Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NFL Week 3 Hangover

New York Giants 24 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0

Rumors of the demise of the Giants’ running game seem to have been greatly exaggerated. The end of Byron Leftwich’s career may be close at hand, however. The Giants’ defense held the Bucs without a first down until late in the third quarter. Leftwich managed the offense to 34 total yards before being yanked for 2nd-year man, and new starter, Josh Johnson.

Fantasy Studs: Eli Manning (14/24, 161 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), Ahmad Bradshaw (14 carries, 104 yards), Brandon Jacobs (26 carries, 92 yards, 1 touchdown), Steve Smith (7 receptions, 63 yards, 1 touchdown), Giants’ defense (0 points allowed, 1 interception)

Next Week:
New York Giants (3-0) at Kansas City (0-3) – 10 AM; Tampa Bay (0-3) at Washington (1-2) – 10 AM

Detroit Lions 19 – Washington Redskins 14

The dismal streak that the Lions had endured for nearly two calendar years ended with a solid team performance that might be the harbinger of good things to come in Detroit. #1 overall draft Pick Matt Stafford found 8 receivers en route to a solid passing day. Kevin Smith rushed for over 100 yards. And the defense held Clinton Portis to just 42 yards.

Fantasy Studs:
Jason Campbell (27/41, 340 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception), Kevin Smith (16 carries, 101 yards), Bryant Johnson (4 receptions, 73 yards, 1 touchdown)

Next Week:
Tampa Bay (0-3) at Washington (1-2) – 10 AM; Detroit (1-2) at Chicago (2-1) – 10 AM

Green Bay Packers 36 – St. Louis Rams 17

The Rams went toe-to-toe with the Packersinnearly every statistical category, with the only major differences being in turnovers (Rams: 3, Packers: 0) and points scored. Rams QB Marc Bulger left with a shoulder injury, but Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers showed that he is feeling just fine with a solid day that included one of the hardest thrown touchdown passes in recent memory.

Fantasy Studs:
Aaron Rodgers (13/23, 269 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 8 carries, 38 yards, 1 rushing touchdown), Steven Jackson (27 carries, 117 yards), Greg Jennings (2 receptions, 103 yards), Donald Driver (4 receptions, 95 yards, 1 touchdown), Mason Crosby (3 PAT, 3 FG – 48 yards, 38 yards, 25 yards)

Next Week:
Green Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (3-0) – Monday 5:30 PM; St. Louis (0-3) at San Francisco (2-1) – 1:15 PM

Minnesota Vikings 27 – San Francisco 49ers 24

It wasn’t quite a “Hail Mary,” but the game-winning pass thrown by Brett Favre on the game’s last play may as well have been. Favre was being hit as he threw and half of the players on the field were in the endzone where backup receiver Greg Lewis was the only one to actually touch it. Questions about Favre’s ability to, and his fire for, playing the game are quickly fading away.

Fantasy Studs:
Brett Favre (24/46, 301 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception), Vernon Davis (7 receptions, 96 yards, 2 touchdowns), Percy Harvin (4 receptions, 51 yards, 4 kick returns, 180 yards, 1 kick return-touchdown [101 yards]), Ryan Longwell (3 PAT, 2 FG – 40 yards, 52 yards)

Next Week:
St. Louis (0-3) at San Francisco (2-1) – 1:15 PM; Green Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (3-0) – Monday 5:30 PM

New England Patriots 26 – Atlanta Falcons 10

They didn’t quite look like their 2007 counterparts, but the Patriots dominated both sides of the ball against Atlanta, and shook off their Week 2 loss to the Jets. New England nearly doubled-up on the Falcons in total yards, plays from scrimmage, and time of possession, holding Matt Ryan’s potent offensive machine in check, while putting up some solid offensive numbers of their own.

Fantasy Studs:
Fred Taylor (21 carries, 105 yards, 1 touchdown), Randy Moss (10 receptions, 116 yards), Stephen Gostkowski (2 PAT, 4 FG – 21 yards, 33 yards, 22 yards, 33 yards)

Next Week:
Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1) – 10 AM; Atlanta (2-1) – bye

New York Jets 24 – Tennessee Titans 17

Both teams’ season continued in the unexpected courses they’re been on since the start. The Jets and their rookie quarterback and head coach won another gutsy game, while the Titans and their balanced, dominant, veteran squad still has yet to get up off the mat. Each team took turns dominating the other, but it was the Jets that were able to capitalize on forced turnovers, and Mark Sanchez managed the team to their third win, the longest winning streak by a rookie starting quarterback to start his career since the NFL/AFL merger.

