Audibles at the Line: Week 10
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 49ers 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.
Sunday, November 11
Denver Broncos 36 at Carolina Panthers 14
Vince Verhei: Initial reaction to Carolina's all-black uniforms: Gorgeous.
Ben Muth: Denver was actually using Miller to spy Newton, so when Newton left the pocket (there was no pressure) Miller was able to track him down. It'll be interesting to see how much they use Miller in this role. On one hand, he's your best athlete and your best chance to contain Cam. On the the other hand, you lose your best pass rusher with this strategy.
Agree with Vince, the Panthers unis look sharp. Makes me wish they had black helmets too.
Panthers with a long touchdown drive capped by a well-designed tight end screen. They went play-action with a half-roll right, and released Greg Olsen behind the line of scrimmage all the way across the formation. He was wide open.
Matt Waldman: Peyton Manning is rolling more in the red zone than I've ever seen during his career.
Trindon Holliday with another return for a touchdown post-Houston. Nice blocking up the right side after Holliday reverses his field.
Ben Muth: There was a questionable no-call on a block in the back, but all that matters is that Holliday has scored on special teams for the second straight game. Holliday also dropped the ball before he scored. It wasn't reviewed.
Andy Benoit: Wonder how our resident Texans fan Rivers feels about that...
Rivers McCown: Holliday's ability to break big plays was never in question. His problems were actually catching the football and durability. And, earlier this year, playing behind a unit that couldn't block.
Ben Muth: Is Byron Bell the Panthers normal right tackle? I've never heard of him and I have not been impressed with what I've seen.
Andy Benoit: He's been up and down this season. Occasionally overachieves as a pass-blocker, but not a foundation guy, certainly.
Andy Benoit: Is Jim Core officiating the Denver Carolina game? I can't tell ... that looks like him. Did a replacement ref get full-time employment after the lockout? Or am i just seeing things?
Aaron Schatz: Could it be a vacation thing? Last year there were a couple of weeks where one ref's crew worked with another head ref because their usual head ref had a vacation week.
Andy Benoit: Never mind. It's Alberto Riveron. (He has one of the best "announcing the penalty" voices in the league, by the way.)
Ben Muth: Orlando Franklin decided not to block Charles Johnson for some reason. From what everyone else did, it seemed pretty clear it was Franklin's fault. Johnson sacked Manning and forced a fumble. Carolina recovered.
Andy Benoit: Miller pressured Newton off a three-man rush and forced Newton into an ill-advised cross-field throw that rising corner Tony Carter broke on for a pick-six. Carter also did the Superman celebration.
Ben Muth: Really bad decision from Cam. He hasn't looked very good since the second drive of the game.
Matt Waldman: Carter has been close to having a pick-six since the Chargers game. He's been playing well.
New York Giants 13 at Cincinnati Bengals 31
Andy Benoit: Webster thought Stevie Brown would be behind him, Brown occupied by a deep cross. Great route combinations by Bengals.
Rivers McCown: Pacman Jones, just when you think he couldn't do anything more embarrassing, narrowly missed a punt-return touchdown because Steve Weatherford ran him down from behind.
Andy Benoit: Giants appear to be setting up their annual Super Bowl run: midseason struggles underway. Last time they went on the road to Ohio, they fell behind early to the Browns.
Rob Weintraub: There's been a Dre Kirkpatrick sighting on defense in Cincy. First action of the season for the first-rounder.
Andy Benoit: Mohamed Sanu makes a nice comeback catch against Prince Amukamara, finger-tipping it. He also got a shotgun carry earlier out of the backfield. The Bengals will have a much better offense if he can emerge is a viable contributor.
Rob Weintraub: On cue, Sanu grabs a fourth-down catch. (That's the second time Cincy has gone for it on fourth when they've stalled out around the Giants 30.)
Rivers McCown: FOX just cut from the game with a riff of "White Wedding." Uh, what?
Rob Weintraub: Better than "Dancing With Myself."
Jones punches the ball from Ahmad Bradshaw deep in Cincy territory. He's had a very good game today: coverage, tackling, and the big punt return of course.
Vince Verhei: That was like a rookie year Eli decision.
