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NFL AM: The Good, The Bad And The Chargers

We discuss how Tom Brady is still the “King of the Big Games,” Bruce Arians’ wizardry, a bad day for backups and the Chargers’ freshly laid egg.

Charlie Bernstein



In this edition of NFL AM, we discuss how Tom Brady is still the “King of the Big Games,” Bruce Arians’ wizardry, a bad day for backups and the San Diego Chargers’ freshly laid egg.

The Very Good

Although Peyton Manning holds most of the NFL passing records, his resume is missing the additional two Super Bowls that his peer Tom Brady has won as well as head-to-head success against Brady and the New England Patriots.

“He has always set a real high bar for how to play and I have tried to do the same through my efforts with my team,” said Brady about Manning. “The only thing I really care about is the respect from my team, going out there and trying to earn it. ”

In a windy, cold weather affair, Brady’s Patriots took down Manning’s Broncos 43-23 in Foxboro, marking the 11th time in 16 attempts that Tom Brady has defeated a Peyton Manning-led team.

Brady was excellent on Sunday, completing 33 of 53 throws for 333 yards with four touchdowns and just one interception. In the Patriots’ five-game winning streak, Brady has been spectacular, throwing for 1,601 yards while completing 67.5 percent of his throws with an amazing 18 touchdowns and one interception.

Although Peyton may have the records, Brady has the hardware and he’s the one you should trust in a big spot.

Also Very Good

The Arizona Cardinals keep winning with smoke, mirrors and Bruce Arians.

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray entered Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals with eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games to start the season.

Sunday is when the streak ended as the “Desert Swarm Defense” took their act on the road to the “Jerry-Dome” and shut down Murray and Cowboys in a 28-17 victory. Murray finished with a season-low 79 yards on 19 carries and the Cowboys’ offensive line looked very human against the 19th ranked defense in the NFL.

“You know we always want to outrush the opponent,” Cardinals running back Andre Ellington who had 95 yards on 21 carries said. “It’s a credit to our defense for shutting him down and giving me a chance to get out there on the field and get more carries and get more yards.”

Arizona is currently ranked 23rd in the NFL in offense, 19th in defense and they hold the best record in the NFL.

Is that sustainable for the rest of the season?

We’ll find out.

The Bad

Generally speaking, great things aren’t expected when backup quarterbacks are forced to play. After all, there is a reason why they’re backups.

Sunday’s action saw four backup quarterbacks receive real-time action and the results outside of Philadelphia’s Mark Sanchez were less than spectacular.

Brandon Weeden started Sunday’s game for the Cowboys and was mostly inept, completing just 18 of 33 passes for 183 yards with one touchdown pass that came in garbage time and a pair of interceptions against the 19th ranked defense in the NFL. Weeden took an explosive Cowboys offense and directed them to just 10 points of total offense.

“You can’t turn the ball over, and that is on me,” Weeden, the former first-round pick said after the game.

With an injury to former starting quarterback Geno Smith, Matt Simms was signed from the New York Jets’ practice squad on Saturday and came into Sunday’s 24-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter as new starting quarterback Michael Vick sustained a head injury.

Simms completed just 3 of 8 throws for 39 yards and led the Jets to no points.

Veteran journeyman Kellen Clemens saw some action in San Diego’s 37-0 loss to the Miami Dolphins Sunday. Clemens appeared in relief of an ineffective Philip Rivers and completed just one of his three pass attempts for 10 yards as the Chargers dropped their third consecutive game.

The backup quarterback who had the most success Sunday was Philadelphia’s Mark Sanchez, who came in for an injured Nick Foles. Sanchez helped lead the Eagles to a 31-21 victory over the Houston Texans by completing 15 of 22 throws for 202 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

“He’s good,” Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy said. “Even when he came here it’s hard to look at him as a backup because of (the) success he’s had and experience. I think today wasn’t really something surprising to the team.”

Sunday was Sanchez’s first game action since December 30, 2012 as he spent all of the 2013 season on the Jets’ injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Eagles’ starter Nick Foles is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury.

“I think we’ll do some damage if Nick can’t go,” McCoy said. “He’ll step in there and do a great job.”

The Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are the perfect example of why fans shouldn’t get too excited when their team gets off to a good start to the season.

After racing out to a 5-1 start, the Chargers looked like a Super Bowl contender and quarterback Philip Rivers was the chic pick for league MVP. Despite not having a running game, San Diego was winning games with Rivers’ accuracy and stingy defense.

Now that the schedule has stiffened, the Chargers look very mediocre in their three-game losing streak, and mediocre turned into abysmal in their 37-0 drubbing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.

“We’ll get this back on track, I promise you,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said. “No doubt in my mind.”

The Dolphins played nearly perfect football in every aspect and the Chargers simply couldn’t get out of their own way.

Rivers had his worst game in the McCoy era as he barely completed 50 percent of his passes (12-23) and accounted for all of the team’s four turnovers.

The Chargers may have been heading into a virtual hornet’s nest as the Dolphins’ had an emotional week with head coach Joe Philbin losing his father on Friday.

“We promised him we would play our best game of the year, and we did that for him,” Dolphins center Mike Pouncey said.

“They sure played with energy and passion,” Chargers safety Eric Weddle said following the game. “Credit their whole organization for the way they played today, because that was as good a win as I’ve seen.”

Instead of being overly impressed with their opponents, perhaps the Chargers should have put up a better fight.

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.

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