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

Audibles at the Line: Week 13

compiled by Doug Farrar

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 2008. 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.

San Diego Chargers 24 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Mike Tanier: This was basically the LaDainian Tomlinson show. Just who plays for the Chiefs anymore? Fourteen months ago I could rattle off their whole starting offense. Now I don't know the linemen, don't know the backup receivers. Is 89 still Jason Dunn? Their offense without L.J. is a series of seven-step drops and sacks, with the occasional 12-yard pass to Gonzo, who remains amazing.

Jacksonville Jaguars 25 at Indianapolis Colts 28

Aaron Schatz: Great example in this game of how teams often don't specifically match up their best cornerback against your best receiver. Pretty much the whole day, Rashean Mathis was on Anthony Gonzalez with Brian Williams on Reggie Wayne. I don't think any of us thinks Williams is better than Mathis, but Mathis is the left cornerback and Williams is the right cornerback and the Jaguars don't often deviate from that.

David Garrard and Peyton Manning were both completely on in the second half, except for one throw each, where each one had a single red zone interception. Neither defense could stop either offense. With Tony Ugoh and Anthony Gonzalez and Dallas Clark back, the Colts are fine, even without Marvin Harrison. Reggie Wayne made some great catches on one side. On the other side, they kept crossing Gonzalez and Clark to rub a defender off and create an open man, usually Clark, and the Jaguars were just completely confused as to who was supposed to cover who. The only problem really left for the Colts offense is Charles Johnson. Again he struggled today, this time playing right tackle instead of left tackle. The Jags got a lot of pressure on Manning, and it was generally coming from that side. We were all so high on Johnson after he played well in the Super Bowl, but looking back, I think that was less about Johnson being a hidden gem and more about just how much the Bears pass rush declined late in the year without Tommie Harris.

As for the Jags, Garrard was hitting tiny windows on throw after throw. If I have not said it enough, he is excellent and we were just completely, totally wrong about him -- although I don't think anybody expected him to play this well. On the ground, Fred Taylor and MJD were twisting away from Colts defenders -- although unlike last year, the Colts at least stuffed the Jags' running backs at the line a few times so it wasn't insane.

Because the two offenses were playing so well, I think Jack Del Rio made a mistake in kicking away with 2:40 left and hoping his defense could stop the Colts and get the ball back. I think you have to try the onside kick. If you fail at the onside kick, well, you're stuck ... hoping the defense can stop the Colts and get the ball back.

Two announcing notes:

1) Listening to radio to start the game, driving back from taking the leaves to the compost heap, whoever was doing the radio broadcast said something about Paul Spicer having 29 hurries. I've complained about this before and I will complain again. Where the hell does that number come from? If somebody is out there tracking hurries, other than the FO game charting project, why won't they share it with the rest of us? And whoever is tracking this -- STATS, Elias, the Jags coaches, whoever -- what the hell do they count as a hurry? The FO game charting project has Spicer with five hurries through 8.5 charted games. FIVE.

2) Will someone explain to me why Jim Nantz constantly says "he gets the handle" instead of "he gets the handoff?"

Michael David Smith: The ref gave Jacksonville a free timeout by allowing Del Rio to throw his challenge flag, take the time to have his offense regroup and decide what to do on fourth down, and then say he didn't want to challenge the spot of the third down play. If a coach throws his flag and then decides he doesn't want to challenge, it should be a timeout. Otherwise, why not just throw your flag every time you want to take some time to make a decision, then once you've got the right play called, tell the ref you've changed your mind and no longer want to challenge?

Does anyone know the rule on this? I just don't understand how it's possible that a coach can stop the game any time he wants by throwing a challenge flag and then saying he changed his mind.

Doug Farrar: I've seen officials tell coaches that they should pick up their flags because what they wanted to challenge was unchallengeable (saving them a wasted timeout), but never a coach getting away with picking it up himself.

Vince Verhei: I don't think it's a matter of the referees telling coaches to pick up their flags. I think, by rule, the refs are not allowed to do anything other than tell the coach the play is not reviewable, here is your flag back. This does not change your main point, that this rule could be exploited by coaches to get free timeouts.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, along the same lines, I was shocked that Del Rio didn't challenge that early Garrard fumble on the basis of the tuck rule. I thought it was clear that Garrard's arm was going forward, no matter who recovered the fumble.

Ned Macey: On that play, I thought it was the old empty hand play, but conceivably his arm had just started going forward on the back. I always forget the rules on challenges -- does the ref look at the whole play or just what was challenged? Along those lines, on the Utecht "incompletion" in this game, did Dungy ask for that or did he originally hope for a down-by-contact which was my initial hope? Or does the ref look at both?

It is weird to watch a Jacksonville team whose offense is better than their defense. When the Colts got the ball after the kickoff at 2:30, I was pretty confident they could get a first down, but if they had punted, I would have been pretty worried about holding out the Jaguars.

The Colts miss Dwight Freeney. They'll be fine in the regular season against Baltimore/Oakland/Tennessee/Houston, but any team that likes to throw the ball down the field (i.e., Pittsburgh or New England) will have a field day. Once the Jaguars realized Mathis was playing right defensive end, the pass rush disappeared. (The loss of Raheem Brock didn't help.) Garrard had all day and could hit eight- to 15-yard passes at will.

I just want to point out that the Jaguars have had serious injury problems this year as well. Garrard, Brad Meester, and Mike Peterson off the top of my head, plus the Marcus Stroud suspension. Reggie Hayward went out early in this game, which certainly hurt their pass rush (which came exclusively with the blitz.)

Ditto on Aaron's mention of Mathis staying on the defensive left side. If you play a zone defense, then maybe not moving your cornerbacks makes sense, but the Jags were playing a good deal of man, and Mathis eliminated Gonzalez, while Wayne destroyed them.

At the same time, after watching T.O. on Thanksgiving, I must mention that the numbers of the Colts receivers must be decreased by their insistence on lining them up in the same spot on 95 percent of the plays.

Finally, the Colts rub plays included a blatant pick by Dallas Clark (I believe) caught on film. Look for the offensive pass interference sometime in the next two weeks (a la Randy Moss now being called for offensive pass interference on every jump ball).

Mike Tanier: I saw London. I saw France. I saw Joseph Addai's ripped pants. And became blind.

Buffalo Bills 17 at Washington Redskins 16

Sean McCormick: Just caught one pass play where Chris Samuels took Aaron Schobel and drive-blocked him into the middle of the field. On a passing play. That's something you don't see everyday.

Ryan Wilson: Wow. With eight seconds left and Rian Lindell facing a 51-yard field goal to win it, the Skins called a timeout. And then they did it again. That's a 15-yard penalty, first down. Lindell striped the 36-yarder. Man.

Sean McCormick: Joe Gibbs looking absolutely clueless. Rian Lindell had to kick a 51-yarder to win the game. Gibbs calls timeout (the kick was good). When Lindell lined up for the second attempt, Gibbs called another timeout. Which is illegal. 15-yard unsportsmanlike, and Lindell nailed the 36-yarder to win.

Aaron Schatz: In Gibbs' defense, nobody on the Washington sideline has been thinking clearly all week, and with good reason. This sucked. Everyone outside of Buffalo was rooting for the Skins today. At the same time, I know how the Bills must feel. What happened to Sean Taylor is not their fault, and it isn't like they're supposed to go out there and lie down to create a feel-good story.

Mike Tanier: So the Redskins ran their first play in honor of Sean Taylor with 10 men on the field? The result was a 22-yard run by Fred Jackson. I don't know what to think. Maybe if both teams decided to run 10-on-10 for one play, I could see that. What if it turned into a 60-yard touchdown? Some things are much more important than football, but once the whistle blows and the game is actually being played, maybe the tributes should be limited to things that don't affect the outcome of the game. Especially when your team still has playoff hopes.

Doug Farrar: I'm inclined to give the Redskins a complete and total pass for anything they may have done wrong in this game, and I think it's absolutely shameful that the NFL can't somehow reschedule their Thursday night game. The Redskins have to bury their teammate on Monday, fly from Miami back to Washington, get one full day of practice, and do this all over again on a short week? Really? A league that has no trouble uprooting two teams and sending them to Europe on behalf of Roger Goodell's mission to convert the world to American football can't get the logistics together to move this game, which a great many people won't see because it's on the NFL Network and called by the worst broadcaster in sports history, to Saturday night? Are you freakin' kidding me?

Ryan Wilson: I agree about rescheduling the Redskins' Thursday night game, but I don't know how Joe Gibbs couldn't know the rule about calling consecutive timeouts. Obviously, it's been a very trying week, but that's just jaw-dropping.

San Francisco 49ers 14 at Carolina Panthers 31

Doug Farrar: You know, it's a shame when a player as good as rookie linebacker Patrick Willis has to play on the worst team in football. Willis has had 17 solo tackles in each of his last two games. You can see what Mike Nolan was talking about when he compared Willis to DeMeco Ryans at the Senior Bowl.

Detroit Lions 10 at Minnesota Vikings 42

Michael David Smith: My favorite pregame show stat: The Vikings are 3-0 in games in which Tarvaris Jackson throws a 60-yard touchdown pass. I guess that means the Brad Childress strategy of telling Jackson before games, "Don't throw any 60-yard touchdown passes" was a mistake.

Mike Tanier: If they complete a bomb from the 41-yard line, Childress will say, "Crap crap crap!"

Ned Macey: The Lions are going to be accused of "fading," but it is almost exclusively their schedule. Against teams in the top half of the DVOA rankings, they are 3-2 at home. Their other three wins are two wins over Chicago (25th in DVOA) and at Oakland (29th). The only disappointing result of this 0-4 second half is losing a winnable game against the Giants. Otherwise, they've been playing mediocre teams on the road (who've beaten them all year) and the much-better Packers at home.

Vince Verhei: The highlights of this game came up on NFL Gameday as I was editing Audibles late Sunday night. I don't even know how to describe what I saw Adrian Peterson do over and over again. It's like he was playing Madden and the Lions were playing 10-Yard Fight. And the offensive line was opening big gaping holes so Peterson could gain good yardage before making a single cut. And I think Lions fans must now know what it was like for other teams to play against Barry Sanders.

Aaron Schatz: Wait... Barry Sanders had holes to run through?

New York Jets 40 at Miami Dolphins 13

Sean McCormick: Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is in a play-calling rut -- he invariably calls a run after any big pass play. Defenses have caught on, and those runs have to be averaging one yard at best.

