Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Audibles at the Line: Week 16

The FO crew takes on the top contenders as the playoff field rounds into shape. Plus: the great Drew Brees debate of 2014.

08 Jan 2007

Audibles at the Line: Wild Card Weekend

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2007. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

Extra warning: This wild card edition really rambles all over the place.

Kansas City Chiefs 8 at Indianapolis Colts 23

Bill Barnwell: This Colts' first drive has been all runs and checkdowns. Apparently, the Colts' offensive plan is to keep their own defense off the field.

Michael David Smith: Colts' O-line got totally overpowered on two straight plays to set up that third-and-16 where Manning and Harrison just missed connecting.

Aaron Schatz: One thing I noticed in the first Kansas City drive: On the first couple plays, the Colts were so sure that the Chiefs would run up the middle that Freeney and Mathis didn't even fake doing their little spin moves. They both just rushed straight to the inside. That's why Johnson ran into so much traffic.

Michael David Smith: When the Chiefs went three-wide on third-and-5, the Colts were in nickel with just six in the box. Trent Green should have audibled to a run there. What's the point of having Larry Johnson in the backfield if you're not going to hand it to him when you're facing the Colts with six in the box?

Ryan Wilson: Indy's defensive game plan reminds me of what they did against the Steelers last regular season: Basically sell out the run until the QB suggests you should do otherwise. The Steelers didn't adjust and they got crushed. Herm Edwards might be the worst in-game manager in all of sports (well, after Grady Little maybe) so I fully expect LJ to get 40 carries.

Michael David Smith: If it weren't for the two penalties on the punt return team, I'd say the Colts' defense and special teams have been entirely replaced by actual professional football players.

Aaron Schatz: My god, is Ty Law a lucky mofo. Now Collinsworth is going on and on about how Ty Law owns Peyton Manning. Are you kidding me? That play was complete miscommunication between Harrison and Manning, and Law didn't do ANYTHING except sit there and catch the ball when Harrison ran a different pattern than Manning expected.

Also, I finally discovered why Scouts Inc. insists that the Kansas City Chiefs play a Cover-2 and I keep talking about Law's problems in man coverage. It's Cover-2/Man Under.

Michael David Smith: I usually like Collinsworth, but that was ridiculous. Really? Ty Law knows where Manning is going to throw better than Marvin Harrison does? Then how did Harrison run right past Law for that 42-yarder in the first quarter? Occasionally QBs and WRs have a miscommunication. It happens. It doesn't mean the CB is a genius.

Bill Moore: KC is playing a lot of zone coverage early -- including Law. If Marvin Harrison is running through your zone, and you are supposed to pass him off, don't you making sure you are passing him off TO SOMEONE? As a defender, how do you just let this guy run into free space?

Bill Barnwell: Oh well, doesn't matter now. Lawrence Tynes is in trouble.

Aaron Schatz: All the goofy ticky tack penalties they've called this year, and Marlin Jackson comes right up to Dante Hall after he drops that pass, the play is obviously over, and Jackson whacks him from the back, and he doesn't pull a late hit flag?

By the way, what's up with all these drops? Are they using the new NBA ball or something?

I have to tell you, I'm really frustrated with NBC using all those STATS INC. numbers that STATS INC. keeps but doesn't make public. Since we only rarely hear these stats in broadcasts, there's no context. Manning was "touched" three times today? What the hell does that mean? What counts as a touch? Is three good or bad? Manning was sacked or hit on only 12% of dropbacks? What is the average?

One more note: Aaron Moorehead is Beavis and Butthead's favorite NFL player.

Bill Moore: Aaron Moorehead just beats out Dick Butkus.

Michael David Smith: No one on either team can catch Trent Green's passes. He tried to give the Colts an absolute gift after Manning's pick and the Colts refused it.

Halftime: 9-0 Colts

Aaron Schatz: OK, this was funny and all, but does the real Chiefs-Colts game start after halftime?

Bill Barnwell: Is Damon Huard going to come in?

Doug Farrar: Right now, Green reminds me of Earl Morrall in Super Bowl III -- just shell shocked. It's to the point where shovel passes for no yardage look halfway decent in the grand scheme of things. "Hey, look -- a completed pass!" I know Huard faced easier defenses, and I know Green is "the guy" and all that stuff ... But if you're going to run your halfback five thousand times in one season in order to win now, why not consider Huard in the thirty minutes you have left in the season? I will be really surprised if he doesn't get a call in the second half.

Aaron Schatz: Adam Vinatieri: So awesome that a 50-yard kick counts as a touchdown. At least, it does to the NBC graphics people.

Russell Levine: Normally when a team blows as many chances for a big halftime lead as Indy has done today, they get killed in the second half. But I just don't get the feeling KC has it in them today.

If give Green one series in the third quarter to are if he can get it going.

Aaron Schatz: OK, this has nothing whatsoever to do with this game, but according to an AP report, the Raiders are favoring an internal candidate to replace Art Shell as head coach...

John Shoop.

The offensive coordinator who took over from Tom Walsh.

Because, you know, that was the part of the Raiders that clearly worked.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Snicker.

Doug Farrar: I had heard Chris Mortensen say this morning that Davis was asking people about Tom Coughlin, and other sources have said in a Scout.com article that Dennis Green is a possible interview. I'm trying to think of the greater comedic goldmine -- Coughlin or Green in Oakland -- and I'm absolutely stumped. If I'm a Bay Area sportswriter, I'm buying a more powerful laptop either way.

Michael David Smith: Just show up to the meeting five minutes early, baby.

Bill Moore: Did I hear right? Herm Edwards, Tony Dungy, and Lovie Smith had dinner together last night!?! Are you F'in kiddin me? That has to be a first.

"Sorry guys, I can't make the team function tonight. I got to go to dinner with the OPPOSING COACH!"

Aaron Schatz: The second Ty Law interception is the same as the first one. Harrison cuts in and Manning throws out. Who is making the mistake here, Manning or Harrison? Once is an error, twice is ridiculous.

Michael David Smith: Collinsworth needs to get his story straight. He says both interceptions were Harrison's fault, then he says Manning is having a terrible game. If both interceptions were Harrison's fault, Manning is having a very good game.

Doug Farrar: I think the Indy D read Mike Tanier's article. One thing for sure, they're certainly wrapping up much better on running plays in this game.

After KC's first completely ineffective drive of the second half (following the six straight crappy drives in the first half), you could see Ty Law on the sidelines, repeating some unrepeatable words to himself. Halfway through the third quarter, Law's caught as many passes as the entire KC offense. Herm apparently told a reporter at the half that he won't even give Huard a shot in this game. If that's actually the case, does he go to the head of the 2006 "Keep Choppin' Wood" class?

Bill Barnwell: I don't know if you can pick Herm over Art Shell or the Lions' assistant coach.

The quote is correct, BTW.

Doug Farrar: Conversely, the long Indianapolis third-quarter drive that ended with the Addai touchdown run -- 12 plays, 89 yards and seven minutes off the clock -- was a masterpiece of consistent, measured playcalling. The Colts saw that gasping defense, and they went with the Long, Slow Goodbye. Just great football.

Bill Barnwell: Did NBC just tell us a story about Booger McFarland choppin' wood???

Bill Moore: McFarland wanted to get out of Louisiana where he was making money "chopping wood" HA!

Doug Farrar: Kansas City's first touchdown drive was facilitated by Vinatieri kicking off out of bounds and the Chiefs getting the ball at their own 40. Do you suppose John Kasay is watching this game?

Bill Moore: Hey, let's not do audibles for the Dallas/Seattle game, just so we can continue the streak of some jackass writing, "why didn't anyone watch [MY FAVORITE] game?"

Doug Farrar: We'd have the "East Coast Bias" complaint as well. Aaron never gets tired of that!

Just in case you didn't think it was possible for a playoff game to be boring, here's proof...

Bill Moore: Is it just sad me, or did everyone recognize Ben Seaver from "Growing Pains" in that stupid McDonald's commercial. Glad to see things are going well for him...

Speaking of commercials, I nominate the Diet Pepsi commercial as the new worst commercial on TV.

Ryan Wilson: I glanced up, recognized Ben on TV, turned to my wife and said, "you know who that was, right?" Without missing a beat, she says, "Ben Seaver." Leonardo DiCaprio was on that show for a while; I wonder if he likes people to bring that up.

Bill Moore: A childhood friend of mine's uncle was the Executive Producer of "Growing Pains." Supposedly, Leo is completely embarrassed that he is associated with the show and basically refuses to speak of it. They had a reunion some time ago and he wanted NOTHING to do with it.

Will Carroll: I don't know if it's Trent Green not able to do ... anything. I don't know if it's the Colts defense suddenly changing into Mr. Hyde. I don't know if it's the absolute inability of Herm Edwards to change a plan that clearly wasn't working. But this was a stunning game. I thought the Colts had no shot. Instead, the Chiefs were never really in the game ... and I still have no idea why.

Aaron Schatz: One of you wrote that apparently the Indy D read Mike's article. I can tell you that the Kansas City offense definitely did NOT read Mike's article, because mostly they were running straight ahead stuff instead of draws and counters and stuff at Freeney.

Other than that, however, I can't figure out what the heck happened here. It may be one of those things where you can't see it live, you have to watch it again with slow motion and pause to figure it out. But it isn't like Kansas City is the first team to come out and run right at the Colts. If they could do this to Larry Johnson, why couldn't they do this to Ron Dayne? Is there any reason to believe that this is more than a one game fluke?

What kind of wacko bizarro world is this where Kansas City and Indianapolis play a defensive battle? The kind of world where it's 70 degrees in Boston on January 6, I guess. I'll tell you what this reminds me of. Two years ago, Buffalo and Miami played a game in the regular season that Buffalo won 42-32. It was Buffalo's season high in points scored and allowed, AND it was Miami's season high in points scored and allowed. They were both top 10 in DVOA defense that year -- Buffalo was number one, actually. This was sort of the opposite of that.

Doug Farrar: The only thing I saw first glance that was dramatically different was a comparatively remarkable absence of missed and incomplete tackles in this game, after seeing abysmal tackling technique all year from them.

Ned Macey: Checking in from Venice, Italy. Watched the Colts game at The Fiddler's Elbow (side street near the Ca d'Oro vaporetto stop for all our readers who need American football when they are in Venice), a lovely Irish bar that has Sky Sports. They had the game on all TVs with audio because there were some Kansas City fans at the other side of the bar. I think MDS or at least our readers have commented before on the joys of getting random audio-feed from the announcers when they are at commercial. Collinsworth was trying desperately to find out what happened on the second Ty Law pick.

Obviously, nobody thought this would be a defensive struggle. The Colts have sold out on the run to little or no effect a number of times this year. I agree that the problem was scheme by Kansas City. You have to get the Colts moving in one direction and then you can easily push them out of the way for holes. Sure, they were wrapping up better, but rarely did anyone have to make a tackle in space. Add to this a number of one-wideout looks, and you basically had 18 people banging into each other at the line of scrimmage.

The KC offensive line did suck. They got little push and were not able to really pass protect that well either.

Trent Green was definitely never in rhythm. Not sure if a switch to Huard would or would not have helped. The thing about the Colts pass defense is that it has been hampered by always playing the run. They didn't get to pad their DVOA by dominating on obvious passing downs this year.

Offensively, if there were ever a game to argue that Manning is a different quarterback in the playoffs, this was it. The second interception was a terrible throw. Who throws to Beavis' favorite player in double coverage? I disagree with Collinsworth on the second Law pick. Whether or not Harrison should have been there, Manning panicked and flung a pass well after Harrison had broken.

Thought it was funny that Addai was the first player to gain 1,000 yards without starting a game. The first three quarters it looked brilliant that the Colts had limited his touches. Then he clearly got worn out.

We'll see what happens against Baltimore. The Ravens aren't really a draw type team. Lewis isn't really an elusive back. They'll have more success than Kansas City, but it is still a decent match-up for the Colts defense.

