A look back at New England's worst games this year shows which matchups will be critical in Super Bowl XLIX.
29 Oct 2012
compiled by Rivers McCown
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.
While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That 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 49ers 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.
Andy Benoit: Rams beat Patriots defense over the top for a long Chris Givens touchdown. If the Patriots can’t contain the Rams downfield, there’s no hope for them turning things around this season.
Aaron Schatz: Just to give a specific on this, it looked like simple Cover-2 with five rushers, four underneath, and two deep. Alfonzo Dennard passed Givens off to the deep safeties and Tavon Wilson just got completely turned around when Givens pulled a double move on him. The touchdown is all on Wilson, not on the other safety at all, even though by the time the pass is caught both safeties are in the camera shot. There's been a lot of criticism of the Patriots' schemes in Boston but I think this one was player, not schematic. Every team plays Cover-2, there wasn't anything particularly weird about this. Wilson just got lost.
By the way, so far we've seen Julian Edelman and Rob Ninkovich both play slip n' slide on the Wembley turf. I apologize if I've missed any Rams. This will happen all game.I thought they actually grow the grass differently for soccer so that the ball will slip across it faster, and it messes with football players trying to cut. But according to reader Dennis Wimann on Twitter, this grass sucks for everyone no matter what sport you play.
They couldn't play this thing somewhere else?
Patriots go for it on fourth-and-goal and score on a Shane Vereen run. I'm lovin' all these teams going for it on fourth-and-goal today.
I'm surprised by how little pressure the Rams are getting on the Patriots today. I realize the Rams are only an average pass rush, but even still, this is basically nothing. Even if they send five or six, even without the running back blocking (or with no back at all), the pocket is clean.
Addendum to previous comment: The Patriots don't seem to be getting much pass rush on the Rams in the first half either. They are shutting down the running game pretty good, though. Not a surprise.
Oh, wait, as soon as I write that an unblocked Dont'a Hightower just outright creams Sam Bradford. He may be coming out of this game. The Rams instead call a timeout instead of having to have Kellen Clemens come in for one snap. So, you know, showing a lot of faith in Clemens there.
Pats run the fake spike at the end of the first half and just miss a touchdown when it is out of Brandon Lloyd's reach. I feel bad for anybody who ran that play before Dan Marino did, because nobody will ever, ever remember them.
Andy Benoit: Jay Cutler's deep interception to Josh Norman was an underthrown ball to Brandon Marshall. He beat double (maybe triple) coverage, and got over the top of Haruki Nakamura, but the ball was underthrown.
Mike Kurtz: I disagree with Andy that Marshall had the coverage beaten. He had a step downfield, but based on the timing of that throw, in order for him to be hit in stride he'd have to be in the back of the end zone. Maybe if the throw was earlier then he would've actually been behind the coverage, but even then I'm not sure. Incredibly stupid throw regardless.
Matt Waldman: Cam Newton hits Brandon LaFell up the seam for a 62-yard pass. Most of the yardage comes after the catch because Chris Conte is out of position and focused elsewhere on this twin side look. LaFell accelerated by him for another 35-to-40 of those yards.
Andy Benoit: Cutler was sacked four times on his first eight dropbacks. I saw the Panthers pass rush get hot like that a few weeks ago at Atlanta, too.
Mike Kurtz: I'm completely confused by Carolina's kickoffs, it's like they've decided throwback uniforms give the Bears the kickoff return of three years ago.
Any time the Bears give Cutler five blockers, he gets rocked. Any time they give him six, he has a 60 percent chance of getting rocked. The first half has been a disaster for the Bears' offensive line.
Andy Benoit: Newton throws a blatant pick-six to Tim Jennings. Haven’t gotten a great look at it yet but it appeared he just badly overthrew Steve Smith.
Mike Kurtz: Smith slipped and fell down (possibly after the ball was free, I would have to watch again to tell). Nobody on Carolina really did anything wrong on that play, except maybe their equipment guy.
Matt Waldman: The ball looked a little off-target, but Smith's slip was the deal closer for Jennings to make that play.
Aaron Schatz: By the way, in case people haven't read our work on this in the past, this Bears defensive touchdown thing is totally unsustainable. They just got their sixth touchdown in seven games. They could have the same number of sacks and interceptions over the next nine weeks, and the chances of them getting no more touchdowns would probably be better than the chances of them getting six more touchdowns.
