Extra Points: Quarterback controversies take off

When the leaves start to turn, it may remind you of a number of things.

It certainly signals the arrival of fall for many and it also may get you scrambling for those Halloween decorations.

When it comes to the NFL, however, when those leaves hit the pavement, it's time to start talking about quarterback controversies.

At least two signal-callers woke up Monday with Glenn Frey on their minds because "The Heat is On" in New York and Kansas City.

Mark Sanchez had to know this was coming the minute the Jets traded for the immensely popular Tim Tebow. Only consistent stellar play from the USC product was going to keep the wolves at bay and Sanchez has been anything but stellar early in the season.

A terrific San Francisco 49ers defense put a beatdown on Sanchez and the Jets Sunday en route to a suffocating 34-0 victory. San Francisco held New York to a paltry 145 total yards and nine first downs while forcing four turnovers, including Carlos Rogers' recovery of a Santonio Holmes fumble that gave the Niners a 24-0 lead just seconds into the fourth quarter.

"I apologize for my language because I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but we got our (expletive) kicked," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "It's unacceptable. As coaches, we need to look at what we're doing. Clearly, we're not going to beat anybody when we play like we did today."

To make matters worse for the Jets, Holmes, the team's only real receiving threat, joined Darrelle Revis in the MASH unit with what could be a significant left foot injury during the Rogers' fumble return.

Sanchez, who was already without rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill and tight end Dustin Keller coming in against the Niners, was forced to rely on pedestrian players like Chaz Schillens, Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner.

He finished 13-of-29 for 103 yards with an interception and a dismal passer rating of 39.9, It was also the third straight week he's completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes.

Logically Tebow, a deeply flawed player who has displayed far less accuracy than the embattled Sanchez during his career, would have less of a chance to get this Jets offense moving with those kinds of weapons at his disposal.

But logic is never in play when it comes to backup signal-callers, who are generally the most popular people in town until the locals actually get to see them play.

The real culprit here is New York general manger Mike Tannenbaum, who has given Ryan and Sanchez a deeply flawed roster to work with.

For now, Ryan is still protecting Sanchez.

"I'm not ready to make a quarterback change," the coach said. "We have to get better play at quarterback. We have to get better at a lot of things. You look at yourself first, and there are things that clearly we all need to do. I think Mark's the answer at quarterback. Again, time will tell."

And there's the caveat.

Around New York football, the thought is the Giants are all about winning while the Jets are about the back page of the tabloids, and Tebow would certainly capture the lion's share of attention in the market.

Over in Kansas City, a host of legendary Chiefs were brought back for alumni weekend Sunday as well as the return of the team's Ring of Honor. Hall of Famers like Willie Lanier and Jan Stenerud and team legends like Will Shields and Kevin Ross were subjected to some awful football as the Chiefs fell to AFC West rival San Diego, 37-20.

The game was over by intermission after Matt Cassel went a dismal 10-of-18 for 101 yards with three interceptions for Kansas City, which struggled to secure the ball all game. The Chiefs turned it over six times overall and have lost three of their first four games for the second straight season.

Romeo Crennel decided against benching Cassel for now since neither of his backups, Brady Quinn or Ricky Stanzi, are the kind of high-profile guys who will create a frenzy with the fan base.

"It was bad football," Crennel said minutes after the game. You could see it was bad football but we have a game to be played next week, and we have to stay together and not point fingers."

One more outing like this and fingers will be pointing directly at Quinn, the former first-round pick out of Notre Dame who flamed out in both Cleveland and Denver.

"We've got to solve it and we've got to solve it quick," said Cassel, who was booed during most of Sunday's game. "We talk about it, but we obviously have to go out there and do a better job."



Just when you think the Brady Bunch in New England might be poised for cancellation, "Tom Terrific" pulls out the equivalent of a 35 rating and a 25 share. After a 68-yard touchdown put the Buffalo Bills up 21-7 early in the third quarter Sunday, Brady responded with TD passes to Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski sandwiched around his own TD run. It didn't stop there and by the time it was over, the Patriots had recorded nearly 600 yards of total offense in a 52-28 rout.

New England became just the second team in NFL history to have a 300-yard passer (Brady, 340 yards), two 100-yard rushers (Brandon Bolden, 137 and Steven Ridley, 106) and two 100-yard receivers (Wes Welker, 129 and Gronkowski, 104) in the same game.

Order has been restored in the AFC East and the big bad bully on the block is back.

"We lost two in a row, we go on the road. We had two really tough losses, games that we expected to win," Brady said. "Then you come and play against a team that we lost to last year up 21 points, and we showed a lot of heart. That's a lot of adversity we faced and I thought we did a really good job of responding to that."


