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

Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each weekend, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, so we might not discuss every aspect of the game to the level we do in our other articles.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Arizona Cardinals 14 at New Orleans Saints 45

Bill Barnwell: Why is Reggie Bush walking around with a baseball bat before the game?

Tom Gower: Well, uh, ok, I admit I'm not one of the people who thought this game's first play from scrimmage would be a long TD run by Tim Hightower.

Bill Barnwell: Wow. I've seen this movie before. The Cardinals recover a fumble on third down on the next series.

Scary thing is that Hightower chose the smaller of the two holes available to him and still scored.

Doug Farrar: That may be the Saints’ preferred method of stopping the run at this point.

Aaron Schatz: Remember what I wrote in our game preview about Sedrick Ellis' poor numbers on run tackles? He got completely destroyed on that 70-yard touchdown, although I don't know if he got blocked out of the play or took himself out because he was so intent on pass-rushing.

Bill Barnwell: So Daryl Johnston is suggesting that football players forget fundamentals and how to get off blocks when they take a week off? Seriously, what the heck? Guys have had bye weeks before. Week 1 games aren't total disasters.

And Jeremy Shockey has a whole lot of swagger, apparently, and that helps the offense. Not his blocking.

Sean McCormick: Reggie Bush looks like Smash Williams out there.

Vince Verhei: I don't think the Cardinals rushed more than four on any play in the Saints' first touchdown drive. Very out of character.

Bill Barnwell: Funny how Johnston notices Darren Sharper on the fumble recovery but not when he's awful in run support on the play before.

How do two offensive penalties and one defensive penalty offset? And considering how penalty-happy these refs are, how did they miss the blatant hold on Sedrick Ellis before Warner got the ball off?

Tom Gower: No idea how they missed that hold.

That's the rule on penalties. So long as both teams have penalties, they offset, even if one team has two and the other one. In terms of personal fouls, that may be something the Competition Committee may want to look at, but for something more normal like, say, illegal formation and offensive holding v. defensive pass interference, it makes sense.

Doug Farrar: The end of that Jerheme Urban fumble wasn't a good as when Warren Sapp got three personal fouls called on him in one game, but it was pretty close.

Bill Barnwell: It reminds me of that Titans-Ravens false start vs. (ridiculous) roughing the passer mix from 2008.

I typed Tony Siragusa into Google and one of the auto-fill options was "tony siragusa man cave". Oh no.

David Gardner: Was that the best run of Reggie Bush's career? Oh, and he's on my fantasy team.

Mike Kurtz: Announces are gushing over Reggie Bush's ability to ... run forward. Yeah.

Tom Gower: Arizona MUST start tackling better. Immediately. The last 3 plays they gave the Saints yardage.

Bill Barnwell: Apparently, the Cardinals failing to wrap up on tackles means that Reggie Bush changed his style.

Mike Taniet: Reggie Bush just did something positive. He does that three times per year, always when I am watching, just to tease me.

The Saints are running 6 OL fronts; that makes 5,008 different formations.

Vince Verhei: Well, in years past, he would have broken tackles and then immediately cut out of bounds. Now he is slipping tackles, seeing the holes, and attacking.

David Gardner: I'm not crazy about calling Darren Sharper's would-have-been interception "spectacular." It was only unlikely because he screwed up an open catch.

Bill Barnwell: Yeah. Sharper misjudged the flight of the ball, it hit him in the helmet, and then he made a nice catch on the rebound.

Vince Verhei: I wrote the Cardinals chapter in the book, so I watched them play a lot last year in preparation, and watched them a lot this year because I was so familiar with them. On the touchdown drive to make it 14-21, they lined up with two tight ends on the right and kept one in to block as Kurt Warner rolled to that side. I don't think I've seen them do anything like that. But that's what they have to do to keep the Saints off him today.

David Gardner: Geez, I didn't know that Chris Petersen of Boise was guest offensive coordinator for the Saints today.

Tom Gower: Just me, or was Henderson less open on that TD than the other deep receiver? That flea-flicker certainly worked.

Mike Tanier: Yeah, the other guy was wide open too. Oh well, Brees seemed to know what he was doing.

So I am going out of Internet range for the evening and half the Cardinals secondary is hurt. How will the Cardinals come back? Because you know they will, if not to win, just to make things insane.

Bill Barnwell: Moose says "Everyone said that we couldn't have two games in a row like that" with regards to this game being high scoring. Huh? Who said that?

And Goose follows by explaining that Darnell Dockett might have cost the Cardinals seven points by taking a personal foul penalty (at the end of a run for a first down) that moved the ball from the three to the two. Forget this. I'm putting the game on mute and listening to The Best Show archives.

Tom Gower: Well, Warner throwing on the sideline makes it seem like he will return, so Arizona is just really sunk instead of incredibly sunk.

Bill Barnwell: Yeah, but Neil Rackers looks like the kid in "Rookie Of The Year" after he broke his arm.

Tom Gower: And thank you, Sean Payton, for not burning a TO and just taking the delay penalty.

Doug Farrar: And a pseudo-spread dink pass on third-and-3 from Brees to Bush (deflected by Adrian Wilson) is described as “aggressive offense”. Moose used to be good, right? I’m not imagining that?

Bert Berry needs to teach Calais Campbell to drive his helmet into the quarterback’s facemask for the no-call. Going below the knee is a bit obvious these days.

Aaron Schatz: Sean Payton's formation roulette is really playing havoc with Karlos Dansby. He doesn't have the quickness to cover Marques Colston's quick cuts, and he doesn't have the speed to cover Reggie Bush. Colston has been awesome this game, he's really using his physicality to either shield his body or out-jump whichever defensive back is covering him, or he's out-quicking Dansby.

The Cards are giving the Saints some of their own formation medicine by moving Larry Fitzgerald into the left slot, but it hasn't done much to get him open. It does have Jabari Greer spending a lot of the game covering Steve Breaston instead of Fitzgerald, although Greer made a great play on that end zone jump ball when Fitzgerald was lined up on the right.

The Cards miss Gerald Hayes. Monty Beisel is a replacement-level player, period. He was in Kansas City, he was in New England, and he is in Arizona. He's apparently a likable guy and a hard worker, but he just doesn't have the athleticism or the instincts to be a valuable piece in the defense.

Doug Farrar: Back in the game in the second half, Warner started off conservatively with a little dink-and-dunk, then threw downfield a few times, but was victimized by drops and some questionable decisions.

Aaron Schatz: OK, Daryl Johnston is saying they may need to go with Matt Leinart because an injured Kurt Warner is having trouble stretching the field vertically. Um, wasn't the whole point of the Warner-Leinart battle a couple years ago that Leinart can't stretch the field vertically?

Doug Farrar: Heh. Reggie Bush takes a punt return back 83 yards with six minutes left in the third quarter. Siragusa: "That just took the air out of the Arizona Cardinals." They were down 38-14 with their best player at half-strength before that, Goose. Safe to say they popped a flat about 14 points ago.

This is the worst game I've ever heard Moose call. He's usually pretty good at worst, even when his Eli man-crush gets out of hand.

I don't think the arm is Warner's problem. I'm seeing him look downfield and check down out of coverage. The Saints are doing a great job of getting their DBs tight on Arizona's receivers.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: As a left tackle, Jeremy Bridges makes a great right guard.

Tom Gower: Very nice move there to double Hightower on the right side-Bobby McCray dropped and took away with immediate look and another player was at the first down marker. Kurt had to look elsewhere, and, well, NO had coverage.

David Gardner: I can't wait to see the final tally of dropped passes for the Cardinals today.

Aaron Schatz: Fascinating in the fourth quarter when they showed the New Orleans Superdome "Wall of Fame" section. The Saints have only two retired numbers, Archie Manning and Rickey Jackson, and then two "Wall of Fame" names, original owner Dave Dixon and one-time GM Jim Finks. The other two Superdome "Wall of Fame" names are Pete Maravich (from the New Orleans Jazz) and Eddie Robinson, the long-time Grambling coach. This brings up some questions:

  • Are there any other historic Saints who deserve their numbers retired?
  • Will Deuce McAllister be the third player up there?
  • Shouldn't they have Pete Maravich's name and number posted wherever the New Orleans Hornets play instead?
  • And... If Eddie Robinson is on the Wall of Fame for Grambling, how about getting Doug Williams up there too?

Doug Farrar: Sam Mills, Jim Mora ... I dunno. George Rogers?

Tom Gower: Pat Swilling.

Vince Verhei: These are the kinds of things you discuss when a team is ahead by 31 in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, don't tell me I wouldn't make a swell announcer. I even know what to do in blowouts.

Baltimore Ravens 3 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Doug Farrar: My least-favorite NFL stat: Quarterback wins. My second-least-favorite football stat: “Team A is (insert record here) since (insert cherry-picked year here) against Team B”, as if it makes a difference. Why do I care if the Ravens haven’t beaten the Colts since 2001? Must Elvis Grbac and Qadry Ismail be on the field for a Ravens victory to happen? Did Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams possess come sort of intrinsic Colts-beating power that Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson do not have?

Sean McCormick: Generally a worthless stat, but in instances where two teams play every year (as the Colts and Ravens generally do), it has at least a bit of value. A very, very little bit.

Aaron Schatz: I agree that it is a reasonably useful stat when you have two teams that have had a lot of continuity in both scheme and personnel. That's not usually true, but it's definitely true of the Colts and somewhat of the Ravens (well, on defense, anyway).

Where it is REALLY dumb is, say, an AFC-NFC matchup where Team A's 0-5 record goes back to, say, 1986 or something.

