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

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Audibles at the Line: Week 7
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Doug Farrar and Vince Verhei

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 2009. 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 14 at Buffalo Bills 23

Ben Riley: According to unheralded Red Zone Channel host Andrew Siciliano, the Chargers-Bills game is currently being played without any power in the Bills' stadium. Has that ever happened before? How are they handling the play clock? Bizarre.

Wow. Midway through the second quarter, Lee Evans just made one of the best touchdown grabs I've ever seen -- with one arm, leaping and twisting, and pressing the ball against his helmet in David Tyree-like fashion. Incredible catch.

Oh, and apparently all of western New York lost power because some Mylar balloons jammed up a transfomer somewhere.

Mike Tanier: I am checking on the balloon story. The power outage had me thinking of when I went to my aunt's house, checked the fuse box, and saw pennies in the fuses. That's how my uncle fixed fuses, with a penny that would melt instead of popping if there was a surge. Lucky half of the city didn't burn down. Ralph Wilson and my uncle probably had a lot in common.

Doug Farrar: What a weird weekend for sports broadcasting. First, we lose the first inning of Game 6 of the ALCS due to network problems, and now, with the power outage in Buffalo, the CBS national crew -- J.B., Boomer, Dan, Coach Cowher, and Mushmouth -- is calling the game from the head office and doing a pretty decent job.

Ben Riley: Apparently, the Mylar balloons have gotten loose again.

Doug Farrar: Now that Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf are audible, on to the game. Through three quarters, the Bills have dominated play on both lines. LaDainian Tomlinson has only 27 yards on 12 carries, and the Chargers have generated very little power and pass rush up front. They have a lot of individually talented defenders, but they seem to play a lot smaller without Shawne Merriman. Jamal Williams is in at nose tackle, so it isn't that, but the Chargers are missing the physical nature they had when they went on that run last season.

Vince Verhei: Philip Rivers was hit in this game and fumbled. He immediately began to protest that his arm was in motion. Replays showed this wasn't even close to true, but I think after all the Chargers have been through this year, Rivers may have really believed this was an incomplete pass.

Minnesota Vikings 41 at Chicago Bears 48

Bill Barnwell: I hope Chris Kluwe saved his money. He might get cut at halftime after flubbing a snap/block combo in Garo Yepremian fashion.

Ned Macey: I don't think any member of our staff will ever have a more unlikely non-statistical based prediction that is correct than Tanier's off-season article that the Bears offense might be competent. They were above average going into today, and Kyle Orton looks like a real quarterback.

Ben Riley: On a 10-yard out route run to Bernard Berrian with four minutes to play in the first half, Gus Frerotte decides to throw it short and inside, instead of the traditional high and outside. Result: a remarkably easy Corey Graham interception.

Luckily for the Vikings, Marty Booker then drops not one but two touchdown passes. And the Vikings block the resulting field goal attempt.

Bill Barnwell: I haven't been impressed by Bryant McKinnie so far. He's given up on a couple of run plays, killing A.P.'s cutback lanes.

The Bears are starting two backup corners, and it shows. They're running a very conservative Tampa-2, forsaking the blitzing they've been employing (admittedly seemingly) more frequently in 2008. When the corners have been matched up in man coverage, Bernard Berrian's been laying waste to them with post patterns.

The Vikings are also using Visanthe Shiancoe as their other downfield threat, which is ... odd. Martin Nance isn't better than this? Shiancoe's operating against Hunter Hillenmeyer, who isn't much for pass coverage today.

I think one of the underreported things we've seen regarding the Devin Hester phenomenon is the quality of the Bears' gunners and coverage units. Hester's had a middling day, but the Bears' coverage units forced a touchdown when they distracted Charles Gordon long enough for a punt to hit him. The Chris Kluwe one ... that's just a punter who forgot to catch the ball.

One of the biggest differences I'm seeing in Orton as opposed to your other "joke" quarterbacks is his comfort in the pocket. He doesn't have the happy feet that a Cassel has. One of the Booker drops was a play where the Vikings blitzed seven and Orton pump-faked, creating space for a lob to Booker that the veteran receiver dropped.

Chad Greenway: Very good tackler. Not so great in pass coverage.

Aaron Schatz: Each of these teams is going to beat the over-under for this game (38) BY THEMSELVES.

Ben Riley: Wow. It's 48-41 with three minutes to play, after Bernard Berrian makes a sick catch to score for the Vikes. Can the Bears blow yet another fourth-quarter lead?

Answering my own question: No, because Gus Frerotte is the Vikings quarterback.

Mike Tanier: Luckily for the Bears secondary: a) their front four played great today, and b) Gus Frerotte threw a few passes right to the defense.

I like some of the things the Bears do offensively these days. Greg Olsen is becoming an upper echelon tight end, and the Bears are spreading him out wide a lot to let him use his size to shield cornerbacks. And something unexpected: Devin Hester is a good stalk blocker on sweeps.

Vince Verhei: Note to Chris Kluwe: Dropping a snap will draw serious aggro from resident mobs. What a n00b.

Devin Hester has done nothing as a returner this year, but he's still a threat -- Minnesota was kicking off short before Hester left the game.

Mike Tanier: I love the Klewe jokes, and I am thinking of going to Halloween as Kluwe with a jersey and a Guitar Hero guitar. What's fascinating is that the video games will probably get blamed for his problems this year, at least by the talk radio crowd. And he brought that upon himself with his "I'm a gamer" comments.

But reading A Few Seconds of Panic, I see how Jason Elam spent about 80 percent of his time hunting, writing novels, and getting involved with his charitable activities. That's what kickers do. Some kicker/punter has an off year, you don't hear about how he spent too much time hunting/fishing/golfing. Just don't be the guy who does something different!

Ned Macey: It is just amazing to watch Kyle Orton this year. How did he get so much better? I'm not saying he is a Pro Bowl quarterback, but he used to be even worse than Matt Cassel. I've sort of changed my mind on sitting rookie quarterbacks (used to be for it in all situations; upon further review, not so clear-cut), but Orton is another example of someone getting better on the practice field.

Vince Verhei: You know what? I'll go ahead and say it: Kyle Orton will be in the Pro Bowl. As of this writing (early in the second quarter of the Sunday night game), he's fourth in the NFC in yards, fifth in touchdowns. He should pass Tony Romo in both categories in the next few weeks. The schedule ... well, he still plays Green Bay twice and Tennessee. Never mind. He's not making the initial Pro Bowl team. But I bet he goes as an alternate.

Mike Tanier: You are right, the NFC Pro Bowl quarterback race is pretty wide-open, isn't it? Drew Brees is the starter now, I guess, with Eli and Romo as alternates.

Ned Macey: I think McNabb is in the mix too, ahead of Romo if he misses more than a game or two, with Kurt Warner ahead of all but Brees in DYAR. The NFC is sooooo much better than the AFC this year, it is really amazing. Going into this week, 11 of the top 16 quarterbacks in DYAR play in the NFC.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, it's a pretty wild race. With nobody dominating statistically, team success is going to matter a lot, and the Bears could easily win their division.

Pittsburgh Steelers 38 at Cincinnati Bengals 10

Doug Farrar: In the first half, Hines Ward got Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers with a decimating shoulder-shiver of a block while the play was still going. Rivers left the game with a jaw injury, but there was no helmet-to-helmet contact -- at least not from the angle I saw. Why am I mentioning this? Because if Ward gets fined for that block, everything Troy Polamalu said about the NFL this week is one hundred percent correct. And at the very least, Commissioner, if you're going to fine players for hitting other players in ways you find disagreeable, could you at least ding them more for that than you do for "inappropriate" touchdown celebrations or criticizing officials? You want to at least maintain the appearance that you're clamping down to affect player safety as opposed to randomly swinging your appendage around as you see fit.

Bill Barnwell: Chris Perry Watch: Active, but no touches. I think we jinxed him.

Vince Verhei: I was heartbroken -- heartbroken, I tell you -- to see that Chris Perry was out in Cincinnati. Without out that chase for history, they are merely your typical worst team in the league. And they know it. Even when this game was close in the second half, you could tell that all players and coaches in orange and black stripes were just going through the motions, thinking about where they might be next year. It was depressing.

I hesitate to point out any Steelers for notable efforts, because they were playing the Bengals, but James Harrison almost single-handedly forced a three-and-out after Pittsburgh went ahead 10-0. On first down, he beat tight end Nate Lawrie for a quick sack. After a 5-yard dumpoff to Antonio Chatman on second down, Harrison beat Levi Jones for a hurry that forced an incompletion.

Tennessee Titans 34 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Ben Riley: Albert Haynesworth appears to have knocked K.C. Quarterback (played this week by Brodie Croyle) out of the game. You know what's fun? Listening to Gus Johnson call a game involving Chris Johnson. "Johnson with the ball ... CHRIS JOHNSON UP THE MIDDLE FOR 30 YARDS!" Exciting stuff all around.

Doug Farrar: Gus could make a grocery store opening sound exciting. "Here comes the PRODUCE TRUCK! What an INCREDIBLE DEVELOPMENT!!!"

Ben Riley: So I just flipped over to this game to see a streaking Chris Johnson using his 4.24 speed to rip off an 80-yard touchdown run, and ... wait a sec, you say that's LenDale White outrunning the entire Chiefs secondary? What. The. Hell?

Aaron Schatz: Not that Chris Johnson doesn't himself have 16 carries for over six yards per carry.

Ben Riley: And as if on cue, Chris Johnson takes off for a 70-yard touchdown run of his own self. And then plays the bongos in celebration. Which raises a question: Why is there a set of bongos next to the Chiefs' end zone?

