Audibles at the Line: Week 9
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.
San Francisco 49ers 19 at Washington Redskins 11
Doug Farrar: San Francisco right tackle Anthony Davis is still learning to block all the way through the play. Ryan Kerrigan taught him an important lesson about that very practice early in the first quarter. Davis took Kerrigan back to the pocket and then decided to start looking for UFOs while Kerrigan ran Alex Smith to the other side of the field and sandwiched him with Rocky McIntosh.
Mike Tanier: Graham Gano just hit a 59-yard field goal before half. The Shanahans are geniuses again.
Doug Farrar: As Yahoo! compadre and long-suffering Redskins fan Chris Chase just pointed out, "This will be even more impressive when he misses from 32 later on."
Mike Tanier: The Niners just attempted a Delanie Walker end around on third-and-7. Jim Harbaugh must be crushing and snorting those Coach of the Year notices.
Danny Tuccitto: If my memory serves me correctly, that was either the second or third end around to Walker that Harbaugh has run this season. It never works.
Mike Tanier: If I find three Walker runs in the box score, I have three diagrams for Walkthrough.
Vince Verhei: Actually, Walker came into this game with zero runs on the season ... but Vernon Davis has two carries for -5 yards.
Danny Tuccitto: Ah, right. Knew they had a tight end run an end around earlier in the season, and it didn't work. That previous one took forever to develop, just like today's did.
Watching the Redskins offense right now reminds me a lot of watching the 49ers offense of the past several years. They're playing the entire game within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. No downfield passing whatsoever. And, just as this kind of thing played right into the hands of Niners opponents past, Shanahan, John Beck, and company are helping out a defense that doesn't need any help.
Mike Tanier: Redskins just tried to pass on fouth-and-2, in field goal range (sorta), down 16-3. Because their passing attack has been humming for weeks.
Danny Tuccitto: This game is quickly becoming a Football Outsiders clinic. First, we have a perfect example of fumble luck when Brandon Banks muffs a punt with 4:19 left, and basically direct deposits the ball into Anthony Dixon's hands, yet Dixon somehow can't make the recovery. Then, we have the proverbial garbage time stat-padding by Washington's offense, after not being able to move the ball at all for the first 56 minutes. What's the name for that anyway, Tebowing? Oh wait, that's taken.
Aaron Schatz: Actually, the Washington touchdown isn't discounted at all by our stats. It did put them in position to possibly tie the game, after all.
Mike Tanier: First Redskins touchdown of the rest of our lives!
Aaron Schatz: I also enjoyed Vernon Davis not knowing that you aren't allowed to call fair catch on an onside kick.
Tom Gower: You can, but teams normally intentionally kick it straight into the ground to get a bounce and eliminate the fair catch possibility.
Danny Tuccitto:: Davis actually had an all-around forgettable game in addition to the illegal fair catch signal. He dropped a nicely-thrown deep ball early in the game, then fumbled late in the game, then almost dropped his not-fairly-caught onside kick at the end. If he wants Harbaugh and Roman to get him the ball more, he has to stop screwing up when they oblige.
I tried my best not to bring this up earlier because I really don't like bringing up officiating every week (used to do some officiating on the side back in the day, so really respect how hard that job is), but now that SNF has grown boring enough to degenerate our conversation into an officiating discussion, I can't help but bring up the false start that Gene Steratore's crew called on the 49ers today.
Basically, what happened was that the 49ers were faced with a fourth-and-1 at the Redskins 11-yard line, just inside the two-minute warning of the first half. Harbaugh decided to go for it, and, as they've done previously this season, San Francisco simply tried to use a surprise, multi-player presnap shift to get the defense to jump offsides. In essence, it's a 21st-century version of what Tom Landry used to do with the Cowboys. It worked earlier in the season and worked again this time, yet, today the refs called a false start, and the 49ers had to settle for a field goal.
