GOOD TO SEE the Cowboys cruise to an easy win for a change yesterday -- and by "see" I mean "monitor" the game on NFL.com, which gives incredibly detailed play by play coverage that truly is the next best thing to being there live or watching it live on TV or listening on radio... So it's actually the 4th best way to catch a game. But it was still enjoyable to "watch" Dallas roll off 29 straight points after San Fran scored the game's first 6 points on 2 field goals.
Yesterday also marked the Real Return of Romo, who went 23-39 for 341 yards and 3 TDs, and not un-coincidentally T.O.'s best game since leaving those very same 49ers way back in 2000. Owens racked up 213 yards on just 7 catches, the big strike a 75-yard catch and run that saw #81 bullying his way into the end zone for the last 10 yards. Romo's big day carried Dallas to a 35-22 win that sets them up nicely for a Thanksgiving home tilt versus a struggling Seattle team. There's no line yet in my local paper, but it's gotta be double digits in favor of the Pokes, probably 13-15 if I had to, well, bet. But if Dallas can get past the Seahawks, they'd be sitting at 8-4 with 10 days off. Probably not enough time left to catch the Giants, sitting at 10-1, but considering they have tiebreakers with Washington (7-4) and Tampa Bay (8-3), Dallas would be right in the thick of the wild card race. Their last 4 games are home against the Giants and Ravens, at Pittsburgh and at Philly last game of the year.
Now, that last game obviously could be huge for playoff implications, and by that time one Kevin Kolb could be starting his 4th or 5th straight game for the Eagles. Yesterday saw Donovan McNabb benched for the second half following a putrid 8-18 for 59 yards and with his team losing 17-0 to the Ravens. Kolb wasn't a whole lot better, 10-23 73 yards, and like McNabb he also threw it twice to the other guys. Philly coach Andy Reid promised to announce a starter today, but with the Eagles (5-5-1) all but mathematically out of the postseason picture, why not see what the kid has for the last 5 games of the season.
We saw how long it took Romo to come back after breaking his pinky finger, which was why I was shocked that Cleveland would let Brady Quinn play with his broken finger. The result was an 8-18 day for 94 yards with 2 picks in a dismal home loss to the Texans. Derek Anderson picked right up where Quinn left off in relief, completing only 5 of 14 for just 51 yards and a pick for good measure. It's anyone's guess who's under center next week against the Colts. I'm sure Cleveland would like to see what it has invested in Quinn, but it's a fine line of not wanting to push the kid if he's not healthy with nothing left to play for at 4-7.
Now, there was some good QB play around the league. Chad Pennington threw for 341 yards in a loss to New England, and David Garrard also cracked the 300 barrier in Jacksonville's loss to Minny. And SF's Shaun Hill was surprisingly effective when given time, going 21-33 for 303 yards and a score. But the real story had to be Matt Cassel of the Pats, who cracked the 400 yard barrier for a second straight week with 415 yards on 30 for 43 passing. The odds of this guy throwing for two straight 300 yard games at any point in the season would have been astronomical based on his first few starts after Tom Brady went down in Week 1.
At 90.5, Cassel now sits as the 11th ranked passer in the league based on the complicated but I think fair system of rating QBs, ahead of bigger name guys like Peyton Manning (87.2), Jay Cutler (87.0) and Ben Roethlisberger (80.5). Caseel has completed 66.3% of his passes for 2,615 yards and 13 TDs against 8 INTs. Now, he does have high-quality wideouts in Randy Moss (3 TDs yesterday) and Wel Welker (80 catches on the season), but that's offset by perhaps the weakest set of starting RBs in the NFL (and maybe NCAA) in Kevin Faulk and Sammy Morris. I'll admit to being dead wrong about Cassel not being able to cut it in this league, but this is one the best jobs of coaching a player up in a long, long while.
There are in fact only 3 starting NFL QBs with passer ratings above 100. SD's Philip Rivers (23 TDs, 10 INTs) sits atop the league at 103.3, followed by Kurt Warner (21 and 8) at 102.4 and Romo (101.8), with his 18 TDs and 7 INTs. Two QBs with excellent numbers will play in the Monday Night game, with New Orleans' Drew Brees (3,251 yards through 10 games, a 95.4 rating) and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers (15 TDs against only 6 INTs, a 94.5 rating). And let's not leave out the old guy, Brett Favre, completing over 70% of his passes and a relatively positive TD-INT ratio with 20 TDs versus 13 picks good enough for 94.1 on the QB scale.