Wild Weekends: Big Game Fever

This past weekend was packed.

As the football season progresses, the games continue to move up in importance almost on a weekly basis. This can be attributed to the strategic scheduling of certain games (marquee matchups, rivalry games, etc.), but a lot of times it can happen through dumb luck. Wisconsin/Ohio St. this past weekend was considered a big one because Wisconsin was still unbeaten and it was for the Big-10 lead, Michigan/Iowa was received as a big game because Michigan is already better than last year’s team and Iowa was still unbeaten, and Nebraska/Missouri was the big game that started the week because the Cornhuskers have refused to die quickly as they have done in several recent seasons. But dumb luck in the game of football usually means good things for the fans and truly this weekend provided a little something for everyone wherever the eyes of the football world would gaze.

Tebow returns and wills Gators to big win in Baton Rouge

All worry and apprehension over possibly rushing Tim Tebow back onto the field were put to rest once he got out there.

Tebow’s performance wasn’t anything statistically spectacular, but because of some big hits Tebow took and some big plays that he made, this was Tim Tebow’s night. Tebow made the most of it leading his top-ranked Florida Gators to a 13-3 win over the previously fourth-ranked LSU tigers on the road.

The loss was the first in LSU history at home in a Saturday night game, they had won the previous 32.

Tebow finished 11/16 for 134 yards and a touchdown through the air while rushing for 38 yards on 17 carries.

Tebow’s touchdown pass turned out to be the backbreaker for LSU. Riley Cooper pulled in a 24-yard pass from Tebow in the final minute of the first half while virtually uncovered. LSU would never recover.

LSU went 1/9 on third downs and only gained 162 yards on offense.

McDaniels, Broncos strike last and defeat Belichick, Patriots

Josh McDaniels gained the biggest bit of redemption at the media and his critics this past Sunday.

After an off-season plagued with soap-opera stories and scrutiny over McDaniels’ methods as a coach, McDaniels had the Broncos entering Sunday’s game as one of the NFL’s remaining unbeaten’s, albeit courtesy of a few lucky breaks.

Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win over the Patriots, and McDaniels’ old boss Bill Belichick, was the win that has now made the Broncos legit.

Kyle Orton exercised almost all of his football demons in one glorious afternoon leading two touchdown drives of over 90 yards. These drives kept the Broncos in the game and kept Brady and the Patriots offense off the field.

Orton finished the day 35/48 for 330 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Brandon Marshall seemed to have fully exercised his off-season demons with another clutch performance. On this day, Marshall caught eight passes for 64 yards and scored two touchdowns including the one that sent the game to overtime, an 11-yard grab with 5:21 to go capping a 12 play, 98 yard drive.

Brady had an average day going 19/33 for 215 yards and two touchdowns passing.

Tide defense demolishes Snead, Ole Miss

Alabama made their statement to the nation this past weekend.

In a spotlight game against number twenty Ole Miss, the third-ranked Crimson Tide crushed the Rebels in a way that isn’t common with this year’s more offensive minded SEC.

Ole Miss only gained 72 yards rushing, committed five turnovers, went 0/9 on third down, and held the ball for only 21 minutes.

Of those five turnovers, four were interceptions thrown by Jevan Snead. Snead was pummeled and humbled for the second straight game by a defense that was simply superior to what Snead brought with him onto the field. Snead finished the day 11/34 for 140 yards to go with his many interceptions.

Alabama’s offense kept the same mentality their defense did and won things down and dirty and on the ground, rushing for 200 yards as a team.

Mark Ingram did most of this running for Bama. Ingram ran for 172 yards on 28 carries and scored the game’s only touchdown, a 36-yard run with fifty seconds to go in the first half.

Dolphins and Jets have another Monday Night classic

Whenever the Dolphins and Jets meet on Monday Night Football, odds are good that the game is going to be something great. This past Monday was no exception.

With a fourth quarter that ranks up with the best of all-time, the Dolphins and Jets combined for five fourth quarter touchdowns, the last being Ronnie Brown’s game-winner for Miami with six seconds to play. What made the offensive output of the fourth quarter even more amazing was the fact that every touchdown scored in the quarter resulted in a lead change.

Neither team scored in the third quarter.

Ronnie Brown finished with 74 yards on 21 carries and completed a 21-yard pass.

Chad Henne continued to impress by showing no signs of rust and having another great passing performance. Henne went 20/26 for 241 yards and two touchdowns passing in the win.

Henne threw touchdowns to Anthony Fasano and Ted Ginn Jr. in the fourth quarter. Thomas Jones provided both of the Jets’ fourth quarter touchdowns with short scoring runs of one and three yards.

Jones finished with 42 yards on 13 carries.

Bengals beat the other AFC North powerhouse with another last minute score

With the Cincinnati Bengals, it has been nothing but fantastic finishes this season. From the heartbreaking touchdown play that lost the Bengals their season opener to this past weekend’s game-winning grab by Andre Caldwell, it has been one thrilling ride that has shown no signs of stopping.

Caldwell’s grab came with 22 seconds to play. The play also came after three Baltimore interference penalties put the Bengals in position to win. The first, and possible catalyst behind the next two, was Ray Lewis smashing Chad Ochocinco right before a pass intended for him got there.

Lewis finished with 10 tackles, all solo. Ochocinco caught seven passes for 94 yards.

The 17-14 game was every bit as defensive as it sounds with four combined turnovers (two for each team), a lot of yards being gained, but not a lot of points being scored.

Both quarterbacks felt the heat from their opponent’s defense in this one. Joe Flacco went 22/31 for 186 yards, 1 touchdown and two interceptions for Baltimore while Carson Palmer went 18/31 for 271 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Cincinnati.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Since I wasn’t able to get an article out last week, I’d like to dedicate the last part of this week’s edition to putting my two cents in about Brett Favre and his victory over the team he made his legend with, the Green Bay Packers. The game was more of an event than a game, and I mean that in the most positive way. This was a Monday Night game that had a whole different feel than almost any Monday Night game this decade. No Monday Night game in recent time has had the national attention or the story to it that this game got with the story being the same one we’ve seen play itself out for the past two years—Favre versus the Pack—and the attention being obvious given that story. Jared Allen stole some of Favre’s thunder with his incredible performance, including a Monday Night record 4 ½ sacks, against a Green Bay offensive line that looked defeated the moment they stepped onto the field. However, this was still all about Favre. And with that came the most surreal moment I’ve ever had as a football fan: the first time I saw Favre come out onto the field opposite the green and gold at the scrimmage line, it finally hit me that Brett Favre isn’t really a Packer anymore. A lot of people—most of them from Wisconsin like me—can identify with the notion that Favre in the Jets jersey or Favre in a Vikings jersey almost seems like something so unreal that it literally can’t be real. But it is, and despite it being more than fourteen months since he first put on that other green jersey and having plenty of time in the purple jersey, it never seemed 100% real until last Monday Night. And maybe it was a byproduct of all the hype, but at the same time it did my football soul some good to see Favre continue to be the Brett Favre that we all know and love all bullshit off the field taken away. The other unquestionable truth that came out of last Monday: we finally saw that for how good and Favre-like Aaron Rodgers’ play has been in the time he has assumed starting QB duties in Green Bay, he still has eons to go until he is even close to being as good as the man he learned from.

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