Calvin Johnson’s Historic Day, Chiefs Remain Undefeated, and All of NFL Week 8—The Monday Morning Realist



Oct 27, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

“329 Yards!”

Yeah, that part is coming soon.

Of course, performances like Calvin Johnson’s against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 8 go unforeseen by even the most seasoned of analysts. Out of the wide sea of possibilities that could have been predicted by pundits, no one had to have called what Megatron did at home against America’s Team.

“329 Yards!”

Of course, it’s coming.

Actually, the Week 8 Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions matchup was seen as one of two star wide receivers instead of one. Yes, the Lions had Megatron, but the Cowboys also had Dez Bryant. Prior to the game, Bryant made news when he basically said that he could do anything as good (or even better) than Johnson can. The Cowboys are coming off a 17-3 victory over the Eagles while the Lions were defeated at home in Week 7 by the Cincinnati Bengals 27-24.

If anything, all Bryant did was give Calvin Johnson more bulletin board material. It began in the first quarter when Detroit’s first points of the game were courtesy of his only touchdown reception of the game, surprisingly. It was a 2 yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford that put the Lions on top 7-0.

In between two Dan Bailey field goals in the next two quarters, Bryant also received one of his two touchdown receptions from Tony Romo as the Cowboys would assume a 13-7 advantage.

It was in the fourth quarter where all defense took a back seat to Johnson and Bryant.

It was 13-10 after a few minutes in the fourth quarter as the Lions settled for a David Akers field goal. Then, the two teams traded touchdown receptions as 13-10 Cowboys became 27-24 Cowboys on the back of a Terrance Williams 60 yard touchdown reception, a 1 yard run from Joique Bell, Bryant’s second reception for six points, and a 1 yard run from Reggie Bush. Bailey’s third field goal of the game with 1:02 left on the clock made it 30-24 Dallas, but the clock was stopped on account of a holding penalty called against the Cowboys.

In the midst of all of the yardage throughout the game were huge catches made by Megatron, including one on the Lions’ last drive that put Detroit on the one yard line. On the one yard line, Stafford dove over the rest of the Cowboys offensive line for the touchdown. An extra point from Akers made it 31-30, and it turned out to be the game-winning drive.

Also, as Calvin Johnson’s fantasy owners exploded in happiness at his stat sheet for the day, Dez Bryant was seen exploding in the face of his own team. Bryant, twice, was noticeably angry and getting in the face of his teammates and coaching staff. The second time when it happened, in the fourth quarter was when he especially had to be talked down by Jason Witten and an injured DeMarcus Weir.

Maybe Bryant was simply angry that he was not targeted more—or that with the Lions’ win, the national media would be talking about Megatron a lot instead of him.

Reggie Bush apparently was hyped about the Lions’ comeback win as he tweeted that Calvin Johnson was the “greatest wide receiver ever”. Uh, the Realist still has Jerry Rice at the top of that list, but also realizes that the reason why Johnson does not get more credit around the league is because he plays in Detroit and not for a team that regularly contends for the playoffs year in and year out.

Well, right now, the Lions are contenders at a 5-3 record in the NFC North. The Cowboys have fallen to 4-4 in an NFC East that is weaker than a wet paper towel. If Dallas makes the playoffs, it will be because of that alone.

Oh, and yeah, Calvin Johnson did catch 14 passes for 329 yards, the second highest single game total for a receiver in history. Matthew Stafford was 33/48 for 488 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Reggie Bush rushed for 92 yards on 21 carries.

For the Cowboys, Tony Romo was 14/30 for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns. Bryant caught two of those TDs in addition to 72 yards on 3 receptions and being targeted six times.

The Lions will have their bye week in Week 9 at 5-3 while the now 4-4 Cowboys return to Arlington as they will face the Minnesota Vikings.