Tom Gower: Obviously, the Colts' early field goal means this is another Super Bowl year, as they struggled to score touchdowns against KC and BAL in 2006 and won the Super Bowl.

Five rushers for the Ravens the first drive, Rice the only one with multiple carries. He needs to run forward against the Colts, not laterally -- the front seven is just too fast for that sort of nonsense. The Titans learned that from their first to second game against Indy, has Baltimore? The power stuff leads me to think yes, but if it doesn't sink in on Rice, it's wasted.

David Gardner: The Ravens are doing a good job of keeping the Colts to underneath routes. Peyton Manning looks a little impatient in the pocket, too. But so would I if I saw Suggs on the other side.

Tom Gower: The Ravens might as well have one wideout on the field for as much as Joe Flacco is looking around. He's been vaporlocked onto his first read and making that throw.

Bill Barnwell: I don't know if that's necessarily anything new. I always assume Flacco has two reads: Whoever his first read is, usually Mason, and then Rice. Colts are smothering Rice with linebackers and Flacco's got no one to throw to.

Aaron Schatz: That's sort of interesting because usually the Colts' coverage tries to take away all wideouts and is willing to give up dumpoffs underneath. Perhaps they feel Rice is that much more of a threat, even if he's catching the ball 10 yards closer to the LOS than Mark Clayton would be.

The Colts may be trying to pick on Frank Walker, but Walker is not Roc Alexander tonight. He's doing a reasonable job out there.

Bill Barnwell: Ravens doing a great job defensively so far, though. Reggie Wayne doesn't have a catch, and Walker's holding Garcon to beating him by a half-step so far. Feel like there's a big play from Manning to Garcon coming later in the game.

David Gardner: The spots that Manning is completing these passes into is unbelievable.

Vince Verhei: So far this game is awesome. Baltimore is giving the Colts nothing, but Manning is making impossible throws and picking up just enough yards to get the first down. If he needs six yards, he gets seven; if he needs eight yards, he gets nine. But then the Ravens are right there to make the tackle. Best-played game of the playoffs so far.

Bill Barnwell: Colts rushed three and dropped Raheem Brock into coverage as Ray Rice's shadow. Pretty impressive.

Aaron Schatz: Aha, end of the first half. I knew the Ravens would eventually decide it was time to start committing questionable penalties.

David Gardner: The Colts' two-minute drill is a thing of beauty, and everyone knows it. Was there any doubt in anyone's mind that they would go down and score with 1:33 (or whatever) and two timeouts? Maybe not a touchdown, but they were almost certainly coming away with points.

Tom Gower: Terrible job by Demetrius Williams on the fourth-and-3. Not too surprising, since it's Demetrius Williams. Maybe the Ravens will go after TO again this offseason, since they dearly need another wideout. I'm glad they didn't convert, though, since Oher got away with his second false start of the drive (the first on third-and-6 after Gaither got called for it).

David Gardner: Gary Brackett -- Defensive Player of the Day.

Vince Verhei: The real story of this game is Indianapolis shutting down the Baltimore offense, especially on the ground. We expected them to win the aerial war, but the Ravens have done nothing rushing.

David Gardner: I see Garcon has been watching some Robert Meachem film.

Aaron Schatz: Or Troy Brown. When is Ed Reed going to learn to hold on to the damn football when he is returning a pick? Didn't he make a stupid lateral attempt on a pick return in the first Ravens-Colts game?

Doug Farrar: Boy, how sick am I of Dan Dierdorf’s rhetorical questions?

Having gone back and watched the Week 11 game for Cover-3, and seeing this one, my head has turned around a bit on the cause of Baltimore’s inability to get anything done in the red zone. Yes, teams play out of their optimal games trying to keep up with Indy’s offense. No, the Ravens can’t expect to win consistently when relying too much on Joe Flacco (just yet, at least). But the real story is … well, the Colts’ defense is just really, really good right now. Those extra blitzes and little extra reads and formations have taken a good, fast, somewhat vulnerable defense and turned it into something altogether else. Both the Colts and the Saints have surprised me with elements of their defense today. The Saints with their coverage, and the Colts with the ability to consistently shout down what the Ravens do best. A tendency to undervalue that effort might have people saying that the Ravens didn’t do what would have given the game, when it has been about the Colts taking it away from them.

And there’s your “Okay, we’re screwed” play. Ed Reed picks off a Manning pass with six minutes left in the third quarter, Pierre Garcon chases him down, knocks the ball out, and Dallas Clark recovers. Good night, everybody!

And OF COURSE Ed Reed’s second interception of the day is coming back on a stupid pass interference penalty, with Corey Ivy mugging Dallas Clark up the middle. What else is there?

Aaron Schatz: And then, Ray Rice fumbles. You know, the Colts are outplaying the Ravens tonight, but this game would at least be close if the luck fairy wasn't completely screwing the Ravens at every turn.

David Gardner: Did anyone else hear Manning just say "God dammit, Charles!" as he identified that blitz?

Tom Gower: Ray Rice there did something that annoys me -- he sees defenders, so, rather than fight to break tackles or dive forward for a couple yards, he runs laterally out of bounds. Which seems like a fine idea, with his team down 17 and wanting to conserve time, but there's still 5:26 to go on. The clock restarts outside of 5:00 in the 4th quarter on out of bounds plays, so you really don't save much time. Players should know this stuff, even if coaches have to remind them every second and fourth quarter.

Vince Verhei: Well, last time he tried to break tackles, he fumbled.

Aaron Schatz: One more note. At the end of the game, Dan Dierdorf couldn't shut up about how this win gets the monkey of the Colts' back, now the Jets game doesn't mean anything, resting worked, nobody will talk about resting starters anymore. What the hell are you talking about, Dan? You don't think the Colts fans are going to talk about Weeks 16-17 if the Colts go on to win the Super Bowl, debating whether resting guys mattered or whether they tossed away a shot at 19-0 for no reason? Trust me, it has not gone away.

Doug Farrar: Not a banner day for football broadcasting. And this is just the warmup for Joe Buck and Phil Simms. Ack.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dallas Cowboys 3 at Minnesota Vikings 34

Bill Barnwell: Smart non-challenge by Dallas on that Romo fumble on the opening drive. You're challenging there for the right to punt and probably pick up 20 yards of field position.

Amazing to see a Cowboys blitz that yields an unblocked DeMarcus Ware coming off the edge, no twists or nothing. What was the deal with Chester Taylor on that play, though? He looked over at a rushing Ware and then just decided to hop out into his pattern.

Doug Farrar: Was that the Patented Ryan Grant Bailout Move?

Bill Barnwell: Maybe they were gonna run a screen? I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, but even if they're running a screen, you have to abandon it and cut Ware.

David Gardner: That was not a screen setup. The offensive linemen were all at home, dropping back to seal the pocket, and Taylor slipped out in front of them to the middle of the field.

Vince Verhei: On Sidney Rice's touchdown to open the day's scoring, Sensabaugh was in great position, but Brett Favre made a phenomenal throw to drop it in over his shoulder. But as close as Sensabaugh was, it wasn't great coverage -- he never turned his head to see the ball, never reacted when it arrived, and I don't think he knew that Rice even had it until they were both in the end zone.

Aaron Schatz: PERFECTLY dropped in pass on the touchdown to Sidney Rice down the right side. I like that Ragnar the Vikings didn't realize the chest-bump was coming.

Doug Farrar: Yeah, Rice made a great adjustment to get to that ball around Newman, but the throw was just unreal.

Vince Verhei: Favre-to-Rice for another score. This time Rice motioned inside and threw a cut block, and actually ended up on the ground, but recovered and scrambled and found a hole in the Dallas defense. And Favre had a pass rusher in his face, but pump-faked him into the air, ducked underneath him, and found Rice.

We all know that we're going through six months of will-he-or-won't-he with Favre in the offseason, but at this point, why should he retire? There are clearly not 32 quarterbacks superior to him.

Tom Gower: Because playing football kind of sucks, you can get hurt, and it's unpleasant to have to do things like go to training camp, learn a playbook, etc.

Vince Verhei: First down. Jason Witten tries to block Jared Allen one-on-one. Fails. Running back is stuffed for a loss.

Second down. Jason Witten tries to block Jared Allen one-on-one. Fails. Tony Romo is sacked, fumbles, Vikings ball.

Can we please throw all of those Witten-on-Allen plays out of the playbook? Thanks.

Sean McCormick: Aikman: "It looks like Flozell Adams is out of the game."

Watch destruction ensue. Minnesota's defensive line was giving the Cowboys problems to begin with, but from the moment Allen got matched up against backups and tight ends, the line has been completely overwhelmed. Dallas tried to slow things down a bit by running left, but that's not going to cut it, particularly not if they're down 14+ points. They need to get a tight end not named Jason Witten on the left side of the line and simply leave him there, with a back behind him as backup. Otherwise, Romo simply isn't going to have a chance to make a play downfield.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, I'm sorry, Vince, you prefer the Doug Free-on-Jared Allen blocking scheme?

One thought about Favre and retirement: Could he come back to the Vikings in 2010 and get away with not coming to training camp until halfway through the preseason again? Because part of the problem is that he just doesn't want to go through training camp two-a-days when he could be out hunting.

Doug Farrar: I think the world would take that deal. No Brett for training camp in exchange for the end of the offseason tradition of all other football news being held hostage for three months in favor of his "non-unretirements".

Vince Verhei: Cowboys' first drive of the second half is almost exclusively two- tight end, so their tackles are never isolated. It works when they run right at the Vikings, but stalls when they get cute with a pitch.

If the Cowboys go on to lose and Shaun Suisham takes the heat, I'm going to be pissed. He's missing near-50-yarders. Even if he makes those, the offense needs to consider those to be failed drives.

