NFL Nation: 2011 Week 6 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Jets 24, Dolphins 6

October, 17, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Here are some thoughts on the New York Jets' 24-6 victory over the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football."

What it means: The Jets (3-3) won the "Desperation Bowl." New York snapped a three-game losing streak and prevailed in a must-win game. The Jets were falling behind in the AFC East and now are back to .500. A win also calms the in-house bickering among players in New York for at least a week. The Dolphins, meanwhile, fall to 0-5 and haven't won a game since Dec. 12, 2010. They remain in the "Suck for Andrew Luck" sweepstakes, which will make some Dolphins fans happy.

Revis vs. Marshall: It was a fun battle to watch between Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall and New York Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. Marshall, who threatened to get ejected in the first half, played all four quarters and played well. He went one-on-one against Revis most of the game and had six receptions for 109 yards. Marshall's best play also turned out to be his strangest play. He caught a deep ball well in bounds but stumbled out for a 46-yard reception. The play could have been Miami's only touchdown in the game.

Moore Watch: Former backup quarterback Matt Moore made his first start in Miami to poor results. Moore was 16-for-34 for 204 yards and fell to 7-7 as a starter. He also threw two interceptions to Revis.

Red zone, third-down woes: The Dolphins continued their trend of being one of the NFL's worst teams in the red zone and on third down. Miami was 0-for-3 in the red zone. The Dolphins settled for two field goals and an interception. Miami also was an abysmal 2-for-12 on third down.

What's next: The Jets have a tough stretch coming up, starting next week at home against the San Diego Chargers (4-1). New York then will face the Buffalo Bills (4-2) and New England Patriots (5-1). The Dolphins will host quarterback Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos at Sun Life Stadium. Miami is 1-11 in its last dozen home games.

CHICAGO -- Quarterback Jay Cutler campaigned earlier in the week for plays featuring quicker releases to alleviate the beating he’d been taking.

Granted that request, the quarterback unleashed a beatdown of his own Sunday night in throwing for two touchdowns and finishing with a passer rating of 115.9 in a 39-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field.

By implementing shorter drops with quicker throws, offensive coordinator Mike Martz might have found a way to relieve some of the pressure on the club’s beleaguered offensive line, which actually pieced together one of its best showings of the season.

The Bears took the field with their fifth combination of starters along the offensive line, this week using Lance Louis at right tackle and Chris Spencer -- playing with a broken hand -- at right guard. The unit allowed only one sack. Surprisingly, the offensive line has given up only one sack in two of the past three games.

With the latest tweaks on offense, perhaps the Bears are onto something they can use in the coming games.

Let’s take a closer look at what transpired in this shellacking:

What it means: The Bears learned that flexibility -- especially on offense -- might be the best way to protect Cutler in the long run. More importantly, the club evened its record to 3-3 and gained a game on the Detroit Lions -- 25-19 losers to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday -- in the NFC North standings.

Obviously, Chicago still has quite a bit of catching up to do to get back into the division race. But the team needed some momentum headed into next week’s outing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Bears can come out victorious against the Bucs, they’ll be sitting at 4-3 headed into the bye.

Curious inactivity: Benched during the week of preparation for Sunday’s game, Bears veteran Chris Harris also mysteriously found himself on the club’s list of inactives.

Prior to the team’s official announcement of the move, Harris used Twitter to send out a couple of seemingly cryptic messages.

“The majority of the time adversity paves the way 4 success.”

Harris later tweeted: “How big/diff ur situation appears 2 b is a matter of perception. Most difficulties we face r pretty insignificant in the big scheme of things.”

The club made the decision to move Harris and two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather out of the starting lineup earlier in the week in favor of rookie Chris Conte and second-year man Major Wright. In the final year of his contract, Harris doesn’t believe he’s a part of the club’s future plans. With the team’s latest move, it appears Harris might be correct.

Rookie showings: Conte made his first career start Sunday, and rookie defensive tackle Stephen Paea finally made his NFL debut.

Starting at free safety in place of Meriweather, who was benched earlier in the week, Conte played a relatively mistake-free game, contributing five tackles through the first three quarters. A healthy scratch through the first five games, Paea was activated against the Vikings because of a sprained knee to veteran Matt Toeaina.

