First off, thanks to the Jets and Steelers. If it weren't for all their mistakes, we probably would have had four blowouts to watch this weekend. At least they kept it close with their interceptions, punt returns, fumbles and miscues.
As far as everyone else -- it's Tennessee all over again for Peyton. The Rams apparently sent their practice squad to Atlanta. And let's not forget about the Vikings, who clearly were content to end the season saying, "Hey, we beat the Packers at Lambeau!"
Everyone was all-in at the NFL poker table, and only four walked away with their chips.
True, the weekend wasn't that simple, and that's where Snap Judgment comes in. You want to know what's in Peyton's head and how much rust the Falcons and Eagles had? You've come to the right place.
|AUDIBLES FROM OUR QBS|
|Describe Chad Pennington's FUTURE in three words or less:||Poor man's Brady||Still extremely bright||Gotta wear shades||Front page news||Will tease, disappoint|
|Describe Marc Bulger's FUTURE in three words or less:||Ouch! Touchdown! Ouch ...||Bright as Martz's||One-time MVP||Who's Marc Bulger?||Wins if protected|
|Describe Peyton Manning's PRESENT in three words or less:||Another long summer.||Extremely wealthy man.||Watching game film.||Scratching his head.||Can't beat Belichick|
|Describe Daunte Culpepper's PAST in three words or less:||Mike Tice era||Young, unknown commodity.||Life with Randy||Next big thing. (That's his future, too, by the way.)||Stuck in asylum|
|Vick or McNabb?||Vick||McNabb||McNabb now, Vick next year||McNabb||McNabb, as a quarterback|
|Brady or Roethlisberger?||Brady||Brady||Brady. For now.||Is this a trick question?||Seriously? No. 12|
|Which of the four remaining quarterbacks do you most want with the ball in overtime?||Brady||McNabb||Brady||The two-time SB MVP||Easy. Brady|
First down: "I just tip my hat to them and call the Patriots my daddy." No, Peyton Manning didn't really say that. We're putting Pedro's words in Peyton's mouth. But the point remains: The Pats are in his head. If not this year, then when? What has to change before Manning beats New England in Foxboro?
Alan Grant: I don't think Manning hears voices at Foxboro. I think he sees people. Live people. Live people who viciously jam his receivers, who always make their drops in zone coverage, and who consistently deny the option of a deep ball.
What has to change?
On the technical side, they gotta adjust. Sure, Marvin Harrison is the best all-around wideout in the game. But he always ends up in the same place. Whether it be via motion, or running drag routes across the field, he always ends up on the right side of the field. Sure, he's hard to cover most of the time, but he's always easy to find.
On the fiscal side of things the Colts must free up some budget room and get another defensive tackle, another end opposite Freeney, and perhaps a rush linebacker. As good as he is, perhaps Edgerrin James might be the most expendable member of the offense. That extra loot buys you added defensive stoppers. And defensive stoppers buy you time -- time eaten up by long, exhausting, eight- and nine-minute drives in playoff games.
Eric Neel: They might be in his head, but they are most definitely up in his grill, and all over Edgerrin's, too. This isn't a mental thing, it's a physical thing. Peyton and his boys got pushed around and shut down. Simple. And on both sides of the ball, too. That fourth-quarter Patriots drive to go up 17 was a will-crushing, man-handling smackdown. Pure and simple. What has to change? Well, for starters, the same thing we were saying at the start of the season: The Colts need a better defense, beginning with some Bruschi-like backer and a corner who can shutdown the way the Pats' out-of-position wideout can.
Jeff Merron: Well, if the pace of global warming accelerates, it would probably help Manning play outdoors in January ... But I'm hoping that even the most committed Colts fans wouldn't wish for that. Indy looked like a bunch of guys who had just flown in from Cancun and forgot to bring along winter coats. Short answer: Indy has to build a team for the playoffs, much like the Red Sox did this fall. Build around the assumption that they'll be there in the second season. Get some snow machines going during November and December practices.
But really, the best hope for this incarnation of the Colts is to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Patrick Hruby: Simple: Manning needs to lure New England into a cash game. He's playing football. The Patriots are playing him. Barring that, it's pretty clear that Colts need to have DARPA construct some of portable sun machine, or else remake themselves into a much more physical, defense-first outfit. Since that probably won't happen -- thanks in no small part to Manning chewing up approximately 87.4 percent of Indy's salary cap -- there's always plan C: wait for the Pats to get old, or for Belichick to retire from burnout. Both are bound to happen sooner or later.
