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

Audibles at the Line: Week 15

compiled by Bill Barnwell

Each Sunday, 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.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Thursday, December 9

San Francisco 49ers 7 at San Diego Chargers 34

Bill Barnwell: Has there been a single successful play in the first quarter besides the Vincent Jackson touchdown? I'm impressed by how the Niners have been getting pressure on the Chargers without blitzing, with an Aubrayo Franklin sack coming on a three-man rush.

Aaron Schatz: Second quarter, 49ers get another chance to score a TD thanks to a Leverage penalty, Alex Smith scramble TD is overturned so now they are down at the six-inch line. They handed to Anthony Dixon, who got stiffed in the backfield because nobody was blocking MLB Brandon Siler. Now my question is, why not a sneak there? Why not just let Smith audible to a sneak? We're talking SIX INCHES, and because Siler was two steps back and right behind the nose tackle, there was space on either side to sneak it between the center and either guard. Giving Siler the space to get the momentum to take down Dixon also would give the 49ers the space to sneak it the necessary six inches.

Bill Barnwell: The decision to take the points off the board is right. You're already down seven points and your expectation there with a new set of downs is going to exceed four points.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not sure why there's all this controversy about "taking points off the board." If you would rather have a 38-yard field goal than first-and-goal from the 10, why don't you just bring on the field goal unit whenever your team crosses into the red zone, no matter what the down-and-distance?

Bill Barnwell: One way to ensure that you'll struggle to get pressure with three is to get your best defensive end ejected. The Chargers are lining Jackson up a lot in the slot, getting him in man coverage versus Clements. On the third down play before the field goal, it was actually remarkable how focused Rivers was on Jackson; he stared him down as he ran a crossing route from the far hashmark all the way to the near sideline. Almost worked, too.

Sunday, December 12

Kansas City Chiefs 27 at St. Louis Rams 13

Ben Muth: St. Louis gets the ball and marches right down the field. That is, until back to back false starts on third and one from the ten. The Rams end up kicking the field goal.

Bill Barnwell: Moeaki and Bowe line up in the slot together. Moeaki runs a curl. Bowe runs a dig. They run at the same route depth. Matt Cassel stares them both down. Bowe attempts to leverage Moeaki. The result is an interception. What this has to do with an appendix, I'm not sure.

Aaron Schatz: I understand that certain penalties are tough to call, human error and the difficulty of watching 11 players and all that. But the refs in the Kansas City game just called an illegal formation on Kansas City because Tony Moeaki was not up on the line of scrimmage. We rewound the visual and Moeaki sure looked up on the line of scrimmage to me. It seems to me that it is pretty easy to avoid illegal formations but it should be even easier to avoid mistakenly penalizing legal formations.

Bill Barnwell: Kevin Dockery is the Hank Poteat of Giants castoffs.

Vince Verhei: Midway through the third, appendix-less Matt Cassel has 25 total passes and runs, while stud runner Jamal Charles has six carries. Is playcalling really that hard?

Aaron Schatz: Announcers talking about how Jamaal Charles gains yardage so effortlessly. Perhaps this is the answer to our questions -- he looks like he's not running that hard, which leads Todd Haley to think he's not running that hard, whereas Thomas Jones looks like he's trying REALLY HARD when he gets one yard.

Charles for 80 yards, Thomas Jones for two and a touchdown. Literally this is the example I give in the book each year as to why TDs are overrated. Next year, I don't even need to make up names. I can just use these two plays.

Bill Barnwell: The Chiefs got a classic "Why are you catching this pass" interception from Kendrick Lewis on a fourth-and-20 bomb up 14 points with three minutes left. Cost them 30 yards of field position.

Arizona Cardinals 12 at Carolina Panthers 19

Ben Muth: Arizona just tried an onside kick to open the second half. Feely didn't kick it ten yards and hilariously dropped to his knees when he realized it. Panther ball.

Doug Farrar: John Skelton: The worst Combine quarterback I have ever seen.

Aaron Schatz: What's really odd about John Skelton is that the dude is from El Paso. How do you find your way from El Paso to Fordham? And he has a young brother who's also at Fordham, apparently a much better tight end prospect than Skelton is a quarterback prospect.

Ben Muth: The Cardinals are getting it handed to them by the 2010 Carolina Panthers. It's 19-3 and the score is misleading, Panthers should be up more.

Philadelphia Eagles 38 at New York Giants 31

Mike Tanier: That Jason Pierre-Paul kid gets better every week. He just got sky high to bat down a third down ball.

David Gardner: Mario Manningham seems like he's having his way with Dmitri Patterson early in this game. Eli Manning has even missed him a couple of times when he's been open.

And right on cue (although the opposite of the way these things normally work for me), Manning launches a floater to Manningham for a touchdown, even after he was interfered with.

Vince Verhei: Eagles defense looked incredibly soft on the Giants' last TD drive. Runs up the middle were gaining five-ish yards most of the time, and the corners were giving up huge cushions, allowing easy completions on hooks and curls. Manningham took the last curl, slipped a couple tackles and scored from 33 yards out.

Michael Vick just handed Justin Tuck a sack on third down. Tuck was taking a wide loop around the right tackle. It looked like Vick had room to step up and inside the tackle and take off to the right, but instead he tried to go outside and ran right into Tuck. That was a Jim Mora-era Vick play.

Mike Tanier: Dear refs: please call one out of each of the dozen flagrant holds the Giants commit. Thank you. I mean, Jacobs just made sweet love to a blitzing linebacker.

Vince Verhei: Eagles with the Cowboys-Week 1-end-of-half-clock management. They get the ball with 40-ish seconds left. First down, Vick escapes a sack and scrambles for a gain of one. Clock's running, so I figure they just let it run down or dive into the line. No, Vick calls a hurry-up play and hits a pass to Maclin, but Maclin fumbles and the Giants run the ball back inside the 10. Manning gets his third touchdown pass on the next play with seconds to spare. This is the worst the Eagles have looked all year.

Aaron Schatz: Whoo-ha, what blown coverage on Jeremy Maclin's touchdown to make the Eagles game 24-10. The entire right side of the field had no Giants on it.

Mike Tanier: Nothing I am watching makes any sense right now (DeSean's fumble is one of 90 things that make no sense to me,)

David Gardner: Yeah, that certainly wasn't a fumble. He was touched on the way to the ground, and he only fumbled after his elbow was down. But Reid was too indecisive.

Brent Celek just got a long touchdown for the Eagles, assisted in a big way by Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, who held their blocks and helped him get into the end zone.

And then they follow that up with a surprise onside kick caught by Riley Cooper.

Bill Barnwell: Giants are going with three down linemen on this final drive, including Pierre-Paul as the nose tackle and (at least on a couple of plays) the spy for Vick.

Aaron Schatz: Matt Dodge punts with 14 seconds left. Poor snap by Zak DeOssie, then Dodge punts it right on a line to DeSean Jackson. And Jackson muffs the punt, but picks it up... and scores the game-winning touchdown with time running out.

Tom Coughlin screaming at Dodge "I wanted it out of bounds." Matt Dodge will be unemployed tomorrow.

Tom Gower: I do not believe what I just saw.

Mike Tanier: Don't think I will have a lot of value to add after the Miracle of the Meadowlands II. Too busy going aaaaahhhhhhhhhhh.

Bill Barnwell: Our friend Sheil Kapadia pointed out the huge block on the Jackson return by Omar Gaither; Gaither blocked one Giants player into two others, basically taking out three Giants with one block. Game Rewind isn't active as I write this, but it's really a remarkable thing to see. He absolutely springs Jackson's run. And I'm pretty sure that Jackson isn't taunting at the end of that play, as I've seen some people suggest; I figure he's (incorrectly) assuming there's time left on the clock to run out.

Detroit Lions 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

David Gardner: Dear Bucs,

I appreciate your use of zone blitzes. They're exciting to watch. However, please burn the play that involves Stylez G. White covering Calvin Johnson 10 yards off the line of scrimmage.

Thank you.

Kellen Winslow just had a preposterous touchdown catch in which he and C.C. Brown were holding each other. Winslow didn't even jump, he just turned and caught it nonchalantly. He got flagged for offensive pass interference.

Myron Lewis just had a huge pass break up in the end zone against Calvin Johnson, forcing the Lions to take it to overtime with the field goal rather than win with the score.