Paea posted two tackles in limited action, including a sack of Donovan McNabb in the first quarter for a safety.

Sack parade: After notching just one sack in the first half, Chicago utilized the trio of Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije, and Amobi Okoye for four sacks of McNabb in the third quarter alone.

Hobbled by a sprained left knee, Peppers sacked McNabb twice and Idonije and Okoye chipped in sacks, too.

Record-setting Hester: Devin Hester extended his return touchdowns record to 16 with a 98-yard TD return on a third-quarter kickoff return.

Hester appeared close to breaking for another score the next time he touched the ball, but was run out of bounds at the Minnesota 38 after a 27-yard return. Hester gained 134 yards on returns.

What’s next: The Bears travel to London to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium. The club desperately hopes to move to 4-3 going into the bye because tough matchups are on the horizon. After the week off, the Bears face the Philadelphia Eagles on the road, followed by the Lions and San Diego Chargers.

Rapid Reaction: Pats 20, Cowboys 16

October, 16, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rapid reaction from the Patriots' 20-16 victory over the Cowboys at Gillette Stadium:

PatsCowboysWhat it means: The Patriots found a way. For the Patriots, this was one of those games in which you don’t focus on style points -- it was ugly -- but instead on getting out with a win heading into the bye week. The Patriots didn’t play well. They won anyway because the offense put it together on a clutch final march. The Patriots improved to 5-1 and are alone atop the AFC East. They have a lot of work to do but have two weeks to sort things out and get some injured players back.

30-point streak snapped: The Patriots had entered the game having scored 30 or more points in 13 straight games. They would have tied the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2000 had they made it 14, but the offense couldn’t find its groove until the final drive. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had the last unit to hold the Patriots to fewer than 30 in the regular season, as the Browns did it Nov. 7, 2010. All that said, when the game was on the line, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense delivered.

Defense does its part: The Patriots needed their defense to keep them in the game with the offense unable to sustain momentum. The D delivered. Hold the opposition to 16 points at home, and that gets the job done. Although the Cowboys had success moving the ball, the New England defense rose up from the 25-yard line in. From the opposite perspective, with the Cowboys getting the ball with a 16-13 lead, some will question Dallas coach Jason Garrett for conservative play calling. The Patriots forced a three-and-out to set up the winning drive.

Turnovers a big story: The Cowboys entered the game with a minus-4 turnover differential, while the Patriots were plus-3. But it was the Patriots who were uncharacteristically sloppy with four turnovers (2 INT, 2 fumbles). All week the talk had been about Tony Romo and the big mistake, but it was Brady and the Patriots who were more mistake-prone. Brady’s fourth-quarter interception while the offense had been generating some momentum was one throw he’ll likely kick himself about in the coming days. Brady was rolling out and fired it into traffic. Still, the Patriots overcame the mistakes.

Quiet day for Welker and Witten: Both defenses did a nice job limiting the top threat of the opposition. Wes Welker finished with six catches for 45 yards and one touchdown, while Jason Witten had four catches for 48 yards (20 on a last-gasp drive) and one touchdown.

What’s next: The Patriots are off next weekend before visiting the Steelers on Oct. 30. The Cowboys return home to host the Rams.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Rob Ryan's defense couldn't make a play when it counted and Tom Brady sliced up the Cowboys with a game-winning drive in a dramatic 20-16 victory at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

It was a difficult loss for the Cowboys considering how well they played on defense. Despite losing starting running back Felix Jones, they were still able to stay in the game until the end. Coach Jason Garrett decided to play it safe inside the red zone and it might have cost his team.

What it means: The Cowboys have now lost two consecutive games, losing two weeks ago vs. Detroit. The Cowboys missed a wonderful chance to gain some ground in the sloppy NFC East. The Cowboys are now in the bottom half of the division at 2-3, a half game ahead of the Eagles, whom they play in two weeks.

