Oddest coaching decision: Look Buffalo, we get it. You’re happily enjoying your delusions of grandeur while living in a world filled with candy canes, junior mints, Jiffy Pop, and a 3-0 start. And that’s fine, but those delusions shouldn’t spread to the sidelines and coaching staff, a place where the massive talent gap between the Bills and Patriots should have been acknowledged, and every conceivable measure should have been taken to bridge that gap. This is why Chan Gailey’s decision to defer after winning the opening coin toss made little sense.
What may have seemed like a small, minuscule decision gave New England the opportunity to seize momentum immediately on the road, and giving Tom Brady any opportunities is a little baffling. Brady capitalized on that opportunity, throwing a touchdown on New England’s opening drive, and putting Buffalo down three touchdowns by just the six-minute mark of the first quarter. Of course in the end all of this meant nothing, the jubilation in Buffalo continued, and I’ll be branded as the whiny voice who seeks pleasure in dwelling on asinine minutiae (the second part of that is entirely correct).
But after trailing Oakland 21-3 last week at one point and being involved in eight games last year decided by a touchdown or less, Gailey should have wanted a strong and immediate offensive start to energize the home crowd with the same momentum that Brady rode.
Best crotch shot: The Lions quick-snapped to take advantage of the Vikings being offside. The Stafford family jewels didn’t appreciate this attempt at fundamental football strategy…
Worst seven minutes in the history of quarterback starting debuts: We base that on absolutely nothing, and there’s likely other green arms that have equaled or bettered Blaine Gabbert’s clustastrophe during the first quarter of his first start. It took 12 minutes for Gabbert to register an official pass attempt after an earlier attempt was nullified due to a penalty, and during that time he was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
Like most live boxscores, the game tracker on NFL.com doesn’t display anything for a player until they’ve had some kind of game activity. So it didn’t display a quarterback for Jacksonville until the 3:41 mark of the first quarter…
Most random score: Shortly after Gabbert’s safety Olindo Mare kicked a 35-yard field goal to put the Panthers up 5-0. Somewhere there’s a man who was screaming with delight in Vegas after cashing in on a prop bet for a 5-0 score at any point in a Week 3 game. That man needs help.
Most surprising boxscore number: Gabbert’s brief boxscore absence is still worse, but we saw a rather odd number in Tom Brady’s interception column, a place where we rarely see any number at all. Brady threw four interceptions today, the same number of picks that he threw all of last season, and the first time he’s had a number that crooked in the INT category since a Nov. 5 loss to the Colts in 2006. It was only the 11th time in Brady’s career that he’s thrown more than two interceptions in a game, a pace of roughly once every 13 games.
Oddly though, New England’s last-second loss to Buffalo was also the fifth time Brady has thrown four interceptions in a game, and the second time he’s done it against the Bills, with the first coming during an opening day embarrassment in 2003 that saw the Patriots lose 31-0.
Most disappointing fantasy line: Maybe Hakeem Nicks is still feeling the lingering effects of a hyperextended knee that made him a game-time decision last Monday night, or maybe it was simply the brilliance of young Victor Cruz and his continued emergence with 110 yards and two touchdowns today that made Eli Manning’s crosshairs drift elsewhere. But Nicks had just 25 receiving yards, which means he accounted for less than 10 percent of Manning’s 254 passing yards.
Best weakness exploitation: There are studs in the front and back of the Eagles defense, but the middle is a glaring, disorganized mess, and remains a unit that through three weeks is still adjusting to life without Stewart Bradley. Everyone knows this, and that includes New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who featured a handful of short passing routes out of the backfield to place stress on a linebacking corps that’s incredibly weak in coverage.
The result was Brandon Jacobs somehow rumbling for a 40-yard touchdown reception on a play in which Casey Matthews seemed to simply forget he had an assignment on the play. Jacobs is less than a mediocre receiving threat out of the backfield, so giving up a major pass to his stone hands is a pretty strong statement about a major weak area in Philly. Prior to today Jacobs had only 619 career receiving yards over five seasons and two games, and in 2010 he had only 59 receiving yards, a paltry total he nearly equaled today.
Worst television viewing conditions: Screw the playing conditions in Carolina. I could barely see the game during the spontaneous and ridiculous torrential downpour, and that’s all that matters.
Best pictures: Forgive me for being poetic and hopelessly romantic here, but football in the elements looks pretty damn cool, and Getty Images photographer Streeter Lecka captured the slopfest in Carolina beautifully…
The fan experience provided some good pictures too, although it’s too bad the weather made for a terrible fan experience. A sparse crowd stuck around to watch a football game played in a lake, and you’d swear this is a shot of the crowd at MarineLand…