Fantasy Studs:
Jericho Cotchery (8 receptions, 108 yards, 1 touchdown), Chris Johnson (22 carries, 97 yards), Jets’ defense (17 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 3 sacks)

Next Week:
Tennessee (0-3) at Jacksonville (1-2) – 10 AM; New York Jets (3-0) at New Orleans (3-0) – 1:05 PM

Philadelphia Eagles 34 – Kansas City Chiefs 14

The off-season story in Philadelphia was a potential quarterback battle brewing between incumbent Donovan McNabb and newcomer Michael Vick, but it now appears that Kevin Kolb might be the best option behind center even after McNabb comes back from injury. Kolb had his second straight huge game as Philly’s starter and will take over the job permanently if given the chance.

Fantasy Studs:
Kevin Kolb (24/34, 327 yards, 2 touchdowns), LeSean McCoy (20 carries, 84 yards, 1 touchdown), DeSean Jackson (6 receptions, 149 yards, 1 touchdown), Brent Celek (8 receptions, 104 yards, 1 touchdown)

Next Week:
New York Giants (3-0) at Kansas City (0-3) – 10 AM; Philadelphia (2-1) – bye

Baltimore Ravens 34 – Cleveland Browns 3

It’s looking more and more like neither Brady Quinn nor Derek Anderson is the right man in Cleveland. Although the Ravens’ defense can do that to a lot of quarterbacks. Joe Flacco certainly looked comfortable at QB though as the Ravens continue to look like the class of the NFL on both sides of the ball.

Fantasy Studs:
Joe Flacco (25/35, 342 yards, 1 touchdown), Willis McGahee (7 carries, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 fumble lost), Derrick Mason (5 receptions, 118 yards, 1 touchdown), Ravens’ defense (3 points allowed, 4 interceptions, 2 sacks)

Next Week:
Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1) – 10 AM; Cincinnati (2-1) at Cleveland (0-3) – 10 AM

Jacksonville Jaguars 31 – Houston Texans 24

Overshadowed in college by another slightly undersized back playing across town, Maurice Jones-Drew has emerged as an unstoppable runningback in Jacksonville. In a nearly perfectly evenly matched game, where the teams were separated by just one total yard and traded scores all day long, it was Jacksonville who scored last and held on for the win.

Fantasy Studs:Matt Schaub (26/35, 300 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), Maurice Jones-Drew (23 carries, 119 yards, 3 touchdowns), Kevin Walter (7 receptions, 96 yards, 1 touchdown)

Next Week: Tennessee (0-3) at Jacksonville (1-2) – 10 AM; Oakland (1-2) at Houston (1-2) – 10 AM

Chicago Bears 25 – Seattle Seahawks 19

Jay Cutler seems to have put his disastrous first game with the Bears behind him and is on his way to living up to what Bears fans hoped he’d be. Seneca Wallace did a good job at quarterback in place of the injured Matt Hasselbeck, but the Seahawks defense just couldn’t keep Cutler and the Bears out of the endzone on their final drive in the last two minutes.

Fantasy Studs:Jay Cutler (21/27, 247 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), Julius Jones (19 carries, 98 yards), Devin Hester (5 receptions, 76 yards, 1 touchdown), Nate Burleson (9 receptions, 109 yards), Olindo Mare (1 PAT, 4 FG -46 yards, 37 yards, 39 yards, 46 yards)

Next Week: Detroit (1-2) at Chicago (2-1) – 10 AM; Seattle (1-2) at Indianapolis (3-0) – 10 AM

New Orleans Saints 27 – Buffalo Bills 7

The time bomb in Buffalo is ticking louder and louder with each game. During Terrell Owen’s postgame interview, he repeatedly expressed his not-so-veiled displeasure with the plays being called andthe way his quarterback, Trent Edwards, was running them. Owens was held without a catch for the first time in 185 games as Pierre Thomas found the endzone twice in the fourth quarter to put away the Bills.

Fantasy Studs: Pierre Thomas (14 carries, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns)

Next Week: New York Jets (3-0) at New Orleans (3-0) – 1:05 PM; Buffalo (1-2) at Miami (0-3) – 1:05 PM

Cincinnati Bengals 23, Pittsburgh Steelers 20

The defending champs are a Week 1 overtime win away from being 0-3 and now find themselves effectively two games behind the Bengals in the AFC North after their narrow loss to Cincy in Week 3. Willie Parker got his running game in gear and Pittsburgh outperformed the Bengals on paper, but couldn’t stop them when it counted as the absence of Troy Polamalu glared.