Ben Riley: By the way, K.C. Quarterback is now third stringer Tyler Thigpen. If he goes down with an injury, get ready for an all-Wildcat fourth quarter offense!

Mike Tanier: They showed Croyle leaving the game in a cast and with cruthces. They looked like old, maple wooden crutches. I kept waiting for him to turn and say "God Bless Us, Every One."

Bill Barnwell: Assuredly Kansas City heard about the Wildcat and decided to just bring back everything else from the 1930s.

Mike Tanier: The Chiefs quit at the end. A team that no longer cares.

Bill Barnwell: Someone (Jay Glazer?) reported that Larry Johnson refused to come out of a game recently for Jamaal Charles and has been fined six times this year. Explain to me how Herm is a coach who's great at handling his players again?

Ned Macey: Because one player (Johnson) causes disruptions, Herm Edwards suddenly is not good with his players? That seems a bit of a stretch. The fact his team sort of quit on him and gave up two 66-plus-yard rushing touchdowns is a bit more of an indictment.

And, to heap more criticism: Nice 26-yard field goal, trailing 27-0 with less than five minutes left.

Bill Barnwell: That's what I was saying, Ned. Just providing additional ancillary information.

Dallas Cowboys 14 at St. Louis Rams 34

Ben Riley: To borrow from Bill Simmons, is there suddenly a whisk of friskiness with the Rams under Jim Haslett? Marc Bulger hooked up on a 30-yard early touchdown with Donnie Avery, who then busted out a tight end zone dance number.

Bill Barnwell: That would be the "Soulja Boy," Ben.

Ben Riley: I don't listen to Soulja Boy after Ice-T accused him of killing hip hop. (Yes, the same Ice-T who played a mutant kangaroo in "Tank Girl.")

Hey, speaking of friskiness, with one minute to play in the first quarter, the Rams are up 21-7 and just got the ball after a Marion Barber fumble. How 'bout them Cowboys!

With a few minutes to play before halftime, Steven Jackson is out with a jersey. Seriously, somehow he completely shredded the back of his jersey and had to go out for a series while the staff looked for a replacement.

Meanwhile, Donnie "Soulja Boy" Avery just ran an end-around while holding the football with one hand extended 3 feet from his chest. Avery gained 5 yards and avoided disaster, but I don't think Al Saunders will be dialing that particular play up again.

Bill Barnwell: Roy Williams (safety) is out for the year.

Ned Macey: The Cowboys pass defense had disintegrated into crap the past few weeks, but now the run defense is joining them? The Rams went play-action to deep passes a few times early, and that seemed to be enough to open up the running game. Couple of nice plays by Donnie Avery today. For the number of rookie wide receivers who dropped, there seems to be some quality in this class.

Vince Verhei: Moose Johnston said during this game that Steven Jackson was developing as a receiver. Is this news? Didn't he have 90 catches for 806 yards just two years ago?

The evolution of the Dallas playbook continues. This week, when they got into trouble, they tried something completely unexpected: Forcing the ball to Patrick Crayton. Seven targets and a rush, for a total of 41 yards. He was also called for pass interference on a pass to Terrell Owens.

Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins

Doug Farrar: The Wildcat giveth and the Wildcat taketh away. Chad Pennington disrespects the Bing in the first half with a little fake sweep thing and a short throw directly -- I mean DIRECTLY -- to Terrell Suggs, who goes 44 yards the other way for a touchdown. Let's not go to the well too often, guys.

Ben Riley: Man, is Willis McGahee having a crappy year. Midway through the third quarter, on third-and-17, the Ravens run a nice little screen pass to McGahee, who runs for about 30 yards -- and then coughs up a fumble after Yeremiah Bell catches him from behind.

San Francisco 49ers 17 at New York Giants 29

Doug Farrar: Well, the Niners are enjoying a craptacular string of penalties on New York's second drive of the game. On second-and-10 from the Giants' 30, Brandon Jacobs runs for three, then Nate Clements gets up and pushes Madison Hedgecock to the ground after the play is whistled dead. Fifteen-yard unnecessary roughness penalty, aided by Hedgecock's Ginobli-esque flop. First-and-10 from the Giants' 45, Jacobs runs for one yard and Ray McDonald gets flagged for defensive offside. First-and-five from the 50, Clements gets flagged for pass interference on Plaxico at the San Francisco 19-yard line. If you give the Detroit Lions that much of the field, you'll have a fight on your hands. If you give it to the Giants, you might as well pack up and go home.

Aaron Schatz: The 49ers really are flag-happy today, but Hedgecock truly deserves the Bill Laimbeer Award for Most Overexaggerated Flopping.

Doug Farrar: I have to say, after that early meltdown, Clements has played pretty well. He covered Plax to the tune of two receptions for 18 yards in the first half, and he had the guts to take Brandon Jacobs head-on on an attempted tackle. Didn't work -- it took three of Nate's teammates to bring Jacobs down -- but as Troy Aikman intimated in the booth, his old teammate Deion Sanders would have taken that opportunity to make a "business decision" and get the hell out of the way.

J.T. O'Sullivan, on the other hand, barfed up two picks to Michael Johnson in the first half. The second one was particularly heinous, as the Niners were down seven at the end of the half, and O'Sullivan forced a ball into the end zone to a double-covered Arnaz Battle while Frank Gore was wide open in the shorter seam.

Aaron Schatz: Somebody needs to explain to J.T. O'Sullivan that Michael Johnson is not on his team. I'm going to vote for the first interception as the more heinous one because Johnson was just standing there, right in front of where the quick slant was going. How could he not see him standing RIGHT THERE? At least with the interception in the end zone, the players were all in motion.

Vernon Davis just has terrible hands. Terrible. Were his hands this bad in college? I mean, the guy can block, but he can't catch and he can't run crisp routes. You don't draft a tight end No. 6 overall so he can block a lot.

Manny Lawson played leapfrog over two Giants offensive linemen to block a John Carney field goal, and Nate Clements returned it for a touchdown. That's two field goal blocks for touchdowns in two weeks. Wacky. Amazing play by Lawson.

One other note: The Giants pass rush would like everyone to know that last week was an aberration.

Doug Farrar: It certainly would be, against a series of offensive formations that put a "Kick Me" sign on the back of the quarterback.

New Orleans Saints 7 at Carolina Panthers 30

Ben Riley: Rumors of Julius Peppers' demise may have been greatly exaggerated. He's already had a sack after getting around Jamaal Brown, and forced a fumble on Jeremy Shockey.

Doug Farrar: He certainly looked all the way back in the preseason -- against offensive line starters, not scrubs.

Mike Tanier: The Panthers took away everything deep with a mix of good pass rush by Peppers and Damione Lewis and Cover-2. At times it looked like Brees was trying to force-feed Marques Colston but the timing wasn't there.

The Saints had trouble with third-and-short both with Reggie Bush (who got hurt) and Deuce McAllister. They also had their cutesy-poo moments, like when Peppers sacked Drew Brees on a fake reverse that took nine minutes to set up. Overall, though, it was a snowball game, where the Saints offense started to look much worse once they were forced to pass and couldn't use play-action/fake screens as a threat.

Will Carroll: Reggie Bush will have minor knee surgery tomorrow. Should keep him out about two weeks and will remind people what some teams think of these overseas games.

Vince Verhei: It's a shame that Bush got hurt in this game, because in limited action, he looked better as a running back than I've seen him before. He actually showed patience, waiting for blocks to set up and plays to develop, then using his amazing burst to fire through the holes. Maybe he's finally figured out that he can't just beat defenses to the outside anymore.

Detroit Lions 21 at Houston Texans 28

Ben Riley: So rookie running back Kevin Smith scores a touchdown, runs up into the stands, and appears to kiss some dude's shoe. I just rewinded and watched it four times. I'm at a complete loss here.

Mike Tanier: He was making a phone call. That was Maxwell Smart in the stands.

Sean McCormick: I guess we were overdue for a product placement end zone celebration.

Bill Barnwell: DeMarcus Faggins was in coverage on that 98-yard Calvin Johnson touchdown, by the way. Fred Bennett couldn't have done that.

Vince Verhei: Sometimes I think that the defensive secondary is the most important element on any football team. Houston looked awesome in jumping up 21-0, but their pass coverage was so shaky that Detroit -- DETROIT -- still had the ball down by one score in the fourth quarter. And that's with Dunta Robinson active for the first time in nearly a year. If you have bad defensive backs, then no lead will ever be safe.

New York Jets 13 at Oakland Raiders 16 (OT)

Sean McCormick: The Jets have come up with the strangest offensive game plan ever: They're featuring (and I mean really featuring) Chris Baker. On every snap of their first two possessions, the team has gone shotgun out of an empty set, apparently with the idea of isolating Baker on a linebacker. Rob Ryan has countered the formation by just going to a Cover-Zero look and blitzing hard while the corners play press coverage, and the Raiders are now getting good hits on Favre. Stay tuned for the next adjustment.

The Raiders' game plan seems to involve a never-ending string of false starts and offside penalties. That's six with five minutes left in the first quarter.

Mike Tanier: Seven different 5-yard penalties in the first quarter, according to the announcer. One negated a touchdown.

This Jets game plan is really lulling me to sleep. Lots and lots of 1-yard passes. They are letting the Raiders feel alive. Luckily, the Raiders cannot line up and come off the ball properly.

Doug Farrar: The pathetic thing is that Al Davis probably thinks it's a sign that things are turning back to the Glory Days, because his vaunted 1970s Raiders were penalized all the time. News flash, Skeletor: Your vaunted 1970s Raiders also had talent. And a coach. And a plan. And a clue. And an owner who wouldn't publicly humiliate a fired coach with that most dangerous of weapons, the dreaded overhead projector. Other than that, it's exactly the same.

