Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails to each other, both during and after the games. It lets us share ideas for columns and comments, and get an idea of how teams that we can't watch are playing. Be aware that the material in this roundtable might seem a bit disjointed and un-edited. It also might still show up later in the week in other columns, or in comments in PFP 2006.

Some monologues this week: Only Michael David Smith watched the Lions game, and only Tim Gerheim watched the Texans game. Whoda thunk it?

Minnesota Vikings 21 at Detroit Lions 16

Michael David Smith: Vikings: One play, one touchdown, a long ball from Brad Johnson to Koren Robinson, the Vikings' longest play of the season. (The announcer just helpfully informed us that the Lions are leading in time of possession.)

(Time passes. The Lions get no better.)

Michael David Smith: And Koren Robinson just caught a 52-yard pass, with Dre Bly in man coverage. Robinson, generally considered a bust, suddenly looks like a star when playing against the Lions. Does that mean Charles Rogers is going to catch on somewhere else next year and light up the Lions?

The Lions are terrible at several positions. Dre Bly and the many Lions fans I know who think Harrington is the sole problem don't know what they're talking about. They have six points at halftime, and both field goals were set up by long Eddie Drummond kick returns, not anything the Garcia-led offense did. My worst nightmare as a Lions fan is that they play just well enough over these five remaining games that Millen thinks he's just one player away from going to the Super Bowl, makes some huge trade or free-agent signing for one star, and then a year from now when they're 3-8 the Lions will find some other guy to be the scapegoat and not acknowledge that the whole damn team needs to be torn down and built back up.

Aaron Schatz: Do we need to send someone over to Mike's house to remove his shoelaces?

Michael David Smith: My final comment on the Lions, for Dre Bly and everyone else who thinks the whole thing is Harrington's fault: Jeff Garcia averaged 3.6 yards a pass today. Do you think, just maybe, there are problems on the Lions other than Harrington?

Mike Tanier: Some guy carrying a "Fire Millen" sign was chased all over the stadium by security, then decked when he tried to escape. Mike, was that you?

Michael David Smith: My sign would have said "Imprison Millen." I think he deserves a five-year sentence for the five-year sentence he's given Lions fans.

Tim Gerheim: I'd have thought your sign would have said "Fire Rogers."

Houston Texans 15 at Baltimore Ravens 16

Tim Gerheim: I have to be impressed with the Texans' creativity. I didn't know there WERE this many ways to lose a football game. They took a two-point lead with about a minute remaining, and then managed to give up a 66-yard drive TO BALTIMORE for a game-winning field goal. I think the Ryan Fitzpatrick bandwagon just lost some momentum, since it became clear that his achievement wasn't so spectacular after all.

The Texans playing the Ravens must be like looking into a mirror. Sacks galore on both sides. Fumbles, penalties. Houston's defense is worse than Baltimore's, but Kyle Boller isn't good enough to take advantage. I think the Ravens use the same offense as Utah; they scored their touchdown on a six-yard QB draw by Boller.

If you like watching punt teams down the ball inside the 5, though, you'll love the Texans. They downed a punt at the 2, then there was a penalty, so they had to re-kick. So they downed the re-punt at the 1. That plus a good punt return by Jerome Mathis (cough ... Pro Bowl ... cough) got them in range for a field goal that even their offense couldn't screw up, much though it tried.

The Ravens had four sacks before Houston had two completions, yet Houston kept calling pass plays. Yeah, they know you want to run it since the passing doesn't work, but you're good at running!

The commentators today have been talking a lot about the question of whether the Texans take Reggie Bush if they have the #1 pick. Surprisingly, I found myself generally agreeing with Solomon Wilcots: adding Reggie Bush to a team with Domanick Davis doesn't really change this team. Personally, I think that if you replaced Bush with Davis on the current USC team, the results would be the same, with the possible exception of Bush's kick returning. And you put Reggie Bush behind the Texans line and he doesn't do any better than Davis.

I didn't realize until the announcers started talking about it, but they Ravens are really hurting on the offensive line. Edwin Mulitalo, Keydrick Vincent, and Orlando Brown have been out all game, and Jonathan Ogden left in the first series. Their only real starter left in this game is center Mike Flynn. And they look just like the Texans offensive line. It's depressing to realize that we have a clearly replacement-level line. That's why you don't take Reggie Bush. You trade back and take D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Then in the second round you take Jonathan Scott. Then in the third round...

Dallas Cowboys 10 at New York Giants 17

Tim Gerheim: I don't have Sunday Ticket, or HD, but I'd pay good money to watch the all-11 shot of all the football games I watch. FOX used it to showed a great adjustment by the Giants defense, who looked like they were in a big-blitz defense with only one middle safety but then shifted both safeties back into a cover-2, which wound up pretty much busting Bledsoe's read. Watching football on the network broadcasts with the sideline cameras is like listening to Pink Floyd with one speaker unplugged. (Seriously, listen to Dark Side of the Moon sometime with just one speaker; "Time" never sounded so weird.)

Al Bogdan: The Cowboys can't handle the Giants defensive line. Kendrick Clancy just had a sack on a running play. Clancy came in over the center's right shoulder. The plan was a run right, so Marco Rivera was moving away, leaving a huge hole for Clancy to go through. Clancy almost beat Bledsoe to the handoff, and he was able to grab his arm to screw up the exchange, leading to a fumble and a Pierce touchdown. The Giants defensive ends are lining up very wide and haven't had too much of a problem getting around the Dallas tackles.

Bill Moore: Brandon Jacobs finally is getting low. His 1-yard drive for a touchdown was a run with leverage, getting low and driving his body over the line – much different from his previous goal line runs.

Al Bogdan: I was listening to the game on the radio when this happened. The Giants radio commentators spent a good ten minutes talking about how great Jacobs looked on that play.

Michael David Smith: The Cowboys have third-and-1 at the 40, throw a long pass, incomplete. Then on fourth-and-1 they punt. That just seems weird to me. If you were going to go for it on fourth, I understand the pass on third, but if you're going to punt, why not just run it up the middle?

Aaron Schatz: Hopefully at this point everyone understands how well the Giants defense is playing right now, particularly on the defensive line.

On the other side, Roy Williams had a couple of rushing plays where he seemed to come from the other side of the field to tackle guys at their feet and take down runners in the open field. One was an end around, the other was Barber. He really is remarkable against the run.

This one had one of the worst penalty calls I've seen: an illegal contact where the ball was thrown 10 feet out of bounds. I think the flag came out after the ball had already gone over everyone's heads.

Michael David Smith: So will the Giants be auditioning kickers soon?

Al Bogdan: Somewhere, there's got to be a 45-year-old guy named Anderson that can kick the ball straight.

Vivek Ramgopal: Tom Coughlin's quote in the post-game press conference was (paraphrasing as best as my memory serves): "He missed right this week, left last week, so it'll get straightened out soon." What happened to the mean old Coughlin?

Pat Laverty: Any truth to the rumor that Dallas saw Eli in the red jersey and thought it was one of those "don't touch the quarterback" practices?

Al Bogdan: Bledsoe couldn't get rid of the ball fast enough today. Even when he had seven people back blocking for him, Drew would throw the ball to the nearest white jersey at the first sign of an unblocked Giant. Strahan and Osi had nice games, but so did Justin Tuck. They use Tuck mainly as a pass rusher in nickel and dime situations, and he does a great job of putting pressure on the QB when he's one of only three Giants rushing the passer.

The offense did everything they could to keep Dallas in this game in the second half. Eli threw some awful looking passes, but even when he was accurate New York had some horrible dropped passes. Tim Carter had two bad drops, including one where Eli put it right into his hands 50 yards downfield. All the Giants receivers had bad drops in the second half. If they had caught any of those balls, this game wouldn't have been as close as it ended up being.

Atlanta Falcons 6 at Carolina Panthers 24

Bill Moore: Carolina has done a very good job of getting to and tackling Vick. On a fourth-and-1 in the second quarter, Carolina stacked the line, and Mike Rucker came off the guard unblocked. Vick was actually running a rollout and got hit for about a 10-yard loss.

A few plays earlier Carolina got completely screwed – although it didn't end up in Atlanta points. Hoover ran a short slant then appeared (to me) to drop the ball while lying on the ground. While Hoover was getting up, DeAngelo Hall grabbed the ball and jammed it in Hoover's facemask. Somehow the ref called unsportsmanlike conduct on Hoover. They showed three replays, and I didn't see Hoover do anything. So instead of third-and-1 its third-and-16. The next play, Delhomme's arm got hit in the process of throwing and the ball was picked off.

Ned Macey: The Brad Hoover taunting call was probably the right call. On about the 10th replay, it became apparent that he tossed the ball directly to Hall. Didn't look like taunting, but tossing the ball to an opponent generally gets the violation.

Mike Tanier: The American Pediatric Association warns that parents should not wipe their children, particularly their daughters, the way Steve Smith wiped the football after his touchdown. Parents should always use a downward wiping motion to prevent dangerous cross-contamination.

Oh, and Smith caught that pass out of a three-back formation, I think.