Vince Verhei: The Bears go for two and Cutler throws what would have been a pick-two in college. Defenses can't score on extra points in the NFL, but nobody on the Panthers knows that, apparently, and they ran 100 yards and threw a big party for nothing.
Andy Benoit: Cutler and Marshall connected for a few outstanding slant catches on the final drive. Marshall’s hands have improved a bit this year it seems.
Mike Kurtz: It may not have cost them the game, but Ron Rivera is possibly the most scaredy-cat coach I've ever seen.
Ben Muth: The Steelers went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on their opening drive. Glad to see good decisions actually working.
Andy Benoit: The Steelers should have began the game with a 15-yard penalty just for wearing those uniforms.
Rivers McCown: They look like a third-rate 1910's European Calvary unit.
Ben Muth: And now Washington goes for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and converts. Loving the aggression early in this game.
Andy Benoit: Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown to Heath Miller demonstrated his usual great pocket movement. The Redskins dropped eight. which is a questionable approach against a player like Roethlisberger because it encourages him to hold the ball and buy time, which is obviously his strength. By blitzing him, you’d force him to be a quick, accurate, timing-based passer.
Ben Muth: Robert Griffin just missed Logan Paulsen on the play-action rollout throwback that works every time for the Redskins and Texans. That may be my favorite passing play in football. They delayed Paulsen at the line of scrimmage, and then released him on a wheel route across the formation after he ran a shallow cross. Such a pretty play. Shame that the ball was just overthrown.
Then Washington tried a reverse pass from Josh Morgan to RG3. Griffin was double-covered but Morgan threw it anyway. RG3 got called for offensive pass interference and Ryan Clark just about decapitated him anyway. I thought RG3 was crying wolf earlier in the season about being targeted, but Clark had bad intentions on that hit.
Andy Benoit: The Redskins dropped nine passes today, the most by any team in a single game this season.
Ben Muth: Even more fourth-down aggression: the Redskins convert on fourth-and-4 from their own 40 down 15 with 7:00 minutes left.
DeAngelo Hall just had a bizarre personal foul. He got into a bit of a wrestling match with Emmanuel Sanders, then lost his mind. Hall takes off his helmet and starts bombing the official with expletives. It was a Billy Martin-style, right-in-his-face verbal assault. He got ejected for it. The Sanders/Hall conflict didn't look that bad, so I don't know what set Hall off.
Rivers McCown: Interesting wrinkle on an early Colts play-action: they bring Reggie Wayne tight to the line and he sells the block rather than going out immediately. Not too often you see a team keep its best receiver as (mainly) a decoy on play-action.
Vince Verhei: I charted a Colts game a few weeks ago. They actually line Wayne up like a tight end quite a bit.
Rivers McCown: Midway through the second, the Colts and Titans are locked in a battle to see who can squander more opportunities against a bad defense. There's only been four possessions so far, but unforced penalties have kept it a 3-3 game. Tennessee is getting plenty of pressure on Andrew Luck.
They've called three offensive pass interference penalties on Tennessee in the first half. I can't even remember seeing three in the same game before.
Tom Gower: Didn't Nate Burleson get called for OPI three times against the Saints on Sunday Night Football last year? The two against Kenny Britt looked legit, while I'm not sure about the one on Kendall Wright.
Chris Johnson isn't getting outside easily, which means he isn't getting big plays. Until a touchdown to Wright at the end of the first half, the only downfield strikes the Titans attempted were the passes where OPI was called.
Rivers McCown: I probably said the exact same thing then, but yes, I do recall that now that you mention it.
If I had one complaint about Luck, it'd be that I think he looks for Wayne a little too often. Granted, you can understand that since the Colts don't have any other receivers, but every time the rush comes his instinct seems to be "uh, so where is Reggie Wayne?"
Speaking of, Tennessee is turning up the heat in the second half and blitzing way more often. The Colts offensive line is, to be charitable, having problems with this.
Tom Gower: One thing about the Colts-Browns game last week was how short it was early -- only three possessions each team in the first half. Today's first half was similarly slow, and thanks to a field goal block, the Colts only have six points early in the second half even though it feels like they've moved the ball fairly well.