I'll salute Bengals third-string center Trevor Robinson, who started today and has held up well. It helps going against a 4-3 team that hasn't tried to overpower him directly over the nose much today.
Remember in the Dark Knight Rises when Catwoman pulls the Batman move on Bruce Wayne, and disappears from sight the second he turns his head? Bruce Wayne mutters, "so that's what that feels like." That's Tom Coughlin and Giants fans after this pass rush domination.
Vince Verhei: So Tom Coughlin is Batman? I knew it.
Tom Gower: Going into that storyline would've really livened up the Football Life on Coughlin.
Rivers McCown: That may be the best explanation for the Giants annual midseason swoon yet.
Buffalo Bills 31 at New England Patriots 37
Aaron Schatz: On their first drive of the game, Buffalo had third-and-1 and then got false start, holding, and false start. Anytime you can make third-and-1 into third-and-21, you just have to grab that opportunity. Bills football!
The Buffalo offensive line is just getting brutalized by the Patriots front seven. You are definitely seeing the improvement on the defensive line today; the secondary may still be weak, but this defensive line is much better with Chandler Jones around and with Jermaine Cunningham improved. It's a problem for the Bills because their best offensive weapon is two running backs who are good in the open field; if they can't make it past the front seven, they can't get into the open field. The Bills finally converted a third-and-15 because they were able to get the ball to Fred Jackson on a dumpoff and he made people miss.
Andy Benoit: With the Patriots predominantly in three-wide sets, the Bills are once again defending them with their dime package. New England is attacking Nick Barnett successfully in the passing game.
The Patriots' second touchdown drive featured Danny Woodhead at the end, the up-tempo very effective. Logan Mankins did a good job working to the second level on Woodhead touchdown.
Bills are staying committed to running Jackson and C.J. Spiller, mostly between the tackles against seven-man defensive fronts.
Aaron Schatz: The Bills are also getting nice gains from Scott Chandler in holes in the middle of the field, much like in the first game against the Pats. If I remember correctly, Chandler was a big problem for them last year as well.
Aaron Schatz: Big difference from early in the game. On the first couple drives, the Bills couldn't get to the second level at all.
Andy Benoit: So are we going to criticize the Bills for so many first-half penalties or are we going to acknowledge that the refs are screwing them?
Aaron Schatz: It looked imbalanced for most of the half, but I'm not sure the refs were screwing them. None of the penalties were obviously incorrect. The only particularly strange one was when they called defensive pass interference against Jairus Byrd for interfering with Rob Gronkowski (which he did, technically) even though the pass in the air was to Julian Edelman 20 yards further
However, the defensive pass interference against Stephon Gilmore on a pass that went over the end zone and landed somewhere in Walpole was a bit much.
Chandler catches a wide-open touchdown to make it 24-17 Pats with :31 before the half. Patriots can't cover him. Chandler had two touchdowns in the first game between these teams. The Pats are 32nd in DVOA against slot receivers and 26th against tight ends. I'm going to start referring to this as the Dunkin' Donuts defense. Huge hole in the middle.
Andy Benoit: Eric Wood had some trouble holding his ground in pass-protection against Vince Wilfork and Cunningham. Cunningham has had a few effective plays with inside rushes, when he is playing defensive tackle in the nickel.
Aaron Schatz: I would like to commend the Bills for taking a delay of game penalty on third-and-14 from their own 9 early in the third quarter instead of wasting a timeout they may need during the inevitable fourth-quarter comeback against the Pats defense.
Andy Benoit: Woodhead's second touchdown was once again an option route out of the backfield against Barnett. Too much for Barnett to cover a quick change-of-direction player like Woodhead in space where the route can go in every direction. Good offensive design by the Patriots with slot patterns to help create that space.
The Patriots linebackers are struggling in zone coverage. Have seen Dont'a Hightower and Mayo both have issues.
Aaron Schatz: Good block by Corey McIntyre on the third-and-goal Jackson touchdown to make it 31-24 Patriots. I figure this may be the only time we ever mention Corey McIntyre in Audibles, so might as well give him his due.
Andy Benoit: In the second half, Chandler split outside, the Patriots had Brandon Spikes try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. Spikes struggled with it a bit, got an offsides on one play where he missed the jam, and appeared to get away with an infraction in same scenario a few plays earlier.
