Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Catch Radius: The Bigger, the Better?

Our season finale of catch radius focuses on the growing size of Josh McCown's talented receiving duos, including breakout stud Alshon Jeffery. Also: Anquan Boldin's incredible year.

18 Oct 2010

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

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).

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, which means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Atlanta Falcons 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 31

Mike Tanier: The Eagles are averaging 15 yards per play and are leading 14-0. I see one heckuva quarterback controversy in my future.

Ryan Howard is hanging out with Tony Siragusa on the sidelines. Goose to Howard: "That Lincecum's a great pitcher, but he looks like a little kid. He looks like he's 12 years old." Sometimes, it's funny to hear the obvious stated.

Brent Celek: please return L.J. Smith's hands. And belly. The dropped passes are getting out of control.

Bill Barnwell: Kevin Kolb just threw an interception on a tipped pass that ended a nice drive he had put together. Will Moore returned it 30 yards and Kolb then horse-collared Moore to end the drive, and after a couple of completions by Matt Ryan, the Falcons are in the red zone. Game-changer.

Tom Gower: The Falcons score. They moved the back out of the backfield and had a diamond on the right side, while Tony Gonzalez was flexed outside left with Ellis Hobbs in tight coverage. Hobbs there has to guard against the fade to the wide side of the field, so Gonzo just takes the easy inside release and without any underneath help it's an easy read and TD for Ryan.

Mike Tanier: David Akers also missed a short field goal in the Eagles game. But while we are counting missed opportunities, a ball bounced out of Gonzo's hands and into Asante Samuel's earlier in the second quarter.

Cleveland Browns 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers 28

Bill Barnwell: Colt McCoy actually looked reasonably impressive on his first series. Steelers big-blitzed him on third-and-long and he stood in the pocket and made a nice throw to Evan Moore on a deep out for a first down. Took a sack on the ensuing first down, though, and while he made a nice throw up the seam on third down, his receiver fell down and tipped the pass to a Steeler defensive back.

Mike Tanier: I saw 20 seconds of this game and already saw two Burn This Play candidates: a Josh Cribbs pistol handoff and a Benjamin Watson end-around I am not sure I can adequately describe.

Tom Gower: The Watson end-around was absolutely epic. There was another 2nd down play later that drive; I'm not sure if it was a "burn this play" moment or "fire these players" moment or both, as the Steelers were in the backfield almost instantly.

Mike Tanier: I saw the play you refer to, Tom, but I failed to comprehend it.

Now Josh Cribbs is hurt, Anyone who takes a snap for the Browns this year is doomed.

Doug Farrar: Between Brandon Meriweather’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Todd Heap and James Harrison’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Josh Cribbs, I’m guessing there are going to be some wallet-to-wallet fines this next week.

Bill Barnwell: James Harrison just got his second helmet-to-helmet KO of the day, finishing off Mohamed Massaquoi after taking out Josh Cribbs earlier. There's been about a half-dozen scary hits before halftime. Seriously -- go ahead and suspend Harrison for a game. The fines here don't mean anything.

Doug Farrar: While you’re at it, why not suspend the officiating crew doing this game as well? Neither Harrison hit was called, though Alex Mack was called for delay of game on the Massaquoi hit after he kicked the football. Ya think he might have been a little pissed off that his skill players were getting concussed one by one and the refs weren’t doing anything about it?

Mike Tanier: I think the Steelers have gotten away with quite a few borderline hits this year. I will now cower under my bed while Steelers fans tear the siding off my house.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, but it’s not just the Steelers, especially today. The NFL makes these points of emphasis, and it seems to take the refs half a decade to catch up, as it did with the alleged zero-tolerance horse-collar rule.

Tom Gower: Harrison's hit on Cribbs was hard and cheap, but not dirty, I think. The Massaquoi hit should've been flagged.

Bill Barnwell: That wouldn't qualify as a spear? I guess we think of a spear as leading with the helmet to the body, but he led with the crown of his helmet and hit Cribbs in the helmet.

Tom Gower: Looking at the rulebook, the Cribbs hit could have been flagged (assuming the refs deemed done "violently or unnecessarily"), but I thought it was an acceptable no-call given that refs frequently let similar hits go unflagged.

Bill Barnwell: Cribbs was already in the grasp of another defender. Harrison led with his helmet and connected solely with Cribbs's helmet. I would say that qualifies as both violent and unnecessary.

Seattle Seahawks 23 at Chicago Bears 20

Mike Kurtz: The Bears defense looks absolutely clueless. Seattle has two easy touchdowns on three drives. Their third was cut short by penalties. Justin Forsett scored the latest on a goofy fullback fake counter.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks are playing a lot of press coverage with a single safety. It's a curious strategy, especially considering that Roberto Garza is out for the Bears. Devin Hester got a big pass interference call on the first drive to set up a Matt Forte touchdown run, but haven't done anything since.

Matt Hasselbeck is playing his best game of the year. His best throw was a touchdown to Deon Butler, a rainbow that dropped into his hands in the corner of the end zone. I also enjoyed the pump fake, then play fake, then pump fake again, then find Mike Williams on the sideline play.

They opened the game with a graphic highlighting the returnees on these teams, but so far the other aspects are dominating so far. All the kickoffs are in the end zone, Bears have held Golden Tate to negative yards on a pair of punt returns, and Seahawks have downed a punt inside the 5.

Seahawks played a much more conservative two- deep pass coverage in the second quarter. Bears hit a ton of big plays, but couldn't reach the end zone. Seahawks lead 14-13 at the half.

Bill Barnwell: And Cutler finally takes the safety that was being forecast earlier. Bears football!

Ben Muth: This Cutler/Martz combo is going to be responsible for more sacks than Parcells and Lawrence Taylor.

Mike Kurtz: Hester with ACTUAL EXPLOSION for a punt return touchdown. Some nice cuts, but the real story was great blocking and a massive failure of containment by a Seattle squad I thought was pretty good. Gigantic hole to waggle and cut into. During Hester's heyday, the Bears had by far the best ST blocking in the league. There were a few years where it fell off a bit, but this year it's back, and they're putting the returners in position to do great things. Most of the Seahawks coverage team was on the right side of the field, and almost all of them simply got blown up. It was gorgeous.

Miami Dolphins 23 at Green Bay Packers 20

Bill Barnwell: Chad Henne just had a wide-open Brandon Marshall in the endzone and overthrew him. It pains me for Dolphins fans that Chad Pennington is right there.

Really nifty play call and execution by the Dolphins. They run a rollout screen with Henne and Anthony Fasano lets the blitzing Nick Collins go by him. Henne calmly sees Collins coming at him and throws right back at Fasano, and one Jake Long block later, the Dolphins have the lead.

Packers have been stuffed on both second and third down from the 1.5-yard line on runs to Kuhn. On fourth down, they split everyone out and the Dolphins call timeout. They come back and run the same thing...but then Rodgers comes out of the shotgun and goes under center and sprints into the endzone to tie it up.

The Packers tie it up on a fourth-and-goal sneak by Aaron Rodgers. Two points: 1) The Packers have to just stop, stop, stop with the John Kuhn goal line experiment, as he got stopped two times before the sneak and 2) Rodgers really looked "sneak-like" as he slyly walked up from shotgun to under center, pretended to motion to his receiver, and waited for one of his linemen (Daryn Colledge) to slap his thigh to give him the direction to sneak in. The Dolphins probably should have seen it coming.

Detroit Lions 20 at New York Giants 28

Tom Gower: Shaun Hill was injured, so Drew Stanton is in the game for the Lions. Drew Stanton is just as good as you'd expect a Matt Millen draft pick to be. Cue Yakety Sax.

I think Jason Hanson just hit the ugliest successful 50-yard field goal you'll ever see. It started low, it stayed low, it swerved from left to right, it still went in.

Doug Farrar: Yep – a Randy Johnson slider all the way.

Bill Barnwell: Now it's Antrel Rolle's turn to try and return an INT with ten seconds left and a lead. Are all (ex-)Cardinals DBs morons?

New Orleans Saints 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6

David Gardner: Aqib Talib, who earlier this week said he wants to be in the conversation for best corner in the league, just got burned on a deep out by Lance Moore.

On another out route, Robert Meachem slipped between Aqib Talib and Cody Grimm, and Brees placed it perfectly to put the Saints up 14-0.

Bill Barnwell: I believe that's Brees's set up move. His finisher is the long pass up the seam to Colston against a miserably overmatched linebacker or safety. Is our friend Sabby around?

David Gardner: Sabby wasn't involved on either play. Talib fell asleep on the first pass, and Grimm and he miscommunicated on the second one.

Also, remember the Saints having issues in the running game? That's not the case today. Chris Ivory has eight carries for 81 yards, and it's only the middle of the second quarter.

Connor Barth, who'd made 12 in a row going back to last season, just hit the post at the end of the field goal. The run of the mustache has, unfortunately, come to an end.

Cody Grimm just got an interception off a tipped pass with about 20 seconds left in the second half and the Saints driving in Bucs' territory. He then lateraled the ball to Sean Jones, which the commentators called a "great play." NO! It was a horrible play! There are 15 seconds left. Put your butt on the ground and let the offense come take a knee.

Bill Barnwell: Saints have a touchdown taken off the board when third-string tight end/ex-basketball player Jimmy Graham -- split out against linebacker Quincy Black -- commits an OPI en route to a touchdown catch. Garrett Hartley promptly misses a 33-yarder. Surely, someone must still have Morten Andersen's phone number.

David Gardner: Kareem Huggins just caught his first pass in the NFL, and he appeared to have his ACL torn on the same play ... that's sad.

After Barth's first field goal miss, I muttered to my roommate that he couldn't hit the post again if I paid him. Good thing my wallet isn't in the room -- he just hit the post on his second try.

Bill Barnwell: Believe that calls for mustache penance.

Ben Muth: The manliest way to miss a field goal is to bang it off the upright, though. Even in failure, the mustache brings machismo.

David Gardner: Commentators just said that he needed to "tune up" that mustache. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that a mustache must be free.

San Diego Chargers 17 at St. Louis Rams 20

Bill Barnwell: O.J. Atogwe just took a pass away from Malcom Floyd in the endzone, a 50-50 ball that Atogwe grabbed away from Floyd. Really impressive play by Atogwe.

Rams are up 10-0 after Bradford hits the inimitable Damario Alexander down the field for a 38-yard touchdown. Alexander beat Antoine Cason, who was staring into the backfield until Alexander ran by him, at which point he started sprinting to catch up and failed. Norv noted during the week that Cason had a bad habit of trying to bait people into throwing at him. It's like he really is Antonio Cromartie 2.0.

Aaron Schatz: Antonio Cromartie, of course, was Terrell Buckley 2.0.

Bill Barnwell: Sam Bradford looks really good in St. Louis. Just marching down the field on a Chargers defense that's looked really good before today, making smart decisions. Of course, as soon as I write that, he takes two sacks. One was on a scrambling Bradford where Kevin Burnett a) launched himself in the air at Bradford and b) hit him in the helmet with his helmet. Steve Beuerlein goes into a speech about how that's a legal hit until Don Criqui mentions that it's, you know, not legal to spear a player, at which point Beuerlein immediately backtracks.

Mike Tanier: It's 17-0 Rams after a Steven Jackson touchdown. A.J. Smith just ordered the destruction of a small planet to satiate his rage.

Bill Barnwell: I sorta figured he just turns on Madden and starts a franchise where all he does is turn down trades for Vincent Jackson every week.

Ben Muth: Patrick Crayton just decided to try and cut back when he was right on the sideline after a deep out. He gained three extra yards and was tackled in bounds. Savvy.

Doug Farrar: I thought that Bradford’s compact motion and rare deep accuracy pre-determined his potential for NFL success to a degree, but the thing that has surprised me is how well he’s running that offense with a dime-store grab bag of receivers.

Ben Muth: Nate Kaeding just slipped and fell down on a field goal attempt. It did not go in. Not the manliest way to miss a field goal.

Mike Tanier: The Chargers are really creative about dumb things to do on special teams.

Why do I find the Chargers losing so darn funny?

Mike Kurtz: Because Norv!

Kansas City Chiefs 31 at Houston Texans 35

Bill Barnwell: Chiefs get stuffed on third-and-1 from the three-yard line and they go for it again with play-action. Who do they hit? Mike Vrabel, of course. Cassel still manages to avoid making the throw to a wide-open Vrabel for two seconds, and then he throws it behind Vrabel, who made a pretty nice catch to hold onto it.

Doug Farrar: The first Chiefs touchdown of the day as one example, but I think I’ve seen more running back jump cuts out of play action this year than ever before. Maybe that’s a new effective wrinkle, like the fake pass to draw, to get defenses thinking the wrong thing at the right time.

Tom Gower: After the commercial, Gus Johnson informs us that 74 yard drive was KC's longest of the season. That seems odd given how many drives start at the 20, but I guess it's still early.

The Texans tied the game up on a pass from Schaub to Dreessen. Arian Foster found the kind of running room I expected teams to find against last year's horrible rush defense.

Bill Barnwell: Matt Cassel just made one of the nicest throws I've ever seen him make. Mario Williams destroyed the Chiefs right tackle at the snap, and while he desperately held Williams back, Cassel threw a bullet to Dwayne Bowe for a touchdown. Holding should have been called, but no foul, no harm.

Tom Gower: Dwayne Bowe just ran through Houston's entire secondary after catching a short pass, and the Chiefs are now up 21-7.

Bill Barnwell: Texans convert on fourth-and-1 with a pick play that gets Owen Daniels open. Steve Tasker goes nuts. (paraphrased) "What a gutsy call! That's the difference between these two teams. Gary Kubiak isn't afraid to put the ball in his best player's hands and throw the ball to the outside."

Problems with that statement:

a) The Chiefs went for it on fourth down repeatedly earlier in the game.
b) Andre Johnson is very clearly the Texans' best player. He did not touch the ball. c) Schaub got the ball because, you know, he's the quarterback. Not because he's their best player.
d) The Chiefs' best player is Brandon Flowers or Tamba Hali. It's certainly not Matt Cassel. They can't give those guys the ball on fourth down.
e) The throw to the outside was a one-yard out to an open receiver. It was one of the least dangerous throws a quarterback could make.

Ben Muth: Bill, if there is one thing former players hate, it's letting facts get in the way of analysis.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, I notice Andre Johnson has a lot more yardage than the other Texans receivers... are the Houston formations keeping him away from Brandon Flowers, or is Johnson just beating Flowers?

Bill Barnwell: He just had one big play where he beat Carr, looked like a blown coverage, that was about 50 yards.

Matt Cassel just took a delay of game on third-and-2 coming out of a Chiefs timeout. Seriously.

Jamaal Charles just pulled off one of the greatest eight-yard runs you'll ever see, coming out of the grasp of a gang of 3-4 Texans and sprinting to the other side of the field. Probably had about 35 horizontal yards.

Tom Gower: Then Thomas Jones gets about eight more, I think, on another of those "how on earth can a toss pitch to Thomas Jones outside possibly work", and tack on 15 more for Bernard Pollard hitting him late.

Bill Barnwell: I think Pollard ended up with that penalty solely because he shoved Jones into the kicking net, which made it look a lot worse than it actually was.

Andre Johnson just went for 31 yards against Brandon Flowers. Very questionable call. Perfect coverage from Flowers, very subtle push from Johnson. No earthly idea what refs saw against Flowers.

Tom Gower: The story of this second half has been just how bad Kansas City's defense has been. The Texans' four drives before this once each ended in a TD and each averaged at least seven yards per play.

Bill Barnwell: Texans complete the comeback and take the lead when Andre Johnson jukes out both safeties and gets wide open in the back of the end zone. Flowers spends the next 90 seconds cursing out the referee on the sidelines.

Tom Gower: Kansas City's right tackle, Barry Richardson, got absolutely destroyed off the snap by Antonio Smith. The Texans' pass rush hasn't been as much of a factor as it needed to be this year, but Smith did a great job on that play even though he didn't end up with the sack.

Bill Barnwell: Steve Tasker just noted that it would be a long field goal attempt for the Chiefs from the 38-yard line. It's 35-31 with five seconds left.

Baltimore Ravens 20 at New England Patriots 23

Aaron Schatz: Good news for the Patriots: When the runner hits Patrick Chung, he is almost always going to be stopped cold in his tracks.

Bad news for the Patriots: When the runner hits Patrick Chung, he has just gotten to the third level of your defense. Again.

I feel that the NFL just doesn't have enough good nicknames anymore. I want Football Outsiders to help rectify this and I propose we start referring to Aaron Hernandez as "The Easel." First, because he makes playing tight end look so easy. Second, because I've never seen anyone with so much crap written all over his body.

Pats are primarily a zone secondary, but like most defenses they don't play exclusively one style and so they do play some man. When the play man today, Joe Flacco is just killing them. Pretty much always goes to an outside receiver covered one-on-one in man, although I do think the touchdown pass to Todd Heap on a post route in the second quarter was also man coverage (he beat Chung). Flacco is really good at making sure his third-down passes always get enough yardage to convert. It's almost as if he had some kind of mathematical training.

As for the Pats offense, this is just one half against one defense but so far, I can't tell any difference in how the Ravens are defending Wes Welker compared to what they would do without Moss out there. He's not getting doubled or anything like that. Unfortunately, I'm not at the game watching coverage from up above in the press box, but on TV, at least, things don't look that different in the Pats offense except for the lack of the "two or three times a half let's just chuck it deep" play.

When asked who he would compare to Danny Woodhead, Phil Simms gave the names of not one but TWO African-American players: "Kevin Faulk, a little bit, but more Dave Meggett, who played for so many years with the Giants." Hooray! Meggett is actually a very good comparison, although we haven't seen Woodhead on returns yet. Let's hear it for Phil Simms!

When Seattle fans watch the highlights of this game, they are going to be really, really angry. Deion Branch just caught a touchdown, getting away from Lardarius Webb in the back of the end zone. He's running crisp routes and looks nice and healthy. Can the Seahawks maybe get some of their money back?

And... Pats decide to try a 44-yard Hail Mary with their cadre of short-cross receivers instead of bringing in Gostkowski to try a 62-yard field goal with a very strong wind at their backs. I think this was a mistake. 62-yard field goals are rare, but that wind is strong out there today. Let's go to overtime.

Some teams think that you run early in order to force the defense to bring the safeties up, then you fool the other team with the play-action. Cam Cameron seems to have decided that you run early in order to force the defense to bring the safeties up so that you can continue to run, only now for very small gains.

Aaron Hernandez has inexplicably turned into a drop machine in overtime.

Tom Gower: The Hernandez drops are kind of funny. On the first, he tried to close his hands on the ball too early, while on the second he didn't try to close his hands on the ball until after it had bounced off his catch.

Aaron Schatz: You know, except for one nice sideline pass to Derrick Mason covered by Kyle Arrington, Joe Flacco has completely turned into Captain Checkdown in the fourth quarter and overtime. I think he's thrown to Ray Rice on something like 80 percent of passes in the last 25 minutes.

We come close to a tie, but the Pats finally win the thing with two minutes left. I would like to thank John Harbaugh for NOT calling the B.S. "right at the snap" timeout which would have forced Gostkowski to attempt the game-winning field goal THREE TIMES. (The first one, the officials whistled the two-minute warning as the Pats snapped the ball.)

Baltimore has to be kicking themselves for losing this game today. They were moving the ball easily on the Pats defense for three quarters, but slowing down near the goal line, so they had to settle for a couple field goals. The Pats had some offense, but definitely didn't look as good as weeks past, and they were getting pressure on Brady. Then suddenly in the fourth quarter, it was like everything reversed. The Ravens kept running up into a stacked line for no gain, Flacco couldn't find anyone open deep on third-and-long, and the Patriots just moved things easily, except when Aaron Hernandez was dropping balls.

