Colleges: DeSean Jackson
Best offensive performance: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia. Smith looked more like his early-season Heisman form in his last game at Milan Puskar Stadium, a 59-10 win over Big 12 bottom-feeder Kansas. He completed 23 of 24 passes for 407 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers to a seventh win. Honorable mention: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor.
Charles LeClaire/US PRESSWIREGeno Smith's final performance at Milan Puskar Field was a reason to celebrate.
Best team performance: Baylor. The Bears looked dominant against an Oklahoma State team that has been beating the heck out of some good teams in the Big 12 to close the season. OSU made it interesting late, but Baylor was in control from start to finish during the 41-34 win, led by Lache Seastrunk's 178 yards on 16 carries.
Best game: Oklahoma 24, TCU 17. This was fun from start to finish. Oklahoma let TCU in the game with an 80-yard touchdown on a busted play and an interception by Landry Jones to give the Frogs a touchdown on a drive that began inside the 10-yard line, but the Sooners won a third consecutive game that came down to the final play or final seconds. Amazing stuff, and the Sooners find a way yet again.
Best play: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor. Seastrunk has had cramping issues this season, and looked to suffer another one at the worst possible time -- right after clearing the Oklahoma State offense. No worries. He limped, stumbled and bumbled the last 30 yards of his 76-yard touchdown run to ice the game in the final minutes. Honorable mention: Oklahoma's offensive line on Damien Williams' untouched, 66-yard touchdown run.
Biggest bailout: Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State. Malone was nearly a nominee for worst play, but an odd ruling earns him a special nod. Malone intercepted a wobbly ball to the sideline from Case McCoy and looked to return it for a touchdown, but pulled what's commonly known as a "DeSean Jackson," dropping the ball before he crossed the goal line. Instead of a touchback, K-State was given the ball on the half-yard line, and Collin Klein punched it in. Still. Mack Brown wasn't happy about the call, and I still don't think I understand why it wasn't a touchback.
Best quote: Tony Jefferson, S, Oklahoma, on the Sooners' shared title with Kansas State. "Hey, sharing is caring."
Worst play: Blaize Foltz, G, TCU. Trevone Boykin would have escaped the defender, but Foltz still got flagged for a game-changing holding penalty on what might have been a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of TCU's 24-17 loss to Oklahoma. Boykin had escaped the pocket and reached the end zone to set off a celebration, but it was all for naught, and the penalty backed up TCU into a near impossible situation with the game on the line.
Best quarter: Baylor's first quarter. The Bears scored a defensive touchdown and added another seven points on a 16-play, 98-yard drive to set the tone for the game. This would be Baylor's day against a team that Art Briles had never beaten, and had beaten Baylor six consecutive times. The Bears took control after falling behind 3-0 early and never looked back.
This is an All-Division Team based on season performance to date. It is not -- repeat, NOT -- simply a recap of the best performances of the past week. That is why Jason Witten is not on it.
That in mind, how to compare what Manning has done so far with what Griffin has done? Both are 2-2. Manning has 250 more passing yards, but he's put it in the air 36 more times, and besides, Griffin has 249 more rushing yards, so that's a bit of a wash. Griffin has the far better completion percentage, a slightly higher yards-per-attempt average, one interception to Manning's four and the same number of fourth-quarter comebacks. Manning has more touchdown passes, 7 to 4, but again, Griffin's rushed for four. Manning had the spot on the team last week, so you'd think Griffin would have to have done something in Week 4 to overtake him. I say he did enough.
This week's team is a bit unbalanced, and isn't going to help me in Dallas. It has nine Eagles, nine Giants, seven Redskins and just two Cowboys. I guess that doesn't look too ridiculous after the way the Cowboys played their most recent game, but I assure you it's based on all four games so far and not any sort of punishment for what we saw Monday.