Tennessee Titans 3 at Indianapolis Colts 35

Michael David Smith: Look up "mismatch" in the dictionary and you'll see Reggie Wayne covered by Pacman Jones. Or, at least you will if we ever get around to expanding our Football Outsiders publishing empire and doing that football picture-dictionary I've been thinking about. The Colts' first drive after halftime was a clinic: Edgerrin James keeps picking up the tough yards, the Titans' safeties keep playing back, Edge keeps running, finally the Titans move a safety close to the line, and as soon as the Titans do that, Manning knows he's got Wayne one-on-one with Pacman. Touchdown.

Ned Macey: Ben Troupe was supposed to be this great weapon for the Titans, and now he is about their third most valuable tight end. Bo Scafie, a sixth rounder, is playing as well as Troupe. Today, Troupe juggled a ball going out of bounds and then dropped a touchdown. His overall numbers were good, but a team starting Roydell Williams at wide receiver could use more consistent performance from their top pick a season ago.

In Pacman Jones' defense, the Colts came out picking on Reynaldo Hill. Then, after running James five straight times. they went play-action, and the Titans had rolled coverage to Harrison. Reggie Wayne beats 90 percent of corner backs on that play. Also, the Titans punt and kick returns are much improved over a year ago even with Jones' propensity for fumbles.

Aaron Schatz: For the 500th time, we cannot allow Adam to muddy the memory of our favorite video game characters with his total disregard for punctuation. It's "Pac-Man" with a f$%^in' hyphen. I'm going to have to talk to Jim Schwartz about this in the off-season.

Cincinnati Bengals 38 at Pittsburgh Steelers 31

Aaron Schatz: Copying the Colts as expected, the Bengals are playing eight in the box on most plays. I think I've seen them playing nine in the box a few times, and one play had 17 people in the box including Marvin Lewis and, if I'm not mistaken, Jim LeClair. They even had the safeties playing close on third-and-9, which was a little bit too much for my taste. Big Ben is taking advantage of this, which is why he has excellent numbers, and the injuries don't seem to be causing him any problems; he's accurate and throwing a nice spiral. (The interceptions were not caused by bad mechanics.)

Cincinnati center Eric Steinbach is quite underrated. The Bengals are excellent running up the middle. Also, Chris Perry had very good blitz pickup on Cincinnati's second and third touchdowns. It's another reason why he's become an excellent third-down back.

There seem to be a number of plays where the Pittsburgh defensive backs are giving a cushion, so the Cincinnati receivers just cut with a quick break to the middle for a mid-range gain. Ryan, has this been a general issue all year, or just recently, or only in this game?

Ryan Wilson: Nope, that sounds about right. I don't know how DVOA will break down, but the Steelers defense wasn't the problem. Spectacularly crappy special teams and jaw-dropping turnovers were the problem. Cowher had his moments, but you can't blame him for the loss. Duce Staley should be starting, and Pittsburgh should think about throwing the trick plays in the Thomas Crapper. And let this be Exibit A as to why Big Ben doesn't need to throw the ball 50 times a game. Too many bad things can happen. There was a positive however: they kept Chad Johnson out of the end zone. Also, there's nothing like having to win out with a quarter of the schedule to go. By the way, the offensive line wasn't awful today, but Roethlisberger could leave Heinz Field in a wheelchair if things don't get markedly better next week against the Bears.

Mike Tanier: As Aaron mentioned, the Bengals did an exceptional job on blitz pickup. I think a lot of those quick hitches came on plays where the Steelers were hoping to get a sack.

The Steelers recovered three of their own fumbles, I believe.

The Bengals rarely blitzed on passing downs. They seemed content to rush four, leave everyone back in zone, and wait for interceptions. Big Ben completed a lot of passes, but he also spent a lot of time sitting in the pocket and waiting for receivers to get open, then getting flushed.

Ned Macey: Does anyone else think Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Delhomme have a lot in common? They both throw the ball beautifully, take their shots down the field, and make the occasional terrible throw. Roethlisberger has been protected for most of his career, but today, all three of his interceptions were mental, not physical, mistakes. Only one was even a justifiable throw.

Green Bay Packers 7 at Chicago Bears 19

Michael David Smith: Moose Johnston just said of Favre, "He makes bad plays, but he just shakes it off and doesn't worry about it." Funny how the tone of voice sounded like he was saying that's a good thing. I could envision another announcer making the same comment about another player, only the tone of voice would tell you it's a bad thing.

Mike Tanier: At P.J.'s Pub, two televisions next to each other were showing Colts-Titans and Packers-Bears. I watched McNair get hit. Then, Favre get hit. McNair. Favre. Over and over again. I never thought I could feel sorry for two millionaires like that.

When the Bears try a screen pass these days, the opposing defense just blows it up, with two defenders chasing Orton and two others converging on the running back. If they have no respect for your passing game, they aren't going to be fooled on a screen. Luckily, the Bears defense can win games singlehandedly.

Buffalo Bills 23 at Miami Dolphins 24

Vivek Ramgopal: I caught the ESPN radio guys basically giving a live play-by-play of the last few drives. Ditka went from saying that "Rosenfels should be tending bar somewhere, not playing quarterback" (after getting picked off by Schobel) to praising him for leading the Dolphins back.

It seemed like Buffalo went to the "hey, let's try to get a yard at a time and run the clock down" strategy on their last drive and forgot about that whole first down concept. Sage had plenty of time (almost two minutes) to engineer the winning drive.

Anyone else kicking themselves for keeping Chambers on their fantasy bench?

Aaron Schatz: Or Lee Evans. I had Lee Evans on my bench.

Denver Broncos 27 at Kansas City Chiefs 31

Tim Gerheim: Wow. The Broncos left receivers uncovered on two of the last three plays on the Chiefs' first scoring drive. Once again, three cheers to the all-11 shot, that showed the mistake on the Dante Hall touchdown. Denver was lined up in a Cover-2, but Nick Ferguson came up toward the line at the snap for some reason. Champ Bailey thought he was still back there, so he released Hall when he went deep, and there was nobody to cover him. Two plays earlier nobody had covered TE Kris Wilson. Call it a hunch, but I bet the Broncos get those assignments worked out.

The intensity level in this game is really high, thanks in part to the fact that it's at Arrowhead. (I would just like to thank the Chiefs for not selling naming rights to their stadium.) Both teams are throwing deep, Denver has already run an end around, I'm sure both teams have more tricks up their sleeves for this game. I love the AFC West.

Michael David Smith: You know, I don't want to pat myself on the back or anything, but I'm really proud of the fact that right after I wrote that piece about how Johnson was a better runner than Holmes and the Chiefs should give the ball to Holmes more, Johnson became their full-time back and has been much better than Holmes was this year.

Tim Gerheim: Now that's football. Ron Dayne lost his helmet on one of his only carries in the first half, and they showed him getting worked on on the sidelines during the next play; I think he had a broken nose. He's playing with some kind of plug in one side of his nose in the second half.

One of my favorite things to do lately is watch backs pick up the blitz. Some of them are great; some of them embarrass themselves like nobody's business. Tatum Bell had a weak but effective block where he ran into one of the KC linebackers and bounced backward. It only worked because the linebacker's momentum wasn't affected at all by Bell, so he wound up tripping over Bell, now on his back, on his way into the backfield.

Mike Tanier: Did you see that fourth-and-1? Is Dick going to challenge the spot? Can he? The two-minute warning just sounded...

Tim Gerheim: That was the rule from the Saints-Rams game: when the play starts before the two-minute warning, it requires a challenge to overturn. Good thing Vermeil didn't challenge the touchdown run in the second quarter, after he had just challenged the Plummer touchdown run, and won.

Mike Tanier: Eh, never mind about the spot. After the last two plays, I think the rumors about Kawika Mitchell figuring things out are true.

Tim Gerheim: I can't really explain it, but Denver looks nervous. I think it started on the first KC drive when they blew a couple assignments in the secondary, leading to the first touchdown. Then Plummer has thrown two interceptions, which is a lot for this season, and at least one of them was a poor or at least questionable decision. The Broncos defense has looked frustrated at a lot of points in this game, most notably when John Lynch got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing with a ref; I don't think they're used to being behind. They just haven't shown a lot of composure. I don't think it augurs well for them in the playoffs, where obviously the competition gets stiffer and they're more likely to face adversity.

Ned Macey: I didn't watch all of the Denver game, but does one big run against Dallas really justify giving Ron Dayne more carries than Tatum Bell?

Washington Redskins 24 at St. Louis Rams 9

Michael David Smith: Brian Baldinger just said, "Clinton Portis doesn't watch any TV except Family Guy." Somehow I don't think we would have learned about Portis' TV habits if his favorite show weren't on FOX, but still, this makes me like Portis a little more.

Mike Tanier: I dont watch any TV but Family Guy either, plus football and children's shows. Unfortunately, I cannot watch the Broncos right now because my son is watching Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Firestar is hot, though.

New York Jets 3 at New England Patriots 16

Aaron Schatz: What a boring game. The first interesting thing that happened came in the middle of the second quarter when there were roughly eight penalties at the same time, and the ref got to announce them, explain them, and then point out they were all offsetting. I went to write this down in the notebook and realized I had not written a single thing about this game yet because it was so dull. Basically, the Jets suck and the Patriots finally found a quarterback who couldn't throw against them.

