I don't really want to write about the Indianapolis v New England game, but it is hard not to lead on the most hyped game in NFL history. For the first time, two teams who had gone unbeaten for the first eight weeks of the season met and the US media simply couldn't get enough of it. In fact, so overblown was the hype surrounding the game that even football analysts were saying by Sunday morning that they just wanted the game over and done with.
This, you will appreciate, is saying something.
In the end the game was something of a letdown. There had been much talk of a game where over 95 points were scored, largely based upon the potency of the Colts' offense and the fact that the Patriots hadn't scored fewer than 34 points in any game this season. Inevitably, though, the game failed to live up to expectations. Both sides were far too familiar with one another and the Colts proved that, even with a defense missing two first choice players, they could handle the Pats' much vaunted attack. Indeed, score of the day came from Colts running back Joseph Addai, who ran through the entire Pats defense for a 60 yard score – helped by an attempted tackle by Patriots' linebacker Rodney Harrison which missed Addai but took out three teammates.
Ultimately, the Pats ran out 24-20 victors, with Tom Brady keeping up his streak of throwing for three touchdowns in every game this season. Fittingly, the winning touchdown was scored by Wes Welker, the Patriots' undersized wide receiver who is already a strong contender for player of the season, despite the large number of better known players on his team.
Far more exciting was the game over in Minnesota, where the Vikings entertained the Chargers. Everything pointed to this being a thoroughly awful game – a team that can't pass (San Diego) against one who can't defend the pass. What it did have, though, was the first match up between the NFL's finest running back, LaDanian Tomlinson, and its fastest rising star – the Vikings' rookie RB Adrian Peterson. Tomlinson, playing for a side which, on paper, is vastly superior, was widely expected to win this contest. Instead, Peterson wiped the floor with him, running in three touchdowns on his way to a league record 296 yards of rushing.
LT had the consolation of going over for the game's opening score, his 107th career touchdown, taking him to 4th on the all-time NFL list. Victory to the Vikings by 35-17 also featured a concussion for Tavaris Jackson after he unwisely attempted to steal a first down and collected both of Shawn Merriman's knees to the back of his head instead, a touchdown for the NFL's youngest receiver, Sidney Rice, thrown by 3rd choice Vikes QB Brooks Bollinger, and Antonio Cromartie setting a record which can never be beaten with the longest touchdown run in NFL history, running in a missed field goal from the back of his own endzone – 109 yards in total and you can't run for more without going out of bounds.
Elsewhere in the NFL
- The Lions destroy the Broncos 44-7 and in doing so almost end Jay Cutler's season, as the Denver QB suffers a badly bruised leg in a tackle;
- Another setback for Cincinnati as they lose yet again, going down 33-21 to Buffalo and have star wide receiver Chad Johnson taken off with a neck injury which could rule him out of next weekend's matches;
- A fourth straight win for a resurgent New Orleans as the Saints beat the Jaguars 41-24;
- Life for the Carolina Panthers keeps on getting worse. First, Vinny Testaverde injures a foot and they are forced to bring back David Carr, then Carr ends up with concussion after being sacked 7 times by the Titans, of all people;
- I'm getting slightly bored of writing about Brett Favre records. After this weekend's win over the Kansas City Chiefs he has now beaten every other side in the NFL at least once during his career. Only Messrs Brady and Manning have managed to do that;
- The Chiefs also lost their star running back Larry Johnson with an ankle injury which threatens to put an end to his season;
- Kicker Sean Suisham's career to date has been distinguished by him appearing to be the only kicker in either league who was actually afraid to kick the ball. Hopefully, a 46 yard field goal in overtime to bring the Redskins a much-needed victory over the Jets, coupled with four other goals in ordinary time, will help cure him;
- 'Pacman' Jones and his lawyers have met with NFL Headmaster Roger Goodall with a view to getting his suspension reduced. Frankly, this is optimism at its highest. Jones is still being investigated by police after a nightclub bouncer was shot by one of his entourage back in February – although that has led to one of the year's funniest lawsuits, with the bouncer suing the NFL for allowing Jones to be paid so much that he could afford to visit a strip club!
- With a nice symmetry, the Bengals' wide receiver Chris Henry is allowed to return from suspension in the same week that the league's other Chris Henry, the Titans' player of that ilk, gets a four game ban for failing a drugs test;
- Also visiting the Headmaster this week were the Jaguars' Marcus Stroud, who got a four match ban for the same reasons, plus LaRon Landry of the Redskins and LaJuan Ramsey of Philadelphia, who both were fined for unnecessary roughness during this weekend's matches;
- And waiting anxiously outside the study door, exercise books discreetly placed down their shorts, are Jaguars pair Justin Durrant and Richard Collier, who both managed to get arrested over the weekend;
- Tank Johnson's ban is also over and he'll be a Cowboy this weekend;
Finally, such is the interest in the Patriots' unbeaten run, the NFL has now moved all of their remaining matches to Sunday evening prime time, presumably so that they can ensure Tom Brady is well rested after a heavy night impregnating models.