Aaron Schatz: He needs to play for a better team, perhaps? Despite the desire of everyone to turn Patriots vs. Colts into Brady vs. Manning, it is actually the battle of 45 guys against 45 guys, and New England's team is much better. Manning certainly did look out of his element yesterday, but so did his receivers, and while Manning got them the passes despite looking uncomfortable, the receivers couldn't hold onto the ball. You can't blame Manning when Dominic Rhodes and Reggie Wayne get stripped and lose the football. And was Dallas Clark auditioning for a spot on the Seattle Seahawks?
And what the heck happened to Edgerrin James and the offensive line when it came to running the ball? You know the QB ratings that appear on Snap Judgment each week? Well, I can do them for running backs also. The real difference in this game was that Corey Dillon was worth 5.7 points more than a replacement runner, the best of any RB this week, Kevin Faulk was worth 1.1 points more than a replacement runner, and Edgerrin James was worth 1.2 points WORSE than a replacement runner. Only five runs above three yards, and not a single first down. In the snow, you are supposed to run the ball. The Colts need to let Edgerrin head back down to Florida or something, and use that cap money to buy themselves some linebackers.
Skip Bayless: Manning obviously would benefit from a bigger, tougher front seven on the Colts' defense and at least one bigger, tougher target -- maybe a security blanket of a tight end who can't be jammed at the line, an Antonio Gates or Tony Gonzalez. His receivers were consistently knocked off their routes with legal shots within five yards, which often disrupted timing and took away downfield throws.
But against a defense like Belichick's, Manning is going to have to improve his weaknesses, which were exposed. He's not comfortable buying time with so much as one step left or right and finding a second or third receiver. And he's still too much of a frontrunner. When finally frustrated and rattled, he quickly loses faith in his teammates and openly displays it with his bad body language. He winces, turns his palms up, hangs his head. Instead of willing his team through Sunday's adversity, he appeared defeated when the Patriots forged ahead 13-3 late in the third quarter.
Second down: "It wasn't me out there." The speaker is the guy who wears No. 7 for the Steelers after a 17-for-30 performance for 181 yards on Saturday. So if it wasn't Ben Roethlisberger, then who threw those two almost-fatal interceptions against the Jets, including that silly pick near the end of regulation? And what does the guy who'll be wearing the No. 7 jersey against New England need to do next week to earn back the right to be Big Ben?
Alan Grant: Oh, that was Ben alright. It's just the scenery changed on him is all. I'm not sure that he needs to do anything other than what he's done all season. The few bad throws he made against the Jets weren't made under duress. That ball that sailed over Burress' head looked like one that just got away from him. The Steelers' offense is virtually identical to the one in New England. It's not sexy, it's just rough-and-tumble underneath stuff. And his receivers -- most notably Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, both known for a roughneck style, are a much better match against the underneath bullies than were the diminutive Colts. Big Ben is still Big Ben. But the defenses, and the looks they give him, are growing. Next week -- the mixture of schemes (blitzes, zones, dogs, fronts) will be the biggest yet.
Eric Neel: He's earned the right already. After the season he just put in the books, we don't take the nickname away from him after one week. Or two weeks, either ... because with what Belichick's boys have in store for him, he's going to wish that isn't him out there.
Skip Bayless: What happened to Roethlisberger was predictable. He had three weeks to let it sink in that, good gosh, he's a rookie who has won 12 in a row and who now has the No.-1 selling jersey in America. The pressure sank in -- as well as the mistaken belief that, good gosh, he had better live up to his new stature. The best thing Roethlisberger had done all season was what he hadn't done -- he hadn't tried to be John Elway. He had let the game come to him and taken full advantage of his sledge-hammer running game and one of the NFL's best receiving trios.
But all of a sudden against the Jets, he tried to be a star. He also tried to wear gloves in the cold, which appeared to make passes leave his hand inconsistently. Result: Two inexplicably bad throws at key moments -- one far too short, one far too far. Who was that guy? He was a rookie trying to be so much more. This week he needs to sit himself down and remind himself he's at the wheel of a very good team playing at home. Just don't run it off the road.
Jeff Merron: The speaker was Veteran Ben, the guy who threw the INTs was Rookie Ben, who's only come out to play a few times this season.
