Audibles at the Line
Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 10

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 2007. Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

New York Jets 17 at New England Patriots 14

Bill Moore: Patriots had second-and-1-foot from the three-yard line. They have been running the ball up the middle quite well. Rather than picking up the first down (and maybe a touchdown) to give them three more chances at the end zone, they ran two plays designed for a touchdown (a sweep and a pass). Both lost yards and they kicked a field goal. With terrible field conditions due to rain, poor play calling in my opinion.

Another poor decision by the Patriots coaching staff ... Doug Gabriel blows by the defender with a flat pass, but the defender, Drew Coleman does a nice move by getting behind him and tipping the ball out at the Jets 25. However, he is stepping out of bounds when he tips the ball out. With little time to decide, Belichick chooses NOT to challenge it. Change of possession plays are the most important use of challenges. The Jets marched down the field and created a swing of at least 10 points.

Aaron Schatz: Belichick made the right call in not challenging that fumble. Sure, changes of possession are the most important calls to challenge, but not when they're obviously correct. It was very clear from the replay that Gabriel coughed it up before he stepped out. It's an example of the randomness of fumbles -- if that ball bounces one foot to the left, it's out of bounds and the Patriots keep it -- but you don't throw the red flag when you know you are 99.99% sure you are going to lose unless the play means the entire game late in the fourth quarter.

Bill Moore: Gabriel coughed it up before WHO stepped out of bounds? I ran the DVR as super slow speed. I think it was pretty obvious that Coleman was stepping out of bounds when he made contact with the ball.

Aaron Schatz: It's really hard to square this Jets offensive line with the one that couldn't get any running game going whatsoever in the early weeks of the season. On that long Jets drive that ended with the Kevan Barlow TD, Nick Mangold and Pete Kendall were getting outstanding forward push.

And why does Jim Nantz keep calling the third receiver from the Jets "Tim Duh-wight"?

Doug Farrar: That's what's known as having Phil Simms rub off on you.

Aaron Schatz: Junior Seau is not good in pass coverage. It seems like the Jets have completed a number of short passes with Seau just one step behind the receiver, desperately trying to get his hand in there.

Bill Barnwell: Roosevelt Colvin just sacked Chad Pennington and the refs blew the whistle IMMEDIATELY. Not after a second or two - Colvin still had his arms around Pennington and when the whistle blew, they both stopped and looked at the refs like something was wrong.

Ian Dembsky: Thee Jets are bringing tons of pressure, and the Pats simply haven't had time to react, especially because Brady can't move around well on the sloppy field. I'd like to see him do what he did against Oakland in the Tuck Rule game: Go shotgun, quick release passing game. Neutralize the pass rush with short completions, and less need for Brady to move around.

Aaron Schatz: I'm very depressed. The Pats played like crap today. Until those last two drives, it's like Brady forgot how to play in the elements. The Jets front seven was very, very good and the Pats were spooked by the pass rush all day long. Jerricho Cotchery is also very good and had a great game. Laveranues Coles actually didn't have such a great game.

Jason Beattie: You think you're depressed? I picked the Jets this week in my loser survivor pool. So long, $835!

Bill Moore: Did the Pats and the Jets switch uni's before the game? The Pats made errors and mistakes I would have expected the Jets to make. Like having to call a timeout after the two-minute warning of the first half. What was that? And the Pats defensive line couldn't stop the run (granted Richard Seymour was out later in the game with a mysterious injury) or get to Pennington. 110 yards from Barlow and Washington, combined? Ellis Hobbs had perfect position on Cotchery's touchdown, yet let Cotchery make the catch anyway.

On the other hand, the Jets made plays when it mattered, and got yards when they needed it. Other than one 50-yard run from Dillon, they held the Pats to 3.8 yards per attempt -- not great, but not enough that New England felt they could run all over them.

I think the Patriots coaching staff made judgment errors while the Jets staff made some interesting, effective calls like the Pennington pooch punt.

And I still think Drew Coleman was out of bounds when he forced Gabriel's fumble, and that was a key turning point of the game.

San Diego Chargers 49 at Cincinnati Bengals 41

Doug Farrar: Marty Schottenheimer got burned by his refusal to challenge in the first quarter on Cincinnati TE Tony Stewart's circus catch -- it didn't look like Stewart got both feet in, but Marty didn't even have his headset on. I'm assuming he didn't get a call to challenge from his coaches, and the play kept the Bengals going on their second touchdown drive of the first quarter.

On San Diego's subsequent drive, Marvin Lewis challenged a Keenan McCardell forceout which was reversed because McCardell didn't have possession. San Diego had to punt on the next play. On the next play after THAT, Palmer hit Ocho Cinco on a 51-yard TD bomb. Marvin was wearing his headset.

It's amazing how different San Diego's defense is without Shawne ("I can't find the bottle") Merriman in the lineup. They can bring no real consistent pressure, and Carson Palmer has shredded them to bits. The Chargers were giving up 269 yards per game -- total -- and Palmer has 282 yards passing at the half. San Diego's secondary, which FO has written about at some length, has been totally exposed. I have to give credit to Cincinnati's offensive line, which is playing well without Rich Braham at center and Levi Jones at left tackle.

Also, three different Johnsons (Jeremi, Rudi and Chad) scored touchdowns for the Bengals in the first quarter. I should probably stop right there.

Mike Tanier: Regarding the Chargers, I believe that Castillo is hurt this week, so that's another missing piece from their front seven. So basically, they need their Roid Warriors.

Doug Farrar: Well, just when you thought it was safe to come out of the locker room ... Cincinnati had a 28-7 lead at the half, including 21 in the first quarter, and the Chargers scored 21 in the third quarter. Philip Rivers is showing a very admirable ability to rebound from a rough start.

...and before I could even finish writing that, Chad Johnson ran by the entire right side of San Diego's defense for a 74-yard touchdown. You will not see that many consecutive blown assignments in one play for quite a while. Ocho Cinco must have used the "Invisible Paint" that always worked in the Looney Tunes cartoons.

Dierdorf is right -- this is a crazy AFL-style shootout. "Hadl with the bomb to Alworth!"

Bill Barnwell: I don't know which Bengal it was -- I think it was Rudi Johnson -- but Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson both owe him a beer. His blitz pickup on the second Johnson touchdown catch was a thing of beauty.

Doug Farrar: Shaun Phillips really abused fullback Jeremi Johnson on the Palmer sack/fumble to start the fourth quarter -- finally, someone on the San Diego defense made an important play. The Chargers recovered the ball at the Bengals 9, and Tomlinson needed only one play for his fourth rushing touchdown of the game. The last two of those four came within fifteen seconds of each other.

Aaron Schatz: After the Pats game ended, they switched us to Bengals-Chargers. Marlon McCree should be suspended for the rest of the year for the helmet-to-helmet hit he just put on Housh before the pass was even there.

Mike Tanier: You get to see the last seven minutes of Bengals-Chargers? I doubt you'll see more than four touchdowns.

Doug Farrar: FS Marlon McCree just went helmet-to-helmet on T.J. Houshmandzadeh a good full second before the ball arrived as Houshmandzadeh was running a crossing pattern. McCree very obviously left his feet and used his helmet as a weapon. If he doesn't get fined five digits at the very least, the Bengals have every right to be incensed. Enough of this "$5,000 fine for horse-collar tackles" crap -- not to mention other obvious personal fouls that can do great harm outside of the parameters of the game. The NFL really needs to send a message this time. Too bad he wasn't wearing the wrong shoes!

Baltimore Ravens 27 at Tennessee Titans 26

Bill Barnwell: Is my scoreboard messed up? Tennessee put 26 points on Baltimore in the first half??

Ryan Wilson: Somebody forgot to tell Travis Henry the Ravens' run defense is pretty good. He's running all over them in the first half. And when the Titans play-action/naked bootleg, Vince Young has been very accurate. Drew Bennett is wide open, usually with Samari Rolle supposedly in coverage.

Ned Macey: I like Jeff Fisher, but he made a cardinal sin at the end of the Baltimore game. Driving for the game-winning field goal, he has third-and-4 at the 25-yard line. They run the ball into the line, leaving a 40+ yard field goal. It gets blocked, and what probably would have been the biggest upset of the day does not happen.

Washington Redskins 3 at Philadelphia Eagles 27

Aaron Schatz: I just caught the replay of the Philadelphia touchdown where receiver Reggie Brown fumbled and Correll Buckhalter caught the fumble IN THE AIR to run 65 yards for the touchdown. Holy karmic payback, Batman.

Tim Gerheim: It doesn't really matter, but it wasn't a fumble (although it's getting counted as one). If that ball had hit the ground before Buckhalter picked it up, it would have been ruled incomplete, or the Redskins would have won the challenge. Brown was bobbling it until it came out, so it's even luckier, in a sense, that Buckhalter was inexplicably there to catch it. It was really good to see Buckhalter score though, after all his injuries and missed time.

Mike Tanier: I turned the game off at the two-minute warning, so if the Redskins came back and scored 28 unanswered points please don't tell me.

The Eagles played pretty well. The defense was very good, the special teams OK. The offense really had one great play and one lucky play in the first half, but did pretty well in the second half.

I cannot believe that the Redskins have gotten this bad. Mark Brunell is just embarrassing at this point. Let's look through the 900-page playbook:

  • Brunell drops back, rolls left, directs traffic, throws a pass incomplete up the sidelines (at least three or four per game).
  • The easily sniffed-out screen (at least three per game)
  • The dump-off into a running back in the flat that the defense converges on for a one-yard gain (at least 5 per game).

In the fourth quarter, the Redskins went through one sequence when they threw two passes in the flat and lost 12 yards on the plays because the Eagles made quick tackles.

I thought at the start of the year that the Redskins had a playoff-caliber defense. That's not what I saw this week, even when McNabb was struggling in the first half. I saw a rain-assisted defense that was vulnerable to the big play and the RUN.

I am interested in reading the Washington newspapers tomorrow to see if the cheerleaders in the DC sports media have gotten out of their prostrate bow in front of Joe Gibbs and can actually criticize him. I am not curious about the Philly media's reaction: they'll say we were lucky to win on a fumble-pitch play and an interception return.

Green Bay Packers 23 at Minnesota Vikings 17

Doug Farrar: I know that we're obligated by federal law to talk of nothing but #4 when we discuss the Packers, but is one of the more underreported stories of the year what's going on with Green Bay's offensive line? Last year, they blew out their vet guards, Ahman Green got hurt, and Favre threw 29 picks just trying to get rid of the ball before he got killed. This year, they rank second in Adjusted Line Yards (30th last year) and second in Adjusted Sack Rate (3rd last year, but pay attention to the interception numbers). Green has four 100-yard performances in the first six games he's played, and Favre is on pace for 14 interceptions for the season. That's what you call a total reversal.

And if you're of the opinion that the 2006 Shaun Alexander is the 2005 Ahman Green ... well, there's some light at the end of the tunnel.

Buffalo Bills 16 at Indianapolis Colts 17 and Houston Texans 13 at Jacksonville Jaguars 10

Michael David Smith: Buffalo is using a really soft front, usually only keeping six in the box. I want someone to create a montage of Edgerrin James watching this while "Memories" plays in the background.

Ned Macey: Well, the Colts are in their typical close game with an inferior opponent. This one is close because of two plays, a 60+ yard fumble return by McGee and an 80+ yard kickoff return by McGee that led to a field goal.

