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

Audibles at the Line: Week 9

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 Orleans Saints 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14

Russell Levine: Wow, do the Bucs look bad. The Saints look like they're doing a 7-on-7 drill, while Tampa has four three-and-outs to start the game. Things you don't want to hear while watching your favorite team: "Philip Buchanon now in at corner for the injured Juran Bolden."

Will Carroll: I've been hearing rumors that Luke McCown would have the job shortly after being activated. I didn't really believe it until watching the Bucs offense.

Russell Levine: Of course right after I wrote my last email about the Bucs, they put together back-to-back TD drives featuring a bunch of nice throws from Gradkowski. The way things were going, McCown in the second half looked like a forgone conclusion. Tampa Bay's rally ruined my plans to rake leaves after halftime.

Mike Tanier: My wife raked leaves today! Don't ask what I had to do for that...

I had a similar experience to Russ early in this game. The Bucs started with six three-and-outs, and the Saints were cruising, but I kept watching. "Gotta be a good soldier. I'm doing NFC South for the next book, and I gotta watch the games." Gradkowski looked awful early on, but then he had this sudden sequence where he could do no wrong: shovel passes for big gains, touchdown throws off his back foot. Then the game got interesting.

I saw that elusive "triple stack" I was blabbering about three weeks ago. The Saints used the formation to throw a little screen pass to Reggie Bush, who was in the back of the stack. They also used a full-house formation later in the game. Bush took a handoff and went about three yards on that play. The Saints clearly lead the league in wacky formations designed to get the ball to their hotshot rookie so he can gain three yards. Luckily, Marques Colston is just amazing.

The Saints started a rookie left tackle named Zach Strief against Simeon Rice today. Rice was held sackless. I'm just wondering how the skinny guy from Scrubs bulked up so fast to play left tackle.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 at Baltimore Ravens 26

Ian Dembsky: On two straight plays, the Ravens lined up Mike Anderson as the QB and had him run the ball. Neither play worked especially well. I don't get it...

Aaron Schatz: As I noted to Ian when I showed up at his house, I wonder if Brian Billick did that just so opposing coaches would waste time preparing for the Ravens to do it again later.

Michael David Smith: CBS just broadcast two "god damn"s and a "f&$*in" as Billick stood a little too close to a microphone when he cursed out an official. It's amazing how much more NFL coaches get away with than NBA coaches.

Aaron Schatz: Chris Henry had a long catch down the right side but fumbled. Cincinnati challenged the fumble and it was overturned, then Baltimore challenged that Henry went out of bounds, but didn't win. Has anyone ever seen this before where the same play was challenged by both teams?

The left side of the Cincinnati offensive line is having big problems with the Baltimore pass rush.

The Bengals love to run from the three-wide. It seems like the only time they use a TE is when Reggie Kelly is playing fullback.

Mike Tanier: The Bengals are running the ball too much. They ran the ball 13 times in the first half, while Carson Palmer threw just 11 times. Late in the game, they were still running the ball when they needed two scores to win. When they got the ball with 3:00 or so left to play and down by six, they ran on first down. I like Rudi Johnson, but a team with as much offensive firepower as the Bengals have should be throwing the ball much more, even against a very good defense.

Dallas Cowboys 19 at Washington Redskins 22

Ian Dembsky: Blatant horse-collar tackle on Clinton Portis, no flag. When does the rule actually apply?

Doug Farrar: Lemme guess, was it Roy Wililams? Don't worry -- someone will get a $5K fine next week. You can potentially end a guy's season or put "Ocho Cinco" on your jersey, and it costs you the same.

Michael David Smith: This opening drive is the first time all season I've watched the Redskins offense and thought it looked like the Al Saunders Kansas City offense. I almost wonder if not having Santana Moss is forcing them to get more creative in the passing game.

Ryan Wilson: Wow. On Washington's first drive they get down inside the Cowboys 5-yard line, run something like 15 running plays in a row, and Portis gets stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Roy Williams has always been a liability in coverage, but on several running plays the Redskins didn't think enough to block him and he made stops in the backfield.

Michael David Smith: That Dallas safety is a perfect example of why teams should go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Even if you don't get it, you pin your opponents deep and you have a good chance of either a safety or forcing a punt from the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: Watching with Bill Barnwell and Ian Dembsky over at Ian's house, and we all just said the same thing after the safety.

Doug Farrar: Brandon Lloyd did a great job of breaking up that Mark Brunell pass thrown in the end zone, right to Anthony Henry. If Lloyd were a Cowboy and Henry a Redskin, they might have something there.

Terry McAulay might want to give Mike Pereira a call regarding the "ingredients of a hold." Evidently, the Cowboys do not possess those ingredients.

Ryan Wilson: Tony Romo has looked pretty damn good all day. He just hit T.O. on a quick slant for a 5-yard TD, and T.O. proceeded to use the ball as a pillow during his touchdown celebration. Hey, at least T.O. can make fun of his "condition." And yes, he was flagged for ... taunting.

Aaron Schatz: Who was he taunting, the narcoleptic community?

Dallas seemed to be playing the Washington receivers very soft in the first half almost as if they didn't hear the news that Santana Moss was out. Lloyd and Thrash aren't really that fast. And what does it say that with Moss out, Thrash is getting more looks than the big free agent signing Randle El?

Brunell early on was running parallel to the line for a first down on third-and-2 and yet for some reason instead of just running for a first he tried to force in a pass to his receiver in the corner. I don't like when QBs don't just grab that easy first, but especially you would think Brunell would just run for the couple yards.

Doug Farrar: Dallas OLB Greg Ellis was just abused twice on running plays in Washington's first actually successful touchdown drive. First, he was caught zigging when he should have zagged on an end around to Antwaan Randle El. Ellis bit heavily inside on the fake to Clinton Portis and couldn't regain his bearings in time to make the tackle. Then, on Portis' 38-yard TD run two plays later, Ellis switched with DeMarcus Ware pre-snap, putting him on the right side. Washington ran a toss left from a two-back set, and Ellis could not get outside in time to make the play -- because, once again, he bit on the fake inside.

Ellis was switched from defensive end to outside linebacker before the 2006 season, because he doesn't have the size to be an end in Bill Parcells' 3-4 defense. While Ellis is on pace for more tackles and sacks than he had last year, he's not going to enjoy Film Time with Coach this week.

Ryan Wilson: Tony Romo just threw a bomb to a wide open T.O., who had beat the cornerback and safety, and he dropped it. The corner, not surprisingly, was Carlos Rogers. The safety wasn't Adam Archuleta because he wasn't even on the field due to his inability to cover anybody.

Russell Levine: The ending of the Cowboys-Redskins was about as ridiculous as you'll ever see.

Romo hits Witten with a perfect pass to put the Cowboys in range for a game-winning field goal with six seconds left. Vandy's kick is blocked, knocked around and finally picked up by Sean Taylor. He carries it to past midfield, but there's a personal foul facemask tacked on (tough call, looked like it should have been a five). One untimed down, Skins kick the game winner.

Can anyone recall a situation with field goal attempts by each team on successive plays? Can't say I've ever seen that.

By the way, thanks Joe Buck for completely failing to realize that the return and penalty put the Skins in field goal range. He didn't identify the yard mark for a good 2-3 minutes. And thanks to the over-reliance on the sky-cam, we couldn't see what yard line they were on.

Doug Farrar: So, who's the bigger goat? Kyle Kosier of the Cowboys, for the facemask on Sean Taylor, or Alex Barron of the Rams, for the consecutive false starts on the fourth-quarter drive that might have tied the game? I vote for Barron, because he led the NFL with EIGHTEEN false starts last season. The Rams had second-and-1 from the KC 26, and Barron just killed the drive. Kosier, on the other hand, got hosed on what looked like it should have been an incidental 5-yard facemask.

Mike Tanier: I missed Washington's opening drives. Apparently, they contained all of the Redskins' offensive highlights. I saw the same offense I have seen for weeks, the one that cannot complete a pass in the middle of the field.

Mark Brunell's mechanics just look shot. His whole body lurches forward when he throws, and his follow through has this big hook in it so his arm ends up around the opposite shoulder at the end of a throw. No wonder so many of his passes tail left or right.

There's nothing quite like the reaction of a Philly sports bar after T.O. drops what should be an easy touchdown. Although I bet there's a similar reaction in Indy after Vanderjagt does something stupid with a potential game-winning field goal.

If I learned one thing from watching this game, it's that every team in the NFC East is capable of playing really dumb football and losing winnable games. The Eagles are not alone.

I agree that some of the early calls in this game were terrible, as if the refs weren't even paying attention. Most of the bad calls favored the Cowboys. Jason Witten got up after Terry Glenn's touchdown and was basically looking around for the holding flag he should have incurred. And Clinton Portis was molested when trying to go out for a screen pass, and there was no call.

Oh, and aren't we obliged to all argue about Parcells' decision to go for two early in this game?

Aaron Schatz: What arguing? Don't we all agree it was really, really stupid? At first we thought that Parcells sent out the regular offense just to force Washington to take a timeout and thought, "well, that's cool." But then they really did go for two, and it was an awful play and the Redskins sniffed it out right from the snap.

Doug Farrar: No argument here. In fact, Parcells had Manic's bonehead coach award sewn up until Bill Cowher put Santonio Holmes out there to return the kickoff after Denver had scored on his prior fumble.

Tim Gerheim: I like Dallas' double-fullback dotted-I formation. They ran out of it a couple times, and had decent success. It's a minor miracle that Romo doesn't trip over the closest fullback, since he's only about two yards back. Maybe they didn't run it with Bledsoe (that I saw) because he's not nimble enough.

Aaron Schatz: It's fun in game charting that the three-backs-in-a-line formation has so many names. It's been called the Maryland I, the power I, the triple I ... Tanier called it the "triple stack" in the Saints-Bucs game.

Will Carroll: It's a Maryland I. One of the highlights of my education was "Coaching Football," a 300 level class. I won't mention who the teacher was, but Notre Dame fans hate him.

The Maryland I was invented by Bear Bryant, by the way. The power I has another fullback to either side of the I, even with the fullback. Never heard the term "triple I," but its unneeded.

Atlanta Falcons 14 at Detroit Lions 30

Michael David Smith: Roy Williams just got absolutely mugged in the end zone and there was no call. I really wish pass interference were reviewable. If it's that blatant, they ought to be able to challenge it.

Miami Dolphins 30 at Chicago Bears 13

Michael David Smith: The Bears' linebackers are spending more time in Miami's backfield than Ronnie Brown is.

Pete Morelli is working this game, and he's taking way too long to confer with the other officials on penalties. Just make the call and move it along, man.

Doug Farrar: According to our 2006 penalty data, Morelli has called 7.9 per game, fewest in the league. I don't know if he was that "thorough" before the Polamalu interception debacle in the playoffs, but he certainly is this year.

Michael David Smith: Dan Dierdorf just said Rex Grossman will always have the starting job in Chicago "because he wins." Wasn't that the exact same reason people gave last year for giving the job to Kyle Orton and keeping Grossman on the bench?

Doug Farrar: All Damon Huard/David Garrard/Rex Grossman does is win ballgames.

Will Carroll: At this stage, Grossman needs to get Saged. Smith ought to have the juice to say there's still no controversy; this just wasn't Grossman's day.

Jason Taylor can't get his knee loose. More cartilage damage?

Houston Texans 10 at New York Giants 14

Al Bogdan: Mario Williams just sacked Eli Manning and took a jump shot afterwards. The Giants are missing Plaxico this game. They haven't been able to do too much downfield. And yet again, CBS has the only game on TV in the New York market and decides not to use one of its HD trucks for it. How many do they have, two?

Tim Gerheim: Nice broadcasting in the Texans-Giants game by Kevin Harlan (I believe). He religiously announced substitutions on both sides -- third receivers, defensive line subs, and nickel and dime backs. It was a revelation. I've been going to bars on Sunday all season, so I hadn't really heard any commentary this year. I'm sure Harlan has been doing this all season, but I don't remember it from last year, when I think he was with Steve Tasker, and hence part of the worst commentator team out there, in my opinion. Now he's with Rich Gannon, and while Gannon doesn't bring much to the table, he's perfectly inoffensive, which is a lot more that I'm used to in Texans games.

Al Bogdan: Mario Williams just abused Luke Petitgout on three straight plays. Nothing fancy, just bull rushed right through him. New York can't really afford to give Petitgout much help, since they have 56-year-old Bob Whitfield starting on the right side today.

The Giants can't get any pass rush going without Strahan and Umenyiora. On Houston's scoring drive, their offense consisted of short passes to Andre Johnson and scrambles by David Carr, which was enough to get into the end zone.

