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SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

At NFL's midpoint, there's still plenty of new things to see

It's a day of firsts around the league, though the Bills still can't come up with that elusive victory.

November 07, 2010|Sam Farmer

There's a first time for everything.

It took nine weeks, but Sunday, for the first time this NFL season:

Oakland had a sellout — and now has its first winning record.

San Diego won on the road.

Miami lost on the road.

Seattle lost at home.

Brett Favre magic finally resurfaced in Minnesota, although there wasn't a lot of celebrating afterward.

And Buffalo … well, the Bills almost collected their first victory of the season but wound up suffering their third three-point loss in a row.

"It hurts," Coach Chan Gailey said after his Bills dropped to 0-8 with a 22-19 loss to Chicago in Toronto. "It feels like someone kicked you in the stomach."

You want to talk about a painful kick? Check out what Detroit had to do in its near-upset of the New York Jets: With Jason Hanson hurt, the Lions called on 307-pound defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to kick an extra point in the third quarter.

Suh, who grew up playing soccer, made a good effort but plunked the ball off the right upright. His team could have used that point, as the Jets came back in the fourth quarter to forge a 20-20 tie, then won in overtime.

"There's no question that Ndamukong is our backup field-goal kicker," Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said. "He's done it in practice. We have a lot of confidence that he could kick it. It put him in a difficult situation because he went out without any warmups."

That's the thing about this NFL season. There's just no predicting who might have to step up and make plays.

For the Chargers — who are missing tight end Antonio Gates and receivers Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson — the men of the moment were backup tight end Randy McMichael and rookie Seyi Ajirotutu, who caught two touchdown passes each in a 29-23 come-from-behind victory at Houston.

We've come to expect those kind of games from San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, the AFC's offensive player of the month in October. With seven games to play, Rivers is 56 yards passing shy of 3,000. (Miami's Dan Marino set the season record in 1984 with 5,084 yards.)

"He can make any throw," Chargers Coach Norv Turner said of Rivers. "He understands what we're doing. He makes a lot of guys look like real good players, and we got some young guys that are going to be good players."

It was the first road victory of the season for the Chargers, who have a week off and then four of five games at home.

Seattle suffered its first home loss, a 41-7 hammering by the New York Giants. And the Dolphins, who have yet to win at home, stumbled to their first road loss, 26-10, at Baltimore.

By knocking off Kansas City in overtime, the Raiders improved to 5-4, clawing their way above .500 for the first time in eight years and assembling their first three-game winning streak since December 2002.

In following blowout victories over Denver and Seattle with a down-to-the-wire victory over the first-place Chiefs, the Raiders are displaying the kind of focus and heart they haven't shown in years.

In Minnesota, the Vikings survived a scare from Arizona with a 14-point rally inside the final five minutes of regulation, then won with a field goal in overtime.

Favre's signature play came with 27 seconds remaining, when he connected with Visanthe Shiancoe for a 25-yard touchdown to force overtime. In the extra period, Favre had a 22-yard pass to Bernard Berrian to set up the winning kick.

With a 3-5 record, dissention over the abrupt dismissal of Randy Moss, fans from all corners calling for Coach Brad Childress to be fired, and Favre looking all of his 41 years most of the time, there is no joy in Vikingville. The philosophical crevasse between coach and quarterback seems to be widening by the day.

"Have I always got along with my coach, head coach, quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator? No," Favre said. "Do I always agree with the plays that are called? No. Why should that factor into me wanting to be the best player I can be?"

Favre finished with a career-high 446 yards passing and his 46th fourth-quarter comeback victory.

"There was a point in that game where I think everyone in the building thought 'this is not going well. We don't stand a chance,' " he said. "But we did."

That's a first.

Injury report

The big story in Philadelphia should have been Michael Vick's return and strong performance in leading Philadelphia over Indianapolis, 26-24, but another controversial hit also became big news.

In the scariest injury of the day, Colts receiver Austin Collie was knocked out after dropping a pass in the middle of the field.

The ball came loose during a violent collision with Eagles safety Kurt Coleman, who drew a flag for hitting a defenseless receiver. Although the pass was ruled incomplete, observers thought it could have been ruled a fumble and questioned whether the hit was illegal.

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