Bill Moore: That NE game was a snoozer. It was like watching a Jamie Pressley movie, where an hour into it you realize that nothing has really happened, but you feel OK watching anyway.

Aaron Schatz: Two questions here. One, Ty Law came out of the game in the second half and there was no explanation given. There was no injury report, so did he take himself out for the heck of it or did the Jets take him out to get Justin Miller more experience? Two, what in the name of all that is holy and not on the injured list was Tom Brady doing in that game handing off at the end? What, Doug Flutie was in the bathroom or something? It wasn't worth taking even the teeny-tiny chance that someone would fall on his leg in mid-handoff.

Bill Moore: Law pulled himself out of the game at the very end of the third quarter. He had what looked to be a slight limp (the previous play had just gone against him -- he pushed Andre Davis out of bounds after a catch). I hadn't noticed that he didn't return.

Hell -- Brady ran a QB sneak to end the game! What!?

Aaron Schatz: By the way, when the Patriots offense took the field, Kevin Harlan says, "Here's number 11, this year's Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, quarterback Tom Brady." Um, number 11 is in Dallas, dude. Brady is number 12. Oh, and Randy Cross referred to running out the clock as "going lowbrow" which has got to be the first time I've ever heard that one.

Tim Gerheim: Ahh, the spoiled Northeast gets a taste of the Texans curse: games covered by Kevin Harlan and Randy Cross. It's still better than anyone and Steve Tasker though.

Oakland Raiders 17 at San Diego Chargers 34

Bill Moore: Collins misses Porter on a deep route by overthrowing him by at least 7 or 8 yards, leading Theisman to this thought:

"See, I have a theory. When quarterbacks overthrow receivers, they are throwing the ball not to throw an interception. If you throw it to try and throw it to the guy in stride, and the defender is fairly close, there is that chance that maybe the interception will come up. But if you overthrow him by a great margin, you're almost throwing the ball away."

Well Joe, call me crazy, but you surely limit the chance of an interception, but you definitely limit the chance of a catch to about zero. It's like the old golf cliché - 99 percent of all putts that come up short hardly ever go in.

Aaron Schatz: Michael Turner scores a touchdown. Joe Theismann says: "Now, do you see what San Diego did there, that was almost like an unbalanced line. You had two tackles, a guard, and a tight end all on the right side."

Um, Joe, that isn't ALMOST LIKE an unbalanced line. That IS an unbalanced line.

Ned Macey: Theismann also said outright that Drew Brees is one of the five best quarterbacks in football. Who feels that he would have said that if he were covering Manning, Brady, Palmer, McNabb, Plummer, Favre, Hasselbeck, Green, Vick, and Leftwich?

Tim Gerheim: Bhawoh Jue, at least the way Paul Maguire says it, sounds like he would go great with prime rib.

Bits ‘n' Pieces

Bill Moore: I know Punters should be seen and not talked about. So you know it's a backhanded compliment when I say, "boy, I noticed two good punting performances today."

The first was Jeff Feagles. With only two touchbacks all year, it should not be surprising to see where he stuck punts today. But in the Dallas game, he pinned at least two back-to-back punts on the two-yard line.

And I continue to be impressed with Ben Graham of the Jets. He too placed at least two punts inside the 5 today. He boots the ball really high. Although I don't have his hang time info, it must be significant.

I have always been surprised that more kickers don't try more coffin corner punts. Trying to down the ball inside the 5 seems so much harder. However, after today, maybe I stand corrected.

Mike Tanier: I saw two "whoops" punts this week, where the snap was awful, the punter had to chase the ball all over the place, but still got off a decent kick. I think one was Klewe from Minnesota and the other was the Bears punter, Maynard.

Tim Gerheim: I've noticed a lot of good punting and punt coverage this season, mostly of the down-at-the-one variety. I think it was Len Pasquarelli in Tip Sheet last week saying that the league is starting to consider adjusting the punting rules to stop that sort of thing and try to encourage more punt returns rather than fair catches. (Not exactly the same issue, but generally a matter of punters playing well enough to unbalance punt plays.)

Later This Week

Tuesday's Any Given Sunday: Bengals over Steelers
Thursday's Every Play Counts: David Garrard


113 comments, Last at 07 Dec 2005, 9:53pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Man, I can't wait for the FO Mock Draft this year.

I'm not just saying this because it looks like I'll get to control yet another high pick as the Titans.

I didn't even watch the game yesterday. It would have just upset me. :(

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Charles Tillman was everywhere yesterday. Just an amazing game. Tackles, INT, forced fumble, fumble recovery, sack. Just wow.

Tommie Harris really blew off the ball at times getting into the backfield and blowing plays up.

Gado looks like the real deal to me. Runs low, good leverage, packs a punch. But doesn't seem to follow his blocking well. That drawback may likely keep him destined for second string status long-term.

Why Packer fans have to be calling for Sherman's head. You establish early that you can run the ball halfway decent, the Bears D is intent on crushing your QB, so you call a million pass plays. Just really, really odd.

MDS, Favre had the terrible throw in the end zone but other than that the guy was getting crushed back there. I distinctly recall at least four times where Packers flat out missed their blocks and let a Bear have a free shot. Not only did he take the hit he completed the pass. No comment on those? Because I believe about half the QBs in the league wouldn't have finished yesterday's game.

And now I await for the snide comments from those who think Favre shouldn't have finished.

It's ironic that the Bears won this game in almost the same fashion as their last win against GB at home. Many moons ago Dante Jones ran back two interceptions for TDs as the Bears, hopelessly outgained in yardage, beat GB. Pretty much what happened yesterday.

Solid offensive line. Capable running game. Great defense though not as great as some would have the public believe. So-so special teams. (those fumbles are just ridiculous)

But the day of reckoning is approaching on the QB. I am not for changes this late in the year but if someone wants to re-visit the discussion I won't dismiss it out of hand. Kyle struggled against a pedestrian defense yesterday. Another in a long line of struggles.

By the way, the wind was gusting more than the listed 12 mph. I don't know if anyone said anything on the air but that wind was really kicking up at times.

Packer fans, is Favre still walking? I saw him after the game and he was limping badly AND holding his arm. He looked like a fighter who had gone 1 round too many.

I ALMOST feel for him...........

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Aaron, on the Giants game: "This one had one of the worst penalty calls I’ve seen: an illegal contact where the ball was thrown 10 feet out of bounds. I think the flag came out after the ball had already gone over everyone’s heads."

The announcers complained about this as well, so I might be wrong about the rules here, but I doubt it.

Doesn't Illegal Contact, by definition, occur before the pass is thrown (as opposed to pass interference, which occurs while the pass is in the air)? Therefore, isn't it irrelevant where the pass winds up -- of even whether the ball is thrown at all -- if the defender gives the WR a hard chuck 10 yards downfield while the QB still has the ball (which is what happened on this play)?

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Ladies and Gentlemen...playing the part of Drew Bledsoe in December.......Drew Bledsoe!

1. Glad I was not the only one who felt the urge to instruct Smith on proper wiping technique.

2. Funniest part of the Jets/NE telecast was Harlan's constant referring to his partner as "Super Bowl Champion Randy Cross!" I wonder if Jack Squirek or Timmy Smith gets introduced at parties that way.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Favre shouldn't have been playing because they have no chance at the playoffs. I respect that Sherman had to play this like they still had a shot because it's the Bears, but after some of those hits I don't know why you don't see what Rodgers has.

Favre is obviously still a pretty good QB, but he's not what he was, he still throws too many picks and the feeling I'm getting is that if the Packers had someone else like the Magic Man back at QB he would have been benched for the rookie. Some people blame Favre for not conceding playing time. I blame Sherman.

I understand you have strong feelings for how good Favre is and what a bad rap he's getting here but honestly I don't see all that much talk about it and certainly not with the same tenacity that you show defending him.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

This is from Mitch Alborns' column in todays Detroit Free Press. (MDS I'm sorry to depress you further, but it's a great quote)

"Then again, at least Bly was playing. Which is more than can be said of wide receiver Charles Rogers, who was healthy and still scratched. Jauron's explanation was that the Lions needed his roster spot for a special-teams player. I'm not kidding. And when asked what Rogers has to do to actually, you know, be activated for a game, Jauron said, "Perform better in practice."

Are you following this? The No. 2 pick in the draft three years ago now can't even practice well enough to displace a special-teams player?

And you wonder why they're yelling for Millen's head?"

I thought the Carolina D played Atlanta better than anyone since the Eagles in last years NFCCG. Peppers missed large parts of the game and so did Mike Rucker, but the run D and the pressure on Vick was really impressive. Witherspoon, Chris Draft, Marlon McCree and Mike Minter all had really good games. The commentary on this game was also very good.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

The Redskins game was just awful. Santana Moss needs to get over himself. Yeah, I'm sure he would like it if they threw the ball his way all the time, but guess what? They won the game.

Brunell made a smart play to knock the ball out of the end zone for a safety rather than allow a touchdown.

Baldinger also killed Gibbs for the entire game.

And alright, I'll ask it. Has Clinton Portis' behavior this season reminded anyone else of Ricky Williams?

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


First, I have written repeatedly the last several weeks that Favre has made multiple terrible decisions/throws. A quick search will validate that statement if you doubt me.