Mike Tanier: My man Dwight Freeney looked pretty darn good today. I saw him do a duck move on the Chiefs left tackle and force a fumble by Trent Green, and he pursued some plays up the line to make tackles. Probably a good time to point out that I didn't spend this week's Too Deep Zone bashing him. I concluded that he was a liability in run defense and will probably be overpaid next season. I still feel that way.

Rob Morris played quite a bit on Saturday. He's a guy who can help your interior run defense if not much else. I also saw #91 (Thomas?) on the field on run downs, spelling Freeney and Mathis. Good personnel moves to help the run defense. And the Colts got a break from the Chiefs when they ran the most predictable gameplan in league history.

Oh, and I was all for Bill's suggestion that we just not cover a game. Was the Shrine Game or anything this weekend? Maybe we'll hear about not covering it.

Aaron Schatz: This comment is in one of our discussion threads:

"Sterling Sharpe and Dwight Freeney ended all discussion by pointing out that it was aggressiveness and PRIDE and not a change in scheme... They took pride in doing what people told them they couldn't do."

Does this mean that during the regular season, the Colts defense is passive and doesn't have pride and doesn't care about playing well? Man, the Colts defense is a bunch of lame-ass losers if that's the case. (Hint: it's not.)

By the way, Mike Tanier has written a postscript to his "Colts run defense" Too Deep Zone on the FO FOX blog, and the Colts run defense will also be the subject of this week's Every Play Counts.

Dallas Cowboys 20 at Seattle Seahawks 21

Aaron Schatz: I assume this is something Doug will know. I didn't realize until just now that Bryce Fisher went to Air Force. Do you know how he did his service requirement and worked things out to play in the NFL?

Doug Farrar: The short answer: As a graduate of the school's elite athlete program, he could serve two years of duty and then revert to reserve or guard duty if employed by a professional sports team (with approval from the Air Force). Fisher agreed to spend nine years of duty in the reserves or the guard after his official two-year gig.

Michael David Smith: I think John Madden just spent about a full minute babbling and the only point he was trying to make was "Lofa Tatupu is lining up deeper than middle linebackers usually do." And people say Al Michaels likes to hear himself talk.

Doug Farrar: Seattle's opening drive was a rare sight -- Matt Hasselbeck with most of his weapons at his disposal. I loved Bobby Engram's matchup on that 36-yard play -- between DeMarcus Ware and Roy Williams in a zone. I'm sure Bobby liked it as well. And I'm sure Hasselbeck liked Dallas' only real pass-rusher moving back into coverage.

Four plays inside the 20 on that first drive went as follows: Run, competed pass, time out, incomplete pass, field goal. This is definitely the most fundamental difference between the 2005 and 2006 Seahawks -- not only would there have been more of a focus on the ground game last season, but there would be a near-inevitability concerning the effectiveness of Alexander behind that line. Now, there is a palpable uncertainty about this offense when they get within sniffing distance of the goal line -- as if the feeling is that more diverse playcalling is required to overcome personnel shortcomings upfront.

Seattle is playing some Tampa-2 early on, not blitzing with the depleted secondary, and Tatupu is really good in coverage. I've seen him run step-for-step downfield with Tiki Barber and the "I Don't Give a Crap" version of Randy Moss.

Seattle lucked out on the end of the first Dallas drive -- the incompletion to Owens was as much a drop as Jordan Babineaux getting a hand on the ball, and Terry Glenn was five yards ahead of new guy Pete Hunter downfield. Hunter's been a step behind as the nickel guy early on, which makes sense -- he was signed four days ago.

Between Green and Hasselbeck, that's the second time today I've yelled "Pick!" when a quarterback was hit as he threw.

Why is Kelly Jennings solo on Owens? He weights about 175 pounds and isn't a good tackler.

Aaron Schatz: Why is Pete Hunter solo on Terry Glenn? Dude, it isn't like the Seahawks have choices right now. That flippy thing to Owens when Glenn was open on Hunter was really a dumb little pass.

Doug Farrar: Sure, but Hunter's the bigger and more physical corner, even though Jennings is the better cover guy. If Owens actually catches the ball, I think Hunter's the better YAC matchup because Jennings really has trouble tackling bigger guys. That's where they miss Trufant, who is an exceptional tackler for his position.

Aaron Schatz: Akin Ayodele just stuffed the hole where Shaun Alexander was supposed to go on a run. There's a guy nobody ever talks about. I don't know if he's a particularly outstanding player, but I've watched a lot of Dallas games this year and I don't think I've ever thought to myself, "Wow, Akin Ayodele just screwed that up."

Ryan Wilson: I remember Ayodele being pretty damn good with the Jags. At least against the Steelers, anyway.

Doug Farrar: Nice Leroy Hill/Michael Boulware sandwich on Witten for the fumble.

Bill Moore: I'm not sure Witten had control of that ball. Surprised no challenge.

Aaron Schatz: Let's start a pool ... when will Tony Romo finally throw a pass above a guy's ankles?

Doug Farrar: The holding call on Burnett when the ball was in the air to Jerramy Stevens makes me wonder what constitutes holding, illegal contact, and defensive pass interference from official to official. The numbers for illegal contact and defensive pass interference are so varied per crew.

Aaron Schatz: Did Seattle just call a draw to the fullback on third-and-7 in the red zone? Who thought that one up?

Doug Farrar: Yeah. (*sigh*) Holmgren calls that stupid draw to the fullback on third-and-long far more often than any other coach in the NFL, and I have no idea why he does it. Is he trying to fake the defense out? At this point, he'd have a better chance of surprise if he ran whatever the NFL's most popular third-and-long play actually is. Everyone knows it's coming -- it's like grunge background music during the cuts to commercial whenever the Seahawks get a national game.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I checked for you, Doug, because I was curious.

RB carries on third/fourth-and-6+ yards in 2006:

Team Runs Suc%
SEA 23 22%
DEN 20 30%
NYJ 18 0%
BUF 17 6%
HOU 15 13%
NE 15 33%

Yes, the Jets ran 18 times with RB on third-and-long, and not a single one of them actually got a first down. That includes Cedric Houston for 20 yards on third-and-22. League average was 15% success.

Doug Farrar: Hasselbeck is 7-for-19 for 80 yards and an interception in the first half. Never underestimate the value of repetition, rhythm, and timing. Hasselbeck wasn't able to practice with Darrell Jackson or D.J. Hackett this week, and Deion Branch is still acclimating to the offense. If Bobby Engram looks like the only receiver in sync, that's because he probably is.

No explanation for Romo's early desire to throw at the feet of his receivers.

I did a game charting-style article last season about Eli Manning when the Giants played the Seahawks in which I noted Seattle's tendency to switch to a simple deeper Cover-2 during the final two minutes of each half. The Cowboys appeared to be able to convert that fourth-and-two and get the touchdown facing a very vanilla defense.

Add that to the third-and-long fullback draw on the list of "Things the Seahawks do that I'll never understand." That Seattle runs it the most doesn't surprise me. The success rate does.

Aaron Schatz: Cris Collinsworth: "Kevin Gilbride has changed the outlook on offense; they run Tiki Barber and they throw the ball long." Yes, that's not at all what the Giants offensive game plan looked like for all of 2005 and 2006 under John Hufnagel.

Doug Farra: The two fourth-down conversions on Seattle's first touchdown drive were nice flashbacks to the past. Really seemed to amp the team up. And that's the Jerramy Stevens Seattle keeps hoping for on the score.

Of course, there's nothing line a 93-yard punt return touchdown on the next play to kill that momentum!

Bill Moore: I don't understand that fourth down call. You need two scores to win the game. Why not take the FG there?

Aaron Schatz: I understand it -- you are closer to the touchdown than you might be later. The field goal is worthless without the touchdown later anyway, so get the touchdown now. The play call wasn't even that bad. I thought he had Heller there, but he waited a little too long and then Newman was too close for the pass to work.

Bill Moore: Then again, Holmgren must have known that Glenn would fumble on the 1 backwards into the end zone, Seattle would lateral it back falling out of bounds, recover it, and score a TD to tie, of course.

Al Bogdan: This is going to be the longest replay challenge in the history of replay challenges.

Doug Farrar: That was one of the goofiest defensive plays I've ever seen. Catch, fumble, but the ball went out of bounds in the air before Tatupu batted it back in, and Tatupu's foot was indeed out. That's a correct reversal.

Bill Moore: In fact, I think it even hit whoever was lying on the turf out-of-bounds before Tatupu even touched it. Good call -- crazy play.

Al Bogdan: Has anyone ever seen a succesful replay challenge that still resulted in points for the other team before? That may have been a first.

Bill Moore: Doug, I don't watch the Seahawks much, but I've noticed that Hasselbeck rolls to his left quite a bit. It makes it really difficult for him to throw on the run. Is it a result of his confidence in the blocking ability of Jones? Or am I just seeing something that's no really there?

Doug Farrar: I think it has quite a bit to do with Jones, but of course he's moving against his own momentum when he does that because he's right-handed. He doesn't have a great deep ball by any means, and he's not a guy who's gong to zip the ball 40 yards on a rope falling away. He's good in the pocket -- great feet in there. When he's rolling left, that's a protection issue, because the option play would be to the right.

Aaron Schatz: I know he fumbled earlier, but Jason Witten just saved Romo's behind on that play that ended on the one-yard line, because Jason Witten had to leap behind him for that badly thrown pass, and it could have easily ended up in Babineaux's hands behind him.

Bill Moore: This is the craziest F'in game I've ever seen!

Aaron Schatz: Well, it's hard to say that the same week as that Boise State game. A couple weird plays is nothing compared to that thing.

Bill Moore: I didn't see the Boise State game other than clips on YouTube, so I keep that statement.

Al Bogdan: Is it just me, or shouldn't Dallas' last play have been reviewed? There was one angle that I saw where it looked like Romo was down before he lost the ball and he may have had a first down.

Doug Farrar: WHOA!!! I think I just blacked out on that blown field goal. I may need a minute.

Aaron Schatz: I'm with Al. As I've said a million times this year, in the final two minutes the review booth has a responsibility to review EVERYTHING.

Doug Farrar: No question. If you're going to take the decision to call for a review out of the coach's hands, your replay official should be able to stay awake, or away from the concession stand, for two clock minutes.

Bill Moore: The fumble didn't stand. He was marked down at the 2. He was down well before the 1-yard line.

In fact, looking at the replay over a few times, Seattle fans can thank Jordan Babineaux's HELMET for keeping the season alive one more game. He actually misses wrapping up Romo's legs, but the force of the fall causes his helmet to crash into Romo's calf leading to his collapse.

Bill Barnwell: Essentially Babineaux got kicked in the face by Romo on the way down. That couldn'tve been fun. On the other hand, they won the game because of it. I, for one, am much more excited to read tonyhomo.com tomorrow than I am to read ESPN.

Aaron Schatz: As a statistical analyst, it is not my job, nor is it my forte, to psychoanalyze Tony Romo and figure out what this mistake will mean for the rest of his career. However, this will not stop many, many writers and talking heads from doing just that over the next few days.

Mike Tanier: Psycho-analyze Romo? Who would do such a thing? "Hey, Carrie's man, what's your game, boy? Can anybody play?"

Let me recap a point I've made a few times this season. You've got two of the 15 best receivers in football. You've got one of the five best receiving tight ends. You have two running backs that you like, and your choice at quarterback of a veteran gunslinger and a kid who has spent four years in the system and was playing lights-out a month ago. And you score 13 offensive points against a team starting street free agents in the secondary.

If Parcells isn't gone, his offensive staff should be.

I may have to look at their film more and do a post-mortem, which as an Eagles fan I would love, but I can't figure out how the Cowboys offense was this bad for most of the year. Yes, dropped passes had a lot to do with it against Seattle, but that doesn't explain the other bad games they had down the stretch (they really didn't look good against the Lions despite the point total). The one thing I don't have to watch film to question is Julius Jones. He's not terrible, but he doesn't do a darn thing better than Marion Barber. Giving him 15 touches per game is just taking 15 touches from Barber and TO and Glenn and the others. I don't see how that's a wise strategy.

