Winners and losers: Favre sends a message


Brett Favre set a career high and tied Joe Namath's Jets mark with six TD passes.

(Getty Images/Chris McGrath)

Brett Favre didn't say it, so we will: Take that, Ted Thompson.

On a day when the Green Bay Packers general manager was watching quarterback Aaron Rodgers limp off the field with a separated shoulder, Thompson's nemesis was having the best scoring day of his career: Six touchdown passes, 289 yards and only one (really bad) interception. It was typical Favre, only a little better than usual.

Barring something miraculous on Monday night, the 38-year-old Favre should go into Week 5 as the league leader with 12 touchdown passes against only four interceptions. Helped greatly by a defense that forced seven turnovers and sacked Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner five times, Favre threw touchdown passes of 12, 34, 2, 17, 40 and 24 yards. The last three came in a wild 36-point fourth quarter, in which Favre and Warner traded touchdown passes. For those that are wondering, Favre has now thrown an absurd 454 career touchdown passes.

But it was his latest six that made him the league's biggest winner this weekend. Some of Sunday's other winners and losers …


Jason Campbell threw two TD passes to beat the Cowboys.

(US Presswire/Tim Heitman)

The Washington Redskins
What can you possibly say? This team has to be for real after knocking off the Dallas Cowboys on the road Sunday. Coach Jim Zorn has quarterback Jason Campbell humming along in the West Coast offense, running back Clinton Portis has been as consistent as ever, and the Redskins defense has been solid. The whole emotion of this team looks as high as it has been in years.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson
OK, maybe I predicted Johnson's demise a tad early. Sunday's 198 rushing yards and two touchdowns were very impressive, even if they did come against a crummy Denver Broncos defense. Johnson has 319 rushing yards and three touchdowns in his last two games. Mea culpa, LJ.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson
He may have held on to his starting job for one more week after Sunday's come-from-behind win over the Cincinnati Bengals. His three fourth quarter scoring drives were particularly impressive. Brady Quinn might eventually take over this year, but Sunday could be the spark Anderson needed.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard
He has struggled far more this season than last, but his second-half performance against the Houston Texans reminded me of the heady, versatile player whom I saw last year. His fourth quarter was superb on Sunday.

The Carolina Panthers
Quarterback Jake Delhomme and wideouts Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith were very sharp. Muhammad, who looks reborn now that he's back with the Panthers, was particularly impressive against the Atlanta Falcons. The defense was solid, too.

The Houston Texans offense
Quarterback Matt Schaub finally came alive with three touchdown passes, including a pair to much underrated wideout Kevin Walter in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Last week it was the running game; this week it was the passing game. If coach Gary Kubiak can ever get both on the same page, the Texans might actually win a game.

Commissioner Roger Goodell
Goodell stepped out and fined Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $25,000 for his criticism of the league's officiating. While I actually think owners should be allowed to criticize officiating, it was nice to see Goodell slap the wrist of one of the league's cornerstone owners. And it was entertaining to see a smiling and contrite Jones tell ESPN Sunday, "I stepped out of bounds. Roger's doing his job."

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees
Four games into the season, and Brees has thrown for 1,343 yards and eight touchdowns to five different players. From the start of the 2006 season through Sunday, no quarterback in the NFL has thrown for more yardage than Brees' 10,184.


Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth sacked Gus Frerotte twice.

(US Presswire/Charles Small)

New York Jets wideout Laveranues Coles
Despite not having become Brett Favre's BFF just yet, Coles put up 105 receiving yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. Somewhere out there, Chad Pennington is crying and singing the Grease rendition of "Summer Nights."

Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth
With two sacks against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, he has raised his season total to five in four games. He's been worth every penny he earns, and should be the NFL's defensive MVP of the first month of the season.

Titans quarterback Kerry Collins
He hasn't been spectacular, but he's not killing the Titans, either, with only one turnover in three starts. With a scheme built on running the football and a superb defense, Collins has been exactly what the coaching staff ordered.

