Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Varsity Numbers: Honing in

Bill Connelly again looks at which college football teams the F/+ ratings are sure about, and which teams remain a mystery (led by Appalachian State).

25 Jan 2010

Audibles at the Line: Conf. Championships

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each weekend, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, so we might not discuss every aspect of the game to the level we do in our other articles.

New York Jets 17 at Indianapolis Colts 30

Tom Gower: Nice job of playcalling this first drive -- Session overcommitted to Richardson's action, and Hayden was playing well off, so the slant was wide open.  Also, should Thomas Jones still be getting carries for any reason other than to give Greene a rest?

Aaron Schatz: Has anyone noticed how Manning just goes right down when the pass rush gets to him? He doesn't even take a hit, he just crumples to the ground if he knows a sack is coming.

Interesting to note that on Indy's first drive, they had Revis on Pierre Garcon and then Dallas Clark, over on the offensive right. Then they moved him back to the offensive left, up against Reggie Wayne as we all expected.

Tom Gower: He's done that for a couple years, I think. Any time he thinks a sack is inevitable and he has a chance, he does it.

Bill Barnwell: Jets with two sacks on two consecutive passes after having two (non-tripping-over-Saturday) sacks against Ryan defenses over Manning's career.

Steve Tasker's on-site? Maybe the Colts could use him on their coverage units.

That 61-yard punt by Weatherford had eyes. Wow.

Doug Farrar: That's now Lowery and Sheppard just demolished at the line by stutter moves.

Vince Verhei: It seems that Manning has either had no time and been sacked, or the blitz has been picked up and he has had forever -- witness the out-and-up-and-curl route that Reggie Wayne ran.

As far as Manning going down whenever the rush is near, that's part of why hasn't missed a game, I don't think, ever.

Tom Gower: I bet they don't call that Edwards deep shot from their own 6, if Indy had gone for it instead of settling for 3 and failed.

Is it just me, or has CBS been especially worthless this game when it comes to providing useful replays?

Bill Barnwell: NFL Matchup pointed out that the Jets love to go deep on the third series. Sure enough, third series, deep pass, six.

Aaron Schatz: If the Colts snap the ball while CBS is promoting one of their other shows, that's a good sign you can expect a penalty on the other team.

Also, when Peyton Manning is getting angry at the ref because he won't get out of the way for a quarterback sneak, this is a good sign to the Jets that the next play will be a quarterback sneak.

Vince Verhei: Peyton was fuming at the refs after the sneak failed -- if it wasn't because the refs blew the spot, then I think he thought the Jets were lined up offside.

Tom Gower: Yeah, if the refs won't let you run a QB sneak and the defense has plenty of time to prepare for a QB sneak, then don't go ahead and run the damn QB sneak into a locked-in defense.

Also, Jim Caldwell needs to talk to Herm Edwards about what you do.

Bill Barnwell: It's only really been two big plays by the Jets, but Sanchez has moved the ball effectively, and that was a fantastic play to stay in the pocket and release an accurate pass to Keller for a touchdown. His "I'm going to throw a wild pass as I'm being sacked" play was a little terrifying to see. 

Peyton Manning, on the other hand...

Vince Verhei: I'm sure I will get mail about this from Jets fans, so let me say this before it gets here: Sanchez's first half, and that excellent touchdown pass in particular, have been very non-JaMarcus-like.

Aaron Schatz: People reading that ESPN piece had a hard time differentiating between "A is like B, so Sanchez is screwed for life" and "A's stats are like B's stats, so perhaps Sanchez's rookie season wasn't as good as you think."

Sean McCormick: The Jets have quietly lost two of their top four cornerbacks in the first half with Lowery and Strickland.  That means that guys who shouldn't be in the game are in the game, and Manning immediately found Drew Coleman on that long pass to set up the Colts first touchdown.  

Vince Verhei: On how many teams would Austin Collie be the best receiver? Oakland, Miami, St. Louis for sure, Tennessee, Jacksonville, the Jets, the Chiefs...

True, but when you say "found Drew Coleman," he actually had very good coverage, but Manning threw a perfect touch pass.

Tom Gower: There's a BIG difference between working the slot with Wayne and somebody else decent like Garcon, with Peyton throwing the ball, and being the #1 target.  Tremendously productive, yes, but let's not crown him too quickly.

Mike Kurtz: The game has a close score but it feels like a larger disparity between the two teams. I think it's because the Jets have been more consistently effective on offense (astoundingly, though passing) than the Colts, but most of the offense for each has been on mediocre-to-blown coverage opening up big plays. If the game continues like this, I'd have to be worried about whether the Jets' passing game can keep up in the second half.

Of course, it's probably not, and these teams will more and more go back to their comfort zones.

Aaron Schatz: I think the best thing for the Colts to do is to leave more guys in to block and trust that Manning can find guys open against a Jets secondary that's missing some guys to injury. He'll find the guys, even with fewer receivers out there running around.

Vince Verhei: Dan Marino at halftime: "Every time the Colts run the ball is a victory for the New York Jets."

Not counting Manning's failed sneak, the Colts are averaging 4.5 yards per carry, and five of their 11 carries have gained 4 yards or more.

Tom Gower: The Jets seemed to learn from the first bootleg -- they had TE Ben Hartsock lined up outside RT and rather than running a route he got the seal on Mathis on the move after he realized Sanchez was booting back his way. Losing the short option is better than getting your QB destroyed.

David Gardner: Man, Feely is killing my fantasy team right now.

Is it too late to nominate these Southwest "Bags fly free" commercials as the most annoying?

Aaron Schatz: I think if the Jets are going to risk giving the ball back to the Colts around the 40-yard line, the better risk-reward scenario on the first drive of the third quarter would have been to treat it as fourth-down territory, run a draw or something on third and go for it on fourth, rather than hoping Feely could hit from 52.

Will Carroll: Estimates inside Lucas have Jets fans at about a third.

David Gardner: I also think it's funny that Jim Nantz called the Colts offense hurry-up. They didn't huddle, which they almost never do, and they snapped the ball with fewer than 10 seconds left on the play clock.

The weird thing is that Lowry isn't really getting worked by Pierre Garcon. He's playing Garcon tight, but Manning is threading it.

Aaron Schatz: Nope. Collie sure is working Drew Coleman, though. I can't tell if Revis is taking Wayne out of the game, or Garcon and Collie playing well against the lesser defensive backs is making it so they don't even need to test Revis.

Tom Gower: The difference between Peyton and a very good but not ridiculously so QB like Rivers: Colts wide receivers, like on a couple passes to Garcon that drive, are just as tightly-covered as the Chargers wideouts were last week, but Peyton is throwing ridiculously good passes.

Aaron Schatz: I hate to tell you, Rivers actually *can* make a lot of those throws... although he's better at dropping it over the top of a guy who is well-covered than threading it in to a guy who's well covered.

Tom Gower: Yeah, that's the throw that Peyton does better than anybody else.  Rivers and the Chargers' wideouts are a great fit for their respective strengths, but they're not complete the same way.  Peyton has that pass, too, which IIRC he used to great effect to Clark in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, not to pick at a nit or anything, but that's not where their strength is right now.

Vince Verhei: Colts listen to Dan Marino -- first drive of the second half, eight passes, no runs, 57 yards, touchdown. Manning is finding Garcon and Collie basically whenever he wants to. Announcers talk about Manning having figured out the Jets' blitz packages, and it looks like that's what's happened -- the wide receiver screen to Addai, for example, the ball was released right over a pair of blitzers. Addai had to slip a couple of tackles, but he slipped them partly because the defenders were out of position.

David Gardner: I don't think that hit by Bullitt was intentionally dirty, because the Jets have been running a lot of play-action stuff. I think it was definitely a penalty, though.

Bill Barnwell: Sanchez follows a great throw over the middle by missing a wide-open Cover-2 hole in zone. Phil Simms: "Great throw..." The throw was two yards out of bounds!

Vince Verhei: An example of fumble luck: Reggie Wayne fumbles in the middle of three or four Jets, but the ball bounces right back into his chest.

Bill Barnwell: Colts' blitzes aren't getting there. Took forever to get that corner around the edge on third down and he still didn't wrap up Sanchez. Result was a deep bomb to Edwards that could've been pass interference, either way.

They're now killing the Jets with underneath stuff, all curls and slants, nothing deep.

Tom Gower: I watched the Clark TD about 4 times trying to figure out who was supposed to be in coverage and still can't figure it out.  It looked like the two safeties were playing deep zones and neither Harris nor Ihedigbo dropped or reacted to Clark's movement at all.  I'm guessing Ihedigbo was supposed to have him, but that looks like a very poorly-timed busted coverage.

Aaron Schatz: I did like the replay they first showed of that touchdown, though. They showed this closeup of Clark that REALLY did nothing to show you who blew the coverage. It was the opposite of the all-22 angle: The "All-1 angle."

Vince Verhei: Manning is virtually forcing the ball to Garcon now. He gets open on a slick, slick little hitch-and-corner route and gets a first down. Cut to Bill Polian, grinning and clapping in exuberance. If the Colts win the Super Bowl, every Colts fan on every message board on the Internet is going to have an animated GIF of Polian there in their signature.

Bill Barnwell: Jets stopped getting big plays in second half. Without the big plays, they couldn't go station-to-station with first downs. Losing Greene also hurt. 

Tom Gower: Sanchez is, I believe, 7-15 for 75 thus far in the second half, while Jones has 8 for 27.  Greene was 2-14 before leaving with the injury.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's tough to run when you're averaging 5 yards per pass attempt and <3.5 yards per rush.

Will Carroll: Colts miss the chance to send in Painter. Too much of a tip of the cap to fans. 

Aaron Schatz: This is a better Colts team than the one that won the Super Bowl three years ago. I have to think they'll be favored in either Super Bowl matchup.

Tom Gower: New York Jets, Success Rate by back:
Shonn Greene: 7-10, 70%
Thomas Jones: 3-16, 19%

Will Carroll: Was the Greene injury the turning point in the game?

Vince Verhei: I don't think so. I think Barnwell nailed it a few posts ago -- the Colts settled down and stopped leaving receivers wide-open downfield. All their points today were set up by big plays -- the Braylon Edwards catch, the Brad Smith throw, and the fumble recovery. The Greene injury didn't help, obviously, but I don't think it made the difference.

Mike Kurtz: After relying on big plays in the first half, the Jets' offense couldn't keep up the production. Part of it was better coverage by the Colts, but Sanchez also just wasn't as good in the second half.

Ned Macey: The Colts were a little too excited about stopping the run, leading to the two big plays.  No idea why they didn't just show patience to make the Jets drive the ball down the field, like they did in the second half.  Still, the defense obviously dominated the second half. 
 
I thought Sanchez played well, made a number of really good throws, but he also made a handful of WTF passes when under duress (some of which he completed), and you can see why he has such a high INT %. 
 
Manning was just unreal.  I'm sorry but Collie and Garcon are mediocre to slightly above average players.  This team used to run out Brandon Stokley as its fourth option (or probably actually Dallas Clark that year).  That was just an incredible football game by a quarterback.  The Jets' pass defense DVOA was -34.6%.  It is not 2002 TB good, but it is about as good as any pass defense in recent years.  Manning just shredded it.  I know they were down some people, but Strickland is not exactly a great player. 
 
I also disagree that this Colts team is better than 2006.  This is, in my mind, the worst Colts team of the past six or seven years.  Sure the 2006 regular season defense was worse, but history has shown that it was somewhat of an aberration.  The Colts have consistently been a slightly above average defense for five years.  The 2006 Colts offense, meanwhile, was dominant.  Imagine if Pierre Garcon were instead an in his prime Marvin Harrison (first in DYAR that year).  What the hell would the Jets have done?  They would have been forced into two deep, and then the Colts would run all over you (see 2006 playoffs).  I think we should trust DVOA on some level that this Colts team was hardly dominant.  They have the best quarterback in history, but they are hardly dominant.
 
I expect they'll be favored, but I wouldn't put a lot of money on them against MIN.  I think NO is the better team, but I think IND matches up much better with them beause the Colts (today excluded) limit the big play, and NO thrives on those plays.  Anyway, it should be a pretty high scoring SB with about as high a level of QB play as we've seen in a long time.

Aaron Schatz: Oh, I think this defense is generally better. The guys who were young in '06 have more experience and are better now -- Brackett, Hayden, Bethea. The DTs are better. Even if the receivers aren't as good.

2006 Colts had regular season DVOA of 17.3%. 2009 Colts had regular season DVOA of 17.1%, but considering that includes the Curtis Painter experience, I think even DVOA registers the 2009 team (at least, the regular season version) as a little better.

To add to my last Colts comments... the 2009 Colts also had more Pythagorean wins than the 2006 Colts, even counting the Curtis Painter games. (10.8 vs. 9.6)

Minnesota Vikings 28 at New Orleans Saints 31

Vince Verhei: I just saw Pam Oliver and Brett Favre have a detailed discussion of the ethics and mechanics of slapping men on the ass. If the Vikings win I'm not turning my television on for two weeks.

Mike Kurtz: Adrian Peterson, despite only getting two carries, looked really good on the opening drive. If Minnesota can run and throw effectively, New Orelans doesn't have much of a chance.

Bill Barnwell: Will Smith apparently decided that he wanted to show off his ability to run in a perfect circle on that Peterson touchdown. 

Tom Gower:  With the Saints' weakness against power rush and the Vikes' propensity to slam Peterson into the line regardless of effectiveness, I figured we'd see a Fisher-type gameplan, and that certainly wasn't it.

Will Smith at least had outside contain.  Darren Sharper had "waving in the general direction of Peterson"-type contain.

Vince Verhei: Saints are blitzing Favre a lot, which is not a huge surprise, but they're sending their safeties from deep in the secondary a lot. I don't care if you have Usain Bolt at safety, that's going to give Brett Favre too much time to read and react more often than not.

Aaron Schatz: Jabari Greer is doing a good job, though. I think the only time they've thrown his way was the wide receiver screen, and Greer made the tackle. They had to move Rice to the middle of the field to get him away from Greer, then threw him the second touchdown.

Mike Kurtz: Bush pitch on third-and-1! AWESOME!

Tom Gower: Jared Allen did an excellent job of sniffing that play out AND getting outside enough to force Bush to cut it back inside.

Mike Kurtz: Fast forward to the end of the first half, and Favre on the last two drives has been just a bit off. Not horribly inaccurate, and it doesn't seem to be nerves, but just a touch off. It's made a huge difference.

Of course, Bush then fumbles a punt return, and Minnesota is in the driver's seat.

Bill Barnwell: After careful analysis, that's a muff and not a fumble.

Why were people all over the Reggie Bush bandwagon this week? He has these great games once every six or seven times out, and then he's bad for five games. This is nothing new.

Vince Verhei: And the Vikings hand it right back. I'm not sure which of those fumbles was more galling. I guess Minnesota had to run a play -- Bush had the option to get the hell out of the way and let the punt bounce.

Tom Gower: He had an obvious good matchup this week, with the loss of EJ Henderson.  Shockey's hurt, so he's not going to be able to take advantage of Brinkley, but Bush has the skillset to be able to do such things.

David Gardner: Don't worry. Adrian Peterson -- no doubt in a plot to ruin my playoff  fantasy chances -- fumbles at the goal line.

Mike Kurtz: Amusing note: fumbled handoff between Favre and Peterson, Aikman INSTANTLY (certainly without any replay) blames it on Favre. Because.

Aaron Schatz: On Bush, he didn't have to move out of the way. He could have called for a fair catch. That's what he should have done.

On Peterson/Favre, technically any fumble on the exchange like that is charged to the quarterback. Looking at that fumble I honestly couldn't figure out who's fault it was.

It seems to me that the Vikings aren't blitzing at all, even zone blitzes, but Jared Allen is basically taking away the deep pass on his own. He's pushing Bushrod backwards on every play but they don't get heat on Brees because the Saints are throwing all short passes. If they want to go deep, though, they're going to have to give Bushrod help.

Mike Kurtz: I like the Mass Effect 2 halftime stats.

Percent of game completed: 50%
Class: Gunslinger
Favorite Ally: Sidney Rice
Missions Completed: 2
Mission Failures: 2
Romance: Pam Oliver

Aaron Schatz: You know, the Saints don't do well when they play zone. They need to play less zone.

Bill Barnwell: Porter was holding Shiancoe's TOWEL on that corner route. Is that a penalty?

Mike Kurtz: Towel is part of the uniform, so holding them is the same as holding the jersey (or a non-obtrusive corrective brace!).

Tom Gower: Rule 5-4-6 covers Optional Equipment. (a) is Rib Protectors, (b) is Wrist Protectors, (c) is Towels, and (d) is Headwear Coverings (remember the early 90's do-rag controversies?).  Anyway, here's (c):

Towels, provided they are white licensed towels approved by the League office for use on the playing field. Players are prohibited from adding to these towels personal messages, logos, names, symbols, or illustrations. Such towels also must be attached to or tucked into the front waist of the pants, and must be no larger than 6 x 8 inches (slightly larger size may be issued to quarterbacks, or may be folded to these limits for wearing in games). A player may wear no more than one towel. Players are prohibited from discarding on the playing field any loose towels or other materials used for wiping hands and the football. Streamers or ribbons, regardless of length, hanging from any part of the uniform, including the helmet, are prohibited.

Um, Darius Reynaud, people don't normally catch punts at their own 1 for good and valid reasons.

David Gardner: I disagree with Troy Aikman. I think the rule is ticky-tacky, but Hargrove definitely drove him into the turf, and that's against the rules.

Oh no! I agree with Joe Buck. I think that's worse than being wrong.

Vince Verhei: Vikings get back-to-back lucky breaks as first ANOTHER Adrian Peterson fumble is recovered by Minnesota, and then they convert on third down on a roughing the passer call in which there is no way the pass rusher, whose face was pointing straight down, could have known the pass had been released.

Mike Kurtz: Dave: IT'S A TRAP

Bill Barnwell: Adrian Peterson does not want this football you keep handing him.

Aaron Schatz: The Brett Favre interception intended for a receiver with three defenders sitting right around him was really no worse than an earlier Drew Brees dropped interception intended for a receiver with three defenders sitting right around him. However, if we're going to be sticking to the rules as written, Bobby McCray should have received a personal foul for going low on Favre, the Carson Palmer rule. He clearly was lunging below Favre's knees on purpose. That was much more flag-able than the "driving Favre into the ground" penalty on Anthony Hargrove from a couple plays before.

David Gardner: I keep seeing that Pizza Hut "any pizza for $10 commercial" and wanting to call them and order a personal cheese pizza for that price.

Bill Barnwell: That's funny. I keep seeing the Domino's "your sauce tastes like ketchup" commercial and wanting to call them and order a pizza with ketchup instead of sauce.

Vince Verhei: Saints FINALLY recover a Vikings fumble! Miracles can happen!

David Gardner: Nobody on the Vikings wants that football.

Tom Gower: Yes, and despite trying to pick it up instead of just falling on it.  Then again, not like Minnesota was sensible either.

Bill Barnwell: Saints are clearly using a Game Genie to induce fumbles at this point. 

Vince Verhei: We knock the refs and replay a lot, but that Reggie Bush touchdown was one instance where they got it right -- the call on the field was clearly wrong, and they had a chance to reverse it. It was a huge play in a huge game, and they got it right. Kind of makes all the weird calls and bad challenges worth it.

Tom Gower: That #28 for the Vikings who made that 27-yard run on second-and-7?  That guy's a pretty good running back.  In unrelated news, the Adrian Peterson Touches Without Fumbling Counter now stands at 1.

David Gardner: Bernard Berrian does not want that football.

Mike Kurtz: The NFL on FOX should just go ahead and change its theme to Yakety Sax.

Either Favre isn't recognizing these megablitzes or he's just holding on to the ball way too long. Part of it is a good game by Greer, but in some part he's digging his own grave.

Tom Gower: How many times has the ball been thrown Greer's way, four?  How many times has the ball been thrown Porter's way, 20?  Do Buck/Aikman not realize that the Vikings have been targeting Porter the entire game, or are they just choosing not to talk about it?

Aaron Schatz: It's not Porter. I think they've split things between Porter, Gay, and the big gigantic holes in the zone where nobody wants to cover Shiancoe. I don't think they're picking on Porter specifically. But Greer *is* shutting down whoever he covers on each play.

David Gardner: Again, I disagree with Aikman on that call. I thought Porter had position and that Berrian jumped into him. Thought that could have been incidental contact.

Will Carroll: Favre's ankle's no big deal. He had it taped. That's hardly "limited mobility" except in the strictest sense. He twisted it, it hurts, it will swell, so I'd be curious what he's doing in between series. I haven't seen anything shown. 

Vince Verhei: Peterson score to tie the game at 28. You know, you take away the turnovers, and this has been a complete Vikings asskicking -- they're up 429 to 227 in yards, 28 to 12 in first downs.

Mike Kurtz: Joe Buck also seems to think that every single handoff is delayed. Every. Single. One.

Bill Barnwell: Tracy Porter wins KCW for that "tackle". Yeesh. 

Mike Kurtz: Time for everyone's favorite awful coaching move, "playing for the long field goal." NFL fever... catch it!

Vince Verhei: Vikings get within range of a 51-yard field-goal attempt ... and then run the ball for no yards and let the clock run. I don't care if they hit this kick, that's a terrible, terrible decision.

David Gardner: Why would you run a play to go away from the middle of the field there? I hope they run another play for the sake of Longwell.

Tom Gower: Marv Levy is probably available for consultation on whether kicking the long field goal instead of keeping to try on offense is a good move. So is Scott Norwood if you can find him.

Mike Kurtz: This penalty may be a gift, as playing for a 56-yard field goal is JUST TOO CRAZY.

David Gardner: You can't call back-to-back timeouts! Favre got away with one there thanks to the penalty. Back-to-back timeouts is a 15-yard penalty.

Tom Gower: Back to back timeouts is only a 15-yard penalty when you're icing the kicker.  When you're on offense, the call for a second timeout is just ignored.

Brett Favre throws an unconscionable interception.

Vince Verhei: There is the Brett Favre I have been expecting to see all season!

Aaron Schatz: Total Favre throw.

Bill Barnwell: Tracy Porter is Mike Adams reincarnate. What an awful throw.

Mike Kurtz: My brain hurts. It was like a masterclass on how to not win a game.

Aaron Schatz: I've got to give props to K.C. Joyner on this tweet, esp. since I think we are among the people being addressed:

"People ask me all the time what qualifies as a bad decision. All I can say is that pass definitely would be in that category."

David Gardner: Let's not overlook the possibility, either, that Favre's career could end on an equally bad pass as the one that ended his Green Bay career in the NFC Championship Game against New York two years ago.

Aaron Schatz: Minnesota just lost its best cornerback to an injury on kickoff coverage. Uh-oh.

Tom Gower: So, of course, the Saints start off with two straight runs. There's a reason Peyton Manning gets a lot of credit for being really damn observant, and this is a good explanation of why.

Vince Verhei: Any other team, I would say run it on fourth-and-a-foot. But the Saints are playing the Vikings, and their quarterback just set a record for completion percentage.

Aaron Schatz: Devery Henderson, meet Kevin Faulk. Kevin Faulk, meet Devery Henderson. Let's all try not to bobble the ball when it is gonna cost us a yard near the sticks, okay?

Tom Gower: Henderson's bobble was preceded by two Colston catches.   This had been a ridiculously sure-handed bunch of receivers for most of the year, so it's only fitting that it deserts them at a key moment of this parade of errors.

David Gardner: You'd also think a quarterback sneak here for most teams would be successful, but Brees is barely 6-feet tall.

Vince Verhei: I think it's the only way to go. At some point, the Vikings are going to stop turning the ball over, and you've barely stopped them all day.

Tom Gower: DPI there: laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaame.

Bill Barnwell: Uncatchable pass.

Aaron Schatz: I just swore a big long blue streak at the television on that DPI, even though I'm rooting for New Orleans. Do you people understand what uncatchable means???

Mike Kurtz: Three reviews in four plays, maybe? I love the NFC.

Tom Gower: For the record, pass interference can only be called for actions by defenders more than 1 yard downfield.

Let the insufferable OT whining commence.

David Gardner: Damn, that was a GOOD field goal.

Mike Kurtz: I want the last 3 hours back.