Cleveland Browns 17 at Cincinnati Bengals 19

Bill Barnwell: Browns just scored on a play where they lined up with three down linemen in the center of the field and trips bunch on either side of the hashmarks. That includes John St. Clair split out wide as the left tackle and whoever the right tackle is lined up in a trips bunch right. It freed up Robert Royal for a touchdown on a go route, which might be the most amazing thing of all. Of course, the Bengals didn't bother to call timeout.

Mike Tanier: They found it in the appendix of the playbook.

(Note: Mike Tanier diagrams and discusses this play here.)

Rob Weintraub: The key to the game was TO getting hurt and going out on Cincy's first drive. Free to run their pound it with Cedric Benson attack without trying to get the ball downfield to Owens, the Bengals flashed back to last year and hammered the Browns. Carson Palmer was actually decent--he didn't have to throw much, and made some uncannily accurate throws when he did. Only the usual red zone ineptitude kept it from being a rout. Victory! Hallelujah! Now it's time to ruin San Diego and Baltimore's playoff push.

Buffalo Bills 17 at Miami Dolphins 14

David Gardner: Stevie Johnson gets flagged for offensive pass interference on a touchdown catch when he was open anyway. On the next play, Fitzpatrick finds David Nelson in the middle of the end zone. Same result for the Bills. Not the same result for my fantasy team, which Johnson has been killing lately.

Washington Redskins 30 at Dallas Cowboys 33

Mike Tanier: Jon Kitna QB draw. Burn this play! Burn this play!

Aaron Schatz: I'm officially frustrated by the Redskins' yellow gloves. I keep thinking there's a flag on the play.

David Gardner: Don't look now, but Sexy Rexy just threw a touchdown pass. It was a screen to Torain, who did most of the work, but still. Sad times.

Aaron Schatz: Rex Grossman now has four touchdowns.

Two plays ago, he had Santana Moss wide open in the end zone when both Terence Newman and Michael Jenkins were mesmerized by the sight of Anthony Armstrong. Grossman double hopped, then overthrew Moss by like ten yards over his head.

But he did get it to Chris Cooley on the next play. Again, four touchdowns. Four. Rex Grossman.

Doug Farrar: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Dallas Cowboys pass defense!

Jacksonville Jaguars 24 at Indianapolis Colts 34

Aaron Schatz: Austin Collie straight up the seam against Cover-2, Peyton Manning hits him. Definition of a "Hole in Zone" touchdown. By the way, does anyone know the official rules about shaded visors? I always thought you needed special permission to wear them, and LT2 wore won because he got headaches from the lights... Roethlisberger and now Collie have had them in recent weeks. Do the shaded visors help with you are recovering from a concussion?

Vince Verhei: I seem to recall a lot of players wearing the shaded visors in the early 90s just because they looked cool. Don't remember if they ever passed a rule banning them.

Tom Gower: I'm pretty sure light sensitivity is one of the things players experience after a brain injury, so it wouldn't surprise me if the NFL approves shaded visors after a concussion pretty much as a matter of course.

Bill Barnwell: Two different pitch failures for the Jaguars. First, they pitch the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew on what appeared to be an off-tackle run that was supposed to be a handoff. Fumble. Then, they just ran the option and Garrard tried to pitch it as he fell down. This did not work so well.

Aaron Schatz: Jacksonville with the worst onside kick I've ever seen.

1) It only went about six yards. 2) It went directly to a Colts player. 3) There was nobody in front of that Colts player, allowing him to run back 36 yards untouched for a touchdown to ice the game and, likely, the division.

New Orleans Saints 24 at Baltimore Ravens 30

Aaron Schatz: Bad ref whistle in Baltimore. Devery Henderson caught a nice pass on the left side, Ravens defender went for the pick and missed, and with no defender in front of him, Henderson tripped over his own feet and fell, ref whistles it dead. But the Ravens defender never touched Henderson, and Henderson never touched out of bounds. He should have been able to just stand up and run the rest of the way.

Saints make up for it by getting it down to the end zone anyway, Jimmy Graham's second touchdown of the day.

David Gardner: Ridiculous touchdown in Baltimore. Drew Brees was getting pressured, dropping back and threw a pass off his back foot to Marques Colston. Colston got a hand on it but couldn't bring it in, then Lance Moore came over to the corner of the end zone and put two feet down and got the score. Play is under review.

Bill Barnwell: It seemed like the Saints' success against the Ravens was mostly dependent upon whether the Ravens blitzed or not. I don't have the numbers in front of me because we haven't charted it yet, but the Ravens dominated the Saints for most of the first half and were blitzing regularly; even when they were only blitzing four, they were pulling out all kinds of exotic blitzes in an attempt to confuse Brees and getting great work from their secondary behind the rush. They mellowed out on the Saints' three-minute drive at the end of the half, mostly dropping eight into coverage, and the Saints started to move the ball.

Ravens seemed to struggle all day with the possibility of taking long field goals, which seems weird considering how effective Billy Cundiff has been on kickoffs.

Houston Texans 17 at Tennessee Titans 31

Tom Gower: Apparently taking last week's criticism to heart, Jeff Fisher elects on the opening drive this week to go for it on fourth-and-eight from the Texans 42. It's converted down to the three-yard line, as what looks like Eugene Wilson in man coverage on rookie wideout Damian Williams ends up about how you'd expect, and Nate Washington gets the TD two plays later.

The Texans go for it their first possession on fourth-and-1 at the Titans 36, but don't bother blocking Jacob Ford when running right and lose three yards. The Titans throw deep the first play. Collins, as he did on the Williams deep pass, underthrows his receiver by five yards, but the front two defenders tip it downfield to Britt, who takes the ball down to the two-yard line. The Titans then go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, converting to Justin Gage for a 14-0 lead. With Houston's offense and defense and the Titans' defense, Never Punting may be in effect this week.

Never Punting didn't last long, as the Texans go 3-and-out, and the Titans easily cash in good field position after a bad punt for a 21-0 first quarter lead. The big play that drive was Kareem Jackson in coverage on Kenny Britt. Britt hasn't made it into the end zone, but he has 3 catches for 91 yards.

David Gardner: Another Texans-Titans fight. Except this one was between two Texans, Brian Cushing and Antonio Smith. And they got a 15-yard penalty because Cushing took his helmet off.

Tom Gower: I had a hard time paying attention to this game in the second half. The Texans feigned like they were going to come back, cutting it to 24-10, but the Titans extended it to 31-10 after a long Chris Johnson run set up a short Javon Ringer score. Arian Foster was a non-factor with 11 carries for 15 yards. Andre Johnson had the TD to make it 24-10, but otherwise was not a big factor (6-58-1), with several of his catches coming on short and intermediate routes of the middle, like the Texans did the previous meeting.

Storylines that I think are unimportant and will get too much airtime: Vince Young spent some time on the Titans' sideline in the second half in a hoodie. Jason Babin, who's had a very good year and was an additional captain and had two sacks today, was the Titans' deep safety on the final kneeldown and did his sack pose after the kneel.

Atlanta Falcons 34 at Seattle Seahawks 18

Doug Farrar: I'll avoid the obvious "homer" charges and just hope that somebody else saw the fourth-down spots on Atlanta's first drive by Walt Coleman's crew.

Tom Gower: I saw Ryan's sneak on 4th-and-very short, and thought he got the first down though probably not a lot more. Pete Carroll challenged the call, when I thought was extraordinarily foolish challenge given the extreme difficulty in overturning spot calls like that.

Aaron Schatz: Seahawks need to get rid of the zone blitz call that ends up with Chris Clemons covering Roddy White.

Vince Verhei: I'm at the Seattle game. Advantage of in-person viewing: you can see all the open receivers downfield that Matt Ryan isn't throwing to. He's having an ugly game all around, with an interception right to Jordan Babineaux.

The Falcons in the first half ran the most ridiculous small-ball offense ever. Something like a 15 play, 50 yard field goal drive. At one point they had eight first downs and only 86 yards of offense.

Tom Gower: I know this is a minor theme from me today, but that was a horrible play by Matt Hasselbeck to basically give the Falcons a TD to go up 24-10.

New York Jets 22 at Pittsburgh Steelers 17

Aaron Schatz: Refs in Steelers-Jets game have apparently re-written illegal contact rules to re-introduce hand-checking all the way down the field... but only if you are Antonio Cromartie and the receiver is Mike Wallace.

Bill Barnwell: Seems like the Steelers aren't really running much in the way of Trips Bunch today, which seems strange; figure it would be a good way to get Revis on a pick play, which he's susceptible to.

This week in Simms: "Only veteran quarterbacks really have so much experience...."

