1. When Vince Young and Jay Cutler were drafted three years ago, all I heard was how Young couldn't throw the ball and Cutler could. But rewind Young's touchdown pass that beat Arizona and tell me what you see. It's the exact same throw Cutler tried to make in the dying seconds against San Francisco, only his pass was intercepted. The difference between Young and Cutler is not in their arms; it's in their heads. Young knows how to win; Cutler does not.
2. Here's what I like most about Young's game-winning, 99-yard drive: He converted three fourth downs and one third -- and all with his arm. If Young can somehow beat Indianapolis next week, the Titans could run the table -- with San Diego, on Christmas Day, the only opponent left with a winning record. People tell me Tennessee can't win 10 straight, but why not? It did it last season.
3. Sorry, but Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris has no one to blame but his defensive coordinator for Sunday's last-minute collapse ... which means he has nobody to blame but himself. Morris fired his offensive and defensive coordinators in their first years on the job, and that doesn't say much about his decision-making.
4. Eli Manning? I'll tell you who should have a "stress reaction:" Giants coach Tom Coughlin. His team is a mess and, barring a miraculous recovery, will not make the playoffs for the first time since Manning took over as the full-time starter.
5. The Cincinnati Bengals blew down the AFC North, winning all six of their starts, and I'll tell you how: Defense. They allowed 80 points in this season's division games, and no more than 14 in each of their last four. A year ago, they allowed 136 points, and that included a shutout of Cleveland.
6. It's time to add Houston coach Gary Kubiak to the endangered list. He hasn't had a winning season in four years, is in the midst of a three-game slide and just blew a must-win game to Indianapolis after leading 17-0 ... at home, no less.
7. Peyton Manning last week called Dallas Clark the best tight end in the business, and he will get no complaint from Houston. Clark shredded the Texans for 23 catches this season and scored the go-ahead touchdown Sunday.
8. I know one guy who wants to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick as Buffalo's starting quarterback: Terrell Owens. He has touchdown passes of 98 and 51 yards the past two weeks; he had one TD before, with no reception longer than 46 yards.
9. I'm sorry, but Carolina absolutely, positively must draft a quarterback. Jake Delhomme is too inaccurate, throwing two or more interceptions in five of his 11 starts this season. Worse, in his last 12 games, including the 2008 playoffs, he has 23 interceptions. Check, please.
10. Close the polls for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Minnesota's Percy Harvin wins it in a landslide.
11. Let's be honest: Pittsburgh and Arizona had no choice but to sit their quarterbacks. With all the attention given concussions in the NFL it would have been foolish, if not reckless, for the Steelers and Cards -- as well as Ben Roethlisberger and Kurt Warner -- to have them play one week after suffering head injuries.
12. My guess: Buffalo has next to no shot at Mike Shanahan, and not because of the money. It's because of the quarterback. I see Shanahan going where there's an established quarterback, as there was in Denver when he arrived in 1995. With John Elway, Shanahan was 7-1 in the playoffs and won two Super Bowls; without him, he was 1-4 in the postseason, lost half of his last 48 games and failed to make the playoffs the past three years.
13. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If we're going to keep Detroit in the Thanksgiving Day rotation ... and we should ... let's move the Lions to the evening game, where half the country can't see them. It's called a public service.
14. Philadelphia can exhale. Not only did the Eagles survive Washington; defensive end Juqua Parker could have -- no, should have -- been called for a personal foul when he body-slammed Jason Campbell on Washington's last snap.
15. I'll tell you what caught my eye about that Indianapolis come-from-behind victory, and it wasn't what Peyton Manning did. It's what he said: "We talk about playing that complete game. I don't think we've done that this year." They're 11-0 and won their last 20. How much better can you get?
Sez them ... or Rapid Reporters' Rewind
From Josh Katzowitz in Cincinnati ... Looks like Larry Johnson has found a home. After rushing for 107 yards, Johnson said he always admired the AFC North because of "how much they run the ball. In my old division [AFC West] you had to throw it 100 times a game."
More from Katzowitz ... With Johnson and Bernard Scott combining for 194 yards rushing, injured back Cedric Benson was asked how the Bengals would divide the carries once he recovers. "That's a weird question," he said. "I wasn't aware I had to share time."
More from Katzowitz ... Last week, a penalty sank the Browns at the end of the game. This time it was Shaun Rogers' horse-collar penalty at the end of the first half that led to a Cincinnati field goal. "It's a three-point penalty," said an annoyed Eric Mangini.
Even more from Katzowitz ... Cleveland may have found itself a quarterback in Brady Quinn, and that's not my opinion; it's the word of Bengals safety Chinedum Ndukwe. "You saw the type of heart he had with that sneak near the goal line," he said. "He didn't have to lay out at the goal line and do what he did. The kid's a warrior. Once he gets in the right system and has the right people around him he's going to be a great quarterback in this league."
From Jason Butt in Atlanta ... While most persons talk about the game-winning TD pass to Roddy White, the deciding play was Tampa Bay's fake punt at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Falcons had no momentum and couldn't move the ball. Taking a chance was a mistake, and coach Raheem Morris owned up to it afterward.
From Mark Ludwiczak in Buffalo ...Ryan Fitzpatrick isn't the answer at quarterback for Buffalo, but at least the Bills have a vertical passing game with him in the lineup.
