The FO crew takes on the top contenders as the playoff field rounds into shape. Plus: the great Drew Brees debate of 2014.
23 Sep 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.
@TerrapinPrime: Gio Bernard leaping and contorting mid air for the touchdown like a frog catching a branch.
Scott Kacsmar: Packers have come back from a 14-point deficit 7 times since 1992. All were 14-point deficits; four were down 14-0
@Walshmobile: I think I know Rodgers's problem. He played WAS, not used to seeing covered WRs again.
@blotzphoto: Bengals goal in this drive is to at least get to punt the ball.
Aaron Schatz: Unfortunate human error call in GB-CIN. Reggie Nelson called for roughing passer for helmet-to-2-inches-from-helmet hit.
@Coboney: Wow is this the same Johnathan Franklin we saw in the preseason? Looks fast, quick and effective!
Robert Weintraub: Bengals punt on 4th + 7 inside GB 40. Shouldn't have--need to make something, anything happen on offense. Defense is worn to a nub.
Robert Weintraub: Like I said--five plays, 93 yards, Packers in the end zone, game over.
Robert Weintraub: Packers are running almost every play for Franklin, and they should--he's been elusive as heck.
Robert Weintraub: Well, maybe the right call, but on 4th n inches, Franklin stuffed, fumbles run back for a TD by Newman! Wowzers.
Aaron Schatz: The Green Bay fumble-and-TD-return by Cincy doesn't make the GB decision to go for it on fourth down wrong. It means fumbling is bad.
Robert Weintraub: Ref explained call by starting, "Here's the situation..." Love it. 8th turnover of the game, btw, four each.
Robert Weintraub: @FO_ASchatz And yet how many coaches will say, "see? That's why we're conservative!" #causationnotcorrelation
Robert Weintraub: Any doubt this ends by Dalton fumbling a kneel down play? #bengals
@ptmovieguy: Marvin Lewis icing his D on 4th-and-5?
Robert Weintraub: Not sure you can really draw any conclusions one way or the other from that one. Just insane game.
Vince Verhei: This may sound silly considering there were a zillion turnovers in this game, but as I watched this game I kept thnking to myself "these are Super Bowl teams." Especially when Green Bay had the ball. I’ve seen Aaron Rodgers take a pounding before, but I don’t recall seeing a team that could beat him up so consistently while also smothering his receivers. Green Bay has always been the team with a full arsenal of receivers who could beat you, but none of them could get any separation today. All the Packers’ points in the first half were set up by turnovers, and most were field goals after defensive stands. The Packers put together some drives in the second half, because they are still the Packers, but Cincinnati looked every bit their equal.
The other side of the ball, obviously, was a little different. Cincinnati’s offense and Green Bay’s defense are both flawed units, but they still have stars (Clay Matthews, A.J. Green) who can make the one play they need to beat you. Overall, it was just a good game by two teams that seem capable of playing well into January.
Rob Weintraub: It's rare that a team surrendering 30 points in a game can be said to have a heroic defensive performance, but Cincy's defense did an amazing job. (Of course there was a fumble return touchdown in there, so really it was 23 points.) Consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers, including the back-to-back deflections at the line to win the game. Extremely good coverage on the Packers wides, in particular Leon Hall, who Colin Cowherd described as a "blown first-round pick" this week. (Not really analysis -- CC, who just got a TV show devoted to football this season, clearly has no idea who Leon is.) Many of Rodgers' completions were excellent throws into coverage. And of course despite being on the field seemingly the whole game (10:53 of the fourth quarter, amazingly), and often with bad field position, Cincinnati managed to come up with big plays to win and then save the game.
Both Gio Bernard (expected) and Jonathan Franklin (not so much) were excellent in space, and played tough. Both were solid in pass protection, and Gio in particular went out of his way to throw his body around. Of course as a Cincy fan I'm palpitating every time he goes flying through the air or bowls over a defensive back instead of stepping out of bounds, but it does pump up everyone in the building. Franklin's fumble late was unfortunate, but otherwise he was outstanding -- and with the wideouts covered and Jermichael Finley hurt, he actually became the offensive focus in the fourth quarter.
