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Monday Morning Realist Week 5

Twitter: @Li495Akiem

Move Over, Johnny Unitas

Coming into their Sunday Night matchup with the San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints (defense, in particular) seemed in need of a sabbatical. They were 0-4 in desperate search of that first win in a division that the Atlanta Falcons have virtually already won. Steve Spagnuolo was also on a hot seat whose temperature was only on the rise.

But, quarterback Drew Brees did send a special letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking for suspended head coach Sean Payton to be present at the Mercedes-Benz Louisiana Superdome. The occasion was the possibility of history happening.

Having thrown a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games, Brees was within 1 touchdown pass in this game vs. the San Diego Chargers from surpassing Johnny Unitas for the most consecutive games in which he’s thrown a TD pass. Unitas is considered right alongside Joe Montana (and possibly either Tom Brady or Peyton Manning) for the title of “greatest quarterback of all time”.

In the first quarter vs. San Diego, Brees went to work. He wasted no time making history. Down 7-0 and on a 3rd & 6, Brees went 40 yards to Devery Henderson to tie the game and set the new record at 40 consecutive games with a TD pass.

Brees was far from finished. 3 more touchdown passes (all to Marques Colston) would give him 4 for the day. He went 29/45 with those 4 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 370 passing yards. It’s only fitting that he’d set history against his former team….and the quarterback that a long time ago, was the reason Brees found greener pastures in New Orleans.

That quarterback (Philip Rivers) would go 27/42 for 354 yards, 2 TDs and 1 interception. Both TDs went to Robert Meachem (a former Charger), but Malcolm Floyd caught 5 passes for 108 yards.

The Saints are finally in the win-column with their 31-24 victory over the Chargers. New Orleans is 1-4 while San Diego is 3-2. Other than Brees making history and surpassing Unitas, the main thing I gather from this game is that as spotty as defense has been for the Saints so far, San Diego’s was even spottier. That’s to be expected when you have two quarterbacks the caliber of Brees and Rivers. Colston & Henderson both went over 100 yards on the day. That says something about San Diego’s secondary that day. What say you, Norv Turner?

The Chargers play the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Monday Night Football in Week 6. The Saints will be on their bye week.

Win One for Chuck

Recently, the Indianapolis Colts received heartwrenching news when they found out that head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. He had to be sent to a hospital and has been there ever since.

Coming into their home game vs. the 2-2 Green Bay Packers, the Colts decided to use that as a rallying cry. Jim Irsay, being as Twitter savvy as he his, did so by setting up the hashtag “ChuckStrong”. A “ChuckStrong” banner was displayed prominently at Lucas Oil Stadium with an orange ribbon as it is the official color for support of cancer research.

This is coming as the NFL is honoring breast cancer research month by having all of its players and other personnel adorn the color pink for all of October.

Early on, though, it didn’t look promising for Indy at home as the Packers led the Colts 21-3 at halftime behind two TD passes from Aaron Rodgers.

I imagine that Chuck Pagano’s name was probably uttered a few times by interim coach Bruce Arians because the Colts came out of their tunnel at halftime a totally different team. Slowly, but surely, they chipped away at Green Bay’s huge lead and Andrew Luck showed why he was a #1 draft pick. 31/55 for 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 362 yards. Reggie Wayne’s performance was especially phenomenal—13 catches for 212 yards including what wound up being the game winning score as he reached the ball across the goal line just barely enough for it to break the plane & count for 6 points.

After the game, their postgame huddle included a tribute to Chuck Pagano and the game ball was delivered to him in the hospital he was in. This win was definitely fueled by pure emotion & it’s also a sign that Andrew Luck can indeed play football as quarterback in the NFL.

As for the Green Bay Packers, they now have more questions about their defense, especially their secondary. Also, with their division rival Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears both sitting atop the division at 4-1 each, that Monday Night debacle in Seattle is looking much larger in the standings than it was when it happened. They’re now 2-3. Final score—30-27 Indy. Indy goes to Jersey to play the Jets in Week 6. The Pack head to Reliant Stadium in Houston vs. the Texans.

Throwing Too Many Arrows?

One moment in Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens/Kansas City Chiefs game is getting a lot of attention for the reaction it produced from one of an injured player’s teammates.

Matt Cassel only threw for 92 yards, but this was because at one point in that game, he was down on the ground due to an apparent injury to the head. He stayed on the ground for several minutes before having to be taken out of the game. What was very audible was that the injury was actually cheered by many of the fans at Arrowhead Stadium.

Here’s your moment of irony—in 2008, this same Matt Cassel had to be the starting quarterback for the entire season for the New England Patriots after Tom Brady was injured in the Pats’ home opener against….you guessed it…the Kansas City Chiefs. So, Cassel knows something about what injuries can do to a football team. New England went 11-5 that year & barely missed the playoffs.

The Ravens did beat the Chiefs 9-6 (or should I say the Orioles beating the Royals) in a game that was dominated by the running attacks. Rutgers’ Ray Rice ran for the Ravens 17 times for 102 yards. The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles had 140 yards in that game, but it could’ve been much more since he ran for 125 yards before halftime. 125 yards—on THAT (aged, but still dangerous) defense.

Don’t tell Chris Johnson.

What outraged Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Winston was the audible cheering of the KC fans after the Cassel injury. After the game, Winston was fuming.