Bill Barnwell: Is that the overhead projector Barack Obama bought? Because I hear that's a pretty nice overhead projector.

Doug Farrar: No, I think the one Al used is the same one Madden used to diagram the go route from Stabler to Branch. It smells like very old beer.

Sean McCormick: Rob Ryan continues to send a lot of people on nearly every down. Thomas Jones has ripped off some long runs against the blitz, but aside from that, the Raiders really have put the clamps on this offense. Favre isn't even thinking about testing the corners outside the hashes; everything he throws is a checkdown to the middle of the field.

Doug Farrar: If he's not going after DeAngelo Hall, something's wrong with his arm.

Mike Tanier: When you see the Raiders fake punt -- a nice little call -- watch Jets receiver Brad Smith completely avoid tackling Raiders linebacker Jon Alston.

Ben Riley: Credit to Tom Cable for running a nice fake punt with the game tied at 10-10 with six minutes to play. The center did a direct snap to the linebacker, who promptly rumbled for the first down (and then some).

Mike Tanier: I just figured out where all of DeAngelo Hall's interceptions come from: third-and-18 desperation throws where there isn't a receiver in 10 yards.

Ben Riley: Unreal series at the end of the fourth quarter. After Favre hurled the ball to DeAngelo Hall with about two minutes to play, I assumed the Raiders would be able to close out the game. Instead, the Jets somehow get the ball back with a minute to play. Favre drives them down the field. With a few seconds on the clock, Jay Feely lines up for the 52-yard field goal -- and it clangs off the upright! Only, Tom Cable called a timeout, so the Jets get another
shot, and of course Feely nails it. Overtime.

Sean McCormick: Clearly Tom Cable doesn't read Audibles or he would have known not to call that first timeout. Jay Feely missed the first 52-yard attempt just left to send the game to overtime , but he made the adjustment and banged the
second kick straight through.

Just unbelievably bad coaching.

Bill Barnwell: I'm gonna do the research this week on icing the kicker. What the hell?

Bill Moore: The whole "calling timeout just prior to the snap before a field goal" thing is the most stupid strategy any coach can employ. What exactly is it supposed to accomplish other than give the kicker the chance to kick the exact same kick twice?

Let's suppose we are playing basketball, and it will take a last-second three-pointer to beat you. You are given the opportunity to secretly tell the ref, the next play doesn't count. The ref allows your opponent to take his shot, but whether he hits it or not, is irrelevant -- the play doesn't count. Assuming you can't run a different defense the second attempt and there is only one plausible shot to take, would you choose to negate the first play? Of course not. Why? Because all you did was allow your opponent to practice the game-winning shot, and make any adjustments necessary. Given the opportunity to nail the same attempt, most three-pointers (or place kickers) will have a higher percentage shot the second time.

Ben Riley: Does JaMarcus Russell have Eli-Manning-before-December-2007 disease? I've seen him just absolutely sky three passes today, way, way over the head of his intend target. And we're not talking about deep bombs, either -- he just sailed one over Darren McFadden's head on a little swing pass out to the flat.

Dick Enberg just called Sebastian Janikowski "Thunderfoot." Oh my!

Vince Verhei: The Jets offense struggled mainly because Brett Favre was under pressure all day -- sometimes due to blitzes, sometimes due to a basic four-man rush. On one play, Favre had a receiver open on a slant route, but a blitzer in his face forced him to overthrow the ball. DeAngelo Hall, beaten on the slant, reached behind him and failed to catch the ball. He then stopped, set his jaw, nodded his head and pounded his chest. This on a play in which he contributed literally nothing.

I wanted to watch Nnamdi Asomugha in this game, but ... you can't. It's impossible. The ball is never thrown his way. He never shows up. He ended the game with two tackles: one on a pass for no gain, one on a 4-yard run. He also had an illegal contact penalty that helped set up the tying field goal, but the guy is still unbelievable.

I've praised JaMarcus Russell in the past for his ability to avoid interceptions, but the more I watch him, the more I think he's being TOO careful. If a receiver is not wide-open, jumping up and down screaming "Over here!", Russell won't throw him a catchable ball, throwing it way over everyone's head instead.

Vernon Gholston looks like an impressive run defender. The Raiders tried a sweep to the right on their second play of overtime. Gholston drove tight end Zach Miller 5 yards into the backfield. Justin Fargas tried to run around him, then cut back, and was eventually swarmed by Calvin Pace. But Gholston really made the play.

Indianapolis Colts 14 at Green Bay Packers 34

Doug Farrar: Well, this game pretty much typifies the weird season so far. A week after burying the Ravens, the Colts were themselves whacked around by a Packers team that looked very strong in two places they haven't looked strong all year: rushing and run defense. That Ryan Grant had a solid game against the Indy defense isn't that much of a surprise (first rushing touchdown of the season today), but the extent to which the Packers shut down Dominic Rhodes has to be disconcerting if you're a Colts fan and thinking that your team has found its way back offensively. Coming into this game, the Pack had the 29th-ranked DVOA against the run, but Rhodes put up only 57 yards on 15 carries before the game got out of hand and the Colts had to pass all the time.

On defense, Indy just has no push up front. They're fast side-to-side, but a blast up the A-gap is a virtually guaranteed 4-yard gain. At the end of the third quarter, it's Peyton Manning grasping at straws, and Aaron Rogers playing the role of the calm, composed veteran.

William Carroll: The Colts just had back-to-back plays where Charles Woodson mugged Reggie Wayne directly in front of the official. (The back judge? The guy just behind the linebackers.) The side judge threw the flag on the second play (fourth-and-4, about 7 minutes left in the fourth quarter) at the feet of the back judge. There's no way he didn't see it. I dont think it is, but the inconsistency of umpiring is raising some Donaghy questions.

Doug Farrar: Wow. When was the last time that Peyton Manning threw more touchdowns to the opposition than to his own guys?

Went back and answered my own question: Sunday, September 30, 2001. Colts
lost to the Pats, 44-13, as Manning threw one touchdown and three picks. Two
were returned for touchdowns, one by Ty Law and one by Otis (My Man) Smith.

So there.

Re: officiating, I don't see it. In my opinion, the NBA had specific problems with severe unchecked incompetence and specific league-mandated preferences for years before the Donaghy thing broke, creating a perfect environment for that element. There probably haven't been more bad calls in the NFL this season; it just so happens that a high percentage of the ones that have occurred turned games around and a few were made by the same high-profile official. The first thing you have to do is to create that environment, which is why I strongly disagree with the new policy banning any criticism of officials by players, coaches and executives. There should be fair and open dialogue, and officials should be permitted to respond when they blow a call, just as they should be allowed to rebut any ill-informed criticism. The other thing has to do is to make everything reviewable, especially things that rest on judgment calls, The league is ass-backwards about this, because they think it will call the officials themselves into question when the lack of a reasonable system of checks and balances makes the process the questionable part.

Mike Tanier: Ditto Doug on the officiating. More dialog, more ability to have the refs look at the screen, or the little peepshow booth, and make the right call.

Aaron Schatz: Don't confuse human error for conspiracy.

William Carroll: I'm not saying it is a conspiracy. Just that the wild inconsistency I've seen leaves that a plausible theory for those watching casually.

Ned Macey: OK, a lot was garbage time, but at the end of the game, the teams were even in total yards. The Colts threw two picks and recovered their own fumble. The Packers fumbled twice and recovered both of them. This was a game where one team was a little better, but a couple of breaks turned it into a blowout. It was 20-14 plus two long INT returns, the first off a tipped pass when Reggie Wayne was wide-open but Manning threw too hot and too high.

The big story is the Packers' passing defense shutting down the Colts' passing offense. Clearly the timing is completely off, and if they don't have one of the top two or three pass offenses, they can't be better than about a 9-7 team. The Packers did play extremely physically with the Colts' wide receivers and only got a couple penalties called. Still, it was a pretty whistle-happy game: 21 penalties and 11 first downs by penalty. The worst was the Colts' picking up a delay of game for trying to force a false start on a punt when it was still a two-score game.

The defense struggled early but played fine in the second half. Great game by the Packers' offensive tackles, but as usual Mike McCarthy gave them a lot of help through max protection.

Vince Verhei: I don't know whether Peyton Manning's knee is still bothering him or the Green Bay pass coverage is that good, but the deep ball was virtually removed from the Colts' playbook. Most passes were targeted short of the first down line, and they were still incomplete. His first interception hit Reggie Wayne in the hands and should have been caught, but even if the catch had been made, it still would have been fourth down for Indianapolis. It's beyond strange to see Peyton Manning turned into Joey Harrington.

In the third quarter, Green Bay was set to punt when Indy defensive back Tim Jennings was called for defensive delay-of-game. Because the question was asked in last week's Audibles comments: Yes, defensive players can be called for delay of game, when they simulate the snap count and otherwise try to bait the other team into a false start.

After Green Bay's second pick-six, they put up the non-offensive touchdown leaderboard for the past two-plus years. Chicago led the league by a wide margin. Phil Simms attributed this to their great pass rush and coverage. Dude, do you watch football games that don't involve your son?

Cleveland Browns 11 at Washington Redskins 14

Ben Riley: With two minutes left to play in the third quarter, Derek Anderson is 5-of-19 for 40 yards.

So much for the comeback. Speaking of comebacks, Shaun Alexander just had a carry -- and true to form, he lost a yard and crumpled into a ball upon first contact.

Bill Barnwell: Grass gnome got him again. Poor Shaun.