Without Plaxico Burress, there isn't anyone who can catch Eli's patented overthrows. He had one on a third-and-long to Michael Jennings that the 6'5" Burress usually has a shot at coming down with but that the 5'11" Jennings has no chance to catch.

Doug Farrar: I guess the only thing Manning has left is the easy dump-off in the flat, then.

Could young David Carr have been motivated by the example of Sage Rosenfels? Heavens to Murgatroid!

Al Bogdan: The Giants seem to have figured out that Eli shouldn't be allowed to throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield without Burress there serving as a backboard. They drive downfield for a touchdown after a lot of short passes and Tiki runs. The Giants have had no problem running the ball all day. I have no idea why Manning has thrown the ball 26 times in this game, while Barber and Jacobs only have 19 carries halfway through the fourth quarter.

Tim Gerheim: The Giants and the Texans are the same team, except the Giants can run the ball. They both have inconsistent quarterbacks, middling offensive lines, a good receiving tight end, a good defensive line, spotty linebackers, and a lousy secondary. The effective running game and the good fortune to be in the NFC are the only reasons the Giants are 6-2 and the Texans are 2-6.

The Texans used a really nice game plan against the Giants. They had five receivers on a lot of plays (I'd be curious from charting to find out what percentage -- I'd guess about 20 percent). They didn't have to change personnel because Owen Daniels and Wali Lundy were two of them most of the time. They had a lot of success dinking and dunking down the field from that formation because there was a big emphasis on David Carr getting the ball out of his hands quickly. It was probably the best way the Texans could have neutralized the Giants pass rush, and it worked fairly well. If they could have gotten more than two yards per carry, every carry, they would have won the game.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 at St. Louis Rams 17

Ned Macey: Marc Bulger must read FO. He read Aaron's preview, saw his completion percentage was too low, and became a checkdown machine. 15-of-17 in the first half with eight completions to running backs. Unfortunately, Looker fumbled a punt return, Bulger fumbled on a sack, and Jackson fumbled. Kansas City, meanwhile, has destroyed the St. Louis defense. Larry Johnson is having a field day.

On their third touchdown, Travis Fisher missed Huard when he had a clean shot. With Will Witherspoon in single coverage on Tony Gonzalez, the result was about as wide open a touchdown as you'll see.

Tennessee Titans 7 at Jacksonville Jaguars 37

Doug Farrar: The Jags are up on the Titans, 37-0, in the third quarter. David Garrard is currently 12-of-21 for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Tennessee came into this game rated 26th in pass defense DVOA, and they're without the currently suspended Pac-Man Jones. Some pundit is going to refer to this as David Garrard's breakout game. Some pundit might have missed the forest for the trees.

Denver Broncos 31 at Pittsburgh Steelers 20

Doug Farrar: And are there any more frightening words in the NFL than "Santonio Holmes will run it out"?

Ryan Wilson: If the Steelers aren't going to win another game, I certainly hope they can break the single-season turnover record. They're down 14 with 11:05 to go in the first quarter after Santonio Holmes fumbled the kickoff following Denver's first score. Suh-weet.

Ian Dembsky: Did you guys hear someone hock a HUGE loogie during the Denver game? It was in the middle of some Phil Simms rant, and apparently he didn't hear it, because he just kept on going. It had the full "Chhhhwaaaaa-THOOMP!"

Mike Tanier: Wasn't Chwathoomp the band that sang "I get knocked down/but I get up again/ain't nobody gonna keep me down"?

Aaron Schatz: The Denver offense has pretty much disappeared since the first drive down the field. They had the TD after the punt return fumble, but when you get the ball on the 10-yard line, a TD isn't that special. Since then the Pittsburgh defense has really clamped down. But the offense and special teams can't stop making mistakes. Big Ben has a bad case of "trying to do too much" disease. Sometimes that ends up with good plays like the one where he avoided the pass rush for something like 15 seconds and found Willie Parker who had come all the way over from the right side to the back left of the end zone. But other times you get the stupid red zone interception where he threw blindly when he should have thrown it away or taken a sack, and then that wacko "Hey, I'm going down, let's lateral to Najeh Davenport even though if he misses the lateral the Broncos will easily return it for a touchdown" play.

Also, on the Wilson fumble, that was an awful play call, not because of the fumbles, but it is fourth-and-2, you are the f'in Pittsburgh Steelers, run the damn ball. Instead they run a low-percentage pass, which Wilson happened to catch.

They also need to accept that they simply can't run the same inside runs with Willie Parker that they did with Jerome Bettis.

(In the middle of the game, Denver's offense gets going again.)

OK, well, gee Deshea Townsend, it's nice that you can keep responsibility for the back side and all, but if you can't tackle the runner on the reverse it means absolute zero negative bupkis.

My god, has every successful Denver offensive play except the reverse come against Ike Taylor? Man, he's playing awful and they are just picking on him over and over.

That Hines Ward play was a microcosm of the Pittsburgh season. I mean, how could you come away from that play saying "Hines Ward sucks and the Steelers suck"? Ward made some amazing moves, and I think everyone agrees he's a great player. And yet, here we are.

Michael David Smith: Yes, but Ward has to try to make that play because the Steelers turned the ball over four other times, allowed three touchdown passes, allowed a 71-yard run on a reverse, and produced just one sack and zero turnovers on defense. They don't suck, and they are playing much better than their record, but I am guessing that their DVOA rating is going to slip into the middle of the NFL pack. As talented as they are, that's the level they are playing at.

Mike Tanier: Not many Broncos-Steelers comments overall. Are we all waiting for the Steelers to fumble some comments to us inside the red zone?

Ryan Wilson: I would write more but I fumbled my laptop. Six times.

Cleveland Browns 25 at San Diego Chargers 32

Ryan Wilson: I'm not watching the game, but in looking at NFL.com it looks like the Browns are going with the "death by a thousand Phil Dawson field goals" game plan against the Chargers.

Indianapolis Colts 27 at New England Patriots 20

Mike Tanier: Strange first scoring drive for the Colts. After two bad throws by Manning and a false start, I assumed they would be punting. Then Manning makes that play with his feet to roll out and hit Harrison, and suddenly the Patriots were on their heels.

Aaron Schatz: Um, hi. Can somebody please let me know where the taunting was on Troy Brown there?

Mike Tanier: Taunt? Where?

Doug Farrar: That taunting call on Troy Brown proves the ridiculous nature of the NFL. What used to be a fun and visceral sport is now a kangaroo court for the benefit of referees who are directed to act like the old cranky lady in your apartment complex. "Turn it DOWN, you hooligans!!!" And given all this crap, how is the Giants' "Ballin'" jump shot NOT taunting?

Will Carroll: Brown threw the ball at Gardner, just to the left of the ref. Looked pretty harmless and perhaps unintentional. I imagine he was jawing at the same time.

Aaron Schatz: OK, so, we now need to make sure that the players know the official league-sanctioned method for handing the ball back to the referee. At all times, there must be contact between either your hand and the ball, or the referee's hand and the ball. It's like Olympic walking.

Russell Levine: Touchy call, but more likely than not that Brown was tossing the ball to the defender and players all know the rule on that.

Nice of Belichick to dress up tonight. No cutoff sleeves. That's the equivalent of coat-and-tie for BB.

Ryan Wilson: Belichick is single-handedly ruining my plasma TV with that red number. A shot of him in that get up lasting more than a few seconds leads to burn in.

Mike Tanier: There was a ridiculous taunt call against David Carr in the Giants-Texans game too.

OK, anyone want to argue the wisdom of the fourth-and-3 call? Granted, it worked...

Aaron Schatz: Manning is very impressive tonight throwing accurate balls under pressure. The Pats are on top of him on a lot of plays and still, he is getting out quality throws (as opposed to "I can do anything, I'll heave it in the air for a miracle" throws like Roethlisberger had all day today). I'm a little surprised that the Patriots are rushing so many guys instead of leaving guys back in coverage, which is what worked against the Colts in 2004 and what the Titans did to the Colts earlier this year.

Ned Macey: I know Harrison made four catches on the first drive, but on the second drive, how did the Patriots decide single-covering Wayne was a good idea? Finally on the third drive, Wayne was often doubled.

On the nice play by Brady when he escaped Freeney, I think Freeney let up to not get a roughing penalty on the pump fake. Good self-control by Freeney, but as a result, he's still at 0.5 sacks.

The Sanders interception was on a play that made the Colts sign Brackett to an extension. Great coverage on Watson. Of course, I've watched 25 Colts games the past two years, and Brackett doesn't exactly do that on a consistent basis.

The Pats only had three rushers on the early deep ball to Harrison and got pressure. I saw one play later (I think a completion to Wayne) where they held off three rushers, but given past history, I would expect to see it more in the second half.

I'm skeptical of the Brown "taunting" penalty myself, but ever since the Sean Taylor spitting thing last year, I tend to give the referees a little slack. One could say based on other calls it was undeserved. I also give them a bit of slack on the illegal contact call because it was close, and it was such a classic illegal contact call. By the way, what was Belichick arguing about there?

Mike Tanier: Next time I hear "Tom Brady's favorite receiver is the one who's open," I take a hostage.

Aaron Schatz: Are they going to give Brown taunting for keeping the ball that broke the all-time Patriots receptions record?

Doug Farrar: The Foxboro crowd just summed up my feelings about the day's officiating throughout the league. Bulls**t, indeed.

Mike Tanier: Oooh. Ugly screen to Watson. Maybe we should have a segment called "Stop me before I call a screen."

(Pats go for it on fourth down at midfield and Tom Brady "makes it.")

Aaron Schatz: I think that was a dumb decision, because there's nothing that guarantees you score even if you DO get that first down. And honestly, they didn't. I'm a Pats fan, but I can be man enough to admit that was the luckiest "not enough evidence to overturn" I've seen in a while.

Mike Tanier: Nice spot. Way to not measure. Doug, you were saying something about lousy officiating?

Doug Farrar: Only what I have been saying all day. Today has been the worst accumulation of dunderheaded calls since the 2005 postseason. I really don't understand how a guy like Ron Winter in this game, or Terry McAulay in the Dallas-Washington game with his 17 uncalled Dallas holds, doesn't get downgraded. The lack of public accountability when it comes to officiating is the NFL's black mark.

Aaron Schatz: Can we add in the 5-yard (no, wait, I'm sorry, 15-yard) incidental face mask that put Washington in position to beat Dallas?

Doug Farrar: While we're at it, add the offensive pass interference call on Isaac Bruce when he was being equally mugged by Ty Law.

Mike Tanier: There was also a roughing the passer on Sean Taylor that was roughing because it was Sean Taylor. It was a completely clean sack. And Mario Williams got called for roughing for shoving Eli Manning when they were still about a yard inbounds. The refs have been randomly handing out 15-yard trick-or-treats for years, but now it just seems totally ridiculous.

If I had to pick two problems with the NFL's image right now, it would be :

1) A fan culture fueled by talk radio that convinces large percentages of the fan base in every NFL city that their team sucks on ice, creating a pervasive negativity that poisons the fan experience.

2) A rule book that completely disallows refs to use judgment and experience and instead encourages them to enforce nit-picky little rules, so innocent plays are flagged because they fall within the legalistic language of a penalty while truly rough plays are inconsistently called.

Michael David Smith: The officiating in this game has been horrible. The failure to see that the ball was in the air on the illegal contact probably cost the Colts four points. The taunting call on Troy Brown was so incredibly stupid that any official who thinks that's taunting has no business being an NFL official. Tom Brady didn't make any forward progress on that sneak, and the ref called it a first down without even waiting for the ball to be spotted. Two great teams and a crappy officiating crew.

Ryan Wilson: So what exactly was Winter looking at during the 'review?' The Brady pick by Sanders reminded me of my buddy's theory: The ball never lies.

Aaron Schatz: Dear god. Where the hell were the hands to the face from Vrabel? That's unbelievable. I mean, the guy literally touches one Colts player on the shoulder and doesn't touch another player the whole rest of the play! Amazing.

Ned Macey: I didn't see where Vrabel's hand was, but that could be another "ball never lies." That being said, I'm not a big fan of Vinatieri's reception. Fans will be fans, but considering these are the fans that believe they'd have 0 Super Bowls without him...

Ryan Wilson: I'm pretty sure that after they boo Vinatieri the fans break out in a "Yankees Suck!" chant.

Aaron Schatz: Same thing I said in the book. If he came in here as the kicker for the Cleveland Browns or Dallas Cowboys, he would get a standing O. Maybe even Miami. Jets or Colts, he is going to get booed mercilessly. Compare the reception that Red Sox fans gave Johnny Damon when he returned to Fenway, and the reception they gave Orlando Cabrera when he returned to Fenway. Nobody here hates you for signing with the Anaheim Angels, and it would be the same if you signed with the Arizona Cardinals or something.

