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article imageOp-Ed: Recap of Week 4 in the NFL

By Shawn McLeish     Oct 3, 2011 in Sports
Crazy is the new normal in the NFL. Wild comebacks, record-breaking performances, and unexpected upsets are happening so often, they're becoming...well, expected. Here's the good and bad from week 4 depending on how you cheer for.
* The Detroit Lions became the first team to get to 4-0 with a little help from Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys jumped to a 27-3 lead in Dallas before quarterback Romo forgot what jersey he was wearing. He threw interceptions that were returned for touchdowns on consecutive drives in the third quarter to help the Lions cut the lead to 10 points. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson took over from there, hooking up for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The second made the score 34-30 for Detroit with only 1:39 left in the game. This put the Lions ahead for the first time all game. Johnson has now caught two TDs in each of the first four games of the season, becoming the first player to start a season like that in league history. This game also featured the biggest blown lead in Cowboys history and was the 8th consecutive win for the Lions dating back to last season.
* The only team with a longer win streak (if you include the playoffs) is the defending champion Green Bay Packers, who haven't lost in 10 straight games. Yesterday at home, the Packers demolished the Denver Broncos 49-23. QB Aaron Rodgers won NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and wants one for October as well. He started the month by throwing for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also added 2 rushing TDs just to prove he can. Being the best player on the best team in the league must be getting boring for Rodgers. Defensive back Charles Woodson also scored a TD on an interception return. Defenders had a happy day all around the NFL on Sunday. Defensive scoring is another side effect of all the passing going on this season.
* In Baltimore last night, two heavyweights went at it scoring a combined 51 points on 6 touchdowns. One of those touchdowns even happened when the offense was on the field. The hometown Ravens beat the New York Jets 34-17. The two teams combined for five scores on returns, setting a single-game NFL record. Four separate defensive players found the end zone and Joe McKnight of the Jets ran back a kickoff 107 yards for six points. The game otherwise was penalty-filled and sloppy. Joe Flacco, the winning quarterback, missed on 12 consecutive attempts between the first and fourth quarters. The question is, why did they even throw the ball that often?
* In another battle of AFC powers, the Houston Texans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10. The Texans lost their best player, Andre Johnson, in t second quarter and muddled along until the fourth against the struggling Steelers. With the game tied at 10, tight end Owen Daniels came up huge for the Texans, catching consecutive passes for first downs and then making a nice block to help spring Arian Foster for the game-winning touchdown. The Texans have been knocking on the door to join the AFC elite and this could be the game that propels them (finally) into the playoffs if they can maintain their momentum. The extent of Johnson's injury will have a huge impact on how the Texans move forward though.
* Continuing in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills had a slip up on their way to the playoffs. They had a 14 point lead over the Cincinnati Bengals, but eventually lost 23-20 when Mike Nugent kicked a 43-yard field goal for the Bengals as time expired. The dream of an undefeated season was dead. It was Bizarro world for the Bills yesterday as they let an opponent come back from a halftime deficit and end a losing streak. A week after defeating New England to stop their own personal losing streak, the Bills allowed the Bengals to win. Cincinnati hadn't beaten Buffalo in it's last 10 tries, dating back to 1988.
* A team reasserting itself was the New England Patriots. They travelled to Oakland and defeated the Raiders 31-19. The Patriots scored at least 30 points for the 12th consecutive game. The Patriots mixed the pass and run much more effectively, but were helped by the undisciplined Raiders, who had 70 penalty yards in the first half and kept alive at least two New England scoring drives that seemed stalled.
* In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers came back from a 23-3 deficit to beat the floundering Philadelphia Eagles 24-23. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith had maybe the best half of his career to lead the 49ers to victory. The Niners now sit at 3-1 in a very weak division and their top offensive threat, receiver Michael Crabtree, is just now returning to form after a long layoff. Michael Vick threw for 416 yards for the Eagles and ran for 75 more, but it wasn't enough. The Philadelphia team, a preseason Super Bowl pick for some, has now slid further into the background of the NFC playoff picture.
* How 'bout them Harbaughs??? With rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh leading San Francisco to top spot in the NFC West and his brother Jeff doing the same for Baltimore in the AFC North, is it inevitable they'll both make the playoffs? Guess coaching is in the blood after all.
* This week in Wildly Optimistic Predictions...
- Ryan Fitzpatrick will still win MVP, though nor unanimously. After all, the Bills are still in first place.
- Next Monday night, Chicago will devise a scheme to triple cover Calvin Johnson and hold him to only one TD catch.
- The Ravens' defence will outscore it's offence for the remainder of the season.
- Donovan McNabb will throw passes to Randy Moss this season...in a semi-pro beer league somewhere.
* Here's hoping Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis plays forever. His passion for football is absolutely infectious and there's no one to replace him if he retires. Even non-Ravens fans get pumped up watching him prepare.
* Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears set a new NFL record with his 11th punt return for a touchdown. He will continue to add to this bittersweet record as he becomes less and less involved in the Bears offence. He is fun to watch return kicks though.
* Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton is looking more and more like a bona fide star. He is exactly what a #1 overall pick should be; Someone to build your franchise around. With Sam Bradford regressing in St. Louis, it's hard to think of another first overall pick that has panned out this well this quickly.
In a game that could determine who gets the next #1 overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 22-17 for their first win of the year. This moves the winless Vikings into the lead for the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes, ahead of the dreadful Miami Dolphins by a nose.
* The NFL is getting a new theme every week. This is the most exciting start to a season in a long time. Team with 20-point halftime leads shouldn't feel safe anymore as the pass-happy offences are leading to a huge number of comebacks. On the flip side, a lot of those comebacks were caused by turnovers due to a pass-happy offence. It makes for less games the average fan turns off partway through and that can only bode well for the NFL.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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