It's common knowledge that the officiating crew meets with the head coaches prior to the game for the purposes of rule clarifications, and allowing the teams to alert the officials to any extra-legal trickery they might use. Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes, but it just boggles my mind that a well-you-told-us-you'd-do-it-but-we're-calling-the-penalty-anyway situation would happen at the NFL level.
Mike Kurtz: Coaches can tell the refs whatever they feel like doing. Just telling the crew that you plan on breaking the rules doesn't give you the ability to break the rules.
What those conferences are for are to make the crew aware of legal trick plays, so the crew doesn't get screwed up and lose track of the action.
Danny Tuccitto: Yeah, that's what I meant. Harbaugh has that in his hip pocket as a "legal trick play." They used it earlier in the season, and it drew the defense offsides with no false start call. I just have to imagine Harbaugh tells them that in the pregame conference precisely because it's a legal trick play.
Maybe the 49ers just didn't execute as crisply this time, and that's why it was called. As a weekly viewer of their games, it was just upsetting to know that that was coming, see it work, and then have the officials swoop in for the buzzkill. Fan bias for sure is in play here to some extent.
Cleveland Browns 12 at Houston Texans 30
Vince Verhei: Signs your team is off to a rough start: By the time CBS gets around to introducing your starting offense, you're already down 14-0.
Ben Muth: Josh Cribbs just got called for a facemask on a stiff arm. He definitely grabbed it and took the defender down by the facemask, still I can't remember the last time I saw a ball carrier getting called for one.
Aaron Schatz: It's actually happened a few times this year, believe it or not. I went and looked. Arrelious Benn, Kellen Winslow, Willis McGahee, Rob Gronkowski -- I think we talked about that one in Audibles a couple weeks back. I agree that it is usually a pretty rare play.
Mike Tanier: So do the Browns have an offensive philosophy right now other than waiting for punt returns and hoping Peyton Hillis doesn't decide to hijack a school bus like Scorpio from Dirty Harry?
Vince Verhei: Does "surrender" count as an offensive philosophy? As in, "our defense is going to give up a never-ending series of 10-yard runs, so it doesn't matter what happens when we have the ball?"
Rivers McCown: I just walked to get lunch during halftime and saw a very confused pigeon carrying a Hot Cheeto in it's mouth as if it were food. That works for me as a description of Cleveland's offensive philosophy.
On the other hand, as I type that Thomas pulls outside, and Kareem Jackson ducks right under his block to hit the runner in the backfield for a loss.
Aaron Schatz: Dear Cleveland: you are losing by 24 and there are 17 minutes left. Why are you kicking a field goal?
Mike Kurtz: Moral victory of actually having a scoring play. This is actually a pattern -- there have been shutouts where the Browns kicked a field goal late in the game just to get points on the board. It's kind of sad.
Aaron Schatz: I'll remember that for figuring out the "moral victories" tiebreaker in draft order.
Vince Verhei: Cleveland has a third-and-1 on the brink of field-goal range. They line up in shotgun, then go with an inside handoff, with zone blocking up front. That's about as bad a short-yardage play as you could design, and indeed it's stuffed for a loss.
As if to prove my point, the Browns then go for it on fourth-and-3, with an I-formation and two tight ends, and run a dive play to pick up the first.
New York Jets 27 at Buffalo Bills 11
Aaron Schatz: The Jets marched down the field easily on their second drive, all the way into the red zone. Then Mark Sanchez proceeded to throw the ball five feet over the head of a completely covered Dustin Keller and into the arms of a Buffalo safety. Terrible throw. You can try to throw it ahead of Keller where only Keller can reach it. You can try to throw it high and hope he can use his strength to beat his man for the ball. What you can't do is throw it five feet above him and hope he suddenly imbibes the vial that says "drink me."
Got to give a hand to the Buffalo defense. Looks like good tight man coverage today, this isn't just Sanchez struggling.
