Tag:Mike Wallace
Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: January 17, 2011 2:16 pm
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10 championship round stories worth attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Jets Win; So how are we supposed to feel?

Normally, a sixth seeded 8.5-point underdog going on the road and upsetting the runaway Super Bowl favorite would classify as one of those feel-good Cinderella stories. But because the garrulous New York Jets have irritated so many this season, we find ourselves in a silent state of ambiguity. Did anyone actually stop and think befoNew York (US Presswire)rehand about the possibility of the Jets backing up their words? Or were we all too busy preparing our clever one-liners about comeuppance and karma?

Most troubling for Jets haters is that the Jets didn’t just beat the Pats, they beat them while staying true to form. A great example was how Shonn Greene opted for the blatant 15-yard celebration penalty after his de facto final-coffin-nail touchdown run. It was an immature and untimely gaffe that Greene’s coach was surely going to chew him out for. That is, if Greene’s coach hadn’t run (OK, lumbered) to the end zone to join the celebration.

To be fair, Greene’s coach had plenty to celebrate. Rex Ryan said all along that this matchup was about him and Bill Belichick. Well, Ryan won it. The Jets defense stifled New England’s high-powered offense by pressuring Tom Brady (Mike DeVito had his best game of the season; Shaun Ellis had two of New York’s five sacks; Jason Taylor put left tackle Matt Light on skates in the second half).

The Jets pressured Brady primarily by locking down his receivers. Deep in the fourth quarter, Ryan’s gameplan was still befuddling Brady and the Pats (you think New England was intentionally milking the clock on that fruitless 15-play drive?). Maddeningly enough, the Jet most responsible for the lockdown job on Brady’s targets was, aside from the brilliant Darrelle Revis, one Antonio Cromartie. The ex-Charger might be an utterly unlikeable reprobate, but the reality is, the Jets wouldn’t be returning to the AFC Championship without him.

Cromartie wasn’t the only “villain” responsible for the win Sunday. Wideouts Santonio Holmes (who served a four-game suspension early in the season) and Braylon Edwards (who was arrested for DUI in September) both had crucial touchdown catches. And neither was shy about enjoying the moment.

So the Jets walked their talk. No one could have predicted it. After all, they lost by 42 in Foxboro just a month earlier. Not to mention, theirs was the type of talk that even Moses would have had trouble walking. But because they did it, we get at least one more week of hearing them rattle off all the reasons they’re going to win the Super Bowl. And this time, we’ll have to listen quietly.

 

2.) Aaron Rodgers: the best quarterback left? A. Rodgers (US Presswire)

Hard to believe that “Aaron Rodgers has never won a playoff game” was actually a viable storyline earlier this month. Rodgers’ performance at Atlanta Saturday night (31 of 36, 366 yards, three touchdowns) was within arm’s reach of flawless. It was Rodger’s second straight three touchdown-zero interception playoff performance. And let’s not forget, the man registered 633 yards while throwing five touchdowns to just one interception in Green Bay’s final two must-win games on the regular season (coming off his second concussion of the year, no less).

Rodgers is the quarterback many experts would choose if starting a team right now. That’s saying something considering Ben Roethlisberger, two wins away from a third Super Bowl ring, is only 20 months older than Rodgers. Rodgers, like Roethlisberger, has an innate ability to extend a play and find his third or fourth read. Also like Roethlisberger (and Cutler, too), Rodgers is blessed with incredible natural tools (strong arm, mobility, etc.).

But it’s Rodgers’ shrewd presnap awareness that sets him apart. The three other remaining quarterbacks are all, at best, average when it comes to diagnosing a defense before the snap. Rodgers, as his wideouts will tell you, is fantastic. Maybe – MAYBE – that’s because he, unlike the other three remaining quarterbacks, was not shoved into the starting lineup as a first-round rookie.