Marvin Lewis gets banged on a lot, and deservedly so often enough. But his challenge late to overturn a first down and set up the decisive fourth down fumble-and-runback was pivotal. And it would have been very easy for the Bengals to get discouraged after the turnover barrage and the 30 straight Green Bay points. Marvin is forever telling the team to "just keep playing" and for once they actually listened. Gotta work on that ball security though -- jeez Louise.
Andrew Potter: Love the Jonny Hekker pass attempt on that fourth down. Unsuccessful, but love the play.
Tom Gower: 2-point opportunities forgone: Jeff Fisher down 24-6, Marvin Lewis down 30-20. Both 3Q, granted
@Daniels_Ryan: Seven minutes in, and both the Panthers and Giants have negative yards. Oh boy.
@Foosball_Wizard: Tolbert runs the 4th down in for a touchdown. A beam of sunshine comes down from the heavens and illuminates Rivera in its glow.
@Daniels_Ryan: Well, Rivera found his balls, but if the Panthers keep turning the ball over on punt returns, he is going to lose his mind.
Danny Tuccitto: the giants' offensive line is quickly failing their way off of Eli Manning's christmas list.
Aaron Schatz: Every time the Panthers sack Eli Manning, do CAR fans think "wow, we would be a SB contender with an actual professional coach"?
@CyrisJonfs: In the 3rd quarter, #Panthers have more points than the Giants have yards.
Aaron Schatz: Panthers huge win suggests another year where they massively under-play their Pythagorean projection.
@Daniels_Ryan: Ron Rivera has staked the Panthers to a 31-0 lead after three quarters. Send in Mariano Rivera to close it out! #1stNFLSave
Robert Weintraub: Re: NYG-CAR -- too early to declare this another year where home team won't play in its stadium in the Super Bowl?
Vince Verhei: The most notable news of this game (well, besides what a dumpster fire the 2013 Giants have turned out to be) is that Ron Rivera finally went for it in on fourth down in a non-obvious situation. On their second drive, with no score, they had a fourth-and-inches at the 2. Rivera turned down the go-ahead field-goal try to bring in an extra lineman and hand the ball to power back Mike Tolbert, and Tolbert picked up not just the first down, but scored a touchdown. I'd like to believe that Carolina's ensuing offensive outburst (accomplished with minimal contribution from Steve Smith) was a gift from the Football Gods, rewarding Rivera for getting the fourth-down call right for once.
Scott Kacsmar: Since I actually don't have to write about the latest Carolina late-game failure this week, that fourth-and-1 this week is something I'd like to mention. Definitely the right call in that situation and maybe Rivera will feel different after the reward of a rather easy touchdown run. However, should that situation come up again when it's the final few minutes and the game can be clinched, do we really expect Rivera will have learned anything and go for it? I say he'll still take the easy way out and kick the FG or punt the ball.
Aaron Schatz: Somebody please make sure Ron Rivera never, ever sees footage of the end of the Cincinnati-Green Bay game. Ever.
@WhispersMoCo: http://NFL.com is telling me that the Cardinals have scored a TD in the Pats-Bucs game.
Aaron Schatz: Somebody from the Patriots is going to need to explain this "LaGarrette Blount returning kicks" concept to me
Aaron Schatz: It's not just mistakes by receivers. Tom Brady has clearly been less accurate this year. Just overthrew wide open Sudfeld.
@sivankev: @FO_ASchatz Thompkins and Edelman were even more wide open.
Andrew Potter: @FO_ASchatz IIRC, not only this year. Was less accurate second half of last year too.
Aaron Schatz: I like Bucs decision to go deep on 3rd-1 knowing they would also go for it on 4th-1. Neither play worked, but both good decisions.