From Tom Krasovic in San Diego ... Linebacker Shawne Merriman's playing time has gone down since sacking Eli Manning in a Nov. 8 win over the New York Giants. Merriman has a sore foot. "I have concerns because of Merriman," said coach Norv Turner. "We want to get him back where he is healthy and [can] play for an extended period of time."
From Michael Erler in San Francisco ... With six sacks, the 49ers in one afternoon produced almost one third of their total (19) entering Sunday's game.
More from Erler ... If you're looking for the key to San Francisco's defeat of Jacksonville, go no farther than Red Zone offense. In three trips, the Jags fumbled twice and missed a field goal; in three trips, the 49ers had two touchdowns and a field goal.
And more from Erler ... Jack Del Rio should take heat for calling only five running plays in the first half for star back Maurice Jones-Drew. Some of the Jags' offensive linemen were grumbling about it afterward.
From Darren Wolfson in Minnesota ... With two more fumbles, Adrian Peterson has 19 (12 lost) in 41 career games. "It's something you want to rectify," said coach Brad Childress.
More from Wolfson ... Brett Favre needed only 18 yards passing in the last 12 minutes to break his career high of 402, but he didn't make it. He sat out the final series, giving way to Tarvaris Jackson, and finished with 392, the fourth-highest total of his career.
Five things I like
1. Tennessee owner Bud Adams as GM of the Year. Without his arm twisting, I'm not sure Vince Young plays another down in Tennessee. And without Vince Young the Titans are as lifeless as Dartmouth football.
|Darrelle Revis keeps shutting down big-time receivers. This time it's Steve Smith. (US Presswire)|
3. Darrelle Revis on your best receiver. He shut down Andre Johnson. He shut down Randy Moss. Now, he holds Steve Smith to one catch for five yards. This guy's a slam dunk for the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams.
4. The groundswell of fan support for Ray Guy to make the Hall of Fame. Guy's exclusion is and always has been a pet peeve of mine. He was the NFL's greatest punter, yet he's not in the Hall -- and don't ask me why. One voter told me it's because specialists don't belong. OK, then throw out Jan Stenerud. Another said his stats weren't all that great. Pardon, me, but I don't need to see stats; I saw the man play. There was no one close. Ever. There is an award given annually to the nation's best collegiate punter, and it's not the Jerrel Wilson award or the Reggie Roby award or the Shane Lechler award. It's the Ray Guy award, and it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out why. Somebody please remind the board of electors at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. Vince Young beating Matt Leinart on the last play. It happened once. It happened again. I don't think I need to explain. Just roll the videotape.
Five things I don't
1. Playing Matthew Stafford with a dislocated left shoulder. It was a meaningless game, and Stafford was in distress. So why play him? I know the Lions want to win a Thanksgiving Day game sometime before the national debt is erased, but c'mon, guys, Stafford's health is a bigger concern.
2. Live mikes on the sidelines. The NFL Network dropped in on Denver's Josh McDaniels when he was berating his offense, and surprise, surprise, it picked up a couple of F-bombs -- forcing announcers to apologize. Hey, here's an idea: Shoot McDaniels -- and everyone else -- without the audio. Your audience can still see they're steamed, but you spare talking heads the apologies.
3. McDaniels' explanation to ESPN for talking back to San Diego's Shaun Phillips. According to the network, he said the Bolts linebacker told him he would "kick his [butt]." Yeah, well, so what? Coaches are coaches because they're supposed to be smarter, bigger and better than potty-mouthed players. McDaniels wasn't.
4. Houston without tight end Owen Daniels. It hasn't won without him and is all but cooked for the playoffs.
5. Anything about the Chicago Bears. They can't run. They can't play defense. And their quarterback has two or more interceptions in five of six road games. They lost all five. "We feel like crap today," coach Lovie Smith said after getting blown out by Minnesota. Maybe that's because they looked like crap the past two months. They lost six of their last seven, with three opponents each scoring 36 or more points, and saved the worst for Sunday when the Bears had 12 second-half snaps for a grand total of two yards.
Just asking but ...
• MVP favorite -- Peyton Manning or Brett Favre?
• Any chance Jeff Fisher shows up in Indy in a Colts jersey?
• Now that Charlie Weis has been fired, who makes the first move on him?
• What's wrong with the Giants' defense?
• Who wins first -- St. Louis, Cleveland or Tampa Bay?
• 0 -- Road wins for Washington
• 2 -- Total yards for Chicago in the second half
• 4 -- San Diego touchdowns following Kansas City turnovers
• 7 -- Times Cleveland has not exceeded seven points in a game
• 7 -- Missed field goals by Jason Elam, Atlanta's placekicker ... for now
• 7 -- Times Minnesota exceeded 30 points in a game
• 107 -- Yards rushing by Larry Johnson
• 129 -- Houston penalty yards
• 134 -- Fourth-quarter points allowed this season by Miami
• 7-9 -- New York Giants over their last 16 games
• 15-1 -- Peyton Manning vs. Houston
• 20-4 -- San Diego's record vs. the AFC West, dating back to 2006
My top five
2. New Orleans
4. New England
5. San Diego
My bottom five
30. St. Louis
29. Tampa Bay
Next week's three best games
Tennessee at Indianapolis ... Next week's Game of the Year.
Dallas at N.Y. Giants ... Time to move Big Blue to life support?
Minnesota at Arizona ... Hall of Fame showdown: Warner vs. Favre