I don’t understand the NFL.
In the league with the most parity in professional sports, I should know better than to think I have things figured out.
Another week has gone by in the 2012 NFL season, another week that left fans around the nation shaking their heads. Except, of course, those who knew all along that the Arizona Cardinals would be 4-0 while the New Orleans Saints sit at 0-4.
I, for one, didn’t see that coming. I also didn’t expect the “final four” from a year ago to have a combined record of barely more than .500 through four weeks. None of the conference semi-finalists from 2011 have the outright lead in their division, and only the New England Patriots have a share of the division lead. Of those same four, only the San Francisco 49ers have a winning record.
It’s still early. The Saints have to win eventually, right? Brian Hartline can’t lead the NFL in receiving, can he? And Tom Coughlin certainly can’t make it through an entire season without half of New York wanting him fired.
No question mark after that last one, that’s a certainty.
I feel bad for any Buffalo Bills fan who turned to the Food Channel halfway through the third quarter on Sunday. With their team ahead 21-7, it seemed that the Bills might hold off Tom Brady and the Patriots. But faster than you can say ‘Iron Chef,’ Brady began marching up and down the field by both land and air. To make a long story short, that poor Bills fan turned the channel back to not a football game, but a massacre. The Pats put up 31 fourth-quarter points, winning 52-28 to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Nixon was in office.
Ok, you’re right, it’s only been ten years.
Robert Griffin finally makes an appearance in this column after he led the Redskins down the field with under two minutes to play. Kicker Billy Cundiff made the game-winner with just seconds remaining, redeeming himself from three earlier misses. The key play in the 24-22 win was an RGIII run in the final drive. His 15-yard scramble put the ‘Skins into field goal range, and Cundiff converted from 41 yards.
I love the Cardinals. They have nobody besides Larry Fitzgerald on that team, but somehow they remain unbeaten a quarter of the way through 2012. Kevin Kolb was the hero this week, tossing a touchdown pass on fourth-and-ten with 22 seconds left to send it to overtime. Jay Feely put the finishing touch on the 24-21 win by making a 46-yarder just over six minutes into extra time.
Miami lost the game, but wideout Brian Hartline had a record-setting day, catching 15 balls for 253 yards receiving. Hartline’s performance earned him a franchise record for receiving yards in a game.
The other two unbeatens, Atlanta and Houston, also stayed that way, albeit in much different ways. With just over a minute remaining, Atlanta found themselves down a point and 99 yards away from the end zone. With one quick 59-yard strike to Roddy White, Matt Ryan flipped field position, and went on to win the game. Well, it really was Matt Bryant’s 40-yard field goal with 5 seconds remaining, but I’m crediting Matty Ice. And White’s 169 yards and two TD’s helped.
Enough of these close games, let’s move on to the good stuff: the blowouts.
Houston absolutely tore Tennessee apart, and is looking like the Super Bowl favorite.
The 49ers can somehow lose to Minnesota, but then turn around and embarrass the Jets 34-0? Not that New York is any good, but wow.
The Dallas Cowboys are a downright debacle right now. They can’t run the ball, Tony Romo can’t decide which team he wants to throw to, and Dez Bryant just wants to go to the strip club. Looks like Jerry Jones will have to fire those bodyguards if he wants any production from Bryant.
I guess Seattle isn’t good after all. In hindsight, the win against Green Bay wasn’t even a win, and beating the Cowboys 27-7 doesn’t look impressive anymore. Losing to the Rams doesn’t help either. And speaking of the Rams, go Greg Zuerlein! Zuerlein became the first kicker in NFL history to make kicks of 50+ and 60+ yards in the same game. He did it with style, hitting four field goals, his longest being 58 and 60 yards.
Minnesota’s special teams beat Detroit’s entire team, 20-13. The Vikings scored on the opening kickoff (105 yards courtesy of Percy Harvin) as well as a 77-yard punt return. Detroit became the first team to give up both a kickoff and a punt return touchdown in back-to-back games since at least 1940, according to STATS LLC.
At this point, it’s still anybody’s game. Even the 0-4 Saints have time to get hot and make the postseason.
I will, however, rule out the Browns.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I had it all figured out.
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