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Week 6 Judgements: Moss brings back gloss to Favre

by | Senior Writer

1. Randy Moss is everything the Minnesota Vikings hoped, and not because he's catching a raft of touchdown passes ... because he's not. Nope, what he's done is revitalize Brett Favre, and you could see it a week ago in the second half of the Vikes' Monday night loss to the New York Jets. Favre was a mistake-prone, spiritless, directionless quarterback until hooking up with Moss that evening for a 37-yard second-half touchdown. With that pass, Favre suddenly seemed himself again, and, no, I don't care that he threw that last-gasp interception. I care that he unloaded three second-half TD passes, and that's the Brett Favre I saw against Dallas one week later. He looks vital again. He looks sharp again. And he's not making the mistakes that sank the Vikes early this season. The evidence, please: In his last six quarters Favre has thrown for 351 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception and a passer rating of 99.09. Compare that to his first three-and-a-half games when Favre threw for 628 yards, had two TDs, six interceptions and a rating of 60.1, and it's easy to say that Moss has had an immediate impact on his quarterback.

2. This is why it's hard to take the Houston Texans seriously: They surrendered 92 points in their last three home games, and that's not what I'd call a home-field advantage. It's more like a liability waiting to be exploited. But this is why it's harder to take the Texans seriously: They just lost All-Pro linebacker DeMeco Ryans, their leading tackler in three of his four pro seasons, for the year. Houston, you definitely have a problem.

3. Denver coach Josh McDaniels said he wasn't "going to complain" about that devastating pass-interference penalty against Renaldo Hill that cost Denver a game ... and he shouldn't. Hill didn't merely make contact with wide receiver Santonio Holmes; he mugged him, first pulling the wide receiver from behind before grabbing his face mask. Talk about an easy call. I wouldn't complain about it, either, Josh.

4. Make that a signature victory for the Jets, and not just because it happened in Denver but because they overcame mistakes they didn't make the first five games. You can look it up. Through the first five starts the Jets had one turnover. Against Denver they had three. Yet they still managed to pull out a victory, coming within one snap of a loss. "We stole one," said quarterback Mark Sanchez. Good teams do that.

5. It's official now. Philadelphia has itself a full-blown, honest-to-goodness quarterback controversy. All those for Kevin Kolb over here, and all those for Michael Vick form a line behind coach Andy Reid. Of course, it's Reid who makes the decision, and he insists Vick retains his job when he recovers from injured ribs. Good luck taking that to the phones on WIP.

6. Nobody has benefited more from the 49ers' change of offensive coordinators than Michael Crabtree. In three games with new coordinator Mike Johnson, Crabtree has 18 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns. With Jimmy Raye, he had six catches for 81 yards and no scores. A coincidence? Please. When the 49ers made Crabtree their first pick of the 2009 draft they believed they acquired a franchise wide receiver. But you can't be the franchise if you don't get the ball, and so rather than switch quarterbacks the 49ers switched play-callers. Now you see why change matters.

7. OK, I'm worried about -- no, make that annoyed, infuriated and downright disgusted with -- San Diego, and it's not just because the Chargers are 2-4 against a soft schedule. It's because they haven't played a quarterback of consequence yet, and you can look it up: Of the six clubs they faced none ranked higher than 17th in passing prior to Sunday. Worse, of the six quarterbacks they faced, none ranked higher than Jacksonville's David Garrard at 13th, and he had four interceptions against them. The next best? Try Jason Campbell at 24th. Honest. Now comes the hard part, San Diego. Tom Brady is next on the schedule, and, yeah, I'd say he qualifies as someone of consequence.

8. Oh, one other thing: The Bolts were 7-1 on the road last year; they're 0-4 there this season. Worse, they're winless against opponents that were a combined 15-49 last year. Somebody cue Tom Petty's Free Falling.

9. Philadelphia owner Jeff Lurie is right when he calls for stiffer penalties on helmet-to-helmet hits, saying "we've got to penalize players who issue concussions." That would include Atlanta's Dunta Robinson, who hammered DeSean Jackson, and New England's Brandon Meriweather, who buried Baltimore tight end Todd Heap. So get something started, Jeff, and start a crusade. Start suspending players, not fining them, and let's see what happens.

10. Tom Brady wasn't the difference in New England's victory. Neither was Deion Branch, though both were factors. Nope, credit the Patriots' rapidly improving defense for keeping the Ravens close enough for Brady and Branch to catch. It shut down Baltimore on its last five possessions, allowing 81 yards and three first downs and forcing the Ravens to punt each time.

11. And that, folks, is why I'll never board the Jay Cutler bandwagon. Sure, he flashed early. But he's done that before. And now? Well, in his last two starts, both losses, he completed 50 percent of his passes for no touchdowns, one interception, one safety and 15 sacks.

12. Yeah, sure, Favre will consider taking himself out of the lineup if he thinks his right elbow is too painful. Get real, people: Brett Favre isn't sitting down for anyone or anything.

13. Unfortunately, Cleveland, that was just the beginning of a long, cruel haul. Including Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh, the Browns have a three-week run against quarterbacks who won six of the past nine Super Bowls.

14. Detroit's worst enemy is itself. The Lions lead the league with 59 penalties, including 11 against the Giants. On one series, Detroit had the Giants stuffed on third-and-goal when Cliff Avril drew a post-play foul for sparring with tackle Kareem McKenzie. Dumb. Then the Lions stopped the Giants on the next snap, an incomplete pass to tight end Kevin Boss. One problem: The Lions were caught for holding. Dumber. You can't win this way, guys.

