Stepping off the Ledge - NBC New York

Stepping off the Ledge

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The most furious fourth quarter comeback in NFL history started with a man named Tom Santi. The backup Colts tight end wasn't even open on his fourth quarter touchdown, but Peyton Manning had no choice but to throw him the ball on fourth-and-goal from the seven-yard line.

    Santi held on for the score despite having a defender draped on his back. The touchdown got Indy within ten points with just over four minutes left. The rest, as the say, is the Sage Rosenfels Experience spectacularly imploding.

    If Santi doesn't hold on, this column is about Manning's failure to throw a touchdown against one of the worst defenses in the league. It's about Manning misfiring on deep balls and Marvin Harrison struggling to find his rhythm while the Colts defense couldn't get off the field. It's about the bye week failing to fix what ails the Colts offense.

    One play can dramatically change a box score and the course of a season for two franchises. Manning finished with two touchdowns, offering hope for owners that a breakthrough is right around the corner. Perhaps the comeback will ignite Indy's season, but don't forget that Rosenfels was the best quarterback on the field for 56 minutes Sunday and Andre Johnson was the best wide receiver. That is little consolation to Texans fans, but it should concern owners of Manning and Harrison. One Tom Santi catch can only change so much.

    Stepping Off the Ledge

    1. Shoulder injuries have replaced supermodels as the hot accessory for premier quarterbacks this season. Aaron Rodgers showed plenty of zip throughout his 313-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Falcons. He threw deep passes and he fit passes into tough spots. While he appeared to be in pain late in the game, it was his mental errors that cost Green Bay, not his shoulder. Fantasy owners can live with interceptions.

    2. Ben Roethlisberger also showed why practicing and pain-free shoulders are overrated. He put up his first 300-yard game since 2006 against a Jacksonville secondary that now ranks among the best matchups in fantasy football. It was the type of effort Ben's owners needed to avoid doing something rash like selling low during Pittsburgh's bye. The Steelers has better weapons in the passing game than on the ground; this won't be Roethlisberger's last 300-yard game of the season.

    3. There was no earthly explanation for Andre Johnson's two-week disappearance, so we shouldn't be surprised that he looked like his old self with nine catches, 131 yards, and a touchdown against the Colts. Number one wide receivers in their prime don't just disappear unless they change their name. Perhaps all Johnson needed was a little Sage Rosenfels Experience. We all did.

    Johnson was tough to take down in the open field. Instead of dropping passes, he held on tough grabs over the middle before he got his clock cleaned. And shame on everyone who jumped off the bandwagon! After the big game, Johnson is back on pace for 1,240 yards.

    4. Brandon Jacobs needed a big game to re-establish his place atop the Giants pecking order at running back. 136 yards and two touchdowns before resting for much of the second half should help keep him on the field when the games are closer.

    5. I own Matt Schaub in one league, Andre Johnson in another. Sunday went about as well as I could have hoped. Rosenfels helped A.J. break out of his slump, but his late collapse prematurely ended any quarterback controversy.

    6. So Matt Cassel can throw the deep ball, after all. Cassel, in fact, can make all the throws. His measurables are not what is holding him or Randy Moss back. It's Cassel's head and pocket presence. Despite the encouraging 259 yards, Cassel still takes way too many sacks and processes plays too slowly in the pocket. Much like J.T. O'Sullivan.

    There were many positive moments for Cassel against the 49ers and his overall numbers (6.8 YPA) look respectable on the year. He certainly won't have to answer job security questions this week. But Cassel still looks like an average QB2 at best to me that will only be a fantasy option in the easiest of matchups.

    We like Ike

    I want to dislike Ike Hilliard, especially after his late touchdown against the Broncos gave my boss a commanding lead in our fantasy matchup this week. But all is forgiven when he gave this exchange in a St. Petersburg Times interview this weekend.

    A weekly question: What Web site do you visit the most?
    Rotoworld.com, because I like to see what's going on in fantasy basketball. That's usually the first page that I go to once I see what's going on in the world. Fantasy basketball is my thing. I'm big on that. I even get the (cable package). I'm a big NBA guy.
    Clearly a man of good taste.

    Don't Panic

    1. We all keep getting burned by Jonathan Stewart. He gets benched while he scores, then we play him only to watch DeAngelo Williams roll a turkey against the Chiefs. These things happen in committees. Stewart is going to be inconsistent, and makes for a better flex play than an every-week RB2. But most owners don't have that luxury, especially during bye weeks. Live with some inconsistency because the big weeks will come.

    2. Receivers have off weeks. Rookie receivers are going to have a few of them. That's why I'm not too worried about DeSean Jackson's quiet day, aside from his punt return touchdown. The Redskins secondary has limited opponents to their worst passing day and the Washington offense plays keep-away. Reggie Brown is here to stay again, but there should be enough yards to go around. If there are any itchy McNabb owners out there, it could be a good time to buy low.

    3. Just a week ago, we were lauding Santana Moss' consistency, and then he throws up a goose egg. No one said this was going to be fair. Rest easy, Moss fans. The Rams are coming up next.

    4. Brandon Marshall. I don't need to say this one, right? I'd still rather have Marshall than any fantasy wideout.

    5. Marshawn Lynch has been a mild disappointment thus far, and his weak game going into the bye week could have owners willing to sell. He makes a fantastic buy low opportunity because there aren't many running backs as rock solid as Lynch.

    Short Declarative Sentences About Defenses

    The Dolphins defense is going to be a much tougher matchup than we anticipated. The Seahawks will be much easier. The Packers and the Jaguars aren't nearly as good as their reputations. The 49ers are easy to push around.

    For the rest of The Morning After, head over to Rotoworld.com. And check out Season Pass for our exclusive workload report and Sunday recaps.