No Felix Jones: Jones suffered a left ankle injury in the second quarter and didn't return. Jones finished with eight carries for 14 yards. Rookie DeMarco Murray and Tashard Choice took over for Jones, who was playing with a dislocated shoulder. Murray finished with 10 carries for 32 yards.

Red zone issues: The Cowboys went 1-for-3 in the red zone on Sunday afternoon and on the season they're 6-of-18. One of the interesting play calls in the red zone came with about six minutes to play when on a third-and-5 from the 5, Garrett called for a shuffle pass to Tashard Choice. It seemed Garrett is not trusting Romo, or wanted to play conservative and let Rob Ryan's defense win the game for him.

Special teams penalties: The Cowboys were called for four special teams penalties. Anthony Spencer, Barry Church, Keith Brooking and Phillip Tanner were flagged. Cowboys can't have these things in close games. Spencer's penalty, running into the punter, extended a drive in the third quarter.

Injuries: The Cowboys lost two starters. Jones suffered an ankle injury and didn't play in the second half, and in the fourth quarter guard Bill Nagy also injured an ankle. He didn't return as well. Kevin Kowalski replaced Nagy at left guard.

What's next? Cowboys host the winless St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium next week. This is almost a must game for the Cowboys considering where they are right now.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Thoughts on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 26-20 victory against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium:

What it means: The NFC South race is closer than anticipated. The Saints had a chance to run away with it if they could have collected a third straight road victory. They didn’t. Tampa Bay played its most complete game of the season and earned this one. The Bucs and Saints each are now 4-2 and the Falcons are only a game behind them in the win column.

Play of the day: Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black intercepted Drew Brees in the end zone with three minutes and 16 seconds left to seal the victory for Tampa Bay. It’s not often you see Brees not succeed when the game is on the line.

Bizarre scene of the day: With the exception of Joe Paterno, you don’t see many coaches getting hit on the sidelines. But New Orleans’ Sean Payton took a big shot in the fourth quarter. After catching a pass, tight end Jimmy Graham was forced out of bounds and collided with Payton. The coach spent much of the rest of the first half sitting on a bench with his leg elevated. He appeared to still be calling plays. At halftime, the Saints announced Payton had a torn MCL and a fractured tibia. The team also said Payton would coach the second half in an upstairs booth with some of his assistants.

Who needs practice? Not Tampa Bay safety Tanard Jackson. He was reinstated Tuesday after being suspended for 56 weeks for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday, went through Friday’s light walkthrough and got the start Sunday. Jackson intercepted a tipped Brees pass in the second quarter to give Tampa Bay’s offense good field position. Three plays later, the Bucs scored a touchdown to take a 20-7 lead.

What’s next: The Bucs play a “home’’ game with the Chicago Bears next Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium. The Bucs will fly out Monday morning and spend the week practicing near London. The Saints host the Indianapolis Colts next Sunday night at the Superdome.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- A look at an emotional day for the Oakland Raiders.

What it means: It wasn’t pretty -- and the team lost quarterback Jason Campbell -- but the Raiders Just Won, Baby, 24-17 against the Cleveland Browns in their first home game since owner Al Davis died Oct. 8 at age 82. There were several tributes to Davis on Sunday, and the greatest one was presented by the team as it improved its record to 4-2. The Raiders are now a half-game behind San Diego, 4-1, in the AFC West race. The Chargers had their bye Sunday.

Tomorrow’s talker: It’s all about Campbell’s injury. He left the game in the second quarter and went straight to the locker room. The Raiders have said only that his collarbone is being evaluated, but there are reports that he broke it and is out for the rest of the season. He was replaced by Kyle Boller. Rookie Terrelle Pryor will be activated from the roster exemption list Monday after his NFL suspension ended last week. He likely will back up Boller for now if Campbell is out.

How about Hue: First-year Oakland coach Hue Jackson is becoming quite the trickster. He has had called several trick plays this season. The Raiders sealed Sunday’s win when Shane Lechler threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kevin Boss on a fake field goal late in the third quarter. The Raiders are fast becoming one of the NFL’s most entertaining teams.

Heyward-Bey impresses again: Third-year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had his third straight nice game, catching six passes for 82 yards. The No. 7 overall pick in 2009 is really making strides.