Oakland Raiders 9 at San Francisco 49ers 17

Tom Gower: Manny Lawson with a nice pick to come underneath and grab a not-poorly-thrown ball intended for Miller. Alex Smith has Josh Morgan open on a seamer against Stanford Routt for a score, but misses him badly. The 49ers then line up for a 52-yard field goal, but only have 9 players on the field, and the punt after the time out goes into the end zone.

Doug Farrar: Smith was jawing at Morgan after the play – either Morgan ran the wrong route, or Morgan took Smith’s first-class plane ticket to Edmonton by mistake, and Smith doesn’t want to fly coach.

Bill Barnwell: Rich Gannon noted that Michael Bush "needs to start and get 20-25 carries" to play his best. Not a reader. Tom Cable's given him 13 carries for 30 yards and it's halfway through the second quarter. Also not a reader.

Doug Farrar: With three minutes left in the first half, Alex Smith is 2-of-11 for 22 yards. This facing the NFL’s worst defense against number-one receivers and tight ends (both of which the 49ers actually have pretty good versions of). At what point does David Carr actually become a positive option?

Ooooookay –- right after I typed that, Smith and Singletary had another sideline tiff, and Smith came back on the next drive to go 6-of-9 for 66 yards. I’m starting to wonder if the result of these arguments is that the game plan is put in Smith’s hands as a last-chance gambit before he’s pulled, and that’s why he’s always so much better right after they happen.

Ben Muth: Third-and-four from the eight-yard line. Alex Smith tries to throw a swing pass to Gore, and misses him by four yards. SF settles for the field goal. Gore looks like he's wondering when his contract expires.

Bill Barnwell: I think that might have been on purpose. The 49ers had no timeouts left, and there were 11 seconds left. If Gore catches the pass, he might not have been able to get out of bounds, and that would have taken the 49ers to the half without scoring. Of course, Rich Gannon didn't notice any of that, suggesting that Gore could have made a guy miss and picked up the first down.

Ben Muth: I don't think it was on purpose. If you are doing that you almost always throw it out of the back of the endzone. Never in the flat where if there is a pick, there's a good chance it's going for six the other way. And based on the look of frustration/disgust Gore wasn't aware of any plan. Although I'll admit I didn't notice the TO situation. Maybe Alex Smith is smarter than I give him credit for.

Tom Gower: Alex Smith just got one of those "bad QB" intentional grounding calls where Josh Morgan came back for the ball and Smith assumed he'd continue running. After a couple minute delay while the refs decided whether or not to call grounding at all, then had to remember what down it should be, Smith hits Crabtree for a 32 yard TD with Chris Johnson in coverage.

Jason Campbell completed zero passes in the second quarter. And the third quarter.

Bill Barnwell: He missed Louis Murphy on a gorgeous 60-yard throw for what would have been a 99-yard touchdown pass by about two feet. I know. Doesn't make up for it. But he just threw a pass that hit a 49ers defender in the hands, bounced out of them, and then promptly fell into Zach Miller's hands for a first down.

Tom Gower: I think he probably would've had to actually hit Murphy in the hands for that pass to have been complete, since I'm not sure Louis was looking for the ball at all. And, since we mention that incompletion, we also have to mention the reason they were on the 1 in the first place is Campbell decided to run backward when a 49ers defender stayed at home.

Bill Barnwell: Oh, of course. I just think it's strange that we'll end up considering the incompletion as a bad play and the completion as a good play when, realistically, the incompletion was a far better throw than the completion.

Bill Barnwell: Nnamdi Asomugha just defended the entire field and saved a Frank Gore touchdown run. Gore broke through a seam and had the entire field ahead of him short Asomugha and Michael Crabtree. Of course, Asomugha played the angles perfectly while fighting off Crabtree, and while Gore still picked up 60 yards, he slowed Gore down long enough for the cavalry to catch up. Just an incredible play. Niners score a touchdown anyway, but not his fault.

Niners don't go for two after the touchdown despite being up 16-9 before the extra point. With seven minutes left against an offense that can't move the ball, making it a two-score game just about guarantees victory. The advantage you gain by forcing a two-point conversion to tie is downright miniscule in comparison. Mike Singletary must have been off working on his glare.

Vince Verhei: I agree completely. If you kick it, the realistic worst-case scenario is they score a touchdown and two-pointer, and you're tied. If you go for it and fail, the realistic worst-case scenario is they score touchdown and kick the PAT and you're tied. And you're likely to get the 2-pointer and put the game away.

New York Jets 24 at Denver Broncos 20

Ben Muth: Tim Tebow handed the ball off to Buckhalter for a fourteen yard gain. Dierdorf gives all the credit to Saint Tim.

What is going on with field goals today? The Broncos long snapper just bounced one, and the Broncos couldn't convert.

Bill Barnwell: Tim Tebow scores! Well, sorta. He took a QB keeper for a seven-yard touchdown, and even though he was being chased by guys on his left, he never took the ball off of his left side.

Aaron Schatz: The Tim Tebow package is really ridiculous, except on the goal line. It was clear every play was going to be a run up the middle. I could just call them out whenever Tebow came in. If you aren't going to let Tebow pass once every five or six plays, that package isn't going to get you anything when it isn't first-and-goal on the 1.

Doug Farrar: My only question about the Tebow red zone rushing score: Why did it take so long? This guy scored as many college rushing touchdowns as Marshall Faulk.

Aaron Schatz: There was a hilarious play where a hole opened in the middle of the field and Orton went to scramble, and he actually juked David Harris so bad that Harris slipped and fell on his butt. I'll repeat. Kyle Orton. JUKED OUT. David Harris. No, seriously. It was better than the play from a couple years ago where Tom Brady juked out Brian Urlacher.

Bill Barnwell: And the Jets just took two offensive pass interference penalties in three plays, including one well downfield by Santonio Holmes. He's a Super Bowl MVP! He'd never commit a penalty!

Vince Verhei: Nick Folk kicks a Jets record 56-yarder to tie the game at 10. They turned down a fourth-and-1 to try it though. I know they're in Denver, but it seems more likely they pick up the first down than the field goal. Especially this team.

Tom Gower: I wonder how many people will praise Rex Ryan for kicking a 56 yard field goal on fourth-and-1 instead of going for it. I guarantee you it'll happen, because the field goal was made.

Bill Barnwell: After a great throw by Sanchez and run by Dustin Keller, the Jets get the ball in Denver territory and run an end-around for Santonio Holmes. With a huge alley available to him, Holmes shows off his instincts by running right into the one blocker on that side of the field and coughing the ball up, with the Broncos recovering.

Jets go from out of it to in the lead with a miracle play; on fourth down with 1:30 left, Sanchez scrambles and heaves a bomb downfield. On the way down for the ball, Renaldo Hill grabs Santonio Holmes's facemask, which the refs call a DPI. That gives the Jets the ball on the Broncos 2-yard line, and they score on the next play. Wow. Probably the right call, but surprised they made it.

Tom Gower: I'm pretty sure the Broncos defense just laid down and let the Jets score that TD, which in my opinion was completely the wrong decision. The Broncos had all 3 timeouts left, so unless the Jets got a first down via penalty, they could've gotten the ball with almost a minute left even after a field goal, and could've been tied instead of down four. I can see the logic, but if I'm right, I think that's a bad decision by McDaniels.

Vince Verhei: I hate that rule. Jets do nothing to earn those 40 yards. Knocking down a receiver is apparently three times as bad as taking a guy out at the knee and ending his career. Hate it hate it hate it.

Bill Barnwell: I think I'm the only one who likes the pass interference penalty as is.

Tim Gerheim: I know that was a legitimate call on that long pass interference against the Broncos, giving the Jets the ball at the 1 and setting up the winning touchdown, but it's still an illegitimate rule. I honestly think you could make a functional offense out of nothing but max-protect punt-length bombs. The worst that happens is an interception, and you'll get at least as many DPI's as interceptions, plus the odd reception. Savvy receivers can often work their body in a way to draw contact like a guard driving the lane, and they would certainly practice doing so in an offensive scheme like that. Needless to say, that would be a totally illegitimate way to play football, and that to me proves the problem with the rule.

Bill Barnwell: I don't think that's very realistic at all.

Tim Gerheim: Only because the refs would get as fed up with it as everyone else. Admittedly you couldn't do ONLY those plays, but deep DPI should be a big part of the game plan.

Bill Barnwell: There were 1,261 passes last year that were thrown 25 yards or more downfield. Pass interference was called on 45 of those plays. That's 3.6 percent of those passes. You can only realistically throw about 15-20 of them per game. You're looking at a pass interference call once every game and a half or so. There were three times as many interceptions (122) as pass interference calls.

Vince Verhei: I know nobody would ever try it, but I think if you actually built an offense for this, with lots of big jump ball receivers, it would be far from the worst offense in the league.

Bill Barnwell: That's the 2009 San Diego Chargers offense. They threw 56 passes 25 yards or more downfield and picked up four DPIs. Even at that rate -- seven percent -- it's not winning or losing you football games by itself.

Mike Kurtz: Barnwell's right, but even then you're forgetting that the officials would simply just stop calling DPI so stringently and instantly your offense is useless. That's why officials shouldn't be robots.

Vince Verhei: Jets longest play from scrimmage was 41 yards. The pass interference play was 46 yards. No team's biggest play should come on a penalty.

Aaron Schatz: It was one of those calls that was correct but complete and total luck. I wish there was some way to change the DPI penalty in the red zone while leaving it as is on the rest of the field -- maybe any DPI inside the 20 advances the ball to a location halfway between the 20 and the spot of the penalty, instead of all the way to the spot of the penalty?

Perrish Cox probably had the best game of his young career today.

Ben Muth: Would people prefer the college rule of ten yards and an automatic first down? Personally, I like the college rule better, but that can get pretty ridiculous when people tackle guys once they're beat to prevent touchdowns. Just wondering what others think.

Tom Gower: I mentioned this in the comments section of last week's Audibles, I think, but Arena Football has the college rule. Any guy who's open more than 25 yards downfield gets tackled. Teams would absolutely take the 15 on tons of passes more than 25 yards downfield. College DPI would be an ever-lovin' disaster in the NFL.

Mike Kurtz: I don't think there is a good solution to the PI problem. Part of the difference between the college and NFL rules is that deep throws in the NFL are more likely to actually be completions, so you need stricter enforcement since there's a greater chance that you're denying a big play. The problem is that uncatchable is an unrealistic but necessary test ... many, many "catchable" balls could or would not, in fact, be caught, but you can only go so far under that theory.

I actually am sympathetic to ideas like Aaron's, which strike some sane balance and build in diminishing returns. Then again, I've also advocated removing special teams from the game, so I have been known to hold some crazy positions.

Tim Gerheim: Pretty much, although it's not perfect either for the reason you describe. I think it would be nice, but unworkable, if there was a sliding scale of what counted as interference depending on how far down the field it occurs. So things like handfighting and maybe even getting there a little early would be more forgivable the deeper the throw goes. But of course, that would require the refs to exercise discretion, and, as detailed in Scramble last week, in today's NFL we don't like our refs making decisions and exercising common sense in preference to a specifically written rule.

Aaron Schatz: That's why I suggested some sort of compromise rule. The problem is that a compromise rule could end up being too complex for fans to understand, but it would work like this:

1) On any DPI where the spot of the foul was outside the 20, ball goes to the spot of the foul.

2) On any DPI where the spot of the foul is at the 20 or closer to the end zone, the ball goes to either a) the 20 or b) halfway between the line of scrimmage and the spot of the foul, whichever spot is closer to the goal line.

Just to give an example on my compromise rule, the Broncos DPI took place on the two, so with my rule the Jets would have gotten first-and-10 on the Broncos 11, halfway between the 20 and the 2. That's a huge 37-yard penalty, awful for Denver, but it doesn't just hand the Jets a touchdown.

Mike Kurtz: Fans are having extreme difficulty with simple rules, not sure that's a useful consideration. Also, if the results of the rule are apparent, eventually fans will grow used to it, even if they don't understand exactly how it works.

Bill Barnwell: And if Holmes is open three yards deeper, it makes more sense for Renaldo Hill to cream him and take a penalty that gives the Jets the ball on the 10-yard line. Every time. That's far more egregrious of a result for me than Holmes getting the ball on the two-yard line.

Aaron Schatz: I think the problem is that you are only thinking about the clear, obvious DPIs. Spot of the foul isn't a problem at all for the clear, obvious DPIs. But as we've learned the last few years, there are a lot of very iffy DPI calls, and a lot of plays where DPI should be called and is not. The rules on what constitutes DPI are really unclear. How many times in Audibles since 2004 has somebody said something along the lines of "I honestly have no idea what constitutes pass interference any more"?

The other answer to this is to create two classifications of DPI, one for touching a guy a little bit and one for completely tackling him, which would hopefully prevent the type of thing Bill is afraid of.

Tom Gower: Which goes back to what Tim said; DPI is one of those rules where the NFL can't be as explicit as it likes to be, which means you get inherent subjectivity on the part of refs and crews, so there's a relatively large element of official's discretion and people (myself included) whine when that discretion and subjectivity is exercised.

There's one thing I think I've mentioned before: a 15-yard Minor DPI infraction to give the officials an intermediate position between a 40-yard field position change and calling nothing. Just don't ask me to write where the line between Minor DPI and Major DPI is.

Ben Muth: I don't see why they couldn't classify DPIs. I don't recall there being that much controversy over five-yard facemasks vs 15-yard facemasks or roughing vs running into the kicker.

Aaron Schatz: Apparently, there was some sort of issue with five-yard and 15-yard face masks, because now there are only 15-yard face masks.

Mike Kurtz: Removal of the five-yard face mask was actually a safety thing. The league didn't want to "reward" dangerous behavior over more-dangerous behavior.

Aaron Schatz: OK, but how is inadvertant behavior dangerous? That was the whole point of the 5-yard face mask, it was for when a defender went to grab the jersey, and the ballcarrier moved a little, so he got the face mask, realized what he was doing, and immediately let go. That's not dangerous, that could happen on every play in football.

Mike Kurtz: Back to DPI: Two categories of DPI is just redefining the problem. How does a shove classify? It doesn't tackle him, but in the end it would have the same effect. It's not like a face mask where you had a clear delineation between incidental and personal foul.

As far as knowing what is and isn't DPI, like I said in Scramble last week, the viewer doesn't have to. In fact, the collective viewer is never, ever going to agree on anything but the most clear-cut calls. We have to stop using that as a yardstick for penalties.

Doug Farrar: I've also wondered for a while if some crews use contact as a de facto "smaller" interference penalty.

Aaron Schatz: They aren't supposed to. Isn't Illegal Contact supposed to only apply to contact before the pass is thrown?

Tom Gower: It's supposed to. I'd almost guarantee you some long DPIs are shoehorned into illegal contact or defensive holding.

Mike Kurtz: Yeah. You do see one called incorrectly instead of the other, but that's usually because the official has to see the contact and then look to see if the ball's out. You get the same timing issues you have with delay of game.

As far incidental, you still had to grab the facemask. Sliding your hand over it was and is still okay, except in certain situations. The league is just saying that no grabs are acceptable (and in fact you get a few slight grabs that aren't called because there's no incidental anymore, which is probably more just).

Doug Farrar: Yeah, but given the huge swings from low to high in just about every penalty every year, it's safe to say that crews see things very differently. Did Alberto Riveron's crew (14 contact calls) check whether the ball was thrown more vigilantly than the crews run by Gene Steratore and Bill Leavy (three each)? You’d have to think so.

Mike Kurtz: I'd actually like to look at all the data, but I don't think sets in the low-teens are going to give you much to work with with respect to year-to-year trends.

Sean McCormick: In general, I agree with Bill that the PI rules have to stay as they are and that the college rules simply don't suffice in a league where so many quarterbacks have the arm and accuracy to hit receivers forty or fifty yards downfield with something approaching regularity. Corners would just hammer receivers who had beat them on play after play, and it would add a lot more penalty stoppages to the game than we have now. PI is certainly a potentially decisive call, and I think the corners should be given a bit more room to make contact than they currently have, but by any stretch, when a guy is tugged on a receiver's face mask, that's going to draw a flag.

Vince Verhei: Last thought on PI, I promise: I would be a lot less upset about the whole thing if the penalty was called evenly. But it seems like a cornerback has to treat receivers like fine china, while wideouts are free to initiate all the contact they want. Either they win the fight, throw the corner down and catch the ball, or they lose the fight and get the penalty.

Ben Muth: A quick counterpoint to the PI thing. D-linemen always use hands to the face. They get their coffee with their hands on an O-lineman's face mask; it is rarely called. Just saying.

Dallas Cowboys 21 at Minnesota Vikings 24

Bill Barnwell: Tony Romo was just picked on a play where Doug Free never came out of his stance and Jared Allen basically re-created his scene from Jackass 3-D.

Doug Farrar: With 13 minutes left in the first half, Troy Aikman tells Miles Austin from the booth that he doesn’t need to use push-off tactics because he’s better than that. I am laughing on both the inside and the outside.

Bill Barnwell: Brett Favre just took a megasack (TM Kurtz). 12-yarder on the Cowboys' 30-yard line on third down, taking them out of field goal range.

Vince Verhei: Your dumb TV moment of the day: Troy Aikman using the telestrator to draw where Bernard Berrian would have run if he had caught the ball. Turns out he would have gone forward.

Mike Kurtz: Hey, now, I'm not sure you can make that assumption in this NFL.

Bill Barnwell: Mike Jenkins just picked up what must be his 43rd pass interference penalty of the past two weeks on a crucial third down in Minnesota, giving the Vikings a new set of downs just before the two-minute warning.

Mike Tanier: I suddenly feel much more employed than Wade Phillips.

Indianapolis Colts 27 at Washington Redskins 24

Bill Barnwell: The Colts are making Ryan Torain look like the second coming of Walter Payton.

Tim Gerheim: While they're overselling the second Carlos Rogers interception opportunity where both he and the receiver had their hands on the ball simultaneously, Manning really has thrown two straight passes to a Redskins defensive back. This is wildly out of character, right? Does anyone have an explanation why he is so seemingly inaccurate so far tonight?

Tom Gower: The first Rogers pick, I think he thought Collie would get separation and he never did. The second, Rogers was exactly where the route was supposed to go-not sure if he just didn't see him, if he thought the target could beat Rogers to the ball, or what.

What really stands out as the difference between good and bad QBs in the NFL is anticipation. If you stop throwing with anticipation and wait for guys to be open, it's really hard to complete passes. The downside is, if you throw with anticipation, you have to be able to accurately anticipate things or you could end up looking really silly.

Aaron Schatz: Man, the Colts defense just misses so many tackles. Last year they were third in broken tackles. They sort of get away with it because they're so fast swarming to the ball that usually you break one tackle and there's another guy there to tackle you two yards later, but they miss a ridiculous number of tackles.

Tim Gerheim: Jim Haslett is the spitting image of Odo from Deep Space Nine. Nerd cred: established.

Bill Barnwell: Can't understand why the Colts attempted that field goal Adam Vinatieri ended up missing. The Redskins haven't been able to stop Manning for the past two drives whatsoever. Two yards would be child's play. I know Caldwell's super-conservative, but Manning's not overruling his coaches anymore these days?

Redskins also let 40 seconds run off the clock by not calling timeout after that third-down stuff before the successful Vinatieri field goal. Instead of 2:35 with two timeouts and the two-minute warning, they now have 2:00 with three timeouts.

Ben Muth: Fourth-and-3 with about 45 seconds left and the Redskins try a 50-yard field goal. Why? You have two timeouts still, be aggressive and go for it, or be conservative and punt it.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Sellers just dragged three tacklers on a pass and got away from all of them for a first down. Seriously, the Colts' philosophy of small, fast defenders leads to a TON of these broken tackles.