The Jets are pulling out a lot of gadget plays when they get in the red zone. Their first touchdown came off a play where Kellen Clemens motioned out of the backfield and the ball was snapped directly to Leon Washington, who ran a quarterback draw for a touchdown. Later they lined up Brad Smith as the quarterback in the shotgun and ran him off tackle, and they scored a second touchdown by lining up Smith as a back in the shotgun and bringing him underneath the coverage to be the primary receiver on a play action bootleg. Miami is having a lot of trouble with the motion and the tricky personnel packages.

Miami's defense, on the other hand, is having a lot of success with their blitz packages. They're overloading one side, usually the left, and getting at least one blitzer in clean. Part of the problem is that Clemens doesn't read the blitz very well. Miami tipped a corner blitz just before the snap, but Clemens didn't see it, and he was looking the wrong way at the snap. It resulted in a sack. The one time Clemens did see the blitz and adjusted the protection, his blockers let him down, as Chris Baker got caught looking for pressure up the middle and let a guy come clean off the edge, which forced a fumble that Miami returned for a touchdown.

Finally, Brian Schottenheimer makes the call to counter the blitz. Miami overloaded left, but Clemens rolled right on a designed rollout and then pitched a shovel pass to Leon Washington, who had two blockers in front of him and no defenders anywhere. It put the Jets on the three-yard line and resulted in the touchdown that salted the game away.

Atlanta Falcons 16 at St. Louis Rams 28

Bill Barnwell: I just want to note that Chris Redman is in for the Falcons. That's Chris Redman, who I stick a joke about getting up to a 98 in my Madden 2000 franchise in for every book because I thought he'd basically become an assistant coach. He's five-for-five for 50 yards and a touchdown.

Sean McCormick: Redman looked OK in the preseason, honestly. Of course, so did Joey Harrington.

Bill Barnwell: Oh, I've always liked Chris Redman and thought he deserved more of a chance after his 2002 season (1.4% DVOA).

Michael David Smith: Harrington has looked OK in the regular season, too. The Falcons' offensive DVOA sucks because they can't run and because of the games Leftwich has played, not because of Harrington.

Sean McCormick: I don't disagree. It was just such an easy line...

Benjy Rose: Redman actually looks great out there. Of course, it's easy to look great when the defense gets no pressure. Amazing that the Falcons can win this thing. Rams are pretty much giving the Falcons this game.

Well, OK, Redman throws an interception. So much for that.

Doug Farrar: I have to ask those who watched this game: What was it about St. Louis' offense or Atlanta's defense that made Gus Frerotte look like Peyton Manning in the first half and, well, Gus Frerotte in the second half? I saw his line at the end of the first quarter, and he'd thrown one incomplete pass and two touchdowns.

Benjy Rose: I would say a combination of good protection/no pressure and just real nice accurate passing. He threw a great deep ball.

Vince Verhei: Just like we have said about Grossman and Griese in Chicago: There is no Lewis Sanders. There is no Chris Houston. There is only "Atlanta Falcons cornerback who is not DeAngelo Hall." Houston happened to be the starter today, and he got lit up by Torry Holt again and again in the first half. In the second half, the Falcons figured out, hey, we'd better give Houston some help, and when Holt beat Houston on a slant, Chris Crocker jumped the route for an easy interception. I think the extra help boosted Houston's confidence, because he played better on short routes, breaking up a few passes.

Chris Redman was not really that much better than Joey Harrington. The Falcons fell behind because Houston had a bad first half, because Roddy White fumbled, and because Harrington was handing off to Warrick Dunn. They came back because the defense played better, because White held onto the ball, and because Redman got to hand off to Jerious Norwood. Redman's interception, down just one score in the fourth quarter, was a brutal throw. It was an overthrow to Michael Jenkins, landing softly into the arms of O.J. Atogwe, and even if Atogwe hadn't been there, it's likely that the corner covering Jenkins would have picked it off. Jenkins had no chance to make the catch.

Seattle Seahawks 28 at Philadelphia Eagles 24

Doug Farrar: Great read and interception by Lofa Tatupu on Philly's first play from scrimmage. He pulled back into coverage and A.J. Feeley lost sight of him on a quick slant to L.J. Smith. I have to think that Feeley was throwing to a zone, because Tatupu and Deon Grant had a high-low on Smith. On the subsequent touchdown, the Seahawks went shotgun from the Eagles' two-yard line and handed to Shaun Alexander. I would bet that in the nine years Mike Holmgren has been Seattle's head coach, you've never seen him call a shotgun draw play in a goal-to-go situation like that. This is not a coach who likes the shotgun in the first place.

Conversely, a wonderful play call by the Eagles on Correll Buckhalter's touchdown run on the next drive. Brian Westbrook went on a fake reverse left, the defense followed, and Buckhalter zipped by Patrick Kerney, Leroy Hill and Lofa Tatupu because none of the three defenders knew which way was up. I remember seeing the Saints run a similar play successfully very early in the season when they had Deuce McAllister, with Reggie Bush in Westbrook's role and McAllister getting the ball.

Uh -- OK. Feeley throws a quick slant to Greg Lewis on Philly's third drive, Tatupu plays the same coverage and gets virtually the same interception. Guys, I think you might want to scrap that play until next week.

Mike Tanier: Didn't Lofa have a bunch of interceptions in the Monday Night game two years ago? He has to rank among the all-time Philly killers.

Doug Farrar: He has eight career picks, and four are against the Eagles. The one against the Eagles in 2005 was memorable because he scored and punched the goalpost like Ken Norton, Jr., used to. Norton was one of Lofa's coaches at USC and recommended him very highly to Ray Rhodes, who was Seattle's defensive coordinator when Tatupu was drafted.

As much as Shaun Alexander looked good on that touchdown run, I'm still not convinced that he's the answer for the Seahawks anymore. He doesn't fit this particular offense at all. He's a patient runner who makes plays as they develop over time -- as such, he's heavily dependent on a great offensive line. I'm not breaking any news when I say that the Seahawks haven't had anything near a great line since Super Bowl XL ended. Maurice Morris isn't going to make anyone forget the 2005 version of Alexander, but he can make one cut and go before the gaps fill up. He can head out wide and be a legitimate threat one-on-one against a linebacker. He can catch a screen pass, for heaven's sake. I think he's a better stopgap for the Seahawks, as far as they go this season, before they draft their next running back in the 2008 draft. And at least two offensive linemen. And sign Alan Faneca. And ask Alex Gibbs if he's doing anything.

Mike Tanier: Alexander had a few decent runs but looked pretty bad overall. He was too easy to bring down, ran laterally, didn't finish his runs. He had a couple of nice cutback runs on plays where I think most decent runners would have found space.

Doug Farrar: Because when you talk about running backs... Hoo, boy. Brian Westbrook probably won't get any MVP votes in a very crowded field, but I don't see too many players who do more for their team. He came into this game leading the league in combined rushing and receiving yards, and I give him as much credit for Buckhalter's touchdown as Buckhalter himself. His long punt return late in the game gave the Eagles a real chance to win before Lofa Tatupu put on his invisible suit and intercepted his third pass. Westbrook doesn't get the acclaim he deserves. People are aware that he's good, but I don't think most people understand just how much he does. Because if they did, you'd hear his name at least half as much as you hear about Donovan vs. A.J.

Mike Tanier: You know who I don't want to see play football anymore? L.J. Smith. He didn't have a terrible statistical game, but he missed some opportunities to haul in catchable balls that would have made a difference. I am tired of seeing him fall down after every catch. His production can be measured in Inches After Catch. This is a contract year, I think, so hopefully I won't see him in Philly next year. He's not terrible; he just seems like a guy we've been settling for four years while Chris Cooley, Jason Witten, and Jeremy Shockey make a difference for the other teams in the division.

Cleveland Browns 21 at Arizona Cardinals 27

Doug Farrar: Two words for the Cleveland Browns: Check. Down. Derek Anderson had better take off that Charlie Frye jersey, because he's playing like crap early on. There was a pick-six to Rod Hood in the first quarter, then a fumbled snap that Arizona recovered, then a deep throw to Braylon Edwards into triple coverage which he overthrew right to Hood again. The only way to get the ball to Edwards with that coverage would have been to drop it from a helicopter. After losing Adrian Wilson and Eric Green for the season in the same week, Arizona's secondary is playing very well, even with all the free gifts.

Wow -- Jamal Lewis scored on a screen pass at the end of the first half by jumping OVER Rod Hood. He got hit in midair by Gerald Hayes, and he's going to feel that one tomorrow. They showed Hood on the sideline, and he had Reche Caldwell eyes. Couldn't believe what had just happened.

Aaron Schatz: "Reche Caldwell Eyes" is, like, my favorite Kim Carnes song EVER!

Mike Tanier: I can't believe I got beaten to the Kim Carnes reference.

Doug Farrar: Another turnover for the Browns late in the third quarter when Josh Cribbs calls a fair catch on a punt, trips over his own teammate, and fumbles the ball off his fingertips. If you want to do any damage in the playoffs, you can't keep giving to the ball to a team that started the game without their best receiver (Larry Fitzgerald) and ended it without their 1A guy as well (Anquan Boldin, who came up lame off the line of scrimmage with three minutes left in the third quarter). There's no question that the Browns have the talent to make an impact in the postseason, and it's just as sure that they need to straighten things up before they get there.

David Lewin: This game was horribly officiated. Braylon Edwards was indisputably down by contact on that touchdown. I am at a complete loss as to why the ref declined to overturn the play. Then, on the last play of the game Kellen Winslow caught a touchdown that would have won the game and was forced out before he could come down and the ref decided to completely ignore this fact. Unfortunately, force-outs are not reviewable. I don't like the idea of something not being reviewable.

I think that when a ref goes under the hood they should have only one goal: MAKE THE RIGHT CALL! If that means overruling an incorrect judgment call, so be it.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, it's difficult to understand how out-of-bounds is reviewable but force-outs aren't. Is the NFL worried that if too many judgment calls are overturned, people will start to question the competence of officials? And how many times has that ship already sailed?

Stuart Fraser: I think the NFL's logic is that force-out is pretty much an entirely subjective call, and a review would just be replacing one subjective opinion with another. Which I kind of follow.

Ned Macey: The lack of a force-out call was terrible. Winslow was clearly falling backwards before a safety hit him. The fact that Cleveland should have won the game despite four turnovers is a little embarrassing for Arizona, but they'll take it -- especially without Fitzgerald and Boldin. Steve Breaston made his first big catch since the 2005 Rose Bowl.

