NFL Notebook: Spike in points follows uproar over illegal hits
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Maybe it's a coincidence. But it is worth noting that in the first week after all the talk about cracking down on illegal hits by the defense via fines and/or suspensions, last weekend's games produced the second-highest points-per-game average since the 1970 merger.
In 14 games, there were 737 points scored, an average of 52.6 per game. That has been beaten only by Week 7 in 1983, which averaged 54.4 points per game (761 points) for 14 games.
A byproduct of defensive players being thrown under the microscope? There is no way to quantify that theory.
Defense was a contributing factor, however. There were 64 takeaways last week, with nine interceptions and one fumble being returned for a touchdown.
The big contributors to the points parade were the Giants and Cowboys (41-35 for New York) and Raiders and Broncos (59-14 for Oakland).
In his first comments since enduring a concussion on a hit to the head by the Steelers' James Harrison, Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi last week refused to say the hit was a cheap shot. "I won't really go into that," he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "I just know whenever you're playing hard, some things happen. I think the league is doing a good job to kind of protect guys in certain situations. But things like that happen. It's part of the game we play."
Harrison was involved in turmoil of another sort this past week when the NFL ruled he had, in fact, made an interception of Miami's Chad Henne late in the Steelers' 23-22 win last Sunday in Miami. The ruling miffed the Dolphins, who have appealed to the league to have statistical reversal, uh, reversed, believing an incompletion was the correct ruling. Either way, the play sealed the Steelers' victory. They then ran out the clock.
While in London for today's 49ers-Broncos game, commissioner Roger Goodell said labor uncertainty is already affecting NFL revenue. "The impact of not having a labor agreement is already starting," Goodell said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg Television. "It will continue to grow. It will continue to have a greater and greater impact and my point is that there will be lost revenue opportunities. And when revenue is reduced, it's even harder to reach an agreement." FYI: The commissioner didn't provide examples of revenue declines.
It has been a frustrating season for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. He's gone from having Kurt Warner throwing him the ball to Max Hall and Derek Anderson. Through six games, he's been targeted 64 times, but has 29 receptions and two touchdowns. Last year, with Warner at quarterback, he was targeted 63 times in the first six games, but had 41 catches and five TDs.
Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber, 35, reaches a milestone when he plays in his 200th game -- 173 of them in a row -- today against Arizona. His consecutive games streak is third among active players behind Brett Favre (291) and Peyton Manning (198). In case anyone is wondering, he has no intention of making a run at Favre's record streak. And he predicts no one will.
In the season-opening, 34-24 upset of the Colts, Houston running back Arian Foster carried the ball 33 times for a team-record 231 yards and three touchdowns. In the five games since then, he has averaged just 16.4 carries a game going into the Texans' Monday night rematch in Indianapolis.
The Packers-Jets game is one of only three games this weekend matching teams with winning records. The others are Steelers-Saints and Texans-Colts. ... The Rams will retire Isaac Bruce's No. 80 before their game today against Carolina at the Edward Jones Dome. ... Jon Kitna makes his first start for Tony Romo in Dallas today. For the record, Kitna is 38, is 46-69 as a starter in the league and hasn't won a game since 2007. ... San Francisco starts 2006 Heisman winner Troy Smith at quarterback today in place of Alex Smith (separated shoulder). ... Former Pitt linebacker Clint Sessions has had double-digit tackles the past two games for the Colts. ... The Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw leads the league in rushing with 708 yards. The most recent time a Giants running back led the league in rushing was Eddie Price in 1951.
First Published October 31, 2010 12:00 am