Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Saturday Playoffs Discussion Thread

This thread is for in-game discussion of Saturday's two playoff games: Washington-Seattle and New England-Denver. (Nuf respek, yo.)

You can find discussion of the Sunday second round games here.

Comments

601
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:12am

John Steigerwald (Pittsburgh channel 2 news reporter) wins at life.
He was just reporting from Indianapolis on the Indy starting cornerback getting stabbed by his wife, and immediately after finishing the report, he pointed to his right, toward a cloud of smoke, and said "And a bit of a problem for the game tomorrow -- the RCA dome is on fire! ... I'm just kidding, that smoke's from a power plant behind the stadium."

602
by MAW (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:15am

A few thoughts:

#588: Ha! That was really funny.

The Bailey return looked to me, actually, like a touchdown. I know the evidence isn't there, but who's to say his hand (and the ball) weren't over the goal line when it was popped out? Hell of a play by both Bailey (on the INT) and Watson (on the chase) on that one.

Both teams that lost today have long cross-country flights home tonight. I bet those aches and pains are hurting even more.

603
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:21am

RE: 11

This week I’m predicting that the only upset that is likely to happen is Washington beating Seattle as Brunell, Moss, and Cooley cook the Seattle secondary.

Wow. I had that as maybe the least likely upset to happen. My top two were New England over Denver, and then Carolina over Chicago.

But I did pick all the home teams this week, because I didn't forsee any upsets happening. :)

604
by Pio (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:23am

re: 602

That's hilarious, that guy should be promoted. I wish the RCA dome would burn down, it would make the Broncs' game next week a bit easier.

605
by Kuato (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:26am

I LOVE IT. When the Pats win a game due to questionable calls (i.e. Tuck Rule) or non-calls (2003 AFCCG vs Colts) by the Refs, anyone who commented about the officiating was instantly dubbed a whiny little Biach. Within minutes of the Pats loss, the "These Refs Suck" posts by Pats fans start hitting the board.

I’m not saying that this game was officiated perfectly, but NE has benefited from some favorable postseason officiating in route to 3 SBs. Calls are blown all the time, and you got to take the good with the bad.

606
by admin :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:28am

The darkness only stays the nighttime
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away

607
by TH (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:35am

I have to point out here that this win is especially joyous for Arizona Cardinals love/haters. There is nothing better than seeing someone who used to be blamed for the Cardinals sucking going on to great success elsewhere.

608
by zack (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:36am

Well, hopefully the Broncos will leave the Washington Generals uniforms at home for this trip to Indy.

609
by I genuflect for no man (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:41am

Re# 600.

A fourteen point difference.

B.S. call PI against Samuel. From 2nd and 10 at the 40 or 1st and 20 at the 50 if PI called against Lelie. Instead, we see instead 1st and goal at 1.

7 points or 4 points, if one assumes Denver gets a figgie (Denver didn't drive after the Hobbs fumble, so no assumption of TD).

3 points on Elam fg, failed catch of Denver false start. Denver never has ball in that position anyway without previous bogus call.

Either 10 or 7 points.

Bailey fumble. NE touchback instead of Denver 1st and goal at 1 (it was impossible to call the play at the one. It could be closer to the goalline or a touchback, but the laws of physics preclude 1st down at the 1).

17 or 14 points, depending on assumptions.

Denver won, New England lost. New England's 5 turnovers had a little something to do with it. Let's face it though, the refs jobbed New England on this one; New England may still have lost a well-refereed game, but the refs' outrageous decisions didn't exactly make it legit.

Of course, it's more use crying over spilled bear than complaining about referees; New England has had a great run. Maybe the incredibly tired genuflect trope will (please, please) die its proper death. Meanwhile, all fans deserved better than this travesty, even Denver ones.

610
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:49am

First, I just want to congratulate the Broncos and their fans. They were definitely the better team out there tonight and deserved to walk off as victors.

That said, they had better hope with all of their might that Pitt somehow pulls off the upset because Denver stands no chance of winning in Indy. Let's just review some of the plays from this game.

* Brady overthrew an open Branch in the EZ in the 2nd quarter. Then he overthrew a wide open Brown just before AV's miss.

* Don't count on getting 7 freebie points from PI in Indy.

* The first INT was a huge 10 point swing. Yes Brady was under pressure, but that was totally uncharacteristic of him.

* The Faulk fumble was "forced" in definition only. That was a Kevin Faulk special. IMHO that was the play of the game. He had an easy first down on the 40 and the Pats were moving. They go into half time with a 6-0 or 10-0 lead and that game unfolds much diferently.

* That was probably Vinatieri's worst kicking game I've seen in a while. Not only did he miss one, but he was lucky he made the one he did. Also, it seemed to me that his kick-offs were shorter than normal.

* I still can't believe that Brown muffed that kick. I would trust him with my life to catch it.

Even after all of that, that Pats were a made FG away from it being a one possession game after the Givens' TD. Denver did much less than I thought they would ofensively. And the Pats had a lot of success moving the ball.

