Audibles at the Line: Week 1

Audibles at the Line: Week 1
Audibles at the Line: Week 1
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown

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.

Philadelphia Eagles 31 at St. Louis Rams 13

Rivers McCown: Really interesting to see Robert Quinn inactive this early.

Brian McIntyre: With 34-year-old James Hall on the injury report all week with a back injury, Steve Spagnuolo not dressing the healthy Robert Quinn, a first round defensive end with elite pass-rushing talent, against the Philadelphia Eagles is very surprising. Talent-wise, Quinn is one of the top three defensive players on the roster, so it will be interesting to see if this is about Quinn struggling to pick up a complex system, the staff sending a message that he needs to work harder to earn a spot on the 46-man roster, or both.

Aaron Schatz: Quinn is not the only surprising scratch in that game. Danny Watkins' difficulty picking up the Eagles offense really doesn't square with the pre-draft scouting on him.

Mike Tanier: A little Eagle nightmare erupts early as the offensive line collapses on the first series and the linebackers get washed out on a Steven Jackson touchdown on the Rams first play. Watch the replay to see Moise Fokou completely flattened.

Doug Farrar: That was interesting in that Jackson showed a lot more lateral movement than he did in the preseason -- he looked positively logey the last few weeks.

Mike Tanier: Eagles cannot stop run. Luckily, Sam Bradford has a little trouble with a handoff and the Eagles scoop and score.

Brian McIntyre: On the fumble return by Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp will get credit for the forced fumble, but Antonio Dixon deserves partial credit. His penetration pushed Jason Brown into the backfield, causing Bradford to trip over one of Brown's legs.

Mike Tanier: The Eagles just forced a field goal thanks to two dropped passes. If I were Josh McDaniels, I would not call another pass until the Eagles stop two straight running plays.

Aaron Schatz: Are they having the same trouble stopping Cadillac Williams that they were Steven Jackson? Because I guess Jackson went out with an injury for a bit?

Vince Verhei: It's mostly Cadillac -- Jackson only has two carries, although one went 47 yards. Caddy has ten carries for 50 yards.

Mike Tanier: Can't do Audibles. Watching the 2003 Falcons. Oh wait, the 2011 Eagles.

Vince Verhei: Rams have a third-and-11 at the Eagles' 36. Rather than risk doom on a pass play, they run Jerious Norwood. He gains seven yards to set up a 47-yard field goal (which was missed). That tells you everything about the Rams' game plan today.

Mike Tanier: Such lovely touch on Michael Vick's touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. I am going to stop worrying about the fact that he must roll left on every single play for a while.

Vince Verhei: Down 14 points, the Rams have a third-and-14, and they run AGAIN. It gains 13 to set up a fourth-down try. Eagles call timeout. Rams converted on fourth-and-short, then got a 40-some-yard pass interference on Nnamdi Asomugha that looked like a terrible call to me (although I was out of the room and only got a passing look at one replay). Eagles then stiffened and Rams kicked a field goal.

Near the end of the third quarter, Rams WRs have a combined five catches for 44 yards.

Mike Tanier: Ehh... Nnamdi had his hand on the back of the receiver's neck on that PI call.

The whole bar just cheered for A.J. Feeley. Philly fans are weird.

Buffalo Bills 41 at Kansas City Chiefs 7

Mike Tanier: I see on the Gamebook that the Chiefs averaged 5.4 yards per completion. Jamaal Charles had five catches for nine yards, with a long of nine yards. One of my first NFL Rewind odysseys tomorrow will be to find out how the hell that happens!

Atlanta Falcons 12 at Chicago Bears 30

Mike Kurtz: Apparently (according to Glazer), Devin Hester has the green light to take kicks out of the end zone when he feels like it. What could possibly go wrong?

Ben Muth: My brother and I were just arguing whether Matt Ryan was the best average QB in the NFL, or the worst good QB in the league. I chose the worst average, and Ryan throws an awful pick on cue.

David Gardner: The Bears set up a nice fake reverse left and then switched back a screen to the right. Matt Forte did all the legwork, though, breaking tackles left and right and getting in for the score.

Aaron Schatz: Wait, do you mean best average, or worst good? Or do you mean worst average, actually?

Mike Tanier: I think Ben is going for an upper lower middle class thing.

Ben Muth: Basically I figure there are about five tiers.

Elite: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers

Good: Ben Roethlisberger, Vick, Josh Freeman

Average: Ryan, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Cutler, Donovan McNabb

Looking at it, I'd probably put Ryan in good, but barely.

Mike Kurtz: Jay Cutler is holding on to the ball way too long. I imagine this will be covered in the new column, but it's already led to two very avoidable sacks.

Ben Muth: That doesn't sound ANYTHING like Jay Cutler, Mike.

Aaron Schatz: To be clear, the reason why Matt Ryan was seventh in DVOA last year (and also did much better in ESPN's Total QBR compared to standard stats) is that he was awesome on third downs. We'll see if that continues this year...

Mike Tanier: To be fair to Ryan, the Bears defense looks REALLY good today.

Ben Muth: Matt Forte looks really good. Making quick, short cuts to make guys miss and falling forward for a couple extra yards. Martz dials up an awesome QB rollout, TE throwback screen on the 10-yard-line. The only other guy out there was the offensive tackle. Jay Cutler over threw him by six yards.

Mike Kurtz: Eric Weems has let three punts, now, drop and roll when a little hustle would've given him a fair catch. Each punt has rolled, and one of them pinned his team within their own five. Absolutely atrocious.

Detroit Lions 27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20

David Gardner: Tampa is catching some lucky breaks early. Aqib Talib's pick-six came off a tipped pass, and the Lions just had a horrible red-zone possession. Matthew Stafford threw a pass into the stands when he had Calvin Johnson wide open, and then Brandon Pettigrew dropped an uncontested TD pass.

Doug Farrar: Tony Scheffler's pirate-themed celebration at the Big Sombrero on his touchdown catch insures that he will lead the league in YAR(RRRRR) at the end of week 1.

David Gardner: Josh Freeman just got tackled on a scramble, and he got up and went straight to the locker room -- looked like he was limping on his right side.

Tennessee Titans 14 at Jacksonville Jaguars 16

Tom Gower: After the Titans go three-and-out, the Jaguars run the ball down the Titans' throats with an 11-play drive, nine of them runs, that was awfully reminiscent of the Jaguars' success in the game in Nashville last year. The capper was a 21-yard romp by Maurice Jones-Drew where he went up the middle untouched after rookie defensive tackle Karl Klug decided to slant to the left to open the hole.

The Titans played a little bit better defensively, but not much and go to halftime down 10-0. The defensive line had a little bit better performance later in the half, not getting regularly blown 3 yards off the ball. The offense, particularly Chris Johnson, has continued to struggle. CJ's not finding running room and the passing game is not consistently effective. Mike Munchak tried to make things interesting by attempting a 66-yard field goal at the end of the half, which was predictably wide and short. I've written some in FOA and on my blog about how I thought the Titans in their defensive philosophy were trying to solve a problem that didn't exist, and the evidence today still suggests they haven't even achieved their goals.

Vince Verhei: I'm sure there's a good reason why, at halftime, Matt Hasselbeck has 17 passes (plus two sacks) and Johnson has four runs. Actually no I'm not sure about that at all. I can't think of a single flippin' reason that makes sense.

Ben Muth: Signs you've watched too much Derek Anderson in the past: You find yourself saying things like "You know what? Luke McCown doesn't look half bad."

Tom Gower: CJ has been finding very little running room. His four carries have netted three yards. Running CJ is doing nothing other than putting them in second (or third)-and-long, and they're choosing to pass in those situations. Yes, it's weird to virtually abandon the run in the second quarter, but they weren't going to suddenly start running the ball effectively without doing something else.

Vince Verhei: It's FOUR carries. You can't determine anything off that.

Ben Muth: CBS just showed a montage of Mike Munchak kicking Jack Del Rio's butt when they played. Pretty hilarious.

Tom Gower: After a good goal-line stand to keep the Jaguars to a FG and a 13-0 lead, the Titans finally have some offensive success of the fluky and unrepeatable sort, as Matt Hasselbeck scrambles up and sort of flips a pass to Kenny Britt, who'd lost Rashean Mathis on a crossing route. One Jaguars defender whiffs, and Britt races to the end zone for an 80-yard score.

Well, the Titans get a second score, this one also a TD pass to Britt on a nice grab and toe-tap against Mathis in coverage. The big play on the drive was, yes, a 25-yard pass to Britt. Johnson found a little bit of running room, but not much. Despite the relatively small number of carries, he's figured heavily -- I haven't quite kept track, but roughly a third of the Titans' plays today have been either handoffs to him or passes in his direction.

Ben Muth: Marc Mariani just let a punt bounce on the 20. It rolled to the 2.

Tom Gower: After that punt, the Titans manage to move the ball, but take 1:22 to run three plays and a quarterback spike. Matt Hasselbeck then elects to try a Brett Favre Dying Quail Special, which results in an easy interception for Dwight Lowery to seal the win for the Jaguars. Titans finish the game with 43 yards rushing, but do break 20 minutes in TOP for those who care about that stat.

Aaron Schatz: OK, there are 2:00 left in the game, you are winning by two, and its third-and-5. Do you run the ball and take 40 seconds off the clock? Or do you throw and hope to ice the game with a first down? I'll take either choice, but what you don't do is throw the ball to a fullback with one career catch who is for some odd reason split out wide and covered by a cornerback. I guess Dick Koetter disagrees with me, because apparently with the game on the line, the Jaguars felt the man they could depend on was Brock Bolen. Who?

They won the game when Matt Hasselbeck threw a pick on the last Titans drive, but still, Brock Bolen???

Tom Gower: Yes, that was Dirk Koetter masterminding himself. The corner, Jason McCourty, had actually had a pretty good game, too, so it's not like they were picking on Kareem Jackson or somebody we know can't cover. And it was a timing route where Bolen isn't looking for the ball. I think Koetter does good work at times, but that was a very weird call.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at Cleveland Browns 17

Doug Farrar: You're already seeing how A.J. Green affects coverage -- Sheldon Brown just molested him on what was supposed to be a little end zone fade halfway through the first quarter. He'd better get used to some Hack-a-Shaq.

Andy Dalton's third red-zone throw on Cincinnati's first drive was where lack of arm strength came home to roost -- he just can't fire it into tight windows, preferring to sort of loft it in there in a tight timeframe. Batted away, drive over.

David Gardner: Bruce Gradkowski is in for the Bengals! The legend lives on!