Big day for Edgerrin James, who is quietly on his way to a 1,200-yard, eight-touchdown season. Someday, I hope Edge and Harrington are on the same team so MDS and I can always add comments about how awful their o-line/receivers are when they invariably score nine points per game.

New York Giants 21 at Chicago Bears 16

Aaron Schatz: Joe Buck said that Jeff Feagles is the best punter in the history of the NFL at cornering a punt out of bounds and preventing a return. Really? Is that actually supported by any stat, or even any poll of NFL experts? Or is it the kind of subjective thing an announcer says with no basis in fact, because he wants to further the Devin Hester storyline?

Michael David Smith: I thought what Buck was saying is that Feagles has the most punts inside the 20 in NFL history. I'm not sure if that's an official stat, and if it is how long it's been kept, but if true it says more about Feagles' longevity than it does about his ability to effectively kick away from Hester today.

Mike Tanier: Punts inside the 20 have been kept since the 1970s at least. Punting stats were strangely ahead of most other NFL stats for most of my lifetime. That being said, doesn't Feagles lead all punters in just about every counting stat?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 at New Orleans Saints 23

Mike Tanier: The McCown brothers threw for five touchdowns this week. I will be hiding under my bed if anyone needs me.

Aaron Schatz: I have no explanation for Oakland's McCown, but Mike, you yourself could throw for five touchdowns against New Orleans as long as you had Joey Galloway to catch them.

Stuart Fraser: McCowns: 33-of-58 for 454 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT
Mannings: 36-of-56 for 483 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs

Fortunately, Peyton's four touchdowns prevent the Manning brothers from being definitively outproduced by the McCowns, at which point we could state with some confidence that Ragnarok was, in fact, upon us. As it is, the end times appear to have been staved off.

Cincinnati Bengals 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers 24

After Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor lists his college as "Swagger" in the TV introductions...

Aaron Schatz: Hey Tanier, don't you teach part-time at the University of Swagger? Was Ike Taylor ever in one of your classes?

Mike Tanier: Graduated Maxima Cum Laude.

Stuart Fraser: But probably dropped the diploma at the graduation ceremony.

In abridged form, my commentary on the Steelers so far would be "Gah."


1) No pressure on Palmer
2) Also, no coverage of receivers not named Chad Johnson. We already know Ike Taylor can cover Chad Johnson.
3) Ben Roethlisberger has yet to throw a pass where the receiver wanted it. There have only been two completions, and Hines Ward was stretching for both of them.
4) Willie Parker isn't who you want running absent nice large holes.
4a) No holes.
4b) and Najeh Davenport joined the injury list before the start of the game.
5) Interior linemen (on both sides of the ball) keep getting stupid penalties.
6) Daniel Sepulveda probably meant to kick that with more forwards and less sideways.

Fortunately, the Browns lost. Unfortunately, the Steelers have the Patriots next week.

The first half summed up pretty much everything about the Pittsburgh Steelers this year, offensively. The offense is now completely dependent on Roethlisberger. He comes out overthrowing everybody, the Steelers spend the entire first quarter backed up against their goal-line; then when he finally finds his radar, two touchdown drives materialize. Atypically, the pass protection has been fairly good. This might be something to do with Heinz Field's current condition, since the Steelers can't generate much of a pass rush either. Or it could just be Pittsburgh having a down game and the Bengals being the Bengals.

The defense is hard to evaluate, because Carson Palmer is struggling to throw the ball accurately (except for on the first drive). The pass rush is not getting a huge amount of pressure; even on the plays that have got to Palmer, it's been outstretched hands rather than solid hits. Normally that means the secondary will get carved up; that this hasn't happened yet is mostly on Palmer.

Stat that has to appear on an NBC graphic eventually: Home teams are on a six-game losing streak (three in 2005, two in 2006, one this year) in Steelers-Bengals clashes.

Ned Macey: I think this game makes it pretty clear that Pittsburgh has the best defense in football. The national stage, and the Bengals' poor record, will lead to a consensus that the Cincy offense is poor/Palmer is struggling. Coming into today, they were fifth in offensive DVOA with a higher rating than they had last year. Palmer has too many picks because he presses, but he was ahead of Romo and Manning in DPAR (if slightly behind them in DVOA). This is a damn good offense, particularly with Chris Henry healthy, and the Steelers are killing them.

Stuart Fraser: I don't think Palmer is playing well. To be sure, the Steelers aren't making it easy for him -- the receivers are generally covered, and the running game is only rarely successful. But he's generally got time to throw (though less so as the game has gone on and the situation has forced the Bengals into more passes), and the receivers often do have a step on the defensive backs. Palmer would have to be playing very well to be completing 60 percent of his passes tonight, but he can do better than the 40 percent he's actually doing.


226 comments, Last at 04 Dec 2007, 9:07pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

" think, by rule, the refs are not allowed to do anything other than tell the coach the play is not reviewable"

Where does this habit (I'm really criticising the reffs here, not Vince Verhel) of saying "by rule" come from. Why is it needed?

I think the officials say it because they think it makes them sound more authoritative but it actually raised more questions. Why do they feel that they have to make it clear that this particular call is being made "by rule'? Were the other calls just made up? I don't need to be informed that the referees are following the rule book, it's one of those things that should be safely assumed.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Okay, so I asked this in the forum last night, and I'll ask again here.

Pittsburgh/Cincy. It's fourth and 17 with less than two minutes to go, the Bengals' last chance for an epic comeback. Palmer receives the snap, steps back, buys a bit of time and throws to Chad Johnson at the sideline, about three yards shy of the first-down marker. With a defender bearing down on him, Johnson steps out of bounds.

So, here's my question: What the hell was he thinking?

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Giants fans: what do you think about the watch commercial that calls Eli "unstoppable"?
I think his new nickname should be "stopable."

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re: Jax-Ind challenges

1. On Garrard's fumble, Del Rio did throw the red flag after Indy's successful review. However, he was not allowed to (by rule, by choice, or because it was unreviewable, I don't know). No word on whether the refs looked at Garrard's fumble as part of Indy's review

2. On Utecht's apparent fumble: I wouldn't have been surprised if that was ruled incomplete on the field. However, I need more explanation on how it was incontravertible that Utecht didn't catch the ball, considering that was the standard of review.

3. On Del Rio's failure to challenge the spot in the 3rd quarter: From editorial, Del Rio wanted to challenge forward progress, but the official said that the ruling that the receiver recovered his balance and started a new effort to go forwards was not reveiwable.

Between this game and the Winslow apparent touchdown deemed not reviewable, I realize I don't know (or agree) with some of the more esoteric instant replay rules.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Further on Utecht's incompletion: By lip-reading Dungy, I thought he was challenging the catch.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Had Luke McCown's TD passes been caught by Joey Galloway, I might not have bat an eye, but Anthony Becht and Jerremy Stevens? Really?

Sure Galloway had a lot of yards and is generally a monster against the Saints (though he could probably shoulder most of the blame on the Pick 6 for not running the hot route), but McCown completed passes to 10 different receivers.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I don't know if the Bills knew that the 'Skins were one-man down in the first play. If they don't, there is nothing to say about it. But, if they do, they showed lack of sportmanship. In such cases, just throw the ball out-of-bounds.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Sean McCormick: Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is in a play-calling rut — he invariably calls a run after any big pass play. Defenses have caught on, and those runs have to be averaging one yard at best."

While we're at it, it seems like in the NFL in general if there is an incomplete pass on 1st down then 2nd down is almost guaranteed to be a running play. Is it just my imagination or can someone back me up with actual numbers?

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: picking up the challenger flag: we just went through this last year, didn't we? Once the flag is thrown a coach can't pick it up and not challenge - the league even issued a (public) reminder to the refs last year to enforce this.

In the Giants game Lovie Smith threw a challenge flag AFTER the snap on first-and-goal from the one. Droughns ran it in for a TD, then the refs said the play didn't happen because the challenge flag was thrown. Luckily for the G-men, Ward ran it in from the two or three a couple of plays later.

In the Bengal-Steeler game last night there was a Steeler DB WAY offsides and it didn't get called, and yet DeMarcus Ware has been called offsides three times this year when he HASN'T been offsides because his jump is so dang good.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I haven't seen the Bengals much this year. I know that Palmer has excellent numbers this year, that the Steelers D is very very good, and that the ball was probably very wet last night. But... Palmer's performance in the second half last night was simply embarassing to watch. I've never seen so many throws be simply uncatchable - out of bounds, sailing overhead, in no-man's-land. So for those with a more analytical eye, I ask you: how much of that was the Steelers D, and how much of that was Palmer simply missing his targets? The pass rush was there, but for the most part Palmer had lots of time, I thought.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I was following on GameCast, but -- any comment on Whisenhunt's decision to kick the FG from the 1, up 3 with 1:52 left? It seemed like a terrible decision to me. Granted that they'd just been stuffed twice, if you go for it and get the TD the game is over, and if you go for it and fail you're up 3 with Cleveland needing to go from the 1 to FG range to tie. After they made the FG, they had to kick away, meaning that though Cleveland had to go for the TD they had a shorter field--and if they get the TD they win. (Not to mention that they short-kicked and were lucky to draw a penalty on the return.)

As it is Cleveland had to go for a bomb from the 37 -- if they'd gained the same number of yards after taking over at the 1 they would've been nowhere near FG range.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

7: The Bills should sacrifice a down because the 'Skins are honouring a fallen teammate? This is a professional football game, both teams are in the playoff hunt. I'm not giving an inch if I'm Buffalo.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Why should the Bills, a team on the cusp of the playoffs, be forced to give up a play of a game because a defensive coordinator singlehandedly chose to put his team at a disadvantage?

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Jeers: Madden talks about in the old days when a fumble was a fumble (on a play where the player was clearly down before the ball comes out). Cheers: Madden makes fun of players that complain about being underrated when obviously everyone thinks they're one of the best in the league.

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Where does this habit (I’m really criticising the reffs here, not Vince Verhel) of saying “by rule� come from. Why is it needed?"

I'm thinking it comes out of the need of explaining why - say - the refs would give the Redskins an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for having a brain fart. It's shorthand for, "We're not doing this to punish the team in this situation; this is just a rule that has to be enforced."

I like it just because it explains that there is a reason for the action. It beats the random PI calls.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Here's the way I saw the Braylon Edwards TD. I thought that the contact from the safety came BEFORE the catch was completed.