Well, the Jets-Bills game got completely out of hand in the second half. Bills just couldn't get anything going on offense, and while they seemed to generally play good pass coverage on the Jets receivers, they got nicked by a couple of huge defensive pass interference penalties and a few passes that yielded massive yards after the catch.
Mike Kurtz: Really, the story of Bills-Jets is the complete domination of the Jets offensive and defensive lines. Buffalo's complete inability to adjust for this, like the fourth-and-inches play where they line up looking like they're going to run up the middle, and then proceed to do so, only further compounded the issue. Three Jets hit Fred Jackson in the backfield after rushing in unblocked. The Bills just weren't playing to their strengths, and they got manhandled in general.
Seattle Seahawks 13 at Dallas Cowboys 23
Vince Verhei: Tell me if this sounds familiar: The Cowboys are dominating an inferior opponent, but it’s a close game (tied at six at halftime) because they’re making mistakes at critical times. They’ve more than doubled Seattle in total yards (304 to 134). They haven’t just reached the red zone three times, they’ve been inside the five three times, but have come away with two field goals and a lost fumble.
Brian McIntyre: Not a good second half for Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. He's been intercepted twice while trying to throw the ball away. The first one was on a two-man route with Golden Tate and Anthony McCoy -- and not Zach Miller and Sidney Rice, who they spent $75 million in contracts on in the offseason -- that the Cowboys had covered well. Jackson tried to throw the ball at a receivers' feet, but it was tipped up in the air and intercepted by Jason Hatcher. On the second one, it looked like he was trying to throw it out of bounds, but it went right to Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman, who was on Sidney Rice down the right sideline. The Cowboys scored 10 points off those two turnovers.
Atlanta Falcons 31 at Indianapolis Colts 7
Vince Verhei: At halftime, Julio Jones has 130 yards and two touchdowns. He only had two 130-yard games in college, and caught two touchdowns in a game just once. Transitive property suggests that the Colts’ defense is currently worse than the worst defense in the SEC, and you’d believe it based on Jones’ second score. Against a basic Cover-2, Jones caught a skinny post that should have been a routine 15-yard gain, but both the corner and safety made some rather half-hearted attempts at tackling, and Jones had one of the easier 80-yarders you’ll ever see.
The bad news for Atlanta is that Matt Ryan’s interception to Jerraud Powers, returned a whopping six yards for a score, may have trumped Mark Sanchez’s end zone interception for worst turnover of the day. Throwing a quick slant from his end zone, Ryan underthrew his man by three yards, which is remarkable since he only needed to throw it about nine. Powers fell down catching the ball, but was so wide-open he had time to get to his feet and run in to the end zone.
Miami Dolphins 31 at Kansas City Chiefs 3
Doug Farrar: Dear Kansas City, you're getting waxed by the Dolphins. Why is your punter running right into the teeth of the defense on the worst fake field goal in NFL history?
New York Giants 24 at New England Patriots 20
Aaron Schatz: Ran into Jason Cole from Yahoo! here. We were talking about his difficulty in picking a left tackle for his midseason all-Pro team. I thought about it, and he's right, this is not a good time for left tackles. He's leaning towards "Joe Thomas by default." Jake Long is hurting and not playing up to his usual level. Hard to take Marcus McNeill after the game he had against Kansas City. D'Brickashaw Ferguson isn't really the best left tackle in the league, although he's good. Many of the top offenses have iffy young left tackles (Demetrius Bell, William Beatty) or over-the-hill old left tackles (Matt Light). Green Bay and New Orleans are both better on their interior line than their exterior line. Not a great time for left tackles.
Doug Farrar: Based on his ability to hold the point and block on screens, I'd put Jason Peters on top right now. Greg Cosell has mentioned Peters as the best to me a couple times this season as well.
Mike Tanier: Agree with Doug. Other than the usual penalties, Peters has been great in this wide open offense.
The Giants and Patriots play a scoreless first quarter.
Anybody know when this game starts?
