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Sam Bradford Gives Rams Reason for Hope

The St. Louis Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003. They went a pathetic 6-42 the past three years and had the League’s second worst defense each season. As a result of their poor play, they picked in the top two of the draft each year. After selecting defensive lineman Chris Long in 2008 and offensive lineman Jason Brown in 2009, it looks like they struck gold with quarterback Sam Bradford in 2010.

Despite being a rookie quarterback playing on a bad team, Bradford is making plays and keeping the Rams competitive. He got his first career win as the Rams surprised the Redskins 30-16 on Sunday in week three.

I had the Rams and the points in this one figuring the game would be low-scoring and close the entire way. I had an inkling they would win, mainly because I figured the Redskins would still be bummed out over their last-second loss to Houston — but felt it was too risky to select them. With a reliable quarterback handling the offense, it’s time to express more confidence in the Rams.

Watching Bradford work does not feel like watching a rookie making his first career starts. He stands in the pocket without panic, doesn’t have happy feat, and he acts like he’s in command. Even though Sam doesn’t have any strong receiving options, he frequently finds the open man and puts the ball in catchable spots. His stats won’t blow you away — four touchdowns and five picks with 655 passing yards — but for a rookie that’s pretty darn good.

St. Louis is no longer the pathetic squad we saw the past three years. They’re no longer a doormat in the NFL and NFC West. Yes they lost to two poor teams to begin the season and yes they have a pretty easy schedule, but this team looks ready to compete, and most of it is because of their new quarterback, Sam Bradford.

Michael Vick is Absolutely Tearing it Up

It wasn’t long ago that we found ourselves wondering if Michael Vick would be able to resurrect his career after filling in for the injured Kevin Kolb.  Andy Reid went and answered that question for us when he named Vick the starter even after Kolb had been cleared to play.  Unless you’re one of the people who is strongly opposed to seeing Vick succeed because of his dog fighting days, he’s done nothing to disappoint.

Not only is Vick playing well enough to deserve a permanent starting job, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league at the moment.  Through less than three games, he’s thrown for 750 yards and 6 touchdowns.  He has yet to throw an interception and has had a passer rating of above 100.0 in each game.  Not bad for a guy who is better known for his legs.

That doesn’t mean Vick has lost his play-making ability on the ground, either.  He’s rushed for 170 yards in 2+ games and has one rushing touchdown on the year.  Like him, love him, or hate him, No. 7 is playing out of his mind.  The stats he’s compiled make him look more like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees than some sophomore’s backup.  Oh yeah, and Philadelphia rolled on the Jags today, 28-3.

The Eagles are sitting at 2-1 while their NFC East counterparts have all struggled to get to 1-2.  With Michael Vick looking like he’s never left the league, Andy Reid and the Eagles must be feeling pretty good about their chances to win the division.

Chiefs Rout the 49ers, Show They’re Not Pretenders

Anyone not buying what the Kansas City Chiefs are selling yet?  With a convincing win over the 49ers to run their record to 3-0, we certainly are.  On Sunday, the Chiefs dominated a Niners team that nearly defeated the defending Super Bowl champions last week.

After Kansas City beat the Chargers Week 1, they got little to no credit.  What most saw when they watched the game was a Chargers team that made too many mistakes and a Chiefs team that “got lucky” with defense and special teams.  When Kansas City beat the Browns last week, no one cared because it was the Browns.  The Niners may be 0-3 but they aren’t as bad as their record indicates.  The Chiefs put together a complete game against a good team on Sunday and they should be grabbing the attention of the rest of the AFC as a result.

What does a team need to do to be successful in the NFL?  Run the ball?  Check.  At the moment it looks like the Chiefs are going to benefit from having a two-headed monster in the backfield.  Thomas Jones had 95 rushing yards and a score against San Francisco and Jamaal Charles added 97 yards of his own on the ground.

Pass efficiently? Check.  Matt Cassel finally put together a game that’s worthy of his paycheck.  He completed 16-of-27 passes for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns.  More importantly, he limited himself to just one turnover.  Despite throwing an interception, Cassel finished the game with a whopping 127.1 passer rating.

