Scouts Buzz: Week 4
Scouts Inc. has the buzz on every NFL game from Week 4, including the Colts continuing to roll and the Chargers continuing to slide.
Scouts Inc. is watching every NFL game and will let you know what had us buzzing after each game. It might be an individual player or a particular play, a theme that played out over the course of the game, or an important sequence that affected the outcome of the game.
Check in with the Scouts Buzz every week to get the inside info on why each game was won or lost and who or what impressed the scouts.
Patriots 34, Bengals 13
New England was able to win this game using their base 4-3 defense a vast majority of the time. With just four men rushing, the Patriots were able to get enough pressure on Bengals QB Carson Palmer to force him into a subpar night with two interceptions. New England coach Bill Belichick wanted to keep maximum coverage in the secondary to prevent the explosive Bengals wide receivers from making any big plays, and the tactic worked as they held Cincinnati to a 1-yard touchdown catch. It wasn't as if the Patriots never blitzed the Bengals, as Belichick did send the rare total blitz package sending as many as seven rushers to force Palmer into some bad throws, but he was selective about when it was done.
-- Doug Kretz
Giants 16, Eagles 3
It became obvious from the Eagles' opening drive that the Giants were going to bring pressure and attack Donovan McNabb, particularly up the middle. They stunted their best pass rushers inside to get to McNabb. They blitzed MLB Antonio Pierce up the gut. They stood up Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora on passing downs with presnap movement and shot them through the A or B gaps. Generally, the Giants' ability to get to the quarterback comes off the edges, but they made McNabb move his feet to avoid pressure and test his healing knee, while still often generating exceptional pressure off the edge. When flushed, McNabb did not show the quickness or ability to escape that he had previous to the injury. Also, without Brian Westbrook in the lineup, the Eagles were not able to exploit the fierce rush with effective screens or explosive edge runs. Meanwhile, the cornerbacks played physically at the line of scrimmage and the Eagles' wide receivers couldn't get off the jams, destroying the timing of routes.
-- Matt Williamson
Chiefs 30, Chargers 16
The Chiefs did a great job of making the Chargers stop themselves with mistakes and turnovers. K.C. defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham relied on his four-man rush to create pressure while dropping seven into coverage on the back end. Starting CBs Ty Law and Patrick Surtain, along with the rest of the secondary, were very physical on the back end and disrupted the timing and rhythm of the San Diego passing game, which made it very difficult for QB Philip Rivers to find open areas in the Chiefs' Cover 2 schemes. Kansas City also dialed up some zone fires and blitzes that pressured the right side of the pocket and hindered Rivers' vision when trying to find passing windows.
-- Keith Kidd
Seahawks 23, 49ers 3
Alex Smith or Trent Dilfer, it really doesn't matter for the 49ers' offense right now. Dilfer replaced an injured Smith (shoulder) early in the first quarter but had the same issues. The Seattle defensive backs took San Francisco out of the game by playing aggressive press coverage against the slower 49ers receivers. Darrell Jackson and Arnaz Battle lack the speed to separate consistently, and that forced Dilfer to hold the ball longer, which led to his being, sacked, hurried and harassed all day long. With TE Vernon Davis out, the Seahawks were able to play their safeties close to the line of scrimmage, take away the run game and lock up the 49ers receivers one-on-one on the outside. Until San Francisco finds a way to open up the offense, it will see many more days like this offensively regardless who is playing quarterback.
-- Jeremy Green
Colts 38, Broncos 20
The Indianapolis offense appeared to sputter early in the game, but the Colts still managed 38 points because they went a perfect 6-for-6 in the red zone (five TDs, one FG). Offensive coordinator Tom Moore and QB Peyton Manning did an outstanding job of coming up with the right calls and finding mismatches in the red zone, and TE Dallas Clark continues to be the ultimate weapon. Clark moved all over the field inside the 10-yard line and did an outstanding job running routes, and with WRs Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison not putting up huge numbers, it is Clark who has been the difference for the Indianapolis offense.
-- Jeremy Green
Falcons 26, Texans 16
Atlanta QB Joey Harrington did an excellent job of getting the ball to all his playmakers and keeping the Houston offense off the field. Harrington's decisions led to high-percentage completions to WRs Michael Jenkins and Roddy White and TE Alge Crumpler. Using slants, option routes and comebacks, Harrington picked apart the Houston secondary; he also took advantage of blown coverages to convert on important third-down plays. Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino has to be happy with Harrington's vision and how he gets the ball to the open man when he sees the blitz.
-- Marwan Maalouf
Lions 37, Bears 27
The Detroit defensive front seven was too physical for Chicago. The Bears' offensive line could not block DTs Cory Redding and Shaun Rogers in the run game or the pass game, and the constant upfield rush Redding and Rogers gave kept Chicago OGs Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage. The game plan by Lions defensive coordinator Joe Barry to pressure Bears QB Brian Griese with LBs Paris Lenon and Boss Bailey worked all day, forcing Griese to make bad decisions, which led to three interceptions and helped Detroit win the field position battle.
