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Tag:Adrian Peterson
Posted on: October 25, 2010 3:26 am
Edited on: October 25, 2010 3:13 pm
 

10 stories that deserve your attention Week 7

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. Favre Favre Favre Favre Favre

Two things about the Brett Favre hoopla:

a.) You like it. Even if you’re part of the vocal majority that loves to groan about how much you don’t like it, deep down you really do like it. Or, in the very least, you like that you don’t like it. You like that you can pretend to be above it all. But you’re not. None of us are. That’s why we all watched with keen interest Sunday night. B. Favre (US Presswire)

b.) As someone who loves the Favre hoopla, I’ll admit that it does distract from all the other storylines. That’s why we’ll take this opportunity to acknowledge those storylines here. They include…

**The Vikings are now 2-4 and go on the road to face the Patriots next week. Thus, we can crank up the “Is it all over in Minnesota?” talk again this week. It will take about 24 hours for that storm to gather, but make no mistake: it’s coming.

**Those of us who decided Chris Johnson is a better running back than Adrian Peterson may have to reconsider. Johnson was the better running back in 2009. But in 2010, Peterson is averaging an NFL-best 114 yards per game on the ground. Each of his 131 yards against the Packers was a testament to the very concept of manhood. In his fourth season, Peterson has improved in all of his areas of weakness. His fumbles have disappeared. He’s shown more awareness in blitz pickup (did you see the block he had on the Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown that was ruled not a touchdown but probably should have been ruled a touchdown?). And he’s a factor in the passing game (two crucial catches for 41 yards Sunday night, and he was averaging three catches per game coming into Week 7).

**I’m not going to issue a full mea culpa on my Matchup breakdown for a second consecutive week, though I will say the Vikings offensive line performed much better than expected. John Sullivan is finally healthy at center, which stabilizes things at least a bit. Bryant McKinnie had one of his better games of the season (his name wasn’t called once against the Packers). That said, Sullivan and McKinnie still cannot be fully counted on week in and week out.

**I will actually issue a mea culpa to Anthony Herrera. He played so well Sunday night, particularly in generating movement to the left as a run-blocker – than whatever criticism I laid on him last Friday has been rendered moot (or just plain incorrect) for at least the next two weeks.

**Bernard Berrian is a shell of his former self. If a person were to lose weight with the same speed and decisiveness that Berrian has lost confidence, we’d give him or her a pamphlet about eating disorders.

**For the past four months or so, Paul Charchian of KFAN and I have had an on-going debate about Jared Allen. My stance: Allen is a top five defensive end. Charch’s stance: Allen, in the past year and a half, has become overrated as a pass-rusher, and he only turns in major production against inferior competition.

The Packers deliberately game-planned for veteran left tackle Chad Clifton to block Allen one-on-one Sunday night. Clifton easily shut Allen out. I haven’t conceded the debate to Paul just yet, but in our next few email exchanges, my arguments will at least be ending in more periods and fewer exclamation points.



2. Prognosticators, just quit now

In this week’s preview podcast, Will Brinson and I clumped the Saints-Browns, Ravens-Bills and Broncos-Raiders game into one quick segment that lasted all of 10 seconds. We didn’t feel it was worth spending part of our 30 minutes previewing these games because the outcomes, we figured, were predetermined.

As it turns out, Drew Brees threw four interceptions, two of them resulting in scores to David Bowens, and the Saints were never really even in it against the Browns. (When you consider that the Steelers are visiting the Big Easy next Sunday for a nationally televised Halloween night showdown between the past two Super Bowl champions, it’s obvious that this was a classic trap game. Why did we not at least recognize that before!?)

The Bills, facing a stingy Ravens D and led by a Harvard quarterback whose three greatest attributes – heart, grit and guts – are euphemisms for his overwhelming lack of talent, generated 506 yards of total offense (or, in Buffalo terms, “a half season of offense”). If not for a Hall of Fame play by Ray Lewis in overtime (the strip fumble of Shawn Nelson), we might not be describing the Bills as “the league’s last winless team”.

By the way, regarding that strip fumble, what a poor sequence of events for Bills center Geoff Hangartner. The play would have almost certainly been blown dead on forward progress had Hangartner not come in and pushed Nelson and the pile forward for a few extra yards (it was during those extra yards that Lewis stripped the ball). Can’t fault the veteran captain Hangartner for the extra effort, though. Nineteen times out of 20, an effort play like that pays off. But you CAN fault Hangartner for exacerbating the mess by slamming his helmet on the ground afterwards. That resulted in a 15-yard penalty to help put the Ravens in range for Billy Cundiff’s game-winning field goal. D. Bowens (US Presswire)

Finally, regarding the Broncos-Raiders game: nothing much to say, other than the Broncos apparently talked among themselves about the league’s new emphasis on illegal hits and decided, just to be safe, they wouldn’t hit any opponent under any circumstance Sunday afternoon.

