Some final thoughts from this past weekend's NFL action:
*So much for the rust. I was expecting the Cardinals' offense to produce a bit more, but it is about what I expected from the Saints' offense. The team's running game finally appears to be healthy as does tight end Jeremy Shockey. That spells big things ahead for Drew Brees, who looked pretty stellar on Saturday.
*Sharper shines. I really enjoy watching Darren Sharper play. He got robbed of an interception, but stilled turned in an outstanding performance versus the Cardinals. His ability to play centerfield in the secondary and come with some hard hitting is as good as anybody's in the league.
*The curtain call? There is a good chance that this could have been the last game of Kurt Warner's career. If that is indeed is the case, I will certainly miss him. He is no doubt a Hall of Famer in my mind and few stories in sports are as good as his from start to finish. I would be shocked if he returns after taking another hard pounding this year, including suffering yet another concussion.
*Not so Bush. Who was that guy wearing Reggie Bush's uniform. He was electrifying. Maybe it was simply the Cardinals' wretched defense or perhaps it was because Kim Kardashian was in the house. Whatever the case with his two touchdown were plays were amongst his best two efforts of the season.
*Where did that come from? The Colts' defense outplayed the Ravens' defense, shutting down Baltimore's vaunted rushing attack. The unit is often lost in Peyton Manning's shadow and rightfully so, but if they play as well as they did on Saturday you can go ahead and crown them.
*Turnovers are key. The Ravens win games by winning the turnover battle. That was not the case here as they Colts finished with a plus-three turnover advantage. Throw in the fact the Colts held on to the ball for over 33 minutes in the contest and you realize that Indy beat Baltimore at their own game.
*Bye, bye, bye week jinx. With the win the Colts shed the stigma of struggling coming off of a playoff bye. They had dropped three straight games in such circumstances, but got the monkey off their backs on Saturday night.
*Manning good even when he's not. Peyton Manning was far from perfect against Baltimore, but he made the key throws when they counted, did not make mistakes and the managed the game brilliantly. He finished by completing 30 of 44 passes for 246 yards, 2 TD's and an interception.
*Favre states his case. Hey I'm not knocking the Packers for turning over the offense to Aaron Rodgers even though they didn't handle it well. However, I am going to knock the critics who all suggested that Brett Favre stay retired. His franchise, playff-record four passing touchdowns in Sunday's win over Dallas is all the proof that you need.
*Peterson plummets. I am not prepared to take his elite status away, but something is not right with Adrian Peterson. While it is easy to see that with Brett Favre slinging TD passes all over the field Peterson's scoring totals are down, I still can't justify 2.2 yards per carry average (20 carries for 63 yards). He has now eclipsed 100 rushing yards just once in his last 11 games, including eight straight without hitting the century mark.
*Pressure kills. The Vikings were able to shut down the redhot Tony Romo and Dallas Cowboys' offense by getting to the quarterback. Romo was flushed out of the pocket all day long as the Vikings came up with six huge sacks while forcing Romo into three fumbles (two lost) and two interceptions.
*Running it up? Cowboys' fans everywhere today are joining linebacker Keith Brooking in having an issue with the way Minnesota kept piling it on. It did seem odd and a bit stupid to me at that time with the game in hand why they would even keep Brett Favre in the game, but nonetheless if Dallas had a beef with it stop them. I see slowing it down in high school sports, but these are pros.
*Surprise. I very much figured that the Jets could keep it close, but the Chargers' high-powered attack was shut down. San Diego became too one-dimensional in the second half, but didn't have a choice as they mustered just 61 rushing yards against New York's top-ranked defense.
*Green-er Pastures. The rookie is breaking out at the right time. He had his second-straight 100-yard game rushing for 128 yards on 23 carries, including a 53-yard touchdown run. It was the longest in Jets' playoff history. He's the real the deal!
*Just for kicks. Nate Kaeding missed three field goals. I will discredit the 57-yarder at the half, but the 40 and 36-yard field goals that were shanked cost the Chargers the game and their season. Throw in Shayne Graham's two misses a week earlier and the Jets have paralyed five missed field goals into a trip to the AFC Championship game.
*What were you thinking? I am still trying to figure out what in the world Norv Turner was thinking with the onside kick. It made little sense to me. Had the Chargers kicked it deep, the Jets may have been less likely to go for it on fourth down. Plus, with Darren Sproles returning the potential punt you never know what could've happened.