Monday Morning Realist Week 7

By Akiem Bailum, TRST Columnist & host of “10 Minutes on the Clock” every Saturday

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Take These Broken Wings….

The ending of Week 7 of the 2012-2013 NFL season will be looked at as a living nightmare for Baltimore Ravens fans. In weeks 5 and 6, Baltimore’s rush defense gave up over 200 rushing yards & found some way to win both games.

But, that Week 6 victory vs. the Dallas Cowboys came at a huge price as Ray Lewis & Lardarius Webb suffered season-ending injuries. Lewis’ triceps tear at this point in his career could be career-ending.
The Ravens would get a slight boost prior to Week 7 with the return of Terrell Suggs. Suggs came to play in Week 7.

The rest of the Ravens did not—on either side of the ball.

In what can only be termed as an off-game for Joe Flacco, he didn’t look like the elite quarterback he proclaimed himself to be at the start of the season. He was 21/43 for only 147 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 4 sacks. 2 of those sacks would come from Antonio Smith—on consecutive plays.

That’s not counting all of the balls the Texans’ defense batted or spiked down when they weren’t picked. I wonder if they were playing volleyball throughout the game—or watched volleyball clips of Destinee Hooker, April Ross, and Jennifer Kessy throughout the week.

It may not have been 200 yards, but it was dangerously close. The Texans’ running attack (anchored by Ben Tate and Arian Foster) would combine for 187 rushing yards. Foster also had 2 touchdowns—the same amount of TDs quarterback Matt Schaub threw for. Schaub’s line also included going 23/37 for 256 yards.
The Ravens had couldn’t establish their run any better than they could stop Houston’s. Ray Rice only rushed for 42 yards and only carried the ball 9 times. Not exactly good play calling when you have a runningback of that caliber only getting the rock 9 times…isn’t it Cam Cameron?

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Ravens fans continued to get injury scares from their own players. At one point, Ed Reed said that he took cleats to the ribs, but later said he’d be fine which stopped Ravens fans’ fast beating hearts for a few minutes.

2007—December of 2007. That was the last time that a Baltimore Ravens defense has allowed 43 points in a game. That was to Peyton Manning & the Colts.

But, games like this will not have Ravens fans too confident in their ability to get to the Super Bowl—where many (myself included) picked them to go before the season began. Flacco had an off game. Their issues are injuries and porous defense. Meanwhile, Houston is back on track after the thrashing they took last Sunday night vs. the Green Bay Packers.

“They played excellent, we did not.”—John Harbaugh, Ravens head coach. Nuff ‘Ced.
Next week is the Ravens’ bye week—and they need it. It’s also the Texans’. Baltimore is 5-2 while Houston is 6-1.

Cam Goes Ham….on his Coaching Staff

The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Carolina Panthers 19-14 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte in what was a rather competitive game, throughout. Dan Bailey almost beat the Panthers by himself as he kicked 4 field goals—including the last 2 in the 4th quarter.

Tony Romo was 24/34 with 227 yards and 1 touchdown. Newton also threw 1 TD pass in addition to going 21/37 for 233.

There were no eye-popping statistics from this one. No one rushed for over 70 yards. The leading receiver for either team was Dallas’ Miles Austin with 5 receptions for 97 yards. As expected, Steve Smith led the receiving charge for Carolina with 7 catches for 83.

When down 19-14, the Panthers did have a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but it was not to be as Newton had one of his 2 sacks. Also, a desperation play that saw several different Panthers touch the football eventually ended in a fumble & a DeMarcus Weir recovery. Those plays work…once in every 1000 occurrences.

After the game, though, Cam Newton’s Superman cape seemed to be strapped on a little bit too tight as he took his postgame presser. Everyone’s focusing on how he seemed to rip the coaches for not calling the same amount of run plays as pass plays. Also, he referred to a female reporter as “sweetheart”. I got out of it that he seemed to be too concerned with statistics than with winning the game.