Fountains of Perfection

Oct 27, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster (22) celebrates as he leaves the field after the game against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs got a great boon to their team last week when first place in the AFC West became all theirs by virtue of their victory in Week 7 17-16 victory over the Houston Texans as well as the Denver Broncos losing on Sunday Night Football in Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis. At that moment that the Broncos lost last week, the Chiefs became the only team remaining in the NFL to still be undefeated.

This week, their opponent was the 3-4 Cleveland Browns who were now starting Jason Campbell at the quarterback position given the issues and injuries they have had at that very position all year long.

Most analysts did pick the Chiefs, but those same analysts probably did not expect the Browns to give the Chiefs a game like they were able to on Sunday afternoon.

After two Ryan Succop field goals in the first quarter, the Chiefs extended their lead to 13-0 in the second quarter thanks to an Anthony Sherman twelve yard touchdown reception from Alex Smith. Josh Gordon caught a touchdown pass of his own for the Browns from Jason Campbell to make it 13-7 only to see Kansas City answer one more time as it became 20-7 as Smith connected for 28 yards with Dexter McCluster. It was 20-10 at the half as the Browns were able to get a Billy Cundiff field goal late in the first half.

After a Foswhitt Whittaker TD reception from Campbell to bring Cleveland to within three, there had to be some nervous moments at Arrowhead amongst the Chiefs fans that did not want to see their team lose their undefeated clip.

Those same fans remembered that one of the key elements to the Chiefs’ perfect season thus far has been their dominant defense in addition to great quarterbacking by Alex Smith and a huge job in coaching by Andy Reid. That defense took over in the second half as it held the Browns offense to nothing from that last touchdown scored in the third quarter.

Cleveland’s defense was not too bad either—particularly, its defensive line that got to Smith repeatedly and sacked him 6 times throughout the course of the game.

One more Ryan Succop field goal in the fourth quarter extended KC’s advantage to 23-17—their eventual margin of victory en route to their eighth victory of the year.

After a dismal two victories in the 2012-2013 season, the Chiefs are already in a position where they have at least clinched a non-losing season. Once again, Andy Reid pads his case as to why he should be Coach of the Year. The Realist has already given him that award.

Alex Smith was 24/36 for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to the six sacks. Jamaal Charles carried the ball 18 times for 74 yards while McCluster received 7 passes for 67 yards and 1 touchdown.

In a losing effort for the Browns, Campbell was 22/36 for 293 yards, 2 touchdowns and was sacked only once. Gordon had a huge outing with 5 receptions for 132 yards and one touchdown.

Kansas City has a chance to clinch a winning season with a win on the road next week at the Buffalo Bills. The last time the Chiefs were 9-0 was 2003 when Trent Green and Priest Holmes were on their team. As for the Browns, they return home as their division rival Baltimore Ravens (aka the original Cleveland Browns) await.

Obstructed by…Brady?

Oct 27, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins safety Chris Clemons (30) and linebacker Jonathan Freeny (56) force New England Patriots kick returner Julian Edelman (11) out of bounds on a put return during the third quarter at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 27-17. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

In the Boston and New England areas, the eyes and ears of much of its sporting populace is focused on the Red Sox as they hope to win their third World Series in the past decade. The Sox’ hopes took a hit in Game 3 of the World Series thanks to a controversial obstruction call that put the St. Louis Cardinals ahead 2 games to 1. The Series has since been tied at two games a piece.

Meanwhile, it has been an unusual season on the football side of things in New England. Yes, the Patriots are still 5-2 and will likely reach the playoffs again by virtue of them being in a weak division, but it has not felt like the kind of season that makes fans confident that the team can get to another Super Bowl. This is especially true with teams like Denver and Kansas City waiting in the wings.

New England is coming off a jarring loss on the road to the New York Jets in the Meadowlands, 30-27. Miami, themselves is also coming off a 23-21 defeat in Week 7 to the Buffalo Bills.

Early on against the Fins, despite this game being in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, it looked as if the Pats’ struggles would continue. Two touchdown passes from Ryan Tannehill to Brandon Gibson and Daniel Thomas made the score 14-0 Miami midway through the second quarter. Stephen Gostkowski finally gave the Pats their first points of the game with a 34 yard field goal. It was 14-3, but not before the Dolphins answered with a 52-yarder from Caleb Sturgis. It was 17-3 Miami at halftime and the Patriots were noticeably struggling.