Scott Kacsmar: Josh Freeman one of the best short-yardage QBs in the league. Hate that they passed up the sneak twice there.
Aaron Schatz: John Lynch just called Gillette "Toughest place to win on the road in NFL." Recommend he consider medication, plane ticket to Seattle.
@MilkmanDanimal: Tampa has marched up and down the field, but FG, missed FG, 2 stops on 4th down. Outplayed the Patriots, but are still losing.
@pchicola: Like that McDaniels finally trimmed down the option routes and is using "easier" routes (slants, dig ins, flies) with the rookies.
Aaron Schatz: Jonathan Banks gives up TD to Thompkins. He's not having a good game. Yet another demonstration of limit of 1 shutdown corner.
Andrew Potter: @FO_ASchatz Brady had all day on that one. Difficult to cover a pro receiver for that length of time.
Aaron Schatz: That may be the best FG Gostkowski has kicked in years. Wow. Would have been good from 60, straight down the middle.
Aaron Schatz: Pats have really figured out how to slow down Tampa pass rush since first quarter. Would need to re-watch film to figure out how.
@MilkmanDanimal: LeGarrette Blount ineffectively running into the middle of the line against the Bucs instead of for them is a nice change.
Aaron Schatz: Maybe the best lesson here is that we all need to stop presuming we know how a game is going to go based on what we see in the first couple drives of the first quarter. The Patriots had four plays, five plays, and three plays on their first three drives. The offense looked completely discombobulated, just like it did last week against the Jets. The Bucs' pass rush was getting to Brady easily, and when they didn't, he was holding onto the ball too long anyway.
Then things kicked into gear in the second quarter and for the rest of the game the Patriots actually looked like the Patriots for the first time this year. I'm not sure how the Pats changed up their blocking, but Brady had time to throw. The running game got a few big plays. The young receivers weren't making obvious drops. In fact, when they missed catches, sometimes it looked like the timing still isn't down between Brady and his receivers, but sometimes it looked like it was just straight out Brady's fault, with bad ball placement. He underthrew Aaron Dobson wide open in the end zone at one point; obviously we can't know for sure from the outside, but it certainly didn't look like Dobson was the one who made the mistake.
On the other side, Josh Freeman isn't looking good. He's not consistent, and the touch on the deep throws seems really iffy. Sometimes he "touched" them five yards out of bounds. The Bucs also really need to find themselves an inside receiver. It's almost the opposite of the Patriots' current problems. There are no tight ends. They started Nate Byham, who is essentially just a third tackle. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams make for a great pair of starting wide receivers -- Williams in particular is underrated, he's playing hurt and still playing well -- but their backups are also basically outside guys. There's nobody who specializes in playing the slot. They need someone like Julian Edelman or Davone Bess.
A couple of interesting defensive wrinkles for the Patriots: They played a bit with three cornerbacks and only one safety. And for the second straight week, they moved Chandler Jones inside a lot on third downs.
Rivers McCown: Google, what is Schaubophobia?
@ptmovieguy: Unsuccessful 3rd down conversion, but Andre Johnson's one-handed catch while being mauled was pretty awesome.
Rivers McCown: People complained about that yellow CBS score graphic looking like a penalty, but it would fit right in with the Ravens-Texans game.
Rivers McCown: Very surprising that the Ravens would play underneath zones on a quarterback who barely throws longer than eight yards.
Cian Fahey: DeAndre Hopkins has three targets, two big plays and one penalty drawn. Schaub negating his impact.
Rivers McCown: Always good when your big offseason free agent signing (Reed) gets a montage solely of players leaping over him.
Rivers McCown: I’m not sure if it’s Kubiak or Schaub that owns the checkdowns and play calling. But the Texans are going nowhere until it’s fixed.