Tom Gower: Make it 3 hours and 40 minutes.  Even better: we'll be getting another offseason of "will Brett Favre retire or won't he".  It's times like these when I wish I drank.  Heavily.

David Gardner: I thought that was a thoroughly interesting game. I'm glad I spent the last 3 hours and 40 minutes watching.

Aaron Schatz: I feel bad for the Vikings. On one hand, they got screwed by a couple calls on that last drive. The DPI was totally uncatchable, and I think that if the fourth-and-1 call or the Meachem catch had been called the other way on the field, those calls would not have been overturned either. Not enough visual evidence either way. On the other hand, the Vikings can blame themselves for the game going to overtime -- both Favre for the pick and whoever screwed up and was the 12th man in the huddle. Not to mention all the fumbles, of course.

Ned Macey: The way the Vikings managed the final minute of regulation was appallingly bad, between appearing to settle for a 50-yarder as the plan and the inexcusable 12-men penalty. That has to fall on Childress who, despite being pretty successful, has a bad reputation among many people. While I think that sequence was unforgivable, it is only a small part of the head coach's game, and Childress had his team in the NFC Championship -- and, if they had held onto the football and Ryan Longwell hit a field goal, the Super Bowl. Even with all the errors, had Favre just run forward on the final play for 5-10 yards, they had a better than even chance of going to Miami.

Bill Barnwell: Fun game. Just ridiculous. 

Vince Verhei: The Game Of The Year poll has just been rendered completely irrelevant. That just about redeemed what had been a pretty crummy postseason.

I do feel terrible for Vikings fans, who have had their hearts ripped out again.

I predicted the Saints would win a close game, but not like this -- getting the door shut in their faces over and over again but getting bailed out when the Vikings couldn't hold onto the ball. Instead, they were frustrated all day -- SEVEN three-and-outs! Two second-half touchdown drives that totaled 44 yards! I figured the Vikings defense would be the reason they lost, but they just about dominated one of the best offenses in football.

Tom Gower: OK, a waste of time is certainly a massive exaggeration, but I enjoyed it much less than you'd expect for a 31-28 OT game that was close throughout, and the game was particularly sloppy for a game between two good teams.  Plus, the Saints on the game-winning drive got first downs on a defensive hold, a fourth-and-1 on a reviewed spot, and a marginal defensive pass interference call.

Really, though, the Vikings have themselves to blame.  They couldn't hang on to the ball, turning it over thrice when they could've gotten key scores, and lost.

Mike Kurtz: I really don't understand how you could enjoy this game. It was incredibly sloppy in every phase, with special teams disasters, an incompetent new orleans offense paired with a worse-than-incompetent Vikings execution (and playcalling at the end of regulation), and while the defenses didn't melt down, they didn't look particularly exceptional. The Vikings completely brain-freeze at the end of the fourth quarter, we get into an overtime, where a third of the plays are reviewed by the booth, riddled with awful officiating.

I suppose I can see the claim that it's amusing, but good lord, this was bad football.

Bill Barnwell: Because it was dramatic? It was like watching a couple argue in a parking lot.

Aaron Schatz: Yes. Sloppy, amusing football. You kept saying, "what is going to happen next?" And the bad sloppy plays were interspersed with some good play, like Adrian Peterson spinning away from Saints guys, or Jared Allen killing Bushrod over and over.

Vince Verhei: That's actually close to how I felt at the end of the Green Bay-Arizona game, so I guess it's in the eye of the beholder. (I do disagree about the Minnesota defense -- I thought they were pretty exceptional, especially the front four.)

David Gardner: I don't think sloppy necessarily means bad. I've seen some well-executed football games that are boring as hell. To say that the game wasn't entertaining is a stretch.

Rob Weintraub: And I will be rooting for the Colts, purely because I can't have another team win a Super Bowl before the Bengals get one. Yes, I am a sports sociopath.

I second the thoughts on those who can't see it as a Game of the Year.  Highly competitive and entertaining but comically sloppy.

Aaron Schatz: Strange for Rich Eisen on NFL Network to be talking about "it's hard to even say it, sounds so strange, the Saints are in the Super Bowl." I don't think it is that strange. It was strange last year because the Cardinals had never gone AND they were horrible in December so nobody expected it. But the Saints started 13-0, they were the number one seed. They had never made it before, but does it feel that strange? This is a lot more like what it felt like to have the Bucs in the Super Bowl in 2002.

With the two number-one seeds in the Super Bowl, I feel like the world has returned to normal after the wackiness of the last few postseasons. No, they weren't the top two teams in DVOA, but some of that had to do with sitting guys at the end of the season, and the ratings were awful close otherwise. What's important is that these aren't teams that backed into the playoffs and then got hot. These were two of the best teams for the whole year, if not the two best.

And yes, this makes the Lions the only NFC team to never make a Super Bowl.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 25 Jan 2010

304 comments, Last at 26 Apr 2013, 4:18pm by ellsworth vitiligo remedy

Comments

1
by Key19 :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:52am

As much as I currently despise Polian, Irsay, and anyone else who decides who plays when for the Colts, I really would like to see Indy win simply because that puts us at least 2/3 of the way to debunking the "Brady > Manning because of Rings!" debate.

131
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:50pm

I was really rooting for the Jets (even though I'm a Pats fans), just because I thought it would be poetic justice and a stick in Polian's craw if the Colts were knocked out of the playoffs by the team that Polian's decision let in.

I could care less about debunking the "rings" debate because anyone who brings that up is clearly not an intelligent football fan worth debating Brady versus Manning with.

159
by jamesf (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:01pm

So wait: even after what happened to Wes Welker you're going to hold resting starters against the Colts?
Don't you sort of wish that Belichick had done the same?

I do.

181
by ErrantNight :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:54pm

So... even though Wes Welker's injury happened at the point in the game that the Colts starters were still involved you're just going to go ahead and... wait, your statement doesn't make any sense. Please stop making it.

183
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:05pm

Welker got injured on his first touch. Most teams, even if they're resting their starters, will play them for a series or two. Welker would have been injured even if Belichick had rested his starters. Welker's injury was more about the field in Houston being crappy than whether one should sit or start starters.

Of course, it is proof that there is a finite chance on any given play that a starter would get injured. So yes, Polian did reduce the risk of injury. But we knew that. Merely seeing an example that the probability is nonzero shouldn't change the decision.

The funny thing is, I heard announcers saying things to the effect of "the fact the Colts are going to the SB justifies Polian's decision to rest his starters against the Jets and Bills".

WHAT???

First off, the only way this statement would be true would be if there was verifiable proof that not resting their starters would have prevented them from going. This is obviously ridiculous.

Secondly, the fact they rested their starters and gave away a perfect regular season is made WORSE in my mind by the fact that they're going to (and have a pretty good chance at winning) the SB. Getting knocked out of the playoffs when you threw away a perfect regular season means that that throw away wouldn't have mattered anyway. But if the Colts win the SB, and end up 17-2 when they easily could have been the first and only team to ever go 19-0...that would really really sting if I was a Colts fan, coach, or player.

208
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:44pm

I would agree, except that given the conditions in Buffalo - as well as the Bills' level of play that day, which people forget about - it's entirely possible they would've gone 15-1 even if they tried.

I think they bungled the Jets game and the PR before and afterwards, but if they had gone 15-0 and sat the players down in the snow the next week I wouldn't have complained.

But just as there were overreactions to the decision, there are overreactions to the aftermath. This doesn't justify it entirely, it just voids some of the more ridiculous reactions to it. And this Super Bowl matchup does validate Polian's commentary about momentum. But that was a separate issue.

242
by Jon Silverberg (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:15pm

Although you could also argue that a playoff game loss was due to the negative impact on team confidence engendered by sitting the starters, so the throw-aways did matter after all...never underestimate the need for and the power of a good rationalization...

179
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:48pm

and a stick in Polian's craw if the Colts were knocked out of the playoffs by the team that Polian's decision let in.

I said this elsewhere, but Polian really was in a no-lose situation with that decision. If the Colts lost to the Jets on Sunday - well, then they could've lost during the season, too, even if they had played their starters.

That decision was entirely about risk management, and whether it was "correct" or not depends entirely on what you believe could have happened. Which means there's no way it can be "proven" wrong in one offseason.

202
by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:16pm

Back to " I really would like to see Indy win simply because that puts us at least 2/3 of the way to debunking the "Brady > Manning because of Rings!" debate."

First, in the MSM, after the last 4 years, with Manning winning an SB, Brady losing (to some, choking) an SB, losing a season to injury and Manning's super play, Manning is already leading that horserace. Whatever you want to say about the team of the decade debate between Pats/Colts, the Colts are better over the last half of the decade and about to end on a strong note (unlike Pats) which influences MSM too. Winning another one for Manning is a coffin nail, not a catchup...

Second, let's break out the thread again. I am unsure at this point how anyone OBJECTIVELY argues for Brady being the better of the two at this point. Subjectively, I lurv me some Brady, enjoyed what he's done for the Pats, and wouldn't trade him for anyone (even Manning, as silly as that may be). Full disclosure: I can't stand the Colts -- mostly because they are good/my favorite team's successful rival.

Despite my subjective preference, objectively,I really wonder how you build a viable statistical case for Brady being a better QB than Manning. If you can't just rely on the SB/Playoff records, where do you go statistically? I don't think you can do it by looking at basic or advanced stats, so how would you go about it? Would you/could you normalize the stats to reflect their performance as if they didn't play with vastly different receivers/caliber of receivers for their careers (in terms of HOF WR games or however)? Anyone?

There must be someone who has tried to keep up with events and can do it, and I would love to see them try. Alas, I fear that boat has sailed. IMO, Peyton is already a top 5 all time guy headed for best ever, while Brady is IMO now in the high teens/low 20s headed for at best somewhere in the top 10-15 (although how we compare guys playing since 1995 to someone playing in the 60s (or even 70s) is another tough nut to crack).

Bring it on!

209
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:51pm

I wish all the Pats fans were like you.

Thing is, Brady has gotten a LOT better in the past 4-5 years since the "debate" began too, yet he has lost ground overall. He's a much better QB now than in 04, when they last won a title, and I think he was a much better QB in 04 than in 03. It's pretty clear now, if you catch an NFLn re-air of an 03 game. Watching Manning-Brady from 11/03 is kind of amazing. Not just because they both look so young, but because of the differences between then and now style-wise. Brady wasn't really asked to do a whole lot back then; he just did what he was asked very well. Manning was clearly better physically then, but was a bit jumpier, could be rattled, and was still being outsmarted by Belichick. They really made each other better in the following years, and Brady is a much stronger and more capable QB because of that comparison, partly because I bet he never really bought into the ring argument and worked really damn hard to keep up with Peyton. (Manning, too, is better, largely because I think the 03-04 slaugherings by the Pats drove him to new heights mentally.)

I really enjoy watching Brady play and think it's a great rivalry. I look forward to another 5+ years of it.

243
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:19pm

The key phrase is that Brady did what he was "asked to do". Brady did it and Brady did it well. Be aggressive early, score first based on studying the other team, having a plan, and taking some chances.

A) You score first, you try and get a 2 possession lead ( say 10 points, 14 points), and then you focus on efficiency. Brady was very efficient, people even said that he ran a good 4 minutes "possession" offense passing the ball. They were aggressive early and then efficient.

B) You are aggressive early and you don't score first ( rare), then you can stay aggressive, shot guy, 4 WR etc. and play catch up, until you get that 10-14+ point lead, then you focus on shortening the game, being efficient etc.

It was a good model, Brady was very smart/efficent, and that's what made him good. He was also very good when he was aggressive ( the Patriots had something like 17 games in a row where they scored first).

I always maintained that Brady didn't have the best stats, but that's because of the aggressive early, then efficient model that Bellicheck employed. Brady's "traditional stats" weren't as good as say Manning's but on an efficiency standpoint he was an A+...

The stereotype was that Brady just won, and Manning was a stat whore.

Please don't forget that Tom Brady was just "winning" with sub optimal parts on offense Antowain Smith etc, but he had a good defense and excellent head coach... Peyton Manning had a high scoring offense, but an average at best defense, and the Dungy Handicap in the playoffs...

THE GREAT SHIFT
I argued that Tom Brady was underrated... I think people really felt like he couldn't put up big stats... but then 2007 came along, and Brady proved that he could put up big numbers too...

Peyton Manning was long argued by Patriot fans as the "stat whore" the guy who ran up his stats but "couldn't win the big one". Manning went from breaking passing records to focusing on efficiency. The Colts object on offense wasn't to score... It was to do so in the most efficient way possible. You didn't have to take chances and try and do double moves on corners to throw that deep ball... just take what that defense gives you and beat them... Keep your (weak) defense off the field some, keep them rested, and it will help you in the 4th quarter of games.

People forget that the Colts very nearly had another perfect season a few years ago... The Colts scores in the early part of the decade reflected shoot outs, but Manning transitioned from a "score as many points as possible" guy that left his defense on the field too long and in bad spots, to a "score responsibily and efficiently" that made life easier for his defenses...

Now here is the big difference between the two, and why Manning is the best ever...

While Brady was good at executing his orders, he was "executing orders". He can run plays, study up, call the right audibles etc. Peyton Manning on the other hand practically made the fake snap so I can see where the defense is commiting in vogue. He calls his own plays, his offensive coordinator merely gives him "suggestions".

What Peyton Manning did in Q2 of the AFCC game where he was literally pointing out every Jets blitz, over and over again, and then signaling where his guys to go was a work of art. No other guy in todays game can do what he did how he did it. The Jets aren't running some silly cover 2 scheme over and over again, they use exotic blizes and coverages, and they had nothing on Manning.

Manning is a maestro, and orchestra conductor, he's a coach on the field, and quite frankly he understands offense BETTER than most offensive coordinators. He's the best QB to ever play the game. People always get lost on his mental abilities, but forget Manning's ideal physical abilities... very tall, very big, strong arm, accurate arm, and everything you want in a QB... Good pocket awareness... Manning is a leader, he leads by example, and out works everybody on the team. Manning is the best QB ever.

Early in the Colt/Patriot days people used head to head record etc. for the reason that Brady was better than Manning, but Manning was often playing outdoors, on the road, in the cold against the best defensive brain out there.... While Tom Brady was lining up against " Tampa 2" over and over and over again, and as sure as the sun will rise, Dungy won't take any chances and will call the Tampa 2, because that's who he is and what he does.

In summary, I think when a QB "wins" as much as Brady did early in his career, you need to look more at efficiency. Brady won, and didn't post great stats because he didn't HAVE to... Now what does throw off Red flags is a guy like Jason Campbell who commands a 4-12 team and is "efficient". Yeah, you completed 3 yard passes on 3rd and 10... big deal.... But when looking at teams that don't win as much, you can look at a QB's stats to measure them... Look at Drew Brees in New Orleans. He did all that he could possibly do, but the defense just wasn't there....

Manning wins, and the burden of proof is now on Brady... Manning isn't just executing plays, he's creating them on the fly based on superior knowledge and film study.

262
by MJK :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:55pm

C,

I agree with a lot of your points. But I'll beat the same drum I've beaten before and point out one important thin you're not considering...Manning has been in the league (in terms of full season's played) a lot longer than Brady. Manning just completed his twelfth full season, Brady his eighth. This is something people often forget about the two. At any given instant in time, Manning has 3-4 years more experience than Brady.

If you want to talk about Manning's ability to read defenses and orchestrate an offense instead of doing what he is told over the last couple of years, and you want an apples-to-apples comparison to how well Brady does it, we either have to wait about four years, or compare Brady's last two years to Manning in 2004-2005. Was Manning so masterful at it back then? Perhaps somewhat, but not to the degree he is now.

Granted, Manning is playing with a level of sustained excellence long beyond the time in his career when most QB's are retiring, or at least declining, making it extremely difficult for QB's like Brady to catch him for overall career accomplishments, but the fact remains that it is too early to tell. Interestingly, if you look plot full season DVOA for both Brady and Manning for their first eight full seasons played (counting 2001 for Brady, but not 2000 or 2008), the lines overlay almost PERFECTLY. Brady's year by year effectiveness has been almost identical to Manning's effectivness three to four years before.

Your last statement, that the burden of proof is now on Brady, is very accurate. Even if Manning were to retire this offseason, Brady would need at least four more years of being a top-3 +40% DVOA QB to stay in the discussion with Manning. And he would need to play out of his head to exceed Manning.

261
by MJK :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:40pm

I agree with both your and anotherpatsfans sentiments. I think, looked at objectively, Brady still has a long way to go before he can be claimed to be as good as Manning...and every year that Manning stays amazing makes it that much more unlikely that Brady will catch him.

It's a great rivalry, though. The only thing that would make it better would be if it was more "back and forth"--instead of Brady getting all the wins early, and Manning getting all the wins recently.

I disagree though that Manning was clearly physically better back in 03-04. I think back then each had a different critical weakness. Brady's long ball was decidedly not very good (part of the reason he was asked to "not to a whole lot" back then)...it tended to be wobbly and a bit off target. At some point (I think it was after the 2005 season) Brady commented that he spent the entire offseason working on his mechanics for throwing the deep ball. That work then payed off in 2007 once he got a credible deep threat WR. Since QB's physical abilities are often judged solely on their arm strength (Brady's weakness) and their straight line running speed (the Vick factor), Brady was viewed as being physically weak.

But Manning's weakness back then was physical as well, and just as important--his pocket mobility wasn't great (it wasn't bad, but not equal to Brady's at the time) and he had trouble throwing on the run. That is part of the reason why Ty Law owned him in 2003--Belichick's defense made him move his feet, and his uncanny accuracy became just average. Manning, too, fixed his flaw. He worked on his mobility and his ability to throw on the run and corrected it. I remember a Pats-Colts game a couple of years later (I don't remember which one) where Vrabel flushed Manning out of the pocket and, scrambling madly to his left, Manning half rotated and threw a perfect 30 yard or so strike to a well-covered Reggie Wayne (I think), dropping the ball perfectly where it had to be. I turned to my friends and said "Oh crap, we're not beating Manning again for a long time". Unfortunately, I was right.

265
by Dave :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:54pm

Yeah, people mistakenly call Manning's constant foot motion a nervous "happy feet" issue, when he does it for timing/knee safety. But back in 2003, it WAS nervous and kind of an issue, especially since he didn't have the same pocket awareness he has now. Compared with Brady's calm and excellent Montana-esque footwork, he looked awful out there.

The deep ball and the lack of attempts at bigger plays is mostly what stuck out to me in the 11/03 game. The Pats jumped out with a complete offense and a lot of short quick passes, and Brady had some absurd completion rate in the first half. The Colts started scoring, though, and they asked Brady to do more... and he kind of sucked. I believe his turnovers even let them back into the game. He just didn't look like he could complete a pass over 15 yards. That was the one where the D stood up at the end of the game. That and his excellent first half overshadowed a pretty bad 2nd half. That's just one game, though, but it's the only 03 game I have access to.

I knew an awful lot less about football back then (and didn't like Manning) so I could be very wrong about this, but the first time I noticed Brady having a truly full arsenal of skills was the 2004 title game. He threw a beautiful TD pass, I believe in the 2nd half, that couldn't have been any better placed. It was perfect within 2 inches of the ideal spot, and in laser-like fashion. Then again, the previous season he chucked it all over the field in the Super Bowl. So I'm still trying to figure out what changed and when it happened. I wish I had their season recap DVDs or something.

I think having Manning around has pushed him to get better and try to match him. Just as I think having Belichick around pushed Manning. Without getting outwitted by Belichick in 03-04 I don't know that we have the same field general in Manning that we have today. The rivalry has been good for all parties.

C, I appreciate your long response, although I think we may differ on our uses of the word efficiency. I'm not sure I'd argue that scoring a ton of points quickly through the air was less efficient than grinding up clock and using more plays. There are certainly advantages to the latter, but there are a few things that might argue that he was still plenty efficient back then.

The point about their career lengths is a good one that many overlook. Peyton did have quite a head start.

268
by PatsFan :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 3:15pm

Hmmm. FO may have to open a Rational Manning-Brady Debate thread...

273
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 8:58pm

MJK by the way you are a smart Patriots fan right? I'm a Giants fan but you are right, the Colts/Pats is a great rivalry and everybody watches it.

You do bring up a good point about age, to make a straight comparison is unfair when evaluating their careers because they are at different stages, but I'd still take Manning 3-4 years ago over Brady. I disagree with the outsiders DVOA of Brady this year, I think he was top 5 for sure, but not #1 for much of the year. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who said Brady was UNDERRATED before the big 2007, because he wasn't just some efficient guy, but he could put up the numbers if needed as well ( they just chose not to). If either Brady or Manning had the same exact offense, but the Detroit Lions defense there is no doubt in my mind both of their stats would elevate...

I just go back to the point about Manning calling everything (mainly the plays/protections/pass routes etc.), and not having them called in to him as it's a big advantage. He was still doing this 3-4 years ago ( although not as well). Brady is smart, there is no doubt in my mind he steps up to the line and knows what's going on and can audible but I still don't think he can audible as well as Manning did 3-4 years ago.

Let me try and put it another way... Brady gets an A+ in the class, but Peyton Manning wrote the class on reading a defense and audibiling.

I'll also throw in there that the style of play that Manning has, is more difficult to learn, but once you get it it's more like riding a bike. I mean there are only so many ways you can organize pass coverage.... Man/Zone/Combination... You could learn defense real fast, but offense is much more complicated... Manning has so much information to process in the secondary and in the defensive fronts, that he's schooled on everything... You might start seeing teams do totally odd things to try and do SOMETHING new...

With that being said, I think Peyton Manning will age very well. He stays healthy, he's the most intelligent QB to ever play the game, and once you learn what he learned, it's like riding a bike. You don't unlearn how to properly high/low corners. You don't unlearn where to throw the ball in the cover 2, or what sorts of pick plays beat Man coverage... He has a strong enough arm, he's accurate, he's fundamental, he runs good play fakes, and he knows what the defense is doing... He's a good actor too, the former Saints GM was talking about how well he moves his eyes and shoulders to move defenders... I mean, you aren't going to unlearn that. I think Manning will still be very good when he's in his high 30's and could probably play in his young 40's if he wants to. Do you think in say 5 years he won't be one of the top 3 guys? I don't... Look at the late career success of Warner, Gannon, Favre... I'd expect Manning to be good into his late 30's early 40's.

I do agree about the pocket awareness/mobility, in that I'd give the edge to Brady. Brady is cool, slides his feet and feels the rush probably better than anyone, but Manning ain't too shabby either. I remember when people called these guys "statues", when having a mobile running quarterback was in style, and I couldn't pound the table any louder at how stupid the logic was. I think it was Reggie Mcneal, the college QB who turned WR and flamed out of the league said that the Peyton Manning's & Tom Brady's were "dinosaurs" as the mobile QB was taking over. This is when the media was pumping up Michael Vick on every NFL commercial and I was laughing my ass off.

The burden of proof is on Brady, I don't think he'll catch or surpass Manning but you never know, it will be fun watching though. Thanks for your response.

C

274
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 9:09pm

Dave thanks for your response too. When I look at efficiency as a balance between risk and reward. Yeah, throwing passes 40 yards down field with 1 on 1 coverage will probably work out more often than not when your WR is better than their corner but some of that outcome is out of your control and has risk. You can score points very fast, and rack up more possessions ( and points), but you will get stung sometimes and the other team will also have more possessions. Throwing 10 yard passes to a wide open WR sitting in the hole in zone is less rewarding, but it's less risky as well because you are less likely to get a bad outcome. Throwing 10 yard passes over and over and over again against open space is efficient, but not as aggressive.

Manning went from more aggressive to more efficient
Brady went from more efficient to more aggressive

They both proved they can succeed under both models, Brady wasn't just aggressive in 2007, he was efficient as well... They are both very good players and I can always watch a Colts or Patriots game due to them.

275
by Dave :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:01pm

To me, the most interesting thing about Manning as he ages will be how accepting he is of his declining physical tools and whether he'll just adapt and start making different throws, or whether he'll end up trying to do things he used to be able to do and leaving balls short/late, etc.

I guess that's no different from what's interesting about other QBs.