The Bills defense is playing this right. Double both outside receivers. They have the "Ming of Beers" on Clark in the slot. As a result, everything is to Ben Utecht and the running backs. Sure the Colts have moved the ball all day, but if drives take 8-10 plays, mistakes can happen. Utecht was the one who fumbled.

Benefit number 1,000 of the no-huddle: Manning hit Wayne for a gorgeous third down conversion to the 5-yard line. Colts make no subs. Buffalo is in their "base" 4-2-5, and Addai plows through easily for the touchdown.

The Bills offensive play-calling is less impressive. We get it; the Colts have a bad run defense, but you have Anthony Thomas, and they have 8-10 people in the box.

By the way, David Garrard just wins, baby.

Michael David Smith: "Michael Vick is a good passer" is in close competition with "David Garrard just wins" for today's idiotic football announcer cliche award.

Also, I like how Dick Enberg and Randy Cross are going on and on about how smart Tony Dungy is because he doesn't care how big a player on his defense is, he just cares if he can play. Uh, guys, did you notice how the Colts' small defensive players are getting their butts kicked up and down the field every Sunday?

Mike Tanier: I want to say David Garrard just wins, too! Let's all say it and really tick some readers off. Mike Tice is an idiot and I see his fingerprints all over the Garrard decision.

Ned Macey: Rhodes fumbles, and the Bills are about to take the lead. No word on why Rhodes is getting the majority of the carries today. It's like they thought they would easily beat the Bills so let's give the veteran another chance.


Ned Macey: So much for taking the lead. The Bills leave Robert Royal one-on-one on Freeney on third down, and Freeney gets his first full sack of the season. Moved back, Lindell pushes the field goal wide right.

The Colts spent the entire game proving they were not the best team in football. At the same time, they are the first team in history to start back-to-back seasons 9-0. Maybe that's meaningless, but I think it's an impressive feat that bears some appreciation. Maybe VOA will prove me wrong, but my subjective impression is that the only team that has outplayed them was the Giants in Week 1, in large part because of the dropped interceptions. Jacksonville did for one half, but that game was pretty even. They are definitely not the team they were a year ago, but on a neutral field, the only team I would pick to beat them is San Diego. This all goes back to my statement of 5 weeks or so ago that there are no great teams this year.

Aaron Schatz: In Weeks 1-9 the Colts were actually outplayed twice, by the Giants and the Titans -- yes, that's before the huge opponent adjustments on the latter.

San Francisco 49ers 19 at Detroit Lions 13

Bill Barnwell:
A. Lee punt.
E. Drummond returned punt for 8 yards.
DET committed 10 yard penalty.
SF committed 26 yard penalty.

This is probably why none of us are watching this game.

Ian Dembsky: San Francisco shut down Minnesota last week, and now, thanks in large part to three fumbles, they've rammed the Lions' bandwagon off the highway. Are they getting better?

Kansas City Chiefs 10 at Miami Dolphins 13

Mike Tanier: As I write, Damon Huard is 12-of-30 for some miniscule yardage total and the Chiefs are being shut out. Are we done with the controversy? I mean, yes, he played well. Backups sometimes play well. And then they go back to the bench. Good work, Damon. Sit down. Now we can all talk about how great Joey Harrington is for a few weeks.

Michael David Smith: I disagree about Damon Huard. If his worst game of the season is one in which he throws 34 passes with no turnovers (so far), I wouldn't call that reason to bench him. Anyone want to place a friendly wager on who has a better DVOA, Green or Huard, at the end of the season?

Mike Tanier: We're not talking about benching Damon Huard. We are talking about benching Trent Green. The argument is "Huard hasn't done enough to deserve to keep playing," not "Huard shouldn't be benched after one bad game."

A quick look at Damon Huard's DVOA suggests that if Green returns as a starter next week he will have to move a mountain to catch up to Huard, who is sitting pretty at 47 percent. I never said he wasn't playing well. But even though the Chiefs opened up their playbook in recent weeks, they still aren't doing all the things they would do if Green were available.

So no bet on the season-wide DVOA, but I will bet that Huard has a negative DVOA from this point forward in the season, assuming he plays another game. And if that does happen and you take the bet, the loser must write the winner a long poem at the end of his column admitting that the other had a far superior knowledge of the game.

Michael David Smith: OK, the bet is on. I'm not sure what rhymes with Huard, but that'll be your problem.

Aaron Schatz: I know what rhymes with Huard. Former Lincoln Secretary of State R. Jay Seward.

Michael David Smith: You're thinking of former draft bust R. Jay Soward.

Aaron Schatz: Whoops! Yes, the sec of state under Lincoln was WILLIAM Seward, heh heh.

If Alaska is William Seward's folly, what was R. Jay Soward's folly?

Michael David Smith: I think Soward's folly was thinking he could coexist with Tom Coughlin.

Mike Tanier: You all are so worried about Seward that you haven't realized that MDS will have to try to rhyme my last name. And none of you even know how to pronounce it except Aaron!

Michael David Smith: Oh, that'll be the easy part:

I lost a bet with Mike Tanier
I must confess that he is manlier

And if that isn't how it's pronounced, well, that's why it's called poetic license.

Mike Tanier: MDS, I am glad you are brainstorming.

Ned Macey: I never bet on football, but I look at lines for Any Given Sunday, and I'm a firm proponent of the "If the line looks to good to be true bet the other way" system. Despite this, did anyone else see that the Dolphins were favored today? If I had any sort of betting account, I would have put down money on Kansas City, but as usual (last week's DEN-PIT being an exception) the bookies are right. Joey Harrington -- all he does in win football games.

Aaron Schatz: Just like David Garrard!

New Orleans Saints 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers 38

Aaron Schatz: The karmic payback cloud is floating over the entire state of Pennsylvania, because the Steelers got an actual fumble recovery on defense and now lead 14-0 after the Saints apparently forgot that Heath Miller is an eligible receiver.

Bill Barnwell: Hines Ward reacted to a failed Roethlisberger third down pass off his back foot in the red zone with utter disgust. The thing was, Ward had a guy between him and the first down marker, and Ward is smart enough to know that. That makes me think that Ward was Roethlisberger's hot read and/or his primary option on a blitz there, and that Roethlisberger is ignoring it to make a big play.

I was wrong about Sean Payton -- he knows what he's doing -- but he looks like a middle manager out there.

Aaron Schatz: Troy Polamalu went out in the middle of the first half with a mild concussion, and there's no doubt that the Steelers defense hasn't been the same since. Deshea Townsend is also out now.

I'm sure everybody tonight will see the highlights of the Reggie Bush reverse where he scored by flipping over defenders as he fell into the end zone. That was the kind of thing everybody expected to see from Bush on a regular basis, but I don't know how many highlight plays he's really had other than this one and the punt return. (The awesome YAC against Tennessee was in the preseason right?)

Michael David Smith: Yeah, that run against Tennessee was in the preseason. Despite that awesome leap into the end zone, I'm growing increasingly skeptical of whether Bush is ever going to be an every-down back in the NFL. I think his career is going to look a lot like Rocket Ismail's -- enough contribution that you can't call him a bad player, but never anything close to his spectacular college career.

Mike Tanier: This is clearly "I argue with MDS" week.

I agree that Bush has not made that great a contribution to the Saints this year, but it is way too early to write him off. The raw talent is so apparent; he just doesn't know what he's doing with the ball in his hands. For more on an overhyped rookie who looked like a complete mess by mid-Novemeber, check out Too Deep Zone this coming Friday.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not writing much about the Steelers-Saints game I'm watching, but honestly, this is the same Steelers team we've seen all year, except with better luck and more stability on special teams. They're dropping some passes, Willie Parker is much better running outside than inside (he's put up two 70+ yard carries), Roethlisberger mixes good decisions with stupid ones, the front seven is still very good, the secondary is shaky -- especially without Polamalu. As for the Saints, I don't think I've learned anything from them either except that Jason Craft is not as good as Fred Thomas. Marques Colston is unbelieveable, and we're all just scratching our heads wondering what the scouts missed (we missed it too, whatever it is), but we all knew that already as well.

Remember this, from the DVOA commentary last week?

FO's Adjusted Line Yards stats rank the Saints 29th stopping runs around left end or right end, but fourth stopping runs listed as going behind a guard or up the middle.

Willie Parker knows this, I think.

St. Louis Rams 22 at Seattle Seahawks 24

Doug Farrar: I really wonder about the Rams' defensive strategy on Seattle's first drive. Center Robbie Tobeck is out, and Chris Spencer isn't nearly as experienced with the line calls. St. Louis is allowing huge seams for Maurice Morris on the ground, and you'd think they'd account for the run a bit more.

This should also be an interesting battle between right tackles -- who between Tom Ashworth and Alex Barron will get flagged for the most false starts?

Ashworth was pathetic on the Leonard Little sack/fumble -- he was supposed to turn out to Little, and he went inside instead. Little got a free release, and Victor Adeyanju took the fumble back 89 yards for a touchdown. People don't talk about Sean Locklear (who Ashworth is replacing this week), and there's a reason why. He just does his job and blocks the right freakin' guy. Seattle put together a good drive that was wasted by two red zone penalties and a missed assignment.

St. Louis' run defense is horrid. Their interior defensive line is the rough equivalent of the San Diego secondary I watched this morning: "Oops -- I missed the assignment again!" They are accounting for the run, it turns out, but the overpursuit is laughable.

Seneca Wallace isn't going to be anyone's Damon Huard, but he looks very solid out there. Good touch, excellent mobility and a nice feel for only his third career start. He's very dangerous on the rollout, and you will see defenses reacting to that.

The Seahawks amassed 134 yards, nine first downs, and ate up nine minutes of clock before the Rams offense hit the field. And it's a 7-7 tie. I have a headache.

Mike Tanier: "Oops, I missed that Assignment Again" is my favorite Britney Spears song.

Doug Farrar: Whenever Seattle blitzes, Bulger just auto-checks to Steven Jackson in the flat. That's automatic. Jackson is on pace for 82 catches this season, and they're using him in other ways in the passing game, not just as a bailout. But Lofa Tatupu showed his reaction speed on a first quarter fake end-around to Isaac Bruce. The actual play was a swing pass right to Jackson, but Tatupu didn't pursue Bruce -- he just bulled Barron over and got Jackson for a loss. He's one of my favorite players for just that ability. It got him to the Pro Bowl as a rookie, and I wonder how that Defensive Rookie of the Year award is looking on Shawne Merriman's mantle right about now.

Michael David Smith: Bulger throws a fourth-down interception that serves the exact same purpose as a coffin-corner punt. It's one thing for Ken Hamlin, who picked off the pass, not to have the presence of mind to knock it down instead of intercept it. But what's with the announcers not bothering to notice that the interception was actually a good play for St. Louis?

Doug Farrar: I dunno, but J.C. Pearson sure does look a lot like Tiger Woods.

Tatupu is having his best game of the season. He was the only player to intercept a Marc Bulger pass all year (first SEA-STL game) until the end of that drive, and he almost did it again in the third quarter when he read a swing pass to Isaac Bruce and batted it in the air.

Ned Macey: Nice two-play combo by Richie Incognito. Jackson runs in the go-ahead TD, but people start pushing, and Incognito picks up the personal foul. On the two-point conversion, he picks up a hold. The ensuing kickoff (15 yards back) gets run to midfield, and now Josh Brown will have a very makeable game-winner.

Another KCW nomination would be Linehan. Rams driving, third-and-6, Bulger throws short of the first down to Curtis. Play ruled incomplete. Right before the field goal is snapped, Linehan challenges (Wilkins hit the meaningless FG). Winning the challenge, Linehan now has fourth-and-1 at about the 11. Having challenged, he has to go for it and calls a play for Klopfenstein in the end zone. They now look like they're going to lose by less than three points.