Aaron Schatz: Bills run-blocking really improved from the first quarter to second quarter, and then again from first half to second half. Spiller's having some great elusive runs, but he's also getting much bigger holes.
Andy Benoit: The Patriots made a questionable decision to keep throwing inside of 3:00 with goal-to-go. Two incompletions left them kicking a field goal in front of the two-minute warning. They’d been running successfully on the Bills (granted, not in a condensed field situation). Now they’re counting on their underperforming defense to protect a six-point lead with 2:06 to play.
J.J. Cooper: Wow. Buffalo is forced to use its final two timeouts on back-to-back plays because of injuries. I can't remember seeing that before.
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots get away with it when Ryan Fitzpatrick throws it right to Devin McCourty in the end zone. They were going to lose this thing. The defense was folding, it was going to be their fourth loss by less than a field goal. I guess you can't lose all the close ones. Talking to some folks around here before the game, it seems pretty clear that McCourty is now a full-time safety, and the local reporters seem to feel it definitely fits his skill set and you'll see him as one of the more active safeties in the league.
Atlanta Falcons 27 at New Orleans Saints 31
Matt Waldman: Roddy White makes three of the first four catches on this opening drive, including a 49-yarder at the right sideline that he took all the way to the one. Falcons cap it with a tackle-eligible pass to Mike Johnson.
Andy Benoit: Chris Ivory's 56-yard touchdown run is one of the greatest plays we’ve seen all season. Explosive in his acceleration and change-of-direction, and a terrific stiff arm at the end of it. Just another play that makes you wonder why New Orleans drafted Mark Ingram when they already had this guy on the roster.
Tom Gower: Asante Samuel at the beginning of Ivory's run did a very fine job of kind of running in his general vicinity without actually trying to, y'know, tackle him. Thomas DeCoud, I think, then missed a tackle on on the sidelines, and Ivory was into the open field.
Matt Waldman: Ivory's run was a gigantic "S" across the field. I think that's just another indictment against the perception of small-school, low-round, less-expensive investments compared to big-school, high-round, costly ones. Considering there's not much of a difference in talent between rounds considering we used to have many more rounds in the league, it's kind of silly.
Aaron Schatz: Well, on the other hand, Jacksonville has taken a lot of smaller-school guys with their late-round picks in the last couple years and those guys have done bupkis. It's still about good scouting and intelligently identifying who fits your scheme, no matter if they come from the SEC or Division II. Saints are pretty good at it. Other teams, not as good.
Matt Waldman: To clarify, it's about the indictment of a mentality that big school-big salary creates an attitude that is too patient with players -- not about scouting. The scouts have nothing to do with coaching decisions to keep giving some players chances that, in hindsight, they shouldn't have. The Jags are a bad example of anything related to the NFL.
Aaron Schatz: Actually, I don't wonder why the Saints drafted Mark Ingram when they already had Ivory on the roster. I wonder why the Saints drafted Mark Ingram when they already had Ivory AND Pierre Thomas on the roster. Oh, and had just signed Darren Sproles in free agency.
Rob Weintraub: Remember, the Saints were coming off an epic run of injuries at the running back position when they picked Ingram. Thomas and Ivory were hardly sure bets to come back strong, and they probably figured they needed as many runners as possible.
Rivers McCown: Actually I think at the time they hadn't signed Sproles yet.
Aaron Schatz: Ah, right. 2011 was the year of draft before free agency.
Tom Gower: Tony Gonzalez makes it 28-23 with a touchdown grab over Roman Harper, whose coverage was one of the reasons the Saints defense gave up 41 points to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game the year before they traded up in the first round to pick Ingram. Yup, an offense that only scored 36 points with their sixth or seventh-string running back was the problem. Unlike Leslie Frazier, who just went for two up 12 early in the fourth quarter, Mike Smith eschews the chance to go for it.
Andy Benoit: Atlanta has less than 50 yards rushing against what’s been, this season, an awful Saints run defense.
Tom Gower: YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, MIKE SMITH, KICKING A FIELD GOAL IN THE FOURTH QUARTER DOWN 4 POINTS FROM THE 2-YARD LINE [numerous expletives deleted for sensitive eyes because Tom is boring -Tom].
