Tennessee Titans: Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was elated
to see his team improve their record to 10-0, especially since he felt that
outsiders had much lower expectations for the Titans.
“People in the beginning were counting us out and guessing we would be 8-8
at best. Now, we’re 10-0," he said. "We like proving the world
wrong, I guess — going out there and playing our game and winning them.”
Adding to the satisfaction of extending their winning streak on Sunday was
the fact that the tenth win came against division rival Jacksonville.
“Hopefully, with this win, we can knock Jacksonville out of this,"
Haynesworth said. "That was the whole key with this game, to put the nail
in the coffin with Jacksonville and get them out of the playoffs, and for us
just to keep moving."
New York Giants: With New York's rushing attack rolling over
opponents for a league-best 172.7 yards per game, Giants quarterback Eli Manning
finds himself in an unusual position this year. He fully expects opponents
to stack the line of scrimmage with up to eight players in the box, daring him
and his receivers to throw the ball.
"Yeah, I think that is the plan," Manning acknowledged during a
conference call on Monday. "You have to have a plan to stop the running
game, but that is when the passing game has got to step up and you should have
man-to-man coverage on the outside. And that is where receivers have to do their
part, I have to do my part in getting them the ball, but we have to pass
"We have to keep working on all fundamentals and all our parts of our
offense and know that whatever the defense is doing, we are going to have an
answer. And it is just about execution."
Running back Brandon Jacobs leads the team in rushing with 164 carries for
879 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and 11 touchdowns.
Broncos rookie WR Eddie Royal
Doug Pensinger /Getty Images
Denver Broncos: While rookie Eddie Royal has proven to be a very
talented member of the wide receiver corps and as a punt returner in Denver,
injuries to running backs Selvin Young and Andre Hall have forced Broncos head
coach Mike Shanahan to also put him in the dangerous spot of returning kickoffs
for the team. While Shanahan would prefer to have someone else handling that
task, Royal's talent as a return specialist is too big of an advantage to the
team's field position.
“That’s one of the reasons why we drafted him," the Broncos' head
coach explained during a press conference on Monday. "We felt like once he
got the ball in his hands as a punt returner or a kickoff returner he had a
chance to go the distance every time."
The Broncos' coaching staff has also been very impressed with the former
Virginia Tech receiver's maturity and intelligence.
"What we didn’t know was how sharp he was," Shanahan said.
"The game is not too big for him. He has handled himself unbelievably for a
rookie relative to his intelligence, the way he goes about his preparation and
the way he handles himself on the field. We just hope he keeps on getting better
San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback Shaun Hill has helped breathe
some life into the 49ers offense, leading his team to a 35-16 win over the Rams
on Sunday. Hill completed 15-30 passes for 213 yards and threw for two
touchdowns. And he avoided throwing any interceptions, a problem that had
plagued former starter J.T. O'Sullivan.
While Hill respectfully referred to this week's foe, the Cowboys, as a
"tough opponent" he also made it clear that his team wasn't going to
be intimidated by the thought of squaring off with them.
"Yeah, obviously their whole roster is stacked," he said on Monday.
"They have great players down there, but so do we. We'll be ready. We'll be
excited for this one."
Buffalo Bills: Rookie cornerback Leodis McKelvin scored his first NFL
touchdown on a 98-yard kickoff return during the fourth-quarter of a 29-27 loss
to the Cleveland Browns on Monday night. He also ran back two others for 38 and
"Those other 10 guys have been playing hard every game. All the other
games you can watch and see I'm one play away from scoring or getting a big
return," he said. "Last week I broke one and we scored like one play
later. This week we got in the end zone. I was just telling the guys that you do
a great job of blocking for me and I'm going to get to the end zone. They did a
great job on all three returns."
Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson, whose career-best 56-yard field goal won the
game for the Browns, paid a high compliment to the Bills' special teams for
their work on returning his kickoffs, including some short kicks that the Browns
booted in an effort to keep the ball out of McKelvin's hands.
"That was the best performance by a kickoff return unit that I have
seen in my career," he said. "Other than the squib kick, I didn't do
the same kick twice. We tried everything moving the ball around. Deep, short,
left, right, up high, down low and they had an answer for it."
Steelers LB James Harrison is congratulated by LaMarr Woodley following a safety against the Chargers.
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Pittsburgh Steelers: Linebacker James Harrison helped put two points
on the scoreboard against the Chargers in a game that ended with the Steelers
winning by a single point, 11-10. After Harrison sacked Chargers quarterback
Philip Rivers in the second quarter at that San Diego 3-yard line, Rivers
coughed-up the football and it rolled deep into the end zone. Left tackle Marcus
McNeil covered the fumble for a safety to prevent the Steelers defense from
turning it into a touchdown. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin heaped plenty of
praise on Harrison following the game.
"First of all, he is just a great player and he has a great work ethic.
I think that his stature works in his favor. He is not a small guy; he is a
short guy. I think that his advantage is a game of pad level," he
explained. "He can turn the corner and he has enough power to run through
and lean through contact.
"He is just a really good football player. Take nothing away from what
he does and what he is willing to do to put himself in a position to have
performances like he had tonight. His work ethic is second-to-none."
Harrison modestly deflected the praise.
"We did that as a defense," he said. "There are 10 other guys
on the field. I just happened to be the guy that got to the quarterback."
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers have lost three of their last five
games and are 1-5 as a road team this season after losing at Pittsburgh on
Sunday. LB Matt Wilhelm summed up the team's situation at this stage of the
"We’re continually backing ourselves into a corner, and we’re
probably facing the corner now," he said. "Speaking for myself, we’re
excited to play three games at home. We feel there’s a great opportunity with
a very good Colts team coming to town."
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive end Kevin Carter continues to defy the
odds at 35 years old, playing a prominent role in the Buccaneers' defense that
is currently ranked fifth in the league. After Tampa Bay held running back
Adrian Peterson and the rest of the Vikings offense to just 13 points in
Sunday's win, head coach Jon Gruden called out the veteran who is in his 14th
"Kevin Carter is playing — I don’t know what his age is, I really
don’t care — he is playing his heart out," Gruden said. "I think he has a lot to do with
the playmaking and the energy as a whole on that defensive line. He’s such a
great leader and he’s really playing good, hard-nosed physical football for us
and we respect that about him tremendously."
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
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