NFL Week 2: Kicking, screaming and insanity

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Monday night during Denver’s first possession, Peyton Manning tossed the football into the middle of the football field, only to get picked off. Possession two: Manning tosses the ball over the middle, intercepted. Possession three (are you sensing the insanity here?): Manning tosses over the middle, picked off. One has to wonder why Manning kept going back to the same part of the field? Perhaps his fairy wings from those DirecTV commercials were inhibiting his throwing motion?

Moving up the East Coast, Peyton’s baby brother, Eli “I have two Super Bowl rings and my brother only has one” Manning fell down and went boom on a kneel down at the end of the Giants game against the Bucs. He didn’t fall because he was clumsy, but because he was pushed back by the Tampa Bay defense, which apparently couldn’t stand the civility of the opponent taking a peaceful knee. Was the move illegal? No. Was it in that gray area between good sportsmanship and spoiled brats? Yes. Bucs’ coach Greg Schiano said he used to run that play all the time in college and he teaches his team to play to the end. C’mon, Schiano, really? This isn’t college. And your bone-headed teaching could have hurt someone. The game was basically over; you lost; move on.

In other week 2 action:

Kickers. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.

Tom Brady looked – gasp – human on Sunday, and the Cardinals stunned the Patriots in Foxboro, 20-18. At first, it looked like New England caught a lucky break when the Cards fumbled the ball while trying to run out the clock. However, Pats’ kicker Stephen Gostkowski sauntered onto the field, planted his foot, and promptly sailed the game winning 42-yarder well wide – it didn’t even get anywhere near the net. Oh those wacky, unpredictable kickers, the bane of all NFL fans’ existence. On the surface, this victory by the Cardinals looks like an upset, but, SHHHH! Don’t tell anyone, but Arizona is 9-2 over its last 11 games, same as – SHHH! – the Patriots.

This is now officially a big problem.

Two weeks in to the regular season and players, coaches and fans have had enough of the replacement officials. Last season, these current officials were watching the games at their local watering holes wearing team jerseys. But aside from the obvious blown calls, the constant mid-field huddles between an officiating crew just screams, “We have no clue what’s going on!” While I certainly think it would be extremely difficult to learn all the obscure rules that seldom rear their heads (“Tuck Rule”, anyone?), there is still a basic understanding of the rules that any long-time fan should know. Case in point: I attended the Browns’ game week 1 with my sister, and during the game, there was a fumble. After a scrum in the pile, Philadelphia recovered, but Cleveland wanted to challenge. The official announced the play was ruled a fumble, but Philadelphia recovered and the play was then blown dead. I immediately turned to my sister and said, “They can’t challenge a dead ball play.” But the officials skipped on over to the review booth, wasted five minutes watching who knows what under that hood, and jogged back onto the field only to announce, “Cleveland cannot challenge since the play was blown dead.” Hey! Those words sure sounded familiar. Funny how I, a casual (OK, fanatical) football fan, knew a basic rule that these replacement refs did not. The NFL just needs to open up its pocket books, pay the real officials and get them back onto the field post haste.

Fantasy winners and losers

Big games from Eli Manning and Reggie Bush this week equal big fantasy points for owners. Manning had 510 yards passing and 3 TDs while Bush carried for 172 with 2 TDs. If you owned him and were brave enough to play him this week, Trent Richardson also had a good day, with 145 total yards and 2 TDs. On the injury front, Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez could miss several weeks with a high ankle sprain. New England added Kellen Winslow to its roster yesterday to fill the TE spot.

Some interesting matchups in week 3 include a bad Kansas City team versus a slumping New Orleans team, the Philadelphia “win by one” Eagles take on the upstart Arizona Cardinals, and New England limps in to Baltimore for the Sunday night game.

Until next week, friends, enjoy the games!