Aaron Schatz: Great, great camera shot from overhead as the Jets line up for fourth-and-1 inside the Pittsburgh 10. Camera shot showed exactly how the offensive and defensive lines were set. There were two Steelers in the a-gaps, unlike when the 49ers went for it on fourth down (and should have run a QB sneak) on Thursday. Jets snap it, and Shonn Greene dives in behind a Tony Richardson block... except actually, Mark Sanchez kept the ball and fooled everyone on the Steelers and the cameraman as well. Sanchez saunters into the end zone, touchdown, tie game 17-17.

Denver Broncos 23 at Oakland Raiders 39

Bill Barnwell: Tim Tebow with the ol' third-and-24 quarterback draw for a 40-plus yard TD run.

Aaron Schatz: And great blocking on that draw by the Broncos offensive linemen as well as Knowshon Moreno.

Bill Barnwell: Tim Tebow gets credited for inspiring the defense into a stuff on first-and-10. When Sebastian Janikowski attempts his first career punt in a rainstorm and the Broncos punt returner fumbles the punt away, it's strangely not Tebow-related.

Mike Tanier: All Red Zone shows is a series of Tebow draws to nowhere.

Bill Barnwell: I was underwhelmed by Tim Tebow as a quarterback, although his burst as a runner on that draw was really impressive. His touchdown pass was a corner route thrown into double coverage that hung in the air for days and went straight through Stanford Routt's hands. Gus Johnson couldn't stop repeating how Tebow (8-of-16 for 138 yards with a touchdown and eight carries for 78 yards and a score as a runner) had put up a solid game, which seems weird considering how Tebow's intangible value as a "winner" has been part of his pitch. Maybe stats really are for losers.

Green Bay Packers 27 at New England Patriots 31

Bill Barnwell: Nifty onside kick by the Packers to start the game. Great play by the gunner to hook it inbounds with his foot and create a second chance for recovery.

Aaron Schatz: Packers are fifth in defensive DVOA on third down going into this game, including fourth vs. third-and-long, but they can't stop the Patriots at all tonight. Pats converting lots of third-and-longs, including third-and-17 early on.

Bill Barnwell: Seems like the Packers are playing a lot of deep zone coverage and putting Woodson on Welker, forcing the other Patriots receivers to beat their second and third cornerbacks down the field.

Aaron Schatz: Also surprising: James Jones is eating up McCourty on the right while Flynn is totally avoiding throwing to Greg Jennings (with Kyle Arrington) on the left.

(Dan Connolly returns a kickoff 71 yards.)

Ben Muth: Greatest kick return ever.

Tom Gower: I did not just see a squibbed kickoff returned like 70 yards inside the 5 by an offensive lineman. Please tell me I just did not see that.

David Gardner: Did anyone else see Tom Brady's face after Connolly's big return? It was priceless. If only he had scored and John Madden were still in the broadcast booth. "I love to see a fat guy score. Cause first you get a fat guy spike, then you get a fat guy dance."

Aaron Schatz: John Kuhn is just killing the Patriots tonight. And it isn't just that's he's running over people. He's winding through people, and jumping over them. The Pats simply can't tackle him.

Rob Weintraub: Kuhn is having the sort of game that makes all Pats-haters the world over wonder -- how long until Kuhn's a Patriot?

Aaron Schatz: Pats go No Huddle on drive down 27-24 with 8:00 left in fourth quarter. Great strategy. Aaron Hernandez, Gronkowski, and Woodhead mean the Pats can constantly change formations with the same personnel, creating matchup problems by forcing defense to stay on the field.

In the end, the Packers croaked because of inexperience. Bryan Bulaga blocked the wrong away, which let the Patriots sack Flynn when the Packers had no timeouts left. Then the Packers got stuck trying to get up to the line on fourth-and-1 with no idea what to do, frittered away the rest of the time, and the Patriots get one more sack for ballgame.

I would think this achieved any goal Belichick might have of waking up his team and teaching them that they are still human, without actually losing the game. And the sad thing for Packers fans is that this game didn't even mean much for the Pats. Even with a loss here, wins over Buffalo and Miami to end the season would still have given the Pats the top AFC seed.

Bill Barnwell: Decision by the Packers to kick a 19-yard field goal instead of going for it ended up accounting for the margin of victory.

Tom Gower: I was not a big fan of Mike McCarthy's to run the ball and let :30 run off the clock right after the two minute warning at the end of the game. I know he didn't want to rush his team, and probably wanted to eliminate time for the Pats to come back, but that was a great opportunity to call two plays in the huddle. Instead, they run the one and burn valuable time, and when they burn the TOs as well get rushed on the final play and it shows.

David Gardner: I agree. Seems like he was playing assuming that he would score. Obviously, that didn't happen.

Comments

271 comments, Last at 23 Dec 2010, 7:57pm

1 Reprimand for Hochuli?

* ESPN's Mike Reiss (who admittedly covers the Pats for ESPN) and friends of mine who were at the game said that on the McCourty thing Hochuli could clearly be seen looking at the replay of the McCourty hit on the Jumbotron before throwing the late, late, late flag. Aren't refs prohibited from pulling stunts like that? (Note: I agree that what McCourty did was a flag under current rules. My problem was with there being no flag and then a loooooooong delay before the flag was thrown.)

* Couple of callers to one of the talk shows on WEEI up here said they saw Flynn looking at the sideline, pantomiming a spike, shaking his head "no", and holding up four fingers to the sideline. Did McCarthy really not realize it was 4th down and therefore couldn't spike it?

33 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

In McCarthy's postgame conference, he does make a comment about needing to know if it the catch got a 1st down or if it was still 4th down.

185 McCarthy's comments

Here's why that's bullshit:

The two choices are 1st and about 12 for a TD or 4th and 1 for a first down... with 10 SECONDS LEFT!!! Who gives a damn about a first down!!! With a minute left, yeah. But since TIME is the most critical issue here, you HAVE TO pass either into or very near the EZ--nobody in their right mind--with 10 seconds left--is going to say "go for 1-2 yards." The sidelines will be covered. You HAVE TO take a shot, even if it's 9 yards and you leave it to the receiver to get it done--you have to take a shot, regardless of the down.

The REAL CRIME on that series was burning their final TO with about 35 seconds left. As it happened, I said WTF? You're putting all your marbles on the next two plays--I hope neither is in the middle of the field. Next pass? complete up the middle....

192 Re: McCarthy's comments

If it's 1st down, you can spike it and allow the coaching staff to call exactly what play they want to try to score, rather than relying on a QB with virtually no experience to set up the play at the line. Obviously, the spike isn't an option if it's 4th down.

195 Re: McCarthy's comments

What? That's not even remotely close to being true. The Packers were down at the line with 18 seconds left. They burnt 14 of those seconds on the massice confussion (just watched the highlight again to confirm the time).

With that "much" time left on the clock, the difference between 4th and 1st downs is HUGE. One means they have to hurry to the line, snap it, throw into the end-zone and complete it, the other means they can spike it with about 14 seconds left and take two shots at the end-zone after huddling up. That's about as big a difference as you can have in that situation.

That was a massive screw-up, but a first down instead of a fourth was massive.

- Alvaro

264 Re: McCarthy's comments

They DID burn a ton of time on the massive confusion, but the freakin' QB was strilling to the line. Say instead of burning the 14 seconds they DID burn, they hustled and set up fast... how many seconds? 7? 8? Say it's half that--seven seconds. That leaves them with 14 total--enough for two plays, if they are prepared. That would be good for a spike and maybe two MORE plays, or a spike and one for sure. (a 12-yard play into the EZ takes a fair amount of time off the clock.)

But if it's 1st or 4th, they should ahve a play set regardless. If it's 4th it HAS to be in the EZ, if it's 1st, it could be 5-7 yards.

But thinking like a lawyer (always prepare for the worst) they should have had Plan B ready from the get-go: "everybody go out 10-15 yards and throw to the open man ASAP." If it was 1st down, they have aqnother shot. If 4th down, that's game.

The spike would be nice, but they should have had the other play ready to go and the second the refs let them know or flip the yard marker on the sideline, the QB knows which one to do.

I don't think it matters which down it is until the snap.

I really wanted to punch the coaches on that one.

37 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

I wondered about that loooong delay too, I was watching from home and couldn't see what the refs were doing. Announcers claimed they huddled before throwing, which I could deal with, but yeah, they aren't supposed to look at the replays. I just assumed it was going to be a blown call and move on. Yeah they got it right but I don't want refs watching the replays. If it was just a conference I'm OK with it, as that happens sometimes.