Fantasy Studs: Cedric Benson (16 carries, 76 yards, 1 touchdown), Mike Wallace (7 receptions, 102 yards)

Next Week: Cincinnati (2-1) at Cleveland (0-3) – 10 AM; San Diego (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1) – 5:20 PM

Denver Broncos 23 – Oakland Raiders 3

Any win is a good thing. Any win over a divisional opponent is even better. Any win over a divisional opponent in their own home is the best. And completely embarrassing them in front of their own fans is simply beyond words. Oaklandcrossed midfield only twice all game long. Once was after a forced fumble at Denver’s 11 yard line…which Oakland promptly gave back on a fumble on the next play. JaMarcus Russell had another miserable game and would likely be benched on any other team not owned by Al Davis.

Fantasy Studs: Correll Buckhalter (14 carries, 108 yards), Brandon Marshall (5 receptions, 67 yards, 1 touchdown), Broncos’ defense (3 points allowed, 3 fumbles forces, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions)

Next Week: Oakland (1-2) at Houston (1-2) – 10 AM; Dallas (1-1) at Denver (3-0) – 1:15 PM

San Diego Chargers 23 – Miami Dolphins 13

The Chad Henne era in Miami has begun as Chad Pennington is out for the season with a shoulder injury sustained against the Chargers. Henne led the Dolphins on a late touchdown drive, but the game slipped out of the Dolphins’ hands early on when Ronnie Brown mishandled a hand-off from Pennington and it tumbled out of bounds after the ‘Phins had driven 94 yards to the San Diego 1 yard line on their opening drive. Miami’s offense stalled after that and the Chargers had just enough to pull away in the fourth quarter.

Fantasy Studs: Vincent Jackson (5 receptions, 120 yards), Chargers’ defense (13 points allowed, 7 points scored, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery)

Next Week: Buffalo (1-2) at Miami (0-3) – 1:05 PM; San Diego (2-1) at Pittsburgh (2-1) – 5:20 PM

Indianapolis Colts 31 – Arizona Cardinals 10

Peyton Manning won the battle of MVP quarterbacks by tossing four touchdown passes against the Cardinals. Kurt Warner had a big game of his own, but was picked off twice and Indy’s bend-but-don’t-break defense was able to keep the Cards’ one-dimensional offense out of the endzone for all but one drive.

Fantasy Studs:Peyton Manning (24/35, 379 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception), Kurt Warner (30/52, 332 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions), Reggie Wayne (7 receptions, 126 yards, 1 touchdown), Dallas Clark (7 receptions, 62 yards, 1 touchdown), Steve Breaston (7 receptions, 94 yards), Colts’ defense (10 points allowed, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions, 4 sacks)

Next Week: Seattle (1-2) at Indianapolis (3-0) – 10 AM; Arizona (1-2) – bye

Originally published September 28, 2009 on SoCalSportsHub.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Britt List (9/22/09)

My friend Jim asked me last week, "Isn't it about time you write a blog about the latest antics of spoiled sports figures." And he carries a gun to work every day, so Jim gets what Jim wants (Go Seahawks, by the way).

I should probably find some sort of common thread that I could use to string all of these stories and non sequitors together into some sort of cohesive commentary. But that's much harder and I am not getting paid for this. Plus it's been a while since I've really written much and the "notes" section of my phone is getting really long and really need to just empty it out, so here goes...

1. How can I start a list of spoiled sports figures anywhere other than with Serena Williams? Two week ago she got smoked by eventual U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters for 1 set, 5 games, and 2 points. Then two points from the end, she was called for a foot fault on her serve (that is, she stepped on the line while serving...probably a bad call). The penalty for this is the loss of that point. So that makes it match point.

But that little mistake isn't why she heads up this list. No, her out-of-control, profanity-laden, physical-harm-threatening breakdown that got her a 1-point penalty, which cost her the match because it was match point, is what got her on this list. It was definitely one of the most great freak-out's I've ever seen in sports, not up there with George Brett or the minor league baseball manager who pretended to be in a foxhole and toss a grenade of course, but it's impressive. It starts at about :46 in this video and peaks at about 5:20.