Aaron Schatz: Well, Kevin Boothe commemorated the arrival of the five o'clock hour by snapping the ball off the inside of his thigh, so I guess we're still waiting.
Hmmm, what to say about the first half of Patriots-Giants. A defense-oriented shocker. The Giants can't get any offense going at all. Eli Manning is missing some guys, and there is also some good coverage by the no-name Pats defensive backs. The Patriots have been mostly contained, but did have two extended drives. One ended with a tipped Tom Brady pick and the other with a missed 27-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, so it is still 0-0 at the half. New England have started at their own 10 or worse something like four times so far. Lots of punting. Giants seem to be playing a defensive strategy closer to the man-to-man physical style the Steelers beat the Patriots with last week, rather than the "dump everybody into coverage" from last year's Jets playoff game.
By the third quarter, the Giants defense is just eating Pats offensive line alive. Three successive drives go interception, sack-fumble, and three-and-out to make it 10-0 Giants. Patriots finally get something going their way when the Giants fumble the subsequent punt and the Patriots recover. Still, New York really look like they woke up at halftime, and the Patriots are still asleep.
Mike Tanier: The Patriots have caught a case of "September Eagles."
Aaron Schatz: I think the Giants have started every single drive with a Brandon Jacobs run off-tackle to the left. Like clockwork. They just got 10 yards off it. You would think the Pats would be used to it by now, they've been mostly stopping it this game.
I never realized this before, but Pete Morelli wants you to know why there is no intentional grounding. He's had three or four different passes today where he got on the mic afterwards to announce specifically that there was no intentional grounding because there was a receiver in the area, or because the quarterback was out of the pocket. Just in case we were curious, I guess.
Mike Tanier: Yuck. Did the Patriots just roll Brady out on third-and-7? Isn't that about the first intentional rollout he has executed since 2003?
Aaron Schatz: In the fourth quarter, the Patriots finally realized, "Hey, they're covering Wes Welker man-to-man with safeties and nickel corners. If we take him across the field, he'll be open." This works well when Brady actually has time to throw, which is about half the time. They also ran a nice reverse based off the usual direct snap to the running back (also known as the "Brady pretends it went over his head" play). They ran that play once. Then later in the game they ran it again, but this time Danny Woodhead flipped it to Welker going the other way and he had a lot of empty space ahead of him on his way to 13-yard gain.
You can also tell that the Giants' best receiver is not on the field in this game. They miss Hakeem Nicks. 13-10 Pats, 7:00 to go.
Giants march down the field, down by three, and toss a touchdown into the corner of the end zone over the shoulder of a clearly overmatched Patriots cornerback to take a late four-point lead. I swear, I've seen this movie before.
Rivers McCown: I saw this team last year, when they were called "The Houston Texans."
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots make it back and score a touchdown on fourth down to go ahead by three. Unfortunately they leave too much time on the clock and the Giants come all the way back. Somehow the Patriots end up with Tracy White, noted for his special teams play, on the field covering tight end Jake Ballard for both a big 28-yard catch over the middle and a touchdown catch in the corner that was set up by defensive pass interference in the end zone. Giants win 24-20. This second half was much more what we expected in this game. The Patriots defense is awful. There's no pass rush, and they can cover guys maybe half the time.
Green Bay Packers 45 at San Diego Chargers 38
Vince Verhei: Philip Rivers has thrown for three touchdowns in the first quarter. Unfortunately, two of them were thrown to Green Bay. The first came when Rivers tried to force a pass to a well-covered Antonio Gates. The ball was tipped straight up and reeled in by Charlie Peprah, who ran it in for the score. Most distressing was that it immediately followed another forced pass to a well-covered Gates, which was also tipped up and was nearly picked off.
The second pick-six looked like bad play design along with a great play by Tramon Williams. Rivers was throwing a short out to Patrick Crayton, who was uncovered. Williams was covering another receiver running a deeper route behind Crayton, and managed to come off his man and catch the ball. That is why you don't want two receivers in the same area, but it was more of a "Yay Williams!" play than a "Boo Rivers!" play.