Ben Muth: I love Mike Sellers. Every time I watch him, he does three or four things that impress the hell out of me. He might be the best player on the Redskins.

Bill Barnwell: Mike Sellers is definitely the best guy on the team at posing after he makes any play.

Aaron Schatz: I like Mike Sellers too, but he's a good role player, he's not the best player on the Redskins. He's not even in the top five, which I would have as London Fletcher, Brian Orakpo, LaRon Landry (if he's playing strong safety instead of free safety), Santana Moss, and Donovan McNabb.

Ben Muth: Best at his job was more what I was going for. Obviously, all the people you mentioned are more valuable and better football players in the grand scheme of things. But Sellers does everything they ask of him (block, catch, play special teams) really well. In fact, it would be difficult to find a guy that does those things as well as Sellers does.

Aaron Schatz: Colts call an interesting zone on the Redskins' touchdown that makes it 27-24. You've heard of quarter-quarter-half? That was nothing-quarter-half.

Bill Barnwell: I am appalled that people would accuse Donovan McNabb of lacking the required urgency on a key fourth quarter drive.

Doug Farrar: Clock managements: Washington does not has it.

There are several different NFL teams who would like to know where that version of Phillip Buchanon was in years past.

Aaron Schatz: The pass defense played by the Washington secondary on the Colts' three-and-out in the last three minutes was absurdly good. You don't see a lot of Phillip Buchanon playing great man coverage.

Tim Gerheim: Given the beauty of NFL broadcast camerawork I couldn't see the answer to this question, but how is a bomb to a short, double-covered receiver the highest-percentage option on 4th-and-10? That just seems like ridiculous decision-making by McNabb.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 18 Oct 2010

323 comments, Last at 26 Oct 2010, 2:44am by BigCheese

Comments

2
by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:47am

At least Dallas leads the league in first down celebrations in addition to TD celebration penalties. You know it's bad when Jerry Jones is saying after the game, we need to save those celebrations till AFTER we win a game. Of course if the players were smart they would keep their wits about them until they accomplished their goal, or what most would assume should be the goal for this team. Frickin' ridiculous.

p.s. in the Lions-Giants game: I could have sworn the Lions had 7 players on the line of scrimmage on that illegal procedures call, not 6. That was a game-swinging kind of penalty, too.

58
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:59am

I believe the problem was that the receiver at the top of the screen was deemed not to have been on the line of scrimmage ... I'm not sure I agree with the call, either, but then, if that was the guy, as I understand it, the official on that side is allowed to tell you if you're legal or not. Basically, you go out there, line up, check with him, and then you're OK. If that receiver didn't, well, you have a 1-5 team.

1
by Fan in Exile :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:42am

As far as PI calls go, I don't know why they don't go with two levels incidental(or whatever you want to call it) and blatant (or whatever you want to call it). For blatant PI, like tackling the guy to prevent a TD it would remain the same. For incidental it would be 10 yards and a first down.

6
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:58am

I argued for that last week, too. That stops the mugging that'll happen but doesn't make the ticky-tack penalties so damaging. It wouldn't have mattered at the end of the NYJ-DEN game but it might fix the DPI as a play problem that's cropping up in the league lately.

54
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:58am

It wouldn't have mattered? The Broncos were up 20-17 - a 10 yard penalty and 1st down gives the Broncos a shot at holding the Jets to a long field goal try for the tie. Thats a huge difference?

79
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:25pm

I should have clarified. It wouldn't have mattered if there were a tiered PI system. The call against Hill would have been an intensional spot-foul, not a 10+1st incidental.

166
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:15pm

Bronco defenders could consider not grabbing the face mask of a receiver.

210
by Dave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:21pm

Exactly. While I hated that an underthrown jump ball ended up working out in the Jets' favor (disclosure: I hate these Jets), that was a bad, bad PI and deserved no less than a spot foul. I blame that corner for the loss, not a bad call.

The ones that I'd like to see getting a minor instead of major infraction are the ones we've seen so many of lately, where the announcers always then say "that's PI every time because the corner didn't turn around to make a play on the ball" as if that really mattered. The ones where the only reason there's any contact at all is because the WR has to slow down to catch a badly underthrown ball and the corner runs into him. You see a lot of these calls where the throw is so bad that it should be a gimme INT if the CB is looking, but he's sprinting to make up for the fact that he was beat, so he isn't looking for the ball. And then in many cases, the contact isn't nearly enough to stop the receiver from making the catch, because the ball is uncatchable anyway since it's laid up so short and hits the defender in the back.

Those are the ones that really bug me. That contact is caused more by the QB than either of the two guys down the field. And while I agree on the impossibility of making the college rule the rule in the NFL, those situations alone make me favor the idea of minor/incidental vs major/intentional/spot foul. A minor one, enforced the same as illegal contact, would still reward the offense more than they probably deserve, but it at least doesn't guarantee 40 yards and points.

16
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:18am

This makes sense to me, too. I think refs would (and should) call the blatant/intentional version far more often, but you need the option of a 10/15 yard penalty for situations like the PI on Holmes. The game should not be decided on a fluke.

44
by qed :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:48am

My biggest problem with a "minor" DPI penalty is that I don't think it takes much to stop a receiver from catching a deep ball. I think every DB who was fairly close to a receiver on a deep ball would just give a little hand check or a quick shove to prevent them from catching the pass.

61
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:07pm

agreed. Given the way that defenses have pushed the boundaries of the existing rules, I would guess there would be some DB coaches who would do the same with a minor rule: hey, if the score is in this range, any play where you think X, do the minor thing.

It seems to me that this isn't that different than the Megatron play in Week 1: we're trying to define a rule based on what could be considered outliers (how many times does a call like that happen at the end of the game?). For one thing, changing the rule still makes it a game-changing play. Imagine Bears fans reacting if that had stayed a catch, or Jets fans if that becomes a short penalty. (BTW, max college DPI is 15 and first down, not 10 and first down - defensive holding is 10 and first down.)

But my larger point is that the rule change would also apply to all those other situations that don't happen near the end of a game and are currently not that visible ... and as some people have mentioned, I don't think the problem is so much the rule itself but rather the uneven application of the rule, which I think is probably the biggest issue in pretty much all sports. If they introduce lesser DPI, instead of talking about "this penalty is too big", we'll simply end up saying "that was clearly greater DPI, not lesser, are you kidding me?"

162
by Tracy :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:00pm

Speaking as a Broncos fan, I have no problem with the rule, nor how it was applied in this case. The Broncos beat Tennessee 2 weeks ago on a DPI call at the end of the game. I thought the penalty was correct then, and I think it was correct this time.

An observer might think that the contact on this particular play constituted incidental contact, but then the same observer would have to also acknowledge several DPI and offensive interference penalties earlier in the game that benefited the Broncos that were no more eggregious than this. In the end, the Broncos can attribute the loss to a muffed snap on a field goal attempt and a second missed field goal attempt that would have made this particular DPI a non-issue.

211
by Dave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:28pm

DB coaches already do that. The best teams always figure out ways to get their hands on jerseys, belts, arms, etc without it being noticeable. The thinking seems to be that it helps more in the instances where you get away with it than it hurts the few times when it gets caught. Take last year's Colts-Pats game, for instance. Butler and others seemed to have perfected the art of the quick waist grab. It even happened on Wayne's winning touchdown (ineffectively, obviously). They got caught on that one possibly uncatchable ball to Collie down the middle, but he did have him by the waist. That absolutely is coached, and you can tell that the DB's reaction afterwards was just "oh well, it didn't work that time" rather than "Hey! That's BS!"

So while you're right that they'd coach people to game the rules, I don't think that's too different from what's going on now.

Perhaps the rule could be written in a way that says that pretty much anything done with the hands counts as intentional and is a spot foul, but those ones where the receiver runs into you and you get tangled up, but you weren't looking for the ball because you were beat, is one of the minor ones.

Your last sentence is 100% dead on, though. But there are always going to be arguments about every penalty. It's not like we're taking a black/white penalty and turning it into one where the refs have discretion. We're just changing the impact that their discretion has on the game and outcome.

230
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:30pm

As far as I'm concerend, teams shouldn't be throwing deep balls when the defender is close enough to the WR that he can hand check.

234
by Dave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:41pm

Oh come on. At this level, one stride or two arm lengths is the same as being wide open.

Also, the ball is thrown well before it arrives. Defenders sometimes close gaps. Especially when the ball is underthrown, which happens on almost every deep ball.

4
by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:54am

One play that amazed me in NE-BAL was the 1st-and-25 play when Brady hit Gronkowski for 23 yards while getting absolutely buried by Ngota(?) (and by the way Tom, that was not roughing).

I know it's part of the job, but I still can't get over how Brady (and most other NFL quarterbacks) can just stand there, see the pass rusher coming in untouched, and still just stand there and deliver the ball knowing they are going to get absolutely crunched.

8
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:00am

Think Brady was slamming the floor out of anger towards a team mate.
But it was a nice play.

27
by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:30am

Brady was definitely slamming the ground because he thought it was roughly the passer. He is obviously a great player, but man, his cries for roughing the passer have gotten downright embarrasing. That hit was totally clean and Brady was crying about it before he even hit the ground.

81
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:25pm

I guess you didn't see Sanchez cry to the refs for a flag after EVERY play against Denver. Newsflash, every QB and WR complains to the refs. Its sad all around, but everyone singles out Brady.

186
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:40pm

Everyone complains once in a while, but Brady does more than any other QB.

200
by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:02pm

So he's #1!

236
by Bobman :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:46pm

(genuflect)

oh wait, that's not right....

231
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:32pm

You care to back that up?

Pretty much every QB in the NFL does it every time they get hit.

233
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:40pm

Well, first off, we need some kind of an adjusted rate. I'm sure QB's who get sacked and pressured more often make the little "gimme a flag gesture" more times in terms of the pure number of gestures. But QB's who get sacked and hit less frequently like Brady and Manning might potentially make the little "gimme a flag" gesture on a greater percentage of sacks/hits/pressures.

And it probably needs to be defense adjusted as well for teams that are commonly believed to play dirtier like the Titans and Steelers, the teams that supposedly push the physicality of their play and make with the funny business after the whistle. Presumably QB's in general are making the little "gimme a flag" gestures more frequently while playing these teams.

Only after these issues are addressed can we conclusively settle this subject.

237
by Bobman :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:48pm

FTR, I have never seen Manning do it. Not to say he doesn't, but I have yet to see it. I've only seen Brady do this post-injury, so it's a little more understandable, but still kind of icky. Maybe because he's the only I've seen do the roughing signal to the refs, rather than just look at them and say "did you see that?" (which is easier to miss on camera)

241
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:07pm

Sanchez does it. And McNabb used to do it a fair amount, but he was one of those rushing QB's that the refs found it ok for defensive players to unload on. McNabb also does it a ton in reference to pass interference penalties he feels were over-looked.

Eli Manning never does it, as near as I can tell. I can't imagine what would get him worked up one way or the other. Even when he takes a cheap-shot, he just sorta gets up and goes back to the line of scrimmage.

259
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:10pm

Cutler does it if he gets hit in he head, but not on other hits.

108
by billsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:03pm

My favorite was the one where Suggs still had him pinned to the ground and he was already turning to the ref and screaming. Suggs's post-game comments on the matter might be TWIQ material, though:

“He was trying to tell me how to bag a Hollywood actress,” Suggs said. “He said, ‘If you want to get a Hollywood actress, take my seminar on Saturday.’ …He was going over the Dow and the economy and politics. He doesn’t really talk football that much.”

http://www.bostonherald.com/blogs/sports/rap_sheet/index.php/2010/10/17/...

(I also like the Eagles)

17
by Sidewards :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:19am

Another example: During the Steelers-Browns game, there was a point where Roethlisberger had dropped back 11 times, been hit 10, and knocked down 5. Surprisingly took no sacks on the day.

18
by Crymeariver (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:19am

If it's so amazing that a QB can stand there and deliver a pass in these circumstances, why is it not so amazing that the QB might think that he's getting roughed? He's acting instinctively in either case, isn't he? The wonder, I think, is not that these guys get up after being slammed to the ground by a 300-pounder and start looking for a flag. The wonder is the many times they don't.

65
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:13pm

The NBA has a new rule this season that a player can get a technical foul for making a show of looking for a foul call. I wouldn't be shocked if the NFL implements something like that, because it doesn't add to the character of the game for QBs and WRs to be gesticulating wildly after every borderline contact.

91
by Wikitorix (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:38pm

I favor implementing this rule. I submit that the foul should be named "whining" and the hand signal when a ref calls it should be waving fists in front of his eyes in a crying motion.

95
by Barfolomew (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:44pm

LMFAO. Well done, sir.

209
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:21pm

That is awesome.

229
by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:24pm

This is the best idea I've heard in a long time. It should be called the "Brady Rule". I will never call any NFL player a wimp, but if I did, it would absolutely be Tom Brady.

277
by Luke :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:43pm

Brady is one of the bravest QBs in the game. He might whinge for penalties when he gets hit, but the way he hangs in the pocket to deliver the pass downfield in the face of a fierce pass rush has always impressed me. He is a hall of fame QB and really doesn't deserve to be called a wimp by a dweeb on FO.

The image of a ref miming a cry while saying "whining, #12 offense. 5 yards. 3rd down" had me in stitches.

238
by Bobman :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:50pm

full of win

3
by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:53am

Don’t look now, but the Rams are 3-3. And the only major addition to the team is Sam Bradford. He’s single handedly made them respectable. As long as that shoulder holds up, he’s a star in the making.

To be fair, they’re doing it by getting better-than-expected production out of journeymen. Fred Robbins and Na’il Diggs are playing really well, but aren’t the sort that should be getting long term contracts as a reward for their play. Bradley Fletcher, on the other hand, just might be the answer at CB alongside Bartel.

This is a team that’s going to win some unexpected games and screw the pooch just as much, but the fact that they could conceivably win almost any week is such a huge improvement. They're not a conender for a championship, not in any fantasy world. But Bradford has them playing completely on another level than the past few years. The optimism would completely energize any other city in the league except St. Louis, where the signing of a backup shortstop will be bigger news than a Rams win.

63
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:12pm

The Rams and the Lions have, I think, improved to much the same extent. The Rams have a better record, of course, mostly because they have managed to squeak out wins while the Lions have squeaked out losses, and partly because the Lions are racking up penalties at a Raider-like rate ... but anyway, I'll take the first sentence of your last paragraph, word for word. The Lions will also win a couple of games no one will think they should (I hope) and probably lose a couple badly (although the Minnesota game is the only one they've not had a chance to tie or win in regulation), but compared to last season, that's a huge difference.

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by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:16pm

The other thing I like about the Lions is that they now have a few clear strengths (WR, RB, DL) and a few clear weaknesses (OL, DBs). With competent management, it should be possible to produce a good team in a year or two just by improving the problem areas to average and hoping Stafford continues to play and develop.

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by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:55pm

I'm glad you posted that. I was actually wondering about that last night, as it seemed like they were heading in the right direction, but it wasn't reflected in their record. Admittedly, I don't see a lot of Lions football, but I was wondering if I'd misjudged and they were the "same old Lions," or if they were actually making progress, just not reflected on the scoreboard.

Lets face it, neither team is going to generate a lot of interest around here.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:17pm

Didn't they draft a tackle in the 2nd round who is their starting left tackle right now?

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by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:03pm

I always get the sides mixed up, but yes, the 1st pick in the 2nd round is Rodger Saffold. He's staring on one side and Jason Smith (last years 1st rounder) is starting on the other side.

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by Grant (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:36pm

Rodger Saffold starts at LT and Jason Smith at RT. This is extremely disappointing because Smith was drafted #2 overall in order to the Rams' franchise LT and already has been moved to the right side.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:26pm

If you find a franchise left tackle, does it really matter which one it is?

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by Dean :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:08am

It means that Smith will be an overpaid RT and Saffold an underpaid LT for the next few years. Egos being what they are, who knows? Maybe a problem down the line, maybe not. Depends on the individuals.

5
by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:57am

No mention of the worst PI call in the history of the LEAGUE. Andre Johnson CLEARLY pushes off on Brandon Flowers and they call the PI against Flowers. I believe it was a 35 yard penalty -- basically gave the game to the Texans. The worst call I've seen in a long, long time. It wasn't even close.

12
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:12am

Yeah, it was an incorrect call that gave the game away. Say what you will about the Santonio Holmes interference call, but it was DPI and it probably is was what prevented Holmes from making the catch - if his head isn't pulled away from looking at the ball, there's a good chance he makes that catch. He almost made it as it was. The Johnson push-off being called as a DPI against Flowers (I think, right?) was just ridiculous - the unchecked prevalence of OPI (that frequently gets called as DPI because if the players are jostling AT ALL it usually goes against the DB) is so freakin' frustrating. It's much, much more of a problem than correctly called DPI.

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by Tim Gerheim :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:16pm

It was ridiculous that they called it against Flowers, but Johnson caught the ball and the penalty was declined, so the DPI didn't give the game away. Now, you can say they should have called OPI and speculate on what would have happened starting with the ensuing first-and-20, but I don't think it's particularly out of character for a play like that not to be called OPI, regardless of what the rulebook specifies. To me it looked more like handfighting than an egregious push-off, but then again I was watching the game through my Battle Red-tinted glasses.

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by Bobby Wommack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:28pm

If they would have made the correct call and flag AJ for PI, then it would have completely changed the game.

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by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:08pm

You can say that about quite a few calls throughout any game. Perhaps if Mario Williams could ever get a holding call, KC never would never have had a lead to blow in the first place. Get back to me when you are ready to demonstrate that until that play the reffing was perfect.

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by SlipperyPete (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:47pm

"Perhaps if Mario Williams could ever get a holding call, KC never would never have had a lead to blow in the first place."

LOL

Texans' 1st touchdown: Joel Dreessen gets open by shoving Eric Berry to the ground, no flag for pass interference.

Texans' 2nd touchdown: blocker clearly has two fist-fulls of Tamba Hali's jersey, no flag for holding. (This was shown clear as day on the game broadcast.)

I could list 3 more blatant and uncalled penalites on critical plays without even mentioning the Johnson/Flowers call. If there's any fanbase that shouldn't have a gripe with the zebras this week, it's the Texans'.

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by ChrisZ (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:16pm

You are clearly so unburdened by cognitive biases that not only are the the best person to evaluate the performance of the refs yesterday, but you can eschew any need to take a systematic approach to that evaluation, replacing it instead with your recollection of a few plays.

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by Tim Gerheim :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:19pm

I really think if they hadn't flagged Flowers - which was ridiculous - nobody would have anything to say about what Johnson did. His slight push was a very common action that's almost never flagged in the NFL. Except for the silly call on Flowers, that was a routine play (to the extent a 31-yard reception under two minutes can be considered routine).

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:18pm

He pushed Flowers in the back. Hard to consider that hand fighting.

20
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:20am

"Bill Barnwell: ... Andre Johnson just went for 31 yards against Brandon Flowers. Very questionable call. Perfect coverage from Flowers, very subtle push from Johnson. No earthly idea what refs saw against Flowers."

They didn't dwell on it, but it was indeed mentioned.

22
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:23am

Ha. I have a tendency to skip over whatever Barnwell writes. But the fact remains that that penalty was the big OPI/DPI botch of the weekend and rated much more discussion than the Holmes one...

35
by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:37am

Barnwell : Madden :: Peter King : Coffee

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by B :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:56pm

What kind of discussion could you have about it, other than saying yep, it was a bad call. The Holmes discussion deals with how much a legitimate PI call should be penalized.

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by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:55pm

No mention of the worst PI call in the history of the LEAGUE.

OPI gets flagged as DPI all the time. The most egregious ones are where the OPI takes away a sure interception, and the defensive player gets flagged. A little push-off in the endzone? Those happen every Sunday.