Statistics are for geeks (like me) & for others in the press to fawn over. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up a lot of statistics but it didn’t win them their game vs. New Orleans, did it? Also, it’s obvious now that there’s conflict in the Carolina Panthers’ locker room. Between teammates calling out Cam Newton on the sidelines & in the media, now with him complaining about play calling, it’s obvious that there are some disgruntled Panthers in that Carolina locker room.

Those very Panthers will get the Chicago Bears in Chicago Week 8. Meanwhile, the Cowboys will go back home for a divisional clash with the Giants. Dallas is 3-3 while Carolina is 1-5.

Creamsicle Unis, Not-So-Vanilla Game

Tampa Bay’s matchup vs. the New Orleans Saints @ Raymond James was played with the Bucs wearing their well-ballyhooed old school swag. Even if many in Central Florida associate those unis more with the less-than-glorious days of the franchise, you have to admit that it makes Tampa’s cheerleaders look even hotter.

One week removed from a bye was nothing for Drew Brees. In their last game vs. San Diego, he set the all time record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Now for Brees to pad that record, a little bit. He got off to a good start with a 4 TD performance including 377 yards, 27/37 and only 1 pick.

The game also marked the return of Jonathan Vilma to the Saints’ defense and he pass defended on the first play. On his return, he’d say: “I’ve never had to fight so hard to defend my name, but running out on the field with my team today makes it all worth it.”

Meanwhile, for the Buccaneers, Josh Freeman was 24/42 for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns. Freeman is an underrated QB who would be getting Tim Tebow-like attention if he were on a flashier team like the Cowboys.

Receiving was the story of this one. Lance Moore caught 9 passes for 121 yards. Speaking of the Chargers, Bolts fans will remember this name very well—Vincent Jackson. V-Jax had a banner day in a losing effort for Tampa Bay with 7 receptions for 216 yards and 1 touchdown.

This game would eventually come down to Freeman and the Bucs having a shot to win the game as did Cowboys/Panthers. Freeman was successful in leading his team down the field, but couldn’t cross the goal line for a game-tying touchdown with Tampa Bay down by a mere 7. What looked like a game-tying TD pass to Mike Williams was actually waved off as Wallace was pushed out of bounds, invalidating the touchdown pass. Some Bucs fans are already campaigning for the return of the replace….no, I won’t go there.

Saints won 35-28. Both teams are now 2-4. New Orleans will face Denver next week on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. As for Tampa, they play their next game in 3 days on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football vs. the 5-2 Vikings. Yeah, that last part is true.

One Minute Men

Where’s Ripley when you need him? Believe it or not, Brees isn’t the only quarterback in striking distance of a record. So is Eli Manning. “Easy E” threw 1 touchdown pass today vs. the Washington Redskins. This brings his career total to 197—only two shy of the all time Giants record currently held by Phil Simms at 199.

Manning’s line for the day also included a 26/40 for 337 & 2 interceptions.

This week, it would be another NFC East team—Washington—that ran for over 200 yards. That’s to be expected though, when you have both Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris with productive days on the ground. Morris carried the ball 22 times for 120 yards and RGIII provided 89 rushing yards in addition to his 20/28 for 258 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception.

No one, though, is talking about anything that occurred prior to those last 2 minutes in the 4th quarter. At one point, it looked like the Redskins were about to get themselves a huge victory on the road in the division to send themselves to 4-3. Robert Griffin III connected for 30 yards to Santana Moss for a touchdown with 1:32 left in the 4th quarter.

But, as numerous other teams will tell you, 1:32 in the 4th is nothing to Eli Manning. It might as well be an hour and 32 minutes. After Eli’s first pass was incomplete, the 2nd one was anything but. Manning to Victor Cruz for 77 yards and that sent the G-Men back on top. Big Blue led 27-23. That would be the most important catch of the day for Cruz who had 7 on the day for 131 yards.

The final play for the Redskins would be a fumble from Santana Moss of all people. Moss probably went from hero player (other than RGIII of course) to a scapegoat in less than 2 minutes on sports radio in the nation’s Capital. Moss would have 3 catches for 67 yards.

The Giants are now 5-2 while the Skins fall to 3-4. New York will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys while Washington continues its road trip to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

As for New York’s Other Team….