15. I'm with CBS' Boomer Esiason when he says that Ben Roethlisberger needs to own up to what he did -- whatever that was. Roethlisberger told former coach Bill Cowher that "I have never harmed a female" and that he didn't feel the need to respond to "vicious allegations that are not true." OK, fine. That's his prerogative. But if that's the case, then why was he suspended four games? For allegations that aren't true? C'mon, Ben. I think Roethlisberger was closer to owning up when, talking about the reaction he might get from fans on the road, he said, "my teammates' [respect], that's all that matters to me." Time to enlarge that world, Ben.

Five Things I Like

1. Houston's Matt Schaub digging out of second-half holes. Sunday's comeback was reminiscent of what happened in Washington a month ago when Schaub pulled the Texans out of a 17-point third-quarter ditch. When down by 14 or more points in the second half -- or, combining those two games -- Schaub is 34 for 47 for 691 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 135.73. More impressively, in 11 series the Texans have six touchdowns and two field goals ... and, oh yeah, two victories.

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2. Kansas City coach Todd Haley's guts. He went for the first on fourth-and-goal at the Indy 2 last week, and he went for it again on twofourth downs on his opening series in Houston -- scoring on a fourth-down pass to Mike Vrabel. Haley's message is loud and clear with his players, and his message is this: I trust you. That will pay off. Heck, it already has.

3. St. Louis at home. That was the Rams' third straight home victory, and tell me the last time that happened. I'll spare you the trouble. It was 2003.

4. Miami on the road. The Dolphins are 3-0. Hey, merge these guys with the Rams, and you have yourself a Super Bowl favorite.

5. Indianapolis' one-handed catches. First, it's Pierre Garcon's leaping, one-handed grab of a sideline pass. Did I say grab? It was more like a one-handed stab. Someone check him for Lester Hayes' "stickem." Then it was safety Aaron Francisco's one-handed interception to end Washington's last-ditch comeback. If he misses, Washington's Joey Galloway has an 80-yard touchdown and the Redskins an astounding victory. But he didn't.

Five Things I Don't

1. Rex Ryan's failure to have Demaryius Thomas' touchdown catch reviewed. Watching the replay it sure looks as if Thomas juggles the ball before cradling it -- and by then his second foot is out of bounds. Which means ... you guessed it ... incomplete pass. Ryan said coaches upstairs told him not to challenge the call, but they were wrong. This was one challenge I think the Jets would've won.

2. Sorry, there is no way that wasn't offensive pass interference on Andre Johnson on the Texans' game-winning drive. Instead, officials called the penalty on Kansas City cornerback Brandon Flowers, whom Johnson pushed to make a 31-yard reception. Huh? You gotta be kidding. Somewhere, Carl Johnson, the league's head of officiating, is preparing a letter of apology to Haley.

3. Dallas' discipline. OK, I give up. What discipline? One week after taking a costly penalty for excessive celebrations, the Cowboys are at it again -- this time with Miles Austin leap-frogging Roy Williams in the end zone. Then they score on a 68-yard touchdown pass to Austin ... except he pushes off before catching the ball. Finally, the Cowboys stop Minnesota on a critical series late in the fourth quarter, except Mike Jenkins commits a fatal pass-interference penalty. Geez, is anybody coaching these guys?

4. Antrel Rolle's angle on Calvin Johnson's 87-yard TD. If you'd like to see how it's supposed to done, Antrel, retrace Kenny Phillips' path to Johnson on an incomplete pass late in the fourth quarter.

5. Malcolm Jenkins' shot at Josh Freeman as the Tampa Bay quarterback ran out of bounds. Cheap? I'd say so. Unnecessary? Yep. Dirty? You got it. Rewind the videotape, and it's clear Jenkins zeroed in on Freeman's left knee. "If you want to try to hit me, hit me high" Freeman said afterward. "I thought it was completely unnecessary and cheap to take a shot at my knees." Couldn't agree more, Josh.

Just Asking But ...

  Michael Vick or Kevin Kolb?

  How restless are the natives in San Diego now?

  Why does anyone punt to Devin Hester?

  Think Denver wishes it had Ryan Torain now?

  Why are all the best teams in the AFC?

Monday Morning Wide Receiver

The New England Patriots got rid of Randy Moss so they could make room for Deion Branch, and so far, so good. In Branch's debut, the Patriots beat a Baltimore club that buried them in the 2009 playoffs. But Moss won, too, so let's see how these guys did Sunday in their new homes:

Randy Moss/5/55/0/Won
Deion Branch/9/98/1/Won

But they're not the only two pass catchers on our radar. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Crabtree are, too, primarily because they were the first two wideouts taken in the 2009 draft and met Sunday for the first time since then. The result? See for yourself:

Darrius Hayward-Bey/3/19/0/Lost
Michael Crabtree/4/57/1/Won

Significant Numbers

2 -- Oakland first downs on its last 10 possessions vs. San Francisco

3 -- Straight games where the Giants allowed no more than 64 yards rushing

5 -- Touchdowns allowed by Pittsburgh this season

7 -- Sacks of Philip Rivers, a personal high

9 -- Different Saints receivers to make a catch vs. Tampa Bay

24 -- Straight Detroit road losses, tying a league record

158 -- Chris Ivory yards rushing

0-for-12 -- Chicago on third-down conversions

My Top Five

1. Pittsburgh
2. N.Y. Jets
3. New England
4. Indianapolis
5. Baltimore

My bottom five

32. Carolina
31. Buffalo
30. Cleveland
29. Detroit
28. San Francisco

Next Weekend's Three Best Games

Washington at Chicago ... Bears taking this Second City thing a little too seriously

Philadelphia at Tennessee ... Vick vs. Young? We can only hope

Minnesota at Green Bay ... Brett Favre goes home again


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