Best High-School Play: The pass back to the quarterback—so high-schoolish most pro teams won't dignify it—clicked for New England for 23 yards by Tom Brady. The Patriots were struggling up to that point, but after the pass-back, snapped off two nice runs, got their first touchdown, and were on their way.
Best Fake Kick: TMQ's immutable law, Fake Kick = Victory, has been slightly mutable this season; obviously, the local space-time continuum has been disrupted by the lambda-drive wake of a passing starcruiser. Chicago upheld the immutable by triumphing on the strength of a very classy fake. Bears LB Brian Urlacher, who played some tight end in college, lined up as a slot blocker on a field goal attempt. Before the snap he went in motion right; the Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons defenders shifted right. At the snap, holder Brad Maynard, who is having the best year of any NFL punter, ran right with kicker Paul Edinger trailing him. The play looked for all the world like an option pitch to the kicker, and Persons defenders came up, leaving Urlacher by his lonesome. Maynard to Urlacher for the touchdown.
Best Because the Refs Don't Call This: Trailing by 10-0 against the Flaming Thumbtacks in the third quarter at home, Oakland faced third and goal on the Tennessee four. The Raiders lined up bunch left, with TE Roland Williams at the center of the bunch. Williams ran into the end zone and slammed into his defender as if blocking him for a run, then turned out and caught a curl for the touchdown. Defensive backs are allowed one "chuck" of receivers. Receivers aren't supposed to be allowed to bump and run, but zebras often let them get away with it—especially tight ends who, after all, might actually be blocking. (Since wide receivers so rarely block, officials are more likely to toss yellow when WRs slam into defenders as a pretend-block for receiving purposes.)
Worst Plays of the Week. Worst Poise: Leading 17-13 with five minutes left, the Bolts had the Chiefs pinned on their 35 and not playing well offensively. Kansas City marched for the winning touchdown as San Diego handed the opposition three first downs on penalties during the drive. A penalty also nullified what would have been a game-clinching Bolts interception, though it was a cheesy call that was not the player's fault.
Worst Tactics: Trailing 20-13 with 1:45 to play, the Chesapeake Watershed Region Indigenous Persons had third and one on the Bears three. This was "four-down territory" as the Persons would, obviously, have to go on fourth. Surely it would be run and then run again if necessary to get the first, creating a short goal-to-go for the tie. Instead, incomplete into the end zone, incomplete into the end zone, game over.
Worst Inadvertent: Leading 46-21 with two minutes remaining, the Bucs went for two, converting. They had no placement kicker as Martin Gramatica had reinjured himself.
Worst Read: Arizona brought many gentlemen up to the line as if about to big-blitz Dallas; linebacker Ronald McKinnon came into the center gap and looked erratic quasi-quarterback Quincy Carter in the eye. Carter called a "hot read" short curl. At the snap, the Cardinals players dropped off; it was a fake blitz. McKinnon backpedaled directly into the short curl zone, where Carter threw it right to him. Touchdown return.
Worst Inexplicability: Against defending champ Baltimore, one of Jon Kitna's passes was batted into the air at the line. Kitna ran toward the live ball and rather than either catch it or knock it into the turf for a harmless incompletion, spiked the ball forward volleyball-style; interception by Ray Lewis. Having watching this play several times, TMQ can report he has absolutely no ideawhat Kitna could have been thinking.
Best in a Lost Cause: At the Bay of Green three while the game was close, Cleveland came out in an empty backfield, then a receiver went in motion toward the QB. Surely, Packers defenders thought, this must be the empty-backfield/motion/end-around the Browns used so well on the key play of their second victory over the Ravens. Tim Couch faked the end-around, then flipped a shovel pass to Jamel White for the touchdown.
Stats of the Week: In its last two games, former division leader Miami has been outscored 41-13 and failed to record a touchdown on 18 consecutive drives over seven quarters.
Stat No. 2: Buffalo lost at Atlanta on a 52-yard field goal on the final play. The last time the Bills visited Atlanta, in 1989, they lost on a 52-yard field goal on the final play.
TODAY IN SLATE
The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola
How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics
PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer
The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics
A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers
Welcome to 13th Grade!
Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.
The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.