Bill Barnwell: I had a couple and their third wheel next to me at the bar and they were screaming at every little thing in the Seahawks game, just randomly yelling out Seahawks like they were in the stadium, actually cheering for that interception inside the five as if it were the greatest play a Seahawk has ever made. Just an utter mess. You ever go to or watch a game you have no rooting interest in and have people around you make want the team they're supporting to lose? We need a name for those people. Anti-fans?

Has there ever been an easier 80+ yard punt return in history than Nate Burleson's? He ran straight ahead the entire time and moved out of that line exactly once -- to deke out the punter.

Richie Incognito is the real-life embodiment of the fat guy from Varsity Blues.

Doug Farrar: The odd thing about the Seattle win wasn't the Josh Brown field goal to end it, to be sure -- Brown kicked the game-winner in St. Louis as well. But Nate Burleson's punt return touchdown was the Seahawks' first in three years, and the Incognito penalty which pushed the Jeff Wilkins kickoff back 15 yards is exactly the kind of boneheaded maneuver Seattle's normally moribund special teams unit would commit. Up here in South Alaska, we're not at all used to special teams winning ballgames.

The Seahawks also clawed their way to 6-3, and a two-game-plus-tiebreakers lead in their division, despite being without their starting quarterback, halfback, center, right guard, and slot receiver.

Denver Broncos 17 at Oakland Raiders 13

Mike Tanier: This was a heck of a game if you hate drives, offense, or football in general. After four possessions, the Broncos had 17 yards of offense and two turnovers. Luckily, they were playing the Raiders offense, and one 15-yard touchdown drive was about all they could muster.

The score was 13-7 forever. The Raiders weren't sitting on the lead; they were passing and passing some more. Of course, their passing game stinks, so they kept punting. The Broncos responded with another Plummer pick and some do-nothing drives. Meanwhile, I wrote some of these emails, fed the baby, played Justice League with my three-year old, checked the Cowboys-Cardinals score. Yawn.

Finally, the Broncos put together a nice little drive. Plummer tried to fumble the ball away, but a teammate jumped on it. Fourth-and-goal, they execute this beautiful play-action pass which will be on the highlight films. Actually, I think the hard count was the best thing about the play; a couple of Raiders defenders lost balance and had no forward momentum at the snap.

Anyway, the game was dull and awful, and I wish I had watched Saints-Steelers, or a replay of the Chargers game.

Dallas Cowboys 27 at Arizona Cardinals 10

Bill Barnwell: Edgerrin James doesn't look like his confidence has been shot. It looks like it's been [extremely graphic depiction of violence].

Chicago Bears 38 at New York Giants 20

Aaron Schatz: Am I wrong, or did the Giants depend almost entirely on a pass rush from the front four last year? This is the second game -- Atlanta being the other -- where I've noticed just a ton of cornerback blitzes, and they are working beautifully. (For all I know, the Giants have also done this in a number of other games this year that I just didn't happen to watch.)

"Hi, Brandon Jacobs? This is Steve Smith. When you finally give birth to that football, give me a ring, I can give you some wiping tips."

Mike Tanier: The Giants did a lot of zone blitzing last year. Most of the designs were to free up Strahan or Umenyiora, so they would blitz the gaps to try and tie up the guards and isolate the offensive tackles on Gappy or Osi, or blitz wide and stunt the two stars.

I heard that Tiki Barber was there for the conception and the first two trimesters. Jacobs is strictly a delivery room dad. Sorry, that's awful.

Doug Farrar: I guess Plax was right -- Chicago DBs just pick off what's thrown right at them. Like the stupid jump ball that Eli Manning couldn't even get over the head of Charles Tillman.

Mike Tanier: I usually wind up rooting against the out of town team whose "fan" at the bar feels the need to curse out the players he is supposedly rooting for every time they do something wrong. I usually assume that the dude is a gambler and I just want him to lose money. Mind you, I know guys who will put $500 on some random game, get hit with a 35-3 loss, then shrug their shoulders and try to make their money back on Monday Night. The dude in the corner screaming "F***n Rex Grossman you m****f****n a*****e", I guarantee, has about $25 riding on the game.

Aaron Schatz: How far back CAN Eli Manning run? 20 yards? 30? Did Aaron Brooks take over his body in some sort of "Freaky Friday" accident?

Ian Dembsky: Deep in the red zone, Eli had one of his patented overthrows to Burress, after which Feely missed a makeable field goal. Then on the next posession, when he should have thrown the ball high to Burress, he underthrew him for an easy Chicago interception.

Aaron Schatz: I feel like the Giants were really dominating the game for about a quarter and a half, and then it suddenly changed at the end of the first half, and now they've turned into the gang that couldn't shoot straight. It's eerily like today's Pats-Jets game.

Ian Dembsky: The officials just called a completely non-existent horse-collar tackle penalty on Chicago. I swear, the horse-collar penalty has been a total debacle since its inception. I've yet to see it called correctly.

Mike Tanier: When did Grossman get good again?

Ian Dembsky: Madden said it best when he said that this game is like a heavyweight fight. Both lines are battling to establish dominance, and it keeps going back and forth quarter-by-quarter. For the football purist, this has been a truly excellent game.

(Devin Hester runs back a missed field goal for a 108-yard touchdown.)

Al Bogdan: The short field goal attempt returned for a touchdown is easily my favorite play in all of football. Except, of course, when it's against the Giants. Glad I decided to stop working and start paying attention to this game.

Aaron Schatz: The Giants just fell asleep, and I am stunned, although not as stunned as they probably are. This is one of the great "fell asleep" plays ever, along with that one where the Broncos forgot to touch Marvin Harrison.

Ned Macey: How does the old missed FG return for a TD get scored in DVOA? The killer play on that drive was going for the whole first down on the third-and-forever. Why not just take the free 10 yards, get a makeable field goal and try and cut it to 1 point?

Aaron Schatz:DVOA treats that as just a missed FG. The rest of it is a "nonpredictive event." A totally awesome nonpredictive event.

Ned Macey:Now we'll see if Eli's 145 fourth-quarter QB rating is up for the task. No idea why he generally plays better later, but that pass 10 feet over the receiver's head on second down may mean this isn't his day. And as I write that, another overthrow for an interception.

Doug Farrar: At this point in time, I'm obligated to say that Eli Manning is really coming along.

Ian Dembsky: Wow, did Eli look completely horrible on that last series. Good for Bill though; his Catholic Match Girl Staredown Lock of the Week (Chicago +2) is looking safe.

Aaron Schatz: They showed Jay Feely sitting there with his head in his hands after the play -- I hope he doesn't feel that was his fault. That was NOT his fault. Dude, when you are short on the field goal, it's the responsibility of the 10 other big guys on your team to tackle the guy from Chicago.

Since they were talking about the "swirling winds of the Meadowlands," I should remind everyone of the Audibles from a couple weeks ago where I pointed out that the Meadowlands doesn't affect special teams any more than other cold-weather stadiums.

Al Bogdan: Prior to that, Feely had been the best Giant on special teams coverage all game. On at least two kickoffs he was the primary defender that brought down the ball carrier.

The more I think about it, if that play didn't happen against the Giants, it would be in the running for the best play I've ever seen, right behind the Marino fake spike/TD against the Jets. What a brilliant job by Hester faking out the entire Giants roster before he ran the ball back 108 yards.

Ian Dembsky: Not to be picky, but why didn't the Giants go for it on fourth-and-10, down 18 with 7 minutes to go? They were near midfield; no reason not to give it a shot there. You have to try.

Aaron Schatz: And Ian officially channels Gregg Easterbrook. Next, he'll be discussing carbon emissions in next year's SUVs.

Bill Barnwell: Begin Giants fan time.

Eli Manning is f*****g terrible. Every one of our readers who bitches about us saying he sucks is a Manning relative.

End Giants fan time.

There's also something very sad about Michaels associating "blogging" and "blathering" when the whole reason that a blogosphere exists and that people pay attention to it is the utter drivel coming out of the mainstream sports media. Ugh.

Bits 'n' Pieces

Bill Barnwell: Want to know what's worse than the "This Is Our Country" ad? Three different TVs showing two different versions of the ad while the music blares out in a bar.

Aaron Schatz: Great comment in open thread: "Not only does that ad not make me want to buy a Chevy, it makes me want to join Al Qaeda."

Tim Gerheim: You're both on a DHS list right about now.

(This is normally where we write about Any Given Sunday and Every Play Counts, but we're not sure what we're doing yet. So much to choose from!)


193 comments, Last at 24 May 2010, 12:52pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'm pretty sure McCree's helmet never touched T.J.'s. I know for a fact that Godfrey's knee slammed into his dome, though. Godfrey not McCree took Houshmandzadeh out of that game.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

My vote is for Jets-Pats for AGS. You've already covered Hou-Jax so that should be out, and you did Miami last week. As Farrar points out on Fox, other games weren't such big upsets. Oh, and I'm a Jets fan.
The Jets OL has improved drastically in run blocking from early in the season. I would say that's part maturation of the rookies, part improved cohesiveness of a unit with only two starters from last year, and part the return of Pete Kendall from early season injury.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

In reference to Tom Ashworth, I have to confess a missed assignment of my own. Mike Holmgren said after the game (and after my Seattle comments were written) that the play was supposed to be a quick pass, and Ashworth was supposed to turn inside. His ability to protect has been problematic enough in other instances, but he shouldn't get the goat horns on that one.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

This makes two weeks in a row that the Patriots have had trouble handling blitzes from the free safety and the safety coming up to fill holes and stop their inside run game. I thought last week it was just Bob Sanders having a great day, but the Jets seemed to have watched the same tape, because their safety did the same thing. I hope this isn't a trend. Does Green Bay have a good free safety?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'd vote for jets/Pats for AGS as well. I was certain that the jets sucked. I hate to sound like the host for Cold Pizza, but did the jets win the game, or did the Patriots play like crap?

The jets run defense has been AWFUL all year. Why not just pound the ball in the crappy weather?

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I can't agree that Chicago's short-FG return was an act of complete randomness. Chicago's unit featured a great returner, specifically positioned in front of the uprights because of the long kick in bad weather, and their defensive/special teams units are fantastic blockers. Their D and special teams units are coached to score points, above all else. It seems obvious that Chicago makes plays like that more than the average team, and such plays should be taken into account.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The R. Jay Soward line was tremendous.

I didn't follow the Philadelphia-Washington game closely. Was Marty's play calling distinctive or different in any way? Not that Reid wasn't involved in the game plan or can't overrule, but I'm curious to hear some comments on that (and not just because I'm wondering what happened to my tight end, L.J. Smith).

Has a Hall of Fame induction ever been taken away? No? Okay, you're safe, Gibbs.

Is Marion Barber really that good, or does he look better than he really is because of the friendly context where he does so much of his work (fourth quarter, tired fronts). He runs a few people over every week I get to see him.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

wrt Buffalo's "base" 4-2-5 defense: Yet another benefit of the 3-4 defense against the Colts. Going against that no-huddle, being able to drop a linebacker into coverage when necessary on pass plays and pulling him in on run plays leaves fewer weaknesses.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

You're right #1. Mccree's shoulder hit TJ's shoulder which knocked his head into Godfrey's knee. The hit was early and it was hard but Mccree did NOT go helmet to helmet.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

In regards to the missed FG runback in the Chicago-New York Giants game...