In other words, he lept for the catch, caught it in his hands, but was contacted before any part of his body hit the ground. Therefore, he was contacted before the catch was completed, but not afterwards.

Short version: I thought it was the correct call by the officials, although the guy might have considered explaining the call a little.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

The Vikings may not make the playoffs, but I prefer watching this team make a run at 9-7 or 8-8 than watching the teams from the Moss era finish with that sort of middling record. This team has some people with nasty dispositions on both sides of the ball, and Adrian Peterson provides as much excitement as Moss.

It may sound crazy, but the Vikings, given their tiebreaker over the Giants, have a shot at the #5 seed, since I would not be shocked to see the Giants lose three of their last four, or even to see to the Vikings win out. Unfortunately, I also wouldn't be shocked to see the Vikings lose two or even three down the stretch. If Tavaris Jackson, however, continues on his current performance curve, and with Sidney Rice staying healthy, the Vikings could very easily go 4-0 down the stretch.

One thing is certain, and it is what makes look forward to seeing the Vikings play these days. They are going to block the opposition, right through the whistle. I don't think I've ever seen a Vikings offense, even on some great offensive teams, sustain their blocks any better than this team does, and not just the well-known guys. Ryan Cook has made huge strides this year, Herrera is a very fierce brawler, Shiancoe looked great yesterday, and the receivers may not be great at their primary job, but they don't take running plays off at all.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

12 & 13: I don't disagree, but I think that since #7 is from Brazil, it might be a little sports confusion since that sort of play is very common in soccer. (If you have the ball and the other team has a player hurt, you kick it out of bounds so the player can get help, then the other team just throws the ball right back to you when play resumes ...)

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Collinsworth and everyone else seems to be apoplectic about the Winslow call. Who cares? The Edwards non-overturn earlier was much worse. Force out has always been a judgment call. Judgment calls shouldn't be reviewable, they are iffy enough as it is. Edwards was down, how they didn't overturn the TD and call him down is beyond me.

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re 2: Chad was thinking?

In week 2 against the Browns, Chad caught a pass at the Browns 35 with less than 10 seconds remaining and the Bengals with no timeouts. He caught the ball at the sideline, one step away from the white paint....and cut infield and took on a tackle instead of stepping out of bounds. No time for a FG attempt.

So, maybe some subtleties of the game, like needing at least 17 yards on 4th-and-17, are out of his grasp.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#7, 12, 13: If the Bills were, indeed, aware the defense was down a man, running the ball up the middle was the most sportsmanlike thing to do. Throwing deep middle would have been the dick move in that case.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Question for Lions' fans: when did Shaun Rogers decide to re-retire this season? I thought Marinelli had performed a miracle, and had gotten Rogers to become a professional football player, but yesterday it was pretty evident that he is back to his old ways. Matt Birk is one of the best centers in the league, but I know from previous Lions games that when Rogers wants to play, Birk has a hard time with him. Yesterday, Birk put a beat-down on Rogers like Sonny Corleone did his ne'r-do-well brother-in-law in the first "Godfather" movie.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Can anyone tell me what Couglin was thinking running the ball in from the 2 on 1st down with 90 seconds left? By scoring on 1st he gave da Bears 3 shots at the endzone to try to win at the end, plus they had to stop Hester on a kick return - horrible coaching. Period.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

In the 4th quarter of Jags/Colts, the Jags drive to the Indy 7 for a 1st and goal. Then Reggie Williams gets hit with unnecessary roughness and a 15 yard penalty. So the refs move it back 15 yards to the 22, but then give the Jags a FIRST AND 10. Huh?? Shouldn't it have been 1st and goal from the 22? Since no one on the Colts sideline was screaming bloody murder, I assume it was the correct call, but can someone explain to me why it was the correct call?

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

zzyzx: I still don't think it needs to be mentioned that they're following the rules. I've never heard them say, "we're making this one up, just for gags and laughs you know!"

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

How about Coughlin's decision to go for the TD on 1st down from the Bears' 2, with 1 and a half minutes to go, instead of letting time run down and kick the short FG? It ended well for the Giants, and granted short FGs are not necessarily gimmies, but I thought it was truly bone-headed, given the Giants' offensive/QB protection problems, and the fact that one of the few things Grossman can do decently is throw long bombs.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

BTW I have to laugh at this site questioning the ethics of the Bills for running a play on the first play of the game. If the Pats were in the Bills shoes they would throw deep to Taylor's side and this site would talk about how you have to play to win the game.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

It looked to me like Palmer had real trouble throwing a wet ball. Roethlisberger was much better in the same conditions.

As the song says, "It doesn't rain in California."

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #1
I think the refs are trying emphasize it's not in their discretion to make a different decision. "Blame the rule, not us."

Re #2
I'm personally convinced that #85 didn't actually realize it was 4th down. I'm judging this by the way he looked after he realized it was, and his expression when talking to Marvin Lewis after the play. Just totally inexcusable-I could understand Trent Green(?)'s 4th down clock play, because it was in the heat of the moment and it's easy to lose track of things in the late-game rush, but that's just terrible.

On Officiating:
I hate talking about, because it's totally insoluble and too often detracts from other worthy topics, but a couple things:
1. Boger's crew in ARI-CLE totally blew the two biggest calls of the game, and in totally predictable ways.
2. The on-field replay equipment in TEN wasn't working at first yesterday, so Triplette had to go into the tunnel to use the replay equipment there when Fisher challenged early in the first quarter.
3. I'm really grateful for Mike Carey and his explanations of both what the call is and why it was made. It would be really nice if every ref did that.
4. Watching both Triplette and Boger, I'm grateful for crews that go ahead and make the call. Go ahead and make a decision-if you need to huddle afterward and use the benefit of multiple perspectives, do that, but it seems like some crews have a tendency to stand there watching the play.
5. Did anybody get called for offensive holding yesterday?

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

25: That rule was changed a year or two back. They now give 1st and 10 after dead ball fouls, instead of 1st and 25 or something.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Coughlin made the right play. You take the points when you can get them. The Bears offense is terrible, there was almost a better chance of missing the 20 yarder than the Bears scoring a TD.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"zzyzx: I still don’t think it needs to be mentioned that they’re following the rules. I’ve never heard them say, “we’re making this one up, just for gags and laughs you know!�"

It's what NewstoTom said. Calls like Unsportsmanlike Conduct are subjective. When the ref specifically says that calling two time outs in a row automatically draws the foul, we know that it wasn't a decision they made, but rather their hands were tied.

Besides, since you can't get the full rule book, it is interesting to learn about obscure rules that you hadn't heard of.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

You forgot to mention how certain you are that the Pats would have also performed a ritual human sacrifice on a baby wrapped in a #21 towel, just for kicks.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I think Coughlin made the right choice. Especially on a wet field, a botched snap or hold kills even a short field goal attempt. Get the TD, and make that mediocre (being kind) Bears offense score a touchdown to beat you.

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Stat that has to appear on an NBC graphic eventually: Home teams are on a six-game losing streak (three in 2005, two in 2006, one this year) in Steelers-Bengals clashes."

Good call Stuart; wasn't actually a graphic I don't think but Michaels/Madden mentioned it at some point, I think even throwing in the Palmer-injury playoff game a couple years ago for seven straight home team losses in the series.

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

That Browns lack of a force out was criminal. Why do I bother to watch the games when they hand the other team a victory for no reason?

Either remove the rule, or make it reviewable because the Browns were robbed.

Note: My second favorite team is the Cardinals.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #25
Dead-ball infractions are enforced between downs. So, the sequence of events is basically thus:
1. MJD run for 1 yard. This results in a first down, ending that series.
2. Williams commits the dead-ball penalty.
3. Next series begins.
Penalties affecting the offense aren't enforced against a particular series until that series begins. I'd have to look at the rulebook to figure out where the line is-if it starts when the playclock starts, or what exactly, but that's the rule, and it was correctly applied in JAX-IND.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

39: I agree. Even though it helped my real team and fantasy team, I thought it was wrong.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#10...sure...i don't ever remember seeing so many receptions made with receivers face down on the field...Palmer did'nt display much accuracy Sunday night...i don't remember too many times that the receivers caught balls in stride...i do think that the Pittsburgh defense is good "on paper" but lets wait and see next week...the Browns and the Broncos both laid 28 pts. on them and neither can compare to the offenses in Indy or NE...of the top 10 teams, only Seattle has had an easier schedule so far...

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Palmer badly overthrew johnson several times when he had at least 4 yards seperation on the corner. The bengals are a good offense, and the steelers played well, but palmer was definetly off.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Another week and the officiating played a huge part in both games I saw. The Jags got utterly hosed on the Utecht (non) fumble. How that was ruled an incomplete pass I have no idea.

The Browns had two calls that evened themselves out; Edwards was down by contact and if Winslow wasn't forced out then the rule shouldn't exist.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

With adequate foreknowledge, the sportsmanlike thing to do when playing against a 10-man defense is to play a 10-man offense.

Last night's game was almost enough for me to sign up for the premium DVOA database right there, just to find out the offensive and defensive DVOA numbers for the Steelers in that one game. What, 0% offense and -100% defense? The Bengals marched 75 yards for a touchdown on the opening drive, and after that, it was all good field position turned to ashes by the Steelers defense: own 27, punt; own 47, punt; Steelers 28, gained three yards and missed a field goal; own 31, punt; kneeldown to end the half; own 25, punt; Steelers 25, field goal; own 25, downs; own 47, punt; Steelers 17, downs; own 39, downs.

How can the Steelers keep from going crazy in the night?

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Also, on the Browns touchdown. I'd argue it was Pass Interference because he was hit before the ball got there. It's not something I'd expect to be called because it was close and in real time that's difficult, but it just added to my frustration of watching a game, and having the last play be mangled.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

How crazy is the NFL? The week after Arizona loses to one of the worst teams any of us have ever witnessed - in the process allowing 31 points :eek: - they hold a much better Cleveland offense to 21 points and pull out a victory. Who could have seen that coming?

* I can't quite figure out what the ref was thinking when he reversed the Utecht fumble. For those that didn't see it, Utecht caught a pass from Manning, took two steps and then fumbled the ball when converged on by two defenders. Indy challenged the play, thinking that his knee was down. It was very close, but CBS had a nice shot of the play and Ben's knees were both about an inch and a half from the turf.