What’s next: The Raiders will host Kansas City next Sunday. They'll then have their bye week and return home to host Denver. The Raiders are in line to go 6-2 if they can stabilize their quarterback situation.

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 29, Texans 14

October, 16, 2011
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Houston Texans' 29-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

What it means: The Texans lost their second game in a row, and the enthusiasm over their 3-1 record seems so, so long ago now that they’re 3-3. They’re out of first place in the AFC South because the 3-2 Titans had the week off.

What I didn’t like: Joe Flacco is hardly the best quarterback the Texans will see, but twice in the second half, the Texans allowed deep completions. Torrey Smith caught a 51-yard ball over Kareem Jackson and Anquan Boldin grabbed a 56-yard throw. On the first a defender was bearing down on Flacco, on the second he got hit by Antonio Smith. The Texans can ill afford to give up such plays, and they cause some flashbacks to last year.

What I liked: Both of those big gainers didn’t result in touchdowns. The Texans stopped Baltimore from getting in the end zone, forcing field goals that allowed them to stay within a score.

What else I didn’t like: After those big pass plays and field goals, the Ravens managed to get Ray Rice going. His 27-yard run set up a Ricky Williams touchdown that made it 26-14 with 4:01 left. A 12-point deficit with one timeout remaining against the Ravens on the road is a tall order. The offense failed to find the sort of big plays it needed to keep up when it needed them. Andre Johnson sure could have helped.

What’s next: The Texans head for Nashville and a big AFC South matchup with the division lead on the line. Tennessee is coming off a bye. Will Johnson return from the hamstring injury that has cost him two games?
BALTIMORE -- Thoughts on the Ravens' 29-14 win against the Texans:

What it means: The Ravens once again show why they're one of the best teams in the AFC by putting away the Texans, who were playing without wide receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Mario Williams. Baltimore remained in first place and improved to 4-1 for the second straight season. Down 14-13 in the third quarter, the Ravens scored on four of their next five possessions to finish off their third consecutive win.

Thumbs up: Ravens defense. If it seemed like the Texans were in Ravens territory all game, it's because they were. Houston crossed midfield on six of its first seven drives. But the Ravens only gave up two touchdowns (one came on a fumble recovery by an offensive lineman in the end zone) and made a strong fourth-down stand in the first half.

Joe Flacco takes hits, delivers them: Flacco took a beating but he came through when the Ravens needed him. He was accurate on the intermediate passes on the opening drive and made the two big plays (completions of 51 and 56 yards) in the second half. Flacco finished with two turnovers (a fumble and interception).

Just for kicks: Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff converted five field goals (from 43, 48, 25, 33 and 40 yards) and recorded six touchbacks. This is the second time that Cundiff has made five field goals in a game for the Ravens.

Cooking with Rice: Ray Rice outplayed the reigning NFL rushing champion Arian Foster, running for 101 yards and making five catches for 60 yards. His 27-yard run set up the game-clinching touchdown.

What's next: The Ravens play on Monday night at the Jaguars (1-5), who have lost five games in a row.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 25, Lions 19

October, 16, 2011
DETROIT -- Thoughts on the San Francisco 49ers' 25-19 victory over the previously unbeaten Detroit Lions at Ford Field in Week 6:

What it means: The 49ers can beat a good team on the road without their best stuff. This makes them a legitimate contender in the NFC. They remain a work in progress, too. Some of the coaching decisions seemed questionable, a departure from form for Jim Harbaugh through the first five games. Alex Smith's inaccuracy resurfaced when he threw too high for Crabtree more than once. But with the game on the line, Smith delivered a 6-yard scoring pass to Delanie Walker for the go-ahead points in the final two minutes. The shortcomings simply show there's room for improvement even though the 49ers are 5-1. That's a great thing for them heading into the bye week. Count this as yet another signature victory for the 49ers under Harbaugh.

