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

Audibles at the Line: Week 7

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

compiled by 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.

Please also note that we do not write the e-mails specifically to produce this column, which 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.

Jacksonville Jaguars 20 at Kansas City Chiefs 42

Bill Barnwell: Chris Chambers is a healthy scratch for the Chiefs for the second week in a row. That whole resurgence thing didn't go so well.

Mike Thomas returns a punt 49 yards against the Chiefs but has the ball knocked out of his hands as he falls down. A Jaguars player tries to, of course, scoop the ball and run with it. This ends less than well. The Chiefs recover, and Thomas Jones runs 70 yards on first down to set up a Jamaal Charles touchdown.

You know, Rich Gannon might be the worst color commentator in the league. No one clings closer to conventional wisdom. Not even Dierdorf.

Will Carroll: I'm seeing more and more clear offensive PI. Mike Sims-Walker really got away with one where he had a full handful of the DB's jersey, then on the next play, Marcedes Lewis pushed off, Eric Berry didn't budge, and Lewis spent 20 seconds complaining.

Bill Barnwell: It was actually a great play by Berry, who was able to get all the way around Lewis to bat the ball away.

Tom Gower: The best OPI non-call in JAC-KC actually came earlier in the drive, when Todd Bouman threw out, and Deji Karim turned in, right into Derrick Johnson, who was running to get to the ball. There's very little doubt in my mind that if Karim had been the defensive player and Johnson the offensive guy, there's a flag for DPI, so why not flag for OPI?

David Gardner: The commentators were going nuts over Todd Bouman's performance so far. I turn to my roommate and say, "Watch, he's gonna throw a pick now." Sure enough, he throws a pick-six and the Chiefs are up 28-20. And they're getting the ball back again. On a side note, I really like how enthusiastic their fans are -- especially compared to an empty stadium in Tampa.

Tom Gower: Todd Haley, Genius Extraordinaire, just decided to eschew the field goal attempt and go for it on fourth-and-three from the 24 with the Chiefs leading 28-20 with 11:16 to go in the game. I'll just go write up the Martz Award now.

Bill Barnwell: That's a somewhat defensible move -- the Jaguars defense is awful.

Philadelphia Eagles 19 at Tennessee Titans 37

Tom Gower: The Titans started out the game with a statement they're not going to let Collins starting change the game plan, calling a bootleg. The Eagles stayed at home (big shock), so Collins threw the ball away (another shocker). After the Eagles punt, Collins is kind enough to give the Eagles the ball back with a pump fake, pump fake, try to hit Nate Washington by throwing the ball through Quintin Mikell. Ah, well.

Bill Barnwell: What's the interception rate on passes where Kerry Collins double-pumps? 30 percent? 50 percent?

Aaron Schatz: Who attached the rocket to Kevin Kolb's arm today? I switched over from Pittsburgh and saw him throw two straight passes five feet over the receivers' heads. Also, Chad Hall is the first read on third-and-5? Really?

Mike Tanier: Hall got a handoff earlier. He is a big part of the game plan today. Reid must think he is Reno Mahe. And yes, Kolb is a little pumped up.

Bill Barnwell: Hall was open up the seam. Just a bad throw.

Aaron Schatz: I'm not saying he wasn't open. I'm just surprised he's the first read, not the third or fourth.

Tom Gower: Well, at the end of the first quarter, the Titans have 31 yards rushing and 29 yards of total offense. Collins is 1 of 4 for 4 yards (on third-and-eight) plus that aforementioned pick, and has been his current self: quick to feel pressure, hesitant to try to hit a receiver, and quick to throw the ball away. He was the better option in 2008, but he now looks shot.

Offensively, the Eagles aren't getting yardage in big chunks, but have still moved the ball fairly successfully, though it didn't result in any points in the opening 15. It looks like the Titans are playing mostly zone thus far, and Kolb has been locating guys in the voids though he hasn't always been hitting them. The Titans' defense still looks to me like a good defensive line that's generally better than the individual sum of its parts.

Bill Barnwell: Bad process, good outcome: Eagles run a reverse to Kolb out of the Wildcat. Kolb lofts up a bomb into triple-coverage that should have been picked off, but Chris Hope doesn't play the ball and Riley Cooper jumps in front of him for a long gain.

Mike Tanier: They are thinking outside the bun today.

Tom Gower: The Titans did get into the end zone in the second quarter when Collins hit Kenny Britt on a deep fade to the outside before the safety could get over and help. That came right after a similar play to the other side for Nate Washington where the ball was thrown out of bounds. Have I mentioned the deep fade is a great staple of lousy offenses where the quarterback has a decent arm?

I've officially fallen out of love with Kolb as a quarterback, and suspect I'd be even more so if I could see the secondary coverage. His brain just doesn't seem to be operating at the speed it needs to for a real NFL quarterback yet in terms of anticipating coverage and feeling the pass rush. I haven't watched Vick in enough detail this year, but Kolb is not playing so well you can't justify benching him if you have another viable option.

Tom Gower: Collins throws his second pick of the game on the Titans' first possession of the second half. Britt ran a deep in on third-and-seven, Samuel started with inside position and maintained it as Britt cut in after the slot guy ran his clearing route, and Collins threw the ball right to him.

Titans with two with 13 minutes to play, as Kenny Britt hauls in an 80-yarder from Collins. Britt ran right past Nate Allen and was a good seven yards clear, but Collins of course underthrew the ball by a good ten yards. Britt did a great job of adjusting to come back for the ball, then avoiding both Allen and Ellis Hobbs I believe en route to the end zone.

Kenny Britt is up to 209 yards receiving, while the rest of the Titans have combined for 79 net yards. Nate Allen is really looking like a rookie safety out there. Collins will get praised, I'm sure, but few of Britt's 6 receptions have come on good throws, and some of them, like the 80 yard TD, have been lousy. And as I'm typing this, he scores his third TD of the game and now has 225 of the team's 318 yards.

Bill Barnwell: Cortland Finnegan picks off a Kevin Kolb pass to somewhere with nine seconds left and returns it for a touchdown. Not quite as bad because the Titans were up 11 as opposed to one score, but still dumb.

Buffalo Bills 34 at Baltimore Ravens 37

Mike Tanier: I just sat down and Roscoe Parrish already fumbled, with the ball bouncing about 30 yards backwards. It is gonna be one of those weeks.

Doug Farrar: With five minutes left in the first quarter, Ryan Fitzpatrick throws a deep pass to Lee Evans, who scores a touchdown and then tries to remember what it’s like to catch a ball that’s thrown over seven yards in the air.

You know, I actually kind of like Fitzpatrick as a Chan Gailey-type quarterback. He has some mobility, he's conversant with fakes, and he can actually make more than one throw. I'll be interested to see how their Alleged Offense might develop with him in there. (Hint: MORE PISTOL!)

Mike Tanier: Joe Flacco is overthrowing everyone, which is why the Bills keep getting possession.

Bill Barnwell: Steve Beuerlein just referred to Derrick Mason as Anthony Mason. That was a great moment.

Vince Verhei: Late in the first half, the Ravens have as many incomplete passes (11) as they do total rushing plays. That is a sure sign that you've been passing too much.

Tom Gower: Lindell hits the field goal to send the game to overtime, and the Bills recover from a 10 point deficit to force overtime. Because, you know, NOBODY CIRCLES THE WAGONS LIKE THE BUFFALO BILLS.*

*-After blowing an 18 point first half lead.

Oh, boy. Shawn Nelson fights for extra yardage on a dumpoff after the Bills force a Ravens punt in OT. He's stood up, and, like happened to Edge on Monday night four years ago, the opposing team's star MLB rips the ball away. Should have been a whistle there, but wasn't and of course forward progress is not reviewable. A Bills lineman rips off his helmet and slams it down to put the Ravens in field goal range, and three runs into the line later, Cundiff wins it.

Cleveland Browns 30 at New Orleans Saints 17

Bill Barnwell: Browns ran a really nifty throwback play on a punt where Josh Cribbs fielded a punt on one side of the field, ran a few yards forward, and then threw across the field to an open Eric Wright, who went 61 yards.

Ben Muth: Those millions of people who started the Browns defense against the Saints this week have to feel vindicated.

Bill Barnwell: David Bowens -- he of the "Perfect Year" essay -- just picked off Drew Brees again and ran 65 yards for a touchdown, his second of the day.

Washington Redskins 17 at Chicago Bears 14

Doug Farrar: Early on, people on Twitter are praising Albert Haynesworth for beating the crap out of Chris Williams on yet another Cutler sack. These people have not seen the Bears' offensive line. Mrs. Haynesworth could beat these people for a sack. The Bears have failed to convert their last 24 third downs. That has to be the Stat of the Year so far.

Bill Barnwell: Really dumb play by Donovan McNabb, who is in the grasp of two defenders and tries to get a pass off anyway. The pass gets tipped by Israel Idonije (defender 1) and caught by D.J. Moore (defender 2) and returned for an easy touchdown.