Tom Gower: Worse, they're running the pitch and the outside stuff with Barber, rather than Felix Jones. I think that's called "not playing to your players' strengths," Jason Garrett.

Doug Farrar: Not too good when you're down 14, and your only offensive goal is to give your punter more room in the back of the end zone.

David Gardner: The new E-Trade baby isn't nearly as funny as the old one.

Vince Verhei: Vikings force a punt, but are called for running into the kicker. Cowboys decline the penalty and we go into commercial.

After commercial, Cowboys have changed their minds and opted to re-kick. Joe Buck questions why the VIKINGS changed their minds and opted for the re-kick. He completely forgot what the penalty was, and they had been talking about it in detail before the break, why it was running into the kicker and not roughing. He even noted that McBriar would have more room on the punt! Shouldn't that be a screaming sign that the Cowboys accepted the penalty?

By the time he's corrected and gives the correct info, the Vikings have already gone three-and-out. God, I hate that man.

Doug Farrar: But you can choose any car in the aisle, Vince!

Romo's going to take a ration of crap for that brainfart of an interception at the end of the third quarter, and justifiably so. But he's been running around, ducking pressure, taking sacks, and the line is just absolute horsecrap. It's like they have five Tom Ashworths out there. At what point does "live to fight another day" become a white flag? And I wonder if Crayton was supposed to come back on that route.

Aaron Schatz: I'm blown away by the fact that the three games so far have all been blowouts. I thought these matchups were really close.

Doug Farrar: Between Dierdorf, Moose Johnson, and Joe Buck, the pressure is on Phil Simms to complete the sweep. I have great faith in him.

As I was typing that, Buck was informing me that Bud Grant (who is in the building) is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Prince (who is also in the building) is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Oh, Joe. You irrepressible scamp, with your puns and wordplay and all.

Vince Verhei: This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today.

New York Jets 17 at San Diego Chargers 14

Tom Gower: Pet peeve: "We want to keep opponent's defense on the field and their offense off it." They still get the same damn number of possessions you do, give or take who has the last possession in the first and second halves, and onside kicks. I'd thought IND-MIA this year could've done some damage to it, but apparently not. Will anything, ever?

David Gardner: That one-handed catch by Antonio Gates was amazing. That is all.

Aaron Schatz: I'm really enjoying this game of "create a mismatch." Move Vincent Jackson around so he's away from Darrelle Revis? Check. Jets motion Tony Richardson out wide so that Antonio Cromartie is wasted on a fullback? Check. Jets go pistol on third-and-4? Actually, not a mismatch, it turns out.

The Chargers finally get on the board with a touchdown throw to Kris Wilson. See, that's the problem with one shutdown corner. What do you do when the other team has so many other weapons that they go and toss their first touchdown pass to the third-string tight end? (Or is that backup fullback? Hard to tell.)

Vince Verhei: Chargers go up 7-0 and it feels like game over.

Bill Barnwell: Hey, Mark Sanchez just went over positive yardage! Who knows what could happen next?

Aaron Schatz: I want to know why the Jets are running so much to the outside and not up the gut. Up the gut is where the Chargers have the big Jamal Williams-sized hole, and the Jets ALY numbers this year are MUCH lower on outside runs compared to inside runs.

10:40 left in the second quarter, a pass to Malcom Floyd is originally called a fumble, then overturned and changed to incomplete.

David Gardner: Man, Phil Simms will not admit that he is wrong, nor will he let the subject of that replay reversal die.

Tom Gower: How on earth did Jerome Boger get an incomplete out of that play? Floyd was running, caught the ball, got both feet down, and then Leonhard tackled him. That wasn't going to the ground, he wasn't juggling the ball, no nothing. I didn't think it was a fumble, because I think Floyd's left elbow was down before he lost possession, but getting incomplete out of that play is a real stretch.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, I hate to say it, but Simms is right. The referee completely blew that replay review. How on earth is their indisputable visual evidence that the pass was incomplete? You're only supposed to change the call if it's obvious, and if anything that play looked more like a catch than an incompletion.

Aaron Schatz: Mike Sellers just called, and he agrees with you on "indisputable visual evidence."

Tom Gower: Heads-up move by Tony Richardson to point to Shonn Greene as a dumpoff target for Sanchez with Eric Weddle trying to take him down. Not so heads-up of a move by Richardson was failing to block Weddle's path to Sanchez in the first place.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, I just checked. Five of the first six Jets runs were around end, including the lame third-and-4 option. That's just ridiculous. Eventually, they got two seven-yard runs up the middle, which is more like it if they feel like having a real-life professional offense.

Bill Barnwell: Well, they love pulling guards. Harder to pull guards on run up the middle.

Doug Farrar: I don’t know what was more amazing -– Darrelle Revis’ interception that somehow didn’t hit the ground with 4:23 left in the third quarter, or the fact that Jerome Boger’s crew got the call right on the field.

Bill Barnwell: The more amazing play was breaking up the pass; the interception was just gravy.

Aaron Schatz: When the Jets are stuck letting Sanchez pass, he's trying to fit it into windows he just can't hit. That's where that Quentin Jammer pick comes from.

Tom Gower: Ok, this feels WAY too much like a Vintage Marty Special. He comes in with the superior team, and they're outplaying the opponent, but it's still a close game and just one fluke play the other way, like Chris Hope slipping and failing to get over in time on a double move and Flacco throwing a touchdown pass (/bitter Titans fan), means his team loses when there's no way they shouldn't have.

Bill Barnwell: How about an interception deep in his own territory?

Aaron Schatz: I'm trying to figure out -- where was Rivers trying to throw that ball? Was that an underthrown seam pass to Antonio Gates? Was Gates supposed to turn around on a curl? Was it actually to Vincent Jackson in front of Gates, and he overthrew him? I can't tell if that was miscommunication or just Rivers throwing without even thinking of what the routes were.

Tom Gower: My guess is that Gates was supposed to run a curl.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, Gates never turned around, so I assume Rivers thought he was going to run a curl or corner route or something.

But closing the third quarter with an interception and a stupid personal foul -- Can we say that they're Norving yet?

Bill Barnwell: I'm actually assuming that was a throw to Jackson on the in that Rivers threw ahead/overthrew.

Aaron Schatz: Did I say that Sanchez was trying to fit the ball in tiny holes that he couldn't actually hit? I take it back. He hit a very small hole between Dustin Keller and the ground on the touchdown pass.

Vince Verhei: Eric Weddle misses a tackle and Shonn Greene breaks a long touchdown run to put the Jets up two scores. This sport is so stupid sometimes.

Tom Gower: Yes. Yes, it is.

One thing the about the Chargers is they don't seem to rely as much on separation in the passing game as most other teams, instead going with big receivers and letting Rivers put the ball in the right place. That's normally a good strategy, but (1) it's nice to have somebody who can get separation and (2) the Jets DBs have done an excellent job of fighting the WRs this game to break up passes.

Aaron Schatz: Vince, I'm not sure why you think this game is stupid. I count it as smart that the Jets finally started running up the middle on the Chargers instead of trying to go wide.

Vince Verhei: I guess I say that it's stupid because it felt like this game should have been about 21-0 at halftime instead of 7-0. The Chargers were dominant on the field, but not on the scoreboard.

Sean McCormick: They were dominant on defense, but not really on offense. They moved the ball a bit, but hardly at will.

David Gardner: I like that Shonn Greene mimicked LT's touchdown celebration.

Tom Gower: Nate Kaeding, please pick up the white courtesy phone. Lin Elliott would like to speak with you.

Doug Farrar: Well, so much for the KCW award this week. Vincent Jackson, come on down!

Vince Verhei: One area where the Chargers have definitely played poorly is clock management. They're routinely letting 30 seconds go by between plays, they're wasting timeouts early in both halves. And I think the onside kick was a terrible decision.

Bill Barnwell: Agreed. You're trading 40-50 yards of field position for a 10% chance of converting the onside kick.

Sean McCormick: I was surprised by that, too. Had they faked the onside and kicked deep, they would have pinned the Jets deep with the chance to stop the clock twice. Had they stopped the Jets there, they would have gotten the ball at around the 35 with 1:00 left, needing to kick a field goal to tie. It seems like the higher percentage play. That said, if you don't trust your defense...

Tom Gower: Why should you trust your defense? It kind of sucks, and can be run on successfully. Kicking onside was the right move. SD is who DVOA said they were: a passing team with not much of a running game and a mediocre defense. The Jets had by far the league's best pass defense. I may not like it, and I may not thought it would have come out this way, but this was an utterly unsurprising result.

Bill Barnwell: Well, San Diego had a similar total DVOA and was at home, so the most plausible result would be SD by a field goal or so.

Aaron Schatz: I feel really bad for Nate Kaeding, and everybody knows that I'm the furthest thing from a Norv Turner fan, but... I hate to say... the main person to blame in this loss is Kaeding. Kaeding and the randomness of kicker performance. Yes, the clock management was iffy, some of the penalties suggested an undisciplined team, and the onside kick at the end was probably not the best decision. Yes, you want your offense to get it into the end zone for six, not leave it up to the kicker for three. But they put Kaeding out there three times, for one long field goal that he can't be expected to hit (57) and two very makeable ones that he hits 95 percent of the time (36, 40). He hits one of those, just one, this game is in overtime.

Although, technically, this is another Norv Turner blown fourth-quarter lead to add to the long list of Norv Turner blown fourth-quarter leads.

