Anyone still calling this New York Giants team a fluke? I hope not. It wasn’t easy for the champs, in fact, it was one of the most physical NFL games to this point, but the Giants overcame a 14-9 deficit to score 12 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to steal the 21-14 victory in Pittsburgh. They turned things up so much in that 4th quarter that they limited Big Ben and his offense to just two yards. That’s not a typo. You can tell a lot about a team by how well they respond to adversity and this Giants’ team, dating back to last year, has come up its biggest in pressure situations. While the game wasn’t pretty from an offensive standpoint, Eli Manning made two huge throws late in the 4th quarter - a 30-yard pass to Toomer on 4th and 7 from the 37 and then on the go ahead TD drive, a 25-yard pass to Smith on 3rd and 7 - and he, along with the defense, helped move the Giants to 6-1.
The Cowboys saved their season… well at least for the time being with a 13-9 victory over Tampa Bay at home. All things considered, it was a pretty impressive effort for Wade Phillips and Co. because the team had to overcome the anemic play of QB Brad Johnson. Defensively, perhaps Phillips calling the plays did have an effect because this unit looked nothing like what we’ve seen over the past few weeks. With the win they moved to 5-3 and now head to New York for a critical mid-season match-up with the Giants.
Mike Singletary got off to a rough start in his coaching debut. The 1-5 Seahawks came into San Francisco and rolled the Niners 34-13. What’s more amazing than this outcome however, is it left Seattle just two games out in the NFC West. Unbelievable what parity has done to this league. One positive for the Niners however was Singletary’s handling of TE Vernon Davis. After Davis made a short catch late in the game, he hit S Brian Russell in face and was flagged for a personal foul. Singletary had some choice words for his TE when he came off the field and after a short discussion, sent him to the showers midway through the 4th quarter. I’m not sure what Singletary’s fate will be at the end of the season, but you can bet that the culture is going to change up there with his no- nonsense approach.
Switching to AFC, the San Diego Chargers dug an even deeper hole for themselves with a 37-32 loss to the Saints in England. Luckily for them, they’re in a similar situation to the Seahawks. With this defeat, the Chargers fell to 3-5 yet only remain 1 1/2 games back of the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. And in case you didn’t catch Denver’s game last Monday, they were dismantled 41-7 by the Patriots. So it’s safe to say their lead isn’t insurmountable. As mentioned in an article earlier this week, we said San Diego needed to do two things to fix its season: get Tomlinson running the football consistently and begin to play pressure defense. Well they got one solved today. Tomlinson ran wild and ended up with 105 on the ground and another 65 and a score through the air. Unfortunately for the defense, they didn’t bring pressure and Brees ended up torching them. It’s about time the “fire Ted Cottrell” petitions get handed out in San Diego because a change is long overdue.
Bills fans can calm down a bit now. After jumping to a 4-0, and then 5-1 record, people were asking whether the Bills were now serious Super Bowl contenders in ESPN chatrooms. As we’ve said before, they have a nice little team in Buffalo that should make the playoffs, but legitimate Super Bowl contenders? no way. They were blown out in Arizona a few weeks ago and were beaten prettily handily (25-16) by Dolphins yesterday. Until a team can learn to win on the road, and do so consistently, all Playoff/Super Bowl talk is premature. Especially when the hated New England Patriots have managed to not only get back into the race, but tie themselves for the lead after its 23-16 win over St. Louis.
Lastly, the other team in the AFC East that received so much hoopla prior to the season, the New York Jets. They are bad, and so is Favre. They barely escaped Sunday with a 28-24 victory over to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs at home. In one afternoon, the defense managed to make 3rd-string QB Tyler Thigpen look like an All-Pro and the Chiefs defense look like a top-10 unit with three picks against old man Favre. I know everyone in New York was happy about the release of Chad Pennington in order to get him, but in case you didn’t notice, the Dolphins are now just one win behind the Jets and Pennington has led his team to victories over the Patriots, Chargers and Bills this year. Who have the Jets beaten? Nobody.