As much as I love the Pats, Indy is better at handling the blitzing that Denver brings. I know that I am going to get reamed for this statement, but I saw nothing from Denver tonight that makes me think they will do any better against Indy than they have the past few years.

611
by Bobman (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:52am

Okay Indy fans out there.. bummed? I am. I thought neither Denver nor NE looked particularly good (which cheers me), but I thought 4 hours ago (when pressed by my 5 year-old) that NE was a better matchup for Indy because of Denver's solid run game. Plus, the karmic balance of beating NE in the championship game was pretty mouth-watering.

Well, there's still a game tomorrow, I know, and I hope the Colts are not looking ahead as I am, but I hope Indy does to Denver what NE has done to the Colts all along. "We own you. (slap) It's in our house. (slap) Now grovel. (slap)" All those lovely blitzes out of a 4-3 alignment; I'm *aroused* just thinking about it. I wonder which Denver DBs will stand over a prone Marvin Harrison, arguing about who is at fault, when he pops up to run for six this time....

In other news, MVP misses game and team still wins--not just wins, but a playoff game against a non-stiff opponent.

Does this change anybody's mind about the true MVP? Walter Jones? Manning? Even Brady, without whom, the Pats would have been resoundingly blanked tonight). I think Tiki's 40 yards last week kind of tarnished any votes for him.

612
by tunesmith (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:56am

Denver played well enough to more than overcome any call/non-call advantage they got from the refs.

I like Pittsburgh's chances tomorrow, too. If they don't fold. For all their talk about being the more straight-up team, they didn't really start losing last time until they did that onside kick. And that just seemed like it came from them being scared of Indianapolis. Wasn't straight up. If they resist the urge this time they might be able to keep it close.

613
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:03am

One other thing. I don't put as much stock into this because Bailey should have just kept up into the EZ, but the call on the field should have been a touchback.

It is actually a pretty easy conclusion. The direction that Watson was running to come into the play was the same direction that the ball flew in. From the one yard line, considering that Bailey was holding the ball with his inside arm, that was over the pylon.

I don't disagree with the call standing because no replay was "indisputable." But the call on the field was wrong.

Again, it isn't that big of a deal. The big deal is the dumb decision by Brady that precipitated the whole thing.

614
by NF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:05am

#607:

Is Arizona Detroit-South?

Patriots Fans: "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you."

Terrell Owens: Go [bleep] yourself.

I'm still holding to my prediction that of the possibilities, an upset in Seattle was the one most likely to happen. Holmgren seriously underestimated the opponent, and did not have his team prepared well enough. I don't think any of the remaining games will be closer than 10 points.

615
by JeffS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:06am

too all those "experts"... don't ever go against Brady/Belichick in the playoffs...

616
by johnt (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:06am

#609: Let's stop making excuses. The Pats turned the ball over 5 times and Brady choked, missing wide open receivers at key points of the game. They've benefitted plenty in their run from questionable calls that went their way. Guess what, you don't get ALL the calls ALL the time.

617
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:06am

582:

No, dude. As soon as he makes contact with the ball he is fair game. It's no wonder with all the favorable calls for NE over the past 5 years that NE fans don't understand the rules.

618
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:07am

609: The PI thing is reasonable, but that is no longer an excuse for anything after the moment the ball is booted on the next kickoff. "They would never have kicked off so the fumble wouldn't have happened" is moot because we don't know whether he would have fumbled on the next Denver kickoff if it hadn't occurred right then.

The Bailey fumble could have gone either way. But I'll give you that one, which makes 14 points, but...

Denver ran out the clock at the end of the game.
That makes everything else moot. Denver could easily have driven down the field in that time and won.

619
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:08am

Plummer was throwing a lot of high passes tonight.

Also, I thought it was funny to hear people sound so surprised about Vinatieri missing a field goal.

First off, he did make two.

Second, doesn't anyone remember Super Bowl XXXVIII?

620
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:09am

Johnt,

please reread my post. I never once made an excuse for the Pats poor performance. They killed themselves with big mistakes and deserved to lose.

My point was that Denver did not play very well themselves and will get smoked if they play that well against Indy next week.

621
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:12am

I think they flashed this little tidbit up on the screen: Brady has had 5 game winning drives in the playoffs. No blowouts in those games, si? But of course, the Pats won those games, their opponents didn't lose them, and the officiating was just fine. Yeah?

Well, tee-time for the Pats. And while I don't think the Broncos won authoritatively, we did win. Sometimes, you need a little luck (tuck rule, anyone?) but that defense we showed wasn't about luck.

Bring it on, Colts or Steelers.

622
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:13am

No, dude. As soon as he makes contact with the ball he is fair game. It’s no wonder with all the favorable calls for NE over the past 5 years that NE fans don’t understand the rules.