On the last play, Flynn was trying to determine if the ball was spotted for a first down or not, at least that is the story McCarthy and Flynn are going with today. Dunno doesn't really matter.

The other mistakes the Packers made, after playing a pretty solid game (made NE punt 5 times, and after a shaky first quarter held them to 4-10 on 3rd down conversions), meant that drive shouldn't have been happening anyway. But that is the Packers all season long. They can play with anyone (6 losses by a total of 20 points) but when they make mistakes they make BIG mistakes.

Yeah yeah lot of injuries, but the big mistakes to me are coaching lapses. They don't happen on defense too often, where they have very good position coaches and a good coordinator. They happen on special teams all the time and on the offensive line a lot. I've not been a huge fan of Campos (the o-line coach) for the last few years. The musical players for a few seasons, then the hugely variable play this year. I also blame the zone block scheme that McCarthy wants to run. I understand it, but the players don't execute it, but when you go with a different scheme they seem to play better. Again I think that is on the o-line coach (and the HC to some extent).

Their kick off coverage has been horrendous all year long too. Major factor in at least 3 of the losses and allowed Detroit back into the first game this year. I wanted Slocum fired after last season. I really want him fired now (special teams coach for the Packers). That being said. I LOVED watching Connolly running it back. Yes watching Diyral Briggs (street free agent they have 4 LB's on IR already, 3 opening day starters and another who has started 12 games between last year and this year) collide with Quinn Johnson (2nd year fullback) at the pivot point and allowing that whole thing to start, was painful, but Connolly has a bit speedier than you would expect, and made a few moves. Peprah trying to strip the ball instead of trying to tackle was also pathetic, but even as a Packers fan I had to cheer that absurdity. Besides I think it was less demoralizing than Brady marching them down the field for a score at that point which I felt was going to happen.

41 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Upon rewatching the last two minutes, Flynn definitely shook his head, looked to the sideline and held up 4 fingers. He then looked to his linemen, quickly called a play and took the snap. He played a very good game against a complicated NFL defense, and showed composure in the waning seconds. He scored Ted Thompson a 2nd rounder at least.

50 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Whoa....are you suggesting that, based on one game -- a loss, no less, in which he threw a horrible pick-6 and took sacks on his final two plays -- that some GM is going to offer Ted Thompson a 2nd round pick or more for Matt Flynn?

No freakin' way does that GM exist.

However, if he does, my guess is that he'd work for Miami.

120 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

The Arrington pick was a terrible throw, but it's not like Flynn had anything to do with the 4 broken tackles, and he ended up with a 100 passer rating overall. I also think he showed composure in the final minutes considering the 4th down call with seconds ticking away (final outcome I'm not too worried about, this is a statistics site after all!).

Furthermore, recent backup QB trades:

Schaub = Two 2nd rounders
Cassel = One very high 2nd rounder
Matt Hasselbeck = 2nd and swap of 1sts (total pick value equal to a very high 2nd rounder: http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcwest/post/_/id/15744/whitehurst-much-cheaper-than-hasselbeck)
Charlie Whitehurst = 3rd rounder and swap of 2nds. (total pick value equal to a late 2nd rounder: see same link)

A promising backup QB has shown to be worth at least a 2nd round pick, and I think Flynn showed that he is certainly promising.

124 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Well, he's more promising than Charlie Whitehurst was at the time....but I think 1 game + some spot duty is way too small a sample size to put that kind of value on. AJ Feeley went for a 2nd, and he had a much bigger body of work. And it was a bust of a trade. Matt Cassel went for a high second....along with Mike Vrabel. Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks are too far back to be relevant.

A team would really have to be confident they were getting one of the top 25 or so quarterbacks in the NFL to ship off a 2nd round pick, and I think it's going to take several more successful outings after teams get film on him to put him in that echelon.

143 Jones

Jones has no feel for the game. I've got some pie plates, a collander, and some 12 gauge wiring in my basement. My goal is to create a device to transfer Jones' athletic ability into John Kuhn's body. Kuhn's brain, Jones' talent > Dez Bryant Mach 2.

151 Re: Jones

In reply to by Packer Pete (not verified)

I so agree with this. Jones has never been assignment sure, and doesn't seem to possess great awareness either. I realize he is still young and has a chance to grow, but it's frustrating to watch because he has talent and just can't use it.

156 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Is there something about being named "Matt" that leads a person into being a backup QB in the NFL? Well, if Flynn lives up to the standard set by Hasselback, Schaub, and Cassel he'll have a starting job in his future.

72 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Well a second rounder was the price for Matt Cassel, and I dont think Flynn has shown that much yet. Plus the Pats DEF has made a lot of mediocre QBs look spectacular this season.

Nevertheless he played very well yesterday, and would be worth risking a play on for some teams.

74 Re: Reprimand for Hochuli?

Sorry, other comment nested improperly.

With a starting quarterback with a history of concussions, why would you trade his capable back-up?

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Wow - Watching Dan Connolly streak down the sideline, cut back and almost score! Awesome football... Well if you're a Pats fan. Sucky if you're a Pack fan. But "the loaf of bread carry"... Priceless commentary. Way to go CC.

What would Simms have said?

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Apparently, when an OL runs the ball back a certain distance, you are allowed to block the kicker in the back (Morris on Crosby right at the end of the runback).
http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2010121913/2010/REG15/packers@patriots#tab:watch

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I thought that too when I first saw it. But it does look like you could say Connolly cutting back put the blocker between Crosby and the ball, making it a legal block, despite contact to Crosby's back (i.e. Crosby over-ran the play). Especially at full speed, I can understand that call (or non-call).

118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"Apparently, when an OL runs the ball back a certain distance, you are allowed to block the kicker in the back (Morris on Crosby right at the end of the runback)."

Can computers be programmed to weed out whining little -itch posts after their home team loses? This stuff is for the teenage boys on your local newsrag site.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Can computers be programmed to weed out whining little -itch posts after their home team loses? This stuff is for the teenage boys on your local newsrag site.

Actually I'm a Chiefs fan. I just hate bad refereeing. But you're free not to read my posts in the future.

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I'm ruling in mrh's favor here. Venting about questionable officiating is one of the pleasures of the Audibles thread. And reading obnoxious/stupid Internet Tough Guy posts about "whining -itchs" is exactly what I come to FO to avoid.

162 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I am with chemical burn too about being able to venting about questionable calls. I do, however, believe it was a good non-call (admittedly I am biased). But two things that, I think, led a a non-call: 1) The guy totally over run the play and his momentum prevented him from making a tackle and not the block and 2) I think all the refs were watching the play with the same amazement as all of us. Seriously, no way a non-blatant call gets made when an OL makes a 70+ yd return!

186 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

That was insanely blatant and right near a ref. You can see it in every replay because it happens near the goal line (at the 15 YL). Pats #34 (IIRC) blasts #2 in the back and out of bounds.

It should net ever get more clear than that.

Still, an awesome run back.

202 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

But if Pats #34 is between #2 and the ball carrier (which he sort of was because of Crosby over-running and Connolly cutting back) it's still a legal block, hitting him in the back or not. And (at full speed especially) I can see how that could be the case.

206 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

This is a part of the rules that a lot of people (it seems) don't understand. I've heard it explained before, but I've never seen the explicit rule cited.

The brief explanation I've heard is that, so long as you have a position between the runner and the player you intend to block, you can block someone above the waist to clear a path. Back, front, or side are all legal in that case.

The illegal block in the back happens when you don't have position, that is, when you block someone who has gotten by you and is headed toward the runner.

It would be great if someone posted a quasi-official explanation.

207 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

From the rulebook definition of "Block in the Back" (3-3): A Block in the Back is a block that is delivered from behind an opponent above his waist.
It is not a block in the back:
(a) if the opponent turns away from the blocker, or
(b) if both of the blocker’s hands are on the opponent’s side.

Later, describing the penalty (12-1-4-b): An offensive blocker cannot ... charge or fall into the back of an opponent above the waist, or use his hands or arms to push an opponent from behind in a manner that affects his movement, except in close-line play (the guideline for officials to use for illegal use of hands in the back above the waist is: if either hand is on the back, it is a foul. If both hands are on the opponent’s side, it is not a foul).

There's no provision making blocks in between the runner and the defender legal; what you might be thinking of is the case when the defender engages with the blocker, then turns away. When that happens, blocking that defender in the back is legal.

222 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"...the case when the defender engages with the blocker, then turns away."