But as we know in football, sometimes it is not how you start, but how you finish. The Realist wonders what kind of halftime speech was given in the Patriots’ locker room at halftime, because this game was all New England coming out of halftime. Aaron Dobson caught Tom Brady’s sole touchdown pass of the game to put the Patriots within seven at 17-10. Later, Brandon Bolden tied the game at 17-17 with a two yard TD run of his own.

Gostkowski’s second field goal of the game finally put the Patriots in front 20-17. A three yard run from Stevan Ridley extended New England’s advantage to 27-17. At this point, all of the momentum was on the Patriots’ side and any hopes of a late Miami comeback were dashed. The Patriots did win 27-17, but it was not their flashiest of victories.

Of course, anytime the Patriots play, a story will be the performance of Brady. By his standards, he had an off game with only 13/22 for 116 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Those are numbers someone in their first start in the league normally has, not someone with three rings. Ridley ran for 79 yards on 14 carries while Aaron Dobson caught 4 passes for 60 yards.

As for Tannehill, he was 22/42 for 192 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Lamar Miller—18 carries for 89 yards while Mike Wallace caught 3 passes for 41 yards.

New England stays home in Week 9 for the 2-5 Pittsburgh Steelers while the Dolphins travel back home to play the Cincinnati Bengals on NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football. Oh, by the way, Thursday night is also Halloween night.

One wonders what The Realist’s costume will be this year…

It Was Fun While It Lasted…

Oct 27, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) celebrates his touchdown with Denver Broncos guard Zane Beadles (68) in the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Going trick or treating this Halloween as Peyton Manning or any of the Denver Broncos will probably be a common sight to see throughout the state of Colorado this year. Despite losing on the road to the Indianapolis Colts last week, the Broncos are still contenders as they’re only one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.

In Week 7, the Broncos lost, but the Redskins won 45-41 at home over the Chicago Bears. It was, of course, a huge win for Washington because NFC East teams like the Skins need all the wins they can get. All four of its teams are either average or bad and it is likely that, unless one of those teams gets hot (which is unlikely) that seven to nine wins will be what it takes to win the NFC East this year.

Early on, it looked as if the Broncos would indeed regroup at home. It was 7-0 on a Wes Welker touchdown reception from Manning. Broncos 7-0.

Then came the Redskins’ high point in the game. Leonard Hankerson caught a seven yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III to tie the game at 7 as the first half concluded. That momentum for the Skins carried over into the beginning of the second half as an Alfred Morris TD run made it 14-7 Washington. Then, in a rare occurrence, Manning threw a Pick 6 to DeAngelo Hall who went 26 yards the other way to increase the Washington advantage to 21-7 midway through the third quarter.

But, as we know in the past, when playing a Peyton Manning quarterbacked team, it is not over until the end of the fourth quarter when there were “double zeros” on the clock. That was still a long time away.

From that point, it was all Denver Broncos. A Montee Ball 4 yard touchdown run got Denver’s comeback started as it became 21-14 Redskins.

In the fourth, the comeback for the Broncos turned into a rout of the Redskins. Manning threw touchdown passes to Joel Dressen (1 yard) and Knowshon Moreno (35 yards) to give the Broncos a 28-21 lead. Matt Prater’s field goal midway through the fourth extended Denver’s lead to 31-21. DeMaryius Thomas also caught a touchdown pass of his own to further increase the Bronco lead to 38-21. An interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for 75 yards and a Pick 6 towards the end of the fourth quarter basically ended it. It was 45-21 and the Broncos would win by the same tally.

Moral of the story is simply this: When you have the Broncos down on the canvas, don’t allow them to get up off of it and start landing punches. That’s what the Redskins did and it cost them dearly. Even though, again, given the division, it doesn’t hurt them too badly.