This is actually an incorrect statement. In the Pitt/SD game earlier this year Pitt was flagged for interference even though the punt returner muffed the kick off his chest. The ball was 3 yards away from him and moving away, but the ref stated that the kicking team had to allow the PR the chance to catch it and that chance lasts until the ball hits the ground.

I'm not sure whether this applies directly to Browns fumble, because I didn't pay enough attention. But it is a rule.

623
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:15am

620: Jesus Christ, will you people stop acting like Pittsburgh just forfeited the game?

624
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:18am

Vash,

I made it clear in my first post that I know that game isn't decided.

625
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:24am

Well, the Patriots fumbled away what could have been a game for the ages, in terms of playoff drama. As it was, it was still an entertaining game, if not particularly well-played. The pass interference call was extraordinarily terrible; how the lunkhead of a back judge decided he could see interference from his vantage point is hard to understand.Also, one can't really tell where Bailey's fumble was in relation to the pylon.

I had hoped for a closer game. It's too bad NE handled the ball like a drunk fumbling for his car keys.

626
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:28am

Eric Mangini says he'll accept the Jets job if offered it.

627
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:28am

"I hope Indy does to Denver what NE has done to the Colts all along."

Indy-Denver is a great matchup. There's no question their next meeting will be one of the highlights of the 2006 regular season.

628
by TroyF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:31am

#609

I don't know if Denver has a shot next week in Indy or not, but I do know that the type of things you are saying are things we've heard in Denver all year.

Insert QB here - missed open WR.

Insert QB here - made an uncharacteristic mistake.

Fact is, Denver has made QB's look bad for most of the year. They give up yards because of their aggressive nature, but they HIT the QB more often than any team I've seen this year.

QB's aren't as accurate when they get hit. They rush throws, they get out of rythm, they make stupid mistakes. If it's one game, maybe it's a team having an "off" day. But when it happens over and over and over again, the defense is doing something to make that happen.

The Denver offense was horrible tonight. The defense was sensational. The Patriots didn't score a TD until there were 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Denver confused the daylights out of that team. To say differently is to not give credit where it is due.

Maybe the Steelers or the Colts expose Denver for what they are and shred them. But I'm thinking it's more likely either of those teams will be in for a dogfight because the Denver defense will make plays and it's doubtful the offense plays that badly two weeks in a row.

FWIW, if the game does happen to be Indy, I do believe Indy will win the football game. And I think if the Patriots/Broncos game was replayed next week, Denver would win the game again.

629
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:36am

627: I love you. In a completely non-homosexual way, of course.

I no longer care about people acting like Indy already won this week. That takes everything.

630
by Noble (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:39am

As a fan, I'm obligated to support my team, but I only had the slightest delusion of the Patriots taking this. What I AM surprised by is they lost on takeaways. Oh well. There's always next year.

631
by RLB (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:52am

623:

Believe me, I think Pitt can win against Indy, and I only wish it to happen. But I think Denver will win at home against Pitt or away at Indy. This is another Denver year to win it all!

632
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:52am

Troy, great post. I had similar thoughts during the game. So much has been made of the Pats good luck during their run, but a lot of that "luck" is simply the result of making the other guy uncomfortable. Tonight the shoe was on the other foot. Luck had nothing to do with the fact that DVR beat the bejesus out of Brady.

633
by Darin (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:00am

#628

Great point. Did Denver actually sack Brady at all tonight? They hit him repeatedly, everything from little "letting you know wer're here" lovetaps to all out dirt-feedings.

I know Simms made a comment about sacks being over-rated, which was great. Hopefully more eyes will be opened to the benefits of an aggressive rush, even if it doesn't result in large sack totals.

634
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:13am

Someone needs to tell Stephen A. Smith that apparently, Tom Brady isn't all you need.

635
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:14am

RE: 56

RE:51 I Hope you are here when this game is over so I can gloat

I hope you're still around so we can all gloat.

RE: 171

I noted that in a thread earlier this week.

636
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:18am

RE: 634

I hate Screaming A. Smith. On Monday, 1050 ESPN radio in New York is assembling a panel of racists (including Screaming and Isiah Thomas) to discuss how the white man is holding the black man down (from getting front-office jobs), or something like that.
Maybe they'll invite Sharpton, Je.Jackson, or Farrakhan to call in. Grrr, it makes me angry.

637
by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:25am

Denver didn't sack Brady once.

If I were Indy and I got to play Denver next week, I'd be really thrilled. As good as Brady is against all-out blitzes - and he was pretty good - Manning is just astounding. The reason that San Diego was able to beat Indy wasn't because of blitz pressure, it was because of front 4 pressure. Denver looked awfully vulnerable to passing and big plays, two things that Indy thrives on. Plus there's the history - in the last two years, Denver has been crushed by Indy in the playoffs. Absolutely crushed. Champ Bailey was brought in partially because they wanted a corner that could compete with Harrison - and it didn't matter.