Rivers McCown: Titans punt the ball with about a minute to play, eschewing a 60-yard field goal attempt going with the wind.
With about 50 seconds left and two timeouts, Bruce Arians runs the ball two straight downs, and Munchak calls two straight timeouts. The Colts convert on a third-down pass, then kneel out the clock after Dwayne Allen nearly fumbles. "No, please, you try to win this game, I'm not really up for it."
Andy Benoit: Vick Ballard’s game-winning touchdown should be viewed as the play of the year. Never seen a touchdown like that. This play needs a nickname. Like Elway’s Helicopter play.
Aaron Schatz: Reminds me a little bit of Jerome Simpson's flip-touchdown from last year. It was pretty great.
Rivers McCown: "DO A BARREL ROLL!" Peppy said. Ballard obliged.
Matt Waldman: Finally got to see that Ballard play. Looked like a reverse swan dive with his head hitting the pylon. You need Greg Louganis to describe that play.
Tom Gower: Unlike the Browns-Colts game last week, this game stayed "short," magnifying the effect of what in another game might have been relatively minor mistakes. The Titans seemed ready to win when they had the ball near midfield at the two minute warning, but stalled out on the edge of field-goal range. They had the Colts pinned on the punt, but couldn't get a third-down stop and went to overtime.
In overtime, the Colts were able to run the ball consistently, which they'd only managed intermittently for most of the game, and of course Ballard's dive finished things. Another big almost was the Titans defensive line, which got pressure, but not sacks. They also stopped some run plays, but gave up too many others. Luck's pocket presence and mobility, plus some very precise throws, sustained the Colts offense most of the day. The rook's good.
Let the record show that on a day when most coaches successfully went for it on fourth down, the Colts kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 2 early in the game.
Rivers McCown: The only words that come to mind on Luck's pocket presence are "preternatural" and "insane."
Andy Benoit: Maybe Juan Castillo wasn't the problem. The Falcons went 3-for-3 on third down during their opening drive, including two conversions to wide receiver Drew Davis. The second of those occurred when he was left wide-open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Eagles defensive backs were fooled badly by fake screen-action.
The subtle decline of Vick’s speed and quickness was evident on Eagles first third-down play. Thomas DeCoud chased him down in backfield from behind.
Matt Waldman: While I tend to agree with the initial sentiment, I thought Vick was looking down field to throw on that play, which is definitely a change from "early" Vick.
Andy Benoit: It will be bad for the Eagles if they fall behind two scores. With iffy weather in Philly, the downfield passing game will be limited. Tough for comeback efforts.
Matt Waldman: Bryce Brown shows terrific balance around right end taking a hit to side of thigh with a lot of force and staying upright for a few more yards. LeSean McCoy getting a look at the sidelines after falling awkwardly the play before.
Andy Benoit: Julio Jones just ran right by Nnamdi Asomugha for a 60-plus yard touchdown. No jam. It was outside the numbers, and the perceived safety help of Nate Allen was irrelevant. Great throw by Matt Ryan. Jones has been involved in all three Falcons touchdowns today.
The Eagles ran more underneath and short passes today, which is probably partly a response to knowing that the Falcons corners would play off-coverage.
The Falcons used Kroy Biermann as a spy on Vick, and they also continued to drop Biermann into centerfield on third-and-long. They used mush rush concepts against Vick to try to keep him in the pocket.
The Falcons are benefiting from tremendous red-zone play-calling. They used Jones again as a decoy out of backfield for another inside completion to Snelling. They clearly game-planned to throw screens in the red zone.
Vince Verhei: Seahawks get a field goal on their first drive. Eight passes, four runs. When in Rome, apparently, do as the Lions do.
Matt Waldman: Seattle's defensive backs focus on Brandon Pettigrew running deep to the endline and leave Ryan Broyles wide open on an out-breaking jerk route. He catches the ball and dives under the defensive back coming back to the goal line. Team is ecstatic for Broyles, who I believe will have 400-to-600 yards between now and the end of the season if he stays healthy because he's 10 times the technician that Titus Young is.
Andy Benoit: Marshawn Lynch shows somewhat-surprising breakaway speed on his 77-yard touchdown run. As a runner, looks like a slow guy. Laboring effort. But the results are speedy.
