Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
27 Dec 2010
compiled by Bill Barnwell
Each Sunday, 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).
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Bill Barnwell: The Panthers choose to punt on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers 33-yard line or so. What do you really have to lose here? You're a godawful football team. I'm not saying the conversion rate is high, but chances are that you're not going to get very much from the punt. And sure enough, the Panthers can't keep the ball out of the end zone and gain 13 yards from the punt.
Jonathan Scott gets pulled early on. A Mendenhall run gets blown up in the backfield by Derek Landri thanks to Scott totally whiffing on a cut block, his second blown block in about five plays (Mendenhall made Landri miss the first time). The Steelers immediately pull him from the game and he throws his helmet around on the sideline.
Steelers throw a tight end screen to Heath Miller and Theismann goes into his clearly preconceived bit about how Miller "basically plays the tight end position and isn't like a Todd Heap in Baltimore where you want to split him out." Literally as Theismann says this, Heath Miller gets split out wide.
Doug Farrar: Wait until Miller and Spaeth set up in a bunch with Hines Ward. That’ll really blow his tiny little mind.
Dear Carolina Panthers:
If you want to run the Wildcat, it would behoove you to take of two things first. Assemble an offense in which option attack can actually be taken seriously, and wait until you’re not facing the best run defense in the NFL.
A Bemused Audience
Mike Tanier: Doug, you could have stopped at "assemble an offense."
Bill Barnwell: So on the Panthers second drive, they're faced with the exact same situation: Fourth-and-5 from the Steelers 33. This time, for some reason, they decide to go for it (and get sacked when Jimmy Clausen, that pro-ready quarterback, responds to a blitz with sheer panic). So you should punt on fourth-and-5 from the 33 unless you looked stupid the previous time, in which case you should go for it.
Bill Barnwell: The Cardinals get two early touchdowns off of Cowboys drops. The first eight minutes or so were a perfect representation of what Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie does. He jumps a lot of routes and gets a lot of passes defensed, and when he can get both hands on the ball, he's good at actually holding onto it and is a great return guy. On the other hand, it seems like it's easier to complete passes on him than any other cornerback of his level of recognition in the league. He's like DeAngelo Hall redux. Also, he can't tackle whatsoever.
It also occurs to me that the Cardinals defense does a better job of celebrating in the middle of a 4-10 season in an awful division than any other team I've ever seen. They don't slack off in practice; they work out their heels so they can high-step longer, or they spike a couple hundred balls to see just how the ball bounces in the end zone. We joke about swagger a lot and how it seems to have a direct relationship with a team's win-loss record, but the Cardinals defense is a unit that has retained virtually all of its swagger while going from good to awful.
Will Carroll: This might come off as snarky, but I'm serious.
Has anyone seen a physiological study of swagger? Could we stretch and say that swagger and smack is some form of self-motivation? The NFL did a landmark study of heart-rate data back in the 70s, but since, they've done almost nothing. A simple monitor, available for next to nothing, could be used and synced to game film to detect not only fatigue, but effort, reaction, and who knows what else, yet like most sports, the research budget for teams is likely in the range of what they spend on plane tickets bringing in guys for workouts after an injury.
David Gardner: My Christmas was merry until I just heard Matt Millen make a Ludacris reference -- "Move Colombo, get out the way." Now it's even merrier.
Mike Tanier: I just saw a Cowboys running back slip and fall under a folding table and a Cardinal defense a pass with the back of his helmet. Really wish my wife would fetch me a Christmas cocktail.
Doug Farrar: After seeing Jon Kitna lose three of four picks against the Jags in Week 8 to drops by his receivers, and the first of two picks in this game to similar circumstances, I put it out on Twitter that no quarterback has worse interception luck this year than Jon Kitna. I got a flood of responses naming Eli Manning as Mr. Bad Luck. Two minutes later, all those folks rescinded their arguments.
I loved it when Theismann called Miles Austin a “pro” after he caught a little slant, right after yet another egregious drop.
