Patriots Take the Air Out of Jets’ Season

It was comforting to realize the frauds we had to deal with Sunday were merely of the professional football variety. It required no soul-searching to watch the Jets’ being exposed as 90 percent hot air, the Lions unmasked as unthreatening bullies, or the Chiefs as … gee, I’m not even sure what analogy fits there but for some reason they evoke the image of squashed Bubble Wrap. Sure, you could comb the injury bin and start to feel queasy about the real toll the N.F.L. takes, but for a day, gosh, it sure beat contemplating college football’s full-scale ethical seizure.

The Jets-Patriots game got full entertainment billing Sunday night with its story line of good versus evil, upstart versus faltering powerhouse or loud versus smarmily annoying — depending on your point of view. It ended with Rex Ryan looking like a Macy’s parade float someone had let half the air out of, and while the Patriots hardly looked like their old selves, they were gritty enough to swat away the Jets, . By the end, with fans draining out of MetLife Stadium like green Kool-Aid from a leaky pitcher, the usual order of the American Football Conference East had been restored, , New England fans were relishing the humbling of Ryan, and the Jets maintained their trend of always seeming one game away from glory, .

And there were plenty of other purely football matters decided Sunday, with the other New York metropolitan area team, the Giants, becoming the latest reason for 49ers fans to marvel at the turnaround perpetrated by Coach Jim Harbaugh, . The Lions were clobbered by the Bears — oh my — while having their bully act look more and more pathetic, . The Lions may have started the fight, , but the Bears finished it. The Eagles showed again that they have exactly zero fight in the fourth quarter, , and that’s why this season is spelling the end for Coach Andy Reid, .

The coaching head-scratchers of the weekend came in two different varieties. that Falcons Coach Mike Smith’s decision to go for it on fourth down deep in his own end in overtime was a gaffe of ridiculous proportions. Denver Coach John Fox gets the opposite reaction for his new love affair that creates victory out of a 2-for-8 passing game from Tim Tebow. While at the idea that the Broncos could make the playoffs this way, the Chiefs have to explain how they could be bad enough to let that happen,

Baseball interrupted football season for a few minutes with the Cardinals’ hiring of . He could not be more different from Tony La Russa, . And the rescue of the kidnapped Washington Nationals player Wilson Ramos in Venezuela was followed by his startling this winter anyway.

Still, any good news seemed welcome after a week of absorbing the Penn State scandal, which will reverberate long after Saturday’s game pitting not only the Nittany Lions against Nebraska, but the usual celebratory atmosphere of a college football game against the reality of a sexual abuse scandal few could get their arms around. It highlighted the warped world of sports broadcasting, , and tempted people to think of the ousted Joe Paterno as some sort of victim in all this, urges people to resist. We hope the news media resist the knee-jerk use of the word redemption (of course, already failed at that with ) because unless Penn State suddenly becomes the leader in a massive movement to fight sexual abuse of children, there will be no redemption here.

What we are left with is questions, about why the investigation of Jerry Sandusky took so long — a topic tackled — and about how deeply this rocks the country’s views of college sports. that it should shake people’s faith, and

Sure makes you nostalgic for the days when p or whether Ohio State players paid for their tattoos were our biggest concerns. The questions are so much larger now. And they all make the N.F.L. feel like something of a relief.

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Winning One for Al Davis

There might not have been a more inevitable result than the Raiders winning their game over the Texans on Sunday. There simply was no other possible ending. Because wherever you think the sports world’s No. 1 curmudgeon landed in the afterlife after his death on Saturday, Al Davis was going to make eternity unbearable for whoever is in charge had his beloved team not given him a proper sendoff victory. After years of raging at the N.F.L. machine, his raging might have produced actual thunder. Or an earthquake.

But seriously, Davis’s death does more than create the emotional spillover that was the Raiders’ victory over the Texans, . Sure, Davis’s fingerprints are visible, with his love of speed evident everywhere,, but it will always be impossible to know how much of the Raiders’ recent resurgence dovetailed with Davis’s declining health because others were taking more of the reins. Now, they could make the same surge that the Blackhawks did in the N.H.L. after their crotchety, old-school owner (William Wirtz) died in 2007, although it is worth noting that Chicago fans hated Wirtz enough to boo his memorial moment of silence while Raiders fans still. That is despite the fact that the Raiders have just three winning seasons in the past 15 years and their motto now is apparently “Just fire a lot of coaches, baby!”

