Item, item, hoozgotta item.
Next Sunday night's Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants game is suddenly looking a lot more interesting than it was a day or so ago.
The Eagles, who figured to be a pretty decent team -- they were this column's pick to win the NFC championship, but in spite of this, a lot of people thought they'd be OK -- were awful for two weeks. The Giants, who came into the season looking shaky, were terrible for two weeks plus two quarters. But they both got a lot better Sunday.
I told you the Eagles would have a big, hey we're contenders after all game, and they did, with Donovan McNabb torching the Detroit Lions to the tune of 56-21. I also told you it'd be fool's gold, which I'm sticking by. These were the Detroit Lions.
The Giants were down 17-3 on the road to Washington when they sprang to life. All of a sudden able to convert third downs seemingly at will, the Giants scored three unanswered touchdowns, then held Washington with a goal-line stand to seal the game.
The Washingtons had been feeling pretty good about themselves because they were 2-0, though those wins had come against poor teams, Miami and Philadelphia. But wait a minute, Philadelphia might be pretty good after all.
Ah, forget it. Three games down, 13 to go, and I'll have it all figured out in 14 weeks. Not a minute sooner.
Also: Some throwback uniforms are pretty sharp.
Tony Romo had another nice game as the Dallas Cowboys pounded the Chicago Bears in what looked like a torch-passing game Sunday night, 34-10. The defending conference champs are 1-2, and the 3-0 Cowboys just might have enough offensive firepower to overcome their apparent lack of defense.
Ignore the 10 points they held the Bears to. I have a conversion chart here that says holding the Bears to 10 is equal to allowing the Seattle Seahawks to score 28.6.
Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboys quarterback. Up in New England they've got a pretty good quarterback who replaced Bledsoe. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Why not sign Bledsoe to play quarterback for your struggling team, just on the off-chance he's the key?
If nothing else, it's a premise for Dane Cook's next movie. But there are teams around the NFL that could do worse than Drew Bledsoe. There are teams that are doing worse than Drew Bledsoe, like for example the Bears. I don't think the Rex Grossman era can go on much longer, which means that, all kidding about Bledsoe aside, it's time for Brian Griese to approximate adequacy yet again.
John Madden kept talking on the NBC broadcast about how a contending team like the Bears can't just switch to a veteran journeyman quarterback at a time like this. It's one thing if you have an up-and-comer like the Denver Broncos had in Jay Cutler last year, he said, but if you bench the franchise guy in favor of some caretaker, you're going to have to start over next year.
So start over next year. If the Bears are going to win they're going to do it with a dominating defense. All they need is for the quarterback not to actively lose games the defense is winning. A caretaker would work just fine. Where have you gone, Trent Dilfer? (Answer: Clipboard duty in San Francisco.)
This is all academic because the Bears defense isn't dominant anymore, and it took a bunch more injury hits Sunday night, Lance Briggs and Nathan Vasher going down with groin injuries. The good news for them is they've got a good chance to go completely unnoticed for the next month or so in Chicago, or however long it takes the Cubs to get bounced from the playoffs.
Devin Hester is totally buying his own press notices these days. How many times is he going to field a kickoff five yards deep in the end zone and then leisurely decide to bring it out before he figures out that a touchdown doesn't happen every single time he touches the ball, just automatic-like?
Hester also had a fumble and a penalty during the Bears' second-half meltdown Sunday night. Just a lousy game for him.
What's so tough about the Patriots? The secret to beating them is as plain as day: Score 39 points.
Wasn't expecting the Green Bay Packers to be 3-0 at this point, even though I know you were. I was expecting the San Diego Chargers to struggle, though. You've seen San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson arguing on the sidelines in the highlights, right? Rivers said, "It appears to be like we're arguing, but it wasn't really arguing. It was competitive talk."
I'm so using that one with the wife: I'm not arguing, baby. It's competitive talk. Come on, fist bump.
I'm telling you: The Steelers.
Or the Patriots. The Indianapolis Colts are talking about knowing how to win and yada yada as they've now won two straight nail-biters on the road in the division. And neither the Tennessee Titans nor the Houston Texans are slouches. But the Steelers and Pats are destroying opponents while the Colts are squeaking by. There's a clue there.
OK, I hear you. Yes, I remember last year. I remember 1972 also, and the Miami Dolphins aren't going undefeated.
Now that the Oakland Raiders, a team I root for, have won a game in the exact same way they lost a game a week ago -- they called timeout a nanosecond before Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson booted what would have been a game winner, thus making it not count, and then Dawson missed his second try, this time because the Raiders blocked it -- is it OK for me to say that that's just a crap way to win or lose a game?
There's got to be a way to outlaw this kind of chicken-dropping stuff, which doesn't even fly on the schoolyard -- remember trying to call timeout right before you got tagged to be "it"? -- while still allowing, say, the defense to call time before the snap if it realizes it only has 10 men on the field or something.
Actually, I'm just saying that because I suspect the league and most of its fans consider the defense's ability to save itself from a lack of preparation some kind of sacred right. I wouldn't mind at all if teams couldn't call the last-moment defensive timeout either.
How about this: Once the play clock hits 15, or the offense comes to the line of scrimmage, whichever comes first, the defense can no longer call timeout.
Good. Problem solved.
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