Aaron Schatz: Through a very strange turn of events, I ended up watching the Cleveland Browns in a Cleveland Browns bar for the second straight week. Last week, I was watching Monday Night Football at Conor Larkin's in Boston. This week, I ended up at the British Bankers Club in Menlo Park. I walk in a little after the second games started and find the second floor is packed with Browns fans, part of the "Bay Area Browns Backers." It is a lot more fun to watch a game surrounded by rabid fans. Of course, it is a little less fun when their quarterback can't hit the broad side of a barn.

This was the classic "game that was not as close as it looks." The Redskins seemed to dominate the first half and somehow they couldn't score -- they finally had a field goal opportunity at the end of the half and missed it. Clinton Portis was slicing through the Browns' defense both left and right. The blocking was great, and the Redskins also did what the Giants did when running a week ago: Just go around Shaun Rogers, and the Browns can't stop you. I also love how Portis never plays dancing feet, he puts his head down and goes right through the hole, and pushes for extra yardage.

As for the Browns offense, man, Derek Anderson was terrible today. He had one good drive, the one that made it 14-11. At one point early in the fourth quarter he almost got in a fight with Lawrence Vickers on the field, when he had to call timeout apparently because Vickers was lined up wrong. When Anderson did manage to put the ball on his receiver's hands, Braylon Edwards would drop it. Edwards dropped five passes today. I wonder: Are drops more mental or physical? Something is wrong with Edwards. I know he dropped some passes a year ago, but it was nothing like this. The whole offense is out of sync too. You can tell the timing is bad on pretty much any pass to Donte' Stallworth. But Anderson has to shoulder a lot of the blame. His accuracy is terrible, and I was surrounded by Browns fans who are completely fed up with him. They want Brady Quinn and they want Brady Quinn NOW.

Vince Verhei: I am ready to name Braylon Edwards as the worst starting player in the NFL. He's a one-man drop machine. You ever try to hang something on the fridge, but the magnet you're using isn't strong enough to support the weight of the object? That's like Braylon Edwards and a football.

With 4:54 to go and down 14-3, Cleveland had a first-and-goal at the 9. A pass to Kellen Winslow (he's alive!) set up second-and-goal at the 1. Forty seconds passed. Jamal Lewis was stuffed for no gain. Forty more seconds passed. Lewis was stuffed for no gain again. FORTY MORE SECONDS PASSED. The Browns finally passed, and Derek Anderson hit Josh Cribbs for a touchdown. There was 2:49 left in the game. It was the first goal-to-go two-minute drill I ever saw. As it turns out, the clock management wasn't a huge deal -- Cleveland's game-tying field goal attempt came on fourth down with almost 30 seconds to go -- but it was still an inexcusable waste of time for a team that needed to score twice.

Mike Tanier: I saw the highlight of Santana Moss' touchdown. A fan threw his hands in the air and covered the camera, so part of the play was blacked out. Maybe he should have kept his hands up the whole time, based on the stats from that game. And really, how many times have you ever seen a fan interfere with a television angle in an NFL game?

Seattle Seahawks 10 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

Doug Farrar: A modest proposal to the Seahawks' defensive coaching staff: Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop treating your cornerbacks as if they're great man-on-man defenders in the Bailey-Asomugha mold. They are, at best, average in physical ability and probably above-average in intelligence, but they are getting abused one-on-one and they have been all season. It's very disconcerting that you can't see it. They need pass rush and safety help to be great. At the very least, they need safety help. And that safety help should never include Brian Russell, who should be deported to Pluto at the earliest possible opportunity.

Thank you.

Mike Tanier: Ike Hilliard just got hurt. Joey Galloway, whose beard is greyer than mine, is on the sidelines. Are Henry Ellard or Irving Fryar available for the Bucs?

Oooh, I just saw the Hilliard hit. Damn. Ouch. Double-bell ringer.

The Bucs special teams are trying to give this game back to the Seahawks. They have allowed two long returns, and a kickoff fumble to start the second half pinned the Bucs offense deep.

Vince Verhei: Those two long returns come courtesy of Justin Forsett, the rookie out of Cal who had Seahawks fans drooling in the preseason before he was inexplicably cut. He returned kicks for Indianapolis for a few weeks before he was inexplicably cut again. The Seahawks moved quickly to re-acquire him. Maybe the only thing that's worked out for them this year.

Doug Farrar: The Bucs have a good young offensive line, but right guard Davin Joseph is the star. I'm glad the NBC crew is talking about him. Joseph is a decent technician, but where he really excels is in just blowing a defensive tackle off the line.

Ben Riley: Well, safe to say Seneca Wallace isn't the answer for the Seahawks' offensive woes. As everyone in the entire country was watching the Sox-Rays game, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels actually had a pretty interesting discussion on what the Seahawks should do about Matt Hasselbeck. The season is lost at this point, so it makes a lot of sense to put him on IR and let his bulging back disc subside, or whatever it is bulging discs do to heal up. Yet that's going to make life pretty miserable for Mike Holmgren (well, more miserable).

In the meantime, Doug's open letter to the defensive coaching staff was spot- on. I counted at least three times when John Marshall dialed up a Deon Grant safety blitz on third-and-long. Not coincidentally, I counted three times when the blitz was easily picked up and Jeff Garcia made the first-down conversion look easy. The Seahawks defense actually played decently, but there's only so much you can do when the offense averages two yards per pass and gains exactly one first down in the first half. The Seahawks have officially entered Chiefs-Lions territory of suck, as we say around here.


115 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2008, 9:08pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm suprised you guys didn't talk more about the Cowboys game. I really expected more crowing and chest thumping over the success of your system :(

Well, Barnwell took a well-deserved self-pat on the back for his injury stuff.

Anyway, as Aaron would say, I will now go light myself on fire.

54 Re: precious Cowboys

I hate FOX more and more each week. First of all, there is no reason we need to watch the precious Cowboys play on national TV EVERY SINGLE WEEK. They have the rights to televise all 15 non-precious Cowboy teams in the NFC, and half of them rate higher in DVOA than the precious Cowboys. I live near Denver, this is not precious Cowboy country. They made a small ammount of progress by assinging Aikman to a different NFC East team this week, so I will give them that.

Second, they are quick to leave a precious Cowboy game where their precious Boys are getting whomped, but if the precious Boys are dominating the Browns, we will suffer through each and every last garbage time second.

FOX, please die and stop covering the NFL alltogether, okay? Give your rights to NBC or PBS or someone. ESPN, even. ANYONE.

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

59 Re: precious Cowboys

In reply to by Mountain Time …

I concur. I doubt they would've ended their coverage early had it been a lopsided game in the Cowboy's favor, but this was motivated by ratings. I think FOX can safely assume that if the Cowboys are being blown out in the 4th quarter, then Cowboys fans nationwide are clicking their remotes in disgust and the Neilsen's take a nose-dive. By going to a "competitive" (OK - Frisco + NYG wasn't exactly competitive) game they might at least be able to keep some of those disgusted Cowboys fans from flipping over to CBS's game (which wasn't exactly competitive either).

They probably wouldn't have changed games were it in the 4pm time-slot, since CBS nationally didn't have a 4pm game.

Nevertheless, I can't recall a Cowboys game ever having its broadcast end early in my lifetime.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

To touch on Vince's point re: secondary, the Lions secondary has been somewhere between awful and repugnant, which is a big part of the reason they're going to be 0-16 this season. The defensive line has been decent at times, and the linebackers occasionally make good plays, but the secondary has been so damn bad that every game but one has been decided in the first quarter.

There have been calls for Marinelli's resignation, and after this game, I can understand them somewhat: at this point, it's pretty clear that the Lions simply can't play the system he wants. On the other hand, the Lions seem to be using more man-coverage defenses as the season goes on, almost as if to acknowledge that it's not working, and yet the corners still can't stay close to receivers. There's definitely a talent problem too.

And once again I must point out that if you fire a coach midseason, you're going to promote a coordinator, yes? Colletto? I have some '90s game tapes from Purdue I'd like to show you. Barry? Right. It's his defense, and if Marinelli's gone, Barry will be fired too.

Of course, if they don't fire Marinelli during the season, what will happen after a blowout loss drops the Lions to 0-9 or 0-10?

Anyway, I like things about Marinelli. Things like him starting Foster ahead of Cherilus, assuming the stories are true ... because, let's face it, if Cherilus can't beat George Foster for that spot, does he really deserve to start?

And speaking of Foster, it's no surprise that the Lions haven't done well picking up other teams' castoff linemen, is it? I saw an ex-Lion on someone else's team this week, messing up something or other, and I thought, well, the Lions did cut him, you know.

Ben, no, the Seahawks and Chiefs are not in the Lions' territory of suck, although they certainly aren't far away and are trying to get back in. They each have one of those W things. The Bengals are really only hanging around because, well, they also have incompetent ownership.

Also, Andrew Siciliano always does a great job, and I guess we're going to have trouble charting that Bills-Chargers game.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I am surprised nobody mentioned the play of Nick Collins, safety for Green Bay. Collins has been an enigma ever since he arrived in GB because the dude is crazy whack athletic but until this season had hands of stone. He had dropped something like 10-12 interceptions during his career. And not quantified as in just touching the ball. But interceptions that "normal effort" would require to complete. And the guy just gacked about every time. That and he seemed out of position half the time.

So far Collins has been OUTSTANDING. Save for one dropped INT versus Tampa Nick has grabbed everything in sight, tackled with a purpose and been everywhere on the field.

I haven't checked but it's got to be a contract year. The guy has gone from ordinary/below average to brilliant overnight.

who does that??

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Maybe things just finally clicked mentally for him? He's always had great talent and athletic ability but never really put it all together. He's in what, his 4th year, so maybe the game is slowing down for him. The know on hm during the draft was that he wasn't very smart, maybe it just took him a while to grasp the mental part of the game at an NFL level. That and some off season work with the Juggs machine.