I think the Colts are happier to be playing the Jets than they would be playing the Chargers team that has beaten them the past two postseasons. But... if they do lose next week -- effectively blowing their Super Bowl shot against a team that wouldn't be in the playoffs if not for the Colts' throwing their Week 16 game -- I can't even imagine how angry the Colts fans will be.

Comments

282 comments, Last at 19 Jan 2010, 7:38pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Re: Vikings/Cowboys

The better team certainly did show up today. They were the ones stomping a mudhole in the Dallas Cowboys and walking it dry.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Please see the most ridiculous and stupid comment of the year below. In a 10 point game maybe, but when a team loses 34-3, in no universe are they the better team. Oh wait, I forgot, the last 7 points didn't count, the Cowboys already quit and nobody told the Vikings:

Vince Verhei: This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Yeah, I think it's fair to say that if you don't show up in the playoffs, then, by definition, you're not the better team. Things like discipline, poise and execution all matter - perhaps especially in the playoffs, when you'd expect the talent differentials to be narrower than in a random regular season game.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I think Vince probably meant to say the better DALLAS team didn't show up. I think Vince hinted at something that I don't see discussed much-- if it has been, I've missed it here (apologies). I've seen a bunch of Dallas games this season and the guys in the booth love to talk about Jason Garrett. When he has a game plan and has properly prepared the team, Dallas is on fire. What I think gets overlooked is this: If Dallas has a poor first half (like today), Garrett does NOT adapt his play calling to go with what the defense has shown. He may be a great offensive-minded coach, but it does not seem he can adapt to the needed changes at the half. You can toss this on Wade Phillips, but if Garrett is the offensive "genius", I think he has to take the bullet for not adapting with his play calling in the second half.

None of this dismisses the fact that Dallas played a game full of mistakes today, with the offensive line doing little to help. No doubt the Vikings were well prepared and were the better team by far. They played a great smash-mouth game and their fans should be proud. Sorry, Cowboys fans, but the facts are the facts, and this comes from a Dallas fan.

Next week should be a great game.

181 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

This. Exactly this. Jason Garrett for some reason just cannot adapt a gameplan in game. So when the quick passing game that worked so well against the Eagles, Skins, and Saints isn't working he doesn't adjust to take advantage of Minny's lousy secondary (although after Flozell went down I think it was a moot point). He also decides to go away from Felix way too much when he is just gashing the Vikings run D. Immensely frustrating game.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Early in the Jets-Chargers game, I told my father, "If San Diego winds up losing this game, it will be because they have refused to realize Tomlinson isn't a particularly good running back any more," as they ran him into the line on 2nd-and-10. Sure enough, they kept giving the ball to Tomlinson, putting Rivers in 3rd-and-long situations, which is a big hole to climb out of against a defense like the Jets'.

Is this on Turner? Cameron?

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

they dont have cam cameron anymore. he works for the ravens.

btw The charger jet game was extremely frustrating from a charger fan. The only real blame that can go around for the loss is kaeding and dumb luck. although i think kaeding is a great kicker, they simply cant hold onto him for next year cause that would be management telling the team "work hard again all year just so he might screw you again come playoff time". They have to let kaeding and LT go. Its a slap in the face if they dont.

and i will always refer to this game as the V-Jax roughing the flag game.

anyone remember the browns game a long time ago when the ref threw the flag and it temporarily blinded the guy? if i was that guy, i would have roughed the flag on purpose (had he been able to see it)

193 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, yet in the playoffs he's just 8 for 15. He's over 70% accurate at 40+ yards in the regular season, yet in the playoffs he's 2 for 8 over 40 yards(and 2 of those 6 he missed were exactly 40 yards).

The Chargers are 3-5 in the playoffs during his career, 2 of those losses against the Jets are both his fault(yesterday, and 2005 when he missed a 40 yarder in OT). He also missed a 54 yarder that could have tied the Patriots playoff game in 2006.

Of the 8 playoff field goals he has made 5 of them were inside 30 yards. It's very hard to argue that he has been a positive force for the Chargers in the playoffs during his career. The success he has had you would expect of ANY professional kicker. Could it all just be bad luck ? Maybe. Can the Chargers afford to find out if it is bad luck or if he is just a choke artist ? Hell no.

237 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

15 runs to 45 passes.

I'm sorry, this one is all on the passing game. How can you blame LT on 12 carries, and only 4 in the last 2 quarters?

There was only one pitch out that I could see, which LT took for 7. Why were they not doing this all game? You have a 7-0 lead. Run the ball, take possession. Instead the Jets keyed on the pass, and the Chargers abandoned the run. Result, 2 Rivers picks, and the change in momentum.

LT will be back next year, and hopefully, finally the Chargers can get some beef on the line. Jets DL has 4 first round picks. Chargers OL, has 0.

As for the Chargers defense, they held the jets to 80 yards rushing and 150 yards overall until they finally broke one for the long gain. Can't say the problem was the D here, and Norv's decision not to trust his defense was a bad decision. D had bailed them out all game.

241 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

1. I wasn't blaming Tomlinson.

2. Those 12 carries went for only 24 yards. That's why the Chargers stopped giving him the ball.

3. My contention is that, had the Chargers run Tomlinson less in the first half, they'd have been able to run him more in the second, with a multi-score lead, running out the clock.

247 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Yeah and how many holes were open? LT had nothing there. You can be Barry Sanders but if there's no holes, you aren't going to get anything. Chargers needed to draft OL last year, and this year hopefully they will finally draft the folks they need. I'm not convinced that LT isn't the answer for another year. Fix the OL and fix the blocking. Sproles did even worse between the tackles.

264 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

As a Chargers fan, I actually think they needed to commit MORE to the run. I haven't looked at the stats yet, but I think they ended up with probably 50% more pass than run plays. And the game was very close. Had they stuck more with the run, possibly with Tolbert or Hester instead of LT as much as it pains me to say it, they could have worn down the Jets D a bit like their own got worn down.

They were moving the ball pretty well, so I can understand it a bit. But they kept stalling, thank in no small part to the completely idiotic unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. I think it could have settled things down, not to mention slowed down the blitz a bit if they had committed more to the run. I can't believe the 2 yards per carry would have continued.

The Jets relentless pressure finally forced Philip Rivers into a bad decision. The Jets played a hell of a game. But the Chargers players immaturity (along with the choke job by the biggest choke artist in history, Kaeding) that cost them the game.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Did the NFC preview and/or Audibles get posted on a Vikings message board this week? There have been a lot of angry pro-Vikings, anti-Cowboys posts the last few days. Normally, the regular Viking-fan posters are pretty rational, so this is a bit odd.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Brushing aside the hyperbole, I think you're right that Dallas Hate is about the only irrational Fox Sports-like behavior permitted around here. However, if you're going to spend your life as a Cowboys fan, you better get used to it, because it's not about to go away.

Most fans of NFC teams will harbor, if they're old enough, a grudge against Dallas for one reason or another: see Will Allen's comment about the 1975 postseason in this thread. As a Packer fan, I could cite 1982, 1993, 1994, the 1996 regular season, etc ad infinitum. Games against the Cowboys are always big games; and the Cowboys have been successful (mostly) for 50 years — long enough to accumulate a lot of antipathy.

As with Favre (another target of irrational abuse), much of the vitriol stems from media hype: the networks love Dallas; the commentators sometimes forget to talk about the opposition. Also, there is Jerry Jones: everyone loathes an arriviste (yes, even in America), and we are particularly repelled by his alleged attempts to alter the financial set-up of the league (and its spirit, too), in order to make more money for himself and/or buy a championship. Whether there's any basis for our fears is another matter.

Finally, the Cowboys are more than a football team, they're a symbol, in a way that few other NFL franchises are. (The Packers are another; maybe the Bears too, maybe the Raiders.) But what do they symbolize? Well, it varies from person to person, but for starters I'd say: Big Money, greed, the peculiar socio-political position of Texas within the Union, the deep South generally, clean-cut nice guys (if you remember the 70s), ostentation and vulgarity (if you remember the 90s), a certain kind of muckraking establishment, getting too big for your boots, bandwagonism, and resistance to the idea (or imposition) of a national 'America's' team.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Can't speak for anyone else, but my "irrational" hatred for Dallas has two reasons that seem perfectly rational to me:

1. As a fan of an NFC West team living in NFC North land, I hate the way that Fox, NBC, and ESPN think I want yet another tired NFC East matchup week after week. I'm sick of having the NFC East shoved down my throat. Dallas in particular gets way more than their share of coverage. Yes, I know that the NFC West has sucked for a long time, so I'm not expecting them to show *my* team, but how many times did anyone get to see, say, New Orleans this year? Dallas is *not* "America's team".

2. Jerry Jones wants to destroy the NFL as we know it, which is built on parity and a relatively equal playing field, and turn it into another version of MLB, with Dallas playing the role of the Yankees. If that happens I fearlessly predict that the popularity of the NFL will go the way of the popularity of MLB.

276 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

The gap between the Yankees and the Red Sox was $106M in revenue in 2008 - the gap between the Yankees (#1) and Marlins (#30) was $236M. The gap between the Redskins (#1) and Lions (#32) was $137M. If you get rid of the Yankees, MLB looks just like the NFL, with a gap of $130M between the Red Sox and Marlins.

No team is the Yankees in football. The Cowboys, Redskins, Patriots, etc. are more like the Red Sox, Mets, and Dodgers. Not even Jerry Jones's new stadium will change that - it's not going to bring in $200M in revenue over and above what the previous stadium did.

281 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I think the biggest thing that keeps parity in the NFL is the salary minimum. As long as a team spends a certain amount, they have a chance. You have teams in MLB (Marlins, Royals) where the owners are just there to maximize profits and have tiny pay rolls.