I would rank them equal in their ability to feel a rush and not panic while just sliding a step or two away. But there was one play in this year's game, I think the Edelman TD, where Brady did this little spin/duck move to avoid a rush. That's where his real mobility edge is. Peyton wouldn't have been able to pull that one off. But in general, both are good enough at avoiding a rush, even without having great speed, that they're able to trick people like Easterbrook into saying they have top tier O Lines. It was pretty clear to anyone with eyes that neither unit was elite in pass protection this year. Both have declined a lot since 2007.

279
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 10:34am

Well part of the reason why I think Manning will age well is as follows.

- Smarts ( no need to even talk about this) and this is the #1 factor.
- Mechanics/fundamentals are impecable... His eye movement, shoulder movement, play fakes, throwing motion, footwork can help make up for when his physical skills start to decline. He's not going to get worse at running play action play fakes...
- I think his physical skills are under appreciated/underrated. He might not have a Jay Cutler strong arm, or Favre in his prime rifle arm, but his arm is still very strong, and he's VERY accurate. He also throws the ball at good trajectories (say just lofted over LB's in zones) some air on deep balls, straigt passes on shorter stuff. He he's big, has height... I don't see him getting any shorter or smaller, even if his arm went from very strong to average, he does enough other things right that he'd still be one of the best QB's in the league.

That Brady move on the Edelman TD was awesome. Brady might be a little quicker than Manning, but he's also not as thick. I do think they are both very nifty in the pocket, but I'd give the edge to Brady.

The Colts offensive line was below average/borderline bad last year. Getting that team to 12-4 was a miracle and the reason why they got booted out of the playoffs was defense/special teams. Manning outplayed Rivers in that game. I'd agree that both offensive lines weren't as good as 07', but the Colts line bounced back this year and the Patriots did have a hard defenses on their schedule.

250
by t.d. :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 5:42am

I don't think most members of the media favor Manning. Just this year, ESPN did a panel picking Brady as the player of the decade.

281
by nat :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 11:56am

Would you/could you normalize the stats to reflect their performance as if they didn't play with vastly different receivers/caliber of receivers for their careers (in terms of HOF WR games or however)?

That's very hard to analyze. But being hard doesn't make it unimportant. And it's certainly real.

We can't do a completely objective calculation of a "receiver corps factor". But we can estimate it using some commonly understood assessments of the corps involved.

Try this: we can mostly agree on the quality of the receiving corps in each year where both QBs played. 2001-2006 and 2009, the Colts had the superior receiving corps. In 2007, the Pats had the better receivers.

You could also rank the 16 receiver corps involved. I'd put the 2006 Pats corps at the bottom (they were awful!), and the 2007 Pats and the Harrison/Wayne/Clark years at the top. That's based on what we think about the receivers' skills, not just the raw stats. It's subjective, but again no one is going to argue that Troy Brown is better than Marvin Harrison, for example. While your mileage may vary, I'd say that the Colts had 6 or 7 of the top 8 of those 16 receiving corps.

We can also estimate the "receiver corp factor" by looking at the very convenient 2006 and 2007 Patriots. That gives us an idea of how important the receiver corps can be. Use that range and the rankings to estimate the adjustment needed for each receiving corps.

Roughly: the range is about 40% DVOA. After canceling top and bottom half ranks for each team, you end up comparing 4 "average bad years" for the Pats against 4 "average good years" for the Colts. Call that a difference of 40 * .5 = 20% for 4 years, or about 10% adjustment if you apply it over the whole period.

Manning had an average passing DVOA of 36.5%, while Brady had 24%. With that adjustment factor applied, Brady rates at 34%. That is, if he had had Manning's receivers, that's very roughly what we would have expected.

So, Manning comes out on top, but the rough estimate of a receiving corps factor shows why the "Brady-Manning controversy" is not unreasonable.

Please note that none of the above involves a subjective assessment of Manning or Brady. And none of it involves the postseason or "rings" or just-winning. I would be surprised if any remotely honest assessment of the receiver corps would arrive at a factor of less than 5% or more than 20%. Do you disagree?

285
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 2:56pm

I think looking at WR talent would be a more in depth way of analysis ( and very difficult), but where do you stop? Do you look at their

Offensive lines as well?
RB's as well?
Head coaches, OC's as well/team concept?
Do you give Brady extra points because Manning plays in the Dome?
Do you factor in their schedules ( Brady had a hard one this year?)
Stats only or W/L record as well?

Breaking it down and giving a "true" nominal value would be VERY VERY difficult ( as you alluded to). Plus you'd most likely be throwing in subjetive factors that people couldn't agree on. For example, Peyton Manning makes his WR's better ( Brady does too), but how do you put a price on that?

286
by nat :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:13pm

Wait a sec, there, C.

I was asked about how you might adjust for receiver talent. I showed how you could roughly estimate a receiver corps factor in this case, given what we (roughly) know about the impact of receivers on an offense's passing DVOA and what we (roughly) agree about the relative strengths of the receiver corps in question. This works in this case because we have a good example of the impact of receivers on a passing game, and because the receivers in question are well-known stars, or have left their teams to be obvious busts elsewhere. So the range and the rankings are not too controversial.

Are you agreeing with the estimate and proposing additional factors? Are you proposing your own estimate? If so, what is it? And how did you arrive at it?

Introducing unrelated factors and saying they are hard to calculate is just a red herring. A straw red herring, at that. It suggests that you are unwilling to address the issue on its merits.

2
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:56am

How many fumbles did the Saints have? Three? When you recover them all, nobody remembers.

The Saints deserved to win, because they kept slapping at the ball, and the Vikings kept dropping it. However, it wouldn't have taken more than an ounce of luck, for the Vikings to have won by 10 points or more.

Well, lemme see......I've witnessed four Vikings losses in the Super Bowl, only one of them in which the Vikings were within one score in the fourth quarter, and that one was a bit misleading. I've witnessed them losing five conference championship games, two by blowout, two in overtime, and one where a pass was dropped inside the one yeard line, as the Vikings were trying to tie the score in the last minute.

The Super Bowls are definitely the most painful, although that may be attributed to the fact that I was a kid then. Among the Conference Championship losses, the blowouts are disgusting, but at least you aren't waiting three-plus hours to get knifed. I'd have to say that losing in o.t. at home is the worst, so either I am just more accepting of these things as I age, or today's loss was less wrenching because it always seems that winning these games on the road is less likely.

8
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:31am

Obvious correction; the Saints lost Bush's dropped punt. Did the Saints fumble four or five times, then? Did the ball getting knocked loose on the fourth and inches in o.t. count as a fumble?

34
by krauser (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:39am

The Super Bowl losses were before my time. I've seen the last 4 NFCCG's, of which '98 was the worst because the Vikings were the better team and had the game in hand. In retrospect that team had it all come too easy. 2000 was brutal, obviously the end of an era. You could also mention the Vikings' long string of one-and-done playoff losses in the late 80s and 90s, when the Redskins or the Giants or whoever would push their smallish D line around and control the clock for 41 minutes on the way to a blowout win.

This was way more fun to watch. The Vikings played great, well enough to win. The mistakes were stupid but whatever -- the Saints have had incredible luck all year, why stop now? Plus they're a great team in their own right, no shame to lose to them on the road in OT.

Harvin and Peterson accounted for 5 of the 6 Vikings fumbles (including AP not opening up his arms on the handoff just before halftime) -- they're both young guys who'll be calmer if and when there's a next time. For all the "pants on the ground" joking around, those 2 never got themselves into the flow of the game today (Harvin slamming the ground after touchbacks was a sign he was way too wound up, I thought). I hope the Vikings don't give up on them, they're a great nucleus (along with Rice) for the offense next few years. The team should arrange some yoga lessons or aikido training for Adrian, who needs to learn that squeezing something too hard (in his "rock hard grip!") is a sure recipe for losing it.

Easy to second-guess Favre's last pass as a bad decision, but I respect his instinct to try to make something happen. They were out of reliable FG range at the 38 (Longwell's career best is 55), thanks to the stupid penalty and the too-conservative playcalling on 1st and 2nd downs. Live by the sword, die by the sword, but at least the Vikings went down swinging. If the Saints had run it back for a pick-six, you could hang the loss on that one play, but otherwise I think the reaction to blame the loss on that one pass has more to do with the usual sports talk soap opera than actual football analysis.

The whole team showed heart today. They lost because they tried too hard. Not too bitter a pill to swallow.

50
by Brian Davis (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:48am

Agreed. I thought that interception at the end was almost equivalent to throwing it incomplete there. The chance of making the 55-yarder in that situation has to be very low.

51
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:54am

Favre's first read according to him was Berrian in the flat. Originally he was covered but as Favre kept rolling the defender pealed off deep and Berrian was wide open about 7 yards down the field. Favre's best option was to just flip it to Berrian who would have put them in very good field position.

92
by krauser (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:42am

Agreed, but I think Berrian only opens up late in the pattern once his defender reads Favre's eyes, who's already come off that read and is looking downfield. Favre had enough time than he probably could've planted his feet and taken another look to his right. But that's one great reason to hit a QB hard all game, to make him hear footsteps and rush a pass in a crucial situation. The Saints played a very good game on defense, won the pass rush battle for most of the game, even though the stats don't really reflect that.

60
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:31am

You forget the Vikings are back to 2008 after Favre retires. They still need a QB to tie things together.

111
by RickD :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:19pm

Yeah, but that Favre retirement won't last very long. He'll be back.

289
by josh echt (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:39pm

I didn't realize the '80s/90s Vikes DL was small...I thought they were big, fast and nasty, like the DL today with the Williams Brothers.

The '80s Vikes I remember were fast and big...Millard, Doleman, Browner, etc. But this is the first time I've heard them referred to as small. They also had John Randle a little bit later, but that was the '90s really. My Brownies beat them in '89 at the Muni on a Fake FG for a TD! The Vikes were 10-6 and had beat SFO several times in the previous two years, a feat not accomplished by many teams not named the LA Rams. :)

The Favre INT is like Red Right 88 or the '88 Fumble in Browns terms. yeah, Sipe and Byner wore goat horns for those plays, respectively, but they got them to that point. I'd rather lose a game like that than just go quietly into the night.

Favre should be back next year.

133
by The Powers That Be :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:52pm

"How many fumbles did the Saints have? Three? When you recover them all, nobody remembers"

The Saints had three fumbles, lost one. The Vikings had six fumbles, lost three. Looks to me like fumble luck was about as even as it could be.

135
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:58pm

Will,

Shortly before halftime, the fumble luck WAY favored the Vikings. By my count, counting punt muffs as fumbles, the Vikings had recovered four out of five fumbles (both punt muffs, plus Bush's fumble and one fumble of their own--the Saints recovered the other one).

Of course, in the second half, the Vikings started to play hot potato with the ball, and fumble luck evened out a bit (as it will when you have a LOT of fumbles).

270
by Dr. I Don't Know (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 4:57pm

Yeah, the '98 Vikings loss seems like it's still very definitely the worst. That was a legitimately great team, which, if it had won the SB, might be in the conversation about Most Dominant Teams of All Time.

As a Redskins fan, though, I insist that the '87 Championship game wasn't decided on a dropped pass, but on a heroic batted ball by Darrell Green:

http://twincitiesminnesotablog.com/2007/03/im-sorry-darrin-nelson-1987-n...

291
by josh echt (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:45pm

Good post and good blog link. Most people forget that.
The '87 season was interesting in that it inspired the movie "The Replacements."

The Vikes beat the 49ers that year on the road. That was the game with the awesome Steve Young run...how he made it still defies thought.

3
by AnonymousFOPoster (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:58am

lol brett favre

gimme saints +5 please

4
by t.d. :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:01am

So, I don't suppose the Colts can convince the Saints to re-sign Jason David for one more game.

17
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:00am

Irsay to Benson: I'll even pay his one-game salary for you!

5
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:10am

One well-spotted fantasy whine might be okay, Mr. Gardner. Two sounds a little silly, especially when you consider that Peterson went on to have a huge game for you.

Great to see Ned Macey here. Please come back more often.

6
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:21am

I'm surprised you guys didn't discuss how uncomfortable Brees looked for much of this game and how his passes were wobbling and knuckling on so many drives. Late in the game Sean Payton looked downright conservative with much of the game calling, a reflection of Brees not being right.

Captcha: Official Wilfredo. I guess Cordero is not forgotten.

16
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:59am

I think some of that was due to the Vikings getting a pretty good push against a qb who is not very tall.

76
by TheChadHenneMemeIsADouche (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:14am

I do find it amazing that more of his passes are not batted down.

49
by Kevin from Philly :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:47am

Official Wilfredo - much better than those cheap knock-off Wilfredo's.

97
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:52am

Every now and then Brees just looks like an average QB. I don't think it was the rush; he was off from the beginning, and he wasn't hit particularly often. If he had his normal accuracy (when he can drop passes in close coverage), the game wouldn't have been that close. Of course, we can say the same thing about the Vikings and their ball security.

7
by highway28 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:21am

My brother and I were mulling over the play in the Jets-Colts game where Sanchez was blown up by Bullitt. We both figured that the hit was legit, just as the HB can get contacted by the defense on a play-action pass, so too can the QB if he leads the bootleg out after handing the ball off. The on-field result was no flag.

Later on during the Saints-Vikings game, we watched Favre get blown up by the saint's DE during an end around. The on-field result was a penalty, although it was weirdly called a late hit out of bounds,with the refs somehow mixing the actions of both where favre was hit and harvin was pushed out.

So we're not sure what the actual ruling should be, and maybe someone can help dissect the differences between the two plays.

18
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:02am

The refs sure seemed to miss some questionable hits on Favre, so getting that one--regardless of what they called it--might make some sense.

9
by lester bangs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:36am

I also agree with the thought that a game doesn't become great just because it has intrigue and excitement. The Saints and Vikings played a very sloppy, error-filled game. I wouldn't vote it game of the year on GP.

11
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:39am

I thought it was a terrible, boring game TBH. Cardinals Packers? THAT was a great game. No defense, sure, but man was there a display of great quarterbacking in that game.

61
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:34am

It was sloppy, yes, but the most exciting game I've watched in a while.

155
by Joe T. :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:53pm

Certainly not GOTY in a season that contained WK 10 Colts 35, Pats 34.

10
by Anonymous2 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:37am

Differences between 06' Colts and '09 Colts 1) Peyton Manning has ice-water in his veins. Did you see the shots of him with that pissed off 'the Jets are going DOWN' face? 5 years ago he's not that kind of a leader. He is the best player to ever play the game. If you don't agree, you haven't watched him enough. In '06, he wasn't THIS good in close games. In fact he played pretty poorly those whole playoffs. 2) Run defense is way better, defense is tougher, smarter, and faster, but pass D isn't quite as good with so many young guys out there and injuries.

These Colts aren't a more dominant team than the '06 Colts (who weren't all that dominant anyway), but they know how to win as a team better than the '06 Colts.

19
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:21am

I know I have a much higher level of confidence in the 09 squad. Might be the close CFB wins, might be Manning's performances, might be the depth at WR. Might be the fact that they did it in 2007.

The postseason Run-D is an interesting thing to look into. In 2006 they had Larry Johnson and stoned him (KC had no first downs until around the 45 miute mark), then Jamal Lewis whose tires were leaking air, but he was still a recent 2,000 yd rusher. Finally in the SB they faced Benson and Jones, two talented guys, but aside from the one 50 yard rumble, pretty much shut them out. A lot of people claim the Colts benefited from bad play-calling by ALL their opponents (i.e. too many passes, too few runs); once, I'd agree, twice might be a coincidence, but three times is a trend. The OCs saw they could not run, knew they had to keep up, and decided to pass.

So in the 2009 playoffs so far, they faced a couple two-headed monsters: Rice is as dangerous a RB as there is in the league and McGahee was coming off a 160 yard performance two weeks before, so they would be possibly more dangerous than any running game the Colts faced in 2006. (Rush DVOA rank 4) And the Ravens were held to 3 pts. Today Greene and Jones are both capable and the Jets had a top rated running offense (by traditional stats), but once again they were stomped (assisted by Greene's injury). (Rush DVOA rank only 11?? wow.) Now the Colts face another good, multi-deaded Hydra in the Saints (Rush DVOA rank 1, aw crap). I don't know... in the past 6-8 weeks, the Saints have looked a little flat to me, as if they blew it all in the great Patriot stompdown, and then coasted in to the end. Maybe their Vikes DVOA will help me out here.... I thought things were going to get easier for the Colts?!?!

Anyway, it looks as if the run D is on par with the 2006 post-season squad. The pass D, hard to tell. I think the DL is better (pressure) but the CBs younger and more raw. LBs better, Safeties, about even. The QBs/passing games they have faced this post-season are hardly indicative--probably inferior to the Ravens and Pats in 2007, and about the same as the Chiefs and Bears.

So the Colts D, while it IS for real, and has more facets to it thanks to Coyer and is therefore less predictable, might still have some trouble with the Saints. Of course the Saints didn't look all that geat tonight....

211
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:57pm

Coyer gets all the credit, and he deserves a lot of it, but I'm getting sick of people overlooking John Teerlinck's role in this. The LBs are better, sure, but a lot of the run D improvement starts with those DTs. Muir and Mookie came from nowhere. Off the street. And while they're not big pass rush guys, they've really changed the run defense. Hell, didn't Muir lead the team in tackles last week? When's the last time that happened for a Colt D? Usually it's a safety leading them in tackles after the front 7 get beaten.

The Colts still aren't as physically strong along both lines as most teams, but they're getting much better overall play from the DTs.

12
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:44am

Fumble scoreboard for Saints-Vikings:

MIN fumbled six times, losing three.
NO fumbled three times, losing one.

Nine total fumbles, Saints recovered five, Vikings recovered four.

13
by t.d. :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:45am

I don't get the Colts at all. I haven't come away impressed from any of their games all season, and yet they're 16-0 playing their starters.

21
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:31am

Have you watched the Manning part of the Colts? The freakish catching by the receivers (really, does every team's receivers catch this well?)? I know my tone is funny/sarcastic, but really, if that's not impressive, I don't know what your passing game benchmark is. It is so good (in some people's minds) that it allows an ordinary running game to be pretty efficient when called on. It also puts enough pressure on opponents that they usually feel the need to press a little harder than they want, maybe run less and pass more, which plays into the defense's strengths.

Speaking of impressive, Freeney and Mathis spend so much time in the backfield breathing down the QBs' neck that the opponents' QBs can probably tell you what those guys had for lunch. The most impressive things about the D are speed-based: first step, pursuit, gang tackling.

Did you see the nationally televised Miami game or Cardinals games? The cards game was a TOTAL beat-down and the Miami game was a case of Manning being better than the other 21 guys on the field, and proving it with 15 minutes of TOP.

30
by tuluse :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:59am

I think the issue here is that Manning and his receivers have reached the level of so good they make it look easy. Then it doesn't look as impressive.

Randy Moss leaping over 3 defenders to bring down a desperation Culpepper heave looks way more impressive, but really you would rather have Wayne and Clark beating single coverage and Manning delivering strikes to the open guys.

It just doesn't look like they are doing anything that hard.

37
by t.d. :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:28am

I think Manning deserved the MVP, but this was his least impressive statistical season since 2002. They have never replaced Tarik Glen, leaving the offensive line a weakness. Melvin Bullitt is terrific, but he wouldn't stat if Sanders were healthy. The corners are rookies, and at least one of them was undrafted. They rarely blew anybody out. The receivers are better than they have ever had before, I'll grant you. It just reminds me of the 2003 Patriots signing guys off the street to play the secondary in the Super Bowl.

85
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:29am

Um, seriously? You think the receivers are better than the 2004 edition, with Harrison, Wayne, Stokely, Clark and Pollard? Wayne is outstanding. Clark is a very good pass catching tight end. Garcon and Collie are useful complementary receivers, but nothing special. I'd say several teams around the league have better overall sets of targets - the Cardinals, the Texans, the Saints, the Chargers. Manning, on the other hand, is a significantly better passer now than he was then, whatever the numbers say, and God knows he was pretty damn good then.

138
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:01pm

Clark is a very good pass catching tight end

...Clark is a very good blocking slot receiver...

There, fixed that for you.

141
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:08pm

Disagree that Garcon and Collie are "nothing special". I said the same thing about Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth after 2007. Then I watched a season of Brady trying to use Joey Galloway, Sam Aiken, and a 7th-round converted QB as #3 and #4 WR's, and changed my mind.

Garcon and Collie need a good QB throwing to them to succeed--they're never going to make a QB look better than he is, like Brandon Marshall, Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, or Calving Johnson (or maybe Marvin Harrison/Reggie Wayne?) do. But they are capable #2/#3 WR's, at the Cotchery/Camarillo/Lee Evans/Jason Avant level. It's similar to the whole "does a good QB make a coach succeed, or does a good coach make a QB succeed", and the answer is "yes". You need a certain minimum amount of talent at both QB and WR in order for a passing game to work. I hope for the Colts sake that Polian doesn't make the mistake that Belichick made and think, just because he has a good QB and a good star WR, he can plug in any scrubs at #3/#4 and expect no dropoff.

In this game, for example, Garcon wasn't getting amazingly open, but was holding onto balls that were not easy to catch. I would say fully 50% of WR's in the league don't make those catches. So yes, Garcon may be "average", but average does not equal "replaceable".

And Collie was abusing whoever was covering him throughout the second half. Yes, due to injuries, that "whoever" as a #3-#5 DB, but still.

178
by jedmarshall :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:47pm

As a Colts fan I can say we definitely don't take our receivers for granted. The two young guys are one of the biggest reasons for offensive success this year. I still shudder anytime I hear the name Aaron Moorehead.

212
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:04pm

Good response.

One thing that gets overlooked is Manning's leadership role. It's easy to say that his QB play makes the receivers better, but they still have to get open and catch the balls in those tiny windows. They have to know the offense, and to do that before age 23, they have to work HARD. The under-publicized reason they worked that hard and were able to make yesterday happen is because they have a drill sergeant as a QB. He's a big goofy looking TV pitchman with a sense of humor, and it's hard to imagine him ordering people around like a hardass coach, but the dude earns your trust and respect immediately. There's a very real fear of letting Peyton down, not only in the WRs, but on the whole team. And that helps the RBs block better, helps the WRs hone their games, and it all comes around to help him confidently decipher defenses, trust his reads, and deliver those balls into those tight windows.

Catch-wise, Garcon played out of his mind yesterday. Remember earlier this year? He was under 50% catch rate for a while. He and Collie were dropping easy balls left and right (hell, Collie dropped an easy one too yesterday, which he later more than made up for). It's not like they have miracle hands usually. In that regard, I do think it was less about preparation and more about pulling an amazing game out of their asses. Expecting Garcon to play with velcro hands like that again is probably a tad unrealistic. But it sure was fun to watch for one game.

143
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:10pm

Funny...these Colts remind me a lot of the 2003 Patriots, in their discipline and versatility and ability to win games in whatever way necessary. It just feels inevitable sometimes.

As to Manning, I don't understand why he is still so good. QB's simply don't stay this good for this long. He's what...in his 12th year? He's never had a negative DVOA season, he's been in the top 5 for DYAR for the last eight or so seasons... and every other QB of the modern era has had a significant decline after about eight years, assuming they even make it that far.

150
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:29pm

"As to Manning..."

If you can figure it out, I'm sure there are some offensive coordinators who'd like to have a word with you, or buy you lunch, or give you their firstborn.

201
by Thok :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:07pm

He works harder and spends more time studying game film than most modern quarterbacks? That's roughly the same reason Jerry Rice is so much better than modern wide receivers.

213
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:09pm

Yep. While his physical skills are probably starting to erode (he can't run as quickly for the stretch play anymore, for instance), his increased mental abilities and wisdom have more than made up for that. And probably will for at least a few more years too, given how high his physical peak was to start with.

62
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:37am

On the Miami game, people forget Ginn dropped the game-winner with half a minute left. Who the winner is on such a close game dramatically alters people's perception of who's best.

110
by bt (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:18pm

True. But what is the point of bring that up? You can play the 'what if' card with any game. The bottom line is the Dolphins played that game about as well as they could have expected and the Colts still manage to beat them, like did in every game they actually tried to win.

244
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:30pm

Part of what makes them make it look easy, is that it's easier to catch balls when you are involved in the passing game and get into the flow. The Colts pass a lot and their WR's catch at a good percentage. Dallas Clark wasn't used as much and dropped a pass. What about the Michael Vick era when his WR's would drop the rare good pass?