Matt Waldman: Funny enough, Lynch was known as a speedster at Cal. The weight gain to become a more muscular back and then too much weight gain early in his Buffalo career really made the "slowish" label stick.
Vince Verhei: A lot of people reading this could have scored on that run. Great blocking to get him free along the sideline, and once he hit the second level there were no Lions in front of him.
Matt Waldman: You have a lot more faith in our readers than I do.
Well shut my mouth on Young. He runs by the defense that thinks they have him covered, but Matthew Stafford climbs the pocket and wings it downfield behind them for a 46-yard score. Seahawks got caught peeping into the backfield.
Vince Verhei: Well, I exaggerate, but certainly think most NFL running backs would have scored. It was great blocking and lousy secondary play more than a great run.
Matt Waldman: I was just giving you grief.
Andy Benoit: Calvin Johnson has zero catches on three targets against Seattle with a little over eight minutes left in third quarter. The third attempt to him came out of the slot, which is a good way to get him away from the sizeable Seahawks corners.
Vince Verhei: Richard Sherman changed his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime this week in anticipation of playing against Megatron. Apparently Peter Cullen (who has been the voice of Optimus Prime for nearly 30 years, but of course you knew that) called Sherman and told him "one shall stand, one shall fall." Actually, Sherman and Johnson have both fallen a lot today. So I guess he was wrong.
Aaron Schatz: Is that all Sherman, or are the cornerbacks taking turns against him depending on where he's lined up?
Vince Verhei: They're moving Johnson all over the place, but Sherman and Brandon Browner pretty much stay to their sides. The Seahawks don't play matchups much.
Rivers McCown: What happened to Stafford? Did KUBIAK's mediocre projection for him imbed itself in his mind?
Vince Verhei: To answer Aaron's question further, Johnson's first catch came against Browner. It was a basic play, he just lined up on the left side, ran a little post route, got inside position and caught the ball.
Aaron Schatz: Johnson just let one go off his hands in the end zone. Is that like his third or fourth drop today? What is up there? It's not all just the Seahawks coverage, that was wide open against Cover-2.
Andy Benoit: Titus Young's coming out party: two touchdowns, a big diving catch in the second half. Zero fist fights.
Matt Waldman: About time. I guess dominating camp to dominating a game takes about half a season.
Andy Benoit: Anyone watching Jags-Packers? What kind of coverage has Jacksonville been playing? They played man-to-man last week and had some success. Wonder if they're going with that again, because the Pack tend to struggle with man a little more.
Vince Verhei: More fourth-down aggression: down 24 points in the third, the Jets go for it on fourth-and-1 deep in their own territory. A fullback give picks up the first down. Tim Tebow was on the sidelines, which begs the question of why he is on the team at this point if he's not even a short-yardage weapon. The Jets then go three-and-out and punt.
Matt Moore has gone most of the way for Miami and played OK. So we now know the Dolphins have at least two quarterbacks better than anyone on the Jets.
Danny Tuccitto: Two continuing-the-theme observations about the Dolphins:
1) While charting, one thing I've noticed is that Reggie Bush has this awful habit of cutting back into purposefully unblocked defenders on stretch plays. When he lets the play develop, and does things correctly, it's almost always a positive play. When he doesn't, it's a guaranteed five-yard loss. Today he was doing things correctly.
2) With the Jets lacking a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver, Sean Smith played a side more than he usually does. And still, he didn't allow much when New York threw in his direction. Again, most of the bigger plays -- using that term loosely given the Jets' offensive ineptitude -- came with Nolan Carroll or Jimmy Wilson in coverage.
And two observations about the Jets:
1) Having suffered through it with the 49ers for years, there's nothing sadder than watching a run-only offense face a team with a stout run defense and any semblance of a pass defense. It's almost preordained that they won't score more than 13 points, so once the opponent hits 14, it's effectively game over. Today, that came one minute into the second quarter.
2) The blocked punt touchdown happened because the personal protector blocked the wrong guy. The personal protector: one Tim Tebow.
Andy Benoit: The Giants double team DeMarcus Ware on third-and-9, it's a deep drop for Eli Manning, who hit Rueben Randle deep. The Giants came in leading the NFL with 36 plays of 20 or more yards this season.