Mike Kurtz: Rivers is sick of everyone talking about Aaron Rodgers, so he has decided to silence his critics by playing quarterback for two teams at once.
Danny Tuccitto What a play just now by Mike Tolbert. First, he picks up a blitzing Charles Woodson. Rivers fumbles the ball for some reason, but recovers it, and then laterals to Tolbert, who's peeled off of Woodson after the fumble. Tolbert then breaks an ankle tackle by Frank Zombo, and jukes A.J. Hawk out of his shoes. The result: Nine yards and a first down for San Diego.
Is it me or does Jordy Nelson look like Goldmember? Had never seen him without his helmet on until Green Bay's "touchdown" just prior to halftime.
Mike Kurtz: Why is Green Bay covering Gates with a linebacker? Are they playing with a handicap or something?
Danny Tuccitto: By the end of this Packers-Chargers game, I expect Thom Brennaman to have another Tim Tebow moment. Except in this case, it would be due to great quarterbacking. After the first San Diego punt of the day, the Packers took over at their own 32. On first down, Rodgers play-fakes, bootlegs right, and then, in mid-stride, throws an off-balance 55-yard dart to Nelson. Two plays later, Rodgers makes a perfect back-shoulder throw to Greg Jennings. At 45-24 in the fourth quarter, this game is pretty much over, but if I'm fortunate enough to spend even five more minutes watching Rodgers, my life is better for it.
Ben Muth: Nelson is banned from the hands team.
Mike Tanier: I cannot imagine Rivers leading a comeback like this in the rain.
Mike Kurtz: Rivers is such a double-edged sword. He and Norv are a match made in heaven.
Doug Farrar: Rodgers has five straight games with one completion of at least 61 yards. Has that ever happened before?
Cincinnati Bengals 24 at Tennessee Titans 17
Tom Gower: Through the better part of two quarters, Titans-Bengals looks like the game I anticipated between two very mediocre teams. The Titans receivers do maybe an even worse job of getting open than I anticipated, and Chris Johnson getting the ball on a run inside the ten or on third-and-short is a mistake.
I'll have more to say after I get home, but the Titans did not have very much success on offense in the second half, while the Bengals seemed to make a more concerted effort to throw the ball downfield, particularly to A.J. Green, and had a good bit of success doing so.
Robert Weintraub: Five in a row for Cincy! For the first time since 1988 -- where are Eddie Brown and David Fulcher? And three of the five on the road. Sure, it wasn't against the '08 Pats or the '62 Packers, but how many rookie quarterbacks have won five straight games under any circumstances?
Once again, the Bengals won the fourth quarter, although in this case it was really the whole second half. After Matt Hasselbeck picked the blitz happy Bengals apart in the first thirty, Mike Zimmer got in their grills in the locker room, or so I imagine. Cincy went back to basics, sticking to four-man rushes, and dominated the Titans offense in the second half. Until the "let them have underneath passes to kill the clock" final drive, Tennessee managed only three first downs in the second half, and one came on an unbelievably soft roughing the passer call against Geno Atkins. Chris Johnson was held to nine yards on five carries in the second half. Carlos Dunlap continues to bring major heat when it matters most. He was helped off the field after a sack on the game's penultimate play with an apparent hamstring injury, but fortunately, he said after the game that it was just a cramp. Watching the Bengals make big defensive plays consistently when the game is on the line is an out of body experience.
Meanwhile, after sticking to the seam stuff in the first half to little effect (Donald Lee is solid but not the threat the injured Jermaine Gresham is), Andy Dalton wised up and forced it to Green regardless of coverage. He earned a 45-yard pass interference penalty early in the third that was a key momentum-shifter, and had an unreal snatch on a third-and-18 that led to the game winning touchdown. Several times, Dalton called a run and decided to toss a quick hitch to Green instead. It was a more reliable means of getting six yards on first and second down than Cedric Benson or Bernard Scott.