3.) Sanchez’s Spotlight

An indirect (or perhaps direct) consequence of Rex Ryan’s loquaciousness is that it diminishes the media’s spotlight on quarterback Mark Sanchez. Who’s to say whether that’s Ryan’s intent. (The guess here is it’s not, given that Ryan at one point talked openly about benching his young signalcaller.) But given Sanchez’s youth and the disposition of the New York media, a diminished spotlight is probably a good thing.
M. Sanchez (US Presswire)
Think about the intensity of the spotlight if it weren’t diminished. The Jets traded up to draft the USC superstar  fifth overall. In two seasons Sanchez has led the Jets to two AFC title game appearances. He already holds the franchise record with four career playoff wins. This postseason, he has defeated Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Granted, Sanchez did not outplay Manning. But with three touchdowns and no turnovers at New England, he did outplay Brady. (And besides, we’re talking about a media spotlight here; it doesn’t matter to the headline writers if he outplayed Manning).

This is a quarterback who could easily be overhyped. Adding fuel to the Sanchez fire is the fact that he’s far and away the most prominent Latino player in today’s NFL. Given America’s changing demographics, you think marketing execs aren’t salivating at this?

In a lot of respects, Sanchez still has a long ways to go as an NFL passer. But so did Eli Manning after two seasons. The New York media could not resist the urge to pile on Manning. That’s partly because Manning never had the luxury of playing for an attention-grabbing head coach.

 

4.) The irony of Santonio Holmes

The Jets probably wouldn’t be in the AFC Championship if they hadn’tS. Holmes (US Presswire) brought in Santonio Holmes. His speed, quickness and precise route running have infused a big-play element into an otherwise run-of-the-mill passing game. Holmes’ tiptoe (or tip-right-knee) touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone at Foxboro gave the Jets a critical 10-point advantage late in the second half. Earlier in the year, Holmes helped the Jets keep winning while they went through somewhat of a rough patch by registering a 52-yard catch-and-run set up a game-winning overtime field goal against the Lions in Week 9 and a 37-yard overtime touchdown against the Browns in Week 10.

Where the irony comes in is the Steelers might not be in the AFC Championship if not for dumping Holmes. Sure, Holmes was just as important a big-play weapon for Pittsburgh as he’s been for New York. (We all remember Super Bowl 43.) But Holmes’ extensive off-field transgressions also flew in the face of everything the Rooney Family’s organization stands for. It’s the commitment to character that, in the big scheme of things, has laid the foundation for the Steelers’ six Super Bowl titles.

What’s more, if Holmes didn’t depart Pittsburgh, third-year pro Mike Wallace might not have become a 1,200-yard receiver and lethal big-play specialist. And youngsters Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown probably wouldn’t have gotten enough reps to assume critical roles come playoff time.

 

5.) Jerry Angelo’s and Lovie Smith’s Gambles Pay Off

Before this season, every decision-maker in Chicago was on the hot seat. No seats were hotter than those hosting general manager Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith. In 2009, Angelo gave up a pair of first-round draft choices and handful of attractive ancillary pieces (namely quarterback Kyle Orton) to acquire Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. The cannon-armed but petulant 26-year-old (at the time) tossed a league-high 26 interceptions in his first season as a Bear. L. Smith (US Presswire)

In the ensuing offseason, outside observers understood that Angelo had no choice but to stick with Cutler. What they didn’t understand was why Angelo would not invest in an offensive line to help protect his quarterback. Instead of bringing in reinforcements for one of the least talented front fives in football, Angelo handed more than $40 million in guaranteed money to free agent defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers was a great acquisition, but his price tag would doom the organization if he remained as inconsistent as he was in Carolina.

As it’s turned out, Peppers has been sensational in Chicago. His eight sacks don’t begin to tell the story of his dominance. Brian Urlacher (whose return after missing 15 games with a wrist injury also reinvigorated the Bears D) says his first-year teammate deserves Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Cutler has been less spectacular than Peppers though still good enough to lead the Bears to an NFC North division title (despite operating behind a questionable front five). Credit the arrival of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. And, credit Martz’s arrival to Lovie Smith. Knowing that a fourth straight missed postseason would result in his unemployment, the defensive-minded Smith called upon the most offensive-minded coach football has seen in the past 10 years. Smith and Martz were old friends from their days in St. Louis, but many doubted that there would be enough humility in the air for their seemingly clashing philosophies to gel.

But gel they have, thanks to Smith’s willingness to be hands-off. He has let Martz handle the offense. He’s let Mike Tice, another former head coach, handle the offensive line. Tice has made chicken soup out of chicken…well, you know.