Doug Farrar: Excellent Hollies reference, Dr. Tanier.

However, I don't know how much I'd put this on the Dallas coaching staff. Romo kept throwing at the feet of his receivers, there was the Witten fumble, TO's 1 1/2 drops (the drops were less of a problem than Romo's GPS, in my opinion), and the fact that Seattle was able to bring consistent pressure without selling out their linebackers (pregame, I thought the latter point would be Seattle's hope of staying competitive with the secondary situation). Romo was still 17-of-29, though that's just one stat and I don't yet know what the FO numbers will say about his performance. At what point do you realize that your quarterback doesn't have it and move on to the run game?

One more thing about that depleted Seattle secondary -- the downshift wasn't as bad as people have made it out to be. Marcus Trufant is an average cover corner for the most part, and Kelly Herndon is a nickel corner at best who is totally miscast as a starter. Seattle wasn't using spare parts to replace Champ Bailey and Asante Samuel -- had that been the case, their defensive strategy through the season would have been far more reliant on the secondary, and they would have been blown out in this game, even with Dallas' gameplan and the way Romo played. But the idea behind Seattle's defense is supposed to be that pressure from the front seven (and the closer that number is to four, the better) will take care of coverage liabilities. Kelly Jennings probably has better (through rawer) cover skills than anyone else in that secondary anyway, and I'd be very surprised at any metric showing a serious difference between Herndon and Babineaux when it comes to coverage.

For Seattle, consistent pressure up front allowed the secondary to survive.

Mike Tanier: If your quarterback doesn't have it -- doesn't have it to the point that he cannot move the ball with Glenn, Witten, TO, and Barber to throw to -- after four years with the team and half a season as the starter, then that is on the coaching staff. And if you are going to commit to the run, do it with the running back that everyone seems to know is the better back.

New York Jets 16 at New England Patriots 37

Benjy Rose: Interesting how the Jets are having two or three linemen set with five or six guys walking around the ball until the snap. Sorta like Baltimore, only, you know, not as good.

Damn you, Dillon. Nice uncalled hold by FB Evans on the TD. May not have mattered, though.

Aaron Schatz: It's the moving cow defense! I love the moving cow defense. This is what the Patriots ran on Drew Bledsoe a couple of years ago. I have a feeling Brady understands it better than Bledsoe did. I wish they would make Moving Cow a defensive option in Madden when you play as the Patriots, Jets, or Browns (Crennel) -- that would be awesome.

Tim Gerheim: ESPN's pre-game show had Jason Taylor on showing clips from the last Pats-Jets game where the Jets won, and they were having good success getting pressure and hits on Brady with the Moving Cow defense because the Pats were having trouble figuring out protection.

Russell Levine: I hope none of the Pats fans on the thread are going to defend that Wilfork personal foul. Stupid.

Pennington surprises me with his arm strength when he throws downfield. Good zip on that near completion to McCareins.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not going to defend the Wilfork personal foul. I'm just going to point out that, in case you are wondering why Maurice Jones-Drew could get up and run for that huge touchdown against the Patriots a couple weeks ago without anyone hitting him, well, that's why.

Russell Levine: I hate that the Jets were lined up to go for it, then decided to punt after that NE timeout. Was the whole purpose of that lineup to get the Pats to burn a timeout in the first quarter?

On the 36-yard line, fourth-and-3. GO FOR IT!

(after the Dillon fumble) ... or not ...

Benjy Rose: Hey, in that Motorola commercial where Dungy is feeding lines to a dude in the car with a girl, is that dude Kerry Collins?

Tim Gerheim: How about that Pats defense against #2 receivers? I was this close to taking Cotchery in the fantasy playoff draft instead of Branch, but figured that would be too clever by half. Guess I was wrong.

Aaron Schatz: That was some Pat Watkins-worthy deep safety coverage by Artrell Hawkins right there.

Benjy Rose: And Cotchery seemed to turn on the afterburners the last 15 yards. That pass impressed me more than the near-30-yarder earlier.

Aaron Schatz: We all know about the Pats and #2 receivers, but Cotchery really has been that good against everybody this year. Real breakout year for him, major reason for the Jets' turnaround. For those who don't know, Cotchery is a big reason why the FO college quarterback projection system loves Philip Rivers -- he was Rivers' number one receiver at NC State.

Tim Gerheim: I'm surprised that the Pats sideline is in the sun to the point that Belichick is continuously shielding his eyes with his arm. (I guess he can't afford a visor to go with his hoodie.) This seems like exactly the sort of detail Belichick would have micromanaged.

Aaron Schatz: Banta-Cain or Seymour, Brick is not having a good time out there today.

Michael David Smith: Yeah, I'm seeing a lot of the same things I saw that I didn't like from Ferguson when I watched them for EPC.

Benjy Rose: The whole O-line is getting manhandled today. Has that been normal? (I haven't been able to see too many Jets games this year.)

Tim Gerheim: If you have Corey Dillon and Laurence Maroney on your team, why do you need to bring Kevin Faulk in? When they do the Jets know it's a pass play. I've only noticed two plays with Faulk in so far, and twice Brady has audibled into a run (or so it appears), and both times Faulk has lost yardage because he's Kevin Faulk.

And then just as I get done writing that and I'm about to send it Faulk runs for 8 yards on second-and-10, and then the first down. I still think the initial question stands.

Bill Barnwell: The Jets defensive scheme has been to use the safeties as run support and as blitzers/faux-blitzers. With that in mind, the CBs are giving cushions and are absolutely mortified about the possibility of a double move. The Patriots can march like this all day until the Jets either have to push up their corners (doubtful) or put their safeties back into coverage (likely), which means a second half with 25-30 carries for the Patriots.

Aaron Schatz: Golly, why on earth would you want to block Jonathan Vilma at the goal line? It isn't like he's the best defensive player on the Jets. I don't know why the Pats didn't just sneak this sucker in on first down.

Ryan Wilson: Watching Belichick and Mangini trying to outsmart each other is kinda like two Mathletes having a nerd-off while everybody else in junior high is as the dance.

Aaron Schatz: DVOA might not like the Jets but right now either of these teams would beat Dallas or Seattle by at least two touchdowns. I have no idea how the difference between the conferences got so bad, but even the mistakes the Jets and Pats are making look more graceful than the mistakes by the NFC teams.

Bill Barnwell: What was Askew doing on that last play of the half? Did he pick himself in the Jets Playoff Fantasy Draft?

Benjy Rose: He's a fullback -- of course he can outrun the entire Pats D. Silly. Jets should have put Ramsey in there to throw the quick out and/or bomb. Pennington's no good for that stuff.

Aaron Schatz: Somewhere in Cambridge, our boy Nick Hartigan is sitting in his apartment and saying to himself, "I'm smart enough to get out of bounds on that play."

Bill Barnwell: I don't know. Au Bon Pain is pretty busy on Sunday. He probably had to work.

Tim Gerheim: Shawne Merriman is on national TV at halftime, and he can't put on a shirt? He's either wearing a wifebeater, suspenders, or a pair of overalls without a shirt, like the big guy from the original Final Fight. It's not even a good look in a video game.

Russell Levine: I don't know. I was always partial to boxing promoter Butch Lewis's tuxedo jacket, vest, bow tie, but no shirt look.

Benjy Rose: And I love how no one says WHY he was suspended. Way to glorify illegality, guys.

Michael David Smith: I'm just blown away at the way Merriman has been covered in the media. Make up your minds, oh sports talking heads of the world. The same guys who talk in the abstract about steroid users like they're worse than murderers treat steroid users like they're heroes when they're interviewing one.

Russell Levine: They don't tend to talk about steroid users in football like they're mass murderers, only in baseball.

Among the many smart things the NFL has done over the years, getting ahead of the curve on having a steroid policy stands right near the top. Sure, the policy doesn't have a lot of teeth, but by simply having it, and by suspending some big name guys from time to time, the league has been able to snicker at baseball and say, "see, we don't have a steroid problem!"

Michael David Smith: What on earth was the ref doing stopping the game to bring out the chains when the Jets were clearly about two yards short?

Russell Levine: I've always wondered about that requesting a measurement rule. That's just a free timeout. Why wouldn't the ref just say no?

Bill Barnwell: I wonder if TMQ will cite that all-out blitz that stopped the Patriots on third down in his column.

Aaron Schatz: Jets had really good coverage on that all-out blitz. The offensive line protection has also been much better in the second half. And what was Bill saying about Mike Vrabel in coverage earlier this year? That he can't do it anymore? Sure looked like it on that last drive, with Chris Baker getting catch after catch.

Kickoff distance is one of those things that nobody notices without looking at the numbers first, but the difference between Gostkowski and Nugent has been mind-bogglingly obvious this week.

Benjy Rose: I was just going to mention that. G's got some leg.

Tim Gerheim: I don't watch a lot of Patriots games, but I don't think I've ever seen Chad Jackson make a catch. But I do remember him getting thrown at deep and not catching it for one reason or another (not necessarily his fault). I wonder if it's particularly good strategy to keep throwing those at him given that he never catches them.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Justin Miller has his faults, but "ability to get burned with speed" isn't really among them. There's a reason he's the Jets' kickoff returner.

Tim Gerheim: I don't agree at all with what Phil Simms just said: "You look at this 37-16 score and it's misleading." (Not a direct quote.) The Pats pretty much dominated this game. The Jets had a handful of good drives, but this was basically the Patriots' game all day. At halftime when it was 17-10, they commented that all the stats (16-7 first downs, for example) showed that the Patriots were dominating, and that was right. The score just started to reflect that by the end.

Benjy Rose: MVPs of the game: Pats' D-line. Pressure all day, even with just four. Kept Chad off-balance, rarely let him get comfortable.

Aaron Schatz: Will somebody tell Phil Simms to save his "wow, a rookie left tackle, what a great job" praise for Marcus McNeill next week, a rookie left tackle who actually didn't play like a rookie?

Patrick Laverty: One of the best hits of the day: Belichick wrapping the arms around the cameraman and tossing him out of the way as he was trying to get to Mangini. That was awesome.

Also, I know some of the roughing the passer calls this year have been a bit silly, but for Simms to mention that it could have been called when Colvin planted Pennington, I think was wrong. On contact, Pennington still had the ball. You gotta finish the tackle.

Michael David Smith: Did Andre Dyson ever get back on the field after that first drive where he kept getting beaten with short passes? I never saw him.

Bill Moore: I was watching the game at a friend's, and Phil "King of the Rhetorical Questions" Simms ("the linebacker drops back, and what happens? The middle is open." "I saw Tony Dungy last night, and what did he tell me? That the Colts...") made a casual statement that caused a bit of disbelief in the room. He said that Eric Mangini's first act as the new Jets coach was to show Chad Pennington the Patriots' scouting report on him. How is that not proprietary? The same friend recently left a Fortune 500 company, and they wouldn't let him take his personal address book contacts with him -- never mind the scouting report on the competition.

Patrick Laverty: Maybe it is, but Mangini probably helped write the report and had it all memorized.

Bill Barnwell: Ooh -- ooh -- maybe it's like a Johnny Mnemonic kinda deal.

Aaron Schatz: I have to tell you, I'm not looking forward to an entire week of "Reche Caldwell looking to get revenge" stories in the Boston media. Wait, what do you mean there aren't going to be any "Reche Caldwell looking to get revenge" stories?

New York Giants 20 at Philadelphia Eagles 23

Aaron Schatz: Just saw the list of Giants inactives. Darius Watts is inactive for the Giants today. Wait a minute, when the hell did Darius Watts go to the Giants???

Tim Gerheim: I'm rooting for the Eagles on account of my playoff fantasy picks, but there's one thing that makes me hope that the Giants will get another game: the Battleship Lorenzen. If you don't love a lumbering 285-pound quarterback, you don't love football.

Doug Farrar: Jared Lorenzen: The unholy offspring of Michael Vick and Refrigerator Perry.

Aaron Schatz: Somebody needs to get the Giants offensive line some anti-anxiety medicine or something.