Plus the Colts don't neccesarily draft/go for the fastest guys in the world, but put more value on hands/route running/intelligence.

You don't need to be faster than a guy to beat him if you and your QB are on the same page. If the DB is the same speed as the WR, the WR has an advantage because he knows where he's going where as the DB is reacting.

Like the other poster said, the Colts are so good at passing the rock that they make it look easy. They don't need some super physically gifted WR making sports center like catches.

14
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:46am

Thanks for posting this so fast, Bill.

15
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:49am

Vince, do you know which one it is; the muffed punt not being counted as a fumble, or the the ball being knocked loose on the fourth and inches in o.t. not being counted?

20
by Vincent Verhei :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:26am

The Bush muff counts as a fumble. Officially, Thomas never bobbled the ball on the fourth-and-inches. It looked like he bobbled it to me. If you like, you could add another fumble and recovery to the Saints' totals.

22
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:33am

If an RB takes a handoff, runs a few yards, then bobbles it a bit before securing it again, but it never leaves his hands--his grip is just not secure, is that a fumble? Just wondering and not sure there is an official answer.

23
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:33am

That's what I suspected, and why the spot was bad; the zebra didn't see that he had lost possession, and credited him with forward progress from the spot where the defender first made contact, instead of where Thomas regained the ball. I could also see how the booth decided it was too much of a scrum to move the spot. Them's the breaks....

27
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:43am

But since he was a RB who started with 100% complete possession of the ball, and then crossed the plane for the 1st down, then bobbled it and lost a half yard or so, they already had the first down already before the bobble, no?

Now if he was a receiver like Kevin Faulk on the famous 4th and 2 play in the Pats/Colts game, where he comes down with the ball at the end is key since he bobbled it in midair without having had possession.

I am not sure I am right--trying to envision scenarios where it might or might not work. I've seen ball carriers with the first down yardage, run back to escape a tackler only to lose the yardage--they are not credited with the 1st down. And if they have it and are driven back, forward progress usually gives them credit for the first. If they have it and bobble before being driven back ... hmm, yeah, maybe the spot SHOULD be back a half yard, even if he broke the plane. Breaking the endzone plane is a different concept and maybe that's the logic I was using (wonrgly). But if the driving back and bobble are simultaneous, wouldn't he still get the forward progress?

29
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:56am

I'm no rules expert, but it seems to me that if you lose possession of the ball, then forward progress is a moot point, and the ball gets spotted where possession is regained. Think of it in a non-close call; the ball pops loose, and bounces five yards back, where the running back regaines it; that is where the ball gets spotted.

Now, in this instance, it's kinda' weird, in that the defender's helmet pinned the ball to the running back's thigh, with his hand jammed in there as well. The running back definitely lost possession, though, and it the ball just happened to stay in close. Anyways, it's the sort of thing that is hard to see at live speed, and another example of the role luck plays.

59
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:28am

Yeah, I think it would hard to say he loses possession as a runner. Odd play all around.

63
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:39am

I agree, he had the first down on forward progress before bobbling the ball. If he had actually lost possession, that's another thing. But who know, maybe Will is right.

117
by Aerogopher (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:34pm

First I think the Saints got a favorable mark even though they didn't get the first down. Second, on the play, I think the booth saw the fumble and that's why they reviewed it. Nowhere do we see who comes away with the ball. Even if he did retain it, it is obvious in my own eyes that the guy is moved backward while he is recovering it. And even if he recovers it, the ball is near his waist as in the case with Brees.

24
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:36am

And Will, sorry about the loss. I feel your pain, though in my mind it's probably not as bad as the childhood SB losses, or the loss to the Falcons about a decade ago. That one killed me. This one reminds me of a few Colts losses to the Pats a handful of years ago, where I thought my team outplayed the other guys, but just had too many errors (forced and unforced) to pull it off.

31
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:09am

Oh, hell, I'm already over it, and now I can enjoy the Super Bowl without a decades long rooting interest coloring my observation. I will say it is more painful to lose a o.t. game like this at home.

Pulling for the Colts now, in a well played game. Nothing against the Saints, except I really don't like to see a team which gets outgained by about 200 yards win a playoff game, even when the Vikings aren't the meatheads blowing the opportunity.

I was going to respond above to the post which said there was nothing impressive about the Horseshoe-heads, but then decided that if somebody wasn't impressed by Cooper's brother, they may have spent more time watching bocce ball.

25
by Jerry :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:40am

Strange for Rich Eisen on NFL Network to be talking about "it's hard to even say it, sounds so strange, the Saints are in the Super Bowl."

I'm sure he meant it in the historical sense, not that this year's Saints aren't worthy. Kind of like the "the wacky mirror-universe 1996 Ravens. (First in offense, 29th in defense. Really.)"

26
by Conman1426 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:42am

The Colts are just ridiculous. Since 99' they've had one losing season; a season where they lost their star running back to injury and their shitty defense decided to play extra shitty. Their 2 most dominant teams 05' and 07' choked the hardest. The most clutch team (08') gets jobbed in SD. The two teams with problems (06 running game and 09' recivers) are the ones that go to the superbowl. and throw in an entertaining as hell 04' season for the fans (IMO manning 49 tds > Bradys 50).

28
by Bobman :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:56am

Not much to argue with there, but I'll try: (and they're pretty small points)

Why was the 08 squad more clutch than 09?

Jobbed in SD--we're probably in the minority in believing that, but I also feel Sproles and Scifres won that game as much as anybody.

I'm confused about the 06/09 problems. The run game in 06 was a pretty good 2-headed monster (the run D was the huge hole there, is that what you meant?) and the recievers this year were damn good despite Gonzo's injury. With him back next year, I predict a lot of college-style spread formations--5OL, 1 QB, 5 WRS. Either that or Polian trades somebody for a draft pick, or an OT--Garcon for Michael Roos? 04 was a big paradigm-shift season for the league. VERY entertaining and without that year I don't think the Pats hit on the formula for their 2007. Lots of people forget that Manning sat roughly ten quarters that year in blowouts and end of season games--think about the damage they could have done with 2.5 more game equivalents to work with (and a willingness to pour it on). But they still were not a complete team until 2005. And maybe the Steelers proved that even that was wrong, and 2006 was the first complete Colts team. Not sure there.

That awful Jags game in 2006--I guess that was entertaining as well, if you find natural disasters and biblical plagues entertaining....

139
by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:03pm

Do you seriously think that Pierre Garcon would fetch a top 3 LT in the league who is in his prime?

216
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:34pm

No way. And they're not trading him anyway. They'll go into next year with 4 capable WRs and rotate them and sometimes go 5 wide. Gonzalez might take a while to become useful again anyway, plus there's always the chance that someone gets hurt. They can't afford to lose Clark, for instance, without having that extra WR depth.

293
by josh echt (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 5:05pm

how was '04 a big paradigm shift? The pats won as usual and the Steelers had a very good year but choked in the same way to the pats that the Colts did in '03. The Colts also choked in '05 to the Steelers.

Unless you mean it was a dynastic shift--the Pats' reign was ending and the Colts was beginning. '01,'03,'04 Pats and then the '06 Colts and say (for argument's sake) the '09 Colts.

The '80s were the same way but it was more a trough between two bell curves...early on the 49ers were very good and late they were very good but in the middle they were not quite as good, losing out to teams like the Vikes, Rams and Giants. '81,84...then '88,'89 seasons.

300
by MJK :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 9:56pm

It was a paradigm shift because that was the year that the NFL made it illegal for DB's to cover WR's. At least, that's what fans of defensive football claim.

Seriously, that was the year where the NFL made calling illegal contact and DPI for any contact after 5 yards a "Point of Emphasis" (although, even though they called it that, it did involve re-writing the rulebook slightly to "clarify" the rule, so a lot of people claimed it was actually a rule change in a point-of-emphasis's clothes).

This was done partially in response to the fact that the Patriots DB's played extremely physically with the Colts WR's in the 2003 playoffs, right to the edge of what was legal, and the refs let them play. It worked...part of the reason why the Colts got destroyed in that game was that the Pats' DB disrupted the careful timing of the Colts offensive machine.

The rule change...I mean, "Point of Emphasis", came at the recommendation of the competition committee, of whom Polian was, I believe, a member. Many of the Patriots' players and fans believed that it was a direct effort on the part of Polian to change the rules of the game to favor the sort of team he had built at the expense of the sort of team that Belichick had built.

Hence the irony that Bobman points out--it was this very "Point of Emphasis" that enabled the 2007 Patriots to be so unstoppable. If DB's were allowed to mug WR's to the degree they did in 2003, the 2007 Patriots would not have been quite the offensive juggernaut they were.

228
by Big Johnson (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:35pm

jobbed in sd? What were the penalty numbers that game?

231
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:12pm

I suspect by "jobbed" he meant "were robbed by a punter playing out of his friggin' gourd."

32
by Ajit (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:35am

Of all the great colts teams, i think the best was their 2007 team which was frankly overshadowed by the ultra elite 16-0 pats. The 2008 team was very flawed and it took manning's best season(yes best) to still guide that team to a 12-4 record. THat team had a total makeshift o line, gonzo, clark, and wayne all were hurt at one pt or the other and the defense had injuries to mathis and even gary bracket. As far as this team and 06 team, i still believe this team is slightly better for a couple reasons. That team had jason david and nick harper playing at cb and while these current cbs arent terrific, david was a massive liability. I think the lb core on this team is much better than that years with cato june and rob morris, as well as at the dtackle position. Finally, the wideout core is a bit of a toss up. That year was more front heavy with harrison wayne and clark, but had moorehead and fletcher as the depth players. This year's seems more fluid despite gonzo's injury. Tough call either way, but can't say i agree with ned as if its a totally without question answer.

218
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:41pm

I think 2005 was the best, but the tragedy changed everything. And sometimes the best team doesn't win.

But I agree, that 2007 team could certainly have knocked off the Patriots 4 or 5 times out of 10.

2006 won it all, but I don't think they were as good as 05, 07, 09, or maybe even 04.

33
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:36am

"Tom Gower: I watched the Clark TD about 4 times trying to figure out who was supposed to be in coverage and still can't figure it out."
It seemed like a classic Cover 2 to me, with 2 verticals called on the same side of the field (Wayne/Clark), the safety chose to go towards Wayne on the outside, Clark was wide open. Just the play you can call against that defense.

Jabari Greer : Did anyone seriously see that one coming ? Last Cover-2 CB plugged in the Saints defense was Jason David, and we all know how it turned out. Now Jabari Greer, an undrafted free agent who was not even starting in Buffalo, turns out to be nearly worth having an island called after him ? That is a shock.

Colts defense : their DTs might be better than in 06, but they weren't really good vs the pass yesterday. Sanchez was able to step up in the pocket a lot of times, making their 2 star pass rushers useless on the outside. They need to be better in 2 weeks, because the Williams wall won't be there pushing OG and OC into Brees face.

55
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:09am

Cover-2 was my initial reaction as well, but when I rewound the play to look at it, it seemed that the outside receivers were being covered man-to-man and the safeties were playing deep half zones. Ihedigbo was probably also playing too far inside for the area of responsibility you'd think he'd have in a cover-2.

102
by Temo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:05pm

Greer was definitely a starter with Buffalo the past two years, and his metrics have always been very solid. The only knock against him was his ability to stay healthy, and indeed he missed more games this year due to injury.

His metrics:

2007- 16 games played, 13 games started, 6.1 yards/play (ranked 4th), 46% stop rate (ranked 14th)

2008- 10 games played, 10 games started, 7.1 yards/play (ranked 21st), 35% stop rate (ranked 72nd)

2009- (PFF stats, since FO charting isn't out): 52.3 QB rating on passes in his direction-- of players with at least 500 snaps, only Revis, Leon Hall, and Charles Woodson rate better.

Basically the Saints signed a player this offseason who was a known injury risk and was coming off an especially injury-riddled year, and got an elite corner who's good for about ~10-12 games a year.

253
by bubqr :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 8:49am

Well, I thought that he never was more than a 3rd CB, stuck behind Clements/McGee/McKelvin more recently, but I was obviously wrong. I don't recall a lot of good things said about him (even though those 2007 stats are really good, and 2008 average).

But even though he had those good stats, he still was a Cover 2 CB transitionning to more man coverage, and did it superbly. You might have seen it coming, but I sure don't recall a whole lot of media people predicting anything close to the level of success he had this season.

35
by Willsy :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:42am

To put my post into context I am a 48 year old Vikes fan who lives in Sydney Australia. I had resolved to buy a scalped ticket for the SB, knew the flights, hire car details and hotel details in Miami. I wasn't being overly optimistic rather I had resolved that if the Vikes made it I was going.

I had a few wishes for the game - score first - tick, lead or tie and halftime, tick. Have the ball in the offense hands for the last possession - tick.

The pain, the pain, the pain.

I have watched a lot of bad games, Will Allen are you out there? But this game was far worse as the Vikes played really well. I started to simply think "well we will stop the Saints and get the ball back". When you think EJ Henderson was out as well as Winfield, the rest of the D were very impressive. If I compare this to the SB loss in '77 that was much worse in that the Raiders gave us a real ass whippen, but this was the same but in reverse.

When we had the ball with less that 120 seconds to play I actually started to dream that I would see the inside of Miami airport - alas..........

Anyway great win to Saint's and I would like to thank the Vikes for a great year where they played hard all year and made me happy to be a fan, but it does hurt all the same.

Lastly, some of the strings of posts the last few weeks have been some of the funniest stuff I ever read in my life so well done to all you posters out there.

Cheers,

Willsy

36
by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:49am

I really enjoyed the Colts/Jets game. What had to concern NY is that the team couldn't play much better in the first half and had a measly four point lead.

I thought Thomas Jones was a pretty good back but didn't much of that in this game.

Regarding the NFC game some things that jump to mind:

--Jared Allen showed up. During the last half of the season Allen had been MIA wiht Edwards doing all the great work from the end. But not today. Allen played great.

--Something had to be up given that the Saints were determined to run the ball on short downs which is just weird given the respective strengths of the two teams.

--I don't know how folks can get too perturbed about the hits on Favre when Edwards drove Brees to the ground in the same exact manner with the ref standing right there and no call. And when Brees complains after the play the ref waves his hand at him and walks away.

--this whole play for a 50 yard field goal in a dome thing is completely out of control. Mike McCarthy did this in the Metrodome a year back when the Packesr go to the Vikings 33 with over a minute left and timeouts available. MM played it the same way as today by running straight into a brick wall. And then acted all shocked when Crosby 51 yarder faded right.

--I was impressed the Favre did the interview room after the game. Over his last decade in GB he would skip those leaving other guys to answer questions.

40
by peachy :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:51am

Totally agree on the end of the Vikes' last possession. Playing for a figgie is one thing when you're in range for a forty-yarder, or in non-sudden-death college. But settling for a fifty-yarder in the pros is nuts, even in a dome; at best you're taking a low-percentage kick, it's way too easy to get knocked back out of range (and that was the proximate cause of the INT), and there's no guarantee you'll ever see the ball again if you don't convert. It looks like the conservative approach, but it really isn't.

145
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:17pm

Favre got at least one gift roughing call, where a perfectly legal hit at waist height just as he released the ball was called a personal foul (Jamarcus Russel or Joe Flacco probably doesn't get that call, but Brady/Manning/Favre do because they're Brady/Manning/Favre). But it was made up for a couple of plays later when two Saints rushers nailed Favre--one high and the other at knee level (this was the play that injured Favre's ankle)--in blatant violation of the new "Brady" rule, and no flag was thrown (it was on a 3rd down incomplete, so it would have given the Vikings a 1st down).

153
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:39pm

I think the gift call you're referring to was actually the correct call. The Saints' player (Hargrove?) did lift Favre up and drive him into the ground. I don't necessarily like this rule, but it was interpreted correctly.

The one they didn't call, however, was on an interception, so it would have allowed the Vikings to keep possession.

The real gift was the roughing the passer/late hit call in the first half.

38
by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:13am

The two conferences summed up by their championship games:
AFC: hard-fought, but fairly dull.
NFC: sloppy, but exciting.

And yes, this makes the Lions the only NFC team to never make a Super Bowl.

And the Vikings now take second place in 'Most years gone by since winning the NFC Championship'. That's pretty counter-intuitive. As are the teams in third (Washington, 91), fourth (Niners, 94), fifth (Cowboys, 95) and sixth (Packers, 97) — at least if you were around between the late 1980s and mid-1990s.

Yes, New Orleans is the ninth different NFC champion in nine years, the 14th in 19 years. And that's not because of fluky postseason play: the #1 seed has now won the NFC in 13 of those last 19 years.

By contrast, the AFC has gone: Pats, Steelers, Colts, Pats, Steelers, Colts. A fair division of the spoils among the decade's three best teams? The fourth-most recent AFC champion is the Raiders!

In those same last 19 years, the AFC has had only nine different champions — in fact, only ten in the past 25 years (and eleven in 40 years). Yet the AFC's #1 seed has been only half as successful as the NFC's at advancing: Indianapolis is just the 7th top seed in 19 years to win the AFC.

89
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:35am

Excellent post, ammek. I love little trivia like this.

227
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:16pm

and yet the Lions don't even have first place in "most years gone by since playing in a conference championship game" ... or second (thanks to the Modell Compromise, otherwise the Browns' drought would have been ended by the Ravens) ... and they're even just tied for third with Washington.

If only I'd known at the time. I thought it was merely a reminder that the entire season was a joke and the Lions weren't really that good. Little did I know ...

At one point, the franchise was a game away from winning an unprecedented third consecutive championship. Of course, that was over half a century ago, and in true Detroit fashion, they lost by 46. (Ah, the '50s, when the Lions and Browns were good.)

Jacksonville and Houston will reach a Super Bowl before the Lions do. I'd say Cleveland and Detroit will do it within five years of each other. (Please not in the same year: I have good friends who are Browns fans and I don't want one of us to have to kill the others.)

It should be a fun Super Bowl in these parts.

If the Colts win, does that make Curtis Painter a better QB than Dan Marino?

230
by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:59pm

Yes, it's funny to think that, if I'd been around in 1957, I probably would have been bored with the Lions' success. And the Browns'.

Even so, for a while the Lions were the division rival I feared most, as a Packer fan. The 80s Packers were so bad, rivalries were impossible. But from 1992-95, just as it seemed the Pack was turning the corner, the Lions always got in the way. Firstly with the head-to-heads, which were often high-scoring Sanders-TD, Favre-TD affairs, and used to leave me a nervous wreck. Then Detroit won the division on a head-to-head over Green Bay in the final week of 1993, topped it again with a week to go in 1994, and would have snared the 1995 title from the Packers' grasp on a scorching seven-game win streak had it not been for the Braylonesque hands of Yancey Thigpen.

Seriously, if Thigpen had made that catch, the Lions would have had three divisional titles in five years, and the Packers none in 23 years. Green Bay's franchise-defining road win in San Fran likely doesn't happen; neither does the Lions' meltdown in Philadelphia. At that point, Mike Holmgren becomes 'choker extraordinaire' and……… who knows what happens next?

234
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:01pm

The Vikings won the division in '92 and '94.

235
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:03pm

And in ammek's alternate universe, the Lions in 1991, 1993, and 1995. That's three in five years.

252
by ammek :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 7:15am

Yes, I should have written, "were topping it with a week to go in 1994" — only to blow it on week 17, of course, being the Lions.

I can't think why I didn't perceive the Vikings as a bigger rival back then. After all they swept the Pack in 92 and 93, then won in overtime in 94 at the Dome. It might be that I've always rather liked the Vikings; or I figured their team was just better, and thus deserving. That's the effect that two decades of futility has: it inspires undue deference. But the Lions had been the Packers' equal in futility, and it seemed unfair that just as my team was improving, so was Detroit. Anyway……

Incidentally, that 1994 divisional title was a sham. The NFL still played a Monday night game on the final week of the season at the time, and in 1994 it pitted Minnesota against the 49ers. San Francisco was 13-2 coming into week 17, a game ahead of Dallas for the best record in the NFC; Minnesota was 9-6, tied with Chicago and Detroit atop the Central (and a game in front of Green Bay, with the tiebreak in the Pack's favor). When Dallas blew their Sunday game, the Niners had nothing to play for and pulled a Curtis Painter, airing third-string players such as, um, Ed McCaffrey, and leaving the Vikings to stroll to the title.

Bitter? Moi?

39
by Willsy :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:48am

36

Agree re NO running and getting stuffed. The W wall was obviously working and yet they kept smashing into it. Very odd.

Also agree re Farve, nice interview. Allen seemed to have 3 people on him at times, had a good game but the NO line scrapped well all day as well.

Re the NY/Colts game - Ryan needs to play the 2nd qtr to his team during the offseason - lots of upside for that team. Looking at Manning's face he seemed very sure of himself and his team, always felt they had NY's measure BUT they sure were pesky.

My call is Favre comes back for another season.

As I type I am playing Albinoni's adagio, very apt at this time of the day given the Vikes loss. The pain, the pain, the pain......

Willsy

41
by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:51am

Aaron Schatz: "However, if we're going to be sticking to the rules as written, Bobby McCray should have received a personal foul for going low on Favre, the Carson Palmer rule."

It seems weird to call it the Carson Palmer Rule when it took 3 full years after his injury to get the rule added. I wonder what the delay was on that?

43
by Spoon :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:12am

I think the judges would have allowed the "Bernard Pollard" rule, but Carson Palmer certainly isn't the QB that anyone was thinking of after that hit.

146
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:21pm

No, because the "Bernard Pollard Rule" would have to be a rule against Bernard Pollard emitting a "death to knees" field that blows out ACL's when he's nearby whether he hits the guy or not.

44
by Theo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:13am

My sarcasm meter went off, but I don't know if it's broke.

The delay was Tom Brady.

45
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:26am

The rule for hitting quarterbacks below the knee was passed in 2006 and has nothing to do with Tom Brady.

Defenders are prohibited from hitting a passer in the knee or below unless they are blocked into him. This rule was enacted in response to the previous season's injuries to Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Brian Griese.

http://www.steelersfever.com/nfl_history_of_rules.html

Click here and you'll see that the Brady injury forced a "point of emphasis," not a rule change.

http://views.washingtonpost.com/theleague/nflnewsfeed/2009/03/four-rule-...

We can call it the Kimo von Oelhoffen rule, if you prefer.

54
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:05am

To be precise, current Rule 12-2-13-5 was added before the 2006 season. It reads:

A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him;

Prior to the current season, the following notes were added:

Note 1: A defender cannot initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the passer in the knee area or below, even if he is being contacted by another player.

Note 2: It is not a foul if the defender swipes, wraps, or grabs a passer in the knee area or below in an attempt to tackle him.

56
by nat :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:14am

You seem to be operating under the assumption that merely reciting the facts will have some effect on the insane.

What have you seen in this "Brady Rule" topic over the past year that gives you any hope that this strategy will work?

65
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:42am

Since the rules are a technical creation, I thought it'd be more useful to have the technical language rather than relying on non-technical descriptions of the rules. Whether you believe McCray should have been penalized under the rule as enacted before this year, under newly-added (for 2009) Note 1, or not penalized under newly-added (for 2009) Note 2, I don't really care.

80
by nat :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:19am

What have you seen in this "Brady Rule" topic over the past year that gives you any hope that this strategy will work?

Buzz, sorry, wrong answer.

The correct answer was "Nothing".

72
by CoachDave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:06am

A+

Would read again.

42
by starzero :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:02am

i'm glad i won't have to watch jared allen killing payton manning.

on the other hand, i'm royally pissed that childress blew the playcalling at the end of regulation. even before favre forgot how to run in the open field the vikings should have played for more yards. don't take a chance on a 51-yard field goal when you have time to get closer.

new orleans doesn't seem all that far from miami. their fans will show in droves.

104
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:08pm

NO isn't too far by plane from Miami, but because you have to drive due East for a long while, it's not a short drive at all. According to one internet mapping service I checked, Miami is an 866 mile drive from NO, a 1198 mile drive from Indy.

116
by dmb :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:32pm

You're right that NO-to-Miami is a longer drive than some might realize, but using mileage makes the drive from Indy much more comparable than it really is. The NO-Mia drive is 12-13 hours, which is doable by one driver in one day. I strongly suspect that one driver attempting to go from Indy to Miami in one day would be a very bad idea.

