Which leaves us with the question of whether the coach conjectured by Shula could ever exist. Such a coach would need to be completely unconcerned with the media and owner backlash that would follow a loss caused by a no-punt policy. Such a coach would need to be fearless, and financially independent. Will there ever be such a coach? Tuesday Morning Quarterback wonders. But next time it's fourth-and-3 and you hear the announcers say "now they have to punt," just remember: No, they don't have to punt.
In other football news, all hail the United States Saints! That's what TMQ called the team last season during its wanderings, and surely they were the United States Saints last night upon their triumphal return to New Orleans. The emotion of the event was powerful, but the Saints played so well it forced one to wonder: Maybe this is actually a top team. How fitting if the football gods repaid the Saints' horrible 2005 with a wonderful 2006. Between Drew Brees and Reggie Bush looking so, so good while Daunte Culpepper and Mario Williams look so, so bad, there must be serious buyer's remorse today in Miami and Houston. The Saints' early blocked-punt touchdown was not only a sweet play but conformed with TMQ's immutable law of punt defense: Send Eight to Make a Punt Go Backward. As this column has pointed out before, NFL coaches rarely send more than five rushers after the punter. It's blame-shifting: if the coach calls an all-out rush and the kicker is roughed then a coaching decision is blamed, whereas if there's a light rush, a return and the offense fails to move the ball, then the players are blamed. On the first Atlanta punt, New Orleans overloaded the line with eight men in tight, and all eight came: Thunk! For the rest of the contest, New Orleans rushed only five. NFL special teams coaches, take heed.
In other news, they were booing in Foxborough as the Patriots left the field at halftime. Sure, New England has won three of the last five Super Bowls. But what have you done for us lately! Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger has lost two consecutive games and threw three awful interceptions on Sunday. Now he's only 28-6 as an NFL starter. He's really tailing off! How soon till Steelers fans start booing Roethlisberger?
Stat of the Week No. 1: Baltimore and San Diego have outscored their opponents by a combined 110 points.
Stat of the Week No. 2: At 1:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, almost an hour into their third game of the season, the Buccaneers scored their first touchdown of the 2006 season.
Stat of the Week No. 3: Because the Raiders had a bye, it will be October before Oakland scores its first touchdown of the 2006 season.
Stat of the Week No. 4: Seattle is on a 23-4 streak at home.
Stat of the Week No. 5: At 11:22 p.m. ET on Sunday, the Broncos allowed their first touchdown of the 2006 season. Considering an overtime, the Denver defense played 12 consecutive quarters without allowing a touchdown.
Stats of the Week No. 6: At 8:53 p.m. ET on Monday, the Falcons allowed their first touchdown of the 2006 season.
Stats of the Week No. 7: At the end of the first quarter in Seattle, Eli Manning had two interceptions and minus-12 yards passing.
Stats of the Week No. 8 : The Giants have not won in Seattle in 25 years.
Stats of the Week No. 9 : Stretching back to Jan. 1, when the Buccaneers won the NFC South, Tampa has lost four straight.
Stats of the Week No. 10 : The Saints are 3-0 for the first time since 1842.