Doug Farrar: Someone needs to tell Donovan that he’s not Roethlisberger.

Aaron Schatz: When Roethlisberger tries to get off that pass, it ends up as a simple fumble and recovery, not an interception and touchdown return.

Vince Verhei: That was the second or third play where McNabb threw a pass with heavy pressure in his face. A turnover seemed inevitable.

Aaron Schatz: If the Chicago first-team offense ever faced the Chicago first-team defense in practice, what would that look like?

Doug Farrar: Well, Mike Tice would pull all the protections and leave Chris Williams alone to face Julius Peppers over and over, so it would look pretty stinkin' bad. Oh, wait, that's actually what they did in training camp!

Ben Muth: Chicago blitzed and Santana Moss had time to run a post-corner-post. It was a touchdown.

Bill Barnwell: Lovie Smith with an impossibly stupid challenge. Earl Bennett catches a 48-yard pass and is down at the 1/2-yard line. Could be a touchdown; hard to tell, but the refs rule him down short of the endzone. Bears have first-and-goal...and Lovie Smith decides to challenge the touchdown. Seriously? I mean, I know it's the Bears, who are awful on the goal line, but you have to think they'll eventually score from the one-yard line.

...and then the Bears promptly fumble on the one-yard line. Cutler stripped on a sneak. Oh my lord. Replay shows he actually broke the plane, but Smith is suddenly hesitant to challenge. I mean, this isn't advanced game theory or anything. One challenge is the difference between a touchdown and four shots from the one-yard line. The other challenge is the difference between a touchdown and a loss of possession.

Ben Muth: Donovan McNabb just threw a second interception that DJ Moore returned for a TD. Luckily they didn't snap the ball in time so the refs called off the TD and gave them a delay of game instead.

Bill Barnwell: Just an awful throw by Cutler against a big blitz. He throws an out off of his back foot that sails, and DeAngelo Hall jumps it and runs in a straight line for a 92-yard touchdown.

Tom Gower: Yes, it was a bad throw by Cutler, but it was also a great one-handed grab and return by Hall.

Bill Barnwell: Great catch by Hall, but it was a great catch because he nearly overran the ball. It was that bad of a throw. I don't know about a great run; he had an entirely open field ahead of him and outsprinted everyone to the endzone.

Tom Gower: Yeah, wasn't that great of a return. Still, he did there exactly what you want your CB to do-did an excellent job driving on the ball, adjusted to an errant ball to make an excellent catch, and immediately went upfield and accelerated.

Bill Barnwell: This Redskins-Bears game is probably the worst game of the year. The Redskins took over after that last Cutler interception and fumbled twice in three plays, with a recovery only averted on the first one when Chris Cooley (smartly) batted the ball out of bounds. Graham Gano hits the upright on the ensuing field goal attempt. The Bears pick up a third down with a pass to Forte, but it's called back for holding. On the makeup play, Cutler is flushed from the pocket and hits LaRon Landry in the helmet; the ball promptly bounces about 15 yards back towards the line of scrimmage, where an offensive lineman catches it.

Vince Verhei: I think the Bears and Redskins have fumbled 700 total times today.

Doug Farrar: Looks like Mike Martz is rubbing off on everybody.

Bill Barnwell: DeAngelo Hall, meanwhile, finished with four interceptions of Jay Cutler. And the Redskins going 7-for-8 on fumble recoveries might be a record.

Cincinnati Bengals 32 at Atlanta Falcons 39

Mike Tanier: All of the Falcons defensive backs are getting hurt again. DeCoud was out with a hammy. Dunta Robinson got knocked out last week, of course, and isn't back this week.

Benjy Rose: Not much to say here so far near the end of the first quarter ... Benson tearing up the Falcons line, Palmer overthrowing receivers, Matt Ryan playing inconsistently...yawn.

Bill Barnwell: Roddy White has 157 yards and a touchdown with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter. The Bengals are without Johnathan Joseph today and are playing Morgan Trent and Adam Jones on one side of the field. I haven't seen a ton of the game, but I suspect these two things are related.

Tom Gower: Don't look now, but the Bengals just turned two turnovers into two scores to come back and take the lead. The first came when Leon Hall picked off a deep pass intended for Michael Jenkins, followed by a long Jordan Shipley TD, then Pac-Man stripped Roddy White after a short completion, ripped the ball out, and took it back. Marvin Lewis went for down after the first TD made it 24-19, failed, then went for two again and just failed for the second time.

Mike Tanier: The Bengals have engineered this amazing comeback. What happened to those fundamentally sound Falcons of a few weeks ago?

DeAngelo Hall and Pac-Man with touchdowns within a few minutes. The fast but clueless have inherited the earth.

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Miami Dolphins 22

Aaron Schatz: Just in case anyone needs examples of why Ben Roethlisberger is not one of the top five quarterbacks in the league despite his impressive passing stats, we had one in the Miami-Pittsburgh game. Big Ben's size and scrambling ability give him the chance to extend plays, but that also means he takes more sacks and worse, sometimes tries to make the impossible play. With a bunch of Dolphins trying to drag him down for a sack, Roethlisberger refused to hit the ground and tried to shovel the ball ahead to Ike Redman who had been trying to block. However, Big Ben lost the handle of the ball before he could start the actual shoveling motion, i.e. a forward pass, thus leading to a fumble. Good thing the Steelers defense is so good, they've fumbled twice and it has led to two field goals as the Miami offense pretty much went nowhere twice.

Ben Muth: Is Hines Ward a Hall of Famer? 11,000 yards, 80 touchdowns, 2 Super Bowls, one super bowl MVP, and a reputation for being the best blocker at his position. I don't think he'd get in, but I think it's close.

Vince Verhei: Based on the way they've been voting, he'll get in because of the rings. It's almost impossible for a wideout to get in without one -- ask Cris Carter. Not to say that's how they should vote, but it's the standard they've set.

Aaron Schatz: Ben Roethlisberger just went to scramble, then changed his mind, then pump faked, went to scramble again, changed his mind, pump faked, and overthrew Hines Ward in the end zone... from two yards past the line of scrimmage.

When he comes in as part of the pass rush rotation, rookie OLB Jason Worilds is having an excellent game speed-rushing right tackle Vernon Carey. Anyone know how you pronounce his name? I have no idea. On the other hand, James Harrison vs. Jake Long is advantage Miami.

And geez, Dan Dierdorf, will you please stop slobbering over the amazing pocket that the Dolphins keep setting up for Chad Henne? The Dolphins leave in a back to block on nearly every play, and the Steelers are blitzing less than usual. Every play is six blocking four. It's not THAT spectacular.

Vince Verhei: Miami has used a couple of rollouts today. Not play-action, not bootlegs, just a quarterback rolling to the right and his offensive line moving with him. If Miami can run those with Chad Henne, can't pretty much any team use them? Seems like a good way to keep your quarterback upright that teams should use more often.

Aaron Schatz: Problem is that those rollouts basically cut the field in half, condensing the space your receivers can work in.

Astonishing coaching challenge result in Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger runs a quarterback draw but loses control of the football before he crosses the plane. Originally called a touchdown, the Dolphins challenge. Gene Steratore comes out and explains: Roethlisberger loses the ball and therefore it is not a touchdown. However, the challenge has two parts: did Roethlisberger fumble, and who recovered it? Since there is not clear evidence as to which team recovered the football, Steratore says that he can't overturn Pittsburgh possession of the ball. Therefore it goes into the book as a fumble recovered by the Steelers, and it will be Steelers ball, fourth-and-goal from the half-yard line, down by two points. Jeff Reed hits a 19-yard field goal to go up by 1.

Honestly, it looked pretty clear from the video that Miami recovered the football. I guess it wasn't 100 percent sure, but it definitely looked like it.

Vince Verhei: The best part about that was Steratore nervously scratching his elbow during the announcement, knowing the call was lame and he would be hated, but it's the only call he could make. The Dolphins fell on the ball first and probably recovered, but indisputably? No.

Aaron Schatz: Golly, Chad Henne sure likes to throw to people in the flat. When it is third-and-8 with less than two minutes left, down by one, you might want to consider throwing it more than a yard past the line of scrimmage.

San Francisco 49ers 20 at Carolina Panthers 23

Tom Gower: Alex Smith went down hard early in the third quarter and is headed to the locker room with an apparent shoulder injury. David Carr has entered the game. Yes, ALERT, ALERT, David Carr has entered the game.

Ben Muth: The Giants make the World Series and David Carr comes in? Good weekend for San Franciscans.

Bill Barnwell: OK, one of the stupidest decisions of the week: David Carr has the ball on his own 20-yard line with one timeout and 30 seconds left, down three points. No one's open deep, so what does he do? Throw a two-yard checkdown to Vernon Davis, who's surrounded by defenders.