Ryan Wilson: Actually, Fenway fans gave Johnny D a very positive welcome in his first at-bat during the first regular-season series. After that, it was all boos, all the time.

Al Bogdan: From what I saw of the 49ers-Vikings game, it was very well officiated. Good thing they had Ed Hochuli working that critical matchup.

The David Carr penalty in the Giants game wasn't for taunting, rather it was on the team for "group celebration." Of course, Carr was the only one celebrating for any length of time.

Aaron Schatz: I'm with Madden. Pats play-calling is way, way, way too funky here. Pound the rock, kids.

Mike Tanier: And the Colts have found every fluky play to move the ball that I can find. Flip it to the tight end while going down. Roll out and throw to a covered receiver who makes an amazing catch. And Harrison ... wow ... he did catch that. And a taunt. And I forgot to tape Family Guy.

Al Bogdan: Wow, how do you not challenge that Harrison TD? On my TV it looked like the second foot didn't touch the ground until it scraped some white sideline paint.

Ned Macey: Stupid question, but what's the rule on challenges? If he had lost that one, would that mean he was out of challenges, or do you get a third one if you win one of them?

Also, Harrison apparently doesn't like someone on the Pats.

Michael David Smith: The B.S. taunting calls are now tied at 1-1. As if Marvin Harrison really knew where the ball was going to bounce when he spiked it.

Doug Farrar: This is why I hate the taunting penalty in the first place. The official in position should be worrying far more about the accuracy of the touchdown call than whether someone hurt someone else's feelings, or spiked the ball in the wrong direction.

Mike Tanier: Watching this game is like descending into insanity. Missed chip shot field goals after great fumble recoveries at the end of nice kickoff returns. This is like one of those "momentum"-filled college football games like the Red River Shootout or Florida State-Miami, where everyone on the field is a 19-year old who is pumped up out of his mind and playing on pure adrenaline and either making great plays or dumb mistakes. This game will come down to a dropped ball or someone falling down in coverage or something.

Ned Macey: Following that sack-interception combo, I'd like to rescind my previous comment that the Patriots should blitz less.

Ryan Wilson: If I'm the Steelers I'd give serious consideration to trading their first-round pick for Terrence Wilkins. He's only fumbled once and he's actually a really good returner. That has to be worth the fourth overall pick Pittsburgh will surely have.

(Game over.)

Aaron Schatz: Well, that last interception is not Brady's fault, but I'm sorry, they just didn't run the ball enough tonight, and the playcalling got too funky, and they outsmarted themselves. As a Patriots fan, I'm really pissed off.

Mike Tanier: You must be mad. Al Michaels called Vinatieri one of the most clutch kickers in NFL history, and you didn't respond.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, I'm very surprised they didn't run more. Facing a team that gave up 5.4 yards per carry before this, and they averaged 4.5 yards per carry here. It's not generally a Belichick thing to go against what's working.

Aaron Schatz: I should also give Marvin Harrison his proper due. In the preview, I stated that the Colts wouldn't win with anything less than Hall of Fame-level quarterbacking. Instead, they won thanks to Hall of Fame-level receiving.

Bits 'n' Pieces

Doug Farrar: Michael Irvin Stupid Quote of the Week: "Peyton Manning does more with less than any other quarterback." Uh, Mike? I know Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne may not be in your "Receiver Ministry" (though Reggie is from Da U), but last time I checked, they're a bit better than Doug Gabriel and Reche Caldwell. Yes, indeed -- how DOES Peyton manage to survive in this league with the top two receivers in DPAR though seven games?

Jason Beattie: I've never heard of "Garmin" until today, but I already hate them for breaking the seal on "First Inappropriately Early Christmas-Themed Commercial" on November 5! Good lord. And that chick with a unibrow didn't help.

Tim Gerheim: I've never cared much about John Mellencamp. Until today. After hearing his saccharine song in about a million unjustifiably patriotic Chevy commercials, I would prefer that he never existed.

Doug Farrar: Unquestionably the most annoying song since "Don't Worry, Be Happy." If you think it's bad now, wait until you hear it 500,000 more times in the next Presidential campaign.

Aaron Schatz: I still can't believe we're not getting more "hock a loogy" talk. At Ian's house, we spent the rest of that game trying to figure out the identity of the hocker.

Later This Week

Any Given Sunday: Dolphins over Bears
Every Play Counts: Lorenzo Neal and Martyball!

Comments

185 comments, Last at 10 Nov 2006, 3:46pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Successive FG tries: IIRC when Denver played the Giants on 9/10/01 there were back to back FG tries to end the 1st half. Elam attempted one and missed, Giants get the ball at the spot of the kick. Owen Pochman then attempted a FG on the next play and missed. I don't remember if that was the last play of the half or if Elam had another attempt.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Conspiracy theory: Ron Winters' crew is one of the league leaders in penalties called (I believe). The NFL knows this, and deliberately sent Winters' crew to the IND-NE game, suspecting a lot of pass interference and defensive penalties would be called, helping make it a "better" game and giving the Colts a better chance to win. The refs were bad but they were consistently, equally bad for each team, but by calling a lot, they were helping the Colts.

I don't actually believe that, just so you know.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"The Giants and the Texans are the same team, except the Giants can run the ball."

That is THE stupidest statement I have ever read. Are you serious? Check the numbers on this very site. Amazing!

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Brunell actually completed some nice long passes over the middle in the second quarter. I guess not throwing the ball for two weeks helps.

Also, according to Joe Buck (yeah, I know), the rule is you're not supposed to leave your feet during a celebration, which is why TO got whistled. But by that logic, the Giants should lead the league in penalties by now.

The Washington coaches have a fascination with James Thrash I will never understand; I've just learned to live with it.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Funny you mentioned the John Cougar Mellencamp song. Last week my buddy went on a drunken rant about his hatred for said song. This week I called him everytime it played and just put the phone to the speaker. I plan on doing this for the rest of the season.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

On behalf of Patiots fans everywhere (I'm looking at you, Bill Simmons) touche, Peyton. Brilliant. His hurried and off-balance throws are better than most QBs (I'm looking at you, Rex Grossman & Joey Harrington). And the Foxboro/Belichick/Brady monkey is now not only off his back but lying dead with a stake through its heart (but that's only one of your monkeys, Peyton). And Aaron is absolutely right on the Pats play-calling. In fact it may have been the worst of the BB era. It's inexplicable that they didn't run and run and run...especially on that very first drive that ended with an INT. Even Madden called it right...and what's more remarkable: that he got an insight thru the uprights or that Vinatieri didn't (twice!)? Of course Madden reverted to form with his 4Q observation that the Colts with about 5 plus minutes remaining would probably try to score rather than run out the clock. You think so, John?

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

On the PI call that Belichick was arguing I think in a close up I saw him mouthing something along the line of "c'mon he was making a play on the ball" which was my initial reaction as well. He seemed to be reorienting to the ball not trying to impeded wayne's progress to it, seemed like incidental contact to me.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Has there ever been any serious talk about implementing some different forms of discipline available to officials? In basketball, you can T someone up to send a message because it's two free throws in a game with 160-220 points, and if you end up tossing them out, it's one game of 82. BFD.

15-yard penalties in football are HUGE. That's got to be an element. They're getting heat from the league to protect the quarterback or crack down on celebrations; they also know that making or not making a borderline 15-yarder could easily be the difference in the game.

This'll sound like I'm kidding, but how about a yellow card/red card, available in conjunction with or separate from a yardage penalty? Lets officials put a clamp on a mild taunt, or a blow to the quarterback that might be legal but rougher than it has to be or something like that, without completely changing the game ... ?

Just a thought.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Nobody noticed, I suppose, but I did say take the points against the Bears in the spread line section. My line of thought was that the Fins would finish what the Cards could not. The corollary is that the Fins will improve greatly in the second half, as "losing disease" starts to recede. They didn't play great against the Bears, but all they need is a little confidence in themselves to leave the ugly chain of mistakes behind.

And BTW, Culpepper was the original carrier of the virus... hope it's not incurable for him.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Also, according to Joe Buck (yeah, I know), the rule is you’re not supposed to leave your feet during a celebration, which is why TO got whistled. But by that logic, the Giants should lead the league in penalties by now.

I don't think it's a matter of leaving your feet, so much as not planting your ass on the ground. Hence, no centerfold modeling, no canoeing, and apparently, no sleeping. I haven't seen any of the Giants ridiculous celebrations (thank god), but they don't sound like the roll-around-on-the-ground type.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

How many kicks does a kicker have to miss before he becomes NOT "The greatest clutch kicker of all time".

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Tim Gerheim: Nice broadcasting in the Texans-Giants game by Kevin Harlan (I believe). He religiously announced substitutions on both sides — third receivers, defensive line subs, and nickel and dime backs. It was a revelation. I’ve been going to bars on Sunday all season, so I hadn’t really heard any commentary this year. I’m sure Harlan has been doing this all season, but I don’t remember it from last year, when I think he was with Steve Tasker, and hence part of the worst commentator team out there, in my opinion. Now he’s with Rich Gannon, and while Gannon doesn’t bring much to the table, he’s perfectly inoffensive, which is a lot more that I’m used to in Texans games.

I noticed this last week in the Steelers-Raiders game which Harlan and Gannon did. I was pleased. It's nice having announcers who are actually paying attention to the game and informing the viewers about what's going on. You know, as opposed to, say, giving an interview to some celebrity who has nothing to with the game at all. Or babbling about who is on your fantasy team.

Jason Beattie: I’ve never heard of “Garmin� until today, but I already hate them for breaking the seal on “First Inappropriately Early Christmas-Themed Commercial� on November 5! Good lord. And that chick with a unibrow didn’t help.

I first noticed this commercial last week and was going to gripe about it in the game thread but didn't. So they actually broke it out in October. Before Halloween.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

11: Did Buck launch into a self-righteous tirade about how disgusting it was and how TO should face the firing squad for is malicious and immoral actions?

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

This’ll sound like I’m kidding, but how about a yellow card/red card, available in conjunction with or separate from a yardage penalty?

They already have "sideline warnings" and "substitution warnings" where the offense gets one free warning, and then after that it's a penalty. I think you're right, in that you should have warnings for taunting as well.

I mean, if TO sleeps on the ball once, I don't really care. But if it's a shootout game, and TO scores 4 TDs, and he does stuff like that every touchdown, it does take something away from the game itself. So a flag goes down on that play, "Taunting warning, on number #81. Further taunts will result in a 15 yard penalty." And if it's too much to actually remember it on a per person basis, do it on a teamwide basis.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I have a problem with part of the description of the Giants had having a "middling" offensive line...yes part of it is Tiki and Jacobs, but by FO's own standards, the Giants have the #1 run-blocking OL in football...that can't ALL just be Tiki and Jacobs...

I also don't like the "good" defensive line for the Giants...it's the best d-line in the league when healthy, and even despite injuries, is still #2 in run-defense and solid at pass-rush.

I'd describe the Giants as just a BETTER version of the Texans. Both have incosistent QBs, but whereas the Texans have an okay running game, and okay O-line and okay D-Line, the Giants excel there, and they have similar TEs, LBs and the secondary.

The Giants are trying to prove the "you win by passing and stopping the pass" theory wrong...not sure if it's going to work, but the Giants win because they're among the best at running the ball AND stopping the run well, and passing is decent, and as for pass defense...um...Bueller?

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Oh, and regarding announcing: I'm now convinced Phil Simms is nothing more than a speaker that constantly fires out common punditspeak over and over and over. I mean, I knew he was awful, but my God, that was a horrid broadcast. The entire game was nothing more than sportswriter cliches and really crappy analysis.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I have a problem with part of the description of the Giants had having a “middling� offensive line…yes part of it is Tiki and Jacobs, but by FO’s own standards, the Giants have the #1 run-blocking OL in football…that can’t ALL just be Tiki and Jacobs…

They also are 16th in the league in pass protection. That's a decent description of "middling."

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Yeah, the loogie during the DEN/PIT broadcast was easily one of the top five expectorations I've heard broadcast during a professional sporting event. I have no idea who was responsible for it, but it was truly impressive.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Ryan, I was thinking the same thing. The overall record for turnovers in a season is 63 (by the '78 49ers). If we (the Steelers) can throw 3 picks every game, then we'd only need to lose 2 fumbles each game to break the record. All we need to do is keep giving the ball to Santonio Holmes early, so we can keep getting behind and throw 54 passes.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Great game by the Colts! Tough loss for the Pats. Enjoyable game to watch.