Aaron Schatz: Just awful tackling by the Cowboys after that catch. Michael Jenkins slipped on the turf, and I think Gerald Sensabaugh got juked by Randle without Randle actually juking. That was what, 10 or 15 more yards for the Giants?
Andy Benoit: It was on Bryant. He did not square his route at the top, and ran a lazy seam-type thing instead of crossing the safety’s face.
Rivers McCown: Bryant muffs a punt and the Cowboys have three turnovers in the opening quarter. America's game of the week, indeed.
Andy Benoit: Jason Pierre-Paul intercepts a swing pass from point-blank range, runs it back for a touchdown and follows it up with a dunk. Pierre-Paul is a defensive lineman.
Danny Tuccitto: At what point does Jerry Jones just blow this Cowboys team up, and start over? Yes, this is a trick question because it's Jerry Jones.
Ben Muth: Romo really underthrew Bryant on that deep ball against busted coverage. He may have babied it, not wanting to overthrow Bryant like he did to Miles Austin last year against the Giants.
Danny Tuccitto: This is the fourth time I've watched a Giants game this season, and that Bryant play (the one Romo underthrew badly) was the third time I've seen a blown coverage involving Corey Webster. All three seem to have involved miscommunication with safety help that may or may not exist.
Tom Gower: I'm going to describe Pierre-Paul's pancake of Tyron Smith and subsequent sack before the Cowboys field goal that made it 23-10 as "impressive."
Aaron Schatz: Cowboys go for in on fourth-and-goal. Jason Garrett surprisingly doesn't wuss out even though Romo totally overthrew his receiver on the third down. Romo bootleg in for score untouched. Not only does it make this a much more exciting game, it also caps off "National NFL Coach Grow Some Balls Day." What a wonderful day it has been.
I'm not quite sure what's happened to the Giants in the third quarter here. Anyone have any ideas?
Danny Tuccitto: Good thing Jerry Jones didn't blow this team up at halftime.
Vince Verhei: I haven't seen much of the game, but it looks like the Giants offense has been pretty crummy all day, they just got good field position in the first half off the turnovers. When the turnovers stopped, so did the Giants' point production.
Aaron Schatz: I feel like Jason Witten can get open in the middle of the Giants' zones at will. I went and checked and I'm right, apparently, 11 catches for 103 yards with 8:00 left in the game.
Danny Tuccitto: I'll do you one better. Those 11 catches for 103 yards so far? They've come on 11 short targets, and all 11 produced successful gains (four first downs). The only unsuccessful plays thrown his way have been on his two deep targets (both incomplete).
Aaron Schatz: Giants were third in DVOA versus tight ends before this week. In the first Giants-Cowboys game Witten had two catches for 10 yards. I have no idea what's going on and it looks like the kind of thing that's tough to see with TV angles, because all I can say is "golly, big hole in zone."
Ben Muth: Awful ball security on the Felix Jones fumble. The butt of your offensive lineman shouldn't be able to force a fumble.
Aaron Schatz: Cowboys have second-and-1 and throw three times. On the fourth-and-1, Cowboys offensive line just completely implodes. Brutal. Obviously, the Giants are good, but ... wow. Looks like Osi Umenyiora beats Doug Free, then Linval Joseph breaks a double team of the center and right guard, and finally the left guard loses Chris Canty although by that point Romo is toast.
Andy Benoit: Romo's third pick was a would-be coverage sack that he had to heave up because it was fourth-and-1. Really shouldn’t count as a turnover because it was fourth down.
Aaron Schatz: It doesn't in FO numbers! Fourth-down interceptions don't count as interceptions in the final two minutes, and the rest of the game they are graded differently than other interceptions (somewhat based on what their value would be if they were punts).
I'll add that people on the Twitters seem to have responded to the pick by posting about the great game that Stevie Brown has had at safety for the Giants. Brown has had a good game, but picking off that fourth-and-1 desperation heave really doesn't count as part of it.
Well, now we get to talk about Bryant's overturned touchdown. Three thoughts.
1) Yeah, his hand was out of bounds. It's incomplete. Great catch though.
2) I can't believe the Cowboys offensive line held up that long.
3) Andy, do you have any thoughts on Webster this year? We don't have the coverage stats yet, but I feel like when I've watched the Giants, he doesn't seem to be playing as well as years past. He's biting on a lot of double moves or getting beat by guys with speed.