That obviously included Darren McFadden, the Raiders’ third-year running back who is finally coming into his own. Credit Oakland for using McFadden more to his strengths this season. He is not a physical runner, and he does not have agile hips and power to press a hole and consistently move the chains inside. McFadden does, however, have the acceleration and breakaway speed to be a force in space, which is why the Raiders have taken to running him off tackle and on halfback tosses more often. After his career-high 165-yard, four-touchdown performance Sunday, McFadden is averaging 111 yards per game on the ground, second best in the NFL.

So the Browns pound the Saints, the Bills take the Ravens to the limit and the Raiders, behind 328 yards rushing, hang 59 points on the Broncos. It’s the NFL; those of you who can guess what I’m going to say next, don’t worry – I have too much respect for CBSSports.com readers to use clichés about parity and “any given Sunday”. I’ll just say, good action, fun games.



3. Picked!

Let’s stay with the Browns-Saints game for a second so that we can talk about David Bowens. Yes, it’s impressive for any player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. (Bowens is the first Brown to do it since Bob Franklin in 1960.) More impressive is that Bowens, 33, is a former defensive lineman turned linebacker. But even MORE impressive is how he celebrated both scores. On the first TD, Bowens leaped and performed somewhat of a Pas de Chat while crossing the goal-line (it’s a ballet term – use your Wikipedia). As gracefulness goes, it was about a seven.

On his second score, Bowens came to nearly a complete stop before somersaulting across the goal-line. The gracefulness of that was a one-and-a-half, maybe a two. But the cleverness? A 10. Best of all was the half-second of reluctance the ref showed before signaling touchdown on that play. You just know he wanted to flag Bowens for taunting. But thankfully, it was during live action, and this is not college, so he couldn’t. (Don’t worry, purists, the NFL will probably make somersault touchdowns a suspendable offense within in the next few days.) Bowens had just one career touchdown coming into this game. Major props to him for having the presence of mind (and gall) to come up with two original celebrations on the fly like that.

In all, there was a record nine pick-six’s on the day Sunday. (I’m sure I’m the only one who cares, but for what it’s worth, when I first heard this, I was able to immediately remember/visualize eight of those pick-six’s; out of pride, I refuse to look up the one I’m forgetting.) One of those pick-six’s was turned in by DeAngelo Hall. Hall’s 92-yard interception return was just one of his four – FOUR! – second-half interceptions.

That’s a great accomplishment. And, quite frankly, it couldn’t have happened to a more obnoxious guy. Hall had a great game, but poor Jim Haslett now has to deal with the even-more-inflated ego of a cornerback who has no problem publicly demanding a bigger role in the defense or questioning the scheme.
D. Hall (US Presswire)
I hate to be negative about Hall when he’s just had the game of his life, but a week ago experts were saying that the film was revealing the slight diminishments in his speed. Hall’s man coverage technique can be iffy, and his tackling – though excellent against the Bears – is generally poor. I bring this up only because you’re going to be offered an awful lot of DeAngelo Hall Kool-Aid this week.



4. Da Bears

While we’re on the topic of Hall and this game…

Bears fans, I assume, will have no problem this week if I go ahead and point out that their team is still a mess offensively. No need to rehash everything here. We all know the Bears aren’t running the ball worth a cent right now (the debate is whether you blame Matt Forte, Mike Martz, the offensive line or all three). The pass protection has been poor – unless, for some reason, you consider blowing simple assignments a key asset, in which case the pass protection has been superb. Guard Chris Williams was particularly shaky Sunday.
Finally, there’s the standard Jay Cutler scrutiny. Cutler made some spectacular strong-armed throws in this game, but he’s not the type of quarterback who can thrive when players around him aren’t performing. Thus, if the blocking doesn’t get better and receivers like Devin Hester and Johnny Knox don’t become more consistent in their technique, the Bears will only continue to flounder. It wasn’t until just over four minutes to play in the third quarter against Washington that Cutler ended an 0/28 drought on third down.



5. A lesson for the kids: it’s okay, maybe even good, to get in fights

Sorry, but what else can you deduce here? Kenny Britt gets in a bar fight at 1:45 Friday morning. It isn’t his first off-field incident, so the NFL could wind up suspending him soon. With this dark cloud hanging overhead, Jeff Fisher benches Britt for the first quarter against the Eagles. All Britt does is go on to set a Titans franchise record (not Oilers, just Titans) with 225 yards receiving. He also scored three touchdowns. All this just days after getting in trouble. Coincidence…or pure genius?