Vince Verhei: Falcons were down four and had a third-and-1 near midfield. Matt Ryan rolled out and went deep to White, who had gotten behind the defense inside the 20, but White completely misread the ball, turned, and backpedaled as the ball floated over his head. Then Ryan hits Gonzalez for what should be a fourth-and-1 conversion, but Gonzalez drops the ball. And Atlanta is undefeated no more.
Tennessee Titans 37 at Miami Dolphins 3
Vince Verhei: Tennessee's Darius Reynaud gets five yards behind Koa Misi downfield, but Jake Locker badly underthrows the ball, and by the time it comes down Misi is there to break it up. (Even though he never turned his head to find the ball, it hit him in the hands.)
Tom Gower: Jake Locker in his return to the lineup manages to complete a short pass to Nate Washington on a sprint right option (see, A.J. McCarron!), then the play Vince noted, then he whistled a dumpoff past covered fullback Quinn Johnson, and on third down was sacked by an unblocked Jimmy Wilson coming off the slot. At least unlike the last time he faced an unblocked blitzer from the slot, he doesn't seem to have gotten hurt this time.
Titans lead the Dolphins 21-3 early in the second quarter, which of course is not quite the result we were all expecting. Reggie Bush fumbled early, setting up the Titans' first score, and has been in the doghouse since then. I think he's been in the game once. The Titans cashed in on the good field position when sub-package safety Wilson, whom Andrew Luck picked on last week, couldn't tackle Kendall Wright short of the end zone. The second touchdown featured a 20-yard gain by Locker on a play where he tripped on a fake with Chris Johnson and fell down in the backfield before getting up and running, a rare Mike Munchak decision to go for it in what I thought was a non-obvious situation (fourth-and-2 from the Dolphins 37), and then a highlight-worthy Johnson run to finish off the drive. The third touchdown was an interception return for a score off a tipped pass. The fumble recovery and tip to player and return are the kind of breaks that are more or less random that the Titans haven't really gotten in any of their losses last year.
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Vince Verhei: I can't help but notice the reversal of fortune for Tennessee between this week and last. Last week, Jay Cutler had a lousy first quarter against them, but the Bears still built a big early lead thanks to turnovers and never looked back. This week, Locker had a lousy first half (4-of-14 for 37 yards), but the Titans have a big lead (24-3) thanks to turnovers. The Dolphins, by the way, have scored more than 24 points only twice this year.
Tom Gower: Locker doubles his completion total on the Titans' first drive of the second half on a drive that included four third-down conversions, including a nice seam throw to Jared Cook for the score. The touchdown came one play after the officials wrongly whistled down by contact on a fumble by running back Jamie Harper. When it's your day, it's your day.
Reggie Bush was freed from jail long enough to fail to haul in a catchable pass early in the fourth quarter, after which it was back to durance-ville for him. About the only thing nice I can say about Daniel Thomas is he's better than he was last year.
Rivers McCown: Boy, nobody really wants that last AFC playoff spot. Going to be interesting to see how high Indy's odds jump with the Miami loss. And the San Diego loss.
Aaron Schatz: Oh man, Colts at Broncos, please please please pretty please with sugar on top.
Ben Muth: Colts-Broncos in the first round would be amazing. I would have two demands: an HBO 24/7 style doumentary, and for Jim Irsay's Twitter feed from that week to be turned into a poetry compilation.
Oakland Raiders 20 at Baltimore Ravens 55
Andy Benoit: A friend of mine had a great line about Raiders' slick-haired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp: he looks like the older brother who keeps asking for money.
Vince Verhei: If he manages his finances like he manages his offenses, I'm sure he's asking for money all the time
Andy Benoit: Mike Brisiel has four penalties in the first half alone. Only his first year with the team, but he's already a Raiders player through and through.
Tom Gower: Darrius Heyward-Bey ends up with a 55-yard touchdown grab. He catches the ball maybe 30 yards downfield, and Ed Reed tries to bring him down only to bounce off of him. Watching the Raiders last year for FOA2012, I noticed the occasional play like that, where you remember: "this is the kind of big, fast guy who went in the top ten."