It reminds me a bit of Darren Sharper. His first 2 years with GB Sharper had obvious talent but was a horrible tackler when he finally broke into the starting lineup. The next season he had suddenly transformed into a very good tackler, thanks to what I believe to be some hard work in the off season.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Thoughts as to why the NFC QB's look inexplicably so much better than the AFC QB's:

Consider the (arguably) five best AFC QB's last year:

1) Tom Brady is out for the season on a freak injury
2) Peyton Manning had his O-line evaporate in a storm of injuries and one of his stable of elite WR's finally begin to suffer from old age.
3) Derek Anderson went from facing one of the easiest schedule last year to one about 18X harder this year
4) David Garrard--poster child for "Regression to the Mean"
5) Phillip Rivers... OK, I have no clue what's wrong with him this year...

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regression? He's leading the league in passing, and having his best season ever. Yesterday was the first time he's made any substantial mistakes all year. He's basically been carrying the offense on his back due to the lack of a running game.

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Regression? He's leading the league in passing, and having his best season ever. Yesterday was the first time he's made any substantial mistakes all year. He's basically been carrying the offense on his back due to the lack of a running game.

24 Re: David Garrard

OK, I'm a huge homer, but I think that Garrard was affected this season more by his offensive line issues than anything, not by the dreaded RTTM. Against Denver, he was razor-sharp with his accuracy, and only made one bad decision (that I could see, of course) all day.

After the bye, with center Brad Meester returning, I think Garrard will be back to top form.

Naturally, like all homer rants, I guarantee nothing, but it sure feels good to say it.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sorry, can't take this seriously. Big Ben was far better than either Anderson or Garrard. From a passer rating standpoint only Brady was better and of active quarterbacks only Brady, again, has a better winning percentage. So arguably this is poop.

42 Arguably?

Well, that's a bad argument. Where is Roethlisberger? He was arguably one of the five best QBs in the league last year, let alone the AFC. And while "innovative statistics" don't tend to love him as much as they love some other players, he's pretty good at winning football games.

43 Didn't really mean . . . .

In reply to by Nitpick-6 (not verified)

. . . to provide a double-barrel blast of Roethlisberger defense, but I failed to refresh before posting and did not say Pedropolis's entry.

44 Didn't really mean . . . .

In reply to by Nitpick-6 (not verified)

. . . to provide a double-barrel blast of Roethlisberger defense, but I failed to refresh before posting and did not say Pedropolis's entry.

69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Sorry...didn't mean to start a torrent of debates about who the best QB's were last season, or this season. I just named the top five that came to mind. Roethlisperger may have been good last year, and may be good this year, but people (outside of Pittsburg at least) aren't really talking about him, and the Steelers aren't a team that I've been watching a lot this year, so he didn't come to mind. My point was just that a bunch of big-name AFC passers have all had a run of bad luck or a string of adverse circumstances that have left the NFC passers to run the show.

As to Garrard...wasn't there some talk that he had a ridiculously low INT percentage last year, and that a lot of that was due to luck? And that some of his reduced effectiveness this year is because some of that luck is actually catching up to him? That was my impression from some of the things I read earlier in the year, although, again, I confess that I haven't followed the Jags enough this year to be sure.

Thanks for the corrections...

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Nolan must go. His tenure will (hopefully) represent the nadir of offensive football in 49ers history. What is so frustrating is that the same slapstick errors have been repeating for four years now, though JTO has added a string to his bow of incompetence. Not satisfied with his ability to hold the ball forever, pick out defenders who never moved (I'm thinking that he might be like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, he can't see you if you don't move) and blithely ignore defenders chasing him out of the pocket, he loves both the pick-6 and the red-zone pick but he can now be relied upon to miss receivers 30 yards downfield who wouldn't be more open if they had an aerobically transmittable form of the ebola virus.

Can anyone identify what scheme the niners actually run on defense? The increase in blitzing was a good idea and for the most part they contained Jacobs but they seem to lack identity and their personnel doesn't fit either the 4-3 or the 3-4.

Zen Koan of the week: If JT O'Sullivan throws the ball towards Vernon Davis, is it ever a completion?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

There can be only one!

Here we are, born to be kings,
We're the princes of the universe...

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

[I saw the highlight of Santana Moss' touchdown. A fan threw his hands in the air and covered the camera, so part of the play was blacked out. ... And really, how many times have you ever seen a fan interfere with a television angle in an NFL game?]

The same thing happened on at least one other key play (Portis's long run-and-fumble?) with a different camera and fan. Presumably space for TV cameras is tight with several thousand additional seats crammed in since the stadium's construction!

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yeah, it's like when the Flyers played in the Spectrum. The last row of seats was about 6 feet below the broadcast area. Every time they scored, you'd see two big mitts.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Quick aside on NYJ game: the play of OT was when Baker fell on a deep ball. If he caught it in stride, it is a likely touchdown. If he catches it and falls, the Jets are in long field goal range. instead twinkle toes fell down.


I expected the Colts to win this game, but the Pack clearly outplayed them-this was easily the most I've been impressed by them so far this year. A couple thoughts:
1. The Colts really missed Joseph Addai. Rhodes looked like just a guy-knew the system, could run forward and catch the dumpoffs, but didn't show any playmaking ability, which is something Addai can do.
2. It looked like the gameplans were clearly affected by the wind. The Colts had the wind in the 1st and 3rd, and in the 2nd and 4th they were almost completely unable to throw the ball more than 10-15 yards down the field before garbage time. Without that threat of the pass, the Packers could play closer.
3. I don't think it was quite as bad as the NE playoff games, but I thought the Packer DBs were really mugging the Colts wideouts.
4. The Colts kept shooting themselves in the foot with an unbelievable number of stupid penalties. I think they ended up with about 135 yards in penalties, and that's without any long PI penalties to jack up the yardage.
5. I thought Mike McCarthy did a very good job of coaching to the weather. At the end of the first quarter, Ryan Grant had 11 carries and the Colts had had the ball once thanks to a couple time-consuming drives. In the third quarter, the Colts had the ball more, but when the Pack did have the ball Grant had 8 more carries, including one on 3&10 in the red zone when McCarthy basically traded a better shot at the TD for :40 more off the clock.

18 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by Tom Gower

I don't think it was quite as bad as the NE playoff games, but I thought the Packer DBs were really mugging the Colts wideouts.
While the constant bitching from Manning and the receivers was annoying, they definitely had a point. The Packers' defensive scheme seemed to be "get away with as much as we can". It looked like they were chucking as much as possible within five yards and not stopping once the ball was in the air, hoping the refs wouldn't call anything.

Now, that's not illegal. It's against the spirit of the game, sort of, but the officials are there for a reason: to make sure that neither team breaks the rules.

26 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by Eddo

The Packers' defensive scheme seemed to be "get away with as much as we can"

I thought this was fairly well known. Packers' defensive scheme on passing is to play pretty aggressively (and assume there's going to be at least a few illegal contact penalties). I don't remember how long they've been doing it, but it goes back at least to the start of last season.

I have a blog where I post objective, predicive power rankings of NFL teams.

29 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by DaveInTucson

Same here. To their credit, Vasgersian and Pearson made a point of mentioning it during the week 2 Packers-Lions game. It seems to work better against smaller receivers or less-talented receivers.

30 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by DaveInTucson

Oh, it is, but there's a line between being very physical corners, which Harris and Woodson both are, and illegal contact every other play (or every play, as Will noted in Audibles), and I thought the Packers were a lot closer to the latter than they normally are.

48 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by DaveInTucson

Yes, but this seemed extreme for even the Packers (whose games I do see quite often, living in NFC North territory).

There's a difference "playing pretty aggressively" and "commit illegal contact and hope the officials don't call it", and I think the Colts game was closer to the latter.

70 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by Eddo

Fault the refs. EVERY team's defensive plan is "be as physical as you can get away with", or if it isn't, it should be. If the refs aren't going to call illegal contact, you shouldtake advantage of that, because the other teams DB's certainly will when given the chance.

74 Re: GB-IND

In reply to by MJK

I agree, and I didn't mean to come off as suggested the Packers were somehow in the wrong on Sunday. The fact is, they were being more physical than usual because the refs allowed them to get away with it. The officiating was the problem, not the Packer secondary.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You ever try to hang something on the fridge, but the magnet you're using isn't strong enough to support the weight of the object? That's like Braylon Edwards and a football.
That is HYSTERICAL. Love the imagery.

What a night to be a Tampa Bay fan. Especially with two side-by-side TVs. Entering the season, I wasn't all that excited at Tampa's prospects, commenting that with Garcia at the helm, a division title and early playoff exit was their ceiling. Watching last night changed my opinion though. Tampa's gotten good in the way that matters- Offensive and defensive lines. They've been drafting mostly lineman in the early rounds of drafts for years, and now it's starting to pay off.

Of course, I can't help but wonder if Garcia was simply "in the zone", and whether or not he still is nothing more than an average quarterback. Where was this kind of performance earlier in the season?

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'd tend to disagree the implication that the GB / Indy game was played pretty evenly and luck led to the blowout. Maybe to a certain degree, but GB was clearly the better team yesterday. Far more than was emphasized, most of the Indy yards were garbage time, mostly coming against prevent D GB played the entire 4th quarter.
That and after the first pick-six, GB pretty much just ran the ball, for the ENTIRE second half, because they didn't really need to do anything more. Rodger had five pass attempts on the first drive of the second half leading to a field goal, and then 4 more pass attempts the rest of the half.

The yardage totals were similar because GB was simply trying to control the ball, get a couple first downs, and keep the clock moving with the running game before they punted away.