But first, Pitt. Which is not a gimme by any means. I do think that the game is in favor of Indy, and I don't think a great deal of Pitt's chances given that they like to do a lot of blitzing and Indy loves blitzing teams against them, and their offense is not the most thrilling and Indy has shown they can stop the run when they choose. If Pitt wins, it's going to be because Big Ben beat them.

638
by black (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:40am

Patriots fumbled last week too, recovered them all. Jags didn't pray hard enough.

639
by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:43am

RE 636:

I imagine that will be a banner day for ESPN Radio.

/sarcasm off

640
by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:45am

I don't think sacks are overrated, especially when you consider the fumble evidence in PFP 2005. However, Simms is right in saying that pressure is UNDERrated. Not to disrespect the Patriots, but Brady had better hope that Bridget Moynihan gives one hell of a massage.

641
by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:48am

Yeah, I was thinking about that too, #638. Last week they fumbled 4 times and recovered 4. This week they fumbled 3 times and lost them all. That's about right in terms of randomness, I figure. It just happened to happen all this game instead of over two games.

That was one reason I wasn't impressed with the Pats win last week; they were a play or two away from losing that game. This week, they didn't get those plays, and they lost.

Sacks are overrated as a big deal. I don't even think they're that relevant as something to keep stats of. Lost yardage tackles in general should be kept track of. So should missed tackles. That'd be an interesting one...

642
by Vash (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 5:13am

http://bradymyspace.ytmnd.com/

ytmnd for the win.

643
by DavidH (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 6:06am

My favorite sentence from the AP article I read:

"In last week's playoff win over the Jaguars, New England fumbled four times but recovered them all. This week, they weren't so lucky."

My first thought was "FO would agree" about the luck.

644
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 8:03am

Ugh... it's been a rough week. Thank God for football.

As usual I enjoyed reading this thread before looking at any other articles about the games. Although, I was able to watch most of the Seattle-Washington game most of the Denver-New England game.

Thoughts on Seattle's Win:
(Washington homer thought)
1) Seattle doesn't have a great line, the referees just let them get away with holding. I didn't see the hold on the Seattle Touchdown, but I did see the RT pull down the LDE on the Hasselbeck run. I don't know if the LDE could've have gotten there, but after watching the replay 5 times it really irks me.

2) I wasn't impressed with the run blocking of Seattle (save the Strong run). Probably because the purpose of their run was really to make the 'Skins play honest. They impressed me with their pass blocking though.

3) I was completely impressed by Seattle's defense. Shouldn't they not surprise us since they put that 42-0 hit on the Eagles on MNF though? I think the theory is... rookies play better in the second half of the season, their young LB core is one of the best in the league.

4) I was impressed by Hasselbeck as well, the first TD throw was great, and he took the loss of Alexander in stride.

Not so impressed by Alexander. I was coming into this game wondering how he would fare against a formidable front 7... he didn't sell me. I thought he looked like a little-girl celebrating the Seattle TD as well...

5) Can I say it now about my own team? How the heck did Washington make it this far? It's like a 1-legged man trying to win the 100 meters dash in the Olympics. Defense *wins* Championships, but you need an offense to get to Championship games.

If Joe Gibbs wants to keep running this type of offense, he's going to need more OL depth, and another Cooley-like TE player. Add in another decent WR... and that's pretty much it. Brunell will probably start and break down through the season again though.

How come no one has commented on Brunell-Hasselbeck both sitting behind Farve in GB.. that explains their friendly handshake after the game.

645
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 8:21am

Last! Comments on the second game.

1) Has Asante Samuel been this good all year long!? He had a great game.

The Pass Interference call reminded me of the way Darrell Green played CB... who used his speed to get in front of a WR and control the play. It's a bad call, but I think New England has had their share of breaks and good calls.

2) It's a shame no one remembers the divisional games, because the Tom Brady-Champ Bailey-Ben Watson play was one of the best hustle plays I've ever seen, not to mention the fact that it happened to Champ (sure wish Rogers had his hands today). Overshaddowed in the return was the fact that Brady completely made a bonehead throw. If you disagree with my first sentance, what were the great plays from divisional games 3 years ago?

3) I enjoy watching New England's passing attack... and I love when Brady rolls out of the pocket and they throw deep. Why don't more teams have this in their playbook?

646
by TroyF (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 9:31am

#637

Again, people have been saying that all year. I've lost count at this point of how many QB's have talked about how excited they are to face the Denver blitz packages.

It's something that's easy as hell to say when you aren't getting pounded by John Lynch and Al Wilson coming clean every other play.

Denver is incredibly vulnerable to the big play. But they are also incredibly likely to force a few during the game. They are also likely to frustrate a team because of how they attack the QB.

Look, Denver faced some pretty good QB's this year, including Brady (who had a very similar game the first time the two teams met).

I was sick of hearing in the leadup to this game about how horrific the Denver pass defense is. Again, this is how they've played sinse the second half of the San Diego game all year long. NE knew what was coming.

And from what the announcers said, Brady thought he had it figured out and knew how to attack it. This isn't Kyle Boller or Brooks Bollinger making that statement, it's one of the top three QB's in the game.

