1. I don’t think that we should read too much into how the Saints won today. It wasn’t pretty, and it probably shouldn’t have happened, but there was a lot to take from that. First, Washington was the best passing defense in the league coming into the game but the Saints managed 419 passing yards against them, and they made the winning TD look as easy as it can possibly look. Next, the Redskins were at home and were fired up by trying to save their season and all that so it made sense that they were stout. Finally, the Saints were missing three cornerbacks , so I’m not concerned by their ability to stop Jason Campbell. The Saints almost lost to a bad team, but they found a way to get the win in the end, and that’s all that matters.
2. The Niners lost, but there was still a lot to like there. Frank Gore fumbled deep into Seattle’s end in the second half and that was the difference. The most impressive thing, though, was Alex Smith played his best game as a pro. He completed 60 percent of his passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, and included in there were some truly impressive connections. He didn’t turn the ball over, either. His numbers should have been even better, but Vernon Davis let one go right through his hands in the endzone and they had to settle for a field goal. We’ll see if it sticks, but Smith looked an awful lot like an NFL QB – a good one – today.
3. I know that Atlanta had a lot working against them today – no Matt Ryan or Michael Turner – but I was disgusted by how they reacted to it. They just quit. They didn’t even try. They lost 34-7 to the Eagles in their on building, and it was really 34-0 – the lone Atlanta touchdown came as time expired and it was only against Philly’s ball boys and equipment managers because the players were already in the shower. Self-respecting teams can’t quit like that.
4. I have given up on the Pats as a legitimate Super Bowl threat this year. No real contender can go 1-5 on the road. There is a lot wrong with this team right now, and I’m not sure that they can fix it this year. In fact, I am pretty sure they can’t. Despite that, the big thing I take away from this one is a theme I have visited before – Chad Henne is going to be a pro quarterback for many years. He played very well when faced with a legendary quarterback opposing him, and he focused hard and played his best when the game was on the line. That was not the first time he has done that this year, and it’s a very good sign for a player.
5. Pittsburgh is badly broken right now. With all due respect to Bruce Gradkowski and all he has accomplished since taking over for JaMarcus Russell, any defense that makes Gradkowski look that good is deeply troubled. There is absolutely no way that this is a playoff team.
6. I was pretty sure that we would see an old man shine at quarterback tonight. I wasn’t that surprised which one it was, though. Kurt Warner plays his best in big games, and he was definitely looking to rise up and wash away the problems of the last week for the team. Favre has been spectacular, but he had to play an average game at some point and this was his point. I don’t panic about the Vikings much, but I do think that this game has to be proof that we can’t count out the Cardinals just yet. Most of us did that last year and look where it got us.
7. I’m generally excited about the way that the BCS turned out – with one big exception. I think that the Fiesta Bowl matchup of TCU and Boise State is a cowardly way to avoid raising more questions with the system. TCU and Boise State played last year in the Poinsettia Bowl, so I don’t see why we need to see them play again this year. More significantly, I really think that both have earned the right to show what they can do against major conference teams. The winner of this game will really have proved nothing to the critics because everyone can still say that they haven’t played a major conference elite team. I love that they let to mid-majors in, but by grouping them together they are saying that they don’t really think they belong.