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Defense wins championships? Not without help

One of my kids' favorite movies is Adam Sandler's The Waterboy. It's the story of a water boy turned linebacker, Bobby Boucher (Sandler), who leads a bad football team to a bowl championship -- all from the defensive side of the field. While the offense struggles to score points, Boucher is able to create enough offense through fumble recoveries and interceptions.

That's a great idea for a movie script, but it rarely works in the NFL. The Vikings were able to generate all the points they needed from interception returns, but teams can't rely on defensive and special teams touchdowns every week. The offense needs to help, too.

The Eagles' anemic offensive output against the Packers was probably an aberration. Donovan McNabb is still a top quarterback, and Brian Westbrook is as dangerous as ever. The Green Bay offense, which generated only 215 total yards, is filled with rookies and second-year players at key positions, except at quarterback of course. Maybe the youngsters just need some time to adjust to the NFL. They'd better do it soon. The Packers beat the Eagles on punt coverage, something you really can't count on week in and week out.

Like the Packers, the Ravens defense and special teams kept them in the game against the Bengals. Even though the Ravens offense turned the ball over six times and its star quarterback was on the sidelines, the Ravens defense shut down the Bengals in the third quarter and Ed Reed gave them the lead with a touchdown on a punt return. On second-and-goal with the game on the line, Brian Billick put the ball in the hands of his backup quarterback, Kyle Boller. If the Ravens' offense had the same smash-mouth attitude as their defense, they would have run the ball four straight times. Maybe they should think about putting some of those defensive stars on offense. Ed Reed at tailback. Ray Lewis at fullback. I don't know if the result would be different, but the attitude sure would be.

The most frustrated defense had to be that of the Chicago Bears. They held last year's MVP, LaDainian Tomlinson, to 25 yards rushing, though he made up for it with his passing. They shut out the Chargers' high-powered offense in the first half, but their offense managed only three points. I know the Chargers have one of the best defenses in the league, but you aren't going to win many games when you have more turnovers (4) than points (3).

The biggest problem is that teams just aren't doing enough to protect the quarterback. The teams that won easily -- the Colts, Patriots and Steelers -- gave up a total of one sack for minus-2 yards. Tom Brady spent so little time on the ground they may not have to wash his jersey this week.

The Bengals constantly pressured Steve McNair on Monday night. San Diego's Shaun Phillips had a huge hit on Bears quarterback Rex Grossman to set the tone defensively in the Chargers' victory. Even the Cardinals got into the act, as they blitzed 49ers quarterback Alex Smith all night -- until the final drive, when they quit attacking and allowed him to lead his team down the field. Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye -- that is, former Cleveland quarterback Charlie Frye -- was sacked five times, then benched, then traded.

That's what I call putting some serious pressure on the quarterback.

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