Tom Gower: His career in a nutshell.

St. Louis Rams 17 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18

Doug Farrar: Halfway through the first quarter, the Bucs have second-and-goal ... from the 35-yard line. OPI, holding, sack. Yikes.

David Gardner: Sam Bradford fumbled from his own 6-yard line on the first Rams' possession. The Bucs took over and were flagged for offensive pass interference, holding, and then Freeman was sacked. They ended up with third-and-goal from the 36. Hilarious. A good catch by Mike Williams put them in field-goal range and the Bucs are up early.

Doug Farrar: The guys doing the Bucs game are comparing Gerald McCoy to Ndamukong Suh. I suppose that was inevitable, and I’m sure McCoy will be a dynamic player, but I was surprised that so many people thought McCoy would have more of an immediate impact. He can be made to disappear on plays when he’d double-teamed, and Suh plays with far more velocity at the line of scrimmage, which is why he’s already beating those same types of double-teams in the NFL.

Aaron Schatz: I always thought that the difference was that people thought that McCoy would make more game-changing big plays, while Suh would be a more consistently good player who affected every play. Not saying that's true, but that was the general impression I got from pre-draft reports.

David Gardner: An offsides call against Ronde Barber on a field-goal attempt gives the Rams a first-and-goal and eventually a touchdown. The Rams game plan has been simple -- run, run, run.

LeGarrette Blount is finally getting the carries in the second half. Blount runs with more power and decisiveness than Williams.

The Bucs offensive line continues to be the weak link of the team. They aren't opening up any holes in the running game, Freeman is being pressured on almost every snap, and they have been flagged a bunch of times, including a late hit on a two-minute drive to try and win the game.

On a third-and-10 with 30 seconds left and the ball at the 20-yard line, Freeman finds Mike Williams for the first down, and he jukes his way down to the one. Two plays later, Freeman rolls right and finds Cadillac Williams for the go-ahead score.

Doug Farrar: How has Davin Joseph been this season? I had him pegged as a future star a while back.

David Gardner: He's been the best of a bad line. He had a dumb penalty today, but he's a really good pass blocker and a decent run blocker.

Freeman also has established some late-game credentials early in his career. Of Freeman's seven wins, five were comebacks.

Arizona Cardinals 10 at Seattle Seahawks 22

Doug Farrar: Wow. That Max Hall pass intercepted by Earl Thomas in the first quarter was so bad, I’d believe it if I was told that Thomas was the intended receiver.

Seahawks running a bit more bunch today, with the tight end inside pulling to the other side to block – I like the blocking out of bunch idea, which the Steelers do as well as anyone.

Bill Barnwell: Seahawks get a stripsack of Max Hall when they rush three and get Chris Clemons one-on-one versus Stephen Spach while left tackle Levi Brown just watches the play. Hall gets laid out from behind (and clearly has no feel for the rush), and the Seahawks recover the resulting fumble.

Awesome. Olindo Mare lines up for a 31-yard field goal and hits it, but Cameron Morrah gets called for holding. Mare then hits a 41-yarder, but Morrah is called for holding AGAIN. So then Mare hits the 51-yarder. He's hit 26 in a row -- 28 if we count those two -- since last year, when Jim Mora threw him under the bus. Karma is awesome.

Doug Farrar: Bonus to twelfth-string guard Mike Gibson for the unnecessary roughness call after the successful try, which gave Mare a 15-yard ding on the kickoff. He kicked the ball 77 yards to the Arizona 8. He is officially the baddest kicker alive.

And the Seahawks wind up kicking yet another field goal on a drive in which Mike Williams pretty much made Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie his play toy because they went away from Williams in the red zone. Oh, and they managed two more delay of game penalties, including one on the field goal. Half the time, I'm pretty much convinced that Jeremy Bates is Norv Turner's son, not Jim Bates'.

New England Patriots 23 at San Diego Chargers 20

Bill Barnwell: Chargers run a surprise onside/squib kick after a Kris Brown field goal and, of course, it fails.

Aaron Schatz: Actually, that's not a Chargers thing. That's been an everyone thing. Not counting a Chargers kick with one second left that was just meant to waste time, kicking team has only recovered 2 of 6 first-half onside attempts. I wonder if the Saints Super Bowl kick sort of ruined the strategy, or is this just small sample size? Probably the latter, but still...

Bill Barnwell: Here's the problem with Phil Simms. He starts going off after a fumble on a Kris Wilson checkdown about how guys who don't touch the ball frequently fumble at a higher rate because "it makes sense". Lots of things make sense. That doesn't make them true.

I actually ran a quick test and it's true, although subject to selection bias: Running backs that have more than 60% of their team's carries fumble once every 75 touches, while backs that have fewer than 20% of their team's carries fumble once every 33 touches. But I know Simms didn't test it.

Patriots just a ran a diamond formation with four wideouts on one side. That was nifty.

Aaron Schatz: Second time the Pats have run that formation. Both times, it was a screen pass to the back guy in the diamond: Welker a couple weeks ago, Woodhead today.

Ben Muth: I hope they're setting up the double pass for later this year. I always loved that play.

Tom Gower: Rookie Chargers receiver Richard Goodman caught a pass over the middle, then went down and let go of the ball. Since nobody had touched him, he wasn't down, so the Patriots had one of the world's easiest fumble recoveries. Now, SD turns the ball over again after a pass for Hester is ruled a lateral on the field and there's simply not enough evidence to overturn it. I hate this team.

Bill Barnwell: Richard Goodman made Phil Simms sure look a little smarter.

Aaron Schatz: The thing about the lateral to Hester is that Hester didn't make any attempt to pounce on the ball once he didn't catch it. It was like he had no idea that a backwards pass was a live ball, or that a maybe-backwards pass might be a live ball so you probably should pounce on it just to be safe. That's twice today the Chargers have given the ball to the Patriots without any contact with a defender, simply by not noticing that the whistle had not blown yet.

Good thing their defense is playing so (surprisingly) well this year. Antwan Barnes is an excellent edition. I always thought he was an underrated pass rusher on the rise in Baltimore. The Chargers finally have the pass rush this year that they allegedly have had every year but that they ACTUALLY have not had since Merriman's first steroid suspension.

Also: fun to note that Brandon Meriweather seems to be making a point of hitting everyone with his shoulder today. At one point, he completely leveled a Chargers receiver with a shoulder-to-chest hit and then got up making "did you see that" motions.

And at the half, the score is: New England 13, San Diego -25, and Antwan Barnes 28. Good thing for the Chargers that Antwan Barnes is one of their players, so the scoreboard says "13-3."

Aaron Schatz: Marcus McNeill's return was supposed to improve San Diego's pass-blocking, but this doesn't really work if the opponent (say, the Pats) has the defender (DE or OLB) on McNeill's side hang back while the pass rush goes at the other linemen.

Bill Barnwell: Well, they have Jeromey Clary on the right side, and he sucks. They should really take Brandyn Dombrowski (the guy who replaced McNeill at left tackle) and play him at right tackle.

Decision by Belichick to go for it fourth-and-1 from midfield is pretty defensible. Surprised they went with a handoff to Green-Ellis versus a sneak or a pass play, but still think it makes sense. Green-Ellis really didn't read his blocking very well; I think he gets it if he runs up underneath his left guard, but he kicked it outside where there were three defenders waiting. I can see the case for punting, but it keeps your worst unit (pass defense) on the sideline.

Aaron Schatz: Then the Chargers have a false start on the attempt to tie the game with a field goal, making it a 50-yard field goal, and Kris Brown (signed this week with Nate Kaeding injured) knocks it off the right upright. Chargers go to 2-5.

Oakland Raiders 59 at Denver Broncos 14

Bill Barnwell: The Raiders are up 21-0 within six minutes. Boy, am I excited for this 49ers-Broncos game next week.

After yet another Broncos turnover gives the Raiders the ball in the redzone, the Broncos strip McFadden. A Bronco goes to scoop it and can't, of course, and Jason Campbell recovers. The Broncos committed defensive holding on the play anyway, of course. Football!

Ryan Clady just took a hands to the face call against Kamerion Wimbley; he doesn't have any knee bend. A healthy Clady doesn't take that penalty.

Darren McFadden now has four touchdowns; it's safe to say he has the starting job in Raiders to himself again. The Raiders have 52 points with 20 minutes left in the game; no team's put up 60 in the regular season since the Bengals in 1989, and if anyone's going to want to run up the score for fun, it's Al Davis against the Broncos.

Minnesota Vikings 24 at Green Bay Packers 28

Bill Barnwell: Vikings just lined up on the opening third down in that same diamond formation we talked about during the Pats game. They also ran a screen to the back receiver; let's see when someone runs something different out of that set.

Vince Verhei: The Seahawks tried it in an earlier game. It was also a WR screen. It also failed. It's big neon sign saying WE ARE RUNNING A WR SCREEN. The next step would be a pump-fake to the back receiver, then a lob to one of the "blockers" who has slipped through the defense on a fade route, but I don't think I've seen that yet.