My only gripe? You guys griping. You could have focused on one of many great plays by either team, and you spent most of your time complaining about the officials.

Yes, the hands to the face call was weird. The should have been pi call. The Brady sneak that wasn't.

But the game had Maroney rushing like a beast. Had Brady making several good throws, and the Colts defense playing like they do when they are on. Basically, letting play after play occur hoping for a pick or a mistake.

Vinitari missed a couple, but that's ok. Miss them when we don't need them.

It was a great game. Harrison's catch! (which was without a doubt a catch)

There was some luck, there was some skill, the only thing that would have made it better was another Brady drive, and another Brady pick.

How do you not run every play against the Colts?... I'm dead serious.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#19:

Does the O-line look good because Tiki and Jacobs are able to consistently get the yards necessary in spite of mediocre blocking, or does the O-line's strong performance give Tiki and Jacobs their yards? It's a chicken-and-egg problem, and one which can really only be cracked by looking at the games (and not just the stats). While I think the line is certainly adequate (FO had it at #15 during their preseason roundups, and that sounds about right if maybe a couple spots low), both Giants RBs have styles that, in my opinion, make the line look better than it is- Tiki's game is all about finding smart cutback lanes and making defenders miss, and Jacobs is a big bruiser who's nearly impossible to take down one-on-one without a few extra yards after contact. Both of these are more versatile running styles than the straight-ahead hit-the hole stylings of a line-dependent back like Edge.

The Giants and Texans have some similarities, but I'd say the Giants have the definite edge with RB, TE, O-line and their starting front 7, while the Texans are equal, not better, in the other positions.

What made this game so close was clearly the injuries- even a team with four starting-quality DEs is going to look unimpressive when three of them are out- I mean, freakin' Adrian Awasom was in on every play.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Well, I as a fan am extremely tired of all the "taunting" and "group celebration" and similar stupid penalties. Not the penalties being called, but the very fact that such rules exist. It is helping to ruin the game.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#19 - While that loogie was definitely impressive on a raw scale, Denver games have historically produced a lot of plegm. So while we should give credit where credit is due, the amount of Phlegm Above Replacement (PAR) is quite high, I would hazard a guess that the Denver-Adjusted Phlegm Above Replacement (DPAR) is still quite large, but far from the historic levels the raw score would indicate.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

OK, I didn't pay much attention to football yesterday, but happened to be watching the box score of the Washington Dallas game, saw Dallas in position to kick the winning field goal, saw a three point victory and assumed they won the game.

I am JUST NOW from reading Audibles, realizing Washington won.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Man, that was a horrible loss for the Patriots. Not because it really makes much difference in the long-term (they should still make 12-4 comfortably) but because it was such an error-strewn performance. Interceptions, bad playcalling, dropped catches, poor kickoff defence, penalties, a couple of busted coverages... it was just really sloppy at times.

The Colts seemed to win without ever really playing particularly well. Neither of their lines exercised much in terms of control or dominance, with the oline just getting manhandled in run-blocking. They also seemed to generate a few miraculous gains from apparently busted plays to keep stalling drives going - see that first big pass to Harrison, with Manning flushed out and both safeties allowing two receivers to get behind them, the falling handoff thing to Utecht and the long pass to Dallas Clark when he fell over, got up and was still uncovered by Samuel in the deep zone. All were third-down conversions if I remember correctly, and I think all 3 led to scores. I mean, from an offensive perspective, they were never as methodical or impressive as they had been in last week's destruction of Denver.

The Colts defence was a bit better though, and Bob Sanders just makes an amazing amount of difference; he's a real force against the run, taking great angles and using an incredible combination of speed and fearlessness to blow up quite a few plays. Having said that, I was surprised the Patriots didnt try and run right at him a bit more (especially in the 2nd half when he was really on fire, coming from defensive right to left to attack runners) because his lack of size means it is probably a better idea to target him with a lead-blocker rather than to allow him to run around freely in pursuit. (I was also a bit surprised that the Pats didnt test him deep a little more when he was edging up for the run.) What would really worry me though, if I was a Colts fan, is the nagging suspicion that the combination of qualities that make him the player he is - his bravery and the lack of size (and hence that speed) - will also make him a very injury prone player for the rest of his career.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Totally agree with the abundance of bad calls in yesterday's games. But I absolutely fell out of my chair when Ron Winters ran up and signaled the Patriot first down by Brady when the rest of the officiating crew were ready to bring out the chains. During the review, the chain gang had already moved the markers, so Winters couldn't have overturned the call even if he wanted to. The review was an exercise in futility.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I dont get all the Peyton Man-love today. I think this says it best:

"The Colts seemed to win without ever really playing particularly well. Neither of their lines exercised much in terms of control or dominance, with the oline just getting manhandled in run-blocking."

When the other team gives you five turnovers, three of them at the opponent's 30, and you win by 7 points, your offence didnt have a good day. The Colts won that game because the Patriots (Tom Brady) made mistakes, and lots of them. Manning looked decent, but not great, and got shut down on a bunch of drives.

The Patriots offence blew that game. The only turnover I can really give credit to indy for is the Strip of Corey Dillon.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

So let me get this straight: the Colts didn't win that game, the Patriots lost it. Is that an accurate summation of Pats fans feelings??

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Mario Williams ... BALLIN'!
Peter King old fuddy duddy ass talking shit about a kid who is playing well, and decided to have a lil' fun. It's a DANCE in a freaking rap video.

basically, this is just a co-sign on #24, you hit it on the head. i get excited and talk smack playing Madden, or shooting hoop. Why don't folks accept this is part of the game.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

What, no comments about Bob Sanders? He was one of the keys to the game as far as I am concerned. He personally made the Colts D go from historically bad to just bad. Not only the interception, but he made the tackle on a couple of the only three or four running back tackles for loss that the Colts had.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I'm going to go against the grain and say it was a good hands-to-the-face call against Vrabel. Two reasons for this:

1) Vrabel never argued. Not at all.
2) The only view we got was from behind Clark, and you can't see what Vrabel's left hand was doing (I assume up in Clark's face).

No, Madden was jumping out of his chair about the call, but he misunderstood the call -- he kept saying, "How can that be illegal contact?" It wasn't illegal contact as in past 5 yards; it was illegal hands to the face.

I'll check it on TiVo later, but that, I think, is what happened -- Vrabel used his right hand to the face, but we were blocked by Clark from seeing it (Same thing that Brown was called for against Clark, and that replay showed the ref to be right).

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Any chance the Pats can get Charlie Weiss back for the playoffs?

puh-leaze!!!

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I know you guys didn't watch it, but the Vikings receivers yesterday had the worst game by a receiving corps I've ever seen in a NFL game. Beyond being unable to get any seperation at all, making zero above-average plays on the ball and having their normal drops (really, the goat of the week cannot be awarded without at least reveiwing Troy Williamson's deop at the end of the game), they managed to get key penalties which took one long touchdown away, and ruined another good field posiition opportunity. The Vkings should just play with a fullback and three tight ends on the field for about 80% of their offensive snaps.

The other game I watched completely was Patriots/Colts, and watching the Colts receivers, it was hard to imagine that the Colts and the Vikings were actually playing the same game.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

You're right, Rich (and so unpredictable in your assessment): Manning sucked.

Any QB can have passes for: 44, 18, 16, 33, 36, 29, and then 13 (the last one when you should have been sacked) against the NE defense.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

38: Thank you.

The Colts weren't "given" anything by the Pats; the Pats made mistakes and the Colts did what good football teams do: they capitalized on them. The reason the game was so close is that the Colts' D is pretty shaky on the whole. But they did a good job of forcing turnovers.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Does anyone else think that if Manning and Brady's stat lines had been reversed, we would be hearing about how Manning 'chokes in big games' while Brady has 'incredible poise' and the ability to 'come through in the clutch'?

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

There is nothing contradictory in saying Manning and Harrison played great games, as well as New England's defense. It wasn't a good night for the (blank) is clearly superior to (blank) crowd, however.

(Edited for appropriate thread location purposes)

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#38

New England's pass defense currently ranks #22 in DVOA, so that's not as far-fetched as you make it seem.

Unless you're being sarcastic. I have a hard time distinguishing sometimes.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

As a segue from the Patriots-should-have-run-more talk (which I agree with)... why isn't Maroney starting ahead of Dillon yet? He appears to do everything Dillon does as far as power running and receiving, but the kid is downright explosive. He runs with the same pissed-off style that TO does, but with more consistency.

Normally I would say that Dillon is getting the starts because, as a vet, he's better at pass blocking, but Faulk is in on most passing downs anyway. Having watched every Pats game this season, I would say that Maroney deserves about 70% of the carries instead of the 50-50 split that him and Dillon are currently getting.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

If Sanders doesn't get hurt (as well as the offense staying healthy, of course), the Colts just might be able to pull of a championship season with a lousy defense.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Question. I was at the Baltimore-Cincy game and was debating a friend on this. When a play is challenged, isn't the entire play reviewed? Case in point, the fumble/non-fumble mentioned in the audibles section. Cincy challenges and overturns the fumble call. Baltimore challenges and loses on the out of bounds call. Shouldn't the Cincy challenge have automatically reviewed the entire play or am I wrong on this? Of course practically officals can't review everything in a short time. But I don't think you can have two challenges to the same play either (though I saw it happen). Any details on this?

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

RE 28, 33, 46
I agree with the Bob Sanders assessments. He was all over the field last night. It's really amazing how much difference one player can make on a team with poor depth (see Shawn Springs with the Redskins).

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I enjoyed the bit of irony in seeing Rodney Harrison commit a flagrant facemask penalty on the same play where he was injured.

No, I am NOT glad he was hurt. Just thought the moment itself was somewhat fitting.

Hope that makes sense. Because I don't physical ill on anyone.

Well, maybe Dennis Green.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

18 - if we presume the OL rankings to correctly assess the line, being the BEST run blocking and league average at pass blockin means better than "middling"

23 - Yes, chicken and egg problem. But the Giants line wasn't nearly as good last year (10th in the league, and a breakdown shows that a good amount of the success was on Tiki since the Giants were #1 in 10+ runs)...now yes, some of that is on Brandon Jacobs being impossible to tackle one-on-one, but on power runs up the middle, it's not just one defender going for him, that's more for side to side runs and downfield.

The Giants are only 19th in the league in 10+ runs, but 2nd in power and 9th in stuffed, and have a .11 yards advantage over the next team. There's simply no way that can be put all on Tiki and Brandon. The line can run-block, and run-block well.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I think yesterdays game put all question to rest...Eli Manning is indeed better than Tom Brady.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Peyton Manning played okay. That game after the first quarter was just brutal to watch. It seemed that both teams consistently made bad/stupid plays. The officiating was atrocious. BB outsmarted himself last night. If only they had run the ball...they were getting almost 5 yards a carry, EVERY SINGLE CARRY! Oh, and I hate John Mellencamp.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#30 - Rich, I think you answered your own question. Manning was facing good pressure the whole game, the running game was shut down, and he still managed to play a pretty good game. The Pats faced the vaunted Colts defense, and turned it over 4 times.

Incidentally, this is exactly why so many of us non-Pats fans get so irritated with the 'Manning is a choker' commentary, such as Simmons' last column. Almost everybody here gladly concedes that Brady is a great QB, and the Pats are a great team. This was obviously a flukey game, and I still think they're still the better team. But if the score were reversed, all we'd be hearing about is how much Manning sux and will never win the big one, while Brady will always find a way to make the throws even when his O-line is being overwhelmed.

To reiterate: I still think that the Pats are by far the better team, and would likely beat the Colts in the playoffs should they have a rematch. The game was pretty close throughout; if the Belichick would have stolen a page from the Schottenheimer playbook (when's the last time anybody wrote that?), or Brady stops channeling the post-concussive Roethlisberger, they probably win. But sweet Jeebus, can there at least be some acknowledgement that the guy with the moustache is, in fact, pretty darned good, and that the other 21 guys on the field might have a little bit to do with the outcomes of the games? I'm not even a Colts fan, but after Simmons' column on Friday, I wanted them to put up 50.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Oh and 8 of the 17 sacks against Manning were in the Eagles game. 8 of them. When almost half of your sacks through 8 games are in 1 bad game, does FO do anything to adjust for that...I mean, that's absurd, and I know ancedotes should not normally be used to change objective data, but that does seem to indicate the line is better at pass blocking then the sack rate would indicate.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#23 - I think the Giants O-Line is suffering in everybody's comparison this week because they had a bad week. I've watched every Giants game (yes, I am a biased die-hard) and the O-Line has been great on running plays this year - the best I have seen it since the 80's.