Ben Muth: Is Jay Cutler wearing a popped collar in this interview?
Bill Barnwell: You don't know Jay Cutler's wardrobe, Ben. You don't know his accessories. You don't know what's in his closet, what he's trying to do with pastels, what he's trying to do with pinstripes. You don't have a clue. It doesn't bother him.
Hey, Marion Barber touchdown! Dallas doesn't do an awful job of celebrating big plays during their awful season, either.
Bill Barnwell: Can someone explain the "It's too early to go for two" thing to me? I honestly don't understand it. You have to try and tie the game at 21, no?
Tom Gower: I think the legitimate aspect of the "the early to go for two" argument is you should ideally wait until you have a known number of possessions and potential scoring opportunities in the game, regardless of the current strategic benefits or detriments of getting 1 point or P(converting)*2. That said in the general sense, I thinking going for it down 2 in the second half at any point is an eminently sensible decision.
Aaron Schatz: I wonder if part of it is an incorrect belief that the odds of getting a two-point conversion are significantly below 50 percent. I mean, the percentage of successful two-pointers goes up and down but it has generally been a little bit above 50 percent for the last decade, right? Theoretically, going for two after every touchdown would end up giving you about the same number of points as kicking extra points after every touchdown, perhaps even a few more points.
Bill Barnwell: I mean, I'm not advocating that teams should go for it every time. But I think it's reasonable to suggest that your win expectancy rises pretty dramatically by tying a game in the second half as opposed to comfortably staying down one. This game has eventually turned out to be a pretty favorable example of why teams should go for it: Stephen McGee is leading a two-minute drill that needs a touchdown, not a field goal, because the Cowboys didn't go for two. Even if the Cowboys had failed, they'd still be in the same situation.
Tom Gower: A perception I have, and I'm not sure how accurate it is, is that while the history is that two-point conversions succeed more often than not, repeated attempts at a two-point conversion have a declining chance of success, and if you go for it and miss early, you're more likely to "need" to go for it later on. I think part of it is just simple risk aversion, though.
(No NFL Network at my holiday destination, not watching the game, instead taking in perhaps the greatest Christmas movie of the last 30 years: Die Hard.)
Bill Barnwell: Cowboys end up scoring after Rodgers-Cromartie decides to tackle Sam Hurd on a quick slant before the ball's to Sam Hurd, and on the next play, Stephen McGee throws up a poorly-placed lob that Rashad Johnson takes just a dreadful route to in an attempt to get an interception. It was Madieu Williams-esque. Ball goes through his hands, Austin runs in for a touchdown.
Aaron Schatz: Oh, I think that's more on Mike Adams. He was the cornerback covering Austin in man, and he was beat.
Bill Barnwell: No way. He's got help deep! That's what Johnson's there for!
Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure, haven't rewound it... if Johnson is single high safety, he's got to help the cornerbacks on both sides, right? So you can't count on him being there. You still can't let your man beat you in that scenario. I'm guessing Johnson was single high because he had so far to run before he got to the play... with man-2, he would have started a lot closer.
Bill Barnwell: Austin was in the slot.
Aaron Schatz: Yeah, but he out-and-upped, the actual catch was over by the sideline, right?
Bill Barnwell: It was at the hashmark, it looked like a hitch-and-go. I mean, maybe the Cardinals think Mike Adams can cover Miles Austin one-on-one in the slot. But Johnson very clearly could have deflected the pass with a better angle.
Aaron Schatz: Oh, well, that's true. That angle sucked. I just would split the blame, maybe give a little bit more of it to Adams. No, though, the safety's play was horrible.
Tom Gower: The Titans defense got annihilated on the Chiefs' opening drive, with every play except the sweep where Charles dropped the pitch gaining at least 8 yards. The sole third down featured yet another ineffective zone blitz by the Titans. Good use of misdirection by the Chiefs on the drive, taking advantage of a sometimes over-aggressive Titans defense.