282 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Practically, yeah, I think more teams are forced to be better than forced to be worse. The public perception will notice the teams trying to buy championships more than the teams trying to leach money, however - because those teams are higher profile (because they succeed). Plus the middle-rung teams like having kids to beat up on.

That's why I've never understood baseball implementing a luxury tax without a poor man's tax. I don't think having a soft or hard cap matters that much - accounting will always make a cap somewhat soft anyway - you've just got to always have both a cap and floor.

186 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Except there is more parity in MLB than there is in football. Baseball is a different game where in theory just spending should be very effective (as it is a very individual sport) but it doesn't work unless you evaluate talent and put the right team together. Baseball teams are rarely as dominant as the best football teams in season and they rarely have sustained runs at the top. In a lot of ways a salary cap can actually create less parity because it is much harder to rebuild a team once it gets on the down slope and if you guess wrong with your drafts and have bad scouting departments you can suck for a long time. I think in football (similar to basketball) maybe a 3rd of the league really understands the cap and knows how to take advantage of it and this allows them to be dominant year after year.

Would this change if the cap went away? Well different teams might be dominant but it doesn't change the fact that there isn't all that much parity as it stands right now. Would the competitiveness of individual games be impaired? Again possibly. However the Steelers have clearly demonstrated that you can build great teams year after year almost entirely through smart drafting and development. I think this is less of an issue than it is made out to be. As a Cowboys fan I think I'd be terrified if Jerry Jones got no cap as he is chronically seduced by big names.

275 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Except there is more parity in MLB than there is in football.

Except that it's by design in baseball. For two reasons.

1) Number of games. You've got 10 times the number of games in baseball - you expect the variation in win percentage to be ~a factor of three less.

2) Separation between games. Imagine if in the NFL, you couldn't start your starting QB two games in a row. Think that would yank teams closer together? And in baseball, if you rotate the starting pitching lineup, you might have a better chance of winning a few games if you effectively sacrifice some others.

In a lot of ways a salary cap can actually create less parity because it is much harder to rebuild a team once it gets on the down slope and if you guess wrong with your drafts and have bad scouting departments you can suck for a long time.

No way. If your scouting and drafting sucks, it doesn't matter if the league has a salary cap or not. Your team's going to suck. The way the salary cap is structured in the NFL it's essentially impossible for you to structure a team so badly that you can't sacrifice one year to completely overhaul a team (see: the Tennessee Titans).

I could just as easily say that without a salary cap, it's much harder to rebuild a team because you can invest a lot more resources into bad players if you're a bad front office. In truth I think it's just as hard - fundamentally the problem is that if your scouting and personnel department sucks, your team's going to suck. Fundamental rule of sports.

271 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

My Dallas hate is much simpler. I hate them simply because they're a team from east-central Texas that wants to call itself "America's Team," as if anywhere outside east-central Texas isn't as American, and anyone who espouses values not common to east-central Texas isn't a real American.

A team with that much hubris and that much desire to force itself on the whole country is a good team to hate.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

In all fairness, that's not exclusive to this site's readers. Part of it is calling yourself "America's Team" when most of America doesn't like you. Part of it is the league/networks deciding that what the citizens of this country want, more than anything, is to watch the Cowboys with insightful commentary by Joe Buck at 4:15 EVERY FREAKIN' SUNDAY! Part of it was when Jimmy Johnson, having done irreparable damage to college football, came and did the same to the NFL. I'm sure that an older generation had reasons to hate them before the '90s, as well.

It was fun, though, when the post-game show was on, and they asked Jimmy if the Vikings should have run up the score. "They're professionals," he said.

(I also like the Eagles)

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Manning was actually yelling at Donald Brown (and yes, it was hilarious). I watched it about five times and I think Brown was supposed to go out as the check down or something. If you can see it again, Brown throws his hands out like 'What'd I do?' Another reason I love the huge microphones they've got all over the place now: hearing Manning cuss out his rookie RB while running for his life in a southern drawl. Add it to the Manning legend.

176 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I think the "Goddammit" was directed at Brown, but then I could have sworn he yelled "Dallas!" to get Clark's attention as a dumpoff option - but Clark was busy blocking and was unaware Manning was under duress.

I replayed it several times because I couldn't see what Clark had done wrong, then finally realized that rather than "Goddammit, Dallas!" it was more like "Goddammit... Dallas!"

No one else heard it that way?

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Pretty funny. I could never speak AND play all-out at the same time, so this is pretty impressive (calling "I got it" on a fly ball is not doing anything all-out). What it reminds me of most of all is the big fight scene in Die Hard between Bruce Willis and Gudenov--Willis, despite fighting desperately for his life, finds the NYer chutzpah and energy to unleash an almost constant stream of profanity. Gut-busting funny. I'd have saved my breath for fighting, but still, my kind of guy.

If next week we hear, "Donald, block that fat cocksucker," you must all bow down and agree that Manning is the most awesome ever.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

One comment on the final touchdown. Dallas has been a sore spot for Minnesota for a long time. It really started because of the either bind or biased officials that took the game from Minnesota and handed it to Dallas in '75. They made 4th and 20 by having a receiver run out of bounds, and then catch a ball when he wasn't covered when he ran back in bounds because the Vikings figured that an illegal catch would not be counted. Then, Drew Pearson knocks Nate Wright to the ground. But, as America's teams, they always have and always will get those calls (like it's OK to hit the QB on a play wistled dead well after the ball leaves his hand if and only if you are the Dallas Cowboys.

The Coyboys were annointed the winners of the game before they stepped onto the field. Any other team, I'd say, just run the clock out. But, against the Coyboys, throwing a 50 yard bomb with 3 seconds left, up 50 points is a good thing. Jerry Jones is the poster child for welfare capitalism after getting the citiziens of Texas to pay for his billion dollar stadium while leaving children without health care to get enough money to do it. They are the only team that deserves to have their face rubbed in their inability to play anywhere close to their abilities. I thought Minnesota would win a close game. The blowout says a lot about a lazy team who expected a game handed to them.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I was at that game in '75, and let me note again that worst aspect of the Pearson touchdown was not the lack of a offensive pass interference call. Pearson's push off was subtle, and guys commonly get away with it today. No, what was awful was that defensive tackle Doug Sutherland had successfully bull-rushed his blocker and would have been on a clear, short, route to a sack, if not for his blocker grabbing Sutherland around the waist as he was falling backward, tackling him. The zebra was looking right at it, and swallowed the whistle, as I was screaming "holding!" from my standing room only spot. I saw FOX run a clip of it during today's game, and they began it with Sutherland laying on top of his blocker, the blocker's arms wrapped around him, as Staubach winds up to throw.

The Vikings could beat the Cowboys a dozen times in the playoffs, and that memory will still linger. No, I'm not bitter. Not me.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Enough with the "throwing their week 16 game" nonsense...they played everybody who was healthy for 2/3'rds of the game, and made the decision before kickoff that significant first stringers would rest after that, particularly on offense...they hoped that they would be up by a lot by that point, but when that didn't happen, they stuck to their plan...that, along with a similar plan in week 17, was one of the major reasons they were fully healthy, fresh and fast for the Ravens on Saturday...their planning successfully helped move them towards their main goal, as their planning in general has helped them reach a lot of their goals for the last decade (of course, not all of them, by a long shot)... since we'll never know if they would have won their divisional game if they had played things differently in weeks 16-17, gratuitous remarks like Mr. Schatz' are laughable...and yes, many Colts fans may be very angry after next week if they lose...explain to me exactly how that wouldn't be true if they got their first loss of the season in the AFC Championship game to Pittsburgh or Houston or anyone else in an alternate universe?

208 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Media fans sparks into flames by predicting that flames will still be there. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

This weekend looked to me, and a SB win would surely be, a validation of the Polian/Caldwell approach, no? Some small % of fans might regret not having a 19-0 record, but the vast majority (and I am thinking 90+%) will look at it and say, well, I guess he was right.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Reggie Bush just did something positive. He does that three times per year, always when I am watching, just to tease me.

This has been several times when a FO staffer has made a similar comment this year. Every time I point out his rushing DVOA; he finished at 30.6% for the year.

He actually started to 'get it' last year (after another slow start) before getting injured and declining again. However, he ran OK early in the year while coming back from surgery. In recent weeks he's actually ran quite well, but Payton has been limiting his runs in the second half of the year.

The biggest change recently wasn't his running; it was his punt returning. He was horrible most of the year before getting some good returns right at the end of the season. Also, his receiving numbers were mediocre throughout: 2.5% DVOA.

Are there any other historic Saints who deserve their numbers retired

Well, the league frowns on retiring numbers, but their are definitely several that should have their names up there. Morten Anderson, Sam Mills, and Willie Roaf are all guys who have a chance for the NFL hall of fame (along with Rickey Jackson), so they should really already be up there.

Supposedly they were supposed to put Sam Mills name up there during the Katrina year, but it obviously was canceled and never rescheduled. Reporters have said that Payton has discouraged the team from having contact with players from previous eras, which is a shame.

Shouldn't they have Pete Maravich's name and number posted wherever the New Orleans Hornets play instead?

Its actually a recognition of Superdome success; the Jazz played in the Superdome while they were in town.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I'll try not to roll my eyes too much at the Jets-Chargers comments ,but that last one by Aaron Schatz really has me shaking my head. If Kaeding had hit 1 of the 2 FG's, how on earth do you know the game would have gone into OT? The Chargers would have kicked away... the Jets would have returned it and the strategy would have been totally different for both teams. Maybe the Jets would have won in regulation or maybe the Chargers might have won! But that's an incredibly short-sighted comment. I found the link to this site in the NY Times FifthDown blog tweets. Uh....... well I'll leave it at that!