Serena later tried to be her normal disingenuously adorable self and said that it's just because she's so passionate and competitive and it got the better of her this time. That explains it; other athletes who get hosed on calls are just not competitive and that's why they act with grace and decorum. I've often felt that Serena Williams (and to a slightly lesser extent, Venus Williams) has been protected by the sports media with the same umbrella that they used to protect Roger Clemens for such a long time. "He's a fiery competitor." Or, "It's her intensity that makes her a champion." No, he was a 'roid raging egomaniac and she is a spoiled bully. I'd like to think that the press has finally turned on her and decided to finally write her off as the poor-sport that she is, but I think Kanye West might have distracted everyone too much with his blowup last week. (Seriously, is the jury still out on Kanye? So the guy sings a song every now and then about praying, and he cried on Leno, that doesn't mean he isn't just a huge asshole.) (And as a second side note, why is the adjectival form of "fire"not "firey?" I mean why suddenly move the "e" inside the "r"?)

2. Robert Henson of the Washington Redskins wrote the following on his Twitter page after some home fans booed the 'Skins in a home loss on Sunday: "All you fake half hearted Skins fans can...I won't go there but I dislike you very strongly, don't come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!...The question is who are you to say you know what's best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at McDonalds."

There is no way I can write anything here that remotely compares to the sentiment and emotion expressed by Mike Greenberg of ESPN, so I won't bother. And there is nothing to add to Greeny's rant, so I won't. Except this: is it possible that this is all a grammatical misunderstanding? I mean, look at what he wrote: "Don't come to Fed Ex to boo dim wits!" Isn't Henson saying that he and the other players and coaches are "dim wits" and telling fans not to come and boo them? Yeah, probably not. He's just too dim witted to know what the comma is for.

3. Phillip Rivers seems like the perfect example of a kid who was always a really good athlete, so he just never really got put in his place on the field and was never disciplined by his parents, teachers, or coaches. Once again last week he took a penalty for taunting - he leaned over and yelled in the face of an opposing player who had fallen down next to Rivers. The problem is, he is still a really good athlete and won't be getting put in his place any time soon. And he's clearly too immature and/or stupid to realize that he'll never win a Super Bowl with this kind of leadership style, talent be damned.

4. It took Terrell Owens exactly one game to throw his new quarterback under the bus, saying that Trent Edwards showed poor judgement and missed plays where Owens was open. I know, I'm shocked too.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver came out after the team's Week 1 loss and said that he was hoping to draft Tim Tebow for next season. Tebow is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and BCS Champion quarterback from Florida, which is in Jacksonville and is far more popular than the Jags. That's good. Way to piss on the millions of dollars spent by fans on tickets and TV packages for this season, let alone on your current players, by already writing the season off within hours of its start. But hey, the good news is that they're gonna get totally hosed if they don't get the #1 draft pick because if they want to move up to get Tebow, the price just went way up when Weaver tipped his hand 8 months before the draft. Whoops.

6. The Cowboys apparently sold something like 30,000 standing-room only tickets (called "Party Passes") to their opening night game against the Giants on Sunday (the Giants won because Tony Romo sucks). The goal was to set the record for the largest regular season crowd in football history, which they did (105,121). Sadly most of those folks who shelled out $29 to stand on a huge balcony facing but far away from the field couldn't actually see the field at all, and some were not allowed into the stadium. It nearly caused a riot and the extra fans couldn't help lift the Cowboys to a win anyway, but the only part of this paragraph that Jerry Jones is probably capable of comprehending is, "Cowboys...set the record for the largest regular season crowd in football history...face...lift...Jerry Jones."

7. Flozell Adams is a very, very fat former great NFL offensive lineman who now just resorts to cheating in order to stop players from exposing the staggeringly large weaknesses in his game. He has led the league in penalties in each of the past 3 seasons. This week the Giants' Justin Tuck apparently told him there was a gigantic plate of ribs over his left shoulder and when Adams went left to look, Tuck bolted the other way to go sack Tony Romo. Adams became angry that there weren't actually any ribs and rather than shift into position and block Tuck, he instead illegally stuck his hippopotamus-sized leg out and tripped him, causing Tuck to fall awkwardly, injure his shoulder and miss the rest of the game. Adams later blamed Tuck saying, "Tell him to stay up." Adams then leaned back over and continued eating from his trough.

8. We always hear what a genius Pete Carroll is, so it must be true. So when he disgracefully shunned his golden boy, Mark Sanchez, last spring when Sanchez chose to enter the NFL, some wondered why Carroll the Genius did it. Why go on record on the biggest day of Sanchez' career, a celebratory day marking his graduation from USC football, not just USC academics, and say the kid isn't ready for the NFL and he has stats that show that Sanchez will fail? Granted, it's only two games into his pro career, but Sanchez seems to pretty pretty damned ready for the NFL. I guess Carroll was wrong on that one.

