Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins ran all over the Jets last night, winning 31-27 in Miami.

Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins ran all over the Jets last night, winning 31-27 in Miami.

In a week of NFL action that was very unpredictable and had a few surprising results, it’s only fitting that we would get more of the same on Monday Night.  The Chad Henne-led, wildcat running Miami Dolphins defeated the favored New York Jets in South Florida 31-27.  Not only did they beat the Jets, but they dominated the Jets in the trenches, allowing Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Henne, and just about every key Dolphins player to get big yardage off of a now humbled Jets D.

Around this time last year the Patriots, with a backup QB of their own in Matt Cassel, went into New Jersey and beat the Jets.  A year later, it’s the same story as Henne, in his first career start and second career game played, looked like the second-coming of Dan Marino on the field, going a shocking 20/26 for 241 yards and 2 TD’s, including a key 53-yard strike to Ted Ginn Jr. to make it 24-20 Miami with about 10 minutes to play in the 4th quarter.

What really made it possible for Henne to have that level of success, though, was the ability of the Miami offense to establish and execute the Wildcat offense throughout the course of the game.  Ronnie Brown proved to be the star of the show, with 110 total yards and 2 TD’s and Ricky Williams continues to have a breakout start to the season, adding 138 total yards of offense.  The theme for the Wildcat this year has been unpredictability, and it continued last night as the Dolphins had two players in the passing category in Henne and Brown, five different players running the ball (Brown, Williams, Pat White, Lousaka Polite, and Patrick Cobbs), and nine different players with receptions (Williams, Ginn, Anthony Fasano, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, Joey Haynos, Brown, Brian Hartline, and Cobbs).

For the Jets, two major things can be pointed out in the loss.  The first is to look at the major defensive categories.  The Jets failed to force a turnover, get a sack, or even touch Chad Henne in the pocket last night.  They had only four tackles for loss, and allowed the Dolphins to control possession for almost 34 minutes.  The other issue that the Jets need to look at is their lack of success running the football.  Thomas Jones and Leon Washington combined for only 86 yards on the ground, with Jones adding two short rushing TD’s of 1 yard and 3 yards in the 4th quarter.  In order for the Jets and Mark Sanchez to be successful this year, they must establish the run early in games to open things up for their weaker passing offense, regardless of who is on the field catching the ball.  That being said, one of the bright spots for the Jets was the performance of Braylon Edwards, who had five catches for 64 yards and a TD.  However, with last night’s loss, the Jets fall back into a tie for first with New England at 3-2, while Miami jumps back into the picture at 2-3.  New York will look to bounce back next week as they host the 1-4 Bills, while the Dolphins look to get back to .500 after an 0-3 start when they take on the red hot 4-0 Saints at home.

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Peyton Manning made it look easy against a struggling Cardinals team Sunday Night.

Peyton Manning made it look easy against a struggling Cardinals team Sunday Night.

Week 3 in the NFL is officially in the books, with Indianapolis and Dallas winning their primetime battles with Arizona and Carolina, respectively.  There’s a lot that can be said about all four of these teams so far this year, so let’s get right to it.

On Sunday night, the hotly anticipated matchup between two of the league’s most proficient passing offenses turned into a one-sided affair, as the Colts handled the Cardinals, 31-10.  After the Cards failed to score and extend an early 7-0 lead, it seems like the wheels just completely came off on both sides of the ball.  They gave up multiple big plays to Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Dallas Clark, and even rookie RB Donald Brown.  The big issue that the 1-2 Cards seem to have right now is that their offense has no balance, with the running game being amongst the worst in the NFL.  Tim Hightower was limited to 9 carries for 22 yards in the game, forcing Kurt Warner to throw 52 times in the game, often under a ton of pressure from Dwight Freeney and the rest of the Indy D-Line, which dominated in the trenches throughout the game, accumulating 4 sacks in the win.  The Cards are going to need to shore up their running game if they really expect to make it back to the playoffs this season.  They get a bye week this week before hosting another disappointing team so far in the Houston Texans.

The Colts have to feel good about themselves right now, moving to 3-0 and already holding a 2 game lead in the AFC South.  Peyton Manning is proving that he can win games with just about any combination of receivers on the field, as the unlikely Pierre Garcon once again looked very good in place of the injured Anthony Gonzalez and Donald Brown looks like a very smart first round pick.  The Colts now head home to take on a banged up Seahawks team before going into Tennessee to take on the 0-3 Titans.

Moving into the Monday Night game, it was another matchup of offenses that never really came into being, as Dallas grinded out a 21-7 victory over the still winless Panthers.  The big story in Big D was just that. Their defense finally showed up the way most people expected them to, pressuring Jake Delhomme, sacking him 3 times, and getting 3 turnovers from the struggling starter for Carolina.  There is some concern as Felix Jones left the game with a knee injury, but Tashard Choice carried the ball 18 times for 82 yards and a TD for Dallas’ lone offensive score. Dallas now looks to move to 3-1 as they head to Mile High Stadium to take on the 3-0 Denver Broncos next week.

