stout defense and a surprisingly effective rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill? And if you watched the Browns get their first win of the year, how were you supposed to follow along as the Jets blew out the Colts and made a statement that they’re a serious team, not a circus?
And that’s just some of the early-afternoon action. In the late afternoon games, the other New York team made a statement as the Giants pounded the 49ers. But if you were watching that game, you missed an absolutely amazing sequence of events — Russell Wilson throwing the second of his two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lead the Seahawks over the Patriots, Robert Griffin III running for a 76-yard touchdown to seal the Redskins’ win over the Vikings and Jay Feely missing a 39-yard game-winning field goal, just moments after he had made a 61-yard field goal to force overtime for the Cardinals in a game they’d ultimately lose to the Bills — that all happened almost simultaneously.
This was an amazing Sunday of NFL action, but that’s what we’ve grown accustomed to. Week in and week out, the NFL is the best program on television. The NFL’s drama is more compelling than anything anyone could script. And we’ve still got 11 more regular-season Sundays to go.
Here are my other thoughts on the wild day in the NFL:
What Madden Curse? Lions receiver Calvin Johnson was the cover boy for this year’s Madden video game, but there’s no evidence of any curse. In Sunday’s win over the Eagles, Johnson caught six passes for 135 yards, and he’s now on pace for 1,786 this season — more than 100 yards better than his league-leading total last year. If anyone can kill the Madden Curse, it’s Megatron.
The NFL uniform police are pretty silly. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves last week because orange is the color used to denote leukemia awareness, and Wayne wanted to honor coach Chuck Pagano, who’s battling leukemia. This week ESPN reported that the NFL told Wayne he couldn’t wear the orange gloves anymore. I realize uniforms are supposed to be, well, uniform, but there’s no reason that during a month when the league is painting everything pink for breast cancer awareness, there’s no reason they couldn’t have allowed Wayne to keep wearing the orange gloves.
Rookie quarterbacks continue to impress. It’s stunning how good these rookie passers are. Seattle’s Russell Wilson had 293 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a 133.7 passer rating — the highest passer rating of any quarterback in any game on Sunday afternoon — in a win over New England. Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns as the Browns beat the Bengals. Ryan Tannehill completed 21 of 29 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions as the Dolphins beat the Rams. Robert Griffin III had about as good a running game as you’ll ever see from a quarterback, gaining 138 yards and two touchdowns, as the Redskins beat the Vikings. The Colts’ Andrew Luck was the one rookie quarterback who didn’t lead his team to a win this week, but as we discussed last week, he’s already shown plenty of reasons to believe that he’s going to be an excellent quarterback for many years. There was a time when quarterbacks coming out of college needed some time to adjust to the pro game, but that time has passed. These rookie quarterbacks are ready to play, and play well, right now.
Larry Fitzgerald’s amazing career continues. Fitzgerald’s 93 receiving yards put him at 10,045 yards for his career. At 29 years and 44 days old, Fitzgerald has joined Randy Moss as the only receivers to top 10,000 yards before turning 30. What’s really impressive about Fitzgerald, however, is that he has played most of his career with subpar quarterbacks. Other than a few years with Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald has been stuck with the Josh McCowns, Matt Leinarts, Derek Andersons, Kevin Kolbs and John Skeltons of the world. To put up numbers like Fitzgerald while playing with quarterbacks like that is remarkable. It’s also remarkable that Fitzgerald has remained a perfect teammate who never, ever complains that the Cardinals’ quarterbacks aren’t getting the job done.
The Patriots’ pass defense is a mess. After giving up six passing plays of 20 or more yards in Sunday’s loss to Seattle, the Patriots have now given up 33 such passing plays so far this season — by far the most of any team in the NFL. New England’s secondary just isn’t good enough, and if Bill Belichick can’t get it straightened out, I have a hard time seeing New England winning a playoff game against a good quarterback.
The Packers aren’t going down without a fight. The Texans entered Sunday looking like the best team in the league. The Packers took it to them on Sunday night in Houston. Coming off a disappointing loss to the Colts last week, the Packers needed to play their best game of the season. And that’s exactly what they did.