I think these are my quick-hit thoughts from Week 14.
•This is why Peyton Manning climbed atop my MVP list this weekend. In Jacksonville. First drive of a big game. Huge, angry crowd. Frothing-at-the-mouth Jags defense trying to crack him in the skull. What does Manning do? Drives his team 89 yards in 11 plays. Goes 6 for 6. Ends it with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Marvin Harrison. Now that's a pro at work.
•At some point in the postseason the Bears are going to have to come from behind. Judging by their performance in Pittsburgh, Chicago should be very worried about that.
•If I weren't such a trusting soul, I might have some questions about the way Houston is losing these games. Some top-draft-pick questions.
•The Giants might have gotten beaten up too much in Philly to win the NFC.
I think this is what I liked about Week 14.
•The Eagles giving the Giants everything they had. Great gut check by Philly.
•Speaking of which, how about Miami? The Dolphins had the ball for just 19 minutes. But Zach Thomas's return from injury keyed a resurgent defense and helped them win.
•I know they lost, but the Chiefs have to be euphoric about the play of Larry Johnson (right): three TDs, 143 rushing yards. If this season were 20 games long, he'd run away with the rushing title.
I think this is what I didn't like about Week 14.
•Alex Smith's progression as a QB (below)--or is that regression?--is extremely painful to watch.
•Nice drop with the game on the line, Roy Williams. No wonder the Lions stink.
•Lousy call by Chicago coach Lovie Smith to help the Steelers get their second touchdown. On third-and-three at the Pittsburgh 45, Ben Roethlisberger completed a two-yard pass, but Hines Ward was called for offensive pass interference. Instead of letting the play stand and making it fourth-and-one, Smith accepted the penalty. On third-and-13 Roethlisberger completed a 16-yard pass to prolong the drive. Dumb call, because this was a field-position game. The Steelers would never have gone for it on fourth-and-one in their own territory against the best defense in football.
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OTTO GREULE JR./GETTY IMAGES (SMITH)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (JOHNSON)