GB was significantly better, although the fumble luck certainly did help.

On another note, it didn't make any difference since Crosby blew the FG, but did anyone else find Manning's frantic hurry up which led to GB getting the ball back at the two-minute warning really, really dumb on Manning's part?

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"did anyone else find Manning's frantic hurry up which led to GB getting the ball back at the two-minute warning really, really dumb on Manning's part?"

Peyton Manning doesn't expect to go 3 and out. Usually for a very good reason.

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Not only were a lot of Indy's yards in garbage time, but the main thing preventing GB's offense from racking up more yardage is that they had two fewer possessions due the the pick-sixes.

A graphic was shown late in the game how Indy had something like 23 consecutive offensive plays from scrimmage without scoring because they marched the length of the field, threw a pick-six, and marched the length of the field again. The Packers were happy to let them do it, because the Colts used up nearly the entire clock while down 20+ points.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

There was also a graphic after the 2nd interception showing that the defense had more return yardage than Peyton had passing yards at that point.

Not necessarily useful, but interesting at the time.

15 Icing the kicker

The pointless part of the current trend of icing the kicker just before the snap is letting them have a practice kick. I still see the point of icing before the snap to make them stand in the middle of the field and hope the pressure gets to them, but call the time out well before they snap the ball. When you ice the guy the thinking runs 'Lets see if you kick as well after standing there for a minute staring at the posts'. This is not the same as 'Lets give him a practice warm up try and then let him have a go'.

I would have thought that one of the bigger elements of icing the kicker must be simply standing there for a while. Before they expect to take a FG most kickers seem to want to warm up and practice, the last thing they want to do is stand about doing nothing.

17 Re: Icing the kicker

IMO, the only time icing the kicker even makes the slightest modicum of sense is when it's actually icy conditions. If it's really cold out, making a kicker who's been huddled up on the sidelines in a parka for most of the afternoon stand out in the cold might actually help your cause. Short of that, icing the kicker is one of the dumbest things in all of sport. As any respectable Eagles' fan should, I hate the Cowboys with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. But I jumped up and cheered last week when the same thing happened.

27 Re: Icing the kicker

In icy conditions, doesn't that just give the offense more time to clear a path for the kicker?

35 Re: Icing the kicker

The purpose of calling the late TO on the kicker is to make him go through the mental preparation of the kick twice. The theory is that he will be drained from the first attempt that the second attempt will be harder. I disagree with this and I hope having it blow up on a coach yet again will get them to stop doing it, but I wanted to clarify what the thinking is behind it.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Did anyone see the post-game press conference with Chris Johnson and LenDale White? They showed it on NFL Gameday because they looked so ridiculous. And I don't mean Clinton Portis getting dressed up to have some fun with the media ridiculous. I'm glad none of our players ever shows up to the podium looking like that.

I thought the Bucs-Hawks game would be a lot uglier, and maybe it would've been if we had kept the ball after the hit on Ike Hilliard. Seattle did a good job stopping the run, and like you guys mentioned they played great on special teams. That was probably a shutout if it weren't for those long returns. Also, and I can't stress this enough, Dexter Jackson is a terrible returner.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Did anyone see the post-game press conference with Chris Johnson and LenDale White? They showed it on NFL Gameday because they looked so ridiculous. And I don't mean Clinton Portis getting dressed up to have some fun with the media ridiculous. I'm glad none of our players ever show up to the podium looking like that.

I thought the Bucs-Hawks game would be a lot uglier, and maybe it would've been if we had kept the ball after the hit on Ike Hilliard. Seattle did a good job stopping the run, and like you guys mentioned they played great on special teams. That was probably a shutout if it weren't for those long returns. Also, and I can't stress this enough, Dexter Jackson is a terrible returner.

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Bucs-Hawks game was really ugly, but it looked to me that Tampa basically assumed the game was won and took their foot off the gas. The first half I think defines "ugly" for the Seahawks, just a thorough butt-kicking. In the second, the Bucs didn't seemed to take it that seriously. And yes, if Hilliard holds on, the Bucs probably get a TD there and it's even worse. Did think that was a legal hit and there should be no fines.

Also, I think calling Dexter Jackson a terrible returner is an insult to terrible returners everywhere. I certainly understand that the game is faster in the pros than college, but you'd think by week 7 he'd realize that and, you know, go forward. Oh, and hold onto the ball. Big thing there. When Michael Clayton is put in to replace you . . . I mean, that has to be insulting, right?

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm not one for officiating conspiracies, but that Green Bay-Indy game had me as close as I've ever been. Yes Green Bay out-played and out-coached the Colts, but the refs were just awful. Not only were they absurdly flag-happy, but they were calling bizarre, 'when was the last time you heard that one called' stuff. At least twice, it took the ref a fucking paragraph to explain what the penalty was. It got so bad, I thought they were going to start giving the Colts upsportsman-like conduct just for tackling. It was seemed bizarrely inconsistent to call some of the obscure, ticky-tack stuff they did while letting the Green Bay secondary rough up Wayne and Harrison all game. I'm all for letting 'em play, as long as it's consistent. Something tells me Mike Pereira has had Polian up his ass since about mid-way through the 1st quarter.

Again, Green Bay deserved to win, hands down, but I don't think that means the refs shouldn't be called out for what they were - flat out terrible. I think Goodell needs to stop giving the refs pep-talks and start telling them to get their shit together or they're fucking fired.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re the SEA/WAS game, it's time for a rule change.

During an injury time out, there should be an "official review" of the play to see if an illegal hit occurred, and if it did the penalty should be assessed before play resumes.

Ike Hilliard got drilled in the SEA/WAS game with an illegal hit, just like Boldin did in the AZ/NYJ game.

The hit on Hilliard was even worse because they credited SEA with a forced fumble and recovery after injuring a guy, how is that fair? At the very least, the officials saw the replay on the big board and could clearly see an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit...where was the flag? But to reward SEA's defenders for jeopardizing a guy's career with that hit is disappointing.

Even worse, after a 10 minute delay Holmgren threw the challenge flag in order to get the initial incomplete call reversed and get the fumble. How can an illegal hit cause a fumble and not get called? This really has to be fixed. It should have been WAS ball, 1/2 the distance to the goal instead of SEA ball after a fumble.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

If anything Seattle got screwed on the play. The ball was clearly out and that would have been an easy TD for Josh Wilson.

Hilliard was being brought down from behind by Tatupu when Hill hit him. I think they way Hilliard got sandwiched between the two defenders caused the helmet to helmet contact, don't think Hill did it intentionally, especially since he went up to Hilliard and apologized when he was leaving the field.

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I don't think it was intentional either, but it was sloppy at best and there is no way anyone but Hilliard got screwed on that call. The way his neck got twisted around I am glad he's alive. Holmgren showed terrible sportsmanship on that challenge, and you could see the ref look conflicted when explaining the call after review, where he sat and watched the illegal unflagged hit over and over. The ref knew he blew the call initially (by not throwing the flag) and the rules forced him to blow it again.

Intentional or not, Hill will be fined, rightly IMO (you just can't allow such dangerous tackling) and any arguments about intent go out the door with the challenge.

Overall one of the lowest moments I've seen in sports. I began rooting against Holmgren after that call and I will contunue to for the rest of the season.

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Don't you think you're overreacting a little bit? Yes, the hit was illegal. Yes, it's terrible for Hilliard. But Holmgren's job is to win the game. Isn't not doing everything you can to win insulting to the fallen player. "Since you got hurt, Ike, we're just going to let your team win." Please. Where do you draw the line? What if Hilliard was not hurt, just hit illegally? Should Holmgren had not challenged it then, too?

Should illegal hits be reviewable? Definitely. The Saints got screwed against the Vikings when Bush was tackled by the facemask and fumbled just two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the rules for this season don't allow it. I'd suggest making illegal hits reviewable from the booth at all times, so that a coach doesn't have to waste a challenge and a timeout on a judgement call. Hopefully the competition committee (or whomever is in charge of replay challenges) acts on this in the offseason.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I respectfully disagree. In cricket, the umpire must be asked to adjudicate on a wicket. If a batter is out, there must be an appeal from the fielding side, the umpire can't just give the batsman out. There are a number of reasons for this, but in particular there are ways to be given out that you can also commit accidentally (for example, handling the ball).

Not only must the fielding side appeal, but the captain of the fielding side, may also withdraw the appeal, and will often do so if the appeal is felt to be an overzealous appeal when the batsman has committed an accidental breach of the laws.

This was what was exactly running through my mind when Holmgren through that flag. If I'd been umpiring that game (and it was cricket, with those traditions of sportsmanship), I'd at least have asked Holmgren if he wanted to pick the flag up, and withdraw the challenge.

85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That's all well and good, but that's not how the NFL officials are supposed to operate. Not understanding cricket, it sounds like the officials are supposed to let an out slide if it happened due to a technicality. Hilliard's fumble was a real fumble. If a clean hit had injured him, should Holmgren decline to challenge as well?

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As a Buc's homer, in Holmgren's shoes, I can't say what i would do. The hit was not the malicious ilegal variety. I'd say the illegal contact was due, at least partially to the defender tackling from behind.

Sportsmanship should come into play, but Holmgren's job is to win games, not teach sportsmanship. I do not believe a fine is warranted, but I believe the player should make a commensurate donation to the NFL Pension fund, or the Buc's medical fund.

I believe that Holmgren probably should have challenged and then apologized to Gruden and Hilliard after the game.

93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yes, perhaps I am overreacting. Win or die, baby, and all that. But taking advantage of an unconscious man on a football field seems like beating the crap out of the retarded kid on the playground. Yeah, you'll win, but is it worth it?