Once Matt Barkley got the USC starting quarterback job, every time you heard Carroll talk about him you got a kinda creepy, borderline-inappropriate, "I want to carry his babies"-kind of feeling. Though you know Carroll is faking it since he had already named Aaron Corp his starter until Corp got hurt in preseason workouts. And having seen Corp play last weekend in Washington, we now see that Corp getting hurt and forcing Carroll to start Barkley was the best coaching move he'll make this year.

You might wonder why Carroll was singing the praises of Barkley so loudly, besides that the kid is pretty good. But you have to remember that this is Division I-A college football. The title game participants are chosen as much through the politics in the press room as they are through play on the field. USC couldn't afford to start the season ranked in the teens because that makes one-loss a season-ender. So Carroll had to convince voters in that first poll that Barkley is the best quarterback that had ever come through his program so they'd keep USC from tumbling out of the preseason top 5. Now they've lost a game and dropped to 12th, but can still climb back into the conversation. Had they started at 12th and lost, dropping to 20th or below, the season would be over. Maybe he is a genius.

The good news for USC fans is that we've already seen that they don't need to win, let alone play in, the BCS Championship Game to call themselves National Champions at USC. So the polliticking is all kind of a waste anyway, I guess.

9. This one isn't directly at any particular stupid/spoiled sports figure, but rather all the national reporters covering the Giants. Why is everyone so shocked at the skills and performance of Steve Smith? He came from a major college program (USC) where he was a star. He was a high draft pick (2nd round). He led the team in receptions last season (his first as a regular player, though he was still considered the third receiver). And as if all of that wasn't enough to gain him the notoriety he deserves, as a rookie Smith made the most skilled reception and play on that Super Bowl winning drive, saving the Giants' hopes. He is the victim of circumstance, it seems. No one remembers his play on the big drive because it was sandwiched between David Tyree's helmet catch and Plaxico Burress' touchdown. No one recognizes his name because when he came into the league, there already was a star-receiver named Steve Smith. No one remembers his 2008 success because it was overshadowed by the Burress-gun debacle. But it doesn't seem to bother Smith or Mario Manningham or any of the Giants' other younger receivers that they are considered the team's weakness. It just makes it easier to embarrass seemingly unsuspecting and overconfident secondaries (we're looking at you Terrence Newman, Orlando Scandrick, Keith Hamlin, Mike Jenkins...).

10. Who do I pick for the last one?

-LeGarrette Blount of Oregon for kissing his senior season (and draft status) goodbye when he punched a Boise State player and attacked BSU fans after their season opening loss.

-Whoever at Boise State thinks it is a good idea to have a blue field and blue uniforms that make their players invisible on TV, thus making their games unwatchable.

-Whoever at ESPN still think Lou Holtz should be a commentator? I mean he's knowledgeable, and you just wanna cuddle in his lap (with an umbrella) and hear stories about the olden days, but you can't understand a shingle thing that comesh out of hish mouth.

-Kick returners who call fair catches at the 5 yard-line or take kicks out from 8-yards deep in the endzone?

-Whoever at Yahoo! Fantasy Sports ranked LaDainian Tomlinson as highly as he did causing me to get a completely wasted first round draft pick because we've known for two years that LDT was toast?

-Whoever started calling Tomlinson, "LT," despite that there was already a better player in the same sport with the same nickname and you just don't do that?

-Whoever at ABC wrote the stat-list for Pete Carroll for Saturday's game that said he was a two-time National Champion with USC even though the team has only won the National Championship game once in his tenure. Either we have two polls, and its the same split-champion situation that the BCS was created to avoid, or not. But we can't have both. If only there was such a thing as an event where various teams met and played against one another in elimination games to determine the last team standing.

-Milton Bradley who is getting run out of yet-another baseball town after being suspended for the remainder of the season by the Cubs for being a surly prick all the time. If your playing the Milton Bradley home edition, the winning cards this season were: Bump an Ump: Get suspended two game, Throw a Ball Into the Stands With Only Two Outs: Move two baserunners up two bases each, Freak Out After a Flyout, Again: Get sent home during the game, and later get in a fight with the manager in the clubhouse, Say You Hate Coming to Wrigley Field Because The Fans Are Racist: Turn your last remaining supporters against you, and finally for a bonus... Rip the Fans and Local Media For Expecting You To Play Well for the $10,000,000 They're Paying You: Get suspended for the season.

-Bud Selig for lowering the four-game suspensions of Jorge Posada and Jesse Carlson to three-games after the two agreed not to appeal the suspension. So what are we saying here, that they always deserved a three-game suspension but you were gonna make it four for no good reason? Or that saying "I won't appeal," is just as effective as actually appealing?