Second, let's put to rest the notion that Aaron Rodgers would have a legit chance to compete in the current circumstances. Did you SEE the game yesterday? The Bears did everything but take a shiv to Favre. What exactly would Rodgers learn in those circumstances? How to not whimper in front of his teammates? And having personally seen Rodgers play there is no way with that current group of receivers he completes passes. He would be "Ortonesque".

You are absolutely correct in that Mike Sherman bears some blame for the current snafu. Mike Sherman has failed to:

--hammer into Favre the concept of risk/reward or game management whichever term you prefer

--create game plans that play to the team's strengths (such as they are)

--work collaboratively with Ted Thompson on accurately assessing team weaknesses and finding the proper solutions. Primarily, how the **** can you abandon the offensive line in such a cavalier manner??? That more than anything baffles me. And the answers were Klemm and Whittaker?? Who now aren't starting?? yikes.....

Of course, Sherman's greatest failures were as GM. But that is now history.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

For those of you who watched the Denver/KC game, I'm dying to have someone explain something to me. Kansas City's ball; it's 2nd and 2 on the KC 29. A KC offensive lineman gets called for holding. Ref announces, "Holding, KC....10 yards, repeat 2nd down." But the ball is placed at the 27, and it's 2nd and 4. This made no sense to me. Shouldn't it have been 2nd and 12? What am I missing?

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#9: I didn't see the penalty, but if the situation was as you've described, then the hold occurred 8 yards from the line of scrimmage.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Speaking of bad penalties, what about the roughing the passer on the Bears' Tank Johnson for "punishing the QB with his weight?" I mean, when you're 300 lbs and your nickname is "Tank" you can't help it.

Admittedly, I followed the game on the Tribune's play by play, so I'd appreciate a perspective from somebody who actually saw it or has heard of that penalty before.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

10: That was the only thing I could think of, but I could have sworn the penalty was not 8 yards down the field, but more of less at the line of scrimmage. But maybe I'm wrong.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#11 It seems that officials have a little bit leeway this year when making calls...5 yards, simulating an unnatural act. My guess is that after taking down the quarterback, Tank went out of his way to land all 300 pounds squarely on top of his chest, which is a personal foul these days.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Cincinnati center Eric Steinbach is quite underrated."
Correction: Eric Steinbach is their left guard.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#3 I was at the game...there were a couple of contact calls, but if this is the one I'm thinking of, the contact happened right as Manning was throwing the ball to Carter (I can't remember if it was Carter, Toomer, or Burress), causing him to stop the route resulting in the ball being seriously overthrown.

I do have to say thought there were a couple of very late pass interference/ illegal contact flags against both teams in the game.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I was disappointed that Chad Johnson didn't score yesterday, but as an Eagles fan at Penn State, I was happy to see the Bengals prove that if you put the game in Roethlisberger's hands against a good defense, he can't beat you. Even at home.

And yeah, the Steelers fumbled four times and recovered three. After Willie Parker fumbled the second time, I said to my dad, "They should put Staley in." He proceeded to fumble the pitch on the next play.

But I agree, Staley should be starting. He's sort of a happy medium between Bettis and Parker, plus he's a great pass-catching back. I imagine that with that offensive line, he'd be very dangerous running screens.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I imagine that with that offensive line, he’d be very dangerous running screens.

Except when you run them on 3rd and 20....

Stupid Whisenhunt...

Honestly, I don't think this game proved that Roethlisberger can't win when the game is in his hands. If it weren't for horrible Special Teams, and penalty after penalty on the final "drive" I'd say the Steelers win that game. The Steelers answered the Bengals virtually every time they scored. Problem was, the ST repeatedly gave Cincy excellent field position.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, and when are people going to realize that the Steelers O-line stinks? It's basically Alan Faneca and a pile of trash. Marvel Smith is okay when he's healthy, but that's it.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I'm not saying that Roethlisberger doesn't have the tools to win a game like that, but he can't will his team to victory like the elite QBs in the league. He needs help from his supporting cast. All I'm saying is that he is not *yet* an elite quarterback, like game managers like Manning or Brady or playmakers like Vick or McNabb.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

It's hard to will your team to victory when the ST hands the other team free points.

Come on- they tie it up at 24, and promptly give up a 90+ yard kickoff return. I guarantee you not even Brady or Manning win games like that.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

And in reference to 18:
They're not strong up the middle, but their Adjusted Line Yards ranks 7th off left end, 6th off right tackle, and 2nd off right end.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

How many picks did Brady throw against KC last week?

I'm sure some were his fault...

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Yes, apparently the Cincinnati center is so underrated that I misread the depth chart. I meant Graham. Although Steinbach is good too, that whole line is playing very well and nobody is talking about them.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

With the #4 pick in the Outsiders mock draft, the Baltimore Ravens select D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

No trade offers will be accepted this year, gentlemen, not with a line as bad as that one. We'd kill fo rthe Steelers' line right now.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

So is Minnesota really better off with Johnson at QB? His DPAR is better than Daunte's was (though still not great) and of course they are winning.

And while Theismann probably would say that Kyle Boller is a top 10 qb, in his defense Brees is one of the top 5 qbs in the league (at least according to DPAR).


27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Through 12/1, the Steelers' offensive line ranks about 19th in rushing plays, but 25th in giving up sacks. Although I'm not sure if that's been adjusted for the Tommy Maddox Armada featuring Herman Menderchuck.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

RE #4:

I think Timmy Smith gets introduced as "Persistant Drug Dealer Timmy Smith" nowadays.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Post 11:

It was iffy. But he did drive Favre into the ground. If he just knocks him down my guess is no call. Annoying but not a ridiculous call. I think that if any of us had our QB treated the same way we would be flying out of our chairs screaming for the flag.

It was clear that the defense's overriding mission was to put Favre on the ground. Quite sensibly, the Bears coaching staff recognized that with him out the game would be literally over.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Is it just me, or does o-line play in general really seem to have fallen sharply this year? Have defensive lineman become that much quicker in the course of one year? Kill the Quarterback seems to be featured more prominently in a lot of games this year.

Then again, I'm probably just watching too many NFC North games.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Another game for me with Harlan. I've lived in PA, Seattle, and now Jets country, so I got forced into Jets-Patriots, instead of Chiefs-Broncos, and I swear I've heard a bunch of Harlan in every one of those places. Central PA liked show lots of AFC Central games, so I guess that's why I heard him there. Still haven't found the sports bar here like I used to hang out in, and like Tim G, I'm technologically behind with no Sunday Ticket.

Anyway, what is up with Harlan always mentinioning the colleges? Yesterday, it was "LSU's Kevin Faulk with the carry."

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Okay... now I had mentioned last week in a post that I wouldn't be surprised to see Denver drop the game in KC... tough place to play in December. However, what a HORRIBLE defensive performance. The pass rush was absolutely non-existent, especially from the front 4 (who previously this year had looked solid). All I can say is, if thats the best they can muster, its going to be another long day in Indy come playoff time...

That being said, you can definitely see the difference in this game with KC's HoF tackles, vs. the earlier game when Roaf, et. al. were injured...

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re 22:

Brady and Manning wouldn’t throw at least 2 ill-advised INTs, though.

And McNabb wouldn't throw his until the 4th quarter.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


You should try the AFC North. With the Steeler fans now jumping ship, that leaves Cincinnati as the only offense still making people smile.

The only thing wrong with the Bears' offense is the fellow they're stuck with running it; the Bear line is doing a very good job creating what running room they can and keeping Orton upright. The sad thing for Bear fans is that Orton is still the best option for now; can you imagine this team with Brad Johnson, Jay Fiedler or Kurt Warner (all of whom were snubbed by Jerry Angelo this spring) under center? Angelo made a gigantic blunder which is costing his team the inside track to the Super Bowl.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

If Brad Johnson was trying to run the Vikings offense while the Vikings defense was giving up twenty points-plus points in the first half, as was often the case before Culpepper got injured, his numbers would not look any better.

I don't know if the Vikings defense is just playing better, or just playing worse offenses. Probably both. Pat Williams has had a great year. Darren Sharper, Lance Johnstone, and Sam Cowart got healthy. Erasmus James has gotten on the field and has started to improve a little. The defensive backfield as a whole has improved.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re 33:
Just like Big Ben.

I think if McNabb didn't get hit with that cheap shot in Week One, the Eagles would be above .500 right now. Alas, this season he can't will his team to victory, either.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Tom, I've been saying for weeks now that if Johnson had signed with the Bears, he'd would have had a really good chance for a second ring. Did Angelo make anything beyond a cursory attempt to sign Johnson? Or was it mostly Johnson's decision? I've heard conflicting reports.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

hey Al, dunno 'bout Gary, but yes, Morten Andersen is still keeping in shape.
He keeps a running practice diary in Danish on the website of a Danish Tv-station, and he's apparently not only still good up to about 48, he's even hitting an occasional 57-yarder at practice. Since he figures no NFL-insider would read Danish, there's lots of nice inside stuff.
Apparently, coaches are afraid to bring him since they don't know that he's still doing kickoffs with ok length/hangtime, so they think he'll basically cost 2 rosterspots. By all means, call Coughlin ;-)

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

It's pretty clear Pittsburgh can't run the ball consistently this year. What's different from last year? They were remarkably efficient/lucky last year, and I think we had to expect some fall-off, but damn.

