October 17, 2011
See Sunday's five least valuable players here.
Tom Brady(notes), Quarterback, New England Patriots. It's not going to go in Tom Brady's scrapbook as one of his prettiest games, but when he got the ball back with 2:31 to play, needing a score, was there any doubt what was about to happen? The Cowboys defense was great -- great -- against the Patriots all day long. When the Pats need plays, though, it's like some switch goes off in Brady that turns him into some kind of flawless, robotic, quarterbacking machine. The throw to Wes Welker(notes) that got the Patriots to the 8-yard line, and then the TD pass itself, both had a margin of error of just inches. Handsome Tom stuck them both.
Carlos Rogers(notes), Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers. An underrated factor in the 49ers 5-1 start? Carlos Rogers. Now, no one's telling you that Carlos Rogers can put the handcuffs on Calvin Johnson(notes). That definitely didn't happen Sunday, as Johnson caught seven balls for 113 yards. But he didn't score. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but no one else has been able to keep Calvin out of the paint. Rogers also got away with a pretty blatant pass interference against Nate Burleson(notes) on a Lions fourth-and-5 with 1:19 to play. For all intents and purposes, that ended the game. Legal? No. Effective? Yes.
Michael Turner(notes), Running Back, Atlanta Falcons. I'd credit this Falcons win more to a playmaking defense than anything on offense, but still, it was nice to see something working offensively for the Falcons. Michael Turner had some holes, and the Falcons were finally in position where they could run the ball and put a game away. They did it, and got themselves back to .500.
Kurt Coleman(notes), Safety, Philadelphia Eagles. Our guest Enrico Campitelli of The 700 Level told us on the podcast last week that Jarrad Page(notes) was a weak spot in the Eagles secondary. Page was benched, Kurt Coleman stepped in, and magically, everything seems to be fixed, as long as you're playing Rex Grossman(notes). Coleman picked off Grossman three times on the day, as the Eagles posted easily their best defensive effort since they stomped the lowly Rams in the first week of the season.
Jay Cutler(notes), Quarterback, Chicago Bears. At no point this year will the Bears be my first choice for prime-time football games, but I have enjoyed watching Jay Cutler over the past couple of weeks. I don't know if he'll ever be a consistent quarterback, but the guy can make some spectacular plays. Especially when he doesn't have to spend the time between plays trying to brush some defensive lineman's stank off of him. Cutler was 21 of 31 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on Sunday night.
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