7
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:00am

I liked seeing all of the OFFENSIVE PI calls in the NYJ-DEN game. Offenses have been getting away with a lot. It was nice to see them called.

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by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:57pm

There should have been OPI on Holmes on the play that prompted the great PI debate. the reason the bronco caught Holmes's facemask was that Holmes pushed off.

9
by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:00am

The real question isn't "What's wrong with Peyton?", it's "How the heck did the Colts manage to get to 4-2 looking like a MASH unit?".

That's why I'm starting the First Church of Peyton Manning. All praise be to the One True Quarterback, His Holiness Fetushead I.

10
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:06am

So it's up to us now to disprove his divinity?

55
by Paul R :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:59am

Don't forget Saint Pierre and the miracle of the one-handed-catch.

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by Basilicus :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:05pm

I object to your Indulgences! Is it not Brady who teaches that salvation is earned through faith alone, rather than by good leads?

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by Monkey Business (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:13pm

Do not be lead astray by false idols, my child. Though Brady's golden locks and rings seem enticing, he is but a whiny bitch who has records and wins only because of Randy Moss and a great running game and defense.

And it was written, and it was so.

11
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:08am

Good grief, that Rodgers td on the sneak may have been the worst goal line defense since Neanderthals roamed the Earth. One of the Dolphins inside linebackers may have been flirting with a cheerleader.

The Vikings game was a perfect illustration of the value of a defense, y' know, actually catching the passes that hit them in the hands. Clearly dropped interceptions, and their relationship to losing games, might be a metric worth examining.

If you had told me 10 days ago that the Vikings would lose to the Jets, and be held to less than 200 yards of offense against the Cowboys, and would now be tied in the loss columnn with the Packers, and one behind the Bears, I woulda' asked you to leave my liqour cabinet alone. If they win in Lambeau next week, they'll be in great shape, and hugely fortunate. Favre threw the ball reasonably well yesterday, Childress is saying Rice might be back in 3 weeks, and if they can can find a running back who will stoop to picking up a blitz, maybe the amateur photographer will hold up. Dallas' defense is of the type that will give the Vikings big problems; a 3-4 with a dominant noseguard. Two of the three guys the Vikings play at center are soft, and they don't trust the other guy to make the line calls, I guess. Maybe The Chiller should have made more effort to keep Birk in Minnesota last year; it is not hugely speculative to think that the Vikings would have won the Super Bowl if he had.

26
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:30am

The backs have been horrible in blitz pickup but the offensive line has been pretty brutal in pass protection as well. I thought Favre threw the ball very well yesterday with the exception of the miss of Berrian on the slant. But he's also a really easy sack now. His mobility is so limited that it makes pass blocking very difficult.

By the way - I keep hearing the Minnesota secondary is a huge weakness, but this year they have been playing great football. The line hasn't been getting much of a rush yet teams are having great difficulty getting the ball down the field. When they do go deep there has almost always been a defender in close coverage.

One thing that strikes me as odd is the Vikings seem to run right more than they do to the left. Particularly in short yardage. Seems to me when they run left behind Hutchinson on short yardage they are much more successful than when they run right.

The stats on this site suggest overall they run right a little more frequently (30% right, versus 22% left - the rest up the middle)and that they have been more effective running left than right. Aren't Hutchinson and McKinnie better options to run behind?

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:26pm

Well, I haven't had time to review line play in detail this year, but the defenses may understand that as well, and may be stunting/overloading in that direction.

It is aggrvating as hell, but I can understand a guy like Peterson not becoming proficient at picking up blitzes; he can get superstar treatment while never blocking anyone, and for some guys, that's enough. What the hell is the story with their other running backs, however? You'd think they would be able to find a guy with some athletic talent, who was desperate enough to stay in the league, so as to keep blitzers from having a free 15 yard running shot at an aged quarterback.

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by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:05pm

I think Kleinsasser should be the 3rd down back. If for no other reason than to increase the odds of me getting to say "Favre has to hit the Sauss again."

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by ammek :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:39pm

Good grief, that Rodgers td on the sneak may have been the worst goal line defense since Neanderthals roamed the Earth.

I can't believe you passed up the opportunity for a dig at Ted Cottrell!

That play surely was Cottrellian, in that the Dolphins had the wrong personnel wrongly lined up. But no matter — it was only 4th-and-goal with 20 seconds to go in a seven-point game.

McCarthy is taking a lot of heat because the Packers lost, but that was the most inexcusable example of field organization I've ever seen. And it came from the other sideline.

Other notes from MIA-GB:

— The Packers tried just about every stunt and formation in the playbook, but they couldn't get to Chad Henne. Even with Clay Matthews healthy I think they'd have struggled. The Fins line wasn't nearly so dominant against the run — BJ Raji is quietly having a very, very good start to the season. He's much faster than Ryan Pickett: he swivels quickly, and is a dependable tackler.

— The Packers' pass protection issues from last year are resurfacing. Rodgers is feeling the rush too quickly, and the line is struggling with outside rushes. It doesn't help that they started a rookie against Cameron Wake.

— Miami seems to have been an unexciting team ever since Don Shula retired. Early on, it forced the Packer defense to double-team its one explosive wideout, Brandon Marshall; perhaps that was supposed to open up the running game or free the other receivers, but it didn't really work: Miami really needs a #2 WR, as Davone Bess is about a #4.

— Tony Sparano is absolutely my favorite sideline coach. He's the ideal combination of hyperactivity, wrathfulness, mustache, animated gum-chewing, and sunglasses.

— Dan Fouts had a stretch in the first quarter where it seemed he wasn't going to get anyone's name right at all. He's also the master of the unintentional innuendo: barely a drive goes by without some Foutsian enthusing about penetration; and he loves to say things like "Collins grabbed him at the front, then Jenkins took him from behind."

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:06pm

Good grief, you are right! Cotrellian Forces did permeate that entire goal line sequence! Egads!

117
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:17pm

Regarding Cameron Wake, I've watched Wake in 4 games this year. I think he's an elite level rusher and you need to account for that in a game plan. It didn't seem to me that GB gave the RT any help that I noticed.

If I was going to rank the most important players to GB Mathews would be second and Finley would be in top 3-4. They also played without their starting RB, RT, and a few more defensive starters. That's a hell of a lot to overcome.

On the negative side. Rodgers seems to throw a lot of int's late in close games when he gets rushed. Now maybe that's just a normal thing. QB's tend to do bad things when they are getting hit as they throw. But he seems to save his really bad throws for late in the game and OT.

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by ammek :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:07pm

We're not supposed to talk up ProFootballFocus around here, but they were riding the Wake bandwagon last year. (This year, they've moved onto Matt Roth.) I figured Wake would have made a nice Cover-3 story last season, or merited more than a passing mention in FOA, but he didn't.

Rodgers hasn't really thrown a lot of INTs at any point of the game — at least not before this year. The last couple of weeks he has made a bad throw in overtime, but it's way too early to call that a streak. More consistent problems for the Pack are bad punting, penalties on special teams coverage, Rodgers getting flustered in the pocket, and Charles Woodson sulking as he keeps getting called for interference.

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by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:56pm

Ammek, you're fairly hard on Woodson considering you're a Packers fan, so what did you think about the calls against him yesterday? I've argued a few times that he gets some bad calls against him based largely on his reputation for holding a lot.

For anyone who didn't watch the game, Woodson was flagged twice. The first was for defensive holding, which gave Miami a first down after an incomplete pass on 3rd and 2. Miami was out of FG range, but ended up with a FG after getting the first down by penalty. I rewound and watched this play a second time, and to me it looked like a perfectly legal jam where the WR lost his footing trying to cut inside and Woodson ended up pushing him to the ground. This was definitely within 5 yards of the LoS. There was not a close-up replay of this play, but I sure didn't seem him grab anything, and there was really no reason to grab since he got a good jamn right from the start and the route was going to be too shallow be be effective.

The second call seemed much more egregious, though it had no effect on the game as it was the second to last play of regulation and Miami took a knee on the final play. Woodson was covering Marshall and did nothing but backpedal right from the snap, never stopping or changing direction, and looking into the backfield instead of right at Marshall. Marshall simply ran straight ahead and plowed into Woodson, even lowering his shoulder. The call was illegal contact, as Henne threw towards that sideline out of bounds (there were multiple WRs to that side), but after the contact.

The more I think about that play, the more I believe that the coaches told Marshall to run over Woodson and try to get a cheap penalty. After scoring the tying TD with 14 seconds left GB's squib kick was caught by one of the second level guys on the return team and Miami had the ball at their own 43, so if the penalty had been a 15-20 yard DPI instead of a 5 yard illegal contact, Miami could have tried a long FG to win in regulation.

Also, the penalty of the punt was equally ridiculous. Miami went on scored a TD after GB was penalized for lining up a played over the center on a punt. Here's an article covering it, this time with photo evidence showing that the defender was lined up the required yard off the LoS to make the play legal:

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/105143599.html

164
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:04pm

thanks for that link - I noticed the player wasn't directly on the line of scrimmage but I didn't know about the 1 yard rule.

Kind of a ridiculous rule. There is no way for a ref to know exactly how far off the ball a player is.

But still, GB was either stupid or pushing their luck by going right to the edge of 1 yard and lining up directly over the center.

175
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:26pm

From what the coaches said it sounds like they instruct the player the line up 1.5 yards back in this case to avoid that type of call. However, Francois was only signed in the last week to shore up GB's injury depleted LB corps, so who knows how much time they had to work with him on that specific play.

And as far as the refs knowing how far back the player is, I'd agree with you in the middle of the field, but from the picture we can see Francois lined up right on the hash marks! Even more, the nose of the ball is exactly touching one hash mark, so as long the defender does not cross the next mark, he must be legal. If a ref can't tell whether the player crosses that mark I don't see how he can throw a flag. It's not like offensive players on the LoS are never given any leeway as to how far back they line up.

301
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:13pm

Actually, from that photo there is absolutely no way to tell if he was one yard off the line or not. In the article, Hochuli is quoted as saying that even a foot placed inside the 1-yard zone means the play is a penalty. I don't htink anyone can tell from that photo wether his foot is past the hashmark (making it a good call) or not.

- Alvaro

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by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:37pm

I agree that this picture doesn't show anything. You can't even see the defender's foot and the ball is covered by shadow.

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by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:17pm

I was flipping between MIA-GB and ATL-PHI, and I think I must have missed the holding call. I did see the illegal contact call, and I think you might be right that Marshall was looking to draw it. However, IIRC (I haven't been able to re-watch the play) Woodson wasn't exactly turning to run with Marshall. If he gets his hips around, you could argue that it was incidental contact, but like you said, Woodson was backpedaling. He had no intention of letting Marshall go past without contact.

I agree that the call on Francois was made in error.

181
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:35pm

But should that even be a penalty? If Marshall initiates the contact on a player moving away from him i don't see how that can be a penalty.

I tried to find the official definition of illegal contact, but the best I could come up with was an update of NFL rules for 2007:

Illegal contact and defensive holding will continue to be strictly enforced. After five yards, if a receiver attempts to evade a defender, the defender cannot make contact that impedes the receiver in any way, as long as the quarterback is in the pocket with the football. Grabbing the jersey or any other part of a receiver’s uniform is a foul for defensive holding and will be called. The only time defensive holding will not be called is if the ball is already in the air to another receiver. When an official sees illegal contact, he will look to the quarterback. If the quarterback is out of the pocket or if the ball is already in the air to another receiver, illegal contact will not be called.

link: http://www.nfl.com/kickoff/story/09000d5d801e3eb1/article/new-rules-for-...

It sure sounds like the WR has to try to evade the defender, which Marshall did not.

193
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:52pm

I'm pretty sure "evade" in this context means "gain separation," not "avoid contact." Marshall was trying to evade Woodson by running past him. And keep reading -- the defender cannot "impede the receiver in any way"; I think that probably includes trying to draw the football equivalent of a charge.

204
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:06pm

Um, yes? Marhsall didn't try to gain separation, or run past Woodson, he ran into Woodson, eliminating separation. That's the exact opposite of evading. And I don't think you are parsing the sentence properly; the part that says "the defender cannot make contact that impedes the receiver in any way" is dependent on the first part. The defender is not responsible for contact that the WR initiates.

Think about it. If this were not the case every WR in the league would simply try to run over any defender 5 yards past the LoS.

The drawing a charge analogy doesn't even make sense because there is no equivalent penalty on the offensive player, like in basketball.

205
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:08pm

Yes there is: holding, OPI, or setting an illegal pick.

214
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:33pm

I've never seen an OPI called unless the WR extends his hands towards the defender, except in the case of an illegal pick, which generally requires another WR to catch a ball in the area. If another Miami WR had cut outside behind Marshall then it should have been OPI for an illegal pick.

However, this is all irrelevant as to the original point. There was no illegal pick, and Woodson didn't take a fall. The point is that WRs can't simply run over DBs to draw a penalty, according to the rules and any same definition of "evade".

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by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:41pm

If Woodson made a reasonable attempt to defend Marshall -- that is, if he'd turned his hips just a little bit and tried to run with Marshall -- then there wouldn't have been a collision. I think it's reasonable for a receiver to assume that a defender is going to try to, you know, defend him. So suggesting that Marshall was the only one to initiate contact is pretty disingenuous. Marshall was doing something that had at least some semblance of his job (running a route), while Woodson was doing no such thing. Marshall was making at least something of an attempt to evade Woodson by running past him. Woodson wasn't doing anything except trying to physically stop (or impede) Marshall.

And your last sentence sums up exactly the point I was trying to make: despite Woodson's tragic (or comedic) attempt to draw one, there is no such thing as charging in football.

251
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:11pm

Well today I learned that "evade" means "to run directly into". Thanks for your incredible enlightenment dmb.

I also learned that an NFL CB who backpedals in coverage is not doing his job. I am going to write a sternly worded to letter to the NFL right now, because from what I've seen in my 20+ years of watching football there are literally dozens of CBs who are not doing the jobs they are paid for every weekend! They ought to be docked their paychecks.

I guess the blame really lies with college football, because I've watch that for about as long, and it seems to me that these NFL players are just continuing the bad habits which they've cultivated at that level.

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by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:40pm

Again, why is Marshall supposed to assume that Woodson wasn't going to turn his hips and run, as defensive backs do when you run a vertical route? If Marshall DID assume this and shift to the side a bit, and Woodson actually turned and ran (as a defensive back will do 99.9% of the time if he's actually intent on covering the receiver), then Marshall would've run into Woodson. So your argument is that Marshall should try to evade Woodson by anticipating that Woodson will do something completely unexpected, and move in a manner that would result in contact the vast majority of the time? I think it's probably much more realistic to conclude that Marshall was, perhaps, trying to evade Woodson by running PAST him, not expecting Woodson to essentially stay put.

And if you're trying to cover a receiver, then you shouldn't still be backpedaling when he's as far downfield as you are. If you are still backpedaling at that point, then you're going to be burned very, very, very badly. I guess we could conclude that Woodson was doing his job very, very, very badly ... but since we know that (1) he's more-than-competent in coverage; and (2) that he likes to play physically, I think it's more likely that he wasn't really trying to follow Marshall.

Congratulations on mastering the concept of sarcasm, but it's not bolstering your arguments.

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by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:23pm

Without knowing Woodson's exact assignment on the play it's impossible to know what he should have done, from Marshall's point of view.

The Packers play primarily zone coverage under Capers. Woodson backpedaling while looking into the backfield could have been a sign that he was playing zone coverage and was going to hand off Marshall to safety coverage deep, while guarding primarily against out routes (especially considering the game clock situation).

He could have also been playing man under coverage, in which his responsibility is to follow the WR and take away all underneath, with safeties covering passes over his head. This type of trail technique was his assignment against Calvin Johnson on a TD play for the Lions a few weeks ago, in which he purposely let Johnson get behind him knowing the safety was playing deep. The defense didn't work in this case, but the principles are sound.

These are just two examples of very standard coverages employed in almost every football game. Unless Marshall knows what play GB called there is no reason for him to expect Woodson to move in any particular direction. The idea that a defender has to get out of the way of a receiver is also something I have never heard. If you think this is part of the rules, then show me the rule. I've already produced the best example of a rule that I can find that says the receiver has to try to evade, and again, "evade" means the complete OPPOSITE of "run directly into".

278
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:49pm

It's true that Woodson may have been in zone coverage, in which case his actions do make more sense. But if he's using trail technique, his hips still needed to be turned by that point; being a full 2-4 strides behind the receiver won't do any good.

Again, unless Marshall actually put his hands out to shove Woodson and initiate contact, it's hard to know whether Marshall was trying to run past him or not. I think "running past" falls under the umbrella of "evade," and unless he knew that Woodson had no intention of following him, it was reasonable for Marshall to take a straight path.

The inaccessibility of the actual rulebook makes it difficult to know for sure what the correct call should have been; all I have to go on is the online "digest." The description of pass interference notes that the defender can't cut the receiver off -- which you could argue Woodson did -- but the receiver cannot contact a defender who has "established position." (But was Woodson's position established if he was moving?) Furthermore, these apply to Pass Interference, but there's no mention of Illegal Contact, so I don't know if it works the same way if the ball's not in the air.

From what I saw, I thought that Marshall and Woodson were both complicit in the contact, and I probably would have ruled it as incidental contact. (Even though it seemed like the most intentional contact possible -- both players involved seemed to invite it.) I think I overstated my case for Marshall a bit, but I can also see pretty easily how it could've ended up as a penalty on Woodson. Calling it "egregious" or "ridiculous" is probably quite an overstatement.

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by ammek :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:40am

I missed the second call. The first one could have gone either way. That's the deal with Woodson (and, even more so, with Al Harris): there is a huge gray area on dozens of plays. I'm not really into debating calls — I don't know the rules well enough, and I have a small screen — but I tend to believe, in general, that the Packer DBs get away with more than their fair share of holds. Consequently I'm loath to complain about one or two borderline flags against them.

However, it's clear that Woodson is in a rut. There are several reasons why: he's come close to publicly criticizing the Packers for failing to sign Marshawn Lynch; he's obviously affected by the injuries; he desperately wants to play in the Superbowl and now it looks as though he won't make it in 2010 (and 2011 is up in the air). And he seems to be ticked off about either the penalties being called against him, or the coaches who are trying to alter his game so that he draws fewer flags. I saw him give up on a play against Miami — first time ever. Naturally, it was seconds after the announcers had been venerating his attitude.

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by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:29pm

New Twist on the punt call:

The violation of a new rule that cost the Green Bay Packers dearly in their 23-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday may have shocked the Packers and their fans, but in linebacker Tim Dobbins' eyes, Green Bay had gotten away with lining up someone directly over the long snapper multiple times before Ed Hochuli's crew tossed a flag in the fourth quarter.
Dobbins, aware of the rule change, had come to the sideline earlier in the game, saying that Green Bay was too close to long snapper John Denney.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-dolphins/fl-dolphins-notebook-1...

In other words, it seems the Packers had been doing it before, the Dolphins saw it, told the ref., and it was called. So it wasn't a totally arbitrary call. The Packers did something to earn it (and the Dolphins too).

300
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:11pm

So in addition to getting the call wrong (the photo I linked to shows this, so GB didn't earn the penalty no matter what a Dolphins player says), Hochuli's crew wasn't even checking for violations of the rule until a Dolphins player brought it up?

That sucks in multiple ways. First of all it shows that the officials were not doing their jobs properly if they did indeed miss this call earlier in the game. Second, what if the first "violation" had occurred in 4th and 6 or more? GB would have been penalized, Miami would have still had to punt, and GB probably would have adjusted the formation to avoid the same penalty later in the game. Instead, the penalty is saved up for a crucial short yardage situation where the penalty grants Miami a free, game changing first down.