Detroit Lions 24 at Minnesota Vikings 34
Mike Kurtz: Matthew Stafford's throw went right through the receiver's hands, bounced off a defensive back's knee (and then hit the ground) and from there to Antoine Winfield's hands. He kind of stands around for a few seconds, apparently goes 'screw it' and books for the end zone.
That play should not have been allowed to continue. The announcers praise the officials for letting the action play out so things can be reviewed, but that has the entire focus backward. That's a big part of why I think the current replay rules are misguided.
It is astounding how much better the Lions look at the end of games, compared to the first half. It's like a light switches on and suddenly the offense is effective. I have no idea why. Coaching?
Andy Benoit: I wondered this myself a few weeks ago. In looking into it, the Lions are much less run-oriented in the second half of games (often due to them trailing). They regain their rhythm when they go pass-only. They just haven't been a comfortable team when it comes to mixing in the run game. That could be changing a bit -- Mikel LeShoure and the line looked more rhythmic the last two weeks -- but the bottom line is that this is a shotgun offense that's built to throw 65 percent of the time.
Mike Kurtz: Holding on first down for the Lions results in two bad running back screens; one dropped, the other just a disaster. What astoundingly bad play-calling.
While the result hasn't really been in question, the Lions seal it by picking up a personal foul on Christian Ponder's slide on what should have been a three-and-out.
San Diego Chargers 24 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34
Vince Verhei: For the record, Philip Rivers' pick-six to Leonard Johnson was significantly more stupid than that earlier interception thrown by Eli. Rivers was rolling out to the sideline and, well, I have no idea what he was thinking. Johnson was wide-open about five yards in front of Rivers and Rivers put the ball in his stomach. Johnson took it 82 yards to the house. Considering San Diego was down one score and approaching the red zone, that may have been the biggest play of the day.
Andy Benoit: Would love to say "I told you so" and reference the content we had on him in this week’s Film Room Quick Reels ... but it wasn’t a great play by Johnson.
New York Jets 7 at Seattle Seahawks 28
Vince Verhei: Jets convert a couple of third downs on their first drive, but a fourth-and-1 run is stuffed and Seattle scores three plays later on a gorgeous leaping touchdown catch by Golden Tate. This next comment is going to be preaching to the choir, I think, but I'm going to say it anyway just to get it off my chest.
Apparently some media types were trying to draw comparisons between the rookie seasons of Mark Sanchez and Russell Wilson, as they were both first-year quarterbacks on running-and-defense teams that made (or are threatening to make) the playoffs. These comparisons, of course, are ridiculous. Counting that lob to Tate, Wilson has 14 touchdowns already. Sanchez only had 12 touchdowns all year. Wilson's completion percentage is eight points higher than Sanchez's was, his interception rate is two points lower, his sack rate is lower, his yards per pass is higher. And, of course, his DVOA is about 27 points higher. There is no comparison here.
Aaron Schatz: On behalf of the choir, may I say, "preach brother Vincent!"
Vince Verhei: And after I praise him, Wilson holds the ball forever and takes a 12-yard sack, then on the very next play holds the ball forever for a sack-fumble-touchdown by the Jets. Sigh.
Andy Benoit: Wilson is clearly not getting a comfortable picture of the Jets defense. A variety of pressure concepts, he’s playing frantic from the pocket and hopping from read to read in-between glimpses of the pass rush.
Vince Verhei: Seahawks take a 14-7 lead into halftime. The game is largely what you'd expect. Seattle's defense has played great. The Jets have five first downs in six possessions (not including the end of half) and 112 yards of offense, 40-some of which came on one play when Brandon Browner fell asleep and let Jeremy Kerley run right by him. Richard Sherman bailed him out with a red-zone interception. Sherman is playing great, with the pick and a couple of defensed passes, but then it's the Jets.
The Jets are getting creative with Tim Tebow, and by "creative," I mean "silly" or perhaps "desperate." Bringing Tebow in to run on third-and-1? Great idea! Bringing Tebow in to throw swing passes on second-and-10? Not so great.
Seahawks have given up several sacks and fumbles, but they've been pretty efficient when they've avoided disaster, and converted their one red zone drive into a Marshawn Lynch touchdown.