The guards are pulling and sealing outside blocks, which lets Tiki cut back and get his big yards. (Tiki sucks at avoiding in-the-backfield defenders - but if he gets to the line he's always gonna make someone miss. This is half the reason why he didn't excel under Fassell like he has under Coughlin.) And yesterday, Bob Whitfield was awful. Well, Bob Whitfield is awful, but yesterday he saw the field. The only good news is that with Rich Suebert, a backup guard, now center and apparently tackle-eligible - they have some outside help to support him. Plus, McKenzie - teh regular RT was out with a Migrane. I don't think he would have been held out with a migrane against many other teams except the Texans.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

re #49:

Was that a facemask? Did they call it? I don't remember them tacking on 15 to the end of the play.

And, I was very happy to see Harrison get hurt trying to put the other Harrison in a head lock. Dirty players deserve anything they get.

(Yes, I do think he's a dirty player. He can be great when not taking cheap shots, but he ALWAYS takes the cheap shot)

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I actually don't understand people saying the Colts win without playing well--I think everybody really is taking Peyton Manning for granted. In the last two weeks (road wins against good opponents), yes, the defense and running games were mediocre at best, but the passing game was absolutely terrific. Are we expecting a bit much from Peyton manning when he can do what he did last night and people say he played "okay"?

Manning is doing something he didn't do well last year--he steps up into pressure and throws the ball when taking a hit. That's the sort of thing that could make a difference when the playoffs come.

Maybe I'm just a nostalgic Viking fan longing for good offense, but I love watching the Colts play and each week it seems to me that Manning tops himself. He was excellent last night.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

RE: #37

I'd have to give that honor to the Falcons' receivers. Vick had some costly turnovers but he also watched his receivers drop 8 (!) balls on perfectly placed passes. 6 of those drops would've gone for first downs, several of which came on 3rd downs.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I almost wonder if not having Santana Moss is forcing them to get more creative in the passing game.

That's what it seemed like to me, MDS. It was a much more balanced passing attack, except when they got inside the 5, when they gave the play calling over to a zombie from the 1930s ("must... run... up the middle..."). Later in the game the offense slowed down, but I thought the play calling was better overall than in most other games.

how DOES Peyton manage to survive in this league with the top two receivers in DPAR though seven games?

Doug, saying Peyton has the top two DPAR receivers is another way of saying that Peyton has the top QB DPAR and doesn't spread the ball around very much. I agree that they're better than any two receivers on the Patriots, and I agree that Irvin's comments were bizarre. But the reason they have higher DPAR than Smith/Keyshawn or CJ/Housh or Glenn/TO is because of who is throwing to them.

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Well, the results are in and it’s pretty clear- Peyton Manning is too good for Bill Belicheck to deal with. Seriously. The game looked like an exact reprise of last year, despite the Colts fielding a weaker team and the Patriots fielding a stronger one. Belicheck had to make aggressive/panicky decisions with his offense because he knew from early on that his defense had no chance of stopping Manning. And they didn’t.

Manning had a chink in his armor before 2005- he was a below-average quarterback when making throws on the move. He made bad decisions and he had poor accuracy. Belicheck was more successful at anyone at flushing Manning outside the pocket while not sacrificing much in coverage. But Manning has clearly worked on that element of his game, to the point where he is now lethal when on the move. He’s just killed the Patriots with big plays down the field after rolling out in each of the last two meetings.

Of course, it probably doesn’t help matters that the officials have decided that New England defenders can’t mug receivers 10-15 yards down the field anymore. That was the other part of their “strategy.� What all that means is that we can probably banish the rock-paper-scissors stuff until New England actually invests some time and money in upgrading their secondary. Because what they are doing won’t wash anymore.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#37, 59- I'd include the Steelers receiving corps in that group of bad days- 3 fumbles lost by three different receivers (when Hines is putting the ball on the ground, you know you're destined for a top-10 pick), all of which fell in the "kick right in the nuts" category of turnovers. There's some competition for the KCW award.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I was just looking through the play-by-play to examine Manning's completions (to look at stats that I care about and most of you probably don't).

17 of his 20 completions went for first downs or touchdowns, and he had completions of 44, 33, 36, 29, and 35 yards.

Those are the sorts of numbers that impress me about a quarterback, telling me his completions mattered (unlike Brad Johnson's completions Sunday), and that he was able to complete big plays downfield (um...also unlike Brad Johnson's completions Sunday).

I'm thoroughly impressed with Peyton Manning.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#62 - Poor Trent Cole. Is 'kicked in the nuts' the new 'keep chopping wood'?

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Sad Pats fan here. Some thoughts:

1). This game really highlights how overlooked the safety position is. The Colts D, while not exactly stellar, was much better than most Pats fans (and probably a lot of Colts fans) expected, probably due largely to the play of Bob Sanders. He really is something. On the other hand, the Pats refused to play press coverage for most of the day, which is why the Colts moved at will early on, and I think this was largely due to missing both starting safeties--Harrison and Wilson. Yes, Hawkins and Scott are decent, but in my mind the game started to go south for the Patriots after that first amazing Harrison catch, where the other Harrison got injured. Had Sanders not played, and had Rodney Harrison not gotten injured, I think we may have seen a completely different game.

2). Horrible officiating. Both ways. Enough has been said by other people.

3). Some great moments. Both ways as well. Too bad these two games weren't better officiated. After the first two Colts drives, the Patriots defense settled down and looked the best they've looked all year, practically. They were put in bad situations a bunch of times because of turnovers and a missed chip shot field goal, and kept the game close. They intercepted Manning twice (that one was called back for a penalty doesn't diminish how hard it is to intercept him) and ultimately gave the offense a chance to tie it at the end. The only reason the Colts had so much offensive success was that Peyton Manning had, to my eye, one of the best games of his career--consistently thowing pinpoint accurate deep bombs while being tackled. And Marvin Harrison, winner of this month's "Crotchery Matrix Catch Award", is right up there with Steve Smith and Torry Holt (or Issac Bruce? I don't follow the NFC much and get those two mixed up...whichever is the younger one) as the best WR's in the league. On the other hand, the Colts defense played better than I've seen them play all year as well, forcing the Pats offense into uncharacteristic mistakes. It felt like the playoffs versus Denver last year.

4). Belichick out-coached himself. There was no need to get so fancy with the playcalling when stuffing it down the Colts throat was so easy. Why run clever screens and such when facing a fast but undersized defense? And Brady was, this time, outplayed by Manning. When he misses deep this year, he's consistently been overthrowing his recievers. I guess the Colts watched that on tape, because they're the first team this year to actually have people in position to catch overthrown deep balls. I don't know what was up with his off-target screen throws. Today, at least, Dungy outcoached Belichick, and Manning outplayed Brady. Enjoy it, Colts fans. Those two events will probably never happen in the same game again. I look forward to seeing the Colts and Pats meet in the playoffs.

5) Final thought. A couple of people have commented that both teams played uncharacteristically badly--that the Pats were making dumb mistakes and that the Colts didn't look as sharp as they usually do. Guess what? That's what happen when good teams play good teams. The fact that each team was able to make the other team look "bad" is a testament to how good each team really is. Of course, we as fans, tend to remember the positive and block out the negative (except for playoff losses), so we remember all the times that the Colts and Pats look fantastic beating up on the Jets, or Minnesota, or San Francisco, or whoever else. That's what good teams do. But when good teams play each other, of course they look decidely average and beatable. Because both teams are.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Anyone think Belichick may have been holding back on defensive schemes against Manning, because he wants to wait until the playoffs to bring out the good stuff? Pats have essentially clinched the division already, and though obviosuly they want to win for playoff positioning, but maybe Pats aren't pulling out all the stops on D to save them for an expected playoff rematch.

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Amusing that Peyton Manning went out of his way to declare this "a TEAM victory." Different tune than last year's Pittsburg debacle where he threw the offensive line under the Bus. :).

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re 66:

It sounds like you're trying to play Simmons' "Milton Berle" defense of the Pats. However, remember the key part of the phrase "I only pulled out enough to win," which the Patriots... um... didn't.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Purds:

No. A penalty was not assessed. But that sure looked like a facemask to me.

I don't watch enough Patriot games to know whether he does that regularly. But if so one can understand why opposing players label him as a "dirty" player. The game has enough challenges without some guy giving an extra twist, yank, etc. on different plays.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Actually, I think the line threw Peyton under the bus in that game. It's not a crime when you ask someone for the license plate afterwards...

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

One of the reasons they ran less was that Graham, Neal and Hochstein were out. They still should have ran more though; there were times in the second half when they passed constantly when it was unnecessary.

The ending was just brutal. After Vinatieri missed I knew Brady would drive for the tying TD, and then Kevin Faulk tips the ball to the defender. Just awful.

Ah well, it could be worse. I could be a Pennsylvania football fan.

Manning did play extremely well, and that does not change my irrationally strong dislike of him one bit.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: Bengals/Ravens - while it might be nice for the Bengals to be throwing more, I'm not sure Carson will survive if they abandon the run too much. Even when the leave in backs, the line is still getting caved in.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#3... Add me to the list of thinking that is EASILY the most ridiculous statement I've ever seen on this website. It borders almost on moronic. The Houston Texans are 0-4 against the NFC East this season, but they would be better in the NFC? That is a completely idiotic thing to say.

#56... I disagree. The reason Tiki is better now under Coughlin than under Fassel (other than fumbling problems gone) is the offensive line is much better. Under Fassel, the best o-line consisted of 2 UFAs, a 4th round pick, a career backup, and Luke Petitgout. That season, 2002, Tiki led the NFC in yards from scrimmage. The best lineman from that season (2002) is now their number 6 guy, Rich Seubert. Now the line has David Diehl, who's started every game since he came into the NFL 5 years ago, one of the best guards in the NFC in Chris Snee, a very underrated center in Shaun O'Hara, and McKenzie who's light years better than what was at RT the 5 seasons before.

I sincerely hope that some writers on this site will one day take a break from criticizing Eli Manning after victories (since he seems to get quite a few). After watching the performances of several young QBs yesterday like Grossman and Roethlisberger, I'm happy with Eli as the QB. On a few plays, the Giants' WR duo was Tim Carter and Michael Jennings.

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

No comments about the first Brady's interception? What about that 30+-yard throw on first-and-10 to a receiver under double-coverage?

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Can we please lay off the "mug defenders down the field" stuff? Please? It's sensationalization of an overaction to Polian's whining. It's whining like that that propegates horrible rule changes. I don't say this because I'm a Pats fan. I hate hate hate the way officials snivelingly pander to offenses for the past few years. You can't tackle the QB. You can't touch the reciever. Meanwhile, offenseive lines get away with blatant holding on every play, in the name of protecting the QB.

An elite defense should beat an elite offense. But it won't now, because under the current rules, if the offense executes perfectly, there is nothing a defense can do to stop it. No scheme, no athleticism, will be sufficient. Zone coverage of course alwyas has holes. Man coverage requires that the DB stay close to the reciever. But if the reciever makes a cut or suddenly changes direction (before the ball is thrown), sometimes the DB can't get out of the way if he's too close. If they happen to touch, it's the DB's fault and an automatic first down. This means, if the officials are calling ticky-tack illegal contact, a DB has to give a WR a 2+ yard cushion everywhere on the field to avoid giving up free first downs. Before it wasn't a problem because officials would dismiss such contact as incidental if it didn't affect the play and not throw the flag. But now they do (albeit inconsistently). Hence it's impossible now, if officials are calling the letter of the rule, to truly cover a WR. There will always be a spot where the QB can throw to that the DB can't get to, because the defender has to stay 2+ yards from the WR, or the WR can get a free 1st down just be cutting into the defender. This mandates either leaving recievers this generous "halo" or requires that every reciever be doubled, which reduces teams to three man rushes, which (given how loosley offensive holding is called in pass protection, and how difficult the rules now make it to actually tackle the QB--look at Freeney's missed sack on Brady as proof) gives QB's amazingly long times in the pocket. Even doubled recievers can eventually get open given long enough, or check down recievers can get into good positions, etc. Of course, it takes a very good QB to take advantage of this, but if the QB is good, there is nothing a defense can legally do. I do not believe that a certain skill level should automatically preclude a defense's ability to function at all.

