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NFL Week 2: Chargers get ripped off

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A horrible call and bad kharma hurt the Chargers, the Vikings pull an el foldo against the Colts, Cyd sees the Pats win without Brady, and stick a fork in the Seahawks

How Cyd and Jim saw Week 2 of the NFL:

Thanks to my friend Sergio Turbay (thanks Serge!), I got to watch the Pats-Jets game from the 50-yard-line. Last year I went to the game in Week 1, and the energy of the crowd to start the game was a bit hesitant. Excited, but not claws-out excited. Yesterday, to start the game, the claws were out. The crowd was on its feet, they were loud, and they were out for blood. With five minutes left in the game, they were headed for the exits.

Of all the places to sit, we ended up next to an adorable couple of guys from Charlotte who were in town for the weekend to see the game because one of them is a fan of Brett Favre and the other is a Patriots fan. I have to believe they were a couple. They were wearing the same Puma sneakers, matching rings on their left ring finger (if they weren’t matching, they looked it), Deisel jeans and their haircuts were impeccable. We assumed they were gay and talked about our boyfriends and the occasional good-looking guy. If they weren’t gay, they played the part well.
Mile High ripoff: The San Diego Chargers had a game stolen from them at Denver. The final reads: Denver 39, San Diego 38, but it needs to come with an asterisk. An early whistle by referee Ed Hochuli negated a fumble by Denver QB Jay Cutler that San Diego recovered at its 10 with 1:14 to go and the Broncos driving.

Cutler had attempted to pass and the ball slipped from his hand as he was winding up. The loose ball was recovered by the Chargers -- game over and San Diego wins, 38-31. But wait … Hochuli ruled the play an incomplete pass and blew the whistle before the recovery. He then did a booth review and admitted that it was a fumble, but rules state that an early whistle on a fumble by a quarterback blows the play dead regardless of who recovered, so Denver kept the ball.

Denver scored a touchdown on fourth down, then made a stunning decision to go for two points and a win. Cutler hit Eddie Royal in the end zone and for the second week in a row, the Chargers had lost in gut-wrenching fashion.
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What we all watched together was a New York Jets team that looked unprepared for the game. Brett Favre’s passes were sometimes off-target, the offensive line gave him terrible protection, Laveranues Coles dropped a couple passes, the Jets' play-calling was at times terrible, their special teams were out-classed, and their defense was bowled over in the second half, allowing about 6 yards per carry after halftime. It was after halftime that the Jets offense looked particularly inept. They faced a 3rd-and-22, a 2nd-and-25, and a 4th-and-25, thanks to sacks and penalties. The game isn’t going to go well when you’re facing those odds playing catch-up.

People on New York sports radio (which I listened to in two hours of traffic that should have taken 25 minutes) Sunday night were from two camps: 1) The season is over; 2) The Giants were 0-2 last season and won the Super Bowl, so all isn’t lost. After two games, I’m leaning more toward response No. 1. The Jets are the third best team in their division, even with Brady out. With other teams like Denver and Tennessee playing well, it’s hard to believe the Jets will somehow grab a playoff spot this year.

I saw Jim mention that Randy Moss was a non-factor, which isn’t quite right. He did only have two catches, and he did drop a 50-yard pass that hit both hands squarely. But, what Moss does is attract double-teams and the attention of third defenders. Over and over again, he was drawing a corner and safety, even when he was isolated. That was a big part of why swing passes to running backs and screens and slants to Wes Welker were working so nicely.

Do you think Jets fans are still thrilled that their team got Brett Favre? And do you think Packers fans (whose team is 2-0) have already forgotten him? The answers: No, and yes. I've said it from the beginning: Favre coming back was a stupid mistake on his part, he isn't up to the task, he doesn't 100% want to play, and he will regret having come back by the end of the season.

By the way, lots of people are wondering why the Jets didn't let Brett Favre throw the ball with 1st and goal from the 2. My guess: They don't trust him. Could be his decision-making, could be his grasp of that part of the playbook. But for whatever reason, Eric Mangini and the rest of the coaching staff don't trust Favre to throw within the 5.