Does the defender have to engage first? That doesn't seem to be in the statement. If I'm running toward you and you turn, then I contact you, that would still NOT be a block in the back - correct?

I guess all I'm getting at is it seems there's gray area there. It seems that's in place to prevent people from avoiding blocks by having their backs to the blocker. Could a player who runs past the play be said to have turned away from the blocker? Maybe. I just don't think it's a flagrant foul - but I think I'll be watching to see how it's called a little more often now.

224 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Intuitively it makes sense to me, but I've never heard nor read it.

Edit: Although the rulebook posted online is fairly skeletal, there is one phrase that I find interesting, following some points about a blocker must keep his hands "inside the frame" of the body:

Note: The frame is defined as the part of the opponent’s body below the neck that is presented to the blocker.

While obviously chasing a guy down who has beaten you on kickoff coverage and giving him a two-handed shove in the back is illegal, if you're blocking for a runner, and there is a defender nearby whom you have position on, and is turned around, this would perhaps lead to a conclusion that the block was legal, since your hands made contact within the part of the body that was presented to you?

Furthermore, doesn't this thing happen on the line of scrimmage all the time? Trap blocks usually come from the side, Receivers crack on a linebacker from the side, a defender might be spun around by one offensive lineman and another seals him away from the ball from behind....

Get Mike Perreira on the horn, because like I said, intuitively it does make sense to allow a block on a defender if you as a blocker are between he and the ball.

240 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

The strange thing is there have been rule changes in 2005 and 2009 that relate to certain blindside blocks and peel-back blocks becoming illegal that seem to imply that other blindside and peel-back blocks to the back are still legal.

2005: Peel-back blocks (where an offensive player blocks a defender who is moving back toward the direction of his own end zone) below the waist and from the back are now illegal.

2009: A blindside block cannot be initially delivered by a helmet, forearm or shoulder to an opponent's head or neck

Commentary at the time mentioned the impact of these rules on kick returns, so I don't think these are just about blocks near the line on a play from scrimmage. It seems that some blocks in the back (peel-back or blindside) are still allowed on kick returns - and perhaps at other times too.

The rules changes seem to be intended to force blocks in the back to be safer - essentially requiring that they be pushes to the back, rather than hits to the head or legs. Hardly a needed or even useful change if all blocks in the back were illegal.

Source: wikipedia articles on 2005 and 2009 NFL seasons.

265 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Now I am of two minds... The Justice Potter Stewart in me says "I can't exactly define a BITB, but I know it when I see it." And that sure looked like one to me.

On the other hand, this might be a case where the rule book says one thing but the refereeing convention is to ignore certain kinds of things that are, strictly speaking, illegal. Lots of things many of us think are holds on the OL are not called, presumably in the interest of protecting the QBs.

I guess so long as they are consistent, it's somewhat okay.

But the BITB called against the Jags on a Colts punt a couple hours earlier was much more subtle in real-time and didn't knock the gunner out of the play--instead it caused him to stumble into the receiver who called for a FC, and muffed the punt as a result. Watched in slo-mo, it was the right call, but at real speed, it looked a lot more subtle than the Pats/Packers one.

3 Sad Day to be a Bucs Fan

Though there is a bit of nostalgia in the Lions ending their road loss streak at Tampa (we used to feature that kind of spectacular failure regularly) its still disappointing for these new guys. Yes the Winslow touchdown was some obvious interference, but the Mike Williams incompletion seemed like some obvious interference too. The cornerback was holding his arm so tight it altered the path of his jump. But you can't blame this loss on the refs. Our inability to stop Calvin Johnson and, well, any running back, caught up to us. Though I'd like to think that some different rules for overtime might have resulted in a different end result to the game.

12 Re: Sad Day to be a Bucs Fan

Interesting that a Buccaneers fan thinks the Winslow touchdown was correctly called OPI. Personally, I thought that it should have been either a no-call or offsetting interference penalties, as both Winslow and Brown were contacting each other equally, and the contact didn't really give Winslow an advantage in catching the ball.

And the catch itself amused me greatly. What a freak play by Winslow.

34 Re: Sad Day to be a Bucs Fan

I think the Johnston/Siragusa combo explained the call (or rather, that type of call) in a game a few weeks ago, possibly Lions-Cowboys but definitely a game with a good TE. They said in that game, the problem was extending the arms: because Winslow had his hands in Brown's chest, it looked like he was pushing Brown away. If the arms aren't extended, you can do pretty much the same thing and get away with it. (Think basketball defense: hand on the back not OK, arm on the back OK.)

What was weird was that Winslow didn't really need that space. All he had to do was use his Go Go Gadget arms. (It was a perfectly-thrown pass, too.) Winslow could simply have boxed out Brown, or alternatively, let him stay close and draw DPI.

I also see this as a problem with regular-season overtime rules, although I'll concede that I hadn't thought about consequences to changes as much until Kevin Mawae mentioned them. (It's not just risk of injury, but also quality of play ... not sure if it degrades like it does in hockey, because there are so few multi-OT playoff games in football, but if you watch an NHL playoff game go into the second or third OT, it seems like the players are just skating in slow circles and hoping the puck will go in on its own ... playing two games back-to-back will do that to you, I guess.)

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Funny you mention that camera view on the Steelers game, it was exactly what I used to show my dad why upgrading to a new projector (and screen on the way, so thrown on wall at moment) is worth it for Sports.

Anyways, needs discussion of Arians idiotic playcall that led to the safety, and Tomlin's refusal to actually criticize the refs. This hitting crackdown and inventing H2H hits that aren't there is getting ridiculously lopsided.

The Cromartie illegal contact didn't surprise me, he gets away with it a lot in every game. It's his MO.

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Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

181 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Tomlin's refusal to actually criticize the refs

What exactly would be the point of that? Tomlin would get fined, and the refs would pay even more attention to the games? The best reffed games are probably the least reffed games.

270 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

yeh, I get threatened with a ban for insulting someone here, this guy gets allowed to persistently troll/attack me.

complete crap.

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Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

271 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

What exactly is the point of you trolling me non stop?
Drawing attention to yourself?

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Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

People keep harping on Flynn's lack of experience at the end of that drive, and certainly that didn't help, but, as Tom and David point out, if McCarthy weren't trying to run out the clock Flynn would never have been put in that position. Flynn came really close to winning the game for them; McCarthy should have been smart enough to give him some time to work with. There was plenty of time on the clock when the drive began; there was no reason for any part of it to be rushed. Even if Rodgers were in to execute those last 23 seconds better, he would still only have been left with one play to get in the end zone.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Packers fans will provide more details, I'm sure, but isn't that the problem with Green Bay's record in close games, McCarthy's playcalling/clock management?

I disagreed with what most talking heads had to say about that last play: you'd think they believed an expert QB would have run three plays in that time. I think at best you'd have seen two plays: a QB sneak followed by a spike with 1-3 seconds on the clock, and then one play into the end zone. (A better question would have been the throw to Driver: with that little time left, you shouldn't be throwing over the middle short of the first down in that situation, for precisely the reason that unfolds afterward. Easy to say in retrospect, and as they did say, sometimes you learn that from experience.)

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

No, that's too easy of a criticism. GB's close game failures have been for a myriad of reasons. Just this year two losses have been in OT (clock management not an issue), one was because of a fumble (driving against Chicago with under two minutes left close to midfield), and then the game against Detroit with a turnover on downs.

In fact, McCarthy may have been thinking back to the Atlanta game, where GB scored to tie with too much time left, only to have the Falcons get a big kick return and kick the winning FG. In that case there was no opportunity to work any more time off the clock mas GB scored on 4th and goal, it still allowed Atlanta time to win.

Going back to 2008, when GB had it's other large bunch of close losses in Rodgers first year starting, the offense often led many late drives only to have the defense collapse late. I don't remember clock management being the main problem then.

So this was the first loss this year that can really be blamed on end of game clock management, and that's with a backup QB making his first start. GB does not have good kick coverage teams, that is abundantly clear. Maybe McCarthy played it a bit too conservatively yesterday, but when a TD will only get you a lead of 3 points or less you have to be concerned about giving your opponent any time to work with. Also, just keep in mind that if Driver gets one more yard, GB gets a first down and can spike the ball, and get three shots to win the game and leave NE with almost no time to come back. The strategy failed, but came quite close to working.

163 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Does Andy Reid run a clock management seminar in the offseason and if so, did McCarthy attend it? I mean if he thought it was first down and wanted a spike, shame on him. But why did he let so much time run off the clock before that? Use the time you have well and let your D handle the Pats. Worrying about the game clock when down 4 is stupid. Its better to score and rely on your D to hold the Pats to a no core or FG for a tie than to leave a rookie QB with so little time to think.

