NFL Nation: rapid reaction 6
If the Eagles somehow climb back into contention for the NFC East, this will be a game they remember. They entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine points, and the 49ers were headed for the upset.
But Jim Johnson's defense suddenly showed up and started forcing turnovers. Quarterback Donovan McNabb called a team meeting last week and talked about having the proper mindset. Unfortunately, though, the Eagles didn't even have the proper players on the field. Among others, they were missing starters Shawn Andrews, Brian Westbrook, Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown.
But reserve running back Correll Buckhalter has based his professional career on stirring comebacks, and he managed 61 rushing yards on 10 carries in the second half. He did his best impression of Westbrook with seven catches for 85 yards. It was a huge game at just the right moment.
The Eagles now head into the bye at 3-3. And they had to love the fact that the Redskins and Cowboys both lost games to fall to 4-2. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but it didn't matter. This doesn't look like a playoff team right now, but perhaps they can stay afloat long enough to become one.
In the end, McNabb made plays when he had to and it was nice to see NFC Beast blog regular L.J. Smith catch a touchdown. Something needs to be fixed with the run defense, but Johnson has time now. Big win -- even though it was against the 49ers.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Welcome to the 2008 NFL season, San Diego Chargers.
This is what we've been expecting from them all year. In Week 6, against the team that has knocked them out of the playoffs the past two seasons, the Chargers put together their finest overall performance of the season.
This is, indeed, what we have been waiting for from the Chargers, the team that arguably possesses the best roster in the NFL. After being inconsistent in the first five weeks, the Chargers clicked on all cylinders against the Patriots.
And it couldn't have come at a better time. San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson set the tone on Monday by saying it was a "must win."
Whether it was a must win or not, it was certainly a valuable win for San Diego. The Chargers are 3-3 and trail Denver by just one game in the AFC West. Just before the Chargers kicked off, the Broncos lost at home to Jacksonville.
Heading into back-to-back road games at Buffalo and London (where the Chargers will face New Orleans), the Chargers needed this kind of win. They aren't out of the woods yet but after this complete win, life is looking way up in San Diego.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
SAN DIEGO -- The New England Patriots won in San Francisco on Sunday and stayed in San Jose all week to get ready for their next game.
But they failed to show up in San Diego.
The Chargers pulverized the Patriots 30-10 Sunday night in Qualcomm Stadium. The Patriots stumbled in every facet. Their offense failed to matriculate with Matt Cassel, who connected with Randy Moss thrice for 26 yards.
Their secondary got shredded by Philip Rivers and a receiving corps that was missing its best target, Chris Chambers. Stephen Gostkowski missed a 48-yard field goal.Their only touchdown came with the game long decided.
The beating was rather thorough.
Instead of tying the Buffalo Bills for first place in the AFC East, the Patriots slipped into a tie with the New York Jets for second place at 3-2, one win ahead of the Miami Dolphins. Besides back home, where do the Patriots go from here?
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
The Denver defense may be just ordinary at best, but the reason the Broncos have lost two games this season is because of mistakes on offense.
Interesting, isn't it?
Denver's money unit is clearly its offense. But when the offense makes mistakes it can't win. That was the case two weeks ago in a 33-19 loss at Kansas City and it was the case today against Jacksonville.
Denver lost three turnovers. Quarterback Jay Cutler threw an interception and lost a fumble. Receiver Brandon Marshall lost a fumble inside Jacksonville's 10-yard line. Marshall also dropped a key pass in the fourth quarter with Denver trailing by a touchdown. Denver also failed on fourth-and-1 late in the second quarter.
This is a fine offense. But don't discount the fact that it has scored just a combined 52 points the past three weeks, so it can't make mistakes. The Denver defense isn't good enough. Denver has to do more than it has in recent weeks and that means the Broncos have to stop making critical mistakes on offense.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cowboys insisted nothing was wrong after a lackluster victory over a winless Bengals team last Sunday. Not sure they can put a positive spin on this one, though. Especially after coming back to tie the score at the end of regulation and winning the overtime coin toss.
