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NFL Monday Memo

In this, the week of the comeback, our best and worst of NFL Week 4:

• Offensive player of the week: Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions. The fifth-year receiver continued his torrid early-season streak, catching two more touchdown passes – including the game-winner – in Detroit’s stunning 34-30 comeback win in Dallas. This after hearing Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan suggest that Johnson would be the Cowboys’ third-best receiver. Yeah, right.

• Defensive player of the week: Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens. Part of a smothering defense that deemed Mark Sanchez helpless, Ngata’s forced sack/forced fumble in the second quarter, which led to Jarret Johnson’s touchdown return off the turnover, essentially put the game out of reach.

• Special teams player of the week: Devin Hester, KR, Bears. Hester set an NFL record with his 11th career punt return touchdown, a 69-yarder to move ahead of Eric Metcalf on the all-time list. Hester also set up a touchdown a 73-kickoff return. Celebrated the punt return TD with three – count ‘em, three – somersaults in the endzone.

• Comeback of the week, Part I: Detroit 34, Cowboys 30. Down 27-3 in the third quarter, the Lions stormed back with 31 points to beat Dallas on the road. It was the biggest blown lead in Cowboys’ history.

• Comeback of the week, Part II: 49ers 24, Eagles 23. The Niners could barely contain Michael Vick on offense, but they ran through, over and around the Eagles’ porous defense to rally from a 23-3 deficit.

• Comeback of the week, Part III: Bengals 23, Bills 20. Cincinnati rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit, as rookie QB Andy Dalton threw for one touchdown, ran for another and drove for the winning field goal to get past previously unbeaten Buffalo at home.

• Game of the week: Lions over Cowboys. Detroit remains unbeaten at 4-0, and Dallas crumbles in the second half for the second time this season. So is that how it’s gonna be all season, Tony Romo?

• Game of the weak: Chiefs 22, Vikings 17. In a battle of two winless teams, Kansas City was only slightly less bad than Minnesota.

• Lucky break of the week: Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz fumbled after a fourth-quarter reception, but the play was blown dead after officials mistakenly ruled he had given himself up on the play. The Giants scored a touchdown on the next play in what turned out to be a pivotal moment of their 31-27 win over the Cardinals.

• Best coaching job at the quarter pole, Part I: Jim Harbaugh, 49ers. The Niners are off to a 3-1 start and are in firm control of the NFC West. All this with a quarterback (Alex Smith) only Harbaugh believed in.

• Best coaching job at the quarter pole, Part II: Jim Schwartz, Lions. The Lions are off to their best start in decades, putting it all together early after winning their last four games in 2010.

• Best coaching job at the quarter pole, Part III: Mike Munchak, Titans. What rebuilding program? The Titans are off to a 3-1 start in Munchak’s rookie season under the headset.

• Worst coaching job at the quarter pole: Andy Reid, Eagles. At 1-3, the Dream Team is off to the Nightmare Start.

• Understated comeback of the year: Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Titans. Given up by Seattle after an injury-plagued 2010 season, Hasselbeck has Tennessee off to a surprise 3-1 start with eight TDs, three INTs and a 104.7 rating. Three more TDs yesterday, and without No. 1 receiver Kenny Britt, who is done for the year with a knee injury.

• Nightmare season continues: At 0-4 after yesterday’s loss to the Redskins, the Rams now face Green Bay and Dallas on the road, then New Orleans at home. Can 0-7 be far behind?

• Slump of the week: The Steelers simply aren’t the same team this season. Super Bowl hangover? Maybe. Whatever the case, Pittsburgh’s 2-2 start – marked by awful pass blocking and shoddy tackling – is cause for concern.

• Unstoppable team of the week: The Packers rolled up a 49-23 win over Denver. That’s 148 points in a 4-0 start for Aaron Rodgers & Co.

• Giant of the week: Hakeem Nicks, WR. A career day for the third-year receiver with 10 catches for 162 yards and touchdown.

• Jet of the week: Joe McKnight, KR. McKnight provided about the only highlight of the night on a 107-yard kickoff return for TD.
 

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