Or maybe all of them will just tie for 10th. Yeah, that'll work.

NFL Week 2 Hangover

Denver 27, Cleveland 6

By nearly all accounts, the quarterbacks traded between the Broncos and the Bears in the off-season were not in the same league. Apparently no one told Kyle Orton that he was supposedly the bad one. Orton and the Broncos kept the momentum up from last week’s miraculous win in Cincinnati and look like the class of the weak AFC West. Denver’s offense more than doubled up on Cleveland in total yardage, and the defense forced three turnovers to turn their home-opener into a rout.

Fantasy Studs: Denver defense (1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries, 6 points allowed)

Next Week: Denver (2-0) at Oakland (1-1), 1:15 PM; Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (2-0), 10 AM

Chicago 17, Pittsburgh 14

After a dismal first game with his new team, the other half of that quarterback trade faced his home fans for the first time at Soldier Field and helped thousands of Chicago fans justify their new Jay Cutler jersey purchases. Cutler was far from spectacular, but he didn’t turn the ball over and helped the Bears grind out a win over the Super Bowl Champs thanks to a 44-yard field goal with just :15 to play. Pittsburgh’s defense stepped up in the absence of Troy Polamalu and held the Bears’ stud running back Matt Forte to just 29 yards on 13 carries.

Fantasy Studs: Jay Cutler (27/38, 236 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions)

Next Week: Chicago (1-1) at Seattle (1-1), 1:05 PM; Pittsburgh (1-1) at Cincinnati (1-1), 1:15 PM

Baltimore 31, San Diego 26

Phillip Rivers put up huge passing numbers for the Chargers, but it wasn’t enough as Ray Lewis’ defense stuffed the San Diego running attack and Joe Flacco did just enough to win. With LaDainian Tomlinson out, Darren Sproles was given the opportunity to show he could be a #1 running back, but maybe this wasn’t the defense he would have chosen to show his stuff against, though he did have a huge day receiving. Baltimore held the Chargers to just 2.5 yards per carry, and Lewis stuffed Sproles in the backfield to end the Chargers’ last possession to seal the win.

Fantasy Studs:Phillip Rivers (25/45, 436 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), Vincent Jackson (6 receptions, 141 yards, 1 touchdown), Darren Sproles (7 receptions, 124 yards, 1 touchdown), Willis McGahee (79 yards, 2 touchdowns)

Next Week: Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (0-2), 10 AM; Miami (0-1) at San Diego (1-1), 1:15 PM

San Francisco 23, Seattle 10

San Francisco’s Frank Gore had extraordinary touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards, and Seattle fans witnessed what has become all-too-ordinary: Matt Hasselbeck missed time with an injury. Hasselbeck was hit hard in the ribs just before halftime and missed the entire second half. Seneca Wallace did a serviceable job as his replacement, but the day belonged to Gore who couldn’t be stopped.

Fantasy Studs: Frank Gore (207 yards, 2 touchdowns)

Next Week: San Francisco (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0), 10 AM); Chicago (1-1) at Seattle (1-1), 1:05 PM

Buffalo 33, Tampa Bay 20

Byron Leftwich showed he is still more than just a game-manager at quarterback, but Terrell Owens’ late score put the final nail in the Buccs’ coffin in Owens’ first game at his new home stadium. Leftwich found 9 receivers on route to his huge day but the Buccs couldn’t move the ball on the ground, and the Tampa defense had no answers for Buffalo’s balanced attack and couldn’t stop Fred Jackson all day. Jackson had a career day starting in place of suspended starter Marshawn Lynch.

Fantasy Studs:Byron Leftwich (26/50, 296 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interception), Fred Jackson (163 yards), Kellen Winslow (7 receptions, 90 yards, 1 touchdown)

Next Week: New Orleans (2-0) at Buffalo (1-1), 1:05 PM; New York Giants (2-0) at Tampa Bay (0-2), 10 AM

Washington 9, St. Louis 7

Washington was never able to find the end zone and actually lost yardage on 3 of their 4 fourth quarter possessions, but their three field goals proved to be just enough. St. Louis only managed to cross the 50-yard line three times on the day despite a nice day from Steven Jackson and gave up another potential score on a Donnie Avery fumble on the Washington 4-yard line with just over 8:30 to go.