Also keep in mind that the Raiders are 2-2 and Sunday’s victory came over the Texans, who, , have created a specialty out of blowing close games. The one thing we do know is that one of sports’ great villains is now gone, , and the N.F.L. just got a little more logical, which means it might be a little less fun.

Even aside from the Raiders’ victory, the N.F.L. was full of signals from the football gods on Sunday. They clearly still do not like the Eagles, whose slide to 1-4 has brought on a full-scale condemnation of Coach Andy Reid, which, , was probably inevitable. And quarterback Michael Vick’s recklessness with the ball is looking a lot less charming these days, . The Falcons have also apparently angered someone in high places because they haven’t been the same since they lost that playoff game last season, . And the Jets are not only losing games, but their entire bluster-based personality is disappearing, .

Perhaps the most entertaining losing, however, is going on in Denver because it has created a new Tim Tebow firestorm, a spectacular clash between the Broncos fans who have seized upon him as their great symbol of hope — as — and the “football people” who watch him play and start running away while covering their eyes. The clash shows no sign of ending, , and wasn’t quelled when Coach John Fox turned to him against the Chargers even though he , and he nearly engineered a comeback despite going 4 for 10.

Meanwhile, the most entertaining winning comes courtesy of the Green Bay Packers, who rode in the Georgia Dome. This indicates that Wisconsin has not only wooed the football gods, but the overall sports gods too, because the Packers’ come-from-behind victory followed the Brewers’ come-from-nowhere victory over the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series. That featured an offensive comeback that would make Rodgers proud: a 22-pitch span in which Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and Yuniesky Betancourt blasted the game wide open, . , Yuniesky Betancourt, who for a time this season was suspected of being . Brewers fans were understandably thrilled, perhaps because their team is finally more exciting than the sausage races, .

The American League Championship Series was postponed by , but did give the Tigers another day to figure out how to replace the players . The Tigers added Delmon Young, .

Hockey threw a great moment into the mix Sunday with the Winnipeg Jets opener, which was a triumph even though the Jets got clobbered by the Canadiens, . And golf threw in a not-so-great moment when Tiger Woods’s round at the Open was interrupted by a .

Maybe Al Davis had something to do with that, too.

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Titans’ Finnegan Takes to Twitter to Explain His Walkout

Finnegan wrote Sunday that he had spoken with his coaches and teammates and would resume “all things asked.” He said his personal issue needed attention but that he would be back at practice Monday, when he will answer all questions.

“My absence had nothing to do with a holdout yet a personal matter that Titan officials were aware of. I am grateful for being a Titan,” Finnegan wrote in one post. “I am also thankful for my current contract and direction of team.”

The Titans first noticed Finnegan had left camp when he did not attend a special-teams practice Saturday morning, and General Manager Mike Reinfeldt said after practice Saturday afternoon that the team had tried unsuccessfully to reach Finnegan. Reinfeldt said the team was surprised he had left camp.

But Finnegan wrote that the Titans knew of his absence and were disappointed he was not there.

“Being absence from a team function doesnt mean holdout or your unhappy Family issues come up I’m human thank you Nashville for understanding,” Finnegan wrote.

EAGLES WAITING FOR JACKSON Eagles Coach Andy Reid said he was ignoring reports that wide receiver DeSean Jackson would end his holdout and report to training camp Monday, as various news media outlets have indicated.

“We’ll see,” Reid said. “I haven’t really focused on that. I haven’t talked to him. If he’s here, more power to him. If he’s not, like I told you before, my focus is to make sure that I get the guys that are here coached up.”

Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler, will earn $565,000 this season, the last on his four-year rookie deal. If he does not report by Tuesday, he stands to lose a year of service time toward free agency.

FALCONS KEEP SNELLING Jason Snelling agreed to a one-year deal to return to the Atlanta Falcons. Snelling rushed for more than 900 yards while backing up Michael Turner the last two years. Snelling, who was a restricted free agent, participated in the team’s walkthrough practice on Sunday afternoon.

BRADFORD SHARP IN SCRIMMAGE quarterback Sam Bradford looked sharp executing the new St. Louis offense in the red zone during a scrimmage. Bradford completed 13 of 20 passes for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Rams’ second-team defense. He threw one interception.

Bradford’s favorite target was Danny Amendola, who caught eight passes for 70 yards. Mike Sims-Walker caught three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown.

The scrimmage involved running plays, third-down situations and red-zone work under the direction of the offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

The running game did not look as sharp. Cadillac Williams rushed six times for 16 yards. Jerious Norwood had three attempts for 7 yards. Steven Jackson, who was not on field much, had one carry for 3 yards.

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