The Designed Rush, Week 10: Hakeem Nicks, Dez Bryant Terrify While Browns, Bills And Lions Aggravate

November's midpoint gave us the usual array of dramatic finishes, flashes of brilliance by Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant in the darkness of the New Meadowlands and also a rare simultaneous halftime for all the early games.

-- Hakeem Nicks in his second year and Dez Bryant as a rookie are simply terrifying. Regardless of how the Cowboys play out their insane coaching drama to come, watching these two play each other twice a year will be a treat for what appears to be years to come. Was it just me or did Nicks yesterday have five catches just like this?


-- The Browns, Bills and Lions will only rarely not play games that go into the final minute. We can spend months debating pointlessly in the offseason whether these teams playing better right now will translate into respectability in the future. The Browns seem like a safe bet for a "surprise" borderline playoff run in 2011 (if that season happens, of course) while the Bills and the Lions are fighting teams now, but who ever knows what the future will bring with those teams. At any rate, if the past month is any indication, no playoff team should be viewing any of these guys as an easy out for the next month and a half.

-- Are the Dolphins really that much worse off with Tyler Thigpen than either of The Two Injured Chads? In 2008, when Thigpen started 11 games for the hapless Chiefs, he threw for 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, but was shown the door when the Todd Haley era was born in KC and they brought in Matt Cassel. Sounds pretty good for Miami. 18 TDs and 12 INTs sounds like the ideal Chad Henne season. You might as well put them down as high water marks to aspire to if he can even regain the starter role by the time next season begins.

-- Simulhalftimes: Good for me, bad for the rest of the country. The entire slate of early games all went to halftime at about the same time, certainly causing great panic by all employed by the Red Zone Channel. The resources at my disposal being as limited as they are, it's nice to be able to have a chance to catch up with the huge glut of action when there are six or seven games ongoing. So, you may have had to take an extended bathroom break or God forbid talk to someone, but I appreciate the simulhalfs. It's an early Sunday respite I won't see again until the playoff start and only one game is going on.

-- It baffles me why most teams don't try to attack the Steelers defense the way the Patriots did Sunday night. If an offense spreads the Steelers out with four and five wides, Pittsburgh essentially concedes almost every play up to about six or seven yards. Obviously, to execute this, an offense needs a quarterback savvy enough to settle for dump passes, but more passing offenses than just the Patriots are capable of exploiting it. Brady had to and did make a few tough throws against Pittsburgh last night, but for the most part, it was just an endless succession of dump passes. And why not? They got an early lead and those options were never not going to be there.

-- Randy Moss at least is making a showing of humility after a disappointing debut with the Titans, in which he had one catch for 26 yards. For all the scheduling irregularities that come with playing for three teams in one season, Moss nearly went catchless in eight full quarters played in Miami this season. I maintain that Moss was a good pick-up for the Titans and that he will end up being the positive difference between them being in the playoffs and narrowly missing.

NFL Player Tweet Of The Week

I'm Mark Sanchez I beat the Browns I talk with my hands n I wear raccoon hats! @Mark_Sanchez @nickmangold than a minute ago via Echofon


After a couple huge games at the beginning of the year while the Jets waited for Santonio Holmes to return from suspension, Dustin Keller's output has slipped somewhat as team's have game planned to take him away and the role of the receivers in the offense has expanded. Nevertheless, Keller remains a valuable contributor to the Jets offense, as well as to the Twitter horde by posting this picture of Sanchez talking with his hands and sporting a raccoon hat on the ride back from Cleveland. Perhaps Rex Ryan has started a costume craze among his players.



Truth About Advertising


This insufferable Zoosk ad has been around what seems forever now, but I can be silent on the matter no longer. This thing makes no goddamn sense. What information on this man's profile could possibly indicate that the two of them would engage in a pitiful comedy of errors during sex? His turn-ons include sexualized cartoonish bumbling? Of course, when phrased that way, it does sound a little more alluring than what it actually means. Still, I call bullshit. Zoosk just wanted sexy people to hurt each other for our amusement. I'm fine with that in principle, but it'd be nice even if you even tried to justify it a little better. SHOW ME ARTISTRY, ZOOSK!

Facepalms Of Note


Yeah, sorry guys, that's gotta be a rough way to drop a game. You have to remember that, at the end of the day, you're the Texans and these things just happen to you. Over and over again. That and your defense would almost certainly allowed a first possession score if the Jaguars had won the toss in overtime. Best to get start getting on with your life.

A Delicious Bundle Of Gripes

-- NBC on occasion is able to actually create illuminating graphics and presentations about the games. For example. a few weeks back the production team made a short segment that compared the angle the Dwight Freeney uses when trying to get around a tackle to that of Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno when he's going around a turn. That struck me as something someone committed some thought to, as opposing to DURR HERR TOMLIN'S AN EMOTIONS GUY WHILE BILL BELICHICK IS AN UNDEAD ZOMBIE COMPUTER WITH NO HEARTBEAT!


-- In what announcers described as a trial run of hate prior to LeBron's return, Cleveland fans showered Braylon Edwards with displays of scorn for the way he departed the team and left scorn for the city in his wake. Every sign or defaced jersey caught by cameras focused on Braylon's famed propensity for drops. And that's effective hatred, I guess, though Braylon's deep-seated jealousy for LeBron and his recent DUI incident might be targets for ridicule slightly fresher in the receiver's mind.


This being fate's cruel game against Cleveland fans, it was former Jet and current Browns safety Abram Elam who flubbed what could have been a game-swinging interception in the 4th quarter. But then there's the hoary cliche: if defensive backs could only catch a little better, they'd be Braylon Edwards.


- Todd Haley refused to shake Josh McDaniels' hand immediately following the Broncos 49-29 drubbing of the Chiefs. It's the kind of story no one cares about yet still takes up a quarter of the Monday morning coverage with a lot of outlets. Many speculate that Haley was upset that McDaniels ran up the score or that his players seemed too celebratory on the sidelines. Can't it just be because he thinks McDaniels is a dick? That's a much less tedious solution without sacrificing any accuracy. Everyone wins!

- Here's Ben Roethlisberger's reaction to Jeff Reed shanking a 26-yard field goal last night. Similar to mine, but maybe a touch more hollow eyed and slightly less profane.


Reed, who is now under 50 percent at his own home field and under tons of local media pressure for the effects of a miserable season being exacerbated by years of stupid off-the-field behavior, has gone on the very defensive. After the game, he donned a "Haters Hate" shirt for his press conference, where he lashed out at the media, Steelers fans, and the Heinz Field turf. I highly suggest checking it out the audio. You'll be astounded by how clenched your fist is by the end. I think I squeezed through one of my coffee table legs.

-- So far at the New Meadowlands this season, we've had two weather delays on Monday night games and now the power go out for the Cowboys/Giants on Sunday. That's more than enough for me to deem the place forever fated to play host to an unending string of unspeakable disasters until humanity is able to reunite the stadium with the Earth. Overreaction? Maybe. You'd think different if you had to spend time in the dark with the Giants' front seven.

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