Robert Weintraub: Dalton was as expected: made most of the right reads but wasn't asked to throw much downfield, by design or because he can't, we'll have to see. Then he got injured (right wrist -- he was handshaking hard with it after the game, so he must not be too hurt), and the Immortal Gradkowski came in. Cincy's field position was terrible in the second half -- Brandon Tate, feh -- but the defense kept it 17-13 for a long stretch. That seemed certain to be the final, with no first downs coming (especially when the rain started bucketing down), when Joe Haden, who had been exceptional all day, fell asleep as the Browns were slow to set up in coverage. Green was left uncovered and Gradkowski alertly quick-snapped, maybe a veteran play Dalton doesn't make, maybe not. From there Carlos Dunlap took over, getting major push on virtually every passing down. Cedric Benson ran left all day, then ran right on third and three to the house to wrap it up.

The Bengals fan in me was always confident because the Browns still have no playmaking ability, and even without Johnathan Joseph the Bengals match up just fine with them. Of course, I won't be secure Cincy can move the ball this season, with or without a healthy Dalton. Not til they get get much more practice together.

Pittsburgh Steelers 7 at Baltimore Ravens 35

Vince Verhei: The Pittsburgh Steelers gave up one 20-yard run in 2010, and that one run went only 24 yards. On their first run play of 2011, they give up a 36-yarder to Ray Rice.

Aaron Schatz: I don't mean to blow anyone's mind, but Bryant McKinnie actually looks pretty good so far for Baltimore and had a key block on that Ray Rice 36-yarder.

Mike Tanier: McKinnie later held to negate a long pass play.

Doug Farrar: Terrell Suggs with insane speed looping inside to force the Roethlisberger sack/fumble. And you can already see the effect Lee Evans is having in just clearing out coverage for underneath routes. They’re learning what the Steelers already know -– you need a speed receiver for more than just the catches.

Vince Verhei: Flacco to Rice for a touchdown to make it 21-7 Baltimore. This is one of the best games I've seen Flacco play -- he's confident in the pocket, going through his reads quickly and decisively, finding the right man and making accurate throws. He's converted a bunch of third downs. It helps that he's been mostly unharrassed, of course.

Doug Farrar: Rice just posterized Lawrence Timmons on that play. He's gone HAM today for sure.

Aaron Schatz: HAM?

Doug Farrar: First definition only. (editor's note: NSFW)

Mike Tanier: Haloti Hgata just took a lumpin' handoff from Roethlisberger.

Ben Muth: Ngata guessed the Steelers play in Tecmo Super Bowl.

Vince Verhei: Ravens score again as Dickson beats Troy Polamalu and Flacco makes another great pass. Then on the conversion, they fake the kick and the holder finds a gaping hole off left guard for an easy two points.

Aaron Schatz: The Steelers then turn the ball over again with a tipped interception that lands in the hands of Ray Lewis. But on fourth-and-one in the red zone, the Steelers stuff Ray Rice. This is a good example of how momentum doesn't really mean anything. The Ravens had all the momentum going into that play. They're up by 22 points, they've gotten two turnovers on the last two Pittsburgh plays. But the Steelers are a good run defense, and they're going to stuff you a lot of the time on that play whether you have momentum or not.

David Gardner: They just showed Mike Tomlin's reaction after that Ray Lewis interception. I have not seen him lose his composure before, but he looks close to snapping.

Mike Tanier: And Steelers - Ravens becomes WWE, complete with ref knocked on butt.

Vince Verhei: Steelers turn it over again. Ravens, up 25 points with less than four minutes to go, start throwing for the end zone. No, these teams do not like each other one bit.

Mike Tanier: You know, if they flashed a shot of shirtless Cal Ripken eating a crabcake, this would qualify as pornography in Baltimore.

Mike Kurtz: My only comment on Steelers-Ravens is: This is what happens when you say nice things about the Steelers.

J.J. Cooper: Wow, as a Steelers fan that's the most depressing start to a season since the 51-0 loss to the Browns in the 1989 opener (the Steelers lost the next week 41-10 also but did make the playoffs). But as I was watching the Ravens destroy Pittsburgh, I couldn't help but think back even farther. The 1979 Steelers had a similar feel to this year's team -- an aging team trying to grab another title before the defense got too old to compete. Midway through that season, Pittsburgh lost to the Chargers 35-7 in a game where Terry Bradshaw threw five interceptions and the Steelers turned the ball over eight times. This felt a whole lot like that. That team did end up winning the Super Bowl, but they showed signs of their age on defense all year. In the opener today, you saw some age from the Steelers' defense as well.

Indianapolis Colts 7 at Houston Texans 34

Mike Tanier: Levon Helm looks ready to go at quarterback for Indy!

Doug Farrar: Well, so much for my "Mario Williams is losing the leverage battle at OLB" argument, at least when Dallas Clark is trying to block him. #90 blasts through and takes Kerry Collins down on the Colts' first offensive play. I'm interested to see how the Colts' tackles cut-block Williams when he's playing OLB as opposed to DE or LEO to use his height against him, but that was a nice start.

Rivers McCown: When Collins pump fakes, it takes almost as long for him to reset as it does to load a catapult. A leaping J.J. Watt forced the guards to roll boulders, and on a quick throw and that gave the Texans time to force a fumble that led to a short field touchdown.

It says a lot about how little the Texans trust Kareem Jackson that even in an absolute blowout, they're still rotating him with Jason Allen and giving him a lot of underneath zone help.

Ben Muth: Whatever the Collins situation is, I'm pretty sure Howard Mudd wouldn't try to use Clark one-on-one against Williams.

Mike Tanier: On a sad note, the Colts game has been switched off by the bartender.

Rivers McCown: Attending this game was awkward. It felt unnatural watching the Colts just die off as if they'd never existed. I'm sure that part of that is Collins' lack of familiarity with the offense and the Indianapolis pieces, but I don't think Colts fans have much reason for optimism at this point.

New York Giants 14 at Washington Redskins 28

Aaron Schatz: OK, well, if we wanted some specific examples of how all these injuries were going to hurt the Giants, Anthony Armstrong made Aaron Ross look very silly on two straight plays to give the Redskins a 14-14 tie at the end of the second quarter. First, he beat Ross easily on a double move. Then he outmaneuvered Ross in the end zone to catch a ball that drifted right over Ross' right shoulder and into Armstrong's hands.

The Redskins claim Armstrong is the fastest receiver in the league. Dude, if you were that fast, you wouldn't have been playing in some nowhere minor arena league two years ago. You would have been drafted in the first round by the Raiders.

Question for Giants: Why Ahmad Bradshaw and not Brandon Jacobs when you need fourth-and-1? (5:20 left, Q3)

For the most part, the Washington offensive line has done a good job on the Giants defense, but when they've given way it's been at very bad times -- a sack on third down in the third quarter that knocked the Redskins out of field goal range, and now a sack-and-fumble two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Credit where credit is due. Rex Grossman looked like a real live boy today. He played very well for Washington. Even the incomplete passes were almost all accurate.

Minnesota Vikings 17 at San Diego Chargers 24

Mike Kurtz: The singer in San Diego just did the absolute worst rendition of the national anthem I have ever heard. It was basically a random string of syncopations.

Mike Tanier: Ahhhh ... the Chargers special teams.

Vince Verhei: Amazing, aren't they?

Ben Muth: In a year without Manning, it's nice to know we can depend on the Chargers special teams to provide consistency.

Doug Farrar: And there's Nate Kaeding being carted off the field. Oh, dear. Mike Scifres is now San Diego's punter AND kicker. The odds of San Diego's 2011 special teams DVOA going lover than the 2010 version just went up a tick.

Aaron Schatz: Honestly, there's a good chance that the Percy Harvin return touchdown is a blip, and the Chargers' special teams aren't going to come close to the crapitude of 2010. Special teams just aren't that consistent from year to year, especially when we're talking about an extreme like last year's Chargers, and remember they had one of the best punters in the league until last year. Even if he may now be their punter AND kicker.

Mike Kurtz: The really sad part about Minnesota's kickoff return touchdown is that it wasn't even due to great blocking. In fact, one of the guys in the not-wedge completely whiffed and San Diego had a clear shot at Harvin at the ten. Harvin made a nifty move, but it was all Harvin, with special thanks to NORV.

Ben Muth: Wow. Jared Allen drops into coverage on a swing route that turns into a wheel route and makes a great pick. Incredible play for a defensive end.

Vince Verhei: I've been watching that game out of the corner of my eye. I've seen Allen drop into coverage a handful of times.

Mike Kurtz: Scifres nails his first NFL field goal attempt, a 40-yarder. Awesome.

Minnesota has been called for encroachment three times in a six-play drive. I've probably seen bigger second-half collapses than this, but the Vikes have made a really good case.

Ben Muth: McNabb threw for 39 more yards than me today. If you add Vince Verhei's yards it's still less than 40 yards more.

Carolina Panthers 21 at Arizona Cardinals 28

Ben Muth: Jeff King was clearly the least popular Panther considering no one was within 25 yards of him on that TD catch.

As a Cardinals fan I'm torn between the "Kevin Kolb is way better than anyone we had last year" camp and the "Kevin Kolb is throwing a lot of checkdowns" camp.

J.J. Cooper: Patrick Peterson just ripped off a game-changing 89-yard punt return for Arizona. He almost Leon Lett-ed it at the end but he was smart enough to look back and realize he needed to speed up to not be caught from behind.

Tom Gower: As somebody who thought he'd never be a good NFL quarterback, I'm ridiculously impressed with Cam Newton's play today. He's missed some passes for sure, but mostly because he's throwing a bit high, not because he's throwing it right to defenders. I don't think they're asking him to do anything sophisticated, but he's really executing the gameplan. I don't care, much, that they turned the ball over on downs -- he made the right throws and could've had a TD if Legedu Naanee didn't knock legs or whatever with the defender.

Doug Farrar: The thing about him is that he has one of the best arms in the NFL already. As long as the other stuff started to come though, you know that he was going to be able to do things most rookies couldn’t as a result. But it was during the preseason that I started to think the Panthers were really on to something. Certain throws he really struggled with at the combine and at his Pro Day -– quick outs, certain short timing slants, longer seam throws –- got a lot tighter as he went through the process. Especially for this lockout-truncated season, and considering the super-basic offense he had at Auburn, I’ll join the “ridiculously impressed” bandwagon. He’s going to fall on his face at some point, but he’s also very much for real.

Seattle Seahawks 17 at San Francisco 49ers 33

Vince Verhei: For those of you who care about such things, Seahawks open with James Carpenter at LG and longtime Packers practice squad guy Breno Giacomini starting at right tackle.