Mike Tanier: Jon Runyan apparently wants to be thrown out of this game. It's a wonder he wasn't ejected on that hit of Cofield. Somehow, the Eagles weren't penalized.

And Garcia calls timeout with the clock running and 2:02 left in the half. Leadership, baby.

Ryan Wilson: You know, on the Runyan play, if you look at the replay, Brandon Short tackles Buckhalter ... and then starts punching him well before Runyan goes crazy. I can't believe nobody saw that.

As for Garcia, maybe he thought this was a college game.

Doug Farrar: Two teams -- the Seahawks and Giants -- have each revealed a glaring lack of confidence in their offensive line in the red zone this weekend. Both teams have great backs, and both teams got fidgety and cute with the goal-line pass plays. Both Dallas and Philadelphia responded with goal-line stands aided by that playcalling.

Boy, I'd really hate to be caught in a deli line behind Pete Morelli.

Michael David Smith: Andy Reid desperately needs an assistant to take over all clock management aspects of the game. They've managed the clock horribly in the late second half, from Garcia's timeout to waiting way too long to call one when the Giants had third-and-10 with less than a minute left.

Bill Barnwell: I'm thinking most teams could use a coach whose assignment on game day is either strictly clock management or primarily clock management. Head coaches are just too busy.

Mike Tanier: Of course, the rest of that Eagles two-minute drive was pretty sweet. Some good play calls to throw 8-yard hitches to Brown to move the ball a little. Some good individual plays by Garcia to find open receivers, then great blitz pickup, good throw by Garcia, great catch by Stallworth for a touchdown.

Michael David Smith: The officials who signaled that punt Eagles ball should be fired. How can you be an NFL official and not know that once the punting team touches the ball first, the receiving team can't lose possession?

Bill Barnwell: Plaxico Burress deserved a yellow card for that dive on the pass interference penalty.

Tim Gerheim: OK, so y'all got that "Experience" Old Spice commercial, right? Is that Bruce Campbell, from Evil Dead, doing that commercial? The thought that it might be, and that he doesn't have a chainsaw on his arm, blows my mind.

Bill Moore: Although I found it tediously humorous the first time, I'm not sure I really "get it." Can you fill me in?

Tim Gerheim: Not exactly. I just love it because the ship in the painting is about 20 feet long and has probably 70 masts and sets of sails.

Everyone, myself included, seems immensely less interested in this game than the last three. I wonder why. Is it just a less compelling game, or do we just not have the attention span to carefully watch four games in a weekend?

How come they've played so much grunge going in and out of commercials in this game? I've heard Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. Seattle's not involved at all.

Mike Tanier: How was that not pass interference on Bell as he basically body blocked Reggie Brown?

Michael David Smith: Maybe I'm overly critical, but I'm just getting increasingly frustrated by bad officiating. What was the official who spotted the ball on that Barber run on third-and-1 thinking?

Tim Gerheim: I thought Luke Petitgout was on IR, but it's good to see that the Human False Start Machine is still starting for the Giants.

Mike Tanier: And I exhale. And the long snapper does a Linc Leap. And Koy Detmer earns his paycheck with two tough holds on field goals on a rainy day. Koy for MVP.

I think that was Dave Diehl imitating Little Leg Ailment Petitgout at left tackle.

Aaron Schatz: This is the same problem I had last week. I have nothing to say about the Giants. They have the same positives and negatives virtually every week at this point. The defense played better today than in weeks past, but how many times can I write that the safeties are not good, that Eli Manning throws too high, that Jeremy Shockey is good, that Tiki Barber is good, that their offensive line false starts all the time -- there's nothing new here. It ended a little closer than I expected but for the most part this game went as predicted in the game preview.

Oh, and I'm with MDS on the officiating. We don't need another Super Bowl debacle to complain, and it has nothing to do with the specific teams we root for, the league has GOT to figure out a way to make the officiating more consistent. Yes, these are human beings, but even human beings should be able to all enforce the rules in mostly the same fashion.

Bill Barnwell: The only person who was playing with any sort of urgency in that game was Tiki Barber. The performance was entirely indistinguishable from any other Giants game this season, and I'd like to think that they'd focus more and play better. I'm normally not inclined to blame a performance on a coach, but this team isn't going to get any better with Coughlin at the helm. They need a change. I have no idea who they should replace him with, but they need to change.

Aaron Schatz: Seeing Shockey stretching for first downs with his helmet knocked off, taking off Coughlin's headphones to talk to him ... he seemed to be playing with urgency. And you've got to give Plaxico credit for some good receptions there.

On the other hand, when your tight end is coming up to your head coach and just taking off his headphones to talk to him and your offensive line then false starts 37 times, yeah, I don't think the discipline thing is working.

Bill Barnwell: That's true. I kinda attribute it to Shockey's just general stupidity, but he was trying hard out there. And, hey, J-Load recognized the illegal formation.

There was some talk earlier in the year about Burress being gone after the season. I'm not his biggest fan, but if he leaves, Manning's completion percentage is going to be the pits.

Mike Tanier: I think the Giants were playing hard out there, but you don't just flip a switch and acquire "intensity." If you have a month of the season where everyone is playing like crap, yapping in the media, and tuning out the coach, then you have dozens of practices that are just shot to hell. Guys can fly around on Sunday and hit hard and yell and scream, but football requires precision and controlled aggression. The Giants have been an imprecise team all year, and that's what they were today, with lots of penalties, an offense with no timing, a defense that just kept getting beat at the line of scrimmage.

Posted by: admin on 08 Jan 2007

139 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2007, 2:38pm by Sid

Comments

1
by Mike (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:10pm

I think there needs to be a rules change that whenever a ballcarrier's helmet is knocked off, the play is dead right there. Shockey's play was heroic, but extremely dangerous. I'm not sure what to do with non-ball carriers who lose their hats, though.

2
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:17pm

Where's the Redskin game? How about covering the Raiders? MDS didn't even bother watching the Lions play? The New York-New England Northeast bias is really evident in this column... you didn't even bother to cover the best teams in both conferences! For shame!

3
by Tim D. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:18pm

I think the official who signaled that it was the Eagles' ball on the punt has to do so because the Giants get the option of either taking the ball at the spot of first touching by the Eagles or they get the result of the play, so if the Giants come away with the ball from the scrum they get it on, say, the 2-yard line instead of the 1 where it was touched. A small point, to be sure, but if the scrum for the ball had happened at, say, the 10-yard line, it would seem more significant.

4
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:26pm

Did anyone realize that Pete Hunter once played for Dallas and was cut because he couldn't cover (insert favorite coverage metaphor here)? I'm surprised the Cowboys weren't able to take advantage of that... (I didn't watch the game, save the glorious ending).

5
by Adam B. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:30pm

Interesting that most of the NYG-PHI comments were about the team that lost, not figuring out how the Eagles won. I was at the game, as always, and what I kept noticing was Donte Stallworth's downfield blocking on Westbrook's runs. How have they not re-signed him yet?

Also, the in-stadium tech guys were sure to show every late hit on Garcia on the big screen, to inflame the crowd, but never showed what Jon Runyan did on that play. Heh.

I will feel very unpatriotic in rooting against New Orleans this week, but so be it.

6
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:34pm

Isn't the correct call (on the illegal touching) for the official to drop the flag and signal Eagles ball?

It's kind've like a player committing DPI, and then intercepting the pass. I think one of the problems is that I rarely see officials throw the flag for illegal touching, even if they all know it is the rule.

7
by Charles the Philly Homer (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:35pm

I finally figured Tom Coughlin out about halfway through the first half: he thinks he has heat vision.

Throughout the game, he would stare at the field, tracking certain players and staring with such an intense hatred that it was apparent to me that he attempting to use his eyesight to incapacitate the Eagles. He used it once again when Shockey ripped his headset off in one of the more hilarious sideline shots since Terrell Owens' madman grin in his second loss to the Eagles. Tom Coughlin is trying to audition for Heroes as a villain; he certainly wasn't trying to coach his way back into New York's good graces. His team racka disciprine; how do you get three consecutive penalties totalling twenty yards on first down deep in enemy territory one score back in the playoffs?!

Which brings me to the end of the game: who else was getting that familiar Philadelphia pit-in-the-stomach after, once again, the Giants injured Lito Sheppard and, once again, tied the game on a heck of a series of plays from Eli to Plaxico Burress? It was like the initial symptoms of Week 2 all over again. But a funny thing happened on the way to the offseason and the Eagles burned the clock and executed some of the best game management of Andy Reid's tenure since the Redskins game. I bet Michael David Smith wants that commentary back; the Eagles have revolutionized their clock technique and it's won them at least two games this season after the team had lost the momentum.

Of course, the loss of Lito and the relative closeness of the win against such a bad team leaves me with no confidence going into the Saints game. What? I'm a Philly fan. Hope is for other towns.

8
by Doug Farrar :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:36pm

#4 - Yep. He still lives about a mile away from the Cowboys' facility. Not a bad player before he blew out his ACL in 2004, but he's struggled to find a team ever since.

9
by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:39pm

One more note: Aaron Moorehead is Beavis and Butthead’s favorite NFL player.

Bill Moore: Aaron Moorehead just beats out Dick Butkus.

Can we get some Y. A. Tittle love?

True story: One year, 32 Footsteps, me and our wives were watching the Super Bowl, and decided to play Karaoke Revolution rather than watch the halftime show. Because of a retrospective during the pre-game, we decided to name our character "Y. A. Tittle". The next day, we were all asked if we saw the halftime show, and had no idea what anyone was talking about until later that night. That was the halftime show where Janet Jackson went all Y. A. Tittle.

10
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:47pm

MDS:

They’ve managed the clock horribly in the late second half, from Garcia’s timeout to waiting way too long to call one when the Giants had third-and-10 with less than a minute left.

Late second quarter, not second half.

And I can defend both of those. I don't understand why Garcia's timeout was bad - they were trying to get a play off before the two-minute warning. Once it was clear to Garcia that wasn't going to work, he took a timeout - still before two minutes. I don't get why that's a problem. It means the next play is going to cost you the time of the play, and no more, without a timeout. If they had let it go down to the 2 minute warning, they would've had to use a timeout in order to stop the clock after the play. I don't understand why that's a wasted timeout at all. It doesn't make a difference - if they saved it, they would've needed to use it on the other side of 2:00.

The mistake was not getting the play off before two minutes, but if it's clear to the quarterback that it's not going to work, then I think using the timeout is fine - a failed play can have much more drastic consequences than a used timeout. Running a play that's doomed to fail just for the sake of running a play seems silly.

As for the "waiting way too long" part, I think Reid just wanted to make sure there was enough time so that they'd have a punt return. I'm not sure that was a terrible decision either. Punt returns are less risky than attempting a rapid drive.

11
by JasonK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:47pm

Just saw the list of Giants inactives. Darius Watts is inactive for the Giants today. Wait a minute, when the hell did Darius Watts go to the Giants???

They signed him in late December, to fill the roster space they got when they put Strahan, Petitgout, and Morton on IR.

12
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:50pm

"Tim Gerheim: I don’t watch a lot of Patriots games, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Chad Jackson make a catch. But I do remember him getting thrown at deep and not catching it for one reason or another (not necessarily his fault). I wonder if it’s particularly good strategy to keep throwing those at him given that he never catches them."

Tim, how often do you see a patriots reciever catch one deep.

Seriously, Brady just can't throw the deep ball. I mean, he can get it there, but he has to throw it at a 45 degree arc, and by the time the ball gets there, theres a safety and the corner there. How many long balls did the recievers pull out of the corners hands yesterday?

Even the last one I can think of him completing (to caldwell, against Ten) was a good 5 yards underthrown.

13
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 12:58pm

That Old Spice commercial has got to be the most ridiculously awesome commercial of the season. Bruce Campbell doing his mock-serious Bruce Campbell nonsense thing while walking by a 300' long painting of a ship with 80 sails... brilliant! The commercial had nothing to do with cologne, yet all I could think about after seeing it for the first time was "Old Spice." Bizarre, yet effective.