The offensive line’s consistent improvements are comparable to the consistent improvements of Chicago’s more-talented defensive line. Israel Idonije and Matt Toeaina have been particularly impressive, thanks to the tutelage of Rod Marinelli, the defensive line specialist who accepted the defensive coordinating responsibilities thrust upon him by Smith.

In all, with his job on the line, Lovie Smith delegated major responsibilities to three former head coaches who are now assistants on his staff. How many of the other 31 Type A personalities running NFL teams would be willing to do THAT?


6.) The AFC’s Rich Defensive Casts

The Jets and Steelers both run 3-4 defenses littered with big-name stars. For the Jets, it begins and ends with Darrelle Revis, the best shutdown corner since Deion Sanders (if not the best all-around cornerback of the post 80’s era). Then there’s playmaker Antonio Cromartie. And inside linebackers Bart Scott (outspoken Pro Bowl caliber veteran) and David Harris (tackling machine whom colleagues voted team MVP). Plus, outside linebacker Jason Taylor is a future Hall of Famer. I. Taylor (US Presswire)

The Steelers, of course, have the most identifiable defensive player in football: Troy Polamalu. Outside linebacker James Harrison is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and his counterpart LaMarr Woodley is not far behind. Plus, most fans recognize nose tackle Casey Hampton because a.) He’s the size of a small house and b.) He’s the fulcrum to a run defense that, in nine years under Dick LeBeau, has never ranked worse than No. 3.

LeBeau, a Hall of Fame player and innovator of the 3-4’s famed zone blitz, is a star himself – just like the coach behind the Jets’ complicated 3-4 scheme. All in all, the 2010 AFC Championship is ripe with big defensive names. But without the little defensive names, neither team would be here.

For the Jets, as we highlighted a few weeks ago, defensive end Mike Devito has been playing out of his mind. So has Shaun Ellis, who recorded two sacks and a slew of quarterback pressures against the Patriots. Backup nose tackle Sione Pouha, who took over when Kris Jenkins went down in Week 1, has also been pushing the pile with regularity. Pouha’s not the only backup thriving; safety Eric Smith has done a noble job filling in for injured defensive signalcaller Jim Leonhard. Smith brings valuable headhunting prowess to what is an otherwise finesse secondary (Revis aside), plus he’s a reliable filler against the run.

On Pittsburgh’s D, because Ike Taylor drops interceptions the way John Mayer drops women, many don’t recognize him as an elite corner. But that’s exactly what the lanky 6’2” veteran is. Taylor’s ability to shadow in man coverage and extend his long arms into passing lanes out of zone positions make him a bona fide stopper (which is exactly what a cornerback is supposed to be). What’s more, Taylor, like every Steeler defender, can tackle.

Before he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, defensive end Brett Keisel would have earned an Ike Taylor-like “unsung hero” paragraph. Keisel is finally getting the recognition he deserves, so instead of piling on there, we’ll close by mentioning that Ryan Clark (aka “Pittsburgh’s other safety”) is one of the fiercest openfield hitters in the NFL.


7.) Rethinking Brady, Belichick and the Patriots

Stop and think about New England’s last three playoff appearances. There was the stunning divisional round loss at home to the rival Jets on Sunday. Last year, it was the blowout wild card loss at home to the Ravens. And in 2007 it waT. Brady (US Presswire)s the astonishing Super Bowl defeat and derailed perfect season at the hands of the Giants.

We think of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick almost as untouchable geniuses above all criticism. That’s understandable. They’re still the only head coach-quarterback duo to ever win three rings in a four-year span. And the reason two of their last three playoff defeats have been so shocking is because of the dominance that immediately preceded it: New England was a perfect 16-0 in ’07 and an NFL-best 14-2 in ’10.

That said, it was six years ago that Belichick and Brady last hoisted a Lombardi Trophy. And keep in mind, in 2006, the Patriots blew an 18-point second half lead to Indy in the AFC Championship.

Is this story meant to call into question the reputation of the NFL’s current greatest head coach and quarterback? Absolutely not. Over the past six years, Belichick and Brady have still accomplished more with less talent around them than anyone in football. But the beginning chapters of these men’s book were about the auras of two untouchable legends. In the middle chapters, that aura evaporated.