Bruce Irvin goes unblocked to sack Mark Sanchez on third down near midfield. The Jets were so confused that the right guard (I believe Vladimir Ducasse) was standing up at the snap, looking at the Jets' sideline and shrugging.
Andy Benoit: Tate to Sidney Rice for the Seahawks game-breaking touchdown. Meanwhile, Jets continue to waste plays with Tebow trickery.
Vince Verhei: Rice only has two catches on the day, but they're touchdowns of 31 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter. One, as mentioned, was from Tate on an ugly-but-effective pass off a reverse. The first was a thing of beauty, a rainbow of a pass straight down into the hands of Rice, who had a defender all over his back. It took a perfect pass to get a touchdown there, and Wilson threw one.
Two more Seattle thoughts: One, in addition to his pass coverage, Sherman also had a sack-fumble, and should really win defensive player of the week. Two, Lynch is starting to amaze me. I always thought he was pretty average in Buffalo, and then he was below-average in his first season in Seattle (Beast Mode playoff run aside). He was pretty good in 2011, but I figured that was a bit of a fluke. This year, though, if anything, he's gotten even better. He is only 26, but it's still kind of ridiculous that a running back who takes a physical pounding like that would improve every year.
St. Louis Rams 24 at San Francisco 49ers 24
Andy Benoit: With Chris Givens inactive for disciplinary reasons, second-round rookie Brian Quick was given more playing time, and took advantage of it by beating the press-man of Chris Culliver off the line of scrimmage to run wide open for a touchdown.
Tom Gower: Looked like man across the board with a single deep safety and Quick just destroyed Culliver at the line, knocking him down.
Andy Benoit: Michael Crabtree's touchdown once again showed his great body control in short-area run after catch situations. Saw that a lot against the Cardinals.
Danny Tuccitto: All the kids wondering what Colin Kaepernick at quarterback for the 49ers would look like, rejoice. Alex Smith took an unnecessary hit from Jo-Lonn Dunbar when he chose to go head-first instead of feet-first at the end of a scramble.
First Kaepernick drive goes scramble, run, run, incomplete to a wide-open Vernon Davis, scramble, punt. Rejoice indeed.
Up 14-7, with a minute left in the first half Jeff Fisher, sings "Balls on Parade" by going for a fake punt from his own 10-yard line. It's successful, and so the 49ers won't be getting the ball back before halftime.
Vince Verhei: The defender had left his man open to move in for the block, so maybe the Rams just always have that call on, but the risk-reward ratio there seems completely out of whack. Failure virtually guarantees a 49ers field goal, with a good likelihood of a touchdown, and success means you just run out the half anyway. Rams are also ahead 14-7 and don't need to be taking risks right now. I just don't get this.
Danny Tuccitto: I have a nomination for the GIF/video to be set next to the definition of fumble luck: with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter, Kyle Williams catches a pass, runs for the first down, and has the ball knocked out. While two Rams continue to hold onto him as the ball rolls around, the entire mass of humanity falls in the ball's general direction, with Williams basically landing on top of it. Niners retain possession on a play where they have absolutely no business recovering their own fumble.
OK, I'm just going to say it. the Rams just took a two-score lead on the back of a drive almost entirely consisting of poorly-called penalties against the 49ers. One on Demarcus Dobbs for assisting on a tackle, and one on Ray McDonald for hitting Sam Bradford as he threw the ball. Not to mention that the Dobbs call came a play after the 49ers had the Rams stopped on third down if not for an offensive lineman coming at the last minute to shove him forward. That's not illegal, but it kind of explains why Dobbs would help a teammate finish his one-on-one tackle immediately thereafter.
Tom Gower: McDonald hit Bradford in the head. That's an obvious and easy flag. Hate the rule, if you like, but as long as that's the rule, it'll be called.
I should add that I agree with Danny that it really felt like that Rams drive was made out of baling wire and string.
Danny Tuccitto: McDonald's hit basically amounted to a bear hug. He's 6-foot-3 and Bradford's 6-foot-4. I'd challenge anyone to put on a helmet, and bear hug someone your same height without contacting helmets. So, yes, as that kind of hit is illegal per the rule, it's a stupid rule.
As a showing of bipartisanship, I'll now point out that the officials just gave Kaepernick a touchdown on a play where his right foot was clearly out of bounds before the ball broke the plane of the goal line.