Creative play of the day: Alex Smith pitches to Frank Gore headed left. Gore cuts back to the right behind a pulling lineman and ...Smith! Better yet, Smith throws TWO good blocks on the play! That was awesome!

Aaron Schatz: What happened to John Moffitt?

Vince Verhei: Moffit at RG. Robert Gallery is out.

Danny Tuccitto: Ray McDonald with a sack, a (separate) pressure, and a run stop on the first series against the Seahawks.

Mike Kurtz: I feel really bad for Pregnant Seahawks Fan Lady. She's been carrying that kid for what, 17 months now?

Danny Tuccitto: The more things change, the more they stay the same. 49ers' offense goes coverage scramble, false start, Gore up the middle, Gore up the middle. Andy Lee boots 61-yard punt.

Vince Verhei: Two notes on just how radical the Pete Carroll makeover has been in Seattle:

1) Only ten players on the 53-man roster in 2011 played for the team in 2009.

2) In Jim Mora's last game as coach, the starting defense averaged 235 pounds. Today, the starting defense averaged 255 pounds.

Danny Tuccitto: It's still early, but one definite improvement from Jim Harbaugh: challenge-flag-throwing mechanics.

Ted Ginn just did the "catch punt after a hop" thing you guys have been talking about all day. Did Goodell send out a leaguewide mandate or something?

Mike Tanier: Captain Composure just composed a symphony of getting sacked and fumbling straight into the air and into the arms of a Niners lineman. In B flat.

Vince Verhei: 16-0 49ers at halftime. They're averaging 2.9 yards per rush, but I think the line is blocking better than that -- they're putting Seahawks on the ground, especially on those pitch-counters they keep using. The problem is that Earl Thomas is having a whale of a game, with a team-high five tackles out of the secondary, including two for a loss. Niners are also predictably run-heavy, with 16 runs and only 11 passes. Expect that to go even higher in the second half.

As for the Seahawks offense, they're averaging 2.3 yards per pass play, 1.1 yards per rush, they're getting Andrew Luck, and that's that.

Danny Tuccitto: Immediate impression of first half: The game-management, strategic, and mental-preparation differences between Harbaugh and Mike Singletary are obvious to this long-suffering 49ers fan. No delay of game penalties, and they actually had timeouts left to use in their two-minute drive at the end of the half. Not to mention that tricky little use of a pre-snap shift by an eligible tackle to draw Seattle offsides on fourth down at around the four-minute mark of the second quarter.

Another thing is that I can already hear Niners fans touting this defense tomorrow. It's the Seahawks' offense, people.

Vince Verhei: More quarterback blocking! Tarvaris Jackson with a nice block to spring Ben Obomanu for a first down on a reverse. These guys can't throw, but they will hit you.

Rough series for Vernon Davis. On second down he has a chance to make a big catch downfield, but hears the footsteps of 232-pound safety Kam Chancellor and pulls up short. Then on third down the 49ers try a tight end screen to Davis, and it loses five yards.

Ricky Jean-Francois called for a personal foul for "clotheslining." Ben and I exchange psychic glances and ask "That's a penalty?"

Danny Tuccitto: So I'm guessing the Seahawks' special teams DVOA is not going to be pretty this week.

Vince Verhei: I'm still trying to figure out why they punted down nine with less than three minutes to go.

Tom Gower: All hail the great Ted Ginn!

Brian McIntyre When your head coach's big catchphrase is "Always Compete", punting when down nine with three minutes to play and two timeouts, against a division rival in a season-opener, makes no sense whatsoever. What's your deal, Pete?

Dallas Cowboys 24 at New York Jets 27

Ben Muth: Incredible pre-game ceremony. Goosebumps.

DeMarcus Ware beats Wayne Hunter for a sack in one-on-one pass protection. No one is shocked.

Vince Verhei: Actually, Mark Sanchez looked a little shocked.

Mike Tanier: Sanchez has been beyond brutal so far. He has not had a lot of time to throw, but gosh, get the ball in the receiver's vicinity now and then...

Mike Kurtz: Even I wouldn't argue that Sanchez is really this bad. I think he's just terrified of Ware after that first series.

Aaron Schatz: Maybe at halftime someone needs to put a calendar in his locker with the page open to "January 2012."

Mike Tanier: I will grab the calendar everyone passed around to use on Schottenheimer.

Ben Muth: It's 7-0 and Chris Collinsworth goes out on a limb to say Rob Ryan's defense is winning the battle. I concur. When a defense gives up zero points they are generally in the range of well to quite well.

Mike Kurtz: So after basically gaining an extra 30 seconds to figure out what to do next by shouting at Riveron while he was trying to announce the twelve-men penalty (by forcing him to keep moving away from the shouting players), the Cowboys then immediately get a delay of game. Honestly they're lucky they didn't pull an unsportsmanlike in addition to the other two. Just unreal.

Aaron Schatz: According to Collinsworth, Jets offense is looking for "completions and runs." This makes them very different from every other offense, I guess.

Mike Tanier: Sanchez has protection now and is starting to pick it up.

Mike Kurtz: Except for that awful throw into double coverage. I do agree, he's overcome his jitters, but he's still making poor decisions.

Aaron Schatz: They've definitely spread it out for him and encouraged passing tonight, although I could do without motioning tight end Jeff Cumberland out wide. Doesn't seem like a big threat to me.

Sanchez has been really good in the second half. I realize part of that is the injuries to the Dallas secondary, but injured cornerbacks don't make you accurate.

Tom Gower: He's been getting time, but he's still inconsistent. On the drive after the Tony Romo fumble, he hits Plaxico Burress on the deep in or whatever against the blitz, then completely misses the smoke route the next play. Of course, then he coughs up the ball on a sack...

Mike Kurtz: I am really, really sick of the "pre-check for review/review every scoring play" rule already, and it's week 1.

The Jets tie the game on a blocked punt touchdown...

Rivers McCown: So that's what Joe McKnight is around for!

Mike Tanier: Gotta love the Justify Your Existence blocked punt!

Rivers McCown: Questions that need to be answered:

-Is Tashard Choice the new Jerious Norwood?
-Why would you promote a show with a baby crying? Is it like Yoshi's Island where the baby is so annoying that you want to catch it just so it stops?

Mike Kurtz: It just struck me -- Garret has basically received no play whatsoever. It's all Ryan vs. Ryan, despite the fact that one of them is a coordinator. That is kind of insane.

Romo is picked off inside his own 50...

Tom Gower: Dez Bryant can't run, it's Darrelle Revis, and Romo threw it right to him. Maybe there was some coverage read Bryant was supposed to make where he should've cut off his route, but that's just ... pathetic.

Rivers McCown: Can we hold this game up as an example whenever anyone talks about how quarterbacks win games and are clutch? Sanchez's game-winning drive went two yards.

Aaron Schatz: I do wish that announcers would stop talking about how quarterbacks don't throw at Revis, though. They do throw at Revis. Not as much last year, compared to 2009, but they do throw at him. Receivers don't catch many passes against him because HE'S THAT GOOD, not because they aren't being thrown to at all.

Mike Kurtz: Credit to the Jets for not playing for the field goal on their last drive. Demerits to the Jets for being so awful at their attempts to get to the end zone.

Robert Weintraub: More painful throw away -- this opener or last season versus Washington?


153 comments, Last at 16 Sep 2011, 12:57am

#1 by Temo // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:54am

Robert Weintraub: More painful throw away -- this opener or last season versus Washington?

This year, because I never felt last year's team was any good. Last year it seemed par for the course to blow that game. This year was more of a gut punch.

Points: 0

#6 by Gubdude // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:12am

Agree. Especially considering they were up 14 in the 4th and then had the ball inside the 5 to make it a 2 score game.

I'm a pretty big Romo defender, but that's inexcusable.

Points: 0

#55 by yoyodyne // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:39pm

I am shocked, SHOCKED that Tony Romo once again collapsed in the 4th Q of a tight game. Shocked, I say!

Points: 0

#9 by Key19 // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:29am

This year's opener was equally painful. Why? Last year's was against the Redskins, a team everyone knew would suck. Losing to them was a bad sign. Also, we won the game, only to have it be taken away due to a penalty. That's pretty brutal.

This game hurts though because Tony let me down. I love him to death but he has got to understand the situation better. Right before the pick, I said out loud "Just protect the football and everything will be ok, even if we go 3 and out." And then he throws the INT. Inexcusable. He HAS to be better than that. It's crazy how great he was in the first three quarters, only to collapse in the 4th. That said, he shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. If only we could block for our punter...

Bottom line here is that even though blowing the game the way we did really hurts, we still lost by only 3 to a team that's made it to the last two AFC Championship Games. And that was without our top 3 CBs for most of the game. I'm overall encouraged by the team, and I just have to hope that Tony can return to Quarters 1-3 form next week, and then also carry that throughout the 4th.

Points: 0

#18 by Temo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:44am

If you remember I was down on the team going into the year, so the Redskins beating the Cowboys wasn't really a bad sign to me. It was a lost season before it even started, at least to me, at least as long as Wade Phillips was the HC.

I was much higher on the team this off-season. And I still am. So throwing away games that count towards a playoff spot, well that just sucks.

Points: 0

#22 by Temo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:53am

I will say this though: it's much better, even though it hurts more to lose, to root for a team you think has a chance, rather than last year when I was just hoping against hope that we'd have a chance.

Points: 0

#32 by Key19 // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:26pm

I remember you were down on the team last year. I envisioned more of the 5-3 Garrett-led team, while you envisioned the 1-7 Phillips-led team. Maybe we were both right. :P

I'm still encouraged about this season for sure. I think if anything, we showed that we can compete with and even beat (though we didn't) the best teams in the league. Our secondary was the only real issue on defense, and it should get healthier as the season goes on (although Scandrick is supposedly out for up to 4 weeks). As soon as we can put all of our effort into beat the opponent and not wasting some of it on beating ourselves, we'll be a contender. But I've been saying that for how many years now? *sigh* I do think that Garrett knows to stress situational awareness though, and I sure as hell know that he'll be beating that mentality into Tony (and the punt team) this week. Hopefully that ends up paying off for us in the 4th Quarter of future games.

Points: 0

#44 by Gubdude // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:54pm

11 games decided by 7 or less last year. 3 points last night. I want to start blowing teams out. I can't take this stress.

Points: 0

#48 by Temo // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:03pm

The niners should a good start. Hopefully Newman can actually get his shit together for a game.