8.) Pro Bowl Snubs Shine

There were two NFC cornerbacks whom many felt got the shaft from Pro Bowl voters: Green Bay’s Tramon Williams and Chicago’s Charles Tillman. Largely because of their performance in the divisional round, both will be on the field for the NFC Championship Sunday.

Williams’ postseason brilliance began a week earlier than Tillman’s. The athlT. Williams (US Presswire)etic undrafted veteran who took over the No. 2 job when Al Harris blew out his knee last season clinched Green Bay’s wild card victory with an end zone interception in the closing minutes at Philly. Williams snagged a second end zone pick in similar fashion at Atlanta: by maintaining underneath technique against a bigger receiver (in this case, Michael Jenkins). After keeping points off the board with two interceptions, Williams put points on it with his third. With nine seconds left in the first half and the Falcons trying to get in field goal range, Williams jumped Matt Ryan’s ill-advised sideline pass to Roddy White and took it to the house for a momentum-swinging 14-point lead that Atlanta would not overcome.

As for Tillman, his excellence was key to Chicago's defensive dominance against Seattle. The Bears’ only true cover corner normally mans the left side of the D. But on Sunday, Tillman shadowed Mike Williams, holding Matt Hasselbeck's No. 1 target to four catches for 15 yards. Yes, Williams caught two touchdowns, but the second was thanks to sheer luck that resulted from Tillman’s textbook deflection.

It will be interesting to see what matchups Tramon Williams and Tillman draw this Sunday. Williams has the speed to run with Johnny Knox outside (figure the Packers will put an inside defender on Devin Hester, as Hester usually aligns in the slot). Tillman will have to rely on his physicality to keep the quicker Greg Jennings in check.


9.) Seahawks-Bears: Tough Watch

So the Seattle Seahawks weren’t a Cinderella team after all; watching them at Chicago was more like watching one of the evil stepsisters dance at the ball. Or like watching a sub-.500 team try to win a playoff game on the road. The game felt over before the midpoint of quarter two. As divisional round contests go, it was awful television. Shame. J. Cutler (US Presswire)

But whatever, doesn’t matter now. Besides, the story of Sunday’s unwatchable NFC divisional round game wasn’t the Seahawks, it was the Bears. Jay Cutler threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns in his first postseason game since high school. Aside from a small handful of first half glitches, Chicago’s once-putrid offensive line gave Cutler all the time in the world to throw. And when Cutler couldn’t find a receiver, he scrambled for positive yardage (he finished with 43 yards and two touchdowns on eight runs).

On the other side of the ball, the results were what you’d expect from the NFC’s No. 1 run defense going up against the NFC’s No. 16 run offense. With the Seahawks feeling compelled to throw on 49 of 61 offensive snaps, the Bears were able to sit back in that Lovie Smith Cover 2 and let their speed take over. Mike Williams, who appeared to tweak his upper leg early in the game, was manhandled by Charles Tillman. That hurt because the loss of tight end John Carlson (head injury) prevented Seattle from fully attacking Chicago’s questionable safeties.

If you want to get picky, the only concern Bears fans can take away from Sunday is that their defense took its foot off the gas late in the fourth quarter.


10. Quick Hits

*Most people believe that the Ravens lost at Pittsburgh because of turnovers. That’s valid, though let’s not forget, late in the fourth quarter Anquan Boldin dropped a huge touchdown in the end zone and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who had been carping for more balls all season, dropped a very catchable fourth-and-19.

*Terrell Suggs should change his name to Terrell Rooney because he owns the Steelers. Suggs had three sacks Saturday, giving him 15.5 in 18 career games against Pittsburgh.

*A storyline from Baltimore that didn’t get talked about (because of the nonstop intensity of the contest itself) is whether this was Ed Reed’s final game. The future Hall of Fame safety is 32 and contemplated retirement this past offseason.

*The Atlanta Falcons need to add one more playmaker to the center of their defense. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is solid but does not have star tools. Neither of the safeties is a game breaker.

*Was anyone else surprised that Pete Carroll elected to punt with his team down 28-10 and just over six minutes to play?