We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer, and they can do whatever they want. I believe that… …But when somebody gets hurt, there are long-lasting ramifications to the game we play… …when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel—it’s sickening… …I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams , I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there… …Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people…hasn’t done anything to the media writers that kill him, hasn’t done anything to the people that come out here and cheer him. Hey if he’s not the best quarterback then he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we have 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out?… …I want every single one of you people to put this on your station and in your newspapers because I want every fan to know that. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it, we deserve it and I don’t want your pity. But we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.”—Eric Winston.

‘Nuff ‘Ced.

The Chiefs are 1-4 while the Ravens are 4-1. In Week 6, the Chiefs head to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers. Baltimore goes home to play the Cowboys.

1 Quarter Doth Not A Game Make

Or we’d be talking about the Cleveland Browns at 1-4 right now. In their game vs. the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, a 14-0 lead had Giants fans panicking about a blowout by the Cleveland Browns of all teams. They couldn’t seem like they could stop Trent Richardson on the ground.

But, Giants fans also know that as games go longer, Eli Manning and the G-Men seem to get stronger. That’s what happened. After going up 14-0 on Big Blue, the Browns were outscored the remainder of the game 41-13. Eli Manning’s line was 25 for 37 with 259 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

And the huge rusher of the day didn’t turn out to be Richardson, but Ahmad Bradshaw of the New York Giants. He carried the ball a total of 30 times for 200 yards. Overall, the Giants ran for 240+ yards to the Browns who only had 84. This means that Bradshaw alone had more rushing yards than the entire running game of the Browns. That says something about how strong the run defense was for New York in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters.

Another New York Giant who had a huge game was Victor Cruz. Even though he only had 5 catches for 50 yards—3 of them came in the end zone. All 3 of Eli Manning’s TDs were thrown to Victor Cruz. Insert salsa reference here.

The Giants won 41-27. They now move to 3-2 while the Browns are still winless at 0-5. With the Saints winning, they’re now the only winless team in the league left. The Giants go to San Francisco to play the 49ers in Week 6. Cleveland goes back home for a divisional matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Keystone State Divided

With the Eagles coming off a turnover-free Sunday Night game vs. New York and the Steelers coming off a bye week, The Eagles/Steelers matchup was expected to be very entertaining for reasons beyond that whole Philadelphia/Pittsburgh thing.

But early on, the Eagles made that Sunday Night Football game seem like so long ago. Philadelphia QB Michael Vick early on committed 2 more turnovers. Those would be the only turnovers they’d commit throughout the game, though.

One of those turnovers would come as Vick would fumble the ball right on the goal line where it was recovered by Pittsburgh. That turnover would be a huge difference as the Steelers would only win thanks to a Shaun Suisham field goal at the end of the game. Many Eagles fans are blaming this one on Andy Reid’s play calling. Overall, Vick fumbled the football 3 times. Desean Jackson also had one of his own that the Eagles would recover.

But at the other end of the spectrum, Pittsburgh was penalized 9 times for over 100 yards. Pittsburgh also had 3 fumbles, but luckily for them, all 3 of theirs were recovered.

A lot of attention was shined on Rashard Mendenhall who had 1 touchdown in addition to 14 catches for 81 yards. Isaac Redman also chimed in with 41 yards on 13 carries. Ben Roethlisberger’s line was 21/37 with 207 yards. No TDs or Interceptions.

Two things Eagles fans will take from this game. The first is why doesn’t Andy Reid utilize LeSean McCoy more? Shady can be a runningback who can run for 100 yards a game and 1400 to 1500 yards a season. But many will look at Andy Reid for answers. Also, 2 more turnovers for the Eagles. It’s not as bad as the first 3 weeks, but the fumble at the goal line was the difference in the game.

The Steelers won 16-14. Pittsburgh is now 2-2. Philly is now 3-2. The Steelers play the Titans in Nashville on Thursday Night Football in Week 6. The Eagles go back home to play the Detroit Lions.

Brady vs. Manning Round….Too Many to Count

When Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are facing off in a football matchup, there’s no debate as to what will be the most talked about subject of that football game.

Coming off a 52-28 thrashing of the Bills, it looked like the Patriots would continue that against the Broncos. With 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Patriots’ lead on the Broncos was 31-7. Brady only threw for 1 touchdown but he also rushed for another.

Brady didn’t need to throw for 3 TDs as he normally does as long as Stevan Ridley has games like he did against Denver at Gillette Stadium. He carried the ball 28 times and ran for over 150 yards. Wes Welker had a huge game too catching 13 passes for 104 yards. Both Ridley and Welker had 1 TD each.

Neither QB threw a pick. Peyton Manning’s line was 31/45 with 345 yards and 3 TDs. 2 of them came as it looked like the Broncos were going to stage a furious comeback. What was 31-7 became 31-21 and seemed on its way to becoming 31-28. 1 fumble from Manning later & this one was in the bag. Patriots win 31-21.

Manning is now in a position that he’s not used to being in—under .500 on a team that may not be the best team in their division. That’s what happens when you have to go to new teams and have to adapt to new coaches, new offenses, and coming off neck surgery. Next week—they go to San Diego on Monday Night Football to play the Chargers. That game will go a long way in determining who wins the division.

New England is now 3-2 with Denver now at 2-3. Week 6 for New England is at Seattle.

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