Somehow, though, the ref returned from the hood with a view that shocked everyone - most of all Indy themselves - that the pass was incomplete. It absolutely 100% was not an incomplete pass. I know that they eliminated the "football move" from the rule this year, but Utecht actually did make a football move. The ball came loose when Utecht was trying to move the ball into a secure hold in his left arm and the defender poked at it.

Mr Ref. Is it too much to ask that you know the rules of the game? Since the ball was clearly controled for the first two steps, you cannot say that he didn't have control. And the "must maintain possession through the fall" only applies if Utecht hadn't already taken two steps. Just an unbelievably bad call made worse by the fact that the guy had time to think about it.

* In the same game, Phil Simms spoke for about 2 minutes about how a properly called PI on Jax was wrong. He kept pointing out how the "twist" (the defender was touching Wayne before the ball got there with his left arm and spun him around after the ball glanced off his fingers) happened after the ball arrived. Phil, that may be true, what about holding the receivers arms down with your *other* arm? Isn't that interference?

* I am glad that Indy and Pitt both won. As I have been saying for a few weeks now, since it was near impossible that either would miss the playoffs, I want them to be 2-3, ensuring them to have to duke it out first before coming to NE. Not only does that mean that NE will face a much easier divisional round, but it means that NE only has to face one elite team (at most) to make the SB.

* Nice to see SF's pick back at #2 so soon. How bad are you when Carolina looks like a decent team against you?

* I realize that it is not in vogue to criticize Washington, but Gibbs seems to be out of his league. I'm not even talking about the timout thing, either. How many times does he need to see that his overly conservative playcalling only lets the other team back into the game? Regularly they play an excellent half or three quarters only to be undone because they refuse to seal the deal. I don't get it. I suppose the thought process could be to avoid the killer mistake, but isn't it clear by now that this startegy itself lets the other team come back? Hey Joe, YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!

* What was that, Mr. Feeley. It seems all your success with incuts the week before gave you some tunnel-vision.

* I would crticize NO for their playcall on the unfortunate fumble, but I seem to recall NE doing something similar to take advantage of an overly aggressive defense to close out the 2004 AFCCG against Pitt. What I do think is fair game, though, is the pitch. Feel free to run a reverse, but why add that extra degree of difficulty?

I think that is it. Oh, Adrian Peterson is great.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"by rule" is an if-then statement for what amounts to football fiction. If there's a fumble and the whistle is blown too soon, or it is called an incomplete, reversed and possession was not clear, then by rule the fumbling team gets the ball back. This must happen in those situations, and it's not necessarily true that they recovered possession; the rule simply says that they did, to make things easier.

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Gibbs calling the 2d TO and getting the penalty is the perfect illustrative example of all that's been wrong with Gibbs 2.0. The rules have changed, and somehow with the world's largest coaching staff, he still makes this call (as opposed to one of the 17 assistant head coaches), and he doesn't even know the rule. Better still, he has previously demonstrated that he was unwilling to call the TO super late as is now fashionable, twice earlier this season calling the TO early in the play. So either his sense of sportsmanship has changed, or he just finally learned about the ability to call it late, and then blew it with the second one. I'm not which is more pathetic.

Futher, while the focus in DC is all about the TO, why not focus on the absolutely horrid red zone performance from all Gibbs 2.0 teams? As I've written previously, Gibbs 2.0 is still looking for Gibbs 1.0's balls.

Ugh. Can Gibbs be "deducted" from the Hall of Fame? This is a Hall of Fame coach? This?

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#3. That Unstoppable commercial???? You see it too? I thought it was just a personal recurring nightmare. (and I am an Eli fan.)
Coughlin's call was correct at the end. Even their extra points have been an adventure. Feagles had to almost jump out of his crouch to snag one of the earlier snaps. Add rough field, wet ball, crowd noise, wind, and only one TD for the Bears all day; that is an easy decision.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

The "push out" rule should just be thrown away. If a guy can't catch the ball with both feet inbounds then it should be incomplete. Why does the receiver have a right to the air and not be touched if they go to the air to catch a ball?

Shouldn't it be a defensive advantage that if the pass was defended well enough the receiver couldn't catch it without jumping that the defense can push the receiver out of bounds for an incomplete pass?

It would make judging things a lot easier. Black and white, cut and dry. If you want to complete a pass get it to a guy on a good pass or in a place he can't be forced out of bounds before both feet are in.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #16/45
That's not something that occurred to me while watching the game, but I did look at it last night and again today using the video at In fact, I had a nice pause shot of the ball in Edwards' hands at the same time the S was making the contact. It's tough to see on the video, which isn't great, but what I see suggests to me he has initial possession when contacted and I don't see anything that says loses his initial possession of the ball at any point after being contacted.

If that's why Boger's crew thought he wasn't down, it would have been nice for them to tell us that. See my #31 re Mike Carey and explaining stuff.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, I am for the Redskins doing the 10 man thing. It's just a game, and just one play, and I thought it was touching.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#43: So what happened after the first drive of the game? Palmer definitely wasn't off the first drive (6 for 7). I'm not necessarily disagreeing; but it seems to me that when a QB goes from that good on the first drive to that lousy on the rest, it's not just "an off night". Something happened -- PIT defensive schemes, loss of confidence, something.

Conversely, Roethlisberger seemed to get better as the game went on. Although he seems to have two modes - when the line blocking sucks (as it usually does), he feels like he has to make something happen, so he'll hold on to the ball way too long and make ridiculous throws on the run. When the line blocking doesn't suck (like last night), he feels like he can do anything and will make ridiculous throws from the pocket because nothing can go wrong. (There were a couple he forced into impossibly small windows - that actually made it into the windows and got caught, but they were pretty risky.)

Needless to say, I'm not convinced that this shows that Pittsburgh has any better chance against NE than we thought they did earlier in the season. The Patriots defense isn't the Bengals defense.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I really enjoyed the Bears/Giants game yesterday. One can tell why the Bears are so feast and famine on running plays since except for Tommie Harris it's all guess work. Their defensive ends are a bit light in the pants so they try and compensate by making quick moves here and there. But if they get locked up by an offensive lineman it's all over. Only Harris is stout enough to hold his ground and still make a play.

It's interesting in that the Giants tried to keep the game from ending up in Eli's hands but when the team had its back to the wall the coaches understood they had to risk it and the guy made plays. And that was with Shockey in and out of the game. Though it was odd that Chicago couldn't see fit to cover Toomer on a regular basis. Several balls were caught with NOBODY in the general area.

Berrian could have had 3-4 REALLY big plays yesterday but the balls were either just overthrown or a Giant DB got a hand in JUST in time. Grossman hit some impossibly small open windows at other times.

Devin Hester letting that one pass clank off his shoulder pads was amusing.

I think the coaching staff needs to tether Rex to his center to keep him backing up as a way of keeping a play alive. It's how many years in the league and the guy is STILL backpedalling 15 yards into a sack. It's crazy.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I've always been a huge Gibbs fan, but when it gets to the point that you don't know the rules well enough to avoid what happened yesterday, it's time to go. Trying to cut him some slack, I'd like to say the week's events led to a mental lapse, but it sounds as if he simply didn't know the rule. The special teams coach may be on the hook for this as well, unless Gibbs didn't communicate his intentions to him at all.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

What's the rule on intentionally downing the ball short of the goal line?

At the end of the Giants-Bears game, the Giants were down by 2, first and goal at the 3, two minutes remaining. Chicago has 1 timeout remaining. They call a run to the right, and Chicago (rightly)concedes the touchdown to preserve clock.

What has to happen for a player to actually get ruled down? Does he have to be touched down by a defensive player? Does the clock stop when the ball carrier kneels, or when touched by a defensive player? If he's kneeling on the ground, and a defender knocks him into the end zone, is the ball spotted at the moment of contact (short of the endzone)?

To me, the smart play would have been for the RB to stop inbounds just short of the goal line with the ball clutched to his chest in the fetal position. Aikman(?) even suggested taking a knee on 1st down, then running twice. I don't like it because those two yards are huge at the goal line, but the idea sounded right - force the defense to either concede clock or burn their last timeout, while remaining in a short-yardage situation. Can an offensive player intentionally down himself?

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

You guys made the point in the annual ... L.J. Smith is just Billy Miller except he fell into a better situation. Thank goodness the Eagles drafted him over Jason Witten. I mean, Jason Witten can actually block ... that's not a West Coast tight end! No, we need a receiving tight end with bad hands!

61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Absolutely. Once an offensive player clearly demonstrates that he is no longer trying to make a football move he can be declared down.

The Giants could have done that but I think TC had his team do the proper thing. Scoring in any situation is an iffy thing as there are no sure things. Get the points and force Rex Grossman to win the game.

Given that offensive line, the weather conditions and the Giants defensive line TC had to like his chances.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I think I might be in favor of going to a college-style one foot in bounds rule, in return for getting rid of the push out, and perhaps expanding the five yard zone for jamming the receiver to a very strictly enforced 10 yard zone.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: Buffalo's sportsmanship. The Redskins should have picked a different way to pay tribute than leaving a man off of the field. Something that wasn't a part of the game itself. If they do that then there is no issue at all.
It's especially unfair to the other team. Forcing them into difficult strategic call is good football. Forcing them into a difficult ethical one isn't.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I like the force out rule personally. Why should defenders get to pummel into a wideout without trying to stop the completion just to put them out of bounds?

I like CB's having to defend the pass. I'd rather have the rule be no forceouts if something like the Browns game can happen though.


Question. IF there were no forceouts, could you carry a player out of bounds who caught a high pass?

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#8 - You've obviously not watched the Lions "all passes, all downs" offense in action.

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

3: "Giants fans: what do you think about the watch commercial that calls Eli “unstoppable�?"

"It's inaccurate. Just like the people who wear it."

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re 54: I agree he makes a clean catch. My point is that when you lay out for the ball, you have to hold onto it after you hit the ground for it to be a completion. Therefore, even though he made a clean catch with his hands, the pass can't be considered complete until he hits the ground and continues to maintain possession of the ball. He clearly was not contacted after doing that.

I completely agree that the official should have explained the call.

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I'm against the one foot inbounds rule though. Never liked it, and a pretty two feet in bounds play shows real skill.

Then again, I don't really feel strongly about it. The offense is helped enough as it is.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: Utech fumble

I'm an Indy fan. I automatically assumed that it actually was a fumble since it was Utech (gets open well, catches the ball well, fumbles all the time...I don't see how it's possible his official stats only have him at 2 this year?). And the replay didn't show me otherwise. I'll take the gift, but I must admit it was a gift.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I don't think the Giants were necessarily wrong to take the TD. I do wonder why they didn't at least kneel first to burn Chicago's last timeout(s). The Bears' last drive had someone getting tackled in bounds with about 15 seconds left; having a TO allowed them to take several shots at the end zone from there. Granted, we can't say for sure how things would've turned out, but having a TO and being able to use the middle of the field was huge for Chicago.