*When Danny Woodhead fumbled in the fourth quarter (recovered by the Patriots) it brought to mind the episode of Hard Knocks where Rex Ryan flipped out in the preseason finale after so many of the Jets backups fumbled. In that episode, Ryan put Woodhead back in the game specifically because he knew he wouldn’t cough up the ball.

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 10:47 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 12:32 pm
 

Steelers vs. Ravens: 7-Point Divisional Preview

Posted by Josh Katzowitz



CBSSports.com's patented and award-winning 7-point preview gets you ready for each and every playoff game. As an added bonus, check out our playoff podcast preview:



1. Baltimore Ravens (No. 5, AFC, 13-4) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 2, AFC, 12-4)

This is perhaps the best rivalry in the NFL today. No, strike the “perhaps.” It is the No. 1 rivalry for toughness, defensive struggles, bloody and broken noses and grit. We’re lucky enough to see these two AFC North squads play twice a year, but it’s always an extra treat to watch them face off in the playoffs.

These two had the same regular-season record, and when they met in Week 4 and Week 13, both contests were decided by three points – one win for the Ravens and one for the Steelers. LB Terrell Suggs said earlier this week that the winner of this game will triumph in the Super Bowl. He might very well be right.

2. PLAYOFFS?! Watchability Ranking



I hate going five out of five, but in the Divisional Playoffs, to get this matchup, there’s really no other choice.

3. Key Matchup to Watch: Ravens offensive line vs. Steelers linebackers

For the second straight week, Baltimore’s tackles will have to figure out how to slow down the opponent’s 3-4 defense linebacking corps. Last week, the Chiefs sacked Ravens QB Joe Flacco four times and put pressure on him throughout the game, and Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali made life very difficult for the Ravens offensive line.

Baltimore LT Michael Oher had a particularly tough time protecting his quarterback, and if he continues to struggle, Steelers LBs James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons will be happy to take shots at Flacco.

But it’s not just about pass protection. The offensive line also has to open holes for RB Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, and if they can’t get into the second level of the Pittsburgh defense, the Ravens are going to have big problems. The Steelers allow only 62.8 rushing yards per game – by far, the best number in the league – and the two times these two teams played this year, Rice combined for 17 carries and 52 yards.

If the offensive line can’t help him improve on those numbers, it’s going to be very tough for Baltimore’s offense to find enough balance to beat the Steelers.

4. Potentially Relevant Video

Those Troy Polamalu Head & Shoulders commercials are pretty hit or miss. Some are fairly funny; some are disastrous. But what I like best about them is that Polamalu is actually a pretty effective comedy actor. “You asked with your eyes, Trent. You asked with your eyes."



5. The Ravens will win if ...

QB Joe Flacco continues to hit TE Todd Heap every chance he gets. Flacco targeted Heap 13 times last week in Kansas City, and Heap caught 10 of those passes for 108 yards. If he finds the end zone a couple times vs. the Steelers, Baltimore could pull off its second-straight road playoff win.

6. The Steelers will win if ...

QB Ben Roethlisberger can pick apart the Ravens secondary. Which he should do. Aside from Reed, who’s still world class, and Chris Carr, Baltimore’s defensive backs corps is awfully mediocre.

7. Prediction: Steelers 16, Ravens 10



Posted on: January 8, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Steelers prepping their young wideouts

Posted by Andy Benoit

For as much as Hines Ward smiles, doesn’t he just seem like one of those guys you wouldn’t want to have in your ear, riding you all afternoon? That’s ostensibly what the Steelers’ young trio of wide receivers – Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown – had to deal with in practice all week.

“This week is young guys emphasis week,” Ward told Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune. “They’re getting a lot of reps.” Ward knows what the young guys don’t: playoff football is different from regular season football.

“They don’t have a clue, what they’re about to step into,” he said. “They only know what the veterans tell them.

“We don’t have series like hockey and baseball and basketball where you lose a game and you’ve got a chance the next day. That’s why every play is magnified. If you drop a crucial third-down (pass) you never know, that might be the difference between winning or losing that game.”