Bill Barnwell: Kansas City with a nifty trick at the beginning of their game with Tennessee. Normally, you show the quick screens and then you fake the quick screen to go deep. Instead, KC faked the quick screen on the opening play, hitting Dwayne Bowe for 20 yards, and now they've hit three quick screens for decent yardage, including a third-down conversion on the opening drive to McCluster. Titans pass defense seems soft at all the wrong times.
Doug Farrar: From this week’s Smarter Stats -- Jamaal Charles on carries 1-10 all season: 6.0 YPC. On carries 11-20: A league-leading 7.5. That doesn’t adjust for anything (would love to see his DVOA splits under those same parameters), but it’s pretty clear that overall workload concerns aside, this kid doesn’t wear down.
Tom Gower: The Titans show a little bit of life, holding the Chiefs to a field goal on the third drive. As previously noted, it's mostly been Cassel moving the ball through the air. When the Titans don't get pressure, there is space to be found against the back seven, especially against the linebackers.
One of the issues with the Titans' offense is they're limited by their personnel. I need to track players and plays, but I suspect they're tipping plays and directions with their personnel. They sometimes try to run constraint plays trying to avoid this, but one run like the last one, where Mike Vrabel pushes Scaife back two yards and blows up the rush, and you see why they're stuck with tipping plays.
Titans topic I haven't written about this year: Michael Griffin has overall had a much better year than he had last year, but part of the reason he's had a much better year is the Titans have been working to hide his limitations, namely that he's an awful deep coverage defender. He's virtually been playing strong safety most of the year, while Hope has been free safety. Plays like Dwayne Bowe's 75 yard touchdown are good examples of why he's moved positions. Bowe got ahead of Finnegan on the deep dig, but the Titans were playing man-under, 2-deep (cue Millen), and Griffin should have been in good position to break up the pass or at least tackle him for no gain. Instead, he gets caught flat-footed and Bowe runs right by him on his way to the end zone.
Doug Farrar: Jamaal Charles got busted for an unsportsmanlike penalty on Dwayne Bowe’ 75-yard touchdown catch because, and I am quoting the official here, “Only one player can jump in the stands at a time.” Who knew?
Mike Tanier: Eric Berry just made a fine play on a pick-six, stepping in front of a lazy Kerry Collins pass. I like the fact that the Chiefs are making a statement-like game here.
Tom Gower: Jared Cook makes a grab on a play that started with :07 left and takes the opportunity to get a few extra yards, letting the clock run out. It's 31-7, and I think I'll be spending the second half of today's game with my niece and not in front of my computer.
Titans pull off the surprise onside kick after Jared Cook's first NFL touchdown makes it 34-14, only to have the recovery negated by an offside penalty. C'est la vie.
Brodie Croyle, showing off why he's Brodie Croyle and not a starting NFL quarterback, throws well behind his intended receiver on a crossing pattern on third down, resulting in a tipped ball interception. The Titans get a first down the next play, then end up punting on fourth-and-32 after a holding penalty and a much-too-easy sack by Hali.
With 3:16 to play, the Titans elected to punt the ball away on fourth-and-2. I know it's 34-14, and you're on your own 27, but why? Why? Why?
Doug Farrar: With less than a minute left in the first half, and the ball in Ravens territory, the choice is made to run about 30 seconds off the clock down to :23. The Browns have all three of their time outs. Now forced to throw on every play, Colt McCoy gets nothing done, and the Browns have to kick a field goal. It’s a good thing for Eric Mangini that the guy deciding his fate is Mike Holmgren, who can mangle a clock as well as anybody in league history.
Bill Barnwell: Browns start the second half with a pretty ugly unexpected onside kick. Dan Fouts notes in a replay package later on that the onside kick was "ill-advised". You know, because it failed.
Aaron Schatz: Patriots in the first quarter: 91 rushing yards on 10 carries. Not a good day for that Bills run defense, which was 32nd by NFL rankings but a slightly better 27th in DVOA going into the day.