What I liked: Frank Gore found ample running room and came through with big plays when the 49ers needed them. Receiver Michael Crabtree also stepped up for the 49ers, including when he provided a 27-yard reception on third down after the teams had combined to convert only twice on 17 third-down opportunities to that point in the game. Rookie Aldon Smith continued to improve, making a huge play when he tackled Matthew Stafford in the end zone for a safety. He collected another sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Patrick Willis, though beaten for a touchdown despite very tight coverage, blanketed the Lions' tight ends and helped shut down underneath plays repeatedly. Overall, the 49ers hung tough and went back to the running game late when they needed to run time off the clock with a chance to score the go-ahead touchdown. And Alex Smith's ability to throw the winning touchdown pass in a clutch situation represented a giant step forward. David Akers' strong kicking is easy to take for granted, but without his 55-yard field goal before halftime and 37-yarder late, it's a different game.

What I didn't like: The 49ers played to the Lions' strengths early. They called a pass play to open the game, inviting trouble against a strong pass-rushing team in a noisy environment. It was no surprise, under the circumstances, when the Lions' Kyle Vanden Bosch came through with a sack and forced fumble -- exactly the type of start the 49ers needed to avoid in this environment. The crowd was immediately in the game, and the 49ers compounded the situation with false starts. Early in the second half, the 49ers invited trouble again by going with an empty backfield from their own 20-yard line, tipping off the quick pass that followed (for a 3-yard loss). The 49ers ran the ball well when they gave it to Gore, but they did not give the ball to him frequently enough. At one point in the third quarter, Gore had six carries for 121 yards. He needed more carries against a Lions defense that wasn't very strong against the run. Penalty problems persisted and were a factor in creating the unfavorable down and distance precipitating Alex Smith's interception.

Critical calls: Multiple high-impact rulings from Mike Carey's officiating crew spiced up this game. I didn't see justification for the chop-block call or horse-collar call against the Lions, or the 19-yard interference penalty against 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers. Officials initially disallowed Nate Burleson's touchdown grab for the Lions in a ruling reminiscent of the famous Calvin Johnson play against Chicago last season. Upon review, however, Carey determined that Burleson had possession of the ball long enough before the field goal net resting along the end line dislodged the ball from the receiver's hand. Then, with the game on the line and the 49ers having scored the go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-6, Carey took another look to see if Walker's knee touched down before the ball crossed the goal line. Carey determined the ruling on the field would stand. Walker's left leg obscured his right knee from view on one of the critical angles.

Calvin Johnson watch: The 49ers generally did a good job against the NFL's leader in touchdown receptions until Johnson broke free for a 41-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Johnson beat Rogers off the line and gained additional yardage after free safety Dashon Goldson missed him. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman was the one to catch Johnson. Johnson finished with six receptions for 102 yards, but he went without a touchdown for the first time all season. That counts as a victory for the 49ers no matter how many yards Johnson gained.

Injuries of note: Right guard Adam Snyder left the game with a stinger. Chilo Rachal replaced him.

What's next: The 49ers have a bye.

Rapid Reaction: 49ers 25, Lions 19

October, 16, 2011
DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' first loss of the season:

What it means: The Lions lost for the first time since Week 12 of the 2010 season, missing an opportunity to start 6-0 for the first time since 1956. The end came dramatically in a see-saw game: The San Francisco 49ers' Delanie Walker scored on a six-yard pass on fourth down with 1 minute, 56 seconds remaining. Officials reviewed the play to determine if Walker's right knee hit the ground before the ball crossed the plane. I saw no angle to suggest that it did.

MegatronWatch: It's time to launch an investigation. Lions receiver Calvin Johnson didn't catch a touchdown pass for the first time all season. He did, however, haul in six passes for 102 yards, including a 41-yarder that set up a go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown.

"Process" call redux? Surely you remember the touchdown Johnson lost against the Chicago Bears in Week 1 of the 2010 season. I honestly thought the Lions would fall victim to the same "process of the catch" rule Sunday when receiver Nate Burleson caught what appeared to be a 5-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. Burleson got both feet in bounds, but he used the ball to brace himself as he stepped onto the netting behind in the end zone. The ball remained on the ground, and referee Mike Carey ruled the pass incomplete. Carey reversed the call after a challenge from Lions coach Jim Schwartz. As much as I hate the rule, I'm not sure how Carey viewed the Burleson play differently than the NFL viewed Johnson's non-catch last season. Maybe we'll learn more after the game.