-- Marwan Maalouf
Browns 27, Ravens 13
The Cleveland offense set the tone early in this game, and Baltimore just couldn't overcome. Browns offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski did a nice job of mixing up his play selections around RB Jamal Lewis, which took pressure off QB Derek Anderson and allowed Cleveland to attack downfield off play-action. And when the Ravens brought an extra defender into the box the Browns took advantage of single coverage by attacking downfield to WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow. Anderson should get a lot of credit for placing Cleveland in the right protections against an aggressive, attacking Baltimore defense. This was a very impressive win for coach Romeo Crennel and the Browns.
-- Keith Kidd
Packers 23, Vikings 16
Don't let Brett Favre's record-setting touchdown pass overshadow just how well he is playing and just how important he is to a young Green Bay team. Favre's enthusiasm and passion for the game far surpass that of any of his teammates, and his command of the offense in his second year in the system is exceptional. He directs traffic with the best of them, doesn't fear pressure and is deadly accurate in compromising positions, such as throwing off his back foot. Favre is getting everyone who is eligible involved as a pass catcher. He did all of this and more Sunday on the road in a hostile environment, and even though the running game was nonexistent, Favre stayed patient, audibled into the correct plays, and used slants, screens, dump-offs and short crossing patterns to consistently move the ball against Minnesota's two-deep zone.
-- Matt Williamson
Bills 17, Jets 14
The key element in this game was Buffalo's second-half adjustments, or the lack of them. Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild stayed patient with his game plan that relied on RB Marshawn Lynch and the Buffalo running game to take pressure off rookie QB Trent Edwards. The Bills relied on the left side of their offensive line -- LT Jason Peters and LG Derrick Dockery -- to create run seams on the outside for Lynch. By staying patient against a struggling Jets front seven, Buffalo was able to use the running game to set up its play-action attack. Also, Edwards did a great job of attacking open areas in the Jets' short and intermediate areas of the Cover 2 schemes on the back end, which resulted in more manageable third-down situations and extended the drives.
-- Keith Kidd
Cowboys 35, Rams 7
Tony Romo has become one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the NFL since he became the starter in Dallas. In this game, he continued to make plays with his legs and his arm, adding a rushing touchdown to his three passing TDs and using his excellent pocket presence and instincts to improvise and make big plays. This contest got out of hand early in the second half as the Dallas defense rose to the occasion to stymie the undermanned St. Louis offense and Romo exploited the Rams' secondary through the air.
-- Ken Moll
Raiders 35, Dolphins 17
Oakland forced the ground game down Miami's throat, led by the 1-2 punch of LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas. Before Jordan left the game with an injury, he was punishing the Dolphins defenders, and Fargas continued the beating after Jordan left. Miami's poor tackling was glaring on the field and on the stat sheet, as the yards after contact were enormous. The Raiders also saw the kind of play they hoped for when they signed QB Daunte Culpepper in the offseason. He was quick to point out to Miami fans after scrambling for a TD that his knee is just fine. He showed great mobility and was efficient and accurate passing. Those two factors led to an easy Oakland win.
-- Ken Moll
Buccaneers 20, Panthers 7
This game was won in the first half with Tampa Bay taking advantage of great field position thanks to its defense forcing Carolina to punt every time it had the ball. This swarming defense made life miserable for QB David Carr & Co., allowing only a late TD. The Bucs pressured Carr all day -- collecting three sacks and countless other hits -- and performed well in the secondary, shutting down explosive WR Steve Smith (five catches and just 32 yards). Armed with a short field, QB Jeff Garcia directed this offense with confidence and efficiency. Offensive coordinator Bill Muir used a good mix of run and pass, which allowed Garcia to move the chains easily. He showed poise in the pocket and great timing with his receiving corps.
-- Ken Moll
Cardinals 21, Steelers 14
This was an impressive performance from the Arizona defense. In a physical game, especially in the trenches, the Cardinals stuffed Steelers RB Willie Parker at the line and gave him little space to run in. Considering Parker had more than 100 yards in each of his first three games, limiting him to just 37 yards speaks volumes about how well this defense played. But it wasn't only the run defense. The secondary played well, too, allowing just a long TD in the first quarter and a late TD. It forced two picks and held Ben Roethlisberger to just barely better than 50 percent completion percentage.
-- Ken Moll
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Crabtree responds to Sherman: Tired of talk
- Jones-Drew: London deserves an NFL team
- Johnson: Lions 'need to win a Super Bowl'
- Pack hold off Favre return, afraid of booing