Colbert Award nominee: Chan Gailey goes for it on fourth-and-12 from the Bills 32. Why not -- you're 4-10, a punt probably gets you a net 12 yards, a field goal in those conditions will be difficult. They didn't get it, but I like the decision.
Sterling Sharpe: "People ask, where do the Patriots find these guys... Woodhead, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman... Rob Gronkowski..."
Sterling, Rob Gronkowski was a second-round pick. You want to praise the Pats for finding guys on other rosters (Welker, Woodhead) or in the seventh round (Edelman), or unsigned, (BJGE), that's fine. But let's not pretend that they did this amazing talent-hunting job by taking a highly-regarded tight end in the second round of the draft.
Mike Tanier: Danny Amendola just threw an option pass. He throws like my son. It was a totally burnable play. Luckily, Nate Clements committed pass interference while waiting for the poor duck to find a lake to die in.
Aaron Schatz: That was the worst pass interference I have ever seen. Clements basically ran through Damario Alexander, completely crashed into him without looking for the ball in any way, thus negating an interception when Reggie Smith picked off the underthrown pass. It was painfully dumb.
Doug Farrar: I’ll see your Amendola crap throw and raise you Mark Sanchez’s attempt at the old playfake-to-draw about halfway through the first quarter. It was very Bad News Bears – he almost got sacked on the playfake, and almost fumbled the exchange. .
Mike Tanier: The Niners offense is a fascinating folly of craptasm.
There was actually a safety as I wrote that.
Vince Verhei: 49ers can't even snap the ball today. Their first drive ended with a bad snap, leading to a third-down sack. Then their center gets hurt. Third drive ends with a good snap, but Troy Smith drops the ball and the Rams get another third-down sack, this time for a safety.
Aaron Schatz: 49ers: Eight penalties in the first 17 minutes of the game. Egads.
Vince Verhei: And they're self-destructive penalties like false starts and illegal formations, not holding or something forced by the other team.
Aaron Schatz: San Francisco just went up on St. Louis 14-12, which is nuts because they look totally discombobulated and disorganized and they've basically had three huge plays: a Ted Ginn touchdown return, and then two passes on this last drive, a big pass where the Rams got stuck with Laurinaitis covering Vernon Davis, and then a colossal touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree where Troy Smith overthrew Davis only to find Crabtree behind him, right in the path of the ball, and Crabtree took it all the way.
49ers had 19 yards of offense before that drive.
Troy Smith throws a pick to open the third quarter and then completely loses his marbles on the sidelines. Him and Singletary are screaming at each other. Ted Ginn is trying to calm Smith down.
Mike Tanier: Niners miss a field goal after an unlikely drive. I hate that division.
Vince Verhei: Rams get another touchdown to go up 22-14. They should have gone for two there -- a success would have put the game away, and a failure would have meant that the 49ers could tie it with a touchdown. As it is, they can tie it with a touchdown anyway.
Troy Smith out. Alex Smith in. I think that's a half-dozen QB switches this season. And they're only eight points away from first place.
Aaron Schatz: As they often say, "When you have two quarterbacks named Smith, you really have no quarterbacks named Smith."
Actually, on a more serious note -- didn't Singletary's mentor Mike Ditka dick around with his quarterbacks and jerk them in and out of the lineup once Jim McMahon started having injuries in 1986? Singletary really does coach like he's still living in 1986 -- you know, when you yelled at your players all the time, and you didn't have to make strategic decisions about the two-point conversion because there was no two-point conversion.
Vince Verhei: While we're discussing the coaches in this game, they had a shot of Steve Spagnuolo shaking hands with a soldier, and the announcers said this was why Spags was going to be a good coach. Because he's nice and friendly? Since when is that a requirement for coaching? Aren't football coaches supposed to be angry screaming lunatics?
Bill Barnwell: 49ers season ends with Chris Long (the division's best starter this year) beating Anthony Davis (the division's worst starter this year) to stripsack Alex Smith.