Percy Harvin took the opening kickoff back 105 yards for a touchdown, and Marcus Sherels added a 77-yard third quarter punt return for a score as the Minnesota Vikings ended their 11-game losing streak in the NFC North and matched their win total from last season with a 20-13 victory over Detroit at Ford Field.

The Vikings' Adrian Peterson also went over the 100-yard mark for the first time since returning from major reconstructive surgery knee surgery and it took him only 9 1/2 months to do it, a truly amazing recovery.

Perhaps the biggest return Sunday for Minnesota, however, was receiver Jerome Simpson, who missed the first three games of the season because of an NFL- mandated suspension after a drug conviction.

The former Cincinnati Bengals second-round pick offers the Vikings offense size, speed and athleticism. While his numbers look ordinary (four receptions, 50 yards), understand he also drew two downfield pass interference calls and made a huge fourth-quarter catch on a sideline fade when the Lions were loading the box to stop the run.

With Christian Ponder struggling mightily, Simpson's impact shouldn't be overlooked.

"It was great," Simpson said of his return. "The time that I had to sit out just made me a little hungrier and made me appreciate this game ... And next week, I get paid."


The Indianapolis Colts were on a bye this week but make no mistake, life doesn't take any time off.

Chuck Pagano is about to face something far more difficult than any NFL team. The Colts' first-year head coach has been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Pagano underwent blood tests last week after feeling fatigued in recent weeks. The paper did not initially speculate on the nature of the illness, but added that the Colts are optimistic about his recovery and will have a press conference on Monday to discuss details. ESPN then reported that Pagano has leukemia and will miss the next six weeks.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is expected to take over the head coaching duties in Pagano's absence.


Icing an NFL kicker rarely works and Eagles coach Andy Reid looked like he was about to find that out the hard way on Sunday night.

With Lawrence Tynes lining up for a 54-yard game winning field goal Reid signaled for a timeout just before the Giants' kicker misfired right.

Tynes took his mulligan and corrected his delivery flaw before booting his second try right down the middle. Luckily for Reid, it came up just short and the Eagles held on for a 19-17 win over the reigning Super Bowl champions.

"I don't believe in icing the kicker," Eagles quarterback Michael Vick told sideline reporter Michele Tafoya after the thrilling finish. "You give everything. You let them kick it and if it's good it's going to be good. If not, you can't play games. I don't know who started that but we have to end that tradition."

Reid probably agrees after dodging the wrath of the Philly faithful.

"When you're surrounded by 66,000 people that want to probably rip your throat out at that time, yes I did," Reid said when asked if he regretted calling the timeout that nearly cost his team the game. "That's about 20-fold what Custer felt."


The New Orleans Saints are in the midst of a disastrous 0-4 start but don't blame that on Drew Brees, who is on the verge of breaking one of the NFL's most enduring records.

Brees passed for 446 yards and three touchdowns in the Saints' 28-27 loss at Green Bay on Sunday and the Pro Bowl signal-caller has thrown at least one TD pass in an amazing 47 consecutive games, matching Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (1956-60) for the longest streak in NFL history.

Unitas' mark of 47 consecutive games with a TD pass stood alone for 18,291 days and will likely fall next week San Diego visits Bourbon Street.

Although fantasy football has become a national phenomenon, football is really not a statistical game. There are no style points in the NFL and the only thing that matters when the final whistle blows is who is on the left side of the column.

That said, Brees' consistency over the past 47 games shouldn't be ignored and this may be the sport's equivalent to Joe DiMaggio's brilliant 56-game hitting streak in baseball.


- The Patriots' win over Buffalo was No. 194 of Bill Belichick's career, moving him past Chuck Knox and into eighth place on the NFL's all-time list. Next up is Dan Reeves with 201.

- Harvin has returned five kickoffs for TDs since entering the league in 2009, the most of any player. Meanwhile, Minnesota is the first team in NFL history to record both a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same contest three different times.

- The Arizona Cardinals recorded the franchise's 500th regular-season victory with a 24-21 overtime win over Miami. The Cardinals are the ninth team in NFL history with 500.

- Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 369 yards and three touchdowns in the Falcons' 30-28 win over Carolina. Ryan is now 14-0 in his career (3-0 in 2012) when he throws at least three touchdowns in a game. Only former Oakland QB Daryle Lamonica (19-0) has a better record in games with at least three touchdown passes.

- St. Louis rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein converted all four-field goal attempts (58, 48, 60, 24 yards) in the Rams' 19-13 win over Seattle. Zuerlein is the first kicker in NFL history to convert a 60-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal in the same game.