Big Ben Gets Lucky

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The Steelers escape, Favre's return to Lambeau and more from Week 7.

The Steelers escape, Favre's return to Lambeau and more from Week 7.

Blame Game

Sunday’s key moment came courtesy of the replay booth. With Pittsburgh trailing Miami 22–20, Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger attempted a quarterback sneak from the Miami 2-yard line, fumbling as he broke the plane. The refs signaled touchdown, but the replay booth saw a fumble. The trouble was, after the TD call, the refs quit watching and were unable to determine who had recovered the ball — even though Dolphin linebacker Ikaika Alama-Francis emerged from the scrum holding the pigskin aloft. Pittsburgh retained possession — after referee Gene Steratore delivered the news to an impatient South Florida crowd via a cumbersome oral dissertation — and kicked the winning field goal with 2:26 left. While it may be tempting to blame the officiating — Miami linebacker Channing Crowder deadpanned that, “The refs called a wonderful game — for the Steelers” — the Dolphins have only themselves to blame. Miami started its first two possessions at the Steelers' 22- and 13-yard lines within the first 1:58 of the game but had to settle for field goals in falling to 0–3 at home. “There’s not going to be an asterisk next to the third loss,” Crowder said. “Who cares? Good call, bad call, I don’t know the rules. But we should’ve won. We never should have been in that situation. To put it in the ref’s hands was our fault.”

Eagles 37, Eagles 19

You read that right. The game goes into the books as a win for the Titans, and an important one at that, but the Eagles beat themselves up and down LP Field on Sunday. Philly kept Tennessee’s first touchdown drive alive with a third-down roughing the passer call, and later bailed out the Titans from the shadow of their own goal-line with an interference call on another scoring drive. Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb fumbled at the Titans 3-yard line with Philly threatening to take a 23–7 lead in the third quarter. In all, the Eagles turned the ball over four times and were penalized 10 times — mostly in critical situations — for 100 yards. Most glaringly, late-night miscreant Kenny Britt spent the afternoon virtually uncovered on his way to the best receiving day in the NFL this season, catching seven balls for 225 yards and three touchdowns as the Eagles stuck with the brilliant plan of letting him get open and then not tackling him. The Eagles somehow turned a 19–10 fourth-quarter lead into a 37–19 loss, allowing 27 fourth-quarter points via every imaginable method. Andy Reid, of all people, turned in the worst performance by a head coach on Sunday, although his players share plenty of blame. “For a guy to continually catch the ball over and over, then we’ve got to do things better from a coaching standpoint,” Reid said of Britt’s performance. “Obviously, the players need to do some things better, too.”

Hall of Fame

We all know that the Bears’ swashbuckling (read: erratic) quarterback likes to take chances, but this is ridiculous. Jay Cutler kept chucking the ball downfield, and Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall kept picking it off — four times in all, with a 92-yard return for a third-quarter touchdown providing the only points of the second half in Washington’s 17–14 win. The worst part? If the Bears’ insanely stubborn field general had it to do over, he wouldn’t change a thing. “I’ve played against him before,” Cutler said. “There’s no reason to shy away from him. I mean, that’s hard for me to say throwing four picks to the guy, but I still think if we had to play him tomorrow, I’d go after him every time.” Uh, okay.

List of Problems a Mile High

It was an AFC West rivalry game, but instead an old AFL-style mismatch broke out. The Raiders abused and humiliated the Broncos 59–14 in Denver, setting a franchise record for points and starting the clock on the Josh McDaniels death watch. It was 38–0 midway through the second quarter as the Raiders ran at will through Denver’s matador front wall and turned turnovers into touchdowns. On the day, Darren McFadden amassed 165 rushing yards and three scores on only 16 carries to lead a rushing attack that piled up 328 yards. “We get one chance a week to put our name on something for the three hours we play and coach on Sunday and our name is going to be forever put on this game,” said McDaniels, who is 4–13 since starting 6–0 last season. “None of us are proud of it, but we’re a part of it, and those of us who are a part of the problem are also going to have to be a part of the solution.” Yeah, that has to be comforting for Denver fans.

Brett’s Bitter Swan Song

It’s been a tough week for Brett Favre. Dogged by sexual harassment allegations, lampooned on Saturday Night Live, Favre hoped for a bit of redemption in what could be his final appearance at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. Instead, Favre threw three second-half picks in Minnesota’s 28–24 loss to the Packers and had a possible winning touchdown erased by replay. “It’s devastating,” Favre said. “I don’t know how else to put it. I take a lot of pride and ownership in all phases of the game. You’ve got the ball in your hand, you hope to win those. You just feel like you let everybody down.” Well, at least your coach has your back. Oh, wait — Brad Childress tossed Favre under a passing Greyhound, then backed over him for good measure. “You can’t throw it to them, you’ve got to play within the confines of our system,” Childress said, referring to a key Desmond Bishop pick-six. “Sometimes it’s OK to punt the football. You can’t give seven points going the other way, not in a game like this.” At this point, Favre has to be wondering how the weather is in Kiln, Miss., and why he ever left.
 

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Athlon's Rob Doster takes a look at what we learned from Week 7 of the NFL slate.

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