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Did Kevin Kolb's big performance change Andy Reid's mind?
Kolb or Vick? Does It Matter?
Michael Vick leads the NFL in passer rating. Kevin Kolb has three 300-yard games in five career starts, including yesterday’s 23-of-29, 326-yard, three touchdown masterpiece. Has one team ever had two of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league? Vick, nursing injured rib cartilage, never even emerged from the locker room during the Eagles’ 31–17 rout of Atlanta. If he had, he would have witnessed a nearly flawless performance from his replacement — a performance marred only slightly by an interception that set up a Falcons touchdown, and a scary concussion to big-play receiver DeSean Jackson. So is there a quarterback controversy in Philly? So what if there is? In this case, there are far worse problems to have. “When you’re sitting here as a chubby head coach in the National Football League and you have two good quarterbacks, you're a happy guy,” said a suitably jolly Andy Reid.
Welcome Back, Big Ben
In the Steelers’ first four games, they amassed a total of three touchdowns passes. During yesterday’s 28–10 win over the Browns, they matched that total. Glad to have you back, Big Ben. Roethlisberger made an emotional return from league-mandated suspension, throwing for 257 yards and three scores and giving the Steelers an offensive dimension they’d been papering over for the season’s first quarter. Rather than harbor bitterness at Big Ben for putting them in an early-season bind, the Heinz Field faithful welcomed him back like a conquering hero. “I started thinking about it on the way here,” said Roethlisberger. “Before the game I got emotional. To hear the cheers was something special. I got a little emotional.” You know what made the fans emotional? Seeing a quarterback actually get the ball into the end zone.
Wade Phillips: Dead Man Walking
The Cowboys held the Vikings offense to 188 yards and clamped down on Adrian Peterson to the tune of 24-73 (3.0 ypc). Unfortunately, the Cowboys also kicked off to Percy Harvin. Harvin’s 95-yard kickoff return TD was the key play in Dallas’ 24–21 loss to Minnesota in Sunday’s Desperation Bowl. It was the latest chapter in a season-long saga of despair in Big D. The Cowboys are statistically dominating their opponents in every area except the scoreboard. They’re outgaining their foes 400.0-289.4 and are dominating time of possession. Yet they’re 1–4, and the little things are the culprit, the things that get coaches fired — penalties, turnovers, special teams play. Owner Jerry Jones is adamant that any coaching decisions will come after the season — I would neverconsider doing that during the season," Jones said — but after his team let the Vikings off the hook, Wade Phillips seems destined for a hook of his own.
Best Win of the Day: Patriots Over Ravens
No Moss? No problem. After the Patriots shed the mercurial Randy Moss, they reacquired Tom Brady’s old security blanket, Deion Branch, and the two rekindled their on-field love affair just in time for a critical overtime win over the Ravens. New England erased a 20–10 fourth-quarter deficit, as Brady found Branch seven times for 75 yards and a touchdown in the final stanza and overtime. Branch’s two catches on the P-men’s final drive of the day led to Stephen Gostkowski’s game-winning 35-yard field goal with only 1:56 left in overtime. Defensively, the Patriots held the Ravens to punts on their final five possessions. Suddenly, this team has a familiar feel, which should inject a similarly familiar feeling of dread into the rest of the AFC. “Tom and I have been away for four years and I honestly don’t feel we missed a beat,” Branch said.
The Colts Are Still the Colts
The AFC South is the most competitive division in football. After Monday night’s division showdown between the Titans and Jags, there will still be a three-way tie at the top, with tonight’s loser nipping at the threesome’s heels. But the division favorite? The NFL’s version of Old Faithful. The Colts mixed flashes of greatness with moments of ineptitude in last night’s 27–24 win over the Redskins in Landover, proving yet again that they don’t have to be at their best to win. “The standards and expectations of our team are so high that whenever we have a few bumps in the road, people seem to panic. ‘The Colts are going to have a bad year,’” said cornerback Jerraud Powers. “Well, we’re going through the same stuff, if you look around the league, it’s pretty balanced right now, there’s no real dominant team out there. We’re working on being more consistent and finding our identity.” That identity, until proven otherwise? Division kingpin.