On the TD, the runner could've slid or knelt to declare himself down. However, if they were going to do that, they would've just had Eli kneel and not risked the handoff.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


"The Redskins should have picked a different way to pay tribute than leaving a man off of the field. Something that wasn’t a part of the game itself. If they do that then there is no issue at all."

Why? I'm perfectly fine with them doing what they did. I don't think there was a lack of sportsmanship on the other side either.

They made a risk / reward decision by paying tribute to him in that way, and they lived with it. Fine.

It was sportsman like in my mind to run. Well played all around.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I only saw parts of the games this weekend, but some quick thoughts:

*"By Rule" is what refs say to indicate it's explicitly written a certain way, and they have no room for judgment calls or interpretation.

*I only saw the 4th quarter of the CLE-ARI, so I didn't see the contraversial "not down by contact" TD, but my thought watching the end of the game was "Call the cops, because Cleveland just got ROBBED". I'm not a Browns or a Cards fan, so I hope I'm somewhat objective, and I've never seen a more blatant case of when a "forceout" should be called. If you're not going to call a forceout in that situation, then just switch to the college rule where there is no forceout but the WR only has to get one foot in.

*Buffalo shouldn't have to give up an offensive play because Washington wants to honor a fallen teammate, but if they had known about the 10 men on the field ahead of time, maybe it would have been sporting to come out with 10 men of their own. One less WR, perhaps, to balance one less safety.

*I only saw the highlights, not the game, but from what I saw, Seattle's strategy seemed to be "hold like crazy and mug the opposing team's D-line, because it won't get called". On every highlight of a Seattle big offensive play (I saw three) someone (usually the left tackle or someone on the left end of the line) was holding an Eagles defender like crazy. The most blatant was the long TD, where the DE got bar-choked from behind right before he sacked Hassleback, and instead Hassleback threw for a long TD.

However, it occurred to me after the fact that this might be a case of selection bias in action. Teams are more likely to succeed on plays where they get away with holding. So if you only show plays where they succeed (e.g. in a highlights show), then a larger percentage than is representative will contain uncalled holding, and none will contain called holding (since highlight shows rarely show penalty plays). So maybe they weren't holding all game...

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

If I was a defensive coordinator, I'd be willing to trade one foot in bounds for the ability to have big, physical, cornerbacks being given ten yards to jam receivers. Bring back Mel Blount!

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

The Eagles gave the rest of the NFL a blueprint on how to almost beat Seattle.

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Re: 62 Hmmm, I might like that idea. I do really enjoy the second-foot-toe-tap play though.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, and I also didn't like Wisenhunt's decision to kick the FG up by 3 facing 4th-and-a-fingernail. I can see the logic, but I personally would have gone for it. AND the announcers even said "I think it's obvious you kick the FG here". No, it's not. It's at least worth discussion. Outside Dungy and Belichick and a couple other coaches, most coaches are way too conservative...

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

As a Giants fan, I'm starting to get scared of the game at Philly next week. Yesterday, the Bears were very close to killing the Giants defense with screen passes. They had 1 for 24 yards, and two others that looked like they would've gone further had there not been improbable diving ankle tackles to stop Peterson with open field and 2 blockers in front of him (tackles by Kawika Mitchell and Michael Johnson, respectively). Brian Westbrook is going to start drooling when he sees the film on how susceptable that defense is to the RB screen.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Regarding the Pittsburgh game does anyone in Steelertown sit a bit uneasy today knowing that Willie Parker put the ball on the ground about 11 times last night? I know players can have a bad game but my goodness that was ridiculous.

I thought the Bengals did a pretty solid job giving Palmer time to throw. He was bad.

But anyone who watches the Bengals knows that Chad Johnson is rarely aware of the game situation. I don't think he is a dumb guy. It's just that Chad is so focussed on OTHER things the details of the game itself just don't sink in. Because I have watched the Bengals off and on for three years and this is par for the course for number 85. Which is why if I was Bengal ownership I would be gowing nuts that it hasn't been addressed. Like a guy jumping offsides on a punt return late in the game. That's moronic. There were multiple DUMB things by the Cincy players last night. And they are dumb ALL THE TIME. Which has to be a reflection of the coaching staff. The same coaching staff that allowed its players to run amok and repeatedly find themselves in front of a judge.

Marvin Lewis may talk a good game but his team just keeps doing the same stupid stuff. What's the old definition of stupidity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Methinks Cincy leadership needs to give old Marvin and his coaching staff a hard look.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

* I am glad that Indy and Pitt both won. As I have been saying for a few weeks now, since it was near impossible that either would miss the playoffs, I want them to be 2-3, ensuring them to have to duke it out first before coming to NE. Not only does that mean that NE will face a much easier divisional round, but it means that NE only has to face one elite team (at most) to make the SB.

The Steelers are not an elite team, and they will lose in the first round to (most likely) Tennessee. The Steelers are good at *almost* everything, but they have the worst pass protection in football and the worst kick/punt coverage in football. Those two glaring weaknesses are going to be mercilessly exploited by any decent coach with a decent team, which is going to happen in the playoffs.

Second round is likely to be Jaguars (5 seed, after trouncing San Diego) at Colts and Flaming Thumbtacks (6 seed, after edging Pittsburgh) at the Patriots.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Put another way, if I were a Colts fan, I'd be much happier about seeing the Steelers come to town for the divisional round than the Jaguars.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#61- I agree that going for the TD was the right call (particularly since a playing for the FG would still leave about 30 seconds on the clock, and the bears needing only to get into FG range following a Hester runback). But stopping just short of the marker still seems like a good option, for no other reason than it forces the bears to make a decision on what to do with the last timeout, while remaining in very short yardage.

#70 - the problem with taking a knee is that you lose 2 yards; I don't know the stats on it, but it seems like a huge difference at the goal line. On the other hand, another play is also another opportunity for a false start or fumbled snap.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Every time I see the Eli Manning "unstoppable" commercial I think of Princess Bride. Inconcievable! you keep using that word- I do not think it means what you think it means...

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: the Giants late game strategy

As a Bears fan, I was hoping they would let the Giants score there. I liked my chances with Hester/Grossman way more then the chances of the Bears stopping a third down run(after two kneels and the Bears using their final TO), and blocking a field goal.

Re: the Redskins 10 man formation

I thought it was a really cool tribute. Its unfortunate it has become a discussion about unsportsmanlike conduct on the Bills part. We're left guessing as to whether the Bills even recognized what was going on. I do hope Gibbs privately appoligizes to Jauron for putting him in that difficult ethical dilemma. As I see it though, the Bills only obligation is to try to win the game. And, if they did recognize it, it was classy for them to not audible to a pass

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #67
I see your point, but I don't think that's (i) what the rule is, (ii) how the rule is normally enforced, or (iii) what the rule should be.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

""Giants fans: what do you think about the watch commercial that calls Eli “unstoppable�?
I think his new nickname should be “stopable.� "

You can't stop Eli Manning. You can only hope to contain his mistakes.

Maybe he is the right celebrity for those watches, though. He does keep going. The ads say nothing about the accuracy or precision of the watches. Maybe they aren't strong in those areas?

87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Is it just me, or did Lawrence Tynes have the worst kicking off game of the season. Feagles did well on punts- whether or not you consider him "the best ever", Hester didn't have any roome to return and the Giants didn't really give up that much field position in the tradeoff.

88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Oh, and thanks to the Giants to eliminating the Bears from division contention. Muy bien!

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I didn't see the whole game, disco, but I thought Aikman made a good point regarding Tynes. On a gusty day along the shores of Lake Michigan, if you instruct your kicker to not boot the ball down the middle to Hester, then you ought to expect to see some balls kicked out out of bounds.

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I guess I'm about the only one here who didn't have a problem with the Winslow non-call. While he might have come down inbounds, it was not a certainty. However, I may be a bit biased in my thinking after seeing my Packers shafted in consecutive weeks earlier this year on forceout calls.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #79
Somebody may exploit the Steelers' ST coverage weaknesses in the playoffs, but it sure as hell won't be the Titans, who are currently 30th in kickoff return DVOA and 28th in punt return DVOA. As a Titans fan, I see BenR scrambling away from pressure and finding an open WR for a big gain downfield, probably against whichever of Holmes or Ward Nick Harper is in the general vicinity of. I'd also point out that VY's biggest weakness as a QB is difficulty in recognizing where the rushers are coming from, and that's something the Steelers would be very capable of taking advantage of.

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I don't have a problem with the Redskins playing a man short, regardless of the outcome of the play, nor do I have a problem with whatever the Bills decide to do in response. A teammate just died - the game is secondary to the Redskins. As mentioned above, unlike soccer, football doesn't really give you an opportunity to balance this out; the first down on the play probably did it as best as it could be done.

The Lions passed against the Vikings for a number of reasons, all of which should be fairly clear to regular readers:
-- The Lions' running game isn't good.
-- The Vikings' run defense is really, really, good.
-- Once the Vikings were up by three scores, the only reason to run would have been to run the clock faster and end the game sooner.

There's no point in "establishing the run", as announcers are wont to say, if you can't run on the other team and they know it.

I believe the carry-a-player-out-of-bounds question came up when we were discussing the force-out rule in the past. I think the consensus was that yes, that would be an incomplete pass. If you're strong enough to catch a WR in midair and prevent him from touching the ground until you want him to, then you broke up the play, well done, sir.

I also questioned Whisenhunt's decision. You have a chance to win the game with a TD; if you fail, it's almost certain you have the other team backed up inside the 5, and they'll have to drive just about as far for a game-tying FG as they would for a game-winning TD if you kick. (The other problem is Cribbs; kicking a FG means you either squib the kickoff, put it OB, or risk a long return.) If you succeed, the game is basically over.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

A completely impartial observer's point of view on the 2 CLE-ARI calls:

Braylon Edwards was down. There is no way his leg moves like that if the safety didn't hit him, and yes, I think he had posession at that point. However, in angles we were shown, Edwards' and they safety's bodies are in the way of seeing Edwards' leg make contact, so you can't see it with 100% clarity. Therefore, I think the call was made based on insufficient evidence to overturn. I think the TD is the correct call.