To some extent, I can understand not wanting to dock a team on DVOA for something like that. But given that the Giants obviously gave up on the play, shouldn't their special teams be penalized for it?

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"You think rhyming with Huard is hard? Try to come up with a rhyme for “DVOA�. "

At the risk of pulling out even more Easterbrook comparisons, ever consider haiku or Japanese linked verse?

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

After not seeing Eli since week one, and seeing his completion percentage for the season, I thought, "Eli's accuracy can't be as bad as everybody at FO seems to think."

Then I got to watch him again. It's bad. Surprisingly bad. not-NFL-quality bad. Wow. Accuracy is probably the most important skill for an NFL QB, and the Giants are 6-3 with a QB that doesn't have it.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I wonder how much "sleeper value" Dallas has in the numbers given the Romo results vs. the last days of Bledsoe. Any season-long snapshot of Dallas will mislead us for sure, obviously.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I just wanted to say that the media in DC has been quite critical of the Redskins this season, including Jason La Canfora's opus a few weeks ago. Other than that, another enjoyable Audibles.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Oh, one more thing: anyone care to elaborate on why Tice is behind the Garrard decision?

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

7 & 11:

It's not about "penalizing" the Giants or "rewarding" the Bears. The actual results of the play did that plenty. The reason the play is dropped from the DVOA calculation is that the circumstances where a team is even in a position to run back/defend a short FG attempt are so rare that whether they are good or bad in such circumstances has really no predictive effect on future games.

Also, there was some discussion in the main body about the Giants' defensive collapse in the late first half. Partly, this was good adjustments by Chicago, but it was also the injury to Sam Madison. When Madison was hurt, McQuarters moved outside, and rookie free agent Kevin Dockery became the slot CB. The Giants didn't trust Dockery enough to bring the safety pressure that had worked so well up to that point.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

My David Garrard = Steve Walsh theory needs to be abandoned. It would have been fun, too!

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"Not only does that ad not make me want to buy a Chevy, it makes me want to join Al Qaeda."


20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

My question on the Hester FG return: As I understand it, if he had just let the kick bounce through the end zone, it would have been Bears ball at the 42 (the spot of the kick). But if he downs it, they get it at the 20, right?

All the previous times I've seen short FGs run out of the end zone, it's been at the end of a half (for obvious reasons). This is the first time I've seen one in the middle of a quarter, and though I can't argue with the results, I wonder if the smart play in that situation is to not field the ball.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

re 18, do you mean steve young?? You seem to have combined Bill Walsh and Steve young. Although I could be wrong here.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 1

Yes, McCree's hit was out of line, but I remember thinking the exact same thing on replay. I also can't help but feel the commentators overreacted slightly; it was NOT helmet-to-helmet. It was a still a personal foul, but c'mon, did McCree owe those guys in the boooth money?

Oh, and about the Pats game. I can't believe they lost to the J-E-T-S. It seems usually the Jets play us (yes us, I'm a Pats fan) really close, but hardly ever lead, and never come through on the final drive. Sunday the roles were reveresed, in part thanks to someone else putting on Kevan Barlow's jersey and having a good game against us. Seriously, what was the last time Barlow had an average of above 4.0 YPC with significant carries? 2004?

Phil Simms annoyed the heck out of me the entire game. Don't know about you other football fans, but in my opinion he's amongst the worst in the booth.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

21: No, Steve Walsh, for the '94 Bears. Erik Kramer was better, but when Walsh started, the gameplan went ultra-conservative and that seemed to suit that Bears team best. For some reason, Walsh's '94 season is one of my enduring football memories, and I keep waiting for the next Steve Walsh to come along!

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Walsh was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the first pick in the 1989 NFL Supplemental Draft. With Dallas, Walsh was reunited with his former head coach at Miami, Jimmy Johnson, who had just taken over the Cowboys' reins. However, Dallas had also selected quarterback Troy Aikman in the regular draft that same year and Walsh was never able to move out of the role of Aikman's backup.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Mike McCarthy has accomplished two things that Mike Sherman could not.

First, he rebuilt the offensive line on the fly. As I have written previously, the Packer offensive line was showing signs of improvement by game 3 and yesterday kept Favre upright against a very good defense. Pat Williams repeatedly destroyed the running plays, but the D-line for Minny was stoned time and again by the Packers O-line.

Second, McCarthy has somehow convinced Favre to take care of the ball. Sure, some of the decrease in interceptions is your old regressing to the mean. But almost to a poster on this site folks declared Favre a turnover machine who should retire immediately to avoid further embarrassment. And instead the veteran QB has become quite willing to throw to his backs or just toss it out of bounds.

The secondary still stinks after nine games, the punter keeps kicking the ball into the end zone, and the special teams in general are bad. But two glaring issues that were undermining any attempt at progress have been improved significantly.

The Packers may still only win 6-7 games this year. But McCarthy has given Packer fans reason to hope.

And hope is a beautiful thing to have.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Hector: The Eagles ran a LOT more than they usually do, although whether that was due to Marty calling the plays or the weather wrecking the passing game is hard to say. Neither QB was particularly accurate.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

24: Walsh quickly moved out of the role as Aikman's backup when the Saints traded for him because Bobby Hebert was holding out in 1990. Walsh then battled with John Fourcade for the starting QB spot with the Saints, eventually winning it and leading the Saints to a playoff loss against the Bears in the snow in Chicago (obviously). A turning point of that game was when Vince Buck was called for having his hand in the neutral zone on FG attempt that the Saints blocked and returned for a touchdown, which would likely have won the game. FWIW, Buck, a safety, was lined up on the end, and the block was from the surge in the middle. He also was not the man who scooped up the return (IIRC), so he was not a factor in the play. I provide this as evidence of the Saints being the Saints (that, and yesterday's three TO performance).

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I just posted this in the Open Discussion thread, but it seems more appropriate here (besides the fact that nobody's gonna see it in the open thread):

I’d just like to highlight the final drive of the Philly/Washington game:

Philadelphia Eagles at 09:03
1-10-PHI28 (9:03) B.Westbrook up the middle to PHI 31 for 3 yards (T.Vincent).

2-7-PHI31 (8:21) B.Westbrook right tackle to PHI 34 for 3 yards (A.Carter).

3-4-PHI34 (7:38) B.Westbrook left end to PHI 38 for 4 yards (S.Taylor).

1-10-PHI38 (6:55) B.Westbrook right guard to PHI 40 for 2 yards (M.Washington).

2-8-PHI40 (6:06) B.Westbrook left tackle to WAS 49 for 11 yards (C.Rogers).

1-10-WAS49 (5:17) C.Buckhalter up the middle to 50 for -1 yards (D.Evans).

2-11-50 (4:28) B.Westbrook left tackle to WAS 29 for 21 yards (S.Taylor).

1-10-WAS29 (3:36) C.Buckhalter right tackle to WAS 26 for 3 yards (S.Taylor).

2-7-WAS26 (2:52) C.Buckhalter right guard to WAS 25 for 1 yard (J.Salave’a).

3-6-WAS25 (2:09) D.McNabb pass short right to B.Westbrook to WAS 18 for 7 yards (K.Golston).

1-10-WAS18 (2:00) C.Buckhalter up the middle to WAS 14 for 4 yards (R.Wynn).

2-6-WAS14 (1:14) D.McNabb kneels to WAS 15 for -1 yards.

3-7-WAS15 (:32) D.McNabb kneels to WAS 16 for -1 yards.

That’s 10 runs (and 2 kneel-downs) on a drive resulting in 4 first downs, 57 yards, and eating up the final 9 minutes of the game (the only pass was a completion for 7 yards on 3rd & 6). I’m at a loss for words. Praise Jesus!

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I vote for Chargers-Bengals, simply because it would basically force you into writing just about the longest article in FO history.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: Pats-Jets

Yes, Phil Simms does suck.

At some point in that game Seymour went out, which was very confusing. Maybe he got hurt.

Chad Scott should not be a starter. He does OK when he comes in as a third CB. He is not a good safety. I thought the Jets ability to put a safety up close to the line and blitz with him and use him in run support made a huge difference in this game. Scott simply does not have what it takes to play in the box like you need a strong safety to do on a day like this. He also got out of position a couple of times in pass coverage.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The Tice Garrard thingy could be a comparison to Culpepper, both big strong mobile QBs who aren't actually all that accurate but have big tall receivers to throw underthrown jump balls to. Tice probably thinks that his coaching and blocking schemes (not Randy Moss) were the reason for Minnesota's offensive production and as such can be replicated in Jacksonville. He can also get hold of Superbowl tickets if you are interested.

On the Marlon McCree hit, I was fairly appalled by the hit and I don't care if it was or wasn't helmet to helmet it was still a nasty cheap shot. Yet it worked, Houshmandzadeh was knocked out of the game and the Bengals struggled to throw the ball down the field to tie the game up without their no2 receiver while McCree played on. I wish the NFL would institute an 'eye for an eye' rule on stuff like that. It might be tricky but when there is a blatant dirty hit that puts someone out of the game the perpetrator should also be sat down until the player injured recovers. Why should the dirty player be able to continue to produce and enhance his earning potential while the victim gets labelled injury prone or gets his fourth or fifth concussion and is looked at as a risk by every NFL team. If guys who cause others injuries by transgressing the rules had to miss time teams would look at them diferently when it came to contract time.

Iwas appalled by the hit and began to root for Cincinati until my brother reminded me that the Bengals are a bunch of recidivist criminals, drunk drivers and a rapist so I stopped.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#11: The missed FG return has happened what, 4 times in the last 5 years? It's something opposing coaches should certainly take into account but it's not something that can be statistically significant simply because of its rarity.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

22: I'm with you, I too find Phil Simms excruciating. I'd almost rather watch ESPN's crew, and I'm not even joking.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

22: Simms is bad but after the charger game I'm not sure anyone is worse than Dierdorff.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"The Jets OL has improved drastically in run blocking from early in the season. I would say that’s part maturation of the rookies, part improved cohesiveness of a unit with only two starters from last year, and part the return of Pete Kendall from early season injury."

Nick Mangold really should get consideration for AFC offensive rookie of the year. The John Abraham trade isn't looking to shabby for the Jets right now,is it?

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Perhaps the missed-fg-return is one of those things that needs to remain beyond the scope of computer system statistics. It does tell us something about Chicago's coaching, Chicago's special teams, New York's preparedness, etc., but not in any meaningful statistical or predictive way.

It matters, but not in a quantifiable way.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Agree Simms is bad. Like many bad announcers, he talks way too much about meeting and talking to the player or coach the night before, instead of talking about what's going on in the game. Rarely points out something that happens on the field that isn't obvious to the casual viewer
And he announces with the same laissez-faire attitude he raised his son with.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#20: Excellent question. I wonder if your assumption regarding this rule is accurate. I mean, it seems like that is what the rule should be.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I didn't watch the NE-NYJ game and don't follow either team, but I live in New Jersey and there's a lot of stuff in the paper this morning about the Jets players playing extra hard because they feel that Belichick has "dissed" Mangini. Does anyone think there's anything to this? Did Belichick unwittingly make a coaching error of sorts by his attitude or behavior towards Mangini (i.e., ceding the emotional "high ground" to the Jets)? Football is often a game where emotion has a great deal to do with the outcome, but it is also often cited as an after the fact explanation in lieu of more serious analysis. I'm interested in whether anyone thinks this had anything to do with the upset (and I don't have a horse in this race--I'm just interested in the idea.)

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 31

At some point in that game Seymour went out, which was very confusing. Maybe he got hurt.

