Well, this loss kind of brings everybody back down to earth. The "P" word is still in play, but it will be a much tougher road from here on out. I won't bore all of you with a "rebuilding year" speech, everybody knows about that already. What I will say is that I was a bit disappointed in the gameplan from yesterday, rebuilding or not. The defensive plan played right into NE's hands. Other than a couple drives where corners and safeties came often, we pretty much sat back, blitzed 4, and waited for Porter or Holliday to provide pressure. That didn't happen, and Cassel had his second straight 400+ yard day. But that wasn't the only complaint I had with the defense. I understand Jason Allen is big and physical and fast, but he's not a lockdown corner. So he shouldn't be left on an island with the best WR in the league. And Andre Goodman isn't that guy either, so he should have some safety help as well. Ugh. Let's move on to some positives. Quick notes before the Balls.
- Congratulations to Casey Cramer for his first career touchdown. Pennington found him in the back of the endzone for what turned out to be a pretty easy catch, but the part of that play I really liked was how Cramer continued to work across the backline while Pennington scrambled. When you don't quit on a play, good things will happen.
- The new Special Teamer we signed last week, Eric Walden, looks like he will be a boon to our coverage units. We need more guys that play with that kind of reckless abandon on special teams. He hit the wedge like it wasn't even there. No idea why KC let him go, but thanks.
- Ricky Williams made a great diving catch for a touchdown yesterday. It was a very well-designed play that resulted in Ricky running a wheel route one-on-one with a LB. Chad put it out there where only Ricky could get it, and Ricky went and got it. I never realized that he had good hands until this season.
- Pennington celebrating his rushing touchdown. Hilarious. I went through about 93 different emotions watching him run for the goal line, including sheer terror and then euphoria. But we'll get to him later...
Enough of this, BALLS AHOY!
5. Channing Crowder - He's in here for a couple reasons. One was that he was all over the field, making 8 tackles. Not a huge number, no, but he was behind only Yeremiah Bell who had 9. The other reason was how he handled the "fight" with Matt "Catfight" Light. Light went after him, Crowder shoved him, then when Light grabbed his hair and started throwing.. well.. punches I guess. Crowder skipped away and probably avoided a lengthy suspension. More on the fight later in the column, but I'm liking what I'm seeing from Crowder this season. He may not be a spectacular playmaker, but how about those hits? The shot he put on Welker after Wes caught a crossing pattern was serious. He's a good tackler, and he has a nose for the ball, even if he overruns plays sometimes. I say it's time to lock him up with a fair contract and start to look for a playmaker to play alongside him, instead of replacing him.
4. Ted Ginn Jr. - He should be higher, but the two drops in the 4th quarter drop him here. I understand he was trying to make something happen, but you have to continue to play within the game and make those catches. The kick return that ended up back at the 2 yard line was the same thing. As he matures, I think he'll begin to realize that he doesn't have to win the game on one play. But the reason he's getting a Gameball was his 5 catches for 88 yards, which lead the team. He's becoming a bigger part of the offense week after week, and it seems that he and Chad P. are developing some chemistry. That will be important as we hit the stretch run of the season and make a playoff push.
3. Greg Camarillo - Unfortunately, he is now out for the season with a knee injury. That's a gigantic blow to this offense, losing our leading receiver when we need him most. But his 6 catches yesterday went for 75 yards and contributed to the big day for the passing game. He also scored the games first touchdown on a 3 yard reception. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious, and he'll be able to come back strong next season.
2. Davone Bess - Yes, there are 3 WR's here. When you only run the ball 19 times for 65 yards and decide to get into a shootout with New England, your WR's will obviously have a good day. Bess had 5 catches for 87 yards, almost mirroring Ginn's stats, but he's here at number 2 because 4 of his 5 catches went for first downs, including 3 third down conversions. His quickness and his hands make him an ideal target on 3rd downs. He'll have to step up into a bigger role with Camarillo out, and I'm interested to see what he can do with more passes headed in his direction. He's been a pleasant surprise as an UDFA this season, and I believe he'll be around Miami for a long time.
And the Number 1 Gameball goes to... Who else? Chad Pennington - What a game by Chad. 24/41, 341 yards, 3 TD's, 1 INT, AND a rushing TD. Yes. A rushing TD. For Pennington. Now, I have to say that 41 passes is entirely too much for this offense. The running game was nonexistent yesterday, but Chad stepped his play up yet again and kept Miami in the game 'til the end. His rushing TD was a thing of beauty, with a dive and stretch to cap it off. But the best part of that play was his celebration. He jumped up, stared at the referee, threw his hands up, and screamed right in the ref's face while mimicking the ref's pose. And I was standing in my living room doing the exact same thing. So, even in a losing effort, Pennington was incredible.
This Week's Turd Sandwich Goes To: Matt Light - Never in my life have I seen a straight man, nevermind a football player, fight like "Catfight" Light. Who grabs another man's hair? Who knuckle-punches? The guy was still wearing his helmet, was it really necessary to yank on Channing's hair and slap at him like a schoolgirl? We all know who wears the skirt in the Light household. Wonder if he owns a flowery apron. I bet he bakes a mean pie. I bet he openly weeps during chick flicks. What would have happened if Crowder had fought back instead of getting away? Would Light have scratched him? Kicked him in the groin? Took his shoe off to swing around? OK, I'm done. Matt Light, you are now officially, The Girliest Man in the NFL.