Commentary

This and That

Updated: September 15, 2008, 3:27 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Each week I'll talk about the world of sports...

•For those who questioned the Patriots and life without Tom Brady, Bill Belichick's team made a statement with a win at the Meadowlands. Give a lot of credit to the New England defense, which did a super job against the Jets. Matt Cassel made the plays needed to get to the winner's circle, and New England's depth at running back was a positive.

•The Minnesota Vikings have to be heartbroken after blowing a 15-0 lead to the Colts. You can never write off Peyton Manning, no matter what the score is. He was brilliant in the second half, and Anthony Gonzalez put up his best numbers as a pro. Tony Dungy has to be concerned with his ground game and Joseph Addai was really held in check.

•Another team that is a surprising 0-2 is San Diego. It was heartbreak hotel for a second straight week as Norv Turner's team lost on a two-pointer in the final seconds. Give Mike Shanahan a lot of credit for having the guts to go for two instead of kicking a tying extra point. There was controversy in the game as the Chargers called for a replay on a Chris Chambers fumble. There was a failure in the replay system and the call was upheld. Replays over the air showed the Chargers had a legitimate beef.

•The Green Bay Packers are off to a flying start, winning both of its division games. Aaron Rodgers has done a fine job, throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions. Charles Woodson enjoyed his return to the state of Michigan, coming through despite being listed as questionable during the week. Not too many people are asking Mike McCarthy about Brett Favre right now.

•USC sent a message loud and clear with an impressive win over a very good Ohio State squad. The Trojans totally dominated and Mark Sanchez is the latest of a solid line of quarterbacks under Pete Carroll. The USC defense also stood out in the victory. It looks like Carroll's team is in the driver's seat out west, especially when you consider the Pac-10 suffered four losses to Mountain West teams on Saturday: BYU blew out UCLA; TCU got past Stanford; New Mexico beat Arizona; and UNLV stunned Arizona State.

•Notre Dame battled through the inclement weather and the injury to coach Charlie Weis to get a big win over Michigan. Remember the Wolverines did a number on the Irish last season, 38-0. For Weis, the pain from the injury to his knee was lessened by the pleasure of the win. Racing off to a 21-0 start certainly helped.

•South Florida had a great win over Kansas last Friday. The Bulls were down 20-3, but Jim Leavitt's team came back. Then the Jayhawks rallied, only to see South Florida win on a last-second field goal. That was a big W for the Big East, a conference which got off to a slow start this season.

•The baseball races are getting more interesting. The Red Sox enter the big series in Tampa this week just one game behind the Rays in the AL East. Joe Maddon's team enjoyed a couple of big wins at Fenway last week, and those were so important to boost the team's confidence. Tropicana Field should be rocking and rolling for this three-game series and I hope there are three sellouts. I would be disappointed if the place wasn't packed.

•The Phillies are right in the playoff chase, within striking distance of the NL East-leading Mets. There is also the wild card possibility after a strong showing Sunday against the Brewers. I feel the White Sox and Twins will battle down to the wire in the AL Central. It should be exciting as we reach crunch time, baby!

•This should be an exciting week with the Ryder Cup golf and Davis Cup tennis going on. The U.S. squads will be really challenged. Nick Faldo has a strong European team. Patrick McEnroe leads the Americans against Rafael Nadal, going to Spain for the Davis Cup semifinal.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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