And now San Francisco benefits from Fumble Luck II. On the ensuing kickoff, Isaiah Pead fumbles less than a yard from the sideline, the bouncing ball doesn't bounce, and instead just sits there so that any one of four Niners can recover. Darcel McBath does, and it's 49ers ball in game-tying field goal range.
Andy Benoit: Frank Gore's vision and second burst have been remarkable today.
Vince Verhei: Second fake punt for St. Louis, and this one works too. Johnny Hekker for MVP! Should add that the Rams were down 17-21 in the fourth, so this one made much more sense.
Danny Tuccitto: Danny Amendola's 80-yard catch was negated by penalty on the first play of overtime, so in lieu of it showing up in the play-by-play, let me just enter into the internet record for all time that Carlos Rogers got beat again.
Aaron Schatz: I can't believe the Rams blew an almost-sure win with an illegal formation penalty because the left tackle wasn't covered up. Penalties like that drive me absolutely insane. That's just hardcore stupidity that should never, ever happen.
Rivers McCown: You could really sense Chris Myers' desperation to leave the game on his call for David Akers' overtime field goal miss. "No! Nooooo!"
Aaron Schatz: Greg Zuerlein makes a 53-yard field goal, but Rams are called for delay of game instead of calling a timeout. Zuerlein then misses the 58-yarder, making him the first kicker to ever be iced by LACK of a timeout.
Danny Tuccitto: No matter who ends up winning (if it actually doesn't end tied), it's basically been one of those forgettable "team that fails last loses" games.
Ben Muth: If ever a game deserved to end in a tie, this is it
Aaron Schatz: The officials allowed something like 1:20 to go off the clock for no reason while they were trying to figure out what was up with the illegal formation on that Amendola catch at the start of overtime. Amazing that it will actually prove to be important.
Danny Tuccitto: And with that result, I'm off to go kiss my sister.
Rob Weintraub: And Fox runs a final score graphic reading "End of 1st Overtime." Donovan McNabb was in the production truck, apparently.
Ben Muth: Am I the only one who greatly prefers college overtime rules? I know it's a little weird to start every team in scoring position (especially with NFL kickers), but it's still better than the kinda-sorta sudden death rules the league currently has.
Only negative I see is that it would probably swing too many fantasy matchups. But fantasy owners (myself included) can't possibly complain any more than they do currently anyway.
Rivers McCown: I'd rather just see them play a 10-minute quarter. If a team can run that entire clock off in overtime on one possession, they deserve the win.
Vince Verhei: I was perhaps the only person who enjoyed sudden death and didn't think it needed changing. I think the new rules are ridiculously complicated and illogical, but I still like them a hell of a lot more than college overtime rules. The college system takes way too long, it punishes teams that play good special teams, and it doesn't seem any more "fair" to me than any of the other formats.
Sean McCormick: I have zero appreciation for the college overtime rules. They may be the only thing yet invented to top penalty kicks for utterly subverting the essential nature of their sport. Sudden death was better, but the new NFL rules are still a sight better than what they've got going on down in the NCAA.
Tom Gower: It's hard to overstate how much I dislike collegiate overtime rules. I'd much rather have games end in a tie.
Ben Muth: Wow, so it is just me. Fair enough.
Dallas Cowboys 38 at Philadelphia Eagles 23
Ben Muth: Eagles scored on a great one-handed catch by Riley Cooper on third-and-goal from the 1 on Philly's opening drive. It worked, but calling a fade for Riley Cooper on third-and-goal is a good indicator that your red-zone offense isn't great.
Andy Benoit: Cowboys came in averaging barely over 50 yards rushing over last three games. On their first possession, they ran for 50 yards and also had a swing pass to Felix Jones go for 10 yards. Eagles missing tackles, as they did last week. Nate Allen also missed a tackle on that Jones touchdown play.
Aaron Schatz: The Eagles just ran quarterback power on third-and-3, lost a yard. Weird play call.
Ben Muth: Playing in Philadelphia may be a disadvantage for the Eagles at this point. The crowd is all over the home team in the second quarter of a tie game.
Jason Avant may be getting checked for a concussion after that pass.
