Did Sportscenter think they were going to gain a lot of fans by carrying Terrell Owens's press conference for 10 minutes last night? I honestly don't care what he thinks of Andy Reid's kids. Nor do I think most people.
On to what we learned.
1. Although the Colts didn't win on Sunday, they gave us a blueprint for how to slow down the Patriots offense. The key is a consistent pass rush with minimal blitzing. The Colts, for almost three and half quarters, consistently got pressure on Brady by only rushing 4 guys and not blitzing. This allowed there to frequently be as many as 7 guys in coverage for the Colts and it allowed their safeties to play deep so as not to give up big plays. Even better, because the Colts linemen were getting such pressure on Brady, they had to bring in Faulk to help block, since he's a better blocker than Maroney. That subsequently decreased the number of receivers Brady could throw too, since Faulk had to concentrate on blocking rather than dropping into the flat, and it left the Patriots with a less good running back in the game. New England has been able to abuse teams this year because the only way to beat them is to get pressure on Brady and other teams can't do that without blitzing. So when teams blitz New England, provided the Pats block it up right, that leaves guys like Moss, Welker, and Stallworth all with one-on-one coverage. Needless to say, those 3 receivers are going to win a lot of those battles. Indy's problem was that in the 4th quarter it seemed their pass rushers started to get tired or New England finally figured out how to block the rush, because Brady had more time to the throw in the 4th than he did the entire rest of the day. The key to being a non-blitzing team is that you have to have a great pass rush. Even 7 defenders in the secondary can't stop a QB if he has all day to throw. Problem is the Colts pass rush simply vanished in the second half of the 4th quarter, and that wound up killing them.
2. And just some other thoughts from the game. Wes Welker was an unreal steal from the Miami Dolphins. He was simply huge. A couple of great punt returns, a TD catch, and some critical catches, including the one that put the game out of reach for the Colts. On the flip side, Joseph Addai was awesome as well. By rushing for over 100 yards and turning a short pass into a long TD he did everything he could to help the Colts win, especially when you knew the Pats would be keying on him with Harrison out. Meanwhile, Manning didn't look so good, but I'd attribute that to not having Harrison and Gonzalez being out for most of the game. A rematch of these teams in the AFC Championship with both teams completely healthy would be epic.
3. It's impossible to ignore anymore, the Lions are for real. I thought this game against Denver would be a good litmus test to see how legit they are. And while I know Cutler got knocked out at the beginning of the second quarter, the Lions weren't going to be denied in this game. Plus Shaun Rogers is my hero for that 65-yard interception run back. 44-7 is a statement. And that statement is "We're legit."
4. The 49ers, our team, are officially done for this season. When you lose to the Falcons this season with Joey Harrington under center, you're done, period. You might as well just forfeit the rest of your games.
5. Speaking of teams that are done, the Bengals are as well. Except for them it's different. This team needs to be completely blown up. Marvin Lewis has lost this team, Chad Johnson is injured, their defense is awful - I mean it's a complete nightmare. Might as well just start over, because it sure as hell ain't working right now.
6. Green Bay seems to be a team destiny. How they're 7-1 is an absolute mystery. They have no running game and with the exception of a few amazingly clutch passes by Favre, he hasn't been playing all that well of late. But what they do have is a great defense. And right now, it's sure as hell carrying them. I can't see how this team could go 7-1 in the second half of the season. That lack of a running game is going to eventually catch up to them at some point soon, but hey, it's been a great ride so far. Except for all those announcers consistently slurping Favre. That's been horrible.
7. The Saints are back, and they're going to win their division. Even I thought I was crazy when I wrote a few weeks ago when the Saints were 1-4 that they could still win this division. But hey, here they are at 4-4, just a 1/2 game behind Tampa Bay. And their next three games are St. Louis, Houston and Carolina. Nice. Brees is on fire (last two games almost 800 yards passing with 7 TDs and no picks), Reggie Bush is looking good, and their offense is totally rejuvenated. It's amazing how bad they were at the start of the season and yet how good they've looked the past 2 weeks. Almost inexplicable. Of course, the fact that the Saints have a real shot at winning this division shows just how awful this division and the NFC is.
8. Purple Jesus is pretty damn good. Despite the fact that this game was blacked out where I live in NorCal, which doesn't make any sense, I still managed to catch some of it. Even though everyone knew PJ was going to running the ball on every play, he still ran for an NFL record 296 yards. He also averaged almost 10 yards a carry. Truly amazing. The funny thing is I wasn't sure how good PJ was going to be. Considering there were issues about could he catch passes, combined with his broken collar bone, and how he runs pretty straight up, I was somewhat skeptical. Well, no longer. He's by far the best running back in the NFL so far this year. It'll be interesting to see if he can get 2,000 yards this season. After all, he's their entire offense, so it seems like it's a real possibility.
9. Kellen Clemens may not have gotten the win today for the Jets, but he's definitely the team's future. He also showed some running skills, rushing for 48 yards on 7 carries. The season's already over for the Jets, but that's ok. They'll be able to get Clemens plenty of reps so he'll be ready to go as the full-time starter next year. Maybe he can even save Mangini's job if he plays well the rest of the season.
10. It's great to see Cleveland finally doing well. They've really got an impressive offense and one could make an argument that aside from Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards is the best receiver in the league this season. Meanwhile, there's no question Kellen Winslow is one of the best tight ends in football at the moment. They also seem to have found a real quarterback in Derek Anderson. Each week he keeps producing and each week he looks less and less like a fluke, and he may save Romeo Crennel's job at the rate he's going. It may be a while before Brady Quinn gets any time.
11. Speaking of Anderson, it's apparent no one in the NFL knows how to draft quarterbacks. It's been a total crapshoot with the exception of Peyton Manning. Two of the three best QBs in the game barely made rosters. Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent, and Tom Brady was a sixth round choice. So was Anderson. And you know what, I'd take all three of those guys over Alex Smith.
12. And the quote of the day comes from John Madden: "You ever notice when Donovan McNabb makes a bad throw, it's really bad?"