What do you do when your opponent is missing its best cover defender? Why, if you're San Francisco, you run the ball, that's what you do.
Weird, isn't it, that the Niners chose to feature the run against a New York Jests team that has just lost its all-world cornerback Darelle Revis. San Fran QB Alex Smith attempted just 21 passes, completing 12 for 143, in the Niners' romp, while no fewer than nine players had at least one carry in the San Francisco running attack that wore down New York. Neat strategy and very successful. Would Revis have made a difference in the game? He might have been a little more successful slowing down Mario Manningham but I can't see him having done much about the run.
Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills simply refuse to let anyone get a true measure of them. Buffalo looked like world beateres in the first half and actually led the New England Patriots 14-7 by the break. They extended their lead to 21-7 in the third quarter before absolutely imploding. The Bills fell apart in every way possible as New England outscored them 45-7 in the final 10 minutes of the ball game.
Ryan Fitzpatrick continues to be an enigma at quarterback, completing 22 of 39 for 350 and four TDs but also giving up four interceptions along the way. The Bills might have been wise to leave the running to third string Tashard Choice since neither Fred Jackson nor C.J. Spiller, returning to the lineup after injuries, could get much done.
And what do we make of that Bills defense? After holding the powerful Pats to just seven points through 35 minutes of the game, Buffalo's supposedly improved defensive front fell to pieces, giving up close to 250 yards on the ground to New England's lightly-regarded running backs and 340 yards to the not-so-lightly regarded Tom Brady through the air. Buffalo's vaunted D-line managed just a single sack of the Patriot quarterback. Wow. That's not good.
Seattle threw away a win against St. Louis, with rookie QB (and my personal favourite) Russell Wilson tossing three INTs in the loss (though one of them was not really Wilson's fault). I had suspected that the 'Hawks might come out a little bit flat after their controversial last play win on Monday night but they wasted a strong day from Marshawn Lynch (20 carries for 118) and their defense.
The loser of that bizarre replacement-reffed game, Green Bay, stood by as another gaffe by the men in stripes (this time the regular guys) almost cost them another game. Luckily, they showed more resilience in keeping their cool and hanging on for an important one-point win over New Orleans. The Packers, however, must be wondering if referees of all stripes have got it in for them.
And I wouldn't want to leave this recap without sending a shout out to the Miami Dolphins, for the best performance of the weekend in a losing cause. How about wide receiver Brian Hartline, with 12 grabs for 253 yards and a TD? or CFL ex-pat Cameron Wake, who piled up a whopping 4.5 sacks of Kevin Kolb? The guy you gotta feel for most in this loss is Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill, whose two late turnovers allowed Arizona first to tie the game in regular time and then to win it in OT. Tannehill played well but the late mistakes cost him. And his team.
Sorry, one last point. What's it going to take for Rex Ryan to stuff his prejudices where the sun don't shine and give Tim Tebow a shot at quarterback? I mean, you're down 34-0 with just six minutes to play, your starter (Mark Sanchez) is a pathetic 13 of 29 for 103 yards and an INT, and you still don't put your backup in? Really.
I wonder, if it was anybody but the walking quarterback controversy Tim Tebow holding the clipboard, would Ryan have hesitated to put his backup in at that point. I doubt it. Save your starter the pounding in a hopeless cause. Give your backup some in-game reps. So why isn't Ryan putting Tebow in? Looks to me like the Jests traded for Tebow just to try to kill his career by nailing him to the bench, no matter how bad Sanchez plays. Ridiculous. And stupid. And unfair.