Schein's Nine: Pats are still a force

BY foxsports • September 13, 2010

The Texans made a statement.

Wade Phillips needs a clue.

Calvin Johnson made the best non-catch in NFL history.

And Bill Belichick can coach.

What a Week 1.

We break it down with our hard-hitting Tuesday SCHEINERS, Schein 9 style.

1). Top take

Oh, by the way, the Patriots are still pretty good.

Forget the final score. New England absolutely trashed what we thought was a formidable foe in the Cincinnati Bengals. For all the preseason Jets hype, Colts love, Ravens bandwagon jumpers, the Patriots are still pretty damn good and they announced that in a major way, thumping a team with the better defense and better running attack coming in.

Tom Brady looked like he was throwing against air facing Mike Zimmer’s excellent defense and underrated corners, chalking up three easy touchdowns. Wes Welker looked spry catching two scores. Fred Taylor looked like he was running for Jacksonville. Logan Mankins? No star guard, no problem.

And the biggest story was the instant growth of Bill Belichick’s young defense, a unit that looked totally overmatched in August. Carson Palmer was pressured all game. Young defensive backs Devin McCourty, Brandon Meriweather, Darius Butler and Patrick Chung flew around and made plays. Jerod Mayo reminded folks of the player who looked like a stud in his rookie year before getting hurt last season. And for good measure, Brandon Tate demoralized Cincy with a back-breaking kick return for a touchdown to make it 31-3 in the third quarter.

Reminder: This was against a playoff team from last year with a great defense and Pro Bowlers all over the offense.

Scary to think the Pats can only get better. With trips to the Jets and Dolphins on the horizon, this was a big one for the Patriots at home. And believe me, the league took note.

2). Pop and sizzle

It isn’t that the Texans got the huge Colts monkey off of their collective backs. It’s how they did it.

Finally, Houston was able to pound the rock with Arian Foster’s 231 yards. And they smartly kept giving it to Foster. Thirty-three demoralizing carries for the Colts' small defense, already without Bob Sanders, to handle. Finally, Houston was able to take a body punch on a Peyton Manning touchdown at 13-10 and actually responded.

Finally, Gary Kubiak remembered you need touchdowns, not field goals, to beat the Colts. I loved Kubiak’s call of going for it and eschewing a short field goal with a 13-10 lead at the 10-minute mark of the third quarter. That’s attitude. That’s how you beat the Colts. As star linebacker DeMeco Ryans told us Monday on Sirius NFL Radio, "It showed on Sunday we were the more physical team. It was great to see Arian Foster run the way he did. In the past we made this game more than it was. This week we had confidence. We expected to win. We shouldn't be surprised. Our defensive line had its mind made up they could beat the Colts offensive line. I loved when coach Kubiak went for it on that fourth down. That's what we talked about all week."

Great win. Now do it again. And again. And again.

3). Amateur hour

What the hell were Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett thinking at the end of the first half? Take a knee. Go into the locker room at 3-0. On your own 37-yard-line with four seconds left and you have Tony Romo throw? For what reason? And what was Romo thinking about when the play broke down? Flip it? Come on! Phillips, Garrett, and Romo deserve major criticism. Absolutely pathetic. What is this amateur hour?

How about Alex Barron holding on a game-winning touchdown? How about Barron getting beat like a drum? How about thinking that Alex Barron could play for a “potential Super Bowl team?" Amateur hour!

I stand by my Dallas 8-8 pick.

4). Can't make it up

I watched the Calvin Johnson touchdown that wasn’t live. I watched Mike Pereira brilliantly explain why it wasn’t a score instantly after the play on FOX. I read Mike’s take on FOXsports.com (By the way, how cool is it to have the NFL’s former VP of officiating now working for us at FOX! He’s the best.) I know the rule. I get it. I understand that, and I quote from the rule book, “a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), he must maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone.”

But yet every time I watch it I think it is a touchdown. I firmly believe if the Johnson play was called a touchdown on the field, it wouldn’t have been overturned and the Lions would’ve won. And nobody in Chicago would've complained. I think it was akin to Lance Moore in the Super Bowl. I am still convinced that Louis Murphy caught a touchdown pass against the Chargers in Week 1 last year.

I know the officials got it right, technically. But it just stinks. The ruling cost made majestic moment non-existent. It smelled like a touchdown. It felt like a touchdown. I still think it's a touchdown. Change the rule. And use common sense.

5). My guys

Arian Foster – It was a classic season debut in a gigantic statement win for the Texans against the big, bad Colts.

Clay Matthews – How tough was this cat on Sunday? A couple of sacks, seven tackles, a forced fumble, and energy for the clutch Packers defense. And it was Matthews who made the stop on Mike Vick to seal the Packers win.

Rashard Mendenhall – The Steelers running back busted 50 yards for an overtime score, giving Pittsburgh a big, Roethlisberger-less win in overtime against a solid Falcons team.

Hakeem Nicks – The Giants receiver is a beast. Nicks had three touchdowns in the New York win against Carolina. I called him a sleeper preseason. I think the secret is out.

Bill Belichick – No run game? Young defense? That's what you call coaching by one of the greatest in NFL history.

6). My goats

Alex Barron – You can hear the laughter coming all the way from St. Louis where for years Rams fans got a healthy dose of his inept play. Barron is not an NFL tackle. His holding penalty doomed the Cowboys on a potential game-winning touchdown, fitting as he was manhandled and awful all game.

Marvin Lewis – Did the Bengals know the season started on Sunday?

Randy Moss – The Patriots had a phenomenal season opening win. And Moss thought this was a good time to express his displeasure about his contract.

Albert Haynesworth – He takes $20 million from the owner but doesn't want to stand with his teammates on the sideline and be coached? He is a disgrace to professional sports.

Jared Allen – Paging Jared Allen. Paging Mr. Jared Allen.

7). Backseat coaching

I loved the pure disdain in Al Michaels' voice when Wade Phillips botched his timeouts before the two-minute warning. He can't manage his way out of a paper bag.

Steve Spagnuolo's clock management at the end of the Rams loss was a train wreck.

Memo to Lovie Smith — put the points on the board. The Lions defensive line got better in the offseason.

8). He said what?

Mike Singletary – “I want to very much tell Pete Carroll thank you for kicking our tails.”

Come on Mike Singletary. This is supposed to be a year for your Niners to get over the hump. This is not a learning experience. Pete Carroll has his team ready. It was Pete Carroll who had his defense flying around. Meanwhile, you had Singletary calling out Alex Smith and the quarterback calling out the coaching staff after the game.

The thud you currently hear is the sound of people smartly jumping off of the San Fran bandwagon.

I hope you watched "Cosmic Schein" here on FOXsports.com to see Seattle as an upset special pick.

9). Three nuggets of wisdom

1. There is no debate. When Kevin Kolb is healthy, he is the Eagles quarterback. Not Mike Vick. Philly losing center Jamal Jackson for the season and star fullback Leonard Weaver for the campaign are huge blows.

2. My division-winning Cards! We did it! That certainly felt like the single ugliest win in NFL history. I thought Ken Whisenhunt was going to hurt someone when Tim Hightower fumbled after Kerry Rhodes’ interception.

3. Perfect storm for the Jets futility on offense. The players were that bad. The coaching was that bad. The Ravens defense was that good. The Jets' failures on third down doomed them. And so did their third-down defense and penalties. They have a lot to clean up before the Patriots. A lot to clean up ...



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