210 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"Use the time you have well and let your D handle the Pats. Worrying about the game clock when down 4 is stupid. Its better to score and rely on your D to hold the Pats to a no core or FG for a tie than to leave a rookie QB with so little time to think."

Concur, perhaps the best/wisest comment regarding this I've read.

52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Agree completely that McCarthy was the problem, not Flynn. The Packers reached the 35 yard line with about 2:12 on the clock. And then they let the clock run to the 2 minute warning without running another play.
And then a couple running plays, a pass for the 1st down, and a sack, and now there are 45 seconds left and the Packers have made it all the way to the 32 yard line. 90 seconds to gain three yards.
It seemed like McCarthy was presuming that scoring a TD was a given, so his primary concern was to stop Brady from having time to win with a FG. He put the cart ahead of the horse.
Two interesting stats NBC showed us
1) The Pats haven't lost a home game in which they've held a 4th quarter year in about 10 years.
2) The Packers haven't _won_ a game all season in which they've trailed in the 4th quarter.

When I saw those stats, I was sure the Pats were going to lose. But no, McCarthy's pathetic clock management trumped the jinx.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I can honestly say it wasn't hindsight bias ony my part, but after they gained the first down, I thought it was a terrible time to call a time out, and then call a pass with a deep drop. I was thinking it may have been a good time to instead line up quickly and run the ball again; they were averaging about five yards a carry on that drive. 2nd and five on the fifteen with two timeous left sure would have been great, and 2nd and 10 on the 20 would have been far from disastrous. Belichik dialing up a blitz after the time out wasn't exactly a shocker, and a deep drop maximized the chance of a terribly negative play, in a situation where such a chance did not need to be taken.

266 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

All the McCarthy/time management bashing above looks right to me. Horrible time out, unless they were really shocked or unprepared on the sideline.... Winning with four zeroes on the clock is pretty cool, but winning with 25 seconds on the clock gives you a little room for error with a rookie QB who might actually benefit from some wiggle room. Yes, Brady is on the other side and only needs a FG to tie, but you do pay your defense to play, no?

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

The Pats defense will get credit for stopping the Packers on the final drive but 80% of it was the Packers being terrified of giving the ball back to Brady with time on the clock. I can't imagine being a Packers fan and watching my team run out of time when they crossed the 50 with 3 minutes left and timeouts.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Whatever happened to calling two plays in the huddle and running them in rapid succession? What McCarthy did was basically take the run out of the playbook for the last two minutes, when they were mostly having their way with the very tired NE D-line.

Also, priceless when CC is harping late in the game on how GB should call a slant or two to make it easy on Flynn and counteract the NE blitzing, and the next play McCarthy calls for a bomb, which Flynn duly throws into double coverage for an INT (called back for a hands-to-face).

GB has lost six games by a total of 20 points, two in OT. As long as Andy "I only make stupid challenges, and my clock management skills are legendary" Reid is still around, McCarthy is probably not the worst game coach in the league, but he's up there.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Speaking of hands to the face, do they have different rules for offensive linemen and defensive players? On the Banta-Cain penalty, the offensive lineman had both hands wrapped around the defenders face mask, Banta-Cain responded by putting his hand on the OTs mask and driving his head back, to which the OT responded by grabbing Banta-Cain's face mask again.

Nobody in the booth mentioned it, I haven't read about it today, and I didn't notice any undue screaming from Belichick at the official, so maybe the offensive lineman is allowed to give a blow to the face mask of a defender, similar to the way a runner can give a stiff arm to the face mask of a would-be tackler and be apparently within the rules?

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"Nobody in the booth mentioned it, I haven't read about it today, and I didn't notice any undue screaming from Belichick at the official, so maybe the offensive lineman is allowed to give a blow to the face mask of a defender, similar to the way a runner can give a stiff arm to the face mask of a would-be tackler and be apparently within the rules?"

Collinsworth mentioned it a couple of times, and gave the typical "if you're the guy who retaliates, you're the guy who gets called"

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Mike McCarthy's coaching/in game tactics are predicated on a LOT of assumptions.

Very few of them valid.

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Eddo:

McCarthy assumes that no matter who is playing the offense is the offense. McCarthy will not adjust his playcalling to conform to personnel.

McCarthy assumes his offensive line can block anything, anywhere, any time.

McCarthy assumes that special teams do not play a significant role in the outcome of a football game.

These are just a few.

35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Eddo:

Well, I am merely relaying facts that are self-evident to anyone following the team.

Green Bay is now 5-16 in close games the last several years and I really cannot rebut the charges from many Packer fans that the issue is the head coach.

He has a lot of positives. But his weaknesses are absolutely killing the team's ability to win any game that is not a blowout.

Hence Lovie Smith's strategy of just keeping it close being so successful against GB. Lovie has recognized that at some point McCarthy will give the game away.

It's pretty astounding.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

The Packers' late-and-close record is even worse than your numbers suggest.

The Packers have now played 47 games post-Stubbleface (including postseason). In 22 of those games, the score has been tied or the lead has changed at some point in the fourth quarter. Their record in those games? 4-18. The Packers scored the last points in regulation in just 7 of those 22 games; and in three of those seven, they proceeded to lose in overtime. In games where the score was not tied and the lead did not change in the fourth quarter, the Packers are 21-4 over the same timeframe.

It's not really useful to talk about "the problem" with these losses: it's not always the same. McCarthy is certainly from the Andy Reid school of clock management, but the Packers have also run successful late drives in pressure situations (for 2010, see the game against the Falcons; for 2009, the Cardinals playoff game). Last year the defense failed to make a stop against some two-minute offenses (eg, the Steelers game); in 2008, it was the run defense that got tired in the fourth quarter. One constant has been the failure to play win-to-run football: the Packers' ultra-conservative protect-a-small-lead offense has been awful for five years.

One overlooked factor for this season has been the schedule: the Packers' road games have been tough (Jets, Pats, Eagles, Falcons, plus division rivals and Washington while still alive). Five of Green Bay's six losses have been on the road, by a total of 17 points.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

A couple others:

McCarthy refuses to adjust his game plan mid-game. If something isn't working, it must be the execution. It absolutely cannot be the fault of the play.

McCarthy gives up on the run way too often. I believe the only reason he didn't last night was because Flynn was making his first start. I haven't looked it up, but I'd guess the Packers run/pass ratio is something like 35/65.

To go along with the above, McCarthy has no clue when it comes to special teams. He let the his first ST coach go because the teams were bad only to promote the assistant ST coach. In almost two years, the coverage and return teams have gotten no better. I was one of the few not surprised by the OL kickoff return last night. I've heard more excuses for the bad special teams than I care to remember. First it was the team's youth (the Packers were the youngest team in the NFL his first two years). Now it's all the injuries. In between, it was getting used to new coverage schemes. It's a freakin' joke.

I'll be at the game next Sunday in Lambeau. I wonder if they'd let me post a sign saying "FIRE SHAWN SLOCUM"?

66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Excluding QB runs, the ratio was 33:67 before yesterday's game.

I don't agree about McCarthy's obstinacy. The Packers have managed a lot of comebacks during his tenure (think Cardinals in the postseason). Indeed, the template for the close losses has been: "fall behind, mount comeback, leave a little time on clock, allow long kickoff return or (in 2008) long run from scrimmage; concede late or overtime score; (if time remaining) turnover".

182 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

McCarthy is as stubborn as coaches come. Against the 'Phins he refused to adjust the blocking to account for Wake. While Crosby has a great leg, McCarthy keeps thinking he can consistently make 50+ yd FGs instead of moving the ball closer when he thinks he's in FG range. He continues to want the zone-blocking thing when he doesn't have the personnel to play it or the coach to teach it. Not firing Shawn Slocum.

I still like McCarthy. I don't want him fired. He's better than most of the NFC coaches. But it takes him forever to adjust. After all these years, the team is finally not committing 10 penalties/game. (I think the 18 vs the Bears was the last straw.) After his first couple years, he got rid of Bob Sanders and hired Don Capers to fix the inconsistent defense. I'm not in the fire MMcC camp. (Shawn Slocum, OTOH, must go.) I just want him to better adjust.

196 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

As a fan of the first team to clinch it's division in the 2010 season, I too am not in the fire MMcC camp. May his teams continue to blow games they should dominate by talent alone in new and comical ways for many more years!