174
by starzero :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:29pm

It is.

204
by Floyd (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:22pm

Astronaut diapers

221
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:52pm

I've driven from Sanibel to Indy in a day, and I can confirm that even that is a very bad idea.

46
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:31am

You have to go back a long way to find a Conference finalist gets whipped so badly yardage wise and win. SD in 1994 versus Pittsburgh - were out gained 415 to 226.

I wonder if a number 1 seed has ever been beat so badly yardage wise?

I think like the Chargers in 1994 weren't much competition for the 49ers, the Saints won't be much competition for the Colts. I expect to see one of the old time one sided Super Bowls.

101
by Mr Shush :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:04pm

I really don't know what to make of the Saints. They've produced most of the best displays by any team this season (Eagles, Patriots, Cardinals) but at other times played quite poorly. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if they got blown out horribly, but if they play at their best (which probably involves Bushrod not getting totally destroyed by Freeney) I would probably expect them to win - though not by much, the Colts are too good to get blown out by anyone.

109
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:16pm

New Orleans strikes me as a really skilled team but not very physical. Sounds funny to say after the hits they put on Favre - but their front gets pushed around by almost any team with a decent running game and their offensive line has been pummeled by Dallas and now Minnesota.

I see Indy as similar offensively (but less error prone) and much sturdier defensively. But Any Given Sunday.

47
by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:33am

Will Carroll: Favre's ankle's no big deal. He had it taped. That's hardly "limited mobility" except in the strictest sense. He twisted it, it hurts, it will swell, so I'd be curious what he's doing in between series. I haven't seen anything shown.

Will, I think that's the first time I've every heard anyone say that the cameras weren't on Favre enough!

48
by Willsy :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:40am

Do we need a FO Vikes fans post loss workshop?

Will could be the facilitator.

Willsy

64
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:40am

Step 1. We admitted Brett Favre was our quarterback--that our offense had become unmanageable.

127
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:48pm

I think steps 2-3 are what got the Vikings into this whole Favre mess in the first place:

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

(I also like the Eagles)

52
by Dean :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:00am

There is no way the Bags Fly Free should even be in the discussion for most annoying commercial. The runaway winner has to be Jimmy Football from Bud Light. If I ever saw that d-bag in person, I think I’d have to punch him square in the nuts, and even that would only be the tip of the iceberg when compared to the trauma he has imparted upon us. What makes it worse is that Bud Light usually has some of the best (if there is such a thing) ads. This is not one of them. I feel less human each time I’m subjected to it.

57
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:26am

The most annoying part is than Anheuser-Busch doesn't make anything worth drinking, so I can't even have the satisfaction of giving it up in protest. See also the Coors Light press conference commercials.

(I also like the Eagles)

73
by Dean :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:10am

There are a lot of worse beers out there. Which should not be misinterpreted. It's not actually good or anything. Just tasteless in a non-offensive sort of way. When its 100 degrees out and you're having 20 haven't tasted the last dozen, you may as well drink that or something like it. I'm not even sure it qualifies as "beer."

Hmmm... bland, tasteless, middle-of-the-road, weak, watered down. Are we talking about beer or rock-radio?

I actually liked some of the press conference ads. Until they got played over and over and over...

81
by Sophandros :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:23am

It's funny how the worst beers have the best commercials and the best beers have no commercials.

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

96
by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:46am

But Sierra Nevada has a sales pitch like no other.

157
by Marko :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:56pm

That is hilarious.

58
by Thok :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:27am

My personal feeling is the too light/too heavy Bud Light ads need to be in the discussion. Too Light: I'm sort of a wimp but OK, Too Heavy: I'm a raging psychotic who is a threat to everybody around me.

Bags Fly Free can be annoying, especially the rap version.

152
by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:37pm

The hands-down winner of the most annoying commercial award this post-season is the Taco Bell "I'm more comfortable ordering from Denise" commercial. At least these others were good the first time, they just grow aggravating with overexposure.

53
by Jeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:04am

Surprised there isn't the usual whining from the horrific contingent of commenters in these articles about some kind of minutia posted in one of these pieces. You commenters are absolutely inept to read and I wish FO would disable the ability to comment on these pieces. You guys make a mockery of the work these guys do.

66
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:48am

Yeah, you suck Jeff

71
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:03am

"You commenters are absolutely inept to read and I wish FO would disable the ability to comment on these pieces."

Is nitpicking grammar the sort of thing you're interested in?

198
by TomC :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:22pm

This is either a brilliant piece of satire-within-satire or ... something else.

67
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:48am

Colts/Jets
- I liked the Jets game plan, they played about as well a first half as you could have expected. The Colts were bringing their safeties up to stop the run, and they ran that play action pump fake to Edwards on 1st down ( great play by him acting like he was going to block), and then the Brad Smith play was on 1st or 2nd down. They really picked their spots well to run the trick plays. The Colts commited to not being run over, and the Jets made them pay.
- Phil Simms never mentioned it, but the 2nd sack of Peyton Manning he was looking for Dallas Clark who was knocked down after chipping one of the blitzers, Manning had not outlet so he did the smart thing and went down.
- I disagreed with the comment that the Jets flaws were injured... Kris Jenkins wouldn't have stoped those outside off tackle zone blocking runs as much, and Leon Washington would have helped on ST but not as much rushing as the Jets RB's played well. The Jets need a more viable passing game and they need Sachnez to grow and mature as a QB, they didn't lose because they were missing a DT and RB.

- The drive that ended at the 1 yard line FG, Manning had one of the most unbelievable drives you will ever see. He'd watch the Jets line up, and point out their blitzers, redirect his own guys, and he was RIGHT every single time... Pointing " Hey, #57 is blitzing", and he was right and beat it over and over and over again, picking up chunks. They get to the 1 and run that QB sneak which is a good thought but it just wasn't there. The Jets were guarding the A gaps and it didn't work. The other 8-10 plays though were amazing and show why Manning is the best ever. He's not having plays called in and executing them, he's calling everything out on the field like an orchestra conductor and executing them.

Saints/Vikings
- The Vikings fumbled a lot, Drew Brees wasn't throwing spirals at the end of the game. Aikman and Buck missed it but I believe they rotate in more footballs than a regular game, and "new" balls. These balls are glossy and need to be "broken in". I don't know the exact number of balls in a regular game ( say 20 or so), but they might use 50 or so balls in a championship game or super bowl. I suspect that's why there were so many fumbles and Brees throwing wobbly passes.

- I think Favre should have ran it at the end to pick up 5 or so yards, but then again his legs were hurt and I HATE playing shoulda woulda coulda, he's NOT the reason why they lost, I hate blaming the last guy, when there were tons of other misakes, and it's no lock Longwell makes a 57 or 52 yard field goal with the game on the line.

- Joe Buck annoyed me this entire game, he started out with, "Live from New Orelans, the loudest stadium in the league". I love how in these champtionship games they try and make up a story within the story. NO is the loudest stadium? How many other teams say that? I love how a couple years ago all they talked about was how "tired" the defense is for being on the field a long time. It's always got to be a game within a game... They don't mention that as much in regular games, but now it's the new insight that's always talked about and the biggest thing in the world...

I won so much money yesterday on the Cols ML and Saints/Vikings OVER it's not even funny. I think the Super Bowl being in Miami favors the Colts as the venue favors their style of play over New Orleans who haven't played as well on grass...

69
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:52am

I just want to make it clear that I believe all the fumbles were from lots of new and slick balls( and a fumble prone player), Buck never wouda thunk it but I'm surprised Aikman didn't. They use more and newer balls in those championship games, that's why Peyton Manning had such an emphasis on getting to them before his last super bowl and breaking them all in so they wouldn't be glossy... Another small detail the best QB ever looked into that most people don't even think about ( even high paid announcers).

74
by Dean :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:12am

I've heard slick balls are hard to handle, but I can't say I've ever tried to handle them. Aikman might know a thing or two about that.

156
by Mike W :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:55pm

Yeah, those old Dallas teams could really party.

77
by Paul R :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:16am

I remember watching that in the SB pregame show that year. They mentioned that each QB is allowed, I forget the number, a couple of dozen balls.
Manning spent a whole afternoon going through a huge pile of footballs, picking out the best ones and breaking them in. Then they mentioned that Rex Grossman hadn't really bothered to do that. I thought at the time, "Uh oh. Don't bet on the Bears."

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that, when I'm at work, and facing a decision over whether I've done a good enough job; I sometimes say to myself, "What would Peyton do?"

83
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:26am

Paul R,

That's what I was refering too, Manning breaking in all the footballs before the Bears SB ( and it was wet and the balls were slick as it was), Peyton manning going through the extra effort that most people don't even think about.

Aikman is a former player, I like him, but I wish he pointed that out. It's something Buck or a non player would ever even think about but it's a tactical part of the game. Stat geeks miss it too :)

214
by Theo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:20pm

"What would Peyton do?"

That's a catchy phrase. We should market that into jewellery and bumper stickers. I see a good market for it.

215
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:26pm

It's too late, with Tebow coming into the league...

(I also like the Eagles)

219
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:43pm

Not only did he break them in, he also spent a good portion of their practices dipping balls in buckets of cold water to prep himself and Saturday on their exchanges because of the chance of rain.

(Not that doing that would've cured Grossman's snap ills, since he couldn't hold onto snaps inside domes either.)

232
by John (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:16pm

Sweet, I didn't know about that one. Maybe Colts fans should be hoping for rain (assuming that it's in the forecast, and thus Manning has time to prepare, and possibly Brees doesn't bother, although that seems very unlikely).

233
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 9:49pm

Seems like a good gambling edge huh? Peyton going the extra step to be prepared for the worst, and in that super bowl vs the Bears it mattered.

You say that it's "unlikely" that Brees wouldn't prepare, but that's why I brought up this comment in the first place... The Vikings had fumbilitis, and Brees was throwing wobbly passes. The logical suggestion is that the balls were new/slick/not broken in like regular season games...

I can't confirm or deny that they were rotating in extra balls, or brand new footballs, but I highly suspect that when both teams were having a problem gripping the ball...

It's something an announcer should pick up on, and not some sharp gambler. FYI I don't get mad like some people here when an announcer "dumbs it down" for more fans etc., I just prefer to see a guy like Mike Mayock break it down like he does. I mean, yeah if Brian Billeck wanted to break games down more he could as well, but they try and make it more "marketable" to most fans. I'm just surprised they didn't bring up information on the footballs up when it was starting to be a theme of the game...

Oh well, I'll just go back to making money, and hoping that we get some rain in Miami so that the Colts have a shot at getting that slight extra edge...

277
by Theo :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 7:04am

What I don't understand then, is that the league allows a game with slick footballs.
Why not take the older balls that have more grip. If that makes for a better game, I don't think the NFL wants a fumble and drop fest in the Super Bowl.

79
by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:18am

I thought Aikman had a good day. He's just right for big games — he doesn't get carried away on the Big Narrative trips (that's the announcer's job) and he doesn't have verbal diarrhoea. In low-key, regular-season games he may come across as rather dull, but for a game like yesterday's that needs no boosting, his pitch is about perfect. I thought he brought up some interesting things — the Saints' use of the sixth lineman, their struggles on third-and-short, noticing when Hutchinson went out, etc. He also admits to changing his mind on seeing a replay — Phil Simms won't ever do that. And it's hard to blame the announcers for overplaying the Favre card when the camera pans to either #4 on the sidelines (after a Saints' play) or Deanna holding her nose (after a Vikings' play).

I don't really mind Joe Buck either. Of course, I do not remember his sainted father. Jr goes OTT and may get a little corny, but hey, I was brought up on soccer commentators — my OTT/corny threshold is up there.

82
by Sophandros :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:25am

Actually, Chris, several other players and teams have said that the Superdome this year has been the loudest place that they've played in...

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

87
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:33am

The super dome is the loudest, Arrowhead is the loudest, Seattle is the loudest, Jerr World's 100,000 person stadium is the loudest, The Redskins 90,000 is the loudest, Minnesota is the loudest...

Is it loud? You betcha, but talking about it over and over again like a casual fan can't see that it's "loud" and harder to communicate... Just like the "defense is tired"... It's probably the network telling the annoucners to "step up their game" for the big games.

I wish Vin Scully did NFL.

103
by Temo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:07pm

Jerr World's 100,000 person stadium

No one has said that about Cowboys stadium, not even Cowboys fans. The place is too big to contain noise and the fans who go there are too rich to bother.

163
by Marko :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:23pm

Vin Scully did the NFL in the 1980s. He was pretty good, although he was obviously better doing baseball. But as an LA resident, trust me, you wouldn't want to hear him do NFL games now. He isn't even good doing baseball anymore. He's so bad that I have to mute the TV if he is doing the game.

149
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:28pm

Really funny moment in the broadcast was when they cut to a (badly framed) view of someone holding a decibel meter. It read "105". Buck (I think) said something like:

In case you don't think it's loud in there, it's 105 decibels. Thats...um...really loud, I guess...

Yes Joe. Yes it is.

169
by billsfan :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:54pm

Yep, that's right up there with "I don't even know which is longer" when discussing the switch from 1/4" to 3/8" spikes.

(I also like the Eagles)

148
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:27pm

Good comments.

Only thing to add is that I think the talk of the Jets injuries was referring not to Jenkins or Washington, but more to the injuries they suffered in game--losing their #2 and #3 CB, and losing Shonne Green.

172
by scottyb (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:19pm

Jets had a great game plan and played about as well as they could. The Colts (and Manning) are just too good.

The game plan-
1) Use every trick in the book to put up a decent amount of points (they got 17, could have had 20), then
2) Bash away with the running game (Colts D defended this well and the carcass of TJones couldn't take up the slack of Greene)
3) Play toigh D and make the Colts earn every yard and point (this worked until Colts imposed their will in the 4th). Manning constantly audibled to great pays, focusing on kismatches and frustrating the pass rush.
4) Try for 1-2 big plays by D or special teams or 1-2 mistakes by the Colts (e.g., one tipped pass or forced fumble)

This formula worked perfectly against SD because SD made a few mistakes and the Jets made 2 big plays.

The Colts just don't make mistakes.

They will CRUSH New Orleans if the games this weekend are any indicator of their respective quality.
- Jets D gave up 10 points to NO, and were lucky to have only 30 to Indy
- Saints got manhandled by Minny, but Minny blew at least two scoring opportunities and gave one to the Saints (at least a 13-point swing) with fumbles.

196
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:03pm

Glad to see we are on the same page here.

The 2nd Q drive where the Colts were stopped at the 1 was one of the best drives I have ever seen a QB play. Over and over again you saw Manning come to the line, point out the exact guys that were blitzing, call some audibles, and then pick up positive yardage. He did this over and over and over again, to get to the 1, and then called the QB sneak ( when it really wasn't there). The last call was a good idea, but it just wasn't there with the Jets crowding the A gaps... However the rest of the drive was really a work of art as Manning showed off his prep work and orchestrated it beautifully.

That's what I'm saying with the Jets. Rex Ryan and Martyball Jr. had about as good of a game plan as you can have, but the Colts were just too good in the end. Being down 3 into the 4th Q showed they played a good game but were defeated by a better team. Give credit to Rex... I disliked the criticism by someone who was basically saying he didn't understand football. The Rex Ryan star was certainly rising after the Jets playoff run as it should be. They went 2-1 on the road, man handled the Bungles, defeated a "better SD" team on the road, and then played a "better Colts" team respectively and made them earn it.

248
by silentrat :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:39am

Totally agree with that statement. I was at the game and I texted my friend at halftime to tell him that Peyton was playing like Michael Jordan in his prime. I've really got to tip my hat to 18to88.com for calling it, as it may have been, the best game ever played by him.

226
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:11pm

The Colts just don't make mistakes.

Sure they do. The corners made two huge ones. And Manning threw about 6-8 bad picks this year. Everyone makes mistakes.

I think the Colts just bounce back from them better. That's where Dungy, despite his obvious flaws, really helped these players.

The Saints are likely to play a much better game in two weeks than they did last night. The Colts are better, but the Saints can still bring it. If they can bring it as completely as they did against the Pats, there's no stopping them. That's unlikely, but it's possible.

236
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:04pm

I don't know if I'd credit Tony Dungy for "having them bounce back". Yes, Dungy has "obvious flaws" and one of them is playoff game planning.

Jim Caldwell will most likely win the SB in his first year as the Colts head coach ( the year after Dungy), and Jon Gruden won the year after Dungy was fired. I liked the Colts game plan to bring their safties and attack the Jets rushing attack. Yeah, they were caught once on 1st down when Sanchez hit B-Easy Edwards but the rest of the time the gamble paid off.

Caldwell was more aggressive with the defense than the ultra conservative Dungy. The Colts dumped Dung heap and won every game they intended on winning from start to finish thanks to a more aggressive head coach and coach Peyton. Dungy was so conservative and predictable it was borderline stupidity.

Here is an interesting stat, but teams played in Miami already and won... The Saints fell behind early 24-3 and won 46-34. While the Colts won that MNF game 27-23 in which Miami had the ball 75% of the entire game limiting Mannings posessions.

I was looking at the stats and the Saints played better on grass than what I remembered. The Saints actually averaged 37 PPG on grass, with 161 yards rushing for 4.9 per carry... Not bad, it also seems to support the theory that their run game is underrated.

I guess part of the impression was that they started out very slow on grass vs Miami and the Redskins, even though they had high point totals in those games. ( Starting down 24-3). I watched both games though and they totally deserved to beat Miami, but Washington actually had that game if not for a late missed FG and more late game unheroics by the always limp Jason Campebell who failed to delivery in the clutch yet again.

238
by Micranot (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:38pm

I mean this as constructive criticism: it is tough to take your points seriously, however valid, when they are intermixed with nonsense about "The Colts dumped Dung heap and won every game they intended on winning from start to finish thanks to a more aggressive head coach and coach Peyton. Dungy was so conservative and predictable it was borderline stupidity."

241
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:09pm

Before starting, I'll just say I agree with Micronot about your phrasing. You discredit yourself with those childish comments.

I don't disagree about Dungy's faults, but the man's calm was very important to that team, particularly Manning, for several years, and without that attitude they don't maintain composure in the 06 game and probably aren't the same way today. Caldwell maintains that good element with some aggressiveness and new wrinkles, and the new coaches (who'd have been present even if Dungy stuck around) helped a ton too. The man certainly deserves credit, though. He had some great traits. Nobody sane will ever say he was perfect.

By the way, I'm hoping you're right about Caldwell winning it. I'm kind of surprised that nobody has invoked Buck Showalter here with Dungy yet. I'd be thrilled if it turned out that Tony was the Showalter of the NFL.

WRT grass, I've long suspected that the real difference for dome teams isn't the surface, but the presence of wind. That'll mess up a passing game more than the turf does. You can change cleats, but you can't change arm strength or ball weight. Plus, the newer field turf is much more like grass anyway, and provides less of a footing advantage anyway.

254
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:35am

When the FO guys use hyperbole it's ok, but when I call Tony Dungy Dung heap, it discredits me. Let's just same I'm passionate and have my opinions... Opinions that seem to be true more often than not.

Did the Colts come back because they had a "calm head coach", or did they come back because they had the best quarterback to ever play the game, an ultra competitive guy that goes the extra mile and wants to WIN? Come on man... They came back because of Dungy's calm personality? The Patriots eased up, started playing more consertativly ( as teams do with leads), and Manning marched his team back.

The wind lack is very important, I agree 100%... and it's something else that ISN'T factored into DVOA, I've complained to management ( Aaron Schatz), he tried to work on putting in a wind variable but hasn't yet.

The field turf is sort of inbetween, and actually has traits more like Turf than grass... from a field maintance perspective, but you still have to wear cleates... If you were going to wear just regular tennis or basketball shoes on artificial turf you'd be ok, but you still need to wear cleates on the field turf. On grass cleates are a must.

Once again more X's and O's stuff that matter but are often overlooked.

267
by Dave :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 2:05pm

Well of course they came back because they have a freakish QB with good other players.

But you don't think that the general attitude of that team when their backs against the wall wasn't improved by having a coach who didn't freak out, show a temper, or get impatient? That didn't help just a little bit?

I never said anything about anyone else's hyperbole, but since you bring it up, I've yet to see any on the same level as calling a guy Dung Heap.

271
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 8:07pm

Do I think "the general attitude of the team"...

I think the general attitude of the team is that they have a historically good offense, that can score so many points so fast ( if needed) that they are NEVER out of a game. Think of the game where they were down what, 21 points in the 4th quarter of a MNF game? They didn't flip out because they have a high powered offense ( and not some rookie QB where the game is basically over).

Having a coach who didn't freak out, show a temper, or get impatient...
If a coach shows no emotion and loses, he "doesn't care", if a coach shows no emotion and his team wins he's "silent strength". You can spin it any way you'd like to. Even if Dungy did freak out, what was that going to do to the offense? Was he going to tell Manning what plays to call and throw up the white flag? Was he going to call something other than Tampa 2 on defense? The guy was on auto pilot as it was...

Dung Heap, yeah, it's a nickname, just like Wrangler Jeans model, Megatron, Mount Mckinnie, Ocho stinko, Who'se your mamma, Ben Hamberger, Plexy Glass, Ragina Bush... Who cares, are your feelings hurt or something?

259
by MJK :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:31pm

But C, honestly...

Tell us how you really feel about Tony Dungy...

68
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:49am

I love Ben Leber and but he one of the most unfortunate games you'll ever see.

1. PI call on the OT drive..good coverage as far as I could tell but he gets nailed on the key play of the game.
2. Just before that play the Vikings had a pick in T. Johnson's hands and Leber actually reached up from the ground and tipped it away.
3. Earlier in the game he made a diving attempt for an interception - got two hands on it but couldn't hold on - if he never touched it T. Johnson was sitting on an easy pick.

In each case I think he was making a good play - it just worked out badly. Football can be such a cruel game.

264
by Rob Vikes (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:26pm

Those were some tough breaks for Leber who played a good game.

The one he tipped from Tyrell Johnson in the 1st half is a play you have to make as a LB, as you never know who is behind you. Unfortunate because Johnson could've returned that ball deep into Saints territory and perhaps to the house.

The PI call was BS, and the refs missed a block in the back as well on the Vikes oncoming rusher who was about to plant Brees, in effect a 22yd swing.

The one in OT off the Colston bobble that would've an easy pick for Johnson was inexcusable. You have to realize that the chances of it being in the hands of another Saints player is rare. The Vikes players around the ball were in shock and a collective hands on the helmet or wtf were you doing reaction ensued.

70
by Sophandros :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:00am

"Mike Kurtz: After relying on big plays in the first half, the Jets' offense couldn't keep up the production. "

And this is one reason that big plays are not weighted heavier in DVOA and DYAR calculations, for those who think that they should be (hearkening back to comments from last week's trolls).

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

78
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:18am

You know this whole Troll nonsense on this site is really starting to bother me. It's used by the writers on this site and several people like yourself.

I find much of the commentary from some of the famous "trolls" on this site as interesting as any of the comments. At times it is reactionary nonsense but there is often some sensible content.

Football Outsiders is fun and interesting stuff. But get serious it has barely more predictive value than strickly looking at pt differential. That isn't the only value that these guys have delivered. These isolated why teams lose or win far in very interesting statistical ways. But there is an arrogance that permeates this site by many of the FO contributors and far more so by some of the regular commentators that I find nauseating.

84
by Sophandros :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:27am

Meh. If you think that my post is an example of arrogance, then you probably don't remember the discussion that I referred to above.

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Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

115
by Harris :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:31pm

I always thought FO stats were meant to be descriptive rather than predictive.

Hail Hydra!

75
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:12am

I went into the game rooting for the Saints, but now I'm disappointed that they won, as the Vikings proved definitively that they were the better, and more complete, team.

I respect the Saints for not panicking, since it seemed like the Vikings had several opportunities to seal the deal.

Part of this is that I'm rooting for the NFC team in the Super Bowl, and I think the Vikings would give the NFC a far better chance to beat the Colts. I'd love to see what that front four can do against Manning.

The Saints are capable of beating the Colts, of course, but I think it's more likely that the Colts will win by 10 to 14 points. I think the Colts putting up at least 31 on the Saints is a lock, and 35 or more is pretty likely.