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Posted on: January 3, 2011 9:39 pm
 

Headline: Hot Routes 1.3.11: final stats overview

Posted by Andy Benoit



Because nobody cares about the box scores in Week 17, we’ll use this opportunity to take a final look at some of the interesting individual player stats from the 2010 NFL season.
  • Brandon Lloyd wound up leading the league in receiving yards (1,448). Second in receiving was Roddy White (1,389) who, oddly enough, had 38 fewer receptions than Lloyd.
  • Chris Johnson finished with1,364 yards rushing, which ranked seventh in the NFL and left him 1,136 yards shy of his preseason goal.
  • Guess who finished sixth in the NFL in passer rating: Josh Freeman. The Bucs will be a very trendy pick in 2011 – you watch.
  • Tom Brady had 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The last time we saw a ratio this impressive was…well, Tom Brady. In 2007 he threw 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
  • Danny Amendola finished ninth in the NFL in total receptions (85) but averaged just 8.1 yards per catch. The 8.1 yards was easily an all-time low for a wide receiver with at least 60 receptions.
  • DeSean Jackson had a 1,000 yard season despite only 47 receptions. He averaged 22.5 yards per catch (or nearly three Danny Amendola catches per catch).
  • Mike Wallace averaged 21.0 yards per catch and finished fifth in the entire NFL in receiving yards.
  • Devin Hester set an NFL record by averaging 17.1 yards per punt return.
  • DeMarcus Ware wound up leading the NFL in sacks (15.5). Did anyone even know that Ware was in contention for a sack title? His three sacks in the final game against Philly’s backups pushed him ahead of Tamba Hali (14.5 sacks).
  • Ed Reed played in only 10 games but still led the NFL with eight interceptions.
  • The interceptions leader list also tells us that two first-round rookie cornerbacks really lived up: New England’s Devin McCourty (seven picks) and Cleveland’s Joe Haden (six).
  • Miami’s Dan Carpenter, a Pro Bowler in ’08, tied Washington’s Graham Gano for the league-lead in missed field goals (11). Both won Special Teams Player of the Week awards at some point during the season, though.


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Posted on: December 23, 2010 9:37 pm
 

Wallace eats it after TD, but Steelers in control

Posted by Will Brinson

If you ever wanted evidence of why the Panthers are 2-12, it's on display Thursday night against the Steelers. The defense is good enough to stop even potent offensive teams.

But because their offense (specifically, the passing game) is so embarrassingly bad, the struggle to move the ball sufficiently, eventually give up the ball and then big plays.

Like this one, in which Ben Roethlisberger hits Mike Wallace on a quick slant that suddenly becomes six points. Bonus: Wallace completely eats it on the warning track.



Unfortunately for the Panthers, Wallace doesn't lose any style points and the score is still 10-0, which, even if Pittsburgh remains scoreless the rest of the way, might actually be enough to hand the 'Cats another loss.

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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: September 29, 2010 12:35 pm
 

Tanard Jackson to enter rehab

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

According to a report on NFL.com, Buccaneers S Tanard Jackson, who was suspended indefinitely (but, at the very least, for a year) after violating the league’s substance abuse policy and program for the third time, will check into a rehab center in the near future. 

Steve Wyche writes Tampa Bay will keep Jackson, even though his suspension hurt the Buccaneers last Sunday. In his place, they had to start rookie seventh-round pick Cody Grimm, and he didn’t play very well, allowing Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace to catch a 46-yard TD pass from Charlie Batch.

Andy suggested last week that Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik might want to place a call to Ken Hamlin, but Hamlin re-signed with Baltimore today, so that option is out the window.

Coach Raheem Morris has said, though, the Bucs will continue to look for free agents who can help minimize Jackson's absence.

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Posted on: August 21, 2010 8:27 pm
Edited on: August 21, 2010 8:37 pm
 

Big Ben so-so in debut

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In his first action since the end of last season, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger had mixed results in the first half of tonight’s Steelers-Giants exhibition game.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , Roethlisberger took 20 snaps (including one that didn’t count because of a holding penalty). He went 6 for 8 for 76 yards, and Giants CB Corey Webster intercepted him when he underthrew WR Mike Wallace.

Overall, Roethlisberger played in three series before giving way to Byron Leftwich in the second quarter. Those three drives produced three points.

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