Top 5 Games of Last Week (9/22/14 – 9/28/14)
Week 4 was yet another great, if at times odd, week in the NFL. Still, I had to reserve the fifth spot for a goodbye that transcended sport.
#5. New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
It sounds melodramatic, but if Derek Jeter isn’t the last hero in sports, I’m not sure who is. OK, maybe there are a couple other athletes in the Big Four who merit mention, who are also doing things the right way. J.J. Watt, Tom Brady, Sidney Crosby, Kevin Durant – these guys are on the right track, but they have a long way to go to reach Jeter’s rarified air. As much as Jeter might be overhyped, that had more to do with the pinstripes he put on than the way in which he acted. Jeter worked hard, said little, and never got caught doing something he shouldn’t. We can’t say that about many professional athletes these days, each one wilting under the microscope we use to examine them. Jeter was made of different stuff, a throwback to a different era. Love or hate the Yankees, you’ve got to admire the man. With tickets at $225.53, they were worth every penny to see the Captain’s final game.
#4. Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
If anyone questioned EJ Manuel’s toughness, their questions were answered on Sunday in Houston. Nearly every play, Manuel ended up on the turf, constantly harassed by a seemingly possessed J.J. Watt. To his credit, Manuel stood tall, delivering ball after ball in spite of the impending hit. And if not for that guy named Watt, I think he would’ve completed the comeback. But there Watt stood, literally in between Manuel and victory, snatching a pass intended for Spiller out of the air and rumbling 80 yards for the winning touchdown. Too bad for Manuel.
#3. Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings
Based on his pro day, Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t supposed to be any good. He missed timing throws, lacked accuracy, and scouts questioned his hand size. His hand size. Tell that to the Falcons, who watched Bridgewater’s small hands deliver darts all over the field. Showing a command of the offense that most rookies don’t, Bridgewater helped build a lead that the Falcons couldn’t overcome. It’s safe to say his first start was a success.
#2. Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers
On paper, this looked like a close contest. In fact, on paper, it looked like the Eagles were more than competitive with the 49ers – they seemed outright dominant for much of the game, leading for most of it. And yet, look closer, and you’ll see that the vaunted Eagles offense didn’t score a single point on offense. Everything came from their special teams. For $229.64, 49ers fans got to see their team win their first home game in their new stadium, a game that should be remembered as a beat down of one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses.
#1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers
Uh, this game wasn’t supposed to be good. In fact, I would’ve preferred that it wasn’t. After all, I had picked the Steelers to win in my Survivor league. But there we were in the fourth quarter, the Steelers up four points with four minutes to play. The Buccs dinked and dunked down the field, but couldn’t score on fourth and goal. The Steelers did it! The Steelers then got the ball at around their five yard line with about 2:30 on the clock. Surely the ground and pound Steelers would run out the clock. Except they didn’t, calling three conservative plays, and punting with 1:50 on the clock. Oh, and about that punt. It’s not often I root for a player to lose his job, but I did after this punt. Kicking from around his end zone, the Steelers punter choked and barely got the ball to his own 45 yard line. At that point, I knew; everyone did. The Buccs were going to get a second chance, and they were going to score this time. When Vincent Jackson pulled in a fingertip catch with seconds left on the clock, it was more a formality than a shocking turn of events. The Steelers had messed up too many times to win.