Quarterback Tony Romo spent most of the afternoon on the ground, and once again, Terrell Owens wasn't able to consistently beat press coverage. But this wasn't Shawn Springs on Sunday. It was Eagles castoff Rod Hood who controlled T.O. for most of the day.
Wade Phillips will have a lot of explaining to do -- not one of his strengths -- after another uneven performance. The only good news for the Cowboys (4-2) is the fact that the Redskins (4-2) were upset by the Rams.
The Cowboys' offense hasn't looked right the last three weeks, and things got worse Sunday. Cardinals defensive ends Bertrand Berry and Antonio Smith raced around Flozell Adams all afternoon, and Romo rarely had time.
Some of his most reliable targets, such as Jason Witten, had key drops in the game.
Special teams were an issue again, as the first and last scores of the game came against them: A 93-yard kickoff return by J.J. Arrington and a blocked punt by Sean Morey that Monty Beisel ran in for the winning touchdown.
The Cowboys' defense held up well in the first half, but the combination of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald got going in the second half. Adam "Pacman" Jones, a man who caused a huge distraction this week with his bathroom brawl at a Dallas hotel, was burned repeatedly by Fitzgerald. The season's far from over, but for now, the Cowboys are not an elite team in this league.
Green Bay got well Sunday against a team that is even more injury-depleted than it is. I hardly recognize half the names on the Seattle side of the box score depicting the Packers 27-17 victory at Qwest Field.
But after all the trials of their three-game losing streak, the Packers find themselves back in a three-way tie with Chicago and Minnesota for the NFC North lead. They simply outlasted the Seahawks on Sunday, taking the lead in the third quarter and outscoring the Seahawks 17-7 in the second half.
Two Packers players are impressing many people around the NFL right now. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is persevering through a painful sprained shoulder, having lost minimal velocity and none of his accuracy. His 45-yard touchdown pass Sunday hit receiver Greg Jennings in stride down the right sideline.
Meanwhile, cornerback Tramon Williams now has an interception in each of the three games since he replaced injured starter Al Harris. Williams is not the cover man Harris is, but he makes up for it with big plays. His interception Sunday of Charlie Frye essentially locked up the game with 6:35 remaining.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cardinals are finally for real.
They needed overtime to prove it, but their 4-2 record and consecutive victories over Buffalo and Dallas left little doubt. This was the victory Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt needed to demonstrate how far his team has progressed.
Previous road losses to the Redskins and Jets raised questions, but the Cardinals answered them with two impressive victories heading into their bye.
Arizona didn't get many breaks in this game. The officiating worked against them repeatedly. They lost cornerback Rod Hood, who had been defending Terrell Owens.
They even lost the coin toss to begin overtime.
But they still found a way to win when Sean Morey blocked a Cowboys punt and Monty Beisel ran it in for the decisive points. The Cardinals will have a hard time losing their division lead after the Seahawks and 49ers lost again.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The 49ers proved they could get the ball to tight end Vernon Davis in the passing game after hearing about his lack of involvement all week. San Francisco also proved -- again -- that a more exciting offense isn't enough to win games, particularly against good teams.
J.T. O'Sullivan tossed two more interceptions and the 49ers converted only twice in 12 chances on third down. They scored one touchdown in four red-zone chances. They committed 10 penalties. They committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter as the Eagles scored 23 points to pull out the victory. Those things mattered more than the long passes San Francisco completed to Davis, Isaac Bruce, Arnaz Battle and Josh Morgan.
Coach Mike Nolan's job security appears to be waning with every defeat. The 49ers face the Giants at the Meadowlands in Week 7. They will likely be 2-5 heading into a home game against Seattle in Week 8. Nolan has pointed to errors in execution while explaining recent shortcomings. The responsibility will fall on him at some point, but when?
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks have 11 games remaining, which means there's plenty of time for improvement, but also a sense that things might get worse.