The illegal contact call that went against the Pats yesterday highlighted all that is wrong with the current system. The reciever (Harrison?) was running a route, and the defender (Samuel?) was running stride for stride. Harrison suddenly changed direction and bumped into Samuel, because he was close and didn't react quickly enough. (It did not look to me like Samuel tried to make contact). It was the reciever's change in direction that initiated the contact, but recievers must be allowd to run their routes, so it was, by the letter of the law, illegal contact. However, do we really want a league where contact like that gets flagged? The contact didn't knock the reciever down, and didn't significantly impair his route. It is important to note that, even though Samuel went on to intercept the pass, he did so by jumping in front of an underthrown ball, not because the reciever's route has been disrupted. The contact pushed the reciever (slightly) backwards, so had the contact disrupted the route and caused the interception, we would have expected the ball to travel further than the reciever and to the waiting DB, not shorter than the reciever to a DB that jumped underneath.

So we have a case where a potentially game-changing interception that happened because of a good pass rush causing a hurried throw and a good read and reaction by the CB was called back because of a illegal but incidental bump that did not affect the play. After that, both teams got the message (except for Troy Brown) and started giving the recievers 2+ yard cushions, and hence recievers were open all day.

Even Colts fans--do you really want a league where such ticky-tack penalties are called, even though it gives your team an advantage because you have a good QB? When he's not having a bad day, Brady is just as good--do you want to give him that much leverage against your defense? What if, at the end of the game, rather than throwing that ill-advised short pass to Faulk that ended the game, Brady had gone deep and hit an reciever that was open because the defenders couldn't get close to the recievers? Or worse, if a ticky-tack PI call had given the Pats 1st and goal at the 1? What if they had then punched the ball in and gone on to win? Wouldn't you be screaming about bad officiating?

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Purds, I didnt say he sucked. SO stop trying to put words in my mouth.

But answer this, if the Pats dont turn the ball over 5 times, do the colts win that game?

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

For those questioning the facemask call.

A 15 yard facemask is required by rule on any facemask which twists, turns, or yanks the helmet. Even though the Cowboys OL let go, it's clear the face-mask twisted Sean Taylor's head.

No one mentioned how Belichek completely disrespected the Patriots D by going for it on 4th down in the 1st quarter, down by 7.

This win by the Colts is bigger than being downplayed by all the media-type in NE... at least listening to Cowherd this morning. What a jack-hole... football is a team game, and Brady clutch? Did I miss a clutch TD pass to win the game against Denver last year, or am I correct it was a completely unclutch forced throw picked off and returned for a near TD.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

77

THats what worries me the most. In his first couple of years, Brady didnt make mistakes. Now it seems like hes forcing things in big games, and losing them. His mistakes lost the Denver game last year. His poor play lost the Denver game this year, and his poor play lost Indy this year.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

As to #66, I don't buy it. The Pats may have just given up home field for the playoffs, and potentially could play Denver in round two should the seeds break that way. How do we know the Pats even get to play the Colts in the playoffs?

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

66 - Yeah, BB really didn't want home field advantage for the playoffs. Put away the homer hat and think about that question...

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

75, I don't it's a "sensationalization of an overaction to Polian’s whining." If you watched the AFC Championship game after the 2003 season (I've got it on tape and watched it a few times, though I'm not a fan of either team), the Patriots were, seemingly deliberately, getting away with mugging Colt receivers. I remember several distinct plays in which Law was grabbing a receiver, and that hindered his path to the ball.

Now, if the refs aren't going to call that, then the DBs should do that. If you know it's allowed and it will help you win, you should mug the opposing WRs. But it seems inaccurate to me deny said mugging, or to deny that it was part of the plan.

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

J.D., regarding Maroney and Dillon,

I think the answer is that they're both pretty good. "Starting" on a team with two RB's that split time is something the media makes up to hype things. Dillon, as long as he doesn't get so many carries that he breaks down, is the harder hitter and is more likely to get a minimum of a few yards, so you bring him in in "need a few yards" situations. Maroney will average more, and break longer runs, but is also more likely to get dropped for no gain--he's more of a "boom or bust" back than Dillon (although not really a boom or bust back, since he gets yards pretty consistently, too).

I think they use Dillon earlier in the game to tire the defense out, and then give the ball more to whoever's having more success. I think Dillon got more carries versus the Colts because he had the power to break through Bob Sanders--the once or twice I recall Sanders coming up to plug the hole with Dillon in, Dillon was able to push him back a couple of yards, whereas Sanders was having good success stopping Maroney when he met him in the hole.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

One more comment I wished I mentioned earlier. What was going on at the end of the Baltimore-Cincy game? Cincy turns the ball over on downs with less than two minutes left. Baltimore's just outside the red zone, leading by 6. Cincy has 1 timeout left. Baltimore kneels three times, takes two delay of game penalties (even though they had two timeouts left), moves themselves out of FG range and then gives the ball back to Cincy with about 15 seconds left. What was that? Did Billick leave the field early and no one managed the last 2 minutes? Granted a last second hail mary was unlikely, but it never should have come to that.

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

83 yeah, I have no idea what happend there.

I expected them to kick the field goal, go up by 9, and give Cincy back the ball with like 1 min left. Instead they punt, and give it back with a minute, up by 6.

They won the game, but I dont think theres any way you really could have given your opponent a better chance at that point.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#64- Maybe we can petition the guys at Scramble to change the name of KCW to the Trent Cole award in the offseason. It would be a fitting tribute.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

How long until Simmons writes the column arguing that the Pats lost on purpose to make it easier to beat the Colts in the playoffs?

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Oh and 8 of the 17 sacks against Manning were in the Eagles game. 8 of them.

Adjusted sack rate is, y'know, adjusted. Philly's one of the top teams in the league in rushing the passer. Unsurprisingly, they got a lot of sacks versus Manning. Other than Philly, Seattle, and Dallas, no other team that New York faced is in the Top 10 in adjusted sack rate, and while Seattle and Dallas didn't rack up sacks like Philly did, that's partly because New York passed less in the Seattle and Dallas games.

Saying "hey, we only gave up a lot of sacks to one team!" would mean more if the other teams (where sacks weren't given up) weren't teams like Tampa Bay and Washington, without any semblance of pass rush.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

75: An elite defense should beat an elite offense.

Why do you think that? In my book, an elite offense should have an advantage because they decide what to do with the ball. So they should have a split-second advantage in reaction time plus a choice of which matchup they want to test.

(Just a philosophical point; I'm not saying anything about last night's game in particular.)

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I've seen a much worse call as far as taunting goes. Brad Hoover got tackled last year and as he was tossing the ball to the ref in back of him. He got tangled up and the ball goes off course about 6 inches and glanced off a defender. 15 yards. The ref could clearly see that Hoover was trying to toss the ball to him, had not even looked behind him to know there was a defender there, yet still called the penalty. I agree that it is a stupid call. But the Patriots have absolutely zero room to complain about the 'letter of the law' being enforced. I have never seen a fanbase with a sense of entitlement like the Patriot fans expect from the refs. I guess when you are handed game after game you get upset when the calls are actually called fairly. Mistakes were definitely made, but the worst ones were definitely in favor of the Patriots. Nice spot on fourth down, by the way.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#51, #56:

Yeah, Bob Whitfield is obviously a huge drop-off (would Seubert be a better fill-in at RT?), and the reason the line wasn't as good this week. I guess the thing with the Giants' line is that they've been building some cruicial cohesiveness (the starters are all the same as last year, and mostly all the same as 2004), but they don't get a huge amount of credit because they have any really big names. Center O'Hara may be the biggest, considering that Snee is mostly known for being Coughlin's son-in-law, Petigout is mostly known for being a false start machine, and the right side (Diehl and McKenzie) is fairly anonymous. Though Petigout seems to have gotten his case of the yips under control this year.

Whether I believe that the Giants' O-line is an elite unit or not, I certainly agree they're much improved from last year. My gut would peg them at 10th or so, but now that I think about it, I can only come up with a handful of lines that are better for sure (Atlanta, Denver, Indy, Minnesota, maybe San Diego, KC, New England, and Philly.) And as much as I maintain that Jacobs is making the line look good, I can't help but wonder if the improved blocking is helping to mask the beginning of Tiki's decline- he seems to be still getting consistent yardage, but there are fewer home runs this year.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Viking,

I've watched that game over again, too. Law was always a physical player, and he does maul Harrison, as do the other DB's, but mostly within 5 yards. That was their strategy--knock the recievers off their routes initially, where it is completely legal to do so (it worked then because they had a good pass rush and good safeties--I can only imagine that they didn't try it more yesterday because they were missing both starting safeties). Remember also that the Colts love the stretch play, which involves WR's getting physical with corners, and run a lot of playaction that LOOKS like the stretch play, so you can't fault the Pats CB's for engaging the WR's at the LOS against the Colts on playaction passes more than they might against some other teams, because they have to worry about a RB coming their way. I forget the exact number, but I'm pretty sure there were only a couple of incidences where recievers were "mauled" down the field--there was one flagrant uncalled one that everyone touts as proof that the Pats got away with it (but there's at least one of those in every game), and not too many more. But the "mauling" wasn't nearly as flagrant as everyone affiliated with the Colts organization makes out. It should be worth noting that the Pats did the same thing the following year, playing the same style of defense, in the presence of the new rules, and hardly got flagged at all. But, as someone has pointed out, Manning is better now and harder to fluster, so he can take advantage of these ridiculously tilted offensive favoring rules.

Sorry if I'm overly passionate about this. Even before I was a Pats fan, I have always been a fan of great defense and found low scoring games the most exciting, and I just think that rule change was a horrible idea, especially in conjunction with rules to "protect the QB more", because I think it unbalances the game in favor of offense, and unbalances offenses in favor of passing. I never miss a chance to get on a soapbox about it. Objectively, I'm sure that being a Patriots fan has fueled it, because they like to play a physical defense, but I get mad when I see ticky-tack calls even in games that mean nothing to the Pats.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: 78

That is a ridiculous thing to say. Look, I'm a Pats fan and a huge Brady fan, but saying things like "In his first couple of years, he didn't make mistakes" is absurd and easily refutable. In 2001, he threw 4 INTs againts Denver and then 2 more with no TDs against Cleveland(who was terrible) a few weeks later. In 2002(arguably Brady's best statistical year) he still threw 3 INTs against GB and had bad games against Tennessee and Detroit.

Brady is a great QB, without a doubt one of the top 2 or 3 in the game today, but he has always made mistakes, and they tend to come in bunches. See KC last year or various Miami games over the past 3. He's not totally infallible, just very very good, but when you're not in fallible, sometimes you're gonna fall, and yesterday was one of those times.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#90:

Minor nitpick: Snee is the RG, Diehl is the LG.

Apart from that, I think you're right on pretty much all counts.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

92.

My point is, he seems to be making them more often, and forcing the ball more. Honestly, hes played 8 games so far this year, and looked good in 1 of them. Hes gotten lucky a bunch. Again, we're talking about the same thing we were talking about with Grossman 3 weeks ago: The completion percentage is too low, sooner or later those balls are gonna start getting snagged by DBs.

Hes looked worse this year than I've ever seen him.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Regarding Defense vs Offense:

I just don't want to see a "magic bullet" that an offense can always use. Let me rephrase. And elite defense should always be able to stop any (but not necessarily every) aspect of an elite offense. I.e., if a team absolutely wants to stop a deep pass, and if it is compsed of elite physical talent, it should be able to stop the deep pass most of the time (but maybe in doing so opens itself up to a big run play or a well executed screen). This creates an exciting chess match--each team trying to do what the other team doesn't expect. But under the current rules, if a team has a very accurate QB, there is nothing a defense can do to stop medium deep passes. No matter how bad the offense may be at every other aspect (running, screens, ect). No matter how good the defense is. It takes the chess match out of the game, because an offense only has to be really really good at one thing. You kind of saw it with the Colts last night. They get outmaneuvered on 1st and 2nd down, end up in something like 3rd and 12, say "screw this actually trying to play the game strategically, let's just throw it", and then convert. They did this a couple of times. I don't find that kind of football as enjoyable.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

76: If they turn it over none, sure they don't lose. If they turn it over 2 or 3, it's an open question. A lot of the drives in the second half the Colts O was conservative because they were ahead. If they had to get TDs at all costs like in Denver they would have played much differently.

I disagree with everyone bashing Belichick. If you look at his postgame conference the media asked why he didn't run anymore and he said they "weren't getting first downs". They were getting some long runs of 10 and 17 yards, then they'd go 0, 2, -1. The Colts D still gives up big runs, but with Bob Sanders in there they also make a few stops and that means you can't just run the ball over and over on them like Denver was able to. Dude's not a retard.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#3: I know this is a little late, but that statement just jumped out.

The Giants have a rush offense DVOA of 12.2%, ranked 3 overall; the Texans have a rush offense DVOA of -14.7%, ranked 22 overall. So yes, the Giants can run, the Texans can't.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Because they *don't* have any big names, I mean.