14
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:02pm

I said it in the chat, and I'll say it again: Bruce Campbell is a god among men.

15
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:04pm

So, other points:

1) I didn't think the Colts-Chiefs game was all that surprising. KC's offensive line has been 'meh' all year, and they run off tackle a good amount less than average, and the Colts are pretty much worst running off tackle. But KC's center and guards were getting no push against the DTs for the Colts. Couple that with a poor and predictable game plan, and it's not really surprising the Chiefs had so little success.

2) The biggest problem with the officiating in the Eagles game was that so many flags were being thrown by assumption. Sheldon Brown didn't turn back, and there was contact. Must've been DPI. Bell turned back, with contact - must've been playing the ball. Patterson reached out as a defender peeled away from him - must've been holding. That's just sloppy officiating. You don't call games like that.

On a side note, though, I will say I loved the shot they showed on the encroachment vs William Thomas. Great comparison to the Giants offensive line - they were jumpy all day any time a Philly defender shifted. Giant defender jumps across the line, and Thomas doesn't even move when the guy touches him.

16
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:05pm

Okay, it wasn't exactly the same, but did the end of the Dallas-Seattle game remind anyone else of "North Dallas Forty"?

17
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:07pm

#12 - And then there was the one where Jaffney just dropped it in the end zone. It was perfectly thrown. These aren't high percentage passes here, no matter who is throwing them. From my recollection there were three deep passes thrown by Brady. One was the perfect one thrown to Gaffney, another was one where he was hit from behind as he was throwing and therefore was short a few feet to Jackson on the right side of the offense. The third (not in chronological order) was a jump ball thrown to Jackson on the left side. I think that one was thrown more because Jackson was one on one against Poteat then him being open.

18
by SteveP (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:08pm

Re: 6

The proper mechanic for illegal touching is not to throw a flag but to drop the beanbag. It is defined (in the NCAA and Federation rulebooks, anyway) as a violation rather than a foul - hence there is no distance penalty.

19
by Phil Simms (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:08pm

I'm glad someone else noticed that Phil Simms felt compelled to praise D'Brick endlessly while also seeminlgy shocked at how great of a game Tully Banta Cain was having.

If it werent for this site, I'd start to question my own eyes.

D'Brick proved to be a rookie LT out there, and it really handicapped his team.

20
by Yaguar (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:16pm

So, which is a stupider-sounding officiating call? "Illegal touching" or "group celebration?"

21
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:17pm

Calling the timeout at 2:02 is bad because it only saves you two seconds. Plus time wasn't really a factor at that point.

If the next play is a run or completed pass inbounds then you save two seconds.
If the next play is an incomplete pass, then you save a timeout.

I think Belichick did a study and found that you should only take the timeout before the two minute warning if the clock is above 2:13.

22
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:28pm

What gets me about the Eagles/Giants officials is there were four games this weekend. Is it really possible that the NFL doesn't have four competent sets of referees? They should assign each of the four best crews one game in the WC round, then another in the divisional. Then give the two who did the best a game in the Championship round, and the best crew gets to then do the superbowl. Have them switch conferences in each round to avoid bias, and the refereeing would be so much better.

23
by Opiwan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:31pm

I would think that officiating would improve slightly if you didn't have to be Wile E. Coyote to know all of the official rules. If you load up officials' brains with more and more minutiae every year that they have to keep track of along with the regular "game mechanics" of ball spotting and the like, you're going to get more errors just because complexity is increasing. It's not like the speed of the game is dropping at all, either. Also, we all know practical experience matters, but these guys only get to practice 16-19 times a year since you can't call a game unless it's happening. I don't know how you fix that, but think how good any of us would be at our jobs if we only did it for the equivalent of three weeks a year...

24
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:32pm

That reminds me, I have to commend the hometown timekeeper - the Brady touchdown pass to Graham took 3 seconds off the clock. I know it wasn't an extremely long play, but 3 seconds? No way in hell.

25
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:32pm

If the next play is a run or completed pass inbounds then you save two seconds.

No. If the next play is a run or completed pass inbounds, you save the length of the play clock, because they weren't going to run a play before the two-minute warning if Garcia didn't call that timeout.

Like I said, the mistake wasn't the timeout - they would've used it after the two-minute warning anyway. The mistake was that they were unable to run a play before the two-minute warning without using a timeout. But I can't really criticize Philly for that, because there's no reason to run a play that won't work.

26
by Becephalus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:36pm

#1

How about make players use appropriate chin straps so that the helmet doesn't come off. Hits in hockey can get a lot harder in hockey than in football, but I am pretty sure I have never seen a hockey players' helmet come off when completely fastened. Same thing in football 9/10 I can see it isn't fastened properly, and those times it is might be attributable to poor design (or player adjusting the straps to be very very loose).

27
by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:38pm

Is it really possible that the NFL doesn’t have four competent sets of referees?
So you get the top 11 of 16 crews. Meh.

It's my understanding that each crew gets no more than one playoff game. (Don't know if that's a rule, a guideline, or just how it's happened.) At a guess, the refs don't want all the playoff money and face time going to the same four crews, and the NFL throws them that particular bone.

Besides (at the risk of heresy), I would dread seeing Ed Hochuli in three straight weeks, which is what would happen. I think the dude throws flags just to get more camera time.

28
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:42pm

#24 - I think the officials also keep the time so there is no real "hometeam" bais. And even if there were, why would it benefit them to only have the play be 3 seconds long?

29
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:43pm

re: 12
I've seen Brady complete a lot of passes to Deion Branch, David Patten and David Givens deep. Ben Watson, too, FWIW. Brady hit Gaffney deep yesterday and Gaffney simply dropped the ball. Although Brady's form has been a bit off this season (I suspect unreported injuries), hitting receivers deep has not traditionally been a problem for him.

As for Chad Jackson, this season has been a complete wash for him. Hopefully he'll come back next year with healthy legs and produce like the Pats have hoped he could. It's not like hamstring injuries are typically recurring. (In other news, the "Fred Taylor" entry in my internal database has been deleted.)

Back to the injury question: the Boston Globe yesterday had a very interesting piece about Richard Seymour. Seymour is one of the Pats who has been playing injured all season. Not really topical to this thread, but an interesting read (click on name).

30
by Michael David Smith :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:44pm

Yeah, I realize that technically it's the Eagles' ball with the Giants' option of accepting the illegal touching penalty and getting the ball back. But the way the officials vehemently signaled Eagles ball made nearly everyone in the stadium think it really was going to be the Eagles' ball. I once saw a pass caught in the end zone by a receiver who committed a horribly blatant offensive pass interference, just threw the DB to the ground, and the official didn't even signal the touchdown -- he just dropped his flag and immediately made the offensive pass interference signal. That's what these officials should have done.

31
by Rick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:47pm

re: 26
I suspect it's safer to have helmets that fly off easily than to have helmets that don't. If a helmet is flying off, it's because force has been applied to it at a weird angle. We'd rather have that force applied only to the helmet and not to the head. Safer still would be if face masks would detach rather than be available as tools for neck twisting.

32
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:49pm

I have one question about the Dallas game, because I don't watch a lot of Dallas and I didn't see the crazy ending:

Is Romo normally the holder, or was he out there and forced to hold for the botched FG because of the challenge/official's screw up? I saw one mention that that was the case somewhere in some article, but haven't been able to substantiate it... If Romor isn't normally the holder for FG's, then I don't fault him as much for fumbling it...

33
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:50pm

#32: No, he is the normal holder.

34
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:50pm

29 Brady hit gaffney the same way he hit caldwell against Ten. The reciever had a huge cushion, but by the time the ball got there, it was gone, and the defender was all over the guy. Yeah, it should have been caught, but Gaffney should have been catching it in the clear, not with a defender on top of him.

35
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:50pm

I find it comical that anyone is questioning the Sheldon Brown PI. Let's see... he made contact with the WR who was attempting to catch the ball all while not playing the ball at any point. When has that not been a PI? That's pretty much the textbook definition of PI. One day later, the meaningless Chriss Snee hold still has me pissed.

If you told me Toomer, Strahan, Petitgout (who for all the jokes was having a GREAT season), Arrington, Tuck, Webster, and Morton would end the season on I.R., I would've said the Giants don't even make the playoffs. Some of those guys aren't good, but it still ruins what remaining depth the team has. However, the Giants still had opportunities (and enough remaining talent) to win games and just couldn't get it done.

See ya Coughlin.

36
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:50pm

Re: 18
That's great information. I didn't know that. Most of the time you'll see the side-judge come in with the illegal touch signal... in fact I didn't know it was the rule until last year.

37
by MJK (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:53pm

The other problem with stopping the play if a helmet comes off is that some players might try to tackle by ripping off an opponent's helmet. Very dangerous. You don't want to promote that sort of thing.

38
by Frick (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:53pm

Re: #1 and #26

It is supposed to be a penalty (in high school and college anyway) if you play with your equipment not fully in place. This includes mouthpiece and chinstraps in place. It drives me nuts to watch players with chin straps unstrapped, it is really visable, or a mouth piece stuck in their facemask.

The NFL is so nitpicky about socks being a certain length, color, # of stripes, but something that could/will prevent injuries is ignored.

Play doesn't stop because a player loses a helmet, but I really don't want to see a player lose a helmet and get a cracked skull when he gets hit.

On the same lines, isn't spearing illegal i.e. leading with the crown of the helmet? I was taught that was for the safety of both players?

39
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:56pm

There's a funny NFL Films video of 100 greatest touchdowns or so. There's this one in the 50s when Otto Von Graham drops back and has his helmet taken off and the ball stripped. The DE picks up the ball and runs in for a long TD. After getting hit Otto looks a bit out of sorts, then tries to run down the DE.

NFL Films productions are pretty cool.

40
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:57pm

I find it comical that anyone is questioning the Sheldon Brown PI. Let’s see… he made contact with the WR who was attempting to catch the ball all while not playing the ball at any point.

Are you sure he made contact with Burress, and not vice-versa (Initial contact, at least)? I'd love to see a replay of that - according to Sheldon, Burress later joked to Sheppard about his great acting job on that one.

41
by Sophandros (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 1:58pm

31: Also, isn't the facemask pretty much a lever when hit from the proper angle, which would cause the helmet to fly off?

5: It's not unpatriotic to cheer for your team against the Saints. Now, booing Santa Clause is another story.

42
by Count (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:01pm

#12- I don't think that's true at all. Brady hasn't hit many deep balls this year because of the recievers. He's (quietly) had a pretty good year with a couple of off games.

43
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:02pm

Does anybody else really, really, really want to see Jared Lorenzen start a preseason game against JaMarcus Russell this year? That'd set some kind of record for combined QB size, I'm sure.

44
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:04pm

kevinNYC:

I find it comical that anyone is questioning the Sheldon Brown PI. Let’s see… he made contact with the WR who was attempting to catch the ball all while not playing the ball at any point.

What contact did you see besides Buress's hand going to Brown's facemask to block the incoming tackle he was trying to make? Brown never touched him with his hands, arm or body, from what I saw. That should have been Offensive Pass Interference/Personal Foul-Facemask, or similar on Plaxico "Push-Off" Burress, who is a walking OPI Foul when on the field.

How do you get DPI for having your facemasked grabbed?

45
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:05pm

42: I booed The Santa Clause (1, 2, and 3). Those were some terrible movies.

46
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:09pm

re:42

Count, have you watched the Patriots mcuh this year?

I assure you, the recievers havent been the problem. They've been bailing brady out since about week 5. Theres something wrong with his arm.

For every dropped ball, theres two or three balls that a reciever catches that have no business being caught. I dont think I've ever seen so many diving catches.

47
by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:09pm

Yes, the Diet Pepsi commercial was terrible, but there was one thing to like about it: the bit with Jake Delhomme reminded me of the classic punk song Institutionalized by Suicidal Tendencies. ("All I wanted was a Pepsi. Just one Pepsi, and they wouldn't give it to me!") Everything about this commercial, including this 20-year old joke, was totally derivative, but just the same it gave me a chuckle.