90
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:36am

The lines opened at 56 and -4.5

Basically around a 31-24, or 30-27 type game.

91
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:38am

and I think that -4.5 will get pushed up to at least 6, maybe 6.5 or 7 by kick off. The O/U might not go too much higher because the game is on grass in an outdoor stadium, but people will probably tease the Colts with the over so you never know.

If you want to middle the game buy it at -4.5, and sell at 6.5 and hope the Colts win by 6, say 30-24 and make all the money.

161
by BJR :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:14pm

That sounds like a good idea. Now who is going to lay me those bets?

Even assuming you are correct about the line moving, you neglect to mention that the book overrounds mean that you would probably only break even, or make a tiny profit in the long run following such a strategy.

168
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:48pm

There are a dozen or so offshores, it's not even funny.
It depends what you are trying to do and the Juice. Pinnacle had 5-6% Juice where as others were 10%. If you are trying to "middle" games you usually need to strike early ( right when lines come out), and know which way the betting public is going to move them. You also need to know the hard/soft numbers.

If you are going to try and middle games over .5 or 1 point with 10% juice, it's probably not the best idea, but if you say hit the Colts -4.5 ( with 6% vig) and then buy them back at 6.5 or even if the line were to touch 7 ( with 6& vig), all it takes is one game to hit, or get a tie/win, and you make very solid money ( win both bets, or win 1 tie 1).

Yes, you have to pick your spots. Yesterday was a perfect example or you could have done a modified middle during the 2nd half of this game...

For example,
Buy Minnesota +3.5 before the game
Buy Saints -3 second half
Win Wager 1, Push Wager 2...

If you buy Colts -4.5 before the game, and Saints +6.5 or even +7 before the game, you have a chance to make a win/win, or win/push wager for 6-10%. It depends on how you think the game is going to go. In a "field goal" type game, if you get -2.5/3 or 3/3.5 it can be a profitable strategy.

240
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:54pm

Wow, the line already moved to 6...

It moved from 4.5 to 6 from this morning to tonight. That means it should go at least to 6.5, and I'd bet that it will hit 7 by kickoff when all the money starts coming in. The 56 point total could go up too...

I only bet 1 unit on the Colts -4.5, but it looks like you'd have a shot at betting -4.5 and +7 if you wanted and hoping for a 5, 6, or 7 point Colt win...

86
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:32am

My favorite announcer quote of the day

Joe Buck after a TD by the Saints in the 4th quarter to take a 28-21 lead, "You get the feeling that the last score really energized the crowd."

88
by Eddo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:34am

Vince: I agree that the Pam Oliver interview was just ridiculous. My favorite moment was the opening question, which was (not exact, but close):

"What keeps you addicted to football?"

Did anyone else find the use of the A-word a bit awkward, considering the interviewee's personal history?

93
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:42am

The Pam Oliver interview was stupid, she's better interviewing the self promoter types, the TO's, the Michael Irvins, the Chad Johnsons. She needs to flirt with them and get them to say even more cocky and stupid things. Her interview with Favre was bad and ackward looking.

Favre needs to be interviewed by Bradshaw who just acts stupid and laughs and gets Favre to say stupid things and laugh.

170
by Margaret (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:00pm

I thought her use of the "a" word was a deliberate (and lazy) stir of the pot. The interviews were ridiculous.

94
by Johnny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:43am

How come nobody is talking about how BAD the Saints playcalling/gameplan was on offense? In the 4th Quater and Overtime, they continually went into some sort of heavy set, Brees under the center, going play action. WHY? The Vikings weren't respecting the run. The Saints couldn't run. Then it would be 3rd and long, and what do you know, the Saints go into shotgun, 3 or 4 wide and pick up yards.

WHY didn't you do that ALL game long? I was screaming at the TV. I have NO clue why the playcalling/gameplan was so bad. You spread the Vikings out and attack them in the middle of the field and down field (which they never did). The Saints were so afraid of the pass rush, but I don't know why. Yeah, the Vikings got to Brees at times, but it was no where near as bad as the Cowboys game.

The Saints offense was really bad, and that should be discussed.

100
by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:56am

The spread wasn't working either. Several times that Brees had to throw the ball away, or took a hit, it was because of the coverage downfield. Alas, on the TV it's not possible to identify what was going on, but I suspect it was similar to the way the Vikings played Green Bay — confident in getting pressure from their front four, with maybe one extra blitzer, the Vikes' linebackers drop to take away all the short stuff. The DTs clog the middle — Brees could not step up in the pocket as he likes to do, and there were times when he couldn't see what was going on downfield. Kevin Williams is very very good at batting passes: he had one and narrowly missed another yesterday.

It was basically a terrific job by Leslie Frazier. Frankly, he and Schottzie Jr ought to be able to take their pick of the head coaching jobs next year. Say, Chicago and Cleveland?

107
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:12pm

Yea, I agree. I felt Leslie Frazier called a strong game all things being considered. To only give up 257 total yards to THAT talented a team was impressive.

112
by DoubleB :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:21pm

Just want to echo this comment. The Saints offense was lethargic, but it wasn't the gameplan or playcalling. Minnesota's defense was fantastic across the board--particularly in the 2nd half.

120
by krauser (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:40pm

The Vikings defense were really good, played their best football of the year in the playoffs. I think they finally got the secondary sorted. Looking back, their play dropped off starting in the Arizona game when Winfield game back still gimpy but was starting at corner anyway. Once Jay Cutler exposed him, they moved Sapp to the base defense and put Winfield in the slot -- much better all round.

Having said that, the D produced exactly zero game-changing plays: no red zone stops (except for Pierre Thomas' phantom TD), no turnovers. Sure, they forced the Saints to punt a lot, but they got great mileage from their punter and great coverage, so the Vikings starting field position was never good, except after the Bush muffed punt. And then in OT, the Saints went right down and won the game. Sure the DPI call was chintzy, but the D couldn't make a stop, couldn't get off the field with the game on the line.

So it's hard to give them too much credit. And it's hard to fault the Saints for playing conservative when the Vikings were doing such a good job of beating themselves.

151
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:31pm

I don't know...I think even I could be a pretty fantastic defensive coordinator if my front four contained the Williams' and Jared Allen.

Gee...is it OK to rely on my defensive line to do their job when I have one of the best defensive lines in football? Maybe...

237
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:11pm

Yeah, I see people praising Leslie Frazier as he's a hot commodity for head coaching but he sort of reminds me of Jim Schwartz in that he had such a dominant D-Line, it just makes your job a whole lot easier and makes you look better...

I'll admit I don't know a whole super lot about Leslie, but he seems like he has a good head on his shoulders and deserves a chance. I'd easily rather have him as a head coach than say Raheem Morris or Rod Marinelli ( two of the worst/most unqualified names that came to mind from recent years). But at the same time, I think there is a mini love affair with the guy.

158
by Sophandros :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:56pm

There are a few threads on Saints boards right now about a lot of the play calling yesterday. Williams did a good job, but Payton, not so much. And most of it was "you called THAT in this situation???" type stuff.

Found it interesting that Hamilton played over Bell...

-------------
Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

175
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:30pm

Bell really looked off at the end of the regular season. I wonder if he has some sort of undeclared injury

95
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:44am

I'll note again that the most important play in yesterday's game in the Superdome may have been in Chicago about a month ago, when the Vikings had an extra point blocked. No, the Saints may not have lost to Carolina if they had needed to win to keep home field advantage, but Carolina was damned tough to beat coming down the stretch. If the game was in the Metrodome yesterday, I don't think the Saints would have scored more than 17 points, and the Vikings, if they had not had to deal with crowd noise affecting the ability to audible, might have racked up 600 yards in offense.

98
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:55am

I don't think those teams are on the same level physically so I think you are correct.

I don't think the Saints would have been able to put any where near as much pressure on Favre had the game been in Minnesota.

I still think the 2nd best team in the NFC was GB.

114
by Johnny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:29pm

I wish people would stop with this "GB was a great team" nonsense. They beat NOBODY all year except the Cowboys. They were extremely overrated. They had one of the softest schedules in the league. Do you really think that defense would hold up against the Saints? Really, after Warner exposed their scheme. They were what they were - the 5th best team in the NFC.

121
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:41pm

they beat Balt rather easily and lost on the road to Pitts on a late great throw by Roethlisberger.

I think the point you make about their defence is valid because Pitt and Minnesota beat up on them pretty good as well, but they also played brilliantly against Dallas and Balt. But what evidence is there that NO's defence would stand up to GB's offence.

NO beat some teams that DVOA likes a lot (Phil, NE) but I think those teams aren't nearly as good as DVOA suggests. I think NO showing against Arz was suspect because they had 14 days rest versus 6 for Arz.

In truth Carolina may well have been as good as any team in the NFC by seasons end.

122
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:41pm

they beat Balt rather easily and lost on the road to Pitts on a late great throw by Roethlisberger.

I think the point you make about their defence is valid because Pitt and Minnesota beat up on them pretty good as well, but they also played brilliantly against Dallas and Balt. But what evidence is there that NO's defence would stand up to GB's offence.

NO beat some teams that DVOA likes a lot (Phil, NE) but I think those teams aren't nearly as good as DVOA suggests. I think NO showing against Arz was suspect because they had 14 days rest versus 6 for Arz.

In truth Carolina may well have been as good as any team in the NFC by seasons end.

105
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:09pm

Will, what was your take on the end of regulation by the Vikings. It seemed to me that once they got within the 52 yard fg range they seemed sort of content. With a first down and a couple of time outs why not pass the ball to attempt to gain another 5 - 10 yards for Longwell? Given the trouble fg kickers have been having in this postseason I would not have felt real good about a 50 to 52 yard fg, even indoors. I thought Childress and the OC played this one real timid. Which was exacerbated obviously by the 12 men in the huddle penalty. Am I completely off base? If I were a Viking fan I would be a bit aggravated at the coaching staff today.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:37pm

Eh, it's not as if the Saints have a terrific run defense; so it's not crazy to think that you have a good chance to gain four or five yards on an interior running play.

They lost because they kept dropping the ball, and recovered half of the time, while the Saints dropped a couple less, and recovered 75% of the time.

123
by ChiJeff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:42pm

True about the Saints run defense but in that situation wouldn't the Saints be looking for a run and maybe have an extra defender in the box? Just saying that maybe a play action pass might have compromised the defense a little bit.

128
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:48pm

I thought the calls on 1st and 2nd down were very good. There was 1 minute left and NO had no timeouts - so the goal is also to make sure there is no time remaining when you do attempt the FG. They just didn't execute on the two run plays.

I guess Minnesota used up all their late game Karma against SF and Balt. Pitt, Chic and now NO puts the universe back where it belongs...the Vikings on the wrong side of luck.

113
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:29pm

If that game was in the Metro dome I think Minny wins. It was hard going on the road.

GB is my favorite to win the NFC next year, and I predict they will win 2 super bowls in the next 10 years. I'd fight for Aaron Rodgers.

130
by 12th man in the Huddle (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:48pm

Chili needs to hire a 12 men in the huddle after timeouts coach.

162
by Marko :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:15pm

That's true. Peterson's fumble against the Bears in OT was pretty important, too. It also was foreshadowing for the Vikings' preparation of a huge bowl of fumbleaya yesterday.

199
by TomC :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:30pm

I don't fault Peterson for the fumble in OT in Chicago, because part of the reason he dropped the ball was that someone was trying to separate his head from his body using his (Peterson's) facemask. And I say this as a Bears fan.

99
by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:56am

"Because it was dramatic? It was like watching a couple argue in a parking lot."

Line of the thread...

106
by Temo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:10pm

I've apparently grossly underrated the Vikings the whole season; even after the shellacking they gave my team, I attributed to another lay down-and-die performance by the Cowboys than anything else.

But this was probably the best team in the NFC this season. Or at least they were yesterday. Still, the Saints are pretty good as well and the Super Bowl should be fun.

108
by Jay Z (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:13pm

This board is being incredibly soft on Favre for that last throw. Or you can combine the last throw and the inept 12 man penalty.

Favres' best choices were throw to Berrian, run, throw it away, throw a crazy pass across your body to a receiver that isn't open. Why would you choose #4?

Maybe Longwell won't make a 51 yard field goal or a 56 yarder, but at least he has a chance. If you have two strategies, one with a 20% chance of success and one with 1% chance, you still take the first even though it probably won't work. Why throw a terrible pass that has no chance.

126
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:48pm

Because you're just having fun out there.

129
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:48pm

Yes, he made very stupid throw, after getting the crap beat out of him for three hours, and being one of the two main reasons his team outgained the opposition by more than two hundred yards, and doubling the opponent's first down total.

At the time the interception took place, Favre should have been kneeling down. Anybody who harps on this dumb throw as being representative of this guy's performance, while trying to get his team one more score to win the game, as triple zeros nears, hasn't been paying attention for the last 20 years. I say this as someone who always said Vikings fans were meatheads when they would harp on some horrible games by the guy when he had a "G" on his helmet.

Is Favre the best of all time, or even in the top five? Of course not, and the reason primarily is because of the interceptions, but he has mostly been very, very, very good for a long time. The fact that media is obnoxious in covering him is irrelevant to that fact.

160
by Mike W :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:14pm

I thik Favre only had two choices, throw to Berrian or run. It's very difficult for him to run at this point in his career - he has programmed himself over the years to stay behind the line (usually) and find someone rather than run. Like a lot of guys who ran a lot when they were young, Favre gradually removed that from his repertoire. At some point it becomes a negative, because it is often the right choice, but while I am happy to bash Favre on a number of things, and while I think running was clearly the best option, I can't fault him too much for not running there. For a guy who is probably one of the best all-time at getting through his progressions quickly, and at improvising and keeping plays alive, it is unreasonable, I think, to expect him to have the additional flexibility in his decision-making to add 'run!' to his menu of options. I fault him, but not as much as for that horrible pass, the memory of which the entire state of Wisconsin will be enjoying for a long time.

Now, Childress. The running on first and second. Broo. Tal. Whenever a coach makes decisions based on having an excuse ready if things go wrong, instead of trying to win the game, he should be fired. Gutless, weak, unacceptable, 13th-chime-of-the-clock stuff.

Run. Your. Offense.

166
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:27pm

I think trying to read someone's mind through a television set is a dubious endeavor. The Vikings had run for 160 or so yards by then. They have run those plays quite frequently all season, even on second and long, so it is part of their offense. The Saints don't have a great run defense. It was not crazy to have some confidence that you could get four or five yards with a running play.

177
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:44pm

For all the harping about Childress he took over a team that was organizationally a mess. Under Tice the Vikings finished 20th and 24th the previous two years. In the four years under Childress the Vikings have gone from 23rd to 7th in DVOA and from 6-12 in regular season wins with back to back playoff appearances and an NFC Championship appearance.

They have had good to excellent draft results (Peterson, Rice, Harvin, Greenway, Loadholt, R. Edwards, Griffin) and very productive free agent signings (Taylor, Berrian, Leber, Hutchinson,) and one fantastic trade (J. Allen for 1 and 2 3's).

Right now the Vikings are aging in a few spots - and the whole QB question is a huge deal. But this was a playoff team without Favre. The defence is aging at tackle and the secondary is suspect. But there is a core of very good young offensive talent (Peterson, Rice, Harvin, Loadholt). If they can continue to be productive in the draft and free agency on the same level as they have over the last 4 years they have a chance to be one of the consistently competitive teams.

At a minimum Minnesota fans should respect the results of this management team.

186
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:15pm

In terms of winning games, this is the best owner the Vikings have ever had, and the management team he has installed is the best since Jim Finks and Bud Grant were running things in 1974.

They may end up in Los Angeles, but that is different topic.

195
by Rick A. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:00pm

Will,
I am sorry for you and Viking Nation. Pro Football became business for me a long, long time ago--I haven't been a "fan" for anything other than friends of mine in the game since childhood. But this year, as you know, I really felt the Vikes would make it to the SB, and with a little bit of extra focus provided by a QB having the year of his life might actually prevail against the superior Indy team, which I also could see early was the best team in the NFL. Or who knew, maybe someone would actually upset Indy along the way, and the Vikes were clearly a superior force to any other AFC squad besides the Colts. I got to the point where I was actually rooting for this. But, and I don't have to tell you this, the fact ends up that they were not the best NFC team. Speaking from "football reality", a phrase that set off all of the cybergeeks on this site, the fact is that even though the Vikes were clearly the most "talented" team, with the greater size, speed, and execution ability, and a QB having a truly great year, they cannot be said, as I said incorrectly many times during the year, to be the "best". Fumbles do not happen in a vacuum as some of the geeks around here seem to think. They are not "random" as I've actually read some of these pundits proclaim. The fact is that if another team can induce these turnovers in the game that matters most then that other team is a superior force. The obvious blame for the Minny fiasco of yesterday is the Vikes coaching staff that failed to drill this into the thick skulls of the players. New Orleans was the top turnover inducer in the NFC. They're just another 9-7 team without that. But they do have it and Minny did not have the technique and discipline to go on the road and withstand that, and win the game the way they should have. You said they could easily have won by 10. Actually, a 220 yard advantage should be more like two touchdowns. That margin of dominance did not surprise me one iota, it's what I figured. But I was surprised at the complete breakdown of discipline. I did think that, at least, Mr "Chilly" and his assistants had a better handle on that. Wrong. Viking Nation deserves better to say the least. For the record, I believe you're wrong about them ending up in LA. I happen to know something about that situation too and it should not end up being Minnesota, although these owners will sell their mother's life to the terrorists if there were short term money involved. Anyway, you're quite the knowledgeable fan, good luck in coming seasons.

And to you, Mr C, you see things from the player's perspective and see them correctly. Not only far more than the others on this site, but far more than the overwhelming majority of fans everywhere. If more of the fans were like you there would not be the running tension that exists between most players and most of the public. As for your investment activities, needless to say take Indy. But I doubt any "middle" will occur. Indy should kill New Orleans. Their discipline will not break down, they will not be losing multiple turnovers. Which means they will win convincingly. It's a ridiculous spread. Good luck to you in coming seasons but watch out for those "futures" next year.

As to the rest of this site, well there are too many Bubba Qurs and Hopturds on it, but good luck anyway trying to find an edge for your fantasy leagues and betting. Of course, you're way, way off base in thinking some quantification theory will give it to you. Good luck trying to figure out how Indy did it if they were ranked so low, how Minny got where they got if they were ranked that low, how the Jets made it to the Chmp Gm since they were so far removed from what you think pro football is now, etc etc etc. Don't waste your neurons answering me, I'm signing off and will not even see the residue of your small minded, nasty, watcher, mentalities. Have a nice life cybergeeks...

197
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:18pm

Well, derisive labels aside, nobody who writes for this site has ever said that fumbles are random, to my knowledge. They have written that fumble recoveries are random, which is quite a different thing. The Vikings are rightly criticized for fumbling six times, but before everyone rightly heaps abuse on them and their coaching staff for doing so, keep in mind that the Saints fumbled three times officially, and really it was four. Does that mean that Saints Nation deserves better, or does that only happen at five or more fumbles? Also keep in mind that Brees could easily have had three interceptions.

Like I said, "better" is a subjective term. The Vikings scored fewer points, mostly because they didn't hang on to the ball. They lost. So it goes.

239
by C (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 10:44pm

Rick A.

What an amazing last post. I agree with much of what you have to say. There is an old adage that depth get's you through the season, but SUPER STARS get you through the playoffs and the Championships.

Look at Minnesota...
Favre, Peterson, Harvin, Rice, Hutchinson... I mean that's fire power and there are other good players as well, Berrian, Mount McKinnie etc.

Look at their defense...
Allen, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Winfield... Edwards played very well as of late, Greenway is developing etc.

These are super stars in key positions. Look at the positions they have stars at... QB, RB, WR, WR, DE, CB ( The most IMPORTANT positions)... The Vikings on paper looked like a very good team that was built for the playoffs, they had offensive fire power, veteran QB, they had the D-Line that you want to face a strong passing team like NO... But Brad Childress had to be maybe the worst head coach in the playoffs... Mike and Mike had "confidence picks" for what it's worth, and rated Childress last...

The coach can't play the game, but he can envision what's going to be important (say turnovers), and figure out which battles he wants to win (stop the run/pass, double the other teams pass rusher etc.), he can figure out what the other team is going to try and do and game plan around it ( like the Jets throwing a well executed play action pass to Braylon Edwards on 1st down when the Colts were looking to stop the run). Look at the Jets game plan... Look at Minnesota and the turnovers against a turnover producing defense. Look at Bill Parcells TELLING his guys they will get injured less last year. You think a coach has an impact on the game? Do you think a coach can MAKE his team get injured less in a season? Is that just crazy voodoo talk?

You might think that's silly if you are a stat geek, but what did Parcells do?

He took the damn TV sets and such OUT of the training room. What's the training room? It's the place that injured players HANG OUT, and yes, I mean they HANG OUT. Sit in the training room, telling stupid jokes and laughing while they get taped up, ice knees, heating pads, and do minor rehab activities... Parcells told the trainers to raise the temp 5 to 10 degrees in that room to make it comfortable in there so guys did their business and left... no TV's, no hanging out there if you weren't hurt to see your boy, no fun, no jokes...

and guess what? Less people got hurt for the 2008 Miami Dolphins! It's called establishing a culture. Brad Childress had a chance to have an impact on his team and he failed to do his job. He sucks, he actually believed in Tavaras Jackson... Leslie Frazier is the DC and he'd be a better coach than that bald looking child molester. Minnesota had the best team in the NFC this year, but they didn't win it, and that's what matters, the real world... Where the 2007 NY Giants are super bowl champs, and the 2007 Patriots are only DVOA title holders.

I'm glad somebody else sees it from a gambling perspective, a players perspective, and understands the game. Most people write me off for a cocky, hyperbole driven no nothing fool, but I take Rick's response with respect and you guys might not miss him but I will.

245
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 11:36pm

C, Childress is rightly criticized for not evaluating talent well, especially at qb, but if you think Childress has not helped established a more professional culture, much more conducive to winning, than what existed under the last regime, you simply are ignorant of the facts.

If you wish to believe that the fact that the Vikings fumbled six times, and the Saints four, in yesterday's game, really tells us something meaningful about Childress and Payton, you go right ahead. Put the theory right up there alongside the one that says a 95% accuracy rate on saying a young qb won't be any good is the byproduct of superior evaluation skill.

247
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:38am

Who was it before? Mike Tice off the top of my head? He was a complete bafoon, Matt Milleneque.

I do believe my slicked ball theory that I introduced, but still, the writing was on the wall and Childress failed to prepare his team against a turnover producing defense. Not turning the ball over needed to be drilled into their minds not ( oh shit, I fumbled again). The fact the the Saints turned the ball over as well doesn't let Childress off the hook. Two wrongs don't make a right.

249
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 2:03am

Here's the problem. You don't have any idea whatsoever as to what took place in the Vikings practices last week. None. Thus, everything you say now is mere after the fact stuff you make up out of thin air.

Predictably, you will now say that the fact of six fumbles "proves" that Childress didn't drill ball security into their heads. Unfortunately, that isn't how proof works. To take an example, Parcells, who truly is a great coach, maybe the best ever, no doubt drilled into Drew Bledsoe's head many times to not throw stupid interceptions when they were with the Cowboys. Guess what? Sometimes the drilling doesn't strike oil.

Pretending to know things that you have no way of knowing is not the path to enlightenment.

255
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:48am

and you DO know what went on at the Vikings practices this week?

"Ball security" tends to be a topic coaches talk about at the beginning of the year, and also if there is a "problem". If your team doesn't have a fumbling problem, the coach isn't hammering away at a problem that isn't there as THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER THINGS THE PLAYER ISN'T DOING RIGHT THAT ARE PROBELMS. You pick and choose your battles. If your team DOES have a problem coach needs to address it.

Throwing dumb picks is a conscious decision. You try and make something happen... Fumbling the ball is often because you are NOT thinking, or you have use poor fundamentals, or you leave yourself vulernable in ackward positions trying to pick up extra yards... or a combination of all 3.

I do suspect the footballs were extra slick this week, but once again, that's something that you can reduce with preparation ( as Manning does), or it's something you can consciously think about and game plan for/against.