And I probably ought to revise/clarify my opinion once more- I don't consider the Giants' line to be elite becuase they still seem to have occasional pass protection problems. But even if you give the RBs most of the credit, as I've been doing, they're clearly one of the best run-blocking units this year.

#73: Fassel's best O-line came during the 2000 Super Bowl season that almost made Ron Dayne look competent, and I'd say that was a better unit than this year's. They had a young Petigout, Pro Bowler Ron Stone, and two veteran free agents nearing the end of their rock-solid careers in Lomas Brown and Dusty Ziegler.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

re: 75

The Colts receivers were mugged in that game. It was ridiculous. Not just an uncalled iffy penalty here or there. Tackles down the field. Belichick obviously knoew that the refs wouldn't call them so he told his defense to commit them. I love defense and I hate pass interference. But it was the patriots that forced the rules change in the first place with their blatant abuse.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

It's obvious what happenend in the Colts Pats game. Brady and Manning (avid readers of the irrational thread) wanted to decide who was the best by testing the Theory: If Brady played for the Colts they would have rings if Manning played for the Pats they would have squat. They switched places and wore masks and that was really Peyton throwing all those picks.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: Comments that Manning wasn't impressive, but that Pats made mistakes.

Yes, that's true, but it's also a point in Manning's favor. Part of doing a great job against NE *is* not making mistakes. Belichick is the master at doing this - deception and generating interceptions. He's been the best at that since his NYG days.

Those who don't recognize that are markedly underestimating how well Manning thought under pressure. Just last week, a very proficient, experienced QB names Brad Johnson was made to look like a rookie by Belichick's schemes.

Not overthrowing or underthrowing balls. Not throwing into double or triple coverage. Those are elements of great QB play, not just "Oh, he should have done that."

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

61: I have reservations about your assessment of Belicheck v. Manning. The Pats defense was pretty successfull against that elite Colts O. Despite giving the ball away five times, New England held Indy to just 24 points.

The reason why I think New England is the better team is because that was an abnormal performance for Tom Brady. His running game was getting him all the production and the world, yet he persistently played as if the game was on his shoulders, making desperate heaves and rushing his throws. If even 2001 Tom Brady plays that game, the Patriots probably win.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: 96

Yes, the Pats were not running it and getting chunks of yards the way the Broncos were.

But I think that Belichick's big mistake was overestimating the potency of the Colts O vs. his D. He played the second half as if he anticipated that any time the Pats O had to punt, that they would end up losing points. That was the wrong way to approach it. Even if the Pats had punted a couple more times in the 2nd half, they would have been fine.

The other benefit of a great running game is the ability to control the clock. Too many times, Brady and the O gave the ball back to the Colts after controlling the ball for limited periods of time.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

At one point in the Miami game Chmabers made a great catch. Out flashed the stat that Chambers had caught 4 out 11 passes thrown to him Sunday. Ouch

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Here are the Pats running plays in the second half before they were down 10 and the Colts went into pass D:

-1 0 9 4 -1 -2

Gee, Belichick should have just run it on every down. The Patriots ran really well on the first drive (perhaps due to the mythical WHAM block?), cementing the conventional wisdom that running constantly would win them the game. After that the Colts adjusted and the Pats running game became very sporadic, something BB clearly felt was unacceptable in terms of giving the Colts the ball back too often. Even if you have a 25% chance of a 15 yarder on every play, if the others are going for -2 to 2 yards you can't drive down the field before the odds catch you. It's going to be annoying to hear the constant "Pats lost this game because of their playcalling" for the next week. Ah well.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

To say that the Colts "only" scored 24 points doesn't take into account the change in methodology late in the 4th Quarter.

Bill Simmons has told up repeatedly that Peyton loves to run up his stats in the 4th quarter, and it was obvious that Peyton was looking to run up his stats by the constant Addai runs for 2-3 yards. If the Colts had been tied or behind do you think they call their last couple of drives the same way.

Personally I think Eli was in Brady's uniform last night the way he was sailing passes over his receivers. Yes a couple of his INTs were tips, but because his receivers was just tying to get a hand on it.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

officiating = poor.

In general, that would apply to any football game these days, NCAA or NFL. I know it's a tough job, and I'm sure my work wouldn't withstand such scrutiny, but then I didn't apply to work in the NFL.

MDS, I saw the same thing you did - that's not the half I'm charting, so I won't look at it as closely, but it did appear that on live TV, he was held pretty well. There was also what looked like a pushoff by Lelie earlier in the quarter that went uncalled. In all fairness to the Falcons, there were probably egregiously wrong calls the other way, too. I just didn't notice them as readily.

I thought the same thing about Brady's sneak last night. I wasn't sure he got it, couldn't believe they didn't measure, but hey, at least they didn't waste five minutes reviewing it just to let the call on the field stand. (I believe they should only be reversing calls that are clearly wrong. Although the replay angle showed that he might not have reached the line, it wasn't like he was a full yard short, so I'd have to say let him keep the first down.)

It's hard to tell how happy people are around here when Vanderjagt misses another FG, whether it's more happiness because he's an ex-Colt or because he's a Cowboy.

I assume that's the Parcells bandwagon rolling to a stop over there?

I remember the power I now from NCAA. I figured there was a difference but couldn't remember - I'd only remembered the Maryland I. I'd recommend that pro-only fans watch occasional NCAA games if only to pick up new formations and such. Now I realize that the Chargers (I think) are using the "pistol" formation that Nevada uses all the time. I knew there was a name for it but couldn't put my finger on it ...

I wish the Pats had run the ball more. I don't have a big enough lead - I got 45 from Harrison and Manning, but only 13 from Maroney. Then again, my opponent has two guys playing tonight, so my lead should be big enough ... I am not quite sure why Maroney and Addai aren't clearly the starters for their respective teams, unless it's that they run so well in part because they aren't full-time backs. (P.S. Thanks to FO for predicting success for them ...)

I really don't understand why the NFL doesn't heavily enforce penalties that get players hurt: horse-collar tackles, 15-yard facemask penalties, and don't get me started on spearing (wonder why John Lynch keeps getting hurt?). I don't completely disagree with the rules that are designed to protect QBs (in most situations: however, when you get something like Hasselbeck's injury, where QBs end up just standing in place and expecting everyone else to avoid them, maybe that should be a clue that they're not working as planned), but it's almost like they willfully ignore most fouls against players at all other positions. (New college football peeve: players who jump on a guy who's down.)

Ha. If you think Mellencamp's song is only annoying now, you must have missed when they delayed a MLB playoff game so he could sing it (can't remember for sure, but I think it was Game 2 of the Series). John, it's great that you're making a fistful of dollars for your songs, but really, it's okay to draw the line somewhere. What's next, you'll do a halftime concert for a few dollars more?

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

106. Yeah, he threw balls over his recievers all day. you simply CANT do that in the middle of the field.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Yes, indeed — how DOES Peyton manage to survive in this league with the top two receivers in DPAR though seven games?

Where would Peyton be with James Thrash and Todd Pinkston or Reche Caldwell and Doug Gabriel?

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: The Pats playcalling.

The only explanation I can think of is that the entire New England O-Line was afraid of a 5'8"-205lb safety.
I can't really blame them. I'd be afraid too if Bob Sanders came roaring up the field like a (very small) freight train and hurled himself through the air at me.
Maybe they were running all of those slow-developing plays to keep him uncommitted in the secondary.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#95: That's utter cack. If you want to stop over the middle mid passes, you man up with a couple of safeties in the middle to jump the route. Even with a perfect passer, you can't put it into double coverage without major issues, and that assumes that your CB doesn't make a play, or it isn't batted, or whatever.

Seriously, the whole no contact thing? That's not why Manning wins, it's not why the Colts are winning, and it's not why the Pats lost yesterday. There was plenty of contact in that scramble rollout that went to Harrison for 44 yards, and they didn't call a thing.

Sometimes the refs make bad calls, and this night was definitely guilty of that - but don't say that a perfect defense can't cover because the rules aren't going to let them. Tell that to Champ Bailey this year or the Seahawks defense against Steve Smith last year. Defenses adapted and overcame. Heck, they've been doing a good job of it against Manning this year. The problem isn't the rules; the problem is the poor pass defense that NE has, and that isn't a rule issue, it's a lack of talent.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I wouldnt say its lack of talent, its lack of healthy talent. They've got tons of good corners, Samuel, Hobbs, Gay, etc, and good Safties, Wilson, Harrison, and Hawkins (who has actually been pretty good, when hes not playing with Chad Scott). The problem seems to be that they're each only good for about 5 games a year.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

And what does it say that with Moss out, Thrash is getting more looks than the big free agent signing Randle El?

My personal opinion is the Al Saunders/Vermeil offense relies on the QB knowing what the WR is going to do and trusting that the WR will do it. Brunell trusts Moss and Thrash, having worked with them for a year (or more), more than the newcomers, so he looks to Moss and Thrash.

It really makes me question what’s going on in Washington. Why bring in a complex offensive system that requires long-term stability at QB/WR as a group while at the same time adding two new WRs to an aging starting QB, unless you don’t really think you can win this year? It would make sense if you were saying, hey, we’ve got this great offensive system but it requires some offensive player continuity, we’ve got a young qb we’re grooming who we think can run it, let’s get a couple of young-to-in their-prime wrs to go with our stud wr and rb, let them get the bugs out in 2006, and we’ll make a title run in 2007 and beyond. Does anyone really think that’s what the Redskins are doing? They’re certainly not giving Campbell the ball.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Did anyone see Shanahan's new spectacles he was sporting on the sideline?

... Priceless

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

#112 - okay, perhaps. Rodney didn't do a great job covering on Marvin (or for that matter, Clark) before he got injured. Sometimes their corners play well. Their LB coverage has been poor this season, their CB coverage has been inconsistent (injuries, bad play, whatever you like), and their safeties have been inconsistent. It's still a lack of talent for whatever reason, they still don't have a standout cornerback that can simply stop good receivers, and they refuse to change their defense to deal with it accordingly.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

51 turnovers -- not including FG blocks -- before Monday night, in a week where some teams still have byes? What's the record for this?

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

It was nice to see Rodney Harrison hurt himself committing a hidden facemask penalty on Marvin.

And I'm not sure how people can say that Peyton was just OK last night. I thought that was about the best I've ever seen him. If he and Marvin don't go other-worldly they have a tough time winning that game. He took a LOT of hits and I only saw one play where he looked rattled (but still ended up making a nice completion).

WRT the Pats fans talking about 5 turnovers because of mistakes, only 2 were unforced. 2 of the INTs were tipped at the line by D-Lineman and the fumble was taken away from a good tuck by Dillon.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

MJK,

You are having a hard time not committing the fundamental attribution error or correspndence bias with your comments on the game. Your prior disposition towards the PATS has allowed you to focus with a lens tinted in that direction.

I hate the Colts. However, I live in INDY and watch every game they have played in four or five years because my friends all root for them. Just for the record, I am a Denver Fan. I also believe it is absurd that PI is so easily called and the NFL has also committed an overcorrection in officiating that call.

That being said, that game was Chuck Daly-esque in the way the Pats played the recievers, especially the TE's, after five yards. They were committing contact after five yards and for as long as possible in the press. The LB's were hitting the TE's 8-10 yards into their pattern and several times they hockey checked them five yards in the endzone on crossing routes.

The worst part was the final drive of that game for the Colts, when even after sucking horribly all game long, the Colts still had a small chance of coming back. The Pats committed two blatant illegal contact penalties back to back to end the game. They were so blatant that the NFL had to reemphasize an already existing rule after considering the ramifications in their post season rule committee meetings.

It has been poorly implemented, overused, and certainly gives credence to the offensive bias that the modern era NFL has brought. However, defending the strategy and even trying to label it as a non-occurence makes you seem less rational than you are. You are an excellent poster with a bunch of great observations. Please, look at those plays again and ask yourself if that final play toward Pollard was not 8 yards down field.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

-49 I am glad he is hurt. I swear everytime I notice him he is ether committing cheap penalties or mouthing off. He has taken over my most despised player award from Romanowski. TO is pitied more than despised or he would get it ;)

Anyway there is this interesting tension in mine and a lot of people's feeligns about NE.

I really enjoy the smart front office work and good coaching. Everything seems so professional and it makes them very likeable. But I also get the impression that the team in general and the defense in particular will be happy to break the rules as much as they can possibly get away with, and could really care less about the spirit of rules and only care about the letter of them.

IDK people who consistently facemask or hold, or say they caught a ball when they clearly didn't are just as guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct as people using steroids imo. Its the exact same problem, getting an unfair advantage at the cost of health.

Except when you are doing clandestine facemasks (something I see Harrison do consistantly) you are putting other players health at risk not your own, which is actually worse.