Actually, Jeff Fisher says coincidence. "His performance has absolutely nothing to do with what happened [Friday], OK? Absolutely nothing," Fisher told reporters after the game. "It was a great performance. I mean, an outstanding performance. It is two separate issues right now."

Fisher may further punish the second-year pro once he learns more details of the fight. Britt is probably rooting for that, as a punishment from Fisher would likely mean he wasn’t punished by the NFL or Nashville authorities (which could still happen).

Britt has now caught a touchdown in five straight games. However, prior to Sunday, he had only topped 45-yard receiving mark once. (You didn’t know 45 yards was a mark, did you?)



6. The NFC’s best wide receiver

Larry Fitzgerald used to hold this title. But through no fault of his own, that title is now out on loan until the Cardinals get a real quarterback. (Looks like they could be going back to Derek Anderson now that Max Hall, who left the loss at Seattle with a head injury, has had a fair chance to show everyone why he wasn’t drafted.)

With Fitzgerald gone, the best wideout in the NFC is Roddy White. (Sorry, Miles Austin fans.) Entering Week 7, White led the conference in receptions and yards. His 11-catch, 201-yard performance against the Bengals only wR. White (US Presswire)idened his lead. If you were to put White’s six-year career on a line graph, it would come out looking a lot like Facebook’s traffic numbers over that time. The former first-round pick has progressed in each season as a pro.

This week, White made no bones about wanting to steal the spotlight from Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. He even starred in his own homemade trash-talking video. On Sunday, he backed it up, proving to be an elite vertical threat, underrated possession target and vastly underrated run-blocker (White’s not Hines Ward, but he’s close.). Most noteworthy is how White bounced back with a touchdown and two-point conversion after Adam Jones ripped the ball away from him in the third quarter for what seemed to be a momentum-shifting 59-yard fumble return for a score.

White was the main reason Atlanta won Sunday, though also give credit to Michael Turner and his downhill tackle-breaking abilities. Turner, capitalizing on Atlanta’s offensive line beating Cincy’s defensive line for most of the day, racked up 121 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.



6B. On that note….what’s the deal with Cincy?

The Bengals, meanwhile, have Dallas Cowboys Syndrome: talented team that plays well on paper, but at the end of the day, somehow still loses. Carson Palmer was a surgeon, throwing for 412 yards and orchestrating a hurry-up offense that took advantage of Atlanta’s fairly rudimentary zone scheme. Cedric Benson was phenomenal in setting up his blocks and creating his own space (his 70 yards on 20 carries don’t accurately illustrate his performance). The Bengal defense was poor, but the offense overcame that in the third quarter, going up 25-24 after trailing 24-3 at the half.

So what gives? Hard to say without studying the film. But we do know, on the surface, the Bengals, like the Cowboys, have a very hands-on owner, a head coach with tenuous job security (Marvin Lewis is in the final year of his contract) and a bunch of talented individuals but no clear cut leader (admittedly, I’m a little uneasy implying here that Palmer isn’t a leader – but that’s a whole other discussion best saved for another time).



7. It could be worse

The San Diego Chargers were out to prove to the world Sunday just why they’re a legit 2-5 team. The Chargers had three turnovers (it was actually four, but Philip Rivers’ interception to Devin McCourty was essentially the same as a 36-yard punt, so we won’t count it), including Richard Goodman and Jacob Hester fumbles that truly embodied the term “giveaway”. K. Brown (US Presswire)

After making his first career catch, the undrafted rookie Goodman went to the ground, wasn’t touched but, thinking the play was over, let go of the ball. "I'll be the first one to admit that it was my fault," Goodman said afterwards. "I've got to learn from my mistakes. After making that catch, I've got to give it back to the ref." (Since he wants to learn from the mistake, someone should probably tell the poor guy exactly what the mistake was: it’s not about handing the ball to the ref, it’s about making sure you’re actually down). Hester’s fumble is a little harder to criticize, as even the Patriot players thought it was an incomplete forward pass. The man who should get credit for the recovery is Pepper Johnson, New England’s defensive line coach who was standing on the sideline and shouting at his oblivious players to jump on the loose ball.

The two gimme fumbles were costly, though not costly enough to prevent the Chargers from attempting a game-tying field goal in the closing seconds. Kris Brown, who was signed to fill in for injured Pro Bowler Nate Kaeding earlier in the week, would have had a 45-yard attempt if not for a Louis Vasquez false start. After that penalty moved the Chargers back five yards, Brown’s 50-yard boot hit the right upright. Mind you, this came after Brown’s second errant pooch kickoff of the day went out of bounds (his first errant pooch kick hit a Patriot and came out looking like a horrendous onside attempt). The Chargers also missed a few tackles on a 34-yard Julian Edelman punt return that helped set up a Patriots field goal to end the first half.

