Referee Ed Hochuli: The man who made the tuck rule famous flagged the Panthers' Julius Peppers for a roughing-the-passer penalty that negated Carolina's pick-six in the first quarter against Atlanta. What's more, Muscles claimed that Peppers delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Replays, however, showed not only that Peppers made contact as Ryan released the ball, but that he hit him first with his shoulder after which their helmets collided. Weird. I didn't think steroids affected eyesight.
This gaffe, of course, comes on the heels of the blown call that helped Denver notch a 39-38 comeback win over San Diego. I guess that mean's more "low grades" for Hochuli. Isn't it interesting, though, that so much dust is getting kicked up over two officiating mistakes? NFL officials blow or miss calls with alarming regularity, but when Hochuli does it, everybody freaks out. That's what happens when you overachieve: Your mistakes seem correspondingly huge. Which is sort of a sad commentary on our society...much like the extendable fork.
Mike Martz: San Francisco pinata quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan got sacked six times, intercepted twice and lost a fumble. And while it might be tempting to blame O'Sullivan or even the 49ers offensive line, those numbers simply represent a typical day at the office for a Mike Martz QB (for details, see the collected works of Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger and John Kitna). By the way O'Sullivan has now been sacked 19 times in four games. Quick quiz: At some point this season, O'Sullivan will be carried off the field a) on a stretcher, b) in a wheelchair, c) in a bucket, d) in a casket, e) none of the above; he'll be buried at midfield during a stirring halftime ceremony.
Drew Brees: Brees -- the league leader in passing yards (1343), yards per game (335.8), and completion percentage (72.3) -- was again magnificent, throwing for 363 yards (23-for-35) and 3 touchdowns. But it's damn near impossible to figure out whom he's targeting from week to week. I mean, 101 yards for Lance Moore? Another 99 yards for Robert Meachum? And the would-be number one guy, David Patten, caught only one pass for 21 yards. Come on, Drew. Pick a primary receiver and stick with him. Fantasy teams all over the country may depend on it.
Kurt Warner: It seems almost unthinkable for a quarterback to throw for 472 yards (on 40 completions!) and 2 touchdowns and yet still end up in Worst of the Weekend. Unless, of course, that QB is Kurt "The Human Turnover" Warner. The Christian Kid undid all his accomplishments by getting sacked 5 times, tossing three picks, and losing three fumbles. That's like discovering a cure for your wife's cancer but then blindfolding her and sending her down a flight of stairs covered in banana peels.
But I should thank Kurt for helping prove me right. On Friday, I said: "If [the Cardinals and Jets] don't combine for 60-70 points and half a dozen turnovers, I'll be very sad." Well, they combined for 91 points and 8 turnovers. So in a way, the teams both exceeded and failed to live up to my expectations (if that makes any sense). And most of that is due to Kurt Warner. God bless you, sir.
New York's lack of class: Leading the hapless Cardinals 48-35, Brett Favre threw a touchdown pass -- his sixth of the game, a personal best -- with 1:54 left on the clock. Then they rubbed a little salt into the wound by for a two-point conversion. That's some bad juju right there. Remember what happened to the last team that challenged the Football Gods by running up scores? They suffered the greatest upset in Super Bowl history and then lost their QB to a catastrophic knee injury during the first quarter of the first game of the very next season. I'm just sayin'.
Even worse was how Jets safety Eric Smith almost killed Anquan Boldin with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Mind you, this happened with 34 seconds to go and the Jets holding an insurmountable lead. That's so not cool. But then again, I'm probably be inspired to play dirty if my team had forced me to wear this:
Aaron Rodgers: The man for whom Brett Favre -- who, in case you missed it, threw for 6 TDs yesterday -- was run out of town was sacked three times and threw three picks, the last of which ended up being the game-clincher. Oh, and he got his shoulder separated, so chances are he'll be out for a while. And this seems as good a time as any to mention that Favre holds NFL record with 257 consecutive starts...and counting. The lesson: Never, ever, ever ditch a legend who can still play.