Danny Tuccitto: ...and, as mentioned earlier, erroneously passing receivers off to phantom safety help.
Andy Benoit: How can Webster bite on a double move in that situation? All there is to defend is the end zone.
Danny Tuccitto: And, somehow, despite being down 23-0 midway through the second quarter, history will actually show Dallas to have blown a fourth-quarter lead in this game; a tale told by a Romo, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Matt Waldman: Eric Berry makes a highlight-worthy play that won't show up anywhere this week on a third-and-2 toss from shotgun to Darren McFadden behind a pulling guard. Berry, in the middle of the field at linebacker-depth, reads the play, beats the right guard to the edge with great speed, and meets the pulling guard four yards into the backfield. He then blows up the play like a bowling ball, cutting the left guard and McFadden behind the lineman for the spare. Just a fantastic effort.
Andy Benoit: Carson Palmer has a surprising ability to extend a play with his feet. That was demonstrated on a well-thrown incomplete pass to Denarius Moore to open second quarter. Palmer is not a good runner as he's heavy-legged, but he has good movement behind the line of scrimmage, including outside the pocket.
Matt Waldman: Brady Quinn gets sacked on a layered blitz by linebackers off the right side. Peyton Hillis picks up the outside linebacker, but Rolando McClain comes through untouched off that edge with Hillis occupied and forces a fumble that Tony Moeaki recovers. Quinn decides to reward Moeaki by throwing a jump pass about 20 yards down the middle of the field on an ill-advised seam route that overshoots the tight end and gets picked off. This had to be a precise pass, but he throws it like Tebow throws an option at the goal line. The best thing Quinn has done in this quarter is run.
Quinn's leaping throw for an interception that came a play after getting sacked, results in Chiefs pulling him to get his head examined ... nice. The experiment is mercifully over. Matt Cassel now in.
Vince Verhei: Quinn finishes 2-of-4 for one yard with a pick, although as of halftime, he leads the team with 18 rushing yards. So there's that.
Andy Benoit: How does everyone feel about the NFL's new approach of doing fewer late window games? Things seem just a little quiet...
Aaron Schatz: It's annoying as hell, and it really reduces the value of both Sunday Ticket and Red Zone.
Andy Benoit: Good point on reduced value ... didn't think about that. To be fair, the price of Sunday Ticket was decreased this year, though. What also drives me nuts, scheduling-wise, is how often a team plays on Sunday night one week and then Monday night the very next week (or vice versa). Saw that with Texans and Broncos earlier this year, getting it with the Saints this week and next. Wish they'd change up the primetime schedules more for those two games.
Aaron Schatz: Well, as long as we're whining about this year's schedule, look at the ridiculous way they grouped together divisional games this year, where
teams are often playing each other twice in four or five weeks. I think there are a couple places where two teams play each other twice in just three weeks.
Andy Benoit: I think they grouped the divisional games because it keeps the division races tighter and allows for more meaningful games in the second half of the year.
Aaron Schatz: I like having more division games in the last month, but I still think you should have one game against each of your division rivals in
September-October and then one in December.
Andy Benoit: Yeah, the balance is always nice. I wonder if the league also views division games as more competitive, and maybe they think natural late-season injuries might have slightly less of an impact on those games. Maybe that's a stretch. I would love to watch Howard Katz sit down and make up the schedule sometime -- I have always been fascinated by it.
Aaron Schatz: They'd flex the December games so that it wouldn't happen that way. Back in the day, time zones used to be the only dictator of game times (or close to the only dictator) but the league has gotten smarter.
Vince Verhei: I hate only having two games at once, especially when one of them seems to have Oakland every week. I'm sure we'll get normal afternoons once baseball ends, but can you imagine if they did this in December, and the two games were, like, Oakland-Kansas City and Jacksonville-Buffalo?
I actually like saving the divisional games toward the end of the season. It gives more teams a chance to contend for the playoffs late in the year.
There are more than three minutes left in the game, and Chiefs fans are leaving the stadium so quickly they are crashing into each other in the parking lot. How do I know this? The Chiefs themselves announced it to the world.
Ben Muth: Did Jamaal Charles get hurt? He's only had five carries today?
Vince Verhei: Well, they had to get Cassel his seven carries, obviously, and there's only one ball to go around.
Matt Waldman: He had some runs called back due to penalties, as well.
Vince Verhei: Some great quotes from Romeo Crennel today after the Kansas City game:
Danny Tuccitto: When I first saw that Quinn was out of the game in a flash, I was all ready to mention this quote:
"What I want him to be is, I want him to be the starting quarterback without having to look over his shoulder, so there is going to be no quick hook or anything like that."
Alas. Was a loss for my personal comedic stylings, but glad to see Romeo give us a second chance so soon.
Ben Muth: I love watching Von Miller play. He just explodes to the ball carrier once he gets off a block. Between him, J.J. Watt, and Patrick Peterson, the 2011 defensive draft class is looking very strong.
Vince Verhei: Touched on this in the FO feature last week, but Miller as a rookie was a good pass rusher who didn't contribute much to the run game. In his sophomore season, he's still a good pass rusher, but explosive against the run as well. Haven't checked in a couple of weeks, but at one point he was leading the league in Run Defeats, and had already topped his rookie season in that category.
Danny Tuccitto: Denver quarterbacks coach Adam Gase's wife is New Orleans interim head coach Joe Vitt's daughter. An old boys network, indeed.
Rivers McCown: Looks like Bountygate, in the mind of Roman Harper, continues to make this defense execrable.
Vince Verhei: You know how hockey has cool names for all their postseason awards? I think we should just take the Comeback Player of the Year Award and rename it "The Peyton Cup."
Rivers McCown: What? The Comeback player trophy clearly needs to be The Pennington Prize.
Danny Tuccitto: How about we split the baby and call it The Peytonton?
Rivers McCown: Garrison Hearst needs to be in on any non-solo Pennington name.
Danny Tuccitto: OK, so The Peytontonson?
Ben Muth: What about Rocky Bleir? I feel like coming back from grenade shrapnel should carry a lot of weight.
Vince Verhei: Bleier, Hearst, Pennington all had amazing comebacks, but they came back to be good players. Manning came back from an unprecedented spinal surgery and will probably win another MVP award. And he's doing in on a new team with new teammates that went 8-8 last year.
Danny Tuccitto: Vince, this is right in your wheelhouse. Am I the only one who can't hear the name Virgil without immediately thinking of Ted Dibiase's bodyguard?
Vince Verhei: Well, there's Ted DiBiase's bodyguard, Dusty Rhodes' real name, the dude who wrote The Aeneid, and ... yeah, that's all I got.
Danny Tuccitto: Well, to Rome, Aeneas was the original bodyguard, so things come full circle. Also, re: Aeneas, all I've got is the dude who Virgil wrote about and the Cardinals cornerback.
Aaron Schatz: I think the surprise here is that the Saints offense hasn't gotten it going much tonight. Says good things about the improved Denver defense. We knew the Saints defense sucked, so Denver scoring a bunch of touchdowns is no surprise.
Vince Verhei: Denver came into the game sixth in defensive DVOA. That'll probably improve in the new rankings. Who do we credit that to? Miller, obviously, has taken many steps forward, but I guess we have to credit Jack Del Rio for the big improvement there.
Danny Tuccitto: More granular than the ineptitude of New Orleans offense overall, I'm kind of taken aback at how inaccurate of a game Drew Brees is having. There's about 10 minutes left, and he's 14-of-28. That includes a few drops, but it's mostly inaccurate throws. This year, he's already had a 46.2 percent game (Week 1 versus Washington), but, before that, he only had one game worse than 53 percent as a member of the Saints.
Aaron Schatz: I think it's surprising because of the corners. As both you and I wrote in the preseason, Champ Bailey has been declining for years and Tracy Porter had terrible charting stats in New Orleans. I don't think Chris Harris is thought of as more than a nickel corner, and Tony Carter is basically just a guy.
Vince Verhei: Yeah, but I thought their interior run defense would be lousy too. Wesley Woodyard's surpassed all expectations, and rookie Derek Wolfe deserves a lot of credit too. I just checked the snap count data (not counting tonight, obviously). Elvis Dumervil leads the Broncos' linemen in snaps with 396, and Wolfe is second with 377. Justin Bannan is third way back at 222.
216 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2012, 4:29pm by commissionerleaf