Here's my take on the weekend's action, including in-depth analysis of some of the key games, my choices for the most outstanding players of the week, and an updated top ten power rankings.
Detroit Lions 26-23 Philadelphia Eagles:
A 45 yard field-goal by veteran Kicker Jason Hanson saw the Detroit Lions (2-3) leave Lincoln Financial Field with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in a game decided in overtime. Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been the subject of much scrutiny by Detroit fans and media so far this season, failing to continue on from his excellent 2011 campaign. However, the former first overall pick reminded his critics of last season’s form as he led his team to 17 points in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Philadelphia’s Michael Vick accounted for 370 yards of total offense, but was responsible for three turnovers that cost the Eagles vital points. Vick was under constant pressure from the defensive front seven of the Lions all day, which resulted in more mistakes by the league’s most turnover-prone Quarterback this season. The play of the Lions defensive line was outstanding from start to finish and was highlighted by two consecutive sacks by Cliff Avril and Nick Fairley in overtime, which gave Detroit great field position to kick the game-winning field goal. The Eagles head into their bye week at 3-3, losing their last two games in a row. The Detroit Lions head on the road again to face NFC North Rivals the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
New England Patriots 23-24 Seattle Seahawks:
For the second time this season, the New England Patriots were upset by a team from the NFC West. Bill Belichicks side came into Qwest Field on Sunday full of confidence having defeated Peyton Manning’s Broncos in impressive fashion the week before, but it was the Seahawks, led by rookie Quarterback Russell Wilson who came out on top 24-23. The game turned out to be a battle between the Patriots’ number one offense against the Seahawks number one total defence in the league. Heading into the fourth quarter, it looked as though the Patriots offense had gotten the better of the Seahawks, with Tom Brady passing for 395 yards, 138 of which went to All-Pro Wide Receiver Wes Welker.
However it was Wilson who rallied his team from 14 points down with just under eight minutes remaining, capped off by a 46 yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice in the final minute of the game. One consolation for New England was the performance of rookie defensive end Chandler Jones who finished the game with two sacks. Next up for the Patriots is an AFC East encounter with the New York Jets.
New York Giants 26-3 San Francisco 49ers:
Without a doubt this was the game that 49ers fans had been waiting for nine long months, ever since Lawrence Tynes kicked the game-winning field-goal in January’s NFC Championship game to send the Giants to the Superbowl and eliminate San Fran from the playoffs. However, Sunday’s rematch proved to be a much more lopsided affair than everyone had predicted.
After outscoring their previous two opponents by a combined score of 76-3, the 49ers offense was stifled by a dominant Giants defensive unit, led by perhaps the most physically imposing player in the game, the 6’5’’, 278 pound Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP had two sacks and the Giants secondary also pitched in, intercepting the 49ers Quarterback three times. Giants Running Back Ahmad Bradshaw had a stellar performance, rushing for 116 yards and a score against the ninth best run defense in the league. The Giants will play host to divisional rivals Washington on Sunday.
Green Bay Packers 42-24 Houston Texans:
The reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers hit back at his critics Sunday night, giving perhaps the best performance of his already outstanding career. Rodgers set a career-high and tied the Packers franchise record by throwing six touchdown passes against the third ranked defence in the NFL. Coming into the contest, the Houston Texans prided themselves on their great running game and disrupting defence. Running Back Arian Foster entered the game second in the NFL with 532 total rushing yards.
However, Foster was bottled up all night, only gaining a mere 29 yards on 17 carries against a Packers defence without their best run stopper in Nose Tackle BJ Raji. The Packers passing attack was on fire all night, with Rodgers picking apart Houston defensive backs Kareem Jackson and Glover Quinn. Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson had his best game of the season so far, catching nine balls for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers’ other scores went to James Jones (2) and Tight End Tom Crabtree. James Jones now leads the NFL in touchdown receptions with seven. Next up for the Packers is another road trip to St Louis to take on the Rams. Houston will welcome the Baltimore Ravens to Reliant Stadium for a rematch of last season’s AFC Divisional game.
Offensive player of the week
Aaron Rodgers, Quarterback, Green Bay Packers:
Rodgers’ performance against Houston on Sunday may have been the best of his career to date, and that’s saying something. You could tell from the very start of the game that Rodgers was pumped up and ready to prove his doubters wrong after being labelled “lacklustre” and “mediocre” thus far. To throw for over 300 yards and six touchdown passes is a phenomenal accomplishment against any team, but to do so against the third best defence in the league is ridiculous. For all the criticism Rodgers has gotten in the early goings of the season, he leads the NFL in both passer rating (105.4) and touchdown passes (16). Yeah, that guy’s pretty good.
Defensive player of the week
Elvis Dumervil, Linebacker/Defensive End, Denver Broncos:
I considered going with Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants but decided to go with Dumervil after his great performance versus the San Diego Chargers on Monday night. The Broncos orchestrated the best comeback of the year so far, rallying back from 24-0 at the half to win 35-24, thanks in large part to the play of their defence. Dumervil had an outstanding game, sacking Philip Rivers twice and forcing two crucial fumbles.
Top Ten Power Rankings:
1. New York Giants (4-2) Last week: 7
2. Atlanta Falcons (6-0) Last week: 4
3. Houston Texans (5-1) Last week: 2
4. San Francisco 49ers (4-2) Last week: 1
5. Baltimore Ravens (5-1) Last Week: Unchanged
6. Chicago Bears (4-1) Last week: Unchanged
7. Green Bay Packers (3-3) Last week: 9
8. New England Patriots (3-3) Last week: 3
9. Seattle Seahawks (4-2) Last week: Not ranked
10. Arizona Cardinals (4-2) Last week: Unchanged