Horrible, horrible officiating, no matter how it is spun.

302
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:31pm

The photo shows no such thing whatsoever. It is impossible to tell wether his foot is inside the hashmark (in which case it's a penalty) or not (in which case it isn't). So either there's no photographic evidence of wether the call is correct or not, and it's just wishful thinking by Cheeseheads that there is, or there IS a definitive answe to be found in another shot somewhere yet a Packer.centric blog chose to use the one where it can't be determined from.. hm...

- Alvaro

304
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:46pm

Surpirse, surprise, there IS an image that clearly shows where his foot is and it's not even close: he was well past the hashmark and thus within one yard of the LoS. See post 303 for details, but thanks for the video you provided to put that miserable blog entry to rest.

I do agree it was horrible officiating, but luckily the Dolphins were able to overcame that egregious non-call on the final regulation play and won anyway.

- Alvaro

316
by Noah of Arkadia :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:33pm

So where is that image, BigCheese?

@Arkaein

I thought you might take it like that, and in a way you may be correct, but what I think is interesting is how the Packers were to blame. I mean, a Dolphins player noticed the penalty, lobbied to get it called and helped his team win a game. That may be "right" or "wrong". But where were the Packer players and coaches meanwhile? They all could've noticed the same thing and helped their team win the game, too.

In my book, it's a big "play" for Dobbins.

93
by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:44pm

AGREE.

Birk could've very well put them over the top. I'll bet he's thought the same thing.

110
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:04pm

I think it may be the most consistently under appreciated position in the NFL. Weakness at that spot just makes everything hugely more difficult. For some unimaginable reason, Birk was put off by The Chiller, so unless there was a lot of cash to help out, Birk just wasn't thrilled with the idea of staying in Minnesota. Ol' Mr. Personality probably didn't do himself or Vikings fans any favors when he decided that the drop off from Birk, to the other guys they had, wasn't too steep.

206
by crack (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:10pm

Eh, let's just agree there were personality issues on both sides of that relationship. Birk wouldn't have cottoned to Favre. And he would have led a revolt of one with Moss's return.

113
by KahnsHotDogs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:07pm

I think the Aaron Rogers sneak should have been called for some penalty on the Packers though.
Watching the replay, as Rogers walks up to the line under center (pretending to audible - great fake) the LT stands up out of his stance and never 'resets' before the ball is snapped and Rogers waltzes in. Illegal shift/motion?

I couldn't tell if that was part of the trickery or not, but it was well executed by the Pack and caught the Dolphins D totally sleeping, on a 4th & goal and the game on the line no less.

118
by jmaron :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:23pm

I thought it would have been a great call even if they didn't trick them with a quick snap. The Dolphins had one nose tackle over the center - to the defensive right side they had a safety, a db and a linebacker. I don't see how on hell Miami stops that play with that personnel.

Which brings me to my theory on short yardage. Why don't teams spread it out and then sneak or run? Why bring in "power packages" and make one huge pile?

226
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:15pm

I thought it was pretty close. Clifton definitely turned to look at Rodgers to hear the line call, but I think he did get back into his stance before the snap. He may not have been set for a full second though. That would be tough to tell without a timer with tenths of a second running, that could be reviewed in slow motion.

My guess is that it wasn't part of the play. I think at best it was an option on a called pass play that was spotted by Rodgers and Colledge (the LG who tapped his leg to signal to Rodgers to execute the run). Clifton getting out his stance came close to screwing it up.

EDIT: came across this video of highlights from the game (skip to about 2:35). I was wrong, Clifton was not set for a full second. If anything he got back into his stance almost simultaneously with the snap:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LwWgV6LDn4

As a Packers fan I would gladly have traded a penalty here, giving GB a 4th and goal from the 6, for a a reversal of the holding call against Woodson and the BS punt formation call, the two of which extended Miami drives that ended in 10 points for them.

303
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 3:44pm

Except that, unlike the useless photograph in the blog linked above, this video CLEARLY shows at 1:34 that his foot was over the hashmark, thus making it a legit penalty (go to full-screen mode at 1:34, and you can clearly see the hashmark to the left of his calf).

So basically the net result is, the Packers got a game-tying TD on a play that should have been nullified by an illegal shift, and even if we substract the FG from the holding call, that leaves the packers down 4 with :03 seconds left (after the 10-second run-off) and 6 yards to go for the TD. So unless they had a TO left at that point, they shouldn't even have been able to take the game into overtime.

Shoddy officiating indeed...

- Alvaro

305
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:04pm

You've got to be kidding me. That image is taken from a much worse angle. Even if you could clearly see the far end of the hash mark (debateable), you can't tell exactly where his foot is in relation to the mark.

Notice that the toes of GB's shoes are white? All you can tell is that the player's leg is blocking most of the view of the has mark, and from that angle that doesn't mean he was over it.

And he would have to be over it, because the still photo I linked to CLEARLY (notice, correct usage of this word) shows the nose of the ball barely touching the far side of the next hash mark.

Finally, responding to my different comments in four places with basically the same argument does not make your case four times as good, only four times as redundant.

308
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:32pm

You can EXACTLY tell where the foot is in relation to the mark. The fact that you can't actually read what I said and are looking at the wrong spot (as indicated by the fact that you are looking at the toes of the shoes) does not change this at all.

Look again, but this time look at the black part of the shoe (the heel), then look to the left of it and notice the hashmark protuding from underneath said black part. Which means that since, as you have helpfully pointed out, the front end of the GB shoes are white, and the hasmark is clearly sticking out from the black part of the shoe, there is about half a player's foor otver the hashmark. Once again, as you correctly point out, the ball is clearly barely touching the far side of the next hashmark. Which then means that there is CLEARLY less than a yard between the nose of the ball and the tip of the shoe. And this then clearly shows that the penaty was 100% correctly called.

So thank you for helping me point it out in detail for anyone who was looking at the tips of the shoes and htinking that's where the hasmark is instead of looking at where it actually is...

- Alvaro

322
by Arkaein :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 8:33pm

Oh, I understood what you meant, you are just wrong.

Obviously you don't understand the concepts of geometry or optical projection, and that two objects that overlap in a 2D image are not necessarily touching. ALL that we know from this picture is that the player's foot is obscuring part of the hash mark, and that from the angle of the shot that means the player's foot is either on OR BEHIND the mark.

Unless you think that the top of the player's ankle (where the two white pixels of the hash mark are visible) is touching a stripe on the field. At this point, I could almost believe that you do think that.

323
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/26/2010 - 2:44am

Riiiiight... because it's abcolutely imposible to tell from a 2-D image where two objects are in relation to each other. Makes all those NFL replays pretty much worthless since they're all 2-D.

Just admit you're wrong, the Packers messed up as usual, and move on. The denial of what everyone can plainly see is embarrasing...

- Alvaro

13
by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:13am

Even as a Steelers fan, I wouldn't mind seeing Harrison suspended a game. The Cribbs hit, I thought was only borderline - seemed like some shoulder at least showed up, from the brief replay I saw on Sportscenter - but even if they were both textbook, the optics of KO'ing two players in one game should really be enough for the league to sit up and take notice.

122
by countertorque :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:35pm

I do not agree that we should evaluate Harrison's actions based on the responses of the people he hit.

126
by billsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:50pm

Well, if he's concussing them, there shouldn't be a response.

(I also like the Eagles)

127
by AnonymousOne (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:50pm

So you admittedly didnt see the game, just a brief replay of about 10 seconds of it, and you think Harrison should be suspended even if both hits were legal?

I dont understand football fans nowadays.

146
by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:19pm

I'm saying that when one player puts out two other players in the same game, that's a red flag, and someone in a position of authority should look at it closely. Then, if that person deems that a suspension is in order, I would not object, even though the player is on my preferred team.

152
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:32pm

Isn't the technique supposed to be under review and not the outcome?

165
by Mystyc :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:08pm

Yes. But repeated outcomes may suggest a common cause, and it bears a closer look by someone with the authority to enforce their conclusion. Review the technique, sure, but you can use outcomes to tell you where that review might be most needed.

137
by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:05pm

So what should Harrison have done on those two plays?

On the Cribbs hit, it looked to me like he was trying to place his head on the ball, and Cribbs was falling/folding because he was trying to fight out of Woodley's grasp and was being dragged down from behind. Any lower, and he'd be close to Cribb's knees. If he held his head up and hit with his face-mask, I'm not sure it's any safer

On the Robiskie hit, Harrison was aiming for the torso and Robiskie curled up, again lower his head into Harrison's. If Harrison was aiming for the head/shoulders, as he's been told not to this year, he would have missed.

I'm not saying Harrison is a saint or that the outcome of the plays wasn't something that should be avoided if possible, but what is it that people want? How should Harrison have made those two tackles?

178
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:31pm

Um, what? Are you crazy?

On the first play - the Cribbs hit - he wasn't trying to place his head on the ball. Look at the damn replay - the ball was actually completely to the right of Harrison's entire body. If he had punched out to the right, he could've hit the ball. But he didn't. He aimed *straight for* Cribbs's head with his own helmet.

What he should've done there is lower his hips, bend his knees, and try to get his arms around Cribbs to stop his momentum. If Harrison hadn't knocked Cribbs out, he would've gained another yard or so because Harrison wasn't trying to stop his momentum at all.

"Any lower, and he'd be close to Cribb's knees. If he held his head up and hit with his face-mask, I'm not sure it's any safer"

Woodley is wrapped around Cribbs's knees. Harrison wasn't even close to him. There's a full body width between the two.

Seriously, just watch the replay again. Harrison's arms are tucked into his body, he flat-out lowers his helmet into Cribbs's. Harrison's shoulder actually ends up under Cribbs's chin after his head gets deflected upwards - he wasn't even *aiming* for Cribbs's body. He was *aiming* for his head.

"On the Robiskie hit, Harrison was aiming for the torso and Robiskie curled up, again lower his head into Harrison's"

I'm assuming you mean Massaquoi. Again, no. Absolutely wrong. Harrison actually drove *upwards* from a slight bend and nailed him right in the head/shoulder area. Massaquoi didn't lower his head much at all.

Not even an attempt to tackle in both cases. It's absolutely ridiculous it wasn't flagged.

183
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:36pm

What should he have done? Not lead with the crown of the helmet, of course.

And in response to your paragraph on the Cribbs hit, the generic advice for defensive players is to "see what you hit", so yes, holding his head up and hitting with his facemask would have been more appropriate.

195
by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:55pm

What's hilarious is that Harrison's been quoted as saying he's aiming for the torso. If he was, he's got the worst aim in the history of sports. Especially on the Cribbs hit, that's not even close - he's like, three feet off.

He's not going for the ball, he's not going for his chest, he's not wrapping up - he just made a straight beeline for Cribbs's head. Jeez, I mean, I've spent a lot of time in western PA and so I kinda like the Steelers (it's the former Penn Stater in me, appreciating long loyalty to coaches) but Harrison should be suspended for those hits. You really need to watch them a few times to grasp exactly how egregiously bad they were.

185
by SFC B (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:38pm

So, it's the fault of the players who Harrison speared that they got concussions? As to how he should have made those tackles? How about tackling instead of turning himself into a projectile?

14
by Guy#1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:16am

How about two DPI penalties, a normal one which is 10 yards and a first down, and then an intentional/egregious/"extra bad" one which is a spot foul? Bring some ref discretion into it.

19
by Guy #1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:19am

Sorry I was in a rush to comment and didn't see that two other people had already said this. But I think it makes way more sense than the current rule or the others suggested in the above article

21
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:21am

That seems like a terrible solution because of the subjectivity. To me, the Santion Holmes one of Sunday was a blatant, clear case of DPI that actually prevented the ball from being caught. That should be a spot foul according to the system you propose, right? But the contact was small and looked sorta unintentional, so it should be 10 yards and first down then? You don't want to make refs to constantly have to look into a player's soul and decide what's intentional or not - any DPI is egregious if it prevents a catch from happening... which means that the Holmes catch should be a spot foul and no one should be complaining about it being too much of a "gift" to the offense...

24
by Guy #1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:24am

Unfortunately the current rule doesn't exactly leave out ref subjectivity, so I don't think that's a sufficient argument against the two-tier DPI. I didn't see the Jets play so I can't argue about it specifically. But teams are just getting way too many fake big plays out of this penalty.

Also, why not just go back to the pre-Polian 2003 rules where defensive backs and receivers were allowed to make some contact with each other? Less technical, less subjectivity, more ballsy receivers and corners. I think it would be great for football

28
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:31am

Well, the Polian-spear-headed "point of emphasis" change really only referred to press coverage at the line because the Pats DB's were grabbing Colts receivers at the LOS and yanking them down to the ground in the championship game. (And, somewhat forgotten, the Panthers DB's were doing the same thing to Eagles' WR's that year.)

Up until then, there had been a "swallow the whistle, let them play" mentality in the playoffs and Belichek used it to his advantage by encouraging his players to break the rule until it was called. There's no doubt that the Patriots' DB's were committing illegal contact violations, so the "point of emphasis" always felt legit, like "hey refs, teams know you are not calling this penalty, so start calling it." It wouldn't change the down-field game all that much, to let DB's get away with that penalty. And, as far as I can tell, there was absolutely no rule-change after 2003, so there's no way to "go back to pre-Polian 2003 rules."

29
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:31am

I'm as big a Jets fan as you'll see, and I think the Holmes play was ridiculous. The call was "right" in the sense that there was a tug on the facemask. But it was a hail mary pass (and underthrown at that) to a covered receiver on 4th down. The likelihood of success on the pass was tiny and the contact was incidental. The penalty decided the game. Taking my Jets jersey off for a moment and viewing the play objectively, I would prefer a no call there than handing the Jets the game. The best result, however, because there was legitimate contact with the facemask would be short penalty that gives the Jets a first down but continues to leave the outcome of the game in the hands of the players.

45
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:50am

Well, I am not a Jets fan and, to me, it looked like Holmes would have made the catch if the DB didn't jerk his head away from the ball right as it was reaching his hands. As it was Holmes came very close to making the catch. If the DB doesn't commit DPI, then there is a good chance Holmes makes the catch (this is not even addressing the contact before the ball reached them...) It was a goofy play and certainly not a pretty bit of football, but how can anybody complain about a clear-cut case of DPI being called correctly? And it didn't give the game to the Jets. Denver had a 3 timeouts left and plenty of time on the clock.

Denver fumbling a snap is what "gave the game away," period.

42
by Jetspete :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:45am

Led, if you read anything about the play it was designed to put three guys out right and holmes in one on one coverage left. When nothing opened right, Holmes on a double move which is why it was a long throw (why there wasnt a safety valve i dont know, likely more shottenheimer stupidity). and the ball was far from underthrown, ball placement was the reason holmes had a play on the ball to begin with.

So basically, even though youre a huge jets fan, you would rather be 4-2 and lose a game because the refs have no idea how to call OPI or a personal foul than be 5-1 because the refs properly called defensive pass interference?

the game was decided by the players. players know the rules. players broke the rules, and refss fairly enforced the rules.

57
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:59am

I'm happy as hell to have the win, but I'm capable of being objective. I don't think the Jets need to apologize for the win because the rule was applied correctly. But it's a dumb rule that turns a 4th down prayer into first an goal because of incidental contact. The officiating overall was terrible and Denver benefited from it on net, but that's a different issue.

99
by Mike W :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:55pm

Amen. Look, we all hate how important DPI (or OPI, or a no-call) has become, and we all hate the begging for a call, the crap underthrows leading to long penalties, etc. But you know how to get that all out of the game? Get your DBs to stop. grabbing. and. pulling. and. bumping. receivers.

Some of us old guys remember when players were taught not to contact receivers, and instead just run alongside them, and make a play for the ball as it arrives. Now they seem to be taught to try to get away with whatever they can. Offensive players get into the act too, and it becomes a meta-game as to what gets allowed, working the refs, establishing acceptable levels of contact, etc. It's a slippery slope, and it leads to the NFL turning into the NBA. Who's in favor of that, show of hands? Anyone? Bueller?

It may not be tenable any longer to expect DBs and LBs to physically be able to cover people without lots of contact, which would be a problem for which the league may not have a readily available adjustment. But the NFL needs to at least try to reclaim the idea of a much lesser degree of acceptable contact, or we're just going to have to live with the current state of affairs, and worse.

15
by slam (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:17am

How about a spot of foul or half the distance to the goal, whichever is less, penalty for DPI?

23
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:23am

Yeah. I think adding the "half the distance to the goal" restriction would cover most, if not all, of the bases I've seen here. You're still talking about giving away 25 yards on a bomb to the end zone, but not placing the ball on the 1. For a 50 yard PI from the offense's own 30, the ball's being placed at the defense's 35 instead of the 20. That's still HUGE.

66
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:14pm

seems reasonable, but it kinda takes the endzone fade from the 2-yardline out of the playbook...

73
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:19pm

I wouldn't mind that at all.

101
by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:55pm

Why? Either with the current rules or half the distance, a DPI in the end zone would result in first down at the 1 yard line.

115
by Hokieball (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:09pm

Nah. It still resets the first down, and unless the clock is an issue you can't just give away 1st and Goals. Sooner or later even the most inept offense will score.

307
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:23pm

DOUBLE POST

- Alvaro

306
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 4:22pm

The Chicago Bears under Mike Martz would like to strongly differ with that statement...

- Alvaro

31
by 9802 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:32am

Agree. I've always thought that would make the most sense, it is how all other penalties are handled, why not PI?

I also think they should make PIs reviewable. My understanding is they don't want to make subjective calls reviewable, but those are the hardest to make at full game speed. Why not have the ability to overturn obvious miscalls like the Andre Johnson call?

176
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:28pm

I was going to suggest this myself.

Every other penalty maxes out at half the distance to the goal, I would be fine with DPI doing so as well.

309
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:11pm

I don't think maxes out is correct.

Isn't half the distance to the goal only applied when the resulting spot would be inside the endzone?

Which is something I have never understood, btw. Why aren't they moved back all the way to the 1? And, if you have consecutive penalties, the second of which starts at the one, it should be a safety. Otherwise we get what we saw in the... I beleive it was Cowboys against Bears, where the Cowboys commited two penalties at their one inch line and it didn't cost thema nything since they couldn't be pushed back any farther...

- Alvaro

25
by Thok :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:30am

When was the last time every NFC West team was on a winning streak?

(Yes, all of the streaks are "Won 1". But it certainly hasn't happened in a while.)

179
by Felden (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:32pm

It's never happened in the current NFC West.

Last time it happened in ANY NFC West was Week 12, 1987.

Saints d. Bucs
Falcons d. Cowboys
LA Rams d. Lions
49ers d. Packers

30
by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:31am

I read the other day that the Packers were 1-10 in games decided by 4 points or less since the beginning of the 2008 season. Now they are 1-11.

Watching the Packers make the same mistakes it's pretty clear that McCarthy is part of the problem. Yes Green Bay has suffered injuries. But the game last week and again this week were there to be had if the Packers don't make some really stupid plays, especially on special teams.

62
by jonah_jamison (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:09pm

Agreed. McCarthy is easily one of the biggest boneheads coaching today. He routinely makes Andy Reid look like a time management savant with his botched 2 minute meltdowns. For all the talent that team has, they seriously under perform. He seems to cost them at least 3-5 points per game with moronic calls.

32
by Jonadan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:32am

I've been griping about PI rules for a while now, but haven't we all? But I don't think there's a good solution. I also come at this from the (very different) perspective of a soccer referee.

Defensive PI:
Inside 10 yards from the LOS, spot foul.
Outside 10 yards, the longer of 10 yards or half the distance from LOS to the spot of the foul, + automatic first down.
You could even just drop the first of those, depending, and make all DPI either 10/half-to-spot

Also: are there actual guidelines for what constitutes PI? I mean, there's the obvious, but sometimes there's relevant contact that doesn't get called, and other times there are "pushoffs" that are little more than an incidental hand to the shoulder or something. So what's the wording of the rule? I don't know where to look this up.

