Blogs & Opinion


Peyton Manning and Indianapolis Colts take plaudits from Neil Reynolds

Features - Neil Reynolds Posted 2nd December 2013 view comments

I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but it was truly another wild weekend in the NFL as games went right down to the wire in Week 13.

There was the odd spot of controversy and lots of close finishes but, more than anything else, we were treated to some offensive fireworks as the playmakers of the NFL stood up and took centre stage at the beginning of what will be an intense run-in.

High five: Peyton Manning ripped Kansas City apart through the air

High five: Peyton Manning ripped Kansas City apart through the air

Peyton Manning tossed five touchdown passes in Denver's 35-28 victory over Kansas City, Adrian Peterson rushed for 211 yards as Minnesota grabbed their third win of the year, and we saw a pair of receivers go over 200 yards on the day in Cleveland's Josh Gordon and Chicago's Alshon Jeffery. Both of those dynamic wide-outs ended up on the losing end on Sunday.

On what was a breath-taking night of American football action to kick off December, here is what caught my eye...

Peyton is a machine

Okay, so it wasn't a cold weather game as such and there was no wind to contend with, but Peyton Manning looked pretty comfortable playing away from home in a hostile environment on Sunday.

Manning overcame a shaky start to systematically rip apart Kansas City's defense. His arm strength is clearly nowhere near what it once was, but it's hard to pick holes in Peyton's production, even if he can be harried into mistakes when he is not given time to set his feet in the pocket.

Manning threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns as the Broncos took control of the AFC West, and possibly the entire American Football Conference. And it was on the deep ball that Manning demoralised and eventually defeated the Chiefs. He hooked up with Eric Decker eight times for 174 yards and four scores.The shine has come off the Chiefs with three straight losses after a 9-0 start but they are still in the thick of the playoff race and cannot hit the panic button just yet. Peyton has produced this kind of form against a great many defences during his Hall of Fame career.

Peterson is also a machine!

Anyone remember the classic quotes from Rocky IV just as Ivan Drago is preparing to head out for the third round of the big fight in Moscow?

After giving Rocky Balboa the business for the first two rounds, Drago moans: "He's not human. He's like a piece of iron." I'm pretty sure the Chicago Bears are saying the same thing today after trying to contain Adrian Peterson (pictured) on Sunday night.

Peterson ran like a man possessed and virtually dragged the Minnesota Vikings to a 23-20 overtime win over the Bears. He became the third-fastest man in NFL history to reach 10,000 rushing yards and gained 211 yards on 35 carries on the night.

The Bears knew Peterson was Minnesota's only hope, yet they still couldn't stop him. There were times when he had no openings in front of him. On those occasions, Peterson simply ran into the heart of the Chicago defence and carried members of the opposition downfield with him.

I cannot confirm these reports, but I suspect Peterson spent the hours after the game signing autographs for Spider-Man, Superman and Iron Man - those guys know who the king of the superheroes truly is - he wears purple and he wears number 28.

Jets done with Geno already?

When you consider the New York Jets invested a second round draft pick in quarterback Geno Smith in April, it's hard to imagine they move on from him already after just 12 games.

But if the Jets stick with their struggling rookie passer just to break him in and make him a more viable prospect in the future, how does head coach Rex Ryan sell that to the veterans in his locker room who want to win now and are in the midst of the AFC playoff race?

Smith may have sealed his own fate during New York's dismal 23-3 defeat against the Miami Dolphins in front of their own fans. He was so bad that the Jets might deem him beyond saving. Smith showed some bright spots early in the year but has regressed terribly and he threw for just 29 yards and an interception before being replaced by Matt Simms at the half.

Simms didn't fare much better, however, and quickly realised that Geno has been working with inferior skill-position players around him. Simms threw for just 79 yards and an interception. If he is not going to be a significant upgrade on Smith, the Jets might as well go with their rookie second round selection and have him try to work through these rough times. At least they will find out if their young passer has the stomach for a fight.

Colts bounce back

The Indianapolis Colts must enjoy playing the Tennessee Titans. A week after being thrashed at home by the St Louis Rams, the Colts got healthy with a win in Nashville. And after losing heavily in Arizona in Week 12, Indy recorded a 22-14 home win over the Titans in Week 13 (pictured).