Anyway, here's the team. More comments to follow:
Quarterback: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (Last week: Eli Manning)
Running back: Alfred Morris, Redskins (Andre Brown)
Wide receiver: Victor Cruz, New York Giants; DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles (Cruz, Miles Austin)
Tight end: Martellus Bennett, Giants (Bennett)
Fullback: Darrel Young, Redskins (Young)
Left tackle: Trent Williams, Redskins (Williams)
Left guard: Evan Mathis, Eagles (Mathis)
Center: Will Montgomery, Redskins (Montgomery)
Right guard: Chris Snee, Giants (Snee)
Right tackle: Todd Herremans, Eagles (Herremans)
Defensive end: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants; Jason Babin, Eagles (Pierre-Paul, Babin)
Defensive tackle: Cullen Jenkins, Eagles; Rocky Bernard, Giants (Jenkins, Bernard)
Outside linebacker: Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins; Mychal Kendricks, Eagles (Kerrigan, Kendricks)
Inside linebacker: Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys; DeMeco Ryans, Eagles (Ryans, Lee)
Cornerback: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eagles, Brandon Carr, Cowboys (Carr, Rodgers-Cromartie)
Safety: Kenny Phillips, Giants; Nate Allen, Eagles (Phillips, Gerald Sensabaugh)
Kicker: Lawrence Tynes, Giants (Tynes)
Punter: Sav Rocca, Redskins (Chris Jones)
Kick returner: David Wilson, Giants (Brandon Banks)
Punt returner: Rueben Randle, Giants (Damaris Johnson)
- No, I am not simply penciling in the same offensive linemen week after week. I do watch the games and evaluate. For example, I thought Tyron Smith and Nate Livings did a much better job on the left side of the Cowboys' line on Monday Night, and I have been extremely impressed with the work of the Giants' Will Beatty at left tackle since he returned from his injury. But I do not, to this point, believe the season-to-date body of work of any of those players has been better than that of Williams or Mathis. I am keeping an eye on it, though, I promise.
- And yeah, I mean, I'm sorry. I have ample respect for the work and the career and the brilliance of DeMarcus Ware as one of the dominant defensive players in the NFL. But the Kendricks kid in Philadelphia is simply playing too well to take off the list. He was all over the place Sunday, covering Bennett, covering Cruz, even pressuring Manning into throwing the ball away on the Giants' final drive of the game. He's a little bit like Lee in Dallas in his ability to not just recognize what's going on (i.e., the poor snap on that play I just mentioned) and react to it, but also to maintain his composure and technique and actually make the play once he gets to where he needs to be. The rookie is playing linebacker as well as anyone in the league right now (other than maybe Kerrigan, who's a complete animal), and he deserves this spot, no matter how fantastic a career the other guy has had.
- Carr had a horrible game for the Cowboys on Monday, but his four-game body of work still merits the spot. Part of it was that I couldn't find anyone else who was crying out to deserve it. The guy I looked at most closely was Prince Amukamara of the Giants, who (like the aforementioned Beatty) has been very good since finally getting on the field.
- Safety play has been an issue this year, in that few in the division have played it well. And Phillips, who's the best one, is likely to lose his spot in the coming weeks as he misses time with a knee injury. I welcome suggestions on safety. I feel like Allen has played pretty well.
- Running back was close between Morris and LeSean McCoy, and touchdowns were my tiebreaker... Jackson took Austin's spot but not by much... Brent Celek nearly knocked off Bennett at tight end, and I looked at Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox and Linval Joseph at defensive tackle... His early-season blocks behind him, Rocca has ascended back to the top of the NFC East punter heap on the strength of four fair catches and five punts inside the 20.
So that's the team for this week. As ever, I welcome your thoughts.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Bob Stoops' recent comments about the SEC and the pending college football playoff, what appears to be an unpredictable Big 12 in 2013, how the Aggies will handle expectations and more.
Play Podcast Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the improvements being made to Kyle Field, what those improvements will to for the program, the success of last year, Johnny Manziel's offseason and the expectations for the Aggies in 2013.
Play Podcast Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Texas A&M's decision to expand its stadium and say although the Aggies had a fantastic year, the school must also be careful not to overextend its resources based on a single hot stretch.
Play Podcast Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.
Play Podcast Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.
Play Podcast Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his school's Cinderella story and playing in the Sweet 16 at Cowboys Stadium.
Play Podcast Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins Fizsimmons & Durrett to discuss Cowboys Stadium as a venue, the state of Big 12 basketball, the new 2014 college football format, why there's no hurry to have a Big 12 football championship and much more.
Play Podcast Jay Bilas joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, the intrigue surrounding the Northwest Region and the excitement over FGCU, even though a similar story happens every year.