Santonio Holmes comes up big for Jets

A couple seasons ago, Santonio Holmes made four receptions on the final drive, including a spectacular game-winner, to give the Pittsburgh Steelers their sixth Super Bowl title, something no other NFL franchise has ever done.

I’m sure Ben Roethlisberger still wishes Holmes was wearing a Pittsburgh uniform. Holmes paid the price for a failed substance test – the Steelers virtually gave away one of the game’s best big-game receivers – and now Mark Sanchez and the Jets are reaping the benefits.

Holmes was suspended for the first four games of the season, but I bet he will continue to pay dividends for the Jets. I mean, what he did today in Cleveland, catching the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, will be something he will build on. The season is still young, and Sanchez’s rapport with Holmes will only improve. Remember, this is a team that wants nothing less than to be playing in the Super Bowl. And that game is still 12 weeks away.

To me, the Jets and Sanchez are still feeling their way with Brian Schottenheimer’s offense. This 7-2 team can run the ball, but it also has four quality receivers in tight end Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards and Holmes. That’s a mess of talent with a very strong offensive line, and that’s without even talking about Rex Ryan and the defense.

I have to hand it to Rex. He was right from the very beginning about his team. He talked the talk from the very first episode of Hard Knocks. The Jets are good enough to be playing in Dallas on Feb. 6. Yes, they have won two consecutive games in overtime, something no NFL team has ever done before on the road, and that will only give the Jets more confidence.

They are the only NFL team unbeaten on the road this season, and what’s unusual about that is generally good teams protect the home field and then try to split or go 5-3 on the road. This team is doing it entirely differently.

Getting back to Holmes, it’s kind of amazing how overlooked this acquisition was when talking about the Jets. Much of the talk earlier in the season was all about LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie. Yes, those two guys have been difference makers on offense and defense for the Jets, but when the playoffs come, I bet the guy we’ll be talking about will be Holmes. He’s that good. Like I said, he’s a big-game receiver, and those are the kind of guys I love.

Looking bad for the Vikings

In all my years being around football, I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much talk about players not liking their coach like the Vikings have been telling folks all season about Brad Childress. It can’t be a good thing. I wish some of the leaders on that team would have a meeting among the players and put an end to all this anonymous talk, all these quotes that have no names attached.

Everyone wants to put the blame on Brett Favre, but it’s obviously more than just Brett. The Vikings can’t seem to find their way this season, and complaining about Childress all the time doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Minnesota didn’t play well in Chicago. This was a game that could have put the Vikings back in the NFC North race with Green Bay coming to Minnesota next Sunday. Instead, the Bears and Packers are tied for first place and the Vikings are now three games back.

I’m not saying it’s over, but it sure doesn’t look good for Favre and the Vikings. Favre had four more turnovers in this game and not all of them were his fault, but four turnovers are four turnovers. His total turnover count for the season now is 21.

It didn’t help him that our cameras caught his three best receivers, Sidney Rice, Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin, sitting there together on the bench when he was trying to rally his team in the fourth quarter. But it’s been that kind of season for the Vikings. Nothing has gone right.

The Bears, though, impressed me. Jay Cutler had a real solid game with three touchdown passes, and for the second week in a row, offensive coordinator Mike Martz called a very balanced game on offense. Martz called 38 runs and 35 passes. If Martz keeps it up, the Bears have a real chance to be a factor the rest of the way.

Mike Tice has done a great job of getting that offensive line to stand up and be counted. Cutler was sacked only once. It wasn’t that long ago when the Giants sacked him nine times in one half and gave him a concussion. The Bears seem to have put that kind of performance in their rearview mirror.

Horrible picker

Anybody who watches our pre-game show must know by now that I went 0-4 picking games today. I still don’t know if it’s me or this unpredictable league.

I got what I thought was an easy game to pick, the 14-point favorite Giants playing at home against the Cowboys. Instead, Jason Garrett in his first game as a head coach shocked the football world. The Cowboys played hard throughout and won, 33-20. The Dallas defense played more zone, and it was also more aggressive than I remember it being this season.

Not only did Garrett do the right thing in challenging his team to be more accountable, but he also called a good offensive game for Jon Kitna, who threw for three touchdowns.

The Cowboys broke some long runs, and Felix Jones looked explosive again. Dez Bryant again played better than most rookies. In two games now against the Giants, he has scored four touchdowns. He returns punts and can jump out of any stadium. Dallas definitely has a future star in Bryant.

Maybe the Giants were due for a bad game, considering how beat up their offensive line is right now. But give the Cowboys credit for playing with a lot of emotion and not sitting back waiting for something bad to happen.

This win just goes to show you Dallas has a lot of talent. In one long stretch in this game, the defense hung tough despite playing without both starting cornerbacks. I never even heard of rookie cornerback Bryan McCann until he returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown.

This was a great start for Garrett and the Cowboys. I’m not sure they can go on an eight-game winning streak, but at least we know they will be a lot more fun to watch as the season continues.