Well, like a ton of other QB's have found out, it's not so easy to figure out. Manning may be the one to do it. Or Big Ben. But I don't think it's likely. I think either the Colts or the Steelers are in for the game of their lives in facing this Denver team next week.

647
by stan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 9:34am

491

Any time a DB drives the receiver 10 to 15 yards off his path and out of bounds, he is going to get called for interference. It was obvious on the live shot and Phil Simms, bless his Morehead State education and all, never addressed the obvious.

The DB didn't simply impede the WR because he had superior position (e.g. like a hoops rebounder). They were running step for step and he obviously forced the WR completely OB.

Easy call.

648
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 10:59am

stan,
A WR doesn't have the right to go through a CB if they are both playing the ball. Samuel had every right to go after the ball as Lelie did.

If Samuel drove Lelie out of bounds, why did they both end up close enough to the ball? Wouldn't they have ended up out of bounds?

Samuel made it so the only way Lelie could make the catch was to go through or around him. Using the sidelines to help in pass coverage is a legal move.

You act like Samuel looked at the ball and hip-checked Lelie out of bounds.

649
by Spot (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 11:07am

Broncos fan here. Few things.

The call on Samuels shows just how messed up the PI rule in pro football is. First of all unless it is intentional it shouldn't be a spot of the ball call. Also, it is illegal for a defender to step in front of a receiver and run him into the sidelines. I think its pretty silly rule and is just good defense but thats the way the rule is.

Denver's blitz to me is going to get them into big trouble if they have to play Indy. Just all game I was sitting there cringing every time the Broncos lined up to blitz- but then in the 4th quarter and the Broncos had only given up 6 points. They have been doing it successfully for quite a while now but I just have to think they pay for it at some point. I guess putting the game on Bailey, Foxworth, and Williams and hoping that Peyton comes up subpar in a big game is as good a strat as any the broncos have available.

Calling for the Fade on 4th and 1 from the 3 was a terrible call. Just horrid.

On the Bailey fumble I think the ball probably went through the endzone but there was no way to reverse that call in either direction.

Anyway- it was a good win for the Broncos. Anything can happen next week.

650
by young curmudgeon (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 11:16am

It turns out that the best indicator for this game is not a rational one like the DVOA, but a "corny" one like the "law of averages." Over the past few years in the playoffs, the Patriots have (1) turned the ball over rarely (2) gotten a reasonable amount of turnovers themselves (3) been the beneficiaries of of controversial (please note, I do not say "dubious" or "erroneous") officiating (e.g., Tuck Rule--hope we can now "tuck" it into bed and let it rest!--and aggressive contact with receivers (4) enjoyed a kicker who simply didn't miss (5) had their most critical player perform at a high level when it counted most (6) won 10 in a row. The "law of averages" tells you that eventually you're going to get a game where you cough the ball up more than your opponents, that some calls aren't going to go your way, that no kicker is infallible, that once in awhile a QB is going to have a below par game, and "you can't win them all." You can't predict those things happening ahead of time, but you can recognize that sometime or other, they are going to happen. When the first five happen at once, the sixth is highly likely to happen also.

651
by Bob (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 11:39am

This is really more of a criticism of the announcers than the Patriots, but with all the crying and whining the Patriots did about the officiating it was interesting that the announcers didn't say "boo". If it had been the Bengals whining that much the announcers would have been alll over themselves about how the inexperienced Bengals were losing their "composure".

652
by Fnor (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 11:46am

Re: PI

What the DB has a right to do is go to the ball. What Samuel did was run alongside and NOT go to the ball. He came up short and to the side, and sice he pulled off in that direction, bumped the WR with him. That's a no-no. He did stuff like that all night, like I said, but never got called for it.

re: sacks
Sacks are still important, because they both lose the down and lose a large chunk of yardage. Plus, in a sack-type play rather than a hurried-type play, there is a higher probability of a fumble, and it is a type of fumble that has a high chance of being recovered by the defence. Knockdowns are underrated, yes, but sacks are definitly not overrated.

653
by RCH (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 11:48am

RE: 647 I'd agree, any time that happens its an easy pass interference call. However in this case Phil Simms has been joined by Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesca (sp) in stating its a bad call. But I guess that they are all shameless homers.

654
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:22pm

So, to all those people who were telling us how the Patriots' D didn't improve any and how the awesome Denver running game was unstoppable -- HAH!

Stat of the week: Denver's first four scoring drives covered a grand total of 63 yards (37 of which were from a penalty so bogus that even Denver fans admit it).

Brady choked that game away -- no two ways about it. So whining haters like bitter stan get to have their fun. Enjoy!

But the Patriots lost the game fair and square. There were plenty of self-inflicted wounds (like Brown muffing the punt and Brady making that horrible throw that Bailey intercepted) as well as stuff Denver forced (like the fumbles by Faulk and Hobbs).