NFCCF, thanks for not religiously defending Favre. He was on his back all game, but also made some very inaccurate throws, not all under pressure, and there is just no excuse, period, for the Peanut Tillman ball. A huge, huge, play, and 100% Favre's fault.

Kyle Orton is not good. All the talk here in Chi on the radio is whether the offense is good enough. There are two camps; the hysterical, "Our D is so awesome, man, we're 10-3, woo-hoo, just manage the game, etc." and the more reality-based, "Our offense generated five field goals in the last two games." I think the fear is if they bring in Rex, and he stinks or gets hurt, continuity or Orton's confidence will be messed up. Noone makes the case that Orton is probably simply better, though you hear the "Grossman's only had six starts" thing, which is of course ridiculous. Anyway, good times.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: 11 + 13 - "punishing with his weight"
That penalty was ridiculous. Tank didn't lift Favre. Tank didn't drive him into the ground. He just tackled him. If you want to call a late hit, call a late hit. But don't penalize someone for tackling.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


I was told that Johnson was surprised by:

--the salary being offered
--being told the job was Grossman's

So to hold a clipboard behind an unproven QB in a bad weather city Johnson was being offered dollars below the standard for a backup around the league. I don't know the exact number but was told it was "cut-rate".

Can't really argue with anyone who wants to slam Bears Mgt. for not handling this item better. I think the team's success has surprised them.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re: 11, 13, 40, etc. - Nate, I was loudly arguing the same point -- using the exact words you did -- in the in-game discussion thread. The only call that could have been made on that play was that the hit was late (which I don't think it was); there was absolutely nothing wrong with the nature of the hit itself. No "punishing", no "driving into the ground", no unneccessary roughness of any kind. It was a tackle, pure and simple.

And I think Kyle Orton has actually gotten worse. Either that, or Carolina and Green Bay have secretly switched defenses.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13



I did read this morning that Favre was trying to throw the ball away but the hit by AO caused it to float. I saw him get hit but thought the ball was away before that.

The explanation wasn't from Favre, one of the writers.

Favre did say he was trying to throw it away but said he **** the whole thing up.

Supposedly the Bears all out blitz blew up the play called and Favre ad-libbed.


44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

If true, that was really a stupid move for the Bears. For the life of me, I cannot understand GMs who assume that their number one QB will remain healthy, and thus go cut-rate on the the number two.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Warning: more Bears discussion follows.

Is anyone else wondering what Vasher was thinking jumping that short out with 3 minutes left and his team protecting a 5 point lead? A postiori, it was a great decision, but what if Favre makes a perfect throw there and Vasher is a split second late?

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I'm just curious from the Steelers-Bengals game. How many 90+ yard kick returns have not resulted in a touchdown? That strikes me as a rather rare feat and I want to know how rare. Anyone got the numbers?

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


He was still in position to make the tackle. He was headed toward Driver and the ball sailed to him. In fact, I believe Vasher had to reach back for the ball.

I am almost certain he was closing on the receiver and the INT was just good fortune.........

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Yes, apparently the Cincinnati center is so underrated that I misread the depth chart. I meant Graham. Although Steinbach is good too, that whole line is playing very well and nobody is talking about them."
I think you might have meant to make the mistake this time. Their center's name is Rich Braham. Graham would be their kicker.

Speaking of nobody talking about their offensive line, Levi Jones is having a Pro Bowl season. This website is the only place I heard his name mentioned after blanking Dwight Freeney. He has given up half a sack this season. He hasn't exactly faced slouches every week either.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

On the Giants illegal contact, I think Eli Saw it & threw the ball out of bounds to force the officials to make the call. Aikman was going on & on about it, but all this shows is that he shouldn't be doing Gaints-Cowboys games! He was also going on about an interference call on Glenn hitting Burress saying they were holding each other, but Burress was running towards the ball, Glenn away from it. Hard to imagine (or see) it as anything besides defensive interference (this was a huge call though).

The 2 bad call that got me were the lack of a horse collar called in Tiki & a clear interference missed on Keshawn late.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

It seems funny that people are surprised at Pittsburgh's running game struggles. Basically the running game consists of 7 guys: 5 OL, 1 FB, 1 RB. As of yesterday, 3 of the 7 guys from last year are still starting.
Also, someone mentioned the cheap shot on McNabb from Week 1. Did anyone see the cheap shot that the Cincy LB put on Roethlisberger's knee. That was ridiculous.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Freak, I defended Favre last week, and have great sympathy, due to the pounding he took yesterday (that last interception was likely thrown by a guy who was more than a bit discombobulated), but since I want the MN-CHI contest on the last weekend to be for the division championship, I was cursing ol' Brett when he threw the INT at the end of the first half. If the Packers just kick a field goal, they have an excellent chance to win the game.

Well, it looks like my hopes are down to the game at Lambeau, and since the Pack doesn't seem to play any better there than they do on the road, I doubt that Green Bay will have as good an opportunity as they did yesterday to win.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #46:
Dunno, but the Bills managed it earlier this year (I forget who against) when, in spite of the runner being surrounded by a sea of Bills blockers, one lone coverage man managed to drive a blocker into Terrence McGee at the five-yard line, causing him to fall at about the two. Did I mention that this was with no time remaining in the first half?

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: #50

�It seems funny that people are surprised at Pittsburgh’s running game struggles. Basically the running game consists of 7 guys: 5 OL, 1 FB, 1 RB. As of yesterday, 3 of the 7 guys from last year are still starting.�

But, Simmons and Starks should have improved on Vincent and Ross. Plus, if the holes are there, Parker should have gotten his yards this season. But, these holes weren’t there most games.

Moral of the story: If you tell your opponents you plan to run the ball down their throats, because that’s your ‘identity,’ you better have a dominant offensive line.

Moreover, earlier in the season, someone on this site (I forgot who) stated something to the effect that the Steelers have the best passing attack in the league. (Had, at this point!) Whether true or a bit of hyperbole, it’s clear that Roethlisberger was and is the key component to the Steelers passing attack, that the Steelers’ passing attack was effective and that the opposing team had to respect him and his ability to move the team. But, what good does having a Roethlisberger do the Steelers when he’s always on the mend because the offensive line can’t protect him?

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

rk #50:

My wife and I were appalled at the cheapt shot on Roethelisberger. The guy clearly went stright for his injured knee with his helmet in an unnecessary manner.

Undoubtedtly there will be payback next year.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

OK, since we've already had the "prove means 'test'" comment on the phrase "exception that proves the rule," I guess I have to post the "literally doesn't mean 'figuratively'" comment.

NFCCF (comment #29), if "with him (Favre) out the game would be literally over," then the NFL rules on suspending games have gotten a lot more liberal. The game would be as good as over; the game would be metaphorically over; the game would be over, figuratively speaking; but I don't think the NFL is suspending games because the starting QB for one team is knocked out. (Regardless of how much certain announcers may deify him.)

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled football comments.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

NFCCF - I'm going to have to check the game tape again, but yes, if Vasher was heading for the tackle and not the INT, then I don't have a complaint.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: 54
Do you really think he thought about the injury and purposely went for Roethlisberger's knee? I know I'm probably just biased in favor of Odell Thurman (5 INTs for a rookie MLB!), but my view of the play is as follows: He saw Roethlisberger start to throw, so he dove at him. It just so happened he was too far away to hit him above the waist, which still does not justify it but it also doesn't make him out to be a ruthless Romanowski. He just needs to learn more about the NFL game.
It wasn't a smart play by any means, but I don't think there's a penalty for that in college. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) With him being a rookie, how about you cut him some slack and not make him out to be a guy that is trying to re-injure your precious quarterback while I continue to view him as the defensive rookie of the year and a possible Pro Bowl selection?

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Post 55:

I know the difference. And I am fairly certain the Packers would have LITERALLY packed up the equipment and gone home.

Or maybe you don't recall Mike Sherman's look when Favre was knocked out of the Giant game last year? After seeing his backup flail around in utter confusion (and I believe then fake injury to get himself out of harm's way) the Packers jettisoned Pederson. Who of course, conveniently retired. (IIRC)

Packer fans are welcome to correct me but I am pretty sure the backup was Favre's pal who made an easy check sitting behind the iron man. When BF actually showed signs of being mortal Dougie boy figured it was time to hang'em up. Who wants the aggravation of actually PLAYING!

But thanks ever so for the language lesson. Am I relegated to the "short bus" for a ride home?

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Aaron, regarding the unbalanced line comment, I think that Theisman was actually correct, if I understand the term correctly.

I thought that an unbalanced line was when the ball is snapped from a player who is not the middle player of the seven on the line of scrimmage (usually the center). In the particular play, I believe SD had an extra tackle in as the TE, and the actual TE was off the line of scrimmage, meaning that the ball was still snapped by the 4th guy on the line, where as in an actual unbalanced line the ball is snapped by the guard position, with say two players on the LOS to his left and four to his right.

Is this correct?

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, and DGS, unless you're a woman (and "Dave" is not a very common woman's name where I'm from), you should really change your handle to "DGS ne Dave", and see if you can get an accent aigu on 'ne'.

(No way I would normally pick that nit, but someone has to police the usage police. Not to mix metaphors or anything.)