To be fair, the Chargers did get a great special teams play when they recovered a surprise onside kick in the fourth quarter. But in the end, turnovers, special teams errors and a few penalties cost Norv Turner’s club. (This is a sentence that could have been copied and pasted from any number of previous 2010 Chargers stories.)



8. Kudos to FOX studio analysts

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but the FOX studio analysts deserve acknowledgement for their late shift Sunday. They didn’t have to stay any later than usual, but they did have to stick around and do a halftime show for the Cardinals-Seahawks game, even though that was the lone late window contest on FOX. That must have been rough. Think about it: only the states of Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and parts of Montana, Kansas, and tiny parts of Florida and Ohio, got that game. This means FOX’s big dogs spent an entire afternoon at work just so they could talk for two or three minutes about what amounted to a locally televised contest. How tempting must it have been for Curt, Terry, Howie, Michael and Jimmy to simply record a generic halftime report at the end of the early window games so that they could just head out and enjoy the rest of the NFL action from the comfort of their living or hotel room?



9. Being an American pig

Call me jingoistic, but I’m glad the British are getting an absolute clunker of a game next week (the 1-6 Niners face the 2-5 Broncos in London). I know I’m not doing myself any favors with the folks at 280 Park Avenue by saying this, but I can’t stand the NFL sharing any part of its regular season with our friends across the pond.

We have our football and they have theirs. If we share ours, they’re going to eventually realize how boring theirs is. Then they’ll be clamoring for more and more of ours, and the league will oblige because, dammit, it’s a business and there’s money to be made. Before we know it, we’ll be forking over a significant piece of our great American sport.

Is this fear talking? You bet. But the football gods don’t want the NFL to go international, either. That’s why they’ve done their best to make the Broncos-Niners game as unattractive as possible. What’s funny is that the 49er fans who have been chanting for David Carr over Alex Smith may actually get their wish, but they won’t get to see it because the Niners’ home game won’t be in Candlestick.

And on the subject of chanting for the backup quarterback…if you were one of the Bronco fans chanting for Tim Tebow in the first half Sunday, you’re a moron. Kyle Orton, like the rest of the Broncos, was not good against the Raiders. But he’s nowhere remotely close to deserving a benching.



10. Quick Hits


**Josh Freeman has now led two game-winning drives in the closing seconds of a fourth quarter (vs. Rams and vs. Bengals). The Bucs are 4-2 and, according to Raheem Morris, the best team in the NFC (insert laugh track audio here).M. Williams (US Presswire)

**Marshawn Lynch (24 carries, 89 yards) looks a little trimmer than I remember. He’s proving to be a very solid pickup for the Seahawks.

**For the second straight week, Seattle’s Mike Williams set a career-high for receptions (10 last week, 11 this week). Williams has incredibly strong hands and, for a 6’5”, 235-pounder, uncanny body control.

**The Jaguars’ biggest problem remains their tendency to give up big plays. Dwayne Bowe (two touchdowns) proved this, as did Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles.

**For what it’s worth, Devin Hester cut his dreadlocks. He also had zero punt returns Sunday because the Redskins wisely refused to kick anywhere near him.

**It came in a losing effort, but Israel Idonije had a terrific game for the Bears. He was a big reason why Donovan McNabb was uncharacteristically off kilter.

**The Redskins have scored 17 points or less in all four of their wins this season. This is remarkable considering they entered Sunday with, technically speaking, the league’s 32nd-ranked defense.

**It was surprising to hear that Roger Goodell actually called James Harrison this week.

**Even if this is only Quick Hits, I refuse to mention anything specific about the Panthers-49ers game.

**Imagine if the Chargers had won – then we’d all have to recycle the “Belichick going for it on fourth down” debate. Glad we don’t. (Though in case we do, my stance: it was absolutely the right call, just like last time; the problem on this particular play was BenJarvus Green-Ellis not trusting his blocks and bouncing it outside, where end/linebacker Antwaun Applewhite, who had a marvelous game, made the play.


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Posted on: October 22, 2010 9:47 am
 

Week 7 Key Matchup: Viking O-line v. Pack front 7

Posted by Andy Benoit

Bryant McKinnie, Steve Hutchinson, Ryan Cook, Anthony Herrera and Phil Loadholt should all send Jenn Sterger a gift. Obviously, not the kind their quarterback allegedly sent her. But something nice. You know, to show their appreciation. In fact, thB. McKinnie (US Presswire)ey should send Favre a gift, too. And Randy Moss.