If a defense knows a guy has a fumbling problem, a smart DC is going to tell his guys to let the 1st guy wrap up, and let the 2nd & 3rd guys take swipes at the ball in an effort to strike gold. The coach of the "fumbler" needs to really really drill in his head ball security or else the problem snowballs.

Brad Childress probably has the most talented team in the NFC, and not only did they not win the NFC, they got beat in a game they should have won. You are darn right I don't like that bald child molestor looking head coach with the raspy voice.

256
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:19am

No, I don't. Which is why I am not making an assertion as to what happened in the practices. That was you. It is really, really, really, really, really (really) silly to make assertions about what happened at events that you are completely and totally in the dark about. Really. Pretending that you are in possession of knowledge that you do not have is a waste of time. Why do it?

Finally, I will note that you were correct last week in saying that the remarks about Wade Phillips looks were indicative of a really dumb, superficial, approach to evaluating head coaches. The same applies to Childress, and I say that as someone who is unsold on him. The difference is that my opinion is based on things I have actually observed, not on things I make up in my head, like what happened in practices I did not see.

258
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:18pm

Do you think a head coach has any impact on the game?
Game planning, stressing what's important etc.?

Now most people would say that a coach can't control injuries, but the 2008 Miami Dolphins would suggest otherwise. Was it luck or do you think a change in approach might have had at least a little bit to do with it? It's amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it... A coach reducing the # of injuries??? Madness... Well, I'd say Parcells had a little something to do with it.

Do you think Adrian Peterson can't correct his problem?

I'm not saying that I WENT to the Vikings practices or know what went on there, but I do believe the Vikings offensive coaching staff ( and head coach) should have put more emphasis on fumbling. I hate to play shoulda woulda coulda but I blame the coaching staff just as much as I'd blame the players on this one.

If you are consciously thinking about it, you CAN limit your turnovers, no?

I believe the Vikings are ABLE to limit their turnovers, but they didn't... To me that's coaching and especially for a team that had a history... Your argument basically comes down to the " you can't judge me, you don't know me" argument.

I agree that coaches are stereotyped for or against because of their looks and demenor. Wade Phillips resume isn't as bad as his perception. Why does his perception suck? He looks like a jolly old fool on the side lines. But hear me out, I don't think Childress sucks because of his LOOK, I think he sucks because of his work AND looks foolish. I was making fun of his look, but trust me, I think he sucks first of all, I'm able to separate the two.

I know you are pissed because your team lost, and it's personal, but I think you are just looking to fight here.

263
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:24pm

Good grief, C, can you go one post without making an assertion regarding something you have no knowledge of? No, I'm not "pissed" about the outcome of a football game; one of the reasons I enjoy the NFL is because it's really trivial.

I made no assertions regarding the questions you asked above. This is really, really, really, very simple. You wrote.....

"The coach can't play the game, but he can envision what's going to be important (say turnovers), and figure out which battles he wants to win (stop the run/pass, double the other teams pass rusher etc.), he can figure out what the other team is going to try and do and game plan around it ( like the Jets throwing a well executed play action pass to Braylon Edwards on 1st down when the Colts were looking to stop the run). Look at the Jets game plan... Look at Minnesota and the turnovers against a turnover producing defense. Look at Bill Parcells TELLING his guys they will get injured less last year. You think a coach has an impact on the game?"

...and....

"I do believe my slicked ball theory that I introduced, but still, the writing was on the wall and Childress failed to prepare his team against a turnover producing defense. Not turning the ball over needed to be drilled into their minds not ( oh shit, I fumbled again)."

....these statements imply what actions Childress did or did not take during the week leading up to the Saints game. There is one problem with this implication. You have exactly zero knowledge of what actions Childress and his staff took during this week. None. Thus your statements are without value.

To add on, to imply that the events of a game clearly establish what a coach emphasized during the week is too silly for words. Here's a clue; even the very best coaches can regale you with stories of how, despite what they emphasized during the week, their players allowed exactly that which was emphasized should be avoided. It is not unusual in the least, even with very good coaches. Now, when it happens again, again, and again, then either the player or coach needs to get fired. To focus on one game, however, and pretend that it clearly indicates what happened in the week prior to the game, is ridiculous.

To head off the the predictable response, yes, Peterson has had a fumbling problem for an extended period. He has been benched at times for it, which certainly does imply that it is something that the coaching staff has made a point of emphasis. Does it mean that Peterson is a slow learner or that the coaches are bad teachers, or a combination thereof? I don't know.

Look, you think I'm picking a fight with you. I assure you I am not. I am simply pointing out that it is silly to write as if you know of facts that you plainly are ignorant of. You know, it does not reflect poorly on a writer to simply scrawl, "I don't know". You should try it sometime.

Finally, if you don't want to be compared to meatheads who write about Wade Phillips looks when disparaging his coaching, it would be wise to avoid writing that Childress looks like a child molester when disparaging Childress' coaching, because, ya' know, it reads pretty close to what the meatheads say about Phillips. Again, I say this as someone who definitely is not a Childress supporter. However, the reason I am not is due to things I can actually observe and be knowledgeable about. Clear enough?

272
by C (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 8:21pm

I'm going to be honest, I don't like your attitude. This whole...
You weren't there...
You can't prove it...
It must not be true...
It has no value...
( You shouldn't speculate).

Look at me, I talk about gambling more than any 5 people on this site, you know what that is SPECULATING! Yes, I speculate... Some people don't just watch the games in la la land, maybe we win, maybe we lose, some people try to understand WHY teams win, who is important and some people try and PREDICT who will future games... for money, for fantasy football, for the office pool, or for bragging rights.

Your whole argument is " you don't know what Childress said in practice, therefore it has no *value*". You don't know what he said or how he said it either. The bottom line is it didn't work...

Telling/teaching a guy not to fumble shouldn't be the hardest task in the world. It's not like telling a guy to "play well", or "don't throw any picks"... Tiki Barber had a huge fumbling problem but Tom Coughlin worked with him on better fundamentals and he put emphasis on it and Barbers fumbles went down. I suggest AP to give Tiki a call in the off season but what do I know, maybe he already did... Maybe the chair I'm sitting on isn't really a chair?

I don't care if people call me a meat head because I think Childress sucks as a coach AND looks foolish. Both statements are true.

276
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:47pm

Well I must say that the feeling is mutual, because you once again have invented something out of thin air. I never once said or implied "it must not be true". I said you don't know, and you have no way of knowing, thus an assertion by implication by you as to what happened, or did not happen, has no value. If you are speculating, fine, speculate away, because, no, you old hallucinator, you, I never once said you should not speculate. I said one should not make an assertion of fact unless you, you know, are in possession of the facts. In other words (read carefully) if you are making a guess, say you are making a guess, and don't make a statement or implication of fact.

Yes, I understand that you are guessing that because the Vikings fumbled six times, it means that the coaching staff did not adequately address ball security. You may be right. You may be wrong. I don't think guessing about stuff that is unknowable is very interesting, but your mileage may vary. I prefer to stick to those things that I can observe, for instance, I know for an undeniable fact that Childress and Co. wildly overpaid in draft value for Tavaris Jackson, and have overrated every other qb they brought in prior to Favre, and have made some other talent evaluation errors. I don't understand the value in pretending to "know" things that I don't know, when what I really can observe tells me enough.

278
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 10:24am

Well maybe the chair I'm sitting on isn't real?
Do you really want to play that Descarte game?

I said from day 1... That Tavaras Jackason was a bust. Maybe I would have been right, maybe I would have been wrong. I seem to remember a big Vikings fan saying " give him a chance" ( he migh tbe good)... NO... NO... NOOOOOOO. Tavaras Jackson sucks, not only that, but starting him that early in his career, betting your future on him, and paying THAT much for him in draft value when the experts had him in round 5 or so was sooo stupid it's not even worth getting into.

280
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 11:39am

Yes, C, I understand quite well that you think very highly of your evaluative abilities, because you have a very high rate of correctly predicting that rookie NFL qbs won't end up being good NFL qbs. The fact that Lady Ga Ga could do the same thing, by simply saying, "He won't be any good", on every qb prospect, doesn't change your high opinion of yourself. That's part of what makes you your charming self. I know, I know, you gamble, and write about gambling. Got it.

If you can't determine whether the chair you are sitting on is real, seek medical attention, or simply cut back on the dosage.

284
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 2:50pm

Yeah Will, because that's all I do, sit there and bash rookie QB's and blindly say they won't be any good?

I never give reasons WHY ( the process not the result)
I never talk about players already in the league ( Leftwich, Vick etc.)
I never say good things about players ( Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning)
I'm never right...
I never make predictions

Maybe if you keep saying it people will start believing it. Keep posting.

290
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:44pm

C, I really am curious if you can put up one post in this thread without saying or implying something factually untrue, or make an assertion regarding something you have no knowledge of. No, I never said you were never right, nor did I ever say you didn't make predictions. I said precisely the opposite, that you make many predictions. Are you choosing to misrepresent what has been written, or are you unable, for some reason, to understand what has been written?

Look, if you want to do something impressive about evaluating qbs, name, starting this year, and for the next 15 years, qb prospects coming into the league who will be above average. If you hit on 70% or more, then you will have done soemthing to be impressed with yourself about. Until then, the self-congratulation is kinda' silly.

Yes, once again, I know you gamble, and write about gambling.

287
by jmaron :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:16pm

Just wanted to jump into the very entertaining argument you guys are having because you brought up something interesting Will about the Viking wildly overpaying for Jackkon in the draft.

It seems teams drafting QB's in the 2nd and 3rd round almost always end up wasting the pick. Here's a list of 2nd and 3rd rounders from 96-2006 (Jackson's draft year)

K. Clemens
T. Jackson
C. Whitehurst
B. Croyle
C. Frye
A. Walter
D. Greene
M. Schaub
D. Rogone
C. Simms
J. McCown
D. Brees
Q. Carter
M. Tuiasosopo
G. Carmazzi
C. Redman
S. King
B. Huard
C. Batch
J. Quinn
B. Griese
J. Plummer
T. Banks
B. Hoying

Three names jump out D. Brees, M. Schaub and to some extent J. Plummer. But for the most part picks were largely wasted.

Yes 1 great QB was found in 10 years, maybe Schaub becomes number 2 but in the same time period these QB's were drafted in rounds 4-7:

Kyle Orton
Matt Cassell
David Garrard
Marc Bulger
Tom Brady
Aaron Brooks
Matt Hasselbeck

1 Superstar (Brady), 3 solid to good (Hasselbeck, Bulger, Garrard) and few others that might be OK (Orton, Cassell, Brooks)

Yes there were more darts thrown in the 4th-7th round, but they were less expensive darts. I think spending a 2 or 3 on a QB is a very risky proposition.

288
by jmaron :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:16pm

Just wanted to jump into the very entertaining argument you guys are having because you brought up something interesting Will about the Viking wildly overpaying for Jackkon in the draft.

It seems teams drafting QB's in the 2nd and 3rd round almost always end up wasting the pick. Here's a list of 2nd and 3rd rounders from 96-2006 (Jackson's draft year)

K. Clemens
T. Jackson
C. Whitehurst
B. Croyle
C. Frye
A. Walter
D. Greene
M. Schaub
D. Rogone
C. Simms
J. McCown
D. Brees
Q. Carter
M. Tuiasosopo
G. Carmazzi
C. Redman
S. King
B. Huard
C. Batch
J. Quinn
B. Griese
J. Plummer
T. Banks
B. Hoying

Three names jump out D. Brees, M. Schaub and to some extent J. Plummer. But for the most part picks were largely wasted.

Yes 1 great QB was found in 10 years, maybe Schaub becomes number 2 but in the same time period these QB's were drafted in rounds 4-7:

Kyle Orton
Matt Cassell
David Garrard
Marc Bulger
Tom Brady
Aaron Brooks
Matt Hasselbeck

1 Superstar (Brady), 3 solid to good (Hasselbeck, Bulger, Garrard) and few others that might be OK (Orton, Cassell, Brooks)

Yes there were more darts thrown in the 4th-7th round, but they were less expensive darts. I think spending a 2 or 3 on a QB is a very risky proposition.

292
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 4:58pm

Well, I think you get to the heart of the matter; that evaluating qb prospects with accuracy is exceedingly hard, so hard, in fact, that it is tough to establish, absent a detailed review of everyone's draft board over the past 20 years, whether anyone's success, or lack thereof, is anything but the byproduct of random chance. I mean, if Belichick and company had a strong suspicion as to what Tom Brady was, they wouldn't have waited so long to draft him. Give Polian credit for picking Manning over Leaf, but I wonder how many pros actually had Leaf ranked higher.

I think trading up in most cases is probably a waste of time and value.

295
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 5:55pm

It's not just the fact that they wasted a 2nd round pick on T-Jack. It's the fact that the draft experts had him grading in around round 5 at best... You are looking at a guy that couldn't start at Arkansas over an NFL WR, transfered out, and wasn't that great at D1AA. They said he "impressed" people at the NFL Combine, I watched the combine, and he wasn't impressive. His footwork sucked.

At absolute best T-Jack was a problem, a late round project that you sit on the bench and teach... Not a guy that starts early in his career and early in your head coaching career. It was such a stupid mistake and no I'm not second guessing Childress, I said it was retarded from day 1.

Will Allen... You only want facts? What are facts? Do you complain at anybody else for facts? It all comes back to is the chair I am sitting on real? A stupid theoretical argument for nerds with too much time on their hands.

297
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 6:16pm

Yes, C, I prefer facts to those instances when you have made an assertion or implication of fact, despite you quite obviously not being in possession of said facts. Is there some reason why you have a different preference? No I do not commonly take others to task for such matters, but then rarely is there someone in these forums who does such a thing quite so frequently as you, and in such a self-congratulatory way. The shame of it is that you really do have a quite a depth of knowledge of the game, but for some strange reason you are compelled quite often to grandly overstate what you actually know, and pat yourself on the back for it.

Finally, just to be clear, and to head off yet another possible false implication by you, no, no one stated or implied that you were second guessing Childress for drafting Jackson, or that you did not criticize the pick from the beginning.

298
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 8:47pm

You come home from work, there is $hit on the floor and your dog is out of the cage running around. Do you really have to see it happen to know what happened?

You are right, I am unique around here...

Arrogance, do you really think I'm the only confident one around here? Maybe even the authors of this site have been known to pound their chests a little bit too?

I'll tell you this too thought will, if Byron Leftwhich, Michael Vick, JP Losman, David Carr, Tavaras Jackson, or Jason Campbell ever really did turn out to be good, or Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers or others turned out to be really bad I'd never hear the end of it. My opinions are known and vocal. If and when I'm wrong on a major call like that, I'll get bombarded into the sea and driven right off this site as I'm sure plenty of people would love to tell me how wrong and stupid I was.

299
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 9:38pm

Yet another grand overstatement. You just can't help yourself, can you? No, a football team fumbling is not analogous to dog excrement on your floor. Must I really explain why?

Trust me, C, nobody will think less of you if you don't presume to be the omniscient soothsayer of all things football related.

301
by jmaron :: Thu, 01/28/2010 - 12:56am

don't mean to interrupt your debate here but Will did you notice how Sunday's game was almost the polar opposite of last years NO-Minn game?

Last year the Vikings won 30-27 but were clearly outplayed. NO's moved the ball at will for much of the game while the Vikings offence struggled mightily. NO outgained Minn by about 100 or so yards but they fumbled 5 times and and threw 2 picks and ended up -4 in turnovers. In the 2008 game NO even had a TO that should have been overturned by the refs on a missed defensive call.

Just like the Vikes to get lucky in a game that doesn't matter much but have it go the opposite way in a playoff game.

Reminds me of 1970 when the Vikings beat KC 27-10 in the very first game after the 1969 Super Bowl loss to the same Chiefs.

302
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 01/28/2010 - 11:49am

Yeah, I've never known what to make of that win over the Chiefs in 1970. To me, the Super Bowl loss was largely attributable to two major factors; the Vikings were completely outclassed at placekicker and qb. Yes, Stram's game plan was very good, but if I remember right, the Vikings were holding the Chiefs mostly to long field goals in the first half (Stenerud was way ahead of his time), and then the defense got left out on the field too long, in good part because the Chiefs didn't respect the Vikings ability to go downfield. Then, eight months later, in Minnesota, with Gary Cuozzo playing qb, they are able to play effective offense. I'd love to see a replay of that Super Bowl again, since I was very young, and who knows if my memory is accurate.

One area of weakness that showed up for the Vikings again of Sunday, which has not been mentioned much, is the inability of the defensive backs to make plays when given the opporunity. Leber's tip of a nearly certain int is just bad luck; it would have been a catch worthy of a pro bowl receiver if Leber had managed it, but the ball was heading right into the chest of another Viking. However, the Vikings could have easily had two other picks, if they had made relatively innocuous catches. For a team which pressured qbs very effectively, they didn't get nearly enough interceptions this year.

303
by jmaron :: Thu, 01/28/2010 - 12:25pm

You would think that kind of rush would have led to more ints - but the safeties in particular just played so soft. I was down on Frazier - but those last three games against NYG, Dall and NO were simply great defence.

I found the vikings-steelers super bowl on youtube. Grainy as hell and split up into multiple parts you have to search for but here's the link if your interested to part one. I found it fascinating how different the game was then.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICBypK_s6L0

136
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:59pm

Because you're Brett Favre? He's always done stuff like that. The first TD to Sidney Rice should have been a pick too, if two different Saints defenders hadn't happened to be flat footed at the moment the ball came out. Almost the same pick, although it was from the pocket.

I had the exact reaction Vince had when I saw the pick "That's the Brett Favre I know and love!"

137
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:01pm

Yeah, and Brees could easily have had two or three interceptions, absent some good luck.

118
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:37pm

Wow, good games.

Jets-Colts...the Jets were clearly overmatched, but I'll tip my cap to Ryan--he had a masterful gameplan. It was just different enough from what everyone expected to score some points on surprise plays, and his defense, at least in the first half, was a joy for fans of defensive football to watch (and saying this leave a sour taste in my mouth, because I hate the Jets). But the fact is, you can't keep up with the insane amount of talent the Colts have, especially when you lose two of your three best DB's and your best RB to injury. I think the Colts won because of the Jets injuries, and because the Colts this year are like a relentless machine. It seems no matter what the score is or how much they are down, TD drives from Manning become inevitable, and their relatively average defense starts playing out of their heads. They remind me a lot of the 2003-2004 Patriots--you always expect them to maintain their discipline and find a way to be ahead when the score runs out. Some of this is due to Manning, who I (a Patriots fan) am ready to annoint the best QB of this generation, unless Brady or Brees maintains their current level of play for another five years. But some of it also, surprisingly, is probably Caldwell. The amount of discipline the Colts show HAS to be in part due to good coaching, and Manning's presence explains the offense, but not the defense. If anything, this team looks more disciplined and well coached than Dungy's did.

All that being said, I disagree with the comment in the Audibles that Garcon and Collie are average or below-average receivers. At least in this game, Collie was absolutely owning whoever was covering him, while Garcon was holding onto balls that were almost uncatchable. Granted, Collie was working against probably the Jets fourth or fifth best DB after the injuries, but still...you wouldn't see Joey Galloway or Sam Aiken making those plays that Garcon and Collie were making.

167
by John Perricone (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:47pm

I haven't read this anywhere, so I'll ask it here:

Why did the Jets stop using the moving defensive line/blitz set up? On the Colts first two drives, they were moving all over the place, blitzing from anywhere, and completely flummoxed Manning. They stopped about midway through the Colts third drive, which ended in a short field goal, and from that point on, just lined up and were dominated.

How come no one but me seemed to notice something so obvious?

182
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:56pm

I think it's because Manning was starting to diagnose it. They were using their moving crazy defense on the final drive before halftime, I think, and the Colts drove down and scored a TD.

The overload blitz is great as long as you're confusing things. As soon as the other team has seen it a bit, you can always find an open guy for a reliable 6-7 yard gain.

Also, the Jets suffered a couple of injuries at CB. Maybe they were more cautious about blitzing when they couldn't count on their first line CB's to be shutting down the Colts WR's at the line...

222
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:59pm

They didn't completely stop moving. They started moving less obviously. The safeties were... I guess I'd use the word "sneaking" around quite a lot later on. The linemen were settling into their stances but would still shuffle over a technique here and there. Just minor things to try to confuse a blocking assignment, maybe open a gap for someone to crash with a delayed blitz or something. It just wasn't as noticeable as what I believe TMQ calls the Times Square defense, where the entire front 7 is just milling about.

It ended up not working, of course. But it did at least occupy the RB, who didn't really ever get a chance to work out into a checkdown route.

180
by Chip :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:48pm

Great points all (Rex Ryan, Manning vs. Brady, Caldwell vs. Dungy, Garcon / Collie).

124
by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:46pm

Now for Saints-Vikings. I watched the whole game, and I kind of disagree with a lot of the sentiments here.

In the first half, it really seemed like the Vikings were playing slightly better, but that the Saints were getting hosed by bad fumble luck and questionable referee calls. At one point (counting muffs as fumbles), the Vikings had recovered four out of five total fumbles that had occurred (the Saints had lost one plus the muff, while the Vikings had recovered their own muff plus one out of two of their fumbles). The Saints left DE was getting tackled by the throat on at least two or three plays I saw in the first half, and the unnecessary roughness play on the Vikings muffed punt was ridiculous (the Vikings returner muffed the punt. At this point, the fair catch signal becomes irrelevant, and contact becomes legal. He recovered his own muff and stood up. Of COURSE the rushing Saint is going to tackle him...he's perfectly allowed to advance the ball if you don't. Yes, he kneeled down a microsecond before the Saint got blocked into him, but this doesn't make it a personal foul).

Then, in the second half everything changed. The Vikings started playing way better than the Saints, but also way sloppier. I would blame it on Favre's gunslinging, and maybe this is a little of it, but they also seemed to take turns dipping their fingers in lard and butter on the sidelines. Thankfully, fumble luck evened out...I think by the end of the game, there had been about eight fumbles, of which the Saints recovered around four-ish. The refs, meanwhile became the Saints friends. I thought both the bobbled 3rd down and the 4th down call were generous spots for the Saints. The DPI in overtime was fairly laughable.

I know the sense is that the better team lost, but I'm not so sure. I think part of that sense is because the Vikings were playing better (but sloppier) later...the Saints first two drives, and the drive that put them up to 21 points, were masterful. I think that either team could have won this, and I thought that, whichever team lost, they could blame their sloppiness and some questionable coaching decisions. But I don't think that either team got jobbed.

134
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:58pm

The Saint got flagged on the muffed punt because he drilled the Viking about two seconds after the whistle blew. He may not have heard it, but you can't fault the zebra for throwing a flag after a kneeling player gets drilled two seconds after the zebra blows the whistle.

"Better" is a subjective term. The Vikings outgained the Saints by two hundred yards, and doubled them in first downs. The Vikings were very sloppy, but the Saints only slightly less so.

140
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:03pm

"He recovered his own muff and stood up. Of COURSE the rushing Saint is going to tackle him...he's perfectly allowed to advance the ball if you don't. Yes, he kneeled down a microsecond before the Saint got blocked into him, but this doesn't make it a personal foul)."

He kneeled down and the whistle was blown. Once a player kneels and the whistle is blown it's a personal foul if you hit him.

I do agree that I thought the Saints were marginally better than the Vikings in the first half.

Minn 40 plays for 208 net yards
NO 25 plays for 165 net yards

But the second half was so lopsided.

NO 21 plays for 74 yards net yards.
Minn 41 plays for 309 net yards.

Luck is a hard thing to quantify. The Saints recovered 5 of 9 fumbles. But they also seemed to be dodging bullets the entire 2nd half and OT. Brees threw three passes that very easily could have been picked off - none were - twice Viking players knocked the ball out of another Viking players hands and once the CB Griffin let the ball go right through his hands.

Favre threw three that should have been as well and two were - one of which should have been overturned on a roughing the passer, another Sidney Rice actually made the play to break it up.

On the whole I think Minnesota very handily won the line of scrimmage battle and NO won the hold onto the ball battle.

125
by jebmak :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:47pm

For the first time, I am glad that I don't have to watch football next weekend. That NFC game was the worst game that I have ever sat entirely through. It left me sick.

I'm going to not look at anything related to football for at least 11 days. Hopefully I will be able to enjoy the Super Bowl then.

What awful, awful football.