Aaron Schatz: Well, the Pats screens didn't fail. They both succeeded, although the one earlier in the season was better than today's.

Mike Tanier: There's a lot you can do from the diamond besides a screen. NFL coaches must just be on page one of that playbook.

Bill Barnwell: Aaron Rodgers is incapable of throwing to anyone but his tight end in the red zone. Quarless was double-covered and he still threw it. Of course, it worked.

Aaron Schatz: Cris Collinsworth saying that very few teams are willing to put their left tackles one-on-one against Jared Allen, but isn't that one of the big stories of the Vikings season -- that opponents seem perfectly willing to put their left tackles one-on-one against Allen, and they're pretty much all doing fine, because Allen isn't playing as well as years past?

David Gardner: Wow, what a fourth-down play call by the Packers on that bomb to Andrew Quarless. Even though it failed, I respect the originality of it.

Aaron Schatz: Aaron Rodgers just threw a pick at the goal line. Despite what Collinsworth said, the problem wasn't really the idea of throwing the ball to Jennings being covered by Frank Walker. The problem was that the ball was thrown behind Jennings, where Walker was, instead of ahead of Jennings, where the cornerback couldn't get it. Walker tips, Madieu Williams picks it off.

Packers are squib kicking in order to avoid returns by Percy Harvin. Man, I just hate that play. The Vikings were fifth in kick return value going into this game but still, Harvin is not having a Devin Hester 2006 season. The average Harvin return before tonight, not counting squibs, went to the Vikings 31, and that includes a touchdown return. The touchdown was the only return Harvin has brought back past the 50. To avoid that longshot touchdown, you are just handing the other team the ball around the 40. Heck, that last one after the Favre pick-six gave the Vikings the ball at the 42. The Packers might as well have just kicked it out of bounds. Unless you have a return man who is enjoying a historically great season, it's a bad strategy.

A few minutes later, and the Packers are going for it on fourth-and-1. John Kuhn takes the ball, gets stopped, then slowly rolls over the pile until he has the first down. The problem? The refs whistled the forward progress over before Kuhn was actually down. All these plays we've seen where the refs swallow their whistles because they are afraid of making a mistake, and here they whistle way too early. Worst part for the Packers is that Greg Jennings honestly had the first down on the previous play with forward progress -- but Mike McCarthy didn't challenge, perhaps afraid to blow his last challenge on a one-yard spot when he might need to keep it for a scoring play or turnover.

Bill Barnwell: Favre comes back and throws a pick, though, on a play where Favre's throw is late, Percy Harvin runs a lazy intermediate route, and Nick Collins comes out of nowhere to nab the ball out of the air.

Aaron Schatz: Hello, officials? Phil Loadholt on the final Vikings drive? Holding? Anyone want to call it? Hello?

OK, after a couple plays (and a great play call on an Adrian Peterson screen that had a ton of room to work) they do call Loadholt -- not just for holding, but for a face mask and a 15-yard penalty that makes it (along with the false start before it) first-and-30.

David Gardner: Wow. That Harvin catch wasn't even close. It just goes to show how difficult it is for officials to verify both possession and being inbounds at the same time.

Aaron Schatz: Just so it doesn't sound like the complaints about officiating are one-sided, I should point out that Pete Prisco is tweeting that Clay Matthews took his helmet off after the Harvin catch (that wasn't). Should have been a 15-yard penalty on Green Bay. Not sure which official is supposed to be looking for that stuff. You definitely can't ask one guy to look at the receiver's feet and hands simultaneously, but I'm guessing the "look for dudes taking off helmets" guy is a different guy.

Bill Barnwell: They showed a replay of it. Matthews' helmet came off in mid-play. He took it off, but it was during the play.

Aaron Schatz: So he didn't take it off, it came off? That's not a penalty. If he took it off, even in mid-play, it is a penalty.

Comments

325 comments, Last at 28 Oct 2010, 11:37am

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

What are Fitzpatrick's DYAR going to look like tomorrow? Top ten pass-D equals good adjustments (I hope).

Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.

178 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm not sure if the link from drobviousso made it clear to you or not - I believe that the phrase comes from the American frontier days, when colonists would travel west in groups of horse-drawn covered wagons. If they were attacked by Native Americans, they would pull their wagons together to make a circle to "huddle up" for defense. (Or so they say. My understanding of the actual events involved isn't solid enough for me to say whether or not this really happened regularly.)

So I think the quote that "nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills" is an allusion to this concept, made more apropos by the fact that the namesake of the Bills, "Buffalo" Bill Cody, was a "Wild West" guy himself.

Hopefully that is either a helpful explication, or it has entirely drained the life out of the joke - you be the judge. :-)

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Darren McFadden, official RB binky of one Bill Barnwell, finally gets his day. And of course the only commenter to note it was Barnwell. Who else would watch a Raider game?

4 Packers - Vikings game

I think the Packers-Vikings game is such a perfect example of how much referees change games.

The two TD's in the first half that were questionable (Quarless and Shiancoe) could have been easily called the other way. If that happens it's 21-10. Then Moss gets called for a push off - he did it - good call - but often that goes uncalled. Those three calls can be the difference between 28-10 and 17-14.

I'm not arguing about the merits of calls, just pointing out how a few calls change a game so dramatically.

46 Re: Packers - Vikings game

I thought the Vikes scored a touchdown after that Shiancoe call. Am I misremembering? In any event, I done't understand how that wasn't a touchdown. It looked like a text book example of the Bert Emanuel rule.

69 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Vikings scored a TD after Harvin's non-TD was overruled because he stepped out of bounds.

As for the Shiancoe thing, the ball did move (barely), but I really have no idea what the rule is to that level of subtlety. I think most refs call that a TD.

Lots of bad calls in both directions, but i think they mostly evened out. Without checking the game log, I think Shiancoe's non-TD came after the bogus late hit out of bounds on Harvin, so maybe those calls end up canceling out.

88 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Thanks for the correction.

Yeah, I thought that call against the Packers for the hit on Harvin was a bad call too. Harvin hadn't stepped out of bounds when the Packer player made contact. You could technically make an arguement that Harvin was clearly headed out at that point (barring his breaking the laws of physics), but geez you have to be able to push a ballcarrier before he hits the white.

181 Re: Packers - Vikings game

The two TD calls (Shiancoe and Quarless) cost the Vikings 8 pts. Childress is saying the NFL says the refs got those wrong.

I doubt anything else in the game even's up a 8pt swing.

200 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Maybe so, but it's pure speculation to say what would have happened on some other calls.

The thing about bad calls on TDs, especially TDs on 3rd down, is that everyone knows pretty well what will happen if the call goes the other way. On other plays it's much more difficult to tell what would have happened, but that doesn't mean that these missed calls don't have the same effect on the game, whatever Chilly claims.

Was Shaincoe's TD ruling more important than the ball spot on Jennings 3rd down curl route that setup the failed 4th down conversion? We don't know. Shiancoe not getting the TD cost the Vikings 4 points. The Packers not getting that first down could have potentially cost them a chance to burn time off the clock, score a TD, and then kickoff to give the Vikings worse field position to start their final drive. Or not, who knows.

Without the clearly incorrect late hit out of bounds call, which directly preceded the Shiancoe play, the Vikings run a play from the 32 instead of the 17, meaning that the same completion only nets a 1st down around the 10-12 yard line. So maybe the Vikings end up settling for a FG anyways.

227 Re: Packers - Vikings game

That late hit out of bounds personal foul was a terrible call. It's a penalty that referees are far too eager to call. On any other late hit call, referees understand that a defender can't stop himself instantaneously and allow a buffer where they won't throw a flag if the hit comes a just after the quarterback has thrown the ball, or the receiver has dropped the pass, or the ballcarrier is down by contact, or the runner has made it into the end zone. But on a late hit out of bounds they'll throw the flag on bang-bang plays where the contact comes right after the player steps out, and in some cases like this one they mess up and flag a hit that happened before a foot has even landed out of bounds.

Coaches should be allowed to challenge those calls, at least in the case where the player clearly had not stepped out of bounds before the contact. When the contact comes just after the player steps out it's a judgment call, but if it comes before then that is definitive evidence that the hit took place before the play was dead and thus cannot be a late hit.

276 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Agree--that is a major pet peeve of mine as well. OOB calls are especially terrible in College FB I think. I don't think they should call it unless contact is a couple of yards out of bounds or there's clearly unnecessary follow through on the hit.

278 Re: Packers - Vikings game

What seals the deal for me is seeing players take advantage of it by pretending they're about to run out of bounds, making the defenders slow down to avoid the penalty, then accelerating away. I've seen that exploited in the same way as a quarterback faking to slide. I hate to say it, but there needs to be a clarification - something like if the guy takes three steps past the sideline - as many officials clearly aren't using common sense in their definition of late.

