Former French leader Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "Victory belongs to the most persevering."
Has there been a team that has persevered more than the Detroit Lions?
Losing 19 straight games is a true test of perseverance for any sports team. Add Detroit going through its own tough times and that makes Sunday's win over the Redskins a morale boost for the community. Lions coach Jim Schwartz was prudent to tell his team to go back on the field and thank the fans for their cheers, their encouragement, and most of all, their undying support. When fans buy tickets for a team that has not won a game for more than a year, they deserve to be recognized.
Week 3 provided useful insight into many NFL teams. It is apparent from the games on Sunday that the league has some very good teams, some average teams, some bad teams and then four teams whose 2009 season may already be finished. The Browns, Buccaneers, Chiefs and Rams all might as well play their games on the Isle of Elba, which is where the persevering Bonaparte was exiled. All four teams are that bad.
Some of that old magic: Vikings quarterback Brett Favre saved his best for last as he completed six of 10 passes on the final drive for 80 yards. Favre made an incredible throw (his longest with the Vikings) on the Vikings' winning play and proved that he still has comeback ability left in his 39-year-old body.
Who's the Manning? Did you know Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is 12-0 in his last 12 regular-season starts and has a passrt rating of 111.7? He just keeps getting better, regardless of the cast around him.
Jets set for takeoff:The Jets forced Kerry Collins into incompletions on his last 13 pass attempts. They won the game without having their offense play their best game, a sign of a good team -- winning when you are not playing your best.
Baltimore built to last: The Ravens have beaten two bad teams, Cleveland and Kansas City, and one good team, San Diego. However, I cannot help but think after watching them play that they will be competing in the AFC Championship Game in January. They look very strong -- in every phase.
Falcons' wings clipped: New England's defense took Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez and wide receiver Roddy White out of the game, which is what you must do to slow down the Falcons' offensive attack. Opposing teams must force Atlanta's other skill players to beat them.
There's no 'O' in D.C.: Do you think Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren on speed dial? The Jim Zorn era is all but over in Washington, not because of losing to the Lions, but because the Redskins can't score points, having been held under 20 points in 10 of the last 11 games.
Browns blunder: Do you think Browns coach Eric Mangini should get a bonus from the Jets at the end of the year? Had he not been fired by the Jets and received another head coaching job, there is no way -- and I mean no way -- anyone in the NFL would have made a draft-day trade last April with the Jets for the host of insignificant players he got back in the trade (defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Abram Elam, quarterback Brett Ratliff). The Browns needed Mark Sanchez more than they thought.
Russell reeling: Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell has gotten worse with each game. He throws some of the poorest interceptions I have ever seen. If the Raiders do not change quarterbacks soon in Oakland, the whole team will go in the tank. The body language of their team in Sunday's loss to the Broncos was bad after Russell threw his second interception. They know a change is needed, but does the owner know? The better question may be: Will he let them make the change?
Houston, we have a problem: The Houston Texans had better take some time this week to examine why they allow so many big runs. They have allowed 6.3 yards per rush in three games and eight rushing touchdowns. They are beyond soft.
Ted's not-so excellent adventure: Ted Ginn of the Dolphins had the drops Sunday and his lack of playmaking ability is really hurting the Dolphins offense. Miami needs to make big plays outside of the Wildcat and Ginn has failed to step up.
On the lookout
» Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson has to considered one of the top five receivers in the NFL. All he does is make big plays down the field game after game. It looks to me like no one in the NFL can cover him.
» What do William McKinley, the 25th U.S. president; Dom Capers, defensive coordinator of the Packers; Ron Lynn, former NFL coach and current Stanford defensive coordinator; and Colts new big-play wide receiver Pierre Garcon have in common? They all went to lovely Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. Another little-known tidbit: Some of the school sits on land once owned by the ancestors of Richard Milhous Nixon, our 37th president.
» Jacksonville wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker has become the new go-to guy for quarterback David Garrard. Sims-Walker made some clutch catches for the Jaguars in their first win.
On the lookout ... for fantasy fans
» It is hard to predict which running back will make an impact for the Patriots each week, but 33-year-old Fred Taylor looked very effective on Sunday and seemed to defy his age.
Off the beaten track
» Three teams failed to convert a third down on Sunday -- the Chiefs, 49ers and Buccaneers. The 49ers almost won their game, but the games involving the Buccaneers and Chiefs were basically over at the half. Tampa Bay only had five first downs for the entire game. New Orleans gets that on one drive.
» The Saints of 2009 are not the Saints of old. Drew Brees does not throw a touchdown pass all game, has fewer than 200 yards passing, but the Saints still win. New Orleans will run the ball effectively when teams play pass first.
» Devin Hester and Jay Cutler are starting to click, which could mean trouble for the rest of the NFL. Hester needs to be more like Welker, catching short passes and making long runs, than like Randy Moss just going deep.
Three-step dots ...
» Two teams showed me something on Sunday: the Jets and the Saints. Both won their games with their offenses not playing at a top level, which indicates both teams can win playing different styles. That is a critical characteristic of successful NFL teams. And the best part of all this is they play each other next week in New Orleans. How good is that? ...
» Percy Harvin is a real playmaker. He bailed the Vikings' special teams out from another embarrassing outing, taking a kick back 101 yards for a touchdown, which is tied for the second longest in Vikings history. Minnesota's special teams had a field goal attempt blocked for a touchdown on Sunday. ...
» 49ers tight end Vernon Davis has responded to the tough coaching of Mike Singletary, playing the best game of his career on Sunday. Davis had two touchdowns and made some very tough down-the-field catches. ...
» Miami finally was hampered by the quarterback rules when Chad Pennington was injured and had to be replaced by Chad Henne before the fourth quarter. That development kept Pat White off the field. (Henne was the emergency third quarterback and if he is brought into the game, no other player can come off the bench to play quarterback) ...
» Michael Vick got his feet wet Sunday, but was not needed to provide the Eagles with any spark. The Eagles, unlike the Dolphins, counted Vick in their overall 45-man roster, and could put him in the game at any time. ...
» In two road games so far this season, the Chiefs defense has allowed 921 combined yards. When I was in the NFL, I always felt the best evaluation of my team was how we played on the road. You have to wonder if the Chiefs are headed to exile in Elba.