And if anyone is thinking that this is just because my team lost, I had money on the Vikings to cover, and they did.

132
by mm (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 12:51pm

As a fan of a team from the NFC South, I notice a lot of people regularly disregarding the division, pointing to the fact that the division is highly competetive (with the division champion changing yearly) against them. I would like to point out that the NFC South team that has gone longest without winning the Conference is the Falcons, who won the NFC in the 1998 season.

Also, I added up the playoff performances for the NFC divisions since the 2002 realignment:

East: Wild Cards: 9
NFC Championship appearances: 5
NFC Titles: 2
Super Bowl Titles: 1

South: Wild Cards: 3
NFC Championship appearances: 6
NFC Titles: 3
Super Bowl Titles: 1 (chance for 2)

North: Wild Cards: 2
NFC Championship appearances: 3
NFC Titles: 1
Super Bowl Titles: 0

West: Wild Cards: 2
NFC Championship appearances: 2
NFC Titles: 2
Super Bowl Titles: 0

Since the realigment, the East has clearly been the deeper division most years, with more wild card teams than the other 3 divisions combined. However, when you look at playoff performance, the South has been slightly better. All 4 NFC south teams have played in the conference title game in the 8 years since realignment, and 3 of them have won the conference.

147
by jmaron :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:24pm

Who's been knocking the NFC South? I thought it was pretty obvious it was either the best or 2nd best division in the NFC since the realignment.

296
by josh echt (not verified) :: Wed, 01/27/2010 - 5:59pm

02 Bucs
03 Panthers
04 Falcons
05 Panthers
06 Saints
09 Saints

The 02 Bucs, 03 Panthers and 09 Saints won the NFC title. The 02 Bucs even won the SB.
That's impressive stuff.

Even the teams that got into the playoffs in those years were tough. There were good wildcard years too.
08 Falcons, Panthers
05 Panthers, Bucs

142
by bubqr :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:09pm

Yesterday games were cool stopgaps, still can't wait for the Pro Bowl though.
Have you heard that Garrard has been invited too ? Crazy.
Any FO coverage ? Game preview ?

144
by ar4t :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:12pm

I'm going to quote the best possible scenario for this superbowl I saw posted Yesterday:
from http://www.fark.com/cgi/comments.pl?IDLink=4965051&IDComment=57659257#c5...
This is what I want to see in the Super Bowl:

4th quarter, 2 minute warning. Saints are ahead 35-31. Colts have the ball at their own 5 yard line. Archie and Eli Manning are sitting in the stands wearing their Peyton Manning Colts jerseys, clutching each others hands. Payton Manning begins an epic drive down the field, not too fast, not too slow. The Saints do their best, but it's clear they're winded. Manning moves the ball past midfield. 40 yard line. 30. 20. 10. There are just second left on the clock now, time for one more play. The Saints call their last timeout, desperate for any respite from the Manning onslaught. The refs are huddled on the field and... what's this? Eli Manning is on the field arguing with the refs! What is going on? Peyton Manning is confused, he doesn't know what his brother is doing! And now Archie is on the field! It-it looks like he's trying to calm Peyton down and OH MY GAWD! OH MY GAWD KING! ARCHIE MANNING JUST HIT HIS SON WITH A STEEL CHAIR! PEYTON MANNING IS ON THE GROUND CLUTCHING HIS KNEE AND HIS FATHER IS STANDING OVER HIM! OH MY GAWD, ARCHIE MANNING IS PULLING OFF HIS COLTS JERSEY AND HE'S WEARING A VINTAGE ARCHIE MANNING SAINTS JERSEY! THE CROWD GOES WILD AS PEYTON MANNING LIES SCREAMING ON THE TURF! OH MY GAWD KING, I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS! WHY, ARCHIE MANNING, WHY? TELL ME WHY YOU SON OF A BIATCH, TELL ME WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

That is epic

229
by Lance :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:51pm

You've got your Jim Ross down perfectly. And the scenario is pretty good. But at some point, Roger Goodell has to come out to a chorus of boos and explain how this was all his doing, and as long as he is running things, Peyton Manning will never win another Super Bowl championship. And then he starts beating down on Manning, too. And then the crowd starts roaring because Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, and Mark Sanchez leap from the stands and try to defend Manning. But Archie, Goodell, and company are too much. And then *cue music* OH MY GAWD IT'S... IT'S... IT'S BRETT FARRVE! IT'S BRETT FARRVE! HE'S DEFENDING MANNING! HE'S GOT GOODELL IN THE GUNSLINGER! GOODELL'S IN THE GUNSLINGER! OH MY GAWD! FOLKS-- WE'RE OUT OF TIME! BE HERE NEXT WEEK!!!

I've got goosebumps already.

269
by ar4t :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 4:19pm

Of course, Favre has to come out to the undertaker's music.

And Brady is sitting in the crowd dressed in black wearing white facepaint and holding a baseball bat.

154
by Geronimo (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 1:42pm

I'm among those who think that Favre's last interception wasn't that bad a play or decision. I just don't see that he should have run because he would have gotten 5 to 10 yards a play - this is a banged-up 40-year-old and all that space you see on TV would have closed very quickly had Favre tried to get upfield. I think 4 or 5 yards is the MOST he would have gained, and that still means a 52 or 53-yard FG. They needed yards.

He did make a risky throw, obviously, but I don't think it was a bad decision on his part to put the ball in play in that situation. If the Vikings get a catch or a DPI call in that situation, that's a very makeable kick and the Vikings go to Miami.

189
by MCS :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:29pm

The FB was open in the flat. He got greedy.

164
by JasonK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:24pm

"Bill Barnwell: Tracy Porter wins KCW for that "tackle". Yeesh."

There is some mitigating awesomeness that, IMO, should play into the decision here.

223
by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:02pm

Wow. I was wondering what was going on there. That's great.

He's still going to get picked on by Manning. A lot. Despite the INT, he looked lost at times out there.

165
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 2:25pm

Part of the problem with rating Colts teams is that people think of the 2006 team as a "great" Colts team because they won the Super Bowl. Really, though, 2006 was a bad year; they had to fight to make the playoffs for the first time in a long time, rather than sleepwalking through the second half after starting 8-0 or 7-1. The 2008 Colts were the worst in memory, although they picked it up at the end. Still, the 2004-2005 Colts were better than the 2006 version and probably the 2009 version. They just happened to lose a game at the wrong time to another good team.

The 2009 team, relative to the 04-06 period, is missing Marvin Harrison and Tarik Glenn (huge factors, especially the latter; while Garcon is a decent replacement for Harrison, the Colts have no left tackle and haven't since Glenn left and Ugoh failed to be the answer). The defensive players have gotten better, although Bob Sanders used to actually play football sometimes, which was nice. Marlin Jackson is better than Lacey or Powers, but Kelvin Hayden 2009 is probably as good as Marlin Jackson 2006, so maybe that's a wash. Brackett is a bigger factor now, but Mathis and Freeney are hurting.

The AFC Championship went according to script. The Jets came out hot and the Colts just ground them down. In the long run they couldn't keep covering against the kind of throws Manning makes these days. Honestly, I think Manning may have thrown a better deep ball in 2004 (how would we know - he hardly ever throws more than 25 yards downfield these days), but there is no one who puts slants and curls on the money better in 2009 (except maybe Kurt Warner, of course).

Garcon and Collie are good players, but they wouldn't make the team in New Orleans, San Diego, Arizona, or maybe even New York (either one). They're a lot like the receivers Eli had this year, really, a bit young and raw but workable with the veteran QB and a few other advantages. The difference is that Peyton has Reggie Wayne on the outside (and is really good at football).

This Colts team is like the 2003 Patriots, except that instead of great defense and running, they have an almost West Coast offensive style and a great quarterback, along with decent defense and no running game to speak of. (Not saying Tom Brady isn't a great quarterback... just that he wasn't in 2003. And he wasn't, in 2003).

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by CoachDave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:49pm

Why does every team have to be like a certain year of the Patriots?

This line: "This Colts team is like the 2003 Patriots, except that instead of great defense and running, they have an almost West Coast offensive style and a great quarterback, along with decent defense and no running game to speak of"

Basically says this team is like the 2003 Patriots, except they are almost nothing like the 2003 Patriots.

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by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:05pm

One could probably say that the 2003 Patriots were a lot more similar to a west coast passing offense than are these Colts.

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by mediator12 :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:59pm

I think most of your post is spot on. I think the Colts have been many different teams over the years, but they had the same philosophy on defense under Dungy. What is really different about this years Colts is the Depth at WR that has been lacking since they let Stokely go and the new Defensive philosphy.

The depth at WR is real, and I think you underestimate 2 very good WR's in Garcon and Collie. INDY has not been able to have 3 legit WR's and Dallas Clark on the field since Peyton's Record setting TD year in 2004. Instead, they tried all kinds of Different WR's to replace Stokely (Aromashadu in CHI now, the failed Roy Hall experiment, etc.) So, they Drafted Gonzalez finally, but Harrison was a fraction of his HOF best the last 2 years after the injury.

The thing that is amazing is that Collie and Garcon have caught the ball well even when Peyton throws it into tight coverage and makes them go get the ball. That is the single hardest thing to do as a young WR in the NFL. Most young WR's are used to catching the ball with seperation and not having to make a catch in traffic. Both Garcon and Collie have made Tough catches with defenders draping all over them in the playoffs and for the latter part of the year. They both have excellent ball awareness and hands for young WR's. I sincerely doubt they would have the level of success in other systems without Manning throwing them the ball (who really would), but I really think you are selling them short with that analysis.

The Defense is also a lot different in scheme than almost anyone has mentioned. This defense is the same base DEN defense Coyer ran in 2005-6 albeit with real pass rushers. It does play some Cover 2 zone concepts, including the old TB/INDY style cover 2, but the playcalling is much more variable than it ever was under Dungy. He has mixed up their fronts and plays his LB's much differently than the Colts have before. Also, they play a lot more man and Cover three and cover four than the Dungy Colts have. Coyer also unleashes blitz packages in a timely manner. He went after Sanchez much more in the second half and you could tell it affected his reads and throws a lot more than the four man rush did in the first half.

It is real hard to take any analyst seriously (John Clayton I am talking to you) when they routinely talk about INDY's old scheme on defense any time they mention the Colts. Yes, it is a lot of the same players. No, they do not run cover 2 65% of the time anymore ;D

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by big_jgke :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:11pm

Can anybody tell me why both CBS and FOX refused to say that the Superbowl is being held in Miami this year? What's with all this 'South Florida' talk?

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by mrh :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:40pm

Because the stadium is not in Miami city limits? At nfl.com/superbowl/44 the NFL calls the game location South Florida. It could be money as Will suggests or politics (did the City of Miami refuse to pay for a stadium?). Haven't noticed in the past if the NFL and its networks have been sticklers for geographic precisions for the SB - obviously the team names are not so precise.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 3:21pm

My guess is that the city of Miami refused to pay the NFL anything.

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by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:13pm

I was legitimately surprised when I saw the Jets drop 8 guys in coverage at one point early in the second half. I had not seen that from the Jets all season. Granted, I did not watch every snap of every game.

One can tell the Colts defense loves its turf. The Jets runners looked to have the corner several times but defenders would come FLYING out of nowhere to keep the gain to the minimum.

What was the weird playcall by the Vikings that led to the Harvin fumble? Favre looked like he was going to get a pass, then no he was going to block and then it was the mad scramble for the ball.

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by Anonymous1265 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:14pm

Isn't something like Audibles what Google Wave is good for?

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by whodat :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:18pm

I am an admitted homer, but as far as using relative yardages gained as some sort of barometer (=narrative), what about Belichick's strategy in SB XXV re Thurman Thomas?

Williams has said his D is not overly talented and that he's built his strategies around playmaking.

True, none of this has much to do with unforced errors.

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by morganja :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:19pm

My sympathies to Will Allen. A tough loss.

Minnesota lost because of the fumbles. There is no reason to put the blame anywhere else. After looking at all the fumbles, I think only one of them was actually a mental mistake, the exchange between Peterson and Favre. The rest were the result of defenders hitting the ball out. Most of the time defenders hit at the ball and miss just a little, or just knock it closer into the runner, but it seemed that an unusual number of times they just happened to hit the ball at the right angle and it came out. I didn't see the ballcarriers doing anything different holding the ball. Sometimes you do everything right, the defender does everything right, and it bounces one way or the other. That's just the breaks.

On the Favre interception, please. What more do you want from a quarterback. The guy is limping around with the speed of a mall walker, his coach and running game have just put him outside of field goal range, the guy has to make somehting happen. If you are going to make a risky throw, that's the time to do it, high yield, low downside. The reason that quarterbacks are taught not to throw it across the body into the middle oif the filed like that is because they can't see if the defender is covered. From Favre's angle, the guy looked wide open. He took a chance that he couldn't see a defender and lost. If the catch is made, easy Field Goal. If there is an INT, all he really lost was the chance to throw a hail mary or miss a ridiculous FG attempt.

As for the reffing. It was bad. All the calls went Minnestoa's way early and then the Saint's way late. In the first half, there was the very late flag on third down for illegal contact when the contact was within 5 yards.

I'm sorry Will, but the 15 yard penalty on the muffed punt was terrible. Looking at it again in replay, the guy saw the ball on the ground and dived for the player as the ref was blowing the whistle. If you drop a punt you are going to be hit.

The roughing the passer late in the game was another bad call. It is probably why they didn't throw the flag two plays later when they should have thrown one. I think the Vikings would have gladly traded the first for the second one.

As for the DPI in overtime, I would have preferred not to see it called. It's one of those calls that you get called in your favor if you are the Patriots, but not
if you are the Vikings. The problem was that the defender didn't turn his head to look for the ball. Or at least pretend he is looking for the ball. As far as it being uncatchable, that would have been the first time all year a DPI was waived off as uncatchable when the ball landed within four yards of the reciever.

The reffing wasn't one-sided, which is all that I ask for in a game. But it certainly wasn't very good. I still don't understand how the Head ref got the call wrong on the "Late Hit out of Bounds'. He called the correct number, 93, it was definitely an unneceasry roughness PI, then totally screwed up the call. It would be a tiny bit understandable as a miscommunication, but he was the one who threw the flag in the first place.

As much as everyone on this site gets all arrogant and disdainful of the announcers, Aikman had quite a few very good insights, the best of which was his comment before the controversial 3rd and 4th down runs in OT. He said that they should run it up the middle because the refs can't see the ball and are apt to give the runner the first down when in doubt. And that's exactly what happened.

Except for the sloppy officiating, a good game. Minnesota came to play and looked like they would have won except the Saints kept knocking the ball out. Most times the ball wouldn't have come out so often and it's the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Sometimes it just comes down to luck.

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by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:40pm

On the Favre interception, please. What more do you want from a quarterback.

If Favre didn't have a history of these late picks on wretched decisions, he'd be forgiven. Of course, any quarterback who has played 300+ games is going to have made a few ugly mistakes at key moments. Still, from every perspective it was a horrible throw: technically, in terms of the decision, in terms of the context.

Reading through the comments, I can only find one or two people who think that it cost the Vikings the game. It was just one sloppy mistake out of a ridiculous number. But it happened to be the last one.

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:41pm

Well, I mostly agree, and don't think the officiating was terribly one-sided, but from my recollection, the punt receiver kneeled, the whistle blew, and the hit took place approximately two seconds later. On the DPI, I don't think Leber actually made contact with the receiver, which pretty much is the definition of a phantom call. It wasn't even close to the biggest factor in the loss, of course.

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by MJK :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 5:42pm

I agree with most of your points. I'm glad someone else thought the reffing was all Minnesota early and all Saints late...that was exactly my impression. And you're spot on when you say that the first roughing the passer call was bogus, and a few plays later there was one that was flagrantly uncalled.

Agree on the DPI, except for one minor correction:

...It's one of those calls that you get called in your favor if you are playing against the Patriots, but not...

There, fixed that typo for you. :-)

I think the issue with the scenario is that in realtime, there LOOKED like there was contact and that the DB knocked the receiver down. In realtime, the ball actually looked probably uncatchable, too.

On replay, you can see that the receiver was actually a lot closer to the ball than it looked in realtime...it did land within four yards of the receiver...but that there was almost no contact at all. So the flag probably shouldn't have been thrown.

The problem is, when refs are doubt about a ball being uncatchable, they almost always err on the side of assuming it was catchable. And when they're in doubt about there being contact, they almost always assume there was. In other words, they almost always favor the offense on close calls. But that's unfortunately (for defense-lovers) the way the game is played. If the ball is really uncatchable, don't knock the WR down. I don't think the Minnesota receiver did, but if they hadn't fumbled so much and thrown two INT's, they wouldn't be in a position where one bad call gave the game to the Saints.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:36pm

I have a question, if the ball was uncatchable, the defender still illegally defended the receiver right? It should have been holding or illegal contact, which still leads to a first down (though fewer yards).

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by Arkaein :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:39pm

Holding and illegal contact can only occur before the throw, while DPI can only occur while the ball is in the air.

So grabbing a receiver while the ball is sailing far over his head is not a penalty.

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by Dave :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 8:09pm

It's easy for a ball to look uncatchable after the receiver was interfered with.

That said, that was one of those plays where PI bailed out an offense that didn't deserve the yards. It wasn't a good decision, throw, or effort by Thomas. It should've been perfectly catchable, but he turned around too soon. I can see why they flagged it, because it looked bad in real time, but that's the kind of flag that should stay in the pocket.

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by ChrisF (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:56am

The problem with the DPI call in OT is that it was OPI. The offensive player initiated the contact and extended his arms to create space for the catch, but was unable to adjust enough to get back to the ball.

I know, I know, this happens on every passing play, but it still gets old. DPI is such a massive penalty...

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by morganja :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 4:53pm

I think you are probably right on the DPI, which is why it shouldn't have been called, especially in that situation. But unfortunately, it is called almost all the time. I had it called on me once in a game when I never made contact with the receiver but simply placed my hand in front of his two hands after his break. I'm still annoyed with it years later but the explanation was that he wouldn't have called it if I had turned my head. Unfortunately for me, my head doesn't swivel quite that far.

It sucks that a call like that happens in overtime in that situation. It just seems that a PI in overtime shouldn't be called unless it's impossible not to call.

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by Jerry :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 6:27am

I'd hate to see the NFL turn into the NHL, where officials swallow their whistles (lose their flags) late in a close game.

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by batbatt :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:19pm

This is not Detroit! This is the Superbowl! I just heard his call on that last INT thrown by QB Vikings. Paul Allen does it again. Sometimes I wonder how he got that job. Will, you aren't related to him, are you?

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by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:29pm

Good grief, no. I wish I was related to the more famous one in the Seattle area, but, alas, this is also not the case.

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by Michael (not verified) :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:26pm

People saying that MN was the better team. I would say that, aside for their turnovers and special teams breakdowns, they outplayed the Saints, but the Saints were definitely the better team over the course of the year.
I don't understand why people are not making a bigger deal out of Brees's chokejob last night.
All year long, the Saints offense was tremendous, because of Brees's accuracy, decisiveness in the pocket and crisp delivery. Brees hit receivers deep, stretched defenses out, found the open receiver, and put the ball where the receivers could make plays after the catch.
Yesterday, Brees was very inaccurate - there were two plays in the first half, one to Shockey and one to Henderson, where he just overthrew the receiver running behind his defender, throws that he never misses, he had happy feet in the pocket, his throws were wobbly, and, at least twice, the wobbliness was the cause of the receiver cathing the ball short of the marker and not being able to make the first down - all year long, the receivers got the ball so quickly that they were able to pick up a couple yards after the catch, last night Henderson made a catch on 3rd-18, and was promptly tackled two yards short, because the ball took so long to reach him, and the same thing happened to Shockey in the first half. And, Aikman commented on the wobbly balls causing bobbles in OT. In the fourth quarter, with the score 28-28, facing a 2nd-18, he threw a screen pass with so much arc that it almost looked like he lost the ball as it came out of his hand.
I only saw him make two crisp throws, one to colston on the first drive, and one to bush on 3rd-10 in the second quarter that picked up 28 yards.
As a Saints fan for the last four years, I know the dirty little secret.
On ... occasions, the Saints have had the ball within the last five minutes of a game, with a chance to tie the score or take the lead by scoring.
The results:
2006 -
1) Game winning FG vx. Philly
2) Turnover (WR fumble) at the Pittsburgh 30 vs. Pittsburgh
3) Turnover on downs in the red zone vs. Washington
2007 -
1) Missed a long FG vs. Carolina
2008 -
1) INT vs. Washington
2) MIssed Long FG vs. Denver
3) Missed long FG vs. MN
4) INT Vs. Tampa (Score was tied, set up the go ahead FG for Tampa)
5) Another INT vs. Tampa in the same game.
6) TD vs. Chicago (saints lose the Game
7) Panthers - TD (Saints lost the game)

2009
1) TD vs. Washington (Finally)
2) Fumble vs. Dallas
3) Missed FG vs. Tampa

That is 14 possessions, of which only 4 have ended in scores. Compare that to the Saints possessions score/rate for the rest of the four years, and you get the impression of a Coach-QB combo that chokes down to mere mortal level under pressure - as opposed to the Ben Rothlesberger type who steps up in the pressure situation. It is no surprise to me that Brees has played two subpar games in the two NFC Championship games in which he has appeared.
IF the Saints can figure out a way to relax brees for the Super Bowl, they will easily defeat the Colts. But, if history is any guide, Brees will play a tight, inaccurate game, and the Colts should win by 10-17 points.
Just a suggestion: How about looking at Brees's and the Saints offenses DVOA in late game presure situations (last five minutes, 7 points or less score differential over the last couple years, compared to their overall DVOA?

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by Temo :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 6:52pm

That is 14 possessions, of which only 4 have ended in scores

3 TDs, 1 FG: That's 1.71 points/Drive-- about league average points per drive. True, the Saints have been a better than league average offense, but to me, it looks more like the missed FGs are hurting them here than anything else.

You're being overly critical, I think. Hartley missed a 37 yarder, Grammatica missed 46 and 43 yarders, and Mare missed a 54 yarder. And all of these kicks were either home at the Superdome or, for the 43 yard Grammatica miss, in Denver. Both places are very easy places to kick, weather-wise.

As for the Dallas fumble, Brees and the Saints offense was dominated in the first half, held to just a FG, before rallying back with 2 TDs in the second half. I don't see how the late D-Ware strip indicates "choke" when he led the team back in the first place.

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by ammek :: Mon, 01/25/2010 - 7:49pm

(Ignore me, I can't read properly.)

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by Michael (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:32am

3 TDs, 1 FG: That's 1.71 points/Drive-- about league average points per drive. True, the Saints have been a better than league average offense, but to me, it looks more like the missed FGs are hurting them here than anything else.

If you drill down, you will see that the TD's last year were both on short fields.
The only time that Brees has ever had the ball in the last five minutes of the game needing to score and gone down the field and done it is the Washington game this year, when they did not exactly drive the field, they moved in fits and starts and then hit a big play.
All the other times the Brees gets the ball, he either throws a pick (he did it three times last year in crunch time), or he struggles to move the team with dump offs in the middle of the field, running the clock down.
Think about that Dallas drive this year. They take over at the 20, with more than two minutes remaining, and waste almost a minute, plus the two minute warning on a comical four down set that nets 12 yards. That changes the drive from "manageable" to "long-shot".
And the most frustrating thing is that at the end of the first half, they have no problem executing two-minute drives. It is only at the end of the game, when its on the line, that Brees and Payton tense up, make poor play-calls, and execute poorly.
And, that leads me to assume that they handle pressure poorly, which would explain their sub-par performance yesterday.

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by Bruce Bates (not verified) :: Tue, 01/26/2010 - 1:57pm

Tom Gower, can you address the rule on the 4th and 1 where the Saints ball carrier made the 1st down in OT? In my opinion, this slip/bobble of the ball that he later retained resets the point of his forward progress. To me he didn't regain possession until he hit the ground (or at some point near the ground). Replay could not find the ball then. But whereever that was, it was clear that the new possession was not beyond the first down line. I think that was Morelli's worst call of the day. The Vikes get the ball back there otherwise and we fans were deprived of another Brett INT :-) I don't know if we should call what he did a fumble (as we'd have several more a week if we did). But its a temporary lose of possession that should reset the line of forward progress.