Points: 0

#98 by mattymatty // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:43pm

"Also, we won the game, only to have it be taken away due to a penalty"

It's a crappy way to lose a game for sure, but I can't really let you get away with that. It was a completely legitimate penalty that absolutely was the correct call even considering the circumstances. Other than that, carry on.

Points: 0

#102 by t.d. // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:52pm

legit or not, they swallow the whistle probably half the time, at least, on that play

Points: 0

#100 by t.d. // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:48pm

yeah but this year they're going to be a playoff team. i was actually encouraged by what i saw last night

Points: 0

#2 by Joseph // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:58am

So, was Sunday a little bit of a letdown after the Thursday opener?

Points: 0

#69 by dbt // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:27pm

Unless you're a fan of one of those two teams I don't see why. There was some great football, especially if you figured out how to keep your DirecTV receiver from crashing when using the free sunday ticket preview. :)

Points: 0

#94 by Joseph // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:17pm

I meant a "letdown" to the FO Staff--it just seems like they had as many emails from the Thurs. PM game as the 13 Sunday games combined. Now, sure there are multiple games on a Sun, so there is less time to write e-mails during the commercials on Sun. vs. Thurs.
Also, it seems that there were less "down-to-the-wire super-exciting-no-matter-if-your-team-played-the-game" games than normal. (Although Jets/Boys and Panthers/Cards were pretty good).

Points: 0

#115 by dbt // Sep 12, 2011 - 9:12pm

Winning team came from behind in the 4th quarter: CIN-CLE, SDG-MIN, ARI-CAR, NYJ-DAL.

Losing team had a chance to tie in the last two minutes: DET-TAM, JAC-TEN.

Other: WAS-NYG (tied at half, rex grossman just wins!?), SEA-SFO (Seattle scores to pull within 2 with 3:56 left, ted ginn two returns to seal it).

Convincing victory: CHI-ATL, PHI-STL, BUF-KC, BAL-PIT, HOU-IND.

that's 8 "good" (i.e. outcome undecided until late) games, 5 solid wins. Three of those were fairly entertaining or interesting in their own right (Top 2 NFC seeds from last year facing off, two expected playoff teams from this year facing off, Baltimore-Pittsburgh is a huge rivalry).

Buf-KC was of regional interest and a blowout, and Hou-IND was just sad.

Points: 0

#3 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:01am

"Rams converted on fourth-and-short, then got a 40-some-yard pass interference on Nnamdi Asomugha that looked like a terrible call to me "

Clearly you were out of the room. Asomugha had his hand inside the receiver's shoulder pads when the ball came down.

I'm not sure the ball was catchable, but its pretty hard to tell when the defender is hanging onto the receiver.

Points: 0

#36 by Dean // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:35pm

I was sitting in end zone seats looking almost directly down at that play. I didn't think the ball was catchable, but as you pointed out, it's hard to tell how much the receiver got slowed down by the contact. Regardless, there is nobody on the Rams roster who sould be presenting any sort of challenge to Scrabble. By his standards, he had an awful day.

The Rams offense didn't look any different than last year. Better OL, and better depth at RB, but the plays still sure looked the same. Same slow WRs who can't get separation. Same scheme not even bothering to send anyone more than 8 yards downfield.

Points: 0

#41 by R Johnston (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:48pm

Yup. When you've got your forearm up around the back of the receiver's neck you're lucky to draw a pass interference penalty and not an ejection.

Points: 0

#56 by Vincent Verhei // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:42pm

Just re-watched the play (Yay NFL Game Rewind!). Nnamdi was clearly beaten on the play. Then he plainly interfered with Gibson. It's not obvious to me that the ball was catchable, but they will throw the flag on that every time.

Points: 0

#66 by Dean // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:14pm

what I thought was interesting - and maybe whoever charted the game can offer up a bit of insight on it, was that several times, the Eagles rotated their coverage and had a Safety (Kurt Coleman) lined up on the outside receiver for the Rams with Nnamdi rotating back to free safety. On at least one play, Coleman was beaten badly but the pressure got to Bradford before he could get the ball away.

Points: 0

#4 by Timmah! (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:05am

The Bills were effectively ceding the first 3-4 yards past the LOS on every KC pass, daring Cassell to throw checkdowns and then making the tackle almost immediately every time. When Cassell went downfield, he had some limited success, but except for the TD, the underneath throws largely went nowhere (or backwards).

The Bills were determined to not let Charles kill them on screens and swing passes and called an extremely conservative defense (they weren't even rushing their DEs in some cases - Dareus and Edwards would just hold position on the line to keep the OL from getting in front of Charles). Unless KC shows they are willing to throw behind the LBs, I suspect every team is going to follow the same game plan.

Points: 0

#5 by Spoon // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:12am

Can you vote a guy for MVP even in a season where he doesn't take a snap?

Points: 0

#8 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:24am

By that logic, we should give Bill Polian an award for "most valuable drafter" for the last 5 years.

Points: 0

#105 by Strange (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 6:26pm

That... is the most depressingly funny thing this Colts fan has heard today. It's amazing how so many locals will scream at you if you show a hint of negativity. "You're not a real fan!!!" Hey, I didn't say I wouldn't watch the games. I didn't say I wouldn't cheer and hope and pray and wear the jersey. All I said was that maybe this is the only way we actually draft our QB of the future... if we can out-suck the Chiefs and manage to get ourselves some Luck.

Points: 0

#107 by Mr Shush // Sep 12, 2011 - 6:54pm

No way the Chiefs suck that hard. The Seahawks, on the other hand . . .

Points: 0

#7 by loki13 (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:22am

I have to make this comment (re: last email in the Steelers' game thread):

If you ever want to understand why people either are fans of the Steelers, or hate them (non-starting criminal QB division), this email is Exhibit A.

When looking back to a similar example of an aging defense, and a horrible period of time for his team, a Steelers fan comes up with:

1. A time his team got blown out (twice!) and made the playoffs.

2. The time their aging defense was showing, and they went on to win the Super Bowl.

*ahem* This Bucs fan rests his case.

Points: 0

#10 by JCutler6 // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:30am

Mike Martz called an outstanding game yesterday. Easily his best for the Bears. Not once did I find myself questioning his playcalling - which was a common occurrence last year. Perfect mix of run and pass, and the 'gadget' plays were well designed and employed at the right time. Forte's TD - though aided by some terrible tackling - was a thing of beauty. Another screen where Cutler overthrew Davis was similar.

The O-Line also had a great game I thought. The 5 sacks were mainly a product of Cutler holding it for too long. Webb had a couple of penalties but I still liked his game. I can't remember too many rushers coming free either, so Garza's line-calling is an immediate upgrade over Kreutz's.

Points: 0

#13 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:34am

Agree about Garza.

I don't think people who haven't watched a lot of bears football the last couple of years realize how bad of a football player Kreutz is at this point. He's not a good blocker, let alone the great one he was, he makes poor line calls, and he can't consistently get the ball in the QB's hands.

The last two were ok when he was a fantastic blocker, but now that hes not, its a real issue.

I'm a bit worried for Saints fans.

Points: 0

#15 by Eddo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:38am

You're absolutely right, Rich. I was borderline ecstatic when the Bears decided to let Kreutz sign elsewhere.

Points: 0

#46 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:01pm

I was hesitant to really say anything bad about Kreutz because of his reputation, and I don't really trust myself to understand lineplay. However, it really appears that Garza is an upgrade on Kreutz in everyway, and Garza is probably just about average.

Points: 0

#14 by Eddo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:36am

Agreed. The Bears' coaching staff dominated that game. Ryan looked pretty good the first two series, but as soon as they forced the interception, it was if a light bulb went off for the Bears, and their pass defense totally clamped down.

I also was impressed with the amount of time Cutler had; in fact, I think that led to him holding the ball as long as he did on some of the sacks - he was already used to have so much time. Overall, he looked good, as well; not great, and he was helped by some excellent running and blocking on those screens, but definitely like the top-ten QB he *should* be.

Points: 0

#47 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:03pm

Tim Jennings is really impressing me. He was supposed to be this castoff near replacement level player who wasn't even supposed to get on the field, and he is really taking advantage of his opportunity. He's never going to get a lot of picks, but he's nearly always in position to make the tackle after the catch and never really screws up.

Points: 0

#127 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 13, 2011 - 6:52am

Wow - has anyone pointed out how low your expectations for Tim Jennings must have been? You pretty much said that he allows the passes to be caught, but then 'usually' is in position to make the tackle (presumably somewhere between 7 and 15 or so yards away from the original line of scrimmage). And you're pleased with that result.

Are you a closet Sabby fan?

Points: 0

#139 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 13, 2011 - 2:48pm

Ha, fair enough.

I actually left out some stuff. He does a great job taking away the deep pass forcing the offense to throw short, and then makes the tackle limiting YAC. He's basically the prototypical cover 2 corner. He'll never do anything spectacular, but he's a solid guy who won't repeatedly get burned either.

Points: 0

#97 by dbt // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:36pm

I actually think the turning point was right after that. The next Falcons series they were driving again, had a big 20+ yard pass up the field, and then the Bears recovered a fumble. The punt after that went down to the 4, the Falcons went conservative, Ryan took a huge sack down to the 1, and the Bears got the ball on the Falcons 30 and kicked a FG to go up 10. After that the Falcons didn't really move the ball at all well.

Points: 0

#11 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:30am

The Vikings are about what I expected; competent, if not good, on defense, and awful on offense, with an occasional play made by Harvin and Peterson. Berrian still has lousy ball skills, they don't block, and McNabb is a good candidate for IR.

I'm rooting for the Lions this year, just because I like watching Suh bludgeon people.

Points: 0

#61 by Crack (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:03pm

I moved to the Detroit area and reveled in listening to the incredibly over-optimistic predictions for the lions in the early Millen years. I would listen intently to sports radio after every Lions loss to the passion and angst of all the fans that were trying to come to grips with the fact that their team wasn't any good.

This changed the 0-16 year. No one cared. People weren't ashamed or mad, they were just uninterested. Last year the passion started coming back, and I have to say that the team looks like it will be a fun one to watch. I agree with the strategy of improving the secondary through improving the pass rush. It makes for exciting football.

Suh has been a great addition. His enthusiasm and passion has really helped set the tone on D.

I don't know if the Lions will ever be Super Bowl contenders, I've stopped asking that of any team I follow, but they will be good and entertaining for many years I believe.

On the other hand, when the Vikings move to LA next year I doubt I'll miss them much.

Points: 0

#70 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:29pm

I don't live in Minnesota any longer, but I still pay some taxes there, and stadium politics is really killing off my Vikings fandom. I just find it harder and harder to pull for success for rich guys who seek many hundred of millions in subsidies for their business which has 10-12 local events per year. Yes, almost all the other teams do the same thing, but I really don't care if they win either; I just tend to pull for the team which has a player I would like to see in the playoffs, and in nationally televised games. I really like watching Suh.