Rivers McCown: So, two weeks, two dreadful Matt Schaub pick-sixes. His deep ball looks like a horse's ass. The offensive line that was struggling even before Duane Brown's turf toe forced him to the sideline continued it's stellar job of "protection," to the point where Gary Kubiak played it even more conservative than usual. This team is almost completely reliant on Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins on offense, and J.J. Watt on defense.
The season is three games old, and this team has played three good quarters of football, maybe. This is look-in-the-mirror time. On their merits, they aren't a good football team. The defense is fine and Watt is going to make splash plays, but I just watched Brian Hoyer look better than Schaub. As I said in the last tweet, I don't know who really deserves the full complement of blame. Way too many third-down throws are going short of the sticks, but also way too many third-and-longs are getting wasted on go-nowhere draws. This is with one of the best wideouts in the league (granted he was hurt), a solid pair of tight ends, and a rookie Hopkins that has received plenty of praise. This isn't Schaub watching Kevin Walter be well-covered. The sum of these parts should be so much more. The optimist in me really wants to believe that Schaub is being held back by conservative play calling. The key word there is "wants."
And as for Joe Marciano's special teams unit giving up a punt return touchdown to Tandon Doss despite no fewer than THREE Texans being in front of him with no blockers? I hate to say this twice in one comment, but ... Horse's. Ass.
Scott Kacsmar: Every time DeAngelo Hall scores a TD, some people will mistakenly confuse him for a good player.
@Walshmobile: Brandon Meriweather has caused 3 concussions this season, 1 opponent, 2 on Washington. Orakpo out with head injury/concussion symptom.
Andrew Potter: "Dragging Redskins defenders" is a phrase you're likely to hear a lot this year. Another two-play can't-cover can't-tackle exhibit.
@AMSportsLive1: Worse defense; 2013 'Skins or 2012 Saints?
@Walshmobile: Orakpo back in, Meriweather slightly off the hook. I think him missing the first season of Crown hit enforcement is cause of issues.
Aaron Schatz: The weird RG3 first half/second half split continues today even though this time the WAS defense didn't dig him a huge hole.
Aaron Schatz: Jim Schwartz goes for it on fourth-and-inches from the 10 instead of kicking FG to get a 6-pt lead. Yes! Yes! Yes!
Scott Kacsmar: Me love you long time, Jim Schwartz. Actually, just for this drive and going for it on 4th-and-inches w/3-point lead.
Scott Kacsmar: Heath Evans alert in Arizona/New Orleans game. Keep mute button handy.
@anhirsch: Play design on Saints' TD to Meachem was outstanding. Faked quick screen to Sproles and whole Cards secondary bit.
Tom Gower: Titans did what they do, bring a lot of 5 man rushes. Rivers did what he's been doing, hitting short passes w/ aplomb. 7-0 SD.
Tom Gower: Fraidy cat punt by the Chargers on 4&1 at TEN39. Failed on 3&1 run, but c'mon.
Tom Gower: Great job by Fouts of highlighting Weddle's fantastic recognition & reaction to Walker's route. SD's all over the bootleg today.
Tom Gower: Dumb move by Rivers, obviously, after easy OPI call. Ayers sack a nice move, going outside-in on Dunlap instead of just outisde.
Peter Koski: Block in the back on Britt causes TEN to have 1st and 1 at midfield. Haven't seen that before.
@AMSportsLive1: Tons of running from Jake Locker today. He's deceptively fast; never really noticed until a half hour ago.
Tom Gower: One thing that's stood out the first half for TEN O is how often first defender hasn't made the tackle. Change from first 2 games.
Tom Gower: Also, with no Donald Butler (or Te'o!), Chargers ILBs have been an issue today. Too easily blocked or edged out of play.
Tom Gower: Given that Rivers was so efficient, why did the Chargers strive for (and achieve) balanced play-calling, considering the run game was only moderately efficient and not explosive? I thought San Diego would have success in the passing game, and they did early, but the drive for balance didn't seem to help them.