324 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Those calls overwhelmingly get called on the offensive team's sideline because everyone on the bench goes apeshit as soon as the contact comes. The refs get jittery and the flag comes out.

107 Re: Packers - Vikings game

No, they kicked a Field Goal. Of course, as an owner of Favre and Harvin in a close fantasy match-up, I have to say the Minnesota game was extra frustrating. Lost three TDs to replay overturns in one game. That must be some kind of record.

50 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Big swing between the best and worst case scenarios for either team, which illustrates your point, but also that consistency in the calls is of the utmost importance to a game's officiating not creating an unfair advantage for either team.

Admittedly, I'm a Vikings fan, but I thought the calls favored the team that won last night.

61 Re: Packers - Vikings game

I thought the same as well. But I'm a fan as well.

Those back to back TD decisions were a killer for the Vikings. But the Quarless TD should have been challenged by the Vikings whether or not they see a replay. It makes sense to toss the challenge flag in that situation. It would simply be a smart gamble. Review the situation for a coach who hasn't seen a replay or not received any feedback from up top:

1) it was third down and 8 - if the call is reversed you safe at least 4 pts.
2) The play was very close to the end line. Maybe his feet are out?
3) He was hit hard. Did he bobble it?

What do you lose by challenging and being wrong. One challenge - you still had both. And one 1st half timeout.

Seems like a no brainer gamble to challenge.

161 Re: Packers - Vikings game

Agreed on the challenge attempt. I couldn't tell what hit first - his back out of bounds or his butt in the end zone. It was close on that, although not indisputable, but the bobble was something I didn't notice before the replays.

186 Re: Packers - Vikings game

I thought the exact opposite. McCarthy had to use two challenges on obvious calls, which probably stopped him from throwing his third on another obvious one (that spot that led to the 4th down that should've converted but didn't due to the early whistle), Loadholt was holding all night, uncalled, and the refs also initially signalled TD on that Harvin catch, which would've required yet another red flag if it had been outside of 2:00 to play.

The only thing that went the Pack's way was the first TD, which was so obviously blown that one can only blame Childress for not throwing the flag.

Games are routinely officiated that poorly or worse, so it really made me laugh when Childress went off about the refs afterwards. Especially since every review done was correct.

Re: the Shiancoe TD, the ball clearly moved quite a bit when it hit the ground, which makes it an easy call. If he had it securely between his hands (it was kind of low, more like between his wrists) and those hands moved with the ball, that'd demonstrate control (or possession, or whatever word they use in writing), but since it moved into his body like that, it could be argued that the ground helped him secure possession.

It's kind of a stupid rule, since it's quite clear that Shiancoe wasn't going to drop that ball, but I understand the need for it.

Re: the game in general, there's still something wrong with the Packers. That the Vikings were even in position to win in the end there should be embarrassing for them. They got three gifts and even with the injuries, have arguably the better team. They've still got a lot of work to do.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Also, I love NFC North games. They've overtaken AFC East and NFC East games for me in terms of entertainment. Lions/Vikings/Packers/Bears-- any game featuring two of these teams playing each other is instantly memorable.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It's a different type of enjoyment, but I will admit that NFC West games have their appeal.

I just like NFC North games because the teams on the whole have good to decent talent (even the Lions, at least on offense) but will consistently fuck up in weird and unpredictable ways (see also: Dallas). And having horrible game management coaches only helps (excepting Detroit, I guess).

165 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For sheer comic enjoyment nothing beats a Chargers game. It's like that movie where Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin inhabited the same body and fought to control it. Sometimes the good Chargers take control for a few minutes and keep the game tight and make you think they might pull it out, then the bad Chargers take over and start leaving the ball lying around the field for the other team, or forget to block on kicks, or forget to wait for the snap on kicks, or forget to tackle on kicks....

234 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

That's potentially the weirdest thing about this season. The Lions were supposed to be more of a factor this season (and they have been; they've been close in every game, threatened at the end of all except the Vikings game, and of course there's the win against the Rams) ... but if they become a factor in the division, it'll be because the other three teams completely collapsed.

In a sense, the Lions caught a really bad break in their schedule. They've already played (and lost) their three divisional road games. If they got to play those games now, it wouldn't surprise me to see them beat both Chicago and Minnesota. (I don't think the secondary is good enough to beat Green Bay.) I definitely feel better about the home games now than I did before the season ...

262 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hey, the Lions still have major spoiler potential. The Vikings might be out of the hunt if they lose to NE this week (or not, considering that no team can create separation in this division), but the Bears and Packers could have a tight finish with or without any collapses.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Did the Dolphins make the right call not going for 2 when they had the chance? I know it's early in the game but it seemed like trying to tie the game instead of being down one made sense. The end of the game made no sense and I don't even want to talk about it :)

10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Not going for two with 2:00 left in the first half? I don't see that as a mistake.

As for the last drive of the game, I suspect that, given the quality of PIT's pass defense, if Henne had tried to throw downfield we would be talking about how he recklessly threw a game-ending pick and cost his team the game.

There are teams who can drive down the field against the Steelers when passing is the only option. I don't think the Dolphins are that team. Henne was kind of in a no-win situation there.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Matthews actually took his helmet off *during* his pass rush. I got the impression that he did it to keep Loadholt from grabbing his facemask again, since he practically had his head ripped off during the play that Loadholt got the penalty on - or to taunt him. Either way, by the letter of the rules, it should have been a penalty on Matthews.

235 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

(100% speculation) To me it looked like in the initial surge his helmet moved in a way that impeded his vision somewhat, so he took it off.

PS. That was a clear cut 15 yarder as there is.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The ill-fitting helmets are an epidemic. Someone needs to keep a statistic of how many times helmets pop off during games. It's purely stupid. If they want to prevent concussions, they need to ensure proper fit on the helmets.

34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I suspect in most cases it's not that the helmet is ill fitting but that the chin strap is not properly fashioned.

There is actually a rule on the books that they choose not to enforce where you can be flagged for illegal procedure if your chin strap is not properly fashioned. It'll never happen. The sad thing is, it used to be a fashion statement among DBs to have 3 or 4 snaps on the strap and only snap one of them. Always thought that looked rediculous.

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Why on earth would you WANT to be like Deion???

In the 90s, one of my favorite sayings - especially when trying to mentor younger people - was "try to emulate Sanders. Barry, not Deion."

And of course, he never had any trouble with his helmet falling off because he would have had to hit someone first.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

When you're 12 years old, flashy footballplayers just have a higher appeal. And Deion was flashy. At 12 years of age five nice wrap-up tackles by a corner for a gain of one just isn't as pleasing as an athletic INT or punt-return.

In fact I'd say you'd have to be a coach to feel much differently.

147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Either that or a smart kid.

Back then, I was still young enough to be in ESPNs target marketing demographic. I still knew I was seeing douchebaggery.

The sad thing is the lasting legacy of Deion Sanders isn't his return skills, it isn't his touchdowns, it isn't prima-donna comments like "they're gonna have to put me on layaway" (draft day). It isn't even his prodigious coverage ability. The real lasting effect he had on the game was the misguided notion that you should somehow be allowed to play defense and not tackle. An entire generation of CBs have been allowed to have their tackling skills erode on the notion that if they can cover like Deion - and most of them can't - then they should be allowed to be pansies and not tackle. It's F'n disgusting.

325 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I think that's true to an extent, particularly in the pros, where guys are drafted solely on coverage skills. However, the spread offense exposed a lot of that in the college game. I think corners are far better tacklers than they were 10 years ago on the whole. You still see bad tackling, but it's for other reasons than the Deion principle these days.

159 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yeah, I remember thinking the "one or two unbuckled straps" look was pretty awesome, though I didn't (usually) emulate it. I don't know if it was Sanders or Michael Irvin who did it first, but the ironic thing is that I HATED both of them! By the early 2000s, it had spread to QBs (McNabb, Vick, and eventually Brady). I think they decided to ban it shortly after Brady started doing it.

167 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

It's kind of a shame they banned it. Well, not really, but it means that I won't be an old man snarling at the TV and raving that "back in my day, if we didn't buckle our chinstraps, we got flagged for illegal procedure!"

And they did flag us for it in pee-wees and junior high. I think by the time we got to high school, people had learned.

I guess I'll have to tell the neighborhood kids to stay off my damn lawn instead.

190 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Because I was a corner back, and Deion was the best. (Nevermind that at the Pee Wee level there's little to no passing and CB/S was where they put all the skinny kids who couldn't be trusted in the trenches, making my only job to make sure no one ran around the edge-- something Sanders never really did).

And lets face it, you just hated Deion because he was a Cowboy (or maybe you also hated him as a 49er?). I was always an NBA fan first growing up, and thus actually liked personality, as long it was backed up by good play. Most football players, especially back then, had zero personality. Deion wouldn't stand out as outlandish now, but back then he was just different from everyone else.