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Malene, do you have a link to the Andersen site? I can read Danish (well, sort of; I speak Swedish and Danish is like drunken Swedish). :)

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Sorry, all instances of "DGS" in that annoying post should read "DGL".

(And who will police the police policing the usage police?)

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

TomC, since parentheses in the username apparently screwed up the posting engine, I'm not going to try to figure out how to include an accent. Or make proper use of French participles. In fact, I'll just drop the whole "Dave" thing out of embarrassment.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Why I should be GM of the Houston Texans by James

Imagine this. Capers gets canned. Martz is no longer welcome in St. Louis. Martz to Houston with Bush as the most dangerous weapon to come into the league since Randy Moss. Now Martz gets to work with Carr and find qbs without picking high in the draft if Carr doesnt work out. He also has Andre Johnson.

How do the Texans not make this move?

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

How many picks did Brady throw against KC last week?
I’m sure some were his fault…

Really, Calig23? You're sure because you saw them? You saw how they were tipped balls? Probably one was his fault, but then goes against your point. The point is that Brady wouldn't make two ill-advised throws that end up in picks. And against KC he didn't. The receivers were playing patty cake with the ball and making for some really easy picks.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Am I the only person that thinks Nathan Vasher is getting most of his interceptions gift-wrapped by opposing QBs?

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Ryan - I'll admit, it does look that way sometimes. But if that's true, then Vasher has been consistently lucky for a very long time. He had 5 INTs last year in limited action and has 7 in the first 3/4 of this year.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Man, I can’t wait for the FO Mock Draft this year.

Me either, except this year I expect an, "Uhh.. two years of bad picks.. we think someone else might fair better with the Colts."

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Of course he is. He is having one of those seasons that result in a Pro Bowl berth and defensive player of the year consideration despite the fact that he isn't the teams best corner and he doesn't even play great coverage.

But we all know voters only care about picks, which is why Ed Reed won last year. Vasher will probably win the award this year after this week, but teams are throwing the ball RIGHT AT HIM.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Vasher will probably win the award this year after this week, but teams are throwing the ball RIGHT AT HIM.

I don't know about that. I haven't actually seen him play at all, but whenever I have Vasher on my team in Madden, he is a monster with picks.

Not a great corner, but tons of INTs.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


This kind of fits in with what NFCCF is saying, but the impression I've gotten from all sides of the Chicago media is that Angelo told Johnson, Warner, et al. the job was Grossman's, and offered backup level money.

Given that each of them received better offers and more ambiguous job status, they took offers from the Cardinals, Vikings and Jets instead. Angelo then signed Jeff Blake (after the Hutchinson disaster), who is apparently third string now at best.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re: 53
If Willie Parker doesn't have a gaping hole exactly where it is supposed to be, he is useless. There were several runs yesterday,particularly early on, where he got the ball going left, had a big cutback lane to his right, but he just plowed into the guard or danced around until he got tackled for a loss. My friends and I agreed that he runs with his eyes closed, kind of like Ricardo Colclough returning a kickoff.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re 54/57

I haven't actually seen Thurman's tackle on Roethlisberger, so I can't be sanguine about how genuine the attempt was, but I would have thought that going low on the tackle would be a pretty good idea.

Thurman is one of the smaller linebackers around and I've seen many a D-Lineman bounce off Big Ben when they've tried to go high on the tackle.

Re: # 66

All of Brady's INT's against KC were badly off-target: three overthrows and one behind the receiver (that one wasn't too bad, but still behind him nonetheless). The defensive backs may have been a little fortunate that three tips went straight to them, but you can't put too much blame on the receivers.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Some responses to the reactions to the Steelers/Bengals game from the FO staff:

Already posted on Ryan's blog, but in response again (just in case the larger readership wants to poke holes in my reasoning and prove me an idiot): the Roethlisberger threw 3 INTs on 41 attempts yesterday, which is pretty close to the INT/Attempt the Bengals have recorded this year leading into the game (3 is the closest whole number to the amount of picks you'd expect on 41 attempts). At the same time, the Steelers fumbled 4 times in 28 carries. If you use FO's assumption that half of your fumbles are recovered by the other team, the Steelers would've expected to lose one fumble every fourteen carries yesterday, and lose on pass to a pick every 13 2/3rds attempts. This game hardly is effective evidence for the risk of throwing a lot of passes. Moreover, while the Steeler passing performance was average vs. the Benglans in terms of TOs, the run game average yards/carry was 1.1 less than the Bengals average defensive performance. Yet more evidence which doesn't much point towards an anti-run conclusion.

I also want to disagree with Ned's assertion that all three of Ben's INTs were mental mistakes, and unjustifiable. Taken in order:

Pick #1: Thrown into triple coverage. Yeah, that's a mental mistake, no real argument (although I question if its as big a mistake as we might assume - Ben's long pass to Ced Wilson was also into triple coverage, and, to my knowledge, nobody's published a study on what typical results are in terms of completions/incompletions/INTs per throw into triple coverage, and if those results are consistant across QBs, or if different QBs do better throwing into triple coverage... nevertheless, a mistake).

#2: Long pass down the sidelines, intercepted inside the 10. This was a hitch&go route by Hines, the CB didn't bite on the fake, and was running over-top of Hines stride-for-stride down the field. Hines was in one-on-one coverage, and Ben threw to him. The ball was overthrown slightly, so was picked. If the ball was underthrown slightly, its either a completion inside the 10, or a pass interference call inside the 10. If you want to argue that you don't take shots one-on-one to your superstar reciever on third down, I might be willing to agree, but that's playcalling, not Ben making a bad decision. If I'm the Steelers, I WANT to throw to Hines downfield when he's only got single coverage. The error here was that the ball was overthrown, not underthrown, and given that we're talking a difference of less than 2 yards on a pass that easily traveled 50 in the air, I'm not willing to describe that mistake as "mental"

#3: Ben throws to Hines being covered by a linebacker and gets picked by said linebacker. Let me reiterate something: Hines Ward is being covered by a *linebacker*. This is what we, in the business, refer to as a *mismatch*. Now, said linebacker did a terrific job covering an all-pro reciever, and picked off a pass that would have hit Hines in stride. Perhaps Ben should've noticed that he was doing such a great job. However, if your all-pro reciever is being covered by a linebacker, I'd say that's generally a throw you want to make. Hines needs to win that battle and get open. Maybe Ben should've noticed he wasn't getting open and should've looked elsewhere. Maybe, instead, we should credit the Bengal player for making a terrific play.

I'm not saying Ben was blameless on those three picks. I'm simply saying that suggesting they were all bonehead unjustifyable throws isn't really the case. This wasn't a 2004 AFCC performance from Ben, it was something else entirely. If he went out and threw 40 balls again next week, I wouldn't be worried. In fact, aside from the obvious point that teams who are winning tend to run more, I'd be very happpy about it, because the Steelers offensive talent really suggests that they need to become a passing team.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


I don't think that Johnson's offer from the Vikings could possibly have been ambiguous at all: "You'll be backup to Culpepper. Period." And that was clearly okay with Johnson. So I would suspect that it was a combination of familiarity and money that made him go with MN.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I agree nojo, which makes Angelo's decision to low-ball Johnson even more of a glaring mistake.

On another NFC North note, I see the Free Press today is intimating that drafting Harrington was the Ford family's decision, and that Millen's desire to do otherwise was overidden. There ain't enough fingers in Motown to get all the pointing done, and it is only going to get worse. I really think the Fords are going to have to bit the five year bullet, and get themselves a new GM, assuming they want to sell tickets next year.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

James, #65:

Two words: Orlando Pace. Kurt Warner '99 stocks shelves in 2000 if not for the Rams offensive line. I agree that Martz probably got the most out of that offense, and I wouldn't oppose hiring him even though it would just be weird rooting for a Mike Martz team. But I'll go to my grave saying that the Texans shouldn't draft Reggie Bush. (Unless they do, and the offense turns around somehow, in which case I'll be ashamed beyond belief.)

The other thing is that the Texans' biggest problem isn't even the offense. But I still like drafting a tackle at the top because I don't like the prospect of picking up 3-4 linebackers in the top 5.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I don't think Vasher is some shut-down corner or anything, but Tillman gets a ton more balls thrown at him than Vasher.
The huge days Steve Smith and Joey Galloway had were almost all against Tillman.
Favre did most of his damage down the middle of the field, perhaps due to the fact that rookie safet Chris Harris was out with an injury.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, sorry NFCCF, I guess my browser doesn't handle the "hyperbole" tag properly.

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Re unbalanced line --

the questioner here in the comments is correct. Unbalanced technically means the center is not in the middle of the seven players on the line.

However, Denver a few years back (and some really innovative HS and small college coaches) created balance problems for teams by swapping the weak tackle and the TE. The SE stepped back to FL and the FL stepped up to the line. This created an unbalanced line (although there was still only a 6 man offensive "front") with running strength strong. However, the passing strength was weak because two of the three receivers at or near the line (therefore considered "quick") were to the weak side. For teams which aligned their strong safety to strength, their normal pass coverages were out of whack since the TE was no longer on the strong side.

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RE: #75About Ben's 3 picks.

#1. There is no way justifying throwing a flutter ball into triple coverage.