Can't wait to see what they come up for the season closer with their play-off lives on the line. My money's on going into the game with just two active RBs including Kuhn, losing them both early and end up putting Flynn back there only to lose him and Rodgers in the same play.

- Alvaro

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Some of the talk in Packerland is that many of McCarthy's questionable tactical decisions can be attributed to Rodgers changing plays at the LoS. The exact extent of which is unknown to all but the team. And they're not talking.

9 DEN @ OAK

At the press conference after the game, Tebow said that touchdown run was a busted play. Apparently it was supposed to be a hand off and Tebow blew it so he just followed the HB through the hole.

Denver's play calling was horrendous. They really didn't seem to feel comfortable letting Tebow throw. Based on what he did do, they probably had reason. It didn't help that the center of Denver's O-line were doing their best impressions of speed bumps.

95 Re: DEN @ OAK

In reply to by PerlStalker

If that play hadn't been busted, there's absolutely no way that would have been a touchdown or a third-down conversion. Buckhalter (who would have been ballcarrier) had a great downfield block, and Tebow broke a couple of tackles that Buckhalter probably would have been dragged down from. I think that's a prime example of how the playcalling was a little too conservative.

126 Re: DEN @ OAK

In reply to by tunesmith

I don't think the Broncos even tried to convert a third and long. It's like the coach decided before the game to give up on any third down play longer than six yards. Even with that, the Broncos might have won had the defense decided to play the second half.

It'll be interesting to see what the play calling looks like next week if Tebow starts again.

152 Re: DEN @ OAK

In reply to by PerlStalker

I think Tebow cost them the game. They were so scared to throw that there was no gameplan if they had 3rd and more than 3. Oakland stuffed 8 and 9 in the box and Tebow still only went 8-16. Denver's defense is bad - it is worse when it is on the field all day. Tebow gives them hope, but if they aren't willing to let him throw, he makes them an easy mark.

159 Re: DEN @ OAK

In reply to by SteveGarvin

It's been the same story with Orton. I saw a wild stat this year that if if Orton threw an incomplete pass on 2nd down, then he's converted on 3rd own something like once or twice this entire season.

Basically, it sounds like their offensive line has been overwhelmed all season - they've managed to keep it from devolving into a bunch of sacks and fumbles by bringing in tight ends and fullbacks, but then the problem is there's almost no one to throw to.

So, not quite that Tebow cost them the game, but that the playcalling did... and that the playcalling might have been necessary, either because they don't believe Tebow can deal with an offensive line that would break down as quickly as Denver's might. Although I wonder what some rollouts and bootlegs might look like - Tebow would handle those better than Orton would have.

177 Re: DEN @ OAK

In reply to by tunesmith

The play calling was definitely a problem. If the Broncos aren't going to let Tebow throw, there's no reason to have him back there. I guess we'll see if they open things up next week. He was named the started against Houston at Stud's press conference this afternoon.

The O-line is a huge problem. Clady is still hobbled but the real problems are the center and guards. They're like speed bumps but are barely slowing things down.

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"Aaron Schatz: Jacksonville with the worst onside kick I've ever seen.

1) It only went about six yards. 2) It went directly to a Colts player. 3) There was nobody in front of that Colts player, allowing him to run back 36 yards untouched for a touchdown to ice the game and, likely, the division."

Yeah, and also to cover the damn spread.

47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I didn't see the Jax play, but the Eagles tried a "surprise" onside kick to begin a game against the Cowboys a few years ago (after successfully executing one a few years earlier) which surprised nobody and resulted in just about the quickest 7-0 lead ever.

141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Well, the onside kick they originally called got nullified when Caldwell took a timeout as Scobee was kicking, thereby forcing Jax to reveal its onside play. IMO, the whistle came simultaneous to Scobee kicking, which really irritates me. Seems bush-league to me, but of course I'm a Jags fan.

--
sam! or the original sam from the old FO

187 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

But Sam, isn't the blame a little on Del Rio AFTER the time out? Did he run the exact same on-side play with the same alignment to the same side? If so, shame on him (or the ST coach. Wait a minute, don't the Jags have the Colts old ST coach? Purnell?).

If you have a trick play lined up, and the other guys see it, call a TO and game-plan around it, I have to think the odds are really low that the same play will work, since trick plays rely on deception and surprise. Plus, NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!

194 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Last year the Redskins scored on an awesome 40-something yard fake FG/punt where Hunter Smith showed off his guns and heaved it downfield to a wide-open Mike Sellers ... after the Broncos took a TO because the Redskins had motioned from FG formation to something that was clearly not FG formation.

Only a few games later, the Redskins provided a nice example at the other side of the spectrum, with an attempt at a swinging-gate play resulting in an uber-failure after the Giants called a TO to discuss how to defend it.

The Good: http://www.nfl.com/videos/washington-redskins/09000d5d81433994/WK-10-Can-t-Miss-Play-Washington-shenanigans

The Bad and the Ugly, combined into one play for your convenience: http://www.nfl.com/videos/washington-redskins/09000d5d8152ba5d/WK-15-Can-t-Miss-Play-Silly-Skins-tricks-are-for-kids

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"Decision by the Packers to kick a 19-yard field goal instead of going for it ended up accounting for the margin of victory."

The onside kick helped...

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I thought it was an ludicrously bad decision, given that the Patriots defenders pissed down their legs whenever Kuhn got the ball, and that a failure would have resulted in Brady taking over at the 1-yard line at a point in the game where the Packers D were getting heavy pressure. A safety or Pick-6 thrown under heavy pressure were reasonable expectations, I thought.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Re refs in Chiefs game missing an obvious call - how do you not see a player grab the ball carrier's face mask and rip his helmet off, as happened to Charles?

This NYT article talks about how Skelton ended up at Fordham.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/sports/ncaafootball/30fordham.html

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

That Gaither block sure looks like a block in the back.

http://i53.tinypic.com/21nr70j.png

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

You can't use a still image to prove blocking in the back. If Gaither initiated contact with the Giant's front, then the Giant turned around without freeing himself from Gaither, it's legal to block him in the back.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Which is exactly what happened. You can see it in the replay angle juuust barely - Gaither and the Giant are still in contact when they come in screen, with the Giant turning away from Gaither, which causes him to lose his balance (because Gaither's still blocking him) colliding with the other two Giants.

154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

No, he was turning away from Gaither, who had him engaged off-frame at an angle. You can see Gaither's arm on the Giant's chest from the second replay camera angle.

260 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Yeah, you really need the second camera angle. Just the first frame or two when Gaither and the Giant come into view, you can make out Gaither's hand on his chest, and the Giant's turning to go after DeSean.

It still could be illegal in that case (depending on what happened out of frame) but it's pretty unlikely.

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Who cares? It was so damn funny that you just can't call a penalty there!

Okay, if I were a Packer fan, I'd want the call, but as a fan without a dog in the fight, I loved that play. Hilarious.

179 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

The Giants losing was in the Packers' best interest - it left control of their playoff destiny in their own hands even if they lost to the Patriots. I believe you are responding to the wrong post - this post refers to the Desean Jackson touchdown return, not the Dan Connely ridiculousness.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

There is a lot to like about the Packers' roster, and injuries have played a big role, but I do believe that may be the worst combination of tackling by special teams and an offense the NFL has ever seen. The Pats pick six may have been just as bad as a 71 yard return by a 300 pounder. Yeah, I know offensive players don't practice tackling, but good grief, they are proefessional athletes.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

To be fair, Jordy Nelson did wrap him up, admittedly from a bad angle, but Arrington just squirmed and twisted out of it. When you see a running back or wide receiver do this to a defensive player it's usually called a great break of a tackle. That being said, since pretty much the entire offense touched him and only Nelson actually had good form, it was still pretty pathetic and the Packers deserved what they got.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Re: Jackson running along the goal line, he said at the after-game presser that he didn't know for certain how much time was left, only that there were 14 seconds on the clock when the kick started, and wanted to be sure there was no kickoff.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Thanks. I thought it was obvious he was not taunting, but rather doing what he thought was the smart play.

I thought #28 on the Giants could have given a better effort at the end of the play, though. He was actually in the end zone, but just sort of given up. I'm not sure Jackson knew he was there. (My interpretation was based on the TV camera angle, so he may have been farther away than he appeared.)

68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Jackson was taunting, plain and simple. From his post-game comments: "I try to always do something out of the ordinary. I probably would've dove in from the 12-yard line if I could."