According to Seymour himself in the Boston Globe, he was going into and out of the game on scheduled rotations, and wasn't happy about it.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#20: No, if he downs it they get it at the spot of the kick. If he comes out of the end zone though, it's wherever he's downed.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I am still trying to wrap my mind around the FG return rules. Can anyone answer the following questions...

1) If Hester took a knee in the end zone, do the bears get the ball at the 20 or the spot of the kick?

2) After the kick, is it a free ball? Like a kick off, can the kicking team recover it on the field for possession. If they can't get possesion, can they cover the kick and give it to the opposing team at the spot the ball is recovered.

3) If a field goal attempt goes out of bounds before the goal line, does the other team get the ball when the ball goes out of bounds or the spot of the kick.

I would assume the bears get the ball from where it was kicked if it isn't ran out of the end zone, but I can't rationalize without a specific rules pertaining to the act of a field goal attempt. Anyone know the answers?

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Pacifist V, I love your blog. Will you be doing a Miami/Minny preview? I'm interested in your views on the game.

Miami run offense vs Vikings run defense will be a great matchup.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

RE: #29 Wanker
Wow. An actual clock-eating, game-ending drive from the Philadelphia Eagles. You know that Reid wouldn't have stuck with the run there, especially on the 2nd and 11. It gives me the shadow of a hope that maybe the Eagles actually CAN run the ball when they need to. Now I just need to see them do it against someone other than Washington.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

33: I disagree. McCree mis-timed his hit (badly) and Housh was unlucky enough to catch Godfrey's knee in the head. Marlon is not a dirty player and his hit wasn't even the one that took Housh out of the game.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Hey guys, thanks for blowing it on the Dolphins-Chiefs game. You spent the entire time talking about rhyming last names!? Ridiculous. I missed my beloved Dolphins and was hoping to get some insight on who did and did not play extraordinarily well. No thanks for you guys.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

46: It would still be an interesting AGS. Down 21-0 at one point, the Chargers won 49-41. It would be interesting to see what the Chargers did differently to score 42 points in the second half.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

41: I think it's more of the media playing up this point to sell papers. Mangini doesn't make anything of this, at least not in public. Though perhaps Belichick's actions were an attempt to get some psychological edge over Mangini.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

You ever go to or watch a game you have no rooting interest in and have people around you make want the team they’re supporting to lose? We need a name for those people. Anti-fans?

It's not quite the same thing, but while I came into last night's game rooting for New York, the minute I remembered "Ballin!" I changed my tune a bit, and felt somewhere between neutral and wanting Chicago to win. I don't have a problem with the fact that they're celebrating, I just think it's the most retarded thing I've ever seen.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

More impressions from another victim of Broncos-Raiders:

The Broncos were very, very lucky to come out of that game with a win. (I will now look at the camera, frown, and pull out a sign that says "Help!") They recovered all 4 fumbles committed by both teams, and a fifth fumble - on a punt return by David Kircus on the Broncos' 20 when they were down 13-7 - was nullified by an Oakland penalty that in no way caused the fumble. One of the fumbles they recovered took place on the Oakland 5 yard line when they were driving for the eventual go-ahead touchdown.

Also, this was a game where the Oakland offensive line actually played reasonably well - or at least looked like they did so against a pretty bad Broncos' defensive line. So we got to see what Andrew Walter could do with protection; while he didn't throw any picks, he was very inconsistent. He'd hit the open man one play, and miss him completely the next. There were some Raider drives during that interminable 13-7 stretch that could have been extended if he had any accuracy whatsoever when throwing on the run. I don't think we can put the blame for the worst passing offense in football entirely on the Raiders' offensive line.

And finally, the MVP of the game - or at least, the only player that really looked good - was Raiders punter Shane Lechler. He pinned the Broncos inside their 10 yard line 3 times, and had another punt which landed at a dead stop just outside the goal line - only the nose of the ball was over the goal line so it was a touchback. In a game that was largely about field position, these punts were as big as Jake's interceptions.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

45, Thanks, and later in the week I'll probably do something about it.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 44

1. Had Hester downed the ball in the end zone, it would have been a touchback. Had he let it go, the Bears would have started their next possession at the 42.

2. Had the Giants recovered the ball (without the Bears touching it first), it would be treated the same as downing a punt; the Giants would be called for illegal touching and the Bears would get possession at the spot of recovery (or at the 20, if in the end zone). Had the Bears touched it first (except for a block at/before the line of scrimmage), the Giants would have gained possession at the spot of recovery.

3. If the field goal attempt went out-of-bounds before the goal line, the Bears would take possession at that spot. If it went out-of-bounds in the end zone, it's a touchback.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Oh yeah, one thing I forgot. If anything captures Walter's ineptitude, and the quality of play in the game in general, it's this. The Raiders got the ball back, down 4, with 2 minutes to go and no timeouts. Perfect time for Andrew Walter to make a name for himself, especially since this was the first game all year where he had reasonably good protection. So what does he do? He fumbles the snap on the first play. Game over.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Correction to #56:

1. Had Hester downed the ball in the end zone, the Bears would have gained possession at the spot of the kick, the 42. The end zone is not considered the "field of play."

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


How can you claim that McCree wasn't responsible for the hit on TJH?

If he hadn't lit him up WAY before the ball arrived TJH's head would have gone nowhere near Godfrey's knee. I concur that it was the pinball effect that probably caused the concussion, but McCree started the pinballing with a vicious hit McCree had a clear view of where the ball was, must have known that he was way too early, that TJH would have no idea that he was about to get hit and wouldn't therefore be protecting himself.

Prior to this incident I didn't think McCree was a dirty player, but I do now.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#29 & #47:

While that final drive was nice, it meant little in the context of the game as Philly was up by four scores. Had the game not been totally out of reach, Washington might have tried harder to stop the run. Other teams have certainly shown the ability to stuff the Eagles' run game when they need to.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


3. If the field goal attempt went out-of-bounds before the goal line, the Bears would take possession at that spot. If it went out-of-bounds in the end zone, it’s a touchback.

That can't be right. Wouldn't it just be a missed FG and the Bears would get possession at the spot of the kick?

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

3. If the field goal attempt went out-of-bounds before the goal line, the Bears would take possession at that spot. If it went out-of-bounds in the end zone, it’s a touchback.

Some clever coach is going to have his placekicker start practicing coffin-corner placekicks.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"This is probably why none of us are watching this game."

What is the story on the rules regarding which games can be shown in what areas? The Detroit/SF game was the only game on at 1:00 (I live in MI over 100 miles from Detroit) in this area. To make matters worse, when CBS did air a game at 4:00, it was the equally crappy Denver/Oakland contest. I could (almost) understand this if I actually lived in metro Detroit, but this makes absolutely no sense. Is an area this far away from Detroit actually bound by rule to show these games? If so, how in the heck does it benefit the NFL if I'm turning off the TV because the games are so bad?

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


How could McCree have anticipated that TJH's head would collide with Godfrey's knee? It was an early hit and he got deservedly flagged for it. But it wasn't helmet to helmet and it didn't look like an attempt to injure TJH.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 61

Rule 7-5-1:

If any kick, except for a free kick, is out of bounds between the goal lines, ball is next put in play at inbounds spot by the receivers, unless there is a spot of illegal touching nearer kickers’ goal line.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 61

And, Rule 11-6-1-b:

When an impetus (3-14-3) by a team sends a ball in touch behind its opponents’ goal line, it is a touchback ...

(b) if the ball is out of bounds behind the goal line (see 7-5-6-c);

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Hey guys, thanks for blowing it on the Dolphins-Chiefs game. You spent the entire time talking about rhyming last names!? Ridiculous. I missed my beloved Dolphins and was hoping to get some insight on who did and did not play extraordinarily well. No thanks for you guys.

Games are chosen based on our own personal viewing preferences, and are going to reflect the teams we support and the cities where we live.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#59: For all of you complaining about the McCree hit, it bears mentioning that the most recent play-by-play I've read shows a pass interference pentalty. No personal foul.

So, while you all may think it was the dirtiest hit in the history of the game, the officials seem to think it was a clean strike that was simply misstimed.

Maybe all of you, FO writers included, should have muted Dierdorf's overly-animated reaction (by the way, wasn't he one of the dirties players to touch the gridiron?) and look at the replay. McCree led with his shoulder. If that hit comes half a second later, Housh is still out of commission, but we're all talking about how great of a defensive play that was.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Rule 11-5-2:

All field goals attempted and missed when the spot of the kick is beyond the 20-yard line will result in the defensive team taking possession of the ball at the spot of the kick. On any field goal attempted and missed when the spot of the kick is on or inside the 20-yard line, the ball will revert to the defensive team at the 20-yard line.

Though, with the following note:

1) If a missed field goal is first touched by the receivers beyond the line in the field of play and the ball then goes out of bounds, it is the receivers’ ball at the out of bounds spot.

So, if no one touches it, it's receivers ball at the point of the kick.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I didn't notice much different with Mornhinweg either, but looking at it now, they were damn near a 50/50 run split before they got the 27-3 lead. 22 passes, 15 runs, and one play marked "to Westbrook," which I can't figure whether it was a run or a pass ... but 6 of the passes came in those 2 ill-fated two-minute drill drives. Their next offensive series was 5 passes, 4 runs, then the drive in post 29. I guess you could say the last drive shouldn't count, but looking at the Giants game, they went 12 runs, 11 passes from the time they took the 24-7 lead until Feely's tying FG at the end of regulation.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#64: Different Scenario, McCree Hits TJ hard enough to flip him over and he lands on his neck, breaking a vertabrae. Is it not his fault because it was the ground that caused the injury, and not him laying an exceptionally early hit against someone not even bracing for it?

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 70

Then the rules are in conflict, because Rules 7-5-1 and 11-6-1-b make no exception for a missed field goal.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Anti-fans doesn't work, because anti-fans are the people who watch every game of a certain team and root for them to lose.

"I usually wind up rooting against the out of town team whose “fan� at the bar feels the need to curse out the players he is supposedly rooting for every time they do something wrong. I usually assume that the dude is a gambler and I just want him to lose money."
I can't agree with that, it seems as though I am constantly swearing at the team I am rooting for. I am a Dolphins fan however, so they most likely deserve it.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"If that hit comes half a second later, Housh is still out of commission, but we’re all talking about how great of a defensive play that was."

If I punch you in the face when you're not paying attention, it's a cheap shot, if it's in the middle of a boxing match it's a good punch. What's the point you're trying to make?

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

They showed 3 replays of the McCree hit. On the 3rd you could plainly see that their helmets hit, but it was clear that most of the hit was absorbed shoulder to shoulder. It was not at all a Lynch et al. style helmet-to-helmet hit, although it was still a cheap shot given the timing.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

RE:73 Well, I'm not sure that a Field goal is considered a Scrimmage Kick, which I think is what those rules apply to.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 69

Except the whole point is that it DIDN'T come half a second later. That is the crux of the matter, so you can't call it "simply misstimed". If you are going to try and lay lumber on a receiver, you had better make damn sure you time it right, and McCree didn't. And I don't care what the refs called, you are not going to convince me that hitting a receiver well before the ball gets there is not a cheap shot.

Maybe McCree did not have malice aforethought, but he was playing out of control, and that's just as bad IMO.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"Has there ever been an easier 80+ yard punt return in history than Nate Burleson’s?"

How about Devin Hester's 83 yard game-winning punt return against Arizona in the Monday night game a few weeks ago? That was just about as easy.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 77

The definition of "scrimmage kick" in the NFL rulebook is confusing. Rule 9: "Scrimmage Kicks."