They were atop (or at the bottom of, based on your preference) the AFC East along with the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins at 3-3 coming into Week 7. The Bills lost to the Tennessee Titans 35-34 in a barnburner in Orchard Park, New York. The Dolphins were enjoying the sun and sand of Miami as they were on bye week.

The Pats & Jets were to play each other with the winner assuming the division lead.

Early on, Gang Green’s defense was grounded only mustering 7 points in the first half. But, you also have to give the defensive line of the Patriots some credit. Mark Sanchez was sacked 4 times. 1 ½ of those occasions would be courtesy of Rob Ninkovich.

The Jets running game went north of 200 last week against the Colts who were a team known even during the Peyton Manning era of having issues stopping the run. This week, Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen combined for 131 rushing yards to outrush the Jets 131-106. Shonn Greene himself had a banner game last week at the Meadowlands vs. Indy—16 carries for a mere 54 yards this week.

And, in case you wanted to know, 4 Tebow sightings throughout the game. 12 yards on 4 carries.

As far as the lines on the quarterbacks go, Mark Sanchez—28/41 for 328 yards, 1 TD, 1 pick, and 4 sacks. Tom Brady’s performance was 26/42 for 259 yards, 2 TDs and 1 sack.

Even after two late Nick Folk 43 yard field goals to put the Jets on top 26-23—there was still 1:37 left on the clock. As we know, that’s nothing to Tom Brady. Clock management from the Patriots’ offense allowed for a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with no time left to tie the game at 26. New England would win the game in overtime, also via another Gostkowski field goal.

Two plays Jets fans will be looking at were a huge Mark Sanchez fumble in overtime as well as a crucial drop from Stephen Hill that would’ve probably led to a touchdown instead of New York settling for 3 points.

The Pats won 29-26. They now bring a 4-3 record to St. Louis next week. Gang Green goes back home for another matchup inside the division. They’ll be 3-4 as they play the Miami Dolphins.

Don’t Let the Scoreboard Fool Ya!

The final score may say 24-17 Pittsburgh Steelers over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincy. But, one statistic might as well be on the final score of this game.

431-185.

That would be the number of total yards the Steelers and Bengals gained throughout their matchup on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. When you are outgained by 246 total yards on offense, that will not win you football games. And, it would’ve been even more if not for a bunch of dropped passes (mainly from Mike Wallace) they had throughout the game (and the 1st half in particular).

This isn’t even counting the dropped ball from Baron Batch that didn’t even come from Roethlisberger. That came from a trickeration play where receiver Antonio Brown threw a perfect pass to Batch that he would drop. That would’ve been an easy touchdown for Batch which would’ve made the disparity on the scoreboard even greater.

Jonathan Dwyer was the leading rusher for either team with 17 carries for 122 yards. Ben Roethlisberger’s line was 27/37 with 278 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, and was sacked 3 times.
As for Cincinnati, their offense was putrid. Andy Dalton only completed half of his passes (14/28) and had only 105 yards. Even Flacco (in the same division) had more than that, and his day was beyond horrible. Benjarvus Green-Ellis was Cincy’s main rusher, of course—and ran for only 69 yards on 18 carries.

With the Steelers winning 24-17, it gets them back on track after they’ve suffered late, tough losses to both the Oakland Raiders & Tennesse Titans on the road. It’s their first road victory of the year. It’s also huge considering everything that’s going on with the Ravens.

Baltimore is 5-2 while Pittsburgh is 3-3. But, with the injuries that Baltimore has and their problems with stopping the run, the Steelers now have a legitimate shot at stealing (or should I say “steeling” with the pun intended) the AFC North—a division that was the Ravens’ to lose coming into the season.

While Pittsburgh is 3-3, the Bengals fall to 3-4. Week 8 will serve as the bye week for the Cincinnati Bengals. As for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they will go back home to Heinz Field. Their opponent—the Washington Redskins.

Stay with the Real Sports Talk for the most NFL coverage including our Sunday recap show—the NFL Final Score!

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Posted on October 22, 2012, in NFL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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