Manning was 30/44 for 354 yards, 4 touchdown passes, and 3 interceptions. Knowshon Moreno (6 receptions, 89 yards), Wes Welker (6 receptions, 81 yards), and DeMaryius Thomas (7 receptions, 75 yards) each caught one TD pass.

What did not help the Redskins’ cause on Sunday was the fact that RGIII had to come out of the game late with a knee injury and was subbed by Kirk Cousins. When he came out, he was 15/30 with 132 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Alfred Morris ran for 93 yards on 17 carries while Jordan Reed caught 8 passes for 90 yards.

While the Broncos will have their bye week in Week 9, the Redskins go back home to FedEx Field in Landover to meet the San Diego Chargers.

Injuries? What Injuries?

Oct 27, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) rushes for a 25 yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

On and off-field drama has been the story of the Minnesota Vikings 2013-2014 campaign. From the off-field turmoil involving Adrian Peterson, to questions about who should be the Vikes’ starting quarterback, it has not been a banner year in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Now, there are mounting question about head coach Leslie Frazier’s job security, and perhaps that of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave as well.

Losing in the fashion the Purple People-Eaters lost on Monday Night Football to the previously winless New York Giants will not do favors for anyone’s job security. Josh Freeman was named the starter for that game and he looked as if it was the first time he had stepped onto a football field in his life. He threw the ball 53 times in that game and Adrian Peterson only received a limited amount of carries. Minnesota lost in meek fashion 23-7 to New York.

The Packers have been dealing with injuries as of late. Heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup against their divisional rival Vikings at Mall of America Field, they were without Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Clay Matthews among others. It was expected that Jordy Nelson would be the primary target for Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night.

Minnesota did get this one started with a huge play on special teams. They had an early 7-0 lead with a 109 yard kickoff return from Cordarrelle Patterson. Midway through the first quarter, it became 7-7 on a Nelson touchdown reception from Rodgers.

In the second, the two teams later traded field goals from Mason Crosby and Blair Walsh to tie the game again at 10-10. Nelson’s second touchdown reception of the game went for 76 yards to give Green Bay a 17-10 lead. In the same quarter after a Vikings punt, Micah Hyde went 93 yards for a touchdown to increase Green Bay’s lead to 24-10. In the half’s closing moments, Peterson put the Vikings within 7 at 24-17 as the first half concluded.

It was 31-17 Pack after the third quarter on an Eddie Lacy 1 yard TD run.

After a James Starks 25 yard touchdown run and another Mason Crosby field goal, the Packers had a commanding 41-17 lead with just over six minutes left to play in the game. It was academic at that point, but don’t tell the Vikings that. They still fought despite the nearly insurmountable odds. They were still able to get scores from Toby Gerhart (13 yard TD run) and even Christian Ponder (19 yard TD run) before the game ended. Prior to Ponder’s score, Crosby notched his third field goal of the game. Green Bay won 44-31 to increase their record to 5-2 on the year.

For the Packers, Rodgers was 24/29 for 285 yards and 2 touchdowns. Lacy carried the ball 29 times for 94 yards while Nelson caught two touchdowns for seven receptions and 123 yards. On the Minnesota Vikings’ side of things, Ponder was 14 for 21 for 145 yards, zero touchdowns or interceptions, and was sacked three times (twice by Mike Daniels). Peterson’s line for this game was 13 carries for 60 yards and one touchdown. Kyle Rudolph caught 4 passes for 51 yards.

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings head on the road to North Texas to face the Cowboys in Week 9 while the Packers will be on Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field against their division rival Chicago Bears, who themselves will be coming off their bye week.

Other Games

Panthers defeat Buccaneers 31-13 (Thursday Night Football)

Saints defeat Bills 35-17

Giants defeat Eagles 15-7

49ers defeat Jaguars (in London) 42-10

Bengals defeat Jets 49-9

Raiders defeat Steelers 21-18

Cardinals defeat Falcons 27-13

Seahawks vs. Rams (8:30 Monday Night Football)