The Pats are going to try to confuse the heck out of Roethlisberger next weekend, and No. 7 has to do what he's done best all year: not get flustrated. Hand it off, hand it off, hand it off. The Steelers can wear the Pats down with the Bus and Duce. And Ben can do what Peyton couldn't: pass on the move, or tuck and run. Those are mini instant options that Manning just didn't have available to him.
The other thing Roethlisberger has to do is get back his touch. He appeared to be simply unable to control a few of his passes on Saturday. But it's important to remember that he was up against the Jets defense, and, with plenty of help of course, was able to pull out the win. And he did it by not getting rattled, by not compounding mistakes. It's a cliché, but it's true in Ben's case: he's able to focus and play one set of downs at a time. That's what makes him Big Ben, more than anything else.
Patrick Hruby: For a moment, I thought Aaron Brooks had suited up for the Steelers. Then I realized that none of Roethlisberger's passes were thrown backward. Still, the much-praised rookie looked, well, just like a rookie against the Jets, needing a Scott Norwood-like kicking meltdown on the part of New York to back into his first playoff win. Roethlisberger's self-assessment following the game was honest and accurate: he'll need to play much better. Even if the Steelers can't force the Patriots into a slew of uncharacteristic turnovers -- as they did in their previous victory this season -- they can limit Corey Dillon and pound the ball for hard, clock-chewing yards, a formula that gives them a good chance to win at home. By contrast, Pittsburgh has to avoid handing New England an early lead or any free points via Roethlisberger interceptions. If that comes to pass (no pun intended), the Steelers will be forced to play from behind and against type -- an unappealing prospect for a rookie quarterback facing a Belichick defense in January.
Aaron Schatz: They made this really bad horror movie a couple years ago called "Idle Hands" about a guy whose hands were possessed by the devil, even though the rest of him was not. I think Big Ben should star in the sequel, "Idle Thumbs." There was clearly something wrong with him physically, not just the yips, and that's the thing that has to get fixed by next week. If he can't throw the ball accurately, the Pats simply load up and stop the running game.
Third down: "I guess we weren't too rusty." Donovan McNabb said that. McNabb wasn't too dirty, either, after Philly's win against the Vikings, who only sacked him once. But what happens to him next week against the Falcons, who led the league in sacks with 48 during the regular season and got to Marc Bulger four times in Saturday's divisional playoff game? Isn't "disruption of rhythm" as operative a phrase in this matchup as it was in the New England-Indianapolis game?
Skip Bayless: After the Eagles lost last year's NFC title game, an NFL coach said to me: "You know, you have to wonder about McNabb when he couldn't figure out a way to win one championship game in three straight tries."
Yes, you had to wonder. And no, McNabb doesn't have Terrell Owens. But he does have a weapon that can be even more valuable than T.O. because he's so run/catch versatile -- Brian Westbrook, who missed last year's playoffs. Still, with Rod Coleman and Patrick Kerney knifing in and applying more pressure than McNabb has felt all season, it's high time he lives up to his early "Michael Jordan" hype and makes two or three plays with his legs.
Not Michael Vick plays. Not break-away-for-40-yards plays. Escape-the-rush-and-throw-deep plays. Legs-and-arm plays. He's capable. It's time.
Alan Grant: It's unfair to compare Marc Bulger to Donovan McNabb on any issue pertaining to quarterbacks. And if the discussion is rhythm, well ... since drafting him, the Eagles have designed plays to get McNabb out of a stationary position. They do this because he's every bit as good rolling out as he is standing still and chunking it down the pike. While the Falcons' front four is a formidable bunch, if they hope to "disrupt" anything, they'll have to do more than make him run. They'll have to actually put him on the turf.
Eric Neel: Marc Bulger is to Donovan McNabb as Herman Munster is to Fred Astair. The rhythm I'd be watching for is the one Donovan sets with his own feet. To disrupt him, that front four's going to have to catch him. He's going to be rolling and knifing and cutting and jabbing, and Westbrook and Mitchell are going to be right in time with him.
Jeff Merron: McNabb's no Mark Bulger, so the disruption caused by a tough pass rush isn't going to be quite so ... disrupting. The man can still move, even though he hasn't had to as much this season. And when he moves, he can pick up some yards. He's not going to go 30 or 40 or 50 when he's flushed out of the pocket, but if he can get some first downs on the ground, the Eagles are going to be OK. McNabb's also got the great look, as does Freddie Mitchell, who overcame the postgame bow tie with a classy hat and deadpan humor.