Tennessee didn't do a lot this game, but 20 points ended up being enough. Jake Locker had a number of key plays with his legs, including a 39-yard scramble and a QB draw score. The game-winning drive came with his arm, though, with an assist to San Diego's tackling (a consistent problem for them today, which was not one for Tennessee) on short passes in front of the defense. The winning score came up top, though, against a blitz sure to make TMQ's "stop me before I blitz again" feature (assuming TMQ is still a thing that actually exists).
@TerrapinPrime: Td browns.. Let the Brian Hoyer era begin before he's traded in week 6 for a pack of skittles and a half carton of milk.
Scott Kacsmar: Christian Ponder looked like he was pushing a shopping cart on that run, but great call on QB draw.
Scott Kacsmar: Love how Browns are always the "team with nothing to lose" meaning they run a good fake punt. Did it against Pittsburgh last year.
Andrew Potter: Fake field goal passing TD for the Browns! Whatever they are w/o Richardson, looks like they'll be fun to watch.
@MilkmanDanimal: Browns' punter has 47 yards/punt, kicked an XP, and thrown a TD pass. At least the Vikings' loss has an amusing anecdote.
@MilkmanDanimal: 10 seconds left, down 4, Solomon Wilcots announces "The Vikings have to go for the end zone at some point here."
@wrizal: How rare, two shots at a Hail Mary in the same game?
Rivers McCown: Christian Ponder’s checkdown passes on this final drive are bad and he should feel bad.
Rivers McCown: Pourin this one out for the good ol days of August when Vikings fans were trashing our regression prediction for them.
@Foosball_Wizard: September 22nd 2013: The day the #Browns won with Brian Hoyer making his first NFL start and throwing 54 passes.
@laufy84: Huge fox graphic kiss of death "16 straight made field goals" NOPE!
Robert Weintraub: Lamar Miller drops a sure TD on a wheel route for Miami. Remember that if somehow Atlanta holds on.
Robert Weintraub: Ryan Tannehill was very effective dinking and dunking on this winning drive. Picking on ATL rookie CBs, getting good protection.
Robert Weintraub: 38 seconds left, two timeouts--Matt Ryan time.
Andrew Potter: Love the deception on that Miami TD. Move the HB out wide, fake the FB handoff, eye the throw to the split out HB, throw to the TE.
Tom Gower: I didn't pay a ton of attention to this game until late, but I thought this week we saw more of what I expected last week in terms of Atlanta's offense being hamstrung by an opposing pass rush and no Roddy White limiting Matt Ryan's options in terms of receivers who can win one on one. Defensively, they showed more pass rush than I expected (how much of that was the Dolphins line?), but Ryan Tannehill when he needed to still found enough time and open receivers to complete the comeback. This is a game I want to watch closely this week.
@matthew_carley: Kaepernick always looks a little bit like a gazelle but I'm not a fan of the deer in headlights look. Calm yourself Colin, calm.
Peter Koski: 49ers receiving corps lacks the ability to consistently get open. Boldin makes up for it, others can't.
@Coboney: Tarell Brown should be embarrassed there. Has angle and position but gets stiff armed by Andrew Luck.
Aaron Schatz: I wonder how much of today's SF offensive blackout is lack of VDavis, both as receiver and blocker.
Scott Kacsmar: Heyward-Bey fighting for and drawing another flag. Michael Crabtree's shaking his head somewhere.
Aaron Schatz: Oh, playcall! Colts calling naked PA bootleg Luck at goal line for TD. Great playcall!
Robert Weintraub: Bono-esque play fake, that is -- he's obviously a far better runner than Steve ever was.
@matthew_carley: This is even more embarrassing than last week's performance against Seattle. I think I'll try watching golf or synchronized swimming.
Andrew Potter: Only 49ers opponent in last nine incl. playoffs not to score 24+ is ARI in Week 17, 2012. Only they and ATL didn't score 27+.