#2. I agree with you that this wasn't really a mental mistake. That double move fake is usually a designed play, and Ben was committed to throwing it whether the CB bit or not. It wasn't a poor play so much as a great defensive play.

#3. I have to disagree with you on this. Simply put, this is throw that Ben does not make if he was not pressured out of the pocket. Even if he had mananged to throw it where the LB couldn't have intercepted it, there were 2 DB's standing right behind Hines Ward coming back ready to make a play. Definitely the pressure caused the interception, but it was a play where Ben should have thrown it away. Reminded me of a Brett Farve kind of interception.

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#75 One point regarding the 3rd pick. Thurman was in a zone, he was not covering Ward man-to-man although he did a very good job of moving across the field to keep in front of Ward. This was NOT a classic man defense mismatch. Ben himself said he just didn't see Thurman until after he threw the ball.

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Re #12: I agree, it looked like it was pretty close to the LoS to me, too.

Re #32: That's exactly what this game came down to- the pass rush, or lack thereof. I wouldn't be surprised if Denver's defense didn't even have 5 plays where they hurried the quarterback, or if Kansas City's defense didn't even have 5 plays where they DIDN'T hurry the QB. Looking at the numbers, you'd think that Green and Plummer had pretty similar days, but you couldn't be much further from the truth. Trent Green had all afternoon to sit back and survey the field, while Plummer was running for his life for much of the game.

On a side note, I knew the second that Denver wound up with 3rd-and-21 that Plummer was about to throw his second interception. His defense hadn't been stopping KC all day, so he felt a lot of pressure to make something happen. I think that was the most predictable interception I've seen all season.

On a second side note, that was a really close game. I honestly believe that if Denver converts that 4th-and-1 that they win the game. They sort of needed the game to keep a cushion on Cincy, but at least Cincy still has to travel to Arrowhead this season, too. I still think Denver has the inside track to the #2 seed, but their margin for error just became razor thin. Both Denver and Cincy have one truly loseable game left (at SD for Denver, at KC for Cincy), and Denver has the tiebreakers, but there's not much wiggle room left for the Broncos, who pretty much HAVE to win out now.

Re #76: Charlie Frye vs. David Garrard. That pretty much sums up the Cleveland/Jacksonville game. It was actually a pretty enjoyable game, but I didn't really take anything away from it, other than that I'm pretty sure that Braylon Edwards is going to become a Roy Williams/Larry Fitzgerald and not a Charles Rogers, and that no matter how much Jacksonville tried to give the game away, the talent disparity between Cle. and Jax. made it impossible. I think Crennell will actually do pretty well once he gets some of his own guys in, though.

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Tim, #79

Do not forget the offseason signing of Adam Timmerman that season as well (and yeah that trade for Marshall Faulk-the guy everyone compares Bush to).

Of course it goes to coaching I think-steal Hudson Houck away from the Dolphins and I am sure that OL will work out somehow. Just because you spend high 1st round picks on offensive lineman does not mean your offense will get better (Mike Williams, Robert Gallery, etc.).

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From "Whispers" on Dec. 5th

It appears that spies have caught a key flaw in Cowboys C Al Johnson’s snap delivery. Teams have been getting a jump up front on Johnson because of his tendency to clench his left (non-snapping) hand right before releasing the ball. The coaching staff reportedly has worked with Johnson to eliminate this bad habit.

that probably explains why the Giants DL seemed to be getting some nice jumps

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Is it too early to start the FO Pro Bowl candidacies?

If not, I'm starting it off with Al Harris.

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guy in post #49 has stolen my name. Now I'm going to have to come up with some crappy nickname here.

Personally, I think the Bears should've given Jeff George the starting job going into the season, but even Blake or Grossman would be an easy improvement at this point. I don't understand why they would stick with Orton unless they're afraid of criticsm.

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I find Vick's lack of rushing attempts the last few games interesting. Since his great passing day against Miami he seems to have toned down his rushing (he was noticeably reluctant to take off and run the next week versus the Packers). After attempting at least 8 rushes in every game up to and including that Miami game, his rushing attempts the last 4 games have been 7, 4, 6 and 3. And, the results for Atlanta have been 1 win and 3 losses, despite the fact that his combined passing stats in the first 3 of those games were 53/90, 661 yards, 6 TDs and 1 INT (99.35 QB rating)

Is it just a coincidence or were the Falcons a more effective team when Vick was a less efficient passer and spent more time scrambling?

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Re: #73

If Willie Parker doesn’t have a gaping hole exactly where it is supposed to be, he is useless.

Perhaps, but Parker wasn’t doing that badly yesterday till his fumbles.

Re: #75

�I’m not saying Ben was blameless on those three picks. I’m simply saying that suggesting they were all bonehead unjustifyable throws isn’t really the case. This wasn’t a 2004 AFCC performance from Ben, it was something else entirely. If he went out and threw 40 balls again next week, I wouldn’t be worried. In fact, aside from the obvious point that teams who are winning tend to run more, I’d be very happpy about it, because the Steelers offensive talent really suggests that they need to become a passing team.“

Yep. And the Steelers should have resigned Plax if that was at all possible. Oh, and we might also expect Roethlisberger to learn minimize his interceptions while chucking the ball more often than he has so far.

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re 61: the links is

and from the latest installment, Andersen is not kicking the Giants to the top of the NFC, but rather chipping away in the taping of the reality show "Pros vs. Joes". Bit sad, really.

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And actually, Swedish is like drunken Danish, not the other way around ;-)

There's the old joke: If you're drunk in Copenhagen for more than 6 hours, you're automatically offered a Swedish passport...

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Sure do miss Jay Feely down here in Atlanta.

The resulting 4-8 record would have prevented all of that "over-rated" unpleasantness.

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Don't feel too stupid about it Vivek and Aaron, I had both Chambers and Evans on my bench.

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Ned Macey on Brad Hoover's personal foul:

Ned, weren't you on the jury that acquitted the LAPD of beating Rodney King?

You really have to contort reality a long, long way to think that by any stretch of the imagination Hoover did anything wrong on that play. Do you have some kind of wierd bias here? Hoover was tackled, placed the ball over his right shoulder, like you might find if you consult other football games, happens around 100 times each game, stood up and in the mass of bodies an overactive Angelo Hall takes offense and throws the ball at Hoover. The official throws the yellow flag and gives a major, potentially game altering penalty over something that he clearly did not see, and clearly did not happen except in the minds of certain jury members in all white neighborhoods bordering on LA. How can a call be possibly any worse? The NFL needs to fire the official and issue a public apology. I note, with interest, that they managed to miss all of the illegal cut blocks that Atlanta used to almost cripple both Peppers and Rucker. I often wonder if Mckay's inordinate influence over the NFL and his likely candidacy to be the next Commissioner is the only reason Alex Gibbs and his unsportsmanlike cut block schemes are still allowed in the NFL.

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Re: #88
Teams have been getting terrific jumps on Dallas' snaps all year, and that might be why Johnson was benched for the second half. However, Gurode was playing center on that disastrous play to open the third quarter, so it appears more likely that the Giants D-line was just that much better rather than having any special info.

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As an Eagles fan, is it too soon or too late to start rooting for the draft pick?

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re 50 and 54: for what it's worth (and I know he isn't the most impartial person to speak on the subject) Marvin Lewis's analysis of that play was that Thurman was tripped by the center as he came free on a blitz and that accounted for him falling at Roethlisberger's legs instead of hitting him in the chest.

I did watch the game, but don't remember details of the play. It is pretty unusual though for a defender to go low unless blocked/tripped or stumbling into the QB (as with the hit on Roethlisberger in the San Diego game)

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Re #97: I think it's really funny you accuse someone of bias and then essentially proceed to compare Ned Macey, the official who made the call and DeAngelo Hall to Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and Satan. Calm down, man. Your team won the game by a bunch of points.

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Ron Mexico, this is probably old news, but I love that you link your name to Vick's NFL player page.

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My first interception was a crazy Evil Kerry Collins/Evil Brett Favre interception.

The second one, as noted, wasn't a decision at all - the play said throw deep and it's up to Hines to make the play - but the ball was badly overthrown. Bad throw, rather than bad decision.

The third one was a bad decision to force a pass when the ball should have been thrown away.

All three were my fault, although only two were mental mistakes.

As for Odell Thurman, if you saw the play or see a replay, he *was* tripped by the center, just as I was throwing the ball. After I let go of the ball, he took one step and then dove directly for my right knee. It was an obvious hatchet job. The referees obviously agreed that Thurman could have avoided me, since they assessed a roughing the passer penalty. As such, Thurman should have been tossed from the game and heavily fined for a blatant attempt to injure.

It's funny how many ticky-tack penalties get called against guys for breathing on quarterbacks (like the Favre hit being discussed here), while sometimes the most obvious snipe jobs get overlooked.

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Re #4
Timmy Smith gets referred to as "super bowl champion timmy smith" in prison these days. He was arrested on either cocaine or marijuana (it was a lot of drugs, I can't remember which one) charges in Denver recently.

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Re: 101

What are you talking about? I was referring to the quote from Ned Macey at the top of the page:

"The Brad Hoover taunting call was probably the right call. On about the 10th replay, it became apparent that he tossed the ball directly to Hall. Didn’t look like taunting, but tossing the ball to an opponent generally gets the violation."