Patrick Hruby: The difference between Donovan McNabb and Marc Bulger is the difference between Greg Ostertag and Amare Stoudamire: One moves; the other, well, probably tries, though it would take an electron microscope to pick up on it. The Falcons won't be able to indiscriminately tee off on McNabb, not when the Philly quarterback can dodge, shake off and otherwise escape a rush -- and then make a defense pay with either his arm or legs. Besides, the Eagles run a lot of West Coast stuff, which in theory means McNabb will be getting rid of the ball on short patterns before defenders can nail him in the backfield. The Falcons surely will bring the heat, but it had better be disciplined heat -- attempted kill shots could make them look foolish.
That said, if Atlanta jumps out to a large early lead and forces Philly into a pass-often, pass-deep style -- basically, how the Rams like to play all the time -- McNabb better lace his cleats extra tight.
Aaron Schatz: There's this myth that "mobile quarterbacks" don't get sacked as often as pocket quarterbacks, but in general it isn't true, a lot of mobile quarterbacks get sacked plenty. When they are scrambling, trying to make something of a play, sometimes that means they'll get positive yardage on a scramble or find an open man late, but sometimes that means they'll get taken down instead of throwing it away. McNabb got sacked 31 times in 14 games, which is not anywhere near Bulger but is about league-average. But there's more to disrupting rhythm than just a pass rush, and for some reason, I'm guessing the weather will be disrupting McNabb's rhythm a lot less than it disrupted Manning's rhythm. What makes the line matchup interesting is that the stronger part of the Philadelphia line right now is the left side, with Tra Thomas and a guy who is going to be making the Pro Bowl very soon, Artis Hicks, but the best sack artists in Atlanta, Kerney and Coleman, generally line up on the other side.
Many of you will look at these ratings, see Peyton Manning listed ahead of Tom Brady, and wonder what on earth I could be thinking. But take a closer look at the game and you'll see Manning really wasn't any worse than Brady. They were roughly the same, and Manning comes out as having more value because he threw more passes and did it against a better defense (remember, the ratings are adjusted for strength of opponent).
On first down, Manning was 10 of 16 with seven passes over 10 yards to get a new set of downs. Brady was 4 of 8 with only one pass over 10 yards.
On second down, Manning was 9 of 14 with four first downs, and a fifth pass that would have been a first down if Reggie Wayne could hold onto the ball. Brady was 7 of 10 with only three passes for a first down.
On third down, both quarterbacks converted half their opportunities. Manning was 8 of 12, though two completions didn't get first-down yardage. Brady was 7 of 9 with a sack, and two of the completions didn't get first-down yardage.
Manning's problem Sunday was calling passes, not throwing passes.
Remember that unlike Brady, Manning calls his own plays. So why did
he only twice throw the Colts' bread-and-butter, the 15-20 yard hook out to
Harrison or Wayne? How do you end up with a Manning game with
no passes over 20 yards? Why all the screens and dumps over the
middle instead of challenging the Patriots' secondary? If anything,
what we learned yesterday is not that Tom Brady is a better
quarterback than Peyton Manning, but that Charlie Weis is a better
offensive coordinator than Peyton Manning.
|SNAP JUDGMENT'S QB RANKINGS FOR DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS|
|1. Donovan McNabb
21/33, 286 yards
2 TDs, 0 INT
|Freddie Mitchell clearly takes over for T.O. as the main receiving option.||9.5|
|2. Peyton Manning
27/42, 238 yards
0 TDs, 1 INT
|The one thing that was working seemed to be the screen pass, as he had four passes of 10 yards or more to Edgerrin James.||6.3|
|3. Michael Vick
12/16, 82 yards
2 TDs, 0 INT
|Seriously, when is the last time anyone won a playoff game -- or scored 47 points -- with less than 100 yards passing?||5.5|
|4. Marc Bulger
23/35, 299 yards
2 TDs, 1 INT
|Did not throw a single pass in the red zone all night.||5.3|
|5. Chad Pennington
21/33, 182 yards
0 TDs, 1 INT
|Value actually -1.7 before adjusting for Steelers great pass defense.||3.3|
|6. Tom Brady
18/27, 144 yards
1 TD, 0 INT
|Patriots had best third quarter offense in league, and it showed this week.||3.2|
|7. Daunte Culpepper
24/46, 316 yards
1 TD, 2 INT
|What happened to Jermaine Wiggins? Threw only two passes to one of his favorite targets.||3.2|
|8. Ben Roethlisberger
17/30, 181 yards
1 TD, 2 INT
|If it is the thumb, they need to fix it by next week; if it is the head, they are in trouble.||-0.4|
Fourth down: "They tried to play us in a certain defense and we were kind of expecting it. It backfired on them." That's Michael Vick's assessment of Atlanta's easy win over St. Louis. OK, pretend you're Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Tell us your game plan for stopping Vick in the NFC Championship Game.