After Sunday night’s game, only two divisions will have more than one team with two wins: AFC East (New England, Buffalo) and NFC East (New York Giants, Dalls or Philadelphia).

Norv Turner is bad kharma. That’s all there is to it. That kharma brought playoff-ending injuries to their three best players last year. This year, it has brought more injuries, a bad call, and two excruciating last-minute losses. The Chargers “should” be 2-0, but they’re 0-2. Luckily, they host the Jets next week, so they’ll get in the win column then. But don’t kid yourself; these two losses are big, and add that to the loss of Shawne Merriman, and they are in big, big trouble.

Chargers fans are complaining about getting ripped off by the refs. And Ed Hochuli, usually a solid ref, did make a bad call, no arguement about that! But as I always tell my teams: One call doesn’t make a game. The ref didn’t drop balls, the ref didn’t miss tackles. There are times when I look at a game and say the refs totally screwed a team. I didn’t watch this game, so I can’t make a complete assessment. But, I will always say: One call does not decide a game, and it didn't here.

Four teams have failed to score 20 points in their first two games, and two of them are in the AFC North. Said differently, the Ravens and Texans, in one game, have each scored as much as the Bengals, and more than the Browns, have in two. The Ravens!! The Bengals and Browns were supposed to have two solid offenses. Their QBs were top-10 in fantasy drafts; Each had a wide receiver (the Bengals two) who went in the first few rounds. Yet they can’t score.

I thought the Seahawks were done before this game; Now it is official. Their home loss to lowly San Francisco, giving up a 14-0 lead, shows such a lack of mental and physical preparedness. I am starting to believe that lame-duck coach Mike Holmgren, and many of his players, are walking through this season.

What 2-0 team isn't as good as their record? The Pittsburgh Steelers. They are on their way to wining the division, but this division is looking terrible. They got bailed out Sunday night thanks to some TERRIBLE play-calling and coaching decisions by the Browns. Roethlisberger's shoulder problems concern me, too.

What 0-2 team is better than their record? I'll go with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have got to figure out a way to come out on top in these close games, and David Garrard needs to cut down on his interceptions.

My Top 5

1) Carolina Panthers. Two last-minute wins puts my NFC Champion on top for now. Oh, and they finally get their best player, Steve Smith, back next week.

2) Philadelphia Eagles. We’ll see what happens Monday night, but a win or loss doesn’t necessarily move them.

3) Dallas Cowboys. A win Monday night doesn’t necessarily move them down, but a loss sure would.

4) Buffalo Bills. They have the running game and their lines are playing great. With a Stanford grad at quarterback, they’re destined for greatness!

5t) Denver Broncos. They have the best offense in the league

5t) Arizona Cardinals. Sorry, I copped out and pick a tie. The Cardinals are much, much better. Ken Whisenhunt has instilled an attack mentality on both sides of the ball.

Yes, the Chargers could have stopped either the fourth-down play or the conversion, so credit should go to the Broncos for some gutty play and the ballsy decision to go for two. But it never should have come to that had Hochuli not blown the premature whistle. Referees need to let the play go for a bit, and if the Chargers miss the playoffs by a game Hochuli (whom I love as a ref) deserves part of the blame.

“Ed came over to me . . . and said he blew it. And that’s not to me acceptable,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said.

It almost seemed as if Denver coach Mike Shanahan knew he got a gift and I wonder if that’s why he went for two, figuring he would let the football fates decide the game instead of it going to overtime. It’s only the fifth time a team has passed up an extra point to tie the score in the last two minutes and go for two.

Stat of the year: Prior to Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings were 109-0 when leading by 15+ points in the second half. Make that 109-1 after the Vikes fell apart late and let the Colts steal one, 18-15, on Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal with three seconds left.

Think Viking fans aren’t pissed? A “Fire Brad Childress” petition already has 1,444 signatures after a few hours as I write this.

The Vikings dominated both lines of scrimmage and were able to harass and hurry Colts QB Peyton Manning for the first 2½ quarters. But Minnesota had to settle for five field goals and then Manning took over the game with three scoring drives in the last 1½ quarters. Minnesota had only 41 total yards on its last five drives.