Thanks to Sterger, Favre and Moss, no one is talking about Minnesota’s inconsistent offensive line. Yes, injuries at the wide receiver position have hurt the Vikings. And Favre has been less careful with the football this season (though the difference between ’09 Favre and ’10 Favre is not as drastic as most think). But inconsistency up front has been just as significant to the Vikings’ problems in 2010.
One of the greatest myths in all of football is that the Vikings have an upper-tier offensive line. This myth stems directly from the erroneous reports that left tackle Bryant McKinnie is a good player. There’s a difference between being big and talented and actually being effective. McKinnie has shoddy technique in pass protection (hence his benching in the Carolina game last season) and, quite frankly, he’s soft on contact.

Steve Hutchinson, who turns 33 November 1, is not quite the player he was a few years ago – his decline shows up against bull-rushers in pass protection – but shrewd run-blocking angles and fluid mobility still make him a top five guard.

The problem is that Hutchinson has been forced to play next to three different centers – John Sullivan, Jon Cooper and, lately, Ryan Cook – who lack power. That has been a major hindrance to Minnesota’s run-blocking efforts, especially when you consider that right guard Anthony Herrera struggles against lateral movement in the ground game and right tackle Phil Loadholt often seems to forget he’s 6’8”, 332 pounds. Herrera is a reliable veteran on a good line. But playing between two callow youngsters, he can be a liability.

Adrian Peterson has helped his offensive line this season by being a more patient runner. But far, far too many of Peterson’s yards are still hard-earned. And without Chester Taylor sharing Peterson’s load, the Vikings have taken a step back in the screen pass game. That has allowed opponents to tee off against this line.

If the Packers can get Clay Matthews (hamstring) and Ryan Pickett (ankle) back, their front seven will be on the right side of a considerable mismatch Sunday night. Matthews skims the corner as well as any pass-rusher in the NFL; because he maintains his startling speed while dipping low, he can really use McKinnie and Loadholt’s height to his advantage. Inside, Pickett and nose tackle B.J. Raji have the thundering power to own the line of scrimmage.

The Vikings, of course, have enough talent at the skill positions to overcome blocking deficiencies. They managed to survive last week against a Cowboys pass-rush that swarmed their backfield throughout the first half. But last season it became just a little harder each week for the Vikings to camouflage their blocking weaknesses. That issue has carried over in 2010.

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Posted on: October 18, 2010 3:58 pm
 

Hot Routes 10.18.10 Week 6 boxscore tidbits

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

The Seahawks managed 111 rushing against a staunch Bears run defense. (A Bears run defense that was without WLB Lance Briggs, however.) Justin Forsett had 67 yards on 10 carries. Marshawn Lynch gained 44 on 17 carries.

Mike Williams had career-highs in catches (10) and yards (123) for Seattle. Deon Butler, who is essentially replacing Deion Branch, caught all four passes that were thrown to him, including a 22-yard touchdown.

Hours after signing a new two-year contract, Dolphins emerging slot receiver Davone Bess caught five balls for 37 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay.

Greg Jennings wanted his role elevated in Green Bay’s offense. The loss of Jermichael Finley made that easy. On Sunday Jennings had six catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. However, he was only targeted seven times.

Former first-round bust and current No. 2 corner Jason Allen got his third interception of the season for Miami.

Dolphins outside linebackers Cameron Wake and Koa Misi combined for four sacks, four tackles for loss and seven hits on the quarterback.

It appears Ryan Mathews has reclaimed the starting running back job in San Diego. The first-round rookie got 12 carries against the Rams. Fullback Mike Tolbert got just three.

Apparently the return of Marcus McNeill was not world-saving for the Chargers. Chris Long, Larry Grant and James Hall all recorded two sacks against Philip Rivers.

The Patriots lost the turnover battle 2-0 against the Ravens and still won.

Since we reported it a few weeks ago, we have to report it again: Aaron Hernandez set a new Patriots franchise record for longest run by tight end. This time he went for 18 yards. Hernandez holds the previous record of 13 yards.

Derrick Mason led the Ravens with eight catches for 100 yards. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught every ball thrown his way, which left him with two receptions on the afternoon. Housh did at least finish the game with zero public tantrums.

Haloti Ngata was the most dominant player on the field in Foxboro Sunday. The thundering defensive lineman had seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and three hits on the quarterback (all of which we’ll assume Tom Brady argued for a flag on).

Brandon Spikes: 16 tackles. Jerod Mayo: 18 tackles.