Ben Muth: Levi Brown belongs in any discussion about worst starters.
Vince Verhei: 49ers get the ball back, down eight, a minute to go, no timeouts. They get a couple of clock-stopping spikes, a scramble up the middle of the field, and three completions in bounds to kill the clock. Thus ends the San Francisco season.
To be fair, on one of those plays Josh Morgan got a foot on the sideline and the ref blew the call. But it shouldn't have even been close.
Bill Barnwell: Brilliant job by Ted Ginn of turning down a chance to go out of bounds and set up a Hail Mary with four seconds left; instead, he jukes back inside and gets two extra yards before trying (and failing) to get back out of bounds.
Bill Barnwell: Carlos Rogers just caught an interception! Carlos Rogers just caught an interception!!!!
But then Chris Cooley does his best Carlos Rogers impression in the end zone, dropping a wide-open pass for a touchdown. When they get both tight ends open with play-action on the next play, Rex Grossman chooses to throw to Fred Davis and not Cooley. Grossman celebrates the touchdown by doing the Gator chomp towards the sideline.
Great route by Mike Thomas to pick up a third-and-short -- he runs a quick slant and forces Carlos Rogers to do a pirouette, making easy space for himself. On the next play, he runs a hitch-and-go and the deep safety for the Redskins appears to be mesmerized and doesn't get over to the seam.
Doug Farrar: Yeah, note to Carlos Rogers: “Zone” does not mean “back away from the receiver in the short seam so he can more easily catch the ball.” Clearly, the Redskins need to get Greg Blache back in there. The defense would suck either way, but at least TWIQ would be spicier.
Bill Barnwell: Actual quote from the announcers re: Andre Carter: "Andre Carter does a great job of just keeping his eyes open."
Ben Muth: Reche Caldwell is the only guy I know who does a great job of keeping his eyes open.
Vince Verhei: Jets fumble, but their ridiculous fumble luck continues and they recover. So they fumble again on the next play, and this time they finally lose it. Matt Forte follows with a long touchdown run and the Bears are up 10-0.
LaDainian Tomlinson runs it in to pull the Jets within three, 10-7. Bears are playing a soft zone, and Mark Sanchez is picking them apart -- he's completed his first seven passes and converted a few big third downs.
Mike Tanier: Ahhhh...the Jay Cutler pick-6. Phil Simms said it was a curveball. Is that possible on planet earth?
Doug Farrar: Once again, Phil fails the laws of physics. His contention that if Cutler had thrown the ball outside … well, there were two Jets with inside position, and even though one of them was falling down, how far outside was Cutler supposed to throw it for the receiver to back out of coverage? Section 32?
Bill Barnwell: Apparently Dwight Lowery knows Jay Cutler's hot reads.
Vince Verhei: Pressure had nothing to do with it -- a throw into double coverage that wouldn't be complete in 100 tries. It's amazing how bad he looks sometimes.
Next third down, Sanchez finds an open receiver, but throws a yard behind him for yet another dropped interception.
Mike Tanier: Cutler throws a perfect pass on a corner route to Forte, then shows great awareness on a play-fake near the goal line, seeing the entire right side of the end zone undefended and taking off. He is both a great and a terrible quarterback, and he is never anything in between.
Doug Farrar: On the same drive, he overthrew a wide-open Earl Bennett on a post. As you were saying…
Bill Barnwell: Phil Simms notes that Santonio Holmes is "fast and quick".
Aaron Schatz: Actually, that's legit. There's a difference. "Fast" is a description of breakaway speed, "quick" is more about twitch speed.
Mike Tanier: Speaking of fast and quick, am now in the habit of telling my kids to "be quick but don't hurry" all the time. I say it during fire drills at school, and I tell my own children it all the time when getting on trains and whatnot.