Also, EVERYONE agreed that the unstrapped look was cool.

191 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I got stuck back there for the same reasons. I'm probably a couple years older, but I wanted to be Wes Hopkins. And Steve Largent on offense. I still own my old Largent jersey, and I still have the best hands on my rec league team, and I'm still never going to be described as a "deep threat."

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Loadholt had shoved Mathews helmet so that the chin strap was now suffocating him. What was he supposed to do? Run to the sideline to adjust his helmet so he could see and breathe?

That does not change the fact that the officials were letting folks play unless it was just out and out ridiculous. Mathews was routinely getting dragged down and otherwise manhandled while Kevin Williams was getting similar treatment. Holding was rampant.

Pretty impressive pass rush most of the night considering that Cullen Jenkins, Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal were all out and Jenkins and Neal are 2/3 for pass rush among Packer linemen. GB was down to three healthy d-linemen for the game and two of them were third string.

Capers kept the game close by giving Favre a break by blitzing too often. Favre eats up blitzes because he has been around 100 years. GB did a lot better with straight coverage.

Rodgers checked down more often but still forced some throws downfield. He seems to be on some kind of mission to go downtown at least 10 times a game.

Brandon Jackson rushed 13 times for 58 yards. He also ran some great screens. He's a find pass blocker. Maybe McCarthy is worried about wearing him out but 20 carries a game sounds appropriate and would keep defenses more honest.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I continue to wonder why the Packers don't screen and draw more often. Their straight-ahead running game isn't that impressive, and everyone knows that McCarthy wants to pass the ball. Jackson's done some great work in those two play styles - why don't they make'em staples?

I know it'd annoy the bejesus out of me if I were a pass rusher - real pass, fake pass-to-run, or fake-pass-to-screen? Make the opposition work for their sacks rather than depending on Rodgers' amateur-Houdini act. The O-line did pretty good work last night, but they were suspect last week vs. Miami. Hello, West Coast offense - let's have some!

198 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have found Capers to be the master of the obvious, completely predictable and easily blocked, 3rd and long blitz that allows the easy conversion. He did it a lot last year against the Vikes, did it in the Steelers game, and did it in the AZ playoff game. Basically, in every game where their D got destroyed, he was sending the type of blitzes TMQ likes to write about. In these cases, I agree. Straight defense, well-executed, favors the stop, while blitzing in situations like that is just asking to get burned.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm not saying Antwan Barnes isn't a good player (he probably is!). But beating Matt Light like a rented mule proves nothing about the quality of the DLman.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Bill Barnwell: Steve Beuerlein just referred to Derrick Mason as Anthony Mason. That was a great moment."

"Deltawhikey: Schatz just just referred to Antan Barnes as an excellet edition. That was a great moment."

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

This Redskins-Bears game is probably the worst game of the year

I didn't see it, but both of those teams have been terrible to watch all year long. I would, however, put in a word for Bears-Panthers and Cards-Saints in terms of setting the awfulness bar.

Stereotype watch: on NFL Net, Steve Mariucci said of Jordan Shipley's long catch-and-run: "I didn't know he had that kind of speed."

22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The first half of Giants-Bears was awful too. The Giants got it together in the second half (probably because Cutler went out of the game), but during the first half neither team could manage anything.

128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For the record, the complete drive chart of the Redskins-Bears game: punt, punt, punt, punt, INT, TD, FG, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, TD, kneeldown, fumble, punt, INT, INT, INT, fumble, fumble, INT, missed FG, punt, punt, INT, kneeldown.

I can't remember ever seeing another game that had six straight turnovers. That's got to be the worst game of the season so far.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The overturn of the Vikings touchdown was a horrible decision. That's a ref making stuff up for whatever reason.

It was pretty obvious that Childress was working to keep from having Favre make any tough throws. Peterson was the focus all night and was wonderful. Just an incredible player.

37 Vikings TD overturn

Looked pretty clear on my 52" LCD that he fell on the ball trapping it, did not have contol.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

163 Re: Vikings TD overturn

In reply to by Geo B

I have no rooting interest in the game either but it seemed clear to me that what he had when he hit the ground was not what should be called "control." He kinda had control, like he probably would have controlled it, but he did not yet control it.

192 Re: Vikings TD overturn

Hell, it moved less than the Spurlock sideline catch that helped the Bucs beat Cincy two weeks ago.

17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm really hoping Sean McDermott lands a Martz Award this week for stubbornly refusing to adjust his defense while Kenny Britt picked up more yardage and nearly as many touchdowns in one game as he had ALL SEASON.

Hail Hydra!

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Come on Harris, we can criticize McDermott for not benching Hobbs, but not for his calls.

Britt was double covered all game after his first TD, with Hobbs trailing inside and Nate Allen over the top : Hobbs was absolutely awful, I mean dead awful, some of the worst trailing technique/execution I've seen in years (no Ellis, losing your footing 10 yards away is not "covering"), and N.Allen was schooled, looked slow and hesitant.

The K.Britt thing is completely an execution problem IMO. If your DBs can't run a basic double inside/outside coverage, there's nothing to do about it.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Looked to me like Matthews actively took his helmet off. Not sure what motivated that--maybe the flowing locks were begging to be set free.

27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have read Matthews helmet was dislodged during the chip on that play, but he most decidedly grabbed his helmet and pulled it off. And yes, the flowing locks streaming behind him as he rushed the passer were glorious.

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I have read that when he strikes his helmet upon the ground, he is instantly transformed from crippled Dr. Donald Blake into the mighty Clay Matthews. He was probably afraid Loldholt was going to knock his head back into the turf, and Dr Blake has no speed rush.

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I guess Rob Weintraub was on bye this week. He's my must-read Cincinnati analyst.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I don't want to alarm anyone, but has anyone seen Raiderjoe since the game yesterday? That seems like the kind of victory that would finally push him over the edge.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I was thinking the same thing. I have a mental image of Raiderjoe, midway through the second quarter, standing on top of a house a la Billy Crudup in Almost Famous shouting "I am a Golden God!" and jumping off the roof.

182 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hehehe!

KC Chefs have good tema this year, but Charges llook terrble and Denver Borncos going to go about 4-12 now. Orto decent q b but defense stinks. Raders on track to win divison if can get past Chefs and if QBs can play halfway decnt.

238 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I'm sure he's fine. He's probably celebrating the complete annihilation of their biggest rival, and he'll show up eventually to point out that he knew this would happen all along.

Because you know, if he had posted that the Raiders would win like 59-14 or something like that, we would have dismissed it as crazy talk.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Oh, and one other comment - this is obviously the homer in me talking, but the Bills got jobbed in OT. I was still pretty shocked at how Fitzpatrick carved up the Ravens, though. I'll take signs of hope, however small.

26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

while Belichicks decision to go for it on 4th and 1 could be defended, it shouldnt be applauded (like that hack greenberg was doing on espn this morning). A coach as good as BB has to know his team's strengths and weaknesses, and short yardage running seems to fall in the latter category.

Just look at the three scenarios:
- Punt (ball likely lands between 10 and 15 yard line, SD must get at least 50-55 yards in 1:45 with 3 timeouts just to have a game tying FG attempt)
- Go for it and make it (assuming a 3 and out follows). Same situation except SD must go the same yardage in less time and 0 timeouts.
- Go for it and miss it. SD only needs 15-20 yards for a tying fg, and if played properly has a real chance to score a TD to win.

If NE punted there was no realistic way they could lose in regulation, and as an added bonus SD needs 50 yards to have a shot at tying the game. By going for it, they put themselves into a position to lose the game in regulation and almost assured themselves of having to play OT. The fact that it did not backfire doesnt make it right.

31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Teams with three timeouts remaining and two minutes of clock *do* score touchdowns sometimes, especially when they're hurrying things up. I'm not saying San Diego would have scored a touchdown after a NE punt there, but you can't dismiss the possibility out of hand.

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

And certainly not when you are fielding a shaky secondary against one of the best QB's of the league. I'd say a TD from the 15 with ~2minutes a 3 timeouts is almost likely. It's not like NE had been shutting them down - more like SD giving the ball away.

173 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Belichick was rubbing it in, and I ,for one, find it disgusting. He knew that San Diego was going to lose one way or another, to purposely turn the ball over in his own territory in order to make the Chargers ultimate failure even more heartbreaking is cruel and despicable. Good sportsmanship dictates that he punt the ball away and let the Chargers quietly go 3 and out, or throw a pick, or just leave the ball lying around on the field somewhere.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Pats: 82 percent rushing in short-yardage situations going into yesterday, fourth in the NFL. Pats have been above-average in Power situations for at least four straight years, probably more. It actually is a strength.

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I agree, but against the Chargers it wasn't much of one. Not that the rest of the offense was much better, but on their only good drives, the running play was only effective when they had the threat of a pass.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Perhaps. But look at the replay. Barnwell was right -- if BJGE had gone behind the guard instead of bouncing it outside into the arms of three waiting defenders he very likely would have had the first down.