48
by Jeremy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:09pm

#24:

Even if that were intentional, how would it help the Pats? Seems to me the Pats would want more time to run off the clock in that situation, not less.

49
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:14pm

#34 - That's just not true, according to my recolection. I vividly remember the shot of Gaffney hand fighting with the DB the entire route. They were wondering if it should have been PI. There was no separation and the pass was perfectly thrown. Again, these things are never that precise no matter who is throwing them. Deep passes have more to do with the receiver then with the QB, at least IMHO.

50
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:17pm

49, Then I'm not thinking of Gaffney, must be the Jackson play I'm thinking of. I've just watched a lot of balls thrown by Brady where the WR has 3-4 yards of seperation, and has to come back for the ball.

51
by navin (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:17pm

No. If the next play is a run or completed pass inbounds, you save the length of the play clock, because they weren’t going to run a play before the two-minute warning if Garcia didn’t call that timeout.

Like I said, the mistake wasn’t the timeout - they would’ve used it after the two-minute warning anyway. The mistake was that they were unable to run a play before the two-minute warning without using a timeout. But I can’t really criticize Philly for that, because there’s no reason to run a play that won’t work.

Did the play clock expire before the two minute warning? If it did, then I'll agree with you, but I thought Garcia could have just let it run down to the warning.

Otherwise I don't know how they save the length of the play clock because the game clock doesn't start after the two minute warning, and the Eagles could have used that same timeout on the play they ran after the warning, for a net loss of two seconds.

52
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:20pm

#46 - Rich, did you see the other games this weekend? Did you see all the other acrobatic one hand catches receivers were making in other games? It happens in all games, with all QBs. Its also not always the QBs fault. I also can't think of that many "great" plays made by Pat's receivers this year. Sure there were some diving catches, but they weren't one hand tap your toes spectacular grabs that you see on a regular basis from the elite receivers.

53
by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:22pm

My cable went out an hour and a half before the Eagles game so I had to go to the bar to watch. The most interesting part was that in the main bar room there were several HD TVs showing the game, and in the ajoining small 'dining' room were some small standard def TVs. I guess transmitting the digital signal takes a litte longer, because there was about a 2 second delay where the people watching the SD TVs would see what happens first before the main crowd at the bar.

Oh, and I loved that Bruce Campbell 'Old Spice' commercial. I was cracking up watching it while my wife just looked at me like I was crazy.

53
by Ray (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:22pm

My cable went out an hour and a half before the Eagles game so I had to go to the bar to watch. The most interesting part was that in the main bar room there were several HD TVs showing the game, and in the ajoining small 'dining' room were some small standard def TVs. I guess transmitting the digital signal takes a litte longer, because there was about a 2 second delay where the people watching the SD TVs would see what happens first before the main crowd at the bar.

Oh, and I loved that Bruce Campbell 'Old Spice' commercial. I was cracking up watching it while my wife just looked at me like I was crazy.

55
by TheCiscoKidNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:23pm

Could someone explain to me why Dallas did not take advantage of the fair catch free kick rule at the end of that game? A field goal attempt from mid field with no rush had to have a better chance than a hail Mary play. See here for rule details http://www.nfl.com/fans/rules/fairkick. Personally I think Parcells just packed it in.

56
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:23pm

Is there a possibility that all the Giants false start penalties have to do with something Manning is or isn't doing as he calls the signals? (I'm not trying to pile on Manning, honestly. I'm just looking for a common thread. When it's one lineman, it's probably his fault. When it recurs with many different linemen, including the replacement for the original offender, it makes you look for another explanation.)

57
by ChrisS (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:26pm

In the DAL SEA game the pass to Witten, with about 1:45, left was initially ruled a first down. After review it was called 4th down. Why was the clock left at 1:19? If it was iniatlly ruled 4th down I assume SEA would call an immediate timeout to save time for a drive. When it was originally ruled a first down SEA was screwed and could only hope for the blown FG or a turnover. Shouldn't SEA get an opportunity to call timeout based on the new information? Or did they have that option? As it turned out it didn't matter for SEA, but it would have given more time to DAL at the very end of the game

58
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:28pm

No, the play clock wasn't running out - but Garcia was changing the play, and there wasn't enough time before the 2 minute warning to do it.

and the Eagles could have used that same timeout on the play they ran after the warning, for a net loss of two seconds.

Exactly. Which they would've done. So not calling the timeout would have done nothing, except cost them two seconds. In other words, like I said, it didn't matter. If you're going to criticize anything, criticize them for not getting a play off without calling the timeout. But I can't quite do that.

59
by Sam (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:35pm

#10
first off, they should not have been trying to get a play off before the 2 minute warning. they should have been trying to run out the clock to ensure they had the last drive of the half. secondly, if you use the timeout after the 2 minute warning you save the time in between plays- 30 seconds?- whereas using it before saves 2 seconds. if you want to save time, use the timeout after the 2 minute warning.

60
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:37pm

tony*omo.com is updated (click my name). . .

61
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:41pm

they should have been trying to run out the clock to ensure they had the last drive of the half.

Er? They were 28 yards away with a minute four left and two timeouts.

They needed that time when they called the timeout. It just happened that they just were able to complete a deep pass to make it moot.

secondly, if you use the timeout after the 2 minute warning you save the time in between plays- 30 seconds?

If you use the timeout before the two minute warning, the two minute warning saves the time inbetween plays as well.

if you want to save time, use the timeout after the 2 minute warning.

Which results in the exact same situation than if you call the timeout, unless you run a play before the two minute warning. Which they couldn't do without the timeout.

62
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:45pm

#48 - You're probably right, but it was only 3rd down, so if they didn't convert, they'd want time to run another play, but it wasn't likely to matter. But since the Pats were trying to get a score before the end of the half, I could see the timekeeper being slow to start out of habit.

This reminds me of something else - I guess it was around this point that it occurred to me, thinking the Pats were wishing they still had Flutie so they could do an emergency dropkick on 4th down to get the field goal. (Of course, they'd have to put him in at QB on 3rd down.) Would it be worth it to have an "emergency kick" setup for a spot where you don't have time to get the kicking team on the field, but have a very close field goal attempt? For something inside the 5 yard line, I wouldn't think it would take that much training for a pro athlete to have a decent shot at it. OTOH, the more I think about it, the more unlikely the scenario seems - you have to be very close to the goal line, not have any time outs, and it'd only happen at the end of the first half, because you wouldn't screw around with it at the end of the game. Still, if you knew it was an option, that might let you be less worried about running out of timeouts.

63
by Bill (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:51pm

55 - If I recall right, the ball went out of bounds on the fly. Hard to fair catch it in that case...

64
by NewsToTom (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:58pm

Does anybody else find it ironic that the Cowboys may well have ended up better off if the Seahawks had made the 2-pt conversion, which means they would have played for the TD, rather than just playing for the FG? I know the odds were better for them the way it happened, but irony doesn't have to be smart, just, y'know, ironic.

65
by JonL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:58pm

I'm sorry...Moving Cow?

66
by Jeremy Billones (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 2:59pm

Pat, either you're thinking of a different situation that everyone else, or something else is seriously wrong.

Here's what we're assuming:

game clock 2:02
play clock > 2 seconds

Option 1: call time out, run a play, let the two minute warning hit, run second play
Option 2, let the 2 minute warning hit, run a play, then run a second play

If the first play ends in bounds, then you call a time out after that play in option two and the situations are effectively the same. (Option 2 loses a few seconds)

If the first play stops the clock, then in option 1 the two minute warning is "wasted" since the clock would have stopped anyway, but stops the clock in option 2, leaving you with a time-out in hand.

In neither case do you lose the "time in between plays". You gain the opportunity to not call the time out if you don't need to after the first play.

67
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:02pm

which means they would have played for the TD

Why would they have played for the TD? They would've tried for the TD, sure, but they probably still would've kicked the FG on fourth down. It would've been 23-20. Parcells's cajones are not that large.

What I found ironic is Troy Aikman saying he doesn't like kicking the FG on third down in case there's a bad snap a day after Dallas loses the game on a bad snap.

(In Philly's case, I kinda agree - because the game was tied, so worst case, you're going to overtime. But it was still hilarious.)

68
by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:02pm

Chris Owen (#47) Nice Suicidal Tendencies reference! Hadn't thought of it at the time, but it was a nice flashback!

69
by Yuri (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:03pm

Re:50
The kick was out of bounds. No way to fair catch it.

70
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:04pm

You gain the opportunity to not call the time out if you don’t need to after the first play.

Sure. Except Philly probably knew they were going to run the ball. They did run the ball, after all. So, like I said - it really didn't matter.

71
by joel in providence (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:04pm

it's to the point now where anytime the network camera pans to the giants sideline, NOTHING good will be shown. i know the feeling well because it's how last season went for us eagles fans. raiders fans also know this sensation quite well.

72
by Jeremiah (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:06pm

"Benjy Rose: Hey, in that Motorola commercial where Dungy is feeding lines to a dude in the car with a girl, is that dude Kerry Collins?"

I've been told that it's none other than Jim Sorgi.

73
by Bill Moore (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:06pm

NewsToTom - They actually would have been better off is Tatupu wasn't out of bounds on the Safety. Had that play been let stand, Dallas would have a better chance of running plays that ended in a game winning FG, and if Romo fumbles that - OT.

74
by mawbrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:07pm

Re: 61

Seems to me the downside of calling a timeout that close to the two minute warning is that if your next play is a 'clock-stopper' (incomplete or OOB), then you have effectively wasted the two minute warning. Better to save the time-out for a play when you know the clock will otherwise keep running. Not a big deal, but a small detail that a vet like Garcia might have been expected to realize. FWIW, the impression I got watching the game was that Garcia was oblivious to the game clock and was concerned that the play clock would expire before he could get the play changed.

On the offsetting personal foul call (Philly/NY, Runyon), I think players have discovered a loophole in the rules. If you get flagged for one personal foul, just keep hitting memebers of the other team until somebody retaliates. Offsetting penalties!

75
by ABW (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:07pm

Re: 66

What about option 3, run a play before the 2 minute warning? Then you get to keep your timeout.

Problem was, they didn't have a play called, or couldn't get set up for it. That's what you can criticize them for(although Pat is not doing that apparently).

Once you concede that you are not going to run a play before the two minute warning, it doesn't really matter whether you call the TO or not. You maybe save a couple seconds calling the TO before the 2 minute warning.

76
by Chris Owen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:07pm

Yes, please elucidate the moving cow defense. As a Buffalo fan, I recall a game against NE in which the NE defense never even really made a formation before the snap, and the Buffalo OL had absolutely no idea who was coming from where. The obvious response would have been to go to zone blocking, but such a scheme didn't appear to be a part of Buffalo offense. The net result was that Bledsoe only held the ball for two seconds, rather than his usual four or more before getting sacked on almost every play.

77
by DGL (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:09pm

#55: If I recall correctly, the ball was kicked out of bounds, so there was no opportunity for the returner to make a fair catch.

78
by MFurtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:10pm

NTT,
I find it ironic it seems like the Seahawks got the best of the safety+TD. If it was a TD they would've had to kick the ball back...

79
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:14pm

That’s what you can criticize them for(although Pat is not doing that apparently).

I'm not criticizing them for that because it looked like they had a play ready, but Garcia was convinced it wouldn't work, and was trying to change the play, but didn't have enough time to before the two-minute warning.

I don't know what Garcia saw, so I can't criticize.

80
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:20pm

76

Basically, it was exactly what you said, they were just moving around in the middle of the field. Big Ole heap o' Jets.

problem was, NE did a good job of picking up the rush, and Andre Dyson couldnt cover Jabar Gaffney. Basically the entire first drive was Gaffney, or Caldwell picking on Dyson. After that drive, he got pulled, and the backup got put in.

81
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:29pm

31:

Good point. It's like bindings on skis -- you want the boots to kick out of the skis if there's enough pressure because you'd rather the break be there then in your femur.

65:

I, too, would like to know the "Moving Cow" defense definition. FOs?

82
by NF (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:44pm

What the heck was up with Jabar Gaffney? Even more inexplicable than Nick Karney's 3 TDs. The Eagles cut him at the end of training camp because they decided that two rookies, a career slot receiver, a sophomore WR, and a #2 WR from a non-WCO team were all more useful to the team than him.

83
by Nathan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:46pm

I didn't think the timeout was a big deal. Especially with that much time left, and still having 2. They ran the ball anyway, so there didn't seem like a loss on the play (unless you didn't want to run).

Way better than wasting a play, I'd think.

84
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:46pm

82. Like I've been saying all season, and what everyone seems to ignore: The patriots aren't necessarily looking for the same type of player as everyone else. Brady has been gushing on the radio about Gaffney since he got signed.

Basically, Brady says, Gaffney is always where he expects him to be.

85
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:51pm

No one seems to have pointed out the huge changes in scheme that the Colt defense made. Early in the game, there were a number of plays where the DE to the strong side was lining up inside the TE and a DB was rolled up. So not only were the DEs not spinning or going upfield in pass rush at the snap, they were often playing an interior gap!

A big reason they were able to get away with this lies with Larry Johnson. He has never been very good at bouncing a play. He's big, strong and fast. Give him a little daylight in the hole and he can turn a two yard hole into a 5 yard run. But he's never been the type back who can see a wall inside and immediately bounce for good yardage to the outside. He just doesn't cut on a dime.

The Colts' plan looks like they felt that they could put more in the box than the Chiefs could block, stack up the inside and force LJ to choose: 1. forge ahead into the mess as he often did for no gain or 2. bounce it slowly outside where the Colt speed and quickness ran him down.

86
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 3:53pm

#82: Here's how those WRs ended up:

Sophomore WR: Brown: 18.6 DPAR, 15.4% DVOA
Career slot: Lewis: 8.4 DPAR, 19.8% DVOA
#2 WR: Stallworth: 12.3 DPAR, 7.4% DVOA
Rookie #1: Baskett: 7.3 DPAR, 10.2% DVOA
(Avant barely played, but that had more to do with the guys above him.)

Gaffney ended up 3.1 DPAR, 8.5% DVOA.

So, to be fair to both the Eagles and Gaffney, he was up against better competition than it first seemed. Brown and Stallworth are legitimate starters, and he wasn't beating either of them out. He wouldn't've been better than Lewis, and Baskett has real potential. And there was no real way they were going to keep Gaffney instead of Avant, considering the #5 receiver was destined to be inactive the majority of the season.

87
by TG (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:05pm

55 - There could be no fair catch, as the punt went out of bounds, if I recall correctly. No fair catch = no free kick.

88
by Andrew (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:07pm

Pat and NF:

Gaffney also did not play special teams, while Lewis, Avant, and Baskett did. Also, frankly, even McCants looked better than Gaffney in training camp and preseason. Gaffney took his position for granted as the #2 for the Eagles and didn't put enough effort into the playbook, and got into legal trouble with firearms.

Lastly, Stallworth was not from a non-WCO team. Stallworth played under Mike McCarthy in New Orleans who used a WCO system (as does Sean Payton, who started out as a Gruden disciple in Philadelphia). Stallworth said he already knew over 60% of the playbook terminology when he arrived in Philly, and he proved it quickly on the field.

At the end of the preseason, Stallworth probably knew more of the Eagles playbook than Gaffney did.

89
by MRH (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:09pm

Re #82 - Stallworth played in a WCO-version when McCarthy was the Saints' OC (they overlapped in '02-04). I don't think Gaffney had ever played in a WCO in HOU. So aside from talent (and I think Stallworth has more), Stallworth had (some) familiarity with the system.

90
by JJcruiser (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:16pm

To coin a phrase, let's put away the annointing oil on Gaffney. Even if the Patriots somehow continue to advance, it would be shocking if he continued having 100+ yard games.

Though I admit it was gratifying to see that the Patriots #2 guy yesterday (Caldwell) had a better day than Branch did.

91
by Pat (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:19pm

and got into legal trouble with firearms.

Nononono, Andrew, don't propagate that. Please. That had nothing to do with Gaffney being released. The "trouble" was because Gaffney didn't know Jersey doesn't recognize Texas gun permits (apparently, 30 states recognize Texas gun permits - so it's not like this is as obvious as it seems). Nothing bad came of that charge.

I don't think Gaffney sucked horribly, and I don't really believe the hype about him not working hard. I think he just got caught in a group of receivers much better than anyone anticipated.

92
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:27pm

90.

I think Gaffney is just a very good study point on the NE offense. They pretty much avoided one side of the field, and instead just abused Dyson/Poteat all day. Gaffney just happened to be the guy lined up on that side. Most of the catches were 7-8 yard quick outs, against a heavy rush, where dyson was giving a large cushion.

The patriots aren't looking for burners, theyre looking for guys who are consistenltly going to make the right read, and run the right route.

93
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:28pm

90.

I think Gaffney is just a very good study point on the NE offense. They pretty much avoided one side of the field, and instead just abused Dyson/Poteat all day. Gaffney just happened to be the guy lined up on that side. Most of the catches were 7-8 yard quick outs, against a heavy rush, where dyson was giving a large cushion.

The patriots aren't looking for burners, theyre looking for guys who are consistenltly going to make the right read, and run the right route.

94
by LyleNM (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:33pm

Can anybody tell me what Josh Brown was doing on that kick return TD? It looks to me like he was trying to tackle the wrong guy.

95
by LyleNM (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:34pm

Can anybody tell me what Josh Brown was doing on that kick return TD? It looks to me like he was trying to tackle the wrong guy.

96
by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:46pm

I was absolutely amazed by the NBC theme (repeated endlessly, picked up by Ned Macey here, and absolutely beat to death by all the AP writers in their game coverage) that Peyton Manning always plays horribly in the playoffs and has never had a good game.

Two best games ever played by a QB in the NFL playoffs belong to Peyton. He's got a third that ranks really, really high on the list of great performances in the playoffs.

I thought he played really well on Saturday. He played against another defense that was setup for the exclusive purpose of stopping him. No other QB this weekend faced anything remotely like what KC did to try to stop him. He hit 79% of his passes (30-38) despite multiple drops and some obvious pattern screwups. For example, the Colts had to settle for FG on the first drive because the slot receiver failed to clear quickly enough on the double in which left the LB underneath Harrison). That was obvious. Manning had to throw to Marvin's back hip and hope for a great catch.

If, as Collinsworth speculated, the two Ty Law INTs were Marvin's fault (there was clearly a communication screwup regardless), then Manning had great numbers against a defense set up for the sole purpose of stopping him. He made a number of outstanding throws. And he clearly managed the game extremely well in getting the RBs into the right holes when the run was there for the taking.

I don't know how bad DVOA punishes the INTs, but I wouldn't be surprised if his DVOA numbers don't look pretty good.

97
by J.D. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 4:50pm

Did anybody mention yet that since the punt went out of bounds, they couldn't fair catch it?

98
by jdb (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 5:46pm

#35 (KevinNYC): Even if you give Burress and the officials the benefit of the doubt on the questionabl Brown DPI call, what about the glaring non-call the Giants got away with when Bell took out Reggie Brown?

#74: That whole Runyan and Cofield bit made no sense at all. What the hell is the point of penalizing anyone for personal fouls if you can just offset them by continuing to provoke the other team to hit back until they pick up a PF nullifying the yards lost?

99
by BrockVegas (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 5:48pm

#24- I checked out the Graham touchdown. The play took roughly 3 seconds, so you're definitely wrong. But what would be gained by starting the clock late? The whole world knew that it would be a pass into the end zone. Possible outcomes, TD, incomplete pass, INT. In any of those cases, the Pats would want less time on the clock, not more.

I don't know if the stores fractions of seconds or not. If it doesn't, then the play could have taken as long as 3.99 (add as many nines as you like) seconds before it changed. Even if it does, you could have almost as long. Try timing the play (or better yet, have an impartial person do it) and see how long it took.

100
by kevinNYC (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:09pm

I agree 100% that Bell got away with one. However, I also think that was definately PI on Brown.

101
by Shylo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:15pm

Todd Sauerbrun is probably not the most famous person to come from Ward Melville. That honor would have to go to 3 time WWF Champion Mick Foley.

102
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:17pm

3 time WWF champion? Is that kinda like 3 time Icedancing champion?

103
by Ari (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:25pm

Aaron,

You wrote "Jeremy shockey is good". By what measure is he good? He ranked 24th in DVOA, 14th in DPAR, drops a ton of balls, is disruptive to the team, and is not any type of big play threat.

Personally, I think he's just about the most overrated player in the NFL.

104
by slo-mo-joe (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:27pm

#96: "He played against another defense that was setup for the exclusive purpose of stopping him."

Well, that's what he faces (or should be facing) every game, so that shouldn't be too surprising for him or anyone else, or serve as an excuse. It would be like LT complaining that his opponents were really really focused on stopping the run, the meanies.

The simple and unfortunate (for him) fact is that expectations for Manning are so high, that when he plays exceptionally well it's just par for the course, while when he lays eggs, like in his playoff defeats against NE, everyone notices and remembers (it doesn't help that his body language is so transparent of his own disappointment).

But if one really is/wants to be considered the best (possibly ever) QB in football, then he is going to be measured on a different scale than people like Dilfer, McNabb, etc. And that's precisely the way it should be.

105
by NoTime (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:41pm

#24: One reason the Pats might want more time on the clock is in case the Jets commit a defensive penalty such as defensive pass interference and the pass goes incomplete. If there are only 3 seconds left, then the Pats have a hard choice whether to go for the TD or kick the FG. They'd rather there be more time left.

In fact, intentionally committing pass interference might have been an interesting strategy for the Jets. It runs time off the clock and gets closer to where the Pats have only time for one play, not two.

106
by LostInDaJungle (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:48pm

Umm, isn't the actual line "Hey Carrie Anne"...

Now, 'scuse me while I kiss this guy.

107
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:51pm

Ys, but Tony Romo's name is not "Carrie Anne." He is, however, dating a girl named Carrie, making him Carrie's man.

It's a pun. Look it up.

108
by bsr (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:58pm

#96 - That shouldn't be so suprising. The greats have always had their performances scrutinized more then others. Brady is treated the same way. Every errant throw is evidence of them being less then the perfect QBs the media tries to portray them as being. In this case, the game certainly wasn't Mannings finest but he made the plays that he had to make in the second half to win. That should be all that matters.

109
by Steve Greenwell (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 6:59pm

The Old Spice commercial is utterly ridiculous. Click my name for a link to it on YouTube. I'm not even a huge Bruce Campbell fan, and I found it impossible to look away the 20 times it was on during the game and Adult Swim.

As for the games themselves, it was odd that the NFC playoff games were more compelling to watch, at least for me, despite the very sloppy play. In the AFC games, the better teams (at least on that day) clearly won, while it was more of a crapshoot in the NFC.

110
by Erik Smith (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:12pm

The patriots aren’t looking for burners, theyre looking for guys who are consistenltly going to make the right read, and run the right route.

I've heard Tom Brady say as much last year in a CBS interview. He goes crazy when his receivers aren't where they're supposed to be. He says he won't throw to guys who don't learn. He also says he can't stand guys who don't reliably catch the ball and spends a lot of time figuring out where to throw the ball so that his receiver can't screw it up.

I was surprised at the candor he showed in the interview.

Throughout his early QB career he always had to work harder to earn the job. When he was competing for the starting job in college, he felt that he had to make up for his receiver's shortcomings in order to get notice. I felt like he actually had harbored contempt for his receivers, but he used it as motivation to make himself a better QB.

Anyway, if he can predict where Gaffney's going to be, it would make sense that Brady would like that. I'm sure it's even better when he's open.