Fantasy Studs: Steven Jackson (104 yards), Washington defense (7 points allowed, 2 fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 sack)

Next Week: Washington (1-1) at Detroit (0-2), 10 AM; Green Bay (1-1) at St. Louis (1-1), 10AM

Arizona 31, Jacksonville 17

Kurt Warner was as close to perfect as any quarterback has ever been in this Arizona rout, but if you live in Jacksonville, you didn’t have to see it. The game was blacked out because it was not a sellout, and millions missed a chance to see Warner put on a spectacular show, completing his first 15 pass attempts. Though the time of possession and total yards were nearly dead-even, Arizona’s efficiency helped them build a 28-point lead before the Jags tired too late to get back into the game.

Fantasy Studs: Kurt Warner (24/26, 243 yards, 2 touchdowns), Mike Sims-Walker (6 receptions, 106 yards, 1 touchdown), Arizona defense (17 points allowed, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 blocked punt, 1 touchdown)

Next Week: Indianapolis (1-0) at Arizona (1-1), 5:20 PM; Jacksonville (0-2) at Houston (1-1), 1 PM

New York Jets 16, New England 9

It is looking more and more like Pete Carroll was dead wrong in his assessment of Mark Sanchez’ chances for success in the NFL. Sanchez out-dueled Tom Brady and already looks like an unfazed veteran in key situations. New England was held without a touchdown since before Sanchez was even playing at USC, and they were shut out in the second half thanks to a stellar performance by the Jets defense. They never sacked Brady, but he did take seven hits and was flushed out of the pocket repeatedly. Sanchez engineered three second half scoring drives to take the come-from-behind win to the roaring approval of his home crowd, which chanted the young quarterback’s name several times during the game.

Fantasy Studs:New York defense (9 points allowed, 1 interception), Julian Edelman (8 receptions, 98 yards)

Next Week: Tennessee (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0), 10 AM; Atlanta (2-0) at New England (1-1), 10 AM

New Orleans 48, Philadelphia 22

“Brees-to-Colston for the touchdown” is looking like the catchphrase of the new fall season! Drew Brees and Kevin Kolb (in his NFL debut start, in place of the injured Donovan McNabb) put on an airshow, combining for over 700 yards passing, and 5 touchdowns. New Orleans only possessed the ball for about one minute longer than Philadelphia but for the Saints it was the quality of their drives that led to the quantity of their points (one turnover, seven scoring drives).

Fantasy Studs:Drew Brees (25/34, 311 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), Kevin Kolb (31/51, 391 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions), Marques Colston (8 receptions, 98 yards, 2 touchdowns), Mike Bell (86 yards, 1 TD), Brent Celek (8 receptions, 104 yards), DeSean Jackson (4 receptions, 101 yards, 1 touchdown), Jason Avant (7 receptions, 79 yards, 1 touchdown), John Carney (6 PAT, 2 FG-23 yards, 25 yards)

Next Week: New Orleans (2-0) at Buffalo (1-1), 1:05 PM; Kansas City (0-2) at Philadelphia (1-1), 10 AM

Houston 34, Tennessee 31

Tennessee’s stout almost completely shut down the Houston running game. So Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub went out and won the game with his arm. The Titans’ Chris Johnson may have had a better day over all, but it was Houston’s Andre Johnson who got the last laugh as the two teams traded punches all game long before Tennessee finally relented and allowed the fourth quarter’s only points on a 23 yard Kris Brown field goal with just over two minutes remaining.

Fantasy Studs:Matt Schaub (25/39, 357 yards, 4 touchdowns), Chris Johnson (197 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing, 9 receptions, 87 yards, 1 receiving touchdown), Andre Johnson (10 receptions, 149 yards, 2 touchdowns), Owen Daniels (6 receptions, 72 yards, 1 touchdown), Jacoby Jones (2 receptions, 73 yards, 1 touchdown), Kris Brown (4 PAT, 2 FG-23 yards, 48 yards)

Next Week: Tennessee (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0), 10 AM; Jacksonville (0-2) at Houston (1-1), 10 AM

Oakland 13, Kansas City 10

The Matt Cassell Era has begun in Kansas City and with just under 3:00 to go, it looked like it was off to a great start. Cassell engineered a 9 play, 72 yard fourth quarter drive that put the Chiefs up 10-6 and considering how dismally the Raiders’ offense had played, it looked like that lead would hold. But the Raiders showed that out-gaining your opponents by nearly a 3-to-1 margin doesn’t matter if you don’t put points on the board. JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden marched the Raiders down the field with just 2:38 to go and McFadden punched it in from five yards out to steal a 13-10 win. The Raiders suffered through a miserable offensive day, but committed no turnovers and had just enough in the tank at the end.