And sure, the PI call was ridiculous, but if Faulk doesn't fumble, there's no PI call. Likewise, for all the fumbles and bad calls, the Patriots were in a position to overcome it all, and then Brady chokes the big one with the team about to go ahead 13-10.

Denver played smart, Patriots-esque football, and the Patriots played like the Saints (the fumbles, the INT, lots of missed reads by Brady and/or his receivers), and so Denver most certainly deserved to win that game.

Go Seahawks!

655
by JeffS (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:22pm

Pats fans should stop whining and take a clue from Seymour...

''You can't say we did it to ourselves," All-Pro defensive end Richard Seymour said. ''When you say we beat ourselves you're not giving the other team enough credit. We did make a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes, but in a way they forced them. As a competitive player and as a man you have to accept it. They did it to us. I'm disappointed. Very disappointed. But if you can't accept a loss, what kind of person are you?"

656
by MitchW (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:27pm

NE's offense this year, while still potent, was much more one-dimensional than last year.

They could pass, but the threat of a running game just wasn't there; I think this may have played into Denver's decision to blitz Brady so much.

While he completed a couple of long gainers, Brady's tendency to overthrow his receivers also showed itself.

If NE can find a running game in the off-season, I see no reason why they can't continue to play at a high level again next year.

657
by Mikey (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:31pm

"If it had been the Bengals whining that much the announcers would have been alll over themselves about how the inexperienced Bengals were losing their “composure�."

In both yesterday's game and the Monday night loss to Indy earlier this year I was floored by how quickly the Pats seemed to come unraveled.

658
by Walt Pohl (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:32pm

655: That's the most eloquent comment about losing I've ever heard.

659
by Judy B. (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:32pm

Denver played a game that Patriots fans should all recognize very well, and they get all the credit for beating the Pats at their own game. It was practically a tribute to the 2003 Pats, who never struck anyone as dominant enough, either. Seymour's right, and he should know because he's used to being on the other end of the same thing, and I still wouldn't even consider trading him for Champ Bailey.

660
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 12:52pm

Oh, for goodness sakes, if anything, (and I think the correct call was no call) that was offensive pass interference. Both players are tracking the ball in the air, and the wr starts hand-checking the corner. The corner's natural path to the ball was the path he took; it wasn't as if the ball was thrown to the inside, and the corner ignored the ball and simply blocked the receiver. Hideous, hideous, call, and you really have to be a Broncos die-hard to say otherwise.

That said, the critical element of the game was NE fumbling the ball three time in their own territory, and having a interception returned 100 yards.

I said prior to the game that the Broncos had a slight edge, due to home field advantage, and that advantage was certainly evident. If, however, you had given me the turnover profile prior to the game, I would have thought the margin of voctory was larger than it turned out to be.

The game prompted questions for me; is playing on the road correlated at all with fumbles, or fumbles lost, and if so, how strong is the correlation? Is the correlation different in the playoffs, as opposed to the regular season? I assume there is a such a correlation regarding interceptions, given the problems with pass protection in front of a noisy crowd, but I've never read anything about this regarding fumbles, especially if quarterback fumbles are removed.

661
by Boggle (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 1:09pm

Pats fan here. I don't think refs were great in this game, but the Pats were worse. It was, in many ways, the anti-Patriots out there. They did much of what they had to do to win the game (shut down the Broncos' running game, move the ball against the Denver blitz, etc) but repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with turnovers. It really was excruciating to watch as fan: gut punch turnover, fight back into the game, gut punch turnover, fight back (repeat).

Anyway, the Broncos were the best team and deserved to win, but it s a shame that the Pats carelessness ruined what could have been a much closer and more exciting game.

662
by admin :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 1:20pm

Don't know how many folks are still reading this thread, so I'll have to say this again later.

A comment above repeats my "how about those apples" line from when Atlanta lost.

No. You don't get to say this about Patriots fans, or Redskins fans, or Broncos fans or Steelers fans if they lose today or next week or whatever.

I've gotten mean and nasty mail from fans of nearly every team this year but NOTHING WAS LIKE THE ATLANTA FANS. If you don't understand how the Atlanta fans deliberately tried to take down our website, instead of just being annoying like Pats fans or sending mean e-mails like Seahawks fans, you have not been paying attention.

So no apples. Apples are only for the Atlanta Falcons, period.

663
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 1:44pm

RE: 352

Unless you have a device that slows your TV down (I guess you could do it with TiVo), listening to radio is killer. It means you know the result of the play right before you see it.

664
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 1:46pm

re: 663

There are actually companies that make audio delay components and market them to sports fans who want to get their radios to sync up with the TV broadcast.

665
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:02pm

RE: 353

When did anyone convert 4th and 15 in that game?

RE: Aaron

OK, can I request that we limit the “Brady genuflect� references? People know that nobody is as annoyed by the “Brady can do anything� mindset as I am, but if people are making fun of it every three comments for the rest of the playoffs, I’m going to lose my mind. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

I guess it's a good thing the Pats lost, then. :D Spares us all our sanity.