As Vikings blogger Daily Norseman wrote: “You've got to be kidding me with this garbage. This is why they're the Colts and we're the Vikings.”

Quarterback play decided the game – Manning is a sure Hall of Famer, while the Vikings are led by the mediocre Tarvaris Jackson.Manning makes plays when his team needs them, while Jackson is generally inept.

Minnesota ran for 180 yards but was only 2 of 13 on third-down conversions, when quarterback play is most evident. On the other side, Manning hit a 58-yard pass on third down to help set up the Colts' first score and a 20-yarder on third-and-9 to Reggie Wayne with 34 seconds left to set up the winning field goal.

As Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks wrote: It was “maybe the grittiest, guttiest Colts comeback victory in the entire 11-year points-apalooza that has been the Peyton Manning era.

No rush: The Colts are 1-1 but will struggle all season if they only gain 25 yards rushing in a game. They were lucky to play a Viking team that was content to let them hang around all game.

Life imitates art: The Colts' first score was set up when Anthony Gonzalez lateraled the ball back to Reggie Wayne as he was falling down after a 58-yard catch. Wayne took the ball down inside the Viking 1. How surprised was Wayne to get the lateral? "It was such a shock, I almost wanted to catch it and just go down," Wayne said. "I guess it's like playing Madden: pressed the X button, jumped over a guy and kept going."

No Brady, no problem: In his first start since high school, Matt Cassell played efficiently in leading the New England Patriots over the New York Jets, 19-10. Cassell replaced Tom Brady and did nothing to hurt his team, while the Patriots defense kept the Jets and Brett Favre bottled up all day. New England has not lost at New York since 2000.

The best thing New England has going for them is its ridiculously easy schedule. Their first four games (Kansas City, Jets, Miami and San Francisco) are against teams that finished 14-42 and year ago. The Patriots are good enough to win the weak AFC East, but they will need to be more explosive on offense to make a serious Super Bowl run (Randy Moss had only two catches and was a non-factor).

Where’s Brady?: The Cleveland Browns are 0-2, losing both at home and have scored one touchdown this season. After a desultory 10-6 loss to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s time for the Browns to make a move at quarterback and replace Derek Anderson with Brady Quinn.

I know Anderson has not been helped by horrible play calling and clock management (is Romeo Crennel asleep?), along with dropped passes and lousy weather Sunday, but he has not performed well. Throwing an interception at the goal line at the end of the first half was inexcusable. The Browns need a spark and need to let second-year man Brady Quinn show what he can do.

Bills rising, Jaguars falling: Buffalo beat Jacksonville and 90-degree Florida heat to go to 2-0 and drop the Jaguars (a preseason Super Bowl darling) to 0-2. Bills second-year QB Trent Edwards was 20 for 25 and gets better each week. Down 16-10 with eight minutes left, Edwards led the Bills on a nine-play drive that culminated in a touchdown pass to rookie James Hardy. It was the kind of clutch comeback the Bills have not made in years and is a sign that they have real playoff aspirations.

On the other side, Jacksonville has scored 26 points in its first two games and QB David Garrard has already thrown three interceptions after only throwing three all last season. With their offensive line in shambles due to injuries, the Jags can’t get their run game going and that what was propelled the offense last season. Jacksonville plays at Indy next week and it can already be called a “must win” game.

Quick hits: I like Reggie Bush but it was bush league that he taunted the Redskins when he was heading into the end zone on a punt return. He got flagged for taunting and he deserves it. The Skins got the last laugh, winning 29-24. … If Miami, Kansas City, Cincinnati and St. Louis played a round robin against each other, it’s possible all would find a way to go 0-4; these are the league’s four worst teams after two weeks. … Carolina is 2-0 and came back for the second week in a row. Not bad for a team whose best receiver, Steve Smith, missed the first two games on suspension. …

Denver receiver Brandon Marshall had 18 catches against the Chargers, tying him for second place all-time in receptions in a game (Terrell Owens once had 20 while a San Francisco 49er. … Arizona is 2-0 for the first time since 1991. Defending NFC West champ Seattle is 0-2 for the first time since 2002. … In his first two games as the starter for Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers is 42 of 60 for 506 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Brett Who?