Fantasy Studs:Raiders defense (10 points allowed, 2 interceptions, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble), Sebastian Janikowski (1 PAT, 2 FG-48 yards, 54 yards)

Next Week: Denver (2-0) at Oakland (1-1), 1:15 PM; Kansas City (0-2) at Philadelphia (1-1), 20 AM

Minnesota 27, Detroit 13

No one has ever started more NFL games in-a-row than Brett Favre, and the way he is playing, it is not hard to see why the Vikings wanted to held him keep his streak alive. Another streak was preserved in this game as well as Detroit still hasn’t won a game since 2007. Minnesota came back from a 10-0 deficit to score 27-straight. #1 overall draft pick Matt Stafford showed some growing pains and likely took a few lessons from Favre, who only threw for three more yards than Stafford, but still led the Vikings to a dominating win. Adrian Peterson had a relatively quiet game and lost a fumble, but still rushed for over 6-yards per carry.

Fantasy Studs: Adrian Peterson (92 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble lost), Minnesota defense (10 points allowed, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery)

Next Week: San Francisco (2-1) at Minnesota (2-0), 10 AM; Washington (1-1) at Detroit (0-2), 10AM

Cincinnati 31, Green Bay 24

Cincinnati almost saw their second last-second collapse in as many weeks, but were saved by a false start penalty on the Packers that nullified their chance at one last play from inside the Bengals’ 10. Green Bay only managed 3 points in the second half, but Aaron Rodgers continues to look like more than just “the guy that played after Favre left.” Chad Ochocinco made good on his promise to do a “Lambeau Leap” if he scored, when he caught a 13-yarder from Carson Palmer late in the third quarter that would eventually be the game-winner.

Fantasy Studs:Carson Palmer (15/23, 185 yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions), Cedric Benson (141 yards), Donald Driver (6 receptions, 99 yards, 1 touchdown), Chad Ochocinco (4 receptions, 91 yards, 1 touchdown)

Next Week: Pittsburgh (1-1) at Cincinnati (1-1), 1:15 PM; Green Bay (1-1) at St. Louis (1-1), 10AM

Atlanta 28, Carolina 20

Jake Delhomme was able to find his old form after an absolutely miserable game in Week 1, but Matt Ryan was just a little better in Week 2. Ryan led the Falcons on a 5-play, 56-yards drive in the final minute of the first half before to take the lead for one last time and the teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter to preserve the win for Atlanta. Tony Gonzalez and Steve Smith were their respective quarterbacks’ favorite targets once again as each had big games.

Fantasy Studs: Matt Ryan (21/27, 220 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception), Michael Turner (105 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble lost), Tony Gonzalez (7 receptions, 71 yards, 1 touchdown), Steve Smith (8 receptions, 131 yards)

Next Week: Carolina (0-2) at Dallas (1-1), Monday at 5:30 PM; Atlanta (2-0) at New England (1-1), 10 AM

New York Giants 33, Dallas Cowboys 31

It was supposed to be the grand opener celebration for Jerry Jones’ new Everything-Is-Bigger-In-Texas-Dome. It was supposed to be a huge mismatch between the Cowboy’s veteran quarterback and wide receivers, and the Giants’ depleted, inexperienced secondary. It was supposed to be a huge mismatch between the Cowboys’ veteran secondary and the Giants’ inexperienced receivers. It was supposed to be a defensive battle won by the team who could run the ball better. It wasn’t. The Giants defense allowed a staggering 251 rushing yards, but picked off Tony Romo three times. The Giants had two receivers (Mario Manningham and Steve Smith) catch 10 balls for at least 134 yards and 1 score each. Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, and Miles Austen combined for three catches for Dallas and Romo only threw for 127 yards, to Eli Manning’s 330. Neither ferocious defense managed a single sack. And Brandon Jacobs was held to just 58 yards, but the Giants toughed out a huge win on the road in Dallas to ruin the party on Lawrence Tynes last second field goal.

Fantasy Studs:Eli Manning (25/38, 330 yards, 2 touchdowns), Marian Barber (124 yards, 1 touchdown), Felix Jones (96 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble lost), Mario Manningham (10 receptions, 150 yards, 1 touchdown), Steve Smith (10 receptions, 134 yards, 1 touchdown), Lawrence Tynes (3 PAT, 4 FG-30 yards, 28 yards, 36 yards, 37 yards)

Next Week: Carolina (0-2) at Dallas (1-1), Monday at 5:30 PM; New York Giants (2-0) at Tampa Bay (0-2), 10 AM

Originally published Sept. 21, 2009 on SoCalSportsHub.com