666
by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:04pm

RE: 664

Yeah, I've heard of that technology. That's why I mentioned that unless you have something like that, you're up the creek without a paddle, especially if the Three Stooges are on.
I don't have that kind of device, so I usually listen to the TV clowns, and occasionally tune into the radio to hear what they're saying.
The delay is probably about a 2 second difference (on the stations here, at least).

667
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:09pm

Wow...we made it to the comment of the beast :-)

668
by Kal (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:49pm

#353: Brunell converted a 4th and 16 to Moss for 39 yards.

4th and 16 at WAS 20 (2:00) (Shotgun) M.Brunell pass to S.Moss to SEA 41 for 39 yards (M.Boulware).

Earlier there was this play:
3rd and 20 at WAS 14 (7:40) (Shotgun) M.Brunell pass to S.Moss to WAS 37 for 23 yards (M.Manuel).

Sorry about the apples reference, Aaron.

669
by Tim L (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 2:57pm

There's plenty of differences between the 1996 Cowboys and the 2005 Patriots, but there are some eerie similarities.

- Both won their division by going 10-6 the year after they won their third Super Bowl in four years.

- Both teams got off to slow starts, then finished strong. Dallas went 9-2 after starting 1-3; New England goes 6-1 after starting 4-4.

- Both teams lost a meaningless final game of the regular season.

- Both routed a good opponent in the Wild Card round by 25 points (Dallas beat Minnesota 40-15, Pats beat Jags 28-3)

- In the Divisional Playoffs, both visited the second seed who had recently risen to dominance, although few observers at the time realized how good this team was, FO being an exception.

- Both teams lost to that second seed by more than a touchdown, although the games were hard-fought and competitive.

- And this is real trivia, but the first-seeded team in the NFC playoffs was coached by Mike Holgren in both seasons--the only two times he's ever accomplished that feat.

670
by Andrew (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 3:08pm

Comments on the games:

1) Another unimpressive showing by Alexander in the playoffs. Maurice Morris and Mack Strong looked just as good as Alexander running the ball behind that line. I think Seattle would be foolish to give in to his contract demands - the money could be better used on defense.

2) If Santana Moss and Cooley could have caught the TD passes that bounced off their hands, Washington wins the upset, and proper credit would go to the 3 turnovers Seattle made. Seattle can't expect to play like that two more times and bring home Lombardi. Washington, for being a beat-up and one-dimensional team put up a really good effort. The Bears and Panthers have both got to feel good about their chances given how poorly Seattle played.

3) Really questionable game-plan by Gibbs to run Portis a lot in the first half. He needed to open the game up by turning Moss and Cooley loose to score points, then run the clock out with Portis. Just strange trying to do that backwards, running out the first half clock, then turning the weapons loose only late in their third quarter.

4) How is it possible for Washington to have just two playmakers - Cooley and Moss - and for them to be just wide open on play after play?

5) What happened to James Thrash that he didn't play?

6) I see that Seattle hasn't solved the wideouts letting easy catchable balls bounce off their hands problem yet. How many passes did they drop yesterday? 2004 all over again.

7) Really strange decisions by Shanahan early and late the game. Strange use of timeouts at times when New England was needing a timeout and Denver gave them one, wierd calls on the goal line (a Jake Plummer sneak? a fade for the corner?). Just run Mike Anderson twice, or do it once and kick for three, or bootleg Jake looking for Kyle Johnson or Putzier. That's what you pay them for! You don't pay Plummer to try to sneak it through 10 big men.

8) How weak is Vinatieri? Is he injured? In Denver did he ever make a kick-off past the 10 yard line? That's just 60 yards in the most kicker friendly stadium. Something wrong there.

9) Shanahan told me he enjoyed eating the magic beans for dinner last night.

10) The heavy-pressure Denver deffense is essentially the old Buddy Ryan 46 defense. Constant blitzing for 6 to 8 guys depending on how many receivers are on the field, leading to repeated free hits on the quarterback. I shudder to think how effective they'd be if they had a Reggie White/Lawrence Taylor/Bruce Smith caliber of Defensive End. Also, the Denver defense doesn't really always leave the corners in man coverage. The blitz is so fast and effective that the QB only has time to make one read and throw it to him. This allows Denver to identify the hot receiver and role coverage by the other corners towards the hot receiver as soon as the ball is thrown. Very often, when the Patriots receiver made a catch after beating his man, he suddenly find himself confronting the other two corners on the field who had backpedaled and rolled over in front of the hot receiver to act like deep safeties, hence no big plays until one of them fell down late in the game.