IDK I just love people like Harrison or LT2 who just play the game don't bitch, and reprsent what si right with sports. It is just a game and winning does not actually mean anything if you have to cheat to do it.

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

87 - yes, it's adjusted for team defenses, and the fact that we didn't give up many sacks to teams that don't sack a lot is what hurts the overall rating. That is true.

But again, when you're talking half of the teams sacks. This isn't like us giving up 4 a week to good pass rushing teams, and only 1 to bad ones...8 sacks when you haven't given up more than 2 to any other team is well beyond any reasonable label and to say that the Giants pass blocking is average when it's been avergage or better at 7 of the 8 games, and just downright pitiful in the 8th game doesn't make sense to me.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Madden was right in his assessment of the Pats' 2nd half rushing troubles. They were just getting too cute with their playcalling. Just run it straight down the Colts' throat .... no fakes ... no reverses ....

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I agree with the assessment that Tony Romo is a decent QB. One question though, did anyone else notice HOW BAD his hand offs are? There was one play where he was obviously supposed to be giving a fake, and it was obvious that it wasn't. I don't remember all the ins and outs (My daughter was throwing macaroni at the time) but they were in the I-form, half-back went right with the fake, fb went left and took the ball, stuffed behind the line. It seemed like every playaction or fake handoff Romo did was horrible like that.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Courtesy of The Onion:

INDIANAPOLIS—The high quality and enduring value of the new 2007 Honda Accord has inspired roots-rock veteran John Mellencamp to write a stirring hymn about the working-class nation of Japan. "Oh, you noble land of the rising sun/Where discipline and duty are still number one," Mellencamp sings in the video for "Buddha On The Highway," in which he is seen playing his guitar on the hood of a bright orange Accord parked in a terraced rice paddy. "There's a place in Nihon for me and you/I was born in Hokkaido and I'll die there, too." Mellencamp has reportedly begun work on a follow-up song telling the story of Hideo and Mariko, two Okinawan kids doing the best they can, who lose their jobs when Honda closes down the local plant and moves operations to Marysville, OH

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re: All the illegal-contact reinforcement talk

Let's not forget that the very same year NE made it to the SB by mugging Indy's receivers, Carolina also made it to the SB by employing the EXACT same strategy against the mighty James Thrash and Todd Pinkston. It's probably just the fact that I'm an Eagles' fan, but I think the Carolina DBs were even worse than the NE DBs. I remember Ricky Manning quite literally grabbing Pinkston by the shoulder pads and THROWING him out-of-bounds.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Re 125:

I remember Ricky Manning quite literally grabbing Pinkston by the shoulder pads and THROWING him out-of-bounds.

Are you sure that wasn't the wind :)

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

8 sacks when you haven’t given up more than 2 to any other team

They also didn't throw as much versus any other team. Hard to get sacked when you're handing off, or not actually on the field.

and to say that the Giants pass blocking is average when it’s been avergage or better at 7 of the 8 games, and just downright pitiful in the 8th game doesn’t make sense to me.

Uh.. what? That statement makes perfect sense to me. If their pass blocking has been average, average, above average, average, above average, pitiful, average, that certainly seems "average" to me.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I never understood the lyrics to that Loogie song. I always thought it was I get no down, bluhbabublabluh, I ain't never gonna get no down. Now it makes a lot more sense. Thanks, Football Outsiders!

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I wonder if Reggie Bush turns into, say, Brian Westbrook, and Mario Williams turns into, oh, Greg Ellis (4-3 DE version), how do their respective teams feel about the 2006 draft at that point?

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

"Hard to get sacked when you’re handing off, or not actually on the field."

The Giants are 17th in passing attempts. They are not the Falcons.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

It should be noted that since the Giants throw the ball down the field much more than most teams, their O-line has to protect Eli for a little bit longer than a westcoastish type offense, so being ranked average probably means skill wise the Giant O-line is slightly above average, since their job is slightly harder.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

124: Shouldn't this commercial have images of A-Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Aum Shirinyiko sarin gas attack on Tokyo subway, or at least the Family Guy clip of the worst day ever in Hiroshima on 8/6/45 (click link for clip)? A little disappointed with the Onion's work on this

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Maybe I overreacted a little bit. It just irks me whenever (1) I hear Colts fans talk about how the Patriots only win when they cheat (it's almost as irritating as listening to Raiders fans bring up the tuck rule), and (2) I'm reminded of the fact that the game is being tilted too much towards offense by these rule modifications (the fact the the rule changes were implemented by non-impartial people and that those same modifications benefitted the style of play that those people's teams employed made it even worse). Put the two together and and you have earned the wrath of MJK! ;-)

In any case, I didn't want to argue all over the 2003 playoffs again. That's been done to death. Suffice to say that in my opinion, at this point, some QB's, including Peyton Manning and (usually) Tom Brady, are so good that clamping down on incidental contact, combined with hyper-protective protect-the-QB rules, combined with inconsistently called holding, is unbalancing the game so that 3rd downs are getting too easy for some teams, and changing the game for the worse.

Becephalus, you might want to be more specific when you say things like "Harrison" or LT2--for a second I thought you meant Rodney Harrison and Lawrence Taylor, which completely didn't make any sense in context with the rest of your post! Incidentally, I did see the face mask on Marvin Harrison, to the point where I thought maybe Rodney had hurt his arm by getting it stuck and twisted in Marvin's facemask! Just another example of bad officiating. I would just as soon Rodney had made a clean tackle and not gotten injured.

I don't feel robbed (by the officiating) as a Pats fan, since the bad officiating went both ways and the Pats had plenty of opportunities to win but got outplayed and outcoached. I do feel robbed as a football fan, because I was looking forward to this game as an all-time great matchup, and the officiating was so bad that it took away from the experience.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

disclosure: eagles fan

the worst call i witnessed on sunday was the mario williams roughing call on eli, though this bias may be fueled by my antagonism. Worse than the justin smith call during the Cin-TB game.

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The Giants are 17th in passing attempts. They are not the Falcons.

The Giants had 26 pass attempts in the Dallas game. They had 43 in the Eagles game. I wasn't talking about overall.

The Philly game is not nearly as much of an outlier as the original poster was making it out to be, though it is an outlier.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I can stand beside
Things I think are right
And I can stand beside
The idea of stand and fight
And I do believe
There’s a dream for everyone
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country

There's room enough here
For science to live
And there's room enough here
For religion to forgive
And try to understand
The other people of this world
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country

That poverty could be
Just another ugly thing
And bigotry could be
Seen only as obscene
And the ones that run this land
Will help the poor and common man
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country

The dream will never leave
And some day it will come true
And it’s up to me and you
To do the best that we can do
And let the voice of freedom
Sing out through this land
This is our country
From the east coast
To the west coast
Down the Dixie Highway
Back home
This is our country

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I get a big laugh reading the NE sports media homers after games like these. Brady can make an absolutely horrible throw right at a defender (see KC 2005) and the ball bounces out of his hands and into another defender's for a pick --and they will stress repeatedly that it was a deflection (can't blame Tom for the pick now).

Brady threw far too many poor passes last night while enjoying very good pass pro. I recall one that went to no man's land. Not far enough away to be a throwaway and actually closer to a Colt than a Pat. Throws like that are very fortunate not to get picked. When your throws aren't even accurate enough to be picks, you aren't very accurate.

Reminds me of that 2003 AFC title game when Brady threw a half-dozen balls which had INT written all over them, but got lucky. Anyone remember him throwing the ball right at Freeney dropping into zone only to have the ball bounce 15 feet in the air and come down in the arms of the only Pat among 6 Colts?

To those in NE, Brady's repeatedly poor efforts aren't the real Tom. The big game vs. Minn is the real Tom. Apparently we've only seen the real Tom once this year in 8 games. The Denver and NE games don't count. And they couldn't have been big games either. Because Brady is always great in big games. He's the greatest QB ever to play (just don't pay attention to his actual play).

Whe he has all day to throw and sails it high over a wide open receiver? That's due to having new WRs. Of course, professionals go out and work their asses off getting on the same page with new teammates (see Manning and Stokely at the end of 2003 after Stokely missed almost the whole season with an injury after coming over from Balt). But they tell us Tom is the greatest professional of all time. So it can't be his fault. Because nothing is ever his fault. He's the greatest QB right now in 2006 because his team won 3 SBs in past years. In fact, he never has to play well in a game the rest of his career and he will still always be the greatest QB ever because he has 3 rings. So being great isn't about actually about playing well. Or consistently. It's about having rings.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

If you spend all your time watching the officiating like a hawk and waiting for the refs to screw up, the officiating will ruin every single experience.

We used to say "wow, those were a few weird calls." Now every single call is analyzed 15 times with the expectation that the refs screwed it up, and then what would follow extrapolated so we don't know just how much the refs screwed up, but how much those darned refs stole from a team!

Enough. I'm all for getting changes in the system (mostly, as Mike T said, by making the rulebook sane and letting the refs actually call games), but sitting around and pouncing on everything the refs do and coupling that with sanctimonious acrimony is simply not going to get anything done, and has the added effect of making it nearly impossible to carry on a decent conversation about, say, the actual football going on.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

the worst call i witnessed on sunday was the mario williams roughing call on eli, though this bias may be fueled by my antagonism.

Yeah, that was a terrible call, but it had no real effect on the outcome of the game (other than wasting about 4-5 minutes of game time, plus timeouts by both teams). The Giants wouldn't score on that drive (Feagles bobbled the snap on a field goal attempt), and the Texans went right down the field for a TD on the subsequent drive.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Well, Santonio Holmes, for some odd reason, is a great receiver, but seems to do everything wrong on kick and punt returns. When he's a receiver he catches everything and when he runs w/ the ball he keeps it high and tight to his body. but when he's doing the returns it's just the opposite, the ball is way out there. they need to keep him off of kick returns and let willie
reid handle the returns.

142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

125/126: Clearly we didn't know it at the time, but Pinkston probably was carrying a laptop before the game.

143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

I guess I am having a hard time following you. If you exclude the game against the Eagles, the Giants drop only three slots in attempts/game, ranking ahead of teams such as the Chargers and the Bengals.

In games other than the Eagles game, the G-men are getting off 24.3 attempts for every sack surrendered. In that game, they only got off 5.35 attempts per sack. The Eagles have a terrific pass rush, but it seems to me that the Giants had a disproportionally hard time with it (or, in a different spin, a bad day).

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Yeah, Gerry, I agree: it's not like the Giants avoided sacks strictly by running the ball: take away the high (43) and low (26), and they still have attempt totals of 34, 36, 33, 30, 31, and 28.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

139: I agree with you that the constant complaining about officiating misplaces the focus of a serious football discussion. I saw several bad calls yesterday, but the implication that there is a sense of entitlement or that the outcome hinged on officiating is simply wrong.

146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Case in point, Dallas probably did give more favorable calls yesterday than did Washington, but not nearly to the degree that is being implied here. No one has mentioned three major calls that went against Dallas, one of which awarded Washington two points.

Note to Mike Tanier: The alleged mauling of Portis was a legal play. He wasn't hit (and even then, just barely) until the ball was in the air, and the first rule of pass interference is that there is no pass interference behind the line of scrimmage (see link). One can't hold an eligible receiver behind the line, but once the ball is in the air, the receiver is fair game.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

Oops. I said the first rule, when in fact I should have said "Note 4". Silly me.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

The thing about the officiating is that it seems to be going downhill. Yes, there will always be the occasional bad call, but ever since the playoffs last year it seems like its been getting worse and worse. It used to be I could name the two or three most egregious bad calls over the course of the season. Now there are way to many to count.

Someone recently brought up the point that maybe we're all just getting better at seeing the penalties and understanding the game--when we used to hear a call and say "Oh, OK", now we're using our increased knowledge to analyze it more.

And the most maddening thing is the inconsistency. There are a few crews out there that are top notch. They have the occasional head-scratching call, but for the most part you come out of the game thinking it was fair. But there are also crews that just seem to make calls for the sake of making calls, and it ends up feeling like you don't know what the outcome of the game should have been because so many calls seemed so arbitrary. Maybe I'm in the minority. I don't mean to complain overmuch, but I really do perfer to watch games where the zebras don't get involved. Does anyone else think the officiating has slid this year?

149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 9

And by the way, I thought the 15-yard personal foul face mask committed by Kyle Kozier against Sean Taylor was a very good call. He might have grasped the face mask for only an instant, but he did cause Taylor's helmet to twist, which is grounds for the 15-yard penalty.

Matthew Furtek, never a man to let a close-but-favorable call for the Redskins go undefended, posted a link to a photo showing the twisting quite clearly.