Tom Gower: I hate defending Phil Simms, but that is a legitimate distinction, and there are guys who are fast (have good deep speed) but are not quick (Matt Jones comes to mind here) and guys who are quick but not fast (Knowshon Moreno, maybe, or another RB with good quickness and a lousy 40 time).
Bill Barnwell: OK. I concede. I wish he'd mentioned that, though!
Vince Verhei: Cutler opens the second half with a touchdown strike from midfield, an effortless flick through wind and snow into the end zone. Johnny Knox had to fight off a DB to make the catch, a one-on-one matchup where the worst case scenario is probably an interception and touchback.
Sanchez continues to shine, even on his bad plays -- on a third- and-10, he dropped back and had nobody open. As the rush closed in, he kept his wits about him and scrambled to the outside to throw the ball away rather than risk a sack or interception.
Jets lose when Sanchez, needing a touchdown with not timeouts, underthrows a deep route and is picked off. I actually feel bad for him -- that was almost definitely the best game of his career, and they lose when he makes one mistake in a very bad situation. It's not his fault Jay Cutler caught fire.
Aaron Schatz: OK, I just saw a highlight of the Jets-Bears game and the Jets' attempted fake punt. Um, when your starting quarterback shows up in the punt formation, isn't that a little bit of a hint that it is a fake?
Bill Barnwell: Ugly pick by Tim Tebow in the end zone. Looked like he tried to throw a fade to Brandon Lloyd against Jason Allen (great idea) but threw it chest-high and across Allen's body (bad idea).
David Gardner: Here's a crazy stat from the Broncos game: In 401 home games (postseason and regular season), Denver has never been shut out.
Vince Verhei: Tim Tebow seems to have learned the "chuck it deep and let Brandon Lloyd make amazing plays" offense. Lloyd just made a ridiculous leaping reception for his ninth 40-yard play of the year. That was absurd. He was two miles high there.
Tim Tebow has 300 yards passing and just ran in a score to put Denver ahead of Houston 24-23. I'm going to avoid the Broncos fans in my life, they're going to be insufferable after this. Remember everyone: it's the Texans.
Rob Weintraub: In the endless game of "who woulda thought?" that the NFL provides, who woulda thought that Jacoby Ford would be the Clemson Tiger who makes explosive plays every week, and not C.J. Spiller?
Bassy from 59! Would have been good from Krakow!
Bill Barnwell: This fourth quarter drive by the Colts has been virtually all running plays; most of the time, they've been lining up in Trips Bunch on the left side (Asomugha's side) and running there.
Vince Verhei: Peyton Manning's bootleg keeper for 30-some yards, complete with slide inside the 5 to run out the clock, is both the best and the funniest play of the day. That was neither quickness nor speed.
Rob Weintraub: Quietly, Jermaine Gresham is starting to fulfill his promise. He goes up over two defenders and hauls in a short TD pass in a game the Bengals are going to end San Diego's playoff hopes.
Wow, Reggie Nelson demolishes Mike Tolbert with some run support. Bengals recover the fumble, and Tolbert has to get carted off the field.
Jerome Simpson is alive! TOcho who?? And he rocks the between-the-legs-fake-goalpost-dunk-pull-up-for-a-J celebration as well.
Bill Barnwell: Bengals kicker Clint Stitser has to be the worst in football. He just shanked an extra point - no bad snap, not a bad hold, just flat-out missed it. Now he's 3-of-5 on extra points this year, and he's probably the worst kickoff guy in football.
Rob Weintraub: Stitser is 4-for-6 on PATs, per Joe Reedy, FWIW, and hasn't missed a figgie. And he has two good KOs in this one. Let's remember he's the third kicker of the season in Cincy, just trying to finish the year with the guy. Guys named Clint just aren't meant to be kickers, Clint Dempsey notwithstanding.
Michael Johnson with a big stop on third and goal at the one. Johnson was shifted to more of a hybrid LB in the offseason, and he seemed to adapt to it well in preseason. But come the live bullets, he has been lost in space more than whoever was in that show. Since he's been moved back to DE fulltime, the defense has improved steadily. He and Dunlap should be a good pair of bookends in 2011.