11) It appeared that Brady and Co. were trying to make the wrong kind of plays against the Denver Blitz. They were attempting to develop routes too far downfield, so Brady was just taking brutal hit after hit. The best play against this pressure I saw against Denver all year was McNabb and the Eagles once they had figured it out (once down 28-0 though!). The throw to Owens for the 91 yard TD was a thing of beauty - put Owens on the side of the field the pressure is coming from, throw quickly to him, and let him out juke Bailey directly in front of the line of scrimmage with just Bailey to beat to the endzone. Yet the Patriots never attempted this with Branch or Watson or Givens. By not attempting the quick throw, the Patriots allowed the other corners to get into deeper coverage and prevent the big play. Did they not watch enough Denver film to study how to make the big play against the all-out blitz?

12) Ben Watson deserves a game ball for coming 100 yards plus all the way across the field to lay a licking on Bailey. That was just a hell of a play, one of the best I've seen all year in terms of individual effort - right up there with a couple of Watson TD runs where he just bowled over everyone in front of him on the field (Atlanta game and one later one I can't remember now). Watson is a heck of a player. The Patriots need to throw to him more.

671
by morganja (not verified) :: Sun, 01/15/2006 - 4:23pm

Re;
This is actually an incorrect statement. In the Pitt/SD game earlier this year Pitt was flagged for interference even though the punt returner muffed the kick off his chest. The ball was 3 yards away from him and moving away, but the ref stated that the kicking team had to allow the PR the chance to catch it and that chance lasts until the ball hits the ground.

I’m not sure whether this applies directly to Browns fumble, because I didn’t pay enough attention. But it is a rule.

No, the call in that game was that the coverage team failed to give the receiver a one yard cushion to make the catch. As soon as he touches the ball, the ball is live and free for anyone to go after.
This is exactly what I'm talking about. I think that if a team has so many calls go their way for so long than they lose track of what the rules really are for the rest of the league. It's like the NBA. Try to figure out the rules from watching what goes on and is called in a typical NBA game, let alone the Lakers.

672
by MM referee (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 8:05am

I'm amazed in all the PI talk that nobody has mentioned the Denvar PI on the Lynch INT. One of Denver's DBs, with his back to the play, completely cleaned out Davis as the ball was coming down, giving Lynch a clear shot at the ball. The ball was clearly catchable (doubtful in a triple-team, but still cathcable), and the defender was not even remotely playing the ball. The call would have put the ball on the 34 with over 3 minutes left. Am I missing something? Wasn't it a blatant PI? Wouldn't the Pats have had a chance, even without recovering an onsides kick, if they got a quick score there?

673
by Kaveman (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 10:20am

#672: I didn't notice any PI on that play; anyone who has it on Tivo want to check?

However, the Patriots had their chances.

674
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 5:55pm

Fnor,

What the DB has a right to do is go to the ball. What Samuel did was run alongside and NOT go to the ball. He came up short and to the side, and sice he pulled off in that direction, bumped the WR with him. That’s a no-no. He did stuff like that all night, like I said, but never got called for it.

This is not a true statement at all. Samuel had the inside position and was looking back for the ball. What made him turn his head was Lelie driving his right arm into Samuel's left shoulder. Even then, he turned his head back towards the ball before they got into the end zone.

I know that this sounds a little pompous, but I can't see how anyone could possibly think that was PI.

675
by Björn (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 11:10pm

Some responses

Asante Samuel played well and did not interfere. I call that as illegal contact. I kinda thought Lelie gave up on that play, but I do think the ball was catchable. That was a long route, and Lelie is a fast guy. Had he not been jostling with Samuel, he is in the area of the ball.

I love all the so-called physicists around these days saying that it is physically impossible for Bailey to have fumbled the ball out of bounds. They make me chuckle. That being said, I have always wondered why the pylons at the goal line weren't higher. You could make the pylons 5 feet tall. It would look goofy at first, but it is way cheaper than 8 new cameras in every stadium. And massive kudos to Watson for the effort. Haven't seen anything like that since Rod Smith chased down Julius Peppers, and the size roles were reversed there. Very impressive.

John Lynch was in Tom Brady's head. I loved it.

A QB sack causes more chance of a fumble, but a QB hurry causes more chance of a pick.

Big difference between Denver this year to Denver last year is the strength of their secondary. Last year, Bailey stopped Harrison, and Herndon stopped Stokely, but Roc Alexander got beat by Wayne. Bailey would stop Harrison again, imo, Williams is an upgrade over Herndon, and Foxworth is an upgrade over Alexander. So while they may still have lost to Indy, I think they had a better shot in this year than in previous years.

676
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 1:45am

671: Actually, it is the referee's discretion on whether he is able to catch it or not; the Pittsburgh official simply didn't see that the ball was out of his reach before he was hit.
This is why you are allowed to hit the returner even before the ball hits if he decides to let a punt go (this also happened to ARE this season).

677
by Vash (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 1:49am

675: 5-foot pylons would be hilarious.
They'd be useful, but they would have to be inserted into the ground (like the posts of a hockey net) so they didn't blow over, and would have to be more rigid so they didn't bend -- and that combination could be rather painful for players hitting them.

678
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 8:36pm

RE: 642

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679
by no name (not verified) :: Sun, 02/19/2006 - 10:54pm

last