37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Ah yes, the mysteries underlying the Trousers of Time.

Aaron's comment was pretty generic. I think it's justifiable to assign blame to a kicker who missed three field goals, two of which were ordinarily in his range. Kaeding is, after all, the Pro Bowl kicker.

Yes, maybe if Kaeding had made a FG instead of missing it, the Jets would have somehow managed to score more points. But maybe they would have scored fewer. In terms of "presuming the rest of the game would be played similarly", talking about a missed FG really isn't all that bad. Especially when you're talking about a missed FG in the fourth quarter. The Jets probably would have gotten the ball at about the same place, and etc., etc.

If this kind of comment really, really bothers you, well, perhaps there's something odd at your end. I don't think it makes sense to call the comment "short-sighted".

259 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

In this case, I think it's clear that the Jets wouldn't have eased off their coverage of the SD recievers on their second TD drive with about 5 minutes remaining had Kaeding made one of his FG attempts, thus making it a one-score game.

If SD were only down by 7 during that drive, there's certainly a chance that they tie the game right there, but I argue that it's a significantly smaller chance than their chance of scoring a TD in the position they were actually in, where the Jets are primarily interested in making SD run off as much clock as possible.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I agree. If people want to play the randomness card for Nate Kaeding, then you could play the same card with the fact that there were 3 SD fumbles within their own 30, and all 3 were recovered by the Chargers, along with the Floyd non-fumble. If even 1 of those 3 fumbles would have gone to the Jets, you can assume that would have been 3 points, probably canceling out one of the missed kicks

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I wish I could highlight this comment in red because I guaranty that no one will pay any attention to the fumbles and the story will be about the Jets unbelievable luck. It was very lucky that Kaeding missed two makeable kicks. But it was also extremely luckly that the Chargers recovered all three fumbles deep in their own end.

I actually thought the refs got the Floyd call right.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

First, I'd be remiss to not start with: 'Go f*ckin' Vikes!!!'

Having said that - I thought they had a chance at home against Dallas, assuming the defense looked more like their early-season form (check) and the O-line opened holes for the run (not check). The defense did so well that the utter lack of a run game was surmountable.

I don't expect New Orleans to have the same issue(s) with the Vikings' pass rush, unfortunately. So perhaps I'll either have my expectations met, or be pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Should be good, anyhow (probably Saints by 2-3 possessions).

Colts-Jets, on the other hand...oy vey. Now they get to see what happens when Manning and Company stay in the whole game. Probably not high-scoring, but I can't see how NYJ wins (of course, I didn't think they had a chance in San Diego).

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Minnesota's defence in the Dome has been dominant every game with the exception of two 4th quarters against GB and Balt when they were nursing 17 and 16 pt leads.

GB and Balt are much better teams than Minnesota. I think GB is the second best team in the NFC.

NO had one huge advantage on Arz - 14 days rest vs 6. Minnesota had a similar edge on Dall but it was 14 to 8.

Arizona looked like a tired team to me.

189 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

And they gave the Cowboys just six days of rest to play the Eagles the previous week and the Jets six to play Cincy and gave small market Arizona, GB, and Baltimore seven days of rest. That's three large market teams with 6 the previous week verses 3 small market with 7. I think it is entirely random.

220 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I think the NFL tries to 'reward' the higher-seeded teams with the most beneficial scheduling. Note that, come next Sunday, the #1 seeds will have each had an extra day of rest/prep before hosting the #2/#5 seeds. That is seen as more critical than, say, the difference between 13 days off and 14 days off with the first-round bye.

It's just how the NFL does playoffs.

As for leading into the playoffs, I don't think any extra rest was intentional, since the playoff teams can't be predicted when the season scheds are announced.

226 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Unless there was a change this season, the seeds have nothing to do with which teams play which day.

For example, in last year's divisional round, the AFC #1 Titans played the early Saturday game, while the NFC #1 Giants played the late Sunday game.

The year prior, the AFC #1 Patriots played the late Saturday game, while the NFC #1 Cowboys played the late Sunday game.

And the year before that, both #1 seeds (Bears and Chargers) played on Sunday.

My guess is that the schedule is driven primarily by TV ratings.

249 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Exactly this. More people watch football on Sundays than Saturdays, both because Sunday is the expected football day and because people go out more on Saturdays than Sundays, even during the daytime. A NY team and Dallas are in the divisional rounds? Put them on Sunday to maximize ratings. That's the long and short of the thought process, I think.

You could argue that they should put the bigger draws on the weaker day in order to get the most out of that weaker day, and that having the Jets and Cowboys on Sunday and (presumably) get better ratings is just self-fulfilling prophecy, but that's thinking well beyond the capabilities of television stations. See also: interleague play in baseball. Those games are only played in the warmer months, and the biggest match-ups (the "natural rivalries") are always on weekends. With those two facts in mind, is it that surprising Interleague play shows higher attendance figures than normal games? Wouldn't summer games on the weekend draw more regardless? What happens if that Twins-Pirates match-up was in April rather than June, how would it fair then? (a nod to Joe Sheehan for making this point first).

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Manning actually screamed "G-D it, Donald!" at Donald Brown on that play. My wife and I watched it over and over, laughing. Brown apparently didn't know what play had been called and it appeared from the replay that Peyton was expecting him to take the handoff but didn't. Rookies.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I've been wondering all day--does knowing that Prince was here today make up for knowing that [Vikings QB] was here today?

Okay, so I only wondered for about 30 seconds. Then realized that Buck and Simms were also here.

I could have moved to Delaware instead.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I apparently got my overrated-NFC-East-QB-turned-incredibly-stupid-broadcasters confused. Buck and Aikman were here. Simms would be even worse.

And yes, I know it means I'm the world's biggest moron that I don't have all of the broadcast teams memorized, so no one needs to tell me (though I'm sure some will anyway).

184 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

You're not a moron. Your comment is very funny considering you mock two announcers for being incredibly stupid, but then in a sarcastic manner try to deflect your ignorance of the no. 1 broadcasting teams. It's an honest flub, which is similar to some flubs they make. These guys have to come up with instant analysis in a live setting for 3 hours. God fobid they make a mistake. I wouldn't say Aikman/Simms are dumb, better phrase is incredibly annoying (Simms moreso than Aikman). Simms was decent Sunday as he wasnt afraid to criticize Rivers/Sanchez which was a 1st for him w/QBs. Mayeb Simms not doing Colts or Pats games is a superior analyst to Pats/Colts games Simms.

Aikman is always accused of being partisan, but does anyone else think Aikman secretly enjoys seeing Romo fail in the postseason even as he 'earns' Dallas passing records?

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"I'm blown away by the fact that the three games so far have all been blowouts. I thought these matchups were really close."

Even if all the matchups were exactly 100% even with such a small sample size three blow outs would be completely normal. I know everyone takes the hyperbole up a notch in the playoffs, but lets not forget that each of these matchups is a sample size of 1.

41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"...is a sample size of 1".

Actually, it's a sporting competition. It's not a random distribution. So it's not a sample size at all.

(And, FWIW, calling it "a sample size of 1" dismisses the importance of playing 60 minutes of football. It's not like each offense gets exactly one series. When a team goes out and beats another team by several TDs, that's a good sign that the winning team is superior in a significant way.)

274 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Yes, but football isn't baseball. The fact that there's a game clock and fluid field position means that the individual series are coupled.

When a team goes out and beats another team by several TDs, that's a good sign that the winning team is superior in a significant way

Definitely true, but most people don't realize how much a team needs to win by. A lot of that is just the fact that scores are so much in football - a win by 10 seems like a lot, but really, it's not that much.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today."

Vince, come on man. Dallas gets more credit in beating themselves than Vikings?

A. Field goals were irrelevant. B. No major scores came off "dumb" turnovers. C. Dallas had a whopping 2 penalties from a crew who gave out the most this year (and who's head judge is from Texas). D. The Vikings may have had even worse play calling (see end of half clock management and every unsuccessful 2 yard screen on third and long.) E. And the Viking defenders were not unblocked, they simply outplayed their opponent, like the better team does. And so clearly did here.

But y'know... Dallas did give the Vikings homefield in the first place... so I'll give you that.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"So long as both teams have penalties, they offset"

so... once both teams have personal fouls, go ahead and do anything that doesn't get you ejected, right?

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

It's worse than that. Once your own team has a personal foul, do whatever you want. Getting 65 personal fouls is not worse than getting one personal foul.

But it's even worse than that.

If you manage to start a fight after your team committed a personal foul, with luck somebody on the other team will retaliate, and you will have succeeded in getting an offsetting penalty called, essentially wiping out your personal foul.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I was thinking that. Some team should have Bill Romanowski on their roster. Once there's an offsetting penalty just have him run on to the pitch (or across it if you're on offense) and take out the opposing QB at the knees. If he gets ejected, who cares, and its not costing your team yardage is it?

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Definitely not: Heyward, Muncie, Rogers, Chandler.

More not: Eric Martin, Bobby Hebert, Dalton Hilliard, Tommy Myers, Tom Dempsey, Mel Gray, Wayne Martin, Aaron Brook, Jim Mora, Mike Ditka, Bum Phillips, Hoby Brenner, Frank Warren, Jim Wilks, Dave Waymer, Tony Galbreath, Billy Kilmer, Hokie Gajan.

Yes: Roaf, Andersen, Mills.

Maybe: Swilling, Deuce, Abramowicz, Dombrowski.