Call them mediocre if you must, Tom -- I'll take 6-2 mediocrity all day long.
Danny Tuccitto: The Bengals are 6-2. Two more wins, and I lose my tiger suit guarantee. Oh joy!
Robert Weintraub: Well, still four with the Ravens and Steelers, plus the Texans who always kill us. But ... Browns and Cards at home, and at St. Louis. Start shopping!
Tom Gower: Dalton does a really nice job of playing within himself, though he's really playing within himself a lot. His standard operating procedure is what I expected to see much more from a guy like Cam Newton this year -- he takes his drop and makes his initial read, then frequently vacates the pocket regardless of the amount of pressure, though he scrambles to one side or the other rather than taking off downfield. The arm is less of a liability than I expected, but it's still below average.
Johnson's first half success came the same way all of Johnson's success this year has been coming: when he's seen a lot of open grass in front of him and a defender who he thinks won't inevitably hit him. That first half success seemed to seduce them into thinking Johnson was "back" or whatever, and they played him regularly in the second half, with (what I thought were) adverse consequences for the overall offensive flow.
I feel bad for Hasselbeck, who deserves better than most of what he has around him, especially at wideout. I know this week I'm going to read about how Jared Cook had a breakout game because he had a couple catches, but he just got thrown the ball more. He didn't really do a better job of being in the right place at the right time. It's not just Cook either, this is the sort of offensive consistency that you'd expect to see in the preseason, not halfway through the regular season.
Denver Broncos 38 at Oakland Raiders 24
Ben Muth: Taiwan Jones just committed back-to-back penalties on a Denver field goal attempt. First he jumped offsides, then he roughed the kicker. That's a free 20 yards with less than 30 seconds to go in the half. The Broncos take the points off the board, lose 10 yards because of an Orlando Franklin hold, and then miss the field goal. I'm not sure what the lesson here is.
Mike Tanier: Never employ a man whose name sounds like a bad hip hip artist from a wannabe "edgy" crime movie.
Don't look now, but Tim Tebow just put together a swell drive, capped off by a strike of a touchdown pass.
Danny Tuccitto: Anyone have a guess at what Tebow's Total QBR was this week? I'm setting the over-under at 85.
Rivers McCown: Interesting debut (with playbook knowledge!) for Carson Palmer. Great Y/A, too many interceptions. Still, that's more vertical than I thought he'd be getting based on his play in Cincinnati.
I know you have to play the threat of Tebow running, but if that's all it takes to get Willis McGahee to run for 163 yards on you, your team has problems.
St. Louis Rams 13 at Arizona Cardinals 19
Vince Verhei: Midway through the third quarter, I see that the Rams lead Arizona 11-6, with the scoring consisting of five field goals and a safety. I turn to look at that game on TV. The camera shows two men in army fatigues in the stands. One in is stuffing his face with chili. The other is making no effort to stifle his enormous yawn. The camera then cuts to another pair of troops, and again, one of them is openly yawning. I turn away from the screen.
Ben Muth: The Cardinals have had safeties on back-to-back possessions. That accurately sums up both this game and their 2011 season.
Mike Tanier: Has any team ever given up two safeties and won?
After a horrendous possesion that will not be discussed, the Cardinals had to punt. The Rams get the ball into field goal range, thanks to a questionable pass interference call with four seconds left. The Cards block the kick though, so we are heading to overtime.
Patrick Peterson with a 98-yard punt return in overtime to win it for the Cards. Yes, he caught a punt on the 2 despite the fact that his offense had already allowed two safeties. He broke four tackles on the the runback.
Baltimore Ravens 23 at Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Mike Kurtz: It should be noted that when the whistle blew on Baltimore's third-and-goal run in the first quarter, Ray Rice was short of the goal line, and crossed the goal-line after only because his teammates illegally pushed him forward. Just so we don't have any flamewars.
