After the Green Bay Packers ended the Atlanta Falcons’ last serious scoring opportunity with a fourth-quarter interception, the question of whether the defending Super Bowl champions could go this entire season undefeated suddenly became a topic worth discussing. That the Packers struggled offensively at the outset and fell behind, 14-0, before rallying for 25 straight points only reinforced the notion that this team, which has now won 11 games in a row dating back to last season, is as complete and resilient as they are explosive.
The Packers’ impressive performance on Sunday Night Football stands in stark contrast to some of the Week 5 showings by other preseason favorites, notably the now 1-4 Philadelphia Eagles. Michael Vick was harassed into throwing four interceptions by the Buffalo Bills’ pass rush and the surprising Bills upset the Eagles, 31-24. In a clip from the post-game press conference that aired on Football Night in America, Philadelphia coach Andy Reid shouldered the blame, and a misbehaving mic made it sound like he had an irregular heartbeat that was about to burst right through his chest. The heavyset coach might now be on the hot seat, if not in the emergency room.
In New York, the Giants were undone by Seattle’s gruesome-twosome of Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst — two quarterbacks with less public support than those Prime Suspect commercials that feature fans’ tweets — allowing 20 fourth-quarter points to lose, 36-25. And in Houston, the frustrating Texans gifted a game to the Oakland Raiders – and their late owner Al Davis – with another shoddy performance that must have their fans apoplectic. FNA’s Dan Patrick and the show’s pregame crawl tried to give Davis, who died Saturday at age 82, more than his fair share of the credit, reminding viewers that several of the game’s surprising stars had been drafted by Davis. Couldn’t the same be said about every other owner and his respective players on Sunday afternoon? Many current Raiders, both good and bad, were drafted by Davis, including infamous multimillion-dollar busts no longer in the sport, like JaMarcus Russell. At one point in the pregame show, Peter King revealed that Davis had tried to recruit ousted Lions exec — and former Raider — Matt Millen to run his team a few years ago. “But imagine what would’ve happened if this would’ve been Matt Millen’s team moving forward,” said King. Viewers were left to make their own conclusions as to whether this was supposed to be evidence of Davis’ brilliance. Or his incompetence. As it is, this year’s Raiders are now 3-2.
It wouldn’t be until halftime before we heard an honest assessment of Davis’ legacy, a pioneer who in later years began to resemble Ed Grimley‘s crazy uncle. The architect of some truly great Raiders teams in the 1970s and 80s could also be petty and vindictive. Before kickoff, Packers star Charles Woodson, a former Raider, told NBC that Davis always had his back when he played for him. But kudos to Bob Costas for reminding viewers in his halftime spot that Davis could also be a “general pain in the assets,” who once undermined his best player, Marcus Allen, as well as his young coach, Mike Shanahan. Like the recent passing of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Davis’ positive contributions to the game, his championship rings, and his “Just win, baby,” ethos are only half of his polarizing legacy in the sport.
NEXT: The Falcons seemed to have the Packers solved….