Rivers Out-Shines Favre on MNF

Between nice-looking overall numbers and the never-ending in-game tribute from Tony Kornheiser you'd assume that Brett Favre had a successful Monday night, but that's far from the case. New York went into halftime trailing 31-14, at which point Favre had thrown for just 70 yards while being picked off twice, including a 52-yard return for a touchdown by Antonio Cromartie.

San Diego defenders also dropped at least two other catchable interceptions, as Favre frequently looked out of sync with receivers and made risky throws. With the Chargers content to sit back with a big lead in the second half the Jets went almost exclusively to four- and five-receiver sets, allowing Favre to pad his stats with what basically amounted to a series of seven-yard completions.

While Favre was racking up short gains, Philip Rivers was going deep all night despite seeing his first throw picked off and run back for a score. He recovered to go 19-of-24 for 250 yards and three touchdowns after that, averaging 10 yards per attempt to increase his NFL-leading mark. Five of 19 completions went for at least 20 yards, including a fantastic 60-yard strike to Vincent Jackson.

With 914 yards in three games Jay Cutler has received most of the attention, but Rivers has quietly been just as impressive in a far more balanced offense. Cutler has completed 68 percent of his throws for eight touchdowns, two picks, and an average of 8.5 yards per attempt. Rivers has completed 67 percent of his throws for nine touchdowns, two picks, and an average of 9.9 yards per attempt.

While Rivers joins Cutler in seemingly making "The Leap" even if all the Monday Night Football crew wanted to talk about was Favre, here are some other notes from around football .

* Drew Brees and the Saints passing game showed Sunday that they're perfectly capable of thriving without Marques Colston. Brees sliced up the Broncos for 421 yards, completing 81 percent of his passes for an average gain of 8.8 yards per toss. Unfortunately, they'll now go forward without ColstonandJeremy Shockey, who's expected to miss at least 3-6 weeks with a sports hernia.

With Colston and Shockey out of the picture for the near future Brees is basically left throwing to Reggie Bush and a whole slew of mediocre receivers. That won't stop coach Sean Payton from chucking it a ton and Brees is too good not to post solid numbers, but the odds are heavily stacked against maintaining the average of 281 yards and 1.7 touchdowns that he has through 35 games with the Saints.

Billy Miller takes over for Shockey as the starting tight end and may emerge as a TE2 option, but the 31-year-old hasn't topped 350 yards since 2002 and has little upside. Wide receivers Devery Henderson, David Patten, Robert Meachem, and Lance Moore see their value rise, but it's tough to see any of them stepping up in a big way. More likely is that Bush will see more targets, if that's even possible.

* Kevin Smith was mysteriously absent after Detroit's second series Sunday, but rather than an injury coach Rod Marinelli explained Monday that he simply chose to bench the rookie and "kind of went with" veteran Rudi Johnson because he was "feeling it, running hard, and getting it going." Johnson looked better than he has in a long time, but the move still seemingly came out of nowhere.

Coming into the game there were no signs that Smith was in danger of losing his spot atop the depth chart. Through two weeks he had a 26-to-4 carry edge over Johnson, got the starting nod Sunday, and gained 14 yards on three runs before being yanked. Johnson proceeded to rack up 131 total yards and a score on 17 touches, topping the 100-yard mark for the first time since Week 2 of last year.

Marinelli proved Sunday that he's tough to predict, but it's unlikely that benching Smith for Johnson is a one-week thing. Johnson certainly played well enough to warrant another extended chance and it doesn't sound like Smith did anything to put himself in the doghouse. Unless Marinelli says otherwise it's no longer safe to assume major touches for Smith and Johnson is worth grabbing in all leagues.

Two-Minute Drill: After catching just two passes Sunday, Roy Williams said that he wants the Lions to use more four-receiver sets like they did last season under offensive coordinator Mike Martz . Coach Sean Payton explained Monday that Deuce McAllister going unused in Week 3 was part of the game plan, suggesting that he's not close to passing Pierre Thomas on the depth chart . Frustrated by Matt Cassel's inability to get him the ball deep Sunday, Randy Moss resorted to his bad habits of short-arming passes and pouting on the bench . Coach Mike Holmgren said Monday that Julius Jones will keep starting even if Maurice Morris (knee) returns after the team's Week 4 bye . Despite ongoing speculation to the contrary, Adam Schefter of NFL Network reports that Lane Kiffin will remain the Raiders' coach for another week . Titans owner Bud Adams said Sunday that he still has "no doubt" that Vince Young is "going to be a great one" . Brandon Lloyd had 124 yards and a touchdown on six grabs Sunday after totaling just two catches last season and coach Lovie Smith said Monday that he's the Bears' new "No. 1 receiver" . Hank Baskett is significantly out-kicking his coverage.

Red Zone: Coach Lane Kiffin said Monday that he doesn't expect Justin Fargas (groin) to return this week, leaving Darren McFadden and Michael Bush to again split snaps versus the Chargers . After totaling 77 yards on 17 carries Sunday, Adrian Peterson said that his sore hamstring "didn't bother me in the game" and "came out feeling good" . Kevin Curtis (hernia) is scheduled to begin practicing soon, but isn't expected back before Week 6 . Brodie Croyle (shoulder) is ruled out for Week 4, but coach Herm Edwards said Monday that he hasn't decided yet on Damon Huard or Tyler Thigpen as the fill-in starter . Being eased back after missing the first two games with a knee injury, Ben Watson played 11 offensive snaps Sunday while David Thomas was on the field for 55 plays . Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday that he's "hopeful" Troy Williamson (thigh) and Jerry Porter (hamstring) will both be available in Week 4 . Sidney Rice (knee) said Monday that he "definitely" plans to play this week . Antonio Pittman is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a cracked fibula, making Brian Leonard the little-used backup for Steven Jackson.

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