Re: helmet-to-helmet: can the NFL just start tossing out 15-yard penalties every time we see reckless tackling? That's the only way you're going to get this under control. I know people will whine about "pansies" and what-not, but really some of this stuff is ridiculous. We're averaging like 3 concussions a week this season, and that's not good.

33
by Boo-urns (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:32am

Danny Woodhead reminds me of Wes Welker. A lunchpail, blue collar player, who has to work hard for every yard. Gritty and heady.

36
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:38am

Also, they are both white.

49
by DGL :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:55am

But is he a good route runner?

75
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:21pm

He's very coachable and has a good attitude.

78
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:23pm

Deceptively quick with good instincts.

102
by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:57pm

Good foot speed, and a leader in the locker room.

116
by Levente from Hungary :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:10pm

And clearly a fan favourite.

155
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:38pm

He loves the outdoors and he's a great kid.

167
by JPS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:15pm

This string of tongue-in-cheek cliches made my day!

119
by billsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:26pm

Not the most athletic guy out there.

(I also like the Eagles)

34
by Jetspete :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:36am

I thought the refs redeemed themselves on the PI play. the two offensive PI calls against keller and holmes were mindnumbing. There was no arm extension, and at no point were defenders making a play on the ball. Much, much worse goes uncalled in every game. Then the egregious call on Jim Leonhard for an illegal hit where he led with his shoulder/forearm.

I couildnt agree more with Bill. I don't like refs deciding games, but refs have to be the judges when players are committing fouls. Whether or not he is lying, Holmes said he wouldve made the catch without the contact. Thus any result that gives the ball to the jets anywhere but the two yard line is unfair. I like the PI rules, and the only people whining about them this morning seem to be pats fans like Aaron and Simmons.

64
by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:13pm

Pats fans? Dude, I was watching the game with a bunch of Broncos fans. They're the angry ones. Them, and the Chiefs fans. Those teams are trying to knock off San Diego. You need to stop looking at the world through AFC East glasses!

123
by tunesmith :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:40pm

I'm not sure the Broncos fans should be very angry about it (and the opinion actually seems split over at the broncos site), because the Broncos were the beneficiary of the DPI against Tennessee.

I think the whole "DPI as a playcall" or "drawing DPI" thing is a myth. On most of these plays, DPI is called because the defender isn't looking back at the ball. The defender is supposed to look back at the ball. Plus, if the defender looks back at the ball, you've got a likely interception. I just don't believe that "hey, throw the ball right at the defender's midsection in the hopes he won't turn around!" is an actual play call. It is instead a bad throw that is canceled out by good luck / bad cornerback play.

143
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:11pm

The intentionally underthrown fade route (a form of "back shoulder" pass) is what people are talking about when they refer to "DPI as a playcall." Even if the DB has perfect position he will still get a DPI because the receiver will see the ball first and initiate contact while coming back for the ball.

239
by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:56pm

Its pretty much impossible to run 50 yards downfield chasing a receiver and look backwards without totally losing the receiver.

Watching the reciever is pretty much the only way to cover these things. The problem is that if the receiver stops, and initiates contact, it gets called on the defender.

77
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:22pm

I'm a Broncos fan complaining about them. I'm not complaining about the pass at the end of the game that set up the go ahead touchdown. That was the right call. I don't like see offenses using DPI as a play call.

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by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:48pm

Patriot fan does what Patriot fan does

41
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:45am

Both of the TDs mentioned in the MIA-GB game were really interesting to watch. On the Henne-to-Fasano play, the whole OL shifted to the right like a standard rollout, and the timing of Long's release leftward to block for Fasano was perfect. Henne threw a fine ball with an untouched defender inches away from crushing him. And Fasano did just enough to sell his "missed" block.

As for the Rodgers sneak, there was definitely some brutally bad Miami defending that made a major contribution to the score: three of the nearest defenders weren't prepared for the ball to be snapped! Even so, I thought GB deserved some credit there. I really, really hate it when offenses use empty backfields in short-yardage situations like that, since it allows the defense to focus almost exclusively on the pass. But as soon as Miami spread itself out, Rodgers knew he was going to keep it. I couldn't tell if it was Rodgers' decision or if the play was called so that Rodgers would start out in shotgun and then move under center, but either way, I really loved the decision (and would have loved it regardless of the outcome.)

37
by Biebs (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:40am

Am I the only one that has a far bigger issue with OPI than DPI?
Anyhow, I am a big believer that OPI should be treated like intentional grounding. I've seen too many plays this year where a WR essentially tackles a DB before the ball gets there to avoid an INT. The penalty should simply be more harsh on the offense for OPI. 10 yards and loss of down seems much more reasonable in my opinion.

43
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:48am

My bigger problem with OPI is simply the refs' reluctance to call it. I'm pretty indifferent as to whether it warrants a loss of down, but receivers are very clearly held to a completely different standard as to what constitutes unfair contact.

38
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:42am

I'm suprised the Audibles crew missed the greatest trick play the niners have run in years, a play that can only be executed by a team with the skills the niners have on offense.

With about four minutes temaining in the second quarter the 49ers lined up in the shotgun with Gore lined up on Smith's right. Baas snaps the ball directly to Gore and Smith fakes as if the ball has sailed straight past him. Now if the Patriots, Colts or any other team with a semblance of competence runs this play there's no way that the defense will buy the fake as much as you would against the 49ers. You'd really believe that those guys are capable of screwing up and that's when Singletary has you.

Any team can use this play but to really sell it you have to demonstrate that you are rubbish by going 0-5 first.

Now the niners play like crap and win. I can't work out if this is a good thing or not.

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by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:58pm

It's chilling to me that the 49ers emphasis was on playing it safe. Whenever they play it safe, they suck. If that's the lesson they took from going 0-5, they're not going to crack 4-12 this year.

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by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:02pm

Actually, the Patriots have run this play several times, including on a 2pt conversion against Carolina in SB38. Against Miami a few weeks ago, it looked like they were getting ready to run it with Edelman in the background (again on a 2pt conversion) but a false start botched things up and they ended up kicking the XP.

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by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:02pm

Oops, backFIELD not backGROUND. Sorry.

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by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:23pm

I was being facetious.

39
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:42am

Here are some things that are MUCH, MUCH harder to tell the difference between than blatant, intentional DPI and incidental, unintentional DPI:

DPI or no DPI

DPI or OPI

Holding or not

Catch or not

Fumble or not

Down by contact or not

TD or 1/2 yard short

If we are going to say that refs lack the discernment necessary to distinguish a receiver slowing on an underthrown ball and the DB bumping into him from a DB holding a receiver's arm to keep him from going up for a jump ball, we may as well abandon the whole enterprise.

Going to "incidental DPI"=5/10/15 yards and "major DPI"=spot of the foul is one step toward fixing the issue. The other is:

1. Call OPI when it happens

2. Make OPI an equivalent penalty to DPI

This means that blatant OPI is penalized by the number of yards downfield that it occurred plus loss of down. If a receiver pushes off on an endzone jump ball from midfield, the ball will be placed at the offense's own one-yard line.

As a side note, ANY penalty that earns an automatic first down when committed by the defense (all personal fouls, holding, etc.) should earn a loss of down when committed by the offense.

Of course, none of this is going to happen, since it would decrease the number of one- or two-play scoring drives (which means more chances to go TD-commercial-PAT-commercial-kickoff-commercial) and lead to football games where defense and field position mattered.

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by Sophandros :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:22pm

Or, just make both DPI and OPI each 15 yards and call it a day.

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

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by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:31pm

As a side note, ANY penalty that earns an automatic first down when committed by the defense (all personal fouls, holding, etc.) should earn a loss of down when committed by the offense.

I completely agree.

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by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:23pm

This is largely nonsense. You are thinking of intentional or blatant as clear as in the idea of it being tackling the receiver. It doesn't take nearly that to take someone down or stop a pass. You can intentionally engage in small contact that will just as easily prevent a catch and it won't be blatant but it will be pretty tough to tell if it is intentional. Considering that d-backs aren't supposed to contact receivers on the field (particularly with their hands) any time you see even the slightest push you can bet its intentional but done to try and bend or get away with it. This isn't like the facemask rule where a player who was in the act of tackling happened to latch onto the facemask. Also you might have the perverse situation where lousy DBs with poor body control will get rewarded because they can't avoid bumping into the receiver by making the penalty less huge.

As far as your offensive solution it is even more ridiculous. Obviously they need to call OPI when it happens but it doesn't need to be an equivalent penalty. Let's say the OPI occurs 30 yards down the field. A 10 yard penalty that moves the offense from say 1st and 10 to 1st and 20 makes future conversion of the 1st down much more unlikely giving the defense a huge advantage but still leaving something that's convertable. In contrast under your rule it would be 1st and 40 which is for all intents and purposes an unconvertable down. No one wants to watch an offense play from that far back just for a single penalty.

But the deeper problem with your rule is the assumption that equivalency is somehow the fair result. The problem with this logic is that the two rules are designed to address different problems. Offense and defenses have two fundamentally different goals while on the field. DPI is awarded because on interference with the opportunity to make a catch at a given spot. Of course the receiver isn't guaranteed to catch the ball but obviously that type of judgment can't be made because the opportunity has been removed. OPI is designed to keep receivers from gaining an unfair advantage in an attempt to catch the ball. It is similar to holding in that if a player holds and it let's his QB get a throw off then the team is penalized by a greatly reduced change of converting a 1st down. Of course the hold may have had no impact on the actual play but again you can't take that into account. If a receiver catches the ball after interfering not only is the catch and the field position they gained negated but they are sent back 10 additional yards which makes it much harder to convert.

To summarize DPI is designed to stop the prevention of an opportunity at a fair chance of making a play.

OPI is designed to stop players from gaining an advantage in their attempt to make a play. The offense is penalized pretty substantially if they do get the penalty called on them. What is necessary is proper enforcement. I'd argue that the 10 yards for OPI are about equally as damaging to the offense's chances of conversion as a spot foul is to the defenses desire to prevent a score. I do not see how OPI is any different from holding (which incidentally is punished differently on offense and defense) or say goaltending in basketball (other than the frequency with which people bitch about it).

Finally, the last part of your post makes precisely zero sense. Field position and defense still matter. There are very few quick scoring drives (and I'm willing to bet most of them don't involve significant PI plays). And the broadcasters already get only a limited number of specific breaks (ever notice that in a high scoring game near the end they stop doing that same routine?) So the silly conspiracy suggestions are just dumb and act to torpedo what validity their is to your points.

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by RichC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:01pm

"Considering that d-backs aren't supposed to contact receivers on the field (particularly with their hands)"

The rules specifically say that defenders can put their hands on receivers.

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by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:28pm

Incidentally yes. Contact was a poor choice of words though as it implies just touching. They aren't supposed to perform any action that moves a receiver off the route downfield (i.e. interfere with).

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by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:27pm

Actually it would be SECOND and 40, which is even more ridiculous.

There is a reason why loss of down is only applied to intentional grounding, and that's because it essentially results in the same down and distance as if the sack had happened, just as the spot-foul results in the ball being placed where it would have been caught (since, unlike a sack which ends the play, we cant' tell what would have happened after the catch, the automatic first down accounts for that when it happens behind the first-dwon marker).

- Alvaro

40
by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:44am

I think picking on McNabb for that 4th and 10 throw isn't fair - if Francisco doesn't make a GREAT play, that's probably a TD. Besides, the 'Skins don't have anything but short receivers anymore.

48
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:54am

EDIT: That wasn't the throw to Galloway, which did not happen on fourth down. They're talking about the last play of the Redskins' previous possession, when McNabb overthrew a reasonably well (and double-) covered Anthony Armstrong.

56
by Kurt :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:59am

That's not the play he was talking about - the 4th and 10 was the no-hoper to Anthony Armstrong down the middle during the previous possesion.

Edit: Coke to dmb.

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by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:36pm

Ah, my mistake.

46
by just another internet dog (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:51am

Ditto. Another three inches of air under that ball and it lands in Armstrong's hands in stride and he takes it to the end zone.

47
by ChaosOnion :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:52am

"Benjamin Watson" and "end-around" should never be uttered in the same sentence.

50
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:56am

Did any Eagles fans notice that on Atlanta's 2nd quarter TD drive, they went after Joselio Hanson on almost every pass? I know he was playing well for a season or so there, but he looked awful again on Sunday. Did his regression to suck coincide with his banned substances violation? Or am I being too hard on the poor guy?

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by Dean :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:58pm

Careful! Can't say that. At least, you can't say it about Shawnne Merriman anyway.

Hanson is what he is. A small, quick, nickle corner. Big WRs will always give him trouble, and if Hobbs/Samuel are out of the lineup, he'll be overmatched.

51
by Gubdude :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:57am

So I attended to Indy-Skins game and noticed that Reggie Wayne never huddles with the offense. He just stands near the sidelines and someone will tell him the play from afar. He doesn't even huddle up during TV timeouts or end of quarter stoppages. My questions:

1. How long has that been going on?

2. Does he have bad relations with teammates or does he just like keeping to himself? Not accusing him of being a bad teammate or anything I just don't know and found it interesting.

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by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:17pm

Noticed that too a few times at the Jax game last year.
I've seen this before though with a CB playing for the team I played on. He was standing there... he already knew he always had his part of the field. And sometimes, when the play didn't go his way, he would stay motionless there during that play and the next huddle. Hilarious to see sometimes. He also played runningback for us, so he was forgiven.

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:18pm

That's been going on for years, and I think Marvin Harrison used to do it too. To my knowledge, it has nothing to do with his relations with the rest of the team. I think it's just that he's almost always lining up on the outside left, and he's usually running an option route. In certain personnel packages, I'd imagine that's all he does, play after play. Plus, the Colts like to get to the line quickly. Not running back to the middle of the field (I hesitate to use the word "huddle", because the Colts rarely huddle up) probably saves about 5-6 second of jogging back and forth.

52
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:57am

Did anybody else think that the Redskins screwed up by taking a timeout after McNabb was sacked on 2nd down (the play happened with about 1:50 to go?). It left the Redskins facing 3rd-and-10+, and they had all of their timeouts left. They would have given up 15 or 20 additional seconds of game time, but it would've given them the opportunity to if (when) they failed on 3rd down. Instead of going for it, they could've punted, gained 30+ yards of field position, and if they had forced a three-and-out (like they did), they would've gotten the ball back with more than a minute left.

Also, Sellers is a fun player to watch, but he's had more than his share of drops/fumbles in the past couple seasons. But he was truly a force 2005-2007; I think he deserved a Pro Bowl invitation in each of those seasons.

142
by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:09pm

I think the real screw up was having 3 timeouts and not using a RB who had 5 yds/carry on 1st and 2nd down.

171
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:22pm

Actually, I think that decision was completely defensible:

*Torain barely appeared at all in the fourth quarter and had his knee wrapped after the game, so he may have been injured.

*The Redskins have been using Kieland Williams as their back for situations that predominantly call for passing. Since the offense will often run several plays in that situation without substituting, it wouldn't make sense to put Torain in for the sole purpose of running a single play.

*The first-down play resulted in a five yard gain in the middle of the field -- probably about the same result as a run. With the clock running and not having made much progress down the field, passing on second down there makes MUCH more sense.

That said, I wouldn't have been opposed to running a draw on first down. But I think it's a little weird to suggest that not doing so was really a critical mistake.

53
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 11:57am

The Eagles have two quarterbacks playing really well at the moment, my feeling is that they should take a page out of their own history book and go with two quarterbacks like Van Brocklin and Waterfield. I think this would give opponents nightmares because they're so different. If you're playing a team that lacks speed play Vick, if you're playing a team that plays solid zone defense which requires the quarterback to make good reads and limits the opportunities for a scrambler, play Kolb.

94
by ammek :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:44pm

Waterfield never played for the Eagles. Are you thinking of the LA Rams?

97
by ArchnerdUW :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:49pm

They tried this with Jaws and Cunningham. As I remember it was kind of awful. Admittedly, they didn't switch off games, simply individual plays and series...but same idea.

149
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:22pm

OK, I've got the wrong playerss, but I'm sure this happened with the Eagles. there must be an Eagles fan out there who knows who I'm talking about.

I still think it's worth a try.

187
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:41pm

Yep, Jaworski and Cunningham.

59
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:04pm

"But it seems like a cornerback has to treat receivers like fine china, while wideouts are free to initiate all the contact they want."

One million times yes! The one-sided nature of PI is what makes it so infuriating to me. The officials never call mutual offsetting PI, and I don't even know if they're allowed to.

And while we're on the subject of one-sided penalties, why is a running back allowed to facemask with impunity? If a running back is allowed to "stiff arm" someone in the face, then why isn't a linebacker? If the facemasking/hands-to-the-face penalty is supposed to be for safety reasons, then it should apply to everybody equally.

71
by Theo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:19pm

hands to the face: leagal
grabbing a facemask: not legal

There's a big difference between grabbing a facemask and putting your hand on it.

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:34pm

Hands to the face is legal? Did they get rid of "illegal hands to the face" one offseason while I wasn't looking? It wouldn't surprise me.

139
by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:07pm

Seldom have a seen a RB throw a stiff-arm where he did not get his fingers inside the facemask.

72
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:19pm

There was offsetting PI calls in a Jets game this year. Can't recall at the moment if it was regular or preseason. It was a deep sideline pass that, in my view, Cormartie covered perfectly. Little if any contact by either player. Flag flies. Jets fans swear incredulously. Refs huddle and then announce offsetting PIs. It looked like a face saving compromise (a do over!) because the ref throwing the flag didn't want to admit he blew it. Not the finest hour for NFL officials.

74
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:20pm

There was one series yesterday, IIRC it was ironically in the Jets-Denver game, where there were two OPI calls.

Yeah, here it is:

2nd and 7 at NYJ 34 M.Sanchez pass incomplete short right to D.Keller [M.Haggan]. PENALTY on NYJ-D.Keller, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at NYJ 34 - No Play.
2nd and 17 at NYJ 24 M.Sanchez pass short middle to L.Tomlinson to NYJ 32 for 8 yards (M.Haggan).
3rd and 9 at NYJ 32 M.Sanchez pass deep right to S.Holmes pushed ob at DEN 37 for 31 yards (C.Bailey). PENALTY on NYJ-S.Holmes, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at NYJ 32 - No Play.

But I point it out not because it was in the same game (although it's interesting both calls were on the Jets; at least at some point calls were going both ways), but because the announcers made a point of saying how rare that was, and I don't think they meant how rare it was that a receiver pushed off.

Somehow, PI has become a one-way call, for the most part. (looks up data)

Uh ... or maybe not. Last season, there were 197 DPI calls that were either enforced or declined ... there were 91 OPI calls either enforced or declined. Interesting. That's a lot more OPI than I would have guessed.

Maybe the problem is we see more DPI calls that we figure should be 50/50, and we see some OPI plays that aren't called.

84
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:27pm

OPI tends to be called in a different circumstance, doesn't it? It would need to be charted, but DPI is almost always the typical one-on-one battle down the field. I feel like OPI is more often a guy who blocks too early on a WR screen (ie. blocks before the catch is made), a "pick" in the middle of the field, or something similar, rather than the one-on-one scenario of DPI.

So yes, there's a lot more OPI than we think, but it tends to come in different circumstances to DPI.

86
by PerlStalker :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:29pm

There's also the lopsided nature of the penalties. OPI is 10 yards. DPI, being spot-of-foul, can be 40 or more. That changes things or, at least, the perception of things.