I was sitting in Section 144 yesterday, which is parallel to the goal line that Jackson was running down (so he was basically running towards me). He was taunting as he ran. He then fired the football into the crowd (also into my section). 2 Eagles special teams players (I believe #s 21 and 23) then walked over to some fans sitting behind the end zone and nearly came to blows with them. Other players were cursing and making obscene gestures towards the fans. After the extra point, players started taunting the fans some more - #77 was particularly obnoxious, flapping his arms insanely.

It's surprising that there was not an incident after the game. Partly it was because Giants fans were so stunned and disappointed. But I know this - I am a very level-headed rational person, but had I been on the field and someone taunted me to my face the way the Eagles players taunted the fans after that game, I would have punched them in the nose. The Eagles organization should be embarrassed by the way their players behaved. When you win a game like that, it's expected that you celebrate. I could probably even excuse taunting the players you've just beaten (which is unsportsmanlike but understandable). It's just pathetic to go out of your way to taunt fans who can do nothing but sit there and take it. It's the verbal equivalent of a sucker punch.

76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I suspect that Jackson was instructed to kill time if he had the opportunity. I also suspect he saw the clock as he was approaching the end zone and knew that time was expired, and ran parallel to the endzone anyway because that's the kind of guy he is.

That said, as taunting goes, it was pretty mild. Not nearly as bad as his falling backwards into the end zone play against the Cowboys the week before. Throwing the ball into the crowd can be written off to heat of the moment I think.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

"you win a game like that, it's expected that you celebrate. I could probably even excuse taunting the players you've just beaten (which is unsportsmanlike but understandable). It's just pathetic to go out of your way to taunt fans who can do nothing but sit there and take it."

Indeed I'm sure not one of those many Giants fans taunted any of the Eagles players when, for example, they were 21 points behind.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I don’t know about the taunting, I think there’s always a lot going on and after an emotional rollercoaster like that, I can’t blame them. As for the spectators – please: players are hurled incredible abuse from the audience all game long, and have to just shut it all out. I doubt anyone’s sensitive feelings got hurt.

Now, maybe someone can answer this question: why did the Eagles take the PAT, with the (admittedly small) chance of a blocked kick and return, as opposed to electing to go for 2 and taking a knee?

209 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Yes, but to the original commenter's point, they could "line up and go for the PAT" by getting into the victory formation and taking a knee. So if, hypothetically, a blocked PAT could be run back by the defense for two points, it would make sense to do that in any situation where you score a TD to go up by one or two points on the last play of regulation.

Since a blocked kick or turnover on a conversion try is a dead ball, though, there's no reason to not just kick the PAT.

254 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I think the only time I've seen this done (take a knee on a PAT with 0 time left) was the final snap (to date) of Dave McGinnis's head coaching career, the infamous Nate Pool game.

http://prod.www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2003122809/2003/REG17/vikings@cardinals#tab:analyze/analyze-channels:cat-post-playbyplay

(This was the season the Vikings started 6-0, lead the NFC North wire to wire, but lost the division crown after the clock read 0:00 in the final game of the year (the Packers had won a few minutes before in Green Bay against Denver's scrubs).

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

What is insane is any Jint fan saying an Iggle player flapping his arms after a score is 'insanely...obnoxious....taunting.'

And we're all quite sure you would have punched an NFL lineman in the nose, Mr. Internet Tough Guy. And just stop with the 'OMG, a player held the ball up in the air' as if it doesn't happen several times a week.

The Jints were the definition of bad sportsmanship after the game, look at your own glass house, brah.

DeSean was trying to run out the clock, and specifically referenced Brian Westbrook's play against Dallas in the post-game interview. There were 14 seconds left when the punt occurred, and he's pretty fast so he thought there was some time left after he ran 50 yards upfield.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Not sure if it was the same corner of the same endzone, but a scoring Eagle had been struck by fan-thrown debris earlier in the game. An object was also thrown from the stands at Jackson as he returned the final kick, somewhere around the 30.

Physician, heal thyself.

P.S. On the internet, I would also punch a professional athlete in the face.

168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Maclin was hit with debris after his TD.

Desean got beers thrown at him last year after his TD.

I think I saw some stuff flying at him during his return too.

If it was in Philly: National news. Now, nothing, and even Giants fans complaining.

Madness ?

134 tWWLiS

He said he was just making sure there was no time left on the clock. And once he realized there wasn't, Jackson waltzed in, fired the ball into the crowd and began jumping for joy with his teammates along the Eagles' sideline.

"I probably would've dove in from the 12-yard line if I could've. I knew it was like 12 to 14 seconds left. And I didn't know if I made it with time still on the clock and I just wanted to run the time out."

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Yeah, Maclin was pelted with trash after the tying score. I was actually pretty shocked - I actually thought "Watch it, guys, or you're gonna get banned for life!" It was only some bits of paper, so it wasn't outrageous or anything, but I can't remember the last time I saw a player get pelted with trash...

Also, on the replay, you can clearly see Jackson looking around for the clock and the moment he sees it, he cuts into the endzone. Watch the replay, he looks up for the clock and then quickly darts in once he sees the time is expired...

221 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

You are correct that I would not have punched an NFL lineman in the nose. I am 5'8" 165. What I meant was that if I were playing and a similarly sized person taunted me in that way, I'd have punched him. The fact that Eagles players thought it was OK to taunt us measly fans who can do nothing but stand there and take it was exactly my point.

As for the Giants being the "definition of bad sportsmanship" ... that's been proven false: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/blog/shutdown_corner/post/Vick-says-Giants-were-unsportsmanlike-photogr?urn=nfl-298246

In any event, the Eagles made a great comeback and no one can take that away from them. Vick was Jordan-esque (and he himself celebrated pretty appropriately). Just wish the other players would have shown more class. And I admit that I can't say that if the sitaution were reversed the Giants would have acted any better (I'm looking at you Brandon Jacobs). But I definitely hate the Eagles even more now than I did Sunday morning.

223 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I find it incredible that you think fans having to "stand there and take" players' taunts is somehow worse than players having to stand there and take snowballs and garbage being thrown at them. I don't generally talk trash, but you can bet that I'd be eager to taunt people who were doing that to me, and I think most people would react similarly.

231 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Regardless, it is unprofessional (immature) for a player to taunt the fans. This does not mean that the fans should be allowed to engage in any behavior they choose.

233 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

It may be immature or unprofessional, but I think most people are going to react aggressively after having been provoked like that ... especially when you're loaded with adrenaline and are riding an emotional high.

239 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Concur...it's part of sports fandom, the belief that if we as fans act in certain way, by yelling, screaming, etc., we can have an impact on the game. In my mind there are limits to what is appropriate behavior on both sides, and when a player reacts, it makes me think that the fans have managed to get under the player's skin. I just wonder whatever happened to letting your play do the talking.

248 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I honestly did not see any trash thrown at Eagles players, and I had a very good vantage point, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I was quite distracted from my team giving up a 3-TD lead in 7 minutes. If the players were actually hit by trash or debris, they were justified in taunting in response and I withdraw my criticism.

250 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

The game is being rebroadcast on NFLN tonight (8pm, I beleive). Watch Maclin after he catches the game tying TD. As he's celebrating, you'll see something coming down on his head, and it ain't snow.

247 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

I don't think anyone has seriously entertained the notion that DeSean Jackson is mature by any measure, unless maybe he has a younger brother.*

They are professional entertainers. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that the NFL marketing research department has determined that post-play celebrations add to, rather than subtract from, the experience of their consumers, in aggregate (except after TDs). It also wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that viewers at drinking establishments in the Greater Philadelphia Area were particularly entertained by the taunting of the fans. Hell, we're still talking about that nonsense instead of the actual football!

Personally, I find a third-down sack more exciting than three guys pretending to make a basketball shot afterward, and an actual play for first down more exciting than the guy who made it giving the ref's signal.

251 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

Oh, on the contrary. I was sitting in a bar on Sunday, and I was very entertained by the 20-something Giants fan, who seranaded us with "Fly Eagles Fly" every time the Giants scored. Sad that the singing seemed to stop so suddenly - he had SUCH a nice voice!

267 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 15

" In fact, my family was at the game and watched DeSean Jackson’s mom get pushed by a Giants fan in retaliation for her zealous cheering after the big win. It’s unfortunate that fans take it that far. The only pushing and shoving should be done on the field." Winston Justice

What about those dirty Eagles players and fans again ? And the classy Giants ones ? Seriously.

Once again, if it was some Giants' player's mom in Philly, it would be all over football related webites.