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Week 3 Judgements: Time for winless Saints to start panicking

by | Senior NFL Columnist
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OK, New Orleans, it's time to panic. Not only are the Saints winless; they lost to three opponents who haven't beaten anyone else. You can look it up: Washington, Carolina and Kansas City are a combined 3-6 ... but 3-0 vs. the Saints and 0-6 vs. the rest of the league. Then there's this: next week. The Saints go to Green Bay.

2. Yeah, I know, it's bad enough that New Orleans allowed the Chiefs to score 21 unanswered points ... at the Superdome, no less ... but what in the name of Drew Brees happened to that offense? I mean, the Saints paid Brees a zillion bucks ... but not for this. The Saints didn't score a friggin' point in their last six series Sunday, and they not only had zero first downs in their last five; they produced a grand total of -- 16 yards.

3. A torn ACL for Darrelle Revis? Say goodnight, Rex.

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4. This is why you should pay attention to Arizona: Defense, particularly its pass defense. Sunday's game marks the 10th time in the past 12 games the Cards allowed no more than 20 points, and they won all 10. Moreover, look what they're pass defense is doing this season -- namely, holding opponents to a completion percentage of 53.8 percent, with 12 sacks of opposing quarterbacks and only two TDs allowed all year.

5. I'm not sure what's more astonishing: Tennessee hanging on to upset Detroit or Lions' backup quarterback Shaun Hill producing 172 yards passing after entering the game with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter. OK, I lied: Shaun Hill, please step forward.

6. Just a hunch, but I bet the NFL wants to hear what Washington offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has to say about that Washington radio report -- ESPN 980, to be exact -- alleging that Shanahan berated an official at Sunday's game with the Bengals. Remember, it was the NFL office that last week warned coaches again not to bully replacement refs, which means it probably wants something other than a "no comment" from Shanahan and the Redskins.

7. And I bet it wants to hear what New England coach Bill Belichick has to say, too. It was Belichick who tried to grab an official by the arm after Sunday night's game, with the official escaping the arm tackle, and, no, that's not what the NFL had in mind when it issued last week's memo.

8. For the life of me, I don't know how Baltimore's Torrey Smith played Sunday night not after his brother dies earlier that day. But he did, and he caught 127 yards in passes and scored two of the Ravens' touchdown, with teammates mobbing him afterward. I know, it happens. I remember Brett Favre excelling on Monday night after his father passed away, too, but that doesn't make it any easier. I don't see how these guys do it.

9. I'm probably in the minority here, but I have no problem with Jim Schwartz going for it on fourth-and-1 in overtime ... it wasn't a "miscommunication," as Schwartz put it, that cost the Lions. It was a lack of discipline. The Lions wanted to draw Tennessee into a possible offsides penalty. Instead it was Detroit that jumped. Draw your own conclusions.

10. Now, more than ever, I believe Chicago ... not Detroit ... is the team to push Green Bay in the NFC North.

11. Good thing nobody excused Santonio Holmes from the huddle this time in Miami. The Jets wouldn't have had a chance. I don't care what you think of Mark Sanchez; that was one helluva throw to Holmes in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.

12. For the record, that's five straight games for Kevin Kolb without an interception. I know a lot of coaches who subscribe to the philosophy that you don't lose your job by injury ... except it sure looks like John Skelton just did.

13. Congratulations, Chris Johnson. Only 55 more yards rushing, and you hit 100.

14. Call off the Mario Williams Watch. He had his first sack of the season; in fact, he had a sack-and-a-half. Better yet, the Buffalo Bills have nine sacks in their last two starts, which was the idea when they signed Williams and defensive end Mark Anderson, who also had his first sack of the year.

15. OK, I'll lay off Blaine Gabbert. That's two come-from-behind touchdown passes in the last minute of this year's games. One he lost; the other he won.

16. Nick Foles, please stand by. I just don't see how Michael Vick lasts given the punishment he's taking. The poor guy's been sacked nine times and absorbed a spate of vicious hits -- with none worse than that shot he took from blitzing safety Kerry Rhodes at the end of the first half. Vick fumbled, the Cards returned it for a touchdown and you know the rest of the story.

17. Please, don't start cranking on Miami coach Joe Philbin for calling that timeout to ice Jets kicker Nick Folk. I know it cost the Dolphins a game-saving block, but it happens. A year ago, the Cards called a timeout to ice Dallas kicker Dan Bailey, and he nailed the field goal. So he tried it again and missed, and Arizona won in OT. Like I said: It happens.

18. I swear, I'm backing Matt Schaub on the road from now on. Reason: In his last seven road games he has 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Plus, he just beat Peyton Manning at home -- and, yes, that's the same Peyton Manning who entered the game 16-2 vs. Houston.

19. Credit Minnesota's Leslie Frazier for making the tough call early. I'm talking about his decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1 on the Vikings' opening series. Frazier could've settled for the field goal, especially after Adrian Peterson had been stuffed for no gain on third, but he didn't ... and let's hear it for him. His decision sent a message to his offense that he believes in it, even when it's vs. the league's best run defense.

20. Maybe what we're seeing in Carolina is just Newton's Universal Law of Gravitation at work.

FIVE THINGS I LIKE

1. Arizona in any uniform. Those black tops Sunday were the third different wardrobe for the Cards this season, proving that it doesn't matter what they look like. They win.