Aaron Schatz: Carlos is the best of the football Dunlaps. He laps King pretty easily. Dunlaps him, even.
Bill Barnwell: After a Cedric Benson fumble in the red zone, the Chargers drive all the way down the field and get the ball on the 1-yard line after a DPI in the end zone. The Bengals -- 31st against the run, 32nd in power situations -- stuff the Tolbert-less Chargers on three carries in a row. Norv takes the field goal.
Rob Weintraub: Hasselbeck is in latter-day Joe Namath terrain, as he scores untouched and yet still hurts himself on the play.
Vince Verhei: Your latest Seattle short-yardage inanity: fourth-and-inches inside the five, they line up with de facto fullback Michael Robinson under center. Everyone in Florida knows a sneak is coming, and Robinson is pushed into the backfield, but he makes a superhuman effort to bounce outside and get the first down. I've never been so angry about a play that worked.
Matt Hasselbeck then scores on a third-and-goal bootleg play. He was not touched and did not leave his feet, but he immediately stopped running and grabbed his lower back in pain. He looked 100 years old.
Hasselbeck is out of the game due to natural causes.
Doug Farrar: I don't know what Aaron Curry was doing on the Kellen Winslow catch that got the Bucs out of their own end zone early in the second half, but it sure wasn't tackling. Just a glancing blow, and off Winslow went.
David Gardner: Kellen Winslow just caught a sliding pass at the 2-yard line. He stood back up as two Seahawks crashed into each other and walked into the end zone.
Doug Farrar: Can’t wait to see the All-22 on that one. Somebody really blew an assignment.
Vince Verhei: LeGarrette Blount hurdles Lawyer Milloy on a long run to set up Josh Freeman's fourth touchdown pass. Is this pass defense worse than Houston's yet?
Doug Farrar: I liked how four different Seahawks defenders waved at Mike Williams as he ran that shallow cross from one side of the end zone to the other. Another touchdown to another completely uncovered receiver.
Vince Verhei: Third quarter just ended in Tampa Bay. Hasselbeck had three completions for 24 yards on the game's first drive. Whitehurst has three completions for 19 yards since.
Remember our quickness vs. speed discussion? Blount just burst through a hole in the Seahawks line for a big gain. That's quickness. Then he was run down from behind by Chris Clemons. That's (lack of) speed.
And Freeman throws his fifth touchdown pass. He's tied the team record with nearly eight minutes to go.
Aaron Schatz: Am I wrong, or was there blatant pass interference by Mario Manningham on that huge and somewhat awesome touchdown reception that just tied this game? He pushes off Tramon Williams, it was really obvious from the replay.
Bill Barnwell: Mario Manningham makes me angry. After a key fumble in the fourth quarter against the Eagles last week, he holds the ball in his trailing hand and taunts Tramon Williams for 10 yards at the end of that touchdown catch.
Aaron Schatz: Giants finally getting somewhere on the Packers in the third quarter with draws and screens... but they can't hold onto the ball YET again. Jacobs looked like he had the ball securely, but Clay Matthews came up from behind and clubbed it up and under to get it loose.
Mike Tanier: ...and then everyone in Wisconsin got a chance to touch it!
In slow mo, the Jacobs fumble looks like some allegorical interpretive dance. The ball represents justice, or peace, or meaning, and it is all we can do to bat at it, tap it to keep it in bounds, watch as it rolls between our legs, push each other to get to it, and ultimately lose it.
Aaron Schatz: Quite striking how little impact the Giants pass rush is having on Aaron Rodgers today. Rodgers' mobility is getting him out of some jams, but even without considering that... he's got the time to go deep when he needs it. I don't think I've heard Jason Pierre-Paul's name all day. I'm not sure I've heard Justin Tuck's more than once or twice.
140 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2010, 12:36pm by DeltaWhiskey