The Lions leading rusher at New York was Drew Stanton (three carries, 30 yards). Jahvid Best managed just 16 yards on 12 carries. Best is averaging 3.2 yards per attempt on the season.

The Lions fumbled five times but only lost 2.

Michael Jenkins led the Falcons with five catches for 99 yards in his season debut coming off a shoulder injury.

Asante Samuel, back after missing Week 5 with a concussion, had three pass breakups and a pick against Atlanta.

Mike Wallace put up “Randy Moss circa 1998” type numbers against the Browns: three catches, 90 yards and a touchdown.

Ben Watson had his best game as a Brown, catching six passes for 88 yards and a score.

The Browns’ next two leading receivers were tight end Evan Moore (four catches, 84 yards) and running back Peyton Hillis (six catches, 49 yards). Not uncommon to see non-wide receivers leading the way when it’s an untested rookie quarterback making the throws.

Lawrence Timmons is a rising star in Pittsburgh. The fourth-year pro and second-year starting inside linebacker had 11 tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss, two QB hits and a pass breakup Sunday.

The Chiefs gained 228 yards on the ground against the Texans. (Many of those yards came after DeMeco Ryans left the game.)

Matt Cassel had a passer rating of 122.9. Matt Schaub had a rating of 123.9.

Dwayne Bowe: 108 yards and two touchdowns. And, as a CBS graphic kindly pointed out, zero drops.

Owen Daniels had his most productive game of the season, catching five balls for 79 yards. Many of Daniels’ catches were the result of play design.

Tamba Hali had zero tackles and zero sacks. We point it out only because the tireless pass-rusher was far more effective than those numbers indicate.

Tim Tebow had six carries for 23 yards and a touchdown. He also had six “crowd quieters” (as in he had to motion for the crowd to be quiet prior to the snap six different times).

Antonio Cromartie held the NFL’s leading receiver, Brandon Lloyd, to four catches Sunday. Cromartie had three pass breakups and three tackles (which means he overcame his greatest fear on three separate occasions).

The 49ers out-Raidered the Raiders Sunday: 11 penalties for 143 yards.

Jason Campbell’s 10.7 passer rating was the worst rating for a Raiders quarterback since Ken Stabler’s 9.9 against the Bengals in 1975.

The Cowboys held Adrian Peterson to 73 yards on 24 carries.

For the second straight week, Felix Jones got more rushing attempts than Marion Barber. Barber had the better game running, though. He was 5/5 on third/fourth-down-and-one conversions. Jones, however, was better through the air: 10 catches, 61 yards.

Despite using a hurry-up most of the night, the Colts finished the game with four fewer plays (68) than the Redskins (72).


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Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:24 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2010 4:44 pm
 

Favre would consider not playing if elbow worsens

Posted by Will Brinson

For all the records that Brett Favre holds, the one he's most associated with has to be his consecutive starts record of 289 games(although most interceptions is close, zing!).

That's why it's so surprising to hear him admit, via the Minnesota Star-Tribune, he might miss playing time if his elbow injury (tendinitis) worsens.

"You're not going to make every throw but I would have made some of those throws," said Favre, who was wearing a wrap on the elbow during his weekly news conference at Winter Park. "From that standpoint, I don't want to play just to play."

Interestingly, the topic of Favre starting games or not was at the center of today's Faceoff between Pete Prisco and Clark Judge ... only they weren't talking about sitting him for injury. Instead, they were discussing whether or not he should sit just because he stinks right now.

I concur with both -- now that the Vikes have acquired Randy Moss, benching Favre doesn't make a ton of logic, but if Favre is right and the "most important thing is rest" maybe the Vikings have to consider putting him on the bench to let his elbow get better.

That decision probably can't come this week, though, as they're in a must-win against a desperate Dallas team and it's hard to imagine Favre losing his streak at Lambeau in two weeks when they face the Packers -- really the only two options for rest, provided the Vikings believe No. 4 give them the best chance to win, are against Arizona in Week 9 (away) and Buffalo in Week 13 (home).

Even with those potential Adrian Peterson parties, though, it's a crazy notion that Favre might break a streak he clearly covets so much.

Update (4:40):: Favre was on the field with the team during Wednesday's practice, but did not participate outside of a few handoffs to the running backs. It's worth noting that it was a short practice, however.

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Posted on: October 6, 2010 10:20 am
 

How Moss trade will affect Minnesota

P. Harvin will get more help when R. Moss joins Minnesota this week (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If this wasn’t the surest indication that the Vikings want to win the Super Bowl RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND, today’s trade for Randy Moss – without a new contract deal in place mind you, meaning Minnesota could have traded its third-round pick in 2011 (and maybe more, say some reports) for a 13-game rental – is the latest confirmation.