Section 1 Kick from Scrimmage
Article 1 The kicking team, behind the scrimmage line, may:
(a) punt;
(b) dropkick; or
(c) placekick.

Next to this, in the margin, reads "Punt," but I'm not sure how a placekick can be considered a punt. Most of Rule 9 deals with punts, but there are a few mentions of missed/blocked field goal attempts.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Doug Farrar: FS Marlon McCree just went helmet-to-helmet on T.J. Houshmandzadeh a good full second before the ball arrived as Houshmandzadeh was running a crossing pattern. McCree very obviously left his feet and used his helmet as a weapon. If he doesn’t get fined five digits at the very least, the Bengals have every right to be incensed. Enough of this “$5,000 fine for horse-collar tackles� crap — not to mention other obvious personal fouls that can do great harm outside of the parameters of the game. The NFL really needs to send a message this time. Too bad he wasn’t wearing the wrong shoes!

Looking at it on my ReplayTV in Slo-mo it was shoulder to shoulder, with perhaps a helmet "tap" at some point. The hit was clearly initiated shoulder to shoulder and that is where the force of the impact was. On the other hand, the reciever flipped to the side and got a very hard hit to the head by the knee of Randall Godfrey. Looks like a clean hit, but a very early, mis-timed hit. Probably a fine in for that, but it wasn't helmet to helmet so it probaly won't be big.

The flag was not a personal foul, but an interference call.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Did the Jets win or did the Pats play like crap and lose?

A little of column A, a little of column B. The Pats did play like crap, but this was partially because the Jets had a better gameplan. Two weeks in a row now the Belichick was outcoached.

To my (admittedly inexperienced) eye, in every game that the Pats have tried to establish a running game, they've relied on variations of two basic running plays--a trap play up the middle and an off right tackle run where the right guard (Neal) pulls to seal the end along with the TE. They couldn't run the latter play effectively against the Jets because Neal is out, and his backups Yates and Mcruzkowski don't pull as effectively (although having Graham back helps--I actually think it was this play where Dillon had his 50 yard run). The Colts figured out how to neutralize the trap play last week--bring the safety on a delayed rush to plug the hole opened by the trap, and the Jets copied that strategy. This approach has the advantage that on pass plays, the safety can rush with more or less the same timing on a safety blitz and rush the QB. Of course, this leaves a hole in the secondary that can be exploited, but Brady has looked shaky and hasn't been able to exploit it, especially under pressure. Notice that the pass plays that were successful until the end of the game were all five yard outs and six yard crossing patterns to TE's and RB's--Brady was too shaky on the deeper quick throws to convert.

So, it was part the gameplan of the Jets, and part the Pats (specifically Brady) sucking. The Jets concentrated on stopping the run and blitzing Brady, daring him to beat the blitz, which in the past has been a recipe for failure against the Pats, but it's worked well for the past two weeks because Brady continues to struggle.

That's how the Pats offense was stopped. Their defense was hampered by bad safety play and coverage by LB's, (as commented by people) coupled with a lack of pass rush and a difficulty against the run. Injuries are probably the problem here, coupled with uncharacteristically good play from the Jets O-line. The scary thing is that that line is only going to get better with time, and has some monster talent on it.

I think the biggest injury to the Pats yesterday wasn't Harrison, although that didn't help. It was Ty Warren. Jarvis Green is a very good situational pass rusher, but wears down when in for every down. Mike Wright is capable, but not on par with Warren or Seymour. A line of Wilfork, Wright, and Green with occasionally appearances by Seymour just isn't the same as a line of Wilfork, Warren, and Seymour, and it really showed in the failure to get pressure on Pennington and to bottle up the run as it has in past weeks. I got so annoyed with whichever announcer it was that kept harping on how much the Jets were excelling against a line that was probably one of the best in the league, when 2/3 of that "best in the league line" wasn't even playing!

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

75: If we're standing in the middle of the ring and someone in the crowd has a phone with a ringtone that sounds like a bell, and I react prematurley when it comes off, it's still a cheap hit...but not a crime.

I don't disagree that it was an early hit, worthy of a severe fine, but I do take issue with the amount of derision devoted to it by this community.

You quote me out of context. Why disregard the point I made beforehand that it was, after all, a pass interference and not a personal foul. It's football, a lightning fast game, that's easy to process on a couch but perhaps not so easy on the field.

Given McCree's approach (shoulder first as opposed to helmit first), isn't it just as likely--more so even--that he miscalculated what he thought was going to be a timely hit, as it was that he was looking to hurt Housh?

McCree has a track record of being a good, clean player under any circumstance. Why is this website besmirching him for a clean football hit that came too early? It's football, can't we allow for human sensory error on his part?

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 75

I think the point is that describing something as the dirtiest helmet-to-helmet hit ever (paraphasing of course), is a little different that describing a shoulder-to-shoulder hit as a poorly-timed attempt to blow up a WR attempting to make a reception.

Was it a penalty? Absolutely. Was it a visious hit? Absolutely. Was it the dirtiest helmet-to-helmet hit ever? Absolutely not.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

84: Precisely. Nice comeback by San Diego by the way. As a Broncos fan, I'm very worried about next week. If they continue their streek of 21 points a quarter, we'll be in a whole lot trouble. *smirk*

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

You can just replace everything I said in post in #84 with Peter's post in #83.


87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

As much as I hate the "football move" rule for reception. The Westbrook catch and fumble at the 1 yesterday was crying out for that rule to be applied once the ruling on the field was made.

Westbrook caught the ball while falling and didn't make a football move. While on the ground, without being touched down he lost the ball. He didn't make any football move other than attempting to tuck the ball.

Brunell was awful, and in fact I'm surprised the Redskins moved the ball as well as they did throughout the first half. He can't throw the ball more than 15 yards down the field consistently, and it seems like their offensive gameplanning is fully aware of this. In fact, the Redskins KEPT RUNNING, even after they were down big. It was like the offensive coaches knew there was no chance of a come-back, so they decided to shorten run the clock out for the Eagles.

Aside from the 2 big offensive plays I was happy with the way the Redskins front 7 played. The last drive... they pretty much took their cues from Gibbs. I really think the coaches quit on this team mid-way through the game. If they keep carting Brunell (who has no leg strength left) out to play, that will be further indication of quitting on the season.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Sorry to steal your thunder, Wanker. I actually think your response is a more succint version of what I was trying to say.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

... and I think this thread always gets prematurely ended becasue everyone runs to the MMQB extra point, and then quick reads comes out later...

Wouldn't we rather discuss what we saw rahter than what Peter King thinks?

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Oh minor addendum, I find it hilarious that Kevin Kaesviharn got a 15 yard penalty for unnecessary roughness for a shoulder to shoulder hit on Reche Caldwell when Caldwell HAD the ball, and there wasn't one on McCree. They really need to get these roughing ruling consistent, and ASAP.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


Evidently, our opinions are not as important. Broncos at #2? When did Peter King move to Denver?

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"I like Jeff Fisher, but he made a cardinal sin at the end of the Baltimore game. Driving for the game-winning field goal, he has third-and-4 at the 25-yard line. They run the ball into the line, leaving a 40+ yard field goal. It gets blocked, and what probably would have been the biggest upset of the day does not happen."

Yes, but don't forget it was Kerry Collins at QB, not Vince Young, who was injured 3 plays earlier. No way Fisher lets Collins drop back to pass, he is a sack/interception wating to happen (Bledsoe's less talented clone).

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

MF, I think you have a stronger case that it should have been ruled a catch & fumble. I think the problem was that there wasn't a clear replay of exactly when he was touched down-by-contact in relation to when the ball started to come out. You couldn't definitively see, from the replay they kept playing that clearly showed when the ball came loose suffered, when he was touched by the defender due to the difficulty with depth-perception in a 2-D image.

If none of that made sense, let me know cause I'm admittedly struggling to put my thoughts into the proper words.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

LOL All Joey Harrington does is win football games. That is great. It sounds just like all of the blind Joey supporters on the Dolphins message boards who ignore the fact that he has played about the same way he did in Detroit, which is average at best. I can't stand how people just assign wins and losses to QBs no matter how they performed. I would love to see this addressed in the next Pro Football Prospectus.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 90
By far the worst roughing call was on the Steeler who fell at Brees feet, with his helmet hitting the feet of Brees.

In general I don't like way the NFL is enforcing their "roughing the QB" and "late hit" rule. They should be called on legitimate rough hits rather than, "Hey, I would've hit you harder if you didn't run out of bounds" or "Hey, you would've got lit up if you didn't get the ball". Those are taps or light pushes.

During a SD-Cincy punt after the whistle one of the gunners was thrown to the ground and lots of shoving ensued. No flag was thrown.

I also thought the Urlacher play where he punched the receiver in the stomach was nearly borderline for taunting as well. If an offensive player can't flip the ball into his face, I think a defensive player who tries to strip the ball out while the player is tackled should be an automatic taunting penatly as well. Obviously I'd rather neither be called, but the NFL has got their silly Zero Tolerance policy in place.

I loved Deuce McCalister spiking the ball while being tackled yesterday too. That spike wasn't being denied!

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


#11: The missed FG return has happened what, 4 times in the last 5 years? It’s something opposing coaches should certainly take into account but it’s not something that can be statistically significant simply because of its rarity.

Okay, I understand that you can't predict things based on missed long FGs. But why can't you use this as a predictive value for other special teams play? I mean, isn't it as likely that this will be a returned punt that goes for a TD? If Coughlin decides to punt here instead of kick the FG, and the result is the same, we'd be counting that as an indicator of strong ST play.

I just don't see how it's possible that this is not an indicator of Chicago's ST play, especially given what they've done the rest of the year.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 87

I think Campbell starts either this week or next. Not sure how the team would perceive a change right now, but given they only scored three points this week, you have got to figure they wouldn't be too upset.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

97: It's not assured that if the Giants had elected to punt Chicago would still have gotten the TD return. In a punt situation, the Giants would have a different personnel set on the field who would have been expecting a return and been in a better position to stop it.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

97: This wasn't just a result of good blocking and running and/or bad kicking and coverage. The Bears caught the Giants in a personell package not designed to cover a kick return, or even expecting a return to happen at all. It might be indicative of Hester's abilities as a returner, but it's impossible to tell how much of the run was him and how much was the Giants being totally off-guard in a situation that nobody on that field is likely to be in for the rest of their lives.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

McCree was notably early on that hit. He deserved the PI, and he deserves a fine. I don't think even he'd deny this.

If you were watching the game, you saw the replays that they showed, and you still think this was a vicious helmet-to-helmet tomahawking with malice aforethought, you need to report for Dan Dierdorf deprogramming immediately.

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

In the words of Marlon Mcree, postgame:

"He was coming across and I was coming out of the middle and I saw the ball but I lost the ball.

“As opposed to trying to go for the interception and have them complete it, I went for the hit. I was early and I feel badly for it. This game is dangerous enough as it is. You don’t need dirty shots and I’m not a dirty player. I’m going to be praying for him and I’m going to call him and make sure he’s OK. I didn’t try to take him out of the game. It was a bad hit. I shouldn’t have done it.�

So, it sounds like he made a conscious decision to "go for the hit" knowing he was early. Sounds like time for a fine to me, regardless of what the referees thought. By the logic of those pointing out that no PF was called, does that mean that had TJ caught this ball that no call would have been made/appropriate? The hit DOES indeed remind of the Kaesviharn-Caldwell situation, except for the intent of the defender.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"Other than one 50-yard run from Dillon, they held the Pats to 3.8 yards per attempt"

After what we learned this week about the most common result of rushing attempts, it seems that long runs is what it's all about.