It was reminiscent of the LA jury watching the tape of the Rodney King beating over and over again until they thought they saw that Rodney deserved what he got. I didn't compare anyone to Saddam, Osama or Satan. If you read the post than you will see that I am comparing Macey to that jury. I think it is a very simple comparison and a a very fair comparison.
As to the official, you must be extremely biased if you feel that only the loser of a game need be concerned about poor officiating. Its not the result of the bad call, it is the nature of the bad call that ruins the game. Anyone with any sense of sportsmanship, albeit rare in Falcon fans, needs to be concerned when horrible calls impact a game. I don't want my team winning because of some counter-intuitive 'tuck-rule' or losing because of some equally poor officiating. I'm distinguishing here from mistakes that an official makes when calling a game which are lamentable but acceptable, from a flag that is thrown for absolutely no discernable reason. What he may have seen was Angelo Hall throwing the ball into Hoover's facemask, clearly a penalty. What he called was an extrapolation of what he did see to an act what he did not see, merely assumed. The scary thing is that his thought process must have been, an Atlanta player threw the ball at Hoover, therefore Hoover must have provoked him in some way. If an official does not see a penalty then he shouldn't throw a flag. End of story.

The final part of the post concerned the fact that Alex Gibbs teaches the Atlanta linemen to deliberately attempt to injure opposing players with the chop block. This is a practice that clearly needs to be outlawed, yet mysteriously continues to be allowed. I conjecture that McKay's undue influence in the NFL is what is preventing this rule from being enforced. The chop block, and I refer here specifically to the diving below the knees from behind at a defensive lineman running away from you and engaged by other players, is a horrible, classless practice. Are we teaching our kids to deliberately attempt to injure players from other teams? We'll fine someone for a dance in the endzone made in good fun but encourage the deliberate maiming of other players? If McKay had any sense of sportsmanship, and any sense of fair play, he would fire Alex Gibbs and support the complete crackdown on this practice.

And finally, lest there be any doubt as to what is being taught by Alex Gibbs and performed by the Atlanta offensive line, here is Alge Crumpler after the game:
""It was just a backside cut block," Crumpler said. "I've done it all season. That's my boy. I love him to death, (and) don't want to hurt him."

But Crumpler said he was concerned Peppers might've been injured.

"A little bit, but play goes on," Crumpler said. "...It was no ill will -- ever -- when it's against him. But if it's anybody else, I might try to get 'em."

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#105 Chop blocks are illegal. What you describe above should be a penalty. (Doesn't matter if it is from behind or not.) I've seen Atlanta a few times and don't remember seeing anything blatant like you describe. If they were doing that consistently, every team in the league would be sending in game film to the league office every week.

Maybe Carolina will send in some film this week and the league will issue a fine.

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Re #61,94
Wow ... Scandanavian trash talk ... and funny, too. I love this site!

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The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has some of the best football writers around in Cliff Cristl and Bob McGinn. The LONG excerpt below discusses the play call that resulted in Favre's interception before halftime. I think this article does several things:

--it highlights how a coach can become committed to a particular play even though it fails repeatedly. Any Bears fan care to suggest the "trademark" of the Chicago offense? Guaranteed multiple responses are identical...

--it talks about how a coaching staff HAS to create a game plan specific to the personnel and the opposition. This may seem obvious but a LOT of coaches don't understand this basic fact

--for those of us not lucky enough to have intelligent football writers covering our teams this is really refreshing. And this is standard stuff for this guy. He is pretty impressive.

"As this season draws to a wretched conclusion for the Green Bay Packers, one of the strongest arguments being voiced on behalf of Mike Sherman is that his team continues to play competitively despite being severely shorthanded.

But that’s not the only criterion by which he should be judged by general manager Ted Thompson.

It’s just as important that the Packers play smart. And that certainly wasn’t the case Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

The interception that Brett Favre threw in the closing seconds of the first half might have been the dumbest throw by a Packers’ quarterback since T.J. Rubley’s brain cramp on third-and-not much more than a foot against the Minnesota Vikings in 1995.

Favre has thrown more than his share of ill-advised interceptions in the past, perhaps most notably the one against Philadelphia in overtime in the 2003 playoffs. Some smacked of dumb, rookie mistakes even after Favre had been in the league for five- or 10-plus seasons. But as dumb as some of them looked, one could often identify with Favre’s sense of urgency or his go-for-broke mentality or even his frustration.

Not Sunday.

There was absolutely no excuse for throwing the ball up for grabs just before halftime, and Sherman - as well as anyone else who might have had a hand in the call - was a co-conspirator.

Considering the situation, the opponent, Favre’s track record of trying to do too much this season and the inferior personnel that the Packers had on the field, it was one of those rare situations where a team should have played it conservatively inside the opponents’ 10-yard line and been just as satisfied with a field goal as a touchdown.

A footnote before continuing: It’s almost always absurd for someone who wasn’t part of the game-planning or pre-game film study or who didn’t have access to all the computer printouts showing team tendencies, etc., to second-guess a formation or a play call.

But that play was an exception for so many obvious reasons.

The Packers were leading 7-6 and had just driven the ball 75 yards in 11 plays against the best defense in the league. But they had dodged a disaster three plays earlier when wide receiver Antonio Chatman stripped cornerback Charles Tillman of a possible interception and they knew that no team in the league was tougher to score on in the red zone than the Bears.

Entering the game, the Bears had allowed only five touchdowns in 27 red-zone possessions. They had allowed only two touchdowns in seven first-and-goal possessions.

If there was ever a red-zone situation that screamed for a team to line up with the quarterback under center and run a draw play this was it. You don’t have to believe me, but that wasn’t written with the advantage of hindsight; it was my conviction as the Packers were mulling their options before the play.

After all, they had averaged 4.5 yards per carry in the first half. They still had a timeout left and 24 seconds showing on the clock. And even if the draw didn’t produce a touchdown, a field goal would have loomed larger at that point than just another three points.

A field goal would have given the Packers a 10-6 halftime lead. That would have meant the offensively-challenged Bears would have had to score a touchdown or score twice to regain the lead.

One could argue that a four-point lead against the Bears would have looked better than a 17- or even a 21-point halftime lead against the Indianapolis Colts.

Consider what had transpired up until that point. The Bears had started three of their six possessions inside the Packers’ 46-yard line and had scored only two field goals; and rookie quarterback Kyle Orton’s passer rating was an almost unfathomable 3.6.

Four-point lead, eight-point lead, it didn’t really matter at that point. Either way the pressure would have been on the Bears. And any call that was going to put in jeopardy the Packers’ chances of expanding their one-point lead made no sense at all.

Had the Packers kicked a field goal there and had the second half unfolded as it did regardless, the Packers still would have held the lead, 10-9, when Favre threw his second interception with 3:06 remaining that sealed the Packers’ fate. In other words, they would have been running out the clock instead of trying to play catch-up.

But on this day, when nothing was more important than for the Packers to play with a lead and put the pressure on the Bears’ offense, Sherman wasn’t entirely satisfied with the prospects of being up by four at halftime.

So he called for a shotgun formation and a shovel pass.

In essence, the shovel pass in a shotgun is a draw play. But the Packers have never run the shovel as effectively out of the shotgun as they did the draw with Favre under center during Mike Holmgren’s tenure. And a shovel pass isn’t as safe a call.

True, the Packers had run a draw earlier in the game for a minus one. But they also had been called earlier for a false start penalty in a shotgun. Moreover, the shovel pass hasn’t exactly been a sure thing as of late. Favre attempted one late in the first quarter and almost dropped the ball in middle linebacker Brian Urlacher’s lap. Last week against Philadelphia, the Packers got off to a bad start with a poorly executed shovel pass on their first play.

This time, the Bears guessed right and uncharacteristically blitzed in that situation. Favre scrapped the play in mid-stream when he saw the blitz coming and lofted the ball into the end zone, where Tillman picked it off, raced 95 yards and set up a go-ahead field goal for the Bears.

Favre told reporters after the game that he was trying to throw the ball out of the end zone and simply couldn’t get enough on it after being hit by safety Mike Brown. But there were no excuses.

It was a dumb pass. It was a dumb call.

Considering the Packers had called a timeout before the play, everyone on their sideline and everyone in their huddle should have been aware that a field goal essentially would have given them just as much of an edge at that point as a touchdown.

That’s not to say a draw play wouldn’t have produced a touchdown. Nor was it a situation where Sherman would have been putting the ball in Samkon Gado’s hands instead of his Hall of Fame quarterback to win a game.

It was simply a situation where the only smart thing to do was make a conservative call, protect the ball at all costs and settle for three points if necessary.

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On a Packer side note, rumor has it that Walker has fired Rosenhaus.

Click my name for the link.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Chop blocks are a lot more obvious when they show the replays of your star DEs hobbling off the field and you see what happened. It does make me wonder what the refs are doing besides focusing on the gangsta-style out of control violence of Western Carolina product mountain boy Brad Hoover. Miami U and Western Carolina, two schools famous for their out of control, in your face, gangster playas.

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Pat Laverty: Any truth to the rumor that Dallas saw Eli in the red jersey and thought it was one of those “don’t touch the quarterback� practices?

Nice line.