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It's not like Holmgren threw the flag and bitched at the refs while Hilliard was lying their motionless. Holmgren waited till after Hilliard was carted off the field and Holgren was shown clapping as Ike got up under his own power.

I understand your point and I'm biased as a Seahawks fan, but I really don't think Holmgren did anything wrong.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I agree - I think this is one area where the college game has the right idea. Have someone upstairs looking at every play and, in addition to the possibility of an on-field challenge, let them notify the ref when they need to review a play. Perfect for something like this. (Of course they would have to add this as reviewable, as would the NCAA: the career-ending hit on Ball State's Dante Love that led to a fumble return for a TD for Indiana did not draw a penalty either.)

I do think that some players find it odd that they are getting fined for conduct that isn't being penalized, but it's really hard to tell at full speed how some of these hits are occurring, even though in slow motion you can definitely see the defender leading with his helmet.

I still think the ultimate solution won't be in the rules, though, but in the equipment: unless the helmet is modified so that it can't be effectively used as a weapon, players will continue to use it as a weapon.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Perhaps the approach is to fill the inner lining of the helmet with thumb tacks that burst through if you hit helmet-first. Decided to spear on a tackle? Too bad, now you look like Pinhead from Hellraiser.

89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The problem with "someone upstairs" reviewing everything is that is slows things down. I've seen a number of college games where the refs stop to review every little thing, and the coaches don't care (in fact, sometimes the game gets stopped to review something when even the coach who a review might benefit would want to skip the review and keep playing, e.g. to keep the clock running or to keep his team's momentum going, or to keep the other team from subbing).

My suggestion would be to get rid of the "upstairs" reviews, get rid of the "coaches can't challenge in the final two minutes" rule, and say ALL reviews must be initiated by coach's challenge. Then give the coaches unlimited challenges, but only allow them to challenge if they still have timeouts remaining. Each time they lose a challenge, it costs them a timeout.

After all, either coach can call for a measurement any time they want...why not call for a review?

31 Asomugha

Ok, if that is 6 passes at him in 6 games, how are you going to do Asomugha's stats to evaluate him? How do you evaluate a full-time cornerback who was only thrown at 16 times in a season?

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Re: Bad officiating - Why don't you do it? Look, officiating is really, really hard. To process everything at gamespeed and expect them to be as accurate as people sitting 6 feet from a 60" plasma is rediculous. Bad officiating WILL happen, just suck it up and wish your team had played better on the other plays of the game.

Re: The Hilliard hit - As a Tampa fan, it sucks that they lost the ball because of the huge hit, but they deserved to lose it. I'm tired of the "helmet-to-helmet" outcry all over the league. In the Hilliard case, as with many others, the defender had begun the act of tackling before Hilliard turned and lowered his head into the other guy's head, and what would have been a solid body tackle became helmet-to-helmet. He wasn't spearing the guy with his helmet, just going for a normal tackle. This happens all the time, and it's unfair to defenders.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That isn't what happened. If anything, Hilliard's head was lowered by Tatupu on his back. At best Hill's hit was reckless; he should not get off scot-free.

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For general amusement one of the Packer writers said that Polian was beside himself in the Colts box in the game and one of the regular beat writers got everyone laughing with the comment, "Guess that means three more pages to the rulebook next year marked "Colts Exceptions".

GB cornerbacks are instructed, no make it CHALLENGED, to get on top of wideouts. Most just don't like it and spend more of the game complaining than playing.

Exhibit A are the Vikes. While the Bears wide receivers seem to relish the hand to hand the Vikes guys like Sidney Rice just keep throwing up their hands whining for a flag including DURING THE PLAY.

Oh, there are penalties. But Woodson just shrugs it off and the coaching staff accepts the tradeoff. Harris is bordeline and even once he comes back may struggle to get his job from Tramon Williams who is playing good football.

37 Re-kick a failed onsides kick?

What was the deal with that in the Colts game? I've never seen that before. They tried an onsides kick and it went out of bounds so they got to try again with only a 5 yard penalty? Then they kicked it out of bounds again and the Colts retained possession. I don't understand the difference between the 2 plays and how the obscure rule I've never seen before works.

38 Re: Re-kick a failed onsides kick?

Two different rules permutations:
1. Does the onside kick go 10 yards? If yes, then it's the receiving team's ball at their choice of the out of bounds spot or 30 yards from the spot of the kick. If no, then goto 2.
2. Is it in the last 5 minutes of the game? If yes, then #1 applies. If no, then it's a 5 yard penalty on the kicking team and rekick.

64 Re: Re-kick a failed onsides kick?

Is there any rationale for this that makes any sense at all? I can't understand why there is a second step at all. Why is there a distinction if the ball goes OOB at 9 yards or 11 yards?

I'm not doubting this is the actual rule, just stunned that something so apparently goofy hasn't been fixed.

86 Re: Re-kick a failed onsides kick?

...and if a player on the receiving team touches it before it goes out of bounds, there is no penalty, as it is considered a live ball from that time on.

A live ball is any loose ball that both teams can recover to obtain possession. A kickoff is not live until it has gone ten yards or the receiving team has touched it.

88 Re: Re-kick a failed onsides kick?

During the game the ref said it had to do with the time on the clock. Unless an attempted onside kick goes out of bounds in the last five minutes (the ref didn't clarify if it meant half or entire game), it's a five yard penalty. I had never heard of this either so I don't know if it's a new rule.

39 New Orleans Saints 7 at Carolina Panthers 30

This actually could have been more. The Panthers dropped at least 3 INT chances, plus Peppers was routinely held and missed a couple of obvious sack opportunities. There was a play where the O-Lineman dragged him past Brees and Peppers was flailing with his right arm. My favorite Peppers play will not show in the stats - he ran across the field to get in front of the Saints runner after a big gain. That is a long run that a pure Pass-Rusher might not make.

Also, I thought Fox was going to rip one of the umpire's heads off before the half. Fortunately with the game in hand, his mood tempered. I thought him standing on the numbers with the red hanky raised, waiting for the completion conference to be decided on the other sideline, was worth a chuckle.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

When the 'icing the kicker at last possible moment' happened last year, it was apparent that the kicker thought he had made the kick and the game was over. Mentally, he had already stopped playing. However, due to this strategy having been used plenty of times recently there is not this element of surprise for the kicker. Kickers have adjusted mentally to this tactic

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

When I was charting the Bears game it got me thinking about Hester and rest. Not only are teams scheming for him but he is also playing a number of offensive plays. Is it possible to do any research on how his returns have been based on rest? Are more of his touchdowns in the beginning of the half? Or in the past had a number of his scores been at the end of halves because units would be more tired but he was just returning punts and kicks and not playing the field at all. Has their been any research on this? I remember Madden against overtime because he said the number of injuries were higher later into the game (not even sure if this is true).

57 Hester's returns

I think a big issue with Hester's returns is that teams have gone to extremes in directional kicking and punting to keep him and the blocking unit from ever getting settled. Teams used to kick to him occasionally, mixing it up with the squib kicks and so on. I haven't been charting the games, but this year (from memory) rarely do teams let him ever get the ball in space, or at all if they can manage it.

I suspect the Bears are still getting decent field position from the squibs and punts out of bounds and so forth, but if teams tire of this while Hester still hasn't hit a home run then sooner or later a team may refuse to adjust it's gameplan for him. Of course it would only take one big return to make every coach in the league to revert to their conservative gameplans for him.

50 Otis (My Man) Smith

Does anyone know where that nickname originated? I always loved it and was glad to see it in print again. Thanks Doug.

83 Re: Otis (My Man) Smith

I first heard of it in relation to Drew Bledsoe, when Otis was playing for the Jets. Drew was asked who he was going after in the game, or who the weak link was (or some equivalent question) and responded "Otis Smith, that's my man, right there"

This always tickled me when Drew and Otis ended up teammates...

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I thought the Giants played like dogcrap most of the game and the Niners simply aren't half as good as a team needs to be to take advantage of it.

BTW, never have a I seen a team get less pressure on the QB in games in which they finished with 5 and 6 sacks than the Giants have done this year. Consistent pressure can be more valuable than sacks.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I agree with your point on the pressure. With the exception of Tuck's two sack/fumbles, the Giants weren't putting on many impressive pass rushes. Most of the sacks looked like O'Sullivan's fault to me. It seemed to me that, every time O'Sullivan noticed a defender within an arms length of him, he panicked and stopped looking downfield. The Giants didn't hurry him often, but when they did, his jittery pocket presence usually turned it into a sack.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Bill Barnwell: Is that the overhead projector Barack Obama bought? Because I hear that's a pretty nice overhead projector.

Oh sure, Barnwell can make cracks like this, but I get censored every time I try to explain about Lyndon Larouche, New Bretton Woods, and the Bering StraitMmmmffdGGG!!lmm [rest of post deleted].

And E: It's an Animal House reference. (e.g.,

53 Changing helmets to protect players...

There is no reason that helmets can't be modified with replaceable rubberized membranes (such as the coverings you can get for cell phones and portable video games). They can be clear plastic and, aside from discipating a portion of the force with which the helmet can hit (or be hit with), will also reduce the expense the teams face with having to keep the paint up on them.

The best part of the rubber coating is that in the helmet to helmet case, it gives an extra modicum of protection to reduce the instantanious forces applied to the skulls of both players. That could be the difference in a concussion from being mild to moderate or severe. It won't do much to prevent broken necks as that's largely due to shearing/bending forces being applied to the neck vertebrae and not the level of instantaneous forces being applied (though, it might possibly reduce potential spinal cord damage).