Ryan Grant: Green Bay's problems weren't limited to their quarterback. Grant, who demanded that the Packers show him the money in the offseason, had 20 yards on 15 carries for a Cedric Benson-like 1.3 yards per carry. He also fumbled once as a reciever and once as a rusher, witht he rushing fumble getting run back for a Tampa Bay TD. I will now continue the Ced Benson analogy by presenting Grant's current stats for the season: 55 carries, 186 yards (3.4 yards per carry), zero touchdowns and two lost fumbles. Raise your hand if you took Grant in the first round of your fantasy league draft. Now go give yourself an atomic wedgie. You totally deserve it.
Brad Childress: During the second quarter of the Vikings-Titans game, Childress used a timeout to figure out whether to challenge the spot of a catch by Tennesse's Justin Gage (Gage appeared to lose the ball right before the whistle). Then, after talking it over with coaches, he threw the challenge flag. Bad news: The spot of the catch was upheld, and Childress lost a second timeout. Why waste a timeout when, in a worst-case scenario, you'll just lose a timeout anyway? How does that make sense? But keep in mind that this is the same guy who had to choose between starting Tavaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte at quarterback. Stands to reason that his brain's a little fried.
Trent Green: Let's see: 236 yards on 17-for-32 passing, two sacks, zero touchdowns, and an interception that was run back by Buffalo for the go-ahead touchdown. Yep, that was exactly what the Rams needed to turn things around. Sorry if I slopped some of that sarcasm on you. Things tend to get messy when discussing the Rams. On the bright side, yesterday was the first time this season that the Rams finished within 24 points of their opponent. So that's something.
Dallas Cowboys: It seems like only last week that the Cowboy's Tank Johnson was already looking ahead to the playoffs. Oh yeah, it was last week. Unfortunately for Dallas, the NFL still requires its teams to complete the regular season and win all their postseason games before receiving the Lombardi Trophy, no matter how good they looked over the first three games. Remember what happened to the Emperor after he prematurely celebrated his victory over the Rebels in Return of the Jedi? Allow me to remind you:
Terrell Owens: Wanna know why the Cowyboys lost the game? It certainly wasn't hubris of the fact that their defense got chewed up by Clinton Portis (121 yards on 21 rushes) and Jason Campbell (231 yards and 2 TDs). It was because Terrell Owens didn't touch the ball enough. No, really. Just ask Terrell Owens. "Everybody recognized that I wasn't really getting the ball in the first half. I'm pretty sure everybody watching the game recognized it, people in the stands recognized it, I think my team recognized it. I didn't quit. I kept fighting and trying to running my routes and trying to get open."
For the record, the Cowboys ran 58 offensive plays. Romo threw it to Owens 18 times and handed it off to him twice on end-arounds. But when somebody pointed that out to him and asked whether being almost 40 percent of the offense was enough, Owens replied: "I would say no. I'm a competitor, and I want the ball." He later threw a tantrum during Tony Romo's press conference, noting that the press wasn't asking him enough questions.
Second-half Kyle Orton: Orton was fantastic in the first half of the Eagles-Bears game, throwing for three TDs...which has to be an all-time record for a Chicago QB. But somebody -- I'm guessing it was Rex Grossman -- must have hit Orton's self-destruct button during halftime, because Krazy Kyle came out after the intermission and threw for only 25 yards, tossed a sloppy interception and coughed up the ball twice on fumbles. Fortunately for Orton and the Bears, Donovan McNabb wasn't much better (3 sacks, 1 interception) and the Eagles running game was a victim of evolution...which is probably why they couldn't convert second-and-goal, third-and-goal and fourth-and-goal -- all from the Bears' one-yard line -- with just over three minutes remaining. Hey, if your offense can't gain a yard in three tries with the game on the line, you don't deserve to win. A wag of the finger, mabye, but not a win.