San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson
Two fourth-quarter touchdowns and 106 total rushing yards in a comeback win over the Oakland Raiders. This might have been the first time this season that he has been in typical form. Hopefully it reminds Norv Turner that this is still an offense that should be flowing through Tomlinson, and not quarterback Philip Rivers.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards
Three fourth-quarter comeback wins in a row is damn impressive. The Bills are averaging 15 points per fourth quarter in the last three games.

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson
He had 188 offensive yards and a touchdown in the loss to Buffalo. There you have it. I finally found a winner on the Rams after four weeks of searching.

Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson
The guy has been playing with a broken toe since the season opener, and all he has done is look fantastic. One week after shutting down Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens, he intercepted a pass in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay and took it back for his second touchdown this season. That's three picks in four games for a player who seems to be getting better with age.

The New Orleans Saints defense
It won't last, but you've got to give them props when deserving. Forcing three turnovers and sacking San Francisco 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan six times provided a huge lift for Brees and the offense.


ESPN analyst Cris Carter
I almost choked when I heard Carter rip former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen for drafting wideout duds Mike Williams and Charles Rogers. Maybe Carter doesn't realize that people actually, you know, keep track of what he says.

Carter helped both Williams and Rogers train before their respective drafts. And this is what he said about that on Sunday: "Matt Millen – do a little undercover work. (Mike) Williams and Charlie Rogers both worked out with me before the draft. I could have told him, don't draft neither one of them. (He) never asked me."

That's interesting because here is what you said about both players just before they were drafted. Carter's comments about Rogers, to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel just before the 2003 draft: "He's very similar – and I don't like to make a lot of comparisons – to Randy (Moss) in a sense, a big basketball player playing wide receiver. He's the only receiver that's come out since Randy that you can make an honest comparison to. He has a yearning to learn."

And Carter's comments about Williams, to the St. Paul Pioneer Press just before the 2005 draft: "I think he's going to be a great player. I think people will be surprised at the kind of person he is. He's really a hard worker. He takes his training very seriously and wants to be very good."

So much for consistency.


Coach Scott Linehan is 11-25 in his third season with the Rams.

(AP Photos/Tom Gannam)

Coaches trying to hang on to their jobs
Scott Linehan's quarterback change looked like it inspired some early fire, but with some second-half pressure, the Rams folded on their head coach once again.

Lane Kiffin? I thought you had it in you for a moment to beat San Diego, but giving up those 25 fourth-quarter points (is defensive coordinator Rob Ryan doing it on purpose?) sure looked bad, especially after the late collapse against Buffalo in Week 3. And what was with attempting a 76-yard field goal to end the first half?

And Marvin Lewis – what can you say anymore? Carson Palmer's sore elbow probably seals his fate.

The Broncos defense
I guess all those retreads in the front seven are coming back to haunt coach Mike Shanahan. The Broncos have given up 38, 32 and 33 points in their last three games, and looked horrible against the run. Maybe letting go of run-stuffing safety John Lynch wasn't such a bright idea.

Vikings coach Brad Childress
For some inexplicable reason, Childress burned a timeout to consider whether to challenge the spot of a catch by Titans wideout Justin Gage. Then, after talking it over with coaches, he threw the challenge flag. The spot of the catch was upheld, and Childress lost a second timeout. Don't give me that garbage about saving your challenge. Childress should have just thrown the flag in the first place.

Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer
Elbow problems? That's bad news for a quarterback who puts so much torque on his arm throwing the football. It sure makes you wonder about Palmer's slow start.

The 49ers offensive line
Welcome to Mike Martz's neighborhood, where quarterbacks get killed on the regular. O'Sullivan was sacked six times Sunday, bringing his season total to 19 in four games.

The Arizona Cardinals
I figured that 2-0 start wasn't as impressive as it looked, particularly with wins against San Francisco and Miami. Arizona's secondary is once again getting exposed for the sieve it is.

Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner
Six turnovers. Kind of takes some of the shine off his 472 passing yards.

The Packers
I only wish I could have been there to see all of the blood drain from GM Thompson's face when Rodgers suffered that shoulder separation in Sunday's game. That 2-0 start sure evaporated fast, and with Rodgers hurt, things are looking a little more ominous with games against the Seattle Seahawks (on the road) and Indianapolis Colts in two of the next three.

Packers running back Ryan Grant
No wonder he was holding out for his money before the season started. After this sluggish start, the Packers certainly would have been thinking twice about giving him marquee running back money. Grant has to do better than his first quarter of the season: 55 carries for 186 yards (3.4 yards per carry), zero touchdowns and two lost fumbles.

The Cowboys defense
The Cowboys are giving up an average of 26 points the last three games, and the secondary hasn't been nearly as consistent as you would expect. Head coach Wade Phillips has his work cut out for him on this side of the ball.


“It's been a very, very difficult week, especially for Matt. You have to pray for him. He's a man of very few words, always has been, always will be. I think he needed the game today. He needed football today, and did he really perform.”

Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden talking about Buccaneers kicker Matt Bryant, whose three-month-old son, Tryson, passed away this week. Bryant converted all three of his field goals and all three extra points Sunday. .

12, 0
12, 0

The number of touchdowns scored in the final three quarters of the New York Jets' 56-35 win over Arizona. With 861 total yards and only three punts, it was pretty entertaining for a game that was 34-0 in favor of the Jets at halftime.


(Five things I loved and five things I loathed)

Loved: Seeing Steve Smith give his second-quarter touchdown ball to teammate and cornerback Ken Lucas, whom he punched out in a preseason practice. Awww. It's like the NFL's version of the Partridge Family.

Loathed: Watching Cincinnati's Chris Perry run the football. He's averaging 2.9 yards per carry and not looking all that explosive. It can't be long before Kenny Watson gets another starting shot in that backfield.

Loved: ESPN's "Fog Bowl" feature on NFL Countdown. The network did a great job with its rehash of the infamous Chicago/Philadelphia playoff game in 1988. Fantastic footage and great interviews.

Loathed: Watching Jay Cutler rely on his arm too much. It's a double-edged sword for a guy who does more harm than good when he tries to jam some passes into coverage, but eventually he's going to have to learn the right place and time to take chances.


Matt Bryant (right) with punter Josh Bidwell after making a field goal.

(AP Photos/Tom Gannam)

Loved: Seeing Matt Bryant get embraced by teammates after converting his three field goals on Sunday. I can't imagine the hurt of losing a child, but it was nice to see Bryant's teammates showing support on the field.

Loathed: Listening to stupid LenDale White jokes. Four weeks straight I have heard an announcer make at least one attempt at a humorous weight joke about White. We get it, he's fat. If you have to reference the weight, at least offer some information about his daily diet.

Loved: Seeing the Raiders come out in white jerseys at home for the first time in history. I'm thinking Al Davis didn't approve that. For as much garbage as Lane Kiffin is getting, it is entertaining seeing him stick his thumb in Davis' eye.

Loathed: ESPN's Sunday Countdown chemistry. Not to continue to go after a former Yahoo! Sports colleague, but Cris Carter just seems like an odd fit. Fellow analyst Tom Jackson has looked irritated with Carter a few times this season, and Keyshawn Johnson can't be happy about losing his status as the resident "brash" opinion in the studio.

Loved: Seeing Buccaneers running back Earnest Graham continue to grind it out. He's one of the good stories in the league, and he hasn't taken anything off since getting his money this offseason, averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

Loathed: Seeing the Jets throw a touchdown pass with 1:54 left and leading the Cardinals 48-35. They followed that insult by going for a two-point conversion. Say what you want about the frantic scoring pace, but that game was over. That was a classless way to cap it.