I'm almost to the point where I want the Vikings to leave Minnesota, just so I don't have to listen to rhetoric concerning stadium politics any longer.

Points: 0

#65 by Ranccor (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:06pm

I'm with you on the Lions. Suh is my favorite defensive player right now. He is just incredible to watch. As a Colts fan...I'm not going to have too many good weeks this year, so will be taking up the Lions banner on Sundays.

Points: 0

#12 by Jetspete // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:33am

a few quick thoughts on the game i sadly watched for elimination pool purposes, cin/cle:

- i really liked pat shurmer in the preseason. He gave good interviews and sounded like a true coach's son. then his team commits seven penalties in the first quarter. And for some reason he forgot he had Peyton Hillis. Then he didnt call time out when his defense was asleep at the wheel on the game's deciding play. I think he will be a fine NFL coach, but just an awful first day.

- I cant say for sure because i wasnt keeping track of where the runs were going, but it seems like the Browns really miss Eric Steinbach.

- Colt McCoy outside the pocket looks like a legit NFL qb. Colt McCoy inside the pocket looks like a deer in the headlights. And on that note, why they didnt give him more plays outside the pocket was troubling.

Points: 0

#16 by prophetik (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:40am

ok, i have to point this out.

the bills, coming off a 4-12 season with a chip on their shoulder that they should have done better, stomp the formerly 10-6 chiefs, on opening day, in their stadium, by a zillion points. we get one short line about how NFL replay is a nice thing. then you guys blab about the atrocity that was the Jags/Titans game for a year. nothing about stevie johnson's ridiculous catch. nothing about how fitzpatrick is supposed to be an inaccurate 'gunslinger' who can't complete a thing and then annihilates the chiefs on third down. nothing about the ragtag group of receivers (7th rounder, two undrafteds, and a practice squad pickup) combined for 200y receiving and four touchdowns against last year's 11th ranked defense. nothing about hali getting basically shut out of the game for almost the entire thing. nothing about the supposedly terrible offensive line doing a stellar job pounding the rock and protecting fitzpatrick. nothing about fred jackson evading three tackles and carrying a fourth over the line to convert a 3rd and 2. nothing about last year's worst run defense by a mile hosing the best running offense in the leage, where 50% of their yards came on two runs, with the rest going for roughly 2.5y/c. not even snarky comments about bowe not using his hands until week six again this year after he got shut down by a shaky, inconsistent mckelvin, or haley's master plan blowing up in his face.

seriously? i know the bills get knocked in the media because they've been bad for a while, but i didn't expect that kind of blatant ignorance here.

Points: 0

#21 by MJK // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:51am

Ummm... you did read the introduction, right. Specifically, this part:

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.)

This isn't a weekend game review...wait for quick reads or the DVOA article for that, or AGS. This is the FO staff circulating e-mails with each other about their impressions of the weekend, regarding the games they as fans chose to watch live. They let us, the readers, in on their discussions because we asked them to, and we enjoy them, but they don't write this article for us.

I think none of the writers happen to be Bills or KC fans...and in any case, unless you have Sunday Ticket, or live in upstate NY, Kansas, or Missouri, you probably didn't get to watch that game anyway. Let's be honest...unless you're a Buffalo or KC fan, would you choose to watch an overrated 10-6 team in a bad division play what is expected to be a mediocre team in a division with two powerhouses on opening day, when you could instead tune into Ravens-Steelers, or watch the Eagles unveil their shiny new free-agenty team, or watch Da Bears?

Points: 0

#23 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:57am

ok, I have to point this out. It is blatantly ignorant to write as if there is time to watch every game on a Sunday afternoon, even if watching football is your job.

Points: 0

#71 by prophetik (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:31pm

i agree that it is. you're not understanding my point. even if they're watching a zillion hours of football in any given sunday, the bills were in the endzone five or six times on sunday. Redzone Channel shows that once and a while, right? and yet one line was bandied about that fact.

THAT's what i think is ridiculous. i know no one wants to watch bills-chiefs except bills and chiefs fans, but not saying a word about the fact that, oh, the bills put up big numbers, as compared to the dialog about every other crappy game in the league is a bit strange.

Points: 0

#76 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:50pm

What would "The bills blew out the chiefs" have added? We look here for insite, and their take on things they watched. Not everyone finds the redzone channel interesting.

Points: 0

#79 by dbt // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:57pm

prophetik, why don't you tell us what you thought was interesting about that game? I saw some bits on RZ but not much; I'd love to hear what someone who actually watched the whole game thought of it. What did you see that led to the blowout?

For example, the biggest takeaway I got from the Bears-Falcons game is that the Bears D-line absolutely whipped the falcons O-line all day. Not sure which of those two units was a biggest contributor to that fact; I actually think this means Henry Melton and Julius Peppers are going to destroy some people this year.

(A few throw away lines about plays we all saw on ESPN doesn't actually show your team respect, you know? Someone's going to chart the game; they just don't do it in real time. Contributing to the conversation is going to do more than just complaining.)

Points: 0

#83 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:33pm

I understand your point just fine. You think it is ridiculous that they didn't comment on a game that you understand that nobody, outside of fans of the two teams,wanted to watch, in a column that is prefaced by the remark that the writers are commenting as fans, and that the column is not meant to be a league-wide survey.

Congratulations. You have won today's World Irony Championship, Unintended Internet Message Board Division.

Points: 0

#128 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 13, 2011 - 6:59am

And really, FO, not a single damn mention of the All Blacks - Tonga scrap to open the biggest sporting event going on in the world right now?! Did you guys even check your satellite feeds to see the NZ forwards' play in the scrum? It was complete domination - without a single forward pass the whole game!

Disappointing, FO. Disappointing.

Points: 0

#24 by Eddo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:59am

First, please note the text at the beginning of the article:

"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."

Second, please use the following template for your complaint next time:

Why [no/so few] comments regarding [game that my favorite team played]? It was clearly a more deserving game than [other game that garnered more comments] and [list of reasons that apply to me personally that don't apply to any FO staff]. [More angry comments trying to redefine what the Audibles at the Line feature is].

Points: 0

#17 by MJK // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:44am

I'm going to sound a little bit like TMQ here, but the similarities between the ends of the Cowboys-Jets game and the Seattle-San Francisco game, and their very different outcome, struck me.

In SEA-SF, the Niners are up by 6 late in the 4th quarter, with 1st and goal inside the 5. Harbaugh goes ultra-conservative and tries to run the ball in (and gets booed) and then kicks the FG to go up by 9. Now, I'm normally of the mindset that coaches are way too risk averse and like aggressive plays, but Harbaugh did the right thing. A nine point lead is almost as good as a 13 point lead, and puts you up by two scores when your defense is playing well. Niners win.

In DAL-NYJ, the Cowboys are up by 7 late in the 4th quarter, with 1st and goal inside the 5. They try one run that gets them real close, then try pass (almost a pick-6), then another pass FROM THE 1 YARD LINE, that results in a fumble and gives the Jets the ball. The Cowboys would never score again, and end up losing by a FG.

If you just pound it in, you have pretty good odds (and I'm not just saying that because I had Felix Jones on my fantasy team... :-) ). Even if you don't get it in, you take about 2 minutes off the clock with three runs, then kick a FG to go up by 2 scores...or, if you are more scared of the Jets offense, you go for it on 4th down considering how close you are.

Usually being aggressive is good, and passing is better than running. But sometimes, playing it smart is the right play, and sometimes, running is a better idea.

Points: 0

#20 by Temo // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:47am

The Cowboys were shit in short yardage situations last year when running the ball, and were pretty crappy yesterday too, except for the one wide run by Jones.

I don't mind the playcall really, given the team they were playing (the Jets are pretty good in short yardage vs. the run) and the personnel the Cowboys have (a much smaller, more athletic line than they had last year). Romo's just got to take better care of the football.

Points: 0

#85 by zenbitz // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:57pm

The niners are too. 6 runs with goal to go from the 5, no TDs.

Points: 0

#95 by jackgibbs // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:23pm

I hate agreeing with skip bayless, but how the hell did jason witten get out-muscled by jim leonard inside the five yard line in the first place? even if you just dip your shoulder and lean on him there you can stumble your way into the endzone. that fumble should have never had the chance to happen in the first place.

but after that, I don't hate the pass plays on second and third, but goddamnit stop targeting a gimpy dez bryant against revis.ugh. you really think a guy with cramps and bruised thighs is going to run a successful fade against the best corner in the league? so. dumb.

Points: 0

#89 by zenbitz // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:09pm

Rams have a third-and-11 at the Eagles' 36. Rather than risk doom on a pass play, they run Jerious Norwood. He gains seven yards to set up a 47-yard field goal (which was missed). That tells you everything about the Rams' game plan today.

NFC West Fever! Catch It!

Points: 0

#129 by Tundrapaddy (not verified) // Sep 13, 2011 - 7:09am

As a fan of the Vikes and the Seahawks, I'll admit that this may be the first season that I'm glad there no NFL broadcasts available to me here in NZ. I can easily see less than 8 wins. Combined.

Points: 0

#130 by Mr Shush // Sep 13, 2011 - 8:53am

Has a division ever been won by a losing team two years in a row?

Points: 0

#135 by justanothersteve // Sep 13, 2011 - 12:25pm

Until last year, I don't believe a division had ever been won by a team with a losing record. (I do believe one or two had been won by teams with .500 records.) I predict if I'm wrong, someone will post a rebuttal within the hour.

Points: 0

#19 by Keith(1) (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 11:45am

Watching the ticker scrolling, every game looked like a blowout or bad teams playing against each other. Bengals/Browns was closer than the final made it seem, and they are bad teams. The only game I really thought was "football-like" was Lions/Bucs. Granted, this was the first week after a long lockout, but defense and "defensive" special teams seemed collectively awful. Any team that had a ball in their hand was almost guaranteed to look solid.

Other thoughts:

1) Cam had a few really nice bows, and a few really bad decisions. He was far better than I gave him credit for, but again, first week, defense, Arizona (or other bad team). The same can be said of Rex Grossman, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, etc.

2) Am I the only one that was not particularly impressed with the Ravens? In a normal year, the game they played yesterday, they did everything right, but nothing spectacular. The Steelers just happened to do everything wrong yesterday. Getting 20 points off 7 turnovers is less than 3 points per turnover. Is there some number out there that has the average amount of points per turnover, because less-than-three seems low. That is not to take anything away from their win, as it was really solid, but it seems that a lot of their good came more from Pittsburgh's bad than something that the Ravens did.