I wonder how that article will affect FO's definition of a successful play? If most attempts go for 2 yards, how can a 3 yard rush be considered to be unsuccessful?

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

"It might be indicative of Hester’s abilities as a returner, but it’s impossible to tell how much of the run was him and how much was the Giants being totally off-guard in a situation that nobody on that field is likely to be in for the rest of their lives."

Well, several Bears on that field were involved in exactly the same play (missed 52 yard field goal returned 108 yards for TD by Bears) one year ago today. I haven't looked at all of the players on the field, but from memory, at least the following players (there probably are more) were on the field for the Bears on both plays: Charles Tillman, Hunter Hillenmeyer, and Alex Brown. By the way, Tillman and Hillenmeyer had crushing blocks on the play last night to take out the only two Giants who had any chance of tackling Hester. Tillman and Hillenmeyer flattened Shaun O'Hara, and Hillenmeyer then nailed Jay Feely to boot.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 102

He claims he lost sight of the ball. If he doesn't see the ball he can't know he was going to be early. Sounds to me like he's saying his mistake was to go for the hit without having sight of the ball.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Yeah, the NY papers today are talking about the good job the Jets run defense did in holding the Pats to 148 yards. Now, that's not bad, but it's nothing to get excited about - unless you've seen the Jets run defense in all the other games this year.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Am I the only person who thinks that Marty would have risked nothing by giong for the 2-point conversion when up 48-41? There was effectively only enough time for one CIN drive to tie (which they almost did).

If the Chargers go for 2 and get it, they'll be up 9, game over. If they fail, they'll be up 7, and if CIN drives to score, they're almost assuredly going to opt for the PAT to send the game into overtime.

I did some math on the back of an envelope and it seems to me that in the specific case where you expect your opponent to have only 1 drive left to answer your score, the up 7 decision to go for 1 or 2 offer equivalent values for winning.

So for fun, I'd have gone for the 2-point conversion. The team could put a Cinco-Zero on the board (and it would end the game before the last drive).

I know that the up 8 advantage feels more like a "no-chance-to-lose" situation than up 7, but once your opponent scores there's about a 40% chance that the up 8 game goes to the coin-flip of overtime.

Up 9, I could feel good about. If I fail, I'm up 7. No big whoop.

I guess what I'm saying is that in a game where I've scored 48 points and given up 41, I'd rather put the game-deciding play in the hands of my offense than in the hands of my defense once they've given up a potentially tying TD late in a game.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

102 - Wow, I read his statement differently than you. He lost the ball, so decided to hit him, not knowing whether the ball would get there first. "Going for the hit" is football.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

My initial comments regarding the McCree hit were an attempt to focus more on the hypothetical situation regarding illegal hits or dirty play which causes injury, not just yesterday's hit. I would be interested in seeing some kind of sin bin during a game or having the player sit out games 'in sympathy' with the injured player. Fining multi millionares a few thousand dollars isn't really much of a punishment especially when they are trumpeted as being an enforcer the next time they hit free agency. The player that gets hurt just suffers on all counts.

I was just wondering what other people felt.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Marko brings up an important point in the missed-fg-return: the last team to do this successfully was also the Bears.

I still don't think it should affect stats that are meant to be somewhat predictive; however, the fact the Bears pulled this off successfully twice in two years should tell us something about the preparation/coaching/special teams play/philosophy. It may not be tangible enough to put in DVOA, but it's something we should be aware of.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

63: I have to say this sounds unfair to you. The Detroit/SF game was the only game on at 1:00 (I live in MI over 100 miles from Detroit) in this area. To make matters worse, when CBS did air a game at 4:00, it was the equally crappy Denver/Oakland contest. I could (almost) understand this if I actually lived in metro Detroit, but this makes absolutely no sense. Is an area this far away from Detroit actually bound by rule to show these games? If so, how in the heck does it benefit the NFL if I’m turning off the TV because the games are so bad?

The football fare you witnessed is par for the course for us who live in the Bay Area [further away from Detroit :)]and should not be subjected on anyone with a remote control. The only football fans left are die-hards or we transplants. The local bars here love the 10-o'clock crowds, though.

Not that you'd want to, but if you move to LA [even further away from Detroit], you might get a full slate of games all day!

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Yeah. They kept showing the replay with the ball coming loose rather than the live one which would tell when he was touched.

I think it would've helped if there was time-synched replay so we could see both angles simultaneously... although the NFL says synching that up is impossible... they make enough money, don't they? Did every game sell out again?

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#99, 100:

Okay, that's a reasonable argument, but given that this has now happened twice in two years with similar personnel, I don't see how you can say that it does not offer some predictive value. Furthermore, the Bears ST group has been playing at a very high level all year. To me, this is the kind of play I would expect from a good ST team, and it seems weird to say that it has absolutely no value in predicting future ST success.

While it might only happen once a year, it does seem to showcase some abilities of the Bears' ST team.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 87.

It shouldn't be like a punt, because on a punt, the Giants sure won't react the same way.

At least I hope not.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 107
We had this discussion on the IRC channel. I would disagree that Cincy would play for the tie. Why would Cincy play for the tie when neither defense is stopping anyone? I'd rather go for the 2 point conversion than take the chances of winning the coin flip.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

113. I agree with you. But there's a lot of goings on in the world and in football that can't be placed into a predictive computer statistical system. That the Bears did this well twice tells me (1) they are a well-prepared special teams unit, and (2) opposing coaches should consider this possibility when attempting long FGs against the Bears. But it doesn't tell me much about their ST units that matter several times per game, not once or twice a season.

But THAT'S OK. If you think that mathematical systems can tell us everything, read your Dostoevsky.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

The roughing the passer rules simply have to be changed in the offseason, because as they stand now, they are a total travesty. You can't hit the quarterback below the knee. You can't hit the quarterback in the head, or in the shoulder if your momentum is carrying you up. Oh, and you can't hit him so that you drive him into the ground. The Jets have managed to draw personal fouls for each on of those, and in every case the quarterback was still holding onto the ball or was in the act of releasing it. Victor Hobson made a textbook tackle just as Brady was releasing the ball, but he got flagged for pile driving Brady. The only reason it was a pile drive was because Hobson's momentum picked Brady up off the ground- there was literally no way that Hobson could have made the tackle without having ended up on top of Brady. There really has to be some interpretation of the rough rule, so that it only gets flagged if it is either an egregious hit or if the quarterback clearly has thrown the ball. As it stands, roughing the passer has easily outpaced PI as the most infuriating/game changing call of the season.

A few other random notes:

-Yes, the Jets outplayed the Pats and thoroughly deserved the win. Their defensive gameplan was excellent, as they were really able to apply pressure with their blitzes without giving up much in the way of coverage (it's amazing what happens when you sit Justin Miller on the bench). The Jets defenders clearly seem to be responding to the more aggressive play calling, as they are bringing the wood in a way that they haven't all season long. The offensive line has been coming together for several weeks now, and Pete Kendall and Sean Ryan have become a potent blocking tandem on pulls and counters. As someone else noted, they are only going to get better, which is bad news for the division. Chad Pennington, on the other hand, continues to struggle with overthrows, and his velocity has been steadily dropping over the season. He's generally playing well, but I'm not sure he's healthy.

-The 49ers are really helped when Jonas Jennings and Larry Allen are both in the lineup. It solidifies their offensive line and makes them a fairly formidable unit. Once Vernon Davis gets healthy, they have the makings of an offense along the lines of the Giants.

-I'm officially on the "I hate the Bears" bandwagon for the rest of the season. They're really, really not that good. They spent the first half getting thrashed by the Giants despite Eli being awful, and that was after getting whipped by Arizona and Miami. Everything is breaking for them, but it's hard to see how this team doesn't get a severe comeuppance come playoff time. They have a good defense that you can still operate against, a mediocre offense that will hit some deep throws when their quarterback chucks it up, and a special teams that has now accounted for all the touchdowns it is ever going to account for. I would like just about any NFC team other than New Orleans to go in and beat the Bears in Chicago come playoff time, and if Chicago ever made it to the Super Bowl...let's just say that they would get lit up and leave it at that.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I only saw one game yesterday, Vikings/Packers on tivo late last night, and it looks like I may be eating DVOAcrow regarding the Vikings before season's end. The Vikings ought to be able to win at least three more games, which will exceed Aaron's pre-season projection of 5.9, but not my much, while my pre-season projection of 9 will be more inaccurate. Of course, I benefit from not having put probabilities on win ranges, which is where I disagreed most with Football Prospectus, due to it assigning a 30% chance that the Vikings would win four or less.

There is no very probable win for the Vikings now, due to the state of it's offense. They can lose any game by a small margin when their defense plays extremely well, and in any game when their defense turns in an average, or even less than stellar performance, they will be beat handily. Luckily, they only have two more games against top-flight quarterbacks, which is the sort of offense that really gets the best of them.

Favre showed yesterday why having a qb who can extend a play a little, and put a ball into a small space, is so valuable, for any of the advocates of the qb as "game manager" who haven't quite grasped it. He obviously is being coached again, and it shows. The contrast with Brad Johnson couldn't be more obvious.

Johnson is as immobile as Drew Bledsoe, along with having much worse receivers, and a lesser arm. Thus, it is extremely easy to disrupt the Vikings passing game with blitzes, especially on a day when the blockers, lineman, tight ends, and running backs alike, don't have a good day in pick-ups. Bethel Johnson actually had a couple of above-average catches in the first half, the first I've see from a Vikings wide-out this year, but for the most part it was the normal poor performance by the Vikings receivers, culminating in Johnson quitting on a pattern late in the 4th qurter, giving the Packers an uncontested interception.

Last week, I still had hope that the Vikings would make it through week 16 without being formally eliminated from playoff contention. Now, absent some real reversal of trends, they may not make it through week 14.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Brunell: 35 starts in DC. 7 games throwing for > 230 yards.

He's pathetic play is nothing new, yet Gibbs keeps going back to him.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


I asked this question yesteray with no response so possibly you can help.

Pat Williams is a good to great D-lineman. But I have seen him in games where he is blocked. However, against Green Bay Williams is a Hall of Fame level player. He blew up over half the running plays yesterday. Williams plays like a man possessed every time against the Packers since he joined the Vikings.

Is there background to this? Because while the O-line for GB has changed personnel the results have not. The man is unreal against Green Bay.

Did the Packers insult him? Insult his mother? Kill his dog?

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Will, I agree with what you say about the Viking passing game. Another problem is a total lack of creativity. They run basic pass plays and basic run plays out of basic sets. I watch other teams do some halfway original things, but the Vikes just do the same things out of the same formations. Some creativity should get some pass catchers open; instead, the Vikes just run regular old plays expecting players to make plays. Maybe some motion, some bunch sets, some rollouts, etc., would get somebody open within the 10 yards that Brad Johnson is able to complete passes.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

120: Pat Williams did speak out this week about how he thought the Packer cut blocking techniques were for "cowards," so he was angry.

However, he's been basically unblockable against everybody. Dr. Z has sung his praises: last year he said he'd never seen a nose tackle play like Williams, and this year he says that Williams has become basically unblockable. If you've seen him blocked consistently, you've probably seen double-teams, which have some success. But he's been blowing up running plays (and a fair share of passing plays) all season: he is BY FAR the most important reason the Vikings have the #1 run defense in the league (in yards and yards per carry).

