Normally disappointment litters the NFL each week, but after thorough search, I didn’t find many stories to fit the bad and ugly categories. So, this edition of my NFL weekly review will focus on breakout performances and achievements.
Doug-ie Martin/There’s no place like home
Last week I alerted NFL fans to pay particular attention to Doug Martin after 214 yards of total offense against the Vikings. As expected, this week Martin taxed the Raiders’ defense for a career-high and franchise-record 251 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Martin scored TD runs of 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to record three TD runs of at least 45 yards in a game. His 24 direct points exceeded 17 teams point output, and his 220 yards in the second half crushes his previous rushing records. Ironically enough, last week, I jokingly asked Martin to teach us how to Dougie, so he did after a big touchdown run this week. This performance was a classic homecoming story as Martin roots stem from Oakland and he returned to California with people present. He reportedly had more than 60 family members and friends in attendance witnessing him singlehandedly dismantle a defense. Final Score: Doug Martin and the Buccs 42, Raiders32.
Charles Tillman and the Bears Defense
One Chicago Bears player forced four fumbles this week. I bet if you had a guess your first, and most fitting, vote would go to Brian Urlacher. Surprisingly cornerback Charles Tillman was the culprit responsible for continuously separating offensive players from the football, including a strip on the Titans first offensive play from scrimmage. Yet, impressive defense didn’t stop there. Urlacher housed a 46-yard interception, giving the Bears defense a TD in 3 consecutive weeks raising their total to 5. The special teams unit followed suit by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown. Their defense was impeccable and made the Titans appear small. A gargantuan defensive efforts almost makes a person forget the Bears scored 51 points this week. Final Score: Bears 51, Titans 20.
Lucky or good?
Adding the highly touted number one draft pick, Andrew Luck, didn’t raise Colts’ expectations entering this season while beginning the post Manning era. Yet, the performance of Andrew Luck has the Colts comfortably sitting at 5-3, actively chasing a playoff berth. Luck led the Colts to victory throwing for a rookie-record 433 passing yards, barely breaking Cam Newton’s record of 432 yards from last season. Luck’s poise and ability to command the pocket confirms that he’ more about skill than luck. I almost mistook Luck as Manning running the Colts’ offense. Check their numbers, you’ll be surprised. Both Luck and Manning have 2,404 passing yards on the season. Final Score: Colts 23, Dolphins 20.
Statistically speaking, two receivers had more yards than Bears wide out Brandon Marshall in week 9, but neither of those receivers hauled in a TD pass, let alone 3. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s chemistry hasn’t digressed from their Bronco days. In essence, Marshall classifies as a poor man’s Calvin Johnson. Marshall capabilities extend to every intangible Johnson has, but he may not be as fast or jump as high. Yet I’d argue that he’s just a strong, may be more physical, and his hands are just as sure. He helped complete a franchise day in Bears history, catching Chicago’s fourth TD of the first quarter for 28 points.
Adrian Peterson returns to form
The NFL’s most physical runner appears to have gotten his mojo back after a 2011 MCL tear. Everybody knows AP is the most violent runner the league has to offer. His game-breaking speed and agility coupled with ferocious strength makes AP one of the league’s most formidable opponents. Seattle came in as one of the most physical and stingiest rush defenses in the NFL, and AP has struggled to tally consistent numbers Sunday, none of that mattered as AP totaled two TDs and 182 yards, averaging 10.7 yards a carry. His longest run of the day came on a 74 yard sideline sprint, where AP suddenly cut inside, between two defenders, and was walked down inside the 5-yard line. It’s clear to see AP’s leg strength and agility has returned. Stay watchful for improvements in his conditioning. Once it returns, he will resume duties as a game-breaking force. Seahawks 30, Vikings 20.