3) The Bills and Browns are going to have a lot of very fun games this year. Their offenses are very fun to watch. Keep rolling McCoy out of the pocket and let him do his best "Aaron Rodgers Playoffs 2010" impression!

4) I guess the same thing I said about the Ravens can be said about the Eagles. I was not impressed, though a few passes to Jackson were very exciting. I just cannot see how they beat "real" football teams each week.

5) There is no way the Bears can do that all year. When the weather cools (and it soon will), their running back will have to actually be a running back, their field gets terrible, and their defense will slow down. Every one of those things will bring the Bears crashing back down to earth, no matter how many "I Told You Sos" people want to throw out.

6) The AFC South is going to be NFC West-like this year.

Points: 0

#34 by Karl Cuba // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:31pm

How were the Cards playing the Carolina offense? If you look at the stats the Panthers running game went nowhere and Newton was able to wing the ball all over the field. I didn't see the game but this would suggest that the Cards took away the run and asked the rookie to beat them, which is exactly the strategy you would have expected.

Points: 0

#43 by Mr Shush // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:53pm

"The AFC South is going to be NFC West-like this year."

I agree, if by "NFC West-like" you mean the NFC West in years like 2009 and 2007 where one perfectly respectable but unremarkable team won the division comfortably when in other divisions they'd have been a middling wild card contender. I do think the Texans are decent. I think being decent in what is otherwise a crap-fest makes them a near-lock for the playoffs.

Points: 0

#49 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:05pm

I think the Texans are actually really good. The offense is already proven to be excellent, and the defense has had major upgrades from last year.

Points: 0

#53 by Mr Shush // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:27pm

I hope you're right, but the best evidence we have so far is demolitions of the Manningless Colts and (in pre-season Week 3) the 49ers. That's enough to convince me the defense is significantly improved, but it might only be significantly improved to "bad" and great offense + bad defense = decent team that will win the AFC South and then get dumped out of the playoffs by the Steelers in the Wild Card round, not "really good". Really good's a possibility, but right now, that's all it is.

Points: 0

#64 by Keith(1) (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:05pm

With the Texans not having discernably increased their offensive ability in any way (I do not count Ben Tate an upgrade, as he is really just a third back and brings nothing "new"), and their defense simply improving to bad, they should reasonably be fit to make the playoffs even on the merits of their own team. With 3/4 of the AFC South in down phases (and I think both the Titans and Jaguars will be no more than six-win teams), the Texans are poised for a first-round playoff loss!

Points: 0

#72 by hrudey (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:36pm

Congratulations to the Texans for defending their title as Week 1 AFC South Champions.

Points: 0

#60 by yoyodyne // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:59pm

So, putting up 31 pts on the road vs a good Defense, using a patchwork O-Line with 3 new guys and a 4th guarding the blind side of Vick isn't impressive? Or da Iggles D outscoring the Rams O -after their first play- by a 7-6 score over the last 57 minutes 'isn't impressive?'

Would you like 72-0? Or 49 to negative 8 next time?

I guess if they beat ATL on the road Sun nite it'll be because 'ATL isn't very good this year, they were just lucky last year,' et al, ad infinitum.

Can you tell us who in advance is going to be considered a 'real team?' @ATL? WAS? DAL? NYJ? CHI? @BUF? ZONA? NWE? @SFO? @WAS, @DAL??

Points: 0

#67 by Keith(1) (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:16pm

The Rams were not a good defense last year -- they had a positive defensive DVOA, and were ranked 20th. The Rams were not a good offense last year -- they had a negative offensive DVOA, and they ranked 30th. Their special were simply average with a barely over-zero DVOA, and they ranked 14th.

As the rhetoric goes, Vick played LIGHTS OUT last night. Or not. He completed very few passes against a relatively bad defense who lost (arguably) one of their better secondary players. He made things happen with his legs, but we saw what that got him last year (injuries, diminished capacity overall).

Vick's line from last night is not even as good as it looks, albeit he did throw an excellent ball on the Jackson touchdown.

All told, the Eagles players are much better than the Rams players, but that is not to say they are a great team. A reasonably competent team will keep up with and beat the Eagles if they continue to play as they did yesterday.

Points: 0

#90 by Keith(1) (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:13pm

Last year's team is the best proxy for this year's team, to increase the relevance of the sample size. The pre-season is not really a good indicator, nor is the "theory" of adding new players in Free Agency. Say what you will, but the Rams were not a playoff team last year, and they cannot be considered such this year. To say the Rams have a good defense (or a good offense) is hinged on a) being good last year, b) adding a bunch of good players in Free Agency, or c) looking good in the pre-season. Option A is more likely to give you a big-picture view.

I stand by what I said until the Rams prove they are a good team that just got beat by a better team, and the Eagles prove they are a better team that beat a good team while playing below their relative skill ceiling.

Points: 0

#80 by 0tarin // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:24pm

Regarding the Ravens game, I think the numbers are somewhat deceptive. A lot of the turnovers (4 of them, I think) came after they were already up by 14+ relatively late in the game. It's less critical to get points off of those and more important to use up time with them.

Note that the early turnovers were those that generated a lot of points; off the top of my head, the first (fumble?) was converted into 7 three plays later, and the second went directly into a TD as well. Once that damage was done, they could sit on the lead and use the additional turnovers to run out the clock. Granted, they continued taking strikes downfield, but it was less urgent at that point and we saw more of Ricky Williams (particularly in the 4th quarter, which had two of the turnovers, I recall).

Points: 0

#91 by Keith(1) (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:25pm

I will concede that the situation is as exact as you described, but again, my argument is not so much what they did (as they played a really solid game), but the expectation of what they could have done. Generating seven extra possessions, it seems that a team as supposedly as good as the Ravens were yesterday, and with a coach as smart as they have, would have been gassing all the way.

I guess I mostly mean this in the fourth, when the score was 32-7. By all accounts, that game is out of reach, but I have always felt the passive play of trying to hold a lead has brought more comebacks than superior quarterback play.

Then again, maybe I am just not too keen on the Ravens (I thought both teams were going to settle into "middling" 9-7/10-6 years)...

Points: 0

#109 by Mr Shush // Sep 12, 2011 - 7:09pm

Their schedules are too soft for that . . .

Points: 0

#131 by bengt (not verified) // Sep 13, 2011 - 10:08am

I agree, but will note that the Steelers first needed to have five possessions to commit the five last turnovers after the second half began with a fumble and the score to make it 29-7. That does not seem to be effective 'using time with them'.
In other words: had the Ravens successfully accumulated TOP, the Steelers would not have had five opportunities to turn the ball over in the first place.

Points: 0

#25 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:01pm

You know, I wonder if Raheem Morris just wants to build Freeman's reputation as a late-game savior by blowing the first half consistently. Thought this last year as well--this is a team that does not look ready when the game starts, but they apparently are very good at halftime adjustments, because they play better in the second half.

Detroit totally controlled the line of scrimmage on offense, yet still had ~3.5 ypc. Is Jahvid Best really the guy you want slamming up the gut 21 times in a game?

Points: 0

#27 by Will Allen // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:07pm

Milk, I couldn't catch Bucs/Lions yesterday; any memorable Suh-on-opponent violence?

Points: 0

#29 by MilkmanDanimal // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:18pm

Suh was pretty invisible, really. One positive from the game is that Davin Joseph looked quite good keeping him contained yesterday; Joseph was injured last year and played pretty badly. Granted, he was getting a lot of help, but I completely forgot Suh was out there (which is the same thing that happened in last year's game).

It was a frustrating game because it felt very winnable; on Megatron's first TD catch, Talib jumped and tipped the ball, but just barely and it fell into CJ's hands. He moves his hand an inch over, he knocks the ball away. In the second half, the Bucs went for it on 4th and 1 and Graham fumbled. As many yards as the Lions piled up early, Tampa was (per usual) a completely different team in the second half. Well, part of the team; I'm not entirely sure Tampa's defensive line could find the stadium yesterday. Gerald McCoy seemed to be going backwards a lot, and the DEs couldn't get near Stafford (who isn't exactly Mr. Mobility).

Of course, the best part of the Lions is I think about 2006, when the Tim Rattay-led Bucs won a pointless late-season game vs. Cleveland. That eventually led to a coin flip for draft position with the Browns, which they won. If Tampa had lost, they'd have been 3-13, tied with Detroit, and I'm not sure about how the tiebreakers would have gone, but the main issue is they picked fourth; Megatron went #2 to Detroit, Joe Thomas went #3 to Cleveland, Gaines Adams went to Tampa at #4.

Every time I see Calvin Johnson utterly destroy a defense or Joe Thomas utterly steamroll somebody I hate Tim Rattay a little bit more.

Points: 0

#50 by Aaron Brooks' … (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:14pm

TB started moving the ball once Detroit switched to a soft shell and started playing not to lose.

Points: 0

#38 by Some Detroit Guy (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:39pm

Probably don't want Best running it up the middle that much, but I do think he had more success in the first half. The running game seemed alright early, and then when it got predictable in the fourth quarter, since they were trying to kill the clock, it really didn't work. Just my amateur observation.

Points: 0

#74 by Yinka Double Dare // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:49pm

Best isn't the guy they want slamming it up the gut. They drafted Leshoure for that but he blew his Achilles in practice in the preseason, so what they have left is Best and the scrapheap guys they picked up after Leshoure went down.

Points: 0

#26 by TomKelso // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:03pm

Prophetik -- please read the disclaimer. Not EVERY game will get covered in Audibles; it's not designed for that.

Good to see a Marty the Blimp reference -- if the Virginia Destroyers make the playoffs, we can only hope the UFL doesn't last until January.

And, Mike, shirtless Cal eating a crab cake is cheesecake -- him feeding it to a shirtless Artie Donovan would be pornography.

Points: 0

#30 by BJR // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:19pm

I don't know why you guys feel the need to rip on Collinsworth. Sure he comes out with the odd silly or blindingly obvious statements, but so does every announcer, and he is simply streets ahead of most. Both of the examples highlighted this week it was obvious the point he was trying to make, even if the choice of words wasn't great. But it isn't scripted, so cut the guy some slack.

Phil Simms sounded as though he had spent the off-season being beaten about the head during the Ravens/Steelers game yesterday. Please, if you have to choose a soft target, rip on him rather than one of the better guys out there.

Points: 0

#33 by Karl Cuba // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:28pm

He drives me crazy. I might be more willing to accept his "(mediocre player for popular team) X is one of the best in the league" crap if he didn't know anything about the game. He knows its a load of rubbish so why on earth does he feel the need to say it?

