Real NFLers of New Jersey: Weeks 8, 9
Sandy thought she could derail me with some wind and a power outage, but like the Green Bay offense: I can’t be stopped. More like Rex Grossman actually:
He is even throwing dragons from the bench! Talent. Speaking of talent, we got two weeks of stats to go through before this article is done, and I thought I would switch it up given the primarily lackluster performances from those from the Garden State the past two weeks. You will get your fill of the stat sheet, but there is so much more to the NFL than just that.
The past two weeks have brought us one of the highest scoring games (Bears/Titans 51-20) and one of the lowest (Browns/Chargers 7-6), some truly awful performances (the entire Jets offense being held to 9 points against the Dolphins) and some legendary ones (Doug Martin, enough said). It has also reminded us why we love this sport.
First I will give you the stat sheet, then I will give you so much more.
Real NFLers of New Jersey Weeks 8 and 9
Cruz got rocked in the endzone by Ryan Clark in Week 9 against the Steelers and it led a lot of people to question whether it was a legal hit or a cheap shot. There is a great article about it here
Week 8: 2 catches for 23 yards
Week 9: 5 catches for 67 yards
After returning from a head injury, Jones has carved out a place for himself in the Bills offensive attack (what is left of one anyway). While Stevie Johnson dealt with a thigh injury, Jones stepped up and out-caught the Bills’ WR1.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: 6 catches for 65 yards
It would have been reassuring for Ravens fans to see Flacco explode after the bye week and a horrible performance against the Texans in Week 7. He did okay.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: 15 for 24 for 153 yards and a TD
Good to see Austin’s production doesn’t rise and fall with the star of Dallas. He has been quite solid.
Week 8: 9 catches for 133 yards
Week 9: 7 catches for 76 yards
Despite a gigantic offensive outing on Sunday between the Bucs and Raiders, which one analysis from NFL.com called “Pirate Porn”, Tiquan was quiet.
Week 8: 3 catches for 27 yards
Week 9: 1 catch for 12 yards
Did you think I was lying?
“What a great segway!!” said no one. Time for some random thoughts:
QBs on Facebook
The NFL has survived as a popular sport for so many years because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. From Sound FX, to the stupid bits the announcers and analysts do, and from NFL Memes on Facebook, to Tom Brady’s Uggs commercials, football will find a way to leave you laughing. Enter ProFootballMock.com. The site pokes fun at everything NFL, but its best piece is by far NFL QB’s on Facebook. The self-explanatory section posits what-if all the NFL QB’s were friends on Facebook and trash-talked each other before and after games. WARNING: IT IS VULGAR, but if you can stand intense profanity (or enjoy it) you have 9 weeks to catch up on.
To totally switch gears, I want to say a few words about the Steelers-Giants game. This was an emotional one. It took place here in New Jersey after the devastation of Sandy and if I could use one word to fully encapsulate it, that word would be: classy. It was classy that when the Steelers’ hotel lost power they opted to fly into Newark on Sunday rather than take another hotel away from those who were seeking refuge in New Jersey. It was classy that Tom Coughlin wore a New Jersey cap on his head instead of the traditional NY cap. It was classy that players and coaches gripped the American flag along with first responders to Hurricane Sandy during the national anthem. However, I believe the classiest moment came in the third quarter, after all the ceremony had given way to football and it would have been easy at that point to forget about the backdrop. Steelers running back Chris Rainey was injured on a kick return in the third quarter. He initially got up to leave the field, but collapsed a few seconds later and remained down for several minutes. In a show of solidarity and unity, a collection of Steelers and Giants players knelt together on the field and prayed while Rainey was helped off. These are two veteran squads who know how to put things into perspective. I applaud them both.
I want to end with talking about the only undefeated team left this year: the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons.
A year ago today there were countless articles focused around the 8-0 Packers. These articles mainly focused on a few things: the Packers horrible defense, Aaron Rodgers otherworldly quarterback play, and a nail-biter of a game that saw the San Diego Chargers almost rally to beat the Packers in the second half. Despite all the holes in the Packers game, the doubters started to turn and become believers after they held off the Chargers. People stopped asking “when are they going to fall?” and started asking “who can possibly stop them now?”
One year later and the Falcons are still looking for that respect, wondering how they can possibly get it and contemplating whether or not they really even want it.
People are reluctantly putting the Falcons at the top of power polls, stating that they are not the league’s most complete team. And the Packers were? With a porous defense and virtually no running game?
People are discussing the sorry states of the Eagles and the Cowboys after Week 8 and Week 9 losses to the Falcons respectively, instead of the toughness of the Atlanta defense. Doubters still point to the almost-losses to the Raiders and Panthers earlier in the year, instead of the masterfully executed 4th quarter drives that Matt Ryan put together to win those games. The Packers did not always win pretty either, but yet the respect and reverence for Green Bay gets lost on the way to Atlanta.
I will say this: for once, Tony Romo and the Cowboys did not beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys. The Atlanta Falcons beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys. It was a nail-biter and the Cowboys never screwed themselves over. They were just outplayed and held off.
Perhaps Matt Ryan does not get credit because he does not win IN SPITE of a defense like Rodgers did last year. Or maybe it is because the Falcons are criticized for an easy schedule and a horrible postseason record. There is a great David Letterman piece making fun of Michael Singletary where a fake Singletary says “We can only play the teams on our schedule”. It is funny, but it is true. They also cannot play in January while it is still November.
In Week 15, the same week the Packers lost to Kyle Orton and the Chiefs, the Falcons play the defending champs the Giants. It might be the week they lose, or they might have already lost by the time the Giants come to the Georgia Dome. I am not saying they are going to go 16-0, but I am saying they deserve the respect they are clearly owed. In a year with very few great teams, they are perched at the top.