Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Call it "Statement Sunday."
A pair of NFC heavyweights didn't like the fact that most pundits were
predicting losses on the road this weekend and showed up with attitudes.
After suffering a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Giants in last season's
NFC Championship Game, the narrative all week in the Bay Area was unfinished
business. Things were certainly finished, but it was the Super Bowl champion G-
Men who had San Francisco tapping out during a convincing 26-3 win.
Meanwhile in Houston, the sky was supposed to be falling on the 2-3 Green Bay
Packers, but reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers never got the memo, throwing a
career-high six touchdown passes as the Pack unceremoniously dumped the Texans
from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 42-24 walloping.
The Giants didn't need overtime this time around thanks to an opportunistic
defense. Antrel Rolle intercepted two passes and Prince Amukamara added
another in New York's thumping of the Niners.
"I think this is our most complete game all year long," Rolle understated.
San Francisco came in riding high. During a 45-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills
back on Oct. 7, the 49ers became the first team in NFL history with 300-plus
yards passing and 300-or-more yards rushing in a game. They tallied just 314
yards of total offense against the Giants.
Niners quarterback Alex Smith, who came into the game with just one
interception on the season, had his first three-pick game since Dec. 20, 2009,
and finished with just 200 yards on 19-of-30 passing .
"We didn't do enough," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "We put ourselves in a
position we couldn't come back from, more turnovers than we're accustomed to.
Plan-wise, it wasn't the right one."
The running game was perhaps the greatest indication of just how dominant New
York was. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 116 yards and a score on 27 carries for the
Giants, becoming the first 100-plus yard rusher against the stingy 49ers'
defense in 23 games.
"The statement made is that we're here to stay," said Giants wide receiver
Victor Cruz, who caught a touchdown in the contest.
Down in South Texas, Rodgers matched a franchise record with the six touchdown
passes and Green Bay looked like the Packers of old during their rout of the
previously unbeaten Texans,
Rodgers was superlative, completing 24-of-37 passes for 338 yards.
"This was an important game for us. We've had a couple not go our way,"
Rodgers said. "Two-and-four would have been very difficult. We've got a tough
stretch still to play."
The Packers have desperately missed Pro Bowl receiver Greg Jennings, who is
out with a groin injury, but Jennings' embattled supporting group stepped up
big in Houston.
Fueled by a high-tempo game plan, Jordy Nelson caught nine passes for 121
yards and three touchdowns for Green Bay, which racked up 427 yards of total
offense. Randall Cobb hauled in seven passes for 102 yards, James Jones caught
a pair of TD passes for the third straight game and Tom Crabtree hauled in two
passes for 62 yards and a score.
"We pretty much went exclusive no-huddle from the starting point of the game,"
Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said. "We wanted to press their defense as
much as we could."
Rodgers was clearly becoming weary of having to answer questions about the
Packers' difficulties early this season and the signal-caller delivered that
message to sideline reporter Michele Tafoya afterward.
"We were all just tired of answering questions about, 'What happened to the
Packers?' (and) what happened to me," Rodgers told Tafoya. "It was a good
team effort tonight."
Tafoya's follow-up was: "What do you think you told the critics tonight?"
Rodgers was as succinct as it gets.
"Shh," the superstar said as he walked away.
THE MONDAY REWIND:
RAVENS DOING IT DIFFERENTLY
When you think about the Baltimore Ravens, you usually start with defense, but
that's all about to change.
From Sam Adams to Ray Lewis to Ed Reed to Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata,
Baltimore has been dominating opposing offenses since arriving in the Charm
City back in 1996.
Things have been more difficult early this season without the injured Suggs
(Achilles) and his consistent pass rush to lean on, especially against teams
who can stretch the field vertically.
The Ravens defense entered Sunday's contest against Dallas ranked a
pedestrian 24th in the NFL and that was after a dominating performance in
Kansas City, albeit against a very bad Chiefs team.
Things only figure to get worse now since the Baltimore "D" is preparing for
disastrous news after the team's 31-29 win over the Cowboys. The 5-1 Ravens
fear that Lewis (torn triceps) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (torn ACL) will
miss the remainder of the season.
"Lardarius doesn't look good right now," coach John Harbaugh said after the
win. "It looks like a potential ACL. We've got a problem there, but we'll find
out for sure in a little bit. Ray had a tricep. We'll see on that."
The Ravens are now the polar opposite of the franchise's Super Bowl XXXV-
winning club, which rode one of the generation's best defenses to the ultimate
This group is going to have to get it done on the backs of Joe Flacco and the
IS ADDERALL THE NEXT BIG PROBLEM?
Long before steroids were part of the sports lexicon, "Greenies" were running
wild in baseball.
Greenies, of course, were actually amphetamines, perhaps the grandfather
of today's performance enhancing drugs. They have had a long and accepted
history in MLB with some teams placing them out in plain view back in the
1970s, so players could "fuel" up with a few, chased with a cup of coffee.
Adderall, on the other hand, is a brand name psychostimulant drug which
belongs to the phenethylamine as well as the amphetamine chemical classes, and
is generally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as
well as narcolepsy. At its core, however, it's still a form of "Speed."