As for the Panthers, it might be serious time for them to consider their options at QB.  For the second time in three weeks, Jake Delhomme was terrible, looking lost on the field and not being able to protect the football.  They also need to get back to running the football, which is what their team is built on with DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart on the roster.  It’s now critical for Carolina to get a win after the bye week, and they get a decent shot, hosting the Redskins in Week 5.

Pierre Garcon had the game-winning catch for the Colts in Miami last night.

Pierre Garcon had the game-winning catch for the Colts in Miami last night.

Peyton Manning and the Colts made the most of their limited time on the field last night, coming up with big plays and quick scores in a 27-23 Indy victory that you couldn’t tell from the final stats.  Miami held the ball for just over 45 minutes in the game, using a grinding, hard-nosed offense to maintain possession and run the clock down.  However at the end of the day, the Wildcat was caged just enough by a Colts’ defense that proved, once again, to not be able to handle a solid rushing attack effectively.

Looking back at the game, there are two things we can take away very quickly, and they point directly to the result of the game, that is, for as efficient as the Colts’ offense can be, the Dolphins can be equally as inefficient.  The other problem for Miami is that most of their long, protracted drives only resulted in field goals, which is never going to be enough against one of the most prolific offenses in the league.  The scariest part for Dolphins’ fans and for the rest of the league is that I don’t think Miami could have played much better and they still lost.

For the Colts, they have become the Cardiac Kids, winning their first two games of the year over the Jaguars and ‘Phins by a total of six points, with both of their opponents having opportunities to win the game late in the 4th quarter.  They were completely exposed by the Miami rushing attack, as evidenced by Ronnie Brown’s big day on the ground.  It’s fine to play close games with lesser opponents as long as you win, but as the season progresses, these kinds of games will take their toll on a mediocre Indy defense, which means that the close wins could become close losses, and with a fairly tough schedule, that’s a habit the Colts will want to get out of quickly.

Leodis McKelvin made a name for himself in the worst way possible last night.

Leodis McKelvin made a name for himself in the worst way possible last night.

Last night’s Monday Night Football double-header provided more than just insomnia for people living on the East Coast.  It provided two games that were much more competitive than people were expecting and two of the marquee moments of this opening week of the NFL season.

First, the New England Patriots escaped at home with a 25-24 win over the Buffalo Bills after Tom “the Golden Boy” Brady found tight end Ben Watson in

In his first real game back, Brady was 39-53 for 378 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

In his first real game back, Brady was 39-53 for 378 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

the endzone twice in the final 5:43 to complete a great comeback from down 24-13.  However, its how the Pats got the chance to win the game that will be discussed more than anything else.  The Bills’ rising defensive star in CB Leodis McKelvin inexplicably decided to attempt to run back the kickoff after the Patriots cut the deficit to 24-19.  McKelvin, who by all accounts had a very nice game defensively, coughed up the ball at the Bills 32, setting up the game-winning strike from Brady to Watson.  Naturally, the camera focused on a forlorn Dick Jauron on the sidelines, who was once again left to wonder how his team could lose a game like THAT.  There are really only a few teams that could lose a game in such a fashion, namely, the Bengals, Lions, and now the Bills.  That’s not the kind of company you want to be in if you expect to be a winning team this year.  After the game, I was somewhat impressed by the way Brady and the Pats looked at the game, realizing that they had seized the opportunity given to them and that they could have played far better.  In actuality, this was a game where it seems like you were better lucky than good, as New England dominated almost every major stat category with 28 first downs to Buffalo’s 17, over 400 yards of offense, and just over 37 minutes of possession.  This sets up another battle with the division rival New York Jets in the Meadowlands on Sunday, which should certainly provide some fireworks both on and off the field this week.  As for the Bills, they will have to find a way to put this heartbreaker behind them as they host the Tampa Bay Bucs, who are coming off of a 34-14 loss at home to the Cowboys.

The second game might have been an even bigger surprise than the first, mainly because not one person really gave the Oakland Raiders a good

Rivers had a less-than-spectacular game, but was 6-7 for 79 yards on the Chargers winning drive.

Rivers had a less-than-spectacular game, but was 6-7 for 79 yards on the Chargers' winning drive.

chance against the San Diego Chargers.  Yet it took a final 89 yard TD drive, engineered by Philip Rivers, to help lift the Chargers to a 24-20 victory in the Black Hole.  The key to figuring out this one really is how well the Raiders ran the ball, as well as how they defended against the run.  Oakland out-rushed San Diego 148-77, and also forced LaDanian Tomlinson’s first lost fumble in almost 3 seasons.  Richard Seymour, whose status most people weren’t even sure of three days ago, looked like a force to be reckoned with in the trenches with his 6 tackles and 2 sacks, and the Raiders’ O-Line won their battle up front.  At the end of the day, though, the Raiders’ three turnovers proved to be very costly.  JaMarcus Russell threw two picks in the first half, showing that he still can’t make some of the throws a good NFL QB needs to be able to make and Darren McFadden doesn’t look like he’s cured his case of Fumble-itis.  The Raiders will look to bounce back next week as they face-off against another division foe in the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.  The Chargers will look to make it 2-0 as they host the Baltimore Ravens.