October 1, 2012
Who says Tom Brady isn't a great scrambler?
The Patriots quarterback was scrambling all over the New England sideline Sunday in Buffalo, frantically searching for his missing helmet before his team's first possession of the third quarter. He couldn't just grab a teammate's helmet, because his is outfitted with a coach-to-quarterback earpiece.
Brady finally found what he was looking for, and so did his team. The Patriots erased a 14-point second-half deficit by scoring touchdowns on six consecutive second-half drives on the way to a 52-28 blowout.
All around the NFL, it was a lost-and-found Sunday.
Lost: New Orleans. The Saints put up a good fight in Green Bay before falling, 28-27, to slip to 0-4 — amazingly, the NFC's only winless team.
Found: The reminder that regular officials make mistakes too. The Packers, whose "Fail Mary" defeat in Seattle spelled the end of replacement refs, were burned for a touchdown Sunday by two non-calls: an offensive pass interference in the end zone by the Saints, and a New Orleans fumble on a kick return.
Lost: A bit of pride. Oakland Coach Dennis Allen, Denver's former defensive coordinator, returned to his old city and saw the Silver and Black crushed, 37-6.
Found: Hope. Broncos fans concerned about Peyton Manning were relieved to see the surgeon back at work — 30 of 38, 338 yards, three touchdowns.
Lost: Detroit — yet again. Counting their playoff game, the Lions are 6-10 since starting last season 5-0. What happened to the resurgence of that franchise? The K-car had a longer run.
Found: A team that was prematurely buried. Minnesota followed its victory over San Francisco with a 20-13 win at Detroit. It was the first NFC North win for Coach Leslie Frazier, and the first time in 12 tries the Vikings have won a division game.
Lost: Jake Locker. The Tennessee quarterback was knocked out of a 38-14 loss to Houston with a shoulder injury. The undefeated Texans keep rolling.
Found: A way to win. Atlanta and Arizona also kept their unbeaten status, each winning at home with field goals at the end. The Falcons squeaked past Carolina, 30-28, while Arizona needed overtime to edge Miami, 24-21.
Lost: Two Redskins. In a freak accident before Washington's game at Tampa Bay, Redskins receiver Aldrick Robinson and safety Brandon Meriweather were injured in a collision during pregame warm-ups. Meriweather, who was making his return from a knee injury, ran into Robinson. Meriweather aggravated the knee injury and Robinson was briefly knocked out. Neither was wearing a helmet or pads, and both were ruled out of the game.
Found: The space between the uprights. Washington's Billy Cundiff beat the Buccaneers with a field goal after missing his previous three attempts. The Redskins can thank rookie Robert Griffin III and his never-say-slide running for putting them in position to win.
Lost: The football, by Kansas City. The Chiefs had six turnovers against San Diego, five in the first half.
Found: San Diego's offense. A week after being held to three points at home, the Chargers hit the road and outscored the Chiefs, 37-20.
Lost: Santonio Holmes. The New York Jets lost their star receiver to an injured foot a week after losing their best defensive player, Darrelle Revis, to a knee injury.
Found: A wildcat offense in the Jets game. The problem for the Jets? The wildcat belonged to San Francisco. Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran for 50 yards in five carries, with a touchdown, giving future 49ers opponents one more threat to worry about. In winning, 34-0, the 49ers posted their first road shutout in a decade.
Drew and Johnny U.
As bad as this season has been for New Orleans, the Saints have reason to cheer quarterback Drew Brees, who Sunday tied Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas' record of a passing touchdown in 47 consecutive games.
Brees' record-tying touchdown was a 20-yarder to Marques Colston in the first quarter. Officials didn't flag an apparent offensive pass interference on the play, as Colston pushed the defender. At least it was the first time this season the Packers had reason to complain about an official's decision on a ball thrown into the end zone.
No, wait …
The Fox color analyst for the Seahawks-Rams game was former St. Louis Coach Mike Martz, who disagreed with the Rams' decision to line up for a field goal on fourth and goal from the three-yard line.
"I thought the way this [St. Louis] team is, I'd go for it," Martz said. "That's just me. Too much momentum going with these guys."
Wise words. The field goal was a fake, with holder Johnny Hekker taking the snap, standing up and hitting a completely unguarded Danny Amendola in the corner of the end zone. That was the Rams' first offensive touchdown in 100 plays, ending the NFL's longest active streak of futility.
Fine but not good
Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway is likely to get dinged by the NFL for his hit on Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson, briefly leaving Megatron crumpled and face-down on the turf. As a pass slipped through Johnson's hands, Greenway launched himself at Johnson and slammed his shoulder pad into the receiver's head. Looked like a textbook illegal hit on a defenseless receiver.
Guest of dishonor
Watching with the crowd at the St. Louis game was Gregg Williams, the Rams' suspended defensive coordinator at the center of the New Orleans bounty scandal. His son, Blake, coaches Rams linebackers.
Although he's banned indefinitely from coaching in the league, or even attending games, Williams asked for and received permission to attend Seahawks-Rams after being invited by a friend. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, Williams "will not have contact with players or staff."
Greg the leg
On a day when normally reliable kickers David Akers of San Francisco and Stephen Gostkowski of New England missed two field goals each, St. Louis rookie Greg Zuerlein boomed field goals of 58, 48, a franchise-record 60 and 24 yards. All 19 of the Rams' points in their 19-13 victory over the Seahawks came on special teams.
"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," Rams running back Steven Jackson said. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."