1. Mike Shanahan has no one but himself to blame for the Donovan McNabb fiasco. He traded for him, and he was behind the idea of an extension. So he must have thought he could win with him. Now look what's happened. Shanahan is a solid coach. He is not a solid GM. What hurt him in Denver is hurting him in Washington.
2. You have to believe McNabb is finished in Washington. So where to next? I can think of at least two places: Minnesota and Arizona, both of whom need a starter in the worst way. I know, the Cards have indicated they're not interested, but they should be. They have veteran receivers and no one to throw to them. Same goes for Minnesota. Plus, both could challenge in their divisions if they solved the most important position.
3. I don't trust the New York Jets, either, but their defeat of Pittsburgh was the pick-me-up they needed -- and I don't mean just now. I mean in January. In essence, it marks them as a threat to go deep into the playoffs, and here's why: Because they're 6-1 on the road. The New York Giants were 7-1 on the road in 2007 and won three road playoff games before conquering New England in Super Bowl XLII. Teams that prove they can win on the road in the regular season are dangerous in January. So let's say the Jets make it as a wild-card entry, which they probably do. That just means they go where they're best ... which is on the road.
4. Looks like offensive coordinator Cam Cameron got the memo in Baltimore. His best weapon is not Joe Flacco; it's Ray Rice. Rice carried a season-high 31 times -- or more than his last two games combined -- and responded with a season-high 153 yards rushing, 233 total yards and a pair of TDs. This is exactly what Derrick Mason was talking about after the loss to Pittsburgh. Give Cameron credit -- at least he listened.
5. This is how far the NFC West has fallen: The 49ers are 5-9, which would qualify them for last in two divisions, but in the NFC Worst it has them a game out of first.
6. The more I see the Washington Redskins unravel the more respect I have for Norv Turner. I mean it. He was 17-12 under Daniel Snyder, including one playoff appearance in his only complete season under The Daniel. Tell me who's better on Snyder's watch. I'll save you the trouble: No one. Granted, Joe Gibbs went to two playoffs in four years, but he was a combined 30-34. Marty Schottenheimer was 8-8, Steve Spurrier 12-20 and Jim Zorn 12-20.
7. Let's hear it for Carolina rookie Jimmy Clausen. He not only won his first game; he threw his first touchdown pass in his last seven starts.
8. That was a huge win for Kansas City because the Chiefs finish the season where they haven't lost ... which is Arrowhead Stadium. But here's why they're not home free: The last team on their schedule is Oakland, and the Raiders are 5-0 in division play.
9. Time to turn up the heat on Miami's Tony Sparano. Forget that Bill Parcells, the guy who hired him, isn't around. Look what Sparano has done at home. Nothing. The guy lost eight of his last nine games there, including six of seven this season. Yep, that's one way to get fired.
10. Looks as if it'll take a minor miracle for Eric Mangini to keep his job in Cleveland, and that's too bad. The Browns are in every game, and that was terrific when Mangini was holding his own with teams like the Jets, Falcons, Chiefs, Patriots and Saints. But he couldn't get past Buffalo and Cincinnati the past two weeks, and when team president Mike Holmgren assesses Mangini's job the only thing he'll care about is that his team just lost to two doormats that were a combined 4-21.
11. Lost in the euphoria of Philadelphia's improbable come-from-behind win is the season-ending injury to rookie safety Nate Allen. That's three defensive starters the Eagles subtracted the past two weeks, and, just a hunch, but they'll suffer for it in the playoffs.
12. I have no idea how Seattle wins that Jan. 2 showdown with St. Louis, and not because the Rams are so good but because Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is so bad. He has eight turnovers the past two weeks and 13 in four games, and that's a problem. If the Seahawks had a reliable backup, maybe they could call the cavalry, but Charlie Whitehurst is not what I'd call reliable. The Seahawks live or die with Hasselbeck, and right now they're dying.
13. I quit on the completion rule, and it's Jeremy Maclin's fumble -- er, alleged fumble -- that has me surrender. Officials always talk about "completing the process," but there was no completion of any process here. It was either an incompletion or a fumble caused by the ground ... which means no fumble at all. It definitely wasn't an incomplete pass.
|Tim Tebow will need to learn to pass and not rely on the run as much if he wants to succeed in the NFL. (AP)|
15. Yeah, that was a nifty touchdown run by Tim Tebow, but we all know he can run. We also know he can't survive in this league running over and through opponents. What he must do is prove he can pass more -- and more accurately -- than he did against Oakland.
Five things I like
2. Colt McCoy's future. The Browns are far more effective ... and intriguing ... with McCoy at quarterback. He makes big plays, and he doesn't make big mistakes. Which is another way of saying he's no Jake Delhomme.
3. Dan Connolly's 71-yard kickoff return, the longest in league history by an offensive lineman. You wouldn't clock this guy with a watch; you'd do it with an hour glass. Hey, whatever works.
4. Green Bay's effort. The Packers had every reason to curl into the fetal position Sunday night. Aaron Rodgers was out. Their running game stunk. Matt Flynn was unproven. They were in New England. They had to defend Tom Brady. You get the idea. Yet they took the Patriots to the mat and might have won had the clock management on their last drive been better.
5. Tennessee's Jeff Fisher giving the game ball from Sunday's victory to offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who keeps coaching while he is treated for cancer.
Five things I don't
1. Arizona on third downs. The Cardinals are a league-worst 26.4 percent.
2. Austin Collie and concussions. That's three this season, and enough is enough. Sit the poor guy down for the rest of the season.
3. Denver's defense. Rewind the videotape to Sunday's game, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Somebody teach these guys to tackle.
4. The Steelers without star safety Troy Polamalu. Tell me that's the same defense ... because it's not. No takeaways? Yep, that's what happens when you subtract Troy Polamalu.
5. Andy Reid's failure to challenge a DeSean Jackson fumble that wasn't a fumble. Replays showed that Giants linebacker Jonathan Goff touched Jackson prior to the fumble, with Jackson losing control of the ball only after hitting the ground. It was a slam dunk to challenge ... and win. Only nobody notified Reid, and it cost the Eagles a touchdown.
Just asking but ...
• How concerned should New England be with its defense?
• Who quarterbacks Seattle next weekend?
• Do the Giants make the playoffs?
• Will the real Mark Sanchez please stand up?
• Which loss hurt New York more -- Cliff Lee or Meadowlands Miracle, Part II?
0 -- Sam Bradford touchdown passes the last three weeks
0 -- New England turnovers the past six games
8 -- Rookie starters for Tampa Bay
9 -- Times in NFL history that a team has come back from a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to win
15 -- Yards rushing for Arian Foster, a season low
28.9 -- Matt Hasselbeck's passer rating, the second lowest of his career
292 -- Tom Brady passes without an interception
10-0 -- Jets' record when scoring 10 or more points
My top five
1. New England
5. New Orleans
My bottom five
Next weekend's three best games
N.Y. Jets at Chicago ... Jets at their best on the road.
N.Y. Giants at Green Bay ... Uh-oh, looks like an Elimination Bowl.
New Orleans at Atlanta ... Falcons can close out the division.