Alan Grant: Make him run. I'm serious. I know that's his strength. But if he has 150 yards rushing so be it. Michael Jordan used to score a ton of points when he was a brash youth. With the exception of Joe Dumars, people just let him shoot. Didn't matter because none of his teammates did much of anything. Same applies here. The Falcons won Saturday because T.J. Duckett and Warrick Dunn ran the rock virtually unfettered, and Alge Crumpler did his Crumpler thing in the seams. Get some good tackle play, throw some run blitzes at them, let Lito Shepard handle Peerless Price outside, play some bracket coverage on Crumpler, and let Vick run. Sure, he may break a few long ones -- much to my pleasure. But unless Vick's getting to the end zone, I'd devote my time familiarizing Terrell Owens with all the miracles of modern medicine.
Eric Neel: I'm not, but I'm not going to let him get comfortable, either. I'm going to mix coverages and turn the blitz on and off like a faucet, just hoping to find him pressing or guessing. But that's not how I'm going to win. I'm going to win by putting a hurt on Dunn and blanketing Price, which I have the talent to do. I'm not saying I don't sweat Vick, but I am saying I'm not afraid of him.
Jeff Merron: The problem, as one of the announcers put it yesterday, is, "How do you grab a ghost?" A 12-man defense wouldn't hurt, but these postseason officials can't be fooled. The challenging thing is that (as the Rams found out), when you manage to get Vick out of the pocket, he turns it into a 47-yard gain. The man runs like a perfectly-flipped pinball with eyes.
So, how do you grab a ghost? By being smarter. By confusing him. By giving him room one play, then closing in the next. Vick's beatable, and if any D can trip him up, it's the Eagles.
Patrick Hruby: Is Michael Madsen available as a free agent? Is it possible to lure Vick into a cash game, too? Seriously, I think Philadelphia has a much better chance to stop Atlanta than St. Louis ever did. For one, the Eagles can make one-on-one tackles, something the Rams -- speaking of "matadors" -- seemed unable or unwilling to do (perhaps that was their "certain defense"). They also sport an outstanding secondary, one that allows Johnson to run his fearsome run and pass blitzes to maximum effect. If Johnson's blitzes can confuse Vick and disrupt the Falcons' attack, great; if not, the Eagles have the team speed to adopt a Tampa Bay-style approach: contain, don't gamble, seal off running lanes and make tackles on the first hit (did I mention how important that will be?) Against Minnesota, the Eagles sometimes used Jevon Kearse as QB spy; I wouldn't be surprised to see them do something similar against Vick, especially when the Bucs' strong-and-speedy Derrick Brooks has been effective in the same role.
Skip Bayless: Jim Johnson isn't quite Belichick, but he's close. He's not as creative in coverage as Belichick, but he's right there with clever blitz packages. Johnson has the athletes with the quickness and savvy to consistently pen in Vick and turn him into what he isn't -- a pocket passer.
No need to spy Vick. One man can't control him. But six or seven can, if they're disciplined and talented enough. The Eagles surely will play lots of man coverage on an average group of receivers and use lots of disguised blitzes to clog Warrick Dunn's escape routes and establish a perimeter around Vick. Tampa Bay has consistently been successful against Vick because the Bucs make him duck and dodge for every inch and because they pound him for four quarters. By the fourth, Vick can get battered and gassed.
Outside at home in the cold, the Eagles are equally capable of controlling Vick.
Aaron Schatz: Don't sign any St. Louis Rams defensive players to contracts this week. Seriously, the idea that Vick is unstoppable is ludicrous. This is an offense that scored six points against Arizona. Tampa stops Vick all the time. I'm with Hruby on the QB spy. Having far better linebackers than the Rams sure will help, too, in stopping the run as well as covering Crumpler. Let Vick try to beat you with throws to Price and Finneran, because he can't.
Overtime: How does Tom Brady do it?