The problem is that the Saints haven't had a lot of outstanding career players. Look at who owns a lot of their team career stats. It's not exactly a who's who of NFL greats.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nor/

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Singling out the Witten vs. Jared Allen matchup seems like a cheap shot on Witten to me. There aren't alot of linemen who can go up against Allen 1v1, unless you were calling out the playcalling, in which case yes, it was retarded.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Hey, I expected the Cowboys to win also, although I did say that the Vikings had a chance because the Dallas offensive line could have trouble in a noisy dome. Yeah, they had a chance, all right.

It is ridiculous, however, to say that the Cowboys beat themselves. When you are keeping six guys in to pass block, and the other guys are rushing four, and you are getting your ass handed to you, no, you are not beating yourself. You are simply getting bludgeoned as badly as leased horse-donkey hybrids are ever bludgeoned. As was noted above, what was really odd was that a normally flag happy crew swallowed their whistles, which prevented the Cowboys' offense from looking even more futile. Flozell Adams may have hurt his knee by applying too much torque to it while blatantly holding; he could have been flagged three times in the first quarter alone. I'd say the zebra behavior was suspicious, if it weren't for the fact that they probably should have flagged Sidney Rice on his 2nd touchdown pass, when he initially blocked Ware below the waist. Really strange, and it warrants some questions during the league's mid week discussion of all matters black and white.

I wouldn't be surprised by any team's victory next Sunday, but for the Vikings to win, they need a better performance from their offensive line. The Vikings won't win a track meet on the road, so they need to have some time consuming drives which end in touchdowns, which means forcing the Saints secondary to do what they are bad at, meaning run support. If Ray Edwards is hurt, of course, that will be a significant loss to the Vikings, even though Robison is an effective pass rusher.

Regarding other issues, Joe Buck is certainly a moron. Also, I turned away from the television for a moment, and didn't see the dividing line, and for a millisecond I thought Bud Grant was sharing a box with Prince, therefore Hell had indeed frozen over. Finally, I am going to go nuts, and say something nice about Jerry Jones. It was classy of him to meet The Zombie King at midfield, and offer his congratulations.

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

No, the onside kick by the Chargers WAS dumb, because one of the things it does, if the Chargers don't recover, is it allows the Jets to comfortably adopt a four-down strategy. Rex Ryan is one wild and crazy guy, but I guarantee you he ain't going for it on fourth and two from his own 28.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Having had a few hours to calm down, I thought I should more carefully state my opinion of Dallas and Minnesota.

From Week 1 to Week 18, Dallas and Minnesota were both very good teams. I think Dallas was slightly better than Minnesota over that span, but that's just my opinion. Many will agree, many will disagree, including other writers of this site.

From the first week of December to the Wild Card games, I think Dallas was better than Minnesota. That's just my opinion, although I think most impartial observers would agree.

Yesterday, Minnesota was obviously much better than Dallas. Nobody is arguing otherwise. So the question becomes, did Minnesota suddenly start playing better, or did Dallas suddenly start to play worse? The answer is probably "both," but more of the latter, I think. Again, that's just my opinion.

DVOA backs me up on this. Minnesota's DVOA for the game was 75%. That ties the first Green Bay game for their highest DVOA of the year, but they were higher than 60% on two other occasions. Considering the stakes, this was the best they've played this year, but it was not much better than their previous high points.

Dallas' DVOA yesterday was -67%. They only posted one other negative DVOA all year, -26% against Denver back in Week Four. This was the worst the Cowboys played all year, by an enormous margin.

If Dallas had played as well as they were capable of yesterday, maybe they would have won, maybe Minnesota would have won anyway, for sure it would have been more fun to watch. But they didn't, and that frustrated me, and I was venting that frustration.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

You're certainly beating this one to death.

If FO's stats are wrong about the NFC East, then so are Brian Burke's ( Philly 4th in the NFL, Dallas 5th, Giants 7th) and Doug Drinen's (Cowboys 4th in NFL).

Almost every competent team in 2009 had some weird losses and a handful of stomps over weak opponents. What DVOA has shown us this year is that the top teams are pretty much all bunched together. So far, home-field advantage and a bye week have made the difference in the playoffs.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

The supposed "hotness" of the Cowboys though came from consecutive wins against a crippled Eagles team, the Deadskins, and a coasting Saints team that pretty much had things wrapped up (but not clinched). Prior to their 4 game streak were losses to the Chargers and the Giants, who completed the season sweep over Dallas, and both of whom were playing for postseason spots.

162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I would think it obvious that looking to this season's DVOA of the Cowboys is not very instructive to analyzing this game because of the injury to Flozell. The game was over when that happened.

I think the two teams are relatively even-matched when at full strength. The two long TD passes to Rice were simply perfect throws into quite good coverage and helped swing the game into a blowout. Playing from behind without your starting left tackle is going to be tough and is not necessarily indicative of how you play in a close game with your starting left tackle healthy.

Minnesota won.

The most frustrating thing for me in talking about sports is the idea that winning proves that a team is "better." It proves they won. It proves they scored more points that particular day with that particular roster. That's what it proves. It may also go a long way to "proving" that one team is better, but there's a reason why sports that can have seven game series to determine the winner. If someone had watched the Pistons completely destroy the Spurs in games 3 and 4 of the 2005 NBA Finals (96-79 and 102-71) but no other games in the series, that person would be convinced to his dying day that not only were the Pistons better, but that it wasn't even close. Of course, the Spurs had demolished the Pistons in games 1 and 2. The Spurs also ended up winning two of the last three tight games and taking the championship, and no matter how awful they looked in games 3 and 4, they have the rings now.

I'd rather win than have ammunition for a debate about who's better, but that's just my preference.

174 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Well, just my purely anecdotal $0.02: It has seemed this season that this year's NFL games had a tendency to "snowball" - in that two reasonably closely matched teams often wound up in a blowouts after one team jumped out to an early lead. Maybe because of all the offense this year? I dunno, that's just what it seemed like to me. The playoffs so far are bearing that out, with only 2 close games out of 8.

FWIW, I did think going in that the Cowboys and Vikes were close - I thought DAL was a little better but the home field evened things up and it was anyone's game. The Flozell injury was obviously huge, but then I had also been thinking it was fairly improbable that Dallas's humongous, aging OL had stayed this healthy all season thus far.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Eight playoff games and not one of the teams I wanted to win has managed to do so.

That’s 0-8 then.

Although I’m still praying for the Saints to beat the Jets in the Superbowl, based on my atrocious record so far, we’re fast approaching my doomsday scenario of the Vikings and the Colts both winning next week and causing the media to spontaneously combust for two weeks. It will also place me in the uncomfortable position of wanting the Colts to win a game.

If you’re a betting man I think you can safely bet on the Vikings to win this year which will cap the most disappointing season I can remember in 27 years of watching……possibly made worse by the initial hope generated by a 3-1 start by the 49ers. Probably just me though.

45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I guess I'm the only one on earth who thinks the first TD pass to Rice was anything but perfectly thrown. I was hoping that someone here might agree with that.

Seems to me that any DB that was actually paying attention not only defends that but easily intercepts it. A perfectly thrown deep ball would not have been so far to the inside. I thought it was an amazing catch by Rice and an even more amazing pre-catch reaction, namely that he didn't widen his eyes or reach his arms or give any other tell. He just ran until it got there, reached around and grabbed it.

It seems like Dallas's DBs are turned away from the ball more than any other team. Almost every time I watch them I end up yelling at Newman for doing it. I think it was earlier this year when a badly underthrown ball (MUCH worse than this case) by Eli Manning was caught anyway for a TD because Newman wasn't paying attention.

I was actually much more impressed by the 2nd Rice TD pass. He was moving forward quite quickly and that's the kind of throw that is super easy to float over a head. Perfect touch there.

Anyway, I know I'm extremely anti-Viking QB and am thus looking somewhat hard this year to find holes in his game (and being constantly thwarted), but I thought the universal gushing over that throw was completely unnecessary. The more impressive part was the fact that he hung in there when he was about to get his face bashed in.

But maybe I'm wrong about that. I do know I'm not wrong to call him an awful selfish primadonna though. After the third TD he was actively and obviously looking around for the cameras to mug to for his happy dance down the field.

157 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

The defensive back defending Rice on that play was a safety. Safeties usually are not well-schooled in runniang down the sideline one on one with a receiver, like corners do all the time. I can nearly guarantee that Favre recognized the mismatch, which is why he threw the ball there. Given the skill levels of the two players involved, it was a perfect throw. Against a good cornerback, it wouldn't have been, but the defender in that situation was not a good cornerback.

192 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I find it very hard to believe Favre did notice that. Pre Snap Newman was lined up on him with Sensebaugh shaded over to his side. After the snap Favre has a guy in his face very quickly so I doubt he would have had time to see who was in coverage. He did make the throw when the receiver was open but coverage got back by the time the ball got there which makes me think he waited a little too long on the throw. I think Rice made it happen though without giving the tell. All things considered I think the throw was probably a good decision given when he released the ball but he could have gotten in trouble with it.

225 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I agree with this even without seeing the diagram. That was an easy read and the route was designed to get him against a safety. There was one camera angle from the backfield that showed Sensabaugh cheating up one step before he released the ball, at which point Rice already had a step on him.

I suppose part of the reason he never turned around or saw the ball was because it was quite an effort for him to even get as close as he did.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"Aaron Schatz: Or Troy Brown. When is Ed Reed going to learn to hold on to the damn football when he is returning a pick? Didn't he make a stupid lateral attempt on a pick return in the first Ravens-Colts game?

Doug Farrar: Boy, how sick am I of Dan Dierdorf’s rhetorical questions?"

That made me laugh.