Of course, you could have said the same thing each time coach Brad Childress – or any of his players – flew to Minnesota basically to beg Favre to return for his 20th season.

But the fact Moss will be in a Vikings uniform, that will certainly help a Vikings offense that ranks 24th in the NFL in the passing game (and 16th in offense overall).

Even with Favre returning, the Minnesota pass game has been very unimpressive. Sidney Rice, Favre’s favorite target last year when Favre had one of the best seasons of his career, is out until at least midway through the season (and maybe longer) while recovering from hip surgery.

Percy Harvin – who’s struggled with migraine headaches all season – hasn’t done much, and Bernard Berrian has been even worse. In all, the only receiver Favre seems to trust is TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

Plus, Favre is playing like a 40-year-old man.

But because Moss can stretch the field vertically – similar to what Rice can do – that should help Harvin in running his underneath routes.

A deep threat in Moss also should serve to help the running game and Adrian Peterson. The running game has been good so far – it ranks fifth in the league – but with Moss on the field, the opposing safeties will have to worry about him and Peterson, and since they can’t play the pass and play the rush at the same time, that only will help Minnesota’s offense.

One unknown in this scenario is whether the Vikings can give Moss the contract extension he wants – some reports say he wants as much as $10 million a season. But since it seems they’re going for it all right now, that might not matter. It’s Super Bowl or bust for the Vikings, and Moss' performance and attitude could make or break that movement.

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Posted on: October 6, 2010 8:56 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:23 am
 

Moss deal is complete

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Randy Moss trade is done.

First reported about 8:50 a.m. by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Randy Moss trade from New England to Minnesota is official. The Patriots compensation will be the Vikings third-round pick in the 2011 Draft, and Moss will head to Minnesota without a new contract in place.

Much more to come. Come back to the blog early and often for all your Moss-centric info.

UPDATE (9:18 a.m.):
This has been a weird year for Randy Moss – and for the reporters who have to follow the Randy Moss saga.

After making five catches for 59 yards in Week 1 against Cincinnati, Moss walked into his postgame news conference and let loose – a rarity for Moss when he’s dealing with reporters. He said he wanted a new contract, and considering he’s in the final year of his deal, he was disappointed he hadn’t received one yet. He said he was making an issue of it at that point, because he wanted to get it off his chest.

He said he wanted to retire a Patriot, but he also predicted that 2010 would be his last season in New England. After a nice win, Moss’ presser seemed a touch inappropriate.

No matter.

After the NFL world was reminded before New England’s game vs. the Jets in Week 2 that New York CB Darrelle Revis had called Moss a slouch, Moss only had two catches for 38 yards. Of course, one of those receptions was a brilliant one-handed grab that beat Revis for a TD (it’s worth noting that we haven’t seen Revis in a game since).

The weirdness came to a climax Monday when Moss didn’t record a single catch in New England’s Monday Night blowout of the Dolphins – he was targeted just once. After the game, he said his zero-catch night was part of the gameplan. That also seemed odd.

Two days later, Moss is headed back to the team which drafted him 1998 to play with Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin.

Oh, and there’s this: the strangeness will continue Monday night when Moss faces the Jets for the second time in three weeks and will continue on Halloween when Moss and the Vikings travel to … yep, you guessed it … New England.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 2:52 pm
 

Hot Routes 9.20.10 Some box score tidbits

Posted by Andy Benoit

In this week’s 10 Stories That Deserve Your Attention, we focused on how LaDainian Tomlinson appears to be handling a much heavier load than expected for the Jets. This is supposed to be Shonn Greene’s backfield. Well, the man Tomlinson essentially replaced, Thomas Jones, is doing the same thing in Kansas City. Jones carried the ball 22 times against the Browns Sunday (83 yards). Jamaal Charles, who is coming off the bench, had 11 carries (49 yards).

Third-round rookie tight end Tony Moeaki led the Chiefs with five catches for 58 yards.

Ndamukong Sun flashed dominance for the second week in a row. Suh recorded a sack against Michael Vick (he may have gotten away with a facemask on the play) and consistently pushed the interior pocket.

How about these rushing statistics for the Cowboys: Marion Barber 11 carries for 31 yards; Felix Jones 7 carries for 7 yards; Tashard Choice 1 carry for -1 yard. Somehow, you can’t help but think this is Tony Romo’s fault.

Trent Edwards was 11/18 for 102 yards and two picks against the Packers. When Marshawn Lynch ran for 14 yards to end the first quarter, that brought Buffalo’s net yardage on the day back to zero. C. Matthews (US Presswire)

Jermichael Finley has his second career 100-yard game. Expect at least five more this season for the best tight end in the NFC.