StaffordWatch: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a great start to this season, but Sunday was probably his worst game of the year. He was sacked five times, including once for a safety, and looked tentative in the pocket thereafter. I didn't like how many sidearm passes he threw, which told me he was trying to squeeze the ball into too-small targets, and had at least two balls slip from his hand in the pocket. Consider it a learning experience.

Ford FieldWatch: By my count, the 49ers had five false start penalties on offense. That brings the two-game total at suddenly raucous Ford Field to 14. There were some nervous moments Sunday in Detroit, but the numbers are the numbers.

What's next: The Lions will host the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 27, Bills 24

October, 16, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Here are some thoughts on the New York Giants' 27-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The Bills lost for the second time in three weeks and fell to 4-2. Buffalo has been in first place in the AFC East for several weeks but runs the risk of losing that spot to the New England Patriots (4-1), who play the Dallas Cowboys later on Sunday. Buffalo also has yet to pick up a quality road win this season.

Shaky defense: Buffalo’s defense continues to struggle and give up chunks of yards. The Bills allowed 414 yards of total offense against New York. Bills cornerback Drayton Florence had his worst game of the season. He allowed a 60-yard catch to receiver Hakeem Nicks that set up one New York touchdown before halftime. Florence also had a key pass interference call against Nicks late in the fourth quarter to set up the Giants’ winning field goal.

Big-play offense: Fred Jackson’s 80-yard touchdown run was one of the best offensive plays you will see all season. Buffalo executed the play perfectly in the first quarter, and Jackson went virtually untouched for the score. Jackson showed his deep speed by running past New York defenders and not getting caught from behind. On Buffalo’s next drive, receiver Naaman Roosevelt caught a 60-yard touchdown reception to give the Bills their first lead of the game, 14-7, at the end of the first quarter. Eventually, some costly turnovers hurt Buffalo.

Injury watch: The Bills suffered another big injury on the offensive line. Starting tackle Chris Hairston suffered an ankle injury in the fourth quarter that knocked him out the game. He had trouble putting weight on the ankle. Buffalo also played without defensive players Shawne Merriman (Achilles) and Kyle Williams (foot).

What’s next: This Bills will take their 4-2 record into the bye week. Buffalo will continue its tour of the NFC East with its next game against the Washington Redskins on Oct. 30.

Rapid Reaction: Eagles 20, Redskins 13

October, 16, 2011

LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts from the Philadelphia Eagles' season-saving victory over the Washington Redskins:

What it means: That the Eagles are still alive. A loss would have dropped them to 1-5 and all but out of the 2011 playoff picture. Instead, they move up and the first-place Redskins move back in an increasingly tight (and somewhat uninspiring) NFC East race. This win also showed that the Eagles can play a little defense, as they were able to limit the Redskins' run game and intercept Rex Grossman four times. For the Redskins, the loss means doubt. A victory could have given them something akin to control of the division race, and while they still appear as though they'll be a factor, their weaknesses were on display in this one, their very solid offensive line absorbed some key injuries and their quarterback may have lost his job. The Redskins head into Week 7 with more questions than answers.

Accountability: Eagles safety Jarrad Page wasn't the sole reason they lost last week in Buffalo, but his performance was abysmal, and it got him benched. Page was listed as inactive for the game, and Kurt Coleman started in his place and intercepted Grossman three times on his own. A week ago, I wrote the blame for the Eagles' struggles lay at the feet of Andy Reid, and part of the reason for that was I felt the Eagles' players didn't play with any urgency or fear of consequence. But benching Page was a way for Reid to make it clear there are consequences for not getting the job done, and whether the message was sent or not, the move paid off thanks to Coleman's big game.

