Monday, September 21, 2009

NFL 2009: Week 2 - Monday Morning, Fans Around America Have That Upset Feeling

NFL Week 2

Ravens fans surely see a new team developing before their eyes as not only has the team become a legitimate offensive team but even the national media is paying them their due calling sophomore quarterback, Joe Flacco, one of the NFL’s most legitimate deep threats in the business. Some were calling their victory over San Diego a possible preview of the AFC championship game. Surely, San Diego did not look like chumps despite the Ravens winning convincingly at 31-26. With LaDainian Tomlinson out of the lineup and other players banged up, the Chargers were not playing at full throttle.

Both quarterbacks, Flacco and Phil Rivers threw two touchdown passes; however, Flacco only threw for 190 yards while Rivers threw for an astonishing 436 yards. The difference was on the ground with the Ravens rushing for two touchdowns from Willis MaGahee who averaged 5.3 yards a carry with 15 runs. Ray Rice carried the ball eight times while also making five catches. Clearly, this is a new day in Baltimore showing a multifaceted offensive attack. To think just before season’s start, fans were wondering aloud about what was perceived as an inadequate receiving corps.

While the Ravens’ offense is the talk of the day, the defense played their bone crunching style too and what could be more typical of a Ravens game than the Chargers last stand on offense being ended by a powerful hit courtesy of Ray Lewis snuffing out a running play almost by instinct.

On the national scene, the big story has to be games that look like major upsets in the young season.

None were perhaps more dramatic than the New York Jets living up to their trash talk and braggadocio edging the New England Patriots 33-30 in the Meadowlands. Rex Ryan stated, “He wasn’t going to kiss his (Coach Bill Belichick’s) rings,” displaying swagger in sizing up his first meeting as head coach preparing to host division rival and team of the decade, the New England Patriots. We can only imagine what New York Jets’ fans were encouraging the New England Patriots to kiss as they left the field in defeat at game’s end.

Can it be the style of defense the Ravens played is that easy to teach? That vicious style of defense was executed brilliantly lead by Bart Scott, Ryan’s disciple imported from Baltimore. With home crowd noise assisting them, the typically cool Tom Brady was rattled enough to be charged with a delay of game penalty in his confusion. Meanwhile, rookie QB, Mark Sanchez, did not disappoint as the Jets upset the Patriots 16-9, a very “Ravenseque” kind of score denying their opponent a single touchdown.

Houston puts away Tennessee by a field goal. Titans now at 0-2.
The talk spread through the preseason, this could be the season the Houston Texans finally arrive. Beating division rival Tennessee, the team with the most wins in ’09 was such an accomplishment. Tennessee now stands at 0-2 with some calling this game a must win for them. However, be real, a Jeff Fisher coached team is the kind of team that can scratch, kick, and crawl to get back in the hunt. Oh by the way, they travel to play the Jets next week. Did anyone see what the Jets did to New England?

Bengals upset Packers.
Green Bay started strong against Chicago while Cincinnati lost to what many considered a depleted Denver team in week one. This game should have been Green Bay’s especially at home. Still, Cincinnati is a team with talent. If healthy and if they can play with some discipline, they could surprise many. They did just that complete with Chad Ochocinco shenanigans doing the Lambeau leap after scoring a touchdown where a couple of Cincinnati fans stood ready.

Will this narcissistic baboon ever get the idea that he is not the show? The game is not about him? The only reason anyone pays attention to his antics is because the TV cameras pay him attention. He came right out and said, quite fervently as if he were dead serious, the game of football has gotten too boring. He’s trying to add some excitement. Yo Ocho, the game is just fine the way it is with or without you. You might deserve playing in Cincinnati but does that city deserve you?

Bears squash Steelers. Cutler redeems self.
After a horrible performance last week with defense leader Brian Uhrlacher out for the season and quarterback, Jay Cutler, looking dreadful, who would expect the Bears stood a chance against Super Bowl champs, the Steelers? Pittsburgh played minus Troy Polamalu, still wasn’t this a team blessed with depth? The “Monsters of the Midway” held on to whack the champs by a field goal. WOW!

Eagles worse than sin against the Saints…
It could only be worse in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Eagles minus quarterback Donovan McNabb scored 22 points, but the New Orleans Saints racked up 48 points proving even a greater blowout than New Orleans achieved against the hapless Detroit Lions during the first week. Drew Brees and company pick apart opposing defenses with ease thus far, but defense was supposed to be Philadelphia strength.

Vikings Win: Death watch continues in Detroit
19 straight losses for the Lions: in the deathwatch department, the Detroit Lions losing streak stands at 19 games, their best shot at winning before their bye in week seven comes next week against the Redskins at home; however, no person in his or her right mind would pick Detroit to win. After that, they face Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay. Perhaps history will be made week eight when the St. Louis Rams come to town. If there were a team against whom the not-so-lovable losers might have a chance to win, this could be it. Cleveland chugs up Lake Erie in week 11. One would think by sheer probability, Detroit has one or two wins in sight this year. Perhaps their best chance will be to catch a better team looking past them.