Losing at home to the Packers made official the Seahawks' decline into a below-average team in almost every sense. The one improved area this season -- the running game -- isn't going to matter when Seattle can't score enough points to offset recurring problems on defense.
When coach Mike Holmgren announced his intention to step away from coaching the Seahawks after this season, he never figured his team would take a sabbatical as well.
Injuries at receiver and now quarterback largely explain the issues on offense. Those issues are naturally affecting other aspects of the team. But they can't account for the full extent of Seattle's problems on defense.This division is the Cardinals' to lose. Seattle still plays Arizona twice. That's the good news and the bad news for a team that can't get a break or make any of its own.
It's a good spot after an 0-2 start, considering they've already faced four division leaders. Now, Jacksonville has a bye followed by match-ups with Cleveland, Cincinnati and Detroit. Those three teams are a collective 1-14.
While Jacksonville missed safety Reggie Nelson, who missed his third straight game with a knee injury, the Broncos were thinned out at receiver and unable to do much for Jay Cutler.
Six games into the season, despite significant interior offensive line damage, they've done well to regain their balance.
And while Denver matched their toughness and physicality for a good share of this game, ultimately the Jags did well to build on that identity and use it to get a big win at a tough venue.
I guess we should've seen the letdown coming. After a remarkable four-game winning streak, which included division road wins over the Cowboys and Eagles, the Redskins lost to the winless Rams at home.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Washington (4-2) is the first team in NFL history to play its first five games without an offensive turnover. But that came crashing down in the first half Sunday, when the Redskins had two turnovers. The back-breaking turnover came late in the half when Redskins guard Pete Kendall plucked a deflected pass out of the air and then was stripped. The Rams returned the fumble for a touchdown to take a 10-7 halftime lead.
The play energized a team that seemed destined for a 0-5 record. Clinton Portis was able to gash the Rams defense, but the Redskins didn't take the lead until late in the fourth quarter.
Everything Jim Zorn has touched has turned to gold lately, but on Sunday, the Redskins looked like a team that was emotionally spent. Still, they had a chance to hang onto a 17-16 lead late in the game. Rams quarterback Marc Bulger found rookie wide receiver Donnie Avery for a 43-yard gain on third-and-13 from the St. Louis 41-yard line. Avery, one of the fastest players in the draft, somehow was in one-on-one coverage with nickel cornerback Leigh Torrence.
Former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown nailed a 49-yard field goal to win the game and help the Rams improve to 1-4. Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell wasn't awful, but he couldn't make enough plays to give the Redskins some cushion in the first half.
The good news for the Redskins is that they will host the Browns next Sunday and then travel to Detroit. There's still a great chance this team is 6-2 at the midway point, and I think most Redskins fans would've taken that at the first of the season.
I'm sure the Redskins are re-thinking their decision to go with rookie punter Durant Brooks over veteran Derrick Frost. Brooks had two pathetic punts Sunday, and that helped set up the offensively challenged Rams.
It's not wise to panic after one loss -- but the Redskins definitely made life a little tougher on themselves.
In order to hand the winless Lions their 12th loss in the past 13 games, the Vikings needed a sketchy pass interference call to set up Ryan Longwell's game-winning 26-yard field goal with nine seconds left. In addition, Detroit quarterback Dan Orlovsky gave Minnesota two points by -- in very Lions-like fashion -- stepping out of the back of the end zone on a rollout pass.
It was hardly an inspiring win; if you get a chance, listen to the glum tone of Vikings play-by-plan man Paul Allen at the end of this" highlight" cut-up on NFL.com. Although the Vikings' 3-3 record qualifies them for a share of the NFC North lead, their past two victories seem to have been absolutely gift-wrapped.
Minnesota coach Brad Childress seemed to be addressing that sentiment during his postgame remarks, which I pass along courtesy of the Vikings' public relations department:
"As far as I'm concerned, that's a great win. There is no such thing as a bad one in the NFL. I think I told you guys last week, this would be far tougher than I think anyone wanted to make it. Human nature is you want it to be easy. But you know what? It doesn't happen that way in this league."