Nothing says classy like challenging a reception in the second quarter for less than a first down in a play where your defensive back tried and only barely failed to kill the receiver.
Harbaugh wins and the Steelers have a ... slightly longer field goal.
Doug Farrar: No flamewars, eh Mike?
Aaron Schatz: I have never seen anyone wear eye black as low below his eyes as Hines Ward. Does that have any point?
Danny Tuccitto: Agreed, Rivers. What I've seen on tape of Andre Gurode in pass protection hasn't been all that pretty. Bryant McKinnie not all that great either at times, but perhaps he was compensating for having Gurode on his right.
Rivers McCown: I liked this game the first time I saw it, when LSU played Alabama last night.
Doug Farrar: I’ve seen two calls in the last week -– the personal foul on Ryan Clark tonight and the one on Steve Gregory for hitting Le’Ron McClain in the Chiefs-Chargers game -– where the quarterback clearly throws the receiver into the path of the oncoming defender, and I have absolutely no idea what the defender is supposed to do in a situation where he’s moving to a play full-speed, and the quarterback forces the receiver right into the path. If the NFL wants to penalize the person responsible for contact to a defenseless receiver, shouldn’t the quarterback be flagged for that?
Danny Tuccitto: I think, at some point, the defenseless receiver call will be morphed into basketball's block-charge call. "Well, the defender set his feet, and the wide receiver ran into him. Penalty on the offense." OK, so that has a zero-percent chance of happening, but it might as well be the operative ruling going forward with the way things are currently being called.
Tim Gerheim: Just like in basketball, you can write that rule. but the defense will still be the one penalized every time it happens.
Doug Farrar: Yeah, and we could call it the Antonio Gates Rule. And it will never happen.
Danny Tuccitto: ...or the Tony Gonzalez rule, if I'm following the analogy correctly.
Doug Farrar: I think Gates does more blocking out, or maybe I’m just remembering the penalty on Charles Woodson today.
Rivers McCown: When was the last time a relatively new rule was changed or eliminated? I think the asinine is here to stay.
How on Earth does a kicker miss so many consecutive field goals from 50 or more yards away (Billy Cundiff, prior to that hit) despite being renowned as the best touchback guy in the league? That's sort of counter-intuitive.
Mike Kurtz: Cundiff only became the big-kicking touchback machine last year. Before that he was a pretty garden-variety kicker.
Antonio Brown really loves to run around in circles. Pittsburgh needs to schedule a Randle Electomy.
I don't think there will ever be a team as inept at the screen pass as the 2011 Steelers. That's the third interception on a screen. They telegraph them way too much, and call them at the absolute worst times.
Doug Farrar: I’d like to apologize for any recent statements intimating that Flacco is logey in the pocket. At this point, “logey” would be a significant improvement.
Aaron Schatz: Hard to criticize him after the drive to win the game. If Eli Manning's game-winning drive today allegedly proved that he is "elite," did Flacco's drive just prove that he is also elite?
(Answer: of course not, in both cases.)
Doug Farrar: It don't have to look purty. All you has to do is win ballgames and you is elite.
/2011 QB narrative, Tebow Edition
Mike Tanier: Sorry, but what does "elite" mean again? Top five? Top 10? And based on how many seasons or games of data?
If "elite" means "one of the top seven or eight quarterbacks over the last decade," I think Manning has a pretty strong argument.
Aaron Schatz: Well, that's part of the problem with the question. "Elite" has no specific definition. But the idea that one drive proves anything about a quarterback is just silly.
Mike Kurtz: This is why you don't do a clever delay of game and then punt when only up four. This is why you go for the jugular in the red zone. The Steelers simply do not understand this. Every single game.
Robert Weintraub: Did the ref just say the "ball will be placed at the 2-yard line?" After a touchdown pass? OK, he corrected himself.
Ryan Clark does plenty of things well, but he took a terrible angle on that play.