Skip Bayless: Brady does it with patience, persistence and poise under pressure. He does it because he has an underrated offensive line, an underrated group of sticky-fingered receivers and the best ball-control back in the game -- Corey Dillon. He does it because he completely trusts offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who completely trusts Brady. He does it by not making mistakes -- zero turnovers Sunday. And he does it with a little meant-to-be luck -- for every sensational catch his guys made, the Colts couldn't hold an interception.
I still consider Belichick slightly more valuable than Brady. Yet the Patriots obviously feel better about Brady being in their fourth-quarter huddle than they would about any other quarterback. He's no showman, no gunslinger. At quarterback, New England has the perfect Patriot.
Alan Grant: Well, the first two times, it was Antowain Smith. Now it's Corey Dillon.
Eric Neel: He's cool under pressure. He knows his system ridiculously well. He relies on a defense that will always keep him games. He throws to guys who grab balls and hold on (even when it snows). In short, he's good and he plays on a real good team.
Jeff Merron: Isn't that a question for Bridget Moynahan?
Patrick Hruby: Easy. He makes great decisions at high speed -- and plays within a system and for a team that puts a premium on his decision-making ability, as opposed to scout-wowing combine skills like throwing the ball 60 yards off one knee or running a 4.4 40-yard dash while high-stepping over a bunch of inanimate cones.
Come to think of it, that pretty much describes most of New England's roster. Which is probably why the Patriots are so good.
Aaron Schatz: I just want to say one word to you. One word. Plastics.
Best Throw of The Week:
Eric Neel: I like that first TD in Philly, that McNabb quick-hit runner to Freddie Mitchell in the right-front corner of the end zone. Donovan doesn't throw a pretty ball all the time, so we tend to underestimate his arm, but the guy can zip a ball in a tight spot like nobody's business. He makes extra plays with his strength, not so much on the deep ball, maybe, but on the tight ball, through the narrow window.
Jeff Merron: McNabb to L.J. Smith to Freddie Mitchell for a TD in the second quarter.
Patrick Hruby: Brady's pump-fake, throw to the flat dump pass that gave the Pats a first down on third-and-long and triggered their game-squelching fourth-quarter drive. Nothing spectacular, just a smart read and calm throw that put his team in position to do something good. Story of Brady's career.
Aaron Schatz: I'm with Eric on the McNabb touchdown to Freddie Mitchell. Plus, all touchdowns to Freddie are great because he does the Million Dollar Belt move. You gotta love that.
Skip Bayless: Third-and-goal, Patriots, from the Indy five, about a minute and a half left in the third quarter. Patriots leading only 6-3. Brady fades and looks to his first option. Covered. Then his second. Covered. Then he breaks left and escapes the rush. By then, David Givens finally has lost his man. Throwing against his body, the right-handed Brady whips a pass so hard that he fears Givens won't be able to snag it. Givens does. Patriots, 13-3. Colts' resolve, effectively shattered.
Worst Throw of The Week:
Alan Grant: Don't think Yao Ming could have caught the one intended for Plaxico Burress.
Eric Neel: Ask Plaxico. (Though I'm with Patrick: I think we make a special Snap Judgment Smackdown dispensation for Brien.)
Jeff Merron: McNabb's five-yard completion across the middle to Dorsey Levens, allowing time to run out in the first half without the Eagles scoring from the Vikings 9-yard-line.
Patrick Hruby: I know they're technically "kicks," but can we make an exception for Doug Brien's missed field goals? As Bruce Willis put it in "Die Hard II": "How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?"
And yes, that will be the first and last time I quote Mr. Willis. Just be glad I didn't bring up "The Color of Night."
Aaron Schatz: Big Ben's line drive toss directly to Reggie Tongue, returned for a touchdown to put the Jets up 17-10. Big Ben finally had a drive where it looked like he could throw the ball normally, and then he served that one up right on a silver platter.
Skip Bayless: Here was the flip side of the weekend's best pass. Here was Peyton Manning facing second-and-goal from the five with one more shot before having to settle for a half-ending field goal. Convert, and the Colts would have a 7-6 halftime lead and the momentum after getting outplayed for the first two quarters.
Manning faked to Marvin Harrison in the corner of the end zone and tried to come back to the middle to tight end Dallas Clark -- who had been legally leveled at the goal line. Now what? Manning began to scramble forward, but unlike Brady, Manning isn't poised enough on the move to find an uncovered receiver. He forced a throw to Reggie Wayne that was nearly intercepted by Eugene Wilson. That was the turning point.