With that victory, the Colts took control of the AFC South. They have a three-game lead in the division with four to play - but all is not rosy in the Indianapolis garden.

They continue to get bogged down offensively and relied far too much on the boot of Adam Vinatieri (pictured) on Sunday night. The Colts kicked five field goals and scored just one offensive touchdown against the Titans.

As much as I like quarterback Andrew Luck and feel he has the potential to be truly great, that kind of offensive production - particularly when it comes to finishing drives - is not going to get it done in the playoffs.

He meant it!

There is no doubt in my mind that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin meant to impede kick returner Jacoby Jones during his team's 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving Day.

How often do you see a head coach with his back to the action on the field, preferring to watch on the giant screen at the other end of the stadium? I have rarely seen that during my time in the NFL. It's almost as if Tomlin got lost on purpose in order to get in Jones' way.

If that is proven to be the case - and Tomlin is currently protesting his innocence despite the fact his own wry smile after the play gave him away - the Steelers and their coach must face a pretty severe punishment. That could then be used as a deterrent for other coaches thinking of pulling a similar stunt in the future.

Good weekend for Wembley-bound teams

Maybe the teams heading to London in 2014 were buoyed by the news that season ticket packages go on sale from Tuesday of this week.

Of the six teams heading to the UK in 2014, five were victorious in Week 13 as Detroit, Dallas, Jacksonville, Miami and finally Atlanta saw off their opponents. Only the Oakland Raiders were on the wrong end of the scoreboard this week, losing to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

I continue to be impressed by the job that Gus Bradley is doing as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (pictured). When we spoke at length in London he told me that his task was to keep teaching and to keep reminding his players that their goal was to get better each and every week.

The Jags are far from the finished article but they have done just what their coach asked of them. They have improved dramatically from where they were at the start of the year and I doubt they are finished with the wins just yet. Jacksonville lost badly at Wembley by a 42-10 scoreline to the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, they have won three of their last four games.

When the curtain comes down on this season, the Jags will be a significantly improved team on the one that kicked off the 2013 campaign. That not only bodes well for a brighter future - that is a sign of good coaching.

back to top

Other Experts:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....

comments

Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....

comments

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....

comments

Jamie Redknapp

Toffees come unstuck

Man Utd's men with a point to prove can take advantage of Everton's midweek blow, says Jamie Redknapp....

Paul Merson

Merson's predictions

Paul Merson says Liverpool WON'T beat Norwich - and Chelsea and Man City will close the gap....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....

comments

Jamie Carragher

Bruce almighty

Steve Bruce deserves a mention when this year's managerial awards are handed out, says Carra....

Dewi Morris

Heart and soul

Dewi Morris looks at a crucial weekend in the Championship as we head towards the play-offs....

Stuart Barnes

Ups and downs

Stuart Barnes says the drama of relegation must be kept in rugby, but the play-offs need changing....

Phil Clarke

To Hull and back

Phil Clarke looks at the mental damage done to Hull FC and Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his latest setback....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Barry Cowan

Heavy burden

Great Britain's best Davis Cup since 1986 fails to mask their reliance on Andy Murray, says Barry Cowan....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Alex Hammond

Rocky's road

Alex Hammond explains why she is backing Rocky Creek and Lion Na Bearnai at the Grand National....

Johnny Nelson

The best of friends

It will be tough but Johnny Nelson expects mates Anthony Crolla and John Murray to serve up a classic....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Delighted for DeGale

James DeGale's Matchroom switch is the perfect move to get him back in the mix, says Johnny Nelson....

View from America

Desperate deals?

Simon Veness reviews a crazy week in the NFL's free agent frenzy, as sides splash out over $1bn....

comments

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....

comments

Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....

comments

Kelvin Tatum

Rich re-Ward

Poole, and the dynamic Darcy Ward, will wrap up the Elite League title at Perry Barr, says Kelvin Tatum....

comments

Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......

comments

Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....

comments

Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....

comments

Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...

0 comments

Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....

2 comments

Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....

0 comments