Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 1, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Let's get this right out there in the open:
We were all prepared to bash Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid right here in the lead of this Jim Sez column but the Birds' boss got off the hook thanks to a 54-yard missed field goal by Lawrence Tynes at the end of Sunday Night's game.
The Eagles' hang-on-for-dear-life 19-17 win against the New York Giants had more twists and turns in the final two minutes of play than a cheap novel and let's not hear all this junk about the officials who - whether you wanted to believe it or not - got all three of those late-game pass interference calls correct ...
Yes, even the offensive pass interference call on Giants' WR Ramses Barden that pushed NYG out of reasonable field-goal range was the right call (although we're not quite sure what game NBC analyst Chris Collinsworth was watching late!).
The fact of the matter is Reid's decision to have QB Michael Vick fall down late and thus have the Eagles settle for another PK Alex Henery field goal with 1:49 left was a major - pardon the pun - bird-brain move.
Why not try to get the touchdown there and thus force the Giants to match instead of kicking a FG and than having the G-men have a shot to beat you (as they nearly did) with a field goal?
It made zero sense and yet Collinsworth didn't question the strategy (of course) nor did veteran play-by-play voice Al Michaels but they sure picked at the officials for those interference calls in the closing moments - gimme a break!
And as far as Reid attempting to "ice" Tynes late - of course he missed the kick and had a shot at a "do-over" -- all we'll say here is that it's downright stupid but every coach in the league does it and some even have to pay the piper for it (remember rookie head coach Joe Philbin and the Miami Dolphins last week in that OT loss to the New York Jets).
While we're at it, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin - the two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach - also didn't do a crack job late as he should have insisted the Giants run another sideline play:
Obviously, no guarantee that an Eli Manning pass would have clicked with the pass-catcher than going out of bounds to stop the clock, but 54 yards is surely out of Tynes' range and the kick fell about five yards short... so you do the math, fella!
Okay, we'll get to the big Monday Night Football clash between the Chicago Bears at the Dallas Cowboys in just a moment but first a quickie review of the ultra-close call wins on Sunday by NFL undefeateds Atlanta and Arizona:
ATLANTA 30, CAROLINA 28 - It's starting to have a magical feel to the season for the Falcons, don't you think? The down-but-not-out Birds needed a 59-yard pass play from QB Matt Ryan (369 yards passing and 3 TDs) to WR Roddy White (8 catches for 169 yards and two scores) just to stay alive and than Matt Bryant's straight-down-the-middle 40-yard FG won it with five seconds left and not only did Atlanta zoom to 4-and-oh SU (straight-up) but Mike Smith's squad won in the face of adversity having taken over the ball on its own one-yard line with Ryan operating behind a battered O-line.
Maybe the biggest part of this emotional win for the Falcs was that they surrendered 200 yards rushing (okay 199) and forced only one turnover but that Carolina QB Cam Newton fumble was a killer to the underdog Panthers who appeared to have the game won lock, stock and barrel.
In short, Atlanta did everything in its power to not give up - and this group that hasn't won a playoff game in the Smith/Ryan Era had its most emotional and meaningful win since 2008.
ARIZONA 24, MIAMI 21 (OT) - Sorry, you're never gonna convince us that Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb is the next Johnny Unitas but let's be fair here: Kolb wasn't even named the starting quarterback heading into this current campaign but here he is now leading the Redbirds to a perfect 4-0 SU start following this epic win that featured the slinger's 15-yard TD strike to WR Andre Roberts with just 22 seconds left in regulation play. Keep in mind that Kolb was sacked eight times by the Fish in this game plus he aired a pair of INTs too and yet his gritty.gutty finish in the fourth quarter forced the OT session where he directed a five-play drive that set up a PK Jay Feely kick some 46 yards out with 6:31 left in the bonus session.
Kolb was criticized plenty a couple of weeks back when WR Larry Fitzgerald managed just one reception in that crazy 20-18 win at New England but here in this Week 4 win against yet another AFC East foe there was Fitzgerald with 8 receptions worth 64 yards plus one score - in other words, Kolb gets it and his rather wild 324-yard, 3-TD, 2-INT game against Miami might not have TV folks singing his praises as they do for New Orleans' Drew Brees and/or Denver's Peyton Manning but just check out that won/loss column folks!
Tonight, it's...CHICAGO (2-1) at DALLAS (2-1) - 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here's the real skinny on the here-and-now Dallas Cowboys: Their offense is truly out of whack - the 'Boys have scored just one touchdown apiece in their last two games against Seattle and Tampa Bay and whether it's been rotten pass protection for QB Tony Romo or too many drops by the Dallas WRs/TEs (and we're mainly talking to you, TE Jason Witten) the fact remains that Jason Garrett's gang just has not been right since that season-opening 24-17 win against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants back on Sept. 5th.
Gut feeling here is that the Cowboys will put Romo in the shotgun for much of this tilt - it's a combination of that troubled O-line going up against the likes of sack-happy DE Julius Peppers who's also done some damage occasionally from the DT spot and the fact Dallas would very much like to zip in 35-or-more passes against a Bears secondary that is far from elite.
Sure, last week DB Major Wright charged 45 yards with a key INT-turned-TD in Chicago's rather ugly 23-6 home win/cover against St. Louis but that defensive backfield can be roasted if Peppers and Company is not getting major pressure on enemy slingers.
Meanwhile, Chicago QB Jay Cutler continues to be under siege behind his shaky blocking wall - here's hoping the hot-headed Cutler doesn't shove any of his linemen in this national TV tilt! - but what might save the Bears here is a slew of inside traps/draws that not only could get Dallas DE DeMarcus Ware up-field too quick but could allow RBs Matt Forte (if he plays) and Michael Bush (18 carries for 55 rushing yards last weekend) to get into space and create some havoc.
Spread Notes - Chicago's covered two of its first three games out of the 2012 starting gate and did you know the Bears are a solid 6-3 ATS (against the spread) in games against fellow NFC foes since the middle of last season? On the flip side, Dallas enters this under-the-lights tilt with a shabby 6-12-1 ATS overall mark dating back to the start of last year and note the 'Boys are 5-12 vig-wise at home the past two-plus seasons and that includes last weekend's 16-10 non-cover win against 7-point dog Tampa Bay.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have the Side/Totals of this NFL Week 4 Monday Nighter plus get all the NCAA Football and Major-League Baseball Winners too every day -- climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper and remember the MLB Playoffs begin later this week with a pair of wild card games on Friday. Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners.
NOTE: Catch our Mid-Week Update in the next Jim Sez as we tackle all the latest NCAA Football News & Notes plus we'll get you the NFL Week 5 Thursday Night Preview between the Arizona Cardinals at the St. Louis Rams.