It isn't just a Collinsworth problem. Why does nearly every ex-player or coach feel the need to turn into Joey Sunshine?

Points: 0

#37 by Joshua Northey (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:36pm

Because it is their job. They are paid to entertain casual fans, not provide good football analysis.

You realize that don't you? Do you try to do your job? They have tons of people shaping what they say and coaching them and advising them, and they are advising them to move away from serious football analysis not towards it. It is so, but true. Just don't listen to the announcers. I don't unless I am doing something else with my eyes and so need audio.

Points: 0

#42 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:52pm

Why do you think that being "mr sunshine" is what casual fans want? American Idol became a huge show primarily because one of the on screen personalities was so scathing.

Points: 0

#63 by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:05pm

"Why do you think that being "mr sunshine" is what casual fans want?"

Because that's what casual fans want. There are approximately 8 trillion message boards out there on the internet where all people do is complain about how the media "disrespects" their team. The disrespect in question is generally of the type wherein media person X neglected to call favorite team's QB the greatest player ever enough times. Witness the above thread of someone complaining that the Bills didn't get their proper due in this very column. Like it or not, that's how it is.

Points: 0

#77 by RichC (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:53pm

Circular logic is circular.

There are 8 million boards out there that complain that each team is overrated.

Points: 0

#86 by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:58pm

"Circular logic is circular."

I disagree. But that's OK, cuz we been disrespected from Day 1! Yall are just haters! We all we got!!

Points: 0

#103 by dbostedo // Sep 12, 2011 - 6:04pm

I think it's more significant that several announcers have been told repeatedly to pump up the stars and dumb some other types of comments down. (I have no references for that, but I believe I've seen that analysis in a few different places.)

If that's the case, then what the announcers are selling is certainly what the networks and ad folks want to see - and by proxy what the viewers want to see. (I'd guess there's also some evidence that putting hard core analysis in the booth actually lowers ratings and/or ups complaints.)

Anyone have anything concrete on this?

Points: 0

#108 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 7:07pm

"I'd guess there's also some evidence that putting hard core analysis in the booth actually lowers ratings and/or ups complaints."

From what I understand NFL ratings are basically immune to anything the producers do so they're just guessing at what fans want.

Points: 0

#39 by loki13 (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:40pm

On Collinsworth, I think the following-

I do think he his unfairly ripped by people. Some day, try turning the sound off to a game. Do your own color commentating. Listen to the tape afterward. It will suck. I guarantee it. The job is hard.

Is Collinsworth perfect? No. But listen to the other announcers. He's one of the best ones out there. Yes, during an entire game broadcast, he falls into the predictable cliches (*The National Football League* or overly criticizing a player for being human or deciding on a storyline and selling it throughout the broadcast no matter what happens during the game), but he's much better than almost every other broadcaster. I had the misfortune of listening to Matt Millen broadcasting a college game on Saturday. 'Nuff said.

OTOH, my wife thinks he sounds like a girl. So there's that.

Points: 0

#45 by Nathan // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:00pm

Collinsworth rules. And if anything, he sounds like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused.

Points: 0

#59 by dbostedo // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:51pm

Agreed on Phil Simms. My favorite line was when he tried to say that Roethlisberger's throw while in-the-grasp was intentional grounding because he only threw it to avoid a sack. Nevermind that there was an eligible receiver near where it landed (which Simms acknowledged).

Apparently, according to Phil, as soon as you're in danger of a sack, you can no longer throw the ball.

Points: 0

#81 by 0tarin // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:30pm

I was more irritated by their insistence in pronouncing Haloti Ngata as "Not-Ah" every ten seconds. Simms used to be the only one that did that, but it apparently spread to Nantz due to proximity. It's their version of Michael's "New Or-lee-uhns".

Points: 0

#84 by Travis // Sep 12, 2011 - 3:44pm

FWIW, the Ravens' pronunciation guide has it as "NAH-tah."

Chykie Brown's first name is supposedly pronounced the same as Jeremy Shockey's last. I would not have guessed that.

Points: 0

#101 by BJR // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:51pm

He also started criticising Mendenhall for the fumble on the play when Ngata was allowed to rumble into the backfield totally unblocked and decimate him a nanosecond after the handoff.

That was a funny play. It's hard to imagine a worse blown assigment than whichever Pittsburgh interior lineman was responsible for that.

Points: 0

#31 by Joshua Northey (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:20pm

Last night was a nice treat for me and the other in the Romo/Sanchez are badly over-hyped camp.

They are both average QBs who will be around for a long time, but I get so sick of people treating them as though they are members of some burgeoning elite. Sure they are not horrible, but it is possible to just be an average QB. Everyone doesn't need to be horrible or "one of the best".

Points: 0

#62 by yoyodyne // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:04pm

Agree, but Sanchize can improve -- many QBs have notoriously taken huge steps fwd in Years 3 and 4 -- and his playoff peformances have been impressive. I mean, he's got 3 more career playoff wins than Tony Choking Romo, who is what he is.

Points: 0

#35 by Karl Cuba // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:32pm

"Rough series for Vernon Davis. On second down he has a chance to make a big catch downfield, but hears the footsteps of 232-pound safety Kam Chancellor and pulls up short."

Mr Verhei, you fell into the same trap as the commentators. The replay showed that the reason Davis didn't go for the pass was that the linebacker trailing behind him was holding him. You can clearly see his glove on Davis' right shoulder pad. That was why the crowd started booing after they saw the replay on the big screen That play should have been a 30 yard DPI but due to bad officiating and really bad commentating everyone blames Davis. For me, the bigger question is why on earth Davis didn't wave his arms and remonstrate with the refs for a flag after a pretty blatant penalty.

Points: 0

#57 by Roadspike73 (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:43pm

Maybe because he felt bad at all the horrible calls against the Seahawks? Now I know... Seahawks fan complaining about the reffing, but seriously.

That DPI in the end zone on Browner was OPI if anything. Browner never touched him, and the receiver (Edwards?)pushed off him.

The Seahawk player never touched the kicker on that field goal attempt that the Niners had to kick like 3 times. The kicker flopped.

70-yard Leon Washington punt return called back for a block in the back that never happened.

Blocks in the back on both Ginn return TDs that went totally uncalled (granted, that happens on most returns, but after the phantom call on Washington's return, that hurts).

Just to show I know when I'm being -really- sour grapes... where's the excessive celebration flag after Ginn's first return TD? It was like 2 minutes later and he was still celebrating.

Points: 0

#68 by Karl Cuba // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:17pm

Browner was shoving Edwards in the chest well before the ball arrived, this prevented him from being able to turn his body to make the catch.

I thought the roughing the kicker call was borderline but some of those will be called and some won't.

I thought they did a pretty good job of pointing out the blcok in the back in the broadcast. It looked pretty clear to me.

I wasn't actually bitching about the refs, I was more annoyed to hear an FO writer failing to see it, jumping to the wrong conclusion and then binning Vernon Davis.

Points: 0

#88 by zenbitz // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:07pm


The DPI on Browner could have gone the other way, true. Edwards tried to push off but Browner held on to his arm!

I literally cannot remember the last time I saw a roughing the FG kicker, but yeah, he might have flopped.

I called the block in the back on Washington's return before the refs did. And it was, critically, right when he fielded the punt (first guy down).

No comments on Ginn's TDs, I will assume you're correct.

You forgot the shoulder-to-shoulder 15 yard unnecessary roughness called on the 49ers on a Seahawk CATCHING the ball. That penalty almost made me swear off of the NFL forever.

Excessive celebration is a bs penalty and they should never call it, IMHO.


That's not what "sour grapes" means. :)

Points: 0

#92 by bravehoptoad // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:51pm

You forgot the shoulder-to-shoulder 15 yard unnecessary roughness called on the 49ers on a Seahawk CATCHING the ball. That penalty almost made me swear off of the NFL forever.

I was watching this game at a party with the sound off. No one knew what the flag was for. "He hit him too hard," I said, and everyone said "Naaaaw!" "No way!" "He must've been interfered with."

Sigh. It's a new world in the NFL.

Points: 0

#93 by Nathan // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:02pm

The reason the flag was thrown was because he was in midair when he was hit.

I'm not sure what the defensive player is supposed to do, but the reason is that he wasn't on his feet. It wasn't just that he was hit too hard.

Points: 0

#99 by Roadspike73 (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:46pm

I didn't see the hold of Edwards' arm. I think I was too busy getting angry at the refs by then to see the third or fourth replay clearly (yes, I'm definitely a homer, but I generally try to be a rational one).

It certainly looked like the Seahawk either completely missed the kicker's leg, or just barely grazed it, certainly not enough to knock down someone even balancing on one leg.

From what I recall of Washington's return, the block was on the side of the shoulder, -certainly- not anywhere near as bad as the uncalled block on Ginn's punt return when the 49er shoved the Seahawk gunner in the middle of the back, sending him tumbling to the ground before he could hit Ginn.

Looking back at replays, it looks like I may have been a little overzealous on the Ginn kickoff return TD call of block in the back... there certainly was one, but it was too late to make a difference. That was just some blazing speed, and some bad contain.

Yes, I griped at the unnecessary roughness penalty on the 49er defender too. I understand that technically it was illegal because he launched himself head-first at a defender who was in the air, but it looked like a great football play to me too.

I agree that generally excessive celebration is a BS penalty. However, when you're still celebrating (on the field as far as I could tell, although I could very well be remembering wrong) 1-2 minutes later...

And you're right... I misused the phrase sour grapes. I meant it might have been me just stretching for things to gripe about because I was in a bad mood about the earlier calls.

Points: 0

#110 by Karl Cuba // Sep 12, 2011 - 7:13pm

I just watched the punt return, there are two instances of a 49er player blocking a seahawk in the back but in both instances is is well after the initial contact. I think that you're allowed to push someone in the back if you had already been blocking them legally, though I could be wrong.

Points: 0

#111 by greybeard // Sep 12, 2011 - 7:27pm

There was a roughing the kicker call at the beginning of the game after Seahawks punted. A 15 yard variety. Did they get rid of the 5 yard penally, running into the kicker?

Also, Earl Thomas was awesome. It is funny that Taylor Mays thought he was better than him. I think he was the sole reason Seahawks stayed in the game as long as they did.

Points: 0

#112 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 7:28pm

You are allowed to block in the back if the defensive player turns his back to you. Otherwise every spin move would result in a bitb penalty.

Points: 0

#40 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 12:44pm

Mike Kurtz: Apparently (according to Glazer), Devin Hester has the green light to take kicks out of the end zone when he feels like it. What could possibly go wrong?