I think the Winslow call was correct as well. Winslow was falling backwards and out of the endzone and possibly got the one foot in, but it may have been out by an inch. I don't think you make a force out call in that situation unless it is absolutely blatant. I liken it to not calling a foul in basketball on the last play of the game when the game-deciding shot is taken. If it's close, there is no call. That's just the way it is.

Effectively ending a game on a force out ruling just shouldn't be done unless it is blatant, and I don't think this was blatant.

Blatant is a fun word.

Personally I would love to see the force out rule removed, but I love defensive football. The NFL wants higher scoring games, and if DBs could throw recievers out of bounds, it would decrease the offense and scoring in any given game.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #90
I completely disagree with you that he wouldn't have come down inbounds. As it was, while falling out of bounds, he got one foot in (close to simultaneous with and IMO marginally ahead of his hand coming down) and the second foot might have come down inbounds as well, though after he was down out of bounds. There's no doubt in my mind that he comes down inbounds if not contacted by a defender.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#74 - Brilliant. I think we all now know why AJ is no longer QB in Miami or SD.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

As for the Bills on their first play:

I'm guessing they didn't know what was going on until they were already on the line and saw only one safety. By that point, they couldn't really do anything but run the play they were given.

97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

What is the ruling on the Kitna fumble play where the call on the field is incomplete pass/ tuck rule where the Vikings recovered the ball, challenge the call and the refs agree it is a fumble but gave the ball back to the Lions anyway.

They changed the rule 2 years ago that when an inadvertent whistle blows or something, if one team clearly recovers and the refs screwed up the call again, the right team would get the ball.

The unstated frustration here among many football fans is if WE SEE THE CALL on replay, why the hell can't professionals see the right call? All a real football fan asks for is for the right call to be made, even if it goes against your tea. Sure there's homers out there who will steal from their own daughter to win, but in general we just want the team that deserves to win to get the victory.

So why is there still so much dag named rancor over the officiating? Because the NFL LIKES IT this way. This way they can do there BS calls to make a certain result more likely, and people like us can piss and moan and act like the NFL gives a crap what we think.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


As a Bears fan, I actually prefer watching the Vikings these days. If "it" ever clicks for Jackson, you guys rule the division for a few years. Who replaces Pat Williams in a few years?

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Hey, zlionsfan; I don't know if you saw my question in #23. Any thoughts? Rogers has always been an interesting player to observe form afar, but he must drive Lions fans nuts!

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

brasilbear, in today's NFL, it's hard to have a horizon that is visible for more than a few years. If Williams is still playing anywhere near his current level in 2009, I'll be more than satisfied. Maybe Shaun Rogers finally wears out his welcome in Detroit, has a religous experience, and becomes the next Pat Williams in Minnesota.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Post 98:

I would be interested to read your reasoning on that statement.

Because I could understand "highly competitive". But rule? As in nobody challenges?


102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

He would have definitely been in bounds. He got hit full speed (before he got the ball slightly) going towards the sideline.

But I can see how it would be difficult to make the call without being able to replay it.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

To paraphrase Colonel Tu on your adamant belief that Winslow would have come down in bounds.
"That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

I'm 100% sure that if I'd met Paris Hilton as I child I could have gotten her to cure cancer.

Regarding force outs, how about 1 foot and an in bounds defender counts as in? So if you get 1 foot down while a defender is hitting you, you are in.

104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

The Eagles gave the rest of the NFL a blueprint on how to almost beat Seattle.

As a Seahawks fan, I'm concerned. On the other hand, I'm comforted by the thought that they're clearly one point better than the Patriots. It just goes to show that the Seahawks' schedule must have been tougher than I thought...

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Sounds like a reasonable rule, but it seems like it would suddenly be more prevalent because of it. I don't know why I feel this way, but extra weird rules like that always tend to complicate things more.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re #97
Oh, yeah, the NFL likes it when fans of a team feel, not unjustifiably, that their team got screwed out of a win. I can just see Goodell saying, "Yeah, those Browns, they suck. We'll get a more interesting race for the #6 playoff seed in both conferences if they lose to Arizona. So, go make a probably incorrect call on the last play of the game." It can't be because, y'know, it's hard to make accurate calls on a split-second basis when dealing with complex situations.

I feel like I've kvetched about the NFL refs in this thread as much as anybody, if not more, but I do try to keep in mind they're doing a hard job and doing a pretty good job at it. Watching college games is also a good way to be reminded of just how consistently excellent most NFL refereeing is. And if you want to talk about incentives for intentionally biased officiating, the financial implications for the Big East conference as a whole of WVU going to the BCS CG v the Fiesta or Orange Bowl, well, let's just say the Coasean solution would be for Pitt to lose that game no matter how and that may go a long way to explain the two phantom holds called on the Panthers that took away a TD and a key first down late.

107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Coughlin made the right call there. It might have been better to take 3 plays to score instead of on first down, but u gotta take the points. Even kneeling to a fg i think would have left some time on the clock for a hester return/possible fg.

Plus, the giants have missed 3 ep's this year. that fg was no gimme.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


You got that right. This is one of the VERY FEW times I would not have begrudged a coach from claiming that the fix was in if Pitt had lost that game.

Because it was. Only Pitt refused to play the role of patsy.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

"Oh, yeah, the NFL likes it when fans of a team feel, not unjustifiably, that their team got screwed out of a win."

I'm not even a fan of the Browns, more so the Cards, and I was seriously ticked that I wasted 2 1/2 hours (or whatever) on a game that ended incorrectly. Why did I bother to watch? I could have done other things with my time instead of watch a team lose a game they won.

We haven't mentioned this, but Anderson did an excellent job running the two minute drill. There were a few plays in there that showed a level of maturity I wouldn't have expected from him.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Justin Zeth,

The Steelers are not an elite team, and they will lose in the first round to (most likely) Tennessee. The Steelers are good at *almost* everything, but they have the worst pass protection in football and the worst kick/punt coverage in football. Those two glaring weaknesses are going to be mercilessly exploited by any decent coach with a decent team, which is going to happen in the playoffs.

Second round is likely to be Jaguars (5 seed, after trouncing San Diego) at Colts and Flaming Thumbtacks (6 seed, after edging Pittsburgh) at the Patriots.

I agree with you about the coverage teams for Pitt, but you shouldn't be so quick to let the return teams off the hook. They look like they are just running around out there, as if they hadn't practiced it since preseason.

The Jags just don't scare me. Nor do the Titans. The only teams in the AFC that even worry me in the least are Pitt and Indy.

111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I really hate casual talk about games being fixed, but in light of the NBA scandal, one finds it hard to avoid it completely when faced with the rather strange events in the Pittsburgh/West Virginia game.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re 34
"Besides, since you can’t get the full rule book, it is interesting to learn about obscure rules that you hadn’t heard of."

Amazon, ten bucks.

113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

When considering the fact Tynes almost missed the previous XP, there was no way Coughlin was going to play for the FG. The only argument, IMO, was that they could've "kneeled down" on 1st down to burn the Bears' last timeout, then tried to score running the ball on the next 2 plays. Like many others have mentioned, you leave yourself open to the possibility of a catastrophic fumble or penalty. Therefore, going for the TD immediately was the correct move. Going for the 2 points was unnecessary.

The Giants' defense on that last drive fluctuated between horrendous and abysmal. Giving WRs 20 yard cushions on FOURTH and 15 is beyond stupidity. Well, almost allowing a screen pass for a TD on the final drive is beyond stupidity.

Derrick Ward misses a month, returns with 154 yards rushing, then breaks his leg and is out indefinitely... CLASSIC!

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Dateline December 3: NFL officials have announced the discovery of Kenoy Kennedy's jock. It was stuck in Adrian Peterson's cleat.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

#106 Agreed. I also thought Hawaii got about three (significant) gift calls against Washington, but that is probably more just "home cooking" mixed with the general level of NCAA ref incompetence.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Tom Jackson made a great point about Kenoy Kennedy. Waiting for Adrian Peterson in the open field leaves the defender completely helpless, so one may as well just make a guess and go at him full speed.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

You know who I don’t want to see play football anymore? L.J. Smith. He didn’t have a terrible statistical game, but he missed some opportunities to haul in catchable balls that would have made a difference. I am tired of seeing him fall down after every catch. His production can be measured in Inches After Catch. This is a contract year, I think, so hopefully I won’t see him in Philly next year. He’s not terrible; he just seems like a guy we’ve been settling for four years while Chris Cooley, Jason Witten, and Jeremy Shockey make a difference for the other teams in the division.

By FO’s stats 2004-2007, Witten and Cooley have clearly been better than LJ. Shockey has been a little better – higher cumulative DPAR, better in DVOA 2 years by a decent amount and worse two years by a small amount. Since Witten (3.05) and Cooley (3.18) were drafted later than Smith (2.29), they probably also have smaller cap numbers (Cooley was a year later so inflation might have pushed his up over Smith’s; Witten was in the same draft as Smith and almost certainly is making less unless he’s re-negotiated). The interesting question is, given Shockey’s draft pick (1.14), has he given the Giants more than smith has given the Eagles FOR THE MONEY?

Also, Dallas Clark, Tony Sheffler, Tony Gonzalez, Bo Scaife, and David Martin have caught more balls than Smith but had lower YACs (per catch). Clark really surprises me on that list.

Re the 10-man formation. It seems to me the statement by the Redskins D is “we’re going to honor Sean Taylor by playing a down without him and making the stop on his behalf (and maybe with his spiritual help)�. For the tribute to have meaning, the Bills HAVE to try to gain yards. If the Bills just lay down on the play, they negate the tribute and in fact don’t play the game as I understand Sean Taylor would have played – all-out.

Finally, my two auto-comments to the NFL: hire professional, full-time referees and publish the entire rulebook on your web site.

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


Agreed on the WVU/Pitt game. And just because Pitt won does NOT mean that the leauge shouldn't do some kind of review. Be it private or public SOMEBODY needs to first watch the tape and then sit down with the individuals involved to find out what everyone has to say.

I haven't seen anything THAT blatant outside of high school football where a national audience of some kind is not watching the proceedings.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


My problem with the Pushout rule is mainly that it's another judgment call the refs have to make. I'm more in favor of clear cut, black and white calls. I want to see a games outcome be of the players ability, not the referee's judgment.