Oh, this was Minnesota’s second game with Brett Favre playing server for Adrian Peterson. Ol’ #4 must find his #28 a fountain of youth!

Cowboys open new corral… Lose to divisional rivals, New York Giants.
The New York Giants ruined the Dallas Cowboys grand opener in their billion dollar plus palace of excise in a game that showed Tony Romo looking sloppy and tentative where at times the game appeared it could slip away to become the kind of debacle they lost to the Baltimore Ravens closing their old home. Romo’s production was approximately half that of Eli Manning’s though the score was 33-31 on a last second field goal.

Eyes were on the new stadium and the heavy rollers in attendance including two President Bush’s, John Madden, and a bevy of celebrities. One commentator this weekend remarked that the overall impression of the new Jerry Jones pleasure dome is so excessive, it’s the kind of structure that is difficult to imagine anywhere outside of Dubai.

Here’s the irony of the big house in Dallas. It seats over 100,000 fans. Thus Dallas must sellout 100,000 seats to avoid a television blackout. Given many teams struggle to fill stadia with capacities in the 60,000 range, the ‘Boys could have a crowd other owners couldn’t even dream of but Joe Six Pack who could never afford PSL’s or $100 seats would have to travel beyond 75 miles to see the Jones Boys entertain on television.

The blackout scenario could be an irritating issue for the league as several markets struggle to sell out their games this fall with the weak economy. Jacksonville has purposely reduced its capacity covering seats with tarps to cut the number of available seats but seldom sells out.

NFL brass maintain the blackout rule is necessary to keep stadiums packed; however, Major League Baseball, for instance, having 81 games, ten times the number of games pro-football hosts, has been airing home games at least on local regional sports channels for the past couple decades with no negative impact at the gate. Granted football tickets cost more, but the teams only need to sellout eight games. The smallest market in all of major professional sports, Green Bay, never has trouble selling out Lambeau Field, do they?

In other action, though not forecast as an upset, Carolina fell to Atlanta 20-28 putting the Panthers at 0-2 to start the season. Jake the Mistake is in the hot seat. Arizona won a significant game coming east and playing a 1:00 pm game 31-17 over Jacksonville.

Maryland’s other NFL team, the Redskins topped St. Louis in what looked more like a baseball score 9-7. Right now, for the Redskins, a win is a win. They’re at 1-1 with Philadelphia and Dallas with only the Giants at 2-0. Washington faces Detroit next week and must use that opportunity to get their game rhythm established.

Mike Singletary is leading the San Francisco 49er’s into a commanding team so far this year winning a divisional game against Seattle 23-10. This win is significant since they’ve opened the season against two NFC west rivals either one of which might have been picked to finish ahead of them in the standings. Given the other team in the division is St. Louis, these two games carry more weight for a good start to the 2009 season.

Expectations were low in Denver after firing Coach Mike Shannahan, trading away QB Jay Cutler, and facing a revolt from receiver Brandon Marshall. Nevertheless, Kyle Orton settled in replacing Cutler and found an old pro, Brandon Stokley, as his favored target catching the winning toss last week and pulling in the most yards this week.

Buffalo spanked Tampa Bay and Terrell Owens was all smiles for the home crowd. Finally, in the game that could be described as the week’s “Toilet Bowl” Oakland bested Kansas City by a field goal.

Tonight the Indianapolis Colts travel to Miami to take on last year’s Cinderella team, the Miami Dolphins. We, like many, expect the Dolphins to come back down to earth in 2009, but they still have lots to offer. It just won’t be enough for the Colts who are anxious to take control of the AFC South with Houston at 1-1 and their other two rivals winless.

One can only extend the most sincere sympathy to call screeners at sports talk radio stations in the cities where their beloved home team was victim of one of yesterday’s stunning upsets. Boston, Nashville, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and of course, Philadelphia will be ablaze with angry Monday Morning quarterbacks. Meanwhile, we wonder if the bright lights and glitter of Jerry-land will distract the Cowboys’ faithful in Dallas from going ballistic with many of the same old concerns that have kept the Cowboys from post season success since 1996.

With streaming broadcasts available on the Internet, fans can enjoy some sadistic joy tuning in sports radio from other cities and listen to their fans sob, cuss, and meltdown over their teams fates. Few cities are more entertaining than Philadelphia. Tune in 610 WIP for some good joy as those Philly fans are downright nasty.

We must confess, however, perhaps some of the world’s worst nit-wits are Baltimore callers. Check out Scott and Anita on 107 “The Fan” WJZ-FM on weekday afternoons. The whole world’s out to get Baltimore and “we don’t get no respect from them network guys.” Keyshawn Johnson and Chris Carter not withstanding, even Chris Berman, who never misses a shot at the Ravens, has been conspicuously quiet, as the TV talkers have been quite profuse in praise for Baltimore in 2009. As for the Orioles, does anyone think that not having a winning season since 1997 might have something to do with the criticism the team gets? It could only be worse in Cleveland!

No comments: