Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
02 Dec 2013
compiled by Rivers McCown and Ben Jones
This year, we have a new format for our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. First, we're replacing our usual back-and-forth with some longer-form dissection of each game that at least one of us watches in depth. Second, every game that we find time for will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #foaud. We discussed the new format in this post.
On Monday, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning 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. Audibles is often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.
Andrew Potter: Cleveland continue their league-worst DVOA against tight ends. The shootout is on!
@THEOSU7: Brandon Weeden has discovered the key to appearing to be a competent NFL Quarterback: Throw the ball repeatedly towards Josh Gordon.
Mike Ridley: Brandon Weeden needs a new word made to describe how bad his play is. Any ideas?
Andrew Potter: @TheMikeRidley His word's already an adjective. That was a weeden performance. Henne throws a weeden pass into coverage.
@blotzphoto: Brandon Weeden's so bad he rendered Shannon Sharpe speechless. Which is a public service I suppose.
@THEOSU7: CBS' bumper music for q4 of Browns-Jags: Best Day Of My Life by American Authors. Alanis Morisette: THIS is irony.
Aaron Schatz: Quick, someone from Jags front office please call Jags coaches and explain to them how the draft works.
Robert Weintraub: I guess Josh Gordon isn't hurt--a 95-yard TD to give the Browns the lead, 1st ever NFLer to go over 200 yards in back to back games.
@MilkmanDanimal: Holy screaming excremonkies, Chad Henne just won the game on a freaking perfect pass to Shorts. CHAD HENNE.
@nath_on_fire: "CALL HIM CECIL PANTS III, 'CAUSE THAT WAS A BIG BOY PLAY!" - My imaginary new favorite announcer.
@MilkmanDanimal: Browns returner kneels in end zone, meaning he believes in Brandon Weeden. Check him for a concussion immediately.
Scott Kacsmar: Josh Gordon becomes 4th WR to have two career games with 237+ receiving yards. First to do it in same season and back-to-back games.
Vincent Verhei: J.Gordon now averaging 124.9 yds/gm this season. That would be the record for a non-strike season.
Tom Gower: Early thought on Titans-Colts: this game would be aggravating if I was expecting it to be something other than what it was
Cian Fahey: Nate Washington compensating for Fitzpatrick's poor deep accuracy there. Should have been a TD
@sfckoski: Not breaking news or anything, but Ryan Fitzpatrick makes too many "What was that?" throws.
Mike Ridley: Ryan Fitzpatrick's last throw was borderline Weediculous. Yeah, I think we've found the word.
@SigurWes: Starting to wonder if Andrew Luck is actually above average or not.
Robert Weintraub: Three straight runs up the middle, nothing for the Titans on the Colts GL. Where is this touted Munchakian toughness when needed?
Robert Weintraub: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws the ugliest pass of all time for the 4th down TD. Beurlein--"I was gonna say you gotta take the points..."
Tom Gower: Am I surprised Mike Munchak kicked the XP to go up 14-12 mid-3Q? No. Did he even think about going for 2? I hope so.
Robert Weintraub: Robert Mathis continues his All-Pro season with a huge strip sack just when the Colts need it.
Robert Weintraub: Fifth S/S of the season for Mathis, 31st of his career, the record, needless to say.
@Mercurius100: I can't pick on DHB anymore. He's overcome so much to be a NFL WR despite not being born with hands.
@ramdog7: Horrid game in Indianapolis, and at least one of these teams will be in the playoffs
Scott Kacsmar: You know Colts will kick the XP, but I'll be damned if this isn't the perfect situation to win the game now by going for 2.
@MilkmanDanimal: "All the work the defense in trying to tackle, it's rude of Donald to break them."--Trent Richardson
Cian Fahey: Kendall Wright with a brilliant adjustment for a big reception down the seam. Fitzpatrick is a disaster
Cian Fahey: Ryan Fitzpatrick single-handedly lost this game for the Titans. Somewhat incredibly, at least based on preseasons expectations, the Titans appear to be missing out on an AFC South crown because of Jake Locker's injury. They outperformed the Colts in every facet of the game today except at quarterback.
Also, Jurrell Casey is an absolute monster. Jerry Gray needs to stop dropping him in coverage though...
Tom Gower: These are two not very good teams. The Colts' ambition seems limited to gaining 12 yards on a particular play. Oh, they did have a couple plays that seemed designed to gain more yards than that, but not too many -- wouldn't want to make things too hard on the other team, you know, or get Andrew Luck out of the pocket. I almost feel bad noting things like Luck tends to hold the ball forever, which is a horrible thing when you stay in the pocket and are playing behind a bad offensive line. He had a couple really nice throws on downfield corner routes, but other than that was a bit blah. Donald Brown, who's had a string of good games against the Titans, struggled to running room for most of the game ... until the fourth quarter, when the Titans needed a stop and the Colts got a touchdown (wash, rinse, repeat from last game).
After the game in Indy two years ago, when the Titans lost to an 0-13 Colts game because they couldn't do anything on offense, I wrote a long post for my site about how the Titans were a fundamentally limited offense. Chris Johnson is playing better than he did two years ago, meaning he now reliably gets pretty much exactly what is blocked in the run game. The line isn't good enough to sustain drives that way, which means the Titans have to move the ball through the air efficiently. And, well, something Ryan Fitzpatrick has in common with Matt Hasselbeck two years ago is massive struggles throwing the ball downfield. He was lousy at it in Buffalo, and he couldn't do it today. They camouflaged that the first time they played Indianapolis with all those out routes, whip routes, and crossers against the Colts linebackers, who are not good in coverage. They didn't overload those as much today. It didn't help that they were a bit limited personnel-wise, with Craig Stevens inactive with a concussion, Delanie Walker leaving the game early with a concussion of his own, and Kendall Wright spending some time out of the game banged up as well. That the Titans did other things like Moise Fokou taking a 15-yard personal foul penalty at the end of the first half that gave the Colts a field-goal attempt they otherwise would not have gotten did not help their cause.
A couple further notes:
1. Donald Brown was a better rusher than Chris Johnson today, though Johnson might have been a bit more productive in the passing game thanks to Jerrell Freeman repeatedly getting caught flat-footed and unprepared for cuts.
2. When I ran the numbers a week or two ago, Jake Locker's passing DVOA in the games after he returned from his injury against the Jets was about -30%.
Scott Kacsmar: If you're the Colts, how do you not try the two-point conversion up 21-14 with 1:56 left? It would be 23-14 if successful. If not, it's still a 21-14 lead and your main goal is exactly the same: do not give up the touchdown.
Tom Gower: Maybe I'm just being thick, but I don't follow how going for two in that situation improves your chance of winning under the assumption that you and your opponent are both equally likely to score on a two-point conversion.
Aaron Schatz: Nope, Scott, not crazy. I think that it makes sense because you can assume the other coach would be risk-averse and, down 7, would automatically kick an XP to tie the game if his team did get a touchdown on the comeback drive.
@GDFar: Eagles fantastic at subtle deception on offense.
Cian Fahey: Nick Foles needs to start playing worse because I want to keep being a hipster who doesn't like him
Cian Fahey: Very smart that all the Cardinals defenders are wearing wristbands with plays on them
@dingerc: Siracusa on fox praises Eagles tackling right before two Eagles fail to wrap up Fitzgerald on the TD catch.
@gberry523: excellent wildcat bashing by this fox crew after the brad smith botched snap
@Mercurius100: Compared to the other early game QBs, Nick Foles looks like a Pro Bowler. Bad QB play.
@Mercurius100: Nick Foles is the ideal QB for Chip Kelly's offense. Who knew?
Robert Weintraub: An awful Nick Foles pick--his first--is wiped out by holding on the Honey Badger.
Vince Verhei: This was the first time I paid any real attention to Nick Foles on his hot streak. And for three quarters, he looked just as good as his ridiculous numbers. It seemed like he never made a bad decision or throw. It's not just that he wasn't throwing interceptions, he wasn't throwing anything that even had a reasonable chance of being intercepted. The fourth quarter was another story. He threw his first interception of the season, right to Patrick Peterson, but it was wiped out by a penalty. He threw another two or three balls that could have been picked but were broken up by his receivers, and had another pass tipped at the line and up into the air. I don't know if Arizona was doing anything different on defense at the end of the game, but Foles looked like a different guy.
Danny Tuccitto: jets putting on a tackling clinic on dolphins first drive. #Not
Danny Tuccitto: fitting for this NFL viewing challenge that dolphins start game w/ 9-minute drive and it ends in a missed field goal.
Danny Tuccitto: mike wallace on INTs: good job, good effort.
@GDFar: That Tannehill INT should have been incomplete. Embarrassing effort on Mike Wallace's part.
@Mercurius100: Best chance for the Dolphins to score: give Geno Smith the ball at his own 1.
@Foosball_Wizard: Starting to look like the #Jets are going to be drafting a QB again next year. Geno Smith, like Megamaid, has gone from suck to blow
Robert Weintraub: Matt Simms comes in and the crowd goes wild. I predict a McElroy-like moment of passion for Gang Green.
@Mercurius100: The worst thing for the Jets developing Geno Smith is being in the playoff race.
Robert Weintraub: Down 13-0, 4th and goal from the 2, of course Jets kick FG, and of course Gannon says "you gotta get the points." #lockstep
Robert Weintraub: A terrible tackle attempt by Dee Milliner results in a Wallace TD. He's been the antithesis of Sheldon Richardson.
@Mercurius100: Is this Jets season more or less soul-crushing because they outperformed early and won some games?
@GDFar: Bucs kick FG on 4th and 1 inside the 10 in a 0-0 game. Ron Rivera looks on, remembering what life was like before he was enlightened.
@MilkmanDanimal: Glennon literally just dropped the ball on a pass attempt from the 4; Orlovsky says "Kid, let me tell you a story about a safety."
@Mercurius100: As silly as "Analytical Ron" sounds as a nickname (that Rivera gave himself?), any other coach that wants to be known as analytical?
Andrew Potter: Weird call in the Panthers game, as a DPI flag is picked up because of where the ball was intercepted, not uncatchable.
Mike Ridley: Ted Ginn absolutely fooled Revis with his double move. With no help over the top, Newton had an easy throw.
Vincent Verhei: Ted Ginn with a pretty pirouette to get behind Darrelle Revis for a touchdown.
Aaron Schatz: Sentences I never thought I would see. @FO_VVerhei Ted Ginn with a pretty pirouette to get behind Darrelle Revis for a touchdown.
@MilkmanDanimal: This is the first game this year I haven't noticed Lavonte David is on the field. He's been pretty invisible today.
@MilkmanDanimal: I should have slandered Lavonte David earlier; he picks off a lousy Cam pass. I SEE YOU NOW, LAVONTE.
Aaron Schatz: Gronk just saved Brady's ass. Brady had forever to throw, threw too low, and somehow Gronk picked it off grass and rolled into EZ
@pchicola: Patriots D seem more disciplined when playing man-to-man concepts than zone.
Aaron Schatz: We may have a new record for most ridiculously inadvertent hit to a QB's head, as jj watt knocks Brady into brooks reed's head.
Aaron Schatz: Definitely seeing the effect of the Wilfork/Kelly injuries on those runs up the middle against the Pats, once again.
@dingerc: So Grownkowsi's route running consists of barreling through DB with impunity? Pretty nice advantage.
Aaron Schatz: The surprise here isn't HOU running on NE. It's the NE offense struggling against the HOU D.
Aaron Schatz: Yet again, Pats back to a 3-4 look today. CJones is at OLB and Sapoaga is heads-up on the center, 2-gapping.
@pchicola: @FO_ASchatz Also using two different ILB sets. Spikes & Hightower for running downs; Fletcher and Collins for passing downs.
@pchicola: And now a Levels concept for that Vereen TD. Gronk runs corner, Vereen an out route from backfield. Hi-Lo the LB's. Easy TD for Brady
@jtv_3: Drives me NUTS that NFL teams don't use timeouts on defense when it is OBVIOUS the guys out there can't get lined up right.
Aaron Schatz: I was going to say "why would HOU ever go empty backfield against this NE run defense?" Then Keenum ran QB sweep for a TD. Made sense
@pchicola: Don't understand how Kyle Arrington can be so serviceable when playing the slot, and so awfully bad when playing outside.
Aaron Schatz: Brady is killing the Texans' off coverage in the second half; that's not a problem when you've got him in 3rd-and-long. FG, tie game
Aaron Schatz: I did not like decision of Pats to go empty on third-2. Would have rather seen two runs up middle to try to get the 2 yards.
Robert Weintraub: Rare mistake by Brady-went to Gronk on 3rd and 2, had man wide open in left flat. Gostkowski makes second 50+ FG, 34-31 Pats.
Aaron Schatz: Keenum's ability to scramble and throw on the run under pressure reminds me of when DAL pulled Bledsoe for Romo in 2006.
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots looked like they were half-asleep at times in the first half. Tom Brady was missing throws, the defense wasn't getting enough pass rush, and the front seven couldn't stop the run at all. I'm sure lots of people were thinking that this was a "letdown game" (I don't know if such a thing exists, but I doubt it) or a "trap game" (I know that such a thing does NOT exist, and besides, with Cleveland next week, what kind of trap would this even be?). The Patriots offense turned things around at halftime and was an efficient machine the rest of the way. Wade Phillips blitzed a lot and Brady beat it repeatedly in the second half. This was also a game where you definitely saw the effect that Rob Gronkowski has on how opponents cover the rest of the Patriots' skill players, especially down near the goal line. There was one play where there was so much attention on Gronk that Shane Vereen, if I'm remembering correctly, basically walked in untouched.
The Patriots defense didn't really turn things around. The run defense was still a problem for the rest of the day, and when Logan Ryan got hurt for a while, Kyle Arrington had to go play on the outside again, which is always a bad idea. He's so much better in the slot, and got completely lost on a deep bomb to DeAndre Hopkins at the start of the fourth quarter.
@TCBullfrog: Bears have sacked Ponder three times now. Ponder getting little time when he drops back, not decisive either. Why are they passing?
Robert Weintraub: Matt Cassel comes in and immediately throws an 80-yard bomb to Alshon Jeffery. Of course he does.
Robert Weintraub: Whoops, got my backup QBs mixed up for a minute there, it was McCown to Jeffery of course. I'm still warped from the college action.
@MilkmanDanimal: Matt Cassell with a called QB draw on 3rd and goal from the 4, because . . . wait, what did I just type?
Robert Weintraub: Jeffrey an incredible catch for a Bears TD, he's surpassing B. Marshall before our very eyes.
Andrew Potter: How quickly Chicago's offense has gone from a weakness to a strength. Jeffery's touchdown catch was astounding.
Robert Weintraub: I saw Jeffrey play HS hoops back in the day. He was fantastic, his team won 3 or 4 straight state titles. Dethroned AJ Green's team.
Robert Weintraub: Alshon Jeffery update--234 yards receiving after three quarters. If this was Megatron the internet would be going berserk.
@TCBullfrog: Josh McCown makes ill-advised shovel pass which gets tipped, caught by OL and fumbled. Thus ensuring no QB controversy. #teamplayer
Robert Weintraub: OLineman catches deflection, then fumbles, rookie CB taunts to keep drive alive, Minny drops TD into hands of Bears for EZ INT. Whew.
@JoshReedBTG: McCown has been terrible in the 4th Q and OT. Needed to remind people that he is Josh McCown.
Vincent Verhei: L.Frazier settles for 40-yd FG on 3rd down. After penalty, he runs into line, settling for 55-yd FG. He deserves to lose.
@MilkmanDanimal: The Vikings getting a face mask to wipe out a game-winning FG is a patently Weediculous situation.
Vincent Verhei: Trestman then settles for 47-yard FG on SECOND down. Neither coach deserves to win. And late in OT, it's likely that neither will.
Vincent Verhei: Frazier finally prevails by settling for 34-yarder on FIRST down. At least that was a mid-range shot.
Vince Verhei: The overtime of this game was like a clinic on bad coaching decisions. Both Leslie Frazier and Marc Trestman coached as if every field goal of any length was absolutely guaranteed to go in. The Bears had the first drive of overtime and punted, so after that everything was sudden death. Minnesota's first drive produced a third-and-10 at the Chicago 21. Rather than try to get closer, Frazier called for what was officially a 39-yard field goal. Never mind that the average kicker misses roughly one-in-five kicks from that distance -- let's kick it now before something BAD happens on third down! The resulting kick was good, which does not mean Frazier made a good decision. It means he gambled and won.
Only things are never that simple. The field goal was waved off due to a Vikings facemask penalty. So now they had a third-and-25 at the 36. Surely now Frazier would be aggressive -- a 10- or 15-yard gain would make the fourth-down field goal try much easier. No, Frazier went conservative, running Adrian Peterson into the line, resulting in a 3-yard loss. Now, on fourth down, Frazier tried a 57-yard field goal. Field goals from that distance miss about twice as often as they hit. I'd have punted. Blair Walsh missed the field goal, and the Bears took over near midfield.
Not that it did them any good. A Matt Forte run gave Chicago a second-and-7 at the Minnesota 29, at which point Trestman called for a 49-yard field goal. That's a kick that is missed roughly one-in-four times, but Trestman turned down not one down, but two downs that could have moved the Bears closer. That kick was also missed.
The Vikings took over and drove for a first down at the Bears 16. Then Frazier called for another field goal try, a 34-yarder. On FIRST DOWN. He turned down THREE plays to try and get closer. That kick finally went in, ending the game before either coach had a chance to try a kick from their own side of the field.
Danny Tuccitto: Believe 49ers just ran successful TE screen for first time since the Clinton administration.
Vincent Verhei: Kellen Clemens throwing everything 6 feet too high.
@sfckoski: Kaepernick does not know how to hit his dumpoffs/check downs. Result is taking sacks.
Vincent Verhei: Tavon Austin's pass was not pretty, but I'm pretty sure he was throwing it away.
@matthew_carley: On a tackle of Vernon Davis McDonald grabs the meat between the buns with relish
@Coboney: @FO_VVerhei Ya probably was in retrospect. Still was a pretty bad play on the whole. Not like austin is a former QB that I know of
Vincent Verhei: Nobody calls a timeout following their own big play more often than San Francisco.
@unkleskillz: @FO_VVerhei all I hear is how great of a coach Harbaugh is. Is this TO issue a Kaepernick thing of Harbaugh/Roman thing?
Vincent Verhei: SL fake punt looked like it was supposed to be a pitch to the punter or a reverse to #12. Neither a good idea. SF ball.
Danny Tuccitto: Gotta check, but not sure there's anything more predictable in NFL over past 3 years than 49ers beating an inferior opponent.
@Coboney: FIsher with a smart choice going for it on 4th and 11 down 17 with 6 min left. Need TDs here not FGs - didn't work but good call imo
@matthew_carley: Kap looked as good as he has all year, a few times he dropped his eyes or was slow with his reads but ran through the reads better.
Vince Verhei: It happened again. It wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it happened again. The 49ers got a big play on offense, then were apparently so surprised by their own success that they were unprepared to call an ensuing play, and had to call a timeout. Forget for a second that I hate that call (I would rather lose 5 yards on a delay of game penalty than lose a timeout), this seems to happen to the 49ers every game. I've mentioned this before, and I'm actually going to do it this offseason, but I need to study which quarterbacks/offenses are able to get plays off on time, and which struggle with delays of game or timeouts. I think this is a critical part of "game management" that never actually gets measured or analyzed.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Jeff Fisher's team once again subjected us to a never-ending stream of pushing, shoving, and assorted other anti-social activity. It's almost funny at this point.
@SigurWes: Were you ever to flag someone for leading with the crown, Frank Summers could've had it twice on that run. #Bills
@MilkmanDanimal: I wish the Vikings were playing the Bills in Toronto because Christian Ponder really, really belongs on a CFL field.
@SigurWes: Well, there should be a good @StevieJohnson13 tweet later tonight. #bills #godsfault
@Mercurius100: Yeah, anybody choosing to go on offense first in OT anymore just isn't paying attention.
Andrew Potter: @Mercurius100 Against Atlanta's defense, I'd consider it ... but the fumbles on the last two Bills drives have been inexcusable.
@wiesengrund: Falcons went from closest team to the super bowl to the farthest away in one season.
Matt Waldman: Roddy White might have earned the Most Valuable Player Award for the Atlanta Falcons' offense based on the absence of his health until this weekend. For the first time all season, White could actually beat man coverage beyond the shallow zone of the defense and this forced the Bills to abandon any plans to give White lesser priority, bracket Tony Gonzalez, stick its best cover corner on Harry Douglas, and stack the box against the Falcons ground game. White isn't all the way back because I'm not seeing him execute hard breaks at the rate he did in previous seasons. However, his acceleration is better than any time this season. He actually got the better of man coverage match-ups on timing routes and despite the Falcons going with their sixth offensive line variation this season and still giving up five sacks, a fumbled snap, and consistent pressure on Matt Ryan, the run game was more consistent, the Bills couldn't employ punt coverage on Gonzalez in the red zone, and the Falcons offense became more difficult to predict.
Julio Jones is a better athlete and at this stage of his career the more valuable prospect. Although Jones runs fast, jumps high, and displays strength, the Falcons offense still missed the precision of White's timing routes that require sterling technique, veteran understanding of defensive coverage, and rapport with his quarterback on how to adjust to the coverage in the same manner. When Atlanta has this kind of player who not only does these three things but also has the speed to stretch the field, opposing defenses have a real bind between run or pass; short, intermediate, or deep zone; or seam, flat, or perimeter. Jones only creates the dilemma with zone depth. White also widens the defense.
Robert Weintraub: Look for Phil Rivers to throw to backs plenty early today to test out Burfict's sore ankle. #bengals
@blotzphoto: Not sure what 3 Bengals were doing standing around and watching Gates catch that pass though.
@blotzphoto: I have no idea what Jay Grudens passing offense is meant to accomplish. No one is ever open. It's as if they aren't trying.
@nath_on_fire: Mike McCoy punting on 4th and 2 from the Bengals' 42. I await the day "go for it" is recognized as the default best decision here.
@blotzphoto: after a promising start to the drive, Andy Dalton elects to punt on first down.
@blotzphoto: And The Law Firm locks on the Sleeper Hold and the Chargers hopes slowly fade...
Rob Weintraub: Not a great afternoon for Antonio Gates. Reggie Nelson jarred one ball loose after a catch in Cincy territory for a fumble, and Dre Kirkpatrick flat yanked a ball right out of his hands for another turnover. He just looked a step off all day. Philip Rivers and co. didn't have anything like the passing attack they did a week ago in KC, attributable to several active zone defenses by Cincinnati. Even the completed passes sneaked past tight coverage -- very few easy throws out there for Phil. The Bengals were especially sharp closing on shallow crossing patterns and tackled very well. Vontaze Burfict really should get All-Pro consideration. He wasn't even supposed to play after injuring an ankle pretty badly in Friday's practice, but was all over the place as usual (Marvin Lewis called him "superhuman" post-game).
He also had the key taunt of the game -- after the Chargers hit a field goal to cut the lead to 17-10 late, Burfict brushed past Johnnie Troutman and said something in his ear. Troutman reacted by trying to deck VB, resulting in a penalty on the kickoff. As a result, the Bengals began their four-minute offense from the 35 and not inside the 20, and once Andy Dalton found A.J. Green for 28 yards on first down, the Bengals easily ran out the clock. Are there scouting reports on what to say to opposing linemen?
Dalton started horrendously, then was fine over the last three quarters. But the Bengals won it on the ground. The game would have been much more lopsided had BJGE not coughed it up as the Bengals were going in to make it a three-score game with seven minutes left. Guard Clint Boling was lost to a knee injury early on, meaning the Bengals were down both starters (Kevin Zeitler out with a foot injury). But that allowed Andrew Whitworth to move inside to guard, his original position, and solid backup Anthony Collins to play left tackle. This actually has been a more effective setup than Whitworth outside of Boling, especially in the run game --Boling is nimble but not especially strong. The Chargers had some interesting run blitzes early, but by the third quarter they were getting pounded pretty good up front. It's difficult to play tough in those powder blue unis, I'm sure.
Aaron Schatz: Weird to see Peyton Manning getting time to throw and still inaccurate, or hanging balls like the INT by Marcus Cooper.
Aaron Schatz: KC offense: 9th in DVOA in the first half, 24th in DVOA in the second half. So take a lead now, guys.
Scott Kacsmar: Hard to believe it, but Moreno might be Denver's most reliable skill player this season.
Aaron Schatz: Am I reading this wrong? It seems like if Von Miller is on the def right, more likely to come. On def left, more likely to drop back
@Mercurius100: "You can't count on these [KC] receivers getting it done in obvious passing situations." That sounds like a bad way to build a team.
@Coboney: @Mercurius100 Yes but it's the Andy Reid way! They inherit the legacy of Freddy Mitchell, Todd Pinkson, James Thrash....
Scott Kacsmar: Not sure Manning has attacked downfield this much in any game this season.
@pchicola: NE "approach" wasn´t that bad. Fall behind & allowe DEN to run over u, so Peyton & cia can't get into a rhythm. Look unstoppable now
Aaron Schatz: KC's defense in FO numbers going into this week: 9th vs pass, 21st vs run. Looks like it, doesn't it?
@pchicola: Is Bob Sutton ever gonna switch coverage assignments? 1) Move Cooper inside to cover Welker; 2) Give him safety support; 3) Bench him
Aaron Schatz: You aren't going to get a lot of great deep passes from Alex Smith, so it helps to actually CATCH THEM.
@itnw0628: Chiefs are playing good possession football, keep Peyton Manning on the sideline. Only problem is, they're trailing by 14.
Aaron Schatz: Duke Ihenacho just face masked Dexter McCluster, but it may have prevented a score, and it cost DEN no yards, just a new set of downs
Aaron Schatz: If Manny Ramirez is called for unnecessary roughness after the play, is that just Manny being Manny?
Aaron Schatz: So, wait, *now* they can catch Smith's passes?
Aaron Schatz: Once again, just like two weeks ago, Denver was surprisingly good at protection against the Kansas City pass rush. Obviously, this was a bit easier with no Justin Houston out there. There was pressure, but less of it than Kansas City brings against most teams, even before you consider the fact that Manning gets rid of the ball so well that he rarely takes sacks.
I don't think the Denver secondary looked good at all. It was really sad to see poor Alex Smith finally throw some nice deep passes to open receivers, only to see them dropped. Champ Bailey played, but is still hobbled, so he only played in nickel packages it looked like. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was out. The Broncos are just getting slammed by injuries at this point, but their schedule is pretty easy the rest of the way so I figure they have five weeks to try to get healthier. Of course, guys like Vickerson and Clady are never coming back.
Scott Kacsmar: The Chiefs opened up the offense more this time around. Unfortunately, so did Denver as I can't recall Peyton Manning having this much downfield success in his tenure with the team. They treated Marcus Cooper like his rookie "R" was a scarlet letter burnt on his chest. The Broncos avoided the obligatory fumble this week and Eric Decker came up huge while the Chiefs squandered several opportunities. The Chiefs had some control of things at 21-7, but it was another second-half blitzkrieg from that Denver offense. Three consecutive touchdown drives of 80-plus yards is hard to do against Jacksonville, let alone on the road against a No. 2 scoring defense. While Denver was driving long fields for touchdowns, the Chiefs punted on five drives in a row, never running more than four plays on any of them. There's the difference in the ballgame.
I find it incredible how much the Chiefs have played to the numbers. We know they weren't that good compared to the past standards of a 9-0 team, yet they're so fittingly the first to fall back to 9-2 (now 9-3). They avoided the big injuries until last week, but that's no excuse to allow 76 points and over 1,000 yards (in Kansas City) to the Chargers and Broncos. I'm sure Denver would have liked to have Von Miller and Champ Bailey early in the season or Ryan Clady and Julius Thomas in today's game. We didn't see Cincinnati get shredded in San Diego without Geno Atkins and Leon Hall. Kansas City's still alive for a No. 1 seed, but seem destined for the No. 5 after this loss.
If the balance of schedules and duration of major injuries were closer, I'd say it's fair that the Chiefs are only the AFC's fifth-best team.
Andrew Potter: Very impressive opening drive by Washington, attacking at pace against the best unit of the Giants.
@WhispersMoCo: Dear Shanahans, you're 3-8. Don't use RG3 as a blocker. Signed, all of DC.
@Mercurius100: WSH-NYG winner tonight keeps their hopes alive for a berth in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
Andrew Potter: Inside two minutes, finally see the Washington defense we expected. Touchdown Giants.
Danny Tuccitto: al michaels just pointed out that deangelo hall kept someone out of the end zone. it's an historic day.
Scott Kacsmar: Not only are Washington linemen not interested in helping RG3 up after a sack, the receivers have stopped trying to catch his passes.
@WhispersMoCo: NFL officials bizarrely retroactively cancel a first down. Redskins play 2nd down, then 1st down, then 4th down.
@WhispersMoCo: Redskins should protest outcome of game. Moving chains affected Redskins _strategy_. Arguably led to the final turnover.
@csoandy: Jeff Triplette just bailed out the Redskins offense. Now fans can blame him for the loss.
Aaron Schatz: Officials after game rip off their shirts, reveal St. Louis Rams t-shirts underneath.
Danny Tuccitto: if triplette wasn't fired/demoted for maiming orlando brown (RIP), he's not getting fired/demoted for maiming WAS's playoff odds.
Tom Gower: You know who thinks the story of the end of SNF should be the officiating confusion? Pierre Garcon.
182 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2014, 5:50pm by Cheap UGG Boots