Plus, with todays heavily lopsided offensive advantages, giving the defense the ability to more easily defend the sideline isn't a terribly bad thing. If a team needs to jump for a ball, on the sideline (where a defense is naturally at a disadvantage) to make a play, why not let the defense hit the guy as soon as ball contact is made and call it complete if they have the ball, in bounds?

To complete a pass, you have to catch the ball with 2 feet in bounds. I don't see why we need exceptions to this rule. Why add more controversy to the game and give the referee's more responsibility? Make the rules as black and white as possible. Away with judgement calls when possible!

120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I agree with 62 on force-outs. It's a judgment call where it's not really needed. The college rule is far simpler, and although I do enjoy the beauty of getting both feet down, I would rather end the ambiguity.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

re 78, BadgerT1000: The Parker fumbles were IMHO probably caused by those black, neoprene elbow sleeves he wore in that mud. They seem to get slick in the wet. I can remember Ahman Green having similar trouble with fumbling and improving dramatically after losing the elbow things.

122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Getting rid of the push-out rule effectively makes the end-zone quite a bit smaller, thus fewer TD's, thus "less fun" in the current NFL's view of what "fun" in football is (i.e. lots of passing, lots of passing TD's, and whatever else helps the Colts ;) ). Perhaps if they added 4 feet at the back of the ez to make up for it, then maybe.

123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13


The Packers gave ALL KINDS OF EXCUSES with Green. When he fumbled in warm weather or in a dome it was because he sweat profusedly. When it was cold weather it was the arm covers.

What Green Bay did NOT WANT to admit was that Ahman Green would fumble the more than most other running backs. So they would give out these completely lame excuses.

Look, I haven't checked Willie's fumble record. But now you know why I asked because last night's explanation sounded almost IDENTICAL to the BS the Packers used to spout with respect to Green.

124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I've been arguing for weeks now that this Viking team is far better than most thought. In the last two weeks they moved up a notch from where I thought they were. The offence is plainly one of the better units in the league now. People dismissed Jackson's performance against the Giants and Raiders because one team sucked and in the other game he only threw 12 passes. But 3 games is no fluke. The Vikings are beating the hell out of opposing defences are a fairly regular basis.

Jackson in his last 3 games 45/58 for 504 with 3TD's, 2 Ints, 11 rushes for 79 yards.

Hey Schatz - are you still going to make some degrading comment about Jackson in your weekly position ratings? Or are you starting to think the Lewin forecast might be wrong about Jackson?

125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Jimm, have you ever seen "Pulp Fiction"? Remember what the Harvey Keitel chracter says to the characters played by Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta? I'm hoping that Childress' assessment of Jackson proves accurate, but too much can be made of playing the Raiders and Lions, and ignoring 35 points off ints against the Giants is probably not an accurate way to evaluate Jackson's play.

Luckily, the Vikings don't have a good defense on the remaining schedule, so we won't know more fully until next year, or the playoffs, how far Jackson has progressed.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Everyone asking about the Steelers/Bengals game: The wind got much, much worse as the first quarter went on. Some of Ben's passes sailed, too. It just seemed like Palmer had more trouble adjusting to both the wind and terrible footing on the field...

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Following Will Allen's points, let me add that 3 games is a very, very small sample size.

Three good games means more than 2 good games, but it still is not enough to draw any firm conclusions one way or another.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Following in 74's footsteps, Miami has shown the league how to lose to the Jets.

130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: Coughlin's 1st down coaching - they would have been looking at about a 90% FG if they'd needed it. If they'd run on all 3 plays, the bears would have had around 10-15 seconds left with the ball, no TO's. My feeling is that statistically, scoring the TD on 1st down was the play that gave Chicago the highest probability to win, kicking the FG on 4th the lowest. They put the ball in Hester's hands with 90s left, and it took some a few very good Defensive plays at the end to squeak out the win.

BTW, I would have tried to score on 3rd, but not before, and I say this as a G's fan who knows how bad their kicking game is.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Will - superb reference - it is a common quote my friends and I toss around on the golf course when we are up a few holes early on in match play.

However, I think the trend is very clear and while I agree with Gerry the sample size is very small I don't think FO types ever envisioned Jackson operating at this level for any stretch of games.

Put it this way - If Campbell played at this level for the last three games - FO would be tripping over themselves to say I told you so. I think Jackson has clearly shown the possibility that he might be very good.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

I don't think Tarvaris Jackson has proven he's a good quarterback (not in three solid games, no), but I certainly like the progress. His performance over the past three weeks is so far ahead of his performance early in the season, that a Viking fan can hope there is real improvement here. In the first Detroit game and in the Dallas game, Jackson was unimaginably bad. He was inaccurate and made very wild decisions. Now he's completed 70% of his passes in each of the previous three games.

At the very least, we can say he's not a static bad quarterback. He's a young quarterback that still has issues, but he's showing notable progress. How far he takes that improvement is of course still unknown.

133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Will, Pacifist - I'd ask you this question - if you had to take a team over as a GM for next year in the NFC - who would you take over Minnesota (given current roster and cap situation).

Myself - I'd take Minnesota.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

Re: Giants vs. Bears

Everyone is ignoring another HUGE tactical Blunder in this game in the final 2 minutes.

After scoring the touchdown and leading by 4, the Giants PAT and go up by 5. WHY? There is no advantage at this stage of the game between 4 & 5 points!

Why not try for 2 points, and go up by 6 points. In that scenario Chicago has to make the PAT to win the game.

Stupid Coaching and stupid Status Quo play calling.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

133. Dallas has a good young quarterback and (from my distant viewing anyway) seemingly good young talent at a lot of positions. I don't know their cap situation, but Dallas could be built to dominate the NFC for a lengthy period. After that, either Green Bay or Minnesota (but the Vikes still need the QB question answered, even if the answer is Tarvaris).

136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 13

133: Let me add what I really like about the Vikings right now. Their first four 2006 draft picks are regular starters. Their first five 2007 draft picks have been starting and/or making significant contributions. After the draft debacle of 2005, the Vikes now a) have a nice young nucleus of players and b) show they seem to be doing a good job evaluating talent.

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Jimm, if your criteria for a desirable GM job is to have a roster with the best chance of competing for a Super Bowl for the next several seasons, you have to pick a team for which you have a much bigger database for evaluating your most critical personnel slot, starting qb. For example, you suspect that Jackson will be good qb, while I am about 95% certain that Tony Romo is going to be well above average. There is little to no reason at this time to think that Jackson will be better than Aaron Rodgers.

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Viking fans, I love reading your stuff, and I wish you the best 14 times a year, but what people don't remember about QBs is that, usually unlike running backs, even to a discerning eye, sometimes bad QBs play well, and sometimes good QBs play poorly. Sometimes for half a season or more. There's an inconsistency to the position that is counterintuitive, I guess. We just won't know about Tarvaris for a while. It's encouraging that he CAN have good games, and Minnesota does all of a sudden look pretty good, but you don't want to start sounding like Bear fans after Good Rex makes an appearance, do you? I didn't thnk so.

Baby steps, guys, baby steps.

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#134... After making FGs of 35, 36, and 41 in that direction/crap weather, 2006 All-Pro kicker Robbie Gould was going to miss or have an XP blocked?

I can't see that happening. I didn't think it was a big deal at all, unlike Coughlin's decision to go for XP in Washington last year. The 2 point conversion gave you something compared to the XP, but it was barely substantial.

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Yeah, Blair, Coughlin oughta have his pay docked for turning his brain off, and not attempting a two point conversion, and I'm not being hyperbolic. These guys are paid several million dollars to employ their brains, and this not exactly a mentally taxing bit of analysis. I watched it in disbelief.

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#135: At the beginning of the year I told anyone at work (most of whom didn't care because I work near Chicago) that my only goal was to see layers of improvement for Jackson. I predicted a 9-7 record and said that we'd see snippets of TJ on ESPN that may make him look better than he is, but that by year end his numbers would be completely average.
He lost a few games to injury, but looking at just the games he played you can plainly see the progression. My marks have been hit. Chasing a do-able wild card spot is simply icing in the cake of 2007.

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134 - Hester has a better chance of running the kickoff back for a touchdown, and putting the Giants down 3 with over a minute to go, than Gould does of missing an XP.

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*...simply icing in the cake...*

Of course I meant icing ON the cake because well, icing in a cake would make it some kind of Twinkie, or something...

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Not that anything will cause you to remove your purple-tinted glasses but GB has one of the youngest rosters in the league and is approximately 10 million under the cap.

Just letting you know.

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For that matter, the Giants have a better chance of getting injured during a 2 point conversion attempt than Gould does of missing an XP.

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Re #134
You're right-there's almost no reason the Giants shouldn't have gone for 2 there. The reasons I can think of not to go for it are:
1. Marginal injury factor from playing good offensive players for one more play v. reward of being up 6 as opposed to 5
2. Coaches' attention-Coughlin should be spending his time thinking about what he should do on the KO or on defense, not what a 2-pt conversion play should be.
3. If they went for it, the Giants would be showing part of their limited collection of 2-pt conversion plays. This risk is counter-balanced by the necessity to gameplan against the offensive play you can in a future similar situation.
4. I don't know if there's any overlap between the players who would be on a 2-pt conversion attempt and a KO, but perhaps some marginal rest for those players.
5a. Give fans something to whine about, in hope they'll ignore other errors you made./
5b. Continue reputation as general know-nothing, waiting to pull out strategic masterminding at moment where it's needed most.

So, yeah, I agree it's a wrong decision, and clearly wrong, but the consequences of being wrong are pretty slight, so don't get too exercised over it. As Gerald Segal (RIP) said, "Life is too short to worry about Laos."

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Badger - I suspect Minn and GB will have some wonderful games in the next 2-3 years.

I think Will's point about Romo is well taken, but I would have to work under Jerry Jones as the GM - which eliminates them as a choice

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By the way, Tony Romo is 27 years old. He is a year older than Eli Manning, 2 years older than Phillip Rivers and 3 years old than Tavaris Jackson.

By the way, Tavaris and Aaron Rodgers are approximately the same age. If that matters to anyone.

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Justin Zeth #79, you are flat-out wrong. You want to see the league's worst coverage units, try looking at life through blue, horseshoe-shaped glasses. If Pitt and Indy face each other in the playoffs, maybe the D's hold the O's scoreless, but the coverage teams will let up 4 TDs apiece. The winner is the coach who decides that an onsides kick, while giving possession at midfield, is a no-brainer.

Will Allen, always the gentleman. Are you referring to Keitel saying "Let's not start... *congratulating* each other just yet..."? Some super dialogue in that movie.