OK, the #1 reason might be the Vikes susceptibility to the pass. But after that, it's Pat Williams.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


The problem with the "original" angle would be that you would see when he was touched but you wouldn't be able to see when the ball came loose.

I can't imagine it'd be all that difficult (or costly) to include a synconized time-code on all replay cameras, and I would think that would solve a ton of "inconclusive" replay issues.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

McCree was saying that earlier he went for the pick and they completed a long pass, so this time he had decided to go for the hit. He was not saying that he went for the hit because he lost track of the ball.

McCree burned early on pick attempt.
McCree decides to next time go for hit.
McCree loses track of ball and ends up hitting Housh clean, but early.
Housh takes Godfrey's knee to the head.
McCree is immediately remorseful.
Dierdorf reacts as though McCree pulled out a knife and stabbed Housh.
McCree mentions praying for Housh and planning to call him to make sure he's okay.
FOMB decries McCree as dirty player.

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

29, 47 and 60: I'm encouraged by the effectiveness of the running shown on the last drive, even if it was in garbage time against the once-capable Redskins.

If the Eagles hadn't been stuffed 3 times running in earlier short distance running situations (Q1 and Q3 before both FGs) I'd be happier.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


I read those comments as well but that doesn't explain last year when he pretty much shoved the Packer offensive line back into Favre's lap on a regular basis.

Though he clearly has elevated his play this season. Last year he had to take off more plays to catch his breath. Now he is the Tasmanian Devil on 'ludes pretty much every down.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

How many times do field goals come up short enough to land in the field of play? In situations where the defending team needs points? Basically, at the end of the half and/or in bad weather.

In fact, in interviews after the game with the ST coach the only reason Hester was back there is because they thought the Giants were going to fake the FG and pooch punt.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Just want to add this one (or more) thoughts to all the Redskin, Eagle fans.

Cherry picking offense stats:
Redskin Rushing Yards - 146
Redskin Passing Yards - 132
Eagle Rushing Yards - 145 (most on the same drive)

I don't think that bodes well for the Eagles defense. They seem a bit young and undisciplined. I still don't know why Gibbs committed to the run as much as he did. I can't wait until we get official word that Mark Brunell is "fighting his guts out", "playing smart", "trying hard", and "still a starting NFL QB". I don't remember Gibbs being that dumb as far as QB changes... he always seemed to be someone who would switch if it wasn't working. Lately he has ignored the fact that Brunell got a lot of yards on end of game meaningless drives, and I was thankful that Brunell didn't pick up more garbage time minutes.

TJ Duckett will be signed by the Eagles after the end of this season. There is no way this doesn't happen. Redskins throw away 3rd round pick for "Portis Insurance". Rather than play Duckett, Redskins use Ladell Betts.

Stockton and Siragusa and the other announcer went crazy on Winter for calling a "Roughing the Passer" on Darwin Walker when he caught Brunell in the facemask. They were going on about how it should've been 5 yards, but I don't think they realized it was RTP, and didn't even care Brunell had already thrown the ball. I thought it was a textbook can't hit QB in the head/face play... even if it did fall under the "incidental" category.

Wicked photo of Portis getting his head yanked off (almost). There were a bunch of bad PF facemasks in this game.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

RE: 41
I don't know, but I'll add this tidbit:
The greeting between the two coaches at the end of the game was so frigid and brief (even by NE standards) that it made the highlight reels and was commented on by Collinsworth et al.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Re: 125

Agreed 100%.

For the life of me, I just can't understand why, in the name of all that is good and holy, does Andy Reid have a seemingly innate aversion to running a sneak with his 240lb very mobile QB behind the heaviest O-Line in the league (331.2lb average) in short-yardage situations?!?

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Pacifist, you can't run roll outs with Brad Johnson, or at least there are some real drawbacks in doing so; he just isn't athletic enough. As to the wide receiver sets, I 'd really have to do some video breakdowns to comment knowledgeably, but I suspect that personnel may play a role here as well. Bethel Johnson got run out of New England in part because of his inability to avoid mental mistakes, Marcus Robinson has been hurt most of the year, and who knows what kind of a basket case Troy Williamson is these days.

They ran such a play at the end of the 49er game, and Troy couldn't make a catch that a high school player would normally grab with ease. I thought yesterday the problem was the Packer's complete lack of respect for Brad Johnson's ability, factoring the wide receiver personnel, to handle pressure, especially given the mediocre blocker performance in blitz-pick up.

They really have to consider changing qbs if this trend continues, say, through next Sunday's first half. The lack of ahtleticism at the position makes them much too easy to defense, especially given their receivers. Johnson can't buy any time in the pocket, and his receivers have to get a lot of seperation (which they can't do with any consistency), given his lack of velocity.

Anybody who was recommending that Favre retire, while praising Johnson as a "game manager" in the past year should be banned from giving football commentary.

Badger, Pat Williams has a lot of games like that. It may have something to do with some qb cadences.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

126: Besides the talent of the blockers, does technique, too? Do the Packers do a lousy job at blocking somebody of Williams' talent? I don't know what techniques or schemes the Packers typically use. I think a lot of blockers/teams undestimate Williams' quickness and assume he's just an immovable stone, when really he's powering his way into the backfield with a combination of size, strength, and quickness.

Williams also seems to motivate himself by taking things personally. He has a feud the Bears' Olin Kreutz; maybe he gets angrier at the division opponents he plays most often.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

131, I'm thinking more of sprint plays, where the QB could move out to the side quickly and get some receivers open quick right in front of him, rather than sitting in the pocket waiting. Of course, the Vikes used to be able to do this because they had WRs who could a) get separation and b) scared teams enough to cover them deep, so that TEs and RBs had easy times getting open in the flat. But I think the lousy personnel is an argument FOR trying more creative things, not against it.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Pacifist, any play that requires the qb to move quickly is not a play the Vikings can currently execute.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

A sprint out to the side with a quick pass to a receiver would require no more speed from Johnson than dropping back. Of course, it would require the OL to do a better job protecting than they've shown the ability to do.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#133 - can you actually imagine Brad Johnson running a full-out sprint play? I mean, seriously? What would that look like? Do they even allow wheelchairs in the NFL?

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

What are the Vikings going to do at QB? I think they should make a run at Matt Schuab (sp?)... maybe even Seneca Wallace is a possibility?

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Honestly, I think asking him to drop back and move in a direction would give the Vikes a better chance for success than asking him to drop straight back, sit in the pocket, and either miss deep receivers because he has a weak arm, or check down, or get hit by sackers. Having Johnson drop back and sit in the pocket has led to awful success; the Vikes are one of the 2 or 3 worst offenses in the league. If Johnson isn't nimble enough to get to the side rather than dropping straight back, he shouldnt' be on the field.

Let me be clear, though: I think Johnson should be benched. Whether he's replaced by Tarvaris Jackson or Brooks Bollinger depends on your view of all sorts of things. However, sticking with Johnson AND running standard offensive plays without any creativity is going to get the Vikings beat most weeks.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

#138: I think they have to replace him with Jackson. Try their rookie QB for a bit, see what happens. Though that basically says that the season is over and they're conceding the playoff hunt, I think it's the right choice.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I mean, what is Brad Johnson getting you right now? The big defense is that he's a smart QB who doesn't make mistakes and gives you a chance to win. But in the last three weeks he's committed 8 turnovers and led the offense to 20 points. He's not giving the Vikes a chance to win. I don't know that Bollinger or Jackson, right now, give the Vikes a better chance, but we may as well find out, because BJ is done.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Just want to echo applause for the "Soward's Folly" exchange. Funniest damn thing I have read in a long time.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I don’t remember Gibbs being that dumb as far as QB changes… he always seemed to be someone who would switch if it wasn’t working.

Not true!! 1985, Gibbs sticks with a completely washed up Theismann through 10 games, a 5-5 record, and something like 2x as many picks as TDs, until LT makes the decision for Gibbs by snapping Theismann's leg. Too bad LT didn't snap his larynx, but I guess you can't have it all.

Of course, Schroeder comes in and completes a bomb to Monk on the very next play.

How about this: as a long-time and loyal skins fan, I'm starting to wonder how much Gibbs was "great" vs. how much he was "lucky" in the first go 'round.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

QB is such an integral position... if they bench Johnson they are in a lurch for next season as well without a viable option (see Oakland, Arizona, Detroit, Miami).

Even those 4 teams mentioned... it's not clear what they will do next season, although Miami pretty much is stuck with Dante or low-cost backup.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10


The Packers O-linemen spoke all week about both Williams(es) and how well those guys are playing. Pat was certainly given his due by the Packers if public commentary is any measure. Only Bubba Franks was silly enough to suggest that those two were "just ok".

It's pretty impressive a guy that age/size can sustain such a high level of play on a regular basis.

Last year I wanted to attribute it to a combination of awful guards/Wells being a novice. But Wells has a year under his belt and the guard play is much improved. Yet come Sunday Pat Williams is still kicking everyone's *ss.

Just plain wow....

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Thanks Carlos, I'm not old enough to remember that far back, as I would've been 5.

I thought Rypien got benched at one point before he won the Super Bowl as well, but he might've fallen under the category of "Young and fragile". I seem to vaguely remember Rypien constantly getting sacked and fumbling, but I can't remember if it was prior to or after the 1991 season (or both).

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

If the Vikes need a QB for next year, I think they might be able to pry that Culpepper dude away from the Fins for a second day pick. :-)

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I'm a Charger fan, so I'm going to be biased, but what was interesting about the McCree hit was that in real time I couldn't even tell what exactly had happened. It might have simply been the angle of the throw and the camera work, but I seriously wasn't sure how early McCree's hit arrived. Then, when they showed the replay, it was obvious how early it was, but one thing that we have to remember is that things happen VERY fast in a football game, and no player has god-like control over his body. This very same point was brought up during the debate over the Trent Green hit (although this is different because TJ basically had no control over what happened, unlike Green).

I thought the hit was a clean shoulder-to-shoulder hit, only way too early. I thought the refs called the situation exactly right. And I also thought that if such a hit had been laid on an important Chargers wide receiver, and knocked him out of a game that we would go on to lose, that I would be mighty pissed off.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Pacifist, we agree, Johnson should be sat down. He really does lack the athletic ability required to execute a play that calls for lateral movement. Also, being right handed, Johnson would mostly be sprinting towards his worst lineman as well. Tbere are entire chapters of the West Coast playbook that are taken out with a qb of Johnson's athletic ability.

As to who should replace him, anybody who has not seen the practices has little idea. Of course, Childress having seen the practices may have something to do with his sticking with Johnson. If Jackson has shown any indication of getting the mental part of the NFL quarterback postion, however, they should give him a chance.

Matthew, their late 2nd round draft pick, Tavaris Jackson, did show considerable athletic ability in pre-season but I doubt if he is close to getting a good handle on the mental aspect of the position, given he only started at the Division I-A level.

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

I didn't see the Jets-Pats, but I'm curious about the rule. I know that a player cannot recover a fumble if he is OB. However, why can't he cause a fumble, even if OB. We all agree that a defender may still tackle a ball carrier even if part (or all) of his body is OB. If a fumble is caused in the act of a tackle by an OB defender and any player recovering it was in bounds when it was recovered, are you arguing that there is no fumble?

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 10

Unless Jackson is just completely clueless at this point, his running ability and arm strength would likely make the Vikings' offense no worse. May as well find out right now what his potential is; it isn't as if the o-line just sucks, and playing him would serve no purpose other than getting him to take a beating.