99 Re: Changing helmets to protect players...

Is this some kind of Modest Proposal? Rigid helmets spread the impact over a larger area, greatly reducing the pressure in any one area. This is good for preventing things like fractured skulls. Flexible helmets would mean more injuries, not fewer.

115 Re: Changing helmets to protect players...

Be careful what you wish for. Rubber coatings on helmets will increase the danger of helmet-to-helmet hits because of traction. Now, helmets are slippery and can glance off each other. If they were rubberized, helmets would stick to each other, increasing the force transmitted on impact.

If anyone with a better knowledge of physics can correct me, please do so.

(Formerly "The McNabb Bowl Game Anomaly")

67 Hines Ward

Am I the only one who thinks Hines Ward is a complete coward for regularly jacking-up guys who are defenseless? People rave about his "toughness" or "hustle" whenever he lays somebody out. But how much talent does it take to blindside a dude? Any drunken fan in the stands could blow-up somebody who's not even looking.

Reminds me of a guy in the bar fight who hides in the shadows until the fight is almost over, then cold-cocks a guy who just happens to be standing there. Yeah, you're a real tough guy Hines.

82 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by Johnny Socko (not verified)

You are probably alone. Hines hits guys straight up, he hits guys when they aren't paying attention. You hear about the cases where the guy isn't paying attention because it generally ends badly for them. Rivers was not defenseless when Ward hit him. Rivers had poor situational awareness and couldn't brace himself, but he was in the field of play, unblocked and going to make a tackle. It was a shoulder to shoulder, solid legal block. The fact that Rivers ended up with a broken jaw has nothing to do with the legality of the hit. Your analogy about the bar fight is completely off. Hines does not hide during the game. He goes over the middle, blocks on every play that he isn't running a route and is generally a force defenders have to contend with on every down. That's effective.

87 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by RowdyRoddyPiper

Hines hits guys straight up, he hits guys when they aren't paying attention. You hear about the cases where the guy isn't paying attention because it generally ends badly for them.
Yes, but everyone in the NFL hits guys straight up. Not everyone hits guys who aren't paying attention. That's why you hear about said cases.

Technically, the hit was legal. That doesn't exclude it from evidence that Ward can be a dirty player. As someone who has 100% neutral feelings toward the Steelers, I'd classify Ward as a player who pushes the envelope for legal hits, and I can see why opposing players and league officials might not like that behavior. After all, it endangers the safety of other players.

97 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by Eddo

Yes, but everyone in the NFL hits guys straight up. Not everyone hits guys who aren't paying attention. That's why you hear about said cases.

Here's what Housh had to say about the hit:

Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh saw nothing wrong with the block.

"The guy doesn't see you coming, who doesn't do that?" Houshmandzadeh said on Monday. "Keith didn't see him coming, he cracked back on him and it just was unfortunate what happened. But every receiver in the league would do that, if they had an opportunity. They just don't get them too often."

The link to the full story for your convenience.

98 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by RowdyRoddyPiper

I didn't see the Ward hit, but this exact argument was used to defend the Warren Sapp hit on Chad Clifton. What really made the Sapp hit dirty in my mind was not only that Clifton never saw it coming but that it had absolutely no possible effect on the play (the interception runback was happening 50 yards away). Did Ward's block actually help the play?

100 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by TomC

Check the video. Rivers had the speed and angle to tackle the runner, and was 2 or 3 steps away from doing so, when he was blocked.

101 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by TomC

With regard to the impact on the play, THIS Hines Ward block was actually reasonable. The defender was closing in on the ball carrier. With that said, there have been MANY other Ward blocks that are very similar to the Warren Sapp play several years ago.

I just don't understand the fascination with these blocks. IMO, jacking-up a dude who never see's you coming is far LESS impressive than a running back picking up a blitzing linebacker.

Not to mention Hines has a habit of celebrating these blocks like he just won the Super Bowl. Sigh. Its just lame.

111 Re: Hines Ward

In reply to by Johnny Socko (not verified)

"With regard to the impact on the play, THIS Hines Ward block was actually reasonable."

Well I am glad you approve.

"With that said, there have been MANY other Ward blocks that are very similar to the Warren Sapp play several years ago."

Do you have some video to back that up? Or maybe some specific instances that you can cite. I mean if there are MANY of them, then it should be no problem.

"Not to mention Hines has a habit of celebrating these blocks like he just won the Super Bowl. Sigh. Its just lame."

He's said he views it similar to guys that celebrate after a sack. He's a pretty enthusiastic guy so you can forgive him. I mean it's not like he has a specific coreographed routine that he does afterwards.

Also, as far as what the impact is on the play, I thin it's irrelevant. If you are on the field of play and you are a legal target you should expect to get hit. It's part of the game and players that don't have that mentality end up getting hurt. If you think there should be some rule, that people have to assess the impact of their block on the play in total, by all means lobby to have that instituted. Otherwise players shouldn't rely on the kindness of the opposition to the detriement of their safety. I'm not happy that Rivers is out for the season, you always want people to be able to do their jobs, but if a 1st round linebacker from an in division opponent has to think twice next time they face the Steelers about where the hit is coming from, that's all in the game.

104 Re: Hines Ward

Rivers was getting into position to make the tackle, or force Spaeth out of bounds, before Ward blocked Rivers. The play didn't go for very many yards, and was probably inconsequential to the outcome of the game, but it was a real live play, and not Sapp hitting Clifton fifty yards behind the play.

I can't find a still of the play, but here is a description By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer:

"The hit came on the fourth play of the game. Ben Roethlisberger completed a 6-yard pass to Matt Spaeth near the right sideline, and Rivers tried to chase him down. Ward was farther downfield, saw the linebacker coming and leveled him.

Rivers is 2 inches taller and weights 35 pounds more than Ward, who is known as one of the league’s toughest blockers. Ward already has been fined by the league twice this season for hits that weren’t penalized during the game. Ward initially reveled in the hit, then showed concern for Rivers when the rookie didn’t get up right away."

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Can't we all agree to use Simmons' TAINT for Touchdown After INT? That pick-six jargon is fugly bad to me ears. And TAINT looks nice next to DVOA or KUBIAK or DAVE. Are royalty payments to the Sports Guy the reason not to do this? Just a thought... Jere

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

How is TAINT better than pick-six? One makes intuitive sense, the other conjures images of a scrotum. What a disgusting suggestion.

Chris Horton for defensive rookie of the year.

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"the extent to which the Packers shut down Dominic Rhodes has to be disconcerting if you're a Colts fan and thinking that your team has found its way back offensively. Coming into this game, the Pack had the 29th-ranked DVOA against the run, but Rhodes put up only 57 yards on 15 carries before the game got out of hand and the Colts had to pass all the time."

It's not the Packers D. Rhodes is just not very good.

3.0, 3.4, 4.0, 3.3 - those are Rhodes' ypa from 2005 thru 2008 (prior to yesterday). His 3.8 ypa vs. the Pack looks decent in that context.

78 GB-Indy running games

Dom Rhodes had a better YPC for the game than Grant.

31 for 105 (3.39) for Grant.
20 for 78 (3.65) for Dom.

Their longs were 14 and 9 so nether number was inflated by a long run.

79 Re: NYJ-OAK

Russell has two issues. One seems like either a gameplan or conditioning issue -- his play definitely deteriorates in the second half. I was amazed they were able to win in overtime, and really only did so because the Jets couldn't score.

Second is that he does just take an incredible amount of time to make decisions and never finds the checkdown until it's too late. He had one pass, and I'm going to have to look up exactly who it was to, but he bootlegged to his right, had someone running a flat route right in front of him, clearly had a step on his defender, and he kept running for 3 seconds and ended up throwing the ball to his guy when he was juggling it out of bounds even though he was open from the hash marks on.

I'm starting to wonder if he wasn't conditioned well enough or just needs a bullpen guy to come in in the 4th quarter.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Given the opportunity to nail the same attempt, most three-pointers (or place kickers) will have a higher percentage shot the second time."

Is icing the kicker the only way to defeat ROBO-KICKER? Freezing his circuits?

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

No way, lowering the temperature of ROBO-KICKER's internal circuitry will just mean it can stop running it's freon cooling system and divert extra power to it's kicking flywheel.

105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

LOL, dropping the punt will draw serious aggro from resident mobs,n00b. Hahhaha, great line.

It is really sad, for years on a vikes fan site, Kluwe was a bright spot for us all. I mean, I have seen on TV where the metrodome goes nuts cause the Vikes kicked an extra point. Sad, true, but....

He had a somewhat similar play a few years ago, and he blew out his acl (when was the last time you heard of a punter blowing out his acl?) but, managed to get the punt off like 30 yards or something. He blew it bad this play. Umm, NOT his acl.

If you want to turn your otherwise ok kicker or punter into a head case...just follow Chilly's routine. Call him out in the media and throw him under the bus. Then, he sees the ball coming, looks at Hester, and promptly drops the punt. There is a half a season of the special Vikes special teams left to enjoy. Best part is, I find it impossible to figure out what its gonna be this week.

Maybe Kluwe will find a wiz or druid to exodus next time...well, I played EQ not WoW, but its gotta be close.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Had to wait until after last night's game to make it official (it wouldn't have been had the Broncos scored 30 pts), but as of right now, the Chicago Bears have scored the most pts in the NFL with 196, edging out Green Bay (194), San Diego (192) and Dallas (189).

It should be noted the Cardinals have the highest average, 177 in 6 games which works out to 29.5 per game (Chicago averages 28 per game). If you ranked highest avg/game it would go Arizona 29.5, Chicago 28, Philadelphia 27.8333

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was impressed by how the Jets still couldn't beat the Raiders despite Oakland trying to set some kind of pre-snap penalty record.