It's also evidently en vogue with NFL defensive backs. First it was
Cleveland's Joe Haden and now Adderall has taken down Tampa Bay's Aqib Talib
for four games.
It's probably not all that hard to argue Talib might need Adderall considering
his past, which includes a fistfight with Cory Boyd at the NFL rookie
symposium in 2008, the alleged battering of a taxi driver in '09 as well as an
indictment for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after the talented but
troubled corner was accused of firing a gun at his sister's boyfriend.
But forget any of the excuses, Talib took the Adderall without a prescription
and actually copped to it.
"Around the beginning of training camp, I made a mistake by taking an Adderall
pill without a prescription," Talib said in a statement issued by the team on
"This is especially regrettable because, for the past several months, with
coach (Greg) Schiano's help, I've worked very hard to improve myself --
professionally and personally -- as a player and a man.
"I am truly sorry to my teammates, coaches and Buccaneers fans, and I'm
disappointed in myself. I will work diligently every day of this suspension to
stay in top football shape and be ready to help this team in the second half
of the season. I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation I
put myself in, which is why I will not exercise my appeal rights and will
begin serving the suspension immediately."
It's nice to see the 26-year-old Talib, a 2008 first-round pick who has
totaled 21 tackles and one interception this season, show the maturity to
admit his mistake and accept his punishment.
But for the NFL, there are more serious issues here.
The league has to understand -- once is an accident, twice may be a
coincidence but three times? That's a trend the NFL doesn't need.
CONCUSSIONS ARE A PROBLEM
Perception is often greater than reality and the perception remains that NFL
teams continue to push "important" players back from concussions while being
overly cautious with lesser players.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III started Sunday against the
Minnesota Vikings, a week after leaving against Atlanta with what was
eventually described as a "mild" concussion.
Griffin was brilliant, showing no ill effects from the concussion. The dynamic
RG3 threw for 182 yards and a touchdown while adding another 138 yards and two
TDs on the ground, helping the Redskins snap an eight-game home losing streak
by topping Minnesota, 38-26.
"I felt like, aside from the interception, I played one of my best games. Just
doing what I was asked to do, being fundamentally sound and helping the team
win," Griffin said.
Despite the superlative performance and the empirical evidence that the
No. 2 overall draft selection in 2012 and reigning Heisman Trophy winner was
healthy, the Redskins are still reportedly facing a "hefty" fine from the NFL
for their handling of RG3's concussion.
Washington first described Griffin as being "shaken up" after the injury, but
the NFL, which is facing a mountain of litigation in the coming years, wants
all 32 teams to "immediately acknowledge a head injury to prevent concussed
players from getting pushed back on field."
When will coaches learn?
Veteran kickers aren't spooked by a whistle and a few extra minutes to think
about a potential game-winning kick. And most of them like a practice kick to
make sure their fundamentals are sound.
Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen was the latest to find that out on Sunday
when he attempted to ice Atlanta's Matt Bryant. The Falcons kicker lined up
for a 55-yarder with six seconds left and hooked it, although it was clear he
understood the timeout was called and just going throw his kicking motion.
Like a golfer using a practice swing to get everything squared away, Bryant
then knocked it 300 yards down the fairway, nailing his second game-winning
field goal in the last three weeks.
Bryant's latest game-winning field goal was the 14th of his career and his
fifth as a member of the Falcons.
At some point, you have to think coaches will realize they are only helping
competent kickers with their obtuse strategies.
"It's about handling the moment," Bryant said of the game-winning kick.
"Handling adversity, whatever it takes.
- The Falcons' Matt Ryan improved to 29-4 (.879) in home starts, the best
record by a starting quarterback as the host since 1970 (minimum 20 starts).
Flacco, who piloted the Ravens to their 31-29 home win over Dallas on Sunday,
ranks second with a 31-5 (.861) mark.
-The Ravens' Jacoby Jones had a 108-yard kickoff-return touchdown in the
Ravens, matching the longest in NFL history matching Ellis Hobbs (Sept. 9,
2007) and Randall Cobb (Sept.8, 2011).
- Griffin now has six rushing touchdowns this season and fellow rookie Alfred
Morris has five for the Redskins, becoming the first rookie teammates to each
rush for at least five touchdowns in a team's first six games.
- Tampa Bay defensive back Ronde Barber had a 78-yard interception-return for
a touchdown in the Buccaneers' 38-10 win over Kansas City. Barber now has
eight career interception return touchdowns and four fumble return touchdowns.
His 12 combined defensive TDs are tied for the second-most in NFL history with
Aeneas Williams and current Green Bay safety Charles Woodson. Only Hall of
Famer Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper have more with 13.
- The New England Patriots gained 475 total yards in the team's 24-23 loss at
Seattle, marking the 15th consecutive time they have gained at least 350 total
yards. That passes the 1982-83 "Air Coryell" San Diego Chargers (14) for the
second-longest streak in NFL history. The 1999-2000 "Greatest Show on Turf"
St. Louis Rams hold the record at 16 consecutive games.
- The Lions' Jason Hanson connected on all four of his field-goal attempts,
including the game-winner in overtime, during Detroit's 26-23 win at
Philadelphia. Hanson now has 2,074 career points, the most ever by a player
with one franchise, and passed John Carney (2,062) for the third-most points
in NFL history.
The Sports Network