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This week: Gregg Easterbrook on ...
• Stats of the week
• Cheerleader of the week
• Monday night analysis
• Sweet and sour of the week
• Beefcake of the week
• A tale of three QBs, and two more
• Berman-Jackson lives!
• Wacky food of the week
• Running up the score watch
|Some parts of the Eagles' organization went all-out at the Linc on Sunday; it's just that none was the team.|
In other football news, fortune favors the bold! Trailing Buffalo 13-0 in their home opener, the Dolphins faced a fourth-and-1 on their own 40 at the end of the third quarter. As the punt unit trotted onto the field, TMQ thought, "This has got to be a fake. No self-respecting high school team would punt in this situation." I was sure the up-back would creep toward the line as if counting defenders, then put his hands under center, take the snap and plunge straight ahead. Skies darkened and lightning flashed above my house as the football gods showed their displeasure when the Miami punter swung his leg. As punishment for this ultra-fraidy-cat call, the football gods caused the punt to be blocked; Miami went on to lose 16-6. Down by two touchdowns at home, one yard to go on your own 40 -- you can't seriously be punting! Which leads to the question of whether football teams should ever punt -- a question that will be the subject of an upcoming column.
In more news, it must be election time, since Washington, D.C., looks awful. Flash back to last season. The Redskins won six straight to finish the regular season, making the playoffs and averaging 27 points a game during that run; their season ended with a loss in the divisionals at Seattle, and there's no shame in losing on the road to the eventual Super Bowl entrant. Since things were good at the end of 2005, stay the course, right? But every offseason, Chainsaw Dan Snyder must make dramatic changes, if only to get his name in the papers. So Chainsaw Dan declared dramatic changes -- new offensive coordinator, new offensive system, new receiver corps, departure for Robert Royal, the league's best blocking tight end (the Redskins' runners really miss Royal), other changes. Two games into 2006, Washington has two Ls and one offensive touchdown. As Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted in its NFC preview, by the time this season is over, Redskins fans might wish Snyder had simply done nothing in the offseason, leaving well enough alone.
|"Mr. Chairman, $40 million is a perfectly legitimate budget for investigating Reggie Bush."|
Stat of the Week No. 2: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago and San Diego have won their initial games by a combined 216-29. Stat of the Week No. 3: The Raiders and Bucs have been outscored 96-9. Stat of the Week No. 4: Through the first six quarters of the new season, Chicago outscored its opponents 50-0. Stat of the Week No. 5: Oakland and Tampa have yet to record a touchdown, while Denver and Detroit have scored just one touchdown. Stat of the Week No. 6: Baltimore and Atlanta have not given up a touchdown. Stat: of the Week No. 7: Warrick Dunn of Atlanta has more rushing yards than 26 entire NFL teams. Stat of the Week No. 8: Michael Vick of Atlanta has more rushing yards than 11 entire NFL teams. Stat of the Week No. 9: At 1:17 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 17, Green Bay scored for the first time in the 2006 season. At 2:21 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 17, Oakland scored for the first time in the season. At 2:31 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 17, Tampa scored for the first time in the season. Stat of the Week No. 10: Stretching back to last season, 2005 playoff teams Carolina, Tampa and Washington are on a combined 0-9 streak. Stat of the Week No. 11: Stretching back to 2004, the Colts are on a 23-0 streak in regular season games that matter to the standings or playoff seeding. (Reader stat submitted by Kevin Daly of Indianapolis.) Stat of the Week No. 12: In prime time television games against Pittsburgh, Jacksonville is 5-1. Cheerleader of the Week: James Denas of Cincinnati nominates Liz of the Ben-Gals, who holds a degree in computer engineering and works in the IT department of an Ohio utility company. Liz's mother and sister were also Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders, Denas reports. According to her team bio, Liz's advice to aspiring cheerleaders is to smile. Existential angst is not a career plus in the cheering profession! Not Another Punt! I Can't Look! The punt-happy Jaguars, who took themselves out of last season's key showdown against Indianapolis by punting in Colts territory, faced a fourth-and-2 on the Pittsburgh 39, game scoreless, and launched a mincing fraidy-cat punt (after trying to draw the Steelers offsides, a tactic that has not worked in the NFL since 1963). Next possession, game still scoreless, Jacksonville faced a fourth-and-1 at midfield and launched a mincing fraidy-cat punt. Two possessions later, Jax faced a fourth-and-4 on the Pittsburgh 48 and boomed a punt. Finally in the fourth quarter, Jacksonville led 3-0 and faced a fourth-and-6 on the Pittsburgh 37 -- you just cannot be punting from the opposition's 37! Boom goes the punt into the end zone for a ridiculous net of only 17 yards in field position.
Four preposterous punts in the same game -- yet the Jaguars prevailed. Holy mackerel, did Jacksonville play defense! The Jags held Pittsburgh to an average of just 3.2 yards per play, well below the NFL average of about 5 yards. You'll watch a lot of football (note: a good idea) before you see harder hitting on defense or better pursuit. Sports radio yaks a lot about "statement" games, which rarely actually happen. Last season, Jacksonville had two chances to play a statement game, against Indianapolis in December and against New England in the playoffs, and honked both. But this time Jacksonville seemed totally determined to make its statement, and did. Plus, because Pittsburgh was one play away from the lead until the final moments, this was a rare example of a low-scoring game that was exciting from start to finish. And it ended before midnight Eastern! What more could a football addict ask?
|Maybe this is the year Michael Vick emerges as a true NFL superstar?|
|Playing TMQ: Kutcher's most challenging role. Wait -- that statement is true.|
Sour Game Situation: Chad Johnson of the Bengals got popped hard and staggered off the field woozy with two minutes remaining against Cleveland. Many in the sports-yak world have wondered what he was doing on the field with Cincinnati leading 34-10 and two minutes to play. But wait, Carson Palmer was also on the field, and Rudi Johnson, and the Cincinnati starting offensive line. What were any of these guys doing on the field with two minutes left in a rout? For that matter, why was Cincinnati passing? Two minutes remaining, a 34-10 lead and the first team is still on the field, heaving passes, trying to run up the score. The football gods will exact vengeance for this.
|Since he refuses to play, Jerry Porter has time to work on his six-pack.|
|Can't wait until Roy Williams guarantees a Super Bowl victory for the Lions.|
|Policeman preparing for a low-speed chase.|
|"Damn. Houston, I just let go of my Gatorade and it floated away."|
|He wore alien makeup for 10 seasons, and all he got was this lousy T-shirt.|
|Something you can rely on seeing multiple times every week -- David Carr getting sacked.|
|Opponents just love when Jeremy Shockey performs the first-down signal.|
|Mr. Skinner doesn't go too crazy with his own pay -- but $3.4 mil ain't bad.|