@JP_Wright: @FO_ASchatz Maybe the FOA prediction of 49ers regression to the mean was simply a year early? Losses at home like today’s are bad.
Andrew Potter: Granted, 49ers' last nine games includes GBx2, SEAx2, NE, BAL, ATL. Others are ARI and, of course, IND.
Aaron Schatz: It's tough to figure out exactly what is wrong with the 49ers without going back and watching the game with rewind and slo-motion and preferably coaches' film. But the 49ers are really having problems. The defensive problems are the lesser issue. The pass rush doesn't look as good this year, and they gave up a lot of rushing yards, but part of the problem with rushing yards came after Patrick Willis left with an injury.
The offense was worse, though. The offensive line problems continued. The running game is totally stagnant. And it doesn't seem like anyone can get open, especially without Vernon Davis healthy and on the field. To have only one score against the Colts defense is pathetic. When Jim Nantz is talking about how Darius Butler is unbeatable that day, that's a problem. I understand that if you play man coverage against the 49ers, you take the risk of Kaepernick running on you, but nobody can get open against man coverage if Davis isn't on the field. After seeing what happened to the Packers in Week 1 compared to the last two weeks, I don't know why any defense would play zone coverage against Anquan Boldin ever again.
Andrew Potter: Bills defense almost stops Geno Smith on a QB draw, but Bills #50? saves the day by pushing him in for the TD.
Scott Kacsmar: Just basing this off seeing it a few times this season, but Geno Smith pretty good at hanging in there to deliver an accurate throw.
@AMSportsLive1: As a jet fan, I'd forgotten what a fifty yard touchdown pass looked like.
@Foosball_Wizard: We made it 1 hour and 17 minutes into #Jets #Bills before a video of the butt fumble was shown.
Aaron Schatz: Among this year's FO projections so far inaccurate: that Fred Jackson had hit the wall.
@Foosball_Wizard: Unlike last year, the #Jets are a threat to throw out of the wildcat with Kerley/Powell as opposed to Tebow.
Robert Weintraub: Kyle Wilson and Stevie Johnson are having a battle to see which one is dumber.
Robert Weintraub: EJ Manuel looks off safety, hangs in against blitz, and hits wide open Chandler for TD, then converts 2-pt to tie as well.
Aaron Schatz: OK, can we do a Football Outsiders negative card for Justin Rogers? Like, 40 overall rating or something?
Tom Gower: @FO_ASchatz If we do, Kyle Wilson needs one as well.
Robert Weintraub: Justin Rogers is running away with the Keep Choppin' Wood Award this week.
@Foosball_Wizard: #Jets probably have more penalty yards than the #Giants offense had yards today.
Vincent Verhei: Carroll loses challenge. Seahawks score on next play anyway. Now down one challenge and one TO for no reason.
Andrew Potter: Jaguars first down! First time across their own 27, with 8:55 to go in the 2nd quarter. Into positive yardage for the day.
Andrew Potter: Brilliant play by Cyprien for JAX knock the ball loose from Wilson. Deaderick recovers. JAX finally in SEA territory.
Vincent Verhei: Russell Wilson with 3 TDs in first half against Jaguars, who once passed on him in draft and took a punter instead.
Vincent Verhei: Credit where it's due: That JAC punter just hit a beauty out of bounds at the 2
Scott Kacsmar: Was wondering how the Jaguars scored and of course it had to be a 2-yard drive following a turnover.
Andrew Potter: Should note that JAX TD came off short field created by Anger punt pinning SEA. INT was Wilson under pressure in own EZ. Adv: Anger.
Tom Gower: The middle of the Jacksonville offensive line in particular is an atrocity. Not much more to say about it than that. Will Rackley? Brad Meester is pretty much done. Interior pressure is big in the NFL, and any team that doesn't get it against Jacksonville will be wondering why not. Defensively, they are some okay spots but too many personnel liabilities. Unless things drastically change when Justin Blackmon and Marcedes Lewis are in the lineup, they're down there with the 2005 49ers as the worst offense we've seen lately. Obviously things change in the NFL. This team should eventually get better, but it may not be much this year.