By all accounts, the Lions put forth an effort that -- if nothing else -- suggests they haven't given up on this season. While it didn't translate into a victory, it's a credit to coach Rod Marinelli that his players haven't tanked yet. (Sorry, that's the best I can come up with for this Lions group).
Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Apologies that this reaction isn't very rapid, but I'm still in Raymond James Stadium and just finished writing about the Buccaneers and Panthers.
They're both 4-2 and I haven't forgotten there's another team with that same record in the NFC South. With an amazing ending against the Bears, the Atlanta Falcons took a huge step in the rebuilding process under coach Mike Smith.
If there was any doubt about if the Falcons are for real, it should be gone now. Heck, it should have been gone last week when the Falcons, with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, went into Lambeau Field and won.
The skeptics still might have said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was banged up and several other Packers were injured. But you really can't rain on Atlanta's period after what the Falcons did against the Bears.
There's no disputing Chicago (the Bears entered the day in first place in the NFC North) is a good team and they have a great defense. But Ryan sure didn't look like a rookie.
This victory made the Falcons more legitimate than they've been in a long time. They've already won as many games with Smith as they did all of last year. If someone wants to try to minimize this victory, they'd be a fool.
There's no longer any question that the Falcons are for real. Next challenge on the list of proof? Winning an NFC South game.
Overheard by a man in a New England Patriots golf shirt at the Mission Valley Marriott, two trolley stops from Qualcomm Stadium:
"The Dolphins are starting to scare me."
As well they should. The Miami Dolphins didn't win Sunday, but they reinforced the notion they'll be a dangerous team this season. They would've won their third straight game had they not suffered a heartbreaking 29-28 loss to the Houston Texans in the final seconds at Reliant Stadium.
The Dolphins jumped to a 14-3 lead thanks to Patrick Cobbs touchdown receptions of 53 and 80 yards. The Dolphins and Texans exchanged five leads in the second half, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams each scoring a touchdown. The Texans scored the winning touchdown with three seconds left.
Such a close defeat would've been somewhat encouraging for Dolfans last year, or maybe even a few weeks ago. But the Dolphins shook their loser's image with back-to-back victories over the Patriots and San Diego Chargers.
Although they were underdogs to the winless Texans, this was a game they will lament. They let Matt Schaub orchestrate a 12-play drive after the 2-minute warning and couldn't put the game away like winners do.
The Dolphins still are learning, yet they proved again they're getting there.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
Andre Johnson had fumbled away a touchdown chance into the end zone at the end of the third quarter and Houston looked doomed.
What kind of hopes did the struggling, winless Texans have considering their late-game collapse a week earlier and the Dolphins' sterling fourth-quarter defensive record this season -- no one had scored against them in the final 15 minutes.
But maybe Matt Schaub turned a corner, because the Texans quarterback capped a 379-yard passing day by leading his team to nine fourth-quarter points in an impressive final period. The winning score came on a smart three-yard run by Schaub on a draw with three seconds left.
In narrow losses at Jacksonville and against Indianapolis the Texans were clearly missing something they couldn't quite pinpoint. I only saw pieces of the second half of this game. But I feel pretty sure as the Texans trickled out of Reliant Stadium today, they had to be feeling like they'd found it.
1:00 PM ET Miami Buffalo 1:00 PM ET Minnesota Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET Indianapolis Kansas City 1:00 PM ET Tampa Bay St. Louis 1:00 PM ET Cleveland New York 1:00 PM ET Dallas Washington 1:00 PM ET New Orleans Carolina 1:00 PM ET Tennessee Jacksonville 1:00 PM ET Denver Houston 4:05 PM ET New York Detroit 4:05 PM ET Arizona Seattle 4:25 PM ET Pittsburgh Green Bay 4:25 PM ET Oakland San Diego 4:25 PM ET New England Baltimore 8:30 PM ET Chicago Philadelphia