by Trevor Fik (Staff Writer)
The seventh week in the NFL was one characterized by new regulations meant to crack down on the hard hitting that has left many offensive players on the losing end of helmet-to-helmet collisions. Defences, treading a fine line between highlight making plays and fine inducing tackles, were trampled as they attempted to adapt to the new rules. The notoriously stingy Raven’s defence nearly gave up an upset to the winless Buffalo Bills; the Denver Broncos allowed a record breaking 59 points to the Oakland Raiders; and the former Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints were thrashed at the Super Dome by the hapless Cleveland Browns 30-17.
With game ending injuries to such high profile players as David Garrard, Josh Cribbs and DeSean Jackson the week before, the NFL was put in a position where the safety of players was being offered up as a sacrifice in place of highlight worthy tackles. In order to reverse the trend of having to view a laundry list of player injuries after each weeks matches, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear to NFL players that the league would be dolling out heavy fines and suspensions to players making “devastating hits” or tackles targeting the head.
Goodell followed up on the above comments by sending out a memo to each team, listing players who were on the NFL’s watch list for having received two or more unnecessary roughness penalties since 2008. The memo noted that these players are being watched and any future similar behaviour would be met with suspensions.
While the safety of players is imperative, in a game that is notorious for its physicality and sometimes super human athleticism, suspending defensive players for essentially doing their job is something that may place the league on a slippery slope towards turning the game into one that does not resemble its former self. To somehow give offences an advantage in a game where even the smallest amount of leverage can change the landscape of a game is not only wrong, it is against the spirit of the sport.
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed summed it up best when he noted, “With all the fines coming out, at the end of the day, you’ve got to play football. And you’ve got to be smart playing it.”
Speaking of the Ravens, the league’s most storied defence took to the field against a winless Buffalo Bills squad hungry for their first victory. The Bills would have to play more than 60 minutes to find that their first win of the season would have to wait, as a 38-yard Raven’s field goal ended Buffalo’s quest for a win. Safety Ed Reed, back in action after rehabilitating from a hip injury that has kept him out thus far this season, managed to put together one forced fumble and two interceptions in his first game of the season.
Of all the teams to set a record on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders were a squad that was on nobodies’ radar to have an earth shattering game. Even though they were going up against league rivals the Denver Broncos, whose 2-4 record going in to the game left something to be desired, scoring 59 points in a game is impressive by any standard. The score is the highest achieved in the Raiders storied 50 year history, which should even be enough to crack a smile on the face of Al Davis, the eccentric owner of the Raiders. Running back Darren McFadden made the most out of a lackluster Bronco’s defensive effort, rushing on 16 carries for 165 yards and 3 touchdowns.
History making NFL play was not to stop there, as viewers witnessed probably the last time Brett Favre would play at his former home, Lambeau Field. Hoping to orchestrate a downfield comeback late in the game after throwing three second half interceptions, Favre and the Vikings’ hopes were dashed when a Percy Harvin touchdown was called back after it was ruled the receiver’s foot was out of bounds.