3 And Out – Thoughts From Week 6 In The NFL

It’s a league where being ‘clutch’ pays off, week 6 in the NFL only pushed this idea further. The Manning brothers seem to be almost untouchable, Baltimore is in shambles after losing their future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and kickers allover the league were making the difference.

Kickers Matter

With the game tied, and 54 seconds remaining in last Thursday’s contest between the Steelers and Titans, Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham missed a 54 yard field goal.  The Titans took over with good field position following the miss, ran 4 plays, and set-up kicker Rod Bironas for a 40-yard field goal which he hit to win the game.  Little did we know this would serve as a precursor for this week’s games.

Atlanta’s Matt Bryant hit a 55 yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining to beat Oakland.  Detroit’s Jason Hanson hit a 19 yard kick to send the game to OT, and then hit a 45 yard kick in overtime to win the game.  Dallas’s Dan Bailey missed a 51 yard field goal that would’ve won the game for the Cowboys – they lost.  Arizona’s Jay Feely connected from 61 yards out with a minute remaining to tie the game.  He then hit the upright from 38 yards out which would’ve won the game for the Cardinals.  Instead, they lost in overtime when Buffalo’s Ryan Lindell hit from 25 yards out.

This was an abnormal week in terms of pressure kicks determining the outcome of games, but it serves as a strong reminder to NFL fans everywhere.  Kickers mean very little in fantasy football and rarely make the headlines, but their ability to perform under pressure can be the difference between missing the playoffs and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Featherless Ravens

Sorry Ravens fans, but your hopes for a Super Bowl this season went up in flames on Sunday.  Despite losing Ray Lewis, the more significant injury is to Lardarius Webb.  This league is all about passing and Webb was making a name for himself as an elite NFL cornerback.  His ability to cover a team’s number one receiver allowed Ed Reed to roam free and play more of a ‘robber’ role.  With Webb out, Reed will be forced to sit back and play a more traditional safety role to help out the inexperienced defensive backs that will be forced into action in Webb’s absence.

Make no mistake; losing Ray Lewis is significant.  Even last year Ray had lost a step, and this year his decline had been even more evident.  Instead of running away from him, teams were running at him.  In terms of ability, the Ravens will get enough production out of the backup.  Where they really lose is in leadership, intelligence and instincts.  That can’t be replaced.  When a team loses their heartbeat, it’s hard to recover.

Joe Flacco appears to have got his wish.  It’s his team now.

Mannings World

These guys are ridiculous.  With Peyton out last year, we figured the Manning era was coming to an end.  Then Eli turns into Joe Montana and leads the Giants to a 2nd Super Bowl under his command.  Eli has picked up right where he left off.  Despite numerous injuries to offensive skilled players, Eli hasn’t missed a beat.  He has the Giants sitting atop the NFC East at 4-2 and has erased any doubt that he should be mentioned among the greats from this era.  We heard all week that the 49ers were out for revenge against the Giants.  They were at home and had outscored opponents 70-3 in the previous two games.  How did Eli respond?  He made their all-world defense look pedestrian enroute to a 26-3 blowout of the consensus “best team in football”.

Not to be outdone, big brother Peyton’s return from neck surgery has been good but, could be better.  I mean he’s only second in the league in passer rating at 105.  Every week the Broncos offense looks like it is gaining chemistry which is scary considering the talent they have.  Atrocious special teams in the first half by the Broncos, left them in a 24-0 hole on Monday night against the Chargers.  Peyton threw 3 second half touchdowns and only one incompletion (which was intentionally dropped by Eric Decker because he would’ve been tackled for a loss) and the Broncos stormed back to win 35-24.

Smile Archie.  Your lineage is intact.

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