Monday, October 26, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 7 Review

On the surface, looking forward into match-ups, it felt like it was going to be a rather mundane weekend of football. Turns out, in football, you get hit by surprises from all over. By no means was this an epic Sunday of football, but it was definitely more than entertaining.

To start off, 5 of the 6 morning games seemed to be blowouts with all 5 having more than 2 scores lead by the favorites in each game. The only close game seemed to be the Vikings - Steelers. But closing in on the 4th Qtr, all of a sudden the 49ers - Texans game just sprung out alive. Alex Smith was sent in to take over under center from Shaun Hill's dismal showing in the first half. That was the spark the 49ers needed. All of a sudden they were driving down the field to score TD after TD, after being down 21-0. A special mention has to be made to Crabtree; he had a great debut to his NFL career. Already, seems to be the go-to WR on the 49ers. The kid was attacking the balls thrown towards him, plucking them out of the air. The kid is for real. The niners closed to within 24-21, with 3 Alex Smith to Vernon Davis connections for TDs, by the time they got the ball back for the last game-winning or tying drive opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Steelers and Vikings were in an old-fashioned, low scoring struggle. Dick Lebeau had the best-to-date defensive game plan to beat the Vikings. Stuff Adrian Peterson and make Favre throw to win the game. It is the same plan other teams obviously try against the Vikings, but this week, the Steelers had the defense to back it up. They were able to rush Favre and force him to make quick throws resulting in a lot of incompletions and a couple of late turnovers. Just before the 4th Qtr, the Vikings pulled within 3 of the Steelers with a score of 13-10 (Steelers leading). The Vikings were in the Steelers end zone at the 10 yard line, when Favre threw a TD to Sidney Rice. But then there was a flag for tripping against the Vikings which nullified the TD and pushed them back to the 20 yard line making it 1st and Goal at the 20. Soon it was 3rd and goal at the 8 yard line, when Brett Keisel managed to swat the ball off Favre's hands causing a fumble. The impressive part of this play came later when, Lamaar Woodley picked up the lose ball and took it to the house, with a cavalry of Steelers blocking around him. This made it 20-10 Steelers. The lead lasted seconds, because on the kick-off, Percy Harvin returned the kick the other way making it a 3 point game again (20-17).

Meanwhile, the 49ers had also pulled up to within 3 of the Texans, and were waiting to get the ball back to complete the comeback. Tthe Vikings too, got back the ball and were knocking at the PIT 19 witha 2nd and 3. But then, an intended screen pass to Chester Taylor, bounced off his hands into the hands of Steeler's Keyaron Fox, and again had a bunch of Steelers to escort him back for a TD. This pretty much sealed the 27-17 win for the Steelers. The 49ers too had their final drive stalled when Alex Smith threw an INT on a 4th and goal with about 3 seconds left on the clock. The two exciting finishes made my Sunday morning. The icing on the cake being, another dominating performance by the Packers against another minnow (the Browns).

The excitement of the day didn't end there. the afternoon games too had a couple of blow outs: the Jets dominating the Raiders., the Bears unable to stop Cedric Benson and the Bengals in a total rout, and the Cowboys seemingly turning the corner to be a contender beating the Falcons convincingly. Discounting the battle of the weak (Bills vs Panthers), the Saints - Dolphins game turned out to be special. The Dolphins were up 24-3 in the 2nd Quarter, but then let the Saints come back into the game, allowing the Saints score 22 unanswered point in the 4th Quarter to seal the game with a win. Quite a comeback for Brees and his boys. They remain one of the only 3 undefeated teams so far this season, the other two being the Colts and the Broncos. the drama didn't end there, Sunday Night football, pitted the NY Giants against the Super Bowl runner-up of last year. So much for the thought that the Cardinals cannot play in the Eastern Time Zone, they dominated the Giants on defense and had enough offense to outscore Manning and the Giants.

Packer Corner:

Another week, another bottom-feeder to take care of. This time it was the Browns. The Packers, after the disappointing Viking defeat on Oct 5, used the bye week and the games against the Lions and the Browns to tighten their loose ends, much like pre-season football before they face the Vikings again at home. The biggest gaping hole was with the O line. To cater to that, they signed Mark Tauscher to fight for the RT job against mediocre Allen Barbre, got Clifton to rest and heal up so that he starts opposite Jared Allen, and is a definite upgrade over Colledge who is really a Guard than a Tackle. Even if Clifton cannot go Sunday they have given reps to rookie TJ Lang, who held his own against Jared Allen after Colledge was taken out. The Packers also addressed their running game issues. They signed Ahman Green to backup Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson. Their game-plan against the Browns was solely run based on offense, which helped hone the blocking skills of the O line for Ryan and the RB pack. The defense had a good couple of weeks albeit against the horrible offenses of Lions and Browns. At least it had Mathews Jr. make his presence felt against the Lions and AJ Hawk showed true 1st round draft pick potential against the Browns.

Obscure Packers stat of the Week: 57-3. That is the margin of victory for the Packers the last 2 games combined. Never has this happened since 1966, 43 years ago in Packer history.

What are the visible improvements? The O line played very well against the Browns yesterday. They held their own against Shaun Rodgers and the Browns D line to help the Packs run 190+ yards overall. They allowed 0 sacks..... you read that right! No sacks this week. The defense had its share of take overs, but again, that is not as impressive as it seems with Derek Anderson playing the way he did. For a while it felt like he was just closing his eyes and throwing in the direction of the Browns Jerseys. That said, treating these past 2 weeks as pre-season games, it is more than encouraging to see the Packers i momentum and confidence in themselves. WE have to wait and see if that translates to a good show against an actual NFL team like the Vikings next week.

What better way to end this post than to include another worthy play to the Donald Driver show-reel of the season: Here's the link. (will post video when available)

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