|Tony Romo: Mr. Unclutch|
Yesterday was perhaps the most exciting Sunday of the NFL season thus far with some great (and not so great) individual and team performances. Here I give my take on the main headlines thrown out last night.
Shaub Benched as 49ers Roll Houston
Matt Shaub last night became the first Quarterback in NFL history to throw a pick six in four consecutive games. It’s not the kind of record you want as a QB, and Shaub was benched in the fourth quarter of a 34-3 blowout to rub salt into his wounds. The Texans are a good, well rounded team with elite talent on both offense (Andre Johnson) and defense (J.J Watt). However it’s difficult to win championships in this league without a top tier signal caller and Shaub’s performances this season have led to many wondering if he’s good enough to take Houston deep into January. With Josh Freeman signing in Minnesota that avenue has closed for the team so it looks like the Texans will only go so far as Shaub takes them – a worrying proposition based on the last few weeks.
As far as San Francisco are concerned the game couldn’t have gone better as they moved to 3-2 having begun the season 1-2. With Seattle losing in Indianapolis the 49ers are now just one game back of the division lead and their ability to shut the Houston offense down without the injured Patrick Willis will have been especially encouraging to head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Romo’s Career Day Soured by Late INT
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan it’s difficult for me to praise Tony Romo (or any Cowboys player for that matter), but credit where credit’s due. The Dallas QB played tremendously in nearly leading his team to an upset over Peyton Manning’s Broncos last night by throwing for over 500 yards and tossing five touchdowns, however many pundits will point to his interception with under two minutes left as the defining moment in this game, and a reminder that he has often failed to get it done in tight situations throughout his career. The game was just the fourth in NFL history where both teams scored over 40 points and the lack of anything resembling pass defense on either team is worrisome for their long term prospects. However though the Cowboys are just 2-3 they remain tied for first place in the NFC east with Philly and after the Eagles were humiliated by Denver last week Dallas remain the team to beat in that division.
The AFC west is a whole lot stronger than the NFC east though, and even though they won and remain undefeated the Broncos find themselves in a tie for first place with the 5-0 Chiefs. The potential for those two to meet in four weeks with both undefeated is mouth watering, as is the rematch two weeks later.
Bengals Knock Off Previously Undefeated Patriots
Cincinnati beat Tom Brady and the Patriots to move to 3-2 and a tie for first place in the AFC north, although they did it in unexpected fashion. Tom Brady had thrown a touchdown pass in 52 straight contests until yesterday, and by holding the Patriots offense to a pair of field goals Marvin Lewis’s men broke that streak. The game ended on a Brady interception, the play being made by Adam Jones in wet conditions, and in the process handed New England their first loss of the season. Bill Belichick and co could quite easily have lost in week one to Buffalo, so it’s not like they’d been dominant in reaching 4-0. However the nature of the loss was still surprising and indicates that Brady is in dire need of some help on the offensive side of the ball. As good as Brady is he can’t do it all by himself and some poor blocking (Brady was sacked four times) and inconsistent play from his wide-outs did nothing to help the three time Superbowl champ in this one.
Meanwhile, the Bengals look like a genuine contender thanks in large part to their strong defense. Vontaze Burfict has come into the league as a rookie and made plays, while veteran corner Terrance Newman had a crucial pass breakup late in the fourth quarter. Cincy are joined at 3-2 in their division by Cleveland and Baltimore, who held off Miami, so while they’re in perhaps the AFC’s most competitive division they showed by beating the Patriots that they can mix it with the best in the conference.
Luck, Colts hold off Wilson and the Seahawks
Two of the Quarterbacks from last years draft squared off in Indianapolis yesterday, and it was number one selection Andrew Luck who got the victory over third round choice Russell Wilson. Seattle raced to a 12-0 lead, including a contentious safety that should’ve been a touchdown, but Indy rallied from that hole to claim a 34-28 win. It was Seattle’s first regular season loss since last November and did little to erase fears that away from home they’re not quite the same team as when they play in front of their own fans. The Colts moved to 4-1 on the season and combined with Houston’s loss they clearly look to be the class of the AFC south. Andrew Luck wasn’t spectacular, he threw for just 229 yards, but he was very efficient and the defense and special teams stepped up when they had to. A blocked field goal was returned for a touchdown for the Colts first score of the game and made up for the blocked punt that led to Seattle recording a safety minutes earlier.
Those were the main headlines from an action packed day of football, and be sure to watch the New York Jets take on Atlanta late tonight for what promises to be another close game. I’ll be back later in the week with predictions for week six. As ever let me know YOUR thoughts on the games last night in the comments, or by tweeting me @fredjstanley.