Another furious frolic for many of our former local college stars. Former Ute, current starting DT for Super Bowl Champion Patriots Sealver Siliga (Can be heard Live Tuesdays “The Sealver Lining” TK in the Midday 11am to 1pm MT Mon-Thurs right here on ESPN700 radio.) and his teammates stuffed the NY Jets’ main threat A less-than-100%-Chris Ivory. Belichick’s boys held the Ivory to a very pedestrian 41 yards on 17 carries (2.4 yds per carry), but it was clear to the Patriots from the first snap Ivory was slowed by a sore hamstring. The defending champions handled a serious challenge from the surging Jets under first-year head coach Todd Bowles, 31-24 extending their lead in the AFC East, Patriots up to 6-0, Jets fall to 4-2 alone in 2nd place. Siliga not only in on another timely Patriots Dline shift that caused (just like vs. Steelers in season-opener) the Jets to fluster into a 5-yard penalty but he also picked up three tackles while securing the middle of the Patriots DLine rush. Fellow former Ute Trevor Reilly was in on four tackles with his work on special teams.
After former BYU Cougar Linebacker Uani Unga had got torched by Dallas in the Cowboys huge come-from-behind win back in Week 1, the talented rookie middle linebacker had hoped to help erase that memory by playing huge in their second meeting. Well, it didn’t happen. Giants won the rematch on Sunday, but Unga didn’t play, missing the game with a neck injury.
The two-time defending NFC Champion Seahawks got another “all over the place” effort from talented LB Bobby Wagner in Seattle’s 20-3 clubbing of the Niners The the former Utah State Aggie was second on the Seahawks with 5 tackles, the kid who loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (no joke!) added a pass breakup to his Thursday night. Seahawks still trail NFC West-leading Arizona by two games, but the two NFC powers meet twice in the last eight weeks of the season.
There was nothing former Utah State Aggie offensive lineman Donald Penn could do to stop Washington QB Kirk Cousins from rallying his team like a madman. Cousins’ 3 TD passes after halftime led Washington to a wild and painful 31-30 home win over Penn’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Penn was his usual feisty self throughout the game, drawing a 15-yard penalty for pulling a Washington player off one of his Buccaneers teammates during a pileup. Bucs fall to 2-4. Washington’s 3-4.
Minnesota’s in the midst of a solid season under 2nd-year headman Mike Zimmer, too bad former Ute RB Matt Asiata’s role is dwindling. No carries and just two pass receptions in Sunday’s surprising Vikings 28-19 win in Detroit. The Vikes up to 4-2, alone in second behind NFC North leader (6-0) Green Bay. As for locals on the Lions, Ziggy Ansah continues to work hard on a Detroit DLine that’s lost Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh in the off-season and newcomer, former Highland High star Hiloti Ngata to a nagging injury. Ansah had a great game in defeat, four tackles, his 6th sack of the season and a forced fumble. Alas, the Lions fall to a woeful 1-6 and hours after saying there will be no changes, head coach Jim Caldwell fires OC Joe Lombardi, and OLine Coaches Jeremiah Washburn and Terry Heffernan. Replacements promoted from within. Here’s a good hint, the head coach likely will be gone at the end of the season.
Led by leadership with local connections the Kansas City Chiefs picked up a home win they had to have, improving to 2-5 by beating (4-3) Pittsburgh 23-13. Head Coach Andy Reid (former BYU Cougar) watched his QB, former Ute star Alex Smith play a clean game, no turnovers, throwing for 251 yards and a TD, former Ute DB Sean Smith rounding into form after sitting out the first 3 weeks on a drug suspension came through with 3 tackles, 1 of them for a loss and 2 pass deflections. Former BYU Cougar DB Daniel Sorenson is also showing up well and had one tackle.
Jeff Fisher’s St Louis Rams are starting to resemble the team he wants. Led by likely NFL Rookie of the Year RB Todd Gurley (126 yards, first 2 NFL TDs) the Rams rocked the Browns 24-6, evening their record at 3-3, still very much in the NFC West and NFC Wildcard Playoff races. Our local connection is on the other side. Cleveland’s running back by committee has a new player. Former Aggie Robert Turbin is playing in his second game with Cleveland and averaged 6 yards a carry (5 carries, 50 yards) and caught a couple of passes for eight more yards, clearly Turbin’s going to be a big part of Cleveland’s offense going forward. The 2-5 Browns defense is trying to figure things out with former Ute Nate Orchard, a rookie who led the nation in sacks last season and fellow former Ute Paul Kruger. Kruger got rich signing a free-agent deal with the Browns, he’s now three years into a five-year $41 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed, but through 7 games this season, Kruger’s managed only 15 tackles and 1/2 sack. In this loss to St Louis, Kruger had one tackle, rookie Orchard had two tackles.
How about Miami’s early season revival. This situation makes an excellent case for firing your coach early if you’re sure he’s not the right guy after all. The Dolphins now 2-0 since Tight Ends coach Dan Carpenter was named Interim Head Coach. Former Ute Koa Misi continues to “ball” like a man who loves to play. Misi had three tackles including one for a loss. Former Aggie Nick Vigil had two tackles, former Ute Derrick Shelby also showing out with one tackle. Dolphins now 3-3, heading into the quick-turnaround Thursday night at New England.
Former Ute Mr. Everything Eric Weddle’s a former All-Pro now caught in a contract squabble with the Chargers. It boiled over this Summer and then Weddle broke off talks. The career-Chargers Safety, one of the best in the NFL, who once signed the richest contract ever for a Safety. Now it looks like Weddle’s playing himself out of San Diego (or LA, or wherever) but it’s the Chargers who appear unwilling to give Weddle the security he believes he’s earned. Weddle wasn’t on the field Sunday, a rarely missed game due to injury and look at what happened to the Bolts stopside. San Diego gave up 39 points at home to a decent but not great Oakland Raiders team. No questions Weddle’s absence had something to do with the blowout. Raiders are now 3-3 and very much alive in the playoff hunt as the halfway point of the season approaches, the Chargers fall to 2-5.
How about the runaway leader of the NFC South? The Carolina Panthers now up to 6-0 with Former Ute Star Lotulelei continuing to dominate the middle of the line of scrimmage. Star credited with four tackles, who wants to play this team in the first round of the playoffs?
Then there’s the ongoing wind-down of a potential Hall of Fame career. Former Utah star Steve Smith Sr’s putting up crazy numbers in his farewell tour to his 15th and final NFL season. While his Ravens keep spiraling down, Smith Sr’s keeps soaring. He hauled in 5 balls for 78 yards (now up to 36 catches for 510 yards and 3 TDs for the season) but Smith’s bummed since Baltimore lost again. The Ravens now an unfathomable 1-6, Arizona’ cruising at 5-2, former BYU Cougar LB Alani Fua had a tackle and hope for more on a really good football team.