62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

A few years ago, it seemed the Pats would frequently spread the field on short yardage and have Brady 'sneak' for the necessary yardage. I haven't noticed them doing that recently (maybe since his knee injury?). Do they still try that play?

73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Is it really a strength from the I formation? I'd have thought those results had more to do with how they approach short yardage than how effective they are at power running. I was fine with the decision, but wasn't particularly enamoured with the playcall.

247 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Even before Aaron clarification, so, assuming that they have lousy short running game, you have to think this pass defense is by far the worst unit in the team. So it's a problem of playcall, no the choice of going for it.

256 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Why are you assuming that a 3 and out follows? That's part of the reason to go for it in the first place.

If NE gets the first down, at a minimum, San Diego will have to burn all of their timeouts, and on top of that, they'll get the ball back with less than a minute to play. They could either get a touchdown to all but ice the game or get another first down to do the same (getting it on 1st down would mean less than :20 remaining, and on 2nd down or later, NE could kill the clock).

Also, a punt can be returned for a touchdown or blocked; while the average punt might land between the 10 and 15, there's no guarantee this specific punt would. (New England has the second-fewest punts in the league this season, so conclusions from their data are more difficult to draw, but of their 20 punts, 6 have landed inside the 20 and none have gone into the end zone.)

I agree with other commenters that it's entirely realistic for San Diego to drive the length of the field with three timeouts, and in fact, I think you have it backward: if the Patriots converted the fourth-down attempt, there's no realistic way they lose, and as an added bonus, the Chargers have to use their timeouts on defense.

New England's DVOA on third-and-short plays this year is 23.3%, 6th in the NFL, and on third and fourth downs as a whole, it's 76.8%. If any team ought to be going for it, it's New England. Perhaps a run wasn't necessarily the best call (even though FO keeps pointing out that run plays tend to be more successful in these situations than pass plays and that coaches call too many pass plays), but it's hard for me to imagine a situation that would justify NE punting.

291 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Also, a punt can be returned for a touchdown or blocked; while the average punt might land between the 10 and 15, there's no guarantee this specific punt would. "

Are you familiar at all with the Chargers special teams this year?

316 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I go back to my original scenarios, using Aaron's caveat that the Pats had an 82% chance at conversion. Let's give SD the benefit of a strong defense and home crwod and say NE had a 75% chance of converting. However, the conversion does not guarantee you victory. SD still wouldve had a great chance to get the ball back, albeit with zero timeouts and needing 50 yards for tying field goal range. This wasnt a scenario where Brady could kneel down three times, in which case i might be inclined to agree.

The drawback is the 20-25% chance that SD takes over at midfield with 3 timeouts. A FG is almost assured and SD has, as the Pats fans here have already mentioned, a great chance at a touchdown. At that point you have to look in what position you are putting your defense. By punting you give your defense a real shot to stop Rivers and end the game. By not punting you give your defense almost little chance to prevent.

Though I will say that as a Jets fan, i'm encouraged that Pats fans have so little faith in the NE defense that they think it is a real possibility Rivers could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation.

320 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Though I will say that as a Jets fan, i'm encouraged that Pats fans have so little faith in the NE defense that they think it is a real possibility Rivers could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation.

I think it's a real possibility Rivers could move the San Diego offense 85 yards against almost any defense in a 2 minute situation. It's unlikely that he would, even against New England, but definitely made more likely with a tired defense, three time outs, and a play stoppage for the change of possession.

On the other hand, I thought at that point it was a real possibility Brian Hoyer could move 85 yards against them in a 2 minute situation, especially given that they'd been on the field for two consecutive relatively long drives a short time beforehand. I was watching that drive and thinking "let them score quickly so we've time to come back", not "we can win this by playing defense and letting them make a mistake".

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Hate to be Mr. grammar nazi, but the overuse of "promptly" is getting annoying.

/standard english-is-not-my-first-language disclaimer.

33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Shawn Nelson (the runner at the end of the Ravens's game?) was NOT down. His forward momentum was NOT stopped. It was clear that he was still moving forwards, although he was being carried along by like 10 guys, the yardage he accrued this way would have been granted if he hadn't been stripped... so why should the fumble not count?

Great play by Ray Lewis. Just, awsome.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

I call bullshit on the Pit-Mia refs. How many times have we seen a scrum that takes the refs two minutes to untangle (yes, many times) and how many times have they shrugged and said, “We don’t know, so we’ll call it a draw, and tie goes to the offense?” (yes, never). Why handle things differently in the end zone? Regardless of whether the rule book (once again) allows the refs to avoid making a decision, they should make a call there. By refusing to make a call, they got the call wrong. Period.

Nice job by the Was-Chi announcing team (Brennaman?) pointing out Torain doing a terrible job missing an opening on a 4th down run, and then showing the replay. You so rarely get treated to an assessment of whether a RB is making good or bad choices, even though it’s often not difficult to tell.

GB-Min game:

Capers blitzing Favre – In. Sane.

Aaron’s analysis of the GB decision to squib kick away from Harvin misses the issue that the GB special teams are completely horrid, as usual.

McCarthy had to challenge that Jennings spot. Like playoff baseball, you win the game you’re playing today. Horrible decision. Another example of coaching to minimize the chance of being asked a ‘tough’ question.

There was a play - just before, I think - the Harvin non-TD where Matthews took off his helmet for a moment after a play because the previous play's hands-to-face got his hair tangled up. I think the referee saw that and gave him a mulligan.

Why is the NBC hi-def picture so bad? Is it not 2010 at NBC?

49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

"Aaron’s analysis of the GB decision to squib kick away from Harvin misses the issue that the GB special teams are completely horrid, as usual."

If only Aaron had some data on hand to support his assertion.

I'm fully aware of the nature of the Audibles, and it is truly one of my favorite reads of the week. I appreciate all of the knowledgeable eyes reviewing various aspects of the games they've chosen to watch and applying the data and info from this site to that experience, but there seems to be a significant amount time that looks like the FO writers calling out the kettle.

The parts

286 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Especially when Harvin killed the Packers last year, he returned one kick this game for 48 yards, and the Packers have the worst coverage teams in the league. (Yes, Chargers fans, worse than San Diego.) Under no conditions should the Packers kick to any returner who is a decent threat to score. It sucks that two of the best are in their division.

60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Yeah, the refs will almost always untangle the scrum, but only when the players in it are fighting for a live ball. That play was dead the second a touchdown was called. I'm not defending the result, but the rules are the rules. The blown call was on the field, not after the replay.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Semantics. They couldn't determine possession from the video, which was necessary because they didn't determine possession on the field. They didn't determine possession on the field because the original ruling was a touchdown.

Asking referees to determine possession of a dead ball means asking players to fight for possession of a dead ball. That's a bad idea for obvious reasons, right?

168 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

You're arguing something different now. Besides, it's fairly clear from the video who fell on the ball. Not completely, but would you be upset if you had to put money on it?

The point is that the referees should have made a decision, even if it was a best guess, even if they were only 51% sure. The only reason not to do so is if the whistle was blown and it was a dead ball, and the referees emphatically did not say that, even given multiple opportunities.

180 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The point is that they had no reason to make any such decision. When does a touchdown result in anything other than a dead ball? Whether the referee used your preferred wording or not, there was no reason for them to untangle the pile if the play on the field was deemed over.

251 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The reason for untangling the pile is that the sports includes the possibility for reversing calls on the field. So, no, TD and a lost ball aren't clear-cut-play-is-dead situations.

But, "the referees should have made a decision, even if it was a best guess, even if they were only 51% sure. The only reason not to do so is if the whistle was blown and it was a dead ball," You mean on the field, right? Because that can't be done that way on the review.

115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The problem I have with that is: most of the crew saw that it was a fumble and did try to make the call right by proceeding into the scrum to clean it up and look for possession.

Secondly, most of the calls I've seen a fumble reviewed did not seem to bother with the second element of confirmation because it was already confirmed on the field. (Now most of these were clean, easy to see recoveries, but I don't know what is more confirming then an actual official picking a guy off the field who is on top of the ball and saying, "White ball!")

(Less significant because it's just lousy, bad officiating we see every week, but the referee running down the field, blowing his whistle out because the linesman raises the TD signal seems a little iffy when the rest of the crew is digging into a pile that they think is a significant gamechanging play -- and so did both teams (Love how two separate Steelers both say they had possession but then dropped it when they called TD; has any player ever given up possession based on an initial call?). How often do we see a linesman raises his hands for TD, and then a 2 minute conversation occurs?)

But thems are the breaks. Not trying to be a crybaby.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

As a PIT fan, given the defensive injuries, the way MIA had moved the ball, and how PIT has struggled last year and against BAL to close games out late, I was worried that MIA was going to march it down the field.