Should we just go ahead and vote for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award now? Packers linebacker Clay Matthews had three sacks for the second week in a row. This for a guy who sat out virtually the entire preseason with a hamstring injury.

Actually, we’d better not crown Matthews yet. Mario Williams followed his stellar Week 1 performance with a shimmering outing against the Redskins. Williams recorded three sacks, two tackles for a loss and two pass deflections. It’s safe to say the Texans probably don’t win that game without him.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 145 yards on 28 carries against a fairly-staunch Dolphins D. There wasn’t a cheap yard in the bunch. Peterson put on an absolute show late in the second half, showing his familiar powerful burst and uncanny change-of-direction prowess. However, his show came to an abrupt end on the second to last drive, when the Dolphins kept him out of the end zone on four-straight plays from inside the 10.

Chris Johnson had his streak of 100-yard games snapped at 12 by a Steelers D that has given up just one 100-yard rushing performance in its last 36 outings. Johnson managed just 34 yards on 16 carries. He had an 85-yard touchdown called back because of a Eugene Amano holding penalty (even with nose tackle Casey Hampton out, the Titans center had a rough afternoon).

A week after his impressive return to the NFL, Seahawks wideout Mike Williams had just one catch for seven yards against the Broncos.

Wes Welker and Randy Moss were both held to 38 yards receiving.

The Chargers held Maurice Jones-Drew to 31 yards on 12 carries. Rashad Jennings actually got nine carries, producing 38 yards.

Philip Rivers 334 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and an unofficial 3 screams at his offensive linemen against the Jaguars.

Shawne Merriman got on the field for the first time all season and recorded three tackles.

Tim Hightower was the lone bright spot for the Cardinals. With Beanie Wells still out with a knee injury, the third-year running back carried the entire load Sunday. Hightower rushed for 115 yards on 11 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown scamper in which he showed newfound quickness and acceleration.

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Posted on: September 17, 2010 7:29 pm
 

Chris Johnson vs. the Steelers front seven

C. Johnson hasn't had great success in the past against Pittsburgh (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

I wondered if Andy, in his weekly key matchup feature, would look at how the Steelers front seven would try to shut down Titans RB Chris Johnson.

Andy went with Michael Vick vs. the Lions defense (read it; it’s a fascinating look), so that leaves me to make sense of the Tennessee-Pittsburgh game.

Johnson, as you know, has 12-straight games where he’s rushed for at least 100 yards. That’s two off Barry Sanders’ all-time record. But remember, the Steelers are traditionally pretty good at stopping the run – in the past 35 games, an opponent has reached the century mark in rushing only once (Baltimore’s Ray Rice).

So, what will happen Sunday? Well, if the past is any indication, it could be a long day for Johnson. Last year, in the season opener, he gained 57 yards on 15 carries, and the season before, he was held to 69 yards.

But the past two seasons, Johnson – no matter what Adrian Peterson thinks – has been the best RB in the league. Yet the Steelers have their gameplan.

"It's a big priority,” OLB LaMarr Woodley told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "You stop the run, you force a team to go to its passing game, which allows us to bring a little heat and get to the quarterback.

"We hit him as a team (the past two seasons). We constantly got to him. When running backs are taking hits after hits from big guys, they slow down a little bit."

True, but not every team can boast the tackling skills of Woodley, James Farrior and James Harrison. This week, though, Johnson might catch a break because starting NT Casey Hampton is out for the game.

Most important for the Steelers is for the defense to maintain gap control.

"He's not real heavy but he's so fast and strong," NT Chris Hoke told the paper. "He jump-cuts on a dime, he's very quick at making his reads. You have to make sure you're gap-sound on every play because he gets a little crack and he's gone.

"It's easy for a guy like that, to get everybody a little over-excited – you want to make sure he doesn't make a big play so maybe you get out of your gap a little bit and you run to the ball and he cuts back when you're running to the ball. You have to make sure you stay square to the line of scrimmage so there is no cutback lane."

And what does Johnson – and his teammates – have to do in order to get that 100-yard game? The Titans offensive line has to work harder than the Steelers.

"One thing they do a lot of times is just outwork guys," Titans guard Leroy Harris told the Tennessean. "Every guy is working to the whistle, no matter what. Their technique is sound. They hold responsibility. They do their job. They outwork guys and they keep running to the ball.

"You can’t let the other guy outwork you. You don’t let the other guy make the play. We’ll do that. We also make sure we see the different looks they have and the blitzes they have. We get bodies on guys."

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