2. Mike Nolan's defense. Matt Ryan draws most of the attention in Atlanta, and I get that. But what about Nolan? The Falcons' defensive coordinator shut down Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in successive weeks, and he kept the Chargers out of the end zone after a short week and a cross-country trip.

3. Romeo Crennel going for it on fourth-and-1 in overtime. The ball was on the New Orleans 44, and Crennel didn't flinch. He kept his offense on the field, and his players responded -- with Jamaal Charles running for three yards to keep the game-winning drive alive. Hey, why not?

4. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Philadelphia. In five career games vs. the Eagles, including the playoffs, Fitzgerald has 33 catches for 570 yards and nine TDs -- including 23 catches and six TDs in his last three. I don't know, but if I'm Philadelphia, I think the one guy I don't let beat me is Larry Fitzgerald.

5. Sebastian Janikowski from any distance. The guy's virtually automatic from 60 yards on in, so that 43-yarder to beat Pittsburgh? Little more than a wedge shot.

FIVE THINGS I DON'T

1. Greg Williams' chances of coaching again in this league. That sworn affidavit pointing a guilty finger at Jonathan Vilma clinches it. There's not a player out there who will trust Williams to cover their backs. Not after this.

2. The Cincinnati defense. A week ago, coordinator Mike Zimmer admitted he was so disappointed with his unit that "every aspect of it surprises me." I can't imagine he feels much better today, though the Bengals just held off Washington. Through three games Cincinnati has hemorrhaged 102 points, and that's not good for any coordinator's resume. But give the Bengals this: They produced six sacks and stiffened when they had to on Washington's last drive. What's more, look at their next three games: They play Jacksonville, Miami and Cleveland, and that's guaranteed to help.

3. Replacement officials. There were 24 penalties for 218 yards called in Sunday's Baltimore-New England game, and please don't ask Belichick what he thought of the crew. If you can lip read, you could figure out what he was saying on the sidelines.

4. RG3's chances to make it through 16 games. I watch hits like the one the Redskins' quarterback took from Manny Lawson and wonder how long before the guy bows out. Either that, or how long the Redskins keep him running that quarterback option.

5. Philadelphia's ball security. What ball security? The Eagles have a league-high 12 turnovers, which translates to 64 for a season. No, they're not going to reach that, and, yes, they're getting better. They had five in the season opener, four last week and three Sunday. Nevertheless, it's way too much if these guys are serious about winning their division.

FIVE GUYS WHO HAVE SOME 'SPLAINING TO DO

1. Cincinnati cornerback Terence Newman. It was his late shot on Washington's RG3 that provoked a 15-yard penalty and put the Redskins in business on that last drive. Newman nailed Griffin with a blow to the shoulders as the quarterback was running out of bounds, and it could've cost Cincinnati dearly ... only it didn't. Live and learn, Terence.

2. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. His unit allowed Oakland to score the last 13 points, and, OK, so Antonio Brown fumbled, and the Steelers' offense didn't score a fourth-period point. But these are the Steelers. Moreover, these are the Oakland Raiders, a club that couldn't put up more than 14 in any game this season. The Raiders scored 27 vs. San Diego and Miami; they scored 34 on Pittsburgh. Huh? "Their defense made the stops when they needed to," said Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark, "and we didn't."

3. Referee Ken Roan's math. He didn't just give San Francisco one challenge after it was out of timeouts; he gave it two ... and both in the span of six plays. Roan later admitted he was wrong.

4. Miami kicker Dan Carpenter. Bad enough that he hooked one field goal wide. But he hooked two, with the second a 48-yarder in overtime, opening the door to a Jets' victory. "I let the team down," Carpentersaid later. I'd say that about sums things up.

5. Detroit linebacker Bill Bentley. It was his holding penalty that kept Tennessee's game-winning drive in OT going, and it happened after the Titans failed to convert a third-and-16. I dunno, maybe Bentley's still feeling the effects from that concussion in the season opener, but you have to be smarter than that, Bill.

JUST ASKING BUT...

 How long before Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton starts getting national attention?

 What in the name of Tony Romo is wrong with the Cowboys' offense?

 Is Minnesota for real?

 Who's the favorite in the AFC West?

 What do you think of Kevin Kolb now?

NUMBERS TO REMEMBER

0 -- Touchdowns allowed by Philadelphia's defense in the second half this year
3 -- Randy Moss catches in his return to the Metrodome
5 -- Tennessee TDs of 60 or more yards Sunday
6 -- Plays of 46 yards or longer in the Tennessee-Detroit game
10 -- Touchdown passes allowed by Washington this season
13 -- New England first-quarter points, the most vs. Baltimore at home under John Harbaugh
64 -- Peyton Manning 300-yard games, an NFL record
510 -- Yards Kansas City put up on New Orleans
1974 -- Last time the Cards started 3-0

MY TOP FIVE

1. Houston
2. Atlanta
3. Arizona
4. Green Bay
5. Baltimore

MY BOTTOM FIVE

32. Cleveland
31. New Orleans
30. Indianapolis
29. Miami
28. Kansas City

NEXT WEEKEND'S THREE BEST GAMES

Giants at Eagles ... Now, more than ever, the Eagles need to hold on.

New England at Buffalo ... Now we find out what Mario Williams does for Buffalo.

Chicago at Dallas ... It's Jay Cutler's chance to make up on national TV.

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