NFL Week 3: Tiger stole the show

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Sunday’s Best Story:It’s not often another sports story can upstage the NFL on any Sunday of the regular season, but this week there was something bigger than the league’s slate of games. That something was Tiger Woods.

As a person, I suppose there is not much Tiger can do to change the perception people have of him. You either loath him for his philandering ways or you have put them in the past and see him as a man who has grown from a horrible mistake. The same can be said of his DUI.

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However, there is Tiger Woods the person and Tiger Woods the athlete. The athlete has seen his share of challenges over the past decade that have threatened his career and put a stop to his bid to overtake Jack Nicklaus as the all-time winner of grand slam tournaments. Four back surgeries and a couple of knee surgeries will do that to any athlete.

The fact he can still swing a golf club is a testament to his love of golf. Swinging a club to make a living on the pro tour is almost impossible given his medical history. And yet, as this year has unfolded, we have seen Tiger’s game slowly return and offer up glimpses of his greatness only to see his game falter to near misses.

Then something unusual happened. He entered Sunday’s tour final with a three shot lead. Not only that, he was at the top of the leader board after each of the two previous rounds as well. Could Tiger pull off the unthinkable and win his 80thcareer tournament? For many in the nation, this was a far more enticing quest to tune into over week three of the NFL.

Tiger grabbed his first win in five years, nearly wins the season points title, moves into the top 15 in rankings, and looks to be ready to compete against guys nearly half his age for some time to come. Oh, and don’t mess with him. Did you see how ripped he is?

Let The Beer Flow: Our national nightmare has finally ended. Let the beer flow. At least those were the thoughts in Cleveland after their Thursday night victory over the New York Jets. Don’t get too giddy over this great accomplishment. At their current win rate, their next victory should come about the same time as we elect a new president in 2020. Still, it was a pretty good way to begin the third week of the season.

A New Rivalry: The NFL is in a state of transition as it sees many aging quarterbacks with Hall of Fame credentials set to retire soon. Part of what makes talking about great quarterbacks are the rivalries they played in. Could the next big one be Mayfield vs Darnold? It’s too soon to know if this is going to rival Manning vs Brady, but the NFL has always been a quarterback’s league and if it is going to thrive in the future, some fresh new “Whose better?” beer arguments are needed.

Mike Zimmer, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings (Claudia Gestro)

Not So Fast:I was all set this week to write about why the Buffalo Bills were wrong to draft Josh Allen when the team has so many holes to fill. Why trade up twice to land a guy who is just going to get his lunch handed to him each week when you could fill in several other needs and draft one of this year’s college stars? Then he has to go out and prove to me why Buffalo saw something in him worth moving up for. Was there anyone in America who called Buffalo’s victory over Minnesota?

Game of the Year? It’s too soon to tell if the the overtime victory by the Saints over division rival Atlanta will be the game of the year, but it was certainly the game of the week from my perspective. As Howard Cosell once said, the game was filled with “shifting tides of ebb and flow.”

The back and forth resulted in a New Orleans victory and served as a reminder: the best NFL rivalries are division rivalries. They add to the pressure knowing the winner gains the upper hand in the first, and often only, important factor to who moves on to the playoffs at season’s end. My guess is their second meeting will be just as exciting.

I Love L.A. Actually, I can’t stand it and am not a fan of their pro sports teams (LA Galaxy not included). That said, as a kid, I did grow up enjoying seeing John Hadl toss touchdown passes to Lance Allworth when the Chargers were in San Diego. Now that they have joined the Rams in grabbing the riches offered to any team in the nation’s second largest market, they have become like all other major L.A. teams: transfers from smaller markets.

Rams defensive end Ndamukong Suh (Claudia Gestro)

This week, we got to see the battle for the city and not surprisingly, the Rams ruled the day. I will admit, the current Rams are well worth following. They finally have a front office that seems to know what it is doing and enough talent to blow through the regular season and win the Super Bowl. It’s enough to make me hope they rise to the top and then implode because that is what L.A. haters love.

As for the Chargers, all I can say is it must be nice to play second fiddle in L.A. rather than being the only team to follow in perhaps the most beautiful city in the nation, San Diego.

Strike Two: Bad enough the 49ers lost a key piece to their offense just before the start of the season when Jerick McKinnon was lost for the season with a knee injury. Now it appears they have lost their new franchise quarterback, Jimmy “I am still the most handsome man in the NFL” Garoppalo to another knee injury.

What was once looking like a team that could challenge for a playoff spot has suddenly become easy pickings for opponents. Their defense was destroyed by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs this week and the rest of their schedule is horrendous. Better start thinking about next year.

Student vs Teacher:Once again, a former student of Bill Belichick defeats the old master in their initial face off as Detroit beat New England 26-10. While many report it is too soon to panic in New England over their slow 1 and 2 start, I will go out on a limb and say all is not well with the once invincible Patriots. Perhaps things will turn around when they get Julian Edelman back in week five. Maybe he and Josh Gordon become a dynamic duo that is unstoppable.

Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick has been here before — in 2012
(Claudia Gestro)

Then again, what if Edelman tweaks a hammy and Gordon goes MIA? Does Rob Gronkowski stay in one piece? Can that offensive line protect Sir Tom? Will there ever be any sign of a ground game that can keep their defense off the field? What if Miami moves to 4 and 0 and New England drops to 1 and 3 next week?

Yes, these are a lot of what ifs, but they are all reasonable what ifs that could stand in the way of the Patriots empire. It is not inconceivable this could be a year where both New England and Pittsburgh miss the playoffs, and yet, no one would be surprised if the two meet in January with the winner going on to the Super Bowl.

Song Dedication:  This week, I thought I would single out one team deserving of a song dedication. No matter how well this team plays in their current town, they need to face the music and know they will never be loved by the locals, which is odd since the entire city’s sports culture seems built upon franchises that moved there rather than started there.  The Los Angeles Chargers know by now they were wanted and needed, but will never be loved. I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

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UPDATE:The Fitz-magic came to an end Monday Night at Ramond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. And on a night when they inducted former head coach Tony Dungy into the Ring of Honor.

Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about to throw a dropped pass (YouTube)

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers scored first on a pass to Cameron Brate. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger  sent a pass to Vance MacDonald who got some yards after the catch for a 75-yard TD. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh faithful place kicker Chris Boswell missed the point after. So for an entire the quarter the home team had the lead.

Then the Steelers exploded — despite the turnovers — scoring 24 points in the second quarter. The Bucs got a field goal.

In the second half the Fitz-magic came back a little and they mounted a comeback, getting within 3 points before the final gun. The Steelers won, 30-27.