How I saw Week 6 of the NFL:
Wow, that Michael Sam is a huge distraction. If not for him distracting the Cowboys every day in practice, Dallas would be 6-0 instead of 5-1. Cut him now! Openly gay players aren't worth the trouble.
It's funny how the 2014 NFL season -- dominated in the offseason by Sam coming out and then being drafted by the Rams and being cut and finally being signed by the Cowboys to their practice squad -- is now about everything but Sam. He quietly practices each day with the Cowboys and cheers them on during games, hoping to land a roster spot at some point. Meanwhile, Ray Rice and domestic violence made everyone forget about the fake distraction and talk about real issues.
On the field, meanwhile, the Cowboys are the surprise team of the league, off to their best start since 2007. That was confirmed Sunday when they went into Seattle and spanked the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, 30-23. The Cowboys dominated play and only two special teams blunders (that led to 14 Seattle points) kept the game close. It was only Seattle's second home loss in 21 games and the reason was a Dallas defense that is playing lights out.
After an awful 2013 defensively, no one expected the Cowboys to do anything but regress in 2014. They have improved a great deal and against the Seahawks and held QB Russell Wilson to 50% completions and 126 yards passing. They have generated a consistent pass rush and aren't getting gashed by big plays.
Ironically, when the Cowboys signed Sam, the feeling was that their defense was so lousy that he had a good chance to be called up to the active roster. The belief was that he had no chance to crack the great (or so we thought) St. Louis front four, which is why he was cut. Instead, Sam will only be called up if there are major injuries to the Cowboys defensive line. In contrast, the Rams (heading into Monday's game against San Francisco), have only one sack and are underachieving. Sam wound up on the better team and is clearly enjoying himself:
We Dem Boyz!!!! Way to go team, great win!!!— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) October 12, 2014
Sam is such a distraction, that the Cowboys and their fans hope he keeps it up for 10 more games and the playoffs.
--Don't look now, but the Cleveland Browns (3-2) have a real shot in the AFC North. They dismantled Pittsburgh, 31-10, only their third win in their last 23 against the Steelers and their largest margin of victory against them since 1989. The Browns' next three games are against Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay, a combined 1-16. If the Browns win all three, it will prove they have playoff aspirations. A loss to any and it will be same old Browns.
--Age has its perks: Peyton Manning (38) and Tom Brady (37) threw a combined seven TDs with no interceptions on Sunday as the Broncos and Patriots each won. Their annual showdown is Nov. 2 in Foxboro, Mass.
--News item: "Sonny Forriest, Jr., an Eagles fan in a wheelchair who sings outside Lincoln Financial Field, says a woman wearing Eagles apparel stole his prosthetic leg Sunday night." How dare anyone ruin the reputation of Philly fans! The leg was later recovered.
--The team that has allowed the fewest points is Detroit. The Lions have allowed only 82 in six games and this from a defense that was considered shaky at best heading into the season.
--I'll let Cyd have the floor for the next item:
--Ties suck. Cincinnati (3-1-1) and Carolina (3-2-1) played a thrilling game that went into OT, but it all fizzled out when they finished the extra period tied 37-37. Bengals kicker Mike Nugent gagged on a 36-yard field goal that would have won it on the final play, but in an ideal sports world, teams would alternate possessions until there is a winner.
--Bonehead coach of the day is Miami's Joe Philbin. Clinging to a 24-20 lead, the Dolphins were trying to stop Green Bay and the Packers were out of timeouts on their last drive. No problem -- Philbin called two of them, including one on 4th and 10 that allowed the Packers (4-2) time to design a play to keep the drive alive. It worked and the Packers would score with three seconds left on an Aaron Rodgers pass to Andrew Quarless. Dumb. The Packers instead of rushing those crucial plays, had time to strategize and it cost the Dolphins. It could wind up being something that costs Philbin his job if the Dolphins (2-3) miss the playoffs again.
--Hot player of the week: Jeff Heath, safety, Dallas Cowboys. Heath got national TV time after the Cowboys beat Seattle and he was shown running off the field next to coach Jason Garrett. "Did you see that hot guy next to Garrett?" a friend said to me on a call. Yep, sure did:
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