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:43pm

Exactly. PI against the offense is no different than a run-of-the-mill holding call, whereas PI against the defense can be a 50-yard backbreaker. Even non-backbreaker DPI calls are typically more than 10 yards.

Still on the subject, but on a different track -- I can't remember the last time I saw a pass ruled uncatchable. They used to do that every once in a while. Nowadays, you see a ball fly out of bounds 10 feet over the receiver's head, and they still call pass interference.

128
by chemical burn :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:53pm

I was just thinking the same thing yesterday - I can't remember which game it was in (I think the Giants/Lions) but I saw a pass land out 7 yards out of bounds and still get a PI call. I couldn't believe the ref didn't make the "wave my hand over my head" gesture. And then I thought about how I never see them call it anymore...

136
by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:05pm

Tell that to Miles Austin.

80
by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:25pm

Th eproblem with making DPI a 15 yard penalty is that it's always best for a DB to tackle the receiver that's beating them to the ball. If I'm coach, I tell my DBs: "when in doubt, tackle the receiver"

83
by Noah of Arkadia :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:26pm

I think the right way to look at the possibility of a two-point conversion late in the game when leading by 7 is that you can choose to put the game away by making a two-point conversion or by defending it (after a hypothetical TD by the opposing team). Since conversions are converted at about a 50% rate, they should be analyzed on a case by case basis. If you are the 49ers playing the Raiders, I say kick the XP. If you're, say, the Colts playing anybody, go for it.

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by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:54pm

Good point. The analysis in the article downplays the benefit of forcing the other team, especially a team with the Raiders' offense, to go for 2. In reality, the chances of either the 49ers or the Raiders converting a 2-pointer is probably less than 50%, in which case I'd rather be on the defensive side.

244
by luvrhino :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:41pm

The success rate for 2-point conversions is usually cited to be in the 42-44% range for the NFL. As long as the leading team's defense would have a better success rate defending against the two than its offense would converting for two, they should always kick the PAT.

In fact, unless there's a huge difference in expected success rates and there's little time on the clock, i would still kick the PAT.

The key is that the team with a 7-point lead goes for two, it clarifies the strategy for the opponent. They'll know whether they need to score once (7-point lead) or twice (9-point lead). However, with an 8-point lead, they won't know if they need to score twice or not until after they try their two-point conversion late in the game.

If they need to score once, they'll want to leave as little time on the clock when they score their TD in order to force overtime. If they're down by 9, then it's clear they need to score as quickly as possible so they can get the ball and score again.

With an 8-point deficit, they'll need to score quickly in case they need to score twice with a missed conversion. However, if they do score and convert, the other team would have time to take back the lead.

Thus, in the NFL where the two-point success rates should be fairly close, so i'd just kick to take the 8-point lead.

267
by luvrhino :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:53pm

Pedantic exception: You should go for two if your kicker or long snapper is injured or other conditions exist that lower the PAT kick conversion rate...

263
by Daniel :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:23pm

Right, I think Bill and Vince whiffed pretty badly on this one.

The two-point conversion/XP event only affects win probability (more or less) in cases where the other team goes on to have a positive differential of one touchdown, the probability of which is exogenous. So restricting ourselves to these cases, and assuming for simplicity that extra points are always successful, we have:

1) Attempt a two-point conversion when leading by 7. Then, depending on your probability of success (let's call this p1) you either win in these cases (your successful two-point conversion makes it a two-score game, rendering the opponent's +1 TD differential irrelevant) or you head to overtime (you fail, and they tie the game with a TD + XP.)

2) Kick an extra point, making it an eight-point game, and forcing them to attempt a two-point conversion. Then depending on their probability of failure (call it p2) you either win, or head to overtime.

So option 1 is superior if and only if p1 > p2. This is not generally true, since two-point success probability tends to be < 0.5. And I see little reason to think that team-specific considerations would alter the conclusion here, since both teams are fairly inept on both sides of the ball.

88
by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:32pm

Tom, I'm curious to know how much of the Lions-Giants game you watched ... I thought Stanton was surprisingly good, given that this is the first time he's played with anything resembling a first-team offense.

In fact, I think it says something about the changes on offense that the second- and third-string quarterbacks have kept the Lions in pretty much every game this season (and obviously Hill was very good against St. Louis). Mind you, I'm not looking forward to learning the names of the fourth- and fifth-string QBs ... as much as I'd like Hill available, that arm has to heal, which means it's Stafford, Stanton, and QB X.

Here I was, ready to write off Jason Hanson's ability to kick from long distance, and he hits two 50-yard FGs, including the WTF kick. (I actually thought it had been blocked or tipped at the time - I couldn't believe it ended up going through. Outdoors, even.) I guess they can put off drafting a kicker for a few more years ...

If the Lions could cut down their penalties by 30 yards per game, I think they'd be 3-3 now. It should be easy; they just need to drop the personal fouls.

96
by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:47pm

Come back Joey, all is forgiven...

*Cough.*

157
by mansteel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:49pm

Don't know if you noticed, but the flags on the goalposts were sticking straight out to the left (Hanson's right) prior to and during his WTF FG. Additionally, the posts themselves were being blown around quite a bit. Right before the kick, I thought for sure that it would blow wide right, but (to my dismay as a Giants fan) Hanson started the ball well outside the left post, hit it low and hard, and let the wind blow it through--and it still almost went wide right. I give him a lot of credit; that was a tough kick.

What's weird is that it didn't seem to be a windy day in general--I don't remember any other play being affected like that.

213
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:33pm

I was mostly watching KC-HOU and didn't see enough of Stanton after he came in to chime in with an opinion of how he played.

89
by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:32pm

Oh, and I, too, suspect that someone is impersonating Philip Buchanon, for some unfathomable reason.

98
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:52pm

"I've also advocated removing special teams from the game"

I agree completely. I have zero idea why people think kicking adds anything to the game. Start with the ball on your 20 play until one team scores. Other team starts on 20. Repeat.

107
by Jonadan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:03pm

I hope that's satirical, because otherwise: rugby.

144
by CraigoMc (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:12pm

Rugby features kicking (both to advance the ball and to score, just like in American football. So I'm not sure why someone who advocates removing kicking from American football would be advised to watch rugby. If he had said "forward passing" or "blocking" or " wearingpads," that would have made sense.

180
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:33pm

Do you want to remove field goals as well?

223
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:07pm

Yes I don't like them and find them uninsteresting. I think regular LoS plays are more than interesting enough without these added elements that are a remnant of the games origins.

266
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:31pm

What you're proposing is a totally different game from modern football.

212
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:33pm

Well, in that case, you should read last year's Scramble where Mike and I discussed that very concept.

224
by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:08pm

I did. Think I commented too IIRC.

220
by B :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:57pm

Norv, I value your opinions, but you really ought to be coaching your team and not posting comments on the Internet.

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by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:50pm

That is a HORRIBLE idea.

Say you have two teams with good defenses, but medicore (Team B) to bad (Team A) offenses. Then, a CB slips on wet turf because it's raining, and Team A manages to get to Team B's 5 yard line. We spend the next twenty minutes of game-time watching Team B stiffle Team A's bad offense with goal-line stand after goal-line stand that ends up with their offense taking the field inside their 5 and not being able to get out of it without using risky plays against a good D or giving up six points.

Also, if you start the game, go four and out, then the oposing offense takes the field around your twent and you spend the day having to defend a short field untilt hey socre at which point... you're right back where you started.

Field position is important and your idea would completly eliminate that part of the game as a strategic decission, but rather make starting the game on offense a disadvantage due to the percentages of surrendering posession on a drive that starts at the 20 rather than getting into the oponnet's 20.

- Alvaro

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by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 12:59pm

Where is the poster who claimed before the season that Mike Martz is a genius and everyone else just does not understand his teachings? This after folks at FO predicted that Martz might get Cutler killed or maimed.

And guess what, six games into the season and Cutler has been mauled like a man going into the grizzly cage at the zoo covered in elk steaks and salmon.

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by Mike W :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:05pm

I suggest "Grizzly Man" as a nickname for Cutler. Too soon? Naah, it's been a while.

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by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:03am

I suspect Grizzly Bait may be more accurate.

156
by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:42pm

I'm not sure if you're referring to me, I suppose I've been pretty supportive of Mad Mike. I'm inclined to make three point: firstly, I think that Cutler and the speedy receivers are a good fot for Martz's love of deep routes. Secondly, Cutler has a very fast release and also has admirable toughness. Finally, were you predicting that the Bears were going to be missing four of their starters and top back-ups? Ther line was never going to be great, they never had the players for that but the injuries have not helped. Cutler was always going to take some lumps but the offense was doing OK until the rash of injuries. I'd also suggest that Cutler was clearly concussed after the third sack against the Giants, which rather made matters worse. At the moment the Bears' offensive tackles are making some horrible decisions but the continuity at the moment is precisely zero. The Bears have to get this fixed fast, it was mainly mental errors that killed them againt the Seahawks.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:46pm

I like the 5 guys they played against the Seahawks. When they made contact with defenders they mauled them. The problem was blitzing a safety off the edge was basically a guaranteed sack.

Part of that has to be on Cutler though.

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by Eddo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:42pm

Agreed.

Though they got absolutely no push in the run game. No drive. It's to the point where they actually act as an additional obstacle when Forte (or Taylor) has the ball, instead of a group taking out obstacles.

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by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:09pm

The Bears/Seahawks game was a complete travesty of what good line-play and specially good coaching should be.

When not once, not twice, but three times you can clearly see a DB lining up just outside of your LT before the snap, and then said LT after, presumably, noticing him and rememebring all the outside blitzes they have brought and succeeded with, proceeds to turn right at the snap and block air, all the while there is not a single back in the backfield to pick up the bitz, not because they were sent out on routes, but because they went empty back-field, something is very, VERy wrong.

When you are getting killed by outside blitzes and your LT apparently has decided blocking a safety is too much work to even attempt, and still you refuse to run the ball to at least keep them honest, you are either an egomaniac or brain-dead.

When you reach first and goal and go pass-pass-pass twice out of empty backfield, even though you can't protect worth squad and you NEED to protect the ball AND the health of your QB, you deserve to be fired on the spot.

- Alvaro

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by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:17pm

Cutler and Kreutz make the protection calls. It's just as much their fault as Omiyale's that the safety wasn't blocked.

Also, it happened on both sides of the line, not just the left.

Still, that seems like a mental error that can be corrected. The line was almost never physically beat by the Seahawks.

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by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 5:59pm

Wait, since when does Roberto Garza by himself constitute a rash of injuries? He was the only opening-day starter missing time in the o-line due to injury on sunday. The only other O-lineman to even appear on the injury report is Chris Williams who started at Guard sunday.

Now, if you ask, who could predict the Bears line was not going to be able to give Cutler time to execute Martz' regular diet of seven-step drops, then I and most other Bears fans will probably raise their hands in unison.

For the reacord, I said that Martz in Chicago was a TERRIBLE idea when it was announced, and the Seahawks game proves the point to a T.

- Alvaro

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by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:44pm

If you can find anyone here on this site who said, "Mike Martz is a genius and no one else understands his teachings," I'll give you a cookie.

Your choice of flavor. I'll ship it out the next morning.

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by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:44pm

I just found it! It's in the post above mine!

Can I have my cookie?

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by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:17pm

I just remember when Martz was hired most posters here thought it was a poor fit and this one poster jumped all over everyone claiming that Martz had been a huge success at every stop and folks were too dumb to recognize it.

Should be found in the search of the site though I am not clever enough to make that happen. I don't recall the poster's handle. Just that he/she was very adamant.

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by Mike W :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:04pm

The Packers' pass rush without Matthews was nonexistent, and was probably the biggest factor in their losing the game. Less of a surprise was they had no one who could cover Brandon Marshall.

GB isn't going to win many games scoring 20 pts (or 13, like last week). On the other hand, there's no excuse for them scoring so few pts. Oh, except for stupid penalties, and poor play calling. McCarthy doesn't seem to realize you need 10 yards every three downs, or you have to give the ball away. Standard sequence: intermediate/deep pass on 1st, up the gut on 2nd, swing pass on 3rd and 8. Punt. Then three intermediate routes in a row on the next series, then three runs in a row on the next. Does he believe in his running game or not? Who knows? And where is the ball-control passing game? Do the YAC-monster WRs fit that too well?

And can we stop using Kuhn so much? Jackson is better, period.

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by ammek :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:33pm

You're right about the standard sequence. However, it does provide for a Banzai-style betting opportunity — namely, will Rodgers' next sack come on:
a) a deep route on first down when he fails to read the pressure;
b) a short route on second down when one of the linemen totally whiffs; or
c) an intermediate route on third down when Rodgers rolls out of the pocket into the embrace of an opposing rusher?
Place your bets now!

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by ar4t :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:30pm

I really don't get the hate for the DPI rule. The receiver would've had the ball at the 2 but he was illegally covered by the defender so you give him the ball at the 2. The punishment fits the crime. You can argue what constitutes DPI or the call but the punishment is perfectly fair (except on sure TD passes where it's really worth it to commit DPI).

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by billsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:50pm

When the league catch rate hovers around 100%, I'll agree with you. Until then, the offense gets a near-certain touchdown in exchange for having been denied the opportunity of the 50-75% likelihood of a TD.

What I don't get is the lack of hate for the "roughing the passer cancels out an interception" rule. The roughing generally occurs after the ball has been thrown, and the QB who rushes a bad throw to avoid contact (or draw a penalty) is being rewarded for his ineptitude.

(I also like the Eagles)

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by cjfarls :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:24pm

I hate that DPI penalties SEEM to have an overly dramatic impact on the game. For good or bad, no other single referee call typically has such an extreme impact on the game. ("tuck rule" is a possible exception, and many hate that one too).

For me, DPIs are too "all or nothing", particularly since much downfield contact often seems to be either unintentional tangle ups, or even offensive player initiated. These tangle ups then are either ignored or called with apparently little objective rhyme or reason.

I really like the idea of 10 yards or 1/2 the distance to the spot, plus an automatic first down. This can still be a pretty extreme penalty, and better reflects the ambiguous nature of both causality and "catchability", etc.

I also have no problem with a having a lessor penalty for incidential contact. Giving the referee that discretion to me seems less an evil than forcing them into a 50+ yard call, or nothing, when the truth is probably somewhere in between. That discretion definitely seems prefereable to the current default for offensive player initiated contact (turning into the CB and/or the underthrown routes) leading to huge changes in field. Having a small penality for incidental contact could allow simplification of the official's analysis as well (e.g. "catchability")

The other alternative is to tighten up the calling of OPI, but that too is fraught with difficulties (though I agree compltely it should be automatic loss of down, if it is an automatic first down the other way). Giving a lessor penalty could bring some balance back without having to totally re-evaluate the system.

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by Ben V (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:54pm

You want to take DPI, which is already a judgement call, and add another layer of judgement on top of it? A judgement call on a judgement call? We have enough problems with agreeing with what is DPI in the first place (along with what constitutes a catch after going to the ground, holding, etc.) The last thing I want to see as a football fan is to see more gray area and more things open to the interpretation of the

As Bill mentions, not making it spot foul is a horrible idea. Extreme penalty or not, the most extreme thing that can happen is a touchdown. The second most extreme thing is putting the ball at the spot of the foul. Decrease the punishment, and the risk/reward aspects change drastically. We don't see DBs tackling receivers because it's a spot foul so they're better off hoping the guy doesn't catch it or trying to subtly interfere. The moment it becomes just a 15 yard penalty, that will change.

Think of it like soccer; the worst thing you can do as a field player is to use your hands to stop a goal. You'd almost never do it. But the one situation where you would do it came up in the World Cup this year; a player for Uruguay did it in stoppage time of OT because if he didn't, it would have been a sure loss. There was plenty of outrage after the Ghana player missed the kick because the spirit of the game had been violated.

You'd see the same thing if during a playoff game if a receiver who had a defender beat was tackled to prevent catching a TD pass and no spot foul was given. It would be painted as rewarding breaking the rules.

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by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:58pm

I didn't understand why there was so much outrage about that handball. He got caught, took his punishment, and Ghana couldn't capitalize.

Unlike a certain German handball against the US.

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by Ben V (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:48pm

I happen to agree. It was the absolute right play in the situation, Ghana could still have buried a chance which was around 70-75% probability of scoring and the Uruguay player was out for the semi final. But people will argue that a 100% chance was denied, so they want the rule changed to reflect that.

Unfortunately, the Germany call in 2002 was just flat out missed. Proof once again officials were human and reason why we should be looking to make things even more black-and-white, rather than open to interpretation.

215
by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:38pm

"just a 15 yard penalty"

A 15 yard penalty is a really big deal! You're telling me that DBs are going to start routinely taking 15 yard penalties on deep passes that are completed less than 30% of the time? Especially if there's a risk that the official calls a flagrant/intentional DPI, giving the offense the ball at the spot of the foul? That's crazy.

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by Ben V (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:58pm

Absolutely. Why wouldn't they? Not all 15 yard penalties are created equally. For the offense, a 15 yard penalty is backbreaking. For the defense, it stinks, but it's something that can be recovered from. Think about it. Offense has the ball 1st and 10 on their own 40. They get hit with a penalty. Now it's 1st and 25 from the 25. Defense gets hit with a 15 yard penalty, same situation. It's first and 10 from the 45. It's not good, but they still have plenty of field to work with to prevent a TD.

Plus, not all 15 yard penalties are equal. For example, a personal foul 15, after the play, is awful because it was unnecessary. But a personal foul 15 if a running back had broken free and a facemask and horse collar was the only way to bring him down? It's absolutely the right play for a defender. If you told a corner that they were only going to get punished 15 yards when they get beat 30 yards down the field, they'll take the 15 every time.

And forget the whole "it could be a spot foul in egregious situations." What's egregious? You don't need to tackle someone for it to be bad. Aaron's complaining about the Holmes play and that was pretty much as blatant a DPI as you are going to get with the grabbing and tugging the face mask before the ball gets there, combined with Holmes getting his hands on the ball. (proving he had a shot at catching it) It's open to interpretation, which will piss everyone off even more than the current DPI rules do, since it's interpretation on top of interpretation.

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by Led :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:17pm

I think you're just wrong about the importance of 15 yards of field position for a defense. You're also comparing a 95% probability of a 15 yard penalty if you interefere with a 100% probability of a completed pass if you don't. The reality is that the probability of a completed pass is much, much smaller. For deep passes, it's less than 30%. Except in extreme circumstances (which will be fairly obvious and therefore relatively easy to apply the spot of the foul penalty to) taking a 15 yard penalty on purpose will be a stupid play.

I also think you're wrong to think a bifurcated rule will piss off fans more than the current situation. For that to be true, a Jets fan in the hypothetical world would have to be more pissed about "only" getting a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down than a Broncos fan would be about putting the ball on the two yard line. Again, respectfully, that's crazy. Giving the refs a 15 yard option may be another "layer of subjectivity" but it decreases the overall impact of their subjective judgment as to whether contact is DPI or not.

232
by Ben V (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:37pm

The probability of a deep pass being completed is because of accuracy, coverage and a smaller margin for error, plus the likelihood of safety help. But probabilities change as plays happen. If Randy Moss has a step on Kyle Wilson the chances he catches a bomb from Tom Brady are much higher than if Darrelle Revis (or Antonio Cromartie) is running stride-for-stride with him. So to say that passes over "X" amount of yards is a faulty use of statistics.

After all, if the odds were that low right now, why would any defender commit pass interference? Yet we can all agree that legit DPI calls happen in every single game down the field. Because on the individual play, the odds are much higher, at least in the defender's mind, that the receiver is going to bring in the catch.

Plus tackling, while the most obvious case, isn't the only way a player can be interfered with. An arm bar, impeding the progress is interference. Is that 15 or a spot foul? Tugging the jersey? That can be slight, but how can we tell if it is enough to stop a receiver from catching it? 15 or spot? We can go on and on.