Vince Verhei: Yes, they won in dominant fashion, but there are concerns about Seattle, particularly along the offensive line. Russell Okung is out for at least seven more games, and both Max Unger and Breno Giacomini were in and out of the lineup today with various ailments. This is not a particularly talented group to begin with, and the backups gave up a decent amount of pressure. Fortunately Russell Wilson was around to do Russell Wilson things, but the more Russell Wilson things that Russell Wilson is forced to do, the more likely it becomes that Tarvaris Jackson will wind up doing Tarvaris Jackson things. (Which is still better than anything Jacksonville has to offer.)
@Foosball_Wizard: Felix Jones gains 11 yards on first down, exceeding the #steelers total for the entire year. The crowd goes wild.
Aaron Schatz: Boy oh boy was that some non-security by Big Ben. Do you mind if I just wave this football around a bit?
@JGulner: @FO_ASchatz it almost looked like he was trying to no-look-lateral it to his lineman.
Rivers McCown: Looks like every NFL offense needs a Canadian quarterback whisperer
Aaron Schatz: It has always seemed the Steelers had that next line of young players ready to come in when guys aged. This time, they aren't ready.
Rivers McCown: Todd Haley's last successful screen pass was run in 2006.
@TCBullfrog: 2 Def TDs for CHI, now on pace for 10 on the season. Last season not repeatable?
Aaron Schatz: Big Ben looking a lot like... Jay Cutler in 2011-2012. "HELP ME!!!"
Rivers McCown: I'm not saying Steelers fans are jaded, but they might welcome a Bane invasion right now. Especially if he took over for Haley.
Aaron Schatz: Chicago right-side OL rookies having a great game, Mills and Long. Martellus Bennett trying to pass block next to them, not so much.
Aaron Schatz: Antonio Brown had that one egregious drop earlier, but wow, otherwise a couple of INSANE amazing catches. One-handed corner end zone!
Scott Kacsmar: Steelers with 15 carries for 68 yards after having 30 carries for 69 yards in the first two games.
@TCBullfrog: 3 Def TDs for CHI, now on pace for 16 on the season. Last season not repeatable?
@adrianhosey: Tillman being bothered by "a groin." His groin? Someone else's groin? Thanks Michelle.
Scott Kacsmar: Honestly, I missed a large chunk of this game so I could depress myself further with Dexter and Breaking Bad, but the first quarter was classic 2013 Steelers. That means little pressure on the opposing quarterback and more than enough on Ben Roethlisberger, who was missing the deep ball again early on. He also had some real trouble with fumbles tonight, which was probably the most disappointing part of his performance. It was otherwise solid from what I seen. It was good to finally see the offense move the ball, but another turnover (Dwyer) made the comeback more difficult. Heath Miller's return was not big on the numbers, but I think it helped Roethlisberger trust his guys more. Antonio Brown played an excellent game, but I think Emmanuel Sanders could have made a few more plays.
My beef with the defense remains the lack of big plays. They still have yet to get a takeaway in 2013, which is unspeakable. Look at how many the Packers got in the first half today. Pure dumb luck should get you at least one in 12 quarters, but this has been a problem for a few years. When it came to crunch time and the Steelers were down just 27-23, Jay Cutler saved his three biggest plays of the night, all on third down, including the touchdown. The rest was just boxscore padding.
I guess a Super Bowl ring and good press conferences buy you a lot of time, but Mike Tomlin's well on his way to missing the playoffs for the third time in five years. He'll take the 0-3 standard to London to face the 0-3 Vikings, meaning two continents can worry about finding better ways to spend their time than watch these hopeless teams.
169 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2014, 8:03am by sac longchamp bandouli