Alright, no comment on Phil Simms "Nothing could go wrong with that Kaeding 57 yards attempt except someone returning for a TD" or something like that ? It was quite hilarious.

I still can't understand the "rusty" debate. Every team has a bye week during the season, and I don't think they come back "rusty" from it (I even think A.Reid for example is undefeated after BYE weeks). The Chargers weren't rusty, they didn't turn those first half 220 yards into points, they tried to run for the sake of it too much, they made some mistakes, while the Jets made none and the green archipelago defense (FO IRC rocks) played lights out.

Vikings : I loved the DL stunt with R.Edwards looping inside called to stop the Cowboys draw. Great playcalling. I was really, really surprised to see no WR screen called for the Cowboys, as it worked great recently (WR screen/draw combo was deadly vs Eagles).

Those last 3 Cowboys game really makes me think that gameplanning was a huge factor in those Cowboys - Eagles games (many Eagles players pointed out that the Cowboys knew their plays).

238 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"The Chargers weren't rusty, they didn't turn those first half 220 yards into points, they tried to run for the sake of it too much."

Again, 15 runs to 45 passes. They did not run the ball enough, which permitted the Jets to key in on their passing offense, particularly as the field shortened.

Chargers need to draft an O-Line to get some rush blockers in there. LT had zero holes.

246 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

They ran fewer than 10 carries in the first half. I don't see how you can be successful with single-digit rushes, even the Patriots call more runs.

What the Chargers needed are more successful rushing plays. Play away from the strengths of the Jets, and run draws and off tackle pitch outs. Norv has NEVER done pitch outs in all the years that he was a coach, a bread and butter play under Cam Cameron and Marty. Norv doesn't have the OLine for his power running game, not since Lo Neal left, so it's up to him to go to the front office and get some beef. OL + DL folks and get as much beef as possible.

Oh, and get rid of Sproles. They have a ridiculous 12 million tied up in their run game.

48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Oh, and Brian Burke analysis of the onside/kick deep debate : http://www.advancednflstats.com/2010/01/end-game-decisions-in-jets-chargers.html

He fails to take into consideration effectiveness of a deep kick while the Jets were expecting an onside, and both teams strenghts/weaknesses (run game vs run defense), but overall makes the case for kicking deep.

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

I strongly disagreed with the on-side kick. This is not as though this was the Green Bay/Steelers game a few weeks ago (where both offenses were just killing it). You cannot be too afraid of the Jets offense. Further, one of the unintended consequences of the on-side kick is that you put them in the position to go for it on fourth down, which they would never have done on their own 30 yard line.

Sure enough, being able to go for (and convert) that fourth down won the game for them.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Do you think the Jets go for it on say 4th and 3 in that situation?

It's not 4-down territory unless the defense (by not stopping the run) put them in 4 down territory by creating a very makeable 4th and 2 feet or so. Turner was right in that his defense couldn't stop the run--hadn't all year, hadn't yesterday, and when they desperately needed a stop gave up 9+ yards on 3 running plays when everyone in the world knew what was coming.

Why automatically put the game in the hands of a defense without giving yourself a chance at the onside kick?

169 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

No, I do not think that the Jets would have gone for it on fourth down if it was fourth and three. But that is not entirely my point. The point is that if it were fourth and short from their 30 yard line, the Jets would have been forced to punt there. From the San Diego side of the field.....obviously, not so much.

239 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

"Turner was right in that his defense couldn't stop the run--hadn't all year, hadn't yesterday, and when they desperately needed a stop gave up 9+ yards on 3 running plays when everyone in the world knew what was coming."

Prior to the long run, the Chargers had given up 80 yards rushing on 25 carries. This statement makes no sense. The FO guys correctly recognised that the Chargers were stuffing the Jets run game very successfully throughout the first 3 quarters.

251 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Well I didn't realize we got to cherry pick our stats because the long run has to count for something. If we remove the failed Wildcat play, the end around to Cotchery, the 4-yard loss off a blitz, and the goalline run that netted a yard, you get 21 carries for 86 yards (based on your stats above).

I certainly didn't feel the Chargers could stop the Jets' "in the box" run game. And when it mattered, they didn't.

52 The "running up the score" TD vs the COwboys

Just been rewatching this. The Vikings set up with 2 TEs on the offensive left (Kleinsasser next to McKinnie, Shiancoe outside him), Rice close on the right, AD and Tahi (I assume) in the backfield in I formation.

Kleinsasser and Tahi stay in to block, so there are only 3 receivers, and they run basically a 'flood left' pattern. AD runs into the left flat, Rice cuts left across the field pretty much along the 1st down marker (just beyond it, 'cos he's got more sense than to run short of the 1st down marker on a 4th down attempt ), and Shiancoe runs up the field to the endzone and them cuts to the left corner.

I'd say the design was for Shiancoe to draw the defender out of the short left zone, while Rice occupies the middle as he comes across to the left, leaving AD hopefully open in the flat for the 1st down. Favre seems to look to AD first. They weren't actually planning a shot at the end zone; it just happens that the defense succesfully covered Rice and AD around the 1st down line, but let Shiancoe get open in the end zone.

The Vikings were only going for it on 4th because they didn't care about scoring more points (the FG) - they wanted to burn the clock, and going for it on 4th with the chance of running off another few minutes of clock with another set of downs was worth the possible turnover on downs. So the play call makes sense - flood the short left and go for the 1st down and burn more clock. But the only open guy was in the end zone. Ah well, sometimes you just have to take what the defense gives you :D

123 Re: The "running up the score" TD vs the COwboys

I can't read anyone's mind, and try to avoid doing so, but generally speaking, when everyone is getting paid a lot of money to do their best, then the entire playbook ought to be available on every snap. If Brees does the same to the Vikings next week, then the Vikings should have avoided being in that situation. I said the same thing when people were getting all bothered by the Patriots hanging 50 on people a couple of years ago. I thought Jimmy Johnson's post game remarks on the topic were about right.

151 Re: The "running up the score" TD vs the COwboys

I agreed with Johnson as well and was actually surprised by Bradshaw's take on the situation. I really don't sense most players (especially at the NFL level) worry about late scores that aren't necessary, although I could be wrong.

The Cowboys hadn't waved the white flag on offense (2 efforts at 4th down conversions in their own territory). They had used all of their timeouts on defense to extend the game. As I stated before, if Dallas is running their entire offensive package, why are the Vikings getting criticized for doing something similar?

197 Re: The "running up the score" TD vs the COwboys

It should. And if the Vikings are running the Cowboys should feel free to bring the house and slam Favre to the ground on every pass play. After all they're just playing the game. I'd like to see more teams do this whenever teams run up the score. No whining about it afterwords just slam their QB to the ground on every play until they stop. Unless they are dumb they'll stop really quick.

213 Re: The "running up the score" TD vs the COwboys

It should. And if the Vikings are running the Cowboys should feel free to bring the house and slam Favre to the ground on every pass play. After all they're just playing the game. I'd like to see more teams do this whenever teams run up the score. No whining about it afterwords just slam their QB to the ground on every play until they stop. Unless they are dumb they'll stop really quick.

So, basically, you're advocating cheap shots and potential injury to an opposing player because the people that played defense for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon completely, totally, and utterly sucked at their jobs for three hours? Because they weren't good enough to stop the Viking offense and the Viking offense had the nerve to not stop themselves?

Seriously, are you Keith Brooking?

55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Aaron:

Dave Dixon was the idea man behind the Superdome. John Mecom was the original Saints owner. We would have done better if anyone else had been the original owner.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Manning's accuracy was just astounding at points in that game.

How does Ray Lewis not get a rep as a dirty player when he regularly takes shots at the head? And at the worst possible times as earlier this year he helped the Bengals beat the Ravens by assaulting Chad Johnson on a pass across the middle for no good purpose other than to be malicious.

The San Diego punter sure did his part yesterday.

The Jets tackled incredibly well. Just a great job.

Did the Vikings install some sort of harmonic device around the 35 yard line that shook the ball loose from Romo early in the game? That was just weird.

Ray Edwards is better than Allen. Or at least he has been the last 6-8 games.

Was the Cardinals punt coverage planned to be a picket fence approach? I had never seen that before. Because boy does it not work if one guy doesn't make a tackle.

I loved the Saints tossing the kitchen sink at Warner. I wonder if Dom Capers was awake long enough to take notes........

217 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Agreed. The hit was at shoulder level to a WR catching the ball, and no other type of hit could have likely broken up the pass. Defenseless receivers are usually jumping to catch a ball over their heads with their entire torso exposed, not stretched out horizontally 3 feet off the ground.

222 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

A blow to the head or a poke in the eye might have broken up the play. Something being the only type of hit that would break of the pass should have no bearing on the legality of the hit.

That being said I think the hit was clean. Just don't agree with the argument.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Divisional Round

Vince Verhei - "This has been the most frustrating game of the playoffs for me. I thought Dallas would win, which was obviously wrong. But I feel like they've beaten themselves as much as the Vikings have. Missed field goals, dumb turnovers, bad penalties, unblocked defenders, poor play-calling ... this may be sour grapes, but it seems to me that the better team just didn't show up today."

Vince NFC East have sucked all year. You and many others got all wrapped up in stats accumulated by teams playing each other and presuming those teams were any good (Dall, Phil, NYG, SD, and Den).

The NFC East vs DVOA top 15 other than playing each other:

4-12 and negative 151 pts. 2 of those wins were against Carolina when Carolina was awful.

AFC West against top 15 DVOA teams other than NFC East and each other

1-6 negative 68 points

The top teams NFC East and AFC West top teams were simply not on the same level of the rest of the leagues top teams. I suggested this back in mid December. Yesterday pretty much cemented the case.