Ah yes, Mike Kurtz's irrational hatred of Devin Hester, I've missed that.

Points: 0

#116 by B // Sep 12, 2011 - 9:37pm

To be fair, Hester did fumble twice. Okay, technically one was a muff.

Points: 0

#52 by Sean D (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:19pm

"Harvin made a nifty move, but it was all Harvin, with special thanks to NORV."

I don't get that comment. Why did Norv deserve to be mentioned? And why is it in all caps?

Points: 0

#54 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 12, 2011 - 1:39pm

The Bears defensive line looks really good. Peppers doesn't look like he's slowed down at all. Melton looks like the Bears finally developed someone from the many draft picks they've used. Nick Reed looks very useful especially for 4th/5th end (hard to see why the Seahawks would get rid of him). Even Okoye looked good, he was able to use his athleticism and just attack. I'm guessing the Texans were not using him in the best possible manor to suit his talents. When Wootton comes back, and if he's close to as good as the coaches think he is, this is going to be a very deep unit that will be giving quarterbacks fits all year.

Points: 0

#73 by Mr Shush // Sep 12, 2011 - 2:39pm

Okoye was both badly coached and badly used in Houston. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he developed into an effective player elsewhere. He'll never be a good run defender, but he could be a highly effective rotational/situational 3-technique in a scheme where he's allowed to just shoot a gap.

Points: 0

#87 by PatsFan // Sep 12, 2011 - 4:00pm

Hey FO guys -- have you thought about making last year's one-timer an ongoing thing -- auctioning off (week-by-week, I'd imagine) participation in the upcoming week's emails that Audibles is built out of?

Points: 0

#96 by Rivers McCown // Sep 12, 2011 - 5:24pm

I would guess that by limiting supply, we're probably doing the best for the charities at this point. I'm sure we'd be open to it if we thought it would bring in enough money to be worth the added effort.

Points: 0

#113 by akn // Sep 12, 2011 - 8:50pm

(not trying to beat a dead horse, but...)

Steven Jackson sprains his quad on his 3rd run of the game. Later we see sideline shots of him on a bicycle. I'm sure there are shots of him after the game walking around and climbing stairs without issue. I'm also sure there are shots of him after the game hanging out with hot women (though they may not be reality stars).

Sure, he didn't pout, but why is no one calling him a quitter?


Points: 0

#121 by Bryan and Vinny Show (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:57pm

Was this the NFC Championship game, and I didn't realize it?
Nah, people just don't like Jay Cutler, because he's not very good, people act like he is, and he always looks like Spalding Smails.


Points: 0

#140 by Danish Denver-Fan // Sep 13, 2011 - 4:25pm

I've been known to get irrational in defense of Cutler, and I really think that the Cutler-is-totally-overated opinion has prevailed. So much so that I now think he's a bit underrated.

Points: 0

#143 by Eddo // Sep 14, 2011 - 10:48am

Yes. He's a good quarterback. He'll make some bad decisions, but he's not Jeff George 2.0, like Simmons likes to say.

Having watched every game he's played for the Bears, my personal scouting report is:
- Excellent arm (duh)
- Good at pre-snap reads
- Sloppy mechanics at times (though they have improved over time)
- High confidence levels make him prone to forcing balls, and high interception counts
- An OK leader (teammates love him, don't let his mopey look fool you - that's just how he looks)
- Excellent mobility and great at throwing on the run

Personally, I'd rather have a guy like Cutler, who is smart but overconfident, than someone who won't force throws but also can't read a defense.

Points: 0

#144 by Mr Shush // Sep 14, 2011 - 11:11am

I still think the Favre comparison is fairly apt. Put him in a great situation and you'll get dominant numbers. Put him in a less good situation and you'll get some great plays but also a lot of infuriating mistakes. He's not as good as Favre, but the similarity's really quite strong.

Points: 0

#146 by Nathan // Sep 14, 2011 - 11:30am

Cutler is definitely not just having fun out there

Points: 0

#147 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 14, 2011 - 11:57am

I think that's a fair comparison in terms of play style. I also think Farve's quality of play is underrated around these days.

Points: 0

#148 by Mr Shush // Sep 14, 2011 - 12:48pm

1996 is a long time ago, and the early/mid-noughties patchiness went on for a long time.

Points: 0

#151 by Shattenjager // Sep 15, 2011 - 1:21am

Hell, I think he's verging on underrated at this point, and I was pretty much first in line calling him overrated* (and simply disliking him, which is a different issue).

*I did, after all, start calling him the Second Coming of Favre during his second season in the NFL.

Points: 0

#114 by Nathan Forster // Sep 12, 2011 - 8:58pm

Robert Quinn being on the inactive list is definitely bad sign: even an inexperienced first-round draft pick should be more valuable than a guy like Eugene Sims, a second year sixth round pick with zero career sacks. That said, of course his situation is far from hopeless: Carlos Dunlap, for instance, started last season on the inactive list and he turned it around in a hurry.

Sorry JPP!

Points: 0

#117 by Drunkmonkey // Sep 12, 2011 - 9:53pm

So I don't know if it's been said already, as I definitely don't have time to read all 100-and-whatever comments, but I think it would be AWESOME if Luck ended up in Seattle, just for the awkward situations that it would create between Carroll, Harbaugh, and Luck. Just AWESOME!!!! (Awesome was said both times in my Steve Smith, American Dad voice)

Points: 0

#118 by Scott P. (not verified) // Sep 12, 2011 - 10:17pm

So will the Patriots break the 1000-yard barrier when they play the Colts? The 100-point barrier?

Points: 0

#122 by MJK // Sep 13, 2011 - 12:29am

I was amused that they made a big deal that Welker's play ties the NFL record for the longest play from scrimmage at 99 yards.

Since the NFL official stats don't subdivide into partial yards, and you can never start a play from scrimmage from inside your own endzone (i.e. a play that starts at the 1" line and goes all the way the other way for a TD would still be a 99 yard play)...I don't think anyone will ever do any better than tie that record.

Points: 0

#126 by jackgibbs // Sep 13, 2011 - 1:54am

that's still officially a play that starts at the 1 yard line, I think

Points: 0

#133 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 13, 2011 - 10:44am

I can't find an official clarification. Elias mentions an offensive fumble by McGahee, at the CLT 43, recovered by an offensive player at the 50, returned for a 50-yd TD. Defenses can certainly have 100+ yard fumble returns (Tatum has a 104-yd return). This implies anyway that a strip-sack in the end zone that's recovered by a RB and run for a TD could count as a 100+ play. The scoring rules seem ambiguous on this point.

Note that laterals/pitches don't score this way. Those are considered to be lateral transfers under the rules, and would only be a 99-yd play.

Points: 0

#138 by Thomas_beardown // Sep 13, 2011 - 1:37pm

I don't think recovered fumbles count as plays from scrimmage.

Points: 0

#123 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 13, 2011 - 12:31am

If Janikowski can hit from 63 in a rain storm, what do you think his potential long is?

Points: 0

#132 by Joseph // Sep 13, 2011 - 10:40am

Maybe 65 in clear warm conditions, maybe 67 in Denver.
Let's face it, he only cleared the crossbar by a couple of yds. So, because of the rain, give him a couple of more. It's just hard to kick a football that far ACCURATELY. Kickoffs go further (and I know they use a tee--I kicked in HS), but nobody is actively trying to kick their kickoff THROUGH the uprights. Guys have done it--and the kickoffs I saw last night that were going out of the endzone were near the uprights--but I don't think that coaches will give guys the chance, except at the end of the 1st half. Giving the defense the ball on the other side of the 50 when your kicker misses just isn't worth it.
However, I'm happy for SeaBass. Now--if he gets a chance to use a tee on that weird fair-catch-free-kick rule--all bets are off.

Points: 0

#134 by Aaron Brooks G… // Sep 13, 2011 - 10:57am

Might be longer than that. And don't discount the crazy nature of Raiders coaches. That 76-yard failed attempt is itself a record. Janikowski is allowed more long-distance chances than most kicker. (He's also pretty good at making them)

Gano has hit from 63, 65, and 69 in HS and college. Janikowski has two successful 60+ kicks (1st and 5th all-time, only kicker with 2 60+) and bounced a 64-yarder off the upright about halfway up.

Points: 0

#136 by dbostedo // Sep 13, 2011 - 12:47pm

A kick made from the spot of the kickoff would be a 75 yarder. I think that's possible. As noted above the problem is opportunity, even at the end of a half. At some point, the odds of completing a hail-mary touchdown start to catch up to the odds of a making a long kick. (Of course, you have to account for a possible run-back by the other team in either scenario.)

If I were coaching a team at the end of a half that needed 3 points, I probably wouldn't try a kick longer than about 65 yards (depending on my kicker). Somewhere around there you're probably better off going for the hail-mary.

Points: 0

#145 by Joseph // Sep 14, 2011 - 11:18am

I disagree on being able to make a FG from 75 yds. Although a big # of KO's are going for TB's, most of them AREN'T going out of the EZ, and those that are going out are just barely making it--and not with accuracy either. All of those KO's include a tee, no defender trying to block it, and a long, untimed run-up--none of which occur on a FG.
I can see a K eventually making one from 64/65, but not 75. And even when/if Dempsey's record falls, my guess is that it happens in Denver and/or with a tailwind. The Saints' fan in me hopes that it never falls, but if it does, that it occurs in "natural" conditions--outdoors, reasonably close to sea-level, the same way Dempsey did his. No way SeaBass' MNF kick is good in any other stadium.

Points: 0

#149 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 14, 2011 - 4:25pm

If the NFL lasts with rules something like what we have, Dempsey's record will get broken. By 2112 the record will exceed 80 yards. Mark it down.

Points: 0

#150 by Arkaein // Sep 14, 2011 - 4:46pm

Considering Mason Crosby nearly made a 69 free kick (no tee, but also no snap and the ability to have a longer running start) in freezing outdoor conditions a few years back, I'd say that a kicker like Janikowski could definitely kick a 70 yard true FG in warm weather or in a dome.

Points: 0

#141 by Kevin from Philly // Sep 13, 2011 - 4:27pm

Well, if the NFL ever goes truely international, and the Raiders move the franchise to Tibet, he could probably kick an eighty yarder in Three Mile High stadium.

Points: 0

#142 by BaronFoobarstein // Sep 13, 2011 - 7:01pm

Only if oxygen is permitted. If it is, then he could kick a 250 yarder against the Tharsis Demigods.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support rivers
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and . Use promo code RIVERS to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip rivers.