QB controversy in DC: They were chanting for John Beck before Grossman's third interception, but he didn't come in until after the fourth. Once he did, he led the Redskins on a long touchdown drive that cut the Eagles' lead to 20-13 with 2:44 left in the game. Beck didn't look like Joe Montana or anything like that, but Grossman was stone-cold awful, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Beck get the start next week in Carolina. Regardless, this game showed that, if the Redskins need to rely on their quarterback to win them a game, they're in trouble. The Eagles somehow took Washington's run game away early and built a big lead. And even after the Redskins' defense tightened up in the second half, they didn't have enough to make the comeback.

McCoy is a major weapon: The Eagles' offense wasn't as dominant in the second half as it was in the first, but what they were able to do was run the ball with LeSean McCoy to eat up clock and ice their lead. McCoy so far this year has quite simply been one of the very best running backs in the league. He runs like a jigsaw, and the Eagles' offense works best when it's balanced between him and their big-play pass game. Michael Vick managed the game much better this week than he did last week in Buffalo, and the 28 run plays the Eagles called for McCoy were a big help.

Redskins' depth is a problem: One of the main reasons the Redskins have started hot and ran the ball so well in their first four games was the surprisingly strong play of the offensive line. But when left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and left tackle Trent Williams left the game with injuries, it was clear the run game took a major hit. The Redskins don't have much at offensive line behind the starters, and if those injuries are serious their offense will suffer for it.

Protecting Vick is vital: Vince Young is now 0-for-1 with an interception for the season, having thrown that one awful pass while Vick was on the sideline after taking a big hit. It was only one throw, sure, but it underlined the idea that the Eagles will go as far as Vick takes them.

What's next: The Eagles head into their bye week, take next weekend off and return to action Sunday night, Oct. 30 with a home game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Redskins travel to Carolina on Sunday to take on Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 27, Bills 24

October, 16, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took six weeks but Ahmad Bradshaw finally got going and the New York Giants edged the Buffalo Bills for a much-needed win.

What it means: The Giants surrendered a fourth-quarter lead again for the second straight game, but this time Corey Webster made a big interception to stop a Buffalo go-ahead drive and Eli Manning and Bradshaw marched the Giants 76 yards with the help of two pass interference calls against the Bills. That game-winning drive ended with a Lawrence Tynes 23-yard field goal with 1:32 left.

The Giants were coming off a dismal home loss to Seattle and needed to go into the bye week with a victory. Their schedule becomes increasingly difficult in November, so this win is huge. The Giants still have plenty of work to do on defense, but they hope to get some injured players back after the bye.

Action Jackson: Fred Jackson came into the game ranked third in the NFL in rushing and he showed why early in the game when he busted an 80-yard touchdown run with five minutes to go in the first quarter.

Kenny Phillips missed a diving tackle at the line of scrimmage from behind and then Deon Grant took a poor angle and Jackson sprinted by untouched. Aaron Ross then tried to chase Jackson down from behind but Jackson made a slight move to his left and lost Ross.

The Giants have been gashed by LeSean McCoy, Beanie Wells, Marshawn Lynch and now Jackson in consecutive weeks. Jackson had 107 yards by halftime.

Big problems: The Giants' defense has tried to contain big plays this season. But Jackson’s 80-yard run wasn’t the only big play surrendered in the first quarter. Fitzpatrick hit Naaman Roosevelt for a 60-yard touchdown on the next possession after the Jackson run. The Giants' defense again had a breakdown in coverage and took poor angles to let Roosevelt catch a short pass and run it all the way in.

Ahmad for three: The Giants wanted to try to run the ball against a Buffalo defense that came into the game allowing an average of 138 rushing yards a game. Bradshaw scored three 1-yard touchdowns and registered his first 100-yard rushing game of the season with 104 yards.

Injury report: The Giants played without DE Justin Tuck (neck/groin), G Chris Snee (concussion) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee).

Webster steps up: Webster battled with Stevie Johnson all day. He gave up one touchdown to Johnson in the fourth quarter but intercepted Fitzpatrick twice on passes intended for Johnson. The second interception came as Buffalo was driving deep into Giants territory. Webster picked off the pass at the Giants’ 4-yard line with 4:10 remaining.

What’s next: The Giants have a much-needed bye to get many of their injured players healthy. They face the Miami Dolphins at home on Oct. 30.