And an offensive 15 yard penalty is far more damaging than a defensive 15 yard penalty. Why? Because an offense only gets limited opportunities to make that up. A defense has many more plays in which to make it up. A defense still has to get stop the offense from getting 10 yards on the set of downs, where as an offense now has to get more yards on the same number of downs. Plus if the defense fails, which is probably only slightly more likely than before due to fatigue, unless they allow a TD, they get a new set of downs to try again. If an offense fails, which is much more likely thanks to down and distance, they either turn it over or punt.

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by c0rrections (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 2:35pm

Thank You! People are treating this too much like a fairness thing where fairness must mean equal treatment. The situations are not equal.

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by Bad Doctor :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:15pm

OK, here it is ... I was divinely inspired yesterday. (Though oddly, by the Flowers play, not the Hill play. I hate long DPI penalties where the offense does next to nothing to deserve it, but Holmes had a pretty good shot at that pass if Hill didn't grab his face mask.) Simple, fair, and not too subjective.

Incidental DPI, 10 or 15 yards and automatic first down = traditional DPI where the cornerback makes contact with the receiver with only one arm/hand (unless it's a face mask like Hill's, or a trip) or via an arm bar. Similar to Flowers on Johnson yesterday. The defender has enough position on the defender to warrant only the minor infraction.

DPI, spot of foul and automatic first down = any other traditional DPI.

184
by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:36pm

"The receiver would've had the ball at the 2 but he was illegally covered by the defender so you give him the ball at the 2."

Or he may have dropped it even if the defender didn't touch him, a la Bowe last week in the end zone for KC.

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by ar4t :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:19pm

And the ball might not go in on a goaltend or on foul in the penalty area but you still award the bucket and the penalty kick. The receiver got his hand on the ball and the defender interfered. Give him the ball at the 2. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

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by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:02am

Good point.

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by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:53pm

Harrison will be fined, but he should not be.

Against Cribbs, it was helmet-to-helmet but that's legal against a ball carrier even if you presuppose that helmet-to-helmet was the intent, which it may not have been - remember, the other guy is a target whose movements are not completely predictable. Laying down a big hit also serves a legitimate football purpose. It increases the chances of a fumble, and indeed in this case caused one. Hitting with less force likely yields no fumble. How can you possibly fine a guy for playing the best game he can within the rules of the game?

Against Mossaquoi, he had a wide receiver with possesion of the ball running towards him across the middle of the field. This time he leads with his pads and delivers a hard hit with his shoulders and forearms dislodging the ball. That's textbook. That's what you're supposed to do. Again, there was a legitimate reason to hit hard. Doing so caused a drop and hence an incompletion. Not hitting hard yields a completed catch. Same argument as before - you can't fine a player for obeying the rules and playing well.

132
by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 1:57pm

Helmet-to-helmet is never legal, because leading with the helmet is never legal.

138
by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:07pm

Incorrect. Leading with the crown of the helmet is illegal, which Harrison did not do. Leading with the front of the helmet, which Harrison did do, is legal.

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by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:34pm

I don't see how a defender could lead with the front of his helmet, unless he wants a broken neck.

Harrison escapes the flag in this case because his pads made initial contact, not his helmet. Thus he was not "leading with the helmet," but not because of any convoluted distinction about which part of the helmet makes first contact.

I believe the "crown" distinction you're thinking of is to differentiate between incidental initial facemask-to-facemask contact between trench players.

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by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:52pm

You may be right about the reasoning behind the rules. I suspect that it's there because the helmet is so much bigger than a normal human head that they will collide with one another frequently on plays that the league wants to be legal. Such cases would include line play with masks hitting as you suggest and include normal tackles with the tackler square (as opposed to having his shoulder turned towards) to the tackled player.

If you find a video of the Cribbs hit, you'll notice that it is indeed the front of Harrison's helmet that makes contact. Specifically, the right eyebrow of Harrison hits the left ear of Cribbs. Now you express concern about the possibility of safely using the front of the helmet. But it is much more dangerous to hit with the top of the head. The neck is flexible laterally - you can nod and rotate your head - and the muscles of the neck naturally tense to protect againt such a blow. A hit to the top of the head sens a compressive force along the vertebrae, somehting that they cannot tolerate as well. This is the type of hit that more readily yields nerve damage and paralysis. I suspect the rules are written to preclude top of the helmet hits primarly to protect the tackler from this force rather that to protect the tackled player.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:51pm

Bull. Harrison led with the crown of his helmet - Cribbs just happened to be in the way slightly before he got fully horizontal with it. After the contact, which causes Cribbs's helmet to bounce upwards and ends up with Harrison's *entire body* underneath Cribbs (i.e. he wasn't aiming for anything other than Cribbs's head) his helmet continues to lower, and he drives through Cribbs staring directly at the ground.

The refs might not have called it because his pads probably struck first, but that's just stupid - it was clearly a spearing action, and it's ludicrous that that sort of play wouldn't be flagged. The *only thing* that action could do is knock out Cribbs. That's it. It's dangerous, it's unsafe, and it's also terrible football.

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by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:04pm

So Harrison lead with the crown of his helmet because, despite making contact using the front of his helmet, had he instead made contact at a later time he may have hit with the top of his helmet? You can't know judge the hit based on what didn't happen.By that logic had he arrived a bit earlier he would have hit a blocker and made no contact at all. Had he arrived a bit later he would have miussed Cribbs entirely. None of those tooks place. What took place was a front of helmet hit, which whether you personally approve of the rule or not, is legal.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:42pm

"You can't know judge the hit based on what didn't happen."

Sure I can. If someone throws a punch at another player, and they drop back and the player misses, I don't say "Oops, I won't call a personal foul because you've got bad aim." You don't allow that kind of behavior. Period.

Harrison went, helmet-first, straight for Cribbs's head. There's no way that shouldn't've been a personal foul. Hell, there's no way that the official in the back could've possibly realized that Harrison *didn't* spear Cribbs. I don't know WTF that guy was thinking.

But anyway, this is what you *want* to do. What Harrison did was ridiculously dangerous to *himself*. If someone running down the field attempts to spear a returner and somehow misses, I'm okay with them flagging him. You've got to protect the idiot from himself.

"What took place was a front of helmet hit, which whether you personally approve of the rule or not, is legal."

You can break down tons of personal fouls carefully after the fact and say "ah ah ah, he actually didn't quite hit him out of bounds - one foot was still barely touching."

The itty-bitty details of personal fouls shouldn't matter. We're not talking about "did the ball break the plane" or "was the ball's nose past the first down marker." We're talking about a rule for safety, and what Harrison did was super-obviously *not safe*.

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by huston720 :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:23pm

This is a ridiculous homer argument, Harrison led with his helmet on both plays and that is why both should have drawn flags. On the Cribbs hit that was a clearly spearing as well as being a borderline late hit. And by the way there is a difference between causing a fumble with a big hit, and causing a fumble because you were headhunting and knocked the ball carrier out by giving them a concussion.

On the Massaquoi hit Harrison was again going for the head with his helmet after the ball had already been dropped. In both cases if he had led with his shoulder he could have delivered a clean hit. Harrison should definitely be fined and considering his attitude afterword I hope he is suspended as well.

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by Intropy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:58pm

Harrison lead with his helmet against Cribbs. You claim that that is why it should have drawn a flag. Well it didn't. It didn't draw a flag because the hit was legal. Spearing is done with the top of the helmet not the front. So it's not spearing. As for being a late hit, the play was still in progress, and Harrison's hit had a direct impact on it. If you perform an action that effects a live play, there's no way that's "late" even with a liberal use of the term. And what's the difference between what you call headhunting and what you call delivering a big hit? Shall we use Mike Carey's "malice in his heart" standard?

On Massaquoi, you are just plain wrong about the helmet-to-helmet part. The hit was shoulder to helmet, which is exactly what you describe as a clean hit. And since the ball was dropped as a result of the hit, it's a difficult argument to make to claim that the hit came "after the ball had already been dropped." In the non-quantum world, cause-and-effect just don't work that way.

221
by jimbohead :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:58pm

iirc, that play would be considered "defenseless player", but not late hit. They both have the same effect. While we're used to seeing "defenseless player" in association with receivers who haven't been able to make a move, it is in fact extended to players who are stood up by a defender.

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by huston720 :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 5:11pm

Just because something wasn't flagged doesn't mean it wasn't still illegal, it just means the refs missed it. As for spearing it doesn't have to do with whether it was the top of the helmet or the front, the defender simply is not allowed to launch himself as a projectile period, and that is exactly what Harrison did. Also notice that i didn't say it was a late hit, but that it was borderline late, meaning that the play wasn't technically over, but Cribbs was all but down. Finally it was headhunting because Harrison was going for Cribbs head only, a big hit should be directed at the players chest, and there was no way Harrison was going for anything other than Cribbs head unless he has the worst aim in the world.

As for the Massaquoi hit maybe I'm wrong on the helmet to helmet, either way the shot was to Massaquoi's head which is plain and simple illegal when the receiver is defenseless period regardless of what part hits the head. Also Harrison again on this play launched his upper body at Massaquoi's body. And as I watched the play the ball was already clearly coming out before the hit, but either way the hit was still illegal and should have been flagged.

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by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 8:26pm

Actually, a better point is that a hit can be *legal* and still should've drawn the flag. It's like going at the QB's knees - it's easy to complain when it gets called due to something unintentional, or even unfairly called, but I do think that it *is* changing the behavior, and eventually people change their behavior, and it doesn't even happen by accident anymore. It's also much like holding - there are plenty of actions that *aren't* holding that *look* like holding, and will draw a flag. You just can't do them.

It's something like this here: Harrison went helmet first right for Cribbs's head. He didn't launch himself until just after he hit Cribbs, and he didn't get fully horizontal until just afterwards, so *technically* it probably wasn't spearing. But there's no way that an official standing right there could - nor *should* - discern little goofball details like that.

You *cannot* have people diving at player's heads. Can't. Especially not with all the concussion talk around. You especially can't have Harrison flying around, diving at people's heads, and then come out afterwards and say he doesn't care if he hurts someone. You've got to have officials flag that kind of behavior. That umpire saw someone dive at someone else's head with his helmet. You've got to flag that.

134
by Eddo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:00pm

I thought that when the NFL got rid of the five-yard facemask penalty, the intention was to remove penalty for simple grasping and releasing, not to lump it in with the personal foul version. In practice, though, it sure seems like officials have gone the opposite direction.

182
by tuluse :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:36pm

This was my understanding too. What used to be a 5-yard penalty doesn't exist anymore. Only the intentional facemask is a penalty now.

242
by Dave :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:19pm

That's how it's supposed to be. But there are an awful lot of one-finger accidental graspings that are immediately released that still go for 15 yards.

I remember back in the day where they were all 5 yards. It was better then.

135
by Scizzy (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:00pm

I don't understand the criticism that the Niners should have gone for two to put the game away against the Raiders. Seems to me, this is entirely dependent on which is more likely from the 49ers perspective: getting a two point conversion against the Raiders D or stopping the Raiders O from getting a two point conversion. Given the relative (VERY relative) strengths of these two teams and Campbell's struggles, I think the decision Singletary made was obviously correct.

140
by Greg Trippiedi :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:07pm

Buchanon's having a good season. He had one bad game (really, just three bad coverage plays) against the Eagles. But in the other five, he's making his "career year" case.

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by Joseph :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:17pm

I have a compromise for this: If the receiver touches the ball--with ANY part of his body--and DPI is called, then its a spot foul. [If the receiver was interfered with and still got a hand/arm on the ball, he had a reasonable chance of catching it, and should be thusly rewarded.] If the receiver does NOT touch the ball, its 15 yds or 1/2 the distance to the goal, and an auto 1st down. (If it's in the end zone, it's 1st and goal on the 1, regardless.) No subjectivity; no big rewards on a "throw up a prayer" type pass; it also means that if the DB basically tries to "tackle" the receiver, if he can stick his leg out and "kick" the ball, he'll get a spot foul. This also eliminates the receiver trying to "jump through" a DB who doesn't have his head turned on a badly underthrown ball, and getting a big play out of it. He might get 15 yds & an automatic 1st--but not 25/30 yds and the automatic 1st.

Readers of FO--what think ye?

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by AudacityOfHoops :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:59pm

It sounds like you are suggesting that a defender who completely takes the offensive player out of the play should get a smaller penalty than one who barely interferes.

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by zenbitz :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:28pm

Not a bad twist, but you might have to to modify it to allow for a spot foul in egregious situations where the receiver doesn't touch the ball.

For example, if the CB tackles him (with the ball in the air) and throws him 3' feet away from the ball.

I do think that if there are major/minor DPIs the distinction has to be essentially objective.

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by the silent speaker (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:17pm

Hm. If two DB body parts touch the receiver, spot foul; or, if receiver is legally tackled (that is, he'd be down if he had the football), spot foul: how does that work as an "egregious" addendum?

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by Chris M (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 2:20pm

Can't believe there was no discussion of San Diego continuing their season of STDs with that blocked field goal.

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by Junior (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:02pm

A small market team must play significantly better than their opponent to win a game in this league, and better damn well be up by 14+ with 5 minutes remaining to have a shot. The league will do almost anything to hold these teams down. The PI/non-OPI call did not lose the game for the Chiefs but it was still an awful, awful, blatantly bad call/non-call that we all seem to take for granted these days. Bitching about random holds throughout the game that weren't called just does not compare to a PI in the last 2 minutes. Either let them play or for cryin' out loud at least attempt to make it look like you're calling it down the middle.

Not saying this is related in any way but I never, ever saw Michael Irvin catch a pass without pushing off his defender and I never, ever saw OPI called on Irvin. It always depends on who you play for and who you're playing against.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:25pm

Here are some of the teams which have made multiple deep runs into the playoffs, defined as getting as least as far as the Conference Championship Game more than once, within the last 20 years. The rank of their television market is in parentheses.

Green Bay (71)
Jacksonville (49)
New Orleans (52)
Buffalo (51)
Charlotte (23)
Baltimore (26)
St. Louis (21)
Pittsburgh (24)
San Diego (28)
Mineeapolis/St. Paul (15)
Denver (17)

This doesn't disprove your theory, but it is cause for non-trivial skepticism regarding what you have asserted.

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by Junior (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 6:59pm

No dispute there. I don't mean to say it's impossible, just that the smaller market teams *generally* need to be markedly better on gameday so that it doesn't come down to a questionable call in a tight game that decides the game because officials tend to favor the teams that "should" win the game, and make calls accordingly. I've been researching this theory, going through dvds of games since 1994 and charting "questionable" calls made at crucial times. It does point to larger market/media darling teams getting favored, but game data I have to work with is less than 50% complete. Hell, it's probably a waste of time since there's no way to take subjectivity out of it - trying to judge things that "should" have been called or "should not" have been called. It's an attempt to back up the feeling I get watching the games that something is just not on the up-and-up. Or, NFL officials are just grossly incompetent and there is no intent.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:32pm

"The league will do almost anything to hold these teams down."

Look. if this is true, the league is really crappy at doing almost anything. It isn't like the teams above, with the possible exception of the '96 Packers, were historically great teams; they all had their share of close games which easily could have gone the other way, if the league was behaving as you describe. On top of this evidence, we have teams like the Giants prior to Parcells, the Jets for long stretches, the Bears for long stretches, Houston, Atlanta, Philly prior to Reid, Boston prior to Belichik, Detroit (!), San Francisco-Oakland after 2002, Phoenix, Washington D.C. after Gibbs, Dallas after Johnson and before Parcells, Seattle for long stretches, and Tampa before and after Dungy, all top 15 markets, having a hideously tough time beating anyone. For the most part, NFL games are close, and if the officials were engaged in conspiracy, it is doubtful we would see these patterns.

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by Junior (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:49pm

Sure, no question. I'm not saying every single game this happens, either. Just more often than one would think it should. Your examples of teams were hideously bad. No amount of officiating is going to coax 12-4 out of the 96 Jets, for example. Bad is bad and there's no amount of chicanery that's going to change that. There's just a lot of subjective calls that tend to favor the team that the league or group of officials think "should" win the game. It happens enough that it can't be chalked up to "random chance" however - it could be complete ineptitude on the part of the officials and nothing more. But even then I doubt that group of people would be that inept at their jobs, consistently, for a period of 16 years.

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by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:18pm

How about this for an adjustment to the theory : Players that are good get more calls going their way. And more good players play on good teams. And good teams get more calls their way regardless of market size. And market size DOES have some correlation with being a good team that has good players.

Maybe that fits what you're seeing better? No conspiracy, just the thing that seems to be at least a little true in most sports - better players get a little more benefit of the doubt.

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by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 10:20pm

These big market teams have not been uniformly good or bad; many years they have been plainly average, where an extra win would have put them in the playoffs. Detroit prior to Millen's arrival. Chicago in many years. Washington in the post-Gibbs nineties. Houston as of late. The theory just doesn't hold up, unless one also has a theory that the conspirators are completely inept.

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by billsfan :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 9:42am

Big-Market Team plays small-market team in London. Who loses a home game?

Big-Market Team plays small-market team whose city just got wiped out by a hurricane. Who gets an extra home game?

(I also like the Eagles)

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by AudacityOfHoops :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 10:07am

Are you saying Hurricane Katrina was also in on the conspiracy? Because I'm not sure what the league could have done differently there that would have NOT resulted in New Orleans losing a home game, seeing as the Superdome (and the entire region) was out of commission.

315
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:31pm

It could have scheduled NO's trip to London as an away team, instead of taking out ANOTHER home game for them. The handling of the NO "home game" in NY was somewhat suspect, not necesarily at the time, but afterwards when it oculd have been made up, as I recall.

- Alvaro

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by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:34pm

You know the owners of the teams have to agree to play in London.

Do you think the owners are conspiring against themselves?

320
by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:42pm

There MUST be some kind of incentive in there for the owners, right? Otherwise, why would ANY owner agree to lose a home game?

- Alvaro

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by tuluse :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 6:53pm

Clearly.

So how is this a conspiracy if the owners feel that playing in London is equal to or more beneficial to them than a home game?

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by billsfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 7:35pm

SF/OAK drops to about 20th if you adjust for the presence of two teams and assume an evenly split fan base.

(I also like the Eagles)

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by montanapanthersfan :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:50pm

As a fan of a small-market team, I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

196
by dmb :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 3:56pm

The Montana Panthers MUST have a small market -- I grew up in Montana, and I've never heard of them!

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by thad (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 9:55pm

Irvin got called for OPI in the Super Bowl against the Steelers
You don't watch the super bowl?

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by Junior (not verified) :: Tue, 10/19/2010 - 12:15pm

Actually no, I haven't seen that Super Bowl. What was different about the OPI that was called in that game compared to the 50-60 per season that were not called on Irvin? Was it early in the game or when the score was 20-3? Or 20-17? It's good to know he was called for it at least once in his life.

I pretty much agree with all the dissenters to my "theory" - perhaps I'm not wording things right or should amend "small market" to "less marketable" teams. Firmly believe there is something to it, though. Perhaps the research will bear that out eventually, or kill the theory. Nothing beats seeing Steve Young argue his way out of a grounding call or Brady asking Ron Winters (?) for a flag and receiving it, when lesser/hapless QBs get piledriven into the turf repeatedly on nastier (illegal by NFL's definition) hits and never draw a flag. There is some sort of heirarchy in place, and games are called accordingly. Or, incredibly, coincidentally inept.

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by Hank (not verified) :: Mon, 10/18/2010 - 4:48pm

What bothers me about penalties is there should never be the decline. All penalties should be recorded and punished. If the team wishes to accept the play on the field, the penalty is turned into an extra 5 yards (or half the distance to the goal inside the 10).
Are there any other sports that allow for the declining of penalties?