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Kellen Winslow Makes an Amazing One-Handed Catch on Tipped Ball

The Pittsburgh Steelers are completely waxing the Buccaneers right now, but if there has been one bright spot all day for Tampa Bay it has to be Kellen Winslow’s one-handed catch.  Last week we were fortunate enough to see Randy Moss reel in touchdown pass with one hand, but Winslow’s catch is a close second.  What makes the tight end’s catch so impressive is that the ball was tipped and he somehow managed to stay with it and keep his feet in bounds while making one-handed catch.  You can check out video of Kellen Winslow’s one-handed catch here.

Brian Maddox Hurdles Defender, Steps on His Head (Video)

We’re big fans of freaky athletic plays here at LBS. Luckily for us, with like a hundred games being played on Saturdays, we generally get to see quite a few special plays be made. Brian Maddox’s incredible hurdle for South Carolina certainly qualifies. The senior running back caught a pass and proceeded to jump over a defender, getting so high he kicked the Auburn guy in the head. Check out the Brian Maddox hurdle video:

Let’s hope #22 didn’t suffer any facial injuries after taking that cleat to the grill. Yikes.

Patrick Peterson Does the Heisman Pose

LSU junior cornerback Patrick Peterson is one of the most exciting players in the country. Despite being robbed of a pick in the Bama/LSU game last year, Peterson has eight career INTs including two last weekend against Mississippi State. His dynamic ability led to the coaches also placing him in a special teams return role this year. The junior from Pompano Beach, Florida has already responded.

Peterson took a punt 60 yards to the house to make it 17-0 LSU against West Virginia in the second quarter Saturday night. What appeared to be a blowout in the making turned into a low-scoring game (they won 20-14), so the TD was huge for the Tigers. Peterson was well aware of his big play and decided to celebrate in the most recognizable way. Instead of getting caught in action like Denard Robinson last week, Peterson’s Heisman pose was premeditated. That doesn’t make it any bit less cool. Check it:

LSU’s tried to spark a Patrick Peterson for the Heisman Trophy campaign, so there’s nothing wrong with a little self promotion to help remind the voters. Sadly for Peterson, I don’t think he’ll become the first DB to win the Trophy since Charles Woodson did in 1997.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Rick Neuheisel Gets Signature Win in UCLA Upset over Texas

The UCLA program appeared to be heading in the wrong direction under third year head coach Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins lost 31-22 in the opener at Kansas State, allowing Daniel Thomas to run for 234 yards and two touchdowns while Kevin Prince went 9 of 26 for 120 yards and two picks. Then there was the 35-0 disaster in the home opener against Stanford. UCLA was so bad they practically were inventing ways to lose the game. After that pathetic showing, I had completely given up on the season and was completely down on the coaching staff.

Two weeks later, it’s redemption time.

The Bruins beat Houston for their first win last weekend, knocking both Houston quarterbacks out of the game. This week, they entered Saturday’s game in Austin as 15-point underdogs to the 7th ranked Texas Longhorns. UCLA (particularly the defense) played like it had nothing to lose in a 34-12 upset win.

UCLA caused four turnovers and took advantage of them for 10 points. The big play was a muffed punt by Texas inside its five that set up an easy Bruins touchdown, giving UCLA a 7-3 lead. The Bruins went into halftime up 13-3 but it should have been much more. Not only did the defense stop a sleepwalking Texas team, but the running game pounded the Horns into oblivion.

The Bruins ran for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The pistol offense showed what it’s capable of despite having zero passing threat (Kevin Prince was just 5-for-8 for 27 yards). Jonathan Franklin ran for 116 on 19 carries, Derrick Coleman added 94 yards on 16 carries, and even Kevin Prince ran for 48 yards. Texas and its vaunted run defense was somehow left helpless against UCLA.

Improbably, UCLA has now outscored Texas 100-15 in two games in Austin. The offense still needs a lot of work, the defense looks good, the Bruins are 2-2, and Rick Neuheisel has himself a signature win. Hopefully the Bruins will build upon this huge victory.