#5: RIVERS SHOCKS GIANTS
It was the type of mid-season drive that can change a season for both teams, and depending on what happens in the remainder of the 2009 season, it just may. The Chargers had come to the Meadowlands with a 4-3 record, winners of two straight after a very mediocre start to their season, looking to gain on Denver in the AFC West, and also keep pace in the very competitive AFC wild-card picture. The Giants meanwhile, were looking to get back on track after following a 5-0 start with three consecutive losses. So, a big game for both sides, and a bigger finish for San Diego and quarterback Phillip Rivers. Five years after being traded from the Giants for Eli Manning, Rivers got revenge on both, with a brilliant two-minute drill to win the game. Bouncing back from an interception that looked to seal the Chargers’ fate on their previous possession, Rivers and San Diego caught a big break when the Giants couldn’t score after a first-and-goal at the Charger 4-yard line, and New York had to settle for field goal. Rivers took advantage, completing 6 of 8 passes, taking the Chargers 80 yards in 8 plays, in just 1:44, throwing hid third touchdown pass of the game, an 18-yarder with just 21 seconds left, to upset the Giants, 21-20.
#4: CINCY ‘D’ RIPS RAVENS
In a big AFC North showdown, the Bengals, normally know in past years for their offense, have stepped up the defense this year, and they were all about the ‘D’ in beating the Ravens, 17-7. Shutting out Baltimore over the first three quarters, Cincinnati finished the game with six sacks, while forcing three turnovers, and allowing just 215 total yards. Instead of letting the Ravens tie the Bengals at 5-3, a game behind 6-2 Pittsburgh, the Bengals’ dominant defensive performance allows them to play the Steelers for first place next week, with both teams at 6-2, while Baltimore fell back to .500 at 4-4.
#3: TURNER TURNS IT UP
Atlanta running back Michael Turner was turned loose against Washington and he made the Redskins pay with a game-high 166 yards on just 18 carries, for a 9.2 ypc average. He also rushed for two touchdowns. His second came in the fourth quarter, on a 58-yard run, just 1:42 after Washington made it a game at 24-17, early in the fourth quarter. Turner accounted for all but 15 of the Falcons’ 181 rushing yards in helping Atlanta get to 5-3 at home.
#2: WARNER’S HUGE TURNAROUND
Talk about a change! Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner threw five touchdown passes one week after throwing five interceptions, in the Cardinals’ 41-21 win in Chicago. Warner led first-half drives of 81, 74, 70, and 86 yards the first four times Arizona touched the ball, with all resulting in touchdown passes. The Cardinals built a big 31-7 halftime lead on the strength of those scoring drives, and Warner finished the game 22 of 32 for 261 yards, and this time, no interceptions.
#1: IN THE OLD THREADS, THE BUCS STOP LOSING
I know a lot of people don’t like them, and I do like the new threads, but I still have a soft spot for the old light orange Tampa Bay uniforms and the old logo. The Buccaneers might like them better this season now, too. It took wearing their throwbacks, giving 2009 first-round pick, quarterback Josh Freeman his first start, and comebacks from 14-7, 21-14, and 28-17, but Tampa Bay finally got their first win of the season and broke the league’s longest losing streak, which stood at eleven games, dating back to least season. Freeman was only 14 of 31 for 205 yards in his NFL debut, but he threw just one interception and three touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to rally the Bucs to a 38-28 victory. Tampa Bay also had a blocked punt returned 31 yards for a touchdown which tied the game 14-14 in the second quarter, and iced the game, returning a touchdown 35 yards with 35 seconds left.