I thought that MIA's attempt to run the 2 min. offense was one of the most anemic attempts I've seen in a long-time. The running play to start it made no sense to me, and on subsequent plays, the Dolphins just seemed lifeless. I realize that the call in the endzone was a heartbreaker, but they were only down by one with more than 2 minutes to play. Did anybody else get the sense they absolutely failed to recover?

250 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Watching Roethlisberger in teh PIT game, it was pretty clear that he fumbled before crossing the goal line. It was almost a yard short (right where they spotted the ball afterwards) and should never have been called a TD. At the very least, they should have erred on the side of it being a fumble, since, in that case, they would be able via challenge to determine the correct call either way. But since they already ruled it a TD and blew the whistle now they had no chance to correct the call...

285 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

When the play happened, the ref didn't even wait five seconds before making the announcement to the crowd that it was a touchdown. When does that ever happen? They couldn't pick through the pile? They couldn't confer? I've never seen a ref make an announcement to the crowd like that within five seconds of the play ending: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZM1AU5svoc

Isn't this why they used to have the rule that you err on the side of calling it a fumble? I didn't really like the way that was worded, but it seems pretty obvious that the ref should see who recovered the ball before making a call.

304 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

When the play happened, the ref didn't even wait five seconds before making the announcement to the crowd that it was a touchdown. When does that ever happen? They couldn't pick through the pile? They couldn't confer? I've never seen a ref make an announcement to the crowd like that within five seconds of the play ending

This makes it sound like you have a perfect memory of every touchdown call you've ever seen, and that none of them were done like this. Much more likely, you don't remember the vast majority of them because it was unimportant how quickly the ref made the announcement, and some of them were done like this. While I agree that they should have sorted it out, I don't think this was some very unusual, major mistake by the refs the way your wording makes it sound. These things happen.

38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Just for giggles. Adam Schefter on Aug. 25, 2009 (his first ESPN post):

"He's getting a lot of heat now, but someone who knows coaches well predicted to me that McDaniels is going to be one of the greatest NFL coaches ever. Strong words, I know, and we'll see. But I think he's going to be a real good one."

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

The Bucs' O-line is certainly the weakest link in the offense, but they're usually not that bad. The starting center (Faine) and left guard (Vincent) were out for the game, and the starting RT (Trueblood) was out as well for the final drive, and it showed. It seemed like every positive play was called back, and the ones that weren't were eventually nullified by false starts.

270 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

For the first time in living memory, really? You missed all of last year then?

Also, young DTs don't help, especially not when Raheem Morris insisted on playing 3-3-5 for half the snaps until this game (when we didn't play a single snap of 3-3-5). But it's been the back-end play more than the D-line play in the run game. Often someone will miss a tackle extremely close to the line of scrimmage, and then the next tackler gets him 8 yards downfield.

315 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Due to work, I actually did miss being able to watch/listen to the first 12 games last season. I think there might be some selective memory/desire to forget on my part there, too. I just remember something weird going on where the defense was completely dismantled and changed around for, what seemed to me, no good reason. But from what I've been able to catch this year (mostly just radio broadcasts), the run D was at least acceptable until the last couple of games.

As an aside, Coach Morris announcing "We're the best team in the NFC!" right after barely beating the Rams by 1 point? Oh my dear lord...

41 Top 5 QB's

Aaron -

It's your site, you do great work - so here's my question:

Top 5 QBs - I'll give you:

1) Brady
2) Manning
3) Brees

So if Roethlisberger is NOT a top 5 - who are the other two?

Rivers? Call me back when SD has a winning record or wins a playoff game
Schaub? Maybe, call me back when the Texans make the playoffs

Just saying that as a Steeler fan I'm trying to list the QB's I'd rather have, and I'm not coming up with many I'd trade #7 for (assuming he stays out of further off-field trouble of course). Those top 3 and that's it so far.

(is it time for the "all he does is win" cliche? ;-)

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

45 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Geo B

Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers.

48 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by lester bangs (not verified)

I say this as a Steelers fan: selection bias, which was kind of the point of the comment.

76 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by lester bangs (not verified)

Lester - you might get me to agree with Aaron Rodgers - would have to look closer as his record. Certainly a top 10 QB, but better than Roethlisberger? Not sure.

Rivers - like I said, call me back when he wins a playoff game. He's got good numbers but not many big wins.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

83 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Geo B

I don't know what debate you're having, but it's not top 5 QBs. Maybe it's top 5 teams with good QBs? Maybe it's top 5 QBs with good teams? In any case it's more complicated than "top 5 QBs."

99 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by bravehoptoad

It's obviously Top 5 QBs with Super Bowl rings. So the guy missing from the conversation is Eli Manning. Well, and Favre, and, uhhh, Brad Johnson? If he's still in the League.

130 Re: Top 5 QB's

Talentwise, Kurt Warner is probably still a top ten QB today.

245 Re: Top 5 QB's

It's top-five CLUTCH QBs because it's all about big wins and clutchness, clutchness and big wins. And if you suck but your team wins, then you are clutch, my friend, and just win games. Who can forget that titanic first SB win Ben R had? Now that is the very definition of a great QB, having a great game, in a clutch situation. Without him, they... uh, wait, time for my meds. Okay, fixed, now where was I?

FTR, I think he's an excellent QB. Just thought the argument was silly.

258 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Bobman

I think that at the time, you were still getting over what he did to the Colts a couple weeks earlier.

323 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Jerry

The part I found interesting was that up until a few years ago, if you tried to argue that Roethlisberger was a top 5 QB, people would point to his lack of big stats and say he's not asked to do anything. Now a few seasons later, it's that his stats inflate his value.

Was it a dumb play? Maybe. Then again, I've seen him do it successfully in the past and he's hardly the only QB I've ever seen attempt a similar play.

282 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by bravehoptoad

From my perspective, there just aren't 5 top-5 QBs. There's P Manning, Brady, and Brees. After those three, there's a tier of arguably several similarly decent, but flawed QBs; in no particular order, Rodgers, Rivers, Rothlisberger, Cutler, E Manning, Orton (it still hurts typing that), Schaub, and Romo. (Pardon me if I missed anyone, though I might also include Flacco and Ryan.) Then there's a mix of too old or too young, including Favre, McNabb, Stafford, Bradford, the Sanchize, Freeman, Hasselbeck, Palmer, and a few others. Lastly are those who should never start even if they were once good as demonstrated by Anderson and Delhomme. Of course, Rothlisberger is still a douche.

283 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by justanothersteve

Good post, and I largely agree. There are fairly clear tiers of quarterback - so while they can't be ordered, they can be grouped. I'd add a tier of quarterbacks who are mediocre - the lowest tier of passable starters who aren't particularly old or young, and also neither all that good nor utterly terrible - including Campbell, Cassell, Garrard, Palmer, Smith, and Young.

This leads into the only issue I saw with your post:

Then there's a mix of too old or too young, including Favre, McNabb, Stafford, Bradford, the Sanchize, Freeman, Hasselbeck, Palmer, and a few others.

One of these is not like the others.

289 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Andrew Potter

I think he's assuming Palmer is actually the old man he plays like and doesn't realize he's 30 and should be basically in his prime.

303 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by tuluse

Saw this on a Yahoo Steelers team report this morning:

• QB Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter or overtime for the 21st time. He also extended his team record of 300-yard passing games to 13. And for the 38th time, he topped a 100 passer rating in a game, finishing at 132.

I think that's what I'm thinking about when I think of a "top 5 QB" - leading your team to a win. Yes Roethlisberger sucked in SB 40 but I think that game ending drive at SB 43 shows that come from behind ability. Still think that "clutch" performance gets a lot of hype but it's what I'm looking for in a QB. P. Manning and Tom Brady have it, not sure about some of the others in this discussion. Schaub had it in the Texans last game.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)

317 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by Geo B

"...leading your team to a win."
"...it's what I'm looking for in a QB."

If that win is due to the QBs excellent play, sure. But way too many QBs get way too much credit for comebacks at the end of games. What's wrong with playing well throughout a game and not needing to come back?

Pretend you have two QBs with identical overall stats and victories; But one of them has significantly better 4th quarter stats and more comeback wins. I'm guessing the "comeback" QB would be significantly more hyped and more highly regarded. And I think it would be for no good reason and they two QBs should be rated equally.

People seem to psychologically like a comeback more than early points. I like it too - always thinking the Steelers have a shot, the excitement it brings. But I'd rather they go out and get a big lead early and then just simply win.

322 Re: Top 5 QB's

In reply to by dbostedo

Would TOTALLY rather be up 38-0 in the second quarter.

Yes QB's get too much credit for "come from behind victories" - but sometimes they are the reason you win. When the guy goes 5 of 7 for 88 yards having one time out to win the game, a lot is on the QB and he's making good throws.

Steeler fan trapped in Houston!
Six Time SB Champs! ;-)