Jeremy Maclin was as open as you will ever see anyone in the NFL for a long touchdown. No one fell down or anything, the Cowboys simply didn't cover him at all.
Tony Romo just slipped out of three sacks to complete a 20-yard pass on third-and-4. He looked like the greased-up deaf guy from Family Guy.
Andy Benoit: Brandon Carr's pick-six was somewhat of a freak play due to tip, but it came about because Foles threw behind his intended receiver on a slant. Poor ball placement.
It's very apparent that the Eagles are extremely predictable with Foles under center. They’re trying to give him simple, defined reads. Problem is, Cowboys are recognizing them
Ben Muth: Cowboys win because of three non-offensive touchdowns: A pick-six, a punt return, and a fumble recovery. It was not a fun game to watch.
Foles did not look good in relief of Vick. Every completetion was either a checkdown or a blown coverage from Dallas. Foles didn't make any tough throws asides from the ball that bounced off Avant's helmet.
Rivers McCown: The FOX announcing booth has spent the entire fourth quarter writing Andy Reid's eulogy.
Vince Verhei: Big deal. Mike Tanier has spent the bulk of this century doing the same thing.
Houston Texans 13 at Chicago Bears 6
Mike Kurtz: The second play from the Texans, a play-action with trips bunch, was probably the best fake I've ever seen. The Bears bit on it like I've never seen them bite on play-action before, and absolutely every receiver was open.
Tom Gower: Romeo Crennel would have his entire team benched by the end of this game.
Rivers McCown: Romeo would have fallen asleep during this game, only to wake up wondering why Arian Foster only had five carries.
Anyway, at least all these turnovers have kept the Texans special teams away from the spotlight!
Dunno why these teams keep trying deep shots so often. The weather would dictate that you play underneath.
Mike Kurtz: Teams really need to stop being terrified of the ghost of Devin
Hester. An incredibly unlucky and unnecessary squib hits a return blocker in the gut and the Bears start their drive at the 50.
Aaron Schatz: Did everybody enjoy the worst squib kick of all time?
Rivers McCown: /weekly 2010 Chargers comparison
Aaron Schatz: Seeing the importance of Chicago getting a good backup quarterback in there. Loved that deep pass to Brandon Marshall near the end of the third quarter.
Tom Gower: Carimi's been getting worked by a lot of guys less talented than Watt this year. It's weird to see a Bears offensive line where J'Marcus Webb is the best offensive tackle.
Vince Verhei: I just want to confirm, NBC came back from commercial playing Metallica's "One" and then finished the segment and went to commercial with Milli Vanilli's "Blame It On The Rain." Did I hear that right?
NBC announcers blame the loss on Jay Cutler's injury. What nonsense. They scored three points in the first half with Cutler and three in the second half without him. Campbell had better raw numbers. Credit the Houston defense (and the weather) for Chicago's lack of scoring.
Rivers McCown: Where to begin on this one...
This was the kind of slobberknocker I expected from these two defenses. Houston wound up getting much less penetration that I thought they would, but Chicago spent a lot of the game in max protect. Wisely, I might add, because outside of Brandon Marshall they did not have anyone to throw it to anyway. Matt Forte was well-covered by Connor Barwin most of the time, and the rest of Chicago's receivers just weren't up to the talent of the Houston secondary. After Foster's touchdown, the game was effectively over barring a special teams meltdown, a freak lucky play, or someone falling down on that turf.
On the Houston side, I'd like to say that this was Kareem Jackson's coming out party. FO's statistics have Houston doing poorly against No. 2 receivers compared to the rest of the team, but a lot of that was due to Eric Decker in Week 3, and Decker can make a lot of cornerbacks look silly. I was slow to come around on Jackson because Houston has played a really soft schedule, and again, Hester isn't exactly a force or anything, but Jackson basically erased him from the game. Scouting-wise, teams are throwing at Johnathan Joseph much more often now. I'm not saying Jackson is the better corner, but he has become much more technically-sound and he reacts much better with short-area burst than he did in the past.
The Texans should have taken Military Appreciation week more seriously and just fielded a special teams unit out of enlisted men in the area for the game. There's no way they could have performed worse. Rock bottom for Joe Marciano's crew.