111
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:29pm

110. When they interviewed him on WEEI this week, and were talkign about it, I got the distinct impression that Brady thought Gaffney was a really bright guy, whereas he seemed to think Gabriel wasnt so bright. I know the patriots recievers have to make a lot of coverage based adjustments, so maybe thats it. Caldwell/Gaffney may just be smarter than Gabriel/Jackson.

112
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:44pm

Accuscore says when the punt goes out of bounds, you can't fair catch it.

What is Accuscore?

113
by turbohappy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:44pm

Just wanted to comment on the improved special teams play of the Colts.

They put Mathis and Morris (who have been great special teamers in the past, but were taken off that duty when they were put in the starting lineup) out there and those 2 were involved in pretty much every play by the coverage team.

114
by BB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:44pm

(sorry, I couldn't resist that)

115
by B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:44pm

This is probably a minor detail, but don't all NFL QBs want a receiver who's where he's supposed to be? It's not like the Patriots are the only team who use timing patterns and precise routes.

116
by kleph (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:47pm

if you need it... click my name.

117
by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 7:53pm

B, its not just timing patterns and precise routes. The Pats run a ton of variable routes. Almost fun-and-gun type stuff where the reciever changes routes based on coverages.

Basically, "if the corner shows man, run a slant, if he shows zone run a streak" or whatever. Their offense is significanly more complex than most. The also expect the recievers to do certain things when their routes end/plays break down. More improvisation.

118
by Tim Wilson (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 8:10pm

Why does Tanier have such a mad-on for the Cowboys? Between this and his continual bashing of Anthony Henry and A. Glenn, you'd think that Jerry Jones screwed his sister or something.

119
by ToxikFetus (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 8:13pm

117: Mike Tanier is an Eagles fan. If you knew any Eagles fans, you'd realize that Mike's "mad-on" is extremely mild compared to that group.

120
by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 8:36pm

Not hard to psychoanalyze Romo's goof: a simple case of parapraxis. His unconscious desire was to be the hero of the game. Helpless to do anything but hold the kick, his desire manifested itself in the form of letting the ball slip out of his hands, creating a situaion where he could scoop it up and run it in for the touchdown. Of course, the logic isn't flawless; but then, the unconscious mind won't be pinioned by logic - just tackled by Babineaux.

121
by Jason Mulgrew aka Da Dawg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 10:03pm

Brian Dawkins made the All-Pro first team!

E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles!!!!!!

122
by Xeynon (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 10:12pm

It’s not unpatriotic to cheer for your team against the Saints. Now, booing Santa Clause is another story.

Will people please let this go! It's one of the great overblown stories about Philly fans, for three reasons:

A.)it happened in 1968, long before Philadelphia acquired any kind of reputation for this kind of thing.

B.)the Santa in question was drunk and making an ass of himself.

C.)Other teams' fans have committed far more heinous actions, without tarring the reputation of their entire cities for generations.

Give it a rest, for Chrissakes.

123
by LostInDaJungle (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 10:30pm

Ahhh, sorry, I don't tend to follow who's dating whom, so the pun was quite lost on me.

124
by Bobman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/08/2007 - 10:44pm

Stan,
Don't you wish the AP writers' names and email addresss were attached to their stories so you could track them down and edumacate them about Manning's "playoff woes"...? arrrrgh. I remember reading a couple saying "Who the hell is this f*&k? Oh, Mr. Anonymous." Did they ever consider his run support in those games? Did they blame him for NYJ scoring 41?

Regarding your point about LJ not bouncing outside and Indy forcing the play into a clogged center, it's my impression--but not sure--that Jamal Lewis has similar strengths/weaknesses regarding running in the middle and bouncing outside. Especially now that he's on the wane. Bodes well for Indy's plan from Sat., if I am correct. Of course McNair is no Green....

Looking forward to the third annual EPC featuring Freeney and Ogden. I just hope it features the phrases "speed rush" "swim move" and "bull rush" more than "whirling dervish."

Oh well, this is the game I wanted. I just hope NE seals the deal and beats SD, putting the championship game (sans Tomlinson and Turner) in Indy, where the media hype machines will all simultaneously explode, spewing Manning/Brady/Vinatieri/Belichick hype all over the landscape. It was far-fetched to say it a week ago, a little less so today. I'm getting my mop, just in case.

125
by PhillyCWC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:08am

Re #121 - It was only about 10 or so fans who were throwing the snowballs. And they only started throwing snowballs because (so the story goes) some smart aleck in the crowd told them he'd pay them $20 each. Who was the smart aleck? Future Pennsylvania Governor (and Eagles season ticket holder since 1968) Ed "Fast Eddie" Rendell.

126
by andy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:27am

re: 105. That's a pretty weak "I need to justify my obviously illogical opinion" statement. It was third down. They're only running one more offensive play anyways. The timekeeper? Give it up man, you're just grasping at straws.

127
by Bobman (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 3:00am

Yaguar #20 How about "illegal touching during a group celebration." That's GOTTA be a personal foul. Maybe even an ejec...tion.

I propose Ned gets some kind of award for blogging from Venice. (And for thrift--going at the key tweener season after New Years but before Carnevale. Weather's no sure thing, but the prices are 2/3 less than high season.)

128
by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 11:37am

#123 - While we are dreaming, can we also hope that with Parcells now eliminated from the playoffs he decides to join the colts as a special consultant in order to further stifle his former protege. This shocking move comes after performing his last act as Cowboy's coach, cutting TO. Belichick not to be outdone signs TO to a one game contract to beat his former "coach". Manning/Brady/Vinatieri/Belichick/Parcells/TO all wrapped and packaged in one signle game. The heads of media members all over the country begin to explode.

Could there be anything better?

129
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:15pm

kevinNYC #100:

However, I also think that was definately PI on Brown.

Look at the tape and tell me where any part of Brown touched Burress. the only contact made is Burress facemasking Brown.

130
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:21pm

Pat #91:

The “trouble� was because Gaffney didn’t know Jersey doesn’t recognize Texas gun permits (apparently, 30 states recognize Texas gun permits - so it’s not like this is as obvious as it seems). Nothing bad came of that charge.

Anyone who owns a gun should have enough common sense and knowledge of law to recognize that a handful of States absolutely hate the thought of American citizens roaming around with firearms - New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California all fall in that category. If you live in those states and are not a friend of the Police Chief, you essentially cannot carry a weapon.

It boggles my mind that someone conscientious enough to get a gun and gun permit so he can drive around with a gun in his car would then move to an well-known anti-gun jurisdiction like New Jersey.

131
by Fnor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:43pm

#129: That's assuming that he personally filled out all the paperwork. And gave a damn. You are correct on the latter, though, I have no idea why anyone would choose to move somewhere where they might not get to use their gun.

Give me a break. There are other, bigger things to worry about when choosing a place to live.

132
by Adam B. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 1:00pm

124: Ed Rendell was not involved in that snowball incident; it was a 1989 game at the Vet against Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys -- Bounty Bowl II.

I'll refer you to this letter to the editor of the NYT by Sen. Arlen Specter as well:

On behalf of all Philadelphians, I take strong exception to the article ''To Eagles, Shockey Is Public Enemy No. 1'' (Oct. 29). The 1991 quote from Bill Parcells referring to Philadelphia as a ''banana republic'' is as inaccurate as it is stale. As any high school student knows, Philadelphia is not a ''republic.'' It is the city where the ''republic'' known as the United States of America was founded.

It is not hard to find incidents of unruly fans that are not representative of the people of the cities in which they live. For example, there is the famous ''snowball game'' of Dec. 23, 1995, in which Giants fans threw snow and ice balls at San Diego Charger fans and players, one of which knocked the San Diego equipment manager unconscious. More than 200 fans were ejected and over 75 season tickets revoked. The Giants ran an ad in San Diego papers apologizing.

People living in glass houses should not throw snowballs.

133
by bsr (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 1:02pm

#129 - That isn't true. Its easy to get a firearm in MA. Walk into a police station, fill out some forms and you get a Fire Arms Identification card. Simple as that. Allows you to buy, own, and transport rifles. Now a hand gun or license to carry is a different matter.

134
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 1:43pm

It boggles my mind that someone conscientious enough to get a gun and gun permit so he can drive around with a gun in his car would then move to an well-known anti-gun jurisdiction like New Jersey.

Please, please, get all the facts before you jump to conclusions, okay?

He didn't move to Jersey. He moved to Philly. Pennsylvania has a reciprocity agreement with Texas, so he was fine in Philly. He got stopped crossing the Walt Whitman bridge from Jersey to Philly.

The charge is basically a warning for the first time, and there's a procedure you can go through to have the charges dropped completely, which Gaffney did. The story has about all the legs of a guy forgetting that certain states ban driving while talking on a cellphone.

135
by Pat (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 1:51pm

#133: bleah, I got the direction wrong (he was going into Jersey). Gaffney apparently also was in the process of moving into Jersey from Philly, so there's some blame there, but give me a break. Most people make a few mistakes moving state-to-state, and who in Philly actually considers South Jersey anything but a Philly suburb anyway?

136
by Sean (not verified) :: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 6:27pm

In fairness to D'brickashaw, he has dropped thirty pounds over the course of the season- he's currently down to 280. Needless to say, the year has worn him down. He has excellent feet, but he's getting overpowered at the point...which you would expect to happen to a tired rookie LT who is leaking pounds. His poor performance was a factor in the game, but it doesn't really raise any red flags for the future. He'll put on weight in the offseason and will probably come back as a pretty good player.

Anyway, some general thoughts-

You would never guess it from the score, but the Jets-Pats game was by far the best of the weekend. Both teams gameplanned well and played well. The game turned on three things.

1) The Pats' defensive line dominated the Jets offensive line. It controlled the running game, ensured that the Jets had to rely on quick developing passing routes (like the disaster of a lateral), and it made it very difficult for the Jets to convert in the red zone.

2) The Jets defense wasn't able to close out on third downs during each of the Patriots major scoring drives. While the Jonathan Vilma whiff on Brady on 3rd and 6 (please, Jonathan, just sack the quarterback- worry about the strip on the way down) was the worst offender, the Jets put themselves into position to make a stop on each one of those drives but just weren't able to do it. Brady was very good at hitting up the out route to Gaffney, especially early in the game. The decision to leak Faulk out of the backfield on the touchdown that ended the game was just brilliant, especially in combination with the routes (Eric Smith was responsible for Faulk and he got picked down the field, opening up the touchdown).

3) Gotkowski was able to neutralize Justin Miller. The hidden field position generated by Gotkowski's rocket kickoffs and Nugent's poor ones were arguably decisive in determining the outcome.

137
by stan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/10/2007 - 3:34pm

123,

Bobman -- If you google, you find that the AP stories are carried in papers all over. Some of those papers will carry the particular AP writer's byline.

I was looking at one story the other day by a Nancy Armour who was identified as "AP national sportswriter". At the bottom of the article in this paper was her e-mail address -- narmour@ap.org

I wouldn't be surprised if they all have similar type e-mail addresses (initial and last name at ap.org. Of course, I also wouldn't be surprised if they didn't use that account for their e-mail and just used this one as a circular file to be ignored.

138
by NoTime (not verified) :: Wed, 01/10/2007 - 4:42pm

Re: 125 That’s a pretty weak “I need to justify my obviously illogical opinion� statement -- wait, I didn't make any opinion at all, I just chimed in to explain why it helps the Pats if the clock doesn't lose much time. I have no idea whether the play took 3 seconds or not, I didn't keep track and didn't notice it while watching the game. Thinking back on it, Jets should have jumped offside by a little bit (not too much that it'd stop the clock) and sacked Brady, killing 7 seconds off the clock and losing only a yard or two.

139
by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 01/11/2007 - 2:38pm

Kelly Jennings probably has better (through rawer) cover skills than anyone else in that secondary anyway, and I’d be very surprised at any metric showing a serious difference between Herndon and Babineaux when it comes to coverage.

Kelly Jennings is a rookie and Babineaux had been converted to safety. Plus there's Pete Hunter, who was so awful that the Cowboys and Jets got rid of him.

If Seattle's secondary was healthy, I don't think they would've required a fluke play to win.