Stepping up and making plays, finally was the theme for the teams I cheer on during the College and NFL season. Notre Dame, Illinois, and the Dallas Cowboys all stepped up to the plate this weekend in dramatic fashion. The Bears not so much, but I have no love for them.
The Irish needed to dominate Michigan State in order to prove to their critics and to their supporters that they should be taken seriously. As I predicted they did just that by picking each other up like a good team does. The biggest play of the game came after the Irish had fumbled a punt in the fourth quarter, no I’m not kidding if you did not see the game. A few plays later the Irish intercepted the pass and returned into Michigan State territory thus sealing the victory. Notre Dame won 31-13 barely sweating as they completely shut down the Michigan State running game. State desperate to come up with something tried another fake field goal that completely backfired, and tried the handoff, toss-back pass that also accounted for a 12-yard loss. It was great to see Notre Dame beat a ranked opponent. Notre Dame now faces Pitt, in Pittsburgh this weekend.
Speaking of beating ranked opponents, Illinois had not beat a ranked opponent in 10 tries, since they upset #1 Ohio State through a brilliantly played game of ball control. This time they beat ASU with just enough offense and dominating defensive play. Big plays happened for the Illinois defense when they needed it the most, and the undefeated Illini now find themselves ranked #24 in the country. Good times down in Champaign for the Illini. The Illini take on Western Michigan this weekend before getting into the Big Ten schedule. This will weekend will mark Illinois’ fourth straight home game this season.
Sometimes a game can define a player’s career and that game may have been yesterday for Tony Romo. Romo returned to the game after having to ribs broken to lead the Cowboys to an overtime victory in San Francisco, 27-24. The broken ribs were announced this morning, but at the time it was at least a fractured rib. Romo put together two drives to overcome a 10-point 4th quarter deficit before he hit a streaking Jesse Holley for 77-yards setting up the game winning field goal. Of course, the Cowboys have more issues now going into week three. Felix Jones has a separated shoulder but should be able to play, and Miles Austin tweaked his hamstring and could be out through the bye week. Fortunately that is only two games, but with Dez Bryant already sidelined the Cowboys will be asking a lot from unproven receivers like Holley. Randy Moss anyone? He said no the Patriots not the Cowboys. The Cowboys square off against Rex Grossman and the undefeated Redskins this weekend. Can Grossman really keep this going? Did the Bears make a mistake? It should be an interesting Monday Night Football next week.
They are the team I thought they were, and this Sunday exploited that to it’s finest. Mike Martz in true Martz’ fashion rushed the ball only 12 times, yet the Bears leading receiver was their running back, Matt Forte, so much for ball control and keeping New Orleans’ explosive offense off the field. I know the Bears think they have a good defense, but their secondary has more holes than Swiss cheese. Drew Brees exploited it and had a short field to work with a few times due to turnovers. Brees passed for only 270 yards, but again that was because of having a short field to work with. It should also be noted that the great Bears’ defense gave up over 100 rushing for the second consecutive game. Jay Cutler ran for his life or just took hits the entire game as screen passes and dump offs to Forte accounted for 67% of the Bears’ offense. Expect more of the same next week when the Bears play the undefeated Green Bay Packers. Looks like 1-2 for the Bears with games looming against the pass-happy Panthers and undefeated Lions. Cam Newton through for over 400-yards again this week, and the Lions crushed the Chiefs 48-3. Could be 1-4 after the first five for Da Bears.