NFC West: rapid reaction 13

Rapid Reaction: Dolphins 16, Rams 12

November, 30, 2008
11/30/08
4:28
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams, blown away more often than not lately, hung tough and lost a close one for a change. The close call won't do anything to endear Marc Bulger to the St. Louis fans, however.

Bulger tossed three second-half interceptions while completing only 46 percent of his passes with a 4.3-yard average per attempt. His 22.2 passer rating came despite strong production from Steven Jackson in the running back's first game back from injury. The Rams' defense also showed improvement in holding the Dolphins to one touchdown.

Jackson carried 15 times for 72 yards in the first half. He carried only six times for 22 yards in the second half, when Bulger's interceptions prevented the Rams from sustaining drives.

Life could get tougher for the Rams in the short term as they travel to face the Cardinals in Week 14. Arizona will be playing for the NFC West title after an extended layoff.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 10, Bills 3

November, 30, 2008
11/30/08
4:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The 49ers showed everything they want to be under Mike Singletary in becoming the first West Coast team to win in the Eastern time zone this season.

Running back Frank Gore ran the ball on the 49ers' first five offensive plays. Quarterback Shaun Hill managed the game and struck downfield selectively. Free-agent addition Justin Smith blew up a fourth-and-2 running play in the fourth quarter when the Bills were threatening to score. And when the Bills needed a comeback late, the 49ers' pass rush took over, with Ray McDonald getting pressure and Smith collecting a key sack.

With the exception of a Gore fumble and an untimely penalty, the 49ers were the smarter team in the second half, letting the Bills make the errors. The Bills were the team suffering from shaky quarterback play, bad decision making and questionable game management.

This marked a reversal for the 49ers and a breakthrough performance for Singletary as he builds a case for keeping the job in 2009.

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 48, Cardinals 20

November, 27, 2008
11/27/08
11:32
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Three interceptions, five dropped passes and a lost fumble exposed the Cardinals and their defense during an embarrassing performance Thursday night.

Arizona won't hear any footsteps from the rest of the NFC West. The Cardinals will claim a division title Sunday unless the 49ers upset the Bills in Buffalo.

Eagles safety Brian Dawkins produced the only footsteps the Cardinals seemed worried about Thursday night. Dawkins was bearing down on Anquan Boldin and Jerheme Urban when they dropped passes. Dawkins also forced Boldin to fumble right after the Cardinals pulled within two touchdowns with 12:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals became the latest Western team to fall hard in the Eastern time zone. They were sloppy and a step behind the Eagles from the beginning. Facing the Giants and Eagles in a five-day period proved too much for Arizona. The Cardinals have allowed 85 points in those two games. They held the ball for barely longer than 20 minutes against the Eagles.

"It's a tough week," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt had said Monday, "but it'll be good to see how our team responds to that."

The Cardinals didn't respond well at all, but the schedule finally offers a break. They're off until Dec. 7, when the Rams visit University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona remains on course to win 10 games and open the playoffs at home. But talk about the Cardinals possibly joining the NFL's elite should subside for a while.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 34, Seahawks 9

November, 27, 2008
11/27/08
7:48
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's improved play stood out as the most significant development for Seattle during an otherwise forgettable team performance.

The Cowboys owned both lines of scrimmage more often than not. The Seahawks made strides defensively in the second half, particularly with their blitzes, but the outcome was pretty much decided by then.

Hasselbeck struggled badly during his previous two performances since returning from injury. He played well for most of the game Thursday, dropping off only after deciding to take chances in trying to mount a comeback. Poor pass protection and dropped passes prevented Hasselbeck from sustaining drives.

The question is quickly becoming whether the Seahawks can win another game this season. Their final four opponents: Patriots, Rams (road), Jets and Cardinals (road